A Critique of Cardinal Kasper’s Latest Arguments

Kasper (CNS:Reuters:Tony Gentile)

The final report from the Synod is out. Those concerned about the hijacking of the faith in a heterodox direction can breathe a sigh of relief as the new report scraps language in the draft that appeared to approve of, or find “value” in, the homosexual “orientation” and also because it does not take up the issue of Holy Communion for the divorced and remarried. This proposal in the final version failed to gain the needed two thirds support of the bishops. This does not necessarily mean that this hugely troublesome proposal will simply be shelved in some dark closet of the Vatican. We must be prepared to provide well-reasoned arguments against what may be called the Cardinal Kasparian agenda. It’s not too early to put those arguments forward in anticipation of next year’s Ordinary Synod. This article responds to two recently articulated arguments in favor of admitting divorced and remarried Catholics to Holy Communion.

It is clear that Cardinal Walter Kasper, joined by a majority of German bishops and other European prelates, did all he could to facilitate this major pastoral change. While Kasper acknowledged there can be no change in Church doctrine on the indissolubility of sacramental marriage—there is no way of getting around the fact that were such a pastoral change ever to be made it would undermine Catholic teaching on marriage and legitimize adulterous unions contrary to the teachings of Christ.

The initial Interim Report or relatio post disceptationem, ignited serious controversy due to its vague terminology, ambiguous articulation of moral doctrine, a near failure to mention sin or the need for conversion, and its apparent willingness to accommodate the Gospel to the spirit of the age with an emphasis on the so-called “law of gradualism.” Msgr. Charles Pope in his fine critique of gradualism explains:

Gradualism is a way in which we meet people where they are and seek gradually to draw them more deeply into the true life of a Christian. All of us who have journeyed toward Christ realize that we have not always been where we are today, and that future growth is necessary. Growth usually happens in stages and by degrees, ideally leading us more deeply to Christ.

Matthew 19 and the “Law of Gradualism”
A major argument of the Interim Report holds that the law of gradualism would permit the divorced and remarried, without benefit of annulment, to receive the Eucharist. No matter where this whole thing is headed, it is important to understand the way in which the Kasper faction argues this position—a theological position that affects not only the issue of Holy Communion for the divorced and remarried but many other Catholic moral teachings, such as co-habitation, artificial birth control and homosexual unions to mention just three that were taken up by the draft report and still linger in the final Synod report.

The report justifies its peculiar reliance on the “law of gradualism” by seriously misinterpreting and misapplying Matthew 19: 3-9—Christ’s teaching on marriage in His exchange with the Pharisees. The passage states:

Some Pharisees came to Jesus, testing Him and asked, “Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife for any reason at all?” And He answered and said, “Have you not read that at the beginning the creator made them male and female and declared ‘for this reason a man shall leave his father and his mother and cling to his wife, and the two shall become one.’ So they are no longer two, but one flesh. What therefore God has joined together let no man separate.” They said to Him, “Why then did Moses command divorce and the promulgation of a divorce decree?” He said to them, “Because of your hardness of heart Moses permitted you to divorce your wives; but from the beginning it has not been this way. I now say to you, whoever divorces his wife, (lewd conduct is a separate case), and marries another woman commits adultery and the man who marries a divorced woman commits adultery.”

Focused on the “law of gradualism,” the draft report comments on this passage by stating: “Jesus Himself, referring to the primordial plan for the human couple, reaffirms the indissoluble union between man and woman, while understanding that ‘Moses permitted you to divorce your wives because your hearts were hard. But it was not this way from the beginning’ (Mt 19:8). In this way, He shows how divine condescension always accompanies the path of humanity, directing it towards its new beginning, not without passing through the cross.”

To use this passage to justify a New Covenant “gradualism” is to totally corrupt the sense of Christ’s teaching. Even if there is a legitimate place for “pastoral gradualism” this passage does not confirm it.

Certainly, it is true that God, beginning with the Hebrew people gradually disclosed His divine plan for salvation and thus Judaism is a preparation for the fullness of the Covenant. One can say there is a kind of economy of gradualism within salvation history.

Yet, this is not what is being taught in the Pharisees’ confrontation with Jesus. The Kasper faction tries to exploit the fact that, based on the authority of Moses, there was a compromise with the human condition and thus concludes that gradualism is itself divinely ordained in the plan of redemption and normative for the Christian dispensation. This is certainly the point of the remark, “He shows how divine condescension always accompanies the path of humanity.”

Christ’s dialogue with the Pharisees is hardly an endorsement of gradualism. Rather, Christ rejects the compromise of Moses who, based on the Jews’ “hardness of heart,” allowed the practice of divorce. To the consternation of the Pharisees, who hope Christ will contradict the great prophet and thus be discredited, Christ repudiates Moses and locates the doctrine of marriage from before the time of sin, before “hardness of heart” entered the human condition. Christ insists that the new dispensation, the era of grace will have no room for basing the law on “hardness of heart.”   Bible scholar Gerald Lemke points out, when Christ replies to the Pharisees “Your hardness of heart” the word “your” indicates that Christ makes a distinction between the expectations of the Old Law and those of the New—that such “hardness of heart” has no place among the true followers of Christ.

Just as Christ rejects Moses’ “divine condescension”—his allowance for divorce—neither can the synod fathers use this passage to advocate a “divine condescension” that legitimizes Holy Communion for divorced and remarried couples which is contrary to what we might call Christ’s “Law of the Beginning.” Moses made a concession to the evil conditions of his time—a concession Jesus nullifies by going back to The Beginning. It would appear that the Kasper faction, when it comes to certain moral behaviors will, like Moses, concede to the evil conditions of our own times.

Kasper’s Relativistic Pastoral Applications
On October 15 Kasper gave an impromptu interview to National Catholic Register reporter Edward Pentin and two other journalists. He referred to the Gospels of Matthew and Mark in response to Pentin’s question: “But people feel the Church’s teaching is going to be undermined by your proposal if it passes, that it is undoing 2000 years of Church teaching. What is your view of this?” Kasper responded:

Well nobody is putting into question the indissolubility of marriage. I think it wouldn’t be a help for people, but if you look to this word of Jesus, there are different synoptic gospels in different places, in different contexts. It’s different in the Judeo-Christian context and in the Hellenistic context. Mark and Matthew are different. There was already a problem in the apostolic age. The Word of Jesus is clear, but how to apply it in complex, different situations? It’s a problem to do with the application of these words.

Kasper states that the indissolubility of marriage is not being questioned. Then he points to the “words of Jesus” as recorded in the synoptic gospels and tries to argue that there are differences between Jesus’ words in these texts and that they are applied differently according to a Judeo-Christian, namely Palestinian culture, versus the Hellenistic or Greco-Roman culture. The “Word of Jesus is clear”—in other words the doctrine is settled about the indissolubility of marriage, but the meaning of the doctrine and its application varies according to time, place and circumstances. Kasper advances the idea that a relativism of doctrinal application is already there from the start of the Church—even from the “apostolic age.”

First of all—there is little to no difference between the Gospels of Mark and Matthew on the subject of divorce and remarriage. All one need do is compare the texts of Matthew 19: 3-9 with Mark 10: 2-12. Mark’s is even stronger as it leaves out the verse found in Matthew: “lewd conduct is a separate case.” Mark is not interested in clarifying cases where a man and woman are living together (irregular sexual unions) as to whether they may separate and then contract marriage with a different partner. The difference Kasper proposes between these gospels does not exist.

