Vatican City, 20 February 2014 (VIS) – The director of the Holy See Press Office, Fr. Federico Lombardi, S.J., gave a briefing for journalists at midday today on the progress of the extraordinary consistory for the family which opened this morning in the New Synod Hall and in which around 150 cardinals participated.
“After the Pope's address, the cardinals sent an affectionate greeting to Archbishop Loris Capovilla, one of the new cardinals to be created by the Holy Father in next Saturday's consistory, who for reasons of age and health was not able to travel to Rome, but who is present in the spirit of this encounter”, he explained.
The introductory presentation by Cardinal Kasper, which will not be published as it was intended for use within the context of the meeting by participants only – occupied almost the entire morning, with the exception of the last ten minutes in which a few comments were made. However, this afternoon and tomorrow morning will be dedicated to comment and discussion.
The text of the president emeritus of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity is “in harmony” with the words spoken today by Pope Francis. The focus was very coherent with that of the Holy Father: facing, with realism and in depth, all that is beautiful about the family without eluding its problems. However, the issue is approached from an extremely positive point of view: rediscovering and proclaiming the Gospel of the family according to God's plan, with all its beauty, as truth also convinces through beauty. Another central point of Kasper's address was the concept of the family as a small domestic church, and the idea according to which in the family the Church encounters reality and thus constitutes a path towards the future; the family can be a privileged route to evangelisation. Cardinal Kasper spoke about this “domestic church” in a broad sense, referring not only to the nuclear family, but also by extension to communities, parish groups etc.
From a formal point of view, Fr. Lombardi mentioned that Cardinal Kasper's document does not claim to address all themes related to the family, nor does it attempt to anticipate the next Synod, but is rather a form of “opening”. Its introduction was dedicated to the rediscovery of the Gospel of the family, originating from the family in the order of creation, the vision of the family in Genesis and in God's plan. The second part focused on the structures of sin within the family: problems, tensions between men and women, body and spirit, the alienation of the suffering of women and mothers, etc. Finally, it explored the issue of the family in the Christian order of redemption, referring to texts from the Gospel and the New Testament relating to the family, such as the Letter to the Ephesians. It also considered marriage as a Sacrament, and its sanctifying grace.
The cardinal also referred to the question of remarried divorcees, considering the theme in depth and in a structured, nuanced fashion. He reiterated that in this area it is necessary to bring together pastoral care with the inseparable duo of faith and the words of Jesus, and an understanding of divine mercy. The cardinal referred to Pope emeritus Benedict XVI's work on this issue, when he asked if, beyond rigour and laxity, the Sacrament of penance could perhaps offer the path to accommodating difficult situations. He also recalled Pope Francis' address to the prelates of the Roman Rota at the beginning of this year, in which he spoke about the validity of marriage, when he affirmed that the legal and pastoral dimensions are not in opposition.
Fr. Lombardi concluded by emphasising that the Cardinal accorded great importance to the “law of gradualness”, or rather the advancement towards new forms in exploring in depth the mystery of redemption in Christ, and in understanding the Gospel law of truth.