John Rist, Cardinal Kasper, the Fathers, and Nicaea

I assume that there are a decent number of Catholic academics, especially those working in sacramental and moral theology, who have been following the official and unofficial discussions of the possibility of permitting divorced and remarried Catholics to receive communion.

Some of those in favor of such a provision have tried to support their view by an appeal to Patristic authors and the Council of Nicaea. This is the approach of Cardinal Walter Kasper, for example. Here is the speech he delivered to the consistory at the Vatican in February.

John Rist, professor at the Augustinianum and the Catholic University of America, has recently criticized Kapser's appeal to early Christian sources in a short piece carried by several Catholic news outlets.

Here is Rist's quite devastating conclusion:

To conclude, upon examination the Cardinal’s case depends on misinterpreting a tiny number of texts while neglecting numerous others which contradict them. How can this have happened? To my mind we have here an example of a procedure all too frequent in academia, more especially when work may be motivated by convenience or ideology: there is an overwhelming amount of evidence in one direction and one or two texts which might conceivably be read otherwise; from which is derived the desired conclusion, or at least that the matter is open.

Follow the links above to read Kasper's speech and the rest of Rist's response.