Tensions persist for future Synod on Family

April 24, 2015
Source: District of the USA

More bishops are critically speaking out on the problems of the Synod on the Family. Some particular comments have recently been made against false notions about spiritual communions.

From DICI, we offer this report that includes some recent comments made by various Catholic prelates concerning the unorthodox statements of Cardinal Kasper and some German bishops on topic of marriage, divorce and the sacraments.

Persistent tensions surrounding the Synod on the Family

The upcoming Synod on the Family, which is to be held in Rome October 4-25 of this year, continues to provoke position statements opposed to Cardinal Walter Kasper and the German bishops who declare their progressive claims loud and clear.

The April 8 issue of La Croix reports comments by the South African Cardinal William Fox Napier, Archbishop of Durban and member of the Secretariat for the Economy, which were recently posted on Twitter:

It is truly regrettable to see Cardinal Kasper described as ‘the Pope’s theologian’,” he noted on the social network Twitter, reacting to a Huffington Post article mentioning the German cardinal.

Unlike Pope Francis, Cardinal Kasper is not very respectful toward the Church in Africa and its hierarchy. Cardinal Kasper thinks that the African bishops are too submissive to taboos and too reticent to confront the question of polygamy and same-sex marriage,” he continued.

In October 2014, in an incidental interview given to several journalists during the first session of the Synod on the Family, Cardinal Kasper opined that the African bishops 'should not tell us what to do'. This remark caused a general outcry among the African bishops, and it is not uncommon for some of them to recall this incident even now, more than six months later. During the Synod, Cardinal Napier in particular vehemently opposed the articles of the Synod concerning homosexuality, and informed people about them on Twitter."

On April 15, while presenting in Rome his most recent book, Dieu ou rien (Fayard; English edition God or Nothing to be published soon by Ignatius Press), Cardinal Robert Sarah, Prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments, insisted on the major role of the Church in defending the family and human life, and pointed a finger at those who would try to modify “Christian morality”.

The Church is in an astonishing situation,” he declared during his talk at the Centre-St-Louis, a French institute, observing that

some high-ranking prelates who come mainly from wealthy nations, rich nations, are working to bring about modifications to Christian morality concerning the divorced-and-remarried or other problematic situations.”

And the Guinean prelate appealed to “those great guardians of the Faith” who “nevertheless should not lose sight of the fact that the fundamental problem posed by the breakdown of the ends of marriage is a problem of natural morality.”

Given the forces that are currently shaking the family,” he said,

the Church ought to discover her vocation of being the only authority that is capable of saving human sexuality and the natural institution of marriage and the family.”

This is not only about saving Christian morality,” he commented, raising the stakes, “it is necessary to save and protect natural morality, we must save and protect humanity.”

Cardinal Sarah emphasized the fact that

major trends arose when some Catholic intellectual prelates began to give a ‘green light’ to homosexuals, to abortion, to euthanasia, to communion for the divorced-and-remarried.”

Now the whole human community finds itself split into factions by this new treason of some clerics,” he exclaimed. And he asked Catholic prelates and laypeople: “Is the Magisterium of the Church competent to modify the morality of the natural law?

On April 14, during a conference entitled “What God joined together… Marriage, Family and Sexuality in the Context of the Synod of Bishops 2014-2015," held at the Cardinal Stefan Wyszynski University in Warsaw and summarized in Corrispondenza Romana, Archbishop Stanislaw Gadecki, President of the Polish Episcopal Conference:

...wanted to respond to those, such as Cardinal Kasper, who maintain that if the divorced and remarried can receive spiritual communion, they can also receive sacramental communion. The use that is made of the term ‘spiritual communion’ in order to justify the admittance of the divorced and remarried to the sacraments is absolutely improper."

Spiritual communion refers, in fact, to people in a state of grace, who, because of a physical impediment, cannot receive Communion (as happened for example, in the part of Poland occupied by the Soviets after the Second World War).

On the other hand, it cannot refer to those who are forbidden to receive the Eucharist because of a moral impediment they can freely remove, by abandoning the situation of sin they are in. All those who are in a state of God’s grace can make a spiritual communion. Those who are in a state of sin, can pray, attend Mass, develop their relationship with God, but this relationship cannot be defined as a spiritual communion.

"Pastoral care cannot contradict the Magisterium of the Church," Archbishop Gadecki repeated, recalling that individual Episcopal Conferences do not have the authority to introduce doctrinal novelties, even if they were requested by the majority of Catholics in that country. The Church, in fact, must express the sensus fidelium, which does not reflect the sociological majority of the faithful, but the consistency of lived faith with the perennial Magisterium of the Church.”

(Sources: La Croix/Apic/Corrispondenza Romana/trad. benoitetmoi—DICI no. 314, 4-24-2015)