December 7, 2014, Sunday — Another Papal Interview — also on Burke

I just received this note from my good friend, Bill Doino, my colleague for many years and one of the world’s leading experts on the pontificate of Pope Pius XII (Bill will have an important essay on Pope Francis and his critics in the next issue of Inside the Vatican; to subscribe, in time for Christmas, click here.)

Bill had just received news of a new papal interview, published today, December 7, in Argentina, which goes into many issues, from why Francis has spoken and acted as he has, to the recent bishops’ synod, to the re-assignment of Cardinal Burke. And Bill notes that Francis states directly in this interview that his teaching has been distorted by the media. This is an important point.

Doino writes:

Dear Friends,

Some breaking news — another papal interview — hold on to your seats!

The headline is about the Pope and Cardinal Burke, but I found this papal comment in the interview — about the alleged lack of clarity of Francis’ teachings — most revealing:

“Look, I wrote an encyclical [with Benedict, whom he references favorably in the interview], true enough, it was a big job, and an Apostolic Exhortation. I’m constantly making statements, giving homilies — that’s teaching. That’s what I think, not what the media says I think. Check it out, it’s very clear. Evangelii Gaudium is very clear.”

“Not what the media says I think” — a direct rebuke of the media, from the Pope himself, and their Francis/papal mythology.

On Cardinal Burke: Francis calls Cardinal Burke a “smart American,” speaks as if the appointment to Malta is a form of papal approval, not punishment or disapproval, and says that he waited to formally reassign Burke, because Francis wanted the cardinal to first “participate in the Synod as Dicastery Head” — and that Burke appeared happy with the delayed reassignment to Malta — “I even think he liked it” — will certainly get people talking, and desiring to know more.

I’d like to know, for example, what position, if any, Cardinal Burke will have at the 2015 Synod — the Pope’s words imply the Malta position prevents the prelate who holds it from participating in Synods — unless, I assume, the Pope waves that provision — I certainly hope Cardinal Burke’ is invited, and that his powerful and necessary voice is heard at the concluding Synod…

The ball is now in Cardinal Burke’s court — I hope he comments on the Pope’s statements: was he in fact pleased upon receiving the news about Malta, or not? Is there any misunderstanding between the Cardinal and the Pope? — certainly, Cardinal Burke is free to speak his mind on the subject — as the Pope says, lets get everything out into the open.

Sincerely, Bill

So, I went to check on this new interview, which was done in Spanish by the Argentine journalist, Elisabetta Piqué, for La Nacion newspaper of Buenos Aires. Elisabetta is married to the Irish Vaticanist Gerald O’Connell, also an old friend and colleague; I ran into both of them in Rome a couple of times this fall, in and near the Vatican, under circumstances that caused me to wonder if there might be some sort of interview like this in the offing. The interview, an important one, is now published, on December 7.

On the website of La Nacion, the interview is published in Spanish and in two English translations (there are a few small errors and/or typos in the English version, which I have corrected below for the sake of clarity).

Here is the key paragraph about Cardinal Burke. It reveals that the Pope discussed Burke’s transfer with Burke prior to the Synod. This is evidence that the decision to change Burke’s post had nothing to do with the conflict which emerged during the Synod itself:

Pope Francis: One day Cardinal Burke asked me what he would be doing as he had still not been confirmed in his position, in the juridical sector, but rather had been confirmed “donec alitur provideatur” (“until otherwise provided for”). And I answered “Give me a little time because we are thinking of a juridical restructuring in the G9.” I told him nothing had been done about it yet and that it was being considered.

After that the issue of the Order of Malta cropped up and we needed a smart American who would know how to get around and I thought of him for that position. I suggested this to him long before the synod. I said to him “This will take place after the synod because I want you to participate in the synod as a Dicastery Head.” As the chaplain of Malta he wouldn´t have been able to be present.

