A Quick Q & A: Synod Drama - Defend the Family
Our Lady of Fatima, Pray for us!
Why do many Catholics fear the upcoming Synod will undermine Catholic doctrine and practice?
The events that occurred at the 2014 Extraordinary Synod, and the apparent trajectory of the upcoming Synod of October 2015, give the impression that unchangeable aspects of Catholic moral law may now be up for discussion and revision. Among many aspects, there is the proposal by Walter Cardinal Kasper, taken as a serious proposition, regarding a new program for divorced and remarried Catholics.
Do all bishops accept the Kasper proposal?
No, many are horrified, and rightly so. Numerous Cardinals and bishops have publicly challenged Kasper’s proposal. In the past year, five Cardinals co-authored a book entitled Remaining in the Truth of Christ in opposition to the Kasper plan. Another three bishops just authored a book called The Preferential Option for the Family – 100 Questions and Answers Related to the Synod, which rejects the Kasper proposal and supports authentic Church teaching regarding marriage, family life, and the moral law.
What is the proposal forwarded by Walter Cardinal Kasper?
Cardinal Kasper proposes a new pastoral approach that allows divorced and remarried Catholics, after some sort of ‘period of penance,’ to be admitted to Holy Communion, while they remain in this irregular union.
Is this a novel idea?
Yes, it is a proposal completely foreign to the 2000-year doctrine and discipline of the Church?
Can the Church make such a change?
No, not even a Pope has the authority to make such a change, since he, and all the world’s bishops and priests, are bound to teach and practice what the Church always taught and practiced for 2000 years. Vatican I teaches infallibly that all Catholics are bound to hold the Catholic Faith “in the same meaning and in the same explanation” of what the Church always taught throughout the centuries without change.
How does this relate to the Kasper proposal?
When it comes to the impossibility of “allowing” divorced and remarried Catholics to the Eucharist, Cardinal de Paolis writes, “The Church supports the Words of Jesus (cf. Mark 10:11-12), according to which a new union cannot be recognized as valid until the previous marriage is declared invalid by the relevant [Church] authorities. Please note the words ‘cannot be’ – the Church herself has not power to do so. Even assuming she wanted to do it, she does not have the power.”
Can the Pope make this change in favor of divorce and remarried Catholics?
When explaining the limits of Papal power, Vatican I taught infallibly, “For the Holy Spirit was promised to the successors of Peter not so that they might, by His revelation, make known some new doctrine, but that, by His assistance, they might religiously guard and faithfully expound the revelation or deposit of faith transmitted by the apostles.” Even the Pope may not change doctrine.
But the proponents of the Kasper plan claim that what they propose is not a change of doctrine, but only a change in pastoral practice.
Cardinal Brandmüller forcefully answers this falsehood: “It is evident that the pastoral practice of the Church cannot stand in opposition to the binding doctrine nor simply ignore it. In the same manner, an architect could perhaps build a most beautiful bridge. However, if he does not pay attention to the laws of structural engineering, he risks the collapse of his construction. In the same manner, every pastoral practice has to follow the Word of God if it does not want to fail. A change of the teaching, of the dogma, is unthinkable. Who nevertheless consciously does it, or insistently demands it, is a heretic – even if he wears the Roman Purple.” In other words, he is a heretic even if he is a bishop or a cardinal.
Are these not strong words?
Cardinal Brandmuller is one of many prelates speaking up against the Kasper proposal. Listen to Archbishop Athanasius Schnieder of Kazakstan: “The concrete proposal of Cardinal Kasper and of the sympathizers of his theory signified without a doubt the undermining of the teaching of Christ on the indissolubility of marriage. Cardinal Kasper’s theory reveals an un-Christian notion of atonement and penance.”
Why does Kasper’s theory display an un-Christian notion of atonement and penance?
Archbishop Schnieder explains, “The Biblical understanding of repentance says … that one has the firm and honest resolution not to repeat in the future that which one has done and now repents of it. It is obvious that, according to Cardinal Kasper’s theory, these faithful do not have the repentance for committing deeds which directly violate the Commandment of God, ‘Thou shalt not commit adultery,’ and hence violate the indissolubility of marriage.”
But should not the Church, in the name of pastoral compassion, make allowances for the faithful who are in difficult situations?
The Church is always there to help those in difficult situations find their way back to the life of sanctifying grace, and it will always display the mercy and compassion of Christ. But this mercy must accord with the teaching of Christ Himself, who taught the absolute indissolubility of marriage, “Whoever puts away his wife and marries another commits adultery against her, and if the wife puts away her husband, and marries another, she commits adultery.” (Mark 10: 11-12). As already noted, no one in the Church, not even the Pope himself, has the authority to change this teaching, or to alter pastoral practice in such a way that gives the impression of defying this truth.
Suppose a Churchman should make the claim that the practice can change?
Such a churchman is not compassionate, but cruel. He is permitting something he has no authority to permit, and raising expectations of the faithful that can never be legitimately realized. Further, such a churchman leads souls into sacrilegious Communion, which is a heinous mortal sin. Such a churchman is not a shepherd but a wolf.
What harmful consequences will follow if the Synod Fathers fall in in line with the Kasper proposal?
Cardinal de Paolis lists four harmful consequences:
1) It would open the door to sacrilegious Communion, seemingly with “Church approval”;
2) It would call into question the need to be in the state of sanctifying grace for the reception of the Eucharist; hence no need to go to Confession to confess mortal sins prior to receiving Communion;
3) It would call into question the Church’s teaching on sexual morality in general, particularly in regard to the Sixth Commandment;
4) It would give the appearance of the Church lending its support to cohabitation and other irregular arrangements, which would weaken the principle of the indissolubility of marriage.
Is it possible that Church leaders could lead us so far astray?
Yes. Sister Lucia of Fatima in the 1960s and early 1970s warned of the “diabolic disorientation” of various members of the upper hierarchy.
What can the faithful do?
Priests and faithful, in accordance with the duties they receive from the Sacrament of Confirmation, must defend the faith and resist these damaging proposals. Canon 212, section 3 of the Code of Canon Law tells us: “‘According to the knowledge, competence, and prestige which they possess, they [the faithful] have the right and even at times the duty to manifest to the sacred pastors their opinion on matters which pertain to the good of the Church and to make their opinion known to the rest of the Christian faithful.” As noted by Father Linus Clovis, when speaking about Canon 212: “In other words, we have to go public on this!”
What is the Fatima Center plan?
We encourage Catholics to stand up for marriage, the family and the Eucharist in any legitimate way they can. We encourage our friends and supporters to spread the truth about marriage contained in this write-up. We also encourage fidelity to the daily Rosary as requested by Our Lady, make the Five First Saturdays of Reparation, and continue to request the consecration of Russia to the Immaculate Heart of Mary by the Pope in union with the world’s bishops, which will not only bring peace to the world, but peace and order to our troubled Church.