Catholic Church 'on the Verge of Capsizing,' Says Former Pope

A view shows faithful gathering in St. Peter's Square as Pope Francis leads the Palm Sunday mass at the Vatican March 29, 2015. |

Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI recently stated that the Roman Catholic Church might be "on the verge of capsizing."

In a message delivered at the funeral of Cardinal Joachim Meisner on Saturday, the former head of the Catholic Church spoke about the time in which the late church official worked.

"We know that this passionate shepherd and pastor found it difficult to leave his post, especially at a time in which the Church stands in particularly pressing need of convincing shepherds who can resist the dictatorship of the spirit of the age and who live and think the faith with determination," preached Benedict XVI.

"However, what moved me all the more was that, in this last period of his life, he learned to let go and to live out of a deep conviction that the Lord does not abandon His Church, even when the boat has taken on so much water as to be on the verge of capsizing."

Pope Benedict XVI
Pope Benedict XVI attends Ash Wednesday mass at the Vatican February 13, 2013. Thousands of people gathered in the Vatican for Pope Benedict's Ash Wednesday mass, which is expected to be his last before leaving office at the end of February. |

A theological conservative, the 83-year-old Cardinal Meisner was one of four cardinals who presented a "dubia" document requesting clarifications from Pope Francis regarding the Vatican document Amoris Laetitia, specifically its stance on divorce and remarriage.

Latin for "Joy of Love," the document was released in April of last year. But it drew controversy as some believed that it loosened the standards for divorced and remarried couples.

"It is important that the divorced who have entered a new union should be made to feel part of the Church," noted page 184 of the exhortation.

"The Christian community's care of such persons is not to be considered a weakening of its faith and testimony to the indissolubility of marriage; rather, such care is a particular expression of its charity."

The exhortation stated later on page 229, quoting an earlier church document, that baptized members "who are divorced and civilly remarried need to be more fully integrated into Christian communities in the variety of ways possible, while avoiding any occasion of scandal."

The online Catholic news publication Crux noted that Meisner and three other cardinals asked the current pontiff to clarify the Joy of Love's stance on the matter.

"Last year, he and three other cardinals — American Raymond Burke, Italian Carlo Caffarra, and fellow German Walter Brandmüller — sent five "dubia" (yes-or-no questions) asking clarification on Amoris Laetitia," reported Crux.

"Subsequently, the four cardinals attempted to gain an audience with the pope to discuss the issue, but were refused."

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