Tag Archives: divorce

Bishop Bode on his expectations for the Synod on the Family in Rome  

In early October, the Bishop of Osnabrück, Franz-Josef Bode, will take part in the global synod of bishops on the subject of family in Rome.   In an interview with the Catholic news agency KNA, he commented on his expectations for this meeting.  
KNA:. Bishop Bode, what kind of atmosphere do you expect at the Synod of Bishops?  
Bode: There will be a special atmosphere.   Because there was already a preparatory synod last year.   And because for the first time there have been surveys among the faithful about the issues on the agenda.   In this way, opinions and trends have evolved.   Therefore, this Synod is eagerly awaited.   This is also true for myself  
KNA: A major topic will be those who divorced and remarried.   You yourself have advocated allowing those affected back to receiving Holy Communion, under certain conditions.   Which?  
Bode: Marriage is indissoluble according to the will of Jesus.   Marriage is entered into with a sacrament, which is never just dissolved.   Through the weakness of humans this life relationship can nonetheless break up and fail.  People can come to a new relationship, which is more mature, but does not have the same sacramental value as the first.   The question is, whether this new reality, which perhaps expresses the covenant between God and humans better than the first, must always have the consequence of exclusion from confession and communion.   We should include the question, what circumstances have led to the breakdown of the marriage.  Sofar we have treated all alike, whether they bear the blame or not.   Moreover, this is connected to a question of the understanding of the Eucharistic celebration.   Is it really only the representation of a complete unity in faith and the Church, or is it also a help for journies through life which have their wounds?   And that people can’t express that in Confession and receive forgiveness for it, I find that almost more difficult than the question about Communion.  
KNA: A big issue will be the dealings with homosexuals and a religious recognition of their stable partnerships.   Is there any indication of a solution for that?  
Bode: The Catechism makes clear that we do not discriminate against these people.   As with others who live together before marriage, so also with them we should recognize their strengths and not only their weaknesses and shortcomings.   But civil unions are not to be equated with marriage.   Marriage for us is the relationship of husband and wife, from which can come children.   The Church can help and assist life partnerships in conversations and in positive companionship.  However, it is not possible to give anything which is tantamount to marriage.   But we will be able to accompany their path with prayer and a private form of blessing.  
KNA: Where people live in fidelity and dependability, can there be recognition from the Church?  
Bode: Recognition of what is lived there.   It is not a sacrament.   But if I am open in principle not to always demand either all or nothing, then the same is true for homosexuality.   Where that is also of course dependent.on cultural and political contexts   Even the last Synod highlighted the differences in the universal Church.  Perhaps we need therefore to go different ways  
KNA:. What opportunities do you see for uniform solutions for the Catholic Church worldwide?  
Bode: There is always a chance, because we mutually believe in one Christ, because the basis is the Scripture and because we have a tradition of the Church as a whole.  Indeed that was always the advantage of the Church, that it builds a community irrespective of borders and across cultures.   But in the fundamental concept of marriage and family there is unanimity.   Regarding the homosexual way of life, we must accept a greater diversity between cultures.  
KNA: What will change about pastoral care after the synod?  
A synod is not a Council, that takes decisions which are then pastorally implementrd.   The Synod gives recommendations to the Pope, who then prepares written directions from them.   Therein, he can of course also set new pastoral priorities.   In our recommendations we can keep the doors open for local.pastoral solutions   It is conceivable to give the priests their own authority, so that in the Pastoral they can take responsibility for finding solutions in respect of those divorced and remarried.   For many years already there have been suggestions in the dioceses on how pastors should deal with it.   I hope that this can be done in a theologically well- founded manner.  We have almost always looked only at what the dogma says of pastoral , but rarely what the pastoral says of dogma .   With that,
there’s a dialogue, an innermost connection  
KNA: Conservative and reform-minded bishops get together in Rome.   Are they really outspoken behind closed doors?  
Bode: I hope for a climate in which the different positions can be expressed openly.   And in fact, not just in the three minute statements at the beginning of the synod, but also among themselves in small groups.   That must occur in a really matter-of-fact manner.   For this, elements of prayer, balancing, retreating and meeting again are important.  Most of all, it needs time.   I do not know how far we will come in three weeks.  
KNA: How important is the participation of the non-clergy?  
Bode: We cannot indeed as clergy and men discuss by ourselves family issues.   It is absolutely necessary that married couples are involved.   In addition, very honest statements are flowing in from the surveys.   Furthermore, the bishops spoke beforehand with advisers and married couples, especially with women.  
KNA: How important is your own family to you as a man living a celibate life?  
Bode: I have four older sisters.   All four sisters and two children have married.   And they already have now eight children in turn.   As an uncle and grand uncle, I am well aware of completely normal family life.   Unfortunately, two of my sisters have already passed away, so that I am also acquainted with this situation of serious illness and widowhood.   In my circle of friends, I have friends whose marriages have failed and have made a good new beginning.   In addition, I meet regularly with the six married couples of a family circle from the parish in which I was the pastor.   I am very involved with my family.  

