In this volume five cardinals of the Church, and four other scholars,
respond to the call issued by Walter Cardinal Kasper for the Church to
harmonize "fidelity and mercy in its pastoral practice with civilly
remarried, divorced people". The contributors are Walter
Cardinal Brandmüller; Raymond Cardinal Burke; Carlo Cardinal Caffarra;
Velasio Cardinal De Paolis, C.S.; Robert Dodaro, O.S.A.; Paul Mankowski,
S.J.; Gerhard Cardinal Müller; John M. Rist; and Archbishop Cyril Vasil', S.J.
Cardinal Kasper appeals to early Church practice in order to support his
view. The contributors bring their wealth of knowledge and expertise to
bear upon this question, concluding that the Bible and the Church
Fathers do not support the kind of "toleration" of civil marriages
following divorce advocated by Cardinal Kasper. They also examine the
Eastern Orthodox practice of oikonomia (understood as "mercy"
implying "toleration") in cases of remarriage after divorce and in the
context of the vexed question of Eucharistic Communion. The book traces
the long history of Catholic resistance to this practice, revealing the
serious theological and pastoral difficulties it poses in past and
current Orthodox Church practice.
As the authors demonstrate, traditional Catholic doctrine, based on the
teaching of Jesus himself, and current pastoral practice are not at odds
with genuine mercy and compassion. The authentic "gospel of mercy" is
available through a closer examination of the Church's teachings.
"Because it is the task of the apostolic ministry to ensure that the
Church remains in the truth of Christ and to lead her ever more deeply
into that truth, pastors must promote the sense of faith in all the
faithful, examine and authoritatively judge the genuineness of its
expressions and educate the faithful in an ever more mature evangelical
- St. John Paul II, Familiaris Consortio