In the Secret Consistory where the
divorced/remarried and the Eucharist were discussed, “Kasper’s theorem”
received little consensus and a lot of criticism. Here is a
reconstruction of some of the most significant and important statements.
“It would be a fatal mistake” someone said, to follow the pastoral
approach without referring to doctrine.
Marco Tosatti, for LA STAMPA
The Consistory on the 22nd February to
discuss the family, was supposed to be secret. Instead a decision came
from the top that it was opportune to publish Cardinal Kasper’s long
report on the theme of the Eucharist for the divorced and remarried. In
all probability [this] to open the way in prospect of the October Synod
on the Family. However half of the Consistory remained secret: [that
half] concerned observations from Cardinals. And maybe not by chance,
as, after Cardinal Kasper had presented his long report (and as it seems
it was not very light when given ,) rather a lot of voices were raised
in criticizing it. So much so, that in the afternoon when the Pope gave
him the job of responding, the German Cardinal’s tone appeared piqued,
even angry to the many [present].
The current opinion is that “Kasper’s
theorem” tends to allow permission in general for the divorced and
remarried to receive communion, without the previous marriage being
recognized as null. At present this does not happen, based on Jesus’
words which were very severe and explicit on divorce. People who live a
full matrimonial life without the first union being regarded as
invalid by the Church, find themselves in a situation of permanent sin,
according to present doctrine.
In this sense, Cardinal Caffarra of
Bologna as well as German Cardinal Mueller (Prefect of the Congregation
of the Faith) spoke clearly. Equally explicit was Cardinal Walter
Brandmuller (“ Neither human nature nor the Commandments nor the Gospel
have an expiry date[…]Courage is needed to enunciate the truth even
against current customs. Whoever speaks on behalf of the Church must
possess courage if he does not want his vocation to be a failure.[…] The
desire to obtain approval and applause is a temptation which is always
present in the transmission of religious teaching.” Afterwards he made
his words public). Also the President of the Italian Bishops, Cardinal
Bagnasco expressed himself in a critical manner with regard to
“Kasper’s theorem”; the same went for the African Cardinal Robert
Sarah, Head of “Cor Unum” who at the end of his comments, recalled
that in the course of the centuries even on dramatic questions
controversies and divergences had existed inside the Church, but that
the role of the Papacy had always been the one of defending doctrine.
Cardinal Re who was one of Bergoglio’s
greatest electors, gave a very short statement, which can be summarized
thus: “I will speak for just a moment, because there are future new
cardinals here and perhaps some of them do not have the courage to say
it, so I will: I am completely against this report.” Also the Prefect
of the Penitentiary, Cardinal Piacenza said he was against it and more
or less said: “we are here now and we will be here again in October for a
Synod on the Family, and so since we want to have a positive Synod, I
don’t see why we have to touch only on the matter of Communion for
divorcees.” He added: “Since we want to have a debate on pastoral care
it seems to me that we should have to take note of a widespread
pan-sexualism and the attack of the “ideology of gender” which tend to
demolish the family as we have always known it. It would be
providential if we were lumen gentium so as clarify the situation we
find ourselves in, as well as the things that can destroy the family.”
He concluded by exhorting a re-reading of the catecheses by John Paul II
on corporeity, since they contain many positive elements about sex,
being a man and a woman, procreation and love.
Cardinal Tauran, (of Inter-Religious
Dialogue) returned again to the attack on the family, also in light of
relations with Islam. Likewise Cardinal Scola of Milan raised
theological and doctrinal perplexities .
Cardinal Ruini was also very critical. He [also]added: “I don’t know if I understood well, but at this moment, about 85% of the Cardinals have expressed opinions apparently contrary to the layout of the report.” He added that among
those who did not say anything - therefore could not be classified -
he took from their silence that: “I believe they are embarrassed”.
Cardinal Ruini then cited the Good Pope.
In essence saying: “when John XXIII gave his opening speech at the
Second Vatican Council, he said a pastoral council could be held as
fortunately doctrine was accepted peacefully by everyone and there were
no controversies; so a pastoral approach could be presented without
fear of misunderstandings because doctrine remained very clear. If
John XXIII had been right then, the Cardinal commented, God alone knew,
but apparently it was true to a large extent. This could absolutely not
be said anymore today, because doctrine is not only not shared, but it
is contested. “It would be a fatal mistake” to follow the pastoral
approach without referring to doctrine.
So it is understandable that Cardinal
Kasper seemed a little piqued in the afternoon when Pope Bergoglio
allowed him to respond, without permitting, however, the start of a
real debate: only Kasper spoke. To add to the criticisms aired about
“Kasper’s theorem” during the Consistory, these are also building up -
in a private way - towards the Pope [along with ] other public
criticisms by cardinals from all over the world.
German Cardinals who know Kasper well, say
that he has had a passion for this subject since the 1970s. The
problem raised by many critics is that on this point the Gospel is very
clear. And by not taking this into account – which is the fear – any
other point of doctrine based on the Gospel would be rendered very
instable, and modifiable at will.