Bischof Bode über seine Erwartungen an die Familiensynode in Rom

“Verschiedene Positionen offen aussprechen”


Der Osnabrücker Bischof Franz-Josef Bode nimmt Anfang Oktober an der Weltbischofssynode in Rom zum Thema Familie teil. Im Interview der Katholischen Nachrichten-Agentur äußerte er sich über seine Erwartungen an dieses Treffen.

KNA: Bischof Bode, was erwarten Sie atmosphärisch von der Bischofssynode?

Bode: Es wird eine besondere Atmosphäre sein. Weil zur Vorbereitung im vergangenen Jahr bereits eine Synode stattfand. Und weil es erstmals Umfragen unter den Gläubigen zu den anstehenden Themen gegeben hat. Dadurch haben sich Meinungen und Richtungen herausgebildet. Deshalb wird diese Synode mit Spannung erwartet. Das gilt auch für mich selbst.

KNA: Ein großes Thema sollen die wiederverheirateten Geschiedenen sein. Sie selbst haben sich dafür ausgesprochen, Betroffene unter bestimmten Bedingungen wieder zum Kommunionempfang zuzulassen. Welche?

Bode: Die Ehe ist nach dem Willen Jesu unauflöslich. Mit einer sakramentalen Ehe ist etwas geschlossen, was sich niemals einfach auflöst. Durch die Schwäche der Menschen kann diese Lebensbeziehung dennoch zerbrechen und scheitern. Menschen können zu einer neuen Beziehung kommen, die reifer ist, aber sakramental nicht die gleiche Wertigkeit hat wie die erste. Die Frage ist, ob diese neue Wirklichkeit, die vielleicht besser dem Bund Gottes mit den Menschen entspricht als die erste, immer den Ausschluss von Beichte und Kommunion zur Folge haben muss. Wir sollten die Frage einbeziehen, welche Umstände zum Bruch der Ehe geführt haben. Bislang behandeln wir alle gleich, ob jemand Schuld trägt oder nicht. Zudem verbindet sich damit eine Frage nach dem Verständnis der Eucharistiefeier. Ist sie wirklich ausschließlich die Darstellung einer vollkommenen Einheit in Glaube und Kirche oder ist sie auch Hilfe für Lebenswege, die ihre Wunden haben? Und dass Menschen das nicht in der Beichte ausdrücken und Vergebung dafür erlangen können, finde ich fast noch schwieriger als die Frage nach der Kommunion.

KNA: Großes Thema wird auch der Umgang mit Homosexuellen und eine kirchliche Wertschätzung ihrer festen Partnerschaften sein. Zeichnet sich dafür eine Lösung ab?

Bode: Der Katechismus macht deutlich, dass wir diese Menschen nicht diskriminieren. Wie bei anderen, die vor der Ehe zusammenleben, geht es auch bei ihnen darum, ihre Stärken zu erkennen und nicht nur ihre Schwächen und Defizite. Eingetragene Lebenspartnerschaften sind aber nicht der Ehe gleichzusetzen. Ehe ist für uns die Beziehung von Mann und Frau, aus der auch Kinder hervorgehen können. Kirche kann den Lebenspartnerschaften in Gesprächen und in positiver Begleitung helfen und ihnen beistehen. Es wird jedoch nichts geben können, was einer Trauung gleichkommt. Aber mit Gebet und einer privaten Form von Segen wird man ihren Weg begleiten können.

KNA: Wo Treue und Verlässlichkeit gelebt werden, kann es eine Anerkennung von der Kirche geben?

Bode: Anerkennung dessen, was da gelebt wird. Ein Sakrament ist das nicht. Aber wenn ich grundsätzlich die Offenheit habe, nicht immer nur alles oder nichts einzufordern, dann gilt das auch für die Homosexualität. Wobei das natürlich auch abhängig ist von kulturellen und politischen Zusammenhängen. Schon die vergangene Synode hat die Unterschiede in der Weltkirche aufgezeigt. Vielleicht muss man da unterschiedliche Wege gehen.

KNA: Welche Chancen sehen Sie für einheitliche Lösungen in der katholischen Kirche weltweit?

