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Wednesday, 2 April 2014

Important rebuttal of Cardinal Kasper's claim of patristic support

The Catholic Herald has an important article by Dr John Rist, a patristics scholar who currently teaches at the Augustinianum, the Patristic Institute in Rome: Cardinal Kasper’s new approach to the remarried has shaky historical foundations. (As Fr Z points out, this article has also been run in the US National Catholic Register and on Zenit.)

Rist considers the claim that evidence from antiquity is sufficiently uncertain that it offers support for the possible consideration of giving Holy Communion to those who are divorced and remarried. He concludes that "the cardinal’s case depends on misinterpreting a tiny number of texts while neglecting numerous others which contradict them."

Fr Dylan James has recently been speaking on the question of divorce, remarriage and Holy Communion (see for example: Questioning the Orthodox solution on divorce and remarriage.) He put me on to a helpful article by Father (later Cardinal) Anthony Bevilacqua, published in 1967 "The History of the Indissolubility of Marriage" given for the Catholic Theological Society of America. The article surveys texts from the Fathers, Popes, Councils, and collections of canons. (All your favourite quotations are there!) Bevilacqua concludes:
It is the firm conviction of this writer that the weight of evidence from the Fathers, Roman Pontiffs and Councils of the first millennium of Christianity strongly supports the indissolubility of marriage. If there were as much evidence in favor of divorce and remarriage as there is in favor of indissolubility, then those suggesting the possibility of divorce and remarriage would have more than a legitimate claim from history.
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