The relativistic cultural application he images on the subject of whether to honor or violate sacramental marital bonds isn’t there either. Consider Saint Paul’s teaching which precedes the finished gospels of Matthew and Mark. Working in that Hellenistic culture, he repeats the Christian ban on divorce which he indicates is not his doctrine but a command of the Lord’s: “A wife must not separate from her husband. If she does separate she must either remain single or become reconciled to him again. Similarly, a husband must not divorce his wife” (1 Cor. 7: 10-11). This is expected of a Christian couple as in the next verse Paul takes up the situation of non-Christian marriages—marriages between a baptized spouse and one who is not. Here we see a pastoral application known as the “Pauline privilege” in which under certain circumstances the Christian party may remarry but only because the first marriage was not a sacrament.

Adultery and the “Development of Doctrine”
Kasper also attempts to make a case for allowing Communion to the divorced and remarried based on what is called: “development of doctrine.” Pentin asked him:

The teaching does not change?

Kasper answered: The teaching does not change but it can be made more profound, it can be different. There is also a certain growth in the understanding of the Gospel and the doctrine, a development. Our famous Cardinal Newman had spoken on the development of doctrine. This is also not a change but a development on the same line. Of course, the Pope wants it and the world needs it. We live in a globalized world and you cannot govern everything from the Curia. There must be a common faith, a common discipline but a different application.

Kasper says marriage is indissoluble. And he is correct: the Church can never change teaching in the sense of reversing it; but can only refine it. Christ taught “What I say to you is: everyone who divorces his wife … forces her to commit adultery. The man who marries a divorced woman likewise commits adultery” (Mt. 5: 32). To admit the divorced and remarried to the Eucharist would mean that they are legitimately married.  But Christ says they are not. No “development of doctrine” can make sin not sin by calling a legitimate marital bond non-marital, and thus non-binding on the spouses. The one-flesh unity is an ontological reality over which the Church has no power. Thus there can be no “development of doctrine” on this question. To admit divorced and remarried Catholics to Communion is to permit those objectively committing adultery to receive the Eucharistic Christ which constitutes a spiritual contradiction and a false mercy to them.

Led by the Spirit the Church can grow in awareness of what constitutes a sacramental bond. Changes have already occurred regarding the nature of matrimonial consent, changes reflected in Canon Law and applied in annulment cases for decades. This is one example where legitimate changes can be made for the sake of lightening the burden for those in broken marriages. We may expect more revisions in this direction from next year’s Ordinary Synod.

The law of gradualism has its place in the pastoral activity of the Church, but I think we have to be honest. Jesus was not all that gung-ho about it. It is true that Jesus, in a sense, gradually led the sinful woman at the well into full acceptance of his divine, messianic identity (Jn. 4: 1-42) and even capitalized on whatever, as the draft report described, “positive elements” where present in the “imperfect forms” by which she could be led. But more often Christ places great demands on his followers, requiring a full, undivided discipleship.

Consider the Christ who says: “If your right eye is your trouble, gouge it out and throw it away! Better to lose part of your body than to have it all cast into Gehenna” (Mt. 5: 29); “Whoever puts his hand to the plow but keeps looking back is unfit for the reign of God” (Lk. 9: 62); “Lest you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink His blood you have no life in you” (Jn. 6: 53); “He who does not take up his cross and come after me is not worthy of me” (Mt.10:38); and “How narrow is the gate that leads to life…” (Mt. 7: 14) are only a small example of the all or nothing scope of the Gospel.

The Church will now prepare for the next phase of the Synod—with a full year of debate and discussion. Whatever merit the pastoral “law of gradualism” possesses, the Church is called to rouse hearts to follow the Lord, help people learn to love Him, and provoke conversion of heart. Jesus did not give up His life for the Kasparian church of the low gospel. Christ died so that his people can actually live that Gospel in its fullness, in an out-pouring of grace as members of His Bride and the Kingdom of God.

(Photo credit: CNS/Reuters/Tony Gentile)

Monica Migliorino Miller

By

Monica Migliorino Miller is the Director of Citizens for a Pro-life Society and Associate Professor of Theology at Madonna University in Michigan. She holds a degree in Theatre Arts from Southern Illinois University and graduate degrees in Theology from Loyola University and Marquette University. She is the author of several books including The Theology of the Passion of the Christ (Alba House) and, most recently, The Authority of Women in the Catholic Church (Emmaus Road).

  • jacobhalo

    The Catholic church doesn’t follow the law of Moses. We follow the teachings of Jesus Christ. The Old Covenant was replaced by the New Covenant, according to St. Paul. Clearly, the Modernists proposal is, surely, heretical.

    • HenryBowers

      I’m not well-schooled in defending this argument, and the Jehovah’s Witnesses called me on it. What’s your scriptural source, please? Thanks

      • jacobhalo

        Try St. Paul, where he says that the New Covenant replaces the Old Covenant. I’m sorry I can’t give you chapter and verse.

      • jacobhalo

        Jehovah’s Witnesses? They don’t even believe that Jesus is God.

        • HenryBowers

          Could you take a breath, pause, and try to comment on-topic, my friend? Your point is exactly what I’m asking. Are you in a contest to post the most?

  • Tomacz Tesla

    “Therefore when you see the ABOMINATION OF DESOLATION which was spoken of through Daniel the prophet, standing in the holy place (let the reader understand), then those who are in Judea must flee to the mountains.” Jesus in Matthew 24:25-26. If I remember well St. Augustine explained “the mountains” figuratively as the firm ground we thread when we follow the teachings of the saints of all ages. Obviously the Church will never fail to teach the truth but now there is a band promoting heresies STANDING within her very inner circles. For the first time in centuries there is a Pope who is not formed neither in philosophy nor in theology to the degree that his predecessors were. The only thing now guarding the teaching of truth is the Holy Spirit and the bishops faithful to the Magisterium. It will be wonderful to see our Lord defend His Bride from the powers of Hell, consuming them with the fire of His breath. My prayers are with the Bishops of Africa and their faithful brothers all over the world and specially with Cardinal Raymond Burke who I pray will be our next Pope one day once the members of this heretical gang are gone.

    • jacobhalo

      A Jesuit should never been elected the pope. Many of them do not follow the teachings of the church. My son attended a Jesuit college and the professor told them that the resurrection was a myth. I, personally, confronted the professor and told him he should not be teaching in a Catholic college. I also went to the dean and complained. Nothing was done about it. Thankfully, my son was well schooled in church teachings well before it attended college.

      • HenryBowers

        Written one day after the feast of two great, Jesuit martyrs to North America. Shame on you.

        • publiusnj

          I had 11 years of Jesuit education (several of them during the course of Vatican II, btw). Yet, I have to confess, I was very concerned when I learned that the new pope was a Jesuit. I am even more concerned now.

          The Society has given the Church many great saints, but that was then and this is now. In the Mid-1960s, it was 35,000 members strong. Since then, it has gone into precipitous decline. Now, it comprises only half that number, maybe 17,500.

        • Salvelinus

          The Jesuits should be suppressed again until they return to the fr John Hardin type.
          Currently, the entire Jesuit order is a mess, and none of the Jesuit colleges are Catholic

        • DE-173

          I went to a Jesuit school as a grad student. Being as I was getting an MBA, I didn’t have to endure their lunacies in the classroom, such as inviting Abbie Hoffman and a regular parade of speakers opposed by Bishop Timlin (gee that doesn’t give it away, does it?) and erecting a mosque for a faculty member were highlights of their adventures into theological nihilism.

          Jacobhalo may traffic in personal speculation touching on calumny, but comparing a significant number of modern Jesuits to to martyrs of hundreds of years ago, or even the “Pope’s Marines” of decades ago is silly. We all know how the covered the crucifixes for the President who can’t seem to stop celebrating Islam at Georgetown.

          The shame in that comparison is on the modern group that are little more than libertines and you for making it.

