Dear Editor: George Weigel’s column (July 22) severely distorts the theology of Cardinal Walter Kasper, ultimately accusing him of doctrinal relativism. This is strange, considering that he was appointed, over a period of years, bishop, cardinal and president of the Pontifical Council for Christian Unity by St. John Paul II.
Weigel’s column, however, is difficult to respond to because he is relying on the work of a German Catholic philosopher and it is unclear at times whose thinking is being reflected. Words and ideas attributed to Cardinal Kasper are not given specific citation in terms of what books or articles they come from and my sense is that they are being taken out of context.
Weigel and the German philosopher might do well to read the Declaration “Mysterium Ecclesiae” from the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith in 1973 on the historical condition of dogmatic formulations. The Congregation notes, among things, that “it sometimes happens that dogmatic truth is first expressed incompletely (but not falsely), and at a later date, when considered in a broader context of faith or human knowledge, it receives a fuller and more perfect expression.”
I have never read anything of Cardinal Kasper’s that suggests he questions any of the absolutes (which I presume is what Weigel means by “sacred givens”) in divine revelation and Church teaching. This includes the doctrine of the indissolubility of sacramental marriage.
In the early 1980s he had already made a proposal regarding a pastoral approach for the civilly divorced and remarried similar to the one he has made recently. It was widely known and evidently not an obstacle to his appointment as bishop by St. John Paul II.
Msgr. John Strynkowski