Bode: Die Chance gibt es immer, weil wir gemeinsam an den einen Christus glauben, weil die Grundlage die Heiligen Schrift ist und weil wir eine Tradition der Kirche insgesamt haben. Das war ja immer der Vorteil der Kirche, dass sie über Grenzen hinweg, über die Kulturen hinaus eine Gemeinschaft bildet. In der grundgelegten Auffassung von Ehe und Familie herrscht doch Einmütigkeit. Bei den homosexuellen Lebensformen wird man eine größere Verschiedenheit in den Kulturen annehmen müssen.

KNA: Was wird sich in der Seelsorge nach der Synode ändern?

Bode: Eine Synode ist kein Konzil, das Beschlüsse verabschiedet, die dann pastoral umzusetzen sind. Die Synode gibt Empfehlungen an den Papst, der daraus ein richtungweisendes Schreiben verfasst. Darin kann er natürlich auch neue pastorale Schwerpunkte setzen. In unseren Empfehlungen können wir die Türen offenhalten für pastorale Lösungen vor Ort. Denkbar ist, den Priestern eigene Vollmachten zu geben, damit sie in der Pastoral verantwortbare Lösungen finden können etwa mit Blick auf die wiederverheirateten Geschiedenen. Es gibt ja bereits seit Jahren in den Diözesen Anregungen, wie die Seelsorger damit umgehen sollten. Ich wünsche mir, dass das in einer theologisch noch begründeteren Weise geschehen kann. Wir haben fast immer nur im Blick, was die Dogmatik der Pastoral sagt, aber selten, was die Pastoral der Dogmatik sagt. Dabei ist das doch ein Dialog, eine innerste Verbindung.

KNA: In Rom treffen konservative und reformorientierte Bischöfe zusammen. Wird hinter verschlossenen Türen wirklich kein Blatt vor den Mund genommen?

Bode: Ich hoffe auf ein Klima, in dem die verschiedenen Positionen offen ausgesprochen werden können. Und zwar nicht nur in den Drei-Minuten-Statements zu Beginn der Synode, sondern auch in Kleingruppen untereinander. Das muss auf wirklich sachliche Art geschehen. Elemente des Gebets, des Abwägens, des Rückzugs und der erneuten Zusammenkunft sind dazu wichtig. Vor allem braucht es Zeit. Ich weiß nicht, wie weit wir in drei Wochen kommen.

KNA: Wie wichtig ist die Teilnahme von Nicht-Klerikern?

Bode: Wir können ja nicht als Kleriker und Männer allein die Fragen von Familien besprechen. Es ist absolut notwendig, dass Ehepaare dabei sind. Daneben fließen aus den Umfragen sehr ehrliche Statements ein. Zudem haben die Bischöfe im Vorfeld mit Beratern und Eheleuten gesprochen, speziell auch mit Frauen.

KNA: Wie wichtig ist Ihnen als zölibatär lebender Mann die eigene Familie?

Bode: Ich habe vier ältere Schwestern. Alle vier haben geheiratet und zwei Kinder. Und die haben jetzt schon wieder acht Kinder. Als Onkel und Großonkel bekomme ich das ganz normale Familienleben gut mit. Leider sind zwei meiner Schwestern schon verstorben, so dass ich auch diese Situation der schweren Krankheit und Witwenschaft kenne. In meinem Bekanntenkreis habe ich Freunde, deren Ehen gescheitert sind und die gute Neuanfänge gemacht haben. Auch treffe ich mich regelmäßig mit den sechs Ehepaaren eines Familienkreises aus der Gemeinde, in der ich Pfarrer war. Ich bin sehr eingebunden in meine Familie.

Sabine Just und Johannes Schönwälder

Cardinal Schonborn: Marriage as a Union of Families

Forgive the personal reference, but the same experience is marked by your parents’ divorce …  
Yes, I come from a family of divorced parents.   My father remarried.   My grandparents were already divorced.   So I very soon got to know the patchwork situation.   I practically grew up in this reality, which is the reality of life of many people today.   But I also experienced the essential goodness of the family.   Despite all crises, all ideologies that we must denounce and call clearly by name, despite all this, marriage and family are the basic cell of human life and society.  
Cardinal Christoph Schoenborn addresses a news conference after a meeting in Vienna September 24, 2010. Senior Catholic officials have been holding talks with their Orthodox counterparts over the last few days in Vienna. REUTERS/Leonhard Foeger (AUSTRIA - Tags: RELIGION HEADSHOT)
Cardinal Christoph Schoenborn addresses a news conference after a meeting in Vienna September 24, 2010. Senior Catholic officials have been holding talks with their Orthodox counterparts over the last few days in Vienna. REUTERS/Leonhard Foeger (AUSTRIA – Tags: RELIGION HEADSHOT)
I personally felt that in the Synod was a lack of two elements: attention to children and consideration of the family as a vast network of relationships (including grandparents, grandchildren, uncles and aunts …).   It seems to me that the Synod has been had ​​to present the nuclear family consisting of wife, husband and children, and has considered the situation from the point of view of the spouses.   Do you not think that looking on from the point of view of the children and consider the families linkages that that they are able to create would allow evaluation of things differently, more completely?  

