(Rome) The Pontifical Family Council headed by Curial Archbishop Vincenzo Paglia organized last February and March, a three-day international seminar behind closed doors on the question of remarried divorcees. Many invited theologians defended the sacrament of marriage. The seminar should, so say Roman voices, especially provide a platform for a certain thesis: the "Via discretionis", a refined and concretized variant of the Kasper-proposal.
The event took place in view of the forthcoming Synod of Bishops in October and was Top Secret. The theme was "Family and Church. An inextricable link." As it says in the conference proceedings, which has now been released by the Vatican publishing.
International Seminar Behind Closed Doors
At the seminar, no bishops were invited, only "experts". The focus was on the controversial topics of the Synod. The opinions of the speakers were very heterogeneous. Many defended the indissolubility of marriage.
The left-leaning daily La Repubblica , the only newspaper that Pope Francis reads daily, unfailingly fished out a paper that is close to Cardinal Kasper's "New Mercy." The key words are "heal wounds", and "diminish suffering," of those who "have failed". This corresponds quite, so La Repubblica , with "Pope Francis' desire for completion of the extraordinary session of the Synod in last October, calling to find concrete solutions to many difficulties and countless challenges that families have to face.''
The proposals of the Paglia seminar "While committed to nothing," says the newspaper, "but to show the will of some theologians, that nothing can remain on the pastoral level, as it is". It's to make "possible a new beginning for the divorced and remarried."
Via discretionis: symbiosis of the theses of Xavier Lacroix and Paul De Clerck
The proposal is to introduce a "Via discretionis." This involves a symbiosis of the texts by the theologians Xavier Lacroix and Paul De Clerck. Lacroix in favor of the admission to communion, but not for the recognition of the second marriage. De Clerck also represents the recognition of the second marriage after the model of the Orthodox Church.
The Via discretionis provides that each diocese should appoint a priest who only cares for the divorced and remarried. If necessary, these priests could be supported by a "team of experts". Its mission is to examine the intentions of the couple and to request the reasons that they are asking for re-admission to communion. The priest has first to consider the nullity of marriage and to refer the couple to the Church court. Because, according to the thesis, the cause of many separations is that marriages are in fact invalid. If the path of invalidity is not possible, the authorized priest leads the couple to begin a penitential journey. It will not be short and will consist of several stages. "The motive is understanding what led to the failure of the marriage; be conscious of having betrayed a commandment of God; to go on in reconciliation with their own past," says a direct quote from the conference proceedings.
"In Some Cases Admission to Communion only at Easter"
This way "would also require a public character of penance to show the general consciousness of Christians, that the reconciliation of man whose marriage has broken down, means no frivolity of the Church in provision for the interpretation of the Gospel, but will concretely prove the actual obedience to this provision." In concrete terms, the re-admission to the sacraments could "be full or partial." In some cases, admission to the Eucharist could be limited to a one-time annual Communion at Easter.
For the problem of how second marriages could be recognized, there was also a proposal. Most were in agreement that it could not be called a sacrament in a second marriage. The sacrament of marriage remains unique. This could recognize "the high human and spiritual value of the new union." Exactly what Cardinal Kasper has written: Where the faith today and the love at work and penance for the guilt for the failure of the first marriage are felt, it will also have a second marriage as part of the spiritual dimension of Church life.
La Repubblica : "Sure, in October the Synod has the last word and then the Pope. There are now at least within the Vatican Walls new solutions which are on terms of a Church of acceptance and puts mercy in black and white on paper."
The Authors of the "New Solutions"
The Belgian liturgist Paul De Clerck, born in 1939, is a priest of the Archdiocese of Mechelen-Brussels. He was from 1970-1998 director of the Centre d'études et théologiques pastoral de Bruxelles. De Clerck is professor emeritus of the Institut supérieur de Liturgy at the Catholic University of Paris. From 1986-2001 he was Director of the Institute.
The French moral theologian Xavier Lacroix, born in 1947, has taught ethics and moral theology since 1986 at the Université catholique de Lyon . From 1986-1994 he was director of the Institut des sciences de la famille at the Faculty of Theology, which he was dean from 1997 to 2003. From 1987-2004 he was a member of the National Council for Family Pastoral. Lacroix is an advisor of the French Bishops' Conference and the Pontifical Family Council in matters of family. Since 2008 he has belonged at the proposal of the President, to the 39 head National Ethics Council of France.
Archbishop Vincenzo Paglia, the organizer of the international seminar has been noted mainly for statements encouraging the recognition of homosexuality since 2013. When his ticket was stamped for the Community of Sant'Egidio by the Roman Curia, he left his diocese of Terni with a debt of 24 million euros.
Text: Giuseppe Nardi
Image: Mil / UCL / ISL (screenshots)
Image: Mil / UCL / ISL (screenshots)
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