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(Rome) A few days ago, Pope Francis joined the office of the Under Secretary of the Synod of Bishops for the first time with the Episcopal dignity. In an accompanying letter to the Secretary of the Synod of Bishops, Cardinal Lorenzo Baldisseri, the Pope who wants to strengthen "collegiality" in the Church as "signs of the times". An intention, which is clearly expressed to the bishop by the imposition of cardinal status on the secretary and the appointment of the Under Secretary. This is also a step towards the preparation of the first Synod of Bishops of this pontificate, which will take place in early October and will be looked to in the Church with mixed feelings. It's about the fear that a synodal coup could, if not in this first part of the Synod of Bishops, then in the second part, which is scheduled for autumn 2015, bypass parts of Catholic teaching on marriage and undermine the sacrament of marriage. The formula was supplied by the German theologian and Cardinal Walter Kasper. It is understandable given: Changing the formal doctrine untouched by a new practice. Specifically on the Kaspers program is the approval of remarried divorcees to the sacraments. Since the individual lives in a permanent state of public sin that remarried divorcees are excluded from receiving communion. If it goes according to the Episcopal Conferences of Germany and Switzerland to the reception of communion will be possible under one or the other new formulae.
They are most preoccupied with the uncertainty of what attitude Pope Francis will take on the issue and what role he intends to play in the Synod of Bishops. The fact that the attitude of a Pope is unclear, is an unusual novelty is in the Church's history, which is only comparable with the Conciliar and immediate post-Conciliar immediate. In fact, the "changers" are frantically seeking feedback to a "virtual" Council (Benedict XVI.), whose resurrection they summon with an almost adhesive mantra.
The previous signals from Pope Francis in the matter of remarried divorcees are, objectively speaking, little reassuring. On the question the Pope has not taken a topical position. Some of the leading men of the Church, such as the North American representative on the C8-Kardinalsrat, Cardinal O'Malley, are indeed of the opinion that there would be no approval under Pope Francis of public sinners to the sacraments. Other Church leaders look under exactly the opposite sign with confidence to the approaching Synods.
Kasper's Papal Privilege
Pope Francis, however, despite substantive silence, the one who has called the Synods of Bishops on the topic of family. With his consent, his nominated new secretary of the Synod of Bishops, the present Cardinal Baldisseri, has directed a questionnaire to all the bishops of the world. Dealing with the questionnaire has made visible the determination progressive pressure groups who want to tilt the Catholic moral teaching. Even so, it did not lead to rethinking in Rome. The path continues. Instead, Pope Francis commissioned Cardinal Walter Kasper, with a lecture at the cardinal consistory in late February. Neutrality is different. For a proper debate about balance and to signal that, the pope could have appointed two speakers of different perspectives. For the dutiful defense of Catholic teaching on marriage, he would have to employ an orthodox advocate for the Doctrine of the Faith. But nothing of the sort. The Pope decided on Cardinal Kasper, whose unorthodox position on the issue has been known at least since the 90s. A position that was rejected by both Pope Benedict XVI., and previously Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger. Just as they have now been rejected by today's Prefect, Gerhard Ludwig Müller, Cardinal before the consistory. We may recognize in the papal decision in favoring Kasper, a unilateral advocacy, and in Cardinal Kasper if not the voice of the Pope, so at least a trial balloon, which was allowed to ascend, to test the reactions and resistances.
Effusive Praise of the Pope to Dampen Criticism of Cardinals
The partisanship engaged unambiguous underlining in effusive praise for Kasper, which Pope Francis on the morning after his speech to the cardinals formulated his response. The reaction to Kasper's oratory, in whom there was a cunningly palatable formula, was quite energetic. Against the horse trading suggested by the German theologian (to pretend that everything remains the same, but in reality, everything would change), protest arose more loudly. The most vocal of the Cardinals in the discussion disagreed with Kasper.
