Oh, For Offspring's Sake!
By P.F. Hawkins
As these situations especially affect children, we are aware of a greater urgency to foster a true welcome for these families in our communities. For how can we encourage these parents to raise their children in the Christian life, to give them an example of Christian faith, if we keep them at arm’s length? I am especially grateful to the many pastors, guided by my Predecessors, who have worked diligently to let these families know they are still a part of the Church.
—Pope Francis, 5 August Wednesday Audience
These words, a retelling of what is called the “Kasper plan” for ministering to public adulterers, are modernist to the core. “For how can we encourage these parents [i.e., those who have abandoned a spouse and are living in the sin of adultery] to raise their children in the Christian life, to give them an example of Christan faith, if we keep them at arm’s length?” The very question equates preventing those in a very public state of sin from committing sacrilege against the Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity of Jesus Christ with “keeping them at arm’s length”, with being unwelcoming to them as persons. On the contrary, inviting them to partake of the Blessed Sacrament in a state of grave sin is not a “true welcome”, but a welcoming to hell.
This formulation of the Kasper plan is not just an assault on the Eucharist, but also an assault on children. And not just an assault on children, but an assault on children under the pretense of helping them.
This formulation of the Kasper plan flat out says that preventing public adulterers from profaning the Eucharist prevents children from getting a good example of Christianity from the adults they live with. In reality, of course, it is these adults who are already providing a bad example of Christianity by living in a state of public, unrepentant adultery. Preventing them from profaning the Blessed Sacrament is providing a good example of Christianity. Allowing them to profane the Eucharist would be adding a bad example of the clergy to the bad example of a parent.
No less authority than Pope Pius XI, in his marriage encyclical Casti Connubii, explicitly states that those adulterers who have left their spouse and live falsely with a non-spouse cannot live with the non-spouse for the sake of children:
And St. Augustine clearly places what he calls the blessing of matrimony in this indissolubility when he says: “In the sacrament it is provided that the marriage bond should not be broken, and that a husband or wife, if separated, should not be joined to another even for the sake of offspring.” [Casti Connubii, §33]
Even for the sake of offspring! Pope Pius XI, citing St. Augustine, presents the traditional teaching of the Church in this matter: a child is worse off living with a parent and his/her partner in adultery than with a single parent.
Children ought to be raised by a mother and a father. They ought to see their mother and father receive communion. But their right to learn the faith in this way can sanction neither profanation of the Blessed Sacrament nor adulterous relationships.