Pope Francis

Pope Francis could get the Synod he didn’t want

  • September 25, 2014

Pope Francis has asked that Sept. 28 be a day of prayer for next month’s meeting of bishops on the family. Given the crisis in family life, the Holy Father called this extraordinary Synod to address the pastoral care of the family in the context of evangelization. However, the preparation for the Synod has been entirely dominated by one topic: Will Catholics who are divorced and have entered a second civil marriage be permitted to receive Holy Communion? At the moment they should not receive Holy Communion, as any Catholic who is in a state of mortal sin is not to receive Holy Communion. 

There are not a few couples in this situation who desire to live a full sacramental life. Yet the situation remains that a second marriage, if there has not been a declaration of nullity for the first marriage, is what the Lord Jesus describes as an adulterous union in Matthew 19, even if the parties involved do not consider it as such. It’s a delicate and complicated matter, often involving sincere people in heartbreaking circumstances. And Jesus’ teaching astonishes even the apostles, who wonder if it might be better then not to marry at all. 

At a February meeting of cardinals, the Holy Father invited Cardinal Walter Kasper to give an address which advocated that the Church change her teaching on marriage and divorce in regard to receiving Holy Communion. The address was advertised in advance as confidential, but Cardinal Kasper published it after its contents became widely known. Many cardinals have reported that Kasper’s proposals were “resoundingly” rejected by the vast majority of cardinals present, so much so that the following morning the Holy Father came to Kasper’s defence, praising his talk and inviting him to respond to the withering critique of his presentation.

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