In new interview pope addresses divorced and remarried Catholics controversy: suggests they could be godparents
In an interview published Sunday in Argentina’s major newspaper La Nacion Pope Francis gave the strongest indication to date that he was at least leaning toward what has been known as the “Kasper proposal” to allow divorced and remarried Catholics to receive Communion.
“In the case of divorcees who have remarried,” the pope said, there is a pastoral concern over allowing them to come to Communion. “Communion alone is no solution,” he said. “The solution is integration.”
They have not been excommunicated, true. But they cannot be godfathers to any child being baptized, mass readings are not for divorcees, they cannot give communion, they cannot teach Sunday school, there are about seven things that they cannot do, I have the list over there. Come on! If I disclose any of this it will seem that they have been excommunicated in fact! Thus, let us open the doors a bit more. Why can't they be godfathers and godmothers? "No, no, no, what testimony will they be giving their godson?" The testimony of a man and a woman saying "my dear, I made a mistake, I was wrong here, but I believe our Lord loves me, I want to follow God, I was not defeated by sin, I want to move on." Anything more Christian than that? And what if one of the political crooks among us, corrupt people, are chosen to be somebody´s godfather. If they are properly wedded by the Church, would we accept them? What kind of testimony will they give to their godson? A testimony of corruption? Things need to change, our standards need to change.
Speaking directly to the Kasper proposal, the pope said, “Kasper’s hypothesis is not his own.” Kasper, he added, “urged us to seek hypothesis, i.e., he made the first move. And some panicked. And went as far as to say: Communion, never. Only spiritual Communion. And tell me, don’t we need the grace of God to receive spiritual communion? That’s why spiritual communion obtained the fewest votes in the relatio synodi, because nobody was in agreement.”
Voice of the Family, an international group of lay Catholic organizations that was formed in order to defend traditional Catholic teaching during the recent Synod, responded to the pope's interview with concern.
“One must be careful about statements attributed to the pope in such interviews – statements of which the accuracy might be called into question,” said John Smeaton, the co-founder of Voice of the Family. “In these very difficult times, not least for lay Catholics worldwide, I am mindful of something a high-ranking prelate told me recently: ‘It’s important for lay Catholics to stick to Catholic truth’.”
Smeaton told LifeSiteNews, “Catholic truth in the matter of the reception of the Holy Eucharist is that we are forbidden from receiving the Body of Our Lord unworthily, under pain of mortal sin. No-one can change that truth.”
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The pope remarked that in the Synod there were bishops who were “completely stubborn and won’t move from their positions.” He added, however, that they were not his concern, and “it’s a question of praying for the Holy Spirit to convert them.”
As to fears that doctrine would collapse, the pope suggested “some people are always afraid because they don’t read things properly, or they read some news in a newspaper, an article, and they don’t read what the synod decided, what was published.”
Even though there was no media indication the Synod had backed homosexual “marriage” the pope stressed that “Nobody mentioned homosexual marriage at the synod, it did not cross our minds.” He said that what was addressed was finding parents a way to help their homosexual children. “That’s why someone mentioned positive factors in the first draft,” he added. “But this was just a draft.”
The wide-ranging interview also covered the pope’s opinion on why Catholics continue to leave the Church. For the pope, the answer, at least the answer coming from inside the Church, is “clericalism.” What is needed, said Francis, is “to be close … to reach out to Catholics, to seek people out and be close to them, to sympathize with their problems, with their reality.”