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Cardinal Kasper’s False God

kasper_k
“The God who is enthroned over the world and history as a changeless being
is an offense to man... Such a God springs from a rigid worldview; he is the
guarenteer of the status quo and the enemy of the new.” - Walter Kasper


Cardinal Kasper’s False God
 
By John Vennari
 
 
            Dr. Thomas Heinrich Stark, Professor of Philosophy at Philosophisch-Theologische Hochschule, Austria, delivered an outstanding speech at the Lake Garda symposium on the problematic philosophical foundation of Cardinal Kasper’s theology. 
            The lecture revealed, to put it in my own words, that the only unchangeable truth in Cardinal Kasper’s theology is that there is no such thing as unchangeable truth.
            Everything, according to Kasper, is conditioned by the movement of history; history is the framework to which all theories, all systems, all hypothesis must bow if they are to be considered thinkable and true. Kasper’s system, rooted in German idealism (primarily in that of Hegel), makes it possible for him to see doctrine and morals as fluid items that can change from age to age.
            Kasper applies his refusal to accept immutability to God Himself.  In fact, three different speakers at the Lake Garda Symposium – Matthew McCusker, Father Edmund Waldstein, O.Cist., and Dr. Thomas Stark – quoted the following Kasper bombshell.
            In an article Kasper published early in his theological career, he described God as thus:
 
The God who is enthroned over the world and history as a changeless being is an offense to man. One must deny him for man’s sake, because he claims for himself the dignity and honor that belong to man … We must resist this God, however, not for only man’s sake, but for God’s sake. He is not the true God at all, but rather a wretched idol. For a God who is only alongside of and above history, who is not himself history, is a finite God. If we call such a being God, then for the sake of the Absolute we must become absolute atheists. Such a God springs from a rigid worldview; he is the guarenteer of the status quo and the enemy of the new.”[1]
 
            Kasper returns to this theme in a more guarded manner in his 2013 book
Mercy: the Essence of the Gospel and the Key to Christian Life, which was publicly praised by Pope Francis in his first Angelus address. In this newer work, Kasper attempts to depict “Mercy” as God’s central attribute,[2] and to portray God as a Being who suffers (and who is thus changeable). Kasper presents an alternative of God’s words to Moses “I am Who Am” to “I will be present as the one who will be there.”[3]
            In this same book on Mercy, Kasper mentions the various attributes of God that “are the focus of handbooks: simplicity, infinity, eternity, omnipresence, omniscience, omnipotence and other attributes.”
[4] The reader will notice the one attribute Kasper fails to mention: immutability (unchangeable). Kasper’s view of a changeable God, defies infallibly defined Catholic doctrine.
            By contrast, the eminent Dominican Father Reginald Garrigou Lagrange presents authentic Catholic doctrine on the God’s Immutability:
 
 “The Councils on several occasions also affirmed God's immutability. Thus the Council of Nicaea
anathematizes those who say that the Son of God is ‘changeable.’[5] The Fourth Lateran Council says: ‘We firmly believe and absolutely confess that the one and only God is eternal, immense, and unchangeable.’ [6] In like manner, the Vatican Council [I] declares: ‘God, as being one, sole, absolutely simple and immutable spiritual substance, is to be declared as really, and essentially distinct from the world’."[7]
 
            None of these solemn definitions mean much to Kasper. He says at one point, “It is perfectly possible for dogmas to be one-sided, superficial, vindictive, stupid, and premature.”
[8]
Kasper’s view of theology undermines the infallible magisterium of Popes and Councils as the last word on a dogmatic subject. It effectively denies the profound weight of the perennial ordinary magisterium. If God Himself is subject to change, then everything that we associate with God: Sacred Scripture, Doctrine, the Church, looses permanence. As Pius XII warned as far back as 1946, the false approach of the Modernist “new theology” will spell the end of the “unchanging dogmas of the Catholic Faith,” and will lead to the dissolution of the “unity and stability of that Faith.”[9]
            The main menace posed by Kasper, however, is not so much his bad doctrine, for in saner days of the Church he would have been silenced by the Vatican quicker than you can say aggiornamento. The greater danger is the current breakdown of Catholic authority that enables Kasper to romp freely as a worldwide worker of mischief.
            How prophetic is the warning of Msgr. Joseph Clifford Fenton, the eminent anti-modernist theologian who wrote in 1960:
 
