Family, the way of the Church

Cardinal Kasper: "Some bishops are more open, some are more conservative. That's why a debate is necessary." The question of remarried divorcees

"The Church must be a constant reference of the family, also when it experiences difficulties, and families must know that the Pope is their very important promoter." Walter Kasper, German theologian, President Emeritus of the Pontifical Council for the promotion of Christian unity, who on October 18, the Sunday dedicated to the World Day of Missions, presided over the Mass in Rome’s Transfiguration Church. Emanuela Vinai interviewed him. Your Eminence, in what ways is the family missionary? "Through the witness of joy, beauty and of being a family. Already John Paul II had said that the family is the way of the Church; not only the object of the pastoral care of the Church but also its object. The Synod reiterates that the family has a missionary vocation, since only with the family the Church is present in daily life. Let us think of the foundation of faith in the family. The family is a domestic Church and faith is a fundamental cement. Finally, we consider the parish as the family of families, a point of encounter, help and union." What is needed to promote this reality? "We need policies for the family! Measures are often taken in favour of entrepreneurs, overlooking the fact that many families are going through financial and social difficulties. There isn’t only the economy, there also people. When will they be recipients of support?" The Synod is in full swing and internal debate appears to be lively. "Let us remember that the Synod has a global bearing, where different cultures and realities come together, the expression of many different Countries. It’s not easy to reach a synthesis of such a variety and richness of contributions. Some bishops are more open, others are more conservative, and that’s why the debate is important. It’s in only way in which all problems can be clarified. There are many expectations; debates aren’t always simple, while different ways of thinking are confronted. In this the Pope should be the core of reference for everyone, and we all know the deep spirit of fraternity of the Synod fathers. But the Synod addresses the theme of the family as the fundamental unit of society and the Christian concept of the family is based on a man, woman and children." Among the items on the agenda figures the question of the possibility of remarried divorcees accessing Communion.  "I confide there will be an opening, a majority in favour of communion to the divorced, with an integration process in parishes and in the life of the Church. We see many families in irregular situations, but they too are sons and daughters of God. They too need the Bread of Life, because the Eucharist is not for the ‘optimum’ but for sinners, and all of us are sinners: that’s what we always say in the consecration. More time might be needed for a final document, but I hope the Pope will mention this at the end of the sessions, after having received all the reports."  The newspapers and online news outlets convey high interest for the Synod and for the confident attention with which it is followed. "In the past weeks many families, many individuals, have prayed for the Synod, and this will certainly have an impact. I am also thinking of the important vigil of October 3rd in St. Peter’s Square. On that occasion the Pope said that the family is always a light, and we must remember that many lights together can dispel darkness and shadows." A wish for the last days of the Synod?  "May the light of the Holy Spirit shine on the Synod Fathers and unite them to the Pope. We hope the large majority of those present will be near the Pope in the resolution of problems. There isn’t only abstract doctrine; there is also concrete life to cope with. The centre of the Gospel is mercy and the Church must be a witness of mercy."

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