Cardinal Kasper's Explanation

Responding to the confusion over his absence at the announcement of Anglicanum coetibus, Cardinal Walter Kasper, president of the Council for Christian Unity, explains what happened in an interview with L'Osservatore Romano.  Sandro Magister, veteran Vatican-watcher relates the story in Chiesa Online...

The phone call in the middle of the night from the archbishop of Canterbury. The distrust of the Eastern Churches. The head of Catholic ecumenism takes us behind the scenes of "Anglicanorum cœtibus"

by Sandro Magister  ROME, November 18, 2009 – Cardinal Walter Kasper has admitted it: "There has been a bit of confusion." He himself contributed to some of the confusion, involuntarily.

When on October 20 Cardinal William J. Levada, prefect of the congregation for the doctrine of the faith, announced the imminent publication of an apostolic constitution that would regulate the admission of groups from the Anglican Communion into the Catholic Church, he, Kasper, president of the pontifical council for Christian unity and therefore absolutely entitled to be involved, was not in Rome, but in Cyprus, busy with completely unrelated matters.

From this, some deduced that Kasper had wanted to distance himself from a decision that was not his own and with which, perhaps, he did not entirely agree.

Cardinal Kasper was in Cyprus because the island was hosting, from October 16-23, the second round (after the first in Ravenna in 2007) of theological dialogue between Catholics and Orthodox on how to understand papal primacy. An ecumenical dialogue of capital importance, in which Kasper led the delegation from Rome.

There was, therefore, a perfect justification for his absence from Rome at the moment of the announcement of "Anglicanorum Cœtibus," finally signed by the pope on November 4 and made public on the 9th. But the silence that Kasper maintained on the question even after his return from Cyprus continued to prompt speculation about his reservations.

Cardinal Kasper broke this silence with an interview published in "L'Osservatore Romano" on November 15.

The interview is full of clarifying new information. And it gives a little glimpse behind the scenes.


"Let's stick to the facts," Cardinal Kasper says in the interview. "A group of Anglicans has asked freely and legitimately to enter the Catholic Church. This is not our initiative. They first approached our council [for Christian unity], and, as president, I replied that the competency belonged to the congregation for the doctrine of the faith. [...] The council has always been kept informed by the congregation for the doctrine of the faith, and it is not true that it was pushed aside. We did not participate directly in the conversations, but we were kept updated, as is proper. The text of the [apostolic] constitution was prepared by the congregation for the doctrine of the faith. We saw the draft and presented our proposals."

In any case, the gestation of "Anglicanorum Cœtibus" was kept secret until the last moment, even from the highest authorities of the Anglican Church. When the archbishop of Canterbury, Rowan Williams (in the photo with Benedict XVI), was told that it was about to be published, Kasper was already in Cyprus. And he says that Williams called him in the middle of the night, to ask him for an explanation. Kasper says in the interview:

"We we talked about the significance of the new apostolic constitution, and I reassured him about the continuation of our direct talks, as indicated to us by Vatican Council II and as the pope desires. He replied to me that for him, this confirmation is a very important message."

A couple of days later, on October 20, Williams made the announcement from London about the upcoming release of the apostolic Constitution, together with the Catholic archbishop of Westminster, Vincent G. Nichols, at precisely the same time as Cardinal Levada was making the same announcement in Rome. For this reason as well, Kasper says that he appreciates "the balanced attitude" of the archbishop of Canterbury. "Our personal relationship is cordial and transparent. He is a man of spirituality, a theologian. In reality, the obstacles to ecumenical dialogue today can come only from tensions within the Anglican world."

This last statement must be stressed. In Kasper's view, both the desire of some Anglican groups to change to Catholicism and the obstacles to a more general reconciliation between Rome and Canterbury arise not from the desire of the Catholic Church to "expand its empire" ("a ridiculous comment," the cardinal snaps), but from causes entirely internal to the Anglican Communion.

The cardinal describes these causes in the interview...