"No one has ever been as well placed to harm the true Church and to counteract its essential work as a priest in good standing. If such a man, by his preaching, his teaching, or his writing, actually sets forth the kind of teaching condemned in the anti-Modernist documents Lamentabile sane exitu and Pascendi dominici gregis, or if he works to discredit the loyal defenders of Catholic dogma without receiving any repudiation or reproof from those to whom the apostolic deposit of divine revelation has been entrusted, the Catholic people are in grave danger of being deceived."[10]
 
            Kasper is not only a “priest in good standing” who “sets forth the teachings condemned in Lamantabile and Pascendi,” but has swollen to the status of superstar prelate. Kasper, with his theological warts on display for decades, was elevated to the Cardinalate by Pope John Paul II in 2001, allowed to retain his post as Prefect of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity by Pope Benedict XVI, and cited approvingly by Pope Francis at his first Angelus Address after his election to the papacy, March 17, 2013.
            Here Francis said, “
In these days I have been able to read a book by a cardinal – Cardinal Kasper – a talented theologian, a good theologian on mercy – on mercy. And it did me such good, that book, but don’t think I’m publicizing the book of my cardinals [even though he just did – JV]. That is not the case! But it did me such good, so much good. Cardinal Kasper said that hearing the word mercy changes everything.”[11] 
            Francis apparently favors Kasper’s
doctrine-on-the-move version of Catholicism over old-guard prelates who recognize Kasper’s perfidy. NCR’s David Gibson reports, “After Francis publicly praised Kasper's work, an older cardinal in Rome came to the Pope and insisted: ‘Holy Father, you should not recommend this book! There are many heresies in it!’ The Pope smiled as he told Kasper the story, and reassured him: ‘It goes in one ear and out the other’.”[12]
            Kasper, as well as other radicals, is not merely tolerated by the present Pontificate, but publicly encouraged with enthusiasm.
            We now return to highlights from Dr. Stark’s exposé.
[13] We will then consider the practical consequences of Kasper’s thinking, especially in relation to the upcoming Synod.
 
