Card. Caffarra on upcoming Synod, Communion for divorced and remarried

At ZENIT there is a translation into English of the wide-ranging interview given by Carlo Card. Caffarra, Archbishop of Bologna, about the upcoming Synod and the issue to be addressed. It was originally in Italian in Il Foglio.

You should read it all, but here are some snips:

The possibility of allowing the divorced and remarried to receive communion is spoken about. One of Cardinal Kasper’s suggestions was that they should undergo a period of penance that would bring them into a full readmission to Communion. Is this now an inevitable necessity, or is it the accommodation of Christian teaching to contemporary circumstances?

Those who make these suggestions have not, at least up until now, answered one simple question: what happens to the first valid and consummated marriage? If the Church admits them to the Eucharist, she must render a judgment on the legitimacy of the second marriage. It’s logical. But, as I said, what about the first marriage? The second marriage, if we can call it that, cannot be a true second marriage because bigamy is against the teaching of Christ. So the first marriage, is it dissolved? But all the popes have always taught that the Pope has no authority over this. The Pope does not have the power to dissolve a valid and consummated marriage. The proposed solution seems to imply that although the first marriage continues, the Church can somehow legitimate a second relationship. But in doing this, the proposal demolishes the foundations of the Church’s  teaching on sexuality. At this point we have to ask: why, then, can we not approve of unmarried couples living together ? Or why not homosexual unions? The question is simple: what about the first marriage? No one has yet answered that question. In 2000, John Paul II speaking to the Roman Rota said: “It is clear that the Roman Pontiff’s power does not extend to valid and consummated marriages and this is taught by the Magisterium of the Church as a doctrine to be definitively held even if it has not been solemnly declared through a definitive act.” It is a technical formula, “a doctrine to be definitively held”, and it means that on this point there is no further discussion to be had among theologians nor doubts among the faithful.

Therefore, it is not just a question of praxis but also of doctrine?

Yes, this touches upon doctrine. Inevitably. You can try to say it doesn’t, but it does. And not only this. You would introduce a way of thinking that in the long run would touch not only Catholics but everyone. You would suggest that there is no such thing as an indissoluble marriage. This, certainly, is against the Lord’s will. Of that there can be no doubt.

[… Q&A on mercy… ]

We are not, therefore, talking about compromise?        

Far from it! Compromise would be unworthy of the Lord. Man on his own can come to compromises. Rather we are talking of the regeneration of a human person and only God is capable of that, and in His name the Church. St. Thomas Aquinas says that the justification of a sinner is a more marvelous work than the creation of the universe. When a sinner is justified, something greater than the whole universe happens, and this act comes about through a poor, humble priest in the confessional. Right there occurs an act greater than the creation of the whole universe. We must not reduce mercy to compromise nor to tolerance. This would be to undervalue, to be unjust to, the Lord’s work.

[…]

Read the whole thing.

In the meantime, His Eminence Raymond Card. Burke, Prefect of the Signatura, has also given his opinion as a canonist that Card. Kasper’s proposals.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=llSCDBNPvK4&feature=player_embedded

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34 Responses to Card. Caffarra on upcoming Synod, Communion for divorced and remarried

  1. dans0622 says:

    He is actually talking about a “ratum (i.e., sacramental) et consummatum” marriage, not a “valid and consummated” one. That’s an error in translation.
    Dan

  2. James Joseph says:

    Since murder and adultery are both categorically the same [Ummmm…. they are both in the Decalogue, but you might want to reconsider this.] I could possibly see this happening. For murder we rightly have capital punishment to expiate for sin and just vindication. I am edified how early canons handled this particular issue, with life-long penances.

    Divorce and re-marriage is not a victimless crime.

  3. McCall1981 says:

    And Card O’Malley recently said this in an interview:

    “Pope Francis has expressed sympathy for Catholics who cannot receive the Eucharist because they have divorced and remarried, and some German bishops say that Church teaching on the indissolubility of marriage should be modified. Can you give us any information on this issue, which will be addressed at the 2014 Extraordinary Synod on Marriage and the Family?”

