In collected works, Benedict XVI deleted passage on Communion for divorced/remarried

In collected works, Benedict XVI deleted passage on Communion for divorced/remarried

Catholic World News - November 18, 2014

In the collected works of Pope-emeritus Benedict XVI, an article from 1972 appears without a passage in which the future Pontiff raises the possibility of allowing Catholics who are divorced and remarried to receive Communion.

The 1972 essay by then-Father Joseph Ratzinger has been frequently quoted by Cardinal Walter Kasper, who has argued for admitting divorced and remarried Catholics to the Eucharist in some circumstances. But the final paragraphs of the essay, including the suggestion that a change would be “completely following the line of Church tradition,” have been removed from the final version of the piece published in the collected works of the former Pontiff.

Father Vincent Twomey, an Irish theologian who studied under Professor Ratzinger, told the Irish Times that the editorial change was significant. He suggested that the retired Pope did not want to allow for misinterpretation of an idea that he had advanced as a young theologian.

In the essay as it appears in the collected works, the Pope-emeritus calls for a reconsideration of how marriage tribunals handle requests for annulments—a proposal that Pope Benedict repeated while in office.

Benedict was part of the liberal German committee that had significant clout in Vatican II(The Rhine Flows into the Tiber). Since that time it seems he became much more conservative in his views. This doesn’t surprise me in the least.

Not sure of what you said … but … if it’s true …

“That’ll happen once infallibility kicks in …” :wink:

I’m similarly uniformed about why he might have puroportedly deleted that passage … but I have some general thoughts on the overall subject. I’d be grateful of further enlightenment on any parts of the following I may have misunderstood or stated badly. :crossrc: :sad_yes:

– It is not the Church’s fault that some people scramble the egg and marry someone they should not have ( that is - outside of the sacramentality of “What ***GOD ***has joined together let no man put asunder”).

Yet for awhile, given the seriousness of Jesus’ " … let NO man put asunder" admonition, the Church might seem to deny some persons who really might be eligible to go to communion until an annulment (for instance) ruling on the sacramentality of what appeared to be a “… God has joined together” relationship is complete.

It may seem unjust that:

– (for example) an out and out womanizer (or the female counterpart to this) could merely go to confession and be absolved to validly return to grace and the Eucharist

– while a more consistently moral person who married their parter in the Church and later left that spouse must wait for the*** ruling that they were never in a sacramental marriage*** at all due to some impediment (e.g. their partner had no intention of living up to any of what they’d promised to do per being married in the Church).

But it’s something the Church does its best to reconcile within its power to do so (ideally).

Sometimes there is the complication of children. Also not the Church’s fault. The children, being created by God - are not at fault either. They all may be Baptized (as even children born completely outside of a marriage may be).

Where there are children in the “new marriage” - we may be sure that God wants them to be offered salvation and taught the Truth of Christ, even should technical baptism be delayed for some reason.

God blessing a non-marital union with a child is His doing … but is looked into with due scrutiny by the Church rather than rashly assuming that THIS time it’s “What God has joined together …”

In MY case my (technically-but-not-anymore Catholic) spouse left me … and while separated (and celibate), and divorced (against my wishes), I continued to go to Communion. Some other Catholics erroneously told me I shouldn’t be going (when in reality it is when I needed the Eucharist most). I had not broken any promises, so I kept going. Which is a bit different from being the one who walked away from their spouse.

Going to communion is mostly an honor system too. For the most part if one presents himself/herself, he/she will not be “denied” the Eucharist.

When they are it may be due to the fact that they didn’t say the required “Amen” to the declaration “The Body of Christ, The Blood of Christ” or otherwise telegraphed that they did not know what they were doing (as, say, an innocent non-Catholic might just fall into line and wander up to the Eucharist from time to time).

Or are such well known public sinners continuously advocating mortally sinful things that a priest or Bishop more directly excludes them from the sacrament (temporarily - as there is always a path back to the sacraments open to the person if they would choose it).

Per the “remarried”: This implies “remarried” outside the Church - as with an annulment it would just be “married sacramentally” and thus eligible to receive (if otherwise in the state of grace).

Many have gone through the annulment process, and had their “other marriages” blessed by the Church as being (at least until otherwise determined) “God joined together” and sacramental.

Only Benedict knows why this passage was deleted (or delayed or whatever). But the way things our Popes say or write are so often distorted by the press, it is no wonder that sometimes the pontiffs separate some aspects of their teachings into a more specific document at a later time.

