John the Baptist: For Herod himself had sent and apprehended John, and bound him in prison for the sake of Herodias the wife of Philip his brother, because he had married her.
Cardinal Kasper: Often pastors want to control human life. It’s clericalism. They don’t trust people and therefore don’t respect the conscience of people.
John the Baptist: For John said to Herod: It is not lawful for thee to have thy brother’ s wife.
Cardinal Kasper: Of course, we have to give guidelines from the Gospel and remind people of the commandments of the Lord, but then we should trust that the Holy Spirit is working in the hearts and in the conscience of our people.
John the Baptist: But Herod the tetrarch, when he was reproved by him for Herodias, his brother’s wife, and for all the evils which Herod had done; he added this also above all, and shut up John in prison.
Cardinal Kasper: Therefore divorced and remarried people should find a good priest confessor who accompanies them for some time and if this second, civil marriage, is solid then the path of new orientation can end with a confession and absolution. Absolution means admission to Holy Communion.
John the Baptist: Now Herodias laid snares for him: and was desirous to put him to death, and could not. For Herod feared John, knowing him to be a just and holy man: and kept him, and when he heard him, did many things: and he heard him willingly.
Cardinal Kasper: I think it is very crucial. In this period the bishops will have time to speak to their people. Bishops will not be sitting in their palaces or residences, they will meet their people, listen to them and to the ‘sensus fidelium’ and then they may decide.
John the Baptist: And when a convenient day was come, Herod made a supper for his birthday, for the princes, and tribunes, and chief men of Galilee. And when the daughter of the same Herodias had come in, and had danced, and pleased Herod, and them that were at table with him, the king said to the damsel: Ask of me what thou wilt, and I will give it thee. And he swore to her: Whatsoever thou shalt ask I will give thee, though it be the half of my kingdom. Who when she was gone out, said to her mother, What shall I ask? But she said: The head of John the Baptist. And when she was come in immediately with haste to the king, she asked, saying: I will that forthwith thou give me in a dish, the head of John the Baptist. And the king was struck sad. Yet because of his oath, and because of them that were with him at table, he would not displease her: But sending an executioner, he commanded that his head should be brought in a dish. And he beheaded him in the prison, and brought his head in a dish: and gave it to the damsel, and the damsel gave it to her mother. Which his disciples hearing came, and took his body, and laid it in a tomb.
Cardinal Kasper: Yes, it is changing the whole atmosphere, the style in the Church, and gives the image of the Church as a dialogical Church.
Jesus sums up the debate: He saith to them: Because Moses by reason of the hardness of your heart permitted you to put away your wives: but from the beginning it was not so. And I say to you, that whosoever shall put away his wife, except it be for fornication, and shall marry another, committeth adultery: and he that shall marry her that is put away, committeth adultery.
Cardinal Kasper insists upon the last word: A Church which cannot discuss what is going on, or cannot speak out in an open discussion face to face, will be a sick Church. In this context also the mass media can and should play their part.