A third way backed for divorced and remarried to have Communion

Jesuit theologian Professor Ladislas Orsy has proposed a way once promoted by Joseph Ratzinger for divorced and remarried Catholics to receive Communion.

In 1972, Professor Ratzinger, later Pope Benedict XVI, put forward an argument based on “oikonomia” – good spiritual housekeeping – a part of Eastern Church tradition.

He argued that Communion could be given to those in second marriages provided the first had broken down irrevocably, penance had been performed and the second union was filled with a spirit of faith.

Professor Orsy, from Georgetown University in the United States, said Ratzinger’s argument provided the Church with the capacity to sense the presence of the Holy Spirit and accept an invitation to forgive.

Cardinal Ratzinger later stepped back from his proposal.

Professor Orsy explored options available to a hypothetical divorced and remarried woman during a Dublin lecture titled “Divorce, Remarriage, and the Eucharist – A Lecture exploring the limits of God’s mercy”.

The woman’s husband from her first marriage had left her and she had children in the second marriage.

Professor Orsy, who is a noted canonist, dealt with approaches recommended by Cardinals Gerhard Muller and Walter Kasper, but found they did not ultimately help the woman.

The former involved living as brother and sister without sexual intercourse, while the second argues the law is insufficient for the totality of the pastoral situation.

But in the Ratzinger argument, the methodology moves away from deducing from laws, or from notions of “’dispensation”, Professor Orsy said.

It involves a “leap” to another level, which emerges from the capacity of the Church to sense an invitation of the Spirit, grasp the invitation and act on it.

It involves a “supernatural” instinct that recognises there are human situations for which there are no human solutions.

In this case the Church has the capacity to perceive God’s mercy and has the power to open the way for it.

Such an approach would bring a concrete, particular and personal solution to an otherwise insoluble problem, Professor Orsy said.

But he warned that the Church must move forward together by perceiving the Spirit, “in full communion”.

“I am not talking about anybody going in any direction they want,” he said.


Additional reading

News category: World.

Tags: , , , ,