Sunday, May 11, 2014

Cardinal Kasper (6)

Cardinal Kasper's remarks.

In order that couples might "assent to what the Church really requires," Cardinal Kasper argues:
No, we have to provide catechesis. I know some parishes in Rome where couples have to attend catechesis, and the pastor himself does it. We must do much more in prematrimonial catechesis and use pastoral work and so on because we cannot presuppose that everybody who is a formal Christian also has the faith. It wouldn't be realistic.
Augustine wrote a book on catechesis!
I agree wholeheartedly with this, especially with the need for the direction of the pastor (or at least a deacon who will preside or who is assisting the pastor with the formation), hopefully the one who will celebrate the nuptial Mass. Catechesis cannot be stressed enough. On the other hand, the formation of priests has not for the last several decades has been particularly lacking in either doctrine or a surefire desire to teach and help people follow Christ through Church teaching (helping to avoid canonical form is one more active example of lacking the latter) which probably leads to the problem of having a high number of invalid marriages, regardless of whether it is 50% or a lesser figure.

Next Cardinal Kasper posits the possibilities that take in part as their point of departure the so-called "Orthodox solution." He is right, the Council of Trent did not condemn the Orthodox way in order to avoid damaging the Byzantine churches in Venice, which honestly is a good pastoral practice. Avoid declaring anathema propositions and thus practices which might be related but are not actually part of the radical trouble which needed an ecumenical council's intervention (also avoid making things so confusing as to seem to make it up: St. Pius X condemning Modernism seems to have caused confusion rather than clarity.).

Now, it seems quite arbitrary to limit marriages to only three with the principle in place that allows for remarriage to begin with. It also seems arbitrary that only a bishop can permit a third marriage.

And I'm not sure of the theological issues which surround this question with our Eastern brethren, and I think while today the problem is less about things like the Filioque and more like things like marriage or nuanced and specific doctrinal development, the answer doesn't need to be made clear in October.

Why? Because it will not work in the Latin Christian tradition. It is painful to think that after describing the different but equally acceptable approaches, that of the Christian East (though with reservations about oikonomia today-contraceptive usage...) and that of the West people truly believe we can import it. First, Orthodox pastors are much closer to their congregations than are Latin pastors. It's a good and bad issue for those in the Latin Church, but regardless, the pastor will not know enough to be able to handle tribunals-as has been proposed- nor will he be able to permit remarriage. Besides, the Latin tradition rests on there having been no marriage at all before another wedding is a conceivable and legitimate option. Oh, and pastors have six-year term limits in several countries. Yes, they should go, but for many reasons they won't. Under those conditions who would be able to say "no"? No one I know. I mean, there's grace, but grace I don't think is overwhelming as St. Augustine conjectured in To Simplician. Unless one is the Holy Roman Pontiff under whose shepharding the Church is grappling with a major crisis in doctrine, I'm not sure one is always going to uphold the Truth, even if it is necessary for one's salvation. Otherwise we'd never have heretics, especially at the Reformation. That leads to the next problem: a second marriage-or a third- is far from a guarantee in the Orthodox Church, which is a fact largely ignored by those proposing its introduction of sorts into the Latin Church.

The Council of Trent
The cardinal mentions how to go about having the possibility of a second marriage. Save prayer, Augustine had all of those when he had his concubine. And the kings of France did with their mistresses, including prayer, and they, with a tinge of Jansenism, I suppose- avoided Holy Communion because they knew it was wrong! And the traditional understanding is that marriage is indissoluble and that it bars one from another marriage. In the Orthodox tradition, even a second marriage after the spouse dies does not involve the crowning, and the issues of the remarried receiving Holy Communion refer not to the divorced, but to those whose spouses had died...I think the two are related, but anyways...It would be best not to apparently overturn the doctrine.

On the celebration of marriages in general, I think that we should consider a return to sacristy marriages for those couples where one spouse is not Catholic, and we need to re-examine current legislation and practice on marriages involving a disparity of cult. The fact is that most of those couples at least for a time see no practice of the Catholic religion in their home, and forget raising the children Catholic if the parent isn't practicing. It can become hostile too. And that includes couples who are granted a dispensation from canonical form. Interesting that Cardinal Kasper  recognizes, as Dr. Peters does, that in the doctor's words, "canonical form creates more problems than it solves."

To be continued...

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