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Only a well-formed conscience can decide: Cardinal Marx on sexual morality

December 28, 2017 CNA Daily News 11

Munich, Germany, Dec 28, 2017 / 02:39 pm (CNA).- German Cardinal Reinhard Marx has stated that decisions about sexual morality must be discerned according to a well-formed conscience, respecting “the interplay of freedom and responsibility.”

The chairman of the German Bishops’ Conference said in a new interview that a person “has to be guided into the full reality of the faith and heed the voice of the Church. It is not sufficient to say that one knows by oneself whether something is good for you, or not. That would not constitute a conscientious decision-making process in the context of the Gospel.”

Speaking to the German magazine “Herder Korrespondenz,” Cardinal Marx affirmed that this also applies to homosexuality.

A “truly comprehensive assessment of the severity of guilt” is not possible “without looking at the individual’s conscience, without looking at his reality, at the concrete circumstances.”

Cardinal Marx warned against interpreting this “interplay of freedom and responsibility” as “relativism,” saying that while “there must be respect for the decision that one freely takes,” it is always within the context of the Gospel.

“It would be quite terrible to consider this as relativism, like some indeed have repeatedly claimed, as though everyone could just go about doing whatever they please.”

Asked whether he sees a risk of a new schism in the Church, given the current debates and controversies in Catholicism, Cardinal Marx answered: “I don’t see this being the case. I’d rather say not to be afraid, the Lord guides the Church.” In fact, the Archbishop of Munich and Freising continued, “productive debates” are “particularly important in our time.”

With regard to the question of “synodality,” something Pope Francis has repeatedly underscored as an important part of his papal agenda, Cardinal Marx said that he considered synodality an expression and consequence of the responsibilities and autonomy of the local churches, for example in liturgical translations.

“We can’t just publish texts in Rome that are then simply translated around the world. Even under John Paul II there were synods for each continent in order to focus more on specific regions. We should continue on that path.”

On the question of ordaining women to the priesthood, which the German interviewers also raised, the Cardinal gave a short, definitive answer: “That really is not for discussion. The pope has spoken decisively on the matter.”