Card. Kasper speaks to Lambeth: “dialogue has taken a step backwards”

UPDATE: 31 July 15:28 GMT:

I closed the combox here.  Go to this entry for the full text and discussion of Card. Kasper’s talk at Lambeth.


This just in:

Vatican cardinal: Catholic-Anglican dialog has ‘taken a step backwards’

Anglican Archbishop Rowan Williams / Cardinal Walter Kasper

.- Catholic Cardinal Walter Kasper on Wednesday afternoon touched on two of the hot button issues rankling the Anglican Communion of late–women’s ordination and sexuality.  Due to recent developments, he stated, “dialogue has taken a step backwards” between the two Churches.

“Our dialogue has been made dynamic by the desire to remain faithful to the will expressed by Christ that his disciples should all be one” so that “the world may believe,” Cardinal Walter Kasper, President of the Pontifical Council for the Promotion of Christian Unity, said on Wednesday afternoon.

The cardinal noted that these efforts at dialogue have been “based on the Gospel and on our ancient common traditions” and motivated by “fidelity to Christ.”

And yet, “now it seems that full and visible communion as the goal of our dialogue has taken a step backwards,” Cardinal Kasper lamented.

According to the Catholic prelate, two questions are creating tension between the Anglican Communion and the Catholic Church: “the ordination of women and human sexuality.” The teaching of the Catholic Church on human sexuality and in particular on homosexuality, said Kasper, is “firmly based on the Old and New Testament,” and what is “at stake is fidelity to Holy Scripture and to the apostolic tradition.”

Cardinal Kasper closed his speech by expressing the concern of the Catholic Church over the divisions currently appearing in the Anglican Communion.

“Our acute consciousness of the greatness and considerable depth of the Christian culture of your tradition increases our concern for you in relation to your current problems and crises, but it also gives us confidence in the fact that, with God’s help, you will find a way out of these difficulties and that in a new way we shall be strengthened in our common pilgrimage towards the unity that Jesus Christ wishes for us and for which he prays.”

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  1. Jacob says:

    Yeah, a step backward, just like Gollum when he took a step backward and fell into the Crack of Doom.

  2. Fr. Marie-Paul says:

    It always amazes me how any ecclesial community can ignore “fidelity to Holy Scripture and to the apostolic tradition” as Cardinal Kaspar says, and claim to be a Bible based Church. But that shows how unfaithfulness and sin blind souls. The invitation should be made public to all Anglicans – those who wish for fidelity can come home. The rest, well we’ll pray for them.

  3. Fr. Angel says:

    The Cardinal’s words may seem weak, but they are a departure from the “nice” style we usually see in Kasper. I can’t think of another time when he described our relations with Anglicanism as taking “a step back.” Perhaps he is trying to challenge them to realize that their changes are incompatible with orthodoxy–a challenge which the Holy See needs to voice clearly to Canterbury.

    Such words may also signal a desire on the part of the Holy See to change course and accept Anglicans en masse and not merely as individuals. Traditional Anglicans have so much to offer that it would be foolish not to open the door when they come knocking.

  4. athanasius says:

    I think this is more fruits both of the Motu Proprio and also of Pope Benedict’s reforms in the Church:

    Ten years ago we would have had complete silence. Possibly there might be an expression of disappointment. This time, not only does Kasper go to them, he is talking about fidelity to apostolic tradition! I like it. With Kasper we are usually treated to “reconciled diversity” and nice thoughts about how to get along and “share gifts”. Could it be that the reform of the reform is not limited to liturgy, but also is being applied to prelates such as Kasper? If so keep it coming!

  5. Danny says:

    Yeah, and we were sooo close to reunion too. Darn shame…or sham

  6. Woody Jones says:

    With Father’s indulgence, we should compare these excerpts from the address given by the Rt Rev George Langberg of the TAC:

    An Address given by the Right Reverend George Langberg at the Conference of the Fellowship of Concerned Churchmen – June 2008

    Anglican Unity

    Maybe the problem is that we have all been thinking way too small. If, in the light of John 17, we were trying to rebuild The Church, reconciling and uniting all of Christ’s followers, we would be forced to deal with the issues which define a follower of Christ, rather than the minor issues and major egos which keep various groups of Anglicans separate from one another. Even differences between Anglicans, Catholics, and Protestants melt away when we begin talking about what makes one a “follower of Christ,” rather than what defines a “true Anglican,” a “real Catholic,” or a “good Protestant” – all terms unknown to Jesus, we should remember. The inherent flaw in our multiple “Anglican unity” efforts may just be that we are putting our energy into trying to repair one dysfunctional piece of the Church, rather than the shattered Church itself.

    Conservative Anglicans, by even the broadest definition, comprise considerably less than 1% of the world’s Christians. If you were trying to repair an article of pottery which had been broken, would you begin by looking for small fragments to glue together? Of course not. The only logical way to rebuild the broken vessel would be to start with the largest intact piece and re-attach to it, one by one, the pieces which had broken off.

