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The leading proponent of relaxing the ban on Communion for divorced and remarried Catholics tells Christopher Lamb that the Church too often appears rule-bound
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Cardinal Walter Kasper’s proposal to allow communion for remarried divorcees was given a negative reception from most of his confreres at last month’s consistory according to an Italian journalist.
In an article for the Turin daily, La Stampa, last Monday, Marco Tosatti says that Cardinal Kasper’s plan was greeted with a storm of criticism. In his address to the consistory on 22 February, the German cardinal argued that Catholic divorcees who remarry should, after a period of atonement, be allowed to seek re-admittance to the sacraments.
Tosatti claims the vast majority of cardinals who spoke in the subsequent discussion criticised the proposal.
Tosatti names 10 cardinals as speaking in this vein including Cardinal Jean-Louis Tauran, President of the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue, who he says felt the doctrinal change would do nothing to further the Church’s support for the family nor its relations with Islam.
Another alleged critic was Cardinal Camillo Ruini, former Vicar General for the Diocese of Rome, who according to Tosatti claimed that 85 per cent of the cardinals who had commented on Kasper’s proposal opposed it.
Tosatti reports that other Kasper critics included the President of the Italian Bishops’ Conference, Cardinal Angelo Bagnasco, the Archbishop of Milan, Cardinal Angela Scola, the Prefect of the Apostolic Penitentiary, Cardinal Mauro Piacenza and Cardinal Battista Re, Prefect Emeritus of the Congregation for Bishops.
When given leave by Pope Francis to reply at the end of the discussion, Cardinal Kasper is said to have shown his “irritation” with his critics.
Cardinal Raymond Burke, Prefect of the Apostolic Signatura, also criticised Cardinal Kasper. “There are many difficulties with the text of Cardinal Kasper,” he said in an interview with the Catholic television station EWTN. Burke said that he expected “the error of his [Kasper’s] approach to become ever clearer” in coming weeks as theologians and canonists examine it.
Among those who have gone on record as sympathetic to Kasper’s proposals are Cardinals Christoph Schönborn of Vienna, Karl Lehmann of Mainz, Rainer Maria Woelki of Berlin, Cardinal Reinhard Marx of Freiburg and Oscar Rodríguez Maradiaga of Honduras. Marx and Rodríguez are members of the C8 group of cardinals appointed to advise the Pope.
Above: Cardinal Kasper in St Peter's Square. Photo: CNS