Card. Kasper: Christ’s adultery language is offensive! Fr. Dodaro: No, it’s Christ’s tough love. POLL

Meanwhile, as the Synod is about to rev up.   This from CNA:

Cardinal Kasper: Adultery language is offensive, insulting

Rome, Italy, Oct 3, 2014 / 08:02 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- In recent interviews, German Cardinal Walter Kasper suggested that while Church doctrine cannot change, it can be adapted and interpreted in different ways, and language can be softened when it is deemed offensive. [?  Is this part of the whole “we must never call X for what it is!” campaign?]


He urged against using the language of adultery, generally drawn from the words of Jesus that one who divorces his wife and marriages another commits adultery. [You mean as in Luke 16:18?  Mark 10:11?  Matthew 5:52?  Matthew 19:9?   There is a good, but hard, section on this point in the “Five Cardinals Book” I keep harping on.  HERE]

Cardinal Kasper said that “to tell them that’s adultery, permanent adultery, I think they would feel insulted and offended.”  [Oh!  Okay.  Let’s call it anything but what the Lord called it.  How about a dynamic equivalent version such as … “croquet”?]

“Such a sexual relationship within a couple has also its positive values, it’s not only its negative values,” he said, rejecting the idea “that every sexual act is sinful” in such situations. [I guess it all depends on your level of conscience formation.  Right?  If people who have had nothing but what they see in TV sitcoms about relationships, and therefore have zero concept of sin, and they cannot therefore intend the sin, who knows what they are doing subjectively.  But that is a pretty low bar.  It would be hard to believe, however, that a Cardinal of Holy Church is suggesting otherwise.]

The most important thing, the cardinal said, is to accompany individuals where they are at, realizing that we are fallen beings and none of us loves God and neighbor fully as we are called to.

“I can encourage them to do according to their conscience when it is a very mature conscience,” he added.  [But wouldn’t that rule out the scenario I described?]


Curiouser and curiouser.

Meanwhile,  also at CNA:

Click to PRE-ORDER

Taking Gospel seriously on marriage is not ‘rigid’ – it’s love  [Bingo!]

Rome, Italy, Oct 4, 2014 / 05:58 am (CNA/EWTN News).- The editor of a high-profile book on marriage [The “Five Cardinals Book” I keep harping about.] said that adhering to Christ’s Gospel teachings on divorce is not harsh and mean-spirited, but rather a form of tough love aimed at the salvation of souls.  [You mean to say that the Lord is not being mean and offensive after all?]

Mercy and truth and justice have to accord with one another,” said Fr. Robert Dodaro OSA, president of Rome’s Patristic Institute, the “Augustinianum,” as well as a specialist in patristics and a consultor to the Congregation for the Doctrine of Faith.


“We would like to see the Church more active in welcoming, embracing, involving divorced and civilly remarried Catholics into the full life of the Church,” he explained. [Everyone! PAY ATTENTION!] “Where we disagree with Cardinal Kasper is on one point, but it is an important one. The question of admission to the sacraments of penance and Holy Communion.”  [One point.  This is KEY!]

As a solution to the problematic situation, Cardinal Kasper has proposed “oikonomia” – a notion prevalent in Eastern Orthodox Churches. The cardinal has suggested that the Catholic Church follow the Orthodox example of “tolerating, but not accepting second marriages,” Fr. Dodaro explained. “We oppose that suggestion.”

As the book points out, the Orthodox Church does not have a unified view on the subject.

“There is no single Orthodox position on divorce, on second marriages, on admission to the sacraments; there is no one position that characterizes the views of all of the various Orthodox Churches,” Fr. Dodaro explained.

“I have not heard any senior Orthodox prelates applauding the Catholic Church for wanting to adopt or even to look more closely at their practice, so I do not know how much our doing so would contribute to ecumenical dialogue,” he added. [As you can see, the debate about this issue reaches to more than just the relationship of a couple to the Communion rail!]

