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Cardinal Kasper claims papal support, raps critics in new interview

October 03, 2014

Cardinal Walter Kasper has said that he had the support of Pope Francis to advance his proposal for allowing Communion to divorced and remarried Catholics. But the German cardinal said that the Pope will not go forward with the proposal unless he sees a consensus of support at the Synod of Bishops.

In an interview with the Catholic News Service, Cardinal Kasper said that before advancing his proposal at a meeting of cardinals, “I spoke beforehand with the Pope himself; otherwise I would not have touched this problem in my conference.” He said that the Pontiff encouraged him to raise the question of whether divorced and remarried Catholics might be allowed to receive Communion.

However, while he “had the impression” that the Pope is open to a change in Church discipline, the cardinal said that Pope Francis will not act without support from the Synod. The Pope, he said, “wants a great majority of the bishops behind himself. He does not like division within the Church and the collegiality of bishops.”

Regarding the content of his proposal—which he has defended energetically in a series of interviews during the days leading up to the Synod meeting—Cardinal Kasper repeated his charge that his critics are taking a “fundamentalistic” approach by citing the words of Jesus in the Gospel of St. Matthew (19:9) that “whoever divorces his wife, except for unchastity, and marries another, commits adultery." He said:

We have to integrate such a word, one word of Jesus Christ, in the whole context of his message. We cannot take only one phrase and suddenly make all the consequences. We have to integrate it in the whole message of love, and of mercy, of forgiveness, of a new chance.

The cardinal also said that it is insensitive to characterize 2nd marriages as adulterous unions. “We must be very careful also in our language,” he said, saying that such words insult and offend people to whom the Church should be appealing.


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Show 16 Comments? (Hidden)Hide Comments
  • Posted by: - Oct. 06, 2014 4:56 PM ET USA

    My mother had to forgo Communion from the day she married my divorced father until he died - some 45 years. He could not get his marriage in the Episcopal Church annulled. She was faithful in all other ways, including weekly Mass and raising her two children in the Church. If the Church makes her sacrifice meaningless I wonder what happened to the Church I was Baptized in.

  • Posted by: - Oct. 06, 2014 4:47 PM ET USA

    It sounds like King Henry 8th was right and St. Thomas More was wrong! Apparently, Marriage isn't one of those Sacraments that indelibly marks the soul. What's next? Baptism? Confirmation? Holy Orders?

  • Posted by: - Oct. 06, 2014 4:44 PM ET USA

    When the Apostles, the Church Bishops met at Jerusalem to determine the status of non-Jewish Christian converts, the first Pope, St. Peter. despite the conscientious of those in attendance, decided, for the Church, that Gentiles could become Christians without first becoming Jewish. I only hope that St. Francis will be as faithful. With the World descending rapidly into the Abyss, it is not time for the Church to become another "Church of What's Happening Now, Baby!"

  • Posted by: Defender - Oct. 04, 2014 3:53 PM ET USA

    Heavens, we should never offend anyone, even if its true.

  • Posted by: fenton1015153 - Oct. 04, 2014 1:04 PM ET USA

    If communion is allowed for divorced and remarried but not annulled then the very essence of Catholicism will be changed. It won't be anytime before Catholics will join other Christian churches because there will be no perceived difference. I pray the Bishops love Christ more than that.

  • Posted by: bernie4871 - Oct. 04, 2014 12:23 PM ET USA

    Most of us know not a few persons who have kept their marriage vows regardless of their partner's behavior, never even considering a re-"marriage" or other partner. The Cdl. would apparently say they were played a fool by the Church. He first made these proposals in a '93 Pastoral, and was corrected by JPII and Cdl Ratzinger, seems he has been persisting in error for over 20 years. Who is minding the store? (Gee whiz! Ike fired Sherman Adams over a vicuna coat, for Heaven's sake!)

  • Posted by: claude-ccc2991 - Oct. 04, 2014 6:41 AM ET USA

    I believe that the Cardinal has his answer from our Lord as to how to express "the whole message of love, and of mercy, of forgiveness, of a new chance". In addressing the woman caught in adultery, "Jesus said, 'Neither do I condemn you; go, and do not sin again'" (John 8:11). Jesus did not ignore the sin out of an exaggerated concern about giving offense.

  • Posted by: Randal Mandock - Oct. 04, 2014 12:53 AM ET USA

    "We have to word of Jesus Christ in the whole context of his message...We have to integrate it in the whole message." Hmm. Sounds like the "fundamental option" of the 1980s. "But from a consideration of the psychological sphere one cannot proceed to create a theological category, which is precisely what the "fundamental option" is, understanding it in such a way that it objectively changes or casts doubt upon the traditional concept of mortal sin" (Vertitatis Splendor, n. 70).

  • Posted by: bruno.cicconi7491 - Oct. 04, 2014 12:30 AM ET USA

    In a previous interview, Cardinal Kasper said that marriage was inviolable and that he was not talking about changing dogma. His tone in this one got murkier and it seems like, for him, it is no longer only about communion. Of course, only suppositions, but I am allowed to make them when one chooses to be murky when he could be clear.

  • Posted by: TheJournalist64 - Oct. 03, 2014 10:41 PM ET USA

    Cdl Kasper sounds more and more like one of the sixties Episcopalian bishops who led that communion farther down the road of heresy and schism.

  • Posted by: Mike in Toronto - Oct. 03, 2014 9:19 PM ET USA

    How is it insulting to call an adulterous union "an adulterous union?"

  • Posted by: bernie4871 - Oct. 03, 2014 7:42 PM ET USA

    I, for one, am speechless.

  • Posted by: jg23753479 - Oct. 03, 2014 7:19 PM ET USA

    "The cardinal also said that it is insensitive to characterize 2nd marriages as adulterous unions. " And third or fourth marriages? What about them, Car. Kasper? What is depressing about this drumbeat of attacks on traditional teaching by the cardinal is that the pope does little or nothing to shut them down. It is simply naive to try to excuse this away with wan explanations any longer. It HAS to be deliberate. Big question remaining is: WHY?

  • Posted by: [email protected] - Oct. 03, 2014 7:06 PM ET USA

    If Kasper is telling the truth the Church is in for big problems. Personally I believe Kasper is lying to further his agenda through the public media. The Pope can shut this all down by coming out and stating clearly what he believes. The Church and all faithful Catholics deserve to know. a

  • Posted by: Minnesota Mary - Oct. 03, 2014 7:00 PM ET USA

    Oh yes, we mustn't offend anyone by speaking God's truth.

  • Posted by: bppettie - Oct. 03, 2014 6:53 PM ET USA

    Ok, for purposes of 'discussion,' set aside name calling. The basic question is whether the first marriage is a valid union and if it is, then exactly what is the second?