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Cardinal Kasper: synod debate will ‘help the Church’

October 02, 2014

In an interview with Vatican Radio, Cardinal Walter Kasper said that upcoming debate at the Synod of Bishops on the reception of Holy Communion by those who have remarried will “help the Church.”

Pope Francis “wants a listening Magisterium” and “now he wants an open debate,” said the prelate. “There can also be a controversial debate,” he added, “but I think it doesn’t damage the Church, it helps the Church … We had the same during the Council, and this was a positive effect.”

“There will not be a war of theologians, bishops, and cardinals,” he continued. “A synod is a gathering of pastors of the Church coming together for an exchange of pastoral experience, problems, and perspectives, it’s a listening gathering, listening to what the Spirit says to the Church, and in this exchange I’m convinced there will come out a large agreement on a solution of the burning problems – but it’s not only one problem that people think now.”

“Then we have a whole year to discuss the problems at local level,” he said. “Then the bishops, having listened to the people, come back to the [2015] ordinary synod, which will decide, together with the Pope, about the pastoral solutions.”

Cardinal Kasper added:

I think bishops should be honest to discuss this gulf between the doctrine of the Church and the practice of many practicing Catholics. The Church will not and cannot change the teachings, the doctrine, but it’s a question of the adaption of the doctrine, which all want to remain in the truth, in complex human situations. I think there’s a difference between doctrine and discipline, how to apply it and this is the pastoral level.

Asked to comment on Pope Paul VI’s 1968 encyclical on contraception, Cardinal Kasper said that

I have a high esteem for Paul VI, he was a prophetic pope in a very difficult situation of the church after 1968 and so on. He was concerned to remain in the truth and not give up something, but I think it’s also a question of the interpretation of this encyclical Humanae Vitae because he was the first pope who spoke in ‘personalistic’ terminology about marriage – it was new!

So in the light of this general approach we have to interpret what he said about contraception and so on, and I think what he said is true, but it’s not a casuistic we can deduce from it, it’s an ideal and we have to tell people, but then we have also to respect the conscience of the couples.


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  • Posted by: Lucius49 - Oct. 03, 2014 1:43 PM ET USA

    I feared that the ideal canard used to eviscerate Humanae Vitae by many will be trotted out to eviscerate the Church's teaching on divorce and remarriage. This has to be defeated without any wishy-washy language.

  • Posted by: Minnesota Mary - Oct. 02, 2014 11:41 PM ET USA

    I certainly hope that Raymond Cardinal Burke and other Cardinals and Bishops like him will win the day on this one, because if they don't, and Church teaching on proper reception of Communion changes, then I can only conclude that Jesus was blowing smoke when He said that He would send the Holy Spirit to guide His Church in all truth.

  • Posted by: filioque - Oct. 02, 2014 9:53 PM ET USA

    He tries to deny it, but his strategy is to get praxis going his way and then say that doctrine must adapt or that doctrine has become irrelevant. More debate as in Vatican II?!? We haven't recovered from that yet!

  • Posted by: Mirabilis - Oct. 02, 2014 9:53 PM ET USA

    "I think bishops should be honest to discuss this gulf between the doctrine of the Church and the practice of many practicing Catholics." Hmm... To be a practicing Catholic, isn't one obliged to follow or at least intend to follow the teachings of the Church, particularly with regard to "grave moral evils" like contraception?

  • Posted by: bernie4871 - Oct. 02, 2014 6:02 PM ET USA

    If Cdl K hasn't understood the truth since HV in 68, how did he ever become a Cdl? Now he wants to take on the whole doctrinal context of Matrimony. He thinks he understands everything and he seems to understand nothing. Cdl Ratzinger said in 1970: The Church will become small and will have to start afresh more or less from the beginning . . and experience the Sacraments as the worship of God and not as a subject for liturgical scholarship. (Faith and the Future)

  • Posted by: Bveritas2322 - Oct. 02, 2014 4:17 PM ET USA

    Listen Cardinal. If you cannot conceive of the concept of sin, especially the sin of pride, and the self-serving phoniness and self-delusion that human beings practice in response to the denials of their sins, then pursue laicization, and do something worthwhile with your life. A majority of “Catholics” exercising their “conscience” favor circumstances where it is believed to be acceptable to crush the skull of a baby, but this represents a demonic conscience. Got it?

  • Posted by: jg23753479 - Oct. 02, 2014 4:03 PM ET USA

    Am I alone in reflecting that the debate surrounding Vat II that Kasper alludes to here has NOT strengthened the Church in any way? That rather it emboldened half-baked critics who then misled millions of Catholics? Doesn't this "open" approach to this synod have the potential to touch off another round of misguided criticism of Church teachings? To encourage a lot of unwarranted speculation? To promote further alienation?