Cardinal Walter Kasper’s controversial keynote address on marriage and the family to cardinals in Rome on Feb. 20, 2014, sparked a firestorm of criticism. It continues to burn today.
Within days of his address, Cardinal Kasper’s proposal to quickly admit divorced-and-remarried Catholics to the sacraments was in print and dominating headlines. Several cardinals immediately voiced opposition to the so-called Kasper proposal. Then in the lead-up to the extraordinary synod of last fall, a chorus of cardinals and theologians in books and in the media expressed concerns with Cardinal Kasper’s approach. They asserted — at times strongly — that the Kasper proposal was irreconcilable with authentic Catholic doctrine and would compromise the indissolubility of sacramental marriage.
Cardinal Kasper went on the offensive. The president emeritus of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity told Vatican Radio that the main purpose of his proposal was to “deepen the theological understanding of challenges facing the family” and “to help, support and encourage [families].” In his words, the proposal seeks to find “a way between ‘rigorism’ [strictness] — which cannot be the way of normal Christians — and a pure ‘laxism’ [leniency].”
Despite the vast opposition to his proposal, Cardinal Kasper continues to vigorously defend it — and he is confident it can succeed.
Cardinal Kasper explored his proposal with me during a recent visit to Washington. In the first part my interview that aired on EWTN’s The World Over on June 4, the cardinal touted the support he believes he has from the synod fathers. At the same time, he backed away from his previous statements claiming a papal endorsement for his ideas. [Video below]
In Part II of the interview, I delve into the disagreements among the cardinals over Cardinal Kasper’s proposal. We discuss recent statements by the German bishops who intend to change Church discipline regarding divorced-and-remarried Catholics, no matter what Rome decides. Cardinal Kasper also rebukes his critics, who issued their public disapproval but failed to “come and discuss it” with him first. He claims they, not he, caused the ensuing confusion and controversy. And in spite of efforts by his countrymen to raise the issue of homosexual relationships at the synod on the family, Cardinal Kasper believes it will “not be a central point of the discussion.”
Don’t miss the second part of my exclusive interview with Cardinal Walter Kasper this Thursday, June 11, on The World Over. Visit EWTN.com for air times in your market.
Here are excerpts from Part II:
ARROYO: Cardinal Pell, your colleague in Rome, recently said that he foresees “a massive endorsement” of traditional teaching and practice coming out of the synod. Is that what you see?
CARDINAL KASPER: I see something more differentiated because I know many bishops who have a different position and bishops’ conferences. And so it is not, ah … perhaps there will be, but we must find the solution where everybody, or the great majority — the Pope wants a certain unanimity of the episcopate and now it cannot. It’s too easy, I think, to say it’s already an overwhelming majority, no.
ARROYO: It seems the Pope’s mind is changing a bit. In his recent interview, he said this does not resolve anything, referring to your proposal, and it is a result of “overblown expectations.”
CARDINAL KASPER: Obviously there are a lot of overblown expectations. I would also say that there are many expectations that the whole sexual morality will be changed. I do not think of such a thing, and the Pope never thought such a thing; and he … does not solve anything to give only holy Communion.
I have kept silence for the last month because I told the Pope, “Holy Father I do not enter into controversy, a public controversy, into a polemic with other cardinals.” That [does] not serve the good of the Church, and I’m very, very sorry that these cardinals did not speak before with me. They never spoke with me. This is not according to the holy Scriptures: Matthew 18. You have to speak first; and to come to you; and then say to the Church, but not say to the mass media.
ARROYO: Were you hurt that they didn’t come to you first?
CARDINAL KASPER: They did not come! They did not come. And to some, I wrote a letter, to invite them to meet them and to speak. No answer. Well, that’s not a good style. That’s not a good style. They did a lot of polemics. This created the confusion, polemical statements … without speaking before. I think that is not a good collegial style. I am saddened about this situation, but I think this is not my guilt. It’s not my guilt — my responsibilities. This is where other people who made such a thing ... public discussions that were stirred up. I did not. I did not. Why they did not come and discuss it? We can discuss it. But, no, no …
ARROYO: Can we talk for a moment about Question 9 in the questionnaire that was sent out after the last synod as a way for the dioceses of the world to talk about these big questions. Question 9 said, “How can the Church give pastoral attention to families with persons with homosexual tendencies?” Where did that come from? It didn’t seem to be central to the discussion, and some of the bishops said this was just sort of inserted at the last minute.
CARDINAL KASPER: I don’t know who inserted it. I never spoke about this problem, and it was mentioned, as I remember in the synod, it was not a central point in the synod. It only came in this intermediate report, but this intermediate report is not a document of the synod. The question is not what we say about homosexual unions. The problem is how to help families when a boy or girl comes and has this attraction ... how to help them. And I think the council [synod], the council is a council about family; it’s a council about marriage and our Catholic understanding. Such a homosexual union is not a marriage and is not a family; and, therefore, I think it will not be a central point of the discussion.
Watch Part I of the interview: