Item No. 1.
The Walter Kasper Victory Tour is in full swing, touching down in New York yesterday for some riotous fun, starting with hot new cuts from his latest opus, Jesus, What's With All These Rules?:
First, he undercuts his German confrere in the CDF:
“If you have a problem with the leadership of the women’s orders, then you have to have a discussion with them, you have to dialogue with them, an exchange of ideas,” he said. “Perhaps they have to change something. Perhaps also the Congregation (for the Doctrine of the Faith) has a little bit to change its mind. That’s the normal way of doing things in the church. I am for dialogue. Dialogue presupposes different positions. The church is not a monolithic unity.”
Second, he compares Elizabeth Johnson to the Angelic Doctor (ISYN):
Asked about Johnson and another feminist theologian, Elisabeth Schussler Fiorenza, whose views have also been disputed by the hierarchy, Kasper said that he has known them both for years and added: “I esteem them both.”
Kasper — often a sparring partner with his fellow German theologian, Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, who later became Benedict XVI — said that critiques are part of academic discourse but said that the CDF sometimes “sees some things a little bit narrower.”
He said that the criticism of Johnson “is not a tragedy and we will overcome,” and he noted that St. Thomas Aquinas, the medieval theologian now considered one of the greatest minds in the church, was condemned by his bishop and lived under a shadow for years.
“So she is in good company!” Kasper said of Johnson.Esteem for Dr. Schussler-Fiorenza's work is also...fascinating...because of the, how shall I say it...ah, yes: the WTF Factor.
But don't worry--as he correctly notes, he has the Pope's Seal of Approval:
In many ways, Kasper may better reflect Francis’ outlook than the crackdown on U.S. nuns launched by the Vatican’s doctrinal office. Just as Francis has downplayed the focus on rule-following and hot-button issues in an effort to widen the church’s appeal, Kasper has pushed the importance of pastoral flexibility and realism in walking with Catholics throughout their imperfect lives.
Kasper is in the U.S. to discuss his book, “Mercy: The Essence of the Gospel and the Key to Christian Life.” It includes a blurb from Pope Francis, who has made mercy a cornerstone of his ministry since he was elected last year.
On Monday, Kasper told the audience that after Francis praised him by name just days after his election, “an old cardinal came to him and said, ‘Holy Father, you cannot do this! There are heresies in this book!’ ”
As Francis recounted the story to Kasper, he said, the pope smiled and added: “This enters in one ear and goes out the other."Oh, and the Cardinal may have just done the following to Humanae Vitae:
Item No. 2.
Or: Jesus, What's With All These Rules? Vol. II.
The guy the Pope appointed to be Secretary General for the Synod on the Family is stoked for some big changes:
In an exclusive interview with the Christian weekly magazine Tertio which appears this Wednesday, Cardinal Lorenzo Baldisseri, Secretary General of the Synod of Bishops, says it is time to update church marriage doctrine, for example in connection with divorce, the situation of divorcees and people who are in civil partnerships.
"The Church is not timeless, she lives amidst the vicissitudes of history and the Gospel must be known and experienced by people today," says Baldisseri.
"It is in the present that the message should be, with all respect for the integrity from whom the message has been received. We now have two synods to treat this complex theme of the family and I believe that these dynamics in two movements will allow a more adequate response to the expectations of the people", says the Secretary General of the Synod of Bishops.
Which should be a surprise to precisely no one, as he loudly hinted at this last year. Timeless Church? Nah. It's the Church of What's Happening Now, and we have to take our cues from the zeitgeist.
Eh. It's probably OK.