          A former poster here you to say that certain parts of the order were animated by “single malt scotch and sodomy”. Fredx2’s citation of the aids death rate is an indicator that that buggery was alive and well among some members of the order. Now can anybody tell us their rates of cihrrosis?

          • HenryBowers

            Too bad it’s not Friday, because there’s a giant red herring to eat with rice. Name one order or diocese that has not had its grievous defectors. *yawn*

            • DE-173

              “Name one order or diocese that has not had its grievous defectors. *yawn*”

              Name another order that is ruled by “grievous defectors”. ZZZZZZZZZ.

              BTW, the “red herring” is your notation of yesterday’s feast day. You might want to brush up on the concept.

            • Jane57

              that is true, but few orders can match the late Fr. Robert Drinin SJ.

          • Catholic pilgrim

            Yes, many were the courageous worldwide Jesuit Martyrs (from Canadian New France to Southeast Asian nations). A great & mighty Catholic order, full of brave men. And then something happened. Now you can literally count the number of good Jesuit priests left with your hands: Fr. Mitch Pacwa, Fr. Robert Spitzer, the occasional Jesuit martyr, Fr. Pacwa, Fr. Spitzer, oh. That’s only three fingers, I guess.

        • jacobhalo

          I know that the truth hurts. I didn’t say all Jesuits. I said many Jesuits.

        • jacobhalo

          What is wrong with the truth? The truth will set you free.

      • fredx2

        The problem is not Jesuits per se. They are not all the same. True, in parts of North America, Jesuit has come to mean “separated from the Catholic church” I believe at Georgetown students separate into those who agree with the Jesuits, and those who agree with the Catholic church. So something is obviously wrong.
        And it is also true hat Jesuits died of AIDS in North America at a rate four times higher than the general public.But the Pope is South American, and I have never heard anything that he was following the views of the North Americans. There are good Jesuits up here too, you just have to be careful.

        • thecommentator

          The jesuits in South America have been almost completely liberal for decades. Jorge Bergoglio, who was a provincial in Argentina, was removed because he was persecuting the marxist jesuits in his own province. Compared to the typical Latin American jesuit, Pope Francis would be classified as a traditionalist.

        • thecommentator

          “it is also true hat Jesuits died of AIDS in North America at a rate four times higher than the general public.” Do you have a source for that, please?

        • Latin Americans are not the pious Catholics that you think. Secularism is as much a plague inside and outside the Church there as in the developed countries. Mass attendance in Argentina is about 20% only and it actually decreased during Card. Begoglio’s tenure as the bishop in a region hosting about 30% of Argentinians.

          • DE-173

            “and it actually decreased during Card. Begoglio’s tenure”

            While the priest or prelate may or may not be causative of changes in important measures of faithfulness with his parish or diocese, butts-in-seats is thing that I consider a KPI “key performance indicator”.

        • Bob

          VERY careful!

    • Catholic pilgrim

      I wish that in the meantime the Vatican would send Cardinal Kasper & his comrades to Africa, where they could learn a thing or two of orthodoxy from African Catholics, & then bring them back to the Synod with a new perspective (that does not have his German secularist tones). Isn’t that what Pope Francis likes? New perspectives? Outreach to “new horizons of the world”? Collegiality?
      I’ll even pay for Cdl. Kasper’s plane ticket from Germany to Africa. I’ll have him stay with the great & honorable Cardinal Arinze (who would have made a great pope).

      • DE-173

        Kasper’s disgusting remark about Africans should necessitate that assignment.

        • s;vbkr0boc,klos;

          In the first great modern African Jihad, (the war on Biafra) the young Arinze was brave, selfless, indomitable in leading his flock.

      • Fred

        When I was in Atlanta we had a new priest for awhile from Africa. He had such a thick accent that it was hard to understand him, but he was so knowledgeable and full of passion that was truly contagious. Unfortunately he wasn’t with us long, but I would have sit through 100 of his homilies before sitting through one filled with empty words and relativism.

        • Catholic pilgrim

          Amen!

        • Simple & Plain

          I’d love to know more about what African clergy do differently and their teachings. Would you be able to elaborate a little?

          • Fred

            Father Casmir was only with us for awhile before moving on to a new assignment in another parish. Sadly, I don’t believe he was fully welcomed because his accent was so thick and hard to understand. We were a predominately white suburban parish. He didn’t do anything different, except he was very intelligent and had tremendous passion that was a like an aura around him. It was easier to talk one-on-one with him, but his traditional underpinnings and persona I found to be a real joy.

        • pbecke

          It’s well known, isn’t it, that Africans have a high emotional intelligence, are more endemically spiritual than Nordic peoples; which is not at all to say that they don’t have a capacity for worldly intelligence, as well. Or that they necessarily turn that higher spiritual intelligence to good purpose, any more than people of European or other ethnic stock. But if they are truly devout, they will be a bit special, imo.

          The reason for the different rates at which the races have developed their worldly intelligence seems to be basically twofold:
          a) Their interest: where their heart is, what it is set on;
          b) Christianity propelled Europe forward far faster, due to our belief in a super-intelligent Creator who made our world intelligible, so that we could investigate it and increasingly come to understand its workings.

          This has underpinned the endeavours of the many great Christian, scientific innovators and paradigm-changers. Ironical that corporate driven science today should be atheist, and its myrmidons scoff at Christianity as magic and superstition.

          The Mayan Indians of Guatemala of around the 6th and 7th century discovered the mathematical notation, zero independently, and were great astronomers and mathematicians. They lost interest.

          So, to me, its no matter for wonderment that Africans should see the truths of the faith more clearly and adhere to them more firmly than their brethren of more endemically worldly stock. It may also be that their missionaries gave a far sounder grounding in the faith than the mad, European liberal types who ended up considering the Resurrection a myth!!!!

          • St JD George

            I don’t know, honestly Father Casmir was my first experience. If any indication then I hope many more. I believe an over abundance of pride is a sin which we do see come out of Europe and the west. More humanist spirit and much less humbleness. Being humble of spirit does bring one closer to Christ, and more readily able to experience joy. Possessions are a burden and a distraction.

          • Jdonnell

            Is this incipiently racist?

            • pbecke

              That is an interesting question? Do you think Tim Berners Lee or Bill Gates would be upset, or even a little miffed if I told them I thought it was unlikely they would have an emotional, spiritual intelligence comparable to that of a sub-Saharan African, or better still a Kalahari bushman or an Australian Aborigine? ‘Where your treasure is, there your heart is.’ Tim would probably agree.

              Their environment of the latter peoples imposes an asceticism on them which predisposes them to turn their minds and hearts towards God, as they see him, in a far more thoroughgoing way than a does a society that is constantly urging youngsters to buy the latest bit of electrical nonsense. Worldly wisdom has no time for true wisdom and will traduce any knowledge it obtains to accomplish evil ends. Hence racism, misinterpreting late development of races as a deficiency of intelligence akin to stupidity; when the reality is that it was only the Judaeo-Christian scintific paradigm that saw us technologically outstrip the likes of the Chinese, indians and Japanese, who have since shown themselves to have a worldly intelligence at least as acute as our own.

              The World effectively looks upon the worldly analytical intelligence as all but the sovereign virtue (the Church has been guilty of this too), even when it is not supported and enlightened by an appropriate spiritual/moral substrate, upon which the assumptions of its possessor can be based; in which case flawless logic can only lead to Bedlam (to borrow a metaphor of the economist, Keynes). Yet, the worldly, analytical intelligence only lasts as long as we live her on earth, while the unitive, spiritual intelligence, a function of the heart, is eternal wisdom, and the source of our wisest assumptions.

