- (Photo: REUTERS/Dylan Martinez)
The Roman Catholic Church in Germany elected on Wednesday a new leader in Munich, Cardinal Reinhard Marx, who has reportedly challenged the Vatican on major doctrine, such as divorce and sacraments, and is a close aid of Pope Francis.
Reuters reported that 60-year-old Marx, along with many in the German Church, have called for Vatican doctrinal reform to allow remarried and divorced Catholics to be readmitted to the sacraments.
Marx apparently clashed in 2013 with Cardinal Gerhard Mueller, the Vatican's doctrinal chief, after the latter criticized the diocese of Freiburg for suggesting that people who have remarried could be allowed to receive the sacraments, which goes against the Catechism of the Catholic Church.
The Munich Cardinal is one of eight leaders selected by Francis last year to advise him on possible reforms for the Roman Catholic Church. He was also put in charge of the new Vatican Council for the Economy.
Marx has said that his objective is to see the Catholic Church in Germany rise up.
"We have new momentum, and that has to grow," he said at a German Bishops Conference, according to German news site Deutsche Welle.
The cardinal succeeds the retiring Archbishop Robert Zollitsch, who at the age of 75 decided to give way for someone new to lead the German Church. Zollitsch revealed that he would remain as conference chairman until next year, and will serve as administrator for the diocese of Freiburg.
Pope Francis has not given indication that he would be willing to change official Vatican doctrine.
Last month a worldwide survey into Catholics' views on important social issues identified that significant portions of believers disagree with the church when it comes to bans on contraception, divorce, pre-marital sex, gay relations and women priests.
The German Catholic Church, which represents about 34 percent of the population, has been trying to move on from recent scandals including the suspension of "Bishop of Bling" Franz-Peter Tebartz-van Elst from the Diocese of Limburg last year.
Tebartz-van Elst, who was accused of spending over $42 million on a luxury residence and contradicting some of Pope Francis' main messages of making the church for the poor, was criticized by top politicians such as Chancellor Angela Merkel, who spoke about the harm such cases do to the faithful's confidence in the institution.
The Vatican moved to suspend the bishop from service during an investigation into the misused finances.