    Process of reconstruction

    In its action last October, seeking “full, corporate, sacramental union” with the See of Rome, the College of Bishops of the Traditional Anglican Communion sought to begin that process of reconstruction in the broken Body of Christ. The knowledge that their appeal was “cordially received” by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith at the Vatican, and that a substantive response to it is being prepared, should fill every Christian with hope that the process to reclaim an undivided Christian Church is underway. There are many, both Anglicans and Roman Catholics, who are praying for us. A Poor Clare sister here in the USA recently let us know that she is dedicating her prayer life to our cause, and she has requested a list of our clergy and parishes so that she can also pray for each of them individually. A group of Carmelite nuns in Canada is doing likewise.

    Despite such positive responses, there has also been some negative reaction to the news of our petition, and even some nervousness among those who support it in principle. It would be folly to expect other­wise – both Abraham and Moses certainly had their critics. Resistance to change and fear of the unknown, along with an underlying assumption that a fragmented Christian church is normal and reasonable, combine to make the status quo seem attractive, even if it is at odds with Holy Scripture.

    Restoring unity

    Because we know about Jesus’ prayer for unity, it was obviously a public prayer, directed to the Father but intended for our instruction as well. Neither the TAC’s petition nor the concurrent Roman-Orthodox dialogue is an attempt to establish an alliance or working arrangement between disparate churches. In each case, the motivation is the fulfillment of our Lord’s unambiguous will for a unified Church. The ultimate goal is to restore the unity destroyed by earlier schisms, preserving and respecting the unique contribu­tions to the faith developed by each of the parties during their periods of separation, and adding these contributions to the richness of the restored Body of Christ. It will take time and effort to realize that goal, and there will be missteps and mid-course corrections along the way, but the goal itself must not change, because it is clearly the will of our Lord.

    If we are to realize Jesus’ vision for his Church, the Anglican component will obviously be much bigger than the TAC. Chemists routinely mix two or more ingredients to form some new and useful compound, and it is not unusual for a catalyst to be required to start the reaction necessary to produce the desired end product. It may be helpful to think of the TAC and its petition as catalysts in the unity process, rather than as main ingredients.

    This is a new, more robust ecumenism, unlike earlier efforts – one which recognizes full communion as the sign and product of unity, but is not afraid to explore its role as an agent of unity as well. The end game is not some special status for the TAC, but an open door through which all faithful Anglicans can come home as Anglicans who, in the words of the Athanasian Creed, “keep the catholic faith whole and undefiled.” It is not a quick process because, as one Vatican official told us, “You have forced us to consider questions we haven’t thought about in 500 years.”

    Real unity

    Our fallen human nature makes it very difficult to let go of our personal opinions, preferences, and even ambitions. When we find ourselves apprehensive about concrete steps toward real Christian unity because of our private concerns about what such unity may mean for us personally, we need to re-read Jesus’ prayer for his followers in John 17, and then ask God to “preserve us from faithless fears and worldly anxieties” (BCP 1928, p. 596). Making the following prayers for the Church, from pp. 37-38 of the same Book of Common Prayer, part of our daily devotions will also help us align ourselves more closely with the will of our Lord:

    Pray daily For the Church.

    O gracious Father, we humbly beseech thee for thy holy Catholic Church; that thou wouldest be pleased to fill it with all truth, in all peace. Where it is corrupt, purify it; where it is in error, direct it; where in any thing it is amiss, reform it. Where it is right, establish it; where it is in want, provide for it; where it is divided, reunite it; for the sake of him who died and rose again, and ever liveth to make intercession for us, Jesus Christ, thy Son, our Lord. Amen.

    For the Unity of God’s People.

    O God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, our only Saviour, the Prince of Peace; Give us grace seriously to lay to heart the great dangers we are in by our unhappy divisions. Take away all hatred and prejudice, and whatsoever else may hinder us from godly union and concord: that as there is but one Body and one Spirit, and one hope of our calling, one Lord, one Faith, one Baptism, one God and Father of us all, so we may be all of one heart and of one soul, united in one holy bond of truth and peace, of faith and charity, and may with one mind and one mouth glorify thee; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

    Anyone who reads John 17 and offers those prayers with a heart and mind truly open to the Holy Spirit will understand that maintaining the current divisions in the Body of Christ is in direct opposition to Christ’s clear and incontrovertible will for His Church. Simply put, that is sin, and it is not an option.

    Let go – Let God

    We all say the words “Thy will be done” daily in the Lord’s Prayer. James (1:22) writes, “Be ye doers of the word, and not hearers only.” Those words from the Lord’s Prayer ring hollow unless we actively pursue, or at least support, the quest to undo the mistakes of our forefathers and restore the Church to the unity mandated by Jesus. Opposition to such unity is nothing less than telling our Lord that He cannot have the church He wants, because we insist on having the church we want.

