CARDINAL KASPER - THE LOOSE CANNON ONCE FIRED

Cardinal Walter Kasper in Rome with Cardinals at Consistory
In recent times Cardinal Walter Kasper has become once again a controversial figure in the lead up to last year's  preparatory Synod on the Family and in its turbulent aftermath. But this report from "FOUNDATION" of August 2008 shows that His Eminence is nothing if not adaptable to Pontifical change:




Cardinal Kasper speaks at Lambeth Conference

Prior to Benedict XVI’s election Cardinal Walter Kasper,
President of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian
Unity had come to be regarded as somewhat a “loose cannon”
whose statements adduced reactions varying from regret to
derision.


In more recent times he has regained a more reliable voice. He
was invited to address the Lambeth Conference and as these
extracts show was very frank.


When I saw what you proposed as subject, “Roman Catholic
Reflections on the Anglican Communion”, I thought that you
could have chosen an easier one. This is a wide open title encompassing
many aspects of history and doctrine, and I can
only touch upon some of them. But it seems to me that there is
a hidden question in the title, asking not so much what Catholics
think about the Anglican Communion, but about the Anglican
Communion in its present circumstances. I could imagine
a less uncomfortable question.


... ‘As the Roman Catholic Church and the constituent
Churches of the Anglican Communion have sought to grow
in mutual understanding and Christian love, they have come
to recognize, to value and to give thanks for a common faith
in God our Father, in our Lord Jesus Christ, and in the Holy
Spirit; our common baptism into Christ; our sharing of the
Holy Scriptures, of the Apostles’ and Nicene Creeds, the
Chalcedonian definition, and the teaching of the Fathers; our
common Christian inheritance for many centuries with its living
traditions of liturgy, theology, spirituality and mission.
In this text, we can hear Archbishop Coggan and Paul VI
pointing to what is the common ground, the common source
and centre of our already existing but still incomplete unity:
Jesus Christ, and the mission to bring Him to a world that is
so desperately in need of Him. What we are talking about is
not an ideology, not a private opinion which one may or may
not share; it is our faithfulness to Jesus Christ, witnessed by
the apostles, and to His Gospel, with which we are entrusted.
From the very beginning we should, therefore, keep in mind
what is at stake as we proceed to speak about faithfulness
to the apostolic tradition and apostolic succession, when we
speak about the threefold ministry, women’s ordination, and
moral commandments. What we are talking about is nothing
other than our faithfulness to Christ Himself, who is our
unique and common master. And what else can our dialogue
be but an expression of our intent and desire to be fully one in
Him in order to be fully joint witnesses to His Gospel.
... Indeed, it is not at all a small thing that we have achieved and
that was given to us through the years of dialogue in ARCIC
and IARCCUM. We are grateful for the work of these commissions,
and we Catholics do not want those achievements
to be lost. Indeed we want to continue on this path and bring
what we started 40 years ago to its final goal.


Then Anglican Abp.of Canterbury Rowan Williams regards Cardinal Kasper at Lambeth
 This leaves me all the more saddened as I have now, in fidelity
to what I believe Christ requires – and I want add, in the
frankness which friendship allows – to look to the problems
within the Anglican Communion which have emerged and
grown since the last Lambeth Conference, and to the ecumenical
repercussions of these internal tensions. In the second
section of this paper, I would like to address a series of
ecclesiological issues arising from the current situation in the
Anglican Communion, and to raise some difficult and probing
questions. But before doing so I want to reiterate what I said
when in November 2006 the Archbishop of Canterbury came
to Rome to visit Pope Benedict: “The questions and problems
of our friends are also our questions and problems.” So I raise
these questions not in judgement, but as an ecumenical partner
who has been deeply discouraged by recent developments,
and who wishes to offer you an honest reflection, from a Catholic
perspective, on how and where we can move forward in
the present context.