With the fanatical praise the Pope wanted to rush the German Cardinal obvious to the rescue. The downright ecstatic, but not very believable assertion that the strategy formulated by Kasper strategy precisely to get rid of the Church's teaching on marriage is at a crucial point "theology on his knees", makes it hard to deny representing the Pope's closeness to Kasper's new course.
The Ghost Writer of the Pope and the Free Market of Ideas
But the partisanship for Kasper and promoting his position was thus not an end. The Ghost Writer of Pope Francis and thus one of his closest confidants, Victor Manuel Fernandez, whom he first made the Rector of the Catholic University of Argentina and then appointed Archbishop, said recently that it was one of the great merits of this pope, "to transform the Church into a place free from anxieties for the exchange of ideas, where everyone can have their say and be taken into account ". The church as a free market of ideas?
Muzzle for Cardinals Except Kasper
With an unbiased appraisal of what happened during the consistory of February 20 and 21, then Kasper's speech was justified the claim of a marketplace of ideas. Not, however, that anyone can speak his mind and this is taken into account. But the Church is not a place of procedural neutrality. The assembled cardinals in Rome, in whose ranks were key church leaders of Benedict XVI. were missing, had strict secrecy expressly imposed strict by the Cardinal Dean Angelo Sodano on behalf of the Pope. The obligation of what is spoken in the consistory, to remain silent, was repeatedly recalled, as was confirmed recently also by the Vatican expert Sandro Magister.
This obligation, however, was broken by Cardinal Kasper and indeed, with the approval of the Pope. No sooner had the Cardinal made his controversial speech in the consistory, than he already announced publication of the speech in Germany at the Herder-Verlag and also in Italy the publisher Queriniana in Brescia, and he was additionally granted final reply to the criticism of Cardinals in the Consistory.
Roberto de Mattei's Articulate Opposition
It was the daily newspaper Il Foglio that Cardinal's strategy (and the Pope?) threw a spanner into the works and published the speech worldwide and added simultaneously with a critical opposition by the Catholic historian Roberto de Mattei against Kasper's argument, citing Fathers of the Church against an alleged early Christian practice has been shredded. The coup was owed to the chief editor of Il Foglio, who was aware that the one who comes first, can co-influence the direction of further discussion. Kasper should not be left solely in control of the discussion. With Roberto de Mattei, a Catholic of large caliber was placed in position. Who would want to read the Kasper-speech, could not bypass de Mattei's accurate and superior formulated counter position.
Kasper's Wrath and the Exclusive Position in the Osservatore Romano
Kasper foamed. Even days later, he gave his anger free reign in an interview with Vatican Radio. Apparently, in a modification of the original intent and as a countermeasure to the Foglio strike he now had published even in the Osservatore Romano, the semi-official newspaper of the Vatican, the final copy of Kasper's and the Preface to the speech, now currently under pressure.
The Osservatore Romano could be relied upon to offer strong praise from Pope Francis to Kasper, after numerous cardinals had taken their position against remarried divorcees. This praise opened the privilege to the German cardinal to be printed in L'Osservatore Romano, which would hardly have been possible without such consent of the Pope.
Kasper's position should therefore be given visibility and authority within the Church. The confidentiality obligation was and is still obvious to all cardinals and their contributions to the discussion in the Consistory, with a single exception: Walter Kasper. Only for him did Pope Francis lift the obligation to secrecy. Why such a privilege when all the "opinions" are taken into account? The Pope hung a muzzle so that all the Cardinals who defended the Catholic doctrine on the sacrament of marriage, and allowed only the dissenting opinion the right to speak. This is a one-sided preference for a certain position and the disability of another equal.
The result was that not only the Osservatore Romano , but also other official Church media, especially the newspapers of some Episcopal Conferences felt obliged to reprint Kasper. In contrast to Il Foglio , however, they lacked any counter position. The only one that was granted the exclusive right to raise his voice in the daily newspaper of the Holy See was Kasper. All the other cardinals and their speeches in the consistory are prevailed over to this day in silence.
