December 14, 2016 (LifeSiteNews) — “I hope that the next declaration opens the way for shared Eucharistic communion in special cases.” With these words, Cardinal Walter Kasper expressed his wish for ecumenical “progress” in the form of “intercommunion” in an interview with Italian newspaper Avvenire on December 10.
“Personally, I hope that we can use an unofficial text, prepared by a commission in the bishops’ conference of the United States, regarding this subject,” he explained.
On October 31, Pope Francis visited Lund, Sweden, a city in a country with a large Lutheran population, to commemorate the anniversary of Martin Luther’s Reformation. This anniversary – far from being a joyful observance considering the separation Luther created caused long-lasting wounds in the Church – was preceded by countless preparations, including a visit of a Luther statue in the Vatican and a climate of anticipation for intercommunion by the Pope himself.
Just about a month later, in the Avvenire interview, Cardinal Kasper has gone a step further, stating that, for him, intercommunion is just a matter of time. “On the one hand, Lund has confirmed the ecumenical process and the results of the proceeding dialogue; on the other hand, it has given it a new thrust.”
Kasper seeks to apply the principle for “remarried” divorcees to receive Communion under special circumstances to mixed marriages. That would be a rule of “exception,” or what can be called the Kasper proposal. Cardinal Kasper hopes for the admission of Lutherans to Catholic Communion, particularly in family settings. “The next declaration will open the Eucharistic sharing in particular situations, especially in mixed marriages and families and in countries like Germany and the United States where this pastoral problem is extremely pressing.”
A “mixed marriage” is a marriage between a Catholic and a baptized non-Catholic, as explained in the Catechism of the Catholic Church (CCC 1633). While mixed marriages are permitted when approval by the bishop is given, the Catechism warns of the dangers that lie in a mixed understanding of cult and sacraments, because for Lutherans marriage is not indissoluble. “Differences about faith and the very notion of marriage, but also different religious mentalities, can become sources of tension in marriage, especially as regards the education of children. The temptation of religious indifference can then arise” (1634).
The separation caused by Luther and the Thirty Years War that followed give Cardinal Kasper no cause for concern. Moreover, he said the Pope had to admit the Church’s fault: “The Pope did certainly not go to Lund to celebrate, but to confess the sin (shared) of division […]”
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