Cardinal Marx has a point

In a March 13 homily to the German bishops, Cardinal Marx said that the Gospel account of the woman caught in adultery (Jn. 7:53-8:1) should be applied to discussions of divorce and remarriage.

After reviewing the textual history of the passage and recalling that some rigorists in the early Church did not think that the sin of adultery could be absolved, Cardinal Marx said that Jesus showed the scribes and Pharisees, who wanted the woman to be stoned, that they, too, were sinners. “One thinks of the rigorists of all time in the Church … All are sinners like the woman, all have need of forgiveness.”

The prelate added that Jesus’ forgiveness of the woman, his restoration of her dignity before God, and loyalty to his example of mercy to sinners are important in the Church’s discussion of divorce and remarriage, especially as applied to confession, which is intended to offer sinners forgiveness and to save people from “the sentence of God” and “also from social death.”

Jesus’ forgiveness of the woman, however, is not a call to laxism– a reference to Christ’s words, “Go, and sin no more”– but a “call to a new life,” Cardinal Marx continued

The passage is crucial in understanding guilt and forgiveness, he concluded. “If we pastorally, spiritually, and theologically practice this more, then more doors could open than we think at the moment. Amen.”

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Editor’s note: What do you think?