Okay, some have taken issue with my previous post regarding Cardinal Kasper’s recent article in America Magazine. One in particular, Lutheran Pastor Mark Henderson, has claimed that it is the Catholic Church, and not the Eastern Orthodox or Protestant Churches, that is out of step with dominical and apostolic tradition in this matter.
So now it is time to pull out the big guns, and refer my readers to an article by a real patristics scholar and not simply an amateur such as myself. Dr Adam G. Cooper, of the John Paul II Institute for Marriage and the Family, published this article on “Cardinal Kasper and the Church Fathers” in the Catholic World Report some months ago. You may wish to read it, if you think that Cardinal Kasper has the tradition of the Church on his side. Dr Cooper is, of course, a convert to the Catholic Church like myself. His article was recommended to me by another (still) Lutheran pastor who was of the opinion that the arguments stack up.
If anyone feels that they can show contrary evidence – ie. that the Early and Patristic Church really did believe that it was possible for a Christian in a sacramental marriage to divorce and legitimately remarry – I would like to see it. I simply am not convinced by claims that the Latin Church has misinterpreted the rule of our Lord on this matter.
Again, I will encourage readers to consider Paul’s teaching in 1 Corinthians 5-7 over again. Paul is quite prepared to withhold judgement from those outside the Christian community (‘Who am I to judge?’), but by golly he holds those within the community to the highest possible standards – standards some might today regard as ‘unrealistic’. Similarly, he is ready to allow that a Christian married to a non-Christian is ‘not bound’ should the non-Christian spouse abandon the marriage, but he seems a very long way from allowing the same to those married ‘in the Lord’. His teachings in fact appear to give strong support to the Early Christian expectation that those who have been divorced or even widowed should remain unmarried for the rest of their lives.
I’m just saying that the current Catholic teaching and practice seems to me to be in complete concord with both Scripture and the Patristic witness. As usual, I’m happy to be proved wrong.