The Gospel of the Family (book review)

The Gospel of the Family: Going Beyond Cardinal Kasper’s Proposal in the Debate of Marriage, Civil Re-Marriage, and Communion in the Church, by Juan Jose Perez-Soba and Stephan Kampowski (Ignatius 2014).  This is no secret:  The Catholic Church is struggling to propose its teachings about sex and marriage in a way that the modern world can even comprehend, let alone appreciate.  According to the authors of this book, German Cardinal Walter Kasper has proposed that the Church should modify its long-standing practice and allow divorced and civilly remarried Catholics to receive Holy Communion after a penitential period.  Cardinal Kasper cites the modern practice of the Eastern Orthodox Church and certain very old Christian texts in support. The authors of this book argue that Cardinal Kasper does not treat the evidence of ancient Christian practice fairly, and that an objective reading of the evidence leads to the conclusion that the Church’s present and long-standing practice goes back to the beginning of Christianity.  They also argue that the Catholic teaching of the indissolubility of marriage is firmly rooted in good Christian theology.  Finally, they argue that the Church has been terribly slow to build on Pope St. John Paul II’s extensive writings on the family.  The crisis of the family in the modern world, they argue, is much deeper and broader than the narrow problem of the divorced-and-remarried.  In their view, the Church is failing in its mission to teach the truth about love and marriage, to prepare engaged couples adequately for marriage, and to help newly married couples negotiate the crucial first several years of their marriage.  They offer this book in the hope of influencing the upcoming Synod on the Family that is coming up later this year—next month, in fact.

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