Marriage, Communion, and the Teachings of the Church

Marriage, Communion, and the Teachings of the Church

September 22, 2014

Two of the contributors to the book, Remaining in the Truth of Christ: Marriage and Communion in the Catholic Church, discuss the Scriptural, historical, and theological foundations for Catholic doctrine

Rev. Robert Dodaro, OSA., is President of the Patristic Institute, Augustinianum, in Rome. He is the editor of the forthcoming book, Remaining in the Truth of Christ: Marriage and Communion in the Catholic Church (Ignatius Press, early October 2014), in which five cardinals of the Church, along with four other scholars, respond to Walter Cardinal Kasper’s call for the Catholic Church to harmonize “fidelity and mercy in its pastoral practice with civilly remarried, divorced people.” Those contributors are Walter Cardinal Brandmüller; Raymond Cardinal Burke; Carlo Cardinal Caffarra; Velasio Cardinal De Paolis, CS.; Paul Mankowski, S.J.; Gerhard Cardinal Müller; John M. Rist; and Archbishop Cyril Vasil’, SJ.

Dr. John M. Rist, one of the nine contributors, is Emeritus Professor of Classics and Philosophy at the University of Toronto, and former holder of the Kurt Pritzl, OP, Chair of Philosophy at the Catholic University of America.

Catholic World Report recently corresponded with Fr. Dodaro and Dr. Rist about the book.

CWR: What were the reasons for writing and production this volume?

Fr. Dodaro: The five Cardinals and four other scholars who contributed to this book wanted to respond to Cardinal Kasper’s proposal [in The Gospel of the Family, published by Paulist Press, 2014] that the Catholic Church should adopt a variation of the Eastern Orthodox practice of admitting divorced and civilly remarried persons to the sacraments, specifically to penance and Holy Eucarist. We wanted to show the bishops and other faithful that Cardinal Kasper’s proposal contradicts both Christ’s teachings in the Gospels and the interpretation of His’s teachings by the early Church.

Finally, we wanted to show that the current teaching and sacramental discipline of the Catholic Church offers a pastorally sound and, yes, even merciful approach to the care of civilly remarried Catholics.

CWR: What are the key issues and concerns that you and the contributors address in the book?

Fr. Dodaro: We explain the teachings of Christ and St. Paul as these are recorded in the Gospels of Matthew, Mark and Luke as well as in Romans and 1 Corinthians. Jesus Christ revolutionized the way people of his time thought about marriage. He criticized the prevailing Jewish and pagan conceptions of marriage and divorce, and introduced a radical view of marriage based on natural law that even his disciples at the time recognized as extremely demanding. But Christ also gave the members of His Body, the Church, the grace to live out what would otherwise be too difficult for them.

We then review the principal early Christian texts that Cardinal Kasper cites in his book and we show how his interpretation of these texts is faulty. In doing this we demonstrate that the overwhelming concern in the early Church was to prohibit remarriage in the event that sin should lead to the lamentable separation of two spouses.

We also examine closely the history and theology of the Eastern Orthodox practice of oikonomia that Cardinal Kasper cites as a model for the Catholic Church today. We show that the Orthodox practice contradicts the Catholic understanding of the indissolubility of marriage. I believe that readers of our book will be astonished by what this chapter shows about the ways that Eastern Orthodox Churches treat theological and pastoral questions concerning marriage and divorce.

We then move from this biblical and historical argument to an examination of the theology of marriage in the Catholic tradition. We demonstrate that the proposal to admit civilly remarried Catholics to Holy Communion contradicts the belief of the Church concerning their first marriages.

(Read the rest there)

I am so grateful to these wonderful scholars and champions of Christ who have produced this book. It is clarity in catechesis we need and I don’t see how anything other than consistent teaching could come out of this synod now because of this impending publication. It can be pre-ordered here and will be available late next month:

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