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Is “Kasperism” a New Heresy?


It would seem that a new heresy is being created before our very eyes. What is this new heresy? If Arianism was named after the priest and theologian Arius, who championed the denial of Christ’s divinity, it seems fitting to call our present corruption of Catholic belief, “Kasperism” – inasmuch as it has been promoted most vigorously by the German Cardinal Walter Kasper. What is Kasperism? It is the view that dogma is to be left intact in theory, but may be contradicted in practice.

Many are already familiar with an example of Kasperism, which has come to be known as the “Kasper Proposal” – a proposal that affirms the indissolubility of marriage in fact but contradicts it in practice, by allowing adulterers to receive Holy Communion as a “pastoral” provision. Kasperism, however, should not be equated solely with the Kasper Proposal. Kasperism is, in fact, a much larger threat than the Kasper Proposal itself, as it may apply to any doctrine, not just the doctrine of the indissolubility of marriage.

To give an example, it may also apply to the issue of sodomy. Most Kasperites won’t go so far as to say that sodomy is a virtue in theory because they know what the church teaches on this matter, but in practice they wish to treat it as if it weren’t immoral. Concerning the issue of sodomy, Vatican spokesman Fr. Thomas Rosica exemplified Kasperism when he said:

“There must be an end to exclusionary language and a strong emphasis on embracing reality as it is. We should not be afraid of new and complex situations. … The language of inclusion must be our language, always considering pastoral and canonical possibilities and solutions.”

Here, Fr. Rosica doesn’t deny that sodomy is a sin. And he doesn’t have to, as the end game is still the same – get rid of “exclusionary language” and sodomy will be accepted in practice.

Another example may be found in the Holy Father’s recent call to decentralize the church. In this call, Pope Francis doesn’t actually say that the pope no longer has supreme and universal jurisdiction, because to say so would go against the doctrinal formulation of the First Vatican Council:

“We teach and declare that, according to the gospel evidence, a primacy of jurisdiction over the whole Church of God was immediately and directly promised to the blessed apostle Peter and conferred on him by Christ the lord…Therefore, if anyone says that blessed Peter the apostle was not appointed by Christ the lord as prince of all the apostles and visible head of the whole Church militant; or that it was a primacy of honor only and not one of true and proper jurisdiction that he directly and immediately received from our lord Jesus Christ himself: let him be anathema.”

Instead, Francis has indicated that he intends to simply act as if this weren’t true in practice and – voila! — the doctrine of Vatican I is as good as gone. The Holy Father states:

“The second level is that of Ecclesiastical Provinces and Ecclesiastical Regions, Particular Councils and, in a special way, Conferences of Bishops. We need to reflect on how better to bring about, through these bodies, intermediary instances of collegiality, perhaps by integrating and updating certain aspects of the ancient ecclesiastical organization. The hope expressed by the Council that such bodies would help increase the spirit of episcopal collegiality has not yet been fully realized. We are still on the way, part-way there. In a synodal Church, as I have said, “it is not advisable for the Pope to take the place of local Bishops in the discernment of every issue which arises in their territory. In this sense, I am conscious of the need to promote a sound ‘decentralization’.”

As nobody has ever suggested that the papacy should micromanage everything that takes place in the territory of the local bishop, this is a straw man used to advance an agenda that undermines papal primacy. And yet, without a specific refutation of the doctrine, any challenge to such action would be met with a personal affirmation from Pope Francis of what the church teaches on this matter. Through the Kasperian lens, it is possible to both admit that a doctrine exists and to contradict it in practice. Infallibility is thereby preserved, but the practical result is just as effective as if the teaching could actually be changed.

We all know that the Church is rife with heterodox prelates who wish to destroy the Catholic Faith as it has existed for twenty centuries, changing it to suit their own purposes and desires. It has become clear that they would even change the Church’s dogmas. They have nonetheless been frustrated in this effort, which would place them under the anathema of the First Vatican Council:

“Hence, too, that meaning of the sacred dogmas is ever to be maintained which has once been declared by Holy mother Church, and there must never be any abandonment of this sense under the pretext or in the name of a more profound understanding.”