              The Christan knows that whatever gifts any and every one of us possesses was a free gift from God, and that as an ant is in God, it is higher than any of us are in ourselves.

              Incidentally, I also believe that the evidence of our day-to-day life indicates that women tend to possess a higher emotional/spiritual intelligence than men, Latins, too, than Nordics. But the fallen angels have a mighty intelligence. The only thing depriving it of sound foundations is that it is not based on divine wisdom.

              However, None of us can or should feel superior to others, for whatever reason, since we (Christians, at least) are all ‘other Christs’ by divine adoption, having been created out of nothing. Imagine Christ vying with Christ!

              • Jdonnell

                I guess that your answer is “Yes, it is racist. Reverse racism is also racist. Yet, you don’t get at what Kasper may have had in mind in his African bishops comment. It is not that much of a secret that celibacy and monogamy have been difficult for some of the African church, where the culture goes against both. One African bp. has resigned in the last few years for carrying on an affair with a married woman. His defenders tried to claim that he was set up, though he was caught in the act on a hidden camera and immediately resigned. A number of African priests are known to live as married with children in violation of their vows; their bishops have often done nothing about it. That is likely what Cardinal Kasper had in mind when he intimated a degree of hypocrisy on the part of the African bishops.

                • pbecke

                  Thanks for the information. I thought it was just that the African bishops were not ‘going along to get along’ in the liberal way, but standing firm on orthodox sexuality..

                  ‘I guess that your answer is “Yes, it is racist. Reverse racism is also racist.’

                  Don’t be simplistic, there’s a good chap. You are not allowed a chip on both shouders.You sound like those homosexuals who call everyone who opposes whatever they’re touting, ‘homophobes’. You evidently don’t have the patience for nuances, which would explain the impression you give that you favour self-referential legalism.

                  • Jdonnell

                    Why don’t you be a good chap and recognize that making distinctions about peoples based strictly on race is racist. A better comparison than your homophobe one (with which I agree) would be philo-Semitism, which is other side of a two-headed coin, the other side being anti-Semitism. Coins tend to get flipped.

                    • pbecke

                      I’m still waiting to hear your answer to my question about Bill Gates, Mr Nuanced Thinker?

      • Jane57

        This actually happened under JPII when an outspoken liberal French bishop was reassigned to the Diocese of Partenia– an extinct diocese in N. Africa.

    • Ford Oxaal

      If you ask a Marian Father of the Immaculate Conception whether we are in the “end times” they will likely respond “Of course! That is the whole message of St. Faustina — to take advantage of the time of mercy while you still can”. Still, we only know the season, not the day or hour — and so we are, like sailors, on watch. As for what we see at the Vatican, it must cause us to pray with greater fervor, the Rosary in particular. I am hoping that Pope Francis is as innocent as a dove and cunning as a serpent in creating an environment to find out which bishops are with Judas and love of money, and which are not. He has spoken of “the corrupt”. He has lined up St. Michael the Archangel. I have always had the feeling that Pope Francis is in cahoots with Benedict XVI, and they are on a mission to find out who is naughty or nice, and that an axe will drop.

      • DE-173

        “I am hoping that Pope Francis is as innocent as a dove and cunning as a serpent in creating an environment to find out which bishops are with Judas and love of money, and which are not.”

        I hope so as well.

      • And, in order to achieve that, he leads an Argentinian divorced and remarried woman to sacrilege, scandalizes his fellow bishops and the faithful by promoting Kasper, offends the devout faithful, etc. Doesn’t sound like things that BXVI would agree with.

        If anything, this synod has demonstrated that Francis does not deserve the benefit of the doubt any longer and must be taken at his words without qualifications: he actually means what he says.

        God help us.

      • Tomacz Tesla

        Ford: That train left but you are righ in that St. Michael is still in command of his holy legions and the corrupt are still damned. Not without a reason our dear St. Malachy listed this Pope as Petrus Romanus for he is a second Peter. The first one was a saint but hardly an exemplary Pope. He denied the Lord three times, he sided with the wrong crowd, and even in the first moment of his pontificate he was called “satan” by the Lord Himself for “thinking the thoughts of men.” I still think that in times of high peril the Lord puts a zero in charge so to make sure that after victory the glory goes to Him, the Almighty Who can write straight in crooked lines.

        • pbecke

          The fact that you are rubbishing St Peter, himself, speaks volumes for your deplorable judgment. That is extraordinarily presumptuous of you to ascribe such narcissistic cynicism to Christ in his selection of Peter as his Church’s head honcho.

          Mark 8:33
          ‘But when Jesus turned and looked at his disciples, he rebuked Peter.
          “Get behind me, Satan!” he said. “You do not have in mind the concerns
          of God, but merely human concerns.”‘

          Note that it does not say, ‘But when Jesus turned and looked at Peter’, but ‘But when Jesus turned and looked at his disciples…’. In other words, his lesson for poor Peter was just as much for their benefit. They would have been thinking on similar, very human lines.

          • Tomacz Tesla

            The glory must go to God and there must be not a speck of a suspicion that human talent had something to do with the victory. Examples abound of God choosing the foolish things to shame the wise and the strong. In your view my judgement can be deplorable but yours is evidently foolish. I will appreciate if you don’t address me, not one more time. Please.

            • pbecke

              As you wish. Certainly.

    • Jdonnell

      Why did Kasper make his remark about the African bishops?

  • publiusnj

    I am going to let my priest and bishop know that if the Church/Pope does not quickly rule improper the two proposals to which Kasper &Co. gradualism would apply

    • HenryBowers

      You mean you’re going to respond like a petulant child? Mature faith there; inspiring example.

      • jacobhalo

        no, he is going to respond like a true, faithful Catholic who wants to see the church abide by its teachings and doctrines, which the heretical Pope and the heretical Cardinals are not doing.

        • HenryBowers

          If he wants to see the Church abide, he should start with himself . . . and remain steadfast.

          • publiusnj

            And so too should the Remarried guy who wants to receive communion. that would mean, he does not receive communion during the life of his first wife. The one he ran away from, in many instances.. Oh, but not according to the Kasper clique (with a verbal nod from Francis).

            If the Kasper clique gets its way, then all rules are off and the Catholic Church descends into anarchy. So, I should shut up until that event occurs? Naah. That would be the opposite of mature.

            • GG

              True, except such a person is not remarried but living in perpetual adultery.

              He should confess and live as brother and sister.

              • publiusnj

                Agreed, except he has another choice which is to take up his marriage vows again. I used the shorthand “Remarried guy” despite its imprecision instead of the longer “person purportedly divorced and married a second time to a person who cannot be his or her spouse (the soi-disant “second spouse”) during the life of his or her first spouse” for the sake of readability.

          • jacobhalo

            Harry, you are outnumber here, and your posts are not convincing.

            • HenryBowers

              If that were obvious, why would you need to tell me so?

          • jacobhalo

            Henry, you asked for a citation concerning Kasper saying that the pope agreed with him. log onto TheCatholicthing.org. and read that article. Also, from the newpaper, IlMattino, Kasper said, “I spoke twice with the Holy Father… I agreed upon everything with him. He was in agreement.”

      • publiusnj

        Cheap shot. I am a mature adult who has been adult since the 1960s and therefore has seen a lot of bad stuff go on when people start mucking around with well-settled principles. I can live with that in this country which is only as good as its regnant politicians. The Catholic Church is far more important to me, though. I need, therefore, to speak up when a Pope (or his clique) look set to trash the Teachings of the Catholic Church to be acceptable to the Spirit of the Age.

