Days before the upcoming Vatican summit on marriage, a group of five cardinals have released a book reaffirming traditional Catholic teaching on marriage and divorce.
Speculation concerning possible changes in Catholic teaching and practice on marriage, divorce, and annulments has run rampant in past months, with some pushing for a streamlining of the annulment process and others insisting that Communion be given to divorced and remarried Catholics.
In an attempt to stem the tide of change, five important cardinals have laid out their opposing arguments in a book titled Remaining in the Truth of Christ: Marriage and Communion in the Catholic Church, edited by Fr. Robert Dodaro. The high-ranking prelates include the current Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, Gerhard Ludwig Müller, as well as Raymond Burke, an American cardinal considered a conservative hero and one rumored to be soon removed from his post in Rome.
The other co-authors are Cardinals Carlo Caffara, Walter Brandmüller, and Velasio De Paolis, noted conservatives with impressive academic credentials.
This is actually Cardinal Müller’s second book on the subject in just two months, the first being a book-length interview called The Hope of the Family, in which Müller expresses his total opposition to any opening to Communion for the divorced and remarried.
Remaining in the Truth of Christ is an overt response to Cardinal Walter Kasper, a liberal theologian who has called for greater leniency in the practice of offering Communion to the faithful in “irregular” marriages.
Pope Francis had invited Cardinal Kasper to deliver the opening address to his brother cardinals last February, gathered in Rome for a special “consistory” to discuss Church practice regarding families. At that time, Kasper had suggested the possibility of the divorced and remarried being readmitted to Communion.
Cardinal George Pell, a senior prelate tapped by Francis for the reform of the curia and the Vatican Bank, has also weighed in on the topic just prior to the October synod. In the forward to the upcoming book, titled The Gospel of the Family, Pell expresses a position diametrically opposed to Kasper’s.
“Doctrine and pastoral practice cannot be contradictory,” writes Pell, the former archbishop of Sydney. “One cannot maintain the indissolubility of marriage by allowing the ‘remarried’ to receive Communion.”
This “preventive strike” on the part of the cardinals is without precedent and reveals how contentious the upcoming meeting on the family will be.