Kasper contribution ‘a bit disappointing’: Cardinal Pell interview

Cardinal George Pell, prefect of the Vatican Secretariat for the Economy, talks with Cardinal Peter Erdo of Esztergom-Budapest, Hungary, on 13 October, 2014. Photo: CNS photoPaul Haring.
Cardinal George Pell, prefect of the Vatican Secretariat for the Economy, talks with Cardinal Peter Erdo of Esztergom-Budapest, Hungary, on 13 October, 2014. Photo: CNS photoPaul Haring.

Cardinal George Pell has welcomed the assurance of Cardinal Lorenzo Baldisseri, general secretary of the synod, that there will be a paragraph-by-paragraph vote on final synod draft, saying he did not think many fathers would ultimately want to “on the other side” from Jesus and St Paul.

The remarks were made in an extraordinary interview with the editor of Letters from the Synod, Xavier Rynne, published here in full.

Cardinal Pell was as frank as ever reflecting on the synod’s discussions to date, lauding the contributions of his fellows-in-arms while slating the intervention of Cardinal Walter Kasper of Germany, a reformist, as “a bit disappointing”.

Archbishop Heiner Koch of Berlin, relator of the reformist German-language group, made “a substantial contribution” to the discussion of the group’s reports, Cardinal Pell said, but the reports themselves “failed to engage systematically with the hard teachings of Christ on the most contentious issues”.

He said he had been happy with how things had proceeded so far, describing some of the differences from previous synods as being “quite innovative and quite good”.

“There’s a good atmosphere this time, although there are still significant differences on whether the Church is authorised to admit the divorced and civilly remarried to Holy Communion,” Cardinal Pell said.

“The indissolubility of marriage has been massively endorsed. And when it comes down to it, I don’t think too many Synod fathers are going to want to be on the other side from Jesus on indissolubility or on the other side from St Paul on the conditions for worthily receiving Holy Communion …

“[T]he Church’s practice of not admitting the divorced and civilly remarried to Holy Communion is not a penalty for the failures of the first marriage, but the Church’s recognition of the consequences of the second marriage”.

He also gave his hopes for the synod’s third and final week, following the push by some participants that local episcopal conferences be given a wide latitude as to how Church doctrine on the indissolubility of marriage and the illicit nature of homosexual acts should be applied:

“We want brief and clear teaching on the nature of marriage, Holy Communion for the divorced and civilly remarried, and the location of teaching authority in the Church, so that any confusion that may have arisen on these points is dissipated, and it’s made clear to the world that Christ’s teaching, and the Church’s teaching, on marriage and sexuality are intact.”