The almost unbelievable account of how the Synod on the family was almost hijacked by an anti-family agenda
Editor’s note: This was originally given in Rome May 8, 2015 during the Rome Life Forum.
ROME, June 24, 2015 (LifeSiteNews) — In this presentation I intend to give a brief overview of events before and during the Extraordinary Synod held in October 2014.
On March 17 2013, four days after his election as Pope and during his first Angelus address in St Peter’s Square, the Holy Father drew attention to a recently published book by Walter Cardinal Kasper and strongly praised it. He said:
In these days I have been able to read a book by a Cardinal – Cardinal Kasper, a talented theologian, a good theologian – on mercy. And it did me such good, that book, but don’t think that I’m publicising the books of my cardinals. That is not the case! But it did me good, so much good.
Cardinal Kasper has for many years advocated a change in the Church’s teaching on the reception of Holy Communion by the divorced and “remarried” and the book in question is Mercy: The Essence of the Gospel and the Key to the Christian Life, advocates many gravely problematic positions, which underlie his advocacy for such a change.
These include, but are not limited to, Kasper’s understanding of the nature of justice and mercy, his theology of justification and, most grave of all, his very understanding of the nature of God.
It caused great concern to many Catholics that Pope Francis should speak of Kasper and his new book in such terms.
On October 8 2013 the Holy Father announced that two synods would be held to discuss “The Pastoral Challenges of the Family in the Context of Evangelisation”. The synods were to be organised by the General Secretariat of the Synod led by Lorenzo Cardinal Baldisseri. On October 26 the Secretariat sent a questionnaire to all bishops’ conferences invitingCatholics at all levels of the Church to submit their opinions on matters relating to marriage and the family.
Just three days earlier, on October 23, the Prefect of the Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faith, His Eminence Gerhard Ludwig Cardinal Müller had published a lengthy article in L’Osservatore Romano, entitled “Testimony to the power of grace: On the indissolubility of marriage and the debate concerning the civilly remarried and the sacraments”.
This article defended the irreformable teaching of the Church that a ratified and consummated sacramental marriage cannot be dissolved by any power on earth and that divorced persons who have contracted a civil union cannot receive the sacraments of Penance and Holy Communion without true repentance and amendment of life.
This article by Müller is a clear indication of his concerns about the direction of the synod at this very early stage.
Sure enough, Reinhard Cardinal Marx, Chairman of the Bishops Conference of Germany and a member of Pope Francis’ inner circle of nine cardinals asserted that Cardinal Müller would not be able to “stop the debate”, that at the synod “everything will be discussed” and that “at the moment it is not possible to say what the results of the debate will be.”
These are very early indications that the issue of Holy Communion for the divorced and “remarried” was on the agenda of the synod.
All doubts however were removed on February 20 2014 when Cardinal Kasper addressed a consistory of Cardinals that been specifically called to prepare for the upcoming synod.
In his speech he advocated for the readmission of the divorced and “remarried” to Holy Communion without amendment of life, proposing a number of potential justifications for the practice. He said that he did not “rule out that the last word will be given at the Synod, in agreement with the Pope.”