Ecumenism approach shows path for marriage doctrine, says cardinal

The way Vatican II looked at ecumenism shows a possible path forward for interpreting doctrines about marriage, Cardinal Walter Kasper says.

Speaking to Vatican Radio, Cardinal Kasper said the responses to recent Vatican questions about the family show there is an “abyss” between Church teaching and people’s situations.

“The Church has to bridge this abyss,” he said.

But that “does not mean pure appeasement policies, but the Church must explain in a new way what family and matrimony are in order to help people and at the same time remain faithful to the Gospel”.

The cardinal said a similar process might be seen in how the Church developed its current approach to ecumenism.

“There were doctrines of the Holy Office (Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith) before the (Second Vatican) Council against ecumenism, yet the council found a way not to destroy or negate the doctrine, but found ways to interpret it in an adequate way,” he said.

“I ask myself why it could not be possible also with other doctrines,” he said.

He said he wouldn’t call such changes “a revolution, as much as a deepening and a development because the doctrine of the church is a river that develops and also the doctrine of matrimony has developed like this”.

“It’s not about something new as much as a renewal of Church practice, which is always necessary and possible,” he said.

But Italian historian Roberto de Mattei previously critiqued Cardinal Kasper’s approach to divorce and remarriage.

The historian said what the cardinal proposes is changing doctrine, without showing it has been modified.

The president of the Pontifical Council for the Family, Archbishop Vincenzo Paglia, told La Stampa that the issue of remarried divorcees should be looked at “with a merciful eye”.

“Problematic families need healthy families to give them an open and generous welcome,” he said.



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