Synod breakthrough over divorce and Communion?
New thinking about how some divorced and civilly remarried Catholics can receive Communion could be the start of a breakthrough at the synod on the family.
In a report back to the synod, the German-speaking small group presented another way of looking at the issue.
They argue that the Church might be able to use what is called the “internal forum” to allow some civilly remarried persons to take the Eucharist on a private, case-by-case basis after seeking guidance, advice, and then permission from priests or bishops.
German Cardinal Walter Kasper had earlier proposed a “penitential path” for such couples in certain cases.
Cardinal Reinhard Marx of Munich and Freising said his group considered the internal forum possibility after debating different arguments made by St Thomas Aquinas.
The cardinal said the group had focused on arguments made by Aquinas that call for evaluating different situations to discern how to act in each situation.
“What is the application to the special situation and to the special person in his situation?” Cardinal Marx said they asked.
The cardinal said the proposed German process would involve a person, with guidance from a priest or bishop, looking back at the failure of the first marriage to see if they have made reconciliation with people they might have offended and are taking care of any responsibilities from that union.
“That is not a public process, but that is a spiritual way and then you can find a way if and when it might be possible to make a full reconciliation,” said the cardinal.
According to Cardinal Marx, the German-speaking small group was unanimous in making the proposal.
The group includes Cardinal Gerhard Muller, the prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.
An Italian-speaking small group at the synod made a similar suggestion to the German one.
The reports of the 13 small groups at the synod were released earlier this week.
Hot off the Press – this morning – from the New Zealand Roman Catholic ‘CathNews’, this report on the progression of pleas on the part of bishops from around the world gathered in Rome to discuss matters of Family and the Church demionstrates the determination of the more liberal part of the Church to obtain admission to the Sacraments for divorced and re-married Catholics.
Acknowledging the Roman Catholic reluctance to discuss matters of sexuality in marriage – apart from it purpose of procreation – it is good to see a New Zealand voice at the Synod of Bishops speaking about the ‘goodness of sexuality in marriage’. Perhaps this object lesson from a Kiwi Bishop might encourage other Bishops to view sexuality as a gift from God for purposes other than the production of children – more in line, say, with the epic biblical Song of Solomon
Father Ron Smith, Christchurch, New Zealand