Rorate Caeli

Interview with Cardinal Scola on the Synod:
- "I believe the Pope won't take the position allowing communion for 'remarried' divorced"

"No communion for the [remarried] divorced: I think the Pope will decide thus."
Interview with [the Archbishop of Milan] Cardinal Scola:  Faithfulness to doctrine is necessary.
Corriere della Sera 
Interviewer: Aldo Cazzullo
December 2, 2014
Cardinal Scola, in the Synod the Church was divided, and there emerged two groups, one consisting of a majority, the other a minority. Is this normal? Or should this worry us?

“The word “division” is out of place.  What emerged from the Synod were diverse positions.  There was a debate, at times intense, always aimed at sharing views. It was not a new thing.  It is enough to look at the Councils.”

What is your position?
“ Personally I suggested to think about the question at its roots, in the light of an anthropological reflection on sexual difference, and, on the theological plane, in deepening the understanding of the relationship between Matrimony and the Eucharist. And I made a proposal that goes in that direction, stated more than once also by the Pope, to remain faithful to doctrine, but to make the process of annulment of marriage more close at hand to the heart of the people and in a more rapid manner.  I put forth the idea of involving the bishop more directly in the process of determining nullity.”
Does this mean that the faithful will not have to pay for this process?

“There is a widespread myth about this.  The Conference of Italian Bishops for a while has made provision for the financing of the tribunals and has introduced free public advocates.  Today in Italy whoever wishes to open a case to test the nullity of a marriage can do it even if he does not have the money.  If in fact there are lawyers who engage in abusive payment practices, this will be strongly dealt with.” 

But on the point of Communion to the divorced and remarried, what is your position?

“I discussed this intensely, in particular with Cardinals Marx, Danneels and Schönborn who were in my small group, but I was not able to see the rationale for the position that on the one hand the indissolubility of marriage is outside the realm of discussion but on the other hand that doctrine of indissolubiity is denied in how it is applied in fact, as if what is going on is a separation between doctrine, pastoral practice and discipline.  This way of supporting the indissolubility of marriage reduces it to some sort of Platonic idea that exists in an ethereal sphere but has nothing to do with the concrete details of life itself.  And it poses a serious problem in religious education:  how do we say to young people who get married today, for whom the “until death do us part” is already very difficult, that marriage is indissoluble, if they know that all the same there will always be a way of getting out of it?  It is a question that is not often raised, and I find this quite amazing.”

And so at the Synod did you vote with the Minority?

“If anything, with the Majority, even if I would not put it in these terms.  On the propositions that did not receive the two thirds votes needed the vote would seem to have been across lines.  Certainly the position of the Magisterium seemed to me, in the reports of the small groups, to be the one followed by most.”

If instead at the end of the Synod, the Pope should take a position that you do not share, (what would you do?)

“I believe that he would not take such a position.  But from this debate a real  attention is being paid to the divorced and remarried and to homosexuals, a conversation which did not exist until now.  The benefits of the lively debate at the Synod are already evident.  Even more because from the debate came a fundamental concept:  the family as subject, and no longer as object, of the proclamation of the Gospel.  The family is called to witness to the beauty of facing every day life with the gaze of faith:  emotions, work, rest, pain, illness, procreation and child-rearing, what it takes to live a good life.  In other words, to engender an experience of the Church going out of herself.”

The Pope may leave doctrine unchanged, but it is without doubt that he has shifted the emphasis to other themes, in particular, social themes.

“We have to relearn something:  the style—but the style, as Lacan (French psychoanalyst)  used to say, is the man—of this Pope has represented for us Europeans a pro-vocation, in the etymological sense of that word.  He has placed before us the urgency of taking on our task as Christians in a different way.  And this brings with it a salutary dose of destabilization, because one does not change if one is not provoked.  I saw, however, in the Synod and in the pre-Conclave meetings, the importance of that age -old understanding of “communion”.  It requires everyone to recognize in the Petrine ministry the pillar that guarantees the unity of the Church.  There can be heated dialogue, even dialectics and moments of misunderstanding, but in the end we all come together at that place. 
The style of the Pope asks each of us, the faithful, the humility to listen to him deeply and to enter into his perspective.  By starting with his Latin American experience, which has been formed by a culture and theology about which we Europeans are not adequately informed, the Pope places the emphasis on aspects that we perhaps are used to approaching from a way of thinking that is a bit more like arm chair theology, a bit more conventional.”

