Communion for divorced and remarried Catholics

Here’s an except of Sandro Magister’s latest piece on the upcoming Consistory:

On Thursday the 20th and Friday the 21st of February there will be a meeting at the Vatican of all the cardinals, including the new ones who will formally receive the scarlet on Saturday the 22nd.

This is a consistory that, at the behest of Pope Francis, will discuss the pastoral care of the family.

The only talk scheduled has been entrusted to German cardinal Walter Kasper, after which there will be ample space for free discussion. The debate promises to be rather heated, above all on access to the Eucharist for the divorced and remarried and on the possible acceptance on the part of the Catholic Church of the Orthodox canonical discipline that allows second and even third marriages.

The selection of Kasper as speaker has provoked some irritation among those who maintain that the current discipline of the Catholic Church is doctrinally indispensable. Already when he was bishop of Rottenburg-Stuttgart and also recently in an interview with the magazine “Die Zeit,” the German theologian and cardinal has said that he is ready to admit that divorced and remarried persons could have access to sacramental communion.

 

Most interesting.

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2 Responses to Communion for divorced and remarried Catholics

  1. Pingback: Communion for divorced and remarried Catholics | Catholic Canada

  2. Rev22:17 says:

    Deborah,

    From your quotation: The only talk scheduled has been entrusted to German cardinal Walter Kasper, after which there will be ample space for free discussion. The debate promises to be rather heated, above all on access to the Eucharist for the divorced and remarried and on the possible acceptance on the part of the Catholic Church of the Orthodox canonical discipline that allows second and even third marriages.

    This paragraph clearly is speculation on the author’s part, and it’s very difficult to say how accurate that speculation may be. If there is to be discussion of “access to the Eucharist for the divorced and remarried and on the possible acceptance on the part of the Catholic Church of the Orthodox canonical discipline that allows second and even third marriages” as the author postulates, however, it is safe to say that the impetus for this discussion is the progress of ecumenical dialog with the churches of the Orthodox Communion rather than any agitation for change coming from within the Catholic Church.

    There is a very substantial practical issue here. The Orthodox Communion has followed its present discipline of permitting parties to failed attempts at marriage to attempt marriage again after sacramental confession and absolution for the sin of abusing the sacrament of marriage for many decades, and thus has many communicants who are living in second and third marriages without having obtained canonical decrees of nullity for their prior attempts at marriage even though the other parties to those attempts at marriage are still alive. One cannot expect the churches of the Orthodox Communion to cut off those communicants in order to achieve reconciliation with the Catholic Church, so it’s clear that reconciliation of the Orthodox Communion requires some accommodation of its present discipline — and if the present discipline of the Orthodox Communion is sacramentally valid, it obviously also would be sacramentally valid within the Catholic Church. Thus, the question before the magisterium of the Catholic Church really is not whether to accept the present Orthodox discipline, but rather how far acceptance of the present Orthodox discipline should go. There clearly is a compelling argument that tribunals composed of experts in failed attempts at marriage may be better equipped to provide effective pastoral services to the parties thereto than the average pastor or parochial vicar, and thus maximizing the chances of success of another attempt at marriage, that weighs heavily in favor limiting acceptance of the present Orthodox practice to cases in which there is no practical alternative.

    I doubt that any change in discipline will emerge from the imminent consistory. Rather, it is more likely that the participants will express issues and concerns as part of the process of beginning discernment of the best way forward. A modification of the present discipline will come about only after a consensus emerges within the magisterium.

    Norm.

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