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The distinguished theologian Professor Ladislas Orsy has recommended the Church adopt a proposal once put forward by Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI to allow divorced and remarried Catholics to receive communion.
The Jesuit theologian referred to an argument mooted by then Professor Joseph Ratzinger in 1972 which references oikonomia – described as “good spiritual housekeeping” and part of the Eastern Church tradition.
The 1972 proposal – which, later, as Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger he stepped back from – argued that communion could be given to those in second marriages provided the first had broken down irrevocably, penance had been performed and the second union was filled with a spirit of faith.
Professor Orsy said that Ratzinger’s argument provided the Church with the capacity to sense the presence of the holy spirit and accept an invitation to forgive. He argued it was a different approach from that of Cardinal Gerhard Muller, the Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, who is opposed to giving communion to remarried divorcees and Cardinal Walter Kasper who has suggested there are circumstances when it should be allowed.
“It is unique and brings a concrete, particular and personal solution to an otherwise insoluble one,” he said while delivering “Divorce, Remarriage, and the Eucharist – A Lecture exploring the limits of God’s mercy” at the Michael Hurley Memorial Lecture at the Milltown Institute, Dublin.
He added, however, that the Church must move forward together by perceiving the spirit, “in full communion” and that: “I am not talking about anybody going in any direction they want.”
Professor Orsy referred to a hypothetical case of a woman who has been left by her husband who then remarries and has children. A step-by step process of forgiveness could lead her to being able to receive Communion, he said.