September 17, 2014, Wednesday — Cardinal against Cardinal?

“The issue (of the Catholic teaching on the indissolubility of marriage) is seen by both friends and foes of the Catholic tradition as a symbol — a prize in the clash between what remains of Christendom in Europe and an aggressive neo-paganism. Every opponent of Christianity wants the Church to capitulate on this issue.” —Australian Cardinal George Pell, writing in the Introduction to one of two new books on Christian marriage, The Gospel of the Family, offered this fall by Ignatius Press of San Francisco (both books are to be released on October 1, just before the start of the Bishops’ Synod on marriage in Rome). The second, companion book contains essays by five cardinals and other theologians, takes a traditional position on the question of Christian marriage and access to the Christian eucharist. Now an article in the French press, citing “an authoritative source” close to Pope Francis, says the Pope is “irritated” that this book is appearing on the very eve of the Synod…

Polemics Leading Up to the October Bishops’ Synod on Marriage and the Family

An interesting article appeared today on the Rorate Caeli website (text below) based on a French article from a French Catholic daily La Croix (“The Faith”).

The article discusses a new book containing essays on marriage by a number of cardinals and bishops, all of whom argue that Church teaching on marriage is not able to be changed.

The article, based on “a source close to Pope Francis,” claims that Francis is “irritated” by the apearance of the book at this time.

We do not know that this is true.

But we do know that Francis publicly has praised the theology of Cardinal Kasper.

We also know that Francis has spoken, repeatedly, with great passion about he beauty of marriage as a sacramental union that is “forever.” And he has said he is a “son of the Church.”

We also know that the Australian cardinal, George Pell — close to Pope Francis and perhaps the most “influentia” cardinal in the Roman Curia right now, as he is heads up the Pope’s reform of the Vatican’s financial institutions — has declared that the upcoming Synod on Marriage and the Family will not propose any change in Church doctrine (see below).

So, if it is true that Francis is “irritated” by the appearance of this book now, what might it mean about Francis’ intentions for the Synod?

Perhaps this: that Francis wishes the Synod to discuss the question of divorced and remarried Catholics, not out of a desire to change Church teaching — and Pell’s remarks would seem to exclude this as something on the agenda — but with the idea of focusing possible pastoral means to lessen, and perhaps heal, to some extent, the psychological and spiritual pain and suffering caused to so many in our time by divorce and remarriage.

Here is the text of the article:

Pope Francis is Irritated — with a Pro-Marriage Book Published by Ignatius Press

By Rorate Caeli

A new book with articles by prominent churchmen is about to be released worldwide in several languages (in English by Ignatius Press, under the titleRemaining in the Truth of Christ), with important articles strongly defending all aspects related to the traditional Catholic doctrine on family and marriage, and the integrity of Blessed Sacrament, words that come from Our Lord Himself.

This is how Ignatius Press describes the book (at this link):

“In this volume five Cardinals of the Church, and four other scholars, respond to the call issued by Cardinal Walter Kasper for the Church to harmonize ‘fidelity and mercy in its pastoral practice with civilly remarried, divorced people.’ Contributors include Cardinal Walter Brandmüller, Cardinal Raymond Leo Burke, Cardinal Carlo Caffarra, Cardinal Velasio De Paolis, C.S., Robert Dodaro, O.S.A., Paul Mankowski, S.J., Cardinal Gerhard Ludwig Müller, John M. Rist, and Archbishop Cyril Vasil, S.J.

“Cardinal Kasper claims support for his position in early Church practice. The contributors bring their wealth of knowledge and expertise to bear upon this question, concluding that patristic and biblical texts do not support the kind of ‘toleration’ of civil marriages following divorce advocated by Cardinal Kasper.

“They also examine the Eastern Orthodox practice of oikonomia (understood as ‘mercy’ implying ‘toleration’) in cases of remarriage after divorce and in the context of the vexed question of Eucharistic communion. The book traces the long history of Catholic resistance to this convention, revealing serious theological difficulties inherent in past and current Orthodox Church practice.

“As the authors demonstrate, the charge that traditional Catholic doctrine and contemporary pastoral practice are in contradiction is an erroneous perception that can be remedied by closer examination of the Church’s teachings.

“‘Because it is the task of the apostolic ministry to ensure that the Church remains in the truth of Christ and to lead her ever more deeply into that truth, pastors must promote the sense of faith in all the faithful, examine and authoritatively judge the genuineness of its expressions and educate the faithful in an ever more mature evangelical discernment.’ St. John Paul II,Familiaris Consortio

[Rorate Caeli continues]

It is therefore a book that, precisely because it intends to protect the doctrine on the sacraments of Matrimony, Confession, and the Eucharist, stands in direct and explicit contradiction with Cardinal Kasper’s attempts to subvert the traditional doctrine of the Church.

