Kasper the Friendly Cardinal, Cont.

by Michael Potemra

Let nobody say that the Catholic Church these days lacks for excitement. Yesterday, Pope Francis was named Time’s Person of the Year; today, Italy’s AGI news service is reporting that Walter Cardinal Kasper has told the German newsmagazine Die Zeit that divorced and remarried Catholics will soon be readmitted to full participation in the sacraments. (I am unable to find confirmation of this on Die Zeit’s website, but perhaps they haven’t actually published the article yet.)

This is a big deal in intra-Catholic debate. The German bishops have been calling for this change for some time, but very recently the Vatican’s chief doctrinal officer, Archbishop Gerhard Müller, appeared to rule it out. Kasper, however, has a great deal of clout in the Bergoglio administration: Pope Francis praised him in his very first Angelus message after being elected pope.

Opponents of the change cite Jesus’ teaching (Luke 16:18) that remarrying after divorce constitutes adultery; supporters argue that Jesus’ strictures on this are a counsel of perfection and not properly to be enforced by a denial of the sacraments. (The debate, by and large, breaks down along conservative vs. liberal lines, but I was surprised a few days ago when a conservative Catholic acquaintance told me he was not opposed to the change. I suppose Catholicism is so huge you can find exceptions to just about any generalization concerning it; as Joyce did not say about it, but should have, “Here comes everybody.”)