He thanked me in very good terms and accepted my offer, I even think he liked it. Because he is a man that gets around a lot, he does a lot of traveling and would surely be busy there. It is therefore not true that I removed him because of how he had behaved in the synod.

Here are two links to the English translation, the first half and the second half of the interview:

http://www.lanacion.com.ar/1750350-pope-francis-god-has-bestowed-on-me-a-healthy-dose-of-unawareness

http://www.lanacion.com.ar/1750351-the-synod-on-the-family-the-divorced-and-remarried-seem-excommunicated

And here is the text of the interview:

Part #1

Pope Francis: “God has bestowed on me a healthy dose of unawareness”

In his first interview with an Argentine newspaper, he spoke of the challenges of the Catholic Church: family, reform of the Curia, gay marriage and divorce

Por Elisabetta Piqué

ROME.- “God is good to me, he has bestowed on me a healthy dose of unawareness. I just do what I have to do. From the start I said to myself, ‘Jorge, don´t change, just keep on being yourself, because to change at your age would be to make a fool of yourself.'”

These are some of the things Pope Francis said, as spontaneous as ever, during the exclusive interview with the argentine newspaper LA NACION almost 21 months after he was elected Pope.

Though he certainly does not look it, the former archbishop of Buenos Aires will be 78 next December 17. He said the reform of the Roman Curia will not be ready next year, as had been initially anticipated. He also admitted that ¨there still is a long way to go” to complete the cleansing work in the Vatican and spoke very naturally about the resistance he faces, which he said does not worry him.

“Certain resistance has surfaced; I think it´s a good sign when things are discussed openly and not secretly if people don´t agree. It´s good to discuss things openly, it´s healthy,” he said in a 50-minute interview last Thursday, in Suite 201 of the second floor of casa Santa Martha, in the Vatican, his home ever since he ascended to the throne of St. Peter on March 13, 2013.

In spite of his very busy day, with appointments and audiences from early morning hours, Francis (who has not lost his accent or his typical Buenos Aires ways) was friendly, in a good mood and laid back.

He did not dodge any sensitive issue, such as the controversies of the extraordinary Synod of Bishops on the family which took place last October. This General Assembly allowed in-house divisions to surface — differences in opinion about how to face certain challenges, such as the issue of Catholics who have divorced and remarried, who the Pope defined as “excommunicated in fact.” “The German Cardinal Walter Kasper said we should look for hypothesis, that is, he paved the way. And some people got frightened,” he explained.

To reassure those who think the synod created confusion, the Pope insisted that the synod “is a process” and that “the doctrine of the Church on marriage was not addressed at all.”

“I am not afraid of walking the synod road (synod comes from the Greek “syn” and “odos,” walk together) because that is the path that God expects us to walk. Indeed, the Pope is the ultimate guarantor,” he said.

As to the huge number of Argentines that fly to Rome and overflood the city in the hope of having a photo taken with him, he confirmed that, in view of next year´s elections, he has decided not receive any more politicians in private and only to receive them at the end of general Wednesday audiences at St. Peter´s square.

“Argentina has to complete its presidential term peacefully. A fracture of the democratic system, of the Constitution, at this point would be a mistake. Everybody has to cooperate and elect the new authorities. I do not want to interfere in that process, that is why I am not receiving any more politicians in private audiences,” he said.

Furthermore, he confirmed he will not be traveling to Argentina in July, 2016 for the Eucharistic Congress in Tucumán because it is very close to World Youth Day, to be held in Poland. He does, however, intend visit Argentina that same year at another time. He revealed that he will be traveling to another three Latin American countries in 2015 (which he preferred not to mention) and, for the first time, to Africa.

He also assured that the IOR, the Institute for Religious Works (also called the Vatican Bank), which was reformed by him after having been for decades the center of accusations and suspicions of money laundering and mafia involvement, “is working very well.” And said that the “spiritual reform, the reform of the heart” is what really concerns him right now.

