Cardinal Müller: Communion for Remarried Not Ruled Out [UPDATED]

According to media reports, Cardinal Müller does not rule out Communion for the divorced and remarried “in extreme individual cases.” To be sure, no general admission to Communion can be allowed for such members of the faithful, the leader of the CDF said, according to Focus. But in certain there can still be “admission in the realm of conscience.” With respect to a document published by Pope John Paul II, Müller said according to the magazine, “one can keep on thinking in this direction.” In this, one must move forward in line with “theologically responsible standpoints.”   

German-language media report that there is consideration in the Vatican for the establishment at local levels of an advisory council, a “forum internum,” which would “formulate particular rules and standpoints for the realm of conscience and give proper advice to those concerned,” according to a member of the curia. But in all this, care must be taken that the sacrament of marriage is not called into question.   

German media are saying that the German-language discussion group could play a decisive role. The synod participants discuss in language circles – and the highest guardian of doctrine, Müller, and the spearhead of the reformers, former curia cardinal Walter Kaspar, belong to the German circle. “If this group, gathered around these two, comes to agreement, then that is the equivalent of squaring the circle, for everything has the stamp of the doctrine prefect,” said a Vatican insider.


  1. I think it’s also worth noting that Cardinal Schönborn is the moderator of the German language group, which must be no easy task, but of which, by all accounts, he has done a superb job.

    As an aside, personally I can’t help wonder how things would’ve been had Cardinal Schönborn been the relator for this (and last year’s) Synod. At every turn, Cardinal Erdő just comes off as completely out of his depth.

  2. Another interesting note regarding the German language small group is that their final report on part two, the theology party of the Instrumental laboris where the discussion mentioned in this posting took place, had unanimous approval so that included Mueller. The language if that report was hopeful.

    1. @jeff armbruster:

      Jeff, thanks for the heads-up. The article you refer to is Ross Douthat, “The Plot to Change Catholicism”, The New York Times, 17 October 2015

      I’ve read Ross Douthat’s editorials for years now. All are well-written and logical, yet always with a conservative perspective in every sense. In this editorial I perceive that Douthat’s harbors a strong aversion to novelty and particularly a possible change of centuries of doctrine. I am very much like Douthat in this regard. Yet, this great caution arrives with great cost. I am convinced that I cannot understand the role of the divorced and remarried in the Church without compassion and empathy. Douthat’s article dessicates the requirement of compassion and sincere empathy with our brothers and sisters.

      Douthat’s motivations? I can’t say. I do know that it is very easy to let compassion slip away in favor of legalism.

      1. @Jordan Zarembo:

        Douthat’s article is the epitome of a “hermeneutics of conspiracy” that the Pope warned against on the second day of the synod. It is not a good way to view the synod and I am surprised it appeared so late.

        This synod is better understood as people working together rather than as plotters struggling against one another. It is Müller and Kaspar, under the leadership of Schönborn, working together to articulate our faith. It is bishops from around the world gathered to learn how the Holy Spirit is guiding us.

  3. View from the pew:
    Regarding: “But in all this, care must be taken that the sacrament of marriage is not called into question. ”
    – Perhaps a way to avoid calling the sacrament of marriage, or any other sacrament, is to comprehend the Eucharist of food and medicine alone. That is, the church would de-emphasize or otherwise drop the notion that the Eucharist is reward for human perfection.

    1. @Charles Jordan:
      The Eucharist is not a reward for human perfection, but one can’t have unabsolved mortal sin on one’s soul in order to recieve without committing the additional mortal sin of sacrelige.

  4. The silly thing is the remarried are not currently barred in a special way from Communion because they are “unworthy”, but because the public nature of the second civil marriage is deemed to give rise to scandal.

    If the Synod determines the deemed scandal is not universally appropriate (a reasonable conclusions IMO), Canon 915 would the ceases to apply, and the remarried would only be subject to Canon 916. And Canon 916 is precisely about recommending those “conscious of grave sin” refrain from Communion, rather than requiring ministers to bar them from Communion.

    Which also applies to every other sin and sinner, and thus would eliminate the anomalous treatment of the remarried. Making the need for special rules for the admission of only some pretty questionable IMO.

  5. @Jordan Zarembo:

    I don’t happen to agree with Douthat’s position either. My expectation is that some sort of response will follow from the readership; perhaps this dialogue will be helpful.

    I wonder if Douthat chose the headline for his article.

    I would think that our ethics would be such that we examine every particular instance of divorce in order to judge the circumstances and motivations that led up to it. Divorce is not one large thing that can be condemned universally, imo. I’m sure we all agree that abuse is worse than divorce, for example, and should be taken into account.

    In any case I agree that compassion and forgiveness trumps all in our faith–if they are rightly understood and applied.

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