Whatever happened to the professor at the Sacred Heart Seminary that accused Pope Francis of heresy? Oh, nothing. He's still there teaching our future priests. Anyway, below is a very concise refutation of the critics of Pope Francis' Amoris Laetitia by retired German Cardinal Walter Kasper.
Tradition is not a stagnant lake, but is like a spring, or a river: it is something alive. The Church is a living organism and thus it always needs to validly translation the Catholic tradition into present situations. This is the meaning of the renewal about which Pope John XXIII spoke”. Cardinal Walter Kasper, who turned 85 years old yesterday, told Vatican News.
The German cardinal has just gone public with his book “Amoris laetitia’s Message. A brotherly discussion” and in the interview withthe Vatican media agency , he states that the faithful have understood the message of the apostolic exhortation, and invites them to stop with the accusations of heresy. Kasper, in the first pages of his book, points out that Amoris laetitia is not a new doctrine, but is a creative renewal of traditional teaching about which Pope John XXIII spoke.
Speaking of the debate sparked by the papal document, the Cardinal explains, “First of all I would like to say that debate in the Church is necessary. There is no need to fear debate! But there is a very bitter debate, way too strong, with accusations of heresy. A heresy is a tenacious disagreement with formal dogma. The doctrine of the indissolubility of marriage has not been called into question on Pope Francis’ part! Before saying that something is heresy, the question should be what the other person means by what has been said. And, above all, that the other person is Catholic should be presupposed, the opposite should not be supposed!”
Regarding the famous “Note 351” of Amoris laetitia regarding the admission to the Sacraments of the divorced and remarried, Kasper affirms that it should be read in the light of the Decree of the Council of Trent on the Eucharist, “The Council of Trent says that in the case in which there is no grave sin, but venial, the Eucharist removes that sin. Sin is a complex term. It not only includes an objective principle, but there is also the intention, the person’s conscience. And this needs to be examined in the internal forum—in the Sacrament of Reconciliation—if there is truly a grave sin, or perhaps a venial sin, or perhaps nothing. If it is only a venial sin, the person can be absolved and admitted to the Sacrament of the Eucharist. This already corresponds with the doctrine of Pope John Paul II and, in this sense, Pope Francis is in complete continuity with the direction opened by preceding Popes. I do not see any reason, then, to say that this is a heresy”.
The cardinal therefore points out how the faithful perceived the document, “I know a few parishes, also some here in Rome, who have meetings with spouses or with engaged couples preparing for matrimony and they read parts of the Apostolic Exhortation. This document’s language is so clear that any Christian can understand it. It is not high theology incomprehensible to people.
The Pope of God are very content, and happy with this document because it gives space to freedom, but it also interprets the substance of the Christian message in an understandable language. So, the People of God understand! The Pope has an optimal connection with the People of God”.
“Today we are living a violent time which has never before been experienced. Many people are wounded. Even in marriages there are many who are wounded. People need mercy, empathy, the sympathy of the Church in these difficult times in which we are living today. I think that mercy is the response to the signs of our times”.
Michael G. Sarafa is Co-Publisher of the Chaldean News.