Cardinal Kasper speaks to America Magazine

Some salient excerpts:

Q. Some cardinals and bishops seem to be afraid of this possibility and reject it even before the synod meets. Why do you think there is so much fear of a development in the church’s discipline?

A. I think they fear a domino effect, if you change one point all would collapse. That’s their fear. This is all linked to ideology, an ideological understanding of the Gospel that the Gospel is like a penal code.

But the Gospel is, as the Pope said in ‘The Joy of the Gospel’ (Evangelii Gaudium), quoting Thomas Aquinas, the Gospel is the gift of the Holy Spirit which is in the soul of faithful and becomes operating in love. That’s a different understanding. It is not a museum. It is a living reality in the church and we have to walk with the whole people of God and see what the needs of the people are. Then we have to make a discernment in the light of the Gospel, which is not a code of doctrines and commandments.

Then, of course, there is also a lack of theological hermeneutics because we cannot simply take one phrase of the Gospel of Jesus and from that deduce everything. You need a hermeneutic to see the whole of the Gospel and of Jesus’ message and then differentiate between what is doctrine and what is discipline. Discipline can change. So I think we have here a theological fundamentalism which is not Catholic.

Q. So you mean you cannot change doctrine but you can the discipline?

A. Doctrine, in so far as it is official binding doctrine, cannot change. So nobody denies the indissolubility of marriage. I do not, nor do I know any bishop who denies it. But discipline can be changed. Discipline wants to apply a doctrine to concrete situations, which are contingent and can change. So also discipline can change and has already changed often as we see in church history.

-snip-

Q. There seems to be fear among some of the cardinals and bishops because as the Pope said we have this moral construction which can collapse like a pack of cards.

A. Yes, it’s an ideology, it’s not the Gospel.

Q. There’s also a fear of the open discussion at the synod.

A. Yes, because they fear all will collapse. But first of all we live in an open pluralistic society and it’s good for the church to have an open discussion as we had at the Second Vatican Council. It’s good for the image of the church too, because a closed church is not a healthy church and not inviting for the people of the day. On the other hand when we discuss marriage and family we have to listen to people who are living this reality. There’s a ‘sensus fidelium’ (‘sense of the faithful’). It cannot be decided only from above, from the church hierarchy, and especially you cannot just quote old texts of the last century, you have to look at the situation today, and then you make a discernment of the spirits and come to concrete results. I think this is the approach of Pope Francis, whereas many others start from doctrine and then use a mere deductive method.

 

I feel like clutching my head and running around like that painting The Scream.  No, just kidding.  But my “sensus fidelium” is going off like a smoke detector at this, as smooth as some of these words try to go down.

 

 

 

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9 Responses to Cardinal Kasper speaks to America Magazine

  1. Macy says:

    Kasper, a pyromaniac in a field of strawmen (to borrow imagery from W.F. Buckley…if it’s not aprocryphal)

  2. Macy says:

    Dear Cardinal, become Orthodox already…

    • Rev22:17 says:

      Macy,

      You wrote: Dear Cardinal, become Orthodox already…

      What you don’t realize is that it actually is Orthodox christianity to which the cardinal is looking.

      The Orthodox follow a different discipline in which those who divorce can contract marriage again in the church after sacramental confession, even if the parties with whom they previously contracted marriage are still alive, without prejudice to the doctrine of the indissolubility of marriage. As a result, reconciliation of the Orthodox Communion — that is, nothing less than healing of the Great Schism — depends upon some sort of accommodation for communicants within the Orthodox Communion who are divorced and remarried.

      The Vatican wants some resolution to this issue in place so that it won’t remain open when the other outstanding issues come to resolution. That, I believe, is the real reason why this issue is before this year’s synod of bishops.

      Norm.

      • Foolishness says:

        Maybe she means he should just become Orthodox. Not try to import the Orthodox position into the Catholic Church.

      • Rev22:17 says:

        Deborah,

        You wrote: Maybe she means he should just become Orthodox. Not try to import the Orthodox position into the Catholic Church.

