Vatican City, Sep 9, 2014 / 02:10 am
Five members of the College of Cardinals have joint-authored a book defending Church doctrine regarding divorced and remarried Catholics, affirming that it is the most merciful approach.
Set to be published in English this October, the book is entitled "Remaining in the Truth of Christ: Marriage and Communion in the Catholic Church." It offers a response to Cardinal Walter Kasper's call for the Church to open its doors to allow divorced and remarried Catholics to receive the Eucharist.
According to publisher Ignatius Press, the book will outline both biblical arguments in support of current Church doctrine as well as the teachings and practices of the early Church.
In their online summary, Ignatius Press explains that the book "traces the centuries-long history of Catholic resistance" to the reception of communion by divorced and re-married Catholics, and reveals "serious theological and canonical difficulties inherent in past and current Orthodox Church practice."
"In neither of these cases, biblical or patristic, do these scholars find support for the kind of 'toleration' of civil marriages following divorce advocated by Cardinal Kasper," they observed.
During a two-hour address to a consistory on the family in February, Cardinal Kasper, president emeritus of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity, discussed marriage and family life, devoting the last section of his speech to "the problem of the divorced and remarried."
In that portion he asked, "is it not perhaps an exploitation of the person" when a person who has been divorced and remarried is excluded from receiving Communion, and suggests that for "the smaller segment of the divorced and remarried," perhaps they could be admitted to "the sacrament of penance, and then of Communion."
He echoed the same sentiments in a May interview with Commonweal, during which he discussed his proposal that divorced and remarried persons might receive Communion, suggesting that Christians aren't called to be heroic when he said that living together as brother and sister is "a heroic act, and heroism is not for the average Christian."
Referring to the conclusion drawn by the cardinals, Ignatius Press explained that the various studies examined in the book "lead to the conclusion that the Church's longstanding fidelity to the truth of marriage constitutes the irrevocable foundation of its merciful and loving response to the individual who is civilly divorced and remarried."
"The book therefore challenges the premise that traditional Catholic doctrine and contemporary pastoral practice are in contradiction."
The five cardinals authoring the book are Cardinal Gerhard Müller, prefect of the Doctrine of the Faith; Raymond Leo Burke, prefect of the Apostolic Signatura; Walter Brandmüller, president emeritus of the Pontifical Committee of Historical Sciences; Carlo Caffarra, archbishop of Bologna and one of the closest theologians to St. John Paul II in questions of morality and the family; and Velasio De Paolis, president emeritus of the Prefecture for Economic Affairs of the Holy See.
In addition to the cardinals, four expert theologians and professors have also made contributions to the book. They are Robert Dodaro, O.S.A., the editor, John Rist and Jesuits Paul Mankowski and Archbishop Cyril Vasil.