Two Cardinals speaking about the doctrine on divorced and remarried

Please compare and contrast with the Catechism of the Catholic Church

 Cardinal Cormac Murphy O’Connor

 “Q.  Do you foresee that there could be a change in relation to the question of the divorced and remarried?

A.  I don’t know. The Church does not change, it develops. By that I mean the doctrine of the Church develops by going out in a different direction.  That is to say, it changes in an indirect way. And it could develop in the question of the divorced and remarried.”

Cardinal Carlo Caffarra, Archbishop of Bologna

“[Regarding Cardinal Walter Kasper's proposal on the possibility of readmitting to communion, after a period of penance, the couples of remarried divorcees who ask for it, following a period of penance, Caffarra says:]”

“If the Church admits [them] to the Eucharist, she must anyway grant a judgment of legitimacy to the second union. That is logical. But now – as I asked – what to make of the first matrimony? The second, it is said, cannot be a true second matrimony, considering that bigamy goes against the word of the Lord. What about the first one? Is it dissolved? But the Popes have always taught that the power of the Pope does not reach that point: the Pope has no power over a marriage that is ratum et consummatum. The proposed solution leads us to think that the first matrimony remains, but that there is also a second kind of cohabitation that the Church legitimizes. It is, therefore, an extramarital exercise of human sexuality that the Church legitimizes. But with this, the foundational pillar of the Church’s doctrine on sexuality is negated.  At this point, one could ask: so why are not free [extramarital or premarital] unions approved?  And why not relations between homosexuals?” [Excerpt provided by TMNews Italy.]”

Catechism of the Catholic Church

“1650 Today there are numerous Catholics in many countries who have recourse to civil divorce and contract new civil unions. In fidelity to the words of Jesus Christ – “Whoever divorces his wife and marries another, commits adultery against her; and if she divorces her husband and marries another, she commits adultery” the Church maintains that a new union cannot be recognized as valid, if the first marriage was. If the divorced are remarried civilly, they find themselves in a situation that objectively contravenes God’s law. Consequently, they cannot receive Eucharistic communion as long as this situation persists. For the same reason, they cannot exercise certain ecclesial responsibilities. Reconciliation through the sacrament of Penance can be granted only to those who have repented for having violated the sign of the covenant and of fidelity to Christ, and who are committed to living in complete continence.”

49 comments to Two Cardinals speaking about the doctrine on divorced and remarried

  • John Thomas

    Another cardinao enters the fray on the side of Murphy o connor and kaspar

    Plus of course Bishops Drainey (Middlesborough) nd Burns (Cardiff) who support the Kaspar line

    If it is true that Drainey was in charge of formation of future priests at the seminary in Durham prior to his episcopal consecration then one wonders what sort of formation they received!

    Storms ahead

    Much prayer required

  • Lynda

    Are these not excommunicable offences? To knowingly lead their flock into grave error?

    • Augustine

      Cardinal Murphy O’Connor sadly suffers from foot and mouth disease.

      When he opens his mouth, he often puts his foot in it.

      The Council of Trent on the indissolubility of Christian marriage:

      “Can. 7. If anyone says that the Church errs in that she taught and teaches that in accordance with evangelical and apostolic doctrine the bond of matrimony cannot be dissolved by reason of adultery on the part of one of the parties, and that both, or even the innocent party who gave no occasion for adultery, cannot contract another marriage during the lifetime of the other, and that he is guilty of adultery who, having put away the adulteress, shall marry another, and she also who, having put away the adulterer, shall marry another, let him be anathema.”


      No layperson, no priest, no bishop, no Pope has the authority to change this – because it is the teaching of Our Lord Jesus Christ Himself.

  • solly

    Heaven help us. Please, Heaven help us!

  • Genty

    We have a new cardinal. It’s time for Cardinal Murphy O’Connor to melt into the background and to use his retirement as a period of reflection and prayer.

  • Neil Jennison

    As I have said before on this website, all this equivocation about Catholic Doctrine is just serving to cast doubt on the whole Faith. If the Church decides that what it has taught for 2000 years on marriage is twaddle, and the new line changes to divorce and remarriage are fine, why should I believe the new line? Or anything else the Church teaches for that matter? After all, it may change too.

