Those following the news regarding the upcoming Extraordinary Synod of Bishops on the Family could not have missed the speech given by Cardinal Walter Kasper in Rome on February 20. He proposed ways for those in second marriages (while the first spouse is still alive) to receive Holy Eucharist. This raises questions because the Catholic Church teaches that living in a “marital” relationship and having sex with someone besides one’s spouse is adultery. This is a grave sin and those in grave sin are not to receive the Holy Eucharist.
Professor Roberto de Mattei, who teaches at the European University of Rome, published "A response to Card. Kasper's proposals to the consistory of cardinals weakening the indissolubility of Christian marriage" in supplement Vaticano Esclusivo.
“A shocking example of a cultural revolution proposed in the name of praxis has been offered to us by the report dedicated to ‘The Gospel and the Family’, which Cardinal Walter Kasper opened the work of the extraordinary consistory for the Family with on February 20, 2014.”
“… In the fundamental part of his report, dedicated to the problem of the divorced and remarried, Cardinal Kasper does not express even one word of condemnation on divorce and its disastrous consequences in western society. But hasn’t the moment arrived to declare that most of the crisis in the family goes back actually to the introduction of divorce and the facts demonstrate that the Church had been right [all along] in combating it? Who should say this if not a Cardinal of the Holy Roman Church?”
Those responsible for the pastoral care for families in the United States also rarely express even one word of condemnation on divorce. The pastoral care for those with unhappy marital situations appears to be to grant annulments. No mention is made of the canon law regarding separation and restricting divorce (can. 1151-1155, 1692). Catholic canonical law tribunals, which are charged with upholding canon law, require a civil divorce before they will begin an investigation of the nullity of a marriage.
Forty percent of the dioceses in the United States report that they give annulment decrees to virtually every person who asks for one. The Canon Law Society of America published statistics (See here) collected from 142 diocesan tribunals for year 2011, wherein annulments were denied zero or one percent of the time in 58 dioceses. Eighty-five percent of the diocese gave annulments to 90% or more of those asking for one.
Professor Mattei says that Cardinal Kasper is an example of the cultural revolution proposed in the name of praxis (or practice); in the U.S.A., the revolution appears to be well underway, and orchestrated by diocesan tribunals that require civil divorce and don’t apply the canon law restricting divorce (c. 1692).
Spero columnist Bai Macfarlane is the founder of Mary's Advocates.