Kasper: Centrality of History
 
            Dr Stark based his talk on a foundational text by Walter Kasper titled
Einführang in de Glauben – An Introduction to the Faith. Though the book was published in 1972, it demonstrates Kasper’s current thinking, as his actions of the present moment testify. Kasper’s text, says Dr. Stark, has “exercised a great influence on theology and especially on students of theology.” It also provides a philosophical key to Kasper’s mindset.
            As noted, Kasper sees everything from the point of view of history. All reality, doctrine, man himself is conditioned and formed by history. Kasper writes, “There is no metaphysical structure of order to be disentangled from all the details of history and salvation history … History is the ultimate framework of reality.”
[14] Man himself, says Kasper, is not excluded from this historicalization: “Man does not just not live in history which remains in some way external to him; on the contrary history is … the makeup of man ... [man] is profoundly historical.” (p. 156 ff.)
            Kasper’s historicism leads him to effectively agree with the evolving Teilhardian concept of the world and cosmos, so that, as Dr. Stark explains, “even materiality and its order are the product of historical process.”
[15]
            Space does not permit us to cover extensively Dr. Stark’s treatment of Kasper’s bizarre view of salvation history, but we will quote Stark’s main paragraph on this score.
            Kasper claims that in the history of Israel, God’s dialogue with man with man “succeeded,” and “this gives us a standard by which to judge all other history.” (p. 162).
            Professor Stark explains: “So how does the history of Israel become salvation history in the strict sense? It is not because God at a certain place at a certain time chose a particular people for his own possession and as sovereign Lord of history leads the fortunes of his people on the way of salvation. Salvation history as the history of Israel is rather, on Kasper’s account,
about the dialogue between God and humanity succeeding in an exemplary manner—i.e., that certain people, namely the members of the people of Israel, have taken up God’s word in a pure fashion and have attested the successfulness of the dialogue with God in a correct manner. Consequently, the action of people is just as much the cause of the occurrence of the history of salvation as the action of God.”
            Dr. Stark continues, “Therefore, the history of Israel is not salvation history in substantial and unique form. Rather, it is only the measure for assessing when and where the history of the world has actualized its potency to be salvation history. What has happened to the people of Israel could occur accordingly in an analogous manner in other places, at other times, and to other nations.
On this account, the history of Israel is not the irreplaceable foundation of salvation history, but merely an exemplar of how salvation history might be realized.”[16]
            What, then, is Kasper’s view of Christianity?
            “Christianity,” claims Kasper, “reveals itself to us as an historical dialogue between God and man; it takes place in principal wherever human beings trust themselves to the transcendence which opens to them in their freedom.”(p. 162).
            By extension, the Church may be an institution of sorts, but she is, in Kasper’s view, “primarily an event; it is something happening.”
[17]
            For Kasper, the Scripture is not the Word of God presenting immutable truth for all time that must be believed, as Tradition says, “on the authority of God revealing.” Likewise the Church cannot be regarded as successfully transmitting the word of God either. Kasper writes, “Consequently the word of the Church is not simply and in very respect the word of God;
the Church is only always starting again in search of it.” (p. 164)
            Thus, according to Kasper, “the Church must again and again go beyond itself and enter afresh into its own future; the proclamation of its own transitoriness is what it lives by (Karl Rahner). The Church does not possess the truth in any simple way, but must keep looking for it afresh. This takes place in its patient and courageous attention to the ‘signs of the times’.” (p. 163).
            Kasper says the Church must give “an answer to the questions of the day”
[18] whereby it is clear that she ‘does not have this answer pat … The questions of the day require a new and deeper exploration of the Gospel so to stimulate new answers which are not just abstract conclusions from past beliefs.” (p. 164)
            We will later see this false tenet applied in relation to the upcoming Synod on the family.
            Kasper, always wedded to the primacy of history, claims a historical development where man increasingly understands the “value of personal conscience.” (p. 158)
            Since Kasper downplays immutable doctrine, and exalts personal conscience, the conclusion is predictable: the laity must have their say in the ongoing progress of Church doctrine and discipline. The
Zeitgeist must help in the development of doctrine and practice.
            “If differences arise,” says Kasper, “between the official doctrinal teaching of the Church and the laity’s everyday experience of the faith—as is often the case today—these conflicts cannot be resolved simply by a repetition and tightening up of the traditional dogmatic formulas without discussion. 
The truth of the Gospel can only emerge from a consensus. An attitude of obedience to ecclesiastical authority is not the principal expression of the ecclesiality of faith.” (p. 141-2)
            Kasper claims that “obedience in the Church can never be a one-way process,” that is, the laity obeying the magisterium. Rather, he effectively argues that the magisterium should obey the people of the Church:
            “We are not therefore,” says Kasper, “talking about the infallibility of rigid and lifeless propositions, but the infallibility of living historical authorities. These authorities can speak historically as a particular situation demands, and can, if necessary, reinterpret their earlier statement historically in a new situation” (p. 171). Once again
, doctrine-on-the-move.       
            “The principal authority,” continues Kasper, “the one which can claim definitiveness when declaring the Gospel, is the Church as a whole … The infallibility of the teaching authority is thus part of the infallibility of the Church as a whole. (pp. 171-2)
            Thus, as Professor Stark explains, Kasper “would have the authority of the Magisterium depend on the consensus of the faithful.”
            Fast-forward to Kasper’s inevitable conclusions: there are no unchangeable Catholic dogmas, certain aspects of morality may be revised in order to respond to the ever-changing needs of succeeding ages. The formulas themselves may be ‘time bound’ and thus open to modification. Writes Kasper, “Dogmas are subject to the historical limitations of all human language, and are true in detail only in relation to the appropriate context. This means they have to be re-interpreted and translated for new situations.” (p. 170)
            Thus concludes excerpts from Dr. Stark’s superb exposé.
 
“Thinking against nature”
 
            Saint Irenaeus (AD 180), in his
Against the Heresies, warned as follows:  "Thinking against nature, you will become foolish. And if you persist, you will fall into insanity."
            The Modernist insistence that the movement of history trumps objective truth, that the movement of history trumps nature itself, is a foolishness that produces the rampant insanity in the post-Conciliar Church, especially manifest in the today’s pro-Kasper pontificate.
            The insanity is evident as we see Cardinal Kasper’s anti-dogma style manifest in the working document for the upcoming 2015 Synod on the Family, which contained yet another questionnaire for the bishops. The document tells Church leaders to
“avoid in their responses a formulation of