Francis gave this exclusive interview to LA NACION a few days before a key date: December 12, the day of the festivities of the Virgin of Guadalupe, the patroness of Latin America, during which he will say Mass at St. Peter´s Basilica and during which Argentine musicians will interpret Misa Criolla, composed by Ariel Ramírez 50 years ago. The author´s son, Facundo Ramírez, and the singer Patricia Sosa will be performing together with a Roman choir.

“When I heard Misa Criolla for the first time I was a student, I think I was studying theology at that time, I can´t remember well. I really liked it! I enjoyed ´Lamb of God’, which is magnificent. I will never forget that I heard Mercedes Sosa singing it,” the Pope admitted.

The first Latin American Pope, that is a great honor for all Latin America. What do you expect from Latin America?

Pope Francis: Latin America has been walking a path for some time now, since the first CELAM meeting. Monsignor Larraín, the first CELAM President, gave it great momentum. First came the Río conference, then Medellín, and then Puebla, Santo Domingo and Aparecida. The Latin American Episcopate paved the way with these milestones. It did so as a collective body, with different methodologies.

At first it went about it shyly. Now this 50-year path can certainly not be ignored because it means building awareness in the Latin American Church and maturing in faith.

Walking this road has also aroused great interest in studying the Guadalupe message. The amount of studies of the Virgin of Guadalupe, of her image, her mixed ancestries, of Nican Mopoua, is amazing, constituting fundamental theology.

This is why, when we celebrate the day of the Virgin of Guadalupe, Patroness of the Americas, on December 12, as well as the 50th anniversary of Misa Criolla, we are celebrating the road walked by the Latin American Church.

A recent survey (Pew) confirmed that, despite the “Francis effect,” Catholics still keep leaving the Church.

Pope Francis: I am familiar with the figures disclosed at Aparecida, it´s the only information I have.

There are evidently several factors of influence, independent of the Church. The theology of prosperity, for instance, just to quote an example, has inspired many religious propositions which people feel attracted to. These people, however, end up in the middle.

But let´s leave out factors which are external to the Church. I wonder about ourselves, what is it that we ourselves do, what is within the Church that makes the faithful unhappy? It´s that people don´t feel we are close enough, it´s clericalism.

Today , to be close means to reach out to Catholics, to seek people out and be close to them, to sympathize with their problems, with their reality. Clericalism, as I told the CELAM bishops in Río de Janeiro, stopped laypersons from maturing. Precisely, laypersons are more mature in Latin America when they express popular piety. Clericalism was always an issue for lay organizations. I spoke of it in Evangelii Gaudium.

Does the renovation of the Church which you have been calling for since you were elected, and precisely in Evangelii Gaudium, also target starved sheep and stopping the faithful from dropping out?

Pope Francis: I don´t like the “dropping out” image because it is all to close to proselytism. I don´t like to use terms connected with proselytism because that´s not the truth. I like to use the image of the field hospital: some people are very much injured and are waiting for us to heal their wounds, they are injured for a thousand reasons. We must reach out to them and heal their wounds.

Is that, then, the strategy to recover those who have left?

Pope Francis: I don´t like the word “strategy,” I´d much rather speak about the Lord´s pastoral call, otherwise it sounds like an NGO. It´s the Lord´s call, what the Church is asking from us today, not as a strategy, because the Church isn´t into proselytism.

The Church doesn´t want to engage in proselytism because the Church does not grow on proselytism, it grows on attraction, as Benedict said.

The Church needs to be a field hospital and we need to set out to heal wounds, just as the good Samaritan did. Some people´s wounds result from neglect, others are wounded because they have been forsaken by the Church itself, some people are suffering terribly.

As a Pope you are different because you speak with utmost clarity, you are completely straightforward, you don´t use euphemisms and don´t beat about the bush, the course of your papacy is extremely clear. Why do you think some sectors are disoriented, why do they say the ship is without a rudder, especially after the latest extraordinary synod of bishops on the challenges posed by the family?