The solution they have devised is simple and effective: they will not deny dogma. They will even affirm it. They will then treat it as though it does not exist by finding reasons why “mercy” or “pastoral concern” demands it must be circumvented in practice. In an earlier time in the Church, their calculated casuistry would have had them branded as heretics and defrocked; but this is not such a time, and they know very well that they may perform their dance around dogma with impunity.

If Kasperism is the heresy I believe it to be, it is the most dangerous sort of error ever invented by Satan. Why? Because it is untouchable. Arius and his followers made no denial of their belief that Christ was not eternal or of the same substance as God, but rather, merely a creature. They were confronted for what they believed, and for the error they taught. Kasperians, on the other hand, pride themselves on dissimulation. They make a great show of upholding the letter of the law, while utterly destroying it in spirit. If one were to say to the Kasperians, “What you are saying contradicts dogma!”, they would merely respond, “No! We affirm the dogma.”  In so doing, they effectively disarm those who would seek to point out their errors, forcing them to make the case that they are liars and spreading confusion in their wake. For this reason, Kasperism ought to be fought with even greater vehemence than the Arian heresy, for it is much more deceptive in nature, and has the potential to do even more harm.


Will a future pope condemn this pernicious error as a heresy? Time will tell. But we must not wait in our attempts to combat it. Souls are at stake.

58 thoughts on “Is “Kasperism” a New Heresy?”

  1. I’ve observed Kasperism in the Church for a number of years. Until the elevation of Pope Francis, I think we could see Kasperism in the debate concerning Artificial Birth Control. Almost everyone skirts around it. Most Catholic couples use it; and most of these couples present themselves to communion every Sunday.

    What is ironic, is that during the last Synod on the Family (circa 1980), this issue came up. Should married Catholic couples who use some form of artificial contraception be allowed to take Holy Communion? I read that this issue was percolating within the Church during the 1970s, and that the majority of Synod Fathers wished to allow married couples who use contraception to take Holy Communion using the theory of Gradualism (sound familiar?). Pope JPII had to intervene, and he reiterated the prohibition in his Exhortation Familiaris Consortio. If I am not mistaken it was Pope Pious XI, in reaction to the 1930 Council of Lambreth, who officially re-enforced a 2000 year prohibition of using birth control. His Casti Connubi encyclical reintroduced the Modern World to Christian morality, which had begun to come apart with the Anglicans and other Protestants.

    There is no need to go over Humanae Vitae, other than to say it struck a very deep wound with many Catholics. But, there is more than 1 way to skin a cat. There is no need to change official doctrine when one could simply stop teaching it, or ignore it. When was the last time anyone heard a priest or bishop mention the prohibition against birth control? For me, it was mentioned once by an eldery bishop (who has long since died) during a Friday evening mass. Otherwise, there is silence. I have no idea what is being taught in Pre-Cana classes. But, it seems that many Catholic couples do not believe that using birth control is a Mortal Sin. As a matter of fact, if you ask 5 Catholics you will probably get 5 answers (this is true even with the so-called “conservative Catholics”). I remember about 10 years ago or so watching Sean Hannity give a Catholic priest a piece of his mind when the priest told Hannity that Catholic couples who use birth control cannot go to Holy Communion. It surely it a raw nerve.

    So, what has been done to the teaching concerning birth control will soon be done by Catholic couples in adulterous 2nd marriages (or, as they say, irregular marriages).

    Our doctrine is quickly becoming a dead letter.

  2. Um, see Pascendi, On the Doctrine of the Modernists, Pius X 1907,

    The heresy is not new, and it’s not from Kasper. The heresy is Modernism and the modernists have been behaving like Kasper is for decades, as we can see from the writings of Pius X as quoted by Lefebvre (written in 1907 by the way): “Their tactics are never to expound their doctrines methodically and as a whole, but in some manner to split them up and scatter them here and there …. One page of their writings could have been written by a Catholic: turn over, and you will think you are reading something by a Rationalist. Reprimanded and condemned, they go their own way, concealing a boundless effrontery under a deceitful appearance of submission. Should anyone be so mistaken to criticize any one of their novelties, however outrageous, they will fall upon him in serried ranks: the one who denies it is treated as an ignoramus.” Sound familiar?

    • When I was editing this, I almost suggested to the author that this is a facet of modernism, but I thought it would be worth putting forward the theory. Modernism is a big, broad term, inasmuch as it is the “synthesis of all heresies”; it’s also become a catch-phrase of traditionalists and catch-all for the current errors in the Church.

      This specifically focuses on the intentional affirmation of doctrine while simultaneously doing the exact opposite. While that gets a mention in Pascendi, they’ve really honed it since. “Kasperism” or “Kasperianism,” even if it never becomes more than a colloquialism, puts a label on this theological slight of hand that even people uncomfortable with “Modernism” can use.

      Sometimes, there’s value in a greater precision.

      • True, but there’s also a huge advantage in recognizing the generic tactics of the enemy. Kasper is just deploying a tactic, he’s a cog in a machine. They deployed the same tactic at Vatican II, as discussed in Lefebvre’s Open Letter to Confused Catholics … My vote is, let’s make these chuckleheads transparent.

        • Cardinal Kasper has been jealous for years of Archbishop Lefebvre. The archbishop got his own “ism” and now has “ites” all over the world.

          Cardinal Kasper wants equal time, and I think it’s unfair at this stage to deny him his “ism” and his “ites.”

          I say let him have them.

    • I’ve considered this but one main difference is that modernism keeps the language of dogma but changes the meaning of the dogma. With Kasperism they affirm the same meaning of dogma but contradict it in practice. A subtle but significant difference.

      No doubt though Kapser is a modernist and Kasperism flows from Modernism. I’m doing a research paper on the Modernists right now and see many similarities with the Modernists of old and the bishops of today.

  3. I think the heresy is actually a denial of sanctifying grace and of our need to be in a state of grace to enter heaven when we die.

    You can see it also in Fr. Barron’s (now Bishop) denial of hell. Watch his video on it. He affirms the traditional teaching, but halfway through takes a U-turn and comes to the conclusion that although hell exists in practice we may believe that it is empty and no one goes there.

    In practice, it was always taught that if you die in a state of mortal sin, you go to hell. Even St Francis of Assisi taught that in his letters, and he said that these cases happen often where people are unrepentant or refuse to make reparation for their sins because they are ashamed or too attached to the goods of this world.

    • The Barron videos were odd, with their weird device of Barron endlessly talking to some unknown entity off camera … (Voris did that a couple of times too. You’d think with all that “professional secular experience” he’d feel comfortable looking into the camera. But I digress.)

    • Our pastor used the word “hell” about 5 times in his sermon a couple of Sundays ago. I He told us that if you continue to sin and do not repent, you will go to hell. He also listed off the sins that many in the Church like to ignore. One of the priests at the same church blasted us all yesterday at Noon Mass for living “false” Catholic lives….voting for pro-abortion candidates, using artificial contraception, fornication, etc, telling us to “wake up” to the reality of hell. Both men speak with authority, certainty, firmness and mercy…like fathers, like true shepherds. It is incredible! Truly incredible! By the way, the church is packed every Sunday and the weekday crowd is large as well. The sheep want to hear His Voice.

    • With regards to the “empty hell theory”, anybody who espouses it opposes the clear teaching of Scripture that there are souls burning eternally in hell:

      Jude 1,7 “As Sodom and Gomorrha, and the neighbouring cities, in like manner having given themselves over to fornication, and going after other flesh, were made an example, suffering the punishment of eternal fire.”

      von Balthazar, Barron and all their hangers-on seem to be either ignorant of St Jude, or they just ignore(d) him.

    • Many Novus Ordo priests do not even believe in the devil. Even some who are really good people say that the devil is a human invention to excuse man’s evilness.

  4. I’d join the other readers in the assessment that such a heresy is not new. Zippy’s comparison with usury is especially intriguing to this regard. Another possible example could be the common, dogma-contradicting “pastoral application” of extra Ecclesiam nulla salus (also known as false ecumenism). I’m also reminded of James Larson’s criticism of the development within the Order of Friars Minor which saw its later superiors downplaying St. Francis’ strong insistence on poverty by way of introducing (sophistic?) distinctions between “ownership” and “use” of property.

