October 16, 2015

Fr. Dodaro on the Synod and the "Kasper Proposal"

Synod on the Family

EWTN interviewed Father Robert Dodaro, O.S.A., President of the Patristic Institute in Rome, and editor of Remaining in the Truth of Christ: Marriage and Communion in the Catholic Church. Fr. Dodaro was asked about Cardinal Kasper's proposal allowing Catholics who have divorced and remarried to receive Communion. This is his response:
The problem is that, of course, they [divorced and remarried Catholics] remain married to their first spouse. That marriage takes place in Christ and so, that bond cannot be broken by any one, not by the Pope, not by the Church. So that’s the problem with a second marriage, the problem is that they’re still really married to the first spouse. Now, what Cardinal Kasper proposed is that the Catholic Church study what the Orthodox Churches do in that situation and that we copy that, or we try to adjust that to the Catholic Church. ...
The problem with it for us [the Catholic Church] is that we have a different understanding of marriage then the Orthodox. I don’t think a lot of people know this, but, for us, marriage takes place in Christ and that bond cannot be broken. … The Orthodox don’t recognize that. They allow for divorce in certain circumstances. … We can’t adapt their system because we can’t adapt their Theology to ours.
I don’t think anyone on the side of those who oppose Cardinal Kasper…  is lacking in compassion for these Catholics. The question is how can we help them gradually to make progress toward a lifestyle that is compatible with their first marriage, their real marriage. That requires that we accompany people… Various cardinals and bishops have put forward suggestions as to how we might do that. …
See the interview in full here (starting at 14:45).

Fr. Dodano's Remaining in the Truth of Christ: Marriage and Communion in the Catholic Church is a great read. Five Cardinals and four scholars, respond to Cardinal Walter Kasper's call for the Church to harmonize "fidelity and mercy in its pastoral practice with civilly remarried, divorced people". It is the perfect addition to any Catholic's bookshelf. From Amazon's précis:
Beginning with a concise introduction, the first part of the book is dedicated to the primary biblical texts pertaining to divorce and remarriage, and the second part is an examination of the teaching and practice prevalent in the early Church. In neither of these cases, biblical or patristic, do these scholars find support for the kind of "toleration" of civil marriages following divorce advocated by Cardinal Kasper. This book also examines the Eastern Orthodox practice of oikonomia (understood as "mercy" implying "toleration") in cases of remarriage after divorce and in the context of the vexed question of Eucharistic communion. It traces the centuries long history of Catholic resistance to this convention, revealing serious theological and canonical difficulties inherent in past and current Orthodox Church practice.

The various studies in this book lead to the conclusion that the Church's longstanding fidelity to the truth of marriage constitutes the irrevocable foundation of its merciful and loving response to the individual who is civilly divorced and remarried. The book therefore challenges the premise that traditional Catholic doctrine and contemporary pastoral practice are in contradiction.

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