It is important that you know about this. I first touched on this HERE
Given the orchestrations of the last, controversial Synod of Bishops which met to discuss issues concerning the family, and given the hot issues raised, when the former POPE says something touching the issue of Communion for the divorced and civilly remarried, we should pay attention.
In essence, Benedict XVI is doing what St. Augustine did late in life in his Retractations: he is looking back at his life’s work to make evaluations and corrections. In the 1970’s Ratzinger mused about Communion for the remarried. He has, since, changed his mind.
Sandro Magisterhas the texts of the His Holiness Pope Benedict’s forward to the newest volume of his collected works. The first volume, put out in German and edited by Card. Müller of the CDF, was of Benedict’s liturgical writings. Ignatius Press has the English version: Joseph Ratzinger-Collected Works: Theology of the Liturgy – UK link HERE.
Now a volume of theological writings is out in German. Moreover, we also have an English translation of the forward in which Benedict reviews his position on the hot question back in 1972 and what he thinks about it now.
ROME, December 3, 2014 – Joseph Ratzinger’s position on communion for the divorced and remarried is well known. He has formulated it a number of times, as cardinal prefect of the congregation for the doctrine of the faith and then as pope.
But now he is returning to the argument with a new text, just released in Germany in the collection of his Opera Omnia.
This text is reproduced in its entirely further below. But its origin demands an explanation.
In the Opera Omnia, Ratzinger is republishing – with the help of the prefect of the congregation for the doctrine of the faith, Gerhard Ludwig Müller – all of his theological writings, grouped according to theme. In the latest of the nine volumes published so far in German by Herder, numbering almost 1,000 pages and entitled “Introduction to Christianity. Profession, baptism, discipleship,” there is a 1972 article on the question of the indissolubility of marriage, published that year in Germany in a multi-author book on marriage and divorce.
That 1972 article by Ratzinger was dusted off last February by Cardinal Walter Kasper in the talk with which he introduced the consistory of cardinals convened by Pope Francis to discuss the issue of the family, in view of the synod of bishops scheduled for October:
In cheering for the admission of the divorced and remarried to Eucharistic communion, Kasper said:
“The early Church gives us a guideline that can serve as a means of escape from the dilemma, to which Professor Joseph Ratzinger referred in 1972. [. . .] Ratzinger suggested that Basil’s position should be taken up again in a new way. It would seem to be an appropriate solution, one that is also at the basis of these reflections of mine.” [The Five Cardinals Book™ exploded the Basil point. If you haven’t obtained and read it… what are you waiting for?]
In effect, in that 1972 article the then 45-year-old professor of theology in Regensburg maintained that giving communion to the divorced and remarried, under particular conditions, appeared “fully in line with the tradition of the Church” and in particular with “that type of indulgence which emerges in Basil, where, after a protracted period of penance, the ‘digamus’ (meaning someone living in a second marriage) is granted communion without the annulment of the second marriage: with trust in the mercy of God, who does not let penance go unanswered.”
That 1972 article was the first and last time in which Ratzinger “opened up” to communion for the divorced and remarried. Afterward, in fact, he not only fully adhered to the rigorist [no… not rigorist… faithful…] position of the ban on communion, reaffirmed by the magisterium of the Church during the pontificate of John Paul II, but he also contributed in a decisive way to the argumentation on behalf of this ban as prefect of the congregation for the doctrine of the faith. [Did everyone get that? So, what Kasper did is doubly dodgy.]
He contributed to it in particular by signing the letter to bishops of September 14, 1994, in which the Holy See rejected the theses in favor of communion for the divorced and remarried supported in previous years by some German bishops, including Kasper:
And then again with a 1998 text published by the congregation for the doctrine of the faith and republished by “L’Osservatore Romano” of November 30, 2011:
Without counting that subsequently, as pope, he reconfirmed and explained the ban on communion a number of times in the context of pastoral care for the divorced and remarried.
[NB] It comes as no surprise, therefore, that Ratzinger should have maintained that it was inappropriate for Kasper to cite his 1972 article in support of his own theses, as if nothing had happened after that year.
This is what led to Ratzinger’s decision, in republishing the 1972 article in the Opera Omnia, to rewrite and expand its final part, bringing it into line with his subsequent and current thinking. [Did you get that?]
What follows is a translation of the new final part of the article as it appears in the volume of the Opera Omnia just out in bookstores, released for publication by pope emeritus Benedict XVI in March of 2014. [Ergo… several months before the October Synod but still within the Synod’s penumbra. The debate was already escalating.]
Followed immediately by a reproduction of the part replaced, the one cited by Kasper in his own support at the consistory last February. [Compare and contrast.]
In the new 2014 edition, it is specified that “the contribution has been completely revised by the author.”
What follows in Magister’s piece are the actual texts.
Keep in mind that, even as we speak, powers-that-be are working behind the scene to engineer a desired outcome when the next Synod meets in October 2015.