The following article is a submission by noted author, Michael Lofton.
A Brief Introduction to the Kasperian Controversy
For those who are not familiar with the current controversy taking place within the Catholic Church, Cardinal Walter Kasper, a German cardinal in the Catholic Church, is proposing that the Catholic Church change its practice on refusing to administer Holy Communion to those who are divorced and remarried (i.e., those living in adultery). Though the cardinal says the actual doctrine that divorced and remarried individuals are living in adultery cannot be changed, he proposes that the Church should change its practice on this matter and “tolerate that which is impossible to accept”. In other words, the doctrine should remain intact on paper, but in practice, the Church should not act in accord with its doctrine. He asserts the Church should instead take a “pastoral approach of tolerance, clemency and indulgence,” rather than the nearly 2,000 year old approach the Church has taken on this matter; an approach informed by its doctrine, which admittedly derived from Christ Himself.
The Motives Behind the Controversy
The Kasperian faction within the Church, which consists of most German Bishops, asserts the Church should change its practice on this matter in order to be more “merciful” and “tolerant” in light of the difficult situation these individuals living in adultery find themselves. Though this is the official reason for the novel proposal, many question whether this is the real reason behind the proposal. Others have asserted this proposal is more likely related to the fact that the Church in Germany will be able to receive more tax money from the government if more people in Germany identify themselves as Catholic, a factor that largely depends upon whether people can receive Holy Communion while living in adultery. In other words, if the many adulterers in Germany can receive Holy Communion, then they will be more inclined to identify themselves as Catholics on government documents, and the German Church will be able to receive more tax money from the government. The latter motive is more than likely the real reason behind Kasper’s proposal, because, if the German Bishops were really interested in being merciful to people, they would proclaim, without hesitation, the real means by which adulterers may be forgiven (i.e. the sacrament of confession).
The Consequences of the Proposal, if Embraced
If Kasper’s proposal is embraced by the Church, what are the consequences?
- A Gross Dichotomy Between Practice and Doctrine: Embracing Kasper’s proposal would create a gross dichotomy between doctrine and practice. Instead of practice being informed by doctrine, this would end up divorcing practice entirely from doctrine; a novelty if there ever was one.
- It Sets a Precedent: The proposal would set a precedent for other radical changes to come into the Church. If practice is divorced from doctrine in the matter of Holy Communion, what would stop the Church from divorcing its practice from its doctrine on, say, homosexual unions? Wouldn’t the Church be able to bless same sex unions if practice is divorced from doctrine? Furthermore, upon what basis would the Church refuse Holy Communion to obstinate pedophiles, murderers, drug dealers, etc., if such a precedent has been established?
- The Church Would Become Hypocritical: If Kasper’s proposal is embraced, it would make the Church a hypocrite. The Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines “hypocrite” as: “a person who claims or pretends to have certain beliefs about what is right but who behaves in a way that disagrees with those beliefs”  What is more hypocritical than claiming that divorced and remarried individuals are living in adultery, and yet administering Holy Communion, a sacrament one should only receive in a state of grace, to adulterers?
A Refutation of the Kasperian Proposal
In addition to the consequences mentioned above, there are many reasons why, if embraced, Kasper’s proposal would be detrimental to the Church. Below are just a few reasons:
- An Appeal from Reason: Kasper’s proposal to introduce a practice that opposes doctrine is akin to a medical doctor who claims that he teaches his students the appropriate way to heal a victim of a gunshot wound is to remove the bullets and stabilize the patient, while at the same time, in practice, decapitating said victims as soon as they enter his ER. Any medical doctor who had such a dichotomy between doctrine and practice would probably be considered insane. Like the medical doctor in this analogy, Kasper’s proposal is literally “insane”.
- An Appeal From Scripture: Is it really merciful to give Holy Communion to those obstinately living in a state of adultery? St. Paul says, in 1 Corinthians 11:27-29:
“So then, whoever eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty of sinning against the body and blood of the Lord. Everyone ought to examine themselves before they eat of the bread and drink from the cup. For those who eat and drink without discerning the body of Christ eat and drink judgment on themselves.”
