Tuesday, 25 March 2014
Consistory Cardinals Opposed to the Kasper Report
I have just finished translating the following post from the estimable Italian-language blog, Muniat Intrantes Crux Domino Famulantes, published by Don Luciano Micheli. I found it fascinating and heartening. It’s long, but I hope you will be glad to have persevered with it.
UPDATE: Rorate Caeli has also posted a translation of Marco Tosatti's article, which he wrote for La Stampa. Do go to the Rorate post: it contains other encouraging material. Let us be of good heart!
Is Doctrine the Enemy of Pastoralism?
The Secret Consistory: What Happened.
Following the road of pastoralism without making reference to doctrine.
In the Secret Consistory, in which the “Kasper theorem” of the divorced-remarried and the Eucharist was discussed, there was very little agreement, and many criticisms. Here is a reconstruction of some of the most significant and important interventions. “It would be a fatal error”, someone said, to wish to go along the road of pastoralism without making reference to doctrine.
Marco Tosatti writes:
The Consistory of 22 February, to discuss the family, was supposed to be secret. But it was decided at a high level that it would be opportune to make public Cardinal Kasper’s long report on the subject of the Eucharist for the divorced-remarried. It was probably done to open up the way in anticipation of the October Synod on the family. But half of the Consistory remained secret: and it concerned the interventions of the Cardinals. And not by chance, because after Cardinal Kasper had set out his long report (not very easy listening, from what it seems) several voices were raised to criticise it. While in the afternoon, when the Pope gave him the task of responding, the German prelate’s tone appeared to many to be piqued, not to say angry.
The current opinion is that the “Kasper theorem” aims to say yes, that in general the divorced-remarried can receive Holy Communion, without the former marriage being recognised as invalid. At present this does not happen; based on Jesus’s very severe and explicit words about divorce. A person who leads a complete matrimonial life without the first bond having been considered invalid by the Church, finds himself, according to the present doctrine, in a permanent situation of sin.
It is in this sense that Cardinal Caffarra of Bologna spoke clearly, as did the German Cardinal Müller, Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. Just as explicit was Cardinal Walter Brandmuller (“Neither human nature, nor the Commandments, nor the Gospel, have an expiry date. It is a work of courage to state the truth, even against the current mores. A courage that anyone who speaks in the name of the Church must possess, if he does not want to fail in his vocation … The desire to obtain approval and praise is an ever-present temptation in the dissemination of religious teaching … ” and following this, he made his words public.) So too, Cardinal Bagnasco, President of the Italian Bishops, expressed himself in a critical manner toward the “Kasper theorem”; as did the African Cardinal Robert Sarah, the head of “Cor Unum”, who recalled, at the end of his intervention, how in the course of the centuries, even on dramatic questions, there have been disagreements and controversies within the Church, but that the role of the Papacy has always been that of defending doctrine.
Cardinal Re, one of the great electors of Bergoglio, made a very brief intervention, which can be summarised thus: I am taking the floor for a moment, because the future new Cardinals are here, and perhaps some of them do not have the courage to say it, so I am saying it: I am completely opposed to the report.
Cardinal Piacenza too, the Prefect of the Penitentiary, declared himself opposed to it, and said, more or less: We are here now, and we will be here in October for a Synod on the Family, and so, as there is a desire to hold a Synod, I don’t see in fact why we have to deal only with the subject of Communion for the divorced. And he added: Since we want to have a pastoral discussion, it seems to me that we should take note of a very widely diffused pan-sexualism, and of an aggressive promotion of the ideology of gender which aims to unhinge the family as we have always known it. If we were the light of the nations, it would be providential to explain what kind of situation we find ourselves in, and what can destroy the family. He concluded by exhorting his audience to take up once again the teachings of John Paul II on the body, because they contain many positive elements on the subject of sex, of being a man, of being a woman, and on procreation and love.
Cardinal Tauran, of Inter-Religious Dialogue, returned to the subject of the attack on the family, also in the light of relations with Islam. Cardinal Scola of Milan also raised theological and doctrinal perplexities.
Cardinal Camillo Ruini was also very critical. He added: I do not know if I have made a good note of it, but up to this moment about 85% of the Cardinals who have expressed themselves appear to be opposed to the direction of the report. He added that, among those who said nothing and could not be classified, he gathered from the silences “that I think they are embarrassed”.
Next, Cardinal Ruini quoted the Good Pope, saying, in essence: When John XXIII gave the opening address of Vatican Council II he said that a pastoral Council could be held because, fortunately, doctrine was peacefully accepted by all, and there were no controversies; hence it was possible to give a pastoral edge without fear of being misunderstood, since the doctrine remains very clear. Whether John XXIII had been correct at that moment, the prelate commented, only God knows, but apparently, to a large extent, perhaps it was true. Today this could not be said any longer in the most absolute manner, because not only is doctrine not shared, but it is fought against. “It would be a fatal error” to wish to go along the road of pastoralism without making reference to doctrine.
It is understandable, therefore, that Cardinal Kasper seemed a little piqued, in the afternoon, when Pope Bergoglio allowed him to respond, without, however, allowing the emergence of a real confrontation: only Kasper spoke. Add to this, that other criticisms of the “Kasper theorem” are being added to those raised in the Consistory; privately to the Pope, or publicly, on the part of Cardinals from every part of the world. German Cardinals, who know Kasper well, say that he has been passionate about the matter since the 1970s. The problem raised by several critical voices is that the Gospel is very explicit on this point. And the fear is, that not to take account of it would render any other point of doctrine based on the Gospel very unstable and modifiable at will.