“How do we call a person who has not complied with a pact, has not kept the given word, and does not remain bound to his/her role, but flees as a coward? … A traitor”. Those are the words of the cardinal Dominik Duka, inserted in the book ” Eleven Cardinals Speak about Marriage and Family” which will be presented in California on September 15 and of which Interris.it had a preview. There is all the suffering of the debate inside the Church in view of the Synod scheduled for next October. Marriage and family are in crisis. Proposed for discussion there is the challenge of providing with an adequate preparation marriage in a secularized world, need for evangelization and conversion, the relationship between family and truth; the situation of the Catholics who are divorced and civilly remarried and, finally, demand for a genuine pastoral interest.
The text bans “false compassion” and the concepts it expresses, although in the elegant and loving elocution of the 11 cardinals, are extremely clear-cut. Still according to the cardinal Duka (president of the Czech Bishops’ Conference), it is not possible to affirm that humanity today is not able to set limits for itself nor that it cannot conceive of a steady and indissoluble bond. To accept this assumption, would mean to observe the deepest degradation of the humankind in its entire history.
A position, especially with regard to marriage, that does not open to the change of the doctrine on the divorced, a subject that has filled the pages of newspapers around the world. An approach shared by the Cardinal Paul Josef Cordes (already vice president of the Pontifical Council for Laity and president of the Pontifical Council “Cor Unum” ), for whom a look at the history of the Church “leaves little reasons to think that the more recent attempts and views have found the philosopher’s stone”. The zeal of those who hope for a change of direction, in an opening of the Church on the topic of Communion to the divorced, is judged praiseworthy, but not acceptable. According to Cordes, those who had divorced and remarried transgressed Jesus’ commandment. They live in a situation which is in contrast with the will of God, and therefore “they cannot receive Holy Communion”. Even if all this –he stresses with a hint of provocation – would receive the applause of the media.
Nonetheless, a path towards acceptance exists, and it is the one of spiritual communion. Canon law – they point out – denies access to divorced couples, but it omits mentioning the “spiritual communion because it depends only on the situation of the soul”. The Cardinal John Onaiyekan ( apostolic administrator ad nutum Sanctae Sedis of Ahiara) addresses the question by stressing that the purpose of the Synod is not to decide if those who are divorced should or should not receive communion or if two same-sex individuals can get married, because “these topics are already clear in the doctrines of the Church”.
Reflection opens rather to the homosexual world, a topic specifically addressed by the Cardinal Carlo Caffarra (member of the Supreme Tribunal of the Apostolic Signatura, the Vatican’s Pontifical Council for questions regarding family and of the Pontifical Academy for Life), for whom today’s society sees in a distorted manner the concept of forgiveness and conversion; to accept a homosexual – writes Caffarra – means, in this context, to recognize the moral rectitude of that behaviour. The proclamation of piety means “accept me because I am who I am, without talking to me about conversion, because I do not need it”.
In the different essays, the authors (the cardinals that have contributed to the work are Robert Sarah, Carlo Caffarra, Baselios Cleemis, Paul Josef Cordes, Dominik Duka, Joachim Meisner, Camillo Ruini, Antonio Maria Rouco Varela, Willem Jacobus Eijk, John Onaiyekan, and Jorge L. Urosa Savino) affirm that the doctrine and pastoral ministry are not in contrast one with another. The authors lead you carefully along a journey that deals with genuine concerns, while avoiding “false compassion” – as already said – which undermines both truth and true love. According to the authors, this book serves both as concise introduction to the next Assembly of the Synod and as a guide to the application of Christ’s teaching to the pastoral care of the families.
The final position of the publication is rather evident: resistance towards the “revolutionary” inputs that want to have a Church that is adequate to modern times; and as a consequence, rigor and adherence to the principles of the doctrine, that constitute the foundations of Catholicism. Among the 11, the admonition of the Cardinal Camillo Ruini (the historical president of Cei and currently the President of the scientific committee of the Foundation Joseph Ratzinger) seems to be most prone to dialog: “Not to abandon those who find themselves in these situations, but on the contrary, to take care of them with particular attention by striving to provide them with the Church’s means of salvation”. No geographic or cultural area, however – is the final meaning of Ruini’s message – can ask the Synod to focus on its problems alone. As if to say that the priorities cannot be dictated by external factors or by the pressure of the lobbies.