    “The Church will not change her teaching on the indissolubility of marriage.
    There will be an effort to help those people who have had a failed marriage and try to sift through ways [to consider what] can be done. The Holy Father is anxious to discuss that, but I think it is premature to make any forecast for how it will play out.
    The simplification of the annulment process would be a wonderful first step for addressing a very crucial pastoral problem for the Church.”

    http://www.ncregister.com/daily-news/cardinal-omalley-the-church-will-not-change-her-teaching-on-the-indissolubi/#ixzz2wui2AWL7

    While I love what Cards Caffarra and Burke said, I actually take heart more from Card O’Malley’s statement, since he is close to Francis, and is not a “conservative”Cardinal one would expect to say this.

  4. Bosco says:

    Whichever way this goes, we should desire only that the result be pleasing to Almighty God. In short, may His Will be done.
    We simply cannot influence and, I suggest, ought not desire to influence the course of events by anything other than our prayer and sacrifices.
    Pray the rosary with confidence.

  5. Magpie says:

    I’m troubled by the fact that Cardinal Burke, speaking of Kasper’s address, said he has made a ‘grave error’ whilst Pope Francis refers to the same address as a ‘beautiful reflection’.

  6. Elizabeth R says:

    McCall1981, Cardinal Kaspar also says that marriage is indissoluble. However, he thinks that indissolubility is compatible with divorced and remarried persons receiving communion. From Catholic News Service:

    “Jesus’ teaching on the indissolubility of sacramental marriage is clear, the retired German cardinal said, and it would harm individuals and the church to pretend otherwise. However, “after the shipwreck of sin, the shipwrecked person should not have a second boat at his or her disposal, but rather a life raft” in the form of the sacrament of Communion, he said.”

    So I don’t think Cardinal O’Malley’s opinion is quite as comforting as it might be. He considers simplifying annulments a “first step”, and leaves open what the next steps might be.

  7. tcreek says:

    Card O’Malley said — “The simplification of the annulment process would be a wonderful first step for addressing a very crucial pastoral problem for the Church.”

    Pope John Paul II said — “… the scandal of seeing the value of Christian marriage being practically destroyed by the exaggerated and almost automatic multiplication of declarations of nullity of marriage in cases of the failure of marriage on the pretext of some immaturity or psychic weakness on the part of the contracting parties.” – Address to the Tribunal of the Roman Rota on February 5, 1987.

    Pope Benedict XVI said — “… the scandal of seeing the value of Christian marriage being practically destroyed by the exaggerated and almost automatic multiplication of declarations of nullity of marriage in cases of the failure of marriage on the pretext of some immaturity or psychic weakness on the part of the contracting parties.” – Address to the Tribunal of the Roman Rota on Jan 29, 2009.

    Pope Benedict in 2009 quoted the words of Pope John Paul in 1987 to the same tribunal. Pope Francis in 2014???

  8. McCall1981 says:

    @Elizabeth R,
    Well, I understand what you’re saying, but I still think it’s pretty positive. The interviewer specifically asks him about the issue of remarried people receiving communion, and the interviewer frames the question by saying the German Cardinals DO want to change the indissoluability of marriage, and his answer is “no”.
    Also, a month or so ago Card O’Malley said “I don’t see any theological justification” for allowing remarried Catholics to receive communion:
    http://www.catholicculture.org/news/headlines/index.cfm?storyid=20450

  9. Elizabeth R says:

    McCall1981, I certainly hope you’re correct!

  10. frahobbit says:

    Jesus would compromise, someone may object. But then it works both ways. (Imaginary conversation with someone) “You want the Lord to compromise to allow this. But when death comes to take you, then He should compromise too, and let the devil have your soul, no? Oh THEN you want the Lord to be 100% and no compromise, so as to take you to Heaven ? IDK if this makes sense.

  11. Juergensen says:

    Pray that Cardinal Burke may one day succeed Peter.

