12 December 2017, The Tablet

Cardinal hopes that 'painful' Amoris Laetitia dispute is over

Cardinal Walter Kasper has said he hopes that the controversy over the Pope's Apostolic Exhortation is at an end

Cardinal hopes that 'painful' Amoris Laetitia dispute is over

Cardinal Walter Kasper has declared that he hopes that the "painful dispute" over the Pope's Apostolic Exhortation Amoris Laetitia is now over.

And he has stated that when it comes to remarried divorcees, in individual cases admission to the sacraments of reconciliation and the Eucharist can be possible.

In an article for Radio Vatican's German section, Cardinal Kasper writes: "With the official publication of the letter from Pope Francis to the bishops of the Buenos Aires region, hopefully the painful dispute over the Apostolic Exhortation Amoris Laetitia is over."

Pope Francis in September praised a letter the bishops of Buenos Aires in Argentina wrote to him in which they said that remarried couples can be given communion if they find it impossible to live like “brother and sister”, can’t obtain an annulment and have been on a “journey of discernment”. Significantly, as The Tablet reported, his response was published in the the Vatican’s own newspaper, L’Osservatore Romano.

 Cardinal Kasper says that most of "God's people" have received the letter and can feel "confirmed" in this view.

Critics had committed the "cardinal flaw" of taking things out of their "overall context".

Cardinal Kasper writes: "The admission of remarried divorcees to the sacraments in individual cases is based on the teaching of tradition, especially of Thomas Aquinas and the Trent Council. It is not a novelty, but a renewal of an old tradition of neo-scholastic constrictions. As proven experts have pointed out the doctrine of Pope John Paul II, there is no contradiction to the teachings of the two predecessors of Pope Francis."

He does not explicitly refer to the dubia controversy, in which four cardinals asked questions, or dubia, of Pope Francis regarding the interpretation of Amoris Laetitia to which he did not reply. 

But he criticises a "one-sided moral objectivism that undervalues ??the significance of the personal conscience in the moral act".

He concedes that the conscience must pay attention to the objective commandments of God. 

And he argues: "Universally valid objective commandments – again according to Thomas Aquinas – cannot be applied mechanically or purely logically to concrete, often complex and perplexed, situations."

Such responsible application of a law also happens in the secular arena, he adds, using the distinction between murder and manslaughter as an example.

He notes how the circumstances of a murder and motives such as treachery are carefully weighed when sentencing. "This has to apply all the more in the church," he writes. It is not just the external act that is important, but also the inner conscience of a human being.

Cardinal Kasper says Pope Francis, with his emphasis on the meaning of conscience, stands firmly on the ground of the Second Vatican Council, which taught that conscience is the most hidden centre and sanctuary in man, where he is alone with God. "Undoubtedly, the Church must form the conscience of men, but it can not take the place of conscience," he says. 

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