Pope Francis: Those expressions strike me as odd. I am not aware of anybody using them. The media quote them. However, until I can ask the people involved “have you said this?” I will have brotherly doubts.

In general people don´t read about what is going on.

Somebody did say to me once, “Of course, of course. Insight is so good for us but we need clearer things.” And I answered, “Look, I wrote an encyclical, true enough, it was a big job, and an Apostolic Exhortation, I´m permanently making statements, giving homilies; that´s teaching. That´s what I think, not what the media say that I think. Check it out, it´s very clear. Evangelii Gaudium is very clear.”

Some of the media have mentioned that the “honeymoon is over” on account of the divisions that surfaced during the synod…

Pope Francis: It wasn´t a division against the Pope, that is, the Pope was no benchmark. Because the Pope tried to get the ball rolling and to listen to everybody.

The fact that in the end my address was accepted with such enthusiasm by the synod fathers shows that the Pope is not the issue, but rather the different pastoral positions are.

Whenever the status quo changes, which is what happened when you were elected Pope, it´s normal to find resistance. Some 20 months later, the resistance seems to have become more evident.

Pope Francis: You said it. Resistance is now evident, but for me that is a good sign, getting the resistance out into the open, no stealthy mumbling when there is disagreement. It´s healthy to get things out into the open, it´s very healthy.

Do you believe resistance is connected with your cleansing efforts, with the in-house restructuring of the Roman Curia?

Pope Francis: To me, resistance means different points of view, not something dirty. It is connected to some decisions I may occasionally take, I will concede that. Of course, some decisions are more of the economic type, and others are more pastoral…

Are you worried?

Pope Francis: No, I am not worried. It all seems normal to me, because if there were no differences of opinion, that wouldn´t be normal.

Is the cleansing over, or is it still going on?

Pope Francis: I don´t like to speak about “cleansing.” I´d rather speak of getting the Curia going in the direction identified by the general congregations (pre-conclave meetings). No, there´s still a long way to go. A long way, a long way. You see, in pre-conclave meetings, as cardinals, we demanded lots of things which we should certainly not forsake.

What you found in the cleansing process, is it worse than you expected?

Pope Francis: In the first place, I expected nothing. I expected to go back to Buenos Aires (laughter). And after that, well, I don´t know. You see, God is good to me, he´s bestowed on me a healthy dose of unawareness. I just do what I have to do.

And how are things going at present?

Pope Francis: Good, it´s all public, all known. The IOR (the Institute for Religious Works) is operating beautifully, we did quite a good job there. The economy is doing well. And the spiritual reform is my great concern right now, to change people´s hearts.

I`m writing my Christmas address for the members of the Curia, I´m looking forward to two Christmas addresses, one for curia prelates and the other one for all the Vatican staff, with all our assistants, in the Paul VI room, with their families, because it´s they that keep their nose to the grindstone.

Spiritual exercises for prefects and secretaries are a step ahead. It is a step ahead to stay six days locked in, praying; just as we did last year, we´ll do it again the first week of Lent. We´ll be staying at the same house.

The G9 will be meeting again next week, the group of 9 consultant cardinals that are helping you with the reform process of the Curia and the universal church governance. Will the famous Church reform be ready by 2015?

Pope Francis: No, it´s a slow process. The other day we got together with the Dicastery heads and submitted the proposal of combing the Laity, Family, and Justice and Peace dicasteries. We discussed it all, each one of us said what he thought. Now it will be forwarded back to the G9. You know, reforming the Curia will take a long time, this is the most complex part..

That means it won´t be ready by 2015?

Pope Francis: No. We´re tackling it little by little.

Is it true that a lay couple might be the head of this new dicastery, that you might combine the Councils for the Laity, for the Family and for Justice and Peace?