Read the rest in Chiesa Online.  The original text of the interview with Cardinal Kasper published in "L'Osservatore Romano" on November 15, 2009:  > Una possibilità concreta non contraria all'ecumenismo

Comments are automatically closed two weeks after an article's initial publication. See our comments policy for more.
8 years 11 months ago
Fr. Martin,
Per your reply on my recent post deletions, I think such claims ad hominem attacks of are one-sided and slightly overblown.  Ideas, after all, do mean something and, as a priest, your advocacy of one type of idea as opposed to another is very signifigant...
As for your commentary, you do not use the pronoun "you" in your recent post on homosexuality and the Church; however, you do manage to impugn the church leadership by quoting statements or doctrine out of context and without explaination in order to display them in a bad light for those for those readers who only understand modern rational of sexuality or humanity.
You do not explain the other side - i.e. the Catholic theological premise and reasons behind these examples of what moderns see as "oppression" or "persecution" against homosexuals.
Your ideas focus on a part of human nature (esp. individual suffering) while the Church focuses  on the whole of human nature.  By using such selective forms of logic or argumentation you appeal to human regard to the victim (brought about by Christ's own victimhood) and man's natural inclination of pride in being but not to the greater truth that Christ and the church represent.
This essentially is what Josef Pieper would call flattery or "abuse of language" - i.e. by withholding truth from a partner of conversation you to influence them in a particular direction.  And, therefore, by withholding the true origins of church teaching on homosexuality it is possible to build pride and calls for power/influence in these particular individuals even though such emotion and reason is faulty - this pride is misplaced and is unnatural.
Josep Pieper (catholic philosopher) goes on to say in "Abuse of Language - Abuse of Power":
"For the general public is being reduced to a state where people not only are unable to find out about the truth but also become unable even to search for the truth because they are satisfied with deceptions and trickery that have determined their convictions, satisfied with fictitious reality created by design through the abuse of language."
I will leave with a final quote from the same paragraph: : "the best, corrupted, becomes the worst."
Eric Stoltz
8 years 11 months ago
Brett: Dude, loosen up. Jim Martin is not your enemy. When you post a comment about homosexuality in a post about a Vatican deal with disaffected Anglicans, people can only think you're a crank. Is that what you want? You are only reinforcing the perception a lot of people have that opposition to gay people is irrational flailing. Better to phrase your dislike of gays in more rational ways and not seem like a fanatic. OK?
And frankly I wouldn't blame Fr. Martin for deleting your post from this thread. That wouldn't be personal, it's only netiquette because your comment's totally irrelevant to the topic. Or are you secretly hoping he deletes it so you can feel wronged?
8 years 11 months ago
I was only replying on this post because I had been away from the computers since his last reply to me on an older thread and thought this thread would be a way to respond.
I am not hijacking the comments - just sending a note (wheither it was received or not)


The latest from america

Father Michael Nixon and parishioner work a volunteer table at St. Dominic Catholic Church in Panama City, Fla. Photo by Atena Sherry.
Much like New Orleans’ Ninth Ward after Hurricane Katrina, the low-income neighborhoods east of Panama City, where St. Dominic is located, were especially hard-hit by the storm. Now residents here are desperate for help.
Atena SherryOctober 18, 2018
“I believe there are adequate, alternative options for true women’s health care out there, and Planned Parenthood is not needed,” said Alisha Fox, a health and wellness coach at a Catholic fertility center in Chicago.
Colleen ZeweOctober 18, 2018
 Ethiopian Cardinal Berhaneyesus Souraphiel of Addis Ababa checks out the name badge of Nathanael Lamataki, a youth delegate from the French territory of New Caledonia in the South Pacific, as they leave a session of the Synod of Bishops on young people, the faith and vocational discernment at the Vatican Oct. 5. (CNS photo/Paul Haring)
Cardinal Souraphiel highlighted the role globalization plays in connecting young people in unjust ways.
Michael J. O’LoughlinOctober 18, 2018
The pope said he would visit North Korea “if an official invitation arrives.”
Gerard O’ConnellOctober 18, 2018