Ultimately, the priest discarded “oikonomia” as a valid solution: “We believe that it violates the principle of indissolubility of marriage, because the individuals in question are already married, or at least one of them is. [PAY ATTENTION!  This is a key phrase.  Remember this one:]Not just in the eyes of the Church, but in the eyes of Christ. We cannot understand how Cardinal Kasper does not see that.”

Fr. Dodaro suggested that the teaching of the indissolubility of marriage would be in danger, especially in marriage preparation, should Cardinal Kasper’s proposal be accepted.

“So the priest says to a young couple in marriage preparation that the marriage is ‘until death does us part.’ They would reply: ‘Yes, Father, yes, Father, we get that.’ Then after the class, when they leave the rectory, they will say: ‘Ok, mom and dad are divorced and remarried and they go to Communion every Sunday, so what’s the big deal?’”

A change in the discipline of the Church would introduce confusion about the nature of sin and repentance, he said.

“Let’s be clear, we are all sinners, we are not singling out the civilly remarried because they sin. We all sin. Catholics who sin can go to confession and be absolved because they repent of their sin and resolve not to sin again. However, Cardinal Kasper’s proposal would allow civilly remarried Catholics to receive sacramental absolution without resolving to cease having sexual relations, while in the eyes of Christ, [NOT just in the eyes of the Church but in the eyes of Christ!] they are still married to their original spouses. That is what makes the sacrament of penance impossible for them,” explains Fr. Dodaro.

Cardinal Kasper recently warned against a “rigid” view and stated in an interview that the Gospel is not a “code of penal law,” a phrasing that caught Fr. Dodaro’s attention.  [That’s the tactic.  Hear it?  Brand those who defend the Church’s teaching as being “legalistic”, “ideological”, “rigid”, “against mercy”.]

“I agree with the Cardinal that the Gospel is not a code of penal law. But it is a code of divine law and we have to make a distinction between human laws, the laws that the Church makes up, and laws that are divine.”

“When Jesus unveiled his teaching on marriage in the Gospels, he triggered incredulity on the part of his disciples. He told them that Moses had permitted divorce because of the hardness of their hearts, adding, ‘but I say to you, in the beginning it was not so.’ This is found in Matthew 19. And then Jesus refers the disciples to Genesis 2:24, where the original divine teaching concerning marriage is found. So if Jesus quotes the Scriptures in order to correct a faulty, permissive divorce practice, then is He a fundamentalist? Is Jesus rigid?”  [This is the theologian equivalent of tearing the ball out of the other guy’s arms and then running over him on the way down the field in the other direction.]

“How seriously do we take the Gospels? What is left of the Gospel when we start striking out things that Jesus said because we do not want to give them a ‘fundamentalist’ interpretation, we do not want to be rigid?”  [And then getting back the onside kick.]

Mercy is another key word in the debate. Fr. Dodaro cautioned that “we have to be careful not to confuse mercy with sentimentalism or romanticism. Love is tough love sometimes.

“So we find mercy by submitting ourselves to the will of Christ, each one of us starting with himself as a sinner, each one of us is called to conversion, each one of us has stuff to figure out in his life.”

[I interrupt this article to ask… so far, considering everything that you have read about the thoughts of Card. Kasper, and I assume that you have been doing your homework… which position to you passes your Catholic sense, your Catholic “smell test” as it were.  Card. Kasper’s?  Fr. Dodaro’s?]

Commenting on the book that is being released to explain and defend Church teaching on marriage, Fr. Dodaro rejected claims that it was intended as a personal attack.

“I am a university professor, I write articles, I publish books and sometimes other people write articles and books saying: Dodaro is wrong about something. This is a normal part of academic life,” he said.

“I do not see the book as polemical in the sense of being angry or of trying to ‘gang up’ on the Cardinal, as some journalists have suggested.”  [I’ve read it.  It isn’t in the least mean-spirited.]

Rather, he said, the book tries to argue objectively and with well-founded arguments, and the dialogue that has arisen is fruitful.

