Sunday, March 02, 2014

The Coming Solution to the Roman Catholic Divorce-and-Remarriage Problem: “We, ourselves, can effect ‘further developments’”.

Walter Kasper is the Golden Child at the Vatican these days. One of the first words out of Bergoglio’s mouth when he became “Pope Francis” was to laud Kasper:

In the past few days I have been reading a book by a Cardinal — Cardinal Kasper, a clever theologian, a good theologian — on mercy. And that book did me a lot of good, but do not think I am promoting my cardinals’ books! Not at all! Yet it has done me so much good, so much good... Cardinal Kasper said that feeling mercy, that this word changes everything. This is the best thing we can feel: it changes the world. A little mercy makes the world less cold and more just. We need to understand properly this mercy of God, this merciful Father who is so patient.... Let us remember the Prophet Isaiah who says that even if our sins were scarlet, God’s love would make them white as snow.

But who am I to judge?

Now, according to “Pope Francis”, Kasper has solved the dilemma of “divorced-and-remarried Catholics”. The problem, for these poor folks, is that they are not permitted under the Magisterium du jour to receive communion, and in response, they are among those leaving Rome in droves. For this dilemma, Kasper has found the cure, which Bergoglio calls “doing theology on one's knees”

The touchstone of Kasper's proposals was the Church of the first centuries, which was also "confronted with concepts and models of marriage and family much different from those preached by Jesus."

In the face of the present-day challenge, Kasper prefaced that "our position today cannot be a liberal adaptation to the 'status quo', but a radical position that goes to the roots, that goes to the Gospel."

What is the cure-all at this time? The Italian Journalist Sandro Magister relates this solution:

[. . .] It is not enough to consider the problem only from the point of view and from the perspective of the Church as a sacramental institution. We need a paradigm change and we must - as the good Samaritan did - consider the situation also from the perspective of those who are suffering and asking for help.

Everyone knows that the question of the marriages of divorced and remarried persons is a complex and thorny problem. [. . .] What can the Church do in such situations? It cannot propose a solution that is different from or contrary to the words of Jesus. The indissolubility of sacramental marriage and the impossibility of a new marriage during the lifetime of the other partner is part of the tradition of the Church's binding faith that cannot be abandoned or undone by appealing to a superficial understanding of cheapened mercy. [. . .] The question is therefore how the Church can reflect this indivisible pairing of the fidelity and mercy of God in its pastoral action concerning the divorced who are remarried in a civil ceremony. [. . .]

Today we find ourselves in a situation similar to that of the last Council. At that time as well there existed, for example on the question of ecumenism or religious freedom, encyclicals and decisions of the Holy Office that seemed to preclude other ways [of doing things]. Without violating the binding dogmatic tradition, the Council opened doors. We can ask ourselves: is it not perhaps possible that there could be further developments on the present question as well? [. . .]

After some hem-hawing, Kasper puts his “solution” on the table:

It would be mistaken to seek the solution of the problem only in a generous expansion of the procedure of nullity of marriage [annulment]. This would create the dangerous impression that the Church is proceeding in a dishonest manner in granting what in reality are divorces. [. . .] Therefore we must also take into consideration the more difficult question of the situation of the marriage that is ratified and consummated between baptized persons, in which the communion of marital life is irreparably broken and one or both of the spouses have contracted a second civil marriage. …

The early Church gives us an indication that can serve as a means of escape from the dilemma, to which Professor Joseph Ratzinger referred in 1972. [. . .] In the individual local Churches there existed the customary law on the basis of which Christians who, although their first partner was still alive, were living in a second relationship, after a time of penance had available [. . .] not a second marriage, but rather through participation in communion a table of salvation. [. . .]

The question is: This way that stands beyond rigorism and laxity, the way of conversion, which issues forth in the sacrament of mercy, the sacrament of penance, is it also the path that we could follow in the present question?

A divorced and remarried person: 1. if he repents of his failure in the first marriage, 2. if he has clarified the obligations of the first marriage, if it is definitively ruled out that he could turn back, 3. if he cannot abandon without further harm the responsibilities taken on with the new civil marriage, 4. if however he is doing the best he can to live out the possibilities of the second marriage on the basis of the faith and to raise his children in the faith, 5. if he has a desire for the sacraments as a source of strength in his situation, should we or can we deny him, after a period of time in a new direction, of "metanoia," the sacrament of penance and then of communion?

So, “presto-change-o” – A second “metanoia”. Why hasn’t anyone thought about this till now!?

Kasper’s proposed solution is, “change anything we want and call it development. We can effect ‘further developments’ ourselves because we are the Magisterium”. You can read the larger selection here.

This was the nature of the proposal that Kasper put forward in the “Gang of Eight” cardinals meeting last week. It seems now as if the proposal on the table will have the opportunity to put Kasper’s “solution” to a vote among the full “Synod of Bishops on the Family” to be held later this year – this will have the full backing of this new pope behind it. How can it fail?

No comments:

Post a Comment