You have said that the Church has been slow to be open herself up to homosexuals.  Ruini answered you that the libertarian tide will ebb, just as it happened with the Marxist tide. Do you agree?

“Twenty years ago I wrote that the sexual revolution would put Christianity to the test perhaps even more than the Marxist revolution.  We see now that this is indeed the case.  There may be an ebbing of the sexual revolution.  We see already some signs of this, for example, in the United States there are associations of young people who are choosing to remain virgins until marriage.  There is also a grassroots movement in our own land that understands faithfulness to the family in terms that are increasingly more informed and lends itself to ways of living that are based on fraternity:  hospitality, foster children, adoption.  I share Cardinal Ruini’s idea that what the people think is not the same think as what is expressed by the media.  But the right path is the path of taking responsibility for doing what we can in the situation.  With respect to how things are done in a pluralistic society, we cannot exonerate ourselves from taking a public position and therefore from proposing laws that we believe are the best in the situation.  The greatest peril today is the destruction of filiation, what it means to be a son or daughter, through surrogate mothers who act as a uterus for rent.  What this does is to place into the world children who are orphaned from their living parents, with the enormous burden of the problems that this is already producing.”

Therefore, according to you, it still makes sense to speak of non-negotiable values.  But you know that the Pope does not recognize this expression.

“I would not want to seem presumptuous, but I have never used this expression.  I have always spoken about irrevocable principles.  In any case, the expression “non-negotiable” does not mean that we are not willing to engage in dialogue with everyone.  But there are in fact principles that for us are fundamental, like the need for oxygen to sustain life.  I am convinced that in a pluralistic society the process of which Ratzinger speaks in his dialogue with Habermas is necessary.  I present my vision in its entirety within a society that takes note of the presence of subjects with different visions, and I pursue the confrontation that ensues with steadfastness. But I cannot give up certain principles.  If my position is not accepted, I will then appeal to the principle of conscientious objection."

To what points are you referring?

“We have to decide to think about the three-pronged group of rights, obligations, and laws as a unity. We cannot make equitable laws without reference to rights and obligations taken together. Today this “terna” is not presented as each part of a whole.  Every subjective inclination purports to be a fundamental right as well.  While in fact invoking the greatest freedom, they are knitting a sweater that is always becoming tighter from laws that make it smaller.”

We are on the eve of your discourse on St. Ambrose.  Milan today is living through the decay of the “peripheries”, the fringes of the city, and the social uprising.

“I will refer to the thesis of Pope Francis about the “mega-city” of Buenos Aires.  The strength of Buenos Aires, says the Pope, is its essence as a polyhedron.  All the faces are perhaps unlike each other, but the polyhedron remains as one.  Milan is not a “mega-city” but is at the present time a metropolis, in which certain areas of the outskirts have become places of very serious marginalization.  My parish priests and Caritas say that in those situations now only 20-25% of the population is made up of stable persons with a steady income.  This is no longer a subject that can be limited to the phenomena of house squatting, of homeless people, of the Rom, of small and large criminal elements.  Paradoxically in our city the problem may be becoming less able to be overcome with reference to slums or favelas or villas miserias because in fact the specific kinds of demarginalization are as numerous as the spots on a leopard.  I just was in Baggio and Forlanini, and I saw row after row of large apartment buildings in which these problems are explosive.  But in Corvetto I found other manifestations of this demarginalization, and in Quarto Oggiaro still others, with the scandalous paradox that there are houses without inhabitants and inhabitants without a house.

What do you think about Salvini aligning himself with Marine Le Pen?  (Note:  Matteo Salvini is a Member of the European Parliament for Northwest Italy.  Marine Le Pen is a French politician considered “rightist” and a Member of the European Parliament.)

It seems to me that he now has a national project.  Therefore it is necessary to understand what are the deep exigencies from which his proposal starts.  Among our people there is a great fear.  And it would be a contradiction of reality to believe that the phenomenon of migration does not increase this fear.  But fear is a bad advisor.  One needs to listen to this fear down to its roots,  and to give a rationale to overcome it.  If instead this fear is promenaded about, it becomes anger, and anger is fertile ground for ideology.  Anger can become violence or narcissistic resignation.  This holds for everyone, including us Christians."

 [Rorate translation. Source, in Italian]