The controversy regarding Amoris Laetitia has come to an end, according to German cardinal Walter Kasper. What is more, he has affirmed that the admission of remarried divorced persons to the sacraments in individual cases is, in his view, the only correct interpretation of the post-synodal apostolic exhortation.
Writing in an op-ed for the German language section of Radio Vatican, the prominent prelate asserted that “with the official publication of the letter from Pope Francis to the bishops of the Buenos Aires region, the painful dispute over the apostolic exhortation Amoris Laetitia is hopefully over.”
The “great majority of God’s people have already received this letter with gratitude and may now feel confirmed [in this stance],” Kasper wrote in the article published Dec 7. He accused critics of making the mistake of committing “one-sided moral objectivism” that does not do justice to the role that personal conscience plays in moral acts.
The admission of remarried divorced persons to the sacraments in individual cases, as the papal letter dated September 5, 2016 to the bishops of the Buenos Aires region of Argentina agrees with, according to Kasper, has its basis in traditional doctrine, “especially that of Thomas Aquinas and the Council of Trent.”
Therefore, the German cardinal continued, this interpretation “is not a novelty, but a renewal of an old tradition against neo-scholastic constrictions. As proven experts of the doctrine of Pope John Paul II have shown, there is no contradiction with the two predecessors of Pope Francis.”
Kasper accused the “critics of Amoris Laetitia” of falling prey to “one-sided moral objectivism” that underestimates “the importance of the personal conscience in the moral act.”
To be sure, conscience must pay attention to the objective commandments of God, Kasper continued. “But universally valid objective commandments (…) cannot be applied mechanically or by purely logical deduction to concrete, often complex and perplexing, situations.”
Whilst not specifically answering the questions of the dubia submitted by four cardinals to Francis about the teaching in Amoris Laetitia, Kasper emphasized that in his view, it was necessary to ask “which application of the commandment is the right one, given a specific situation.”
Kasper further argued that this “has nothing to do with situational ethics that knows no universal commandments, it is not about exceptions to the commandment, but about the … cardinal virtue of prudence.”
The prelate compared the question to the distinction, in secular law, between murder and manslaughter in cases of homicide.
Finally, Kasper wrote that Francis stood “firmly on the ground of the Second Vatican Council, which has taught that conscience is the most secret core and sanctuary of a man. There he is alone with God, Whose voice echoes in his depths. (Pastoral Constitution Gaudium et Spes, 16).”
This article was originally published in German by CNA Deutsch. It has been translated and adapted by CNA.