The Confounding and Curious Pontifications of Cardinal Kasper | Carl E. Olson | Editorial | Catholic World Report
Is the German prelate and theologian promoting a book on mercy or pushing a dubious agenda at the expense of fellow bishops?
Cardinal Walter Kasper, noted German prelate and theologian, has been on a book tour in the States in support of his most recent work, Mercy: The Essence of the Gospel and the Key to Christian Life (Paulist Press). I'm not sure how much interest he has generated regarding his book, but In the course of just a few days, he has managed the rather remarkable (which is not to say admirable) combined feat of slighting the head of the Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faith (a fellow Cardinal, Gerhard Müller), essentially dismissing the pastoral authority of the USCCB, praising an openly dissenting theologian while positively comparing her to St. Thomas Aquinas—and doing so while talking of "humility" as if only he and a few others have even heard of it before.
Frankly, I'm aghast. I've never seen anything quite like it. Certainly not from someone of Cardinal Kasper's stature. And I've talked to several others in the past two days—all of them lifelong Catholics and all working in some capacity for the Church—and they say the same thing.
Cardinal Kasper's resume is undoubtedly impressive: he was president of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity for almost a decade (2001-2010) after ten years as bishop of Rottenburg-Stuttgart (1989-1999). He has taught at several schools, including the University of Tubingen and the Catholic University of America. He has long had a reputation of being a "liberal"—although that is certainly relative—and he has had some interesting and high profile, um, discussions about various theological points over the years, as when he and then-Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger went round and round in 2001 about the nature and relationship of particular churches and the universal Church (see this ZENIT piece by Cardinal Avery Dulles for details and analysis).
He got back into the bigger spotlight in February, when he gave a two-hour-long address to an extraordinary consistory on the family at the Vatican, and was then praised for it by Pope Francis. But not everyone was so impressed. In fact, it soon became clear that many of those present were deeply critical of Kasper's ideas about how to better address the situation of Catholics who have been divorced and remarried. In late March, Edward Pentin reported: