Cardinal Kasper Talks The Talk

Card KasperNo official text (yet) of Cardinal Kasper’s address to the cardinals. Vatican Insider sums it up here.

The PrayTell thread unraveled a bit last night, revealing a bit of obscenity (literally) on the part of one of tradition’s defenders. The problem isn’t one of changing Church teaching on divorce, but on the practice of being returned to the sacramental life of the Church after a remarriage.

Cardinal Kasper is said to have spoken of this:

(He) explained that the Church cannot offer a solution that is different or which opposes Jesus’ words. The indissolubility of sacramental marriage and the impossibility of entering into a new marriage while a person’s former partner is still living cannot be done away with or dissolved on mercy grounds. After all, as the cardinals pointed out, mercy and faithfulness go together.

But Kasper pointed out that no human situation is completely devoid of hope or lacking a solution. However low a person can go, they can never fall beneath God’s mercy.

How does that work? Pope Francis is said to have suggested that the theologian bring questions, not answers. A preface reminding those gathered of the beginning of the ecclesiological tradition of penance, a second baptism for those who had abandoned the faith in the face of persecution. But an old solution for remarriage courtesy of a few doctors of the Church:

In the case of marriage too, some local Churches introduced a practice according to which, Christians who separated from their still living partner and had entered into a second union, did not after a certain period of penance get to marry a second time (in other words they didn’t get a new ship), but they were given a life raft in the form of communion. Origen, Basil the Great and Gregory of Nazianzus all spoke of this.

And some questions:

Is this path possible in the future? This was the question Kasper put to the Consistory’s cardinals. It wouldn’t be about a getting a “cut-price pardon”, or cut-price mercy. When you have a remarried divorcee before you  who repents for the failure of their first marriage, if their obligations towards their first marriage (which the Catholic Church sees as the only valid and indissoluble bond) have been fulfilled, if there is no way they can go back, if they cannot abandon the responsibilities they took on and enter a new civil union guilt-free, but if they commit to making the best out of their second union, based on the faith, if they undertake to educate their children in the faith, if they wish to receive the sacraments to help them through their difficult situation, how can they be denied the sacrament of penitence  and then that of sacramental communion?

That enough questions?


About catholicsensibility

Todd lives in Minnesota, serving a Catholic parish as a lay minister.
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2 Responses to Cardinal Kasper Talks The Talk

  1. Devin says:

    I must admit as someone with traditional views, the solution as presented His Eminence appears very well thought out and I could support an iteration of it. No second service to declare the irregular union valid, a period of penance away from the sacrament and then re-admittance into communion. Several questions arise. How long would the communion fast be (and would it included abstaining from confession)? Months? A year? 5 years? Longer? (My answer would be a year minimum in all but exceptional cases like fear of death.) Is this a one side fits all penance or is it unique to the individual? If unique, who determines the penalty, the local pastor, the bishop or the already functioning annulment board? (my answer would be the bishop). Would the reception then be private or public (fortunately and unfortunately, the sheer numbers of people returning to the sacrament would make the private option not very feasible). Would the penance include some sort of prayer for the persons still leaving spouse? (I would say yes, although this would have be dealt with in a unique manner for spouses who have been verbally or physically abusive or who have otherwise left their traumatic mark.)

  2. FrLarry says:

    As a pastor, I can tell you right now that the idea of the local bishop deciding a penance period when he doesn’t know the people involved makes no sense. An annulment board is worse. I think it could be handled like we currently handle mixed religion cases for marriage: The pastor makes the recommendation, and the bishop acts based on that recommendation.

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