... Ecclesiological questions have long been a major point of
controversy between our two communities. Already as a
young student I studied all of the ecclesiological arguments
raised by John Henry Newman, which moved him to become
a Catholic. His main concerns revolved around apostolicity in
communion with the See of Rome as the guardian of apostolic
tradition and of the unity of the Church. I think his questions
remain and that we have not yet exhausted this discussion.
Whereas Newman dealt with the Church of England of his
time, today we are confronted with additional problems on the
level of the Anglican Communion of 44 regional and national
member churches, each self-governing. Independence without
sufficient interdependence has now become a critical issue.
... In the next section, I will address some of these issues more
directly, but here I intend to focus specifically on the ecclesiological
dimension of these current problems, making reference
to what we have said together about the nature of the Church,
and to initiatives of the Anglican Communion to address these
internal disputes.
In March, 2006, the Archbishop of Canterbury invited me to
speak at a meeting of the Church of England’s House of Bishops,
addressing the mission of bishops in the Church. While
the backdrop of that address was the possible ordination of
women to the episcopate, the central argument about the nature
of the episcopal office as an office of unity is relevant to all
of the points of tension in the Anglican Communion identified
above.
In brief, I argued that unity, unanimity and koinonia (communion)
are fundamental concepts in the New Testament
and in the early Church. I argued: “From the beginning the
episcopal office was “koinonially” or collegially embedded in
the communion of all bishops; it was never perceived as an office
to be understood or practised individually.” Then I turned
to the theology of the episcopal office of a Church Father of
great importance for Anglicans and Catholics alike, the martyr
bishop Cyprian of Carthage of the third century.
His sentence “episcopatus unus et indivisus” is well known.
This sentence stands in the context of an urgent admonition
by Cyprian to his fellow bishops: “Quam unitatem tenere firmiter
et vindicare debemus maxime episcopi, qui in ecclesia
praesidimus, ut episcopatum quoque ipsum unum atque indivisum
probemus.” [“And this unity we ought firmly to hold
and assert, especially those of us that are bishops who preside
in the church, that we may also prove the episcopate one and
undivided.”] This urgent exhortation is followed by a precise
interpretation of the statement “episcopatus unus et indivisus”.
“Episcopatus unus est cuius a singulis in solidum pars tenetur”
[“The episcopate is one, each part of which is held by each one
for the whole.”] (De ecclesiae catholicae unitate I, 5).
But Cyprian goes even one step further: he not only emphasises
the unity of the people of God with its own individual
bishop, but also adds that no one should imagine that he can
be in communion with just a few, for “the Catholic Church is
not split or divided” but “united and held together by the glue
of the mutual cohesion of the bishops” (Ep. 66,8)... This collegiality
is of course not limited to the horizontal and synchronic
relationship with contemporary episcopal colleagues; since
the Church is one and the same in all centuries, the presentday
church must also maintain diachronic consensus with the
episcopate of the centuries before us, and above all with the
testimony of the apostles. This is the more profound significance
of the apostolic succession in episcopal office.


The episcopal office is thus an office of unity in a two-fold
sense. Bishops are the sign and the instrument of unity within
the individual local church, just as they are between both the
contemporary local Churches and those of all times within the
universal Church.


... It is significant that the Windsor Report of 2004, in seeking
to provide the Anglican Communion with ecclesiological
foundations for addressing the current crisis, also adopted an
ecclesiology of koinonia. I found this to be helpful and encouraging,
and in response to a letter from the Archbishop of
Canterbury inviting an ecumenical reaction to the Windsor
Report, I noted that “(n)otwithstanding the substantial ecclesiological
issues still dividing us which will continue to need
our attention, this approach is fundamentally in line with the
communion ecclesiology of the Second Vatican Council.
... The one weakness pertaining to ecclesiology that I noted was
that “(w)hile the Report stresses that Anglican provinces have
a responsibility towards each other and towards the maintenance
of communion, a communion rooted in the Scriptures,
considerably little attention is given to the importance of being
in communion with the faith of the Church through the ages.”
In our dialogue, we have jointly affirmed that the decisions of
a local or regional church must not only foster communion in
the present context, but must also be in agreement with the
Church of the past, and in a particular way, with the apostolic
Church as witnessed in the Scriptures, the early councils and
the patristic tradition. This diachronic dimension of apostolicity
“has important ecumenical ramifications, since we share a
common tradition of one and a half millennia. This common
patrimony – what Pope Paul VI and Archbishop Michael
Ramsey called our ‘ancient common traditions’ – is worth being
appealed to and preserved.”

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