Synod Secretary General Wants Change in Church's Teaching on Marriage

Cardinal Lorenzo Baldisseri
Cardinal Lorenzo Baldisseri (photo: Edward Pentin)

In a development likely to cause more unease about the upcoming synod on the family, the secretary general of the Synod of Bishops has given an interview in which he says he wants a change in Church teaching on marriage.

According to the Belgian newspaper De Standaard, Cardinal Lorenzo Baldisseri says it is time to update Church marriage doctrine, for example in connection with divorce, the situation of divorcees and people who are in civil partnerships. His comments will appear in an exclusive interview with the Christian weekly magazine Tertio, published on Wednesday.

"The Church is not timeless, she lives amidst the vicissitudes of history and the Gospel must be known and experienced by people today," Cardinal Baldisseri says.

"It is in the present that the message should be, with all respect for the integrity from whom the message has been received. We now have two synods to treat this complex theme of the family and I believe that these dynamics in two movements will allow a more adequate response to the expectations of the people", says the secretary general of the Synod of Bishops.

The Italian cardinal also notes that "Familiaris Consortio" of John Paul II, the last great ecclesiastical document on this subject, is 33 years old.

Cardinal Baldisseri, 73, confirmed in the interview that Pope Francis wishes local bishops to be seriously involved in the global governance of the Church and for there to be a new balance between centralization and local autonomy.

As secretary general, Cardinal Baldisseri's role is primarily administrative and involves assisting in preparing the apostolic exhortation which the Pope will publish on the basis of the recommendations of the synod.

A Vatican diplomat, the cardinal holds a license in dogmatic theology, and a doctorate in canon law. 

This is clearly a report of a report which inferred the cardinal advocates a "change" in the Church's teaching, so the actual contents of the interview may vary from what has been reported so far. Check back here soon when I hope to have the full text of the interview. 

May 10: I've now posted the cardinal's remarks in context here.

H/T Chris Gillibrand