        It is not as though sensitivity towards gays is a white light insight that only this Pope and his clique have had. The Catechism (2358), written in the 1980s, I believe, already dealt with the need for pastoral sensitivity towards “gays.” It notes: “The number of men and women who have deep-seated homosexual tendencies is not negligible. This inclination, which is objectively disordered, constitutes for most of them a trial. They must be accepted with respect, compassion, and sensitivity. Every sign of unjust discrimination in their regard should be avoided. ”

        So, if the Pope really just wanted to emphasize the pastoral more, he would start from that passage and go further to assure “gays” we are prepared to walk with them if they are prepared to follow Christ. In that way, he would be letting his faithful flock know he was living within the teachings of the Church. Because he instead goes off with totally profligate and, at times murky, new language which ignores, inter alia, the clear teaching that the conduct remains ” objectively disordered,” I must assume that he is going away from the clarion teaching of the CCC. If he is isn’t, he needs to say so.

        In other words, if he does not have enough respect for his flock as to let us know that he is being faithful to the Magisterium, he should get some push-back. The Roman Pontiff is infallible when speaking ex cathedra on matters of Faith and Morals, not when playing ecclesiastical politics.

        • HenryBowers

          Nothing will stop any sheep from abusing any discipline it wants to abuse, or from rejecting any doctrine it wants to reject. The synod is addressing an important reality.

          • fredx2

            The synod’s interim relatio basically could be interpreted as changing all Catholic doctrine on the matter. And That’s exactly what the media reported. The outreach toward gays is already part of the Catechism. Note that the synod fathers were so angry about this, that when the final relatio merely restated the Catechism on this point, they refused to pass even that section

            • HenryBowers

              “could be interpreted” != “is”

            • DE-173

              What did Churchill say about lies travelling the world before truth puts its pants on in the morning? Maybe we need a provision of stogies and whiskey for future Synods.

          • publiusnj

            If you were trying to communicate something, I missed it.

            • HenryBowers

              You missed it long before this point . . .

              • publiusnj

                Talk about “childish petulance.” Your last comment made no sense.

          • JP

            And what pray tell does homosexuality have to do with the problems facing most Catholic families? The fact is we’re probably talking about less than 1% of Catholics world wide. Yet, the Synod became nothing more than a platform for homosexuals and the divorced.

            • HenryBowers

              That would have happened even if PBXVI was running it.

              • DE-173

                Wow, now there’s speculation.

                • HenryBowers

                  Didn’t PBXVI say the homosexual reaching for a condom might be evidencing something worthwhile in the moral order? The point, of course, is not that we exalt superficially good movements in the workings of sin, but consider when the interior person is converted, and trapped by external sanctions.

                  • GG

                    That is for theology texts, not for pastoral guides. If you only accent that aspect then you make the truth into a lie.

                  • DE-173

                    And that one off-handed hypothetical remark allows to you determine a counterfactual about the scope and process of the proceeding in question?

                    • GG

                      Well, yes it does if you favor error.

                    • HenryBowers

                      The scope and process is less dire than you imagine. I haven’t heard anybody purport to change doctrine. It could be a supremely bad discipline, but that’s not grounds for all this anti-clerical talk.

                    • DE-173

                      There are clerics that need to be opposed.

          • DE-173

            Hey Henry. Did you notice that Kasper isn’t a sheep. He’s a shepherd. He’s supposed to call the flock back from the cliff, not clear a path.

            • HenryBowers

              Okay, then what would stop a sheep or a shepherd from doing what they want? That’s right; nothing. So my point stands.

              • DE-173

                In the words of Foghorn Leghorn, “pay attention boy, I’m not just talking to hear my head roar”. You might very well be, however.

          • Fred

            Ah yes, the world’s awash in troubling sin, I guess we just accept it and go along to get along … in this world.

            • HenryBowers

              What will anybody do differently under Francis than under PBXVI?

        • DE-173

          “Cheap shot.”
          A specialty of petulant children.

    • jacobhalo

      Very good idea.

  • HenryBowers

    How commonly does a true marriage ontologically transpire anymore? One can have a church ceremony and make public vows, but if they think SSM is fine, or contraception innocuous, then they’re not really intending to enact the sacrament ontologically. Witnesses for these kinds of nullifying belief can be hard to garner a decade following the nominal marriage. While the ontologically married cannot Communicate in a second union, I think there are many whose first union is invalid, but too difficult to annul.

    • JP

      I think the Church teaches that no matter the circumstances marriages are Sacramental for all the baptized. For non-Christians, their marriages are no sacramental, but they are valid. Those marriages the Church calls Natural Marriages. Whether the spouses are aware of all of the teachings or obeys those teachings, once the 2 become 1 they are in fact married.

      The Marriage Tribunal was established to make sure that all the criteria for a valid marriage were met. Until recent decades, it was extremely difficult to obtain a nullity of marriage.

      • HenryBowers

        Yes, they “are in fact” nominally married, from what a 3rd party can discern. But that might not touch ontology.

        • GG

          The Church has such authority, not any third party, and such a tribunal has moral certainty.

          • HenryBowers

            Moral certainty does not equate with ontological certainty.

            • GG

              So? The authority rests with the Church, not with subjectivism.

              • HenryBowers

                Moral authority is not ontological authority. The Church disavows ontological authority in Fides et Ratio.

                • GG

                  The Church has the moral authority. She is the final authority. Your use of the word ontological does not contradict that She is the authority in such cases.

                  The adulterer is not the authority.

                  • HenryBowers

                    Yes he is! Only the adulterer can commit adultery; the Church doesn’t commit the agent’s adultery! Pardon the crass expression, but your claim is preposterous.

    • DE-173

      One can have a church ceremony and make public vows, but if they think SSM is fine, or contraception innocuous,

      • HenryBowers

        It is not ludicrous. If the couple thinks that they are doing the exact same thing that those homosexual couples in CA are doing, then the couple is not contracting a marriage.

        • DE-173

          Repeating yourself isn’t a counterargument. Are you this tedious in person?

  • Fred

    I posted this before, but it’s worth re-posting again. There are some that theorize the motives for the positions he takes. No doubt heavily influenced by the ultra liberal culture he’s immersed in. But then I’m reminded of the good bishop of San Francisco, Salvatore Cordileone, who isn’t afraid to speak truth to lies in our own den of deception.
    http://www.breitbart.com/Big-Peace/2014/10/08/Why-Are-the-German-Bishops-Pushing-for-Universal-Communion-Follow-the-Money

  • s;vbkr0boc,klos;

    Gradually? It is the oldest cop-out in the world. Ask AA.

    • Salvelinus

      Nice… true

  • JP

    I always understood the Gospel of Saint Matthew Chapter 19 to mean that Christ is announcing a new Covenant not only between God and Man, but between Man and Wife. Christ came not only to redeem Man, but also to elevate Marriage. He announced that he would go beyond Mosaic Law and make Himself the center of the family. Christ announced that Holy Matrimony would be a foreshadowing of His own Divine Love. Once Man and Wife become One Flesh there is no turning back. Just as Christ will be Faithful to His Spouse (the Church), he calls on spouses to be Faithful to each other. What God joins let no man put asunder.

    Cardinal Kasper ignores this new Covenant between Husband and Wife. For there is to be no divorce, anymore than there can never be a divorce between Christ and His Bride. Christ began his ministry at a wedding feast; the first major drama of the Gospels involved Our Lady and her spouse the Holy Spirit. Christ came into this world through a Mother and into a Family. Holy Matrimony holds a significant place in Christ’s teachings. Much of Christian life begins with the theology of Matrimony and the family. But, Cardinal Kapser is just to brilliant to be reminded of such pedestrian ideas.

    It is our duty to teach our children this teaching before they get married.

