Skip to comments.“Secret” Kasper speech to see the light of day
Posted on 02/28/2014 5:50:32 PM PST by ebb tide
After a week of wrangling over a Vatican decision to keep it secret, the German Catholic book publisher Herder announced today (Feb. 27) that on March 10 it would publish in book format Cardinal Walter Kaspers two-hour keynote address at last weeks meeting of the College of Cardinals in Rome.
Although Pope Francis had publicly praised Kaspers speech on the theology of the family for its profound theology and clear thinking, the Vatican has so far only released a brief summary of the two-hour talk. Earlier this week, Cardinal Reinhard Marx of Munich, a member of the G-8 Council of Cardinals advising Pope Francis, urged the pope to release the speech. With 200 copies of the talk in circulation, Marx said, it was only a matter of time before it would get published.
Indeed it seemed a bit strange for the Vatican to try to keep this talk under wraps, and on Monday the German Catholic reform group Wir sind Kirche issued a statement that said, Keeping Cardinal Kaspers speech secret would undermine the so-far transparent process of preparation for the Synod of the Family.
Today, the German weekly Die Zeit published excerpts of the speech, and earlier the Italian newspaper La Stampas Vatican correspondent Andrea Tornielli provided a summary of the address in its English-language Vatican Insider website.
According to Marx, Kaspers address became the basis of an apparently lively discussion among the cardinals, primarily focusing on pastoral perspectives regarding remarried divorced Catholics. Marx emphasized the important shift for the meeting of the College of Cardinals that both Kaspers speech and the subsequent discussion represented. What was new was that pastoral questions were debated in such breadth among the cardinals in the presence of the pope.
The Munich cardinal said, diverse opinions were expressed, especially regarding the second part of the speech, in which Kasper primarily raised pointed questions about the possibility of allowing remarried divorced Catholics to receive Communion under certain circumstances.
Kasper of course, has been advocating for new pastoral approaches toward remarried divorced Catholics for many years. In an October 2002 interview, U.S. Catholic asked him about an innovative pastoral solution he and two other German bishops had attempted in the 1990s. It was later stopped by Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger.
Kasper said, There is no doubt that the situation of the many divorced Catholics who have remarried presents a great challenge and problem for pastoral ministers today. In response to this challenge, in parts of the Western church, a somewhat loose practice has emerged. The bishops of our German church province wanted to find a pastorally acceptable path that would end abuses but at the same time would open up some new possibilities for certain clearly defined situations. We didn't try to make a general rule that would allow all remarried divorced Catholics without differentiation, to take part in the sacrament of the Eucharist. I am still convinced that what we proposed is not counter to the teaching of the church, but at the same time I believe today that some parts of our proposal werent sufficiently developed enough . This question remains an urgent pastoral problem, and it's necessary to continue to talk about it and to do more theological and canonical work on this. For many people, and for many pastors, this is an area of considerable pain.
With Pope Francis having given repeated indications that he is favorably disposed toward the kind of pastoral approach Kasper has championedwhich has recently been reintroduced in one of the three originally involved German diocesesone can only hope that the additional theological and canonical work Kasper has done in the intervening years will soon bear some real fruit for the many remarried divorced Catholics who are still experiencing that considerable pain.
In his keynote speech, Kasper again steered away from a general rule and instead advocated for a path between rigorism and laxism that would respond to people in their individual situations. A mere insistence on rules does not persuade people to follow them, Kasper said. Mercy is not a cheap grace that dispenses from repentance, he is quoted in the excerpt. But sacraments are also not a reward for good behavior and for an elite that excludes those who need the sacraments the most
. When a remarried divorced Catholic repents that he failed in his first marriage, when he sincerely strives to live his second civil marriage grounded in faith, can we really refuse to give him the sacraments of reconciliation and communion?
Would this apply to third marriages? Fourth?
I find it very troubling that a heretic like Kasper would be asked to give the keynote address. It doesn’t mean that they’ll go along with him. But why would they invite a known dissident and troublemaker to give such a speech?
It wasn't "they"; it was the pope who chose the guest heretic.
Giving this Kasper vent his very own Shakespearian hour to strut and fret upon the stage, and then be heard no more, may be the hope and intention behind the invitation to this keynote speaker, by the Pope. It does rather scandalize that such a radical departure from both Church tradition and canon law can be openly entertained in synod, and seemingly the opposite track from the Pope Emeritus so recently in place. Whiplash.
The hammer will fall one direction or the other, and soon.
There is no doubt the Church is coming into dangerous times ahead— but, this we have known since the beginning.
Yes, that occurred to me. The Pope might have invited him so he could be heard and shot down by the Cardinals. But it seems a very risky and provocative way to handle it.
Well, we’ll see.
Are these Cardinals more likely to agree with him or disagree with him? If I’m not mistaken aren’t a number of them on the “liberal” side?
And isn't it interesting that as a result of the resignation of Benedict XVI, we have two living papal (and somewhat contradictory) interpreters of the "pastoral" requirements of the Vatican II council currently residing at the Vatican? Apparently the "People of God" must learn to accept interpretations which vary from pope to pope. Pope Benedict promoted continuity with Tradition, while Pope Francis appears to want to promote the "pastoral" at the expense of Tradition. The result is what we are seeing here. Kasper has been rehabilitated and high level discussions regarding the possibility of softening the Church's constant teaching regarding adultery (under a "pastoral" fig leaf, of course) are actually being SPONSORED by the pope. Amazing, really.
Francis has already made a favorable comment about EO practice in this regard, so that may provide a clue.
The Eastern Orthodox do recognize second marriages under some circumstances, not third or fourth.
I am rather close to this question (personally), so I tend to keep up.
The bishops would, I believe like to disempower the annulment process for "failed" marriages, reserving the ecclesiastical courts for the purpose originally intended - fraud, failure to consummate a marriage, and in rare cases non-consent.
However, there are now so many long second marriages where the first spouse is alive, and so many of those marriages have children, that the EO practice of "sacramental economy" has been invoked without license.
I think that's where the bishops intend to go.
So how does having sex with someone other than "the wife of thy youth" square with "You shall not commit adultery" and "Neither will I condemn thee. Go, and now sin no more"? The Divine Law cannot be changed at the whim of man, post-conciliar upheaval notwithstanding.
I can’t define the “solution” (if there is one), just trying to define the problem.
As far as “adultery” during a long second marriage, I would only observe, “ain’t nothin like the real thing, baby”.
I am not convinced, yet, that anything is really and actually threatened, let alone really and actually changed.
Things hinge on learning what the more “pastoral approach” as asserted by Pope Frncis, is going to mean to tradition and canon law. So far, he is willing to simply give a hearing to a question, and the one who brings it.
In my ignorance and cynicism, it seems indulgent, but if it is compassionate and more “pastoral”, then who am I to prematurely judge. The outcome is not in view. Practicing patience is my short suit. :)