I have read chapters one and two of The Gospel of the Family carefully, and I’m afraid I have little to report: it’s pretty much just boring old Catholic doctrine. Nothing scandalous or juicy.
But I do think I’m seeing what Kasper meant when he said in the preface that “Our topic is not ‘The Church’s Teaching concerning the family.” Chapters one and two take the form of a commentary on the first three chapters of Genesis, and while he footnotes magisterial documents liberally, he does not actually talk about magisterial documents. The Church’s teaching is certainly in the mix, but he’s using it to comment on Scripture.
The one odd moment was in chapter 2, where he writes about the Ten Commandments. After explaining how they express the natural law found in every culture, he says:
They are signposts on the path to a happy fulfilled life. One cannot impose them on anyone, but can offer them to everyone, with good reasons, as a path to happiness.
Surely he knows that one can impose “Thou shalt not steal” and “Thou shalt not kill” on the general populace, right? Kasper is rumored to be liberal, but I have a hard time thinking he really means to negate the foundations of law and order. So for the moment I’m taking this one as a slip of the pen or tongue or laptop or whatever he used to craft this document.