January 21 | comments icon 0 COMMENTS     print icon print

Elector: Honduran Cardinal Oscar Rodriguez Maradiaga

Leading cardinal says reform heralds new era for the laity and divorcees

Top Vatican adviser Cardinal Oscar Rodriguez speaks frankly about his opposing opinion to the viewpoints of Cardinal-elect Archbishop Gerhard Müller and Bishop Tebartz-van Elst

By Peter Diamond

In a candid interview, the chairman of the Commission of Cardinals has revealed he believes that the rules regarding divorced Catholics should be relaxed, lay Catholics should have a greater role in the Curia and that Pope Francis’ simplicity of living should be widely embraced.

Top Vatican adviser Cardinal Oscar Rodriguez (above) said that the offices of the Roman Curia, which include Congregations for Bishops, Religious, for Clergy, should be expanded to include a Congregation for Laity, since lay people account for the vast majority of the Catholic population. He said that the Commission of Cardinals would introduce that proposal at the October meeting of the Synod of Bishops.

The Honduran cardinal, who heads a cabinet set up by Pope Francis to reform the Curia, told the daily German newspaper, Koelner Stadt-Anzeiger, that the Catholic Church has reached ‘the dawn of a new era’ under the leadership of Pope Francis. He expressed excitement about the Pope’s vision for reform in the Church, which he said would emphasise ‘greater simplicity of life and leadership.’

During the interview, Cardinal Rodriguez also urged the prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith to ‘be a bit more flexible’ in discussions of pastoral care regarding Catholics who are divorced and remarried. Specifically he broke ranks when he referred to Cardinal-elect Archbishop Gerhard Müller’s stance on divorce—saying that he was a classic German theology professor who thought too much in ‘rigid black and white terms.’

Currently Catholics who divorce and remarry in a civil ceremony are excluded from receiving Communion because the Church teaches that Jesus declared marriage an indissoluble bond. However, Cardinal Rodriquez said: “The Church is bound by God’s commandments, what God has joined together, man must not divide. That is clear.” Having said this, he also stated that there were ‘many approaches to interpret it.’

The Vatican will look at divorce at a worldwide synod of bishops next October.

Cardinal Rodriguez also criticised the German Bishop Tebartz-van Elst’s in the interview, who has been suspended from duties after it was revealed he spent 30 million euros on a new residential complex.

The bishop’s grand plans were the extreme opposite compared with the modest approach favoured by Pope Francis that Rome sent an envoy to inspect his diocese and then sent him to a monastery for a leave of absence pending a final decision.

Cardinal Rodriguez did not think Bishop Tebartz-van Elst would return to Limburg and said Latin Americans like himself and Pope Francis found it hard to understand spending so much money for opulent features such as a free-standing bath tub costing 15,000 euros.


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