ROME, September 14, 2015 (LifeSiteNews) – In a recently-published book Canadian Cardinal Marc Ouellet, one of the highest-ranking Vatican prelates, reiterates his opposition to German Cardinal Walter Kasper’s controversial proposal that the Church allow Communion to divorced and remarried Catholics.
And Ouelett’s work has been enthusiastically endorsed by Canadian archbishops Terrence Prendergast of Ottawa and Christian Lépine of Montreal, who praised it respectively as a “brilliant tour-de-force” and “a very precious book,” according to a report by Deborah Gyapong of Canadian Catholic News (CCN).
The book is an English translation of Mystery and Sacrament of Love: A Theology of Marriage and the Family for the New Evangelization, which Ouellet originally published in 2007 in Italian when he was archbishop of Quebec and primate of Canada.
Now Cardinal Prefect of the Congregation for Bishops at the Vatican, Ouellet has updated the English edition, published August 2015 by Eerdmans, to address the issues surrounding the 2014 and 2015 Synod on the Family.
Kasper’s proposal for a “penitential path” for divorced and remarried Catholics to receive Communion, as well as suggestions by other theologians for greater openness to same-sex unions, have been contentious issues at the synod, which convenes in October to resume discussions begun last year.
Ouellet’s book explains the development of doctrine of marriage and family since Vatican II, reiterates the Church’s teaching on the indissolubility of marriage and on the sacraments and their “missionary dimension,” and gives no quarter to Kasper and his allies, according to CCN’s Gyapong.
Receiving the Eucharist is “an objective sign that sacramentally expresses personal union with Christ, indeed it is a witness to Christ in the world,” writes Ouellet.
“Those who have divorced and remarried are in a situation that objectively contradicts the indissoluble ecclesial bond that they solemnly expressed before the community.”
It is “not a matter” of the Church “being more or less ‘merciful’ with regard to persons in irregular situations, but of taking seriously the truth of the sacraments (the gifts of the Bridegroom) and their missionary dimension,” notes the cardinal.
Ouellet writes in his preface that “burning questions” about marriage and family have become more relevant “under the influence of the sexual revolution, feminism, and most recently, attempts to redefine the institution of marriage.”
This “evolution” of marriage and the family has “all the characteristics of a profound anthropological crisis,” he says.
And the relegation of “religious convictions” to the private sphere has further contributed to fragile marriages, unstable families and “disaffection with regard to the sacramental practices of the Church.”
Ouellet states that Pope Francis has launched the two-year Synod on the Family as a proposed “pastoral conversion” to the whole Church, and that this conversion will bear fruit “to the extent that it develops ‘on the ground’ the theological insights” of Vatican II and St. John Paul II’s theology of the body.
Ottawa’s Archbishop Prendergast told Gyapong that he hopes the book will influence synod discussions, pointing to Ouellet’s writing on “Trinitarian love descending and touching Earth and the lives of individuals, especially those called to matrimony.”
“This is a brilliant tour-de-force that can give hope to people who at times see in marriage and family life only brokenness, struggles, disappointments and setbacks.”
Montreal Archbishop Lépine told Gyapong, “This book wants to help us welcome the plan of God in our lives. In that sense it’s a very precious book, and an important topic.”
Ouellet had defended the Church’s teaching on marriage before the Synod on the Family first convened last October.
In a Communio article, Ouellet responded to the Kasper proposal by noting that the synod should work to correct the “slowness of juridical processes for examining the validity” of first marriages, and should emphasize the sacramental character of “spiritual communion” which “is not a pale substitute for sacramental Communion, but rather dimension of the latter.”
“The Church’s proclamation of mercy must, then, first clarify this point and reaffirm that divorced and remarried persons have access to this spiritual dimension of sacramental Communion,” Ouellet noted.
Rather than being blocked from God’s grace, “these faithful continue to bear witness to Christ’s absolute fidelity precisely by abstaining from Holy Communion, out of respect for the divine Partner who did not break the first union despite the couple’s failure,” he wrote.