As many Catholics already know, the Ordinary Synod on the Family is set to meet in Rome in just a few days. One of the issues that will be discussed by the bishops is the Kasper Proposal, described by the Relatio Synodi document from last year’s Extraordinary Synod on the Family as:
“…the possibility of giving the divorced and remarried access to the Sacraments of Penance and the Eucharist…. permitting access in certain situations and with certain well-defined conditions, primarily in irreversible situations and those involving moral obligations towards children who would have to endure unjust suffering. Access to the sacraments might take place if preceded by a penitential practice, determined by the diocesan bishop.”
In other words, it suggests that divorced and remarried couples who are not practicing abstinence (i.e. adulterers) should be allowed to receive Holy Communion. Though the “Kasperites” claim to affirm the doctrine of the indissolubility of marriage in theory, they suggest that the church should take a more “merciful” approach than the one it has taken for the last 2,000 years – a brash position if there ever was one. This proposal is a hot-button issue not only because it would betray the teachings of Christ on the indissolubility of marriage, but also because it is clearly an opening to allow for obstinate homosexuals to receive Holy Communion as well.
This proposal represents a contradiction. It professes one thing, while suggesting that the church should do another (e.g. say something is a grave sin, while giving Holy Communion to those obstinately engaging in the grave sin, thereby condoning it). Another word for this is “hypocrisy.” This word, often used as a criticism of any inconsistency, has a rather precise and specific application in this instance. Hypocrisy is properly defined as “the practice of claiming to have moral standards or beliefs to which one’s own behavior does not conform”.
Hypocrisy in the Church is nothing new. One of the apostles was a hypocrite; his name was Judas. This apostle once objected to money being spent on Jesus rather than being put into a money bag for the poor (sound familiar?). His motives, however charitable they may have sounded, were not so pure:
“He did not say this because he cared about the poor but because he was a thief; as keeper of the money bag, he used to help himself to what was put into it.”(John 12:6)
Judas also manifested his hypocrisy by professing to be a disciple of Christ, and yet betraying Him in the Garden of Gethsemane:
“‘What are you willing to give me if I deliver him over to you?’ So they counted out for him thirty pieces of silver.” (Matthew 26:15)
Like Judas, many of the Kasperites suggest that the church should continue to profess the teachings of Christ, and yet betray him in practice. Some may ask, why would the Kasperites maintain such a hypocritical position?
There are several possible motives, but I will explore just two.
First, like Judas and the money bag, they are more concerned about money than the salvation of souls. It is no secret that the main proponents of the Kasper proposal (i.e. most of the German bishops) stand to gain a great deal of money if the church overturns her 2,000 year old practice on Holy Communion. This is so because the church in Germany receives money from the German government for every person that identifies themselves as “Catholic” on their income taxes. Many divorced and remarried Germans who would otherwise identify themselves as “Catholic” do not do so because they are forbidden to receive Holy Communion. This means the German bishops are losing money under the current discipline in the church. Financial gain is an incredibly strong motive to advance the Kasper position.
Second, many of the Kasperites espouse this position as a means of seeking legitimization for their sinful sexual beliefs. A recent example comes from the German bishop Franz-Joseph Bode, who expressed his support for the Kasper Proposal while calling for the Church to privately bless sodomite unions:
“The Catechism makes it clear that we do not discriminate against these people. Just as with other individuals who live together before marriage, it is also a matter of recognizing the strengths of homosexuals, and not simply their weaknesses and shortcomings. Civil unions are not to be equated with marriage. For us, marriage is a relationship between a man and a woman, and which results in children. The Church can be of assistance in life partnerships through dialogue and positive support. However, there cannot be anything resembling marriage. Nevertheless, one can accompany them with prayer and a private form of blessing.”
For these bishops, it would seem that if they can get the church to give Holy Communion to obstinate adulterers and sodomites, this would legitimize their views that adultery and sodomy aren’t really that bad after all. It is not unreasonable to question if another reason is that some of the Kasperite bishops themselves possess disordered sexual desires, and are seeking to placate their consciences. Lacking certitude in this matter, one is left only to speculate, but as Aristotle said, “Men start revolutionary changes for reasons connected with their private lives.”
What is certain is that these apostolic successors are following the example of only one apostle — Judas — who claimed to follow Christ in word but betrayed him in action. Sadly, if they continue to follow the lead of he about whom Christ said, “It would have been better for that man if he had not been born,” they may very well meet the same fate. (Acts 1:25)
Michael Lofton is a Latin Rite Catholic working on a Master of Arts in Theological Studies at Christendom Graduate School. He has appeared on EWTN’s The Journey Home, SiriusXM Radio and Radio Maria.