As a famous university professor, Cardinal Kasper should be used to an academic debate: does his solution fit in terms of the Catholic Tradition and teaching? Is it doctrinally acceptable? Or would it imply a radical change in teaching? That is the nature of the debate.

Fr. Dodaro holds out hope for the upcoming gathering of bishops in Rome: “The themes of marriage and family concern all Catholics, and I think part of what Pope Francis wants to do is to emphasize the positive role of joy in Christian life.”

Food for thought there, folks.

I would read Fr. Dodaro’s remark again, but over at CNA where you don’t have my notes.


Anyone can vote, but you have to be registered and approved to comment.

Pick your answer and give your reasons.

Given what you have read about the "Communion for divorced, civilly remarried" debate, whose arguments seem to be right? Whose arguments pass your Catholic "smell test"?

View Results

Loading ... Loading ...

The moderation queue is ON.

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
This entry was posted in One Man & One Woman, Our Catholic Identity, POLLS, SESSIUNCULA and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.


  1. SaintsSQPNcom says:

    i hear this more and more: “individuals where they are at” = “if they’re happy with their choices, then it’s O K”. I’m a convert. Sister Mary Leon met me where I was at. Then she proceeded to teach me about how to improve. And a lot of it involved knocking off some of the things I was doing.

    And it’s one thing for some clown like me who just clogs up a pew on Sunday to be shy about teaching the Truth, the Whole Truth and Nothing But; it’s a different matter for a prince of the Church to say “quit calling sinners sinful”. I’d have thought that fraternal correction was part of his job description.

    And I don’t understand why, in 2014 some folk still want to debate matters that seem to have been settled with black letter law in, oh, the year 30 or so.

    Man, I didn’t realize how confused and grumpy this topic makes me.

  2. McCall1981 says:

    It’s obvious that Card Kasper’s proposal makes no sense, and I don’t think anyone with any intellectual honesty could argue otherwise. I think the problem though is that Kasper (and Francis?) simply doesn’t care.

    We “conservatives” can win all the logical and theological arguments we want, but I think we’re winning the wrong battles because the “liberals” just don’t care about these things. For instance, you don’t hear Kasper using logical or theological arguments to try to counter Burke/Pell/Muller etc, he simply changes the subject by saying “you can’t reduce the Gospel down to rigid rules” and leaves it at that.

    My fear is that Francis is the same way, and that even if he’s faced with an air tight logical argument against Kasper, he might just ignore it.

  3. Choirgirl says:

    Fr. Dodaro wins hands down. Cardinal Kasper doesn’t seem to “get” the true nature of marriage, as well as the true nature of the Blessed Sacrament, as well as the true nature of the Sacrament of Pennance/Reconcilliation. In addition, he’s just like the rest of the libs, i.e., when losing the argument, their best/only defense is crying “Bully.”

  4. Joan A. says:

    All these Kasper articles have finally revealed something interesting: the Cardinal lives in a luxury apartment with modern art and a black leather sofa. I don’t know what that means, but doesn’t it strike you as interesting?

  5. irishthree says:

    I wonder what the fine Cardinal (Kasper, that is) thinks about those married Catholics who work through tough spots and become stronger. Are they too rigid? Should they have thrown in the towel and found a new mate?

    Maybe if his predecessors had been less worried about reinventing the Mass and weakening our faith more parents would have stayed together and children would have had better examples at home.

    Come Holy Spirit and these Cardinal straight, please…

  6. mrshopey says:

    I picked Fr. Dodaro because he doesn’t vere from the gospel as Kasper does. At the end of the day, anything could go with Cardinal Kasper’s view. Where would it end? Why just one divorce and remarriage? What about 2 or 3?
    I am surprised that Cardinal Kasper did not accept the counter points esp since he is a professor. Is he going unchallenged where he is?
    I just pray they are open to correction and it doesn’t end up being another HV where people shelf it.

  7. incredulous says:

    Cardinal Kasper’s mode of argument is highly offensive. As Father Z has pointed out, it’s typical of the way liberals argue. It’s based on emotion and not the intellect. When their position is weak and indefensible, they attack others like, namecall and most importantly, feign victimhood

    I ask readers to consider that German intellects are in the news for floating the trial balloon that incest should be legal. This breakdown of any semblance of rational, civilized behavior, first, strikes of the cirrupt “enlightened /liberal” Weimar Republic that led to Nazi Germany. Secondly it is indicative of a complete failure of the Catholic Church in Germany to properly form the consciences of the people there.

    Kasper is on full display as the poster child for the modern paganizatiom of Germany. The Pope should immediately put an end to Kasper’s interviews and public teaching and recatechize him. He’s crossing the line of being an anathema. Pray for his conversion and a minimization in the collateral damage and the number of souls damned by his error.

  8. vetusta ecclesia says:

    Kasper has a very continental European view of law. We in the UK apply EU law fully, sometimes to our detriment, and often complain that other member states do so half-heartedly or in part only, depending on what suits their national interest.The reposte is sometimes, “the law represents an ideal to aspire to”.

  9. Kerry says:

    What is the “language of adultery”? Is it like the French language? The English language? Klingon?
    Worf, “This ahbeeda should have been fed to the dogs!” Oops, sorry, that language of traitors just slipped out. All you traitors out there, if you feel offended, as Google might say, “Don’t be traitors”. Say, there’s an idea. Don’t be adulterers.
    Or, maybe, “We are the Knights who say Ni. Ni! Ni! Ni! The keepers of the Sacred Word”.

  10. Mike says:

    The remark about a “mature conscience,” as you say, Father, is telling. One is constrained to consider soberly the formation — and the “maturity” thereof — of a conscience that could justify the rending of families and communities on the bases of individual preference and personal comfort.

    What is being peddled as “pastoral” and “mature” here doesn’t strike me as taking justice into account, either individual or (genuinely) social.

  11. PA mom says:

    How refreshing to see pushback which directly confronts the most damaging messaging from the liberal side.

    Favorite line, “So if Jesus quotes the Scriptures to correct a faulty, permissive divorce practice, then is He a fundamentalist? Is Jesus rigid?”

    Stop the name calling and argue the facts… :)

  12. lisebaur says:

    I have lived parts of my life in both scenarios. Definitely the better of the two is to follow Church teaching on marriage. The way Card. Kasper proposes leaves people on the outside looking in while the way the Card. Burke teaches gives one a chance at full inclusiveness in the life and grace of the Church. For 15 years, most people told me what I wanted to hear and not what I needed to hear that kept my soul in a perilous state. I can only praise God for allowing me to live a bit longer so as to correct my situation. God sent a wonderful priest to my parish with love enough for my soul to correct my thinking. I obeyed him in his request that I not receive Holy Communion until everything was corrected. I did this and it felt amazing. I had to own up to my errors this took humility to say that I made a wrong decision (to marry my husband who had be divorced outside of the Church). The week before our Catholic wedding my protestant husband announced he would come into the Church. That alone was a miracle and worth effort it took. I do not agree with keeping people in the dark. We must teach them and hold their hands and bring them into the light.

  13. Dennis Martin says:

    Quick, somebody rush Kardinal Kasper (even if it’s not on his Amazon wish list) a copy of Gregory the Great’s Pastoral Rule, especially the part about how sometimes the most merciful thing is a good swift kick in the pants (and sometimes it’s a gentle hug–well, Gregory doesn’t exactly say “hug” but I put that in for those who favor dynamic equivalence translation), and the part about how knowing when to do which and when to do what is called discernment and how that’s the key virtue for a pastor of souls, id est episcopus. Which is really pretty much the whole book rather than just part of it. I don’t know if it was on the reading list when he was in seminary. For well over a millennium it was The Book on pastoral mercy. It would appear that Fr. Dodaro has read and remembered it. I think it reads the same in German as it does in the Latin in which Pope Saint Gregory wrote it.

