by Carl E. Olson | CWR blog
The German prelate insists, "I never said such a thing about Africans..." But the evidence says otherwise.
For those who thought the Synod and the many reports and controversies swirling around it couldn't be any more surprising, surreal, confusing, and conflicted, tighten your seat belts. The past 36 hours or so have provided another drama within The Drama, and while some might dismiss it as just another example of the push, pull, and politics of such ecclesial events, it could prove, in hindsight, to be a turning point.
First, the background. As CWR's managing editor, Catherine Harmon, explained, Cardinal Walter Kasper of Germany was interviewed yesterday by veteran Vatican journalist Edward Pentin, who writes frequently for ZENIT and National Catholic Register, as well as other outlets, including CWR. In the interview, Catherine summarized, "the German cardinal said he believes 'a growing majority' of the synod participants are in favor of his controversial proposals about Communion for the divorced and remarried. Cardinal Kasper also emphasized the differences between the challenges faced by the Church in the West and the Church elsewhere, stating that the problems of the African Church, in particular, are 'impossible' for the synod to solve. Likewise, he said, the African bishops “should not tell us too much what we have to do.” There was then this surprising exchange:
[Kasper:] Africa is totally different from the West. Also Asian and Muslim countries, they’re very different, especially about gays. You can’t speak about this with Africans and people of Muslim countries. It’s not possible. It’s a taboo. For us, we say we ought not to discriminate, we don’t want to discriminate in certain respects.
But are African participants listened to in this regard?
[Kasper:] No, the majority of them [who hold these views won’t speak about them].
They’re not listened to?
[Kasper:] In Africa of course [their views are listened to], where it’s a taboo.
What has changed for you, regarding the methodology of this synod?
[Kasper:] I think in the end there must be a general line in the Church, general criteria, but then the questions of Africa we cannot solve. There must be space also for the local bishops’ conferences to solve their problems but I’d say with Africa it’s impossible [for us to solve]. But they should not tell us too much what we have to do.
Needless to say, those remarks caused a furor. Then, this morning, Cardinal Kasper issued a denial, telling kath.net [an Austrian Catholic news website], “I am shocked. I never said such a thing about Africans and would never say such a thing either. I declare: no one from Zenit contacted me in recent days and weeks.”: