In 1999, in an attempt to reach an agreement at any cost with the Lutherans on the doctrine of justification, Cardinal Walter Kasper made use of a stratagem: the differentiated consensus, where both parties declare themselves to be in agreement, without really agreeing. Today, in order to allow the divorced and remarried to receive Communion, whatever the cost, German bishops are suggesting differentiated solutions, that is a pastorally flexible adaptation of the intangible doctrine of the indissolubility of marriage. The matrimonial bond is indissoluble in theory, but not always in practice.
Christ taught, “he that shall marry her that is put away, committeth adultery” (Matthew 9, 9). In the spirit of Amoris laetitia, the German bishops have corrected this statement: we must differentiate, according to circumstances… For them, marriage is relatively indissoluble.
The differentiated consensus of Cardinal Kasper leads to consensual difference, a variation on the square circle. The differentiated solution of the German bishops leads to dissolute indifference—doctrinal indifference and moral dissolution.
This refusal to choose between yes and no, between black and white, enshrouds in darkness the Catholic doctrine on marriage and the family on which the synod was supposed to shed light. The clarification requested in the dubia of the four cardinals is more than useful. It is vital.
Fr. Alain Lorans