  • Tim Danaher

    I find it ironic that Bishops in the west, who are shepherding over collapsing churches, and who have ignored the hard teachings (homosexuality, Christian marriage, and contraception) for 2-3 generations,have the gall to redefine timeless doctrines. Due to their failures, they are attempting to boost their parish registries with more cafeteria Catholics. Christ is calling us to a higher objective standard, but unfortunately western bishops are satisfied to let us wallow in the low morals of our relative and subjective worlds.

    • publiusnj

      In some cases, this criticism is valid. On the other hand, Cardinals Burke and Mueller are both “Western bishops.”

      • DE-173

        And Pell.

    • Simple & Plain

      I really don’t want to be part of a Church which changes its core teachings, just so it can stay afloat. What an offence to Christ.

  • Sherry

    Thank you for this outstanding article!

  • DE-173

    “Well nobody is putting into question the indissolubility of marriage. I think it wouldn’t be a help for people, but if you look to this word of Jesus, there are different synoptic gospels in different places, in different contexts. It’s different in the Judeo-Christian context and in the Hellenistic context. Mark and Matthew are different. There was already a problem in the apostolic age. The Word of Jesus is clear, but how to apply it in complex, different situations? It’s a problem to do with the application of these words.”

    Wow, what meaningless drivel. This man needs to be checked to see what causes his aphasia.

    • GG

      This remark is small minded and rigid. Please open yourself to mercy. The bible says many things in many ways. Understand?

      • DE-173

        Mercy starts with truth and clarity. Understand?

        • GG

          No, no. You are simply to close minded. You must be open to mercy. Be surprised. 😉

        • Daniel P

          I think you missed the irony in GG’s remark.

          • DE-173

            Apparently so. I stand corrected.

      • Fred

        Like the mercy shown to those of Soddom and Gammorah for their unrepentant sin when patience was wore out? What part of a man leaves his mother and woman leaves her home to become one is so hard to understand? Do you believe when Jesus said to love your fellow man he was being particularly ambiguous as to what kind of love he was talking about, wink-wink? I don’t think so.

  • cestusdei

    Kasper revealed himself in his racist comments about Africans. Now we see him for what he is.

    • GG

      He was not using racists words. He was speaking in a way that is not rigid and open to mercy and surprise.

      • Daniel P

        Dismissing an entire continent was certainly surprising, that’s for sure! Maybe he was just worried about Ebola.

        • GG

          Yes, sure that too. You must look at his words in more than a one dimensional way. The truth of his words are not necessarily how he applies them in a particular situation.

      • cestusdei

        I was not surprised at all. Liberals often are the most racist.

  • Jz Jz

    I don’t get the focus on Matt 19 (Jesus’ teaching on divorce) as the primary hinge in the debate. The well intentioned cardinal has granted that marriage is in fact indissoluble. It seems to me the focus should be on two things:

    1) Does divorce and remarriage (assuming a sexual union) constitute serious (i.e. objectively mortal) sin? As long as we continue to consider adultery serious sin, then the answer is obvious.

    2) What does Scripture have to say about receiving the Eucharist under mortal sin? 1 Cor 11 sums it up well for us:

    “For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until He comes. Therefore whoever eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner, shall be guilty of the body and the blood of the Lord. But a man must examine himself, and in so doing he is to eat of the bread and drink of the cup. For he who eats and drinks, eats and drinks judgment to himself if he does not judge the body rightly. For this reason many among you are weak and sick, and a number sleep.”

    Does the Cardinal believe it’s merciful to pastorally lead people into being guilty of the body and blood of the Lord?

    • GG

      Ah, the point is to speak in a vague way and keep tossing out the word mercy. Do not be a rigid traditionalist. Seek surprises. If that does not work, then stack the deck and use subterfuge.

  • BXVI

    It’s simple, really. The only way to get to Kasper’s result is to conclude that, at some point (passage of time, evidence of true love, penitence for past transgression), the second union is no longer really an adulterous one.
    This directly contradicts what Jesus said. But Kasper says the world is different from the one in which Jesus lived, and if He were walking the Earth today and could speak about these situations, he would say “This is not really adultery.”
    That’s it. So we have to decide: go with what Jesus actually said 2,000 years ago, or go with what Kasper thinks Jesus would say now. One must ask: is the world really all that different than when Jesus walked among us? Has human nature changed?

    • publiusnj

      Whatever happened to: Jesus Christ, the Same, Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow? So, Kasper is saying Christ somehow did NOT know what life was going to be like in October 2014? Hmmm…not very god-like. Of course, this is the same scam as liberals run when they talk about the Living Constitution. The big difference, though, is that Christ was no mere “framer” but the living Omnipotent and Omniscient Lord of the Universe.

      So, we must assume Jesus meant what He said. Therefore, if the “remarried person” continues to have sexual intercourse with his or her “second spouse” after confessing Remarriage-Adultery and firmly resolving to sin no more, the “remarried adulterer” commits a new adultery, if the first spouse lives.

  • HandMaiden of the Lord

    History is replete with incidents resulting in the degradation of Christ’s Church, when man chooses as he will not as God wills; the result is chaos, and the losers are the sheep: the split between East and West; the protestant reformation in which these churches continue to schism from each other; Henry VIII’s decision to create and rule over his own church because of a desire for adulterous living (although, ironically, he was vehemently opposed to the protestant reformation and vilified Luther; even more ironically, almost 500 years later and many Anglicans are returning to the Church. The struggles within the Episcopal church present a cautionary tale to all); Vatican II after which the Church has spiraled in confusion and the sheep have scattered (another cautionary tale, as what did it all really mean in hindsight or foresight?). My hope and faith are in the Lord. He promised that what He created would prevail against hell itself. While princes of all sorts inevitably fall before Him, they certainly leave wreckage in their wakes. May God send forth His Spirit and renew the face of creation.

  • BM

    There used to be a pithy maxim in moral theology that went something like, “Bonum ex integris, malum ex quocumque defectu.” It seems to have been forgotten now. But Aquinas examines this thought while commenting on Dionysius’s work De Divinis Nominibus (c. 4, l. 22) as well as in the Summa (I-II, q. 71, a. 5 ad 2) and also in the commentary on Aristotle’s Nicomachean Ethics (Book 2, chapter 6) while refining the definition of virtue. It may be instructive to take a look at the last two:

    Aristotle, Nic. Ethics, Book 2: “Moreover, there are many ways of sinning…. However, there is only one way of doing what is right. It is easy to sin, therefore, but difficult to do what is right. It is easy indeed to miss a bull’s eye but difficult to hit it. For this reason then defect and excess pertain to vice but the mean to virtue. Men are good in but one way but evil in many ways.”

    Aquinas on this: “The reason for this can be found in the statement of Dionysius in the book De Divinis Nominibus, that good results from a united and complete cause but evil from any single defect, as is evident in physical goodness and badness. Ugliness, which is a defect of physical beauty, results from any member being unsightly. But beauty arises only when all the members are well proportioned and of a healthy hue. Likewise sickness, a defect in the constitution of the body, happens from a single disorder of any humor. But health is dependent on the proper proportion of all the humors. Likewise sin is committed in human action from any circumstance being inordinate in any way either by excess or defect. But goodness will be present only when all the circumstances are rightly ordered. As health or beauty comes about in a single way but sickness and ugliness in many, even in an unlimited number of ways, so also moral goodness results in only one way but the act of sin takes place in countless ways. Hence it is easy to sin because sin can happen in a variety of modes, but it is difficult to do what is right because rectitude happens only in one way.”

    So, while we can all say that there are “elements of goodness” present in evil acts or situations (an ontological necessity of sorts), we must also say that this observation is totally irrelevant to the discussion: the act or situation is still bad since it only takes one defective aspect for something to go from being good to being evil. Unless one is willing to simply lie about all this, by calling something evil not evil, I don’t see how he could even countenance such a view as maintained by Kasper.

