Reinhard Marx

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His Eminence
Reinhard Marx
Cardinal Archbishop of Munich and Freising
Kardinal Reinhard Marx.jpg
Marx in 2010
Appointed 30 November 2007
Installed 2 February 2008
Predecessor Friedrich Wetter
Other posts Cardinal-Priest of S. Corbiniano
President of the Commission of the Bishops' Conferences of the European Community
President of German Bishops' Conference
Coordinator of Council for the Economy
Member of the Council of Cardinals
Ordination 2 June 1979
by Johannes Joachim Degenhardt
Consecration 21 September 1996
by Johannes Joachim Degenhardt
Created Cardinal 20 November 2010
by Benedict XVI
Rank Cardinal-Priest
Personal details
Birth name Reinhard Marx
Born (1953-09-21) 21 September 1953 (age 62)
Geseke, Germany
Nationality German
Denomination Roman Catholic
Previous post
Motto ubi spiritus domini ibi libertas
(Where The Spirit of the lord is, there is liberty)
Coat of arms

Reinhard Marx (born 21 September 1953) is a German cardinal of the Catholic Church and chairman of the German Bishops' Conference. He serves as the Archdiocese of Munich and Freising. Pope Benedict XVI elevated Marx to the cardinalate in a consistory on 20 November 2010. At the time of his elevation, Marx became the youngest member of the College of Cardinals, succeeding Péter Erdő, the Cardinal Archbishop of Budapest, who was elevated in 2003. He is eligible to vote in all papal conclaves which begin on or before 21 September 2033, his 80th birthday.


Born in Geseke, North Rhine-Westphalia, Cardinal Marx was ordained to the priesthood, for the Archdiocese of Paderborn, by Archbishop Johannes Joachim Degenhardt on 2 June 1979. He obtained a doctorate in theology, from the University of Bochum,[1] in 1989.

On 23 July 1996, he was appointed Auxiliary Bishop of Paderborn and Titular Bishop of Petina by Pope John Paul II. Marx was conscrated on 21 September (his forty-third birthday) by Archbishop Degenhardt, with Bishops Hans Drewes and Paul Consbruch serving as co-consecrators.

On 20 December 2001 he was named Bishop of Trier (the oldest diocese in Germany), succeeding Hermann Josef Spital nearly a year after the latter's retirement. Marx is considered to be rather conservative in matters of Church discipline, but also a "social scientist ... and whiz with the media".[2] Moreover, in 2003, he suspended a theologian for extending to Protestants an invitation to the Eucharist.[3]

Styles of
Reinhard Marx
Coat of arms of Reinhard Marx.svg
Reference style His Eminence
Spoken style Your Eminence
Informal style Cardinal

On 30 November 2007 Pope Benedict XVI appointed Reinhard Marx as Metropolitan Archbishop of Munich and Freising, a position that Benedict himself held from 1977 to 1981. Rumours surrounding this were circulated before Pope Benedict's formal announcement, but Marx responded to these by saying, "The Pope names bishops, not the press".[3] On 2 February 2008, Marx was installed as Archbishop of Munich and Freising in the Munich Frauenkirche. He became Cardinal-Priest of San Corbiniano on 20 November 2010.[4] Cardinal Marx's title is that of Saint Corbinian who was the first bishop of Freising and of whom Cardinal Marx is the successor.

Cardinal Marx currently serves as head of the committee for social issues at the German Bishops' Conference. In addition to his duties as archbishop of Munich on 11 December 2010, Cardinal Marx was named by Pope Benedict as a member of the Congregation for Catholic Education for a five-year renewable term.[5] On 29 December 2010 he was appointed a member of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace.

On 7 March 2012, he was appointed a member of the Congregation for the Oriental Churches.[6]

On 22 March 2012, the Commission of the Bishops' Conferences of the European Community elected him its president.

He was one of the cardinal electors who participated in the 2013 papal conclave that elected Pope Francis.