    • I agree and have considered this also before writing this but again I must emphasize that nobody has articulated this error as clearly as Kasper. The abuse of indulgences is also an example of this error before Kasper. Just think of it like this. Arianism predated arius but nobody articulated and popularized it as well as he. Likewise with Kasper.

  5. It’s the Bergoglio ist version of modernism.

    And this “pope” , aka Francis, will devolve doctrine to episcopal conferences to implement it. Just like Francis omits speaking of repentance needed for mercy, he will omit the unitive part of the papacy which he has no right to delegate

    • Oh but the purpose of the implementation of “collegiality” in Vatican II was to reform the governance of the Church to transform its monarchical structure to suit the Modernists who wanted to give the bishops power over their own dioceses and in turn, simply consider the pope as a “brother bishop”. (Isn’t this what Francis has said?)
      After all, wasn’t the purpose of the Council two-fold? First, “unity” with our “separated brethren” (no longer called heretics or schismatics), and secondly, to reach into modern societies and cultures and adapt the teachings of the Church to the “encounters”, “experiences”, and changing mores and difficulties of modern life.
      Over at the website there is an explanation of this change which is very enlightening. It’s title is: “Collegialty: The Church’s Pandora’s Box. Very well written with both the perennial teaching of the Church and the Modernists way of destroying it.

    • True comment.

      It appears likely that very soon there will be a sharp divide, with most Catholics going with the pope, and with a tiny fraction of Catholics going with God.

    • It is true though. I considered this before but concluded exposing these things is more important than having such an opportunity again.

      For whatever one may fault EWTN I still appreciate them because they were instrumental in my conversion to Catholicism and I’m sure they will continue to be a source of conversion for others.

  6. I propose that “Roncalli-ism” would be a more appropriate term for this tactic than “Kasperism.”

    It was Angelo Roncalli (Pope John XXIII) who first inaugurated this tactic as something approved by the highest authorities in the Church.

    All this can be seen in John XXIII’s opening speech at the Vatican II Ecumenical Council. Here are some key passages:

    –“We must work out WAYS AND MEANS OF EXPOUNDING THESE TRUTHS in a manner more consistent with a predominantly PASTORAL view of the Church’s teaching office.”

    –“Today, however, Christ’s Bride prefers the MEDICINE OF MERCY to the arm of severity.”

    All through the sessions of the Vatican II Council, the progressives overcame resistance from conservative bishops by convincing them that doctrine was not being touched, that everything was being done purely and merely for more effective pastoral outreach to Catholics and the world. Innumerable commentators have written about this. Today there are endless web pages by so-called Catholic apologists assuring us that Vatican II changed no doctrines!

    A classic big lie in this regard can be found right at the opening of the Vatican II declaration on Religious Freedom:

    “Therefore it [the Vatican II declaration] leaves untouched traditional Catholic doctrine on the moral duty of men and societies toward the true religion and toward the one Church of Christ.”

    But, as numerous scholars have pointed out, that Vatican II declaration most certainly does NOT leave “untouched traditional Catholic doctrine.” But the document SAYS it leaves doctrine untouched, JUST like Kasper and Francis swear that they are leaving doctrine untouched with the new pastoral practices they are getting ready to bring forth for the Church.

    At the time of the Vatican II Ecumenical Council, Kasper was a young priest and was not at the Council as an advisor to any bishop (as far as I can tell). It gives Kasper too much credit to name this tactic after him. Kasper and Francis are simply whole-hearted practitioners of the tactics and strategies that were employed successfully by the progressives at the Vatican II Council.

    Let’s go back to the source. Let’s call it Roncalli-ism. Modernists before him really invented the tactic. But Roncalli was thef first to initiate the Church’s approval of the use of this tactic.

    Also, this tactic itself not a heresy, as far as I can tell. I wouldn’t call it a heresy, since the professional theologians will call you out for misusing the term heresy, the way they called out Ross Douthat recently. Rather, this thing is a tactic. We can speculate or conclude that those who use this tactic use it to advance heresy. But that’s mindreading. We can’t be sure, really, that Kasper and Francis want to promote heresy, or sacrilege. But we can say that the result of their new pastoral rules, if implemented, will have the effect of promoting heresy and/or sacrilege.

    According the Catechism of the Catholic Church, and the Code of Canon Law, heresy is defined in these terms: “Heresy is the obstinate post-baptismal denial of some truth which must be believed with divine and catholic faith, or it is likewise an obstinate doubt concerning the same.”

    If Francis issues a decree allowing divorced and remarried to receive Holy Communion, that act alone could never serve as a grounds for him to be found guilty of heresy by some church council, synod, or tribunal after he has left the papal office. That’s because issuing that decree itself is not proof of “the obstinate post-baptismal denial of some truth which must be believed with divine and catholic faith, or it is likewise an obstinate doubt concerning the same.”

    • Kasperism does predate Kasper in a sense but I think he has articulated it the best just like Arianism predated arius with Paul of samosata but was identified with arius because of his popularization and articulation of the heresy.

      • Perhaps rather than giving that insufferable man the notoriety of spawning a new heresy, it should be named for what it actually does e.g. Christocontradictionism, Christonihilism, Christofallibilism or some other such appellation?

    • Both Cardinal Mueller and Cardinal Sarah have named this phenomenon as a Christological heresy. To create such a contradiction between Truth and Life in the Body of Christ is to attempt to create contradiction in Christ Himself.

      This will no doubt need further development, but whatever name is ultimately given to it, a heresy is clearly what it is because it strikes right at the nature of the Godhead.

      Perhaps we have needed these 50 years since the Council to really drag the beast out into the open so that we can get a proper look at it.

    • Yet, he becomes far more visible and winds up tripping over himself. His hubris actually weakens his position. As my husband likes to say, evil gets too big for its britches and destroys itself.

  7. I suggest Dissimulationism as the name of the new heresy, not “Kasperism,” which means nothing in particular.

    After error has been plainly defined it may be combatted effectively..

  8. I don’t think Kasperism is “new” at all especially the ‘inclusionary” language Fr. Rosica encourages to make sure no one feels excluded or offended. In fact, the many Catholics who have been calling non-catholic’s “Christians” for decades now are just as guilty of practicing the “inclusionary” garbage Fr. Rosica espouses as anyone but even worse they are underming the Church’s primary and most important dogma that there is “No Salvation Outside of the Church” (EENS). Of course one error will always lead to more and even bigger errors and guess what? now we hear Catholics saying that these so-called protestant “christians” being killed by Muslins are martyrs. That’s instant sainthood and salvation for non-catholic protestants and if this doesn’t make what Pope Pius XII condemned as making “No Salvation Outside of the Church” into a “meaningless formula” I don’t know what does.

    • Yes.

      Vatican II in its decree Gaudium et Spes says:

      “For by His incarnation the Son of God has UNITED Himself in some fashion with EVERY man.”

      Then John Paul II clarified this, writing:

      “The redemption event BRINGS SALVATION TO ALL, ‘for each one is included in the mystery of the redemption and WITH EACH ONE CHRIST HAS UNITED HIMSELF FOREVER through this mystery’.” (Redemptoris Missio)

      “This man is the way for the Church–a way that, in a sense, is the basis of all the other ways that the Church must walk–because man–EVERY MAN WITHOUT EXCEPTION WHATEVER–has been redeemed by Christ, and because with man–WITH EACH MAN WITHOUT ANY EXCEPTION WHATEVER–CHRIST IS IN A WAY UNITED, EVEN WHEN MAN IS UNAWARE OF IT.” (Redemptor Hominis)

      That is papal approval of the Anonymous Christian theory that was first developed and expressed by the Jesuit Karl Rahner and others.

      Note that above John Paul II wrote “with each one Christ has united himself FOREVER.” Forever. That means no one can go to Hell.

      • What Hitler did to Jews John Paul did to Catholics, the only difference being one destroyed the body the other destroyed souls.

      • The problem with RH is that JPII did not make a clear distinction between objective redemption and subjective redemption.

        Yes, every soul without exception has been objectively redeemed by Christ because the infinite value of the price He paid to secure that redemption is sufficient to redeem every soul which will ever be created. Thus, by rights, every soul belongs to Christ because He has paid for them all. At a great stretch one could thus say that He has united Himself with all souls in some manner, as He is the rightful proprietor of all souls.