    It is also interesting to note that in Aristotle’s Topics (Book 1, chapter 11), he points out that we don’t argue dialectically about any problem whatsoever. For instance, a man who seeks reasons to undo the moral law shouldn’t be reasoned with but punished. Also, no one inquires or argues about something that is settled or manifest. The church’s teaching is thus damaged by merely floating questions touching a doctrine, since the logical implication of this action is that such a teaching must not be a doctrine. Somehow some prelates managed to fall into both of these errors simultaneously: questioning settled doctrines indirectly and trying to unravel the moral law at the same time.

    • GG

      Truthfully, I doubt the Pope and his allies care much about moral theology. They seem to be “into” pastoral applications. The truth exists, now forget about it and just focus on making sure others see you as nice. That seems to be their strategy. In some way this is supposedly consistent with the Gospel.

      • publiusnj

        I agree that the Pope’s seeming allies do not care about moral theology and that that hurts the Gospel (I’ll reserve on the Pope because he is playing his cards very close to his surplice). We though need to care about the great Moral Tradition because it is one of the glories of the True Faith passed on to us. I am so happy that I belong to Christ’s Church which has done so much good throughout the last 2000 years. So, thank you to BM for his learned post.

        BTW, I hate being negative about the Pope, although I have no reason right now to say anything positive. I have been a baptized member of the Catholic Church for the past 24,844 days and up until a month or so back, I had always felt very comfortable with whomever was “our Pope” whom I always viewed as he Guarantor of Faithfulness to Christ’s message. If this Pope doesn’t come through for orthodoxy, I will feel betrayed.

        • GG

          The Pope has a public record for all to evaluate. I think charitable criticism is warranted given how serious the times are. That we have Cardinal versus Cardinal is enough proof there is a huge problem despite the spin so many phonies try to foist on us.

          I would not lose faith. This is the only true Church no matter how “quirky” any Pope is. BTW, I am almost certain it will get worse, very soon, before it gets better even though the good guys one the recent battle.

          Pray, hope, and do not worry.

          • I think that Francis’ actions in this synod make it quite clear the events of the last few months: promoting Card. Kasper, overriding the chosen redactors by the bishops with his own choice of “Kasperians”, Card. Baldisseri’s behavior as in collusion with Francis, etc. To me these actions shed light on some controversial statements of Francis’: “who am I to judge”, granting permission to a divorced Argentinian woman to communicate, appealing to the theology of Orthodox schismatics, etc. I cannot give the benefit of the doubt to Francis any longer. He must be taken at his own words. It’s not a problem of translation, but of his ideas and message.

            Thank God for protecting the Church from error by the pope when he speaks IN UNION WITH THE BISHOPS. When Francis doesn’t speak in union with the bishops, he is not infallible. The majority of the bishops at the synod saved the Church from a pope with a heterodox agenda.

            • GG

              I agree and you only gave a partial list of all the impenetrable things said and done these past few months.

              What I find most troubling, even more than the chicanery at the Synod, is all the spin that is being done to try and calm or deflect the real threat. Instead of standing up with Truth we get too much accommodation and tut tutting.

          • jacobhalo

            No way I would leave the Catholic church. What we are saying here and other websites will get back to the Pope. I’ve never seen so much negativity concerning a pope in my 68 years on earth. And it is all well deserved.

      • jacobhalo

        The Modernists have been trying to change the teachings of the church since Vatican II. They use the word “misinterpreted” to change a teaching. Even a Easter prayer about the Jews was changed to placate the Jews because of inter religious dialogue.

  • BXVI

    One must wonder if Pope Francis has ever read 1 Corinthians 5? Don’t tell me open, unrepentant homosexual behavior or open, unrepentant adultery are somehow “different” from incest – a man living with his mother’s wife. St. Paul admonished the Church at Corinth for tolerating this type of open, unrepentant sin. He said the Church should be “ashamed.” What did he say should be done with such a person? “Cast out the wicked man from among you.” He understood what scandal meant. And he understood that the Church could not survive if it allowed “all comers” to participate fully in it’s community and liturgy whether or not they were willing to repent.

  • ForChristAlone

    I think Donald Wuerl was attending this Synod and, if that’s correct, I am very surprised (not) that he hasn’t spoken up at all about this fortnight of intrigue.

  • Aliquantillus

    The author gives to my knowledge a faithful and correct interpretation of the Matthean passage and of Christ’s doctrine about marriage and divorce. The major difficulty today is that the disciplinary consequences of this doctrine are not applied and put into practice by the Church authorities. It is not only the Kasperites, who seek to legitimize adultery, who are the problem. There are almost no priests anymore who take the traditional doctrine serious and really prohibit those living in adultery or other extra-marital relations — e.g. homosexuals and those in pre-marital cohabitation.

    The sad thing is that In an important respect the whole point of this fight is moot. If the Kasperians lose the fight they can still go on doing what they are doing already, without facing consequences. Pope Francis, who to all probability is on Kasper’s side, will never punish those who flaut Church doctrine in these matters. So the end-result seems to be unavoidable: clockwise or counter-clockwise, so to say, the Pope and the Kasperites will attain their apostate goal, which is the practical abrogation of traditional sexual morality in the Church.

    • publiusnj

      My concern is with the principle that the Pope is infallible when speaking ex cathedra on matters of Faith and Morals. Ecclesiastical Politics and loose practice are one thing. While wrong, they are an order of magnitude below a heterodox ex cathedra statement. Any such statement would wound the Church and seriously affect my belief in the Catholic Church. Our bishops and cardinals and the Pope need to understand that there is a lot more at stake here than the personal comfort of some remarriers and homosexuals.

      • I wonder about the technicalities of such charism. Surely no new doctrine can be made up or contradict what the Church has always taught. The college of bishops in union with the pope is also “the subject of supreme and full power over the universal church” (CCL #336) and I think that we have just witnessed this charism in action at the synod.

        Methinks that the Holy Spirit would slay a pope before he opened up his mouth to proclaim heresy.

      • jacobhalo

        A pope has spoken ex cathedra since, I think, 1950. Before that, again I think, in the 1870’s. 1950-Assumption. 1870’s-Immaculate Conception.

        • publiusnj

          I understood that, and it was 1854 for the proclamation of the Immaculate Conception. 1870 was the date of the First Vatican Council. While formal statements ex cathedra are not common, someone looking to undo 2000 years of Dogma might make a purportedly infallible statement to do so. Particularly if he is being opposed by substantial credible portions of the Episcopate and he can’t get the statement he needs through a Synod.

          • jacobhalo

            Thanks, publius. I got confused with the date

  • GeorgeMarshall65

    Miller: First of all—there is little to no difference between the Gospels of Mark and Matthew on the subject of divorce and remarriage. All one need do is compare the texts of Matthew 19: 3-9 with Mark 10: 2-12. Mark’s is even stronger as it leaves out the verse found in Matthew: “lewd conduct is a separate case.”

    IMO there is a huge difference between the two. If Jesus did not intend there to be a difference in the two situations, why would He have said there was? There either is, or is not, a difference. One of the two got it wrong. Secondly, Mark is stronger. There are no exceptions. We, of course, have determined there are exceptions, which are grounds for annulment. Nothing in Mark, or Matthew for that matter, about them. We have taken Jesus’ words and we have interpreted them and we have based rules on them. There is nothing to say that we cannot continue to do so nor that we have to continue to do so in a certain manner.

    • You misunderstand annulment. It does not dissolves the marriage bond, but instead declares that it never existed. In other words, there are no exceptions.

      “Lewd conduct is a separate case;” it’s not a sacramental marriage at all.