However, according to a Vatican correspondent of the semi-official daily and Catholic paper of record of the French episcopate, La Croix (as authoritive a source as there can be for Catholic news in French), in an article published in today’s print edition, Pope Francis is greatly irritated with this book, so much so that he specifically told Cardinal Müller not to promote it.

Pope Francis, who had expressed his attachment to the text of Cardinal Kasper at the time of the consistory, would be (is said to be) irritated [serait irrité] by the publication of this collective work a few days before the Synod, according to a high-placed source close to the Argentine Pope.

He would have demanded [is said to have demanded, aurait demandé] of Cardinal Müller not to take part in the promotion of the book, that also includes the texts of two Jesuits.

The Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith has already expounded on his position in other occasions.

Cardinal Kasper, who has not yet received the new book, tells La Croix that he assured the Pope of not “taking part in a quarrel among cardinals.”

At the end of the consistory of last February, Pope Francis had asked for the unity of the Cardinals.

[end of Rorate Caeli article]


And here is a CNS report summarizing the Pell Introduction, and offering more insight into what is happening in these final days before the start of the Synod:

Cardinal Pell rules out change on Communion for divorced, remarried

By Francis X. Rocca

Catholic News Service

September 17, 2014

VATICAN CITY (CNS) — In a book coming out just before October’s extraordinary Synod of Bishops on the family, Cardinal George Pell rules out proposed changes to church practice that would allow divorced and civilly remarried Catholics to receive Communion.

“Doctrine and pastoral practice cannot be contradictory,” writes Cardinal Pell, a former archbishop of Sydney who now serves as prefect of the Secretariat for the Economy. “One cannot maintain the indissolubility of marriage by allowing the ‘remarried’ to receive Communion.”

The cardinal calls for a clear restatement of traditional teaching, to avoid the sort of widespread protests that greeted Pope Paul VI’s affirmation of Catholic teaching against contraception in 1968.

“The sooner the wounded, the lukewarm, and the outsiders realize that substantial doctrinal and pastoral changes are impossible, the more the hostile disappointment (which must follow the reassertion of doctrine) will be anticipated and dissipated,” writes the cardinal, who will participate in the synod.

The eligibility of divorced and civilly remarried Catholics to receive Communion is bound to be a major topic of discussion, inside and outside the synod hall, during the Oct. 5-19 gathering. According to church teaching, Catholics who remarry civilly without an annulment may receive Communion only if they abstain from sexual relations, living with their new partners “as brother and sister.”

Pope Francis has said the predicament of such Catholics exemplifies a general need for mercy in the church today. In February, at the pope’s invitation, German Cardinal Walter Kasper addressed the world’s cardinals at the Vatican and argued for allowing some Catholics in that predicament to receive Communion.

Cardinal Pell’s statement appears as the foreword to The Gospel of the Family, a book-length response to Cardinal Kasper’s proposal that Ignatius Press will publish Oct. 1. Cardinal Kasper’s address, published by Paulist Press, has the same title.

“A courteous, informed and rigorous discussion, indeed debate, is needed, especially for the coming months to defend the Christian and Catholic tradition of monogamous, indissoluble marriage,” Cardinal Pell writes.

But focusing on the question of Communion for the divorced and civilly remarried, he suggests, is a “counterproductive and futile search for short-term consolations.”

“Healthy communities do not spend most of their energies on peripheral issues and, unfortunately, the number of divorced and remarried Catholics who feel they should be allowed to receive holy Communion is very small indeed,” the cardinal writes.

“The pressures for this change are centered mainly in some European churches, where churchgoing is low and an increasing number of divorcees are choosing not to remarry,” he writes.

“The issue is seen by both friends and foes of the Catholic tradition as a symbol — a prize in the clash between what remains of Christendom in Europe and an aggressive neo-paganism. Every opponent of Christianity wants the church to capitulate on this issue,” the cardinal writes.

Cardinal Pell acknowledges that the virtue of mercy, whose importance both Pope Francis and Cardinal Kasper have underscored in this connection, “is central when we are talking about marriage and sexuality, forgiveness and holy Communion.”

But the cardinal also emphasizes the “essential links between mercy and fidelity, between truth and grace.”

“Jesus did not condemn the adulterous woman who was threatened with death by stoning, but he did not tell her to keep up her good work, to continue unchanged in her ways,” the cardinal writes. “He told her to sin no more.”

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