Cardinal Kasper's speech on marriage to be released as book

Cardinal Walter Kasper, President of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity, preaches May 23, 2010. Credit: Mazur/catholicchurch.org.uk (CC BY-NC-SA 2.0).

Cardinal Walter Kasper's Feb. 20 address on marriage to a group of cardinals, controversial for its comments on remarriage and Communion, is to be published as a book this week, he says.

The booklet, title “Gospel of the Family,” will be released in Italian and German, will feature the text of his speech. It's 78 pages will include two additional texts from Cardinal Kasper, and will be sold at $12.50.

In a March 10 interview with Vatican Radio, the president emeritus of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity said, “My main intention was not to speak about divorced and remarried people but to speak about the Gospel of the family.”

Of the five sections of his address, only the last was devoted to divorce and remarriage; earlier sections focused on the family in creation and redemption, the domestic Church, and sin in families.

“I think the majority of young people want stable relationships, want to live in a family,” he told Vatican Radio. “And therefore the Church has to help them so I wanted to build up a new, better, more deep understanding of family life.”

Cardinal Kasper, who was invited to speak at the consistory by Pope Francis, said, “I told the Pope from the very beginning that I have my opinions and the Pope encouraged me to speak about my opinions – he wanted an open discussion about an urgent problem.”

Vaticanista Sandro Magister wrote March 11 in his blog "Settimo Cielo" that the cardinal's speech generated "a very animated discussion, with numerous cardinals of the first order intervening against the thesis presented by Kasper."

In December, Cardinal Kasper had said in an interview with German weekly Die Zeit that the divorced and remarried will soon be able to receive the sacraments.

He told Vatican Radio that he wanted to “find a way” between rigorism and laxity: “I think this can be the only approach of the Church today,” adding that he wants “a realistic application of doctrine to the current situation of the great majority of people.”

He added that there is “an abyss” between Church teaching and the convictions of many Christians: “we have to listen to people living family life,” he said.

“I maintain the full teaching of the Church but the teaching has to be applied to concrete situations,” he said in the interview. “The Church must explain in a new way what are family and matrimony in order to help people and at the same time remain faithful to the Gospel.”

Roberto de Mattei, an Italian historian had critiqued the cardinal's Feb. 20 address when it was published in Italian daily Il Foglio, calling it “a shocking example of a cultural revolution proposed in the name of praxis.”

“'Doctrine does not change, the novelty regards only pastoral praxis.' This is the slogan that has been repeated for a year now,” de Mattei wrote, introducing his commentary on Cardinal Kasper's speech.

“On the one hand it pacifies those conservatives who measure everything in terms of doctrinal statements, and on the other hand it encourages those progressives who attribute little value to doctrine and confide everything in the primacy of praxis.”

“Immediately after stating the need to remain faithful to Tradition, Cardinal Kasper advances two devastating proposals to avoid the perennial Magisterium of the Church in matters of the family and marriage,” de Mattei wrote.

Citing the cardinal’s concern for the “abyss” between Church teaching and the conviction of many Christians about marriage, de Mattei said that “The Cardinal, however, neglects to formulate a negative judgment on these 'convictions' antithetic to the Christian Faith.”

“In Kasper’s view,” according to de Mattei, the method to deal with the crisis of divorce is to “change the doctrine, without showing that it has been modified.”

The historian said this would be to open the doors to “the systematic violation, on the level of praxis, of that dogmatic tradition where the words affirm it legally binding.”

“The position of the Church is unequivocal,” de Mattei concluded.

“Communion to remarried divorcees is denied because matrimony is indissoluble and none of the reasons adopted by Cardinal Kasper allows for the celebration of a new matrimony or the blessing of a pseudo-matrimonial union.”


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A love that embraces every life

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This Sunday, bishops from around the world will gather in Rome with Pope Francis for an Oct. 5-19 synod that will examine marriage and the family.

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