German Catholic bishops pick pope aide as new leader

Wed Mar 12, 2014 1:15pm EDT
 
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By Alexandra Hudson

BERLIN (Reuters) - Germany's Catholic bishops elected Munich Cardinal Reinhard Marx their new leader on Wednesday, picking a close associate of Pope Francis already working on Vatican reform to also guide them at home.

Marx's election in Germany, one of the richest and most influential national churches in the 1.2-billion-strong Roman Catholic world, enhanced his status among the men the pope has called on to help him revitalize the Catholic Church.

Known in Germany as a spokesman for social and economic justice, he gave his 2008 book on a just world economy the title "Das Kapital" in a tongue-in-cheek reference to the magnum opus of Karl Marx, the German founder of communism.

Marx is one of the eight cardinals Francis picked last year for a "kitchen cabinet" to advise him on reforming the Vatican and the world church. Last Saturday, the pope also named him head of a new Vatican Council for the Economy.

Franz Josef Jung, religious affairs expert for Chancellor Angela Merkel's Christian Democratic Union (CDU) party, called him "an organizer who is not afraid of discussion about the future of the Church."

The German church has emerged as a strong advocate of change in Vatican rules, especially to allow divorced and remarried Catholics to be readmitted to the sacraments.

Pope Francis says he won't change Church doctrine, but wants to find ways to apply it with more mercy. He has turned to another German cardinal, Walter Kasper, for theological arguments in favor of a more flexible approach.

GERMANS TAKE THE LEAD   Continued...

 
Cardinal Reinhard Marx of Germany arrives for a meeting in the Synod Hall at the Vatican March 8, 2013. REUTERS/Dylan Martinez