Friday, December 20, 2013

"A clever theologian, a good theologian."

With so many items to choose from on the ongoing freak-out smorgasbord that is our new pope, it can be hard to remember which appetisers were the first to catch one's attention.

I don't know if I'm the only cranky Catholic left in the world who remembers what kind of man Walter Kasper is. When I was going through the painful Traddification process he was my first Curial Hate. Him and Roger "the Church has two faces" Etchegaray. Shows I was destined to Trad. It never was about the smells and bells for me. It was always about the prerogatives of God and the Church's rights in the public sphere.

After what must have been a vexing exile, gnashing his gap-teeth and plotting his revenge on all things Ratzingerian - the Dol Guldur years, one might say - Kasper the Friendly Ecumenist is back, and in style these days. One of the "signal-men" on the loggia that unforgettable evening, Kasper has been maintaining a pretty high profile in the old town ever since. It seems he's back and revving up the Black Tower's engines...

Oh Lord, do not I hate them that hate thee? I count them mine enemies...


The letter gave official stature to the thesis upheld by Ratzinger in the dispute that opposed him to his fellow German theologian, later a cardinal, Walter Kasper.

Kasper was defending the simultaneous origin of the universal Church and the particular Churches, and saw at work in Ratzinger "an attempt at the theological restoration of Roman centralism." While Ratzinger criticized Kasper for reducing the Church to a sociological construction, endangering the unity of the Church and the ministry of the pope in particular.

The dispute between the two cardinal theologians continued until 2001, with a last exchange of jabs in the magazine of the New York Jesuits, "America."

But after he became pope, Ratzinger reiterated his thesis in the post-synodal apostolic exhortation "Ecclesia in Medio Oriente" of 2012:

"The universal Church is a reality which precedes the particular Churches, which are born in and through the universal Church. This truth is faithfully reflected in Catholic teaching, especially that of the Second Vatican Council. It leads to an understanding of the hierarchical dimension of ecclesial communion and allows the rich and legitimate diversity of the particular Churches constantly to develop within that unity in which particular gifts can become an authentic source of enrichment for the universality of the Church."

And Bergoglio? Once he was elected to the chair of Peter, he immediately gave the impression of wanting a more collegial governance of the Church.

And at his first Angelus in Saint Peter's Square, on March 17, he told the crowd that he had read with profit a book by Cardinal Kasper, "a clever theologian, a good theologian."

~ * ~

Now, here's some Led Zeppelin, apropos of nothing whatever...

Ah, the comparative innocence... Never thought we'd all long for the halcyon and care-free 1970s, didja?


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