        However, because all souls are created with free will then that redemption must be applied to them subjectively i.e. each soul must consent to and co-operate with that redemption. Unfortunately, as Our Lord tells us Himself in the Gospels, most souls will not accept their redemption, preferring to remain in bondage to sin and death, and continuing along that broad and easy path which leads to their ultimate damnation. Few there are who will accept their redemption and find the hard and narrow path which leads to salvation.

        The only way I can see that GS and RH can be read in an orthodox manner is if souls who have been “united to Christ” by means of their objective redemption, can still be damned because they do not consent and co-operate as subjects of the redemption by mains of faith, hope and charity.

        Anyway, if GS & RH are not capable of orthodox interpretation, EENS is a dogma of the faith defined infallibly by ecumenical Councils and Popes. GS & RH contain no infallible definitions.

  9. What is new here is the tactic used, the constant raising of strawmen. When Pope Francis, for example, rails against those who are “doctrinaire” or “only interested in rules,” one never hears him mention any names, and for good reason, for these strawmen simply don’t exist. He often does the same thing when he addresses any number of non-ecclesiastical issues. When he talks, for example, of Europeans selfishly slamming doors in the face of “refugees” he ignores that the continent is in danger of sinking under newcomers. But this red herring of selfishness allows the pope to avoid talking about what kind of “refugees” are now making life hell in France, Germany, Holland, etc.

    In fact, isn’t this merely the use a standard secular liberal tactic within the bounds of the Church? Liberals always pretend they are above the law till the law finally gives up and legalizes their practice. As for it’s being a heresy, though, I am not sure it fills the entire bill. According to the CCC, heresy is: “…the obstinate post-baptismal denial of some truth which must be believed with divine and catholic faith, or it is likewise an obstinate doubt concerning the same.” Perhaps the last clause would cover Kasperism, but more to the point is the definition of incredulity, “…the neglect of revealed truth or the willful refusal to assent to it.” Isn’t that what is in fact afoot here, neglect of revealed truth?

  10. Observe the Second Council of Nicaea:

    If anyone rejects any written or unwritten tradition of the Church, let him be anathema.

    Though there are many conciliar canons dealing with particular practices – note Lateran II Canon 22 (reproduced below), which treats “false penance,” precluding the “penitential path” suggested by the German faction – the above is the only statement I have yet to run across which places a blanket anathema upon the rejection of Church tradition. I don’t know if that applies here, but I find it worth mentioning.

    Lateran Council II, Canon 22: Because there is one thing that conspicuously causes great disturbance to holy church, namely, false penance, we warn our brothers in the episcopate and priests not to allow the souls of the laity to be deceived or dragged off to hell by false penances. It is agreed that a penance is false when many sins are disregarded and a penance is performed for one only, or when it is done for one sin in such a way that the penitent does not renounce another. Thus it is written: Whoever keeps the whole law but fails in one point, has become guilty of all of it; this evidently pertains to eternal life. Therefore, just as a person who is entangled in all sins will not enter the gate of eternal life, so also if a person remains in one sin.

  11. Sounds like “Kasperism” is similar or the same as situation ethics. Or having your cake and eating it, too. Or schizophrenia. Or the supremacy of conscience. Or spiritual alchemy.

  12. The simple answer to the lead question is, yes.

    A new heresy has been created before our eyes, but what is worse is that it as yet, it has
    not been condemned by the Pope.

    However the Holy Father’s support for enhanced Synodality will be interpreted as a green light by Kasperites and it is not at all clear why this rather obvious outcome has not been picked up by the Holy Father. After all he can see that as clearly as any thinking Catholic, as any Kasperites, or the press and TV.

    The Church is in a mess at present and it is rapidly getting worse. This Synod, which was quite unnecessary, will only ensure that this mess continues to get worse and worse.

  13. The Synod and the actors of the Bergoglian-Kasperite heresy have done one thing for us, and that is to awaken us to the reality of the apostasy and give a name to the crisis.

    That means the cat is well and truly out, and can never be placed back in, the bag for all to see that have eyes to do so.

  14. The doctrine on “no salvation outside the Church” would then be the original example. Methinks a different name might be more appropriate. “Vatican2ism” perhaps.


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