Jesuit-run Amerika Magazine has run more from Card. Kasper in support the divorced and civilly remarried receiving Holy Communion. This is the “tolerate but not accepted” solution, which, through “mercy”, would see these people as a sort of second-class Catholic who, after they are sorry for what they have done, can be tolerated at the Communion rail, even though we don’t accept their adulterous state.
I’m not sure how many times Amerika has served as Card. Kasper’s agent in this, but it’s a few by now. This new piece has the date of 15 September, but, at the bottom, we read that it is base on what they published last May. No kidding. First Pete and now Repeat.
The tune hasn’t changed much. This is part of the “mercy” campaign I predicted would get into full-swing as we got closer to the Synod on the Family in October. And, just you watch, people who uphold the Church’s doctrine and discipline, will be accused of conducting a war on mercy. Those who say we must use the lens “mercy” so as to re-read what the Lord taught and what the Church has always affirmed will be accused of being “ideological”. Just watch.
In any event, let’s glance at a few snips from Card. Kasper’s latest Pre-Synod Repetition. Jumping in media res:
“[T]he church must proclaim the mercy of God; it must concretely provide people with God’s mercy in the form of the sacrament of reconciliation; and it must allow God’s mercy to appear and be realized in its entire life, its concrete structures and even in its laws.“
This is code language. Words like “structure” bring to mind, what? For example, class struggle.
His Eminence then seems to ramble for a bit about the rich North and the poor South. In a nutshell, we of the North (bad and unmerciful) must treat the South (poor and therefore good) with mercy. We are, therefore, supposed to make some changes and be “merciful”. In material terms that means give them money through changing all sorts of structures. However, Kasper gets back at it in the next section. I am sure you can predict it: Just like we of the cold and merciless North must make changes to aid the materially poor of the South, then we of the merciless law-and-doctrine-defending-spiritual “North” (where it’s cold, I guess) must make changes to laws, and I suppose to doctrine, to “structures”, so as to show spiritual mercy to the spiritual “South”, that is, the divorced and remarried.
Simple. Get it?
Thus, the Cardinal:
“The question many ask is: What does this mean for the church itself and its behavior not only toward those who are poor in a material sense but toward people within the church who feel neglected, put aside, marginalized and excommunicated—if not in a strict canonical sense, then in a de facto sense—because they are not allowed to take part in the table of the Lord? Often one asks: What about people who are divorced and remarried?”
So the breakdown of church discipline can in no way appeal for support to Jesus and the New Testament. But because church discipline is in keeping with the meaning of the Gospel, it must also be interpreted and applied according to the sense and spirit of the Gospel. For this reason, Paul makes it clear that the punishment of expulsion is meant to force the sinner to reflect on his or her conduct and to repent. If the sinner regrets his or her actions and repents, the community should let gentleness again prevail (2 Cor 2:5-11). Punishment is the last resort and, as such, is temporally limited. It is the drastic and final means used by mercy.
Here is the problem with this.
In order to receive Holy Communion, we must be properly disposed. If, after divorcing and not obtaining a declaration of nullity (thus, you are still considered married), you have entered into a civil marriage, you have committed a mortal sin. You are living in the state of sin if you are having relations reserved to marriage. The word “adultery” is not reserved only to what the guy who cheats on his wife. That’s what people tend to picture when they hear the word “adultery”. When Christians hear “adultery”, they think of the way the adulteress was almost stoned by those legalist meanies whom Jesus put to shame with His mercy. But “adultery” includes more than sneaking around. Keep that firmly in mind. Jesus told the adulteress to amend her life (πορεύου καὶ μηκέτι ἁμάρτανε). The civil marriage (after divorce without decree of nullity) is also an “adulterous” relationship, even though there is no sneaking around, even though it looks very respectable, and even if the couple is working really hard at it. Bottom line: if you – anyone – are not willing to change your situation, if you – anyone – are not willing to “amend your life”, you remain not disposed to receive Communion. The sin could be X or Y, but the consequence is the same: you aren’t properly disposed to receive Communion.
The inability to receive Communion is a consequence of not being in the state of grace. It is NOT a punishment.
That’s the key, but let’s see just a bit more from the Cardinal (as if we haven’t see it before):
Such an understanding of church discipline as the bitter but necessary medicine of mercy conforms to a tradition that understood Jesus Christ, in light of his miraculous healings, as doctor, healer and savior; a tradition in which the pastor, in particular the confessor, is understood not only as a judge, but primarily as a doctor of the soul. This therapeutic understanding of church law and discipline leads us to the fundamental issue of how to interpret and explain church law. That is a broad field that we cannot treat here in a comprehensive way, but only from the perspective of the relation of church law to mercy. [Jesus told the adulterous woman, to "sin no more". Jesus did not approve of the woman at the well having ... how many husbands was it?]
Law and Spirit
So, canon law is not against the Gospel, but the Gospel is against a legalistic understanding of canon law. Canon law should be interpreted and applied in the light of mercy because mercy opens our eyes to the concrete situation of the other. Mercy shows that the individual is not only a case that can subsumed under a general rule. On the contrary, it is essential for Christian anthropology that before God we are not a “plural”; every person and every situation is singular. So we have to find solutions that are just and equitable at the same time. If we do not, then—as the Romans put it—summa ius [ummm... ius is neuter, not feminine. summum ius, right? lex is feminine and ius (jus) is neuter. But I suppose, in mercy, we can just make ius be feminine. I'll tolerate that in this article, though I won't accept it.] (highest justice) can become summa iniuria (highest injustice).
He goes on to talk about, again, oikonomia. YES, he does it again. He has not yet received the memo: oikonomia is not a solution. As a propaedeutic for how oikonomia does NOT work to solve this situation click HERE.
This is more of the same thing we have heard and read from the Cardinal for the umpteenth time. And Amerika, once again, has a new editorial in support of this. Déjà vu.
I suspect that the Cardinal and the editors of Amerika, just as their former editor, Thomas Reese, SJ (now with the Fishwrap – he had a meltdown about this yesterday), have seen the list of the participants in the October Synod of Bishops and they know that they have lost. Their notions can’t garner the 2/3 vote that would be needed to make such proposals to Pope Francis.