Fr Raymond De Souza asks the question in the Catholic Herald to which all Catholics would like an answer, despite the unfortunate fact that Pope Francis, not a week into his pontificate, delivered the answer when he recommended Cardinal Kasper's book, entitled 'Mercy', to the Faithful gathered in St Peter's Square.
Depending on which side of this debate you fall - whether it be that of Our Lord Jesus Christ and the Successors of St Peter until now - or some another side entirely, it has - in terms of the 'Kasper Proposal', been either 'uphill' or 'downhill' since then. With the benefit of hindsight, this was Pope Francis's public, and very early endorsement of Cardinal Kasper and the contents of his book. If I recommended 'Mein Kampf' to you, you might just think I was a Hitler sympathiser or in some way supported Hitler's beliefs if I said, 'That book has done me a lot of good.'
Similarly, if I I told you to read 'The Communist Manifesto' because that book has 'done me a lot of good', you might just think I was, in fact, a communist or some kind of Marxist. You might think these are terrible comparisons but, in both of these cases, if I do not follow this 'recommendation' of toxic books with some kind of caveat by way of saying, '...because I realised just how erroneous and mistaken the author was/is,' then you can pretty much guarantee that I agree with the contents.
For many it is fear and for many it is love that motivates an abundence of Vatican watchers who seem to be in denial as to our reality, to the point that despite the fact that in his first week as Supreme Pontiff, Pope Francis recommended the Kasper agenda as reading material for the Faithful, many cling onto the hope that Pope Francis, somehow, does not personally back the Kasper proposal, even though it contains such profoundly poisonous errors concerning the inseperable teachings and disciplines of the Church that such willful ambiguities and glaring errors make it ideal material for the fireplaces of that same Faithful.
The loyal Faithful, that is, those loyal to the Lord Jesus Christ and to His Vicar on Earth, have gathered over half a million signatures to Pope Francis to 'clarify', to make plain His Holiness's position on such matters as divorce, remarriage and the reception of Holy Communion, as well as the other 'thorny' issues to be debated in a spirit of parrhesia at the Synod in October.
Are we to assume this in good - or rather blind faith - when instead of the clarification sought by the deeply confused Catholics in question, such recent unhelpful and utterly confusing teachings, such as 'the divorced and remarried are not excommunicated' appear to nudge the Church a little further towards an endorsement of the Kasper proposal?
I would have thought that even if the divorced and remarried are not formally, canonically, publicly 'excommunicated', some kind of term such as 'excommunicated' might just be applicable - in some manner - to those who, because of an irregular marital situation that involves the sin of sustained and continuing adultery, can neither receive Absolution, nor receive Our Blessed Lord in the Most Holy Sacrament of the Altar, and as such are unable to communicate.
I don't know what a Catholic who wants to be loyal to Christ, loyal to the Church and loyal to the Pope says or does in these current circumstances, other than to pray that the crisis within the Church is well and truly ended as soon as is humanly and, moreover, divinely possible for He for Whom nothing is impossible. What I don't think Catholics loyal to the Christ, His Church and His Vicar on Earth can do is to pretend its all (a) okay, no problem here and (b) going to be okay. To say this would not be in keeping with the thought of the once Cardinal Ratzinger who had the following to say on a difficult but glorious future for the Church:
'From the crisis of today the Church of tomorrow will emerge—a Church that has lost much. She will become small and will have to start afresh more or less from the beginning. She will no longer be able to inhabit many of the edifices she built in prosperity.'
To loyal Catholics, Pope Francis has, consistently behaved like a fiance who can't quite bring himself to tell his bride to be that he doesn't love her, doesn't like her, never really did, but keeps dropping huge hints every week that he has no intention of marrying her whatsoever. Pray for His Holiness, but accept it. He's just not into you and your beliefs. He's into something else entirely. That doesn't mean we stop praying for him or loving him as Our Lord has taught us.
Of course, if Pope Francis caps off a glorious Synod by donning the Tiara and publicly excommunicating all those who argued against the Infallible Teaching of Christ and His Bride, the Church, I apologise profusely in advance and take most of it all back, but I cannot be blamed for thinking - nor for being honest and saying - that in a little over two years, Pope Francis has, with a little help from his friends, taken the Church to the precipice and looks not a little bit afraid of the craggy rocks and rushing waters below. Given his public statements and his refusal to unendorse Cardinal Kasper and his proposal, we should by now be no longer at all surprised if he takes the Church over the edge. Unless something completely unexpected occurs, we can be forgiven for thinking quite sensibly that not clarifying, nor ceasing to promote Cardinal Kasper's agenda within the Church is, in fact, a clarification. It's just not the clarification you were looking for.
According to recent reports, we can be sure, 100% certain in fact, that eleven Cardinals definitely oppose Cardinal Kasper and have, in defence of the Truth, written a book detailing exactly why they have written against his proposal. You are worried. They are equally worried but not, it seems, His Holiness. According to exactly zero news reports can we ascertain that the Pope, the Supreme Pontiff, Successor of St Peter and Guardian of the Deposit of Faith shares their concerns. That is how serious this crisis is.
Our survey found that out of 219 Cardinals in all the world, only one believed that Pope St Pius X would recommd Kapsper's book entitled, 'Mercy'. The name of that Cardinal was Cardinal Wal...Oh, sorry, that information is confidential!
A demoralised clergy, laity and more than a handful of Bishops and Cardinals still hope - against all the evidence - that the Pope is going to protect the Deposit of Faith and teach that saving Faith at the Synod when for two years he has not done so through public statements, interviews, appointments, and by organising and overseeing this farcical Synod showdown in the first place, a showdown that weakens the Pope's most loyal natural supporters and strengthens those who seek the end of the Catholic Church as founded by Christ. For if Cardinal Kasper and his friends get their way, the Church will not be One, but many national Churches, it will not be Holy, but will endorse sacrilege and all that is unholy, nor will it be Catholic.
What Pope St Pius X makes of the present crisis in the Church, only God, Pope St Pius X and the entire Court of Heaven know. Pope St Pius X, ora pro nobis!