From the CCC

1628 The consent must be an act of the will of each of the contracting parties, free of coercion or grave external fear.130 No human power can substitute for this consent.131 If this freedom is lacking the marriage is invalid.

1629 For this reason (or for other reasons that render the marriage null and void) the Church, after an examination of the situation by the competent ecclesiastical tribunal, can declare the nullity of a marriage, i.e., that the marriage never existed.132 In this case the contracting parties are free to marry, provided the natural obligations of a previous union are discharged. < CCC from # 1601 - 1659 and …

A theologian can speculate, “Hey, let’s take a different look at this subject”, he can put new ideas out there for reconsideration, or a different view at them in light of the current day. A pope is in a different situation. He has far less freedom to speculate because people will take things out of context, and exploit his speculations to push their own agenda, often against the agenda of the pope, or even against the agenda of the then younger priest.

But even apart from the different hat the pope emeritus wears now, the times are different. Young Fr. Ratzinger could speculate without losing his obedience to the Church and the Catholic Faith. He himself would never quote someone else’s speculations out of context to further his agenda. Fr. Ratzinger then was a lot like Pope Paul VI, a faithful progressive who assumed all other progressives were also faithful. They were betrayed.

Over 40 years later, popes, and faithful theologians, are more realistic about the opponents of the Catholic Faith, both in the Church and in the media. But Marriage has also changed drastically. Back then marriage was starting to show signs of strain, but it was far stronger than Marriage is in 2014. It would be silly for the pope emeritus to maintain conclusions based on what are now outdated data on the family. In 2014, he bases his conclusions on up to date information. He isn’t a liberal or conservative, he simply tries to keep up with current facts. If he had made recommendations based on the 1970 census or 1970 state of Science and technology that are now inaccurate based on the current data we now have, I suppose he would adjust them, too.

Yes. Popes are men after all, not gods. He was young, he speculated, he learned. Hopefully, we all do that. I have always been struck by how beautiful the Vatican II documents are (I’ve not read all, but quite a few) and then the nonsense and misinterpretation (in many cases seemingly deliberate) that followed in Church application and practice. That must have been a bitter blow to the creators of the vision and wisdom that is the “real” Vatican II.

Yeah, it makes it hard when Catholics don’t even understand the faith.

Divorced Catholics can receive the Eucharist.

Catholics divorced remarried OUTSIDE OF THE CHURCH can not.

Like you rightfully say, divorced Catholics sometimes have no say when their marriages dissolved. The Church respects that predicament.

However, a person who remarries without an annulment commits a serious sacrilege, and confession can not wipe it away because the penitent has no intention to “sin no more” unless he agrees to live as “brother and sister” until the annulment of the previous marriage is done.

The problem with continuing marital relations before the annulment is the sin of presumption, assuming you are in the right with an invalid marriage when it’s the Church’s position to make that call.

As I heard it, Cardinal Ratzinger was liberal and he and the more conservative Cardinal Wojtyla AKA St Pope John Paul II, butt heads on issues, especially the liturgy during, Vatican II.

When he became Pope, John Paul II asked Cardinal Ratzinger head the Congregation of Faith and Doctrine, which was surprising to him. Pope John Paul II was impressed with Cardinal Ratzinger’s brilliant mind on doctrine and theology, and wanted someone to keep his own way of thinking in check. On the other hand, Cardinal Ratzinger was so impressed with Pope John Paul II, it moved him closer to the right in his opinions on doctrine. He didn’t stay there however. When he became Pope he was more progressive than conservatives would like to admit. Allowing the full use of the TLM as a compromise with the members of SSPX, which the conservative Pope John Paul II refused to do. In other words, it took Pope Benedict’s progressive mind-set to open the door for SSPX.

Also, if you read Pope Benedict XVI’s writings, you’ll see a highly intellectual progressive, not conservative at all. It was a very liberal Trappist Monk who opened my eyes to this about Pope Benedict XVI.

I believe he’s more than happy with Pope Francis.


Retractions are nothing new. St. Augustine’s are famous. Another papal example is when Aeneas Piccolomini became Pope Pius II, he retracted much of his previous writings (he had written some raunchy poetry and other things, he was a concilliarist who rejected the supreme authority of the Pope, and he even participated in a conclave to elect a concilliarist antipope).

