Rorate Caeli

Cardinal Kasper in NYC:
The Ghost of Vatican II goes on a rampage.

While the attention of much of the Catholic blogosphere was focused on Cardinal Müller's "harsh" and "blunt" speech to the Presidency of the Leadership Conference of Women Religious -- a speech on which we will have something to say later on -- Cardinal Kasper went to Fordham University (May 5) for a "conversation" with Cathleen Kaveny, ethicist and legal scholar at Boston College, on his new book, "Mercy: The Essence of the Gospel and the Key to Christian Life". The "conversation" was well-advertised, done in front of a large audience (the event was reportedly "sold out"), and live-tweeted by Grant Gallicho (associate editor of Commonweal) and discussed on Facebook. 

The Cardinal was asked about his stance on communion for the divorced and remarried, to which he responded (as reported by Mr. Gallicho):

Evidently for Cardinal Kasper, the divorced and (civilly) remarried are not only eligible to receive Holy Communion, they are not even in a state of grave sin.

And on feminist theologians? Here is Cardinal Kasper's response as recorded by Fr. James Martin SJ on his Facebook page (which has nearly 74,000 likes and can be read by the public):

Cardinal Kasper's public endorsement of Elizabeth Johnson is very significant as she is one of the very few theologians ever to have a book publicly censured (in 2011) by the Committee on Doctrine of the US Conference of Catholic Bishops. The Committee was at that time led by Donald Cardinal Wuerl, who is nobody's idea of a "conservative". The awarding to her of the LCWR's "Outstanding Leadership Award" this year was also denounced only a few days before by Cardinal Müller as an "open provocation against the Holy See and the Doctrinal Assessment" because of "the gravity of the doctrinal errors in that theologian’s writings". Cardinal Müller predicted that this move "further alienates the LCWR from the Bishops"; but it certainly does not alienate them from Cardinal Kasper, who also went on to criticize the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith:

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.”

“We should be in communion,” he continued, “which also means in dialogue with each other. I hope all this controversy will end in a good, peaceful and meaningful dialogue.”
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.”

The Cardinal did not neglect to remind his audience of Pope Francis' support for his book:

The German cardinal who has been called the “pope’s theologian” said fresh Vatican criticism of American nuns was typical of the “narrower” view that officials of the Roman Curia tend to take, and he said U.S. Catholics shouldn’t be overly concerned.

“I also am considered suspect!” Cardinal Walter Kasper said with a laugh during an appearance on Monday (May 5) at Fordham University. “I cannot help them,” he added, referring to his critics in Rome.
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.”

Pope Francis had already praised the book in public last year, during his first Angelus (March 17, 2013):

In the past few days I have been reading a book by a Cardinal — Cardinal Kasper, a clever theologian, a good theologian — on mercy. And that book did me a lot of good, but do not think I am promoting my cardinals’ books! Not at all! Yet it has done me so much good, so much good... Cardinal Kasper said that feeling mercy, that this word changes everything. This is the best thing we can feel: it changes the world. A little mercy makes the world less cold and more just. 

In addition to his "conversation" in Fordham, Cardinal Kasper was interviewed that same day on the Brian Lehrer Show. The full interview can be heard there: The Brian Lehrer Show - The Pope's Theologian. Near the beginning of the interview, Mr. Lehrer sets the tone by describing his guest as "Pope Francis' theologian". Cardinal Kasper later affirms that the pontificate of Pope Francis is "a springtime of the Church" (6:43-6:45). 

Rorate will try to post a transcript of the most relevant and disturbing section of the interview. For now we point our readers to the section from 21:40 to 25:17, where Mr. Lehrer and the Cardinal discuss communion for ("remarried") divorcees, divorce itself, and birth control. Among other things the Cardinal boldly states that the Church is "not against birth control at all" and, claiming to have no desire to go into "casuistry" says that it is up to one's personal conscience and responsibility to decide on "how to do" birth control. He also declares that divorce may sometimes be "necessary", and since God's mercy gives everybody "a new chance, a new beginning" then the Church should do the same.