Why I’m Grateful to Cardinal Kasper: “Remaining in the Truth of Christ.”
September 29, 2014 by Pia de Solenni
Republished by permission from Pia de Solenni. Original posting here.
I am grateful to Cardinal Kasper. Indeed, I’ve long had a particular respect for him because I often attended daily Mass that he reverently offered at Santa Maria in Trastevere, a beautiful ancient Roman church with a vibrant parish community. He was usually assisted by seminarians and he was consistently emphatic in his teaching and formation of the seminarians even during the Mass.
That made a lasting impression on me. I saw that he was a priest who took the sacrifice of the Mass very seriously.
Later, I learned that we might not see eye to eye on some issues. Well, it is the Catholic Church and there’s not always a whole lot of agreement under our big tent. Yet, we’re all Catholic and there’s something to be said for that.
In February, when the Cardinal addressed the extraordinary consistory in preparation for the Synod, he raised a very important pastoral issue (though by no means the only one): the admittance of the divorced and remarried to the reception of the Eucharist.
As the content of his presentation leaked out or was presented in other interviews, and finally the publication of his book, The Gospel of the Family. I found myself at odds with his solution to the problem, sort of a via media. Simply put: find a way for some couples meeting specific criteria in irregular marital situations so that they could perhaps undergo a penitential process and then be admitted to all the sacraments, including the Eucharist.
I get where he’s coming from. It’s a serious problem. But, not withstanding his scholarly expertise, his priesthood, and his ranking as a Cardinal, I did not find his solution convincing because I did not see that it took into account fully the deep tradition and theology of the Catholic Church.
Nevertheless, he started a necessary conversation that could have hijacked the Synod had it been left for initial discussion until then. Having started what has become a dialogue of sorts has allowed time for thoughtful scholarly exchange to begin, most notably in the work of the upcoming volume Remaining in the Truth of Christ: Marriage and Communion in the Catholic Church, a collection of essays written by five Cardinals and four additional scholars responding to Cardinal Kasper’s proposal and claims.