  14. Dundonianski says:

    The proposition of mercy seems to be the “trump doctrine card” for Kasper and supporters, but a quote from St. Peter Cansius SJ should offer those who would inflict ever more damage upon Christ’s church some caution, the quotation is “We ought to behave with God’s mercy in such a way as to be conformed to His justice. Blind men let themselves be seduced by a vain confidence in Out Lord’s mercy” As great defender of the Faith during the bleak years of reformation his teaching and preaching are very apposite at this time, especially given his status as Doctor of the Church.

  15. Cafea Fruor says:

    I voted for Fr. Dodaro’s take on it. Why?

    Fr. Kaspar is worried about the Lord’s words being offensive to us.

    Fr. Dodaro is worried about our actions being offensive to the Lord.

    Tough call, there…

  16. Cafea Fruor says:

    Eh, typo. Meant to type Cardinal Kasper, not Fr. Kasper.

  17. lh says:

    Christ’s words are very clear. Is Card. Kasper’s mind so darkened he cannot see the Truth?

  18. Kerry says:

    Adultery is an act; one commits adultery or on does not. The Church proscribes the act and prescribes actions to take as penance and reparations. One may logically say, “That is the language of adulterers”, but “language of adultery ” is jabberwocky, “the claws that bite, the jaws that catch”
    If one is ‘offended by language’, by words from another’s mouth, rather than close that mouth, look in the mirror.

  19. thomas tucker says:

    I know I’m naive, but it still gobsmacks me that a Cardinal of the Catholic Church would say these things. The red worn by a Cardinal is supposed to symbolize a willingness to defend the Faith unto death! How embarassing, for us and for him.

  20. Unwilling says:

    Don’t use that word! Not “adultery”; say “irregular connection”. I have to admit to being caught up in this kind of verbal contortion. I know that using sugar-coated euphemisms is misleading, blind-leading, scandalous. But what’s a little incense to the Emperor now and then, eh?

    Do you know the “cursing Psalms”? Quite possibly not. You will not encounter them in the liturgies — they were taken out of the expanded lectionaries. Even priests do not have them in their NO Office. The revisers deemed them too hard for men who had been in seminary for only 5 years or so.

    When I converted in the 1960’s, I was taken aback, shocked, by needing to find delight in such (and there are many) passages in the Bible and in my Breviary as:

    Ps. lvii (58):11 The righteous will rejoice when he sees the vengeance, he will bathe his hands [feet] in the blood of the wicked. laetabitur justus… manus suas lavabit in sanguine peccatoris

    Ps. cxxxvi (137):9 Happy shall he be who takes your little ones and dashes them against the rock! Beatus qui tenebit at adlidet parvulos tuos ad petram

    I was taught and came to understand these images, repeated in Luke 20:17-18, as metaphorical or typical, and as primarily about the diabolical powers. The Rule of Saint Benedict (RB Prologue) makes it clear that this was the Catholic meaning. God “hath brought to naught the foul demon tempting [the monk], casting [the demon] out of his heart with his temptation, and hath taken his evil thoughts whilst they were yet weak and hath dashed them against Christ.”

    Now understanding that was intellectual and spiritual growth for me; but that growth would have been impossible, if I had not encountered the troubling expressions. It is partly analogous to that hockey fight video that Fr. Z posted the other day — does not seeing both the combat and the amicable resolution show us something that merely avoiding the conflict could not?

    Avoiding shocking words from Divine Revelation, if not simple sacrilege, at best is avoiding growth, understanding, Truth.

  21. Rich says:

    What part of “Thou shalt not commit adultery” don’t you understand!?!?

  22. Kyle says:

    In a theological debate among Christians, it seems rather obvious that whichever party suggests that we ignore the words of Christ himself is in a rather tenuous position.

  23. Lisa Graas says:

    Re: “so what’s the big deal?”

