27-October-2005 -- Catholic World News Brief |

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NO "OPEN QUESTION" ON COMMUNION FOR DIVORCED

Vatican, Oct. 27 (CWNews.com) - Cardinal Alfonso Lopez Trujillo has flatly denied that there is any uncertainty on whether divorced and remarried Catholics should receive Communion.

In a rare public disagreement between Vatican prelates, the president of the Pontifical Council for the Family spoke to the Italian daily La Repubblica just four days after Cardinal Walter Kasper had made the claim that the proper pastoral policy toward divorced and remarried Catholics remained an open question.

The October meeting of the Synod of Bishops endorsed the existing Church teaching, which bars Catholics from Communion if they are involved in illicit marital situations. But just after the conclusion of the Synod, Cardinal Kasper-- the president of the Pontifical Council for Christian Unity-- had told a Rome press conference, "I cannot imagine that the discussion is closed."

The German prelate had, in 1993, endorsed a policy of allowing divorced and remarried Catholics to receive Communion in the Rottenberg diocese. That policy was rejected by the Vatican's Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, in a statement signed by then-Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger. Nevertheless, Cardinal Kasper hinted that Pope Benedict XVI might now choose to set aside the Synod's recommendation on the same issue.

Cardinal Lopez Trujillo emphatically disagreed, in his interview with La Repubblica. "The Synod," he said, "did not leave any doubt about the Church's doctrine. This is not a case in which there is an open question." "All these remarks about an 'open question'-- as if the door has been left open for future, creating the expectation of a possible change-- do not seem acceptable to me," he said. The Colombian cardinal said that from a doctrinal perspective, the reason for the Church policy is evident; he observed that "the very Word of God regarding the indissolubility of marriage is sufficient." The Catechism is equally clear, he pointed out. He explained: "Those who say they are divorced and remarried-- because their [second] marriage is not a true marriage-- are in an objective situation which is contrary to the law of God, and does not allow them to approach Communion."

Cardinal Lopez Trujillo called attention to the fact that the question of Communion for divorced Catholics had already been raised by then-Bishop Kasper, along with two other German bishops, in the 1990s. The German bishops' policy was overturned, he observed, by Cardinal Ratzinger, with the explicit approval of Pope John Paul II. "You cannot put the current Pope in contradiction with Cardinal Ratzinger," he said.

The Colombian prelate concluded that "no modification of this doctrine is possible." He added: "This is not a question that is in debate, or can be debated."

Clearly hoping to ease a conflict with his Vatican colleague, Cardinal Lopez Trujillo told La Repubblica that Cardinal Kasper is "a great theologian." He suggested that perhaps the German cardinal had sought to accentuate the pastoral needs of the couples who are divorced and remarried, and "what he said was not well understood."

The president of the Pontifical Council for the Family also noted that it is possible for divorced and remarried Catholics to receive Communion "if they are living as brother and sister, without sexual relations."

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