Clearly, a person who is obstinately living in adultery, if they receive Holy Communion, is “guilty of sinning against the body and blood of the Lord” and “eat[s] and drink[s] judgment on themselves”. Thus, knowingly giving obstinate adulterers Holy Communion assists the adulterer in sinning against Christ and helps them bring greater judgment upon themselves. Is this really merciful, or is it in fact a way of assisting an unrepentant adulterer in damning their souls even further? Would this not be formal cooperation in evil?
- An Appeal from Tradition: It goes without saying that the practice of the Church is opposed to Cardinal Kasper’s proposal. However, it may still be beneficial to allow the voice of the great Doctor of the Church, St. Jerome, to weigh in on the Kasperian proposal. St. Jerome states:
“I have not been able quite to determine what it is that she means by the words has found herself compelled to marry again. What is this compulsion of which she speaks? Was she overborne by a crowd and ravished against her will? If so, why has she not, thus victimized, subsequently put away her ravisher? Let her read the books of Moses and she will find that if violence is offered to a betrothed virgin in a city and she does not cry out, she is punished as an adulteress: but if she is forced in the field, she is innocent of sin and her ravisher alone is amenable to the laws. (Deuteronomy 22:23-27) Therefore if your sister, who, as she says, has been forced into a second union, wishes to receive the body of Christ and not to be accounted an adulteress, let her do penance; so far at least as from the time she begins to repent to have no farther intercourse with that second husband who ought to be called not a husband but an adulterer. If this seems hard to her and if she cannot leave one whom she has once loved and will not prefer the Lord to sensual pleasure, let her hear the declaration of the apostle: ye cannot drink the cup of the Lord and the cup of devils: ye cannot be partakers of the Lord’s table and of the table of devils, (1 Corinthians 10:21) and in another place: what communion has light with darkness? And what concord has Christ with Belial? (2 Corinthians 6:14-15) What I am about to say may sound novel but after all it is not new but old for it is supported by the witness of the Old Testament. If she leaves her second husband and desires to be reconciled with her first, she cannot be so now; for it is written in Deuteronomy: When a man has taken a wife, and married her, and it come to pass that she find no favour in his eyes, because he has found some uncleanness in her; then let him write her a bill of divorcement, and give it in her hand, and send her out of his house. And when she is departed out of his house, she may go and be another man’s wife. And if the latter husband hate her, and write her a bill of divorcement and gives it in her hand, and sends her out of his house; or if the latter husband die which took her to be his wife; her former husband, which sent her away may not take her again to be his wife, after that she is defiled; for that is abomination before the Lord: and you shall not cause the land to sin, which the Lord your God gives you for an inheritance. (Deuteronomy 24:1-4) Wherefore, I beseech you, do your best to comfort her and to urge her to seek salvation. Diseased flesh calls for the knife and the searing-iron. The wound is to blame and not the healing art, if with a cruelty that is really kindness a physician to spare does not spare, and to be merciful is cruel.” 
What Can Be Done?
Since most of us are not Bishops, and thus do not have a great deal of immediate power in determining what the Church will choose in this matter, does this mean we are impotent in combating Kasper’s proposal? Absolutely not! In fact, we have one of the greatest tools at our very fingertips. What is this tool of which I speak? In the words of one faithful priest: “here is the solution to the coming approaching evils, the faithful recitation of the Rosary”.  With the faithful recitation of the Rosary, there is simply no problem the faithful can’t conquer, as numerous Saints attest. Thus, let us take up our arms and, by God’s grace, we will soon be able to say:
“It was not courage, not arms, not leaders, but Mary of the Rosary that made us victors.” ~ Venetian Senators after Battle of Lepanto
Michael Lofton is a Latin Rite Catholic in the Diocese of Shreveport, Louisiana and is also a member of the Personal Ordinariate of the Chair of St. Peter, in full communion with the Bishop of Rome. He is a Catholic convert from Protestantism (his conversion story can be found here) and is an author of over a dozen books on Sacred Scripture, Catholic Theology and Apologetics as well as the editor of the St. Jerome Study Bible, found here. He is occasionally a guest on Radio Maria and is the author of the website www.consolamini.org
 It should be noted here that those who are divorced and remarried, even while the original spouse is still alive, can receive Holy Communion if they commit themselves to a life of abstinence.
 St. Jerome, Letter 55.