Letters to the Editor

The Church of History

Dear Editor: George Weigel and Prof. Stark’s interpretations of Cardinal Kasper (“Understanding Cardinal Walter Kasper,” National Catholic Register, July 11) are distorted. Weigel praises and quotes from Stark that Cardinal Kasper’s concept of history undermines the eternal truth of Christ. Stark, in National Catholic Register, even went as far as calling Cardinal Kasper as one suffering from dementia, a sophist, an agnostic modernist, and nearing apostasy.

Whenever anyone speaks of reading “the signs of the times,” he or she risks being accused of historicizing the “sacred givens” and being confronted with the above epithets. Anyone who speaks of “reality” or history in the context of the Gospel is in danger of being labeled a Hegelian, existentialist, or Teilhardian as if there is nothing good in all their thoughts and modernity.

Nevertheless, it is good to run the gauntlet, as in Vatican II, “for if this endeavor or this activity is of human origin, it will destroy itself” (Acts 5:38). As Weigel and Stark’s real critique is directed against Pope Francis, I will quote, in reply, from the Holy Father: “The Church, as the agent of evangelization, is more than an organic and hierarchical institution; she is first and foremost a people advancing on its pilgrim way towards God. She is certainly a mystery rooted in the Trinity, yet she exists concretely in history as a people of pilgrims and evangelizers, transcending any institutional expression, however necessary” (The Joy of the Gospel, 111); “It helps us to see that the Church’s history is a history of salvation, to be mindful of those saints who inculturated the Gospel in the life of our peoples and to reap the fruits of the Church’s rich bimillennial tradition, without pretending to come up with a system of thought detached from this treasury, as if we wanted to reinvent the Gospel” (233); and “Christ’s resurrection everywhere calls forth seeds of that new world; even if they are cut back, they grow again, for the resurrection is already secretly woven into the fabric of this history, for Jesus did not rise in vain. May we never remain on the sidelines of this march of living hope” (278).