|Cardinal Christoph Schönborn|
In an interview published by Vatican Insider today, Cardinal Christoph Schönborn, the Moderator of the German-language Group attending the Synod on the Family, went on record as standing opposed to the teaching of the Catechism of the Catholic Church and John Paul II's Apostolic Exhortation Familiaris Consortio. When asked to explain his position in light of the magisterial teaching contained in the latter document, which requires that divorced and civilly "remarried" Catholics practice "complete continence" if they desire to receive Holy Communion, the Cardinal - apparently speaking for the entire German delegation - said:
We don't believe that [continence] is the only way.
This is a plain and open rejection of two important teaching documents of the Church, viz. (emphasis added):
Catechism of the Catholic Church §1650: "Reconciliation through the sacrament of Penance can be granted only to those who have repented for having violated the sign of the covenant and of fidelity to Christ, and who are committed to living in complete continence."
Familiaris Consortio §84: "Reconciliation in the sacrament of Penance which would open the way to the Eucharist can only be granted to those who, repenting of having broken the sign of the Covenant and of fidelity to Christ, are sincerely ready to undertake a way of life that is no longer in contradiction to the indissolubility of marriage. This means, in practice, that when, for serious reasons, such as for example the children's upbringing, a man and a woman cannot satisfy the obligation to separate, they 'take on themselves the duty to live in complete continence, that is, by abstinence from the acts proper to married couples' (Homily at the Close of the Sixth Synod of Bishops, §7 [Oct. 25, 1980])."
The same teaching was confirmed verbatim by Cardinal Ratzinger as Prefect of the Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faith in 1994, and as Pope Benedict XVI in a 2005 address.
To find that Cardinal Schönborn materially rejects the teaching of the Church on this matter is not new. What is new is that, when directly confronted with the authoritative teaching of the Church, confirmed by centuries of traditional practice, the Cardinal explicitly rejects the same, saying "I don't believe that," and then goes on in the same breath to propose the very opposite, i.e. that people living in a mortally sinful condition can continue in their objective sin and nonetheless be admitted to Holy Communion - a formally condemned thesis (Council of Trent, Session 13, Canon 11). His only option to escape this condemnation would be to say that, in some cases, adultery is not a mortal sin. But this would be to jump out of the frying pan and into the fire, for the same stands directly opposed to the 6th Commandment, i.e. "You shall not commit adultery."
As laypeople, it's not our place to condemn the man. But it is our place to condemn his opinion as being directly contrary to the perennial teaching of the Catholic Church. Further, it is our place to inquire as to why this man is being allowed to spread his error without correction from his brother Bishops - including the Holy Father, whose primary task is the preservation of the Doctrine of the Faith.
Am I beating a dead horse? Probably. But the only tool I have available to me is my voice, and I wish not be found guilty of having remained silent in the face of such a brazen repudiation of Church teaching, even if that repudiation comes from one claiming the office of Prince of the Church.