      • Scott W.

        Indeed. Whole chunks of commentary could be saved if people understood there is a very real and substantial difference between divorce and annulment. Abuses of the annulment process notwithstanding.

      • GeorgeMarshall65

        I don’t misunderstand it at all. Mark and Matthew make no provision for annulment. Jesus said that people got married and that was it. He didn’t say, “Well, if they thought they could get divorced later then it doesn’t count.” The only provision, according to the Gospel, is lewd conduct and as Miller points out, that’s only in Matthew. The Church decided that there should be something called annulment. It took Jesus’ words and decided that in some cases a marriage is not valid. And, Augustine, if you’re interpreting “lewd conduct” as the grounds for an annulment because “it’s not a sacramental marriage at all,” then that means that is the only grounds for annulment because if you want to go only by what Jesus said, that’s what he said. The point is that the Church has taken Jesus’ words and interpreted them and set rules it believes are correct. Those rules and interpretations have changed over time. There is no reason they cannot be open to change again.

        • You do, over and over again. I’ll leave you in your little, cozy echo chamber.

        • Sam Schmitt

          Matthew and Mark do not mention annulment, but they don’t exclude it either, since it lies outside the scope of Jesus’ words. Yes, Jesus meant that “people got married and that was it.” But what if they were not really married in the first place? In this case, Jesus’ words do not apply, since he is speaking only of those who are actually married.

          This is where a “declaration of nullity” (aka an “annulment”) comes in. It does not “annul” in the sense of making a valid marriage void (this would not be an “interpretation” but a contradiction of Jesus’ words), but declares that it never existed in the first place.

          To say that the Church can interpret Jesus’ words begs the question – of course it can. The point is that the Church can’t contradict them, which is what Cdl. Kasper’s proposal amounts to.

          • GeorgeMarshall65

            Sam, in Miller’s argument, she states that “Kasper advances the idea that a relativism of doctrinal application is already there from the start of the Church—even from the “apostolic age.” She goes on to argue that idea is false because there is no difference in between Mark and Matthew. I disagree. In the former Jesus’ words apply to all marriages while in the latter he specifically excludes some marriages, where there is lewd conduct. To say there is no difference is not true. The Church has not dealt with that difference. Secondly, if you go strictly by His words, which is what Miller argues, then there is no provision for annulment.

            The Church has annulled marriages that have lasted for decades and produced multiple children. It’s annulled multiple marriages for the same individual. It has been argued elsewhere that divorce is so accepted in this country that one can wonder if any marriage is valid. Indeed, in 2009 Gallup reported that 77% of all Catholics thought divorce is moral while 63% of regularly attending Catholics did. I’m not arguing that doctrine be done by vote, but if those percentages are correct and one of the grounds of annulment is that you believed divorce a possibility, how many are valid? Will we pass out annulments like candy?

            Maybe Cdl. Kasper’s proposal is not the answer, but I’ll agree with the Holy Father that we should not be afraid of change.

      • jacobhalo

        I’ve heard people say that an annulment is easy to get. I know two people who wanted an annulment and did not get it. They said that the process is very difficult and the questions that they ask are embarrassing.

    • GG

      No, that is not what the Church says at all.

  • Rich Leonardi

    A sigh of relief perhaps, but also a recognition that this needless worry was caused by the poor judgment of Pope Francis.

    • Scott W.

      Whether deliberate or unintended, the Holy Father has caused the tide to recede and now we see who has been swimming naked.

    • bonaventure

      “Poor judgment” is an understatement, considering that he is just back paddling now — and not because he made any “mistake,” but because he got caught in his intentions.

  • Alexander

    There are good Jesuits in Los Gatos Ca. But they belong to the Pius X society. With them I had a great Ignation retreat.

    • jacobhalo

      It looks like SSPX might be right about the goings on in the church. SSPX only wants to adhere to the teachings of the church pre-Vatican II. They have a legitimate theological gripe.

  • LongIslandMichael

    Outstanding article. Thanks for sharing Ms. Miller.

  • tom

    Kasper needs to become a good Anglican. Forced to live in England, it would be poetic justice for the weakling.

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  • Jennifer Brown

    Are there Cardinals who are homosexuals?

  • hombre111

    More than one hundred weak-minded bishops listened to Cardinal Kasper and voted for mercy and compassion toward homosexuals and the divorced and remarried, but the faithful conservatives stood bravely at the gates and staved off a 2/3 majority. Whew. Thank God.

    Where did those wishy-washy liberals come from? I have filled out top-secret questionnaires sent from the Apostolic Delegate, asking me to testify to the good character of men being considered for bishop. The form was very concerned about their “orthodox” views about abortion, birth control, marriage, and homosexuals. It was easy to see that only the most conservative priests would become a bishop. Pope John Paul and Pope Benedict would rest easy at night, confident that the bishops of the world were made in their image and likeness, obedient men who would faithfully hew to the company line. But something terrible happened in the Synod. More than half of the bishops changed their minds! The disloyalty! The horror!

    Crisis can sigh in relief, but something is happening. Pope Francis has managed to resurrect the Vatican Council Pope John Paul and Pope Benedict tried so hard to bury. He remembered that we are all the People of God and asked lay people to offer their opinions on the problems besetting the family. He remembered a Council teaching two popes tried so hard to toss out the window: the collegiality between pope and bishops. He did not try to tell the bishops before hand what they could or could not discuss. Instead, he asked them to speak their minds. He did not tell them how to vote. He asked for transparency. He did not tinker with the conclusions. Gasp.

    • GG

      Something is happening. The Gays feel free to expose their deviant desires even among the prelates. That is Good. Let it shine, baby. Now, we can know who is faithful and who is for the anti Gospel.

  • pbecke

    I read today, I believe in the Catholic blog, Crisis, that Cardinal Kasper spoke slightingly of African bishops concerning their stance on homosexual ‘unions’, imputing, I believe that they were not as advanced as Western bishops. He was later said to have made a qualified apology.

    I’m very disappointed that he would have questioned the proscription against homosexual activity decreed by all three Abrahamic religions as fundamental. He apparently described it, seemingly disparagingly, as a ‘taboo’ of the African bishops, but why wouldn’t it be a taboo, since it has always been a taboo in Christian doctrine? Moreover, it’s a perfectly valid word, according to the dictionary.

  • Edward Delahoussaye

    Cardinal Kasper is over 80 an needs to be put to pasture,he is a desenter an just needs to go away just go away.

  • mollysdad

    Another thing to observe is that God gave a law of marriage and of the indissolubility of the bond to the human race generally. He gave a law of divorce only to Israel. Only the Law of Moses dictates the dissolution of valid marriages between persons who are categorically forbidden to each other for sexual relations beyond the cases of incest and adultery.

    Jesus provides that divorce is lawful only when divine law makes it mandatory.

  • Jdonnell

    I’ve been reading many of the comments attached to this article. They are astoundingly unchristian and uncharitable as well as uninformed. Rush Limbaugh is about the same level of accuracy. I’ll bet that few–or none–of them have read Kasper’s book, “Mercy.”

  • mollysdad

    “Lewd conduct” is not a good translation of “porneia”.

    In the beginning God gave a law of marriage which had no place for divorce. He gave a law for divorce only to Israel, because the concept of a valid but unlawful marriage which by law must be dissolved by divorce is known only to the Law of Moses.

    Permissive divorce was never God’s plan – divorce is lawful only when mandatory, and it is mandatory only within the Jewish community.

  • susan d

    Dear Monica, thank you for your critique. I think it is very good that Cardinal Kasper gets as much exposure as possible. The more I hear him try to explain his thoughts, the fuzzier they appear to me. As you say, Christ did not die for a Kasperian church!

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