Vatican Cardinal Marc Ouellet has warned against a schism in the Catholic Church in light of the reform debate underway among Catholics in Germany.
“God save us from a schism,” the outgoing Prefect of the Dicastery for Bishops told Italian broadcaster TGcom24. Reforms must be carried out “in continuity with the faith of the Church, with the word of God, with the tradition of the Church”.
Referring to calls in western European countries, especially Germany, for a relaxation of the celibacy requirement for Catholic priests, the Canadian-born cardinal said celibacy was “a great gift of Christ to the Church”.
If the idea of renewing the Church were linked to different lifestyles for priests, this was “a sign that faith is being lost, that love is being lost. And that is not good news”, Ouellet said. ”Instead of criticising celibacy, we should value it and promote vocations.”
The future of the Church and of humankind was not built with fractures, the cardinal continued. “I hope that there is still much room for dialogue and that we can come to solutions, to reforms, that are appropriate for our time.”
The president of the German Bishops’ Conference, Bishop Georg Baetzing, had reiterated in early February that different regional solutions should be adopted. In an interview with Germany’s Catholic News Agency (KNA), Baetzing had said: “I would be happy if it were allowed at the level of the Catholic Universal Church that things are possible in some local churches that are not or not yet relevant in other parts. We need a new hermeneutics of Catholicism, in which commonalities and differences are allowed to have their place and live under one roof”.
Pope Francis had accepted the resignation of 78-year-old Ouellet from his post as prefect on January 30. The cardinal had run the Vatican’s episcopal authority, which is important for the Universal Church, since 2010.
Originally reported by KNA Germany.