    It’s “the” deal. Father Z knows, but I will say here again, I am a divorced and celibate Catholic. My kids love their mother, have seen her cross, and know that marriage is lifelong. I am grateful that the Church teaches the truth, but my kids see the truth in their own lives, and it makes all the difference. Unless we are one on this, our children will suffer mightily. If you cannot do it for God, do it for your kids. If you love your children, love them enough to carry that cross, and if you love your spouse as Christ loves the Church, then carry that cross to save your spouse. You will never regret doing so as long as you recognize Jesus in His Cross. If you don’t recognize Jesus in His Cross, then “what’s the big deal” about being Catholic in the first place, for you personally?

    This is a no-brainer, folks. Love Jesus as He loves us. The reward is Jesus Himself, and He is enough. He is all. He is Lord.

  24. “legalistic”, “ideological”, “rigid”
    yep. Definitely.
    The way is narrow,not wide.

  25. truthfinder says:

    Fr. Z, when you wrote that “mercy” in this instance was “manipulative” and euphemistic, my mind immediately jumped to “mercy killing.” The Cardinal must have forgotten what true mercy, justice, and charity are, and how they all work together.

  26. yzerman123 says:

    Thank you Fr. Z for providing all the Gospel quotes on adultery.

    Please note a typo in your red comments: it’s Matthew 5:32 not Matthew 5:52.

    God bless.

  27. iPadre says:

    “Christ’s adultery language is offensive!” What an embarrassment.

    Love and mercy are about leading a sinner to heaven and out of sin.

    The fires of hell are not worried about offending anyone.

  28. annmarie says:

    I would like to puah the envelope a little further. I have lived long enough to see people who are recipients of an annulment marry a second time in the Church. Although I had been taught that when a person approaches the Church for such a marriage, part of the inquiry about whether they are capable of the Sacrament is how they are fulfilling their obligations to the family formed in the putative marriage. I have seen the first family left in dire financial straights, I have seen abandonment of any and all concern for that first family and yet, with fanfare and music the second marriage ceremony is performed and the community celebrates the new union. While the first family struggles. Comments?

  29. MouseTemplar says:

    Smell Test results are in!

    Cardinal Kasper’s fish is three days old.

  30. MikeToo says:

    Fr. Dodaro has it right.

    My Catholic smell tells me there is more going on than what we read in the interviews. It has the smell of lavender.

  31. andia says:

    I took option C, because I can’t look at anything Cardinal Kaspar is saying without being on guard. He is simply confusing to me.

  32. MichaeltDoyle says:

    I think this is an indirect (and unintentional) attack on the authority of Scripture. If we can refute or reinterpret a direct quote of our Lord in its plain meaning for the sake of a mercy theology (a nebulous concept if separated from Justice) than what is the authority of Peter moored to?

    If this quote can be disputed, surely “You are the rock” can also be even more easily disputed. I think this is a bridge too far. It would be great if the Cardinal clarified his understanding of Matthew 19:4-6.

  33. teejay329 says:

    I never ever ever ever thought I would love to see the day when I hear a Cardinal…a CARDINAL!…imply that our Savior Jesus Christ is not P.C. Saddening. Maybe he really belongs in America. Sounds like it.
    You know what…if you make mistakes in your personal life, fix them. If you are Catholic, there are tools in place to right your moral situation. Take personal responsibility and make amends. If not, then you are not truly devoted to the Sacraments. Tough love, maybe, but it’s the truth.

  34. Militans says:

    Here’s what I said over at CNA about Cardinal Kasper’s interview (2 posts):

    If you believe what you like in the gospels, and reject what you don’t like, it is not the gospel you believe, but yourself – St Augustine

    It does annoy me that he keeps saying things like “It is an ideal” / “heroism is not for the average Christian” / etc.

    To put it bluntly – this is not consistent with the constant teaching of the Church from the old testament (Leviticus 11:44), to the Gospels (Matthew 5:48), to the letters of St Paul (Rom 1:7, 1 Cor 1:2), to the Second Vatican Council (LG 11), to our current Pope.

    “All of us, in baptism, receive the inheritance of being able to become saints. Saintliness is a vocation for all.” – Pope Francis ( )

Comments are closed.