  12. Daniel W says:

    Card. Burke is an excellent canonist, but I am not about to use this interview with friends to clear up the confusion around Card. Kasper’s speech.

    Firstly, Card. Burke says “We are not talking here about a truth that developed over time!!!!” This might give the impression that some truths taught by the Church developed over time. We know what he means, but I don’t think this helps clarify the confusion.

    Card. Burke is not a dogmatic theologian, he is a canonist, so I was more surprised by another statement about those who “falsely believe that the Church’s practice could change.” Church practice changes. Canon law and other practices do develop over time, hopefully led by the Holy Spirit to better reflect eternal truths such as the indissolubility of marriage, the presence of Christ in the Eucharist and his infinite mercy toward those who repent. I know people who think that the currect practice of allowing “divorced and remarried” partners to receive Communion if they commit to live as “brother and sister” should be reversed because of scandal (what Fr Z calls the “Yeah right” factor!). I too pine for the good old days…

    Card. Malley’s statement seems wisest: “try to sift through ways [to consider what] can be done.” Just as fifty years ago it seemed appropriate to deny Communion to such couples, yesterday it seemed right to deny Communion to an individual who has repented of adultery and is trying to convert the partner in those adulterous acts to also commit to continence (while living together for the sake of their children). I can’t agree though that Church practice may not change in the future to allow such a person to receive Communion. This might in some ways better reflect the Church’s teaching in CCC 1650. “Reconciliation through the sacrament of Penance can be granted only to those who have repented for having violated the sign of the covenant and of fidelity to Christ, and who are committed to living in complete continence.”

    I agree that this would be open to abuse and scandal, but so is the present situation. I also agree that Card. Kasper’s speech was better kept a secret!

  13. CatholicByChoice says:

    Respectfully, I think “compromise” by Jesus is an odd choice of words. I personally would not expect compromise as that sounds as if a person is viewing himself as an equal to Jesus, as if Jesus is someone to enter into negotiation with. But I do pray for mercy. “Lord, I am not fit that you should enter into my house, but if you will just say the Word, my soul shall be healed.”

  14. LeeF says:

    I wonder what those bishops who advocate for change of doctrine on divorce/remarriage think the end result will be. That hordes of those who disregarded church/biblical teaching on marriage to build a life built on a foundation of sand, will now gladly return to the Church? And if so, what kind of “believers” will they be? Would they now firmly adhere to the (rest of) the Deposit of Faith, or will be they be pick and choosers like they were before with no real sense of repentance which recognizes not merely having been wrong, but having been wrong-headed in their beliefs. That is, will they now have formed a correct conscience?

    While we should feel sympathy for those who have a change of heart and desire not to impact small children from a second marriage, we also have to recognize that it most often seems as if such a change of heart extends only so far as their present life is accommodated. Otherwise they are those who refuse the call to full repentance which entails untangling their present lives in the way taught by the Church, just as they previously refused to follow the teachings on marriage.

    Liberals like to stress Jesus saying “come as you are”, without acknowledging the other part which is “be ye converted”, i.e. don’t stay as you were.

  15. jacobi says:

    Father,

    I strongly suspect we are coming to a point of crisis in the Church. Yes, by all means let’s look more carefully at the process of, and the grounds for, annulment. That has probably always been done.

    But what is being discussed and proposed now is different. It amounts to the option of cancellation of valid and proper marriage, in the interests of a false concept of pastoral care, which in reality is just the latest aspect of the Secularisation of laity and clergy which has been steadily soaking into the Church since Vatican II.

    If this is conceded at the forthcoming conference or any time after, then there is a very real danger that the Church will enter into a major split, a schism as profound and deep and as lasting as that of the Protestant Reformation.

  16. James C says:

    I hope and pray that Cardinal Sean doesn’t mean we need more annulments—as if 40,000 a year in the US Church were not enough already! If anything, this abuse of the process has put us into the situation we are in now—most people see it as “Catholic divorce” and wonder what all this fuss about communion is about.

  17. Unwilling says:

    But isn’t that Cardinal Kasper “…ein deutscher Theologieprofessor…”?

