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Stop saying ‘heresy’, pleads Cardinal Kasper

Cardinal Walter Kasper (CNS photo/Paul Haring)

Cardinal Walter Kasper has dismissed claims of “heresy” against his proposal of Communion for the divorced and remarried.

Speaking to Vatican News, Cardinal Kasper said that “a very bitter debate, way too strong, with accusations of heresy” has followed his proposal. He first made it in 2014, after Pope Francis invited him to speak to the College of Cardinals.

Heated debate followed at the time, and it has continued in the family synods of 2014-15 and the aftermath of the Pope’s Amoris Laetitia, which has led to many conflicting interpretations.

Pope St John Paul II reaffirmed the Church’s teaching that the remarried cannot receive Communion, except possibly when they try to live as “brother and sister”. Cardinal Kasper challenged this teaching in the 1990s, but it was repeatedly reaffirmed by John Paul II in response, and again by Pope Benedict XVI.

Cardinal Kasper said that “Tradition is not a stagnant lake.” He also said that “The People of God are very content” with Amoris Laetitia.

However, another cardinal also intervened in the debate last week. Cardinal Willem Eijk told Il Timone that the Communion debate was “splitting the Church apart”, and that the teaching of John Paul and Benedict held the answer.

“Violating the total gift of the first marriage still to be considered as valid, and the absence of the will to abide by this total gift, makes the person involved unworthy of taking part in the Eucharist, which makes present the total donation of Christ to the Church,” the Dutch cardinal said.