Pope Francis: Perhaps. I don´t really know. The heads of the dicasteries or of the secretariat shall be the fittest, whether man or woman, or a couple…

And not necessarily a cardinal or a bishop…

Pope Francis: The head of a dicastery such as the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, the liturgical dicastery or the new dicastery encompassing Laity, Family and Justice and Peace will always be a cardinal. This is best because dicasteries are very close to the Pope. But dicastery secretaries do not necessarily have to be bishops because a problem we have is when we have to change a bishop-secretary, where do we send him? We need to find a diocese, but sometimes they are not fit for one, they´re good at the other job. I´ve only appointed two bishop secretaries: the Governorate secretary, who thus more or less became the parish priest of all this, and the secretary general of the synod of bishops, for the episcopate.

It was an intense year, with many significant trips, the extraordinary synod, the prayer for peace in the Middle East in the Vatican gardens. What stands out as the best moment and what as the worst?

Pope Francis: I wouldn´t know. Every moment has something good and something not quite as good, isn´t that so? (silence). For instance, the meeting with the grandparents, the elderly, there was amazing beauty in that.

Benedict was there as well…

Pope Francis: I enjoyed that occasion very much, but that doesn´t make it the best because I actually enjoyed them all. I really don´t know, I wouldn´t know what to say, I never thought of that.

And about being Pope, what do you like the most and what least of all?

Pope Francis: You know. and this is the absolute truth, this is something I actually want to say.

Before I came over here I was in the process of retiring. That is to say, I had agreed with the nuncio that when I got back to Buenos Aires we would be putting together a short list of three candidates so that by the end of last year (2014), the new archbishop might take over.

That is to say, my mind was focused on the confessionals of the churches where I would be hearing confession. I even had the project of spending two or three days in Luján and the rest of my time in Buenos Aires, because Luján means so much to me and the confessions there are a grace.

When I came here, I had to start all over again, all this was new.

From the start I said to myself: “Jorge, don´t change, just keep on being yourself, because to change at your age would be to make a fool of yourself.”

That´s why I´ve always kept on doing what I used to do in Buenos Aires. Perhaps even making my old mistakes. But I prefer it like this, to be myself.

That evidently caused some changes in the protocols, not in the official protocols because I´m very careful about abiding by them. The thing is that I am who I am even where protocols are concerned, just as I was myself in Buenos Aires. You can see why “not changing” suited me so well.

When you came back from South Korea somebody asked you a question and you answered that you were hoping to “go to the Father´s house” and many people were worried about your health, they thought that you might not be well or something of the sort. How are you? You look so well…

Pope Francis: I do have some aches and pains, and at my age ailments don´t go unnoticed. But I am in God´s hands, up to now I have been able to work more or less steadily.

A conservative sector in the US thinks that you removed the North American cardinal Raymond Leo Burke from the Supreme Tribunal of the Apostolic Signatura because he was the leader of a group that resisted changes of any type in the synod of bishops. Is it true?

Pope Francis: One day Cardinal Burke asked me what he would be doing as he had still not been confirmed in his position, in the juridical sector, but rather had been confirmed “donec alitur provideatur” (“until otherwise provided for”). And I answered “Give me a little time because we are thinking of a juridical restructuring in the G9.” I told him nothing had been done about it yet and that it was being considered.

After that the issue of the Order of Malta cropped up and we needed a smart American who would know how to get around and I thought of him for that position. I suggested this to him long before the synod. I said to him “This will take place after the synod because I want you to participate in the synod as Dicastery Head.” As the chaplain of Malta he wouldn´t have been able to be present.

He thanked me in very good terms and accepted my offer, I even think he liked it. Because he is a man that gets around a lot, he does a lot of traveling and would surely be busy there. It is therefore not true that I removed him because of how he had behaved in the synod.

Do you have plans for your 78th birthday on December 17? Will you celebrate it with the barboni (the homeless) once again as you did last year?

Pope Francis: I did not invite the “barboni,” they were brought in by our charitable office, and it was a good idea, wasn´t it? That´s where the myth started, that I had had breakfast with the “barboni.”