    There is only one Christian response to such feelings – the words spoken by our Lord when Peter put his personal wishes ahead of God’s plan: “Get behind me, Satan! You are an offence to me, for you are not mindful of the things of God, but the things of men.” (Matt. 16:23, NKJV)

    This is an historic time in the life of the Church, not a time to sit on the sidelines, and not a time to let our own personal preferences or hang-ups keep us out of the game entirely. If Christ’s clearly-stated will for his Church clashes with our individual inclinations, the problem is ours, and we need to fix it.

    As God calls us forth from our comfortable little enclaves and we move like Abraham into uncharted territory, we need to “let go and let God” rebuild His Church, ready and willing for Him to use us as He sees fit, whether that be as architects and engineers, or simply as a batch of cement.

    Full text at:

  7. cathguy says:

    The great scholar Michael Davies, in his EXCELLENT book “The Order of Melchizedek: A Defense of the Roman Catholic Priesthood” clearly outlines why those who have been working towards reunion on behalf of the Church have been quick to betray the Roman Catholic Church in the process. The ARCIC abomination is clearly examined in the book, as is the traditional rite of Ordination, which is compared to the new rite very diligently.

    As we all know, Anglican orders are invalid. Why do some in the Roman Catholic Church seem unwilling to recognize this? We are just taking a step backward NOW? What about Lambeth in 1930? What about the horrible schism itself? What about Cranmer’s protestant Anglican Ordinal? What about the stripping of the Altars?

    As many remind me constantly (and this is good, for humility is an important virtue) my opinion matters little, and I am just a layman. However, it seems to me that unity cannot proceed at the cost of Truth.

  8. TNCath says:

    A step backward, yes. But, in the long run, miles forward for the Catholic Church.

  9. dominic1962 says:

    What I don’t get is this talk about “restoring” unity in the Church as if all these sects are actually part of the Church. The Church already has unity, the Church of Christ is the Catholic Church. These dissident groups broke away, the Church did not break apart though. If non-Catholics want to join the Catholic Church, great but the one and only True Church is already united.

  10. dark_coven says:

    Cardinal Kasper is being worked-up! I can’t imagine the Cardinal using the term “apostolic tradition.” This means that when “push comes to shove” we lean on to our Tradition, which is the very identity of us Catholics. Unity with Christ, is to be united with His body the Catholic Church.

    It would now seem that it is rather easier for us if we just convert these heretics to the true faith, than talk our way into them. Do you think Fr. Z that there must be some grave reason why Rome doesn’t simply accept the Anglicans into the Catholic Church? Or this has something to do with the prevalent ecumenism and the appeasing of liberals?

  11. Chris says:

    Of Course it could be that, rather than a liberal plot, the ecumenical movement has actually been a work of the Holy Spirit.This is clearly the view of Pope Benedict: (I)reaffirm the irreversible commitment” undertaken at Vatican Council II, and since then, to stay “on the path towards full unity desired by Jesus for His disciples. … Your presence, dear brothers in Christ, beyond what divides us and throws shadows over our full and visible communion, is a sign of sharing and support for the bishop of Rome, who can count on your support to follow” this path.
    In that context Cardinal Kasper’s clear and careful message makes perfect sense.

  12. Homosexual activity is a worship of self. The active homosexual is a priest of his or her own self-worship. Of course the Anglicans promote both homosexuality and homosexually active priests and bishops, male or female or whatever.

    But now we read, with much fisking at the Trilogy, that (even the vast majority of) the Catholic Bishops of England are encouraging adoptions by homosexual ‘couples’. Perhaps the Catholic heirarchy will become Anglican, also in name, while a good number of the Anglicans become Catholic.

  13. Rose says:

    Chris, I believe you’re right. Pope Benedict is often very subtle. Nice catch.

  14. Matt of South Kent says:

    It is a real mystery to me why people are against real ecumenicalism. What about the parables are of lost sheep and the lost coins? It is so against Holy Scripture (and shows why you can not rely solely on Holy {recent} Tradition.) . Even those who reject Jesus to his face are not treated with contempt by Jesus. He rails against those who are self-sanctifying like the Pharisees.

    Jesus was the good Shepard who sought the lost sheep. So is the job of everyone in the Church, not just the Pope, to seek Jesus’ lost sheep. I think Cardinal Kasper’s address was excellent and shows signs of life and intelligence of the Church. I also really enjoyed and am encouraged by the Right Reverend Langberg’s address. It is a reward of a year of personal prayers for the TAC and unity with the Pope. It is really a wonderful encouragement for the People of God, and Christian unity.

    I hope Rome thinks big, when dealing with TAC and the Orthodox. We must remember the Roman Catholic Church is the mother Church but we are not the only church in the body of Christ.

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