On 13 April 2013 he was appointed to a group of cardinals established by Pope Francis, exactly a month after his election to advise him and to study a plan for revising the Apostolic Constitution on the Roman Curia, 'Pastor Bonus'. The other cardinals are Giuseppe Bertello, president of the Vatican City State governorate; Francisco Javier Errazuriz Ossa from Chile; Oswald Gracias from India; Laurent Monsengwo Pasinya from the Democratic Republic of the Congo; Seán Patrick O'Malley OFM Cap from the United States of America; George Pell from Australia; and Oscar Andres Rodriguez Maradiaga from Honduras. Bishop Marcello Semeraro, will act as secretary for the group. The group's first meeting has been scheduled for 1–3 October 2013. His Holiness is, however, currently in contact with the aforementioned cardinals.[7]

On the question whether the Church should allow remarried divorcees to Communion, it came to disagreements with Gerhard Ludwig Müller, the head of the Congregation of the Faith at the Vatican, in November 2013. Cardinal Marx called for a wide debate on the treatment of the Catholic Church with divorced and remarried.

When the Vatican suspended Franz-Peter Tebartz-van Elst in 2013 over his alleged lavish spending also Cardinal Reinhard Marx was criticized as he spent around $11 million renovating the archbishop’s residence and another $13 million for a guesthouse in Rome.[8]

On 19 February 2014 he was confirmed as a member of the Congregation for the Oriental Churches until the end of his current five-year term.[9]

On 8 March 2014, he was named by Pope Francis as the Cardinal-Coordinator of the Council for Economic Affairs, which will oversee the Secretariat for the Economy, a new financial regulatory department of the Roman Curia.[10]

On 12 March 2014 Cardinal Marx was also elected chairman of the German Bishops' Conference as successor of Robert Zollitsch. He was elected in Münster by the German bishops and auxiliary bishops only in the fifth round of voting in which a simple majority is sufficient.

President of the Bishops' Conference of the European Community[edit]

He was elected as President of the Bishops' Conference on the European Community on March 22, 2012.

In this role, Cardinal Marx received a letter in 2014 about Gozo's bishop Mario Grech for reprehensible behaviour on the part of the bishop, including giving a retirement home for priests to his mother, a love of money, allowing his family to interfere with the running of the diocese and not defrocking a priest alleged to have committed sexual abuse. Cardinal Marx received the letter and said that the apostolic nuncio for Malta should be informed of the contents of the letter. The bishop in question remained in place.[11]

He has used his position as President to support migrants' rights. At a meeting of COMECE joined by the Conference of European Churches on September 18th 2015, the meeting chaired by Cardinal Marx was gathered to discuss the migrant crisis. Cardinal Marx stated, "Those who enter Europe, must not be afraid to drown or suffocate. And they must get a fair asylum process. These are minimum standards which must apply throughout Europe."[12]

2014 Synod of Bishops[edit]

Addressing a question raised by the Synod of Bishops on the family, Marx said that church doctrine can change over time. The church's doctrine, Cardinal Reinhard Marx said, "doesn't depend on the spirit of time but can develop over time." "Saying that the doctrine will never change is a restrictive view of things," Marx said at a Vatican press conference. "The core of the Catholic church remains the Gospel, but have we discovered everything? This is what I doubt."[13]

The synod was one of two called by Pope Francis for 2014 and 2015 on family life issues. The interim working document, known as the relatio post disceptationem, summarized the first week of discussions, calling on the church to listen more and to apply mercy more widely.[13]

Cardinal Marx has shown support to Cardinal Walter Kasper's proposal to give communion to certain special cases of people who had divorced and remarried. He has stated his position that no sacramental second marriage was possible within Catholic teaching, but he wanted it to be possible that people whose marriages had failed could still be accepted within the church.[14]

Homosexuality and the church[edit]

In 2011, Marx was reported as saying that the Catholic Church “has not always adopted the right tone” toward LGBT people. He went on to add that, while he cannot officially bless a union between two people of the same sex, he can (and implicitly will) pray for their relationship if asked.[15]

In 2014, Marx responded in an interview to the issues under consideration at the Synod of Bishops concerning the Church's treatment of people that are gay: "I have the impression that we have a lot of work to do in the theological field, not only related to the question of divorce, but also the theology of marriage. I am astonished that some can say, “Everything is clear” on this topic. Things are not clear. It is not about church doctrine being determined by modern times. It is a question of aggiornamento, to say it in a way that the people can understand, and to always adapt our doctrine to the Gospel, to theology, in order to find in a new way the sense of what Jesus said, the meaning of the tradition of the church and of theology and so on. There is a lot to do".[16] He went on to say, "Take the case of two homosexuals who have been living together for 35 years and taking care of each other, even in the last phases of their lives. How can I say that this has no value?" [17]

Cardinal Marx, while voicing support to people that are gay, is an opponent of same-sex marriage and has voiced opposition to the introduction of legislation permitting civil same-sex marriage in a number of countries around the world. On September 9th 2015, he held the traditional St Michael reception in Berlin with Chancellor Merkel in attendance in which he spoke against such legislative actions. He stated: "Human dignity is not state-made, it’s not made by the constitution, which is why neither the constitution nor the state can pass judgment on it... And this also applies to the topic of marriage and the family".[18]

Anti-Abortion and euthanasia[edit]

Marx is an active opponent of abortion in Germany and has also spoken against physician-assisted suicide as well as embryonic stem cell research. On the occasion of the 2015 pro-life march in Germany, he publicly stated: “as Christians we share the conviction that the inviolable dignity of every human being has its origin in God, the Creator of all life.” [19]

However, he has been criticized by some anti-abortion groups for signalling his approval to issue the 'morning-after pill' in German Catholic hospitals, which could potentially destroy a viable embryo.[citation needed]

Migrant Issue[edit]

Cardinal Marx has consistently criticized European policies towards asylum seekers, claiming that they keep away people who need help. On the occasion of the tragic sinking of a migrant boat near Lampedusa in 2013, he said

For years, we have followed a policy which has prevented those in need reaching our shores. This is not the kind of Europe we want. To claim asylum is a fundamental human right which we must respect. Refugees and asylum seekers deserve to be treated humanely.[20]

On September 5, 2015, Cardinal Marx along with Lutheran bishop Heinrich Bedford-Strohm, members of the clergy and crowds of Germans enthusiastically welcomed Syrian refugees coming to Germany at the Munich train station.[21]

He has also spoken out against xenophobia and violence done against migrants in Germany. He claimed that Catholics are not allowed to be xenophobic.[22]

Criticism by Other Cardinals[edit]

A number of other bishops and Cardinals have openly attacked Cardinal Marx, most notably American Cardinal Raymond Leo Burke, and many have criticized the German church he leads as breaking away from the Catholic faith. Retired archbishop Jan Paul Lenga of Karaganda, Kazakhstan said of him "There was Marx, Karl Marx. And if present Marx says similar things, then there is no real difference.”[23]


Cardinal Marx launched in October 2008 a book ("Das Kapital: A Plea for Man"), named after the work by Karl Marx, that critiques capitalism. Reinhard Marx said the current worldwide financial crisis required a "fundamental social debate" and raised questions about the capacity of contemporary economies to "ensure the welfare of the world."


  1. ^ "College of Cardinals". Retrieved 13 November 2014. 
  2. ^ "Whispers in the Loggia". Retrieved 13 November 2014. 
  3. ^ a b "Whispers in the Loggia". Retrieved 13 November 2014. 
  4. ^ [1][dead link]
  5. ^ [2][dead link]
  6. ^ [3][dead link]
  7. ^ [4][dead link]
  8. ^ "German Catholic Church Has A Lot Of Money - As In The Diocese of Cologne Might Be Richer Than The Vatican". The Huffington Post. Retrieved 13 November 2014. 
  9. ^ "RINUNCE E NOMINE, 19.02.2014". Retrieved 13 November 2014. 
  10. ^ "COMUNICATO DELLA SALA STAMPA DELLA SANTA SEDE, 08.03.2014". Retrieved 13 November 2014. 
  11. ^, retrieved September 8th 2015
  12. ^, accessed September 22nd 2015
  13. ^ a b "Cardinal Marx: Doctrine can develop, change". Retrieved 13 November 2014. 
  14. ^, accessed September 11th 2015
  15. ^ "German Cardinal Criticizes Roman Catholic Church for Negative Tone Toward LGBT People". GLAAD. Retrieved 13 November 2014. 
  16. ^ Cardinal Marx on Francis, the Synod, Women in the Church and Gay Relationships
  17. ^ "Divided bishops water down welcome to gays and the divorced". Retrieved 13 November 2014. 
  18. ^, accessed September 11th 2015
  19. ^, retrieved September 17th
  20. ^ Lampedua: This is not the Europe we want. Accessed September 6th 2015
  21. ^, accessed September 6th 2015
  22. ^, accessed September 8th 2015
  23. ^, accessed September 11th, 2015

External links[edit]

Catholic Church titles
Preceded by
Hermann Josef Spital
Bishop of Trier
Succeeded by
Stephan Ackermann
Preceded by
Friedrich Wetter
Archbishop of Munich and Freising
Preceded by
Robert Zollitsch
Chairman of the German Episcopal Conference