Thursday, 25 June 2015

Cardinal Kasper pontificates

OK, let's look at this...

Christopher Lamb of The Tablet has written the following, which I thought worthy of comment (my comments interpolated in red).

The Catholic Church has behaved like Pontius Pilate with regards to Catholics who are divorced and remarried, a prominent cardinal has said.

Cardinal Walter Kasper, who has called for remarried divorcees to be admitted to Communion, told the French daily Le Figaro that the Church has sought to “wash its hands of a difficult problem”.

Strangely, the Church has not sought to 'wash its hands' of this problem. That would imply a refusal to offer clear judgement, and passing the decision on to others. The Church, in fact, has clearly and consistently taught on this issue, cf (for example) Familiaris Consortio.

In an interview that was published on the same day as the Vatican released the working document for October’s Synod on the Family, the cardinal said: “if God is merciful, then the Church must be.”

Indeed: and the Church must be merciful in the same way that God is merciful. The Church follows Christ: naming sin for what it is, loving sinners, and calling them to repentance.

Cardinal Kasper explained that a lot of bishops who don’t make “much noise” have told him they are in favour of a shift in church teaching regarding the treatment of civilly remarried Catholics.

'A shift in teaching regarding the treatment of...' Weasel words. Why doesn't he say what really means, which is a shift in teaching regarding the indissolubility of marriage? 

He said the key question for the remarried divorcees receiving Communion was whether there was “grave sin”, and to clarify this, a dialogue with the individual was needed, he said.

He is correct in the first proposition: that is the key question; and the answer is yes. He is incorrect in the second proposition: no amount of dialogue can convert sin into not-sin. He is failing to distinguish between the objective and the subjective.

The cardinal added that the Church had been given the power by Christ to decide whether this was the case.

He is correct again: the Church has been given that power and has decided, in line with Christ's clear teaching. What the Church cannot do is reverse such a decision.

This has echoes with an interview the Archbishop of Accra, Charles Palmer-Buckle, gave earlier this year where he reflected on Matthew 16:19, in which Jesus says to Peter: “I will give you the keys to the kingdom of heaven,” and pronounces: “Whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.”

“The Church can therefore loose or bind because this lawful power has been given it by Christ,” Kasper said.

And the Church has exercised that power. What Kasper and his followers want is in fact to reverse what the Church, using that power, has already decided and taught for centuries, based on the clear teachings of Christ and St Paul.

Archbishop Palmer-Buckle cited a Protestant friend who interpreted this passage to show that Christ gave them the power to unbind people in some marriages.

When they seek Protestant interpretations of the Bible to inform Catholic teaching in ways contrary to Catholic Tradition, we know they are scraping the barrel.

“I think we are going to look at what ‘the power of the keys’ could mean in this context,” the Ghanaian prelate told the Aletelia news website.

Good luck with that...

Ahead of last year’s synod Cardinal Kasper put forward proposals for admitting the divorced and remarried to Communion, and Pope Francis has praised a book the cardinal has written on mercy.

But reports of the Holy Father's support for Cardinal Kasper's proposals appear to have been greatly exaggerated. I have a feeling that ++Kasper, his fellow travellers and the Tablet will all be disappointed by the outcomes of the Synod.


But don't rely on that; remember SPES: Supplication and Penance for the Episcopal Synod.

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