Buenos Aires, Argentina, Sep 29, 2014 / 13:58 pm America/Denver (CNA).
On Sept. 29, the Argentine daily La Nacion published an interview with Cardinal Walter Kasper, who has drawn significant media attention for suggesting that some of those who have been divorced and remarried should be permitted to receive Communion.
The Church holds that a person cannot enter a new marriage if their initial marriage is valid. Those who are living together as husband and wife when they are bound to a different spouse may not receive Communion. The Church has an annulment process to examine whether a marriage may not have been valid in the first place.
Cardinal Kasper’s comments have been subject of controversy as the extraordinary synod of bishops on the family approaches next month.
In the La Nacion interview, Cardinal Kasper defended his arguments, while expanding on some of his previous statements.
Below are excerpts from the interview, translated from Spanish into English by CNA. The original interview can be found here.
On the 'evolution of discipline':
“(Some Cardinals) fear a domino effect, that if one thing changes, everything will collapse. That's their fear. All this is related to ideology, an ideological interpretation of the Gospel, but the Gospel is not a penal code. As the Pope said in the apostolic exhortation Evangelii Gaudium, quoting Saint Thomas Aquinas, the Gospel is a grace from the Holy Spirit manifested in the faith that works through love. That's a different interpretation. It is not a museum. It is a living reality of the Church and we have to walk with all the people of God and see what their needs are. Then, we have to carry out a discernment based upon the light of the Gospel, which is not a code of doctrines and commandments. We cannot simply take one paragraph of Jesus' Gospel and from there deduce everything. A hermeneutic is needed to understand all the message of the Gospel and differentiate what is doctrine from what is discipline. Discipline has changed. But I think we are facing here a theological fundamentalism that is not Catholic.”
“Doctrine cannot change. No one denies the indissolubility of marriage. But the discipline can change and has changed many times, as we have seen in the history of the Church.”
Regarding the book, “Remaining in the Truth of Christ: Marriage and Communion in the Catholic Church,” authored by five cardinals:
“Everyone is free to express their own opinion, that's not a problem for me. The Pope wanted an open debate and I think that this is something new and healthy, which is very helpful for the Church.”
Asked, Is there fear of an open discussion at the synod?
“Yes, because they fear that everything could collapse. But, first, we live in an open and pluralistic society and it is good for the Church to have an open discussion, like the one we had at the Second Vatican Council. It is also good for the image of the Church, because a closed up Church is not a healthy Church. Secondly, when we debate about marriage and family, we have to listen to the people that live this reality. There is a sensum fidelium. It cannot be decided only from the top, from the hierarchy of the Church, especially you cannot quote old texts from the past century, we have to observe today's situation, make a discernment of the Spirit, and reach concrete results. I believe this is the Pope's approach, while many others depart from the doctrine and use then a more deductive method.”
Asked about his statement that he is not “the target of the controversy,” but rather that the Pope “probably is.”
“Maybe I was imprudent. But many people are saying so, you can hear it in the streets every day. I don't want to judge anyone, but it is obvious that there are people who are not totally in agreement with this Pope, something that is not new and already happened during the Second Vatican Council, when many where against the aggiornamento of John XXIII and Paul VI.”
Regarding the upcoming publication of the five cardinals' book right before the synod:
“Yes it is a problem. I don't remember a similar situation, in which in such organized manner five cardinals would write such a book. That's the way politicians operate, but in the Church we should not behave like that.”
Asked what to expect from the synod?
“I think it will depend a lot on how the Pope himself will open the synod. He can't give us a solution from the beginning, but he can give us a perspective, a direction. I hope for a serene and friendly view of all the problems related to the family, not only one. And I think that we will reach a consensus, like the one we had during the Second Vatican Council.”
Regarding streamlining the annulment process as a possible point of agreement:
“There are situations in which annulments are possible. But take the case of a couple with ten years of marriage, with kids, which in the first years had a happy marriage, but for different reasons fails. This marriage was a reality and to say that it was canonically null makes no sense.”