Continue reading Cardinal Schonborn: Marriage as a Union of Families

From Africa and the Philippines, Signs of Hope for LGBT Catholics!

At the family synod 2014, some African bishops were prominent in opposition to the more welcoming tone towards lgbt Catholics, proposed by some of the Europeans, and included in the mid – synod interim relatio. From this it would be easy to read the struggle for lgbt inclusion as a contest between “progressives” of Europe (and North America), and conservatives  of the so-called “developing” world, in Africa, Asia and Latin America. That would be a mistake, as recent news reports illustrate:

Commonweal reports on a fascinating interview with the African Archbishop Charles Palmer-Buckle of Accra, Ghana, in the conservative website Aleteia, His responses should be warmly welcomed for the hope they imply for greater inclusion of both lgbt Catholics, and those who have been divorced and remarried. (There could also be some schadenfreude in noting how the responses clearly discomforted Aleteia’s interview, who did his best to get Palmer – Buckle to modify his words – to no avail).

In a wide-ranging, at points jaw-dropping interview with Aleteia, Archbishop Charles Palmer-Buckle of Accra, Ghana, signaled his openness to finding a way for remarried Catholics to be readmitted to Communion–and suggested the church might reinterpret Scripture to allow the “unbinding” of marriages. Palmer-Buckle, who is sixty-four years old, was selected by his brother bishops to represent Ghana at this October’s Synod on the Family. Early in the interview, the archbishop makes it clear that he takes seriously Pope Francis’s call for open discussion of the challenges facing Catholic families today.

via Commonweal Magazine.

In Asia, the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines has issued a statement in support of a government bill to prohibit anti-gay discrimination. At the Filipino blog Catholic LGBT (Catholic gay and blessed), there are two posts quoting sections of the statement, in which Archbishop Socrates Villegas, President, Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines, sets out the bishops’ opposition to homophobia, and support for greater lgbt inclusion in the life of the church.

On homophobia, Villegas is forthright on condemning parents who inculcate homophobia in their children:

The Church has much to contribute towards the education of Catholics to be more accepting of others and to see through appearances the Lord present in each brother and sister There can be no more approval of parents who imbue in their children the loathing and disgust for persons with a different sexual orientation or with gender identity issues. In Catholic institutions, there should be zero – tolerance for the bullying and badgering of persons in such personal situations.

On lgbt inclusion, he is equally clear:

[We] call on all pastors throughout the country to be as solicitous of the pastoral welfare of all our brothers and sisters regardless of sexual orientation and gender identity. Their exclusion from the life of the Church, their treatment as outcasts, their relegation to the category of inferior members of the Church worthy only of derision and scorn certainly does not conform to Pope Francis’ vision of the Church as the sacrament of Divine mercy and compassion”

To be sure, it’s not all rosy in the garden.  A longer news report at Rappler also describes how Villegas, while opposing discrimination, reserved the right to contiue discriminating in its own hiring and selection procedures for the priesthood, and the Church’s firm opposition to both homosexual “acts”, and gender transitions. Like many other bishops, he has no desire to change Church teaching – but just like the 2014 Family synod, this signals a clear desire to adjust pastoral practice, in  a more sensitive, caring direction. That augers well for the 2015 synod, and in the longer run, that will undoubtedly lead to some modification of the core doctrine, itself.

Church must adjust to reality of co-habitation, divorce and remarriage, says cardinal

A few years ago, Cardinal Christoph Schonborn hit the headlines, saying that at a time when so many people are not bothering to get married,  the Church should reconsider its approach to divorced people who do want to remarry. At the same time, he said that it was time to shift the emphasis, in responding to gay couples, from an obsession with genital acts, to consideration of the quality of the relationships. On both counts, he was ahead of the pack – and remains so. Speaking about the response of Austrican Catholics to the global survey in preparation for the synod, he has now said that the Church must adjust to the reality of co-habitation, divorce and remarriage, To which LGBT Catholics would add, and to the reality of same – sex couples – and if the “Church” should adapt, then so too should Catholic schools.


Continue reading Church must adjust to reality of co-habitation, divorce and remarriage, says cardinal