Cardinal Mueller Stresses Need to Correct Misunderstanding of Church's Teachings on Marriage, Family

Affirms Marriage’s Indissolubility Is Church Dogma

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The prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith is reminding the faithful that the indissolubility of marriage is a dogma of the Church.

Cardinal Gerhard Mueller, the prefect, made this statement and stressed the need to recover the sacramental understanding of marriage and family in a book-long interview in June with Spanish journalist Carlos Granados, director of the Biblioteca de Autores Cristianos in Madrid, reported Catholic News Agency.

Titled “The Hope of the Family,” this book in which Cardinal Mueller corrects misunderstandings about the Church’s teaching on family will be published in English by Ignatius Press.

In the text, he spoke on a variety of themes, such as how the indissolubility of marriage is dogma, how children with separated or divorced parents are affected, what happens if love “dies,” the need for education and how pastors should respond to such difficulties.

Also, in response to Cardinal Walter Kasper’s remarks in the past opening up dialogue about those divorced or remarried receiving Communion, Cardinal Mueller attributed mistakes in understanding marriage to having an individualistic society. 

“In a world that is angrily individualistic and subjectivist,” he lamented, “marriage is not perceived anymore as an opportunity for the human being to achieve his completeness, sharing love.” 

The German Church official has chosen to give no further interviews for the time being as this book can be considered the prefect’s definitive contribution to preparations for the next synod of bishops, dedicated to the family, which will take place in Rome this Oct. 5-19.

Indissolubility of Marriage is Dogma

With the synod’s theme of “Pastoral Challenges to the Family in the Context of Evangelization,” there has been talk in the media about a possible change in Church teaching regarding the reception of Communion by those who are divorced and remarried.

Despite 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.”

With regard to the possibility of allowing spouses to “start life over again” as the love between two persons “can die,” he responded, “these theories are radically mistaken.”

Explaining why, the prefect said, “One cannot declare a marriage to be extinct on the pretext that the love between the spouses is ‘dead,’” because “the indissolubility of marriage does not depend on human sentiments.” Rather, he said, marriage is intended by God himself who is Himself involved in marriage between man and woman. 

Pastoral Role and Education:

A major pastoral and educational priority, Cardinal Mueller said, is having a more in-depth education on marriage, calling for “remote preparation for marriage,” starting from infancy and adolescence. 

Regarding the proper role of a pastor, he said, “As a shepherd, I say to myself: ‘It can’t be! We must tell people the truth! We should open their eyes.'” He suggested that although a pastor’s “tools may vary,” one should “above all speak about the authentic love and the concrete project which Christ has for every person.”

The Poor and the Orphaned:

Tackling an issue pivotal in Francis’ teachings, the poor, he said: “Among the poor of the third and fourth world,” and those in the “existential peripheries,” there are “the children who must grow up without their parents.” These “orphans of divorce,” he said are perhaps “the poorest of the poor of the world,” and interestingly enough are most often found, not in the poorest nations, but in the world’s wealthiest places, such as Europe and North America.

“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,” he stressed.

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