Denver, Colo., Mar 6, 2018 / 11:57 am
Cardinal Walter Kasper has tried to address the controversy over some interpretations of Pope Francis’ exhortation Amoris Laetitia, but one theologian has said his theological language could be confusing to Catholics.
In an interview this week with Vatican News, Cardinal Kasper explicitly addressed Footnote 351 of the Pope’s apostolic exhortation, which discusses admission to the sacraments of the divorced and remarried. The cardinal said that the footnote should be read in light of the sixteenth century Council of Trent’s decree on the Eucharist.
“The Council of Trent says that in the case in which there is no grave sin, but venial, the Eucharist removes that sin,” the cardinal said, adding “Sin is a complex term. It not only includes an objective principle, but there is also the intention, the person’s conscience. And this needs to be examined in the internal forum—in the Sacrament of Reconciliation—if there is truly a grave sin, or perhaps a venial sin, or perhaps nothing.”
“If it is only a venial sin, the person can be absolved and admitted to the Sacrament of the Eucharist,” the cardinal continued. “This already corresponds with the doctrine of Pope John Paul II and, in this sense, Pope Francis is in complete continuity with the direction opened by preceding popes.”
“I do not see any reason, then, to say that this is a heresy,” he said.
Kevin Miller, a theology professor at Franciscan University of Steubenville, was critical of the cardinal’s language on sin: “at best it’s a bit theologically sloppy and potentially confusing.”
“He seems to be using ‘grave sin’ as a synonym or substitute for ‘mortal sin’,” Miller told CNA.
Mortal sins consist of “a grave matter, done knowingly and freely.” Sins that don’t involve grave matter, or do but lack “the requisite degree of knowledge and freedom” are venial.