You see, I had breakfast with all the staff of the house and the “barboni” were present. This is part of all the fantasies that people make up about me. It´s the same as with the days when there is no Mass in the chapel because it´s Wednesday, the day of the general audience. That day we will all have lunch together, with all the staff. It will be just a totally normal day to me, like any other one.

This article was translated by Vivien Pérez Moran.

Part #2

By Elisabetta Piqué

ROME.- The extraordinary synod of bishops held last October on the challenges posed by the family was just the beginning of a process which shall finalize in October, next year, with another synod, the Pope being the ultimate guarantor.

When he was asked about this issue during the interview, Francis maintained that he is not afraid of the synod road which they have begun to walk. He did admit there were different positions and stated that the doctrine of the Church on marriage was not addressed, except for the issue of divorced Catholics who have remarried, and he stated that “nobody brought up the issue of gay marriage”.

The recent extraordinary synod of bishops on the family allowed two different visions of the Church to surface, one sector open to debate and the other one refusing to hear anything about it. Is this the case, what do you think?

Pope Francis: I wouldn´t say that´s quite so…

True enough, if you wish to simplify in order to explain things, we might say that there were a few more on this side, or on the other side. What we benefited from was the synodal process, which is no parliamentarian process but rather a protected space where the Holy Spirit may endeavor.

Two clear qualities are needed: courage to speak and humbleness to listen. And that worked very well.

There are, indeed, positions more inclined this way or that way, but in the pursuit of truth. You could ask me “are there any that are completely stubborn and won´t move from their positions?” Yes, there surely are.

But that is not my concern. It´s a question of praying for the Holy Spirit to convert them, if any.

The prevailing feeling was a brotherly one, trying to find a way to tackle the family´s pastoral issues.

The family is so beaten up, young people don´t get married. What´s the problem?

When they finally come to get married, having already moved in together, we think it´s enough to offer them three talks to get them ready for marriage.

But it´s not enough because the great majority are unaware of the meaning of a lifetime commitment.

Benedict said it twice in his last year, that we should take this into account in order to grant nullity, each person´s faith at the time of getting married. Was it something general, though understanding perfectly well what marriage is about, understanding it enough to convey it to another person?

That´s something we need to look into in depth, to analyze how we can help…

A few days ago, a couple who are living together came to tell me that they were getting married. I said: “Good. Are you ready for it?” And their answer was: “Yes, now we are looking for a church which suits my dress best,” the girl said. “Yes, right now we´re in the middle of all the preparations — the invitations, souvenirs and all the rest,” the boy echoed. “There´s also the issue of the party, we cannot make up our minds because we don´t want the reception to be hosted too far from the church. And then there´s the other issue, our best man and maid of honor are divorced, same as my parents, so we can´t have both of them together.”

All these issues are about the ceremony!

Indeed, getting married should be celebrated, because you need courage to get married and that should be commended. However, neither of them made any comment at all on what this meant to them, the fact that it was a lifetime commitment.

What do I mean? That for a great many people getting married is just a social event. The religious element doesn´t surface in the least.

So how can the church step in and help? If they are not ready, do we slam the door in their face? It is no minor issue.

Conservative sectors, specially in the United States, fear that the traditional doctrine will collapse, they say the synod caused confusion because it mentioned the “positive nuances” of living together, and gay couples were mentioned in the draft, although the bishops then backed off…

Pope Francis: The synod was a process; the opinion of a synodal father was just that, the opinion of a synodal father; and a first draft was merely a first draft meant to record it all.

Nobody mentioned homosexual marriage at the synod, it did not cross our minds.

What we did talk about was of how a family with a homosexual child, whether a son or a daughter, goes about educating that child, how the family bears up, how to help that family to deal with that somewhat unusual situation.

That is to say, the synod addressed the family and the homosexual persons in relation to their families, because we come across this reality all the time in the confessional: a father and a mother whose son or daughter is in that situation.

This happened to me several times in Buenos Aires.

