German cardinal underscores the indissolubility of marriage
Cardinal Gerhard Mueller underscored that the indissolubility of the marriage is no mere doctrine, but a dogma of the Church, and stressed the need to recover the sacramental understanding of marriage and family.
The cardinal, prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, granted an in-depth interview in June to the Spanish journalist Carlos Granados, director of the Biblioteca de Autores Cristianos in Madrid.
A book with the interview, titled “The Hope of the Family,” will be released in English, Italian, and Spanish, will be published by Ignatius Press. In the book, Cardinal Mueller corrects misunderstandings about the Church’s teaching on family; underscores the dramatic situation of the children of separated parents and stresses that education should start from the reality of the love of God.
Some consider the book Cardinal Mueller’s definitive contribution to preparations for the next synod of bishops, dedicated to the family, which will take place in Rome Oct. 5-19.
The synod’s theme will be “pastoral challenges to the family in the context of evangelization,” and numerous outlets have speculated about a possible change in Church teaching regarding the reception of Communion by those who are divorced and remarried, as well as a more lax discipline regarding annulment.
Despite such speculation, Cardinal Mueller underscored that “the total indissolubility of a valid marriage is not a mere doctrine, it is a divine and definitive dogma of the Church.”
Cardinal Mueller also addressed discussions on the possibility of allowing spouses to “start life over again,” and that the love between two persons may “die.”
“These theories are radically mistaken,” he said. “One cannot declare a marriage to be extinct on the pretext that the love between the spouses is ‘dead.’ The indissolubility of marriage does not depend on human sentiments, whether permanent or transitory. This property of marriage is intended by God himself. The Lord is involved in marriage between man and woman, which is why the bond exists and has its origin in God. This is the difference.”
Cardinal Mueller identified the mistakes in understanding the marriage in society, which he believes are a result of the individualistic society.
“In a world that is angrily individualistic and subjectivist, marriage is not perceived anymore as an opportunity for the human being to achieve his completeness, sharing love,” Cardinal Mueller said. “Someone is called to announce once again God, the loving Trinity! We should announce the revealed God who calls all of us to be part of his relational being.”
Cardinal Mueller asks for a more in-depth education on marriage, and maintains that “remote preparation for marriage — from infancy and adolescence — should be a major pastoral and educational priority.”
The Vatican’s doctrinal chief emphasized that “life has sense only when it becomes a concrete gift to another in daily life.”
Life “is given in the mystery of marriage, which becomes the privileged place where the definitive and unconditioned self-gift is made,” a gift that “gives sense to our life,” Cardinal Mueller said.
Cardinal Mueller also addressed misunderstandings that have sprung up during Pope Francis’ description of the Church as a field hospital. Cardinal Mueller said the image is “very beautiful. Nevertheless, we cannot manipulate the pope by reducing the whole reality of the Church to this image. The Church in itself is not just a hospital: the Church is also the house of the Father.”
Cardinal Mueller also tackled the issue of the poor, so pivotal in Pope Francis’ teaching. He said that among the there are “the children who must grow up without their parents,” the “orphans of divorce,” who are perhaps “the poorest of the poor of the world.”
These poorest of the poor, these orphans of divorce, are most often found, not in materially impoverished nations, but in Europe and North America — some of the world’s wealthiest places.
“These orphans of divorce, sometimes surrounded by many goods and with much money available, are the poorest among the poor, because they have many material goods yet are deprived of the fundamental good: the self-giving love of two parents who deny themselves for their children,” the cardinal said.
“The Hope of the Family” also features a preface written by Cardinal Fernando Sebastian Aguilar, Archbishop Emeritus of Pamplona and Tudela.
“The main problem present in the Church with regard to the family is not the small number of the divorced and remarried who would like to receive Eucharistic communion,” Cardinal Aguilar wrote.
“Our most serious problem is the great number of baptized who marry civilly and of sacramentally married spouses who do not live marriage or the marital life in harmony with Christian life and the teachings of the Church, which would have them be living icons of Christ’s love for his Church present and working in the world.”