The Kasper Interview, Part II

Raymond Arroyo's extraordinary interview with Cardinal Walter Kasper has been a revelation which speaks to a change in attitude from Rome and a change in attitude from Cardinal Kasper as I remarked last week. The Cardinal tells EWTN journalist Arroyo that the Pope did not approve his proposal to allow divorced and remarried Catholics to receive Holy Communion after a period of penance. Last October, the Cardinal had a very different tale to tell, explaining to Catholic News Service that allowing Communion for the remarried was "clearly what [the Pope] wants".

Now Arroyo has released the second part of this interesting interview.

In this installment, Cardinal Kasper
  • tries to suggest that a shift in practice is somehow different to a change of doctrine
  • says he does not enter into public controversy with other Cardinals
  • expresses his pain at the opposition to his proposals, especially that there was no private discussion
  • takes a curiously orthodox line on Church teaching regarding his proposal and homosexuality
  • does not want to talk about the German Bishops open dissent
It is really not difficult to see the logical inconsistencies in what Cardinal Kasper is proposing from this interview. The Sacraments are not commodities to make people feel good so why does Cardinal Kasper want what he wants anyway? The Church does not exist to endorse things that contradict the words of Christ, but to uphold them. The Synod is about better understanding those words and teaching their message ever more clearly and with vigour. Cardinal Kasper makes interesting remarks about the threat of secularism but the way to deal with secularism is to explain the reasoning behind Catholic teaching, not to simply capitulate to it. Living out your life in continuity with the teaching of the Church is not a burden, it is liberating and a source of great joy. We have to explain this to people so that they can know that happiness too. I look at my non-Catholic peers and see the struggles in their lives and I am so glad that I have walked a Catholic path. My faith has transformed my life in a practical way. This does not mean that I have not experienced tragedy and strife, but that when these trials have struck me, my faith has equipped me with the intellectual and spiritual tools to deal with it. The faith ministers to me, providing firm guidelines to live by. Sometimes these guidelines seem at odds with the culture in which I live, but I have come to realise that, when I feel conflicted, I need to study further why it is the Church teaches a certain principle. Sometimes this can be difficult, but it is infinitely rewarding, and, in my experience, yields rich rewards.

Cardinal Kasper seems to extoll a path where being Catholic is not achievable, and unrealistic. Whilst I can plainly see that Cardinal Kasper seems, on the face of it, to want to not exclude some members of the Church who have suffered difficult circumstances, his methodology seems to unequivocally contradict fundamental Catholic principles. There is no joy greater than receiving Holy Communion properly disposed. Is mitigating the teaching of Christ really bringing mercy into the lives of these people? Surely these measures can do little more than say that Catholics don't care even about Christ's own words and directives. We know that once a permission is given, it is always broadly applied to everyone. We have already seen examples of lay people and priests taking perceived changes from Rome under Pope Francis as law. How much further would this be taken should such a contradictory proposal be taken up by the Magisterium? The idea is preposterous frankly!

Praxis is Different to Doctrine.
I think what is evident from this section of the interview is that Cardinal Kasper is unable to explain how it is different. He says that there would need to be a "penitential process", but the question would be what would the supplicant be penitent about? Certainly not the adulterous second relationship which is the cause of the rift, as the whole point is that that relationship will carry on? How could it be possible to achieve this without looking like hypocrites or people who do not take the words of Christ is Sacred Scripture seriously? His position strikes me as someone who is not at all acquainted with reality: popular piety seldom follows the mainstream of theology as it is. Even many card-carrying, self-identifying "Catholics" don't know or practice the faith beyond putting their hands in their pockets for the collection and going to Mass once a week. The challenge that faces the Church is to reassert it's intellectual capital, not capitulate the pearl of her teaching to those who are wandering down the broad path.

Controversy with Cardinals.
Despite his insistence that he does not enter into public controversy Cardinal Kasper has been very vocal with his proposals. Is he saying he went to his brother bishops with his proposals before he went public? He wrote a book and went on a speaking tour as well as giving a number of outspoken interviews. Now he is hurt because his proposal has been criticised by fellow Cardinals who are re-asserting Church teaching? He doesn't seem to have any idea of the turmoil it has created in the Catholic world. Arroyo said the Cardinal had managed to single-handedly turn the issue into an international debate. As we saw in part one, he accepts no responsibility for what he characterises as misrepresentation of his position. His position grows ever more confusing by the day!

Hurt by Opposition
If Cardinal Kasper's job was to open a dialogue around his proposal, then this is precisely what we have seen. Discussion following the Synod has affirmed the unreasonable nature of the Cardinal's proposal. It seems unreasonable that he is upset that other Cardinals objected to his proposal, going so far as to write books. The fact of the matter is that Cardinal Kasper could probably have researched and discussed the possibilities and the parameters of his proposal before proposing something so hurtful and divisive to the Church. In the ensuing discussion, he has singularly failed to convince anyone without a vested interest in the proposal how, exactly, this false mercy would benefit the faithful whilst failing to contradict the very words of Christ in the Gospel.

Ultimately the job of the Synod should be to explain the words of Jesus on Marriage, not to subvert, ignore, or mitigate them in some way. What Jesus says and what the Church teaches regarding Marriage is an essential explanation of the nature of married love; it is perpetual; it is for bringing forth new life, it insists on fidelity for those who contract Marriage. The Cardinal expresses a concern regarding secularism, well his efforts would be better directed toward explaining these things with clarity and love, rather than trying to find a way to side step them because they have become somehow difficult in a modern society where relationships continue to fracture. Church teaching is not unreasonable or cruel, it is liberating and it brings great joy!

We need to retain the courage of our convictions and remember that we do not have the authority to change Christ's teaching; our commission is the preaching of His Gospel, that is our Good News!


  1. Excellent words of wisdom which Cardinal Kasper could read, mark, learn and inwardly digest, it would then be apparent to him how he came to sow seeds of confusion.


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