Cardinal Kasper has referred to Communion for the divorced and remarried as a “life raft” for the shipwrecked.
Jesus’ teaching on the indissolubility of sacramental marriage is clear, the retired German cardinal said, and it would harm individuals and the church to pretend otherwise. However, “after the shipwreck of sin, the shipwrecked person should not have a second boat at his or her disposal, but rather a life raft” in the form of the sacrament of Communion, he said.
He is not clear here about what he means by the “second boat,” but it is likely that he is referring to those who leave the Catholic Church for protestant churches who will accept the divorced and remarried as members. The problem with this is that it reflects a flawed understanding of the nature of the Church, the nature of marriage, and the nature of Holy Communion.
In regard to the nature of the Church, anyone who is properly baptized is a member of the Catholic Church. Let’s consider the scenario of an atheist and a Jew who are stranded on an island together and the atheist, recalling things that he was told about God from his anti-Catholic Baptist parents, decides that he wants to convert to Christianity. The atheist, who is familiar with the valid process for baptism, asks the Jew to baptize him. The Jew does not believe in baptism at all, but out of compassion to set his atheist friend’s mind at ease, he agrees to baptize him. Even though the person performing the baptism does not believe in baptism, and even though the person being baptized has animosity toward the Catholic Church, as long as the correct procedure for baptism is followed, that atheist has become a member of the Catholic Church. Every time a baptism occurs, the person being baptized becomes a member of the Catholic Church. Membership does not depend (initially) on obedience to Catholic teaching. Membership depends on baptism.
From CCC 818:
All who have been justified by faith in Baptism are incorporated into Christ; they therefore have a right to be called Christians, and with good reason are accepted as brothers in the Lord by the children of the Catholic Church.
There is only one “ship,” and that is the Catholic Church. Even many people who hate the Catholic Church are members of the Catholic Church, objectively.
Note, however, that to those who are Catholic and who understand the teachings of the Church — a Cardinal, for example — much more is required by God. In the catechism, we are told that heresy, apostasy and schism are wounds to the unity of the Church and that these wounds never occur without sin. We also learn from the catechism that “harmony and unity arises from virtue. That is, faithful obedience.
In fact, “in this one and only Church of God from its very beginnings there arose certain rifts, which the Apostle strongly censures as damnable. But in subsequent centuries much more serious dissensions appeared and large communities became separated from full communion with the Catholic Church – for which, often enough, men of both sides were to blame.”
The ruptures that wound the unity of Christ’s Body – here we must distinguish heresy, apostasy, and schism – do not occur without human sin:
Where there are sins, there are also divisions, schisms, heresies, and disputes. Where there is virtue, however, there also are harmony and unity, from which arise the one heart and one soul of all believers.
Some would have us believe that harmony and unity arise from division (such as divorce), or from heresy (such as Communion for the divorced and remarried), or from disputes (such as Synods where heresies pronounced by bishops are welcomed.) The catechism, however, is clear. Harmony and unity arise from virtue, which comes from God through our obedience to the Faith. There is no virtue without fidelity.
Cardinal Kasper betrays the nature of marriage if he does not understand that a second marriage is actually the “second boat” that people take, as if it were a “life raft,” when actually they are leaving the one ship to salvation, the Catholic Church. If your brother is climbing off the ship to salvation, which is the Catholic Church, you do well to encourage him to return, but he cannot both return and remain on the boat that is taking him away from the Church. He has to make a decision. There is only one way for him to return and that is to make a choice between the two. Having said that, there are many divorced and remarried who now live together as brother and sister. In this case, they may return to Holy Communion. If they are not living as brother and sister, but rather as a married couple, then they are living in adultery. To say that they may validly receive Communion while not in the state of grace is heresy which, as noted, disrupts the harmony and unity of the Church.
While it is true that what people do privately can hardly disrupt the harmony and unity of the Church, bishops speaking out for them to receive Holy Communion while in a state of grave sin DOES disrupt the harmony and unity of the Church. It is for this reason that so many are saying, rightly in my view, that there is no reason for a Synod on these matters and, in fact, it can be argued that the Synod itself has (so far) done nothing more than disrupt the harmony and unity of the Church. Who can argue the contrary? Who can say, in all honesty, that the Synod has so far served to bring Catholics closer together? No one can say that with a straight face unless he is deluded.
Cardinal Kasper betrays the nature of Holy Communion if he believes that anyone who is divorced and remarried can benefit from receiving the Sacrament. As I wrote two days ago:
Everyone is required to “live up to” the Catholic Faith. No one is exempt from the call to sainthood. People who see this as lacking in compassion have no idea what Jesus has done for us on the Cross. When we bear a cross of suffering and hardship in life, He gives us the grace to bear it. It is in our crosses where we meet Jesus in His love for us. He poured Himself out for us, and our cup runneth over with Him only when we first empty ourselves to receive Him in that pouring out.
Anyone can say that they know Jesus. Certainly, He welcomes all to His supper, but what good is it to welcome those who are already full? They have no desire to be filled with Jesus if they are already full of worldly things that satisfy their bellies. They do an injustice in coming to the table completely full and pretending to be receiving Jesus when they are not actually receiving Him. They may as well be dropping Him on the floor as receive Him in the Eucharist because there is no emptiness there for Him to fill. It’s all a show so that they can “feel welcome.”
I know this reality in my own life as a divorced and celibate Catholic. My conscience, guided by the teaching of the Catholic Church, tells me that it would be an appalling injustice for me to find another “husband” when I am already objectively married in the eyes of God. It is the state that says I am divorced, not God, which makes this issue a religious freedom issue as I discuss here. Further, my sacrifices in life are redemptive and, as such, may help my husband get to heaven, which is in accordance with my duty as his wife in the eyes of God. Jesus requires us to love even when people reject us, does He not? Where is the visible fruit in this? For one thing, my children have learned that they had better know what they are getting into when they walk down the aisle because marriage truly is life-long, and they know also that a second marriage would be quite disruptive to their harmony and family unity. My hope is that what is reflected in our family life is the love of Christ through sacrifice for even those who reject us.
Many disagree with my Catholic belief on this. That is a disagreement of minds where one mind is willing to sacrifice the body and the other is not. Bishop Morlino is correct in saying that at the core of the issues being debated at the Synod is what he calls the “mind-body split,” and it has far more ramifications than mere disagreement about sacrifice in marriage.
There are more issues to be brought up, but the real underlying issue of the synod which just stays beneath every question and every topic is the mind-body split, and if one were to read the Instrumentum Laboris that way, you see that it’s about many different issues, but in the end it’s about one thing, the relationship of the human mind to the truth. Whether human freedom is meant to dominate nature and biology, or whether human reason should be accountable to nature, and so direct freedom according to the Natural Law.
Certainly, we all want more harmony and unity in the Catholic Church, but the way to bring that about is through virtue. Heresy destroys harmony and unity. Virtue builds harmony and unity. The catechism itself could not be more clear on this.