    Is it not blatantly and transparently an attempt to change the exacting and difficult Truths that Christ gave us, simply in order to increase congregations? An attempt to accommodate mankind’s desires by changing God’s Word?

    Not that it will increase congregations anyway. The Church of England long since marched down that route and has lost more active members than the Catholic Church.

    When I suffer crises of Faith as many of us do on occasion, it is the certainty of the unchanging doctrine of the Church that helps me through.

    Change that message and you are left with nothing to believe……just some vague idea that a man called Jesus said we should be nice to each other 2000 years ago. Other than that, do what you want.

    I am still deeply depressed by what is happening to the Church. I don’t know where this will lead me personally. I cannot say whether it will destroy my Faith or whether I will find the Truth within the Churches of the SSPX. The trouble there is that loyalty to the Successor of St. Peter is also entwined with loyalty to Doctrine. I just don’t know what to think.

    • Lynda

      Neil, the fact that there is widespread and high level apostasy in the Church is not a reason to renounce the Faith that you know to be true. The remnant must remain faithful, and support each other in this time of great trial.

      • Neil Jennison

        I agree. But I am a logically minded person ( a mathematician). If the Church changes its doctrine, then clearly the Church would be in error, or must have been in error for the previous 2000 years. The two positions are incompatible despite the incoherent drivel spoken by Cardinal Cormac Murphy O’Connor.

        As someone of Orthodox belief who believes the Church is protected from error by the Holy Spirit, this situation would mean that this was not so. The whole edifice thus collapses. What IS the Truth?

        This is why the whole affair makes me so depressed.

        • Lynda

          The Church has thought of everything. If the pope were to purport to change the deposit of Faith magisterially, he is excommunicate and not the Pope. I know how you’re suffering – we all are. We’ve been long abandoned by our spiritual fathers.

        • Augustine

          As a Catholic I trust that Our Lord will not break the promises he made to the Church.

          However it is remarkable that – despite the many sinful Popes that the Church suffered from in the past – none of these sinful Popes led the Church into Doctrinal or Moral error. (Compare and contrast with a certain Henry VIII who was decided to change the rules by founding a new Church).

          Sadly Church history reminds us that this does not prevent many individual members of the Church from falling into error.

          But what all of this muddle (especially the muddle coming from certain high ranking clerics) says is that the Catholic Faith has not been taught very well over the last 50 years or so.

          That was precisely why Blessed John Paul II issued the Catechism of the Catholic Church (CCC) in 1992 – just as the Catechism of the Council of Trent was issued soon after the Council of Trent.

          I am not a betting man, but I would wager my house that Cardinal Murphy O’Connor has never read either the Catechism of the Council of Trent or the 1992 CCC.

          But rather than just moaning and sniping, this should be a wake up call for ALL of us – to study the CCC ourselves AND to encourage both individuals and groups within parishes to study the CCC.

          I am sure that the old Maryvale still runs courses in the CCC.

          And I’m sure that the new School of the Annunciation (based in Buckfast Abbey) will be running distance learning courses in the CCC before too long.

        • rjt1

          Neil: the Church cannot change defined doctrine. It may be that a divorced man and woman living as brother and sister in order to fulfill obligations to children of a second union now repented of could receive Communion, but that’s about it.

  • Of course when Jesus said those words about divorce and remarriage there were many in the crowd who would have been divorced and remarried `because of the hardness of their hearts`. So Jesus did not see Moses as exercising compassion. Yes there are many people through no fault of their own in a difficult position. But as we have seen the bishops and their compassion led to the sacandal of annulling marriages at a rate which was a scandal. Why do these bishops claim to follow Jesus when they fail to build a Church which is seen as a true reflection of His life and teachings. It was this obvious hypocricy that caused thousands of young people to abandon their faith.

    • Neil Jennison

      Indeed. I would add that human nature being what it is, as soon as the Church allows divorce and re-marriage, the perception that marriage is for life will be gone and many Catholics will treat marriage as dissolvable. Thus when marriages go through difficult periods as many inevitably do, there will be a temptation to get out and try again rather than work things through.

      So this supposedly “compassionate” idea will inevitably cause more marriage breakdowns and thus more suffering to children and deserted spouses.

