Saturday, October 4, 2014

Cardinal Kasper Explains Why He Is Wrong

There has been a tremendous amount of cyber ink spilled on the subject of divorced and remarried Catholics being readmitted to the sacraments, specifically being able to receive Holy Communion while in an invalid marriage. Cardinal Walter Kasper is at the front of the line heading the charge that such individuals be allowed to receive the sacraments.

I have great respect for Cardinal Kasper, who is a very well regarded Catholic theologian (despite what you hear over the Internet), and I believe he is also a very devout prince of the Church. Up to this point, I have been withholding judgment on this matter of divorced and remarried Catholics, although I admit that I actually wanted Cardinal Kasper to be right.

However, Catholic News Service just released a video of excerpts of an interview with Cardinal Kasper in which he left no doubt that he is completely wrong on this subject. His own words condemn his position, and I have no choice but to admit that. You can watch the video below.

You will see that the first words of Cardinal Kasper on this video are, "If there's a second union, well it's not a sacramental one." Those words of and by themselves should end the discussion. He tries to mitigate this statement with his next statement, "It's not of the same level as the first one." Not of the same level? That is like saying an Episcopalian bishop is not of the same level as a Catholic bishop. "Levels" has nothing to do with this.  One is legitimate, the other is not.  The "second union" of which Cardinal Kasper speaks is an illegitimate union in the eyes of the Church and God.  And Cardinal Kasper has admitted as much in his first statement.  His second statement does not lessen that truth in any way.

I am sure that I do not need to tell Cardinal Kasper that it is not possible to make anything holy which has not been made holy by Our Lord. Cardinal Kasper knows this, and has even admitted it. Yet, he continues to persist. After admitting that a civil marriage cannot be sacramental, he says the civil union "can be seen some marriage elements of a marriage and of a family. There is love, there is commitment, there is exclusivity. It is forever, there is prayer life, there are children. . ." Cardinal Kasper is arguing that if something looks like the real thing, then it can be accepted as the real thing, even though it has not been blessed by the Holy Spirit.

The other day, my husband and I were walking past beautiful old All Saints Episcopalian church in Brooklyn. The doors were open and we could see a magnificent high altar, and there was even a lit sanctuary lamp next to it. If we didn't know better, we would have sworn this was a Catholic Church. But putting in a high altar with a lit sanctuary lamp does not make it Catholic nor does it mean that Jesus Christ is present in the tabernacle.

Below is a picture of All Saints Episcopal Church, which at first glance looks very Catholic. But you will notice that this is a marriage of two men. Ah, how deceptive looks can be!

I am really amazed that Cardinal Kasper would make the argument that because a relationship "looks" legitimate and even contains certain real elements of a true marriage, that somehow makes it valid and legitimate.  The picture above of a same sex wedding looks legitimate and contains many elements of a real wedding, but it can never be any more than play acting for those involved.  And that is just as true for illegitimate second "marriages" among Catholics.  

Cardinal Kasper then went on making more arguments which, again, show that his position is untenable. He says of those divorced and remarried, "To say every sexual act is sinful, that's different. If you tell people who live this way, and they do it in a responsible way, to tell them that's adultery, permanent adultery, I think they would feel insulted and offended." Yes, Your Eminence, people involved in sin no doubt feel "insulted and offended" when you point out their sin. But do we really have any other choice? Cardinal Kasper's statement that people in invalid marriages can have sexual relations "in a responsible way" just makes no sense whatsoever. Does sin stop being sin if we somehow sin "responsibly"? What does that even mean? The fact is, that statement has no meaning at all.

Cardinal Kasper then makes an even more ludicrous statement: "Such a sexual relationship within such a couple has also its positive values, it's not only its negative values, and I think the first word the church always, in every situation, is a 'yes'." I guess the positive values are that the couple is involved in only one sinful monogamous relationship instead of multiple, promiscuous relationships. So I guess, according to Cardinal Kasper, jumping off of a 10 story building would be less damaging to us than jumping off of a 40 story building, even though the results are the same.  I feel a bit like Alice in Wonderland at this point.  

Cardinal Kasper continues, and it actually gets even worse, "I'm happy that God gives you this love and that you can express this love. It's not the fullness already, but who of us loves God and loves the neighbor as he should do it?" Cardinal Kasper is saying that those involved in an invalid marriage are involved in an "imperfect" relationship, but the rest of us have no right to judge such relationships because we are not perfect, either. Cardinal Kasper knows that the Church not only has a right to judge such relationships, it is her DUTY to judge these relationships. The Church cannot endorse any situations that are spiritually harmful to Church members. Not to make a judgment on these invalid marriages would actually be a dereliction of the Church's duty.

Cardinal Kasper then says it is his duty to accompany these couples in their invalid marriages, and encourage them "to do according to their conscience when it is a very mature conscience." The Cardinal is actually saying that, even though someone is living in violation of church teaching, if the people involved have a "mature conscience", then it is okay to encourage them to follow that "mature conscience."

Cardinal Kasper is a great theologian, so I know he has read Roman 1:28 which says, "Furthermore, just as they did not think it worthwhile to retain the knowledge of God, so God gave them over to a depraved mind, so that they do what ought not to be done." A conscience that is formed outside of Church teaching cannot be trusted. We can never support anyone who is living in direct opposition to Church dogma. I truly cannot understand how Cardinal Kasper can make statements that are contrary to this.

