“Behold, I send you forth as sheep in the midst of wolves: be ye therefore wise as serpents, and harmless as doves.”
Ok. I am going to throw this out there. I am not saying it is right. I am not even saying I believe this is the case. All I am saying is that if that if the Pope wanted to shut this down without being perceived as the bad guy, this would be one way to do it. So, caveat emptor on the following wild speculation and all that…
You ever watch a movie or read a book or been in a situation where you have that moment that it dawns on you that you might have just been had?
That was the sensation I had last night when reading the RC translation of a La Stampa article relaying the wildly negative reactions of many Cardinals in the consistory to the ‘Kasper Theorem’ on admitting the divorced and remarried to communion. Wait a second, I thought, I may have just been had. To see why the thought popped into my head, let’s go back a year.
Pope Francis is just a few months into his pontificate. He is extremely popular as a result of the general perception that he is more focused on mercy than doctrine. One can imagine that the Pope wishes to use that popularity for good and did not wish to squander it.
So last summer, the German episcopal conference starts making a lot of noise about their plans to allow divorced/remarried Catholics to communion. The Pope’s man at the CDF, Cardinal Gerhard Ludwig Müller, presumably with the Pope’s blessing, comes out in vehement opposition to this plan.
The German Episcopal conference, in not so many words, say “Yeah, we don’t really care what you say. We are gonna do it anyway!”
That is when the Pope stepped in and basically said, “Hold your horses. Let’s all get together on this topic in a Synod next year”
I have been on record that with regard to this specific provision (directly allowing the div/remarried to receive) I fully expect the Pope to say NO. But the Pope, not wanting to damage his popular perception by shutting it down immediately, punts the decision 14 months.
So now the Pope has a little over a year to kill the proposal without seeming like the big bad old school doctrinal Pope that is all happy-clappy talk with no happy-clappy walk.
So how do you kill it? Well, in the preparatory meeting held during the consistory, you ask the most wackadoodle advocate of the inadmissible to to give the keynote address. When word (conveniently) leaks as to what he said, you then have Cardinal after Cardinal publicly critiquing the ‘theorem’ building momentum against it. The La Stampa article seems like the culmination of this reaction. Paraphrasing Cardinal Ruini’s comments, 85% of the Cardinals were verbally against it and the other 15% too embarrassed to say anything. That’s gotta hurt.
So what now? Well, with mounting criticism and outright rejection among the hierarchy, Cardinal Kasper’s Theorem, and by extension the initiative of the German Bishops, seems to be a dead letter and the Pope didn’t have to blow any of his street cred to do it. Now with Kasper’s suggestions euthanized, some other pastoral initiatives will seem much more tolerable to the synod.
This all not to say that other pastoral provisions could not be the cause of significant alarm or risk, but sacramental marriage is saved at least from the worst impulses of the German episcopate.
Whaddya think? Is the Pope as wise as a serpent?