We have to find a way to help that father or that mother to stand by their son or daughter. That´s what the synod addressed. That´s why someone mentioned positive factors in the first draft. But this was just a draft.

Some people fear that the traditional doctrine shall collapse…

Pope Francis: You know, some people are always afraid because they don´t read things properly, or they read some news in a newspaper, an article, and they don´t read what the synod decided, what was published.

What was worthwhile about the synod? The post synodal reflection [“reflection” is my correction; the text in La Nacion has “connection,” which seems to make no sense; the Pope is evidently referring to the final synodal document], and the Pope’s address. That is definitive, but it will eventually become relative and provisional, turning into a “guideline” for the next synod.

I think some fathers made a mistake when they talked to the media.

We decided that each one of us would grant as many interviews as he liked, with total freedom, no censorship was imposed. We chose transparency.

Why did we choose briefings or not? For two reasons: in the first place because written presentations were handed over first and we might find something in them, or nothing at all, or they changed things and thus were not the real thing.

In the second place, to protect that person. And this is what really matters to me. If this were a Parliament, we would have to account to our principal, i.e., the local church. But this is not a Parliament and this man must be free to speak up without having to keep anything to himself, though nobody needs to know that he said this or the other.

Disclosing what was said is OK, that´s why in the briefing we explained that we had said this, that or the other. Different bishops who had different approaches, but we will all move on together. We had to protect our work so that the Holy Spirit might move forward. I am not afraid.

Afraid of what?

Pope Francis: Afraid of following this trail, the road of the synod.

I am not afraid because it is the road that God has asked us to follow.

More so, the Pope is the ultimate guarantor, the Pope is there to care for the process. We must move forward.

In my last address I said something interesting, I pointed out that we had not addressed any part of the doctrine of the Church concerning marriage. In the case of divorcees who have remarried, we posed the question, what do we do with them? What door can we allow them to open? This was a pastoral concern: will we allow them to go to Communion? Communion alone is no solution. The solution is integration.

They have not been excommunicated, true. But they cannot be godfathers to any child being baptized, mass readings are not for divorcees, they cannot give communion, they cannot teach Sunday school, there are about seven things that they cannot do, I have the list over there.

Come on! If I disclose any of this it will seem that they have been excommunicated in fact! Thus, let us open the doors a bit more. Why can’t they be godfathers and godmothers?

“No, no, no, what testimony will they be giving their godson?” The testimony of a man and a woman saying “my dear, I made a mistake, I was wrong here, but I believe our Lord loves me, I want to follow God, I was not defeated by sin, I want to move on.”

Anything more Christian than that?

And what if one of the political crooks among us, corrupt people, are chosen to be somebody´s godfather. If they are properly wedded by the Church, would we accept them? What kind of testimony will they give to their godson? A testimony of corruption? Things need to change, our standards need to change.

What do you think about the solution put forward by the German cardinal Walter Kasper?

Pope Francis: Kasper´s address to the cardinals last February included five chapters, four of them are a jewel, about the purpose of marriage, open, in depth. The fifth is the question of what do we do with divorcees who have remarried; they are part of our congregation after all.

Kasper´s hypothesis is not his own. Let´s look into that. What happened? Some theologians feared such assumptions, and that is keeping our heads down. Kasper urged us to seek an hypothesis, i.e., he made the first move. And some panicked. And went as far as to say: Communion, never. Only spiritual Communion. And tell me, don´t we need the grace of God to receive spiritual communion? That´s why spiritual communion obtained the fewest votes in the relatio synodi, because nobody was in agreement. Those for it, because there´s not much to it, voted against it; and those who are not for it and would rather go for the other one, because it´s not worth it.

Here is a link to an English-language story about the new interview:

The Anthropological Question

“You live in a deranged age, more deranged than usual, because, in spite of great scientific and technological advances, man has not the faintest idea of who he is or what he is doing.” —Walker Percy (1916-1990), American Catholic convert and writer, author of The Message in the Bottle and Lost in the Cosmos

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