I’ve given a couple talks here in Florida in the last couple days, both during Q&A and after, and also in my email, I’m getting questions about Card. Kasper’s claim, made in a recent speech, that the forthcoming Apostolic Exhortation (following the two Synods on the Family) is going to “turn the page” on some 1700 years of whatever.
Let’s first remember that Card. Kasper has a fluid relationship with the truth. What do I mean by that? For Card. Kasper the truth is a moving target when it comes to interpreting texts, even texts of Scripture. As the scholar Robert Stark pointed out, those who talk about bending the Church’s teachings (and practices) to “reality”, would say that truth can vary from place to place and time to time. What might have once been true doesn’t necessary need to be true now. The German/Kasperite/Rahnerian approach replaces the philosophical grounding of theology with politics (majorities can determine truth, and that might diverge from what people thought in the past). Truth changes according to shifting mores, values, etc. To hell with reason (e.g., syllogisms).
Also, let’s remember that His Eminence spins. Quite a bit. Who can forget how he denied making those amazing comments about how African bishops shouldn’t tell the Synod what to do. HERE Of course the great Edward Pentin had a recording.
So, now Card. Kasper says that the new document is going to be a really big deal!
Suuuure it is!
There is a good piece in the UK’s best Catholic weekly, The Catholic Herald by Ed Condon. HERE A couple quips…
While there is no question that there needs to be an urgent rethink about how parishes pastorally respond to, and better include, families in this situation, and while we all hope that Pope Francis will produce something profound and original to this end, the zombie-like return of Cardinal Kasper and his eponymous proposal would be an ecclesiastical nightmare, and his comments have caused more than a little concern.
The theological contradictions of such a move have already been expounded at great length, and, if they need to be again, I shall leave them to those theologically better qualified than myself to do so.
But before too much is assumed from Cardinal Kasper’s comments, we should remember that that he has already demonstrated a willingness to claim that documents say something which they clearly do not – he famously insisted that the final relatio of the family synod “opened a door” for his plan. The majority of synod fathers, however, protested that, not only was the door not open, there wasn’t even a door.
It is perfectly possible that the good cardinal is, in a rather political way, spinning a document which has not yet been released, with a view to influencing how it will be received. It should be noted that, while he was very forthcoming about what he thought the exhortation would say, he did not actually say he had read it.
Pope Francis’s ecclesiology of a dynamic, diverse, personal Church, is radically at odds with Kasper’s flat, essentially German, understanding of a parish. According to the cardinal’s vision, the function of the parish is not missionary but distributive, people come to get Communion (and pay their Church tax, of course). To receive Communion is to be in the parish, and vice-versa.
In the Kasper model, the parish is reduced to a sort of sacramental McDonald’s, where everyone drives through, gets the same order, and leaves again; there is no distinction between people’s situations, no expectation of a change in their lives, no real concern for them beyond “are the getting what everyone else is getting?” rather than are they getting what they need?
This is the reason I don’t think the apostolic exhortation will incorporate the Kasper proposal. Francis wants a dynamic, messy Church of individuals helping each other on the way to faith, where our problems are the unique way God speaks to each of us and brings us to know Him better. Cardinal Kasper wants a whitewashed Church where everyone sits in neat rows.