        Perhaps, but that’s not consistent with Catholic theology of the unity of the church, which obligates us all to work for healing of schism. Where Catholic practice — NOT doctrine — is an obstacle, there needs to be some willingness to make accommodation on the Catholic side to open the door to reconciliation. For leaders of the Catholic Church to put unnecessary obstacles in the way of healing a schism is to perpetuate that schism, and thus to participate in the sin.

        In his former role of President of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity, Cardinal Kasper was in a position where this situation was “front and center” before his organization. Thus, the fact that he is supporting some sort of accommodation should not be a surprise.

        Norm.

  3. William Tighe says:

    If the Orthodox purport to wink at, or even bless, adultery, and admit practicing unrepentant adulterers to communion, so much the worse for the Orthodox – and not an example for Catholics to emulate.

  4. Macy says:

    In fact, my flippant quip was meant to be taken either way, i.e. “Orthodox” or “orthodox”.
    Norm raises a very interesting point: hashing out the remarriage question in view of possibly reconciling Catholic-Orthodox differences. And maybe the point of the exercise is to show the Orthodox what they’d be up against.

    Anyway, one good result so far is that there has been a lot of airing of the conditions in which the previously married can indeed participate in the sacraments: food for Orthodox thought…

    • Rev22:17 says:

      Macy,

      You wrote: Norm raises a very interesting point: hashing out the remarriage question in view of possibly reconciling Catholic-Orthodox differences. And maybe the point of the exercise is to show the Orthodox what they’d be up against.

      With respect to this fall’s synod, I’m rather reminded of the synod of the Diocese of Rome that preceded the Second Vatican Council. By way of background, the norms in force at the time stated that each diocese must hold a synod at least every five years — but the Diocese of Rome had never held one. This was one of many items that gave rise to the adage that ecclesiastical laws were made in Rome and obeyed everywhere else — an adage that Pope John XXIII was determined to change. Thus, when the new pope shocked the world — and the curia — with the announcement of his intention to convene the Second Vatican Council on 25 January 1959, he also announced that there would be a synod of the Diocese of Rome. This synod preceded the council, so the curia, maneuvering for position, hijacked the synod and turned it into a very conservative affair, then portrayed it to the media as a foreshadowing of the council — which, of course, it was not.

      I caution everybody, and especially those who are new to the Catholic Church, not to read anything into this fall’s synod. The party line will be that nothing is going to change until there’s a consensus as to what to change and how to change it. This fall’s synod appears to be preliminary in character, and thus likely to uphold the party line — for now. There will be an airing of issues and an exchange of views among the participants, probably culminating in some sort of exhortation for all members of the church to observe the present norms and perhaps a document explaining those norms. But the real work will happen in committees formed by this year’s synod, preparing detailed drafts of documents for consideration at next year’s synod — and it is next year’s synod that is more likely to recommend changes for papal implementation. (Note here the distinction: an ecumenical council would direct changes, whereas a synod can only propose or recommend them.)

      You wrote: Anyway, one good result so far is that there has been a lot of airing of the conditions in which the previously married can indeed participate in the sacraments: food for Orthodox thought…

      Remember that the exclusion from communion does not apply to every member of the church who obtains a divorce. Rather, it applies only to those who persevere in a relationship that is canonically presumed to be adultery, based on the canonical presumption of validity of a previous marriage of either party thereto.

      >> A person who is divorced but not in an active sexual relationship is NOT barred from the sacraments.

      >> Also, a person who is divorced and remarried under secular law, but who “lives as brother and sister” with the other party to the present relationship, is NOT barred from the sacraments.

      And, again, don’t expect any “solution” that would be contrary to the doctrine of the indissolubility of marriage. Doctrine is not negotiable.

      Norm.

      • Macy says:

        Thank you, Norm!
        Yes, indeed, there’s a lot of misunderstanding about divorce, and more and more people are learning the teaching more fully: not a bad result.
        Blessings 🙂

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