He uttered the famous phrase in the papal letter making these retractions: “Believe the old man more than the youth. Reject Aeneas; accept Pius!”

In any event, liberal and conservative have no clear meaning here. Is it “liberal” to reach out to the SSPX, or Protestant fundamentalists, because liberals want to reach out to all, and emphasize “rights” in the Church? Or is that conservative, because those groups want to turn back the clock?

Using terms like “liberal” and “conservative”, from the political arena and secular media, confuses things when applied to religion and the Church. Before and after becoming pope Benedict and St. John Paul were orthodox. That’s the crucial variable.


JPII and Benedict had very different styles, and used their distinct style to proclaim the gospel. I loved them both for different reasons.

The main departure I see from Benedict is the Liturgy. Correct me if I’m wrong, but I don’t remember JPII making an effort to keep the TLM active. Also, Francis is on record saying he thinks the love of TLM by the youth is a “fashion”.

Overall though, I see Francis as more trying the JPII charismatic stripe than the Benedict intellectual stripe.

I think it’s unfortunate that Benedict felt the need to delete his original writing, leading to this appearance of an attempted coverup. Even if correcting a factual error, one should include an asterisk and footnote acknowledging the change [e.g. “* The original text incorrectly listed George Clinton as 42nd president”] If the book was truly intended to be the collected works of Ratzinger/Benedict, it would have been more appropriate to either publish the original unchanged with a footnote paragraph indicating his change in philosophy and the reasoning behind it, or if the revised version was published, accompany it with a small essay of explanation.

I disagree. If “orthodox” is the word to use when discussing the differences between John Paul and Benedict, which pope was more orthodox and which was less orthodox? I would submit they were both similarly orthodox, and therefore that word is really one that has no value in describing their differences.

I grant there can be legitimate disagreement over what is truly conservative or liberal, but I think the terms are much more useful in describing the differences at issue. Most would probably characterize Benedict as more conservative, as his actions more forcefully enabled an increase in the use of the old rite, and at least in the short term a decrease in the use of the new rite.

I don’t understand the desire of so many to discard perfectly useful terms “conservative” and “liberal” just because they are used in politics. It’s as silly as assuming that because I wear a conservative tie I must therefore be allied with Mitch McConnell, Stephen Harper, or David Cameron.

Well, Pope Benedict allowing full use of the TLM was a compromise in order to bring members of SSPX back into full union with Rome. Remember he also lifted excommunication of four of SSPX Bishops in the process.

Pope John Paul II would not give them compromises. They either came back in obedience to the Vatican or remained excommunicated. Pope John Paul II was a true conservative where his successor was more progressive in this regard.

In all, they were both good Popes, but Pope John Paul II was a great pope and I believe Pope Francis will great as well.


I don’t think he deleted it in order to cover up, but rather, he wanted the opinions of the other Bishops of the Church for making such a drastic change in doctrine.


True, but not the whole story. He was not nearly as big of a fan of the Novus Ordo as JPII and Paul VI. He called it a “banal, on-the-spot product”. He had a sympathies for the traditional Mass and wanted it much more available.

Depends on how you look at him I guess. Ratzinger-Benedict held nothing back in describing the 70’s Mass as banal and fabricated. Then as Pope he made it the “ordinary form.”

But both he and St. John Paul II were big on Latin, though. So was Pope Paul, though most progressives try to hide that fact.

Depends on how you look at it. Here’s the protocol which he (through Card Ratzinger)
almost agreed to in 1988. Everything was signed but the Archbishop reneged.

NB: one bishop would be consecrated.


True, but where everyone is on the same page the terms “liberal and conservative” can have utility as properly understood shorthand.

It would be understood if I say to you that Francis comes across as liberal in his shoot-from-the- hip style (e.g., “Who am I to judge”), but conservative in his doctrinal application and teaching.

Benedict, like Francis, is liberal in his compassion, willingness to explore, etc., but conservative in doctrinal application and teaching–to the point of being hated by the usual anti-orthodox suspects. Even now he probably has angered said suspects by the conservative action described by the OP.

I’ve heard this from different camps: traditionalists are the ones who are “stuck in the 50’s,” conservatives are the ones who are “stuck in the 70’s.” And it seems you just can’t please the progressives. :slight_smile:

Now THAT’S funny!:wink: Just be sure to use a capital T for traditionalists (or Trads)in that case.

Have you seen

Cardinal Muller must appreciate Benedict XVI’s deleted passage.

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