But the worst of Cardinal's Kasper's statements are still to come. He says, "On God, everybody has always, if he wants, a chance. And God gives a new chance." That statement is absolutely, unequivocally true. Our Lord never stops calling out to us, calling us to repentance and His Love and Mercy. Our sin can and often does drown out the Voice of God, but that doesn't mean He stops calling to us.

But then Cardinal Kasper goes off the rails. He says, "After a shipwreck, you do not get a new ship, but you can have a plank in order to survive. And that's the mercy of God." This is absolutely, completely false. Our Lord did not come to earth and pour out His Life on the cross to give us a "plank" so that we could merely "survive." As recorded in John 10:10, Our Lord said, "I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly." St. Paul wrote in II Corinthians 5:17, "Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new." Our Lord wants us to experience His Saving Grace fully and abundantly, not just a small piece of it marred by our sin.

In Luke 5:36-37, Jesus said:
"No one tears a piece from a new garment and puts it on an old garment. If he does, he will tear the new, and the piece from the new will not match the old. And no one puts new wine into old wineskins. If he does, the new wine will burst the skins and it will be spilled, and the skins will be destroyed. But new wine must be put into fresh wineskins."
Cardinal Kasper is telling us that God's mercy will allow us to stay in our sin and that He will give us a "plank" that will somehow stop our sin from destroying us.  It seems that Cardinal Kasper truly believes that the great Mercy of God will allow people to stay in their sin and have only a piece of the Holy Spirit (if even that much) instead of being filled with the Holy Spirit and in a full relationship with Him. 

This goes against everything taught by Our Lord and the Apostles.  When we come to Christ, we must get rid of everything that hinders our relationship with Him, and that means getting rid of ALL of our sin.

St. Paul wrote Philipians 3:7-8:
But whatever gain I had, I counted as loss for the sake of Christ. Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ.
Does Cardinal Kasper think that St. Paul is saying we must get rid of everything that hinders us except an invalid marriage? Does Cardinal Kasper think St. Paul would agree that if an invalid marriage has enough elements of a valid marriage, and the couple involved have a "mature" conscience, this somehow brings them into the graces of God?

Our Lord told us in Matthew 18:8-9:
If your hand or your foot causes you to stumble, cut it off and throw it away. It is better for you to enter life maimed or crippled than to have two hands or two feet and be thrown into eternal fire. And if your eye causes you to stumble, gouge it out and throw it away. It is better for you to enter life with one eye than to have two eyes and be thrown into the fire of hell.
Certainly Our Lord did not mean that we should literally maim ourselves, but He did mean that we should be ruthless and unrelenting in getting rid of anything that is sinful in our lives.

I really wanted to believe that there was a way for divorced and remarried Catholics to be able to receive the sacraments. Nothing I had read up to this time convinced me one way or the other on this issue. But this video of Cardinal Kasper leave no doubt in my mind. I now realize, from his own words, that Cardinal Kasper is wrong on this issue. I find no joy in this at all. This is an extremely divisive issue in the Church, and Cardinal Kasper is actually making it wore by his insistence on taking a stance against Church doctrine while trying to convince us that he is upholding Church teaching. And I think that he actually does believe this. At the same time, I still believe it is very important that the issue be explored and discussed among the bishops so that they will be able to show the world that there is no other possible judgment.

We really need to be in prayer about the Synod which starts on Sunday, October 5. We need to pray that all involved are completely submissive to the Holy Spirit, and that it will not prove to be a cause of division among Catholics. We are at a crucial point in the world and in the Church. We cannot allow Satan to have the upper hand. 



  1. This is a very good commentary of the errors that his Eminence is promoting. It be beautifully show through Sacred Scripture and even the words of the Cardinal Kasper himself the holes in his postion.
    It seems that he is just wanting to accommodate people wanting to return to Communion with the Church, without having them go to the trouble of doing anything that would actually return themselves to Communion with the Church.
    I could not disagree with the good Cardinal more on this issue.
    That being said, I do wish the remarks you made about Cardinal Kasper were not as pointed as they were. For instance, you said "Cardinal Kasper then makes an even more ludicrous statement". I am not saying it was not a ludicrous statement, but I am saying that I believe it is possible to disagree with someone, even diametrically, without making disparaging comments about the person or their statements.
    His Eminence is a prince of the Church and a Bishop in Communion with the Holy Father. It just so happens that he is also wrong on the issue of divorced and remarried Catholics. I pray for him and for the upcoming Synod.

    1. Your admonishment is noted. I did not mean to be disparaging, and I apologize if it came off that way. It was his comments I was referring to and not to the Cardinal personally. I do believe the Cardinal wants to show mercy to those who seem to be in impossible situations. I also believe he is a loyal son of the Church. And I wanted very much to believe he was right about this issue. But just listening to his words told me that he cannot possibly be right.

      Cardinal Kasper wrote a beautiful book about mercy which I highly recommend. And that book is one reason why I wanted to believe he was right about this issue.

      Like you, I too am praying about this Synod. Remember, this is just leading up to the major Synod next year when the bishops will give their recommendations to Pope Francis (God willing he is still the Holy Father), and then the Pope will give us his decision. So the Synod this year is just a first step.

  2. God bless you and God bless your voice of reason and righteousness that stand up for all the goodness of our one true Faith.


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