On the Kasper ProposalQ. Many Catholics fear that, in the end, the Synod of Bishops will resort to doublespeak. “Pastoral” reasons are used to de facto change doctrine. Are such fears justified?A. Yes, they are. In fact, one of the most insidious arguments used at the Synod to promote practices which are contrary to the doctrine of the Faith is the argument that, “We are not touching the doctrine; we believe in marriage as the Church has always believed in it; but we are only making changes in discipline.” But in the Catholic Church, this can never be, because in the Catholic Church, her discipline is always directly related to her teaching. In other words: the discipline is at the service of the truth of the Faith, of life in general in the Catholic Church. And so, you cannot say that you are changing a discipline not having some effect on the doctrine which it protects or safeguards or promotes.Q. The term “mercy” is used to change Church doctrine and even the New Testament in order to condone sin. Was this dishonest use of the term “mercy” exposed during the Synod?A. Yes, it was. There were Synod Fathers who spoke about a false sense of mercy which would not take into account the reality of sin. I remember one Synod Father said, “Does sin no longer exist? Do we no longer recognize it?” So, I believe that was very strongly addressed by certain Synod Fathers. The German Protestant – Lutheran – pastor who died during the Second World War, Dietrich Bonhoeffer, used an interesting analogy. He talked about “costly” grace and “cheap” grace. Well, there is no “cheap” grace. When God’s life is given to us as it is in the Church, it demands of us a new way of life, a daily conversion to Christ, and we know God’s mercy to the degree that we embrace that conversion and strive to turn every day our lives over again to Christ and to overcome our sinfulness and our weaknesses.Q. Why is the term “mercy” used for adulterers, but not for pedophiles? In other words: Does the media decide when the Church is allowed to apply “mercy” and when not?A. This, too, is a point that was made during the Synod. Mercy has to do with the person who, for whatever reason, is committing sin. One must always call forth in that person the good – in other words, call that person to be who or she really is: a child of God. But at the same time, one must recognize the sins, whether they be adultery or pedophilia or theft or murder – whatever it may be – as a great evils, as mortal sins and therefore as repellent to us. We can’t accept them. The greatest charity, the greatest mercy that we can show to the sinner is to recognize the evil of the acts which he or she is committing and to call that person to the truth.
On the Power and Authority of the PopeQ. Do we still have to believe that the Bible is the supreme authority in the Church and cannot be manipulated – not even by bishops or the Pope?A. Absolutely! The word of Christ is the truth to which we are all called to be obedient and, first and foremost, to which the Holy Father is called to be obedient. Sometime during the Synod, there was reference made to the fullness of the power of the Holy Father, which we call in Latin plenitudo potestatis, giving the sense that the Holy Father could even, for instance, dissolve a valid marriage that had been consummated. And that’s not true. The “fullness of power” is not absolute power. It’s the “fullness of power” to do what Christ commands of us in obedience to Him. So we all follow Our Lord Jesus Christ, beginning with the Holy Father.