Two Cardinals Fight Back: Brandmüller and Caffarra Contradict Kasper
Only two cardinals among the many that contradicted Kasper came forward after the consistory publicly to speak and thus formulate a position outside of the Consistory: the German Walter Brandmüller and the Italian Carlo Caffarra. Both had to do this outside the official church media: Cardinal Brandmüller with the essay "The Fathers Went to the Widows" in the daily newspaper The Daily Mail , Cardinal Caffarra with the interview "Cardinal Cafarra Warns Against Married Divorced: Stop" in the daily Il Foglio .
Brandmüller's article appeared on February 27, Caffarra's interview on March 15. The Archbishop of Bologna said that: 'Do not touch marriage give by Christ. It is not assessed case by case and you do not bless divorce. Hypocrisy is not mercy." However, in the Osservatore Romano, there hasn't been a single reference to the interview.
The Uneven Weight
Amazingly, Avvenire , the daily newspaper of the Italian Bishops' Conference, finally also published the Brandmüller essay. However, only 40 days after Kasper, and only in the summary and on one side and in a presentation that drew little attention. The publication of the editorial seemed to have been wrested by pressure within the Church.
Cardinal Brandmüller exploded in his essay, especially the credibility of the main source that Kasper based his speech, the book by Giovanni Cereti: Divorzio, Nozzi e Penitenza nella chiesa primitiva nuove (Divorce, New Marriage and Penance in the Early Church), which in its first edition was published in 1977 and, amazingly, witnessed a new edition in the second half of 2013.
Brandmüller Picked Apart Mainstay for Kasper's Position
For Cardinal Brandmüller there is not the slightest evidence that the Church allowed Communion in the first centuries, who contacted a second marriage after a season of penance, although the first spouse was still alive. This position has already been represented by Benedict XVI.. Coinciding with the somewhat hidden summary of the Brandmüller essay in Avvenire, Cereti took a position in the progressive journal Il Regno, and proved to be little understood. On Brandmüller's well-founded criticism of a baseless assertion, Cereti did not have even one. His thesis seems to welcome the "new course", Kasper had formulated in the consistory. Cereti wrote:
"I thank Cardinal Kasper, who - I think, in accordance with the wish of the Pope - just quoted my study in this area in connection with the practice of the early Church. Personally, I am grateful to the Lord to have enabled me to see that the result of my research for which I worked on my whole life, is given serious consideration. If they are recognized as valid, it should come closer to the practice of other Christian churches and on the other hand, the return of countless people in all parts of the world to share in the sacramental life of the Church. "
Cereti's Progressive Anathema Against Defenders of Orthodoxy
Cereti concluded his remarks with a progressive anathema against all dissenters:
"I accompanied the hope that none of those who oppose today Pope Francis' desired course, adopt a Novatian position by denying the authority of the Church to forgive all sins, and thus risk, to put themselves outside the community of the Church. "
The Novatians were named in the first centuries, one after the anti-bishop Novatian's (200-258) puritanical impulse, which denied that the Church had the authority to forgive sins as apostasy, murder, and adultery, which is why people who were guilty of such a sins, were forever excluded from the sacraments and from the Church. A position that has been rejected by the Church. Their followers were considered heretics. Novatian himself was excommunicated in 251. Ceretis attempts to judge the defenders of the Church's teaching which has always been valid for more than 1700 years, to be in the vicinity of a heresy, you notice what bandages those who wish to overturn teaching on Catholic marriage, fighting in the forefront of the Synod of Bishops.
At the end is thus only marginal, but by no means insignificant, to be pointed out that Kaspers easing formula not only can apply to the issue of remarried divorcees, but in theory as a universal key to the unhinging of the entire doctrine by a "new practice".
Text: Giuseppe Nardi
Image: Il Foglio / Fanpage
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Image: Il Foglio / Fanpage
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