Lucan Glitch

In Cardinal Walter Kasper’s article, On the Church (4/23), there is a puzzling paragraph (p. 11, top of first column): In the Gospel of Luke, the word ecclesia can signify a domestic community as well as a local community; further, Luke already has a theological conception of the universal church. The word ecclesia doesn’t occur at all in the Gospel of Luke. Is the Cardinal talking rather about Luke’s Acts of the Apostles?

George Ratermann, M.M.
Maryknoll, N.Y.


Editor: The reference should have been to Luke’s Acts of the Apostles. America regrets the error, which did not appear in Cardinal Kasper’s original text.

Waiting Lovingly

I’m sitting in awed gratitude after reading Colin Ellis’s Faith in Focus essay (5/7). Congratulations to America for recognizing deep, masterfully articulated spiritual writing from wherever it comes (even from a high school student) and wherever it goes (even away from the Catholic Church to a Quaker Meeting House). What hope for the future that someone with Colin Ellis’s sensitivity and expressive gifts is out there waiting longingly for God!

Peggy Rosenthal
Rochester, N.Y.

Authentic Art

Colin Ellis’s spiritual and emotional autobiography (5/7) touched me to the quick. I spent almost half of my priesthood with teens. Ellis’s essay rings as true and authentic as an 18 year-old can write.

It is as though he is a junior James Joyce, having experienced at age 18 enough of confused adult life to come to adult living, one hopes, with some real answers and understandings.

I feel also that his essay has the character of art. Cheers to America for printing such sensitive material, not likely to appear elsewhere.

Rev. Robert J. Hammond
Fort Wayne, Ind.

Against Death

Your editorial of May 7 is the best statement of the why of anti-capital punishment I have ever seen. Your statement transcends a single religion and speaks eloquently to all.

Thank you for your succinct thought.

R. Rood
West Northfield, N.J.

Search for the Truth

The editorial Due Process in the Church (4/9) is on the mark! To say that the tactics of the Vatican Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith concerning the investigation of theologians is inquisitorial is backed up by evidence. To defend them contradicts basic elements of justice and charity. They offend the rights of the human person, whose dignity is taught and defended in papal and other magisterial pronouncements.

Those who use and defend the present methods must live in an unreal world, protected by the fortress symbols of the ancient Holy Office and its procedures. They seem to be unaware of how their tactics and decisions negatively influence the pastoral mission of the church and the propagation of the faith, particularly in countries and communities of intelligent, thinking, faithful Catholics and others. They seem not to realize how their methods are perceived as contradicting the search for and defense of truth in a world that has generally moved from the rule of absolutist rulers who imposed their own univocal visions and versions.

Yes, the methods used toward theologians mentioned in your editorial and others violate the criteria of modern and classical jurisprudence. They also more seriously offend the Gospel of Jesus Christ. They are obstacles to the proclamation and reception of the Gospel, especially in societies like ours, where respect for the person should include freedom and dialogue in the search for truth and its acceptance.

(Rev.) Aldo J. Tos
New York, N.Y.

Reasoning and Conclusions

Congratulations on your very honest and courageous editorial Due Process in the Church (4/9), in which you review and regret as indefensible the inquisitional procedures of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faitha process in which the C.D.F. is the investigator, the prosecutor, grand jury, judge and jury. For the Vatican, which preaches constantly that all institutions must respect human rights, its own lack of due process and its demeaning treatment of our theologians is an absolute disgrace.

Even if we grant, as seems certainly true, that Cardinal Ratzinger is a sincere man who is anxious to defend the integrity of the faith, his method of rushing roughshod over the rights and the reputation of good men and women is not only cruel but completely unnecessary. If any Catholic theologian writes something contrary to the faith, there are many fine, faithful theologians who will soon rush in to question his/her reasoning and conclusions. When the C.D.F. jumps in precipitously to fight any questionable teaching, it is like using a cannon to kill a fly. It’s overkill, and good, sincere people get crushed.

(Rev.) James E. Sullivan
Whitestone, N.Y.

Content of the Solution

Cardinal Walter Kasper (On the Church, 4/23) thinks that a correct understanding of the relationship between the universal church and the local churches would lead to a different solutionor at least to differing acceptable solutionson ethical issues, sacramental discipline and ecumenical practices. As examples he cites the giving or denying of Communion to divorced/invalidly remarried Catholics and the highly restrictive rules for eucharistic hospitality.

But nothing in Cardinal Kasper’s essay offers proof that the sacramental/ecclesiological truths that govern solutions to these issues and the binding disciplinary norms that safeguard these solutions would be evaluated differently because one speaks from the center (Rome) or from the local churches.

It is true, of course, that three local ordinaries (including the then Bishop Kasper of Rottenburg-Stuttgart) put forward (1993) a position on the Communion issue that was firmly rejected by the Holy See (1994). But it’s equally true that other local churchesfor example, the entire Province of Pennsylvania (eight Latin ordinaries with the auxiliary bishops and two Eastern Church ordinaries located therein) strongly contested the position of the then Bishop Kasper, Archbishop Oscar Saier and the then Bishop (now Cardinal) Karl Lehmann.

It seems that Cardinal Kasper is dissatisfied with the content of the solution, regardless of its source, and wants the local churches to be able to go their own way with, for example, the Communion issue, just as with fast and abstinence regulations or placing the solemnity of the Ascension on a Sunday, issues of radically diverse significance.

The key question thus seems to be whether a teaching and its disciplinary norm need to be uniform throughout the church and by what doctrinal and theological principles we come to this determination, whether at the level of the universal church or within the local churches. The controversy then hinges not on the proper relationship of the universal church and the local churches (something that indeed merits clarification) but on fundamental doctrinal and theological principles.

(Msgr.) Daniel S. Hamilton

Lindenhurst, N.Y.

Dangerous Word

Cardinal Walter Kasper’s written and very self-defensive response, On the Church (4/23), to Cardinal Ratzinger’s lecture can be summed up in a single and very dangerous wordsyncretism.

Hunter Seitz
Louisville, Ky.

Relief and Hope

America is to be thanked for publishing Cardinal Walter Kasper’s response to Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, On the Church (4/23). It comes as a great relief and source of hope to many of us who love the church yet are critical of some pronouncements coming from Rome to know that Cardinal Kasper not only disagrees with Cardinal Ratzinger’s ecclesiology, but does so in an outspoken and publicalbeit friendlymanner. Cardinal Ratzinger has met his match in this colleague prince of the church and superb theologian.

Eva Fleischner
Claremont, Calif.

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