Thursday, January 20, 2011

Cardinal Kasper's Address to the Archbishop of Canterbury

I have always liked Cardinal Kasper.

Some very traditional Catholics do not like him but to be honest he has the position in the Curia that will always come under criticism. That is heading up our relations with other non Catholic Christian communities. This is the week of Christian Unity and I shall have more on that today. So it is nice to see this address that Cardinal Kasper just gave to the Archbishop of Canterbury. Full text is here.

One can see in the speech with the use of his humor and self depreciating style why he is a good fit. I liked this part:

So I always was eager to understand better Anglicanism. Once you donated me one of your interesting books on "Anglican identities". I said: "O good, since long time I want to understand, what is the Anglican identity." You answered: "Look on, it's about Anglican identities." I know, here I touch a problem, a problem which is not only yours but ours, because when one member suffers, the whole body of Christ is suffering. So I know well, that the day of tomorrow is not an easy one for you. It is not a day of victory for one side, it should be for both a day of penance, that though all good will on both sides till today we were not able to fulfill the will of our Lord as we should. But I want to assure you, the Holy Father, my successor in the Pontifical Council and the Roman Catholic Church as a whole are willing and decided to continue the way of sincere dialogue we started after the Second Vatican Council now more than almost fifty years ago.

I think that was a very clever way of Cardinal Kasper conveying that the Archbishop of Canterbury has his hands full and Rome is quite aware of that fact.

We then get to this part:
It is not necessary to enumerate all the problems we face in this regard. We all know them. I think there are two fundamental problems:

First: What does it mean to confess the one holy, catholic and apostolic Church and therefore what does it mean to realize this catholicity in its non confessional but all embracing original meaning. What does it mean to be the one Church of Christ in the many churches? How to realize unity, which is not at all identical with uniformity, a unity without fusion or absorption (John Paul II) so that we become more and more one Church and nevertheless many churches remain (J. Ratzinger)? We know that this touches the problem of primacy, which for both is not an easy one, because it – besides all the theological questions, which arise – is so deeply rooted in consciousness of this country and its history and in our Catholic convictions too.

The second question and challenge we are confronted with, is: How to approach with our message the present modern or postmodern mentality in our secularized and pluralistic Western society. Here difficult ethical and pastoral problems arise and our faithfulness to the Gospel message is challenged. But what means faithfulness beyond fundamentalism and liberalism? These are not easy common questions even the answers are sometimes different.

Needless to say while the status of Bishop of the Rome and other Bishops is always there, I don't think that is Rome's immediate concern. That second question is what has got Rome all in a bother lately.

The new Anglo Catholic arrangement that happened this week in the UK is not mentioned of course. Which perhaps is a wise move.

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