  • Lola

    John, from your link:

    “Tagle’s moderate streak is also clear on internal church questions.

    In his Globe interview, he said that he’s open to considering the arguments for allowing Catholics who divorce and remarry without an annulment, a declaration from a church court that the first marriage was invalid, to receive communion and the other sacraments.

    “We have a principle we have to believe in,” he said, referring to the idea that marriage is for life. “But the openness comes on pastoral judgments you have to make in concrete situations, because no two cases are alike.”


    What in the world is happening?!!! Will my grandchildren grow up to be Catholics with statements like these? When in heaven’s name did compassion for those in irregular marriages/relationships replace the salvation of souls as the supreme law of the Church?

    • John Thomas

      “Openness” to the Kasper Doctrine – from one of the Presidents of the Extraordinary Synod on the Family

      Cardinal Tagle, a Kaspar sympathiser, so also one of the three presidents of the Synod on the Family! (h/t to Rorarte Coeli)

      The Bologna School referred to is the school that holds that Vatican II needs to be interpreted through a ‘hermeneutic of rupture’ in contrast to to the hermeneutic of continuity as proposed by Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI

      One of the strongest expressions of “openness” from another Cardinal to the “Kasper Doctrine” for formally allowing “remarried” divorcees to receive communion was publicized over the weekend in an article by John Allen on Luis Antonio Cardinal Tagle, Archbishop of Manila since 2011. Tagle, presently the fourth youngest Cardinal and definitely one of the rising stars of the Church, regarded as the Cardinal of the “School of Bologna”, will be one of the three Presidents of the Extraordinary Synod on the Family later this year.

      h/t to Rorate Coeli

  • The times are not a-changing,

    Like in the then Jansenist time, G Monfort was expelled by Jansenist Bishops, and thereby walked,
    from one diocese to another and preached the plain truth of Our Lady, the bishop and the men above him that made you “withdraw”

    much more than anyone has promoted the plain truth you Deacon Nick so tirelessly told us.
    Or when the communists in Poland forbade the great Madonna icon to travel across the country, the wonderful Cardinal then let the empty frame go about, and thereby created a even more powerful trip….
    Pax et Bonum to you Nick and your wife!

  • Rifleman819

    RCC in England and Wales has a deep problem ————–its own bishops.

  • frank

    A. “I don’t know. The Church does not change, it develops. By that I mean the doctrine of the Church develops by going out in a different direction. That is to say, it changes in an indirect way. And it could develop in the question of the divorced and remarried.”

    Matthew 5:37 comes to mind.

    [moderated addition Matthew 5:37 "All you need to say is simply ‘Yes’ or ‘No’; anything beyond this comes from the evil one"]

  • Mark Thorne

    As far as Communion for those who are divorced and have taken recourse to a civic remarriage is concerned, unless these couples are sincerely committed to live their lives in a brother/sister-type relationship as stated by paragraph 1650 of the Catechism, then I don’t believe this should even be an open question under consideration for debate – efforts should only be directed at debating what it means to make a spiritual communion.

  • SteveD

    If this change comes about (as I believe that it will) then what happens to priests who cannot in good conscience apply the new ‘pastoral’ approach? And, once Church law in this matter is breached/ignored/subverted/diluted, which law is next to be treated in a similar way? If only John the Baptist had adopted a ‘pastoral’ approach to marital irregularity, he might have died in bed as would St. John Fisher, St. Thomas More and many other martyrs.

    • Lynda

      It would not be valid as it would conflict with the unchanging doctrine of the Faith and the moral law. Obviously if a Pope were to purport to make such a grave error a magisterial pronouncement, it would not be valid as the Pope would be excommunicate. The Church does not allow contradiction or any error in the deposit of Faith.

  • marypatricia

    Neil Jennison,
    You have put into words my own fears about where all this is leading.
    Your last sentence says it all.
    We have to be loyal to the successor of Peter, but if he changes Jesus teaching on divorce etc what do we do?
    There is no Church left.
    Was it all a big lie? Have we tried to be obedient members all our lives only to realise that it was pointless?
    I can only hold fast to my belief in Christ truly present in the Blessed Sacrament and trust Him but it is a very confusing and frightening time.

