ROME, January 27, 2015 (LifeSiteNews.com) — In coded and carefully couched language, the Vatican’s Secretary General of the Synod of Bishops has pressed for the highly contentious proposal to allow divorced and civilly remarried Catholics to receive Communion, a move that has been denounced as potentially disastrous for the Church.
At a meeting last week of the Pontifical Council for the Family, Cardinal Lorenzo Baldisseri hinted that the work is already being done to bring this year’s upcoming Synod into line with Cardinal Walter Kasper’s proposal.
Voice of the Family’s Maria Madise said it was not so much Baldisseri’s prepared text that implied the progressivists’ proposals are part of a larger agenda, but the question session. During this, she said, Cardinal Baldisseri “made a point of chastising those who were concerned about upholding and defending the Catholic teaching on marriage and sexuality, and ignored those who would attack it.”
“As the Secretary General of the Synod,” Madise added, “it certainly seems that this was intended as a message to those who would oppose the plans to undermine Church teaching at the next Synod.”
In his prepared text, Baldisseri gave a summary of the Synod’s final document, in which, he said, “The socio-cultural context [of the family] is outlined in broad terms in its lights and its shadows.”
“In the contemporary world [the family] presents anthropological conceptions, in many cases entirely new, that affect the understanding of the human and the mode in which he lives his social relations. A change in the self-understanding of man is reported frequently, which, in one way or another, certainly affects the lives of individuals and in the life of the family.”
The Synod’s final document, he said, “recalls the need of pastoral care of those living in civil marriage or cohabitation, as well as of those who are part of wounded families (separated, divorced and not remarried, divorce and remarried, single-parent families).”
On cohabitation, the cardinal quoted the Synod document that said it is “important to enter into pastoral dialogue… in order to highlight elements of their lives that can lead to greater openness the Gospel of marriage in its fullness.”
“By addressing these situations in a constructive manner,” he said, “we will try ‘to turn them into opportunities of moving toward the fullness of marriage and family in the light of the Gospel.’”
The Synod’s final document said that homosexuality “must be addressed with particular attention, knowing that in certain regions and in certain dioceses the phenomenon of homosexuality is spreading,” Baldisseri said. He noted again that although the paragraphs on homosexuality were officially rejected by failing to receive the two-thirds vote, “the draft received an absolute majority… with 118 votes in favor and 62 against.”
On the issue of Communion for divorced and civilly remarried Catholics, Baldisseri said that the paragraph of the report relating to it “did not get the two-thirds majority required for approval,” but then emphasized that it also received 104 votes in favor and 74 against, “the absolute majority of voters.” According to Cardinal Reinhard Marx, the sections that were voted down by the Synod fathers were ordered retained in the final document by Pope Francis.
Baldisseri noted briefly that “several Synod Fathers were insistent in favor of the present discipline,” but then gave a detailed account of the so-called “Kasper proposal.”
“Others spoke in favour not of a generalized welcoming to the Eucharistic table,” he said, “but in some special situations and under strict conditions, especially when it comes to cases related to irreversible and moral obligations to children [of second unions] who would suffer unjust suffering [by a separation].”
“Any access to the sacraments should be preceded by a penitential process under the responsibility of the diocesan bishop,” he said, repeating almost verbatim Cardinal Kasper’s highly contentious proposal from last year’s Consistory address.
“The text contains essentially what emerged in the dialogue synod,” Baldisseri said. “According to what is expressed in the final sentence, the matter requires further study.”
In a comment last week to ANSA news service, Baldisseri said that this “further study” was already being undertaken in private. “There are study groups at different levels here in Rome that will tackle the most sensitive issues, above all those that did not achieve the qualified majority,” he said.
To Avvenire, the newspaper of the Italian bishops’ conference, he commented, “We believe that this period between the two Synods is the most important.”
Madise told LifesiteNews that the cardinal’s prepared text was “a carefully worded statement, using language that could not be faulted but that made no acknowledgement of the depths of the crisis or the grave evils such as abortion, euthanasia and attacks on parental rights that threaten the family. These are some of the key issues also omitted from the final report of the 2014 Synod.”
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Meanwhile, the lead voices of the progressivist wing of the Synod continue to promote Kasper’s proposal. Cardinal Reinhard Marx, the head of the German bishops’ conference and a member of Pope Francis’ council of nine cardinals, told the Jesuit magazine America, “ I have the impression that we have a lot of work to do in the theological field, not only related to the question of divorce, but also the theology of marriage.”
“I am astonished that some can say, ‘Everything is clear’ on this topic. Things are not clear. It is not about church doctrine being determined by modern times. It is a question of aggiornamento, to say it in a way that the people can understand, and to always adapt our doctrine to the Gospel, to theology, in order to find in a new way the sense of what Jesus said, the meaning of the tradition of the church and of theology and so on. There is a lot to do.”
Marx added, “The spirit of the synod is to find a way together, not to say, ‘How can I find a way to bring my position through?’ Rather: ‘How can I understand the other position, and how can we together find a new position?’ That is the spirit of the synod.”
He said that in the “spirit” of Pope Francis’ Apostolic Exhortation Evangelii Gaudium, “we have to see how the Eucharist is medicine for the people, to help the people.”
“We must look for ways for people to receive the Eucharist. It is not about finding ways to keep them out! We must find ways to welcome them.”
“When speaking about sexual ethics, perhaps we must not begin with sleeping together, but with love, fidelity and the search for a life-long relationship,” Marx said.
“We must begin with the main points of the doctrine, to see the dream: the dream is to have a person say, a man and woman say, ‘You and you, forever. You and you, forever.’ And we as church say, ‘Yes, that’s absolutely OK. Your vision is right!’ So we find the way. Then perhaps there is failure. They find the person, and it is not a great success. But life-long fidelity is right and good.”
“The church says that a gay relationship is not on the same level as a relationship between a man and a woman,” Cardinal Marx continued. “That is clear. But when they are faithful, when they are engaged for the poor, when they are working, it is not possible to say, ‘Everything you do, because you are a homosexual, is negative.’”
Find more of LifeSiteNews' original coverage of the Vatican's Synod on the Family here.