Yesterday, I received a letter from an eyewitness who recently heard Cardinal Walter Kasper speak about Pope Francis and the intercommunion debate. In this 10 May speech, Kasper called Protestant spouses of Catholics “fresh cells in the Body of Christ’s Church” without that they needed a prior conversion. Kasper, who resides in Rome, seems to be trying hard now to influence the German debate in favor of intercommunion.
For example, just yesterday, on 15 May, La Stampa’s Vatican Insider published a lengthy interview with Cardinal Kasper in which the German cardinal tries to argue that there are several Church documents which prepare the way for intercommunion, or, Communion for Protestant spouses. In this interview, Kasper calls the crucial canon 844 § 3 which speaks about emergency cases and Communion for Protestants, “no longer theologically up to the theological-ecumenical discussion.”
As with the debate about the “remarried” divorcees, it is once more Cardinal Kasper who is the main theologian behind fundamental and heterodox reforms in the Church. Looking back, the fact that Pope Francis, right after his election, at his first Angelus on 17 March 2013, publicly praised Kasper becomes now more meaningful.
Herewith, we publish the account of the eyewitness, whom we thank from our hearts for this testimony.
15 May 2018
Dear Mrs. Hickson,
I read yesterday your new article, “Cardinal Marx: In Intercommunion Debate, Some Dioceses Might Have Different Rules.” In this context, I feel urged to write to you.
After the Declaration of Ravensburg of last October – about which Onepeterfive reported – are still things happening which aim at intercommunion or “Eucharistic hospitality.” On 7 May, there took place in Weingarten, a neighboring town of Ravensburg [in Baden-Württemberg, near the Lake of Constance] a common Last Supper liturgy in a Catholic Church.
My letter of today refers, however, to the celebratory speech which Cardinal Kasper delivered on Ascension Day in Weingarten, a speech which could be of special interest in the context of he current intercommunion debate and especially because of the timing of the speech; for, at the same time the Katholikentag was taking place.
When I heard what Walter Kasper said about the reception of Holy Communion for Protestant spouses, about Pope Francis, and about the Catholic media, I was shocked. I nevertheless hesitated to write to you – until I read your own article!
Every year, there takes place in Weingarten, in Oberschwaben [near Ravensburg, in Baden-Württemberg], on the Friday after Ascension Day a big procession with horseback riders, in honor of a relic of the Most Precious Blood which is being kept here.
On the eve of that procession, an invited clerical guest customarily delivers after Mass in the evening a celebratory homily on the occasion of “Blutfreitag” (Blood Friday). This year, this guest was the retired Curial Cardinal Walter Kasper.
First, he spoke about the importance of the Blutritt (Blood Ride – a rider on horseback who carries the relic) in Weingarten and also about the significance of the Cross. But when he then began – from the pulpit of the baroque church – steering the audience into admiration of Pope Francis himself as the shining model, and then advertising for the idea of giving Holy Communion to Protestant spouses, I knew what this whole speech was about.
The very fact that I appreciate the work of Onepeterfive would discredit me already in the eyes of the cardinal. For, he said that – in opposition to the image that the media like to draw of the Church – there is no such a thing as a “revolt” against the pope. It is unbelievable, he added, what sort of “insults” Pope Francis receives, especially on the part of those media who pretend to be especially Catholic. But, the cardinal asserted, this does not correspond to the attitude of the majority of the faithful. These faithful are indeed grateful for the “new wind” which the pope now brings, because he “is doing away with outdated customs” [alte Zöpfe abschneiden] and because he returns “to the simplicity of the Gospels.” Francis does not threaten the Faith, Kasper explains, but, rather, he wishes for a new understanding of the Gospels [Neubesinnung auf das Evangelium]. The pope therefore deserves all of our gratitude and our prayers. It is, according to Kasper, a “sign of the Catholic Faith” to get behind the pope. This pope, he adds, is a “radical” in the original sense of the word which goes to the radix, the root. However, there came into my mind at that moment a completely different interpretation of this radix image, namely: does he, at some point, not cut the Catholic Church off from her roots?
Moreover, Kasper also called for more Christian religiosity [sic] and he invoked the unity of all Christians in order to be a model “for unity and peace” in a world that “has gone off the rails.” He very decisively argued in favor of an ecumenical path where, in mixed marriages, the Protestant spouse may receive Holy Communion under certain conditions. In this question, Kasper admitted that a general Eucharistic community is not yet possible since “not yet all the theological problems” have been solved and since there exists a communion of Church and Faith. But “the participation of individual Christians in mixed marriages, who share the Catholic Eucharistic belief, can be a step in this direction,” he added.
This step is purportedly possible on the foundation of the Second Vatican Council, because the spouses “are connected by the one Baptism and by the mutual Sacrament of Marriage.” Such spouses are “not a dangerous germ from which one has to protect oneself; they are, rather, fresh cells in the Body of Christ’s Church.”
At these words, I had a hard time suppressing an outcry. It is easy to say that one should have really resisted aloud such a speech and that one should have left the presentation. But, it is difficult when one is surrounded by an audience which one knows to be excitedly soon applauding the words of the cardinal himself.
To those Catholics who still affirm a bond with the one true Catholic Church of Christ, this speech about a “fresh cell” being added, but without conversion, appears to be truly terrifying. Walter Kasper’s intentional and subtle approach becomes clear when one considers his use of the controversial word “germ.” He who does not agree with his opinion thereby is being disqualified by just being presented as someone who regards other people as a disease-causing “germ”! This is a deliberate building of hostile camps, his enemy image (Feindbild) is clear. It is obviously disturbing that there are Catholics for whom Faith and Reason are not antonyms and for whom the Catholic understanding of the Sacraments and of the Church are not up for discussion. These people, however, are being systematically marginalized.
That is the same pattern with which Cardinal Kasper approached the matter of tolerance and of inter-religious dialogue. Dialogue with Islam was at the center of this part of his presentation, and here, too, the Second Vatican Council was for him decisive. It is true, Kasper also demands respect on the part of the Muslims, and he does not tolerate violence and terror in the name of Islam. But, he says, a Christian orientation may not – must not – allow xenophobia. There we have it again, this unspoken building of camps. Either one has no fear of Islam and is thus inter-religiously open – just like Kasper himself – or otherwise one is xenophobic.
How necessary it is for us not to fall into a mentality of inter-religious indifferentism, he himself unwittingly showed with the help of his own concrete example. For, Kasper described how beautiful it is when children receive gifts, not only at the feast days of one’s own religion, but also at the feasts of the other religions.
Walter Kasper’s celebratory speech from the pulpit was a speech with which he also wanted to influence the current [doctrinal and pastoral] debate in the German Bishops’ Conference. He effectively stabbed the backs of the seven bishops who had written their objections to the pope and who asked him for a further clarification. Kasper, however, said that it made him “sad” that “there did not finally come an agreement in the German Bishops’ Conference” about the pastoral handout of the Bishops’ Conference concerning Communion for Protestant spouses.
After the homily, many people applauded – as expected. At that moment, I was far away. I thought, with tears in my eyes, of the High Mass in the extraordinary rite at which I had assisted only a few hours earlier, at the Cloister Church Birnau at the Bodensee [Lake of Constance]. It was together with the seminarians of the Fraternity of St. Peter from Wigratzbad, Germany, and with Bishop Vitus Huonder, from Chur, in Switzerland. His own homily about the Most Blessed Sacrament, the state of grace, the Cross, and the indefensibleness of Communion for the Protestant spouses was, indeed, a Catholic homily of faith, and dedicated to the Truth of the Lord.
Thus I would like to end. Oremus pro invicem.
I greet you heartily and remain united to you in prayers.
Translation from the German Dr. Maike Hickson