  • Nicholas Hinde

    I do not know when Drainey was in charge at the now closed-for-lack-of-vocations Ushaw but one priest trained there has stated that he was never taught that the Mass is primarily to give glory to God, only that it was a community meal.

    • Lynda

      They’ve been taught worse things than that in many seminaries which for decades have been places of iniquity and warring against God and nature.

      • Augustine

        Bishop Drainey received a poisoned chalice when he took over at Ushaw.

        The Code of Canon Law recommends that Bishops should have a doctorate – or at least a licentiate – in sacred Scripture, theology or canon law.

        In fact only one of the current bishops in England and Wales has a doctorate in sacred Scripture, theology or canon law.

        The absence of a doctorate or licentiate need not imply a lack of learning – but those bishops who do not have these academic qualifications would be wise if they carefully checked their facts before responding to questions from The Tablet which has been actively campaigning against certain moral teachings of the Church for nearly 50 years.

  • Ross Berry

    The Pope’s mentor is Eastern Rite Ukrainian, and he was in charge of the Eastern Rites in Argentina. The obvious thought is that he is moving towards the practices of the Orthodox Church, which vary slightly, but in which individuals are seldom excommunicated. The bishop has to approve an ecclesiastical divorce, but this is usually a rubber-stamp to whatever the local priest recommends. The Eastern Church continues to believe that we are created to be monogamous; but that second marriages are given as a dispensation for the sin of one or both partners. It is a pastoral response to try to make things better given the situation that the sinners happen to be in. It also springs out of a belief that marriage is a sacrament given by the priest — not a ‘natural sacrament’ given by the couple. This has been a theological disparity since the inception of the Eastern Rites, and represents a rise of their theological presence.

    • Augustine

      Ross – are you saying that Eastern Rite Catholics follow the Canon Law of the Orthodox Church?

      I know that Eastern Rite Catholics have their own Canon Law which obviously is not identical to the Canon Law of the Latin Rite.

      But I would be very surprised indeed if it followed the practises of the Orthodox Church because all Catholics – both Eastern Rite and Latin Rite – are bound by the infallible decisions of the Council of Trent on the indissolubility of Christian marriage.

      “Can. 7. If anyone says that the Church errs in that she taught and teaches that in accordance with evangelical and apostolic doctrine the bond of matrimony cannot be dissolved by reason of adultery on the part of one of the parties, and that both, or even the innocent party who gave no occasion for adultery, cannot contract another marriage during the lifetime of the other, and that he is guilty of adultery who, having put away the adulteress, shall marry another, and she also who, having put away the adulterer, shall marry another, let him be anathema.”


  • What I suspect is coming down the pike is not heresy but it’s alarming. The Church cannot change the teachings of scripture that (1) those who remarry place themselves in a state of mortal sin, and (2) those in a state of mortal sin commit a further mortal sin if they receive communion. What she could do, however, is to say “pastors should not challenge a person who presents themselves for communion, and we will leave it to the conscience of each individual believer, whom we presume to be mature and faithful Christians of conscience.” That’s what we’re headed for, absent divine intervention.

    Something like this has been tried before. In the late 1960s, Paul VI authorized episcopal conferences to substitute penitential practices other than abstinence for the Friday penance. The American bishops—perhaps acting ultra vires, I don’t know—in turn delegated that decision to individual Catholics, who were told something like “we will leave it to the conscience of each individual believer, whom we presume to be mature and faithful Christians of conscience.” And how did that work out? Not well. Unsurprisingly, generation one took this as license, generation two therefore heard about abstinence only as a concept of bygone days, and generation three has no idea about abstinence, penance, or what-have-you. Give an inch and the Enemy takes a mile.

    If the Church remands the question to the conscience of individual believers, the message that will be received is that the question turns upon the conscience of the individual believer, which is apt to be a forgiving jury. For the second time in a century, the Church would thus consign millions of souls to Hell over a well-intended error. This she has the power to do, but it is not a wise decision, it is not pastoral, and it is not merciful.

  • Matt 16;19 And I will give to thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven, And whatsoever thou shalt bind upon earth, it shall be bound also in heaven…

    People are freaking-out over a potential change in Discipline and straining-out that as a thing acceptable while they swallow the camel of repudiating the words Jesus re the Discipline of the Church.

