Cardinal Marx: “A Church that has an answer to everything is not credible.”

Cardinal Reinhard Marx of Munich, president of the German bishops’ conference and chair of the international group of 8 cardinals appointed by Pope Francis to help him reform the church, spoke about the church’s moral teachings at a speech last Friday evening in Freising near Munich.

“A Church that knows everything, that has an answer to everything, is not credible,” Cardinal Marx said.

The cardinal addressed the current discussion about the way the Church might in the future handle access to the sacraments by those divorced and remarried. “I am greatly concerned that it will turn into a big ideological battle,” he said. He called upon Catholics in the lay apostolate to strive to discuss the topic in a spirit of unity.

The truth of the faith is “not simply a system that we defend, but rather, the person of Jesus Christ whom we encounter,” the cardinal said. One cannot proclaim the Gospel simply “by taking the catechism in hand, but rather by putting the entirety of life in the balance and proclaiming salvation to the person.”

Cardinal Marx warned of clinging rigidly to tradition: “If we are perceived to be an institution that defends the truth, that is distorted.” He said that we must courageously enter into the reality of life – “but not without any claims to make.”

Source: Katholische Presseagentur Österreich.



  1. Maybe there is a translation issue at hand, but I don’t understand his warning: “If we are perceived to be an institution that defends the truth, that is distorted.”

    1. @Jeffrey Pinyan – comment #2:
      Indeed there is a translation issue at hand! I struggled with what to do with “schief” which means lop-sided, out of kilter, etc, and opted for “distorted”. The first half of the sentence is true to what the German says, but – and this is the problem in going from any language to another – I’m pretty sure that in German it means something like “if the main perception people have is that all we do is defend our truth…”. Since the German doesn’t say that, I didn’t think I could be that generous in supplying the likely meaning in English. I’m pretty sure the cardinal thinks we should defend the truth! So I chose “distorted” because I think his meaning is that the balance gets distorted if the wrong emphasis comes across.

      1. @Jeffrey Pinyan – comment #4:
        It seems a careful reading and an acknowledgement of perspective is needed. Defense of *the* truth is an obvious virtue. Defense of *my* truth may well veer into Gnosticism. And that is indeed dangerous. It would seem that there is a different between “die” and “meine.” CCC 2478 also teaches that the listener is obliged to put the very best light on what a person is saying. In other words, let’s assume we’ve heard something wrong before suggesting someone said it wrong. That’s a simple avoidance of narcissism.

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