  18. bourgja says:

    “Jesus’ teaching on the indissolubility of sacramental marriage is clear, the retired German cardinal said, and it would harm individuals and the church to pretend otherwise. However, “after the shipwreck of sin, the shipwrecked person should not have a second boat at his or her disposal, but rather a life raft” in the form of the sacrament of Communion, he said.”

    This is the exact imagery that the Council of Trent uses, except it is used for the sacrament of penance not of the Eucharist.

  19. kpoterack says:

    There is also an interesting article in Crisis magazine which deals with the supposed disagreement between Cardinals Maradiaga and Mueller. If the author, who claims to have read the entire interview with Maradiaga (only one paragraph was excerpted by the MSM), is right, it seems that Cardinal Maradiaga doesn’t in substance disagree with the Church’s teaching on divorce/remarriage and communion. He just feels that there is more to be done than simply reiterating the teaching.

    Anyway, the author has some interesting and positive suggestions.

    http://www.crisismagazine.com/2014/aim-of-family-synods-harmonize-doctrine-with-pastoral-care

  20. Daniel W says:

    Yes, the imagery of the life raft is of the sacrament of Penance, as pointed out by Dr Peters at http://canonlawblog.wordpress.com/2014/03/01/patristic-life-raft-language-refers-to-confession-not-communion/. However, this indicates where Dr Peters has missed the point completely – if an adulterer can receive absolution, then he or she can receive Holy Communion.
    The life raft of absolution can only be granted if the adulterer repents of adultery and commits to not only not sinning again but avoiding the occasion of sin. At present the patristic life raft is offered to couples, but not to individuals who are willing to not commit adultery and avoid the occasion of sin as far as their circumstances allow. Church teaching in CCC1650 would seem to allow the life raft of absolution and Communion to individuals rather than only couples as is now the case.

    Dr Peters makes no sense when he distinguishes between receiving Penance and receiving Holy Communion, unless he is suggesting we allow penitents to receive Penance but then deny them Holy Communion.

  21. kpoterack says:

    Daniel W,

    That is an interesting argument which you put forward, but is that what Card. Kaspar really had in mind? – this distinction you make between a COUPLE in an invalid union agreeing to live as brother and sister and an INDIVIDUAL in such a union trying to live chastely?

  22. McCall1981 says:

    Kpoterack,
    Thanks so much for posting that article on Card Maradiaga, very interesting.

  23. Daniel W says:

    Card. Kaspar is too vague to put a finger on what he had in mind -that’s the problem…! Fr Z or someone else made the point that he is vague because that’s what the German intellectual marketplace requires. The fact that he is so broad indicates he might have more in mind.
    I am so glad I had a good old manualistic training based on the great St Thomas, it really gives solid grounding to sift through the blurb….

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  25. Dr. Edward Peters says:

    “Daniel W”, please. Any sinner can receive absolution (and return to Communion, etc.) IF he repents. Confession, without ceasing the sinful behavior, is NOT repentance; in fact, it’s not even Confession. I am not confused here. I think you are, re-read your post, and explain what “couples” vis a vis Confession even means here. That sacrament is celebrated only individually.

  26. So Cardinal Kaspar thinks:

    “Jesus’ teaching on the indissolubility of sacramental marriage is clear, the retired German cardinal said, and it would harm individuals and the church to pretend otherwise. However, “after the shipwreck of sin, the shipwrecked person should not have a second boat at his or her disposal, but rather a life raft” in the form of the sacrament of Communion, he said.”

    Amen to that. I love my liferaft after the shipwreck of sin, namely Confession, and also the firm purpose of amendment that goes with it.

    Anyone who is divorced and remarried outside the Church is very welcome to come to Holy Communion. All they have to do is stop cohabiting, go to Confession, and never cohabit again, either with each other or with anyone else.

    Just like the rest of us, basically.