    Every old heresy is new again

  • TeresaE

    Stop panicking everyone, and continue to trust in the Holy Spirit. ‘..the gates of hell will not prevail against it.’ Your dishwasher teaches you this – after all the mucky swirling around that goes on, all the plates come out shiny and clean, and the dirty water goes straight down the plughole, every time!

    • Lynda

      We are deeply disturbed by the evil that is being done at high places in the Church, costing countless souls. There does not need to be a purported magisterial change for much spiritual and moral destruction and the damnation of many, cleric and lay. God did not promise that large parts of the Church wouldn’t be destroyed. Only a small fraction of those who were true to the Faith 50 years ago, are true to it now – and the rot came from the top. Blessed Michael, the Archangel defend us in battle …

  • Joanne

    Who knows where this synod will lead? Schism is a possibility. St. Michael intervene for us!

    • Lynda

      Many, many bishops and priests and lay are in de facto schism. The fact that this is not acknowledged and addressed is what has allowed it to get worse and worse.

  • Quanah

    Unfortunately, Card. O’Conner speaks in a confusing way about development. It makes one wonder if he isn’t confused concerning a right understanding of development and doctrine.

    On another note, a discussion about whether or not the divorced and remarried may in some way be admitted to Holy Communion ignores the true pastoral/doctrinal problem – the great lack of understanding and practice among Catholics regarding the sacrament of marriage.

  • Magash

    Before anyone goes off the deep end I think it incumbant to check some numbers here. When speaking of the huge numbers of annulments I think that one must make a distinction between annulments granted due to lack of form, that is Catholics who contracted civil marriages, and those married sacramentally. One must also take into account marriage contracted by baptised Protestants, later divorced and remarried, who convert to Catholicism.
    I have seen statistics that seem to support that a great number of annulments are encompassed by the two cases mentioned by me above. Add to that the number of marriages entered by Catholics who neither recieved adaquate Pre-Cana instruction nor truthful guidance. What do I mean by that? I know of a deacon who conducts such Pre-Cana instruction. More than once he has refused to marry a couple (or attest to the PPastor that they have sucessfully completed PRe-Cana) because he could see that they were not poroperly disposed to the Marriage in a way consistent with Church teachings (for example not practicing, but only seeking the sacrament to please parents, or co-habitating and contracepting.) Almost invariably rather than appreciating his counciling or accepting his advice (stop cohabitating. Forgo contraception.) they go off and contract a civil marriage. Likewise almost invariably when he hears of them again they have divorced. Should one of them return to the Church at least their union will not be valid due to lack of form and they might be validly married. Too many clerics would have passed them though Pre-Cana as just a formality and when the breakup happens the validity of the marriage would be much harder to contest, even though it was no more valid, because they addressed the sacrament without the proper disposition.

  • Thankfully, adult lay Catholics can learn the Faith and be faithful without the clerical leaders. This is our baptismal duty. The Church in Great Britain split before and many Catholics overnight openly declared for Protestantism.

    This seems to be happening now.

  • rkat

    Bishops, if you want to play ball with the laity in the age of the internet, you better up your game. You are in danger of looking foolish, and that would not be good for the Church.

    • Lynda

      They’re long past caring about how they look to the true Catholic. It is the respect of others they seek.

      • Augustine

        I don’t think it is fair to condemn all bishops like that.

        To make a judgement like that you would need to know all bishops – and what motivates their decisions.

  • Dickson

    It is a pity what is happening and about to happen in the Catholic Church (wanting to destroy the dignity of marriage, legitimize adultery, homosexuality, etc.) the devil is at work. [moderated comment] If in the excuses to reach out to Secularists and liberals, cardinals [moderated] and their friends decide to water down and distort the Church’s teaching grounded in the Scriptures, then, they are no more representing the Church and Christ. Let cardinals [moderated] and those on their side look up on Canon 7. Let them know they are dividing the Church to favor the enemies of the Church. They should know that priests and lay faithful who know their faith will definitely hold on to the truth of the Gospel and Catholic Teaching down the ages. Truth does not change no matter cardinal Kasper’s presentation. Did Satan not quote the Scriptures and argue with Jesus? May our Mary Mother of the Church save and protect the Church from error. Amen!

Leave a Reply




You can use these HTML tags

<a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>