Monday, November 14, 2005

The Hireling Report #11

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Cardinal Kasper’s view of the situation of remarried divorcees

November 7, 2005

Summary : The Synod document reaffirms in its fifty proposals , “the tradition of the Church” according to which, remarried divorcees “may not be admitted to Holy Communion”...

The Synod document reaffirms in its fifty proposals , “the tradition of the Church” according to which, remarried divorcees “may not be admitted to Holy Communion”, but specifies that they “do belong however, to the Church which welcomes them”. They must not fail to “cultivate a Christian lifestyle through participation at Mass, even without receiving communion”. Proposal n° 40 recalls that remarried divorcees who have not had their respective marriages annulled and wish to receive Communion should “take the resolution of living their relationship according to the requirements of the laws of God, transforming it into a loyal, faithful and binding friendship”, that is to say to practice chastity. At the same time, the Synod Fathers wish the work of the Church tribunals concerning the causes for nullity of marriage to be intensified, “subsequently acquiring a deeper knowledge of the essential elements for the validity of marriage, also taking into account problems which arise in the context of the profound anthropological changes of our times”. – In this connection, La Croix of October 20, recalled that in 2002 there were 54,247 requests for marriage annulments placed before diocesan tribunals throughout the world, in other words, one cause for nullity for every 62 marriages, while in 1978, there was one cause for every 73 marriages. 94% of the decisions of diocesan tribunals recognized the nullity of the marriages examined. In 98% of cases, the grounds named were a flaw in consent: lack of freedom in commitment, immaturity, pressures… However, according to cardinal Walter Kasper, president of the Pontifical Council for the Promotion of the Unity of Christians, the question of the admission of remarried divorcees to Communion can still be discussed, even after the closure of the Synod. On October 24, in Rome, he gave a press conference at the headquarters of the Italian Association of the Foreign Press. “I cannot imagine that the matter is settled”, he declared. “It is a problem which exists and on which we must reflect, in order to be able to come up with a solution”. It is “a continual pastoral problem. I was a bishop for ten years and every bishop in every Western country knows that this is a serious problem”, he added.

The cardinal made it clear that the proposals of the Synod of bishops on the Eucharist published on October 22 – which recall the impossibility of remarried divorcees receiving Communion – “are not the end of the matter. The Synod is not finished, since, after the proposals, there will be the Apostolic Exhortation, and during the Synod, we heard the opinions of all, not only those of the majority”. “The pope, during his meeting with the clergy of the diocese of Aosta during his holidays in the Val d’Aosta last Summer, asked for reflection on such cases. I am of the same opinion”, he declared.

The cardinal has not closed the door on the ordination of married men either, which was “Not the way to go”, according to the final proposals of the Synod . “I am convinced that celibacy is a gift for the Church and we must not abandon it. However, in certain cases, it would be desirable to consider also the “viri probati”, as an hypothesis which remains open and which we must achieve without abandoning celibacy”.


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