May 29, 2014
The effort by Cardinal Walter Kasper to change the Church’s discipline regarding the inadmissibility of divorced and remarried Catholics to Sacramental Communion – and thus necessarily her teaching on the nature of sin – continues apace. Having argued before an assembly of cardinals in Rome in February that the Church’s immemorial discipline of refusing to give Holy Communion to those living in an adulterous second marriage must be cast aside, Cardinal Kasper has taken to promoting this idea further in speeches and interviews.
In a May 7 interview with Commonweal, for example, he continued to develop his argument. At one point, Kasper is asked about the question posed by Cardinal Carlo Caffarra, “What happens to the first marriage?” He answers: “The first marriage is indissoluble because marriage is not only a promise between the two partners; it’s God’s promise too, and what God does is done for all time. Therefore the bond of marriage remains. Of course, Christians who leave their first marriage have failed. That’s clear. The problem is when there is no way out of such a situation.”
A few observations: If the bond of marriage remains, then the obligation of fidelity to that bond remains. Whether the “failure” that led to the separation of the spouses can be attributed to one or both of them, the bond remains. Faithfulness to God and to the word given to one’s spouse requires that adultery be avoided, and even more, that a pseudo-marriage with another person not be entered into.
The failure of the marriage may or may not mean that a spouse has failed. God will forgive a spouse who admits being a cause of a separation, yet that forgiveness is predicated upon a resolve to either re-establish common life with one’s spouse, or if that is not possible at the present, to refrain from any sin against the unity and exclusivity of marriage.