Cardinal Walter Kasper has said he thinks a “growing majority” of the Pope’s synod on the family are in favor of his proposal to allow some divorced and civilly remarried Catholics to receive Holy Communion.Speaking as he came out of Tuesday evening’s small working group discussions, the German cardinal said the “growing majority are in favor of an opening.”

“I saw it [an opening] — but it’s more of a feeling,” he said, adding that the synod has yet to vote on it. He added that the Holy Father has been “silent” about his opinion and “has listened very carefully” during the synod, “but it’s clearly what he wants and that’s evident,” he said.

“He wants a major part of the episcopacy with him and he needs it. He cannot do it against the majority of the episcopacy,” Kasper said. He added that the Pope had told him problems exist “in his family” and that he has “looked at the laity and seen the great majority are for a reasonable, responsible opening.”

The German theologian has said before that he has the “impression” the Pope would like to see an “opening” in the area of allowing Communion for divorced and civilly remarried Catholics, but now he is making the same claim within the synod. His comments drew a sharp rebuke from Cardinal Raymond Burke.

“The Pope doesn’t have laryngitis,” he said last month. “The Pope is not mute. He can speak for himself. If this is what he wants, he will say so.”

In an interview with the National Catholic Register this week, Cardinal Burke said: “I do not know how I could accept such [a change] in the Catholic Church. I just could not.”

Such a move would be unprecedented for the Catholic Church, with critics arguing it would significantly change the Church’s 2,000-year teaching on matrimony.

So far, Francis has been publicly silent regarding his views on the matter. Asked last night if Cardinal Kasper does indeed speak for the Pope, Vatican spokesman Father Federico Lombardi did not deny the cardinal’s claim, simply saying: “As I have said, Cardinal Kasper can tell reporters what he believes; he is free and responsible.”

Questioned about the concern and confusion his proposal is causing, Cardinal Kasper replied: “I can only speak of Germany, where the great majority wants an opening about divorce and remarriage. It’s the same in Great Britain; it’s everywhere. When I speak to laypeople, also old people who are married for 50, 60 years, they never thought of divorce but they see a problem with their culture and so every family has a problem nowadays.”

He argued that “nobody” is calling into question the indissolubility of marriage, and argues that his proposal would be a “development of doctrine” rather than a change. “There must be a common faith, a common discipline, but a different application,” he said.

Also on the synod, the cardinal appeared to suggest that African views on homosexuality — where the issue remains taboo — are not listened to by the Western delegates in the assembly. Noting how “impossible” it is for Western delegates to comment on African issues, he said likewise “they should not tell us too much what we have to do.”

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