  27. robtbrown says:

    Dr. Edward Peters says:

    “Daniel W”, please. Any sinner can receive absolution (and return to Communion, etc.) IF he repents. Confession, without ceasing the sinful behavior, is NOT repentance . . .

    How about changing that “to desiring to cease the sinful behavior”?

  28. robtbrown says:

    should be: that to “desiring””

  29. kpoterack says:

    Elizabeth R: “McCall1981, I certainly hope you’re correct!”

    I can more or less vouch for this. Cardinal O’Malley may not be a “Burkean” traditionalist conservative, but he is a good solid churchman – not an experimental German theologian.

    Really, I think that as more bishops are made aware of the fundamental problem with the Kaspar position – which seems to be the Eastern Orthodox position – the less appealing it will be. This position seems to allow the Church to dispense people from moral and Divine law in difficult cases. Their tradition limits its application to marriage, but there is no theoretical reason why it could not be applied to other moral issues. This is NOT the Roman Catholic Church’s position, nor could it ever be. There was a good recent address on this by an English priest:

    http://fatherdylanjames.blogspot.co.uk/2014/02/divorce-and-remarriage-oikonomia-and.html

  30. robtbrown says:

    Daniel W,

    For the most part, Manualism was not based on the the thought of St Thomas. It was systematic, but that merely qualifies it as neo-scholasticism. In fact, its theology had more in common with Duns Scotus than St Thomas

  31. Dr. Edward Peters says:

    robtbrown, if i follow your question, desiring is not key here, but ceasing. yes, i know, recidivism and all that, different problem. analogy: “bless me Father for i have sinned, i have a kidnapped woman locked in my basement.” priest: okay, i see, have you released her? guy: “no, but i’d like to do, it’s just that i can’t bring myself to release her, but i’m really sorry i kidnapped her.”

    absolution? of course not.

  32. Daniel W says:

    Robtbrown,
    Thanks, excellent point. I stand corrected – perhaps my meaning might be clearer if I said I appreciate my semi-manualistic training, which though unfortunately overinfluenced by Suarez, had enough material direct from Thomas to interest me in going directly to him.

  33. Daniel W says:

    “Dr Peters”,
    Thanks for restating the obvious. I wrote “repents” because it implies the efficacious intention to cease sinning. Your analogy above is not quite enough: a better analogy might be where a couple had kidnapped a person. Imagine one kidnapper repents and the other doesn’t and therefore refuses to free the captive. Why not grant absolution (the life-raft) and communion to the repentant kidnapper, as long as he/she has an efficacious intention to work for the release of the captive (through means such as converting the partner in crime). Meanwhile, he or she will have to also cooperate with the captor to ensure the captive is fed. Of course, the risk is there that the repentant partner might actually go back to being a willing captor. Would it be just to withhold Holy Communion until the unrepentant kidnapper also repented?

    I don’t think I should bother with pedantry regarding my statement that the patristic life raft is only offered to couples, unless there are others who need me to plod through the obvious. In fact, the complete sentence is an example of where I did state the obvious: “the adulterer repents of adultery and commits to not only not sinning again but avoiding the occasion of sin.” If you read that, why did you protest that I seem to think that confession could be genuine without stopping sinning????

  34. Daniel W says:

    Going to the heart of the matter, related to your concern for the fact that sacraments are received by individuals. At present, an individual in the unions we are discussing cannot receive Holy Communion unless the partner in the union agrees to live as brother or sister, ie it depends on the couple, not the individual. Precisely because of what you highlight, reception of Holy Communion should depend on the sincere repentance of the individual.

    Before a couple arrive at the decision to avoid adulterous acts, often it is one member of the couple who repents first and then convinces the other to repent as well. I know persons who have been converted by the efforts of a repentant partner to live continently in similar situations. At the moment, a repentant individual is denied reception of Holy Communion during the period in which he or she is making a sincere effort to live continently and trying to convert the partner.

    I can imagine the adulterous woman of the Gospels returning to her partner and any children they might have had, following Christ’s command to sin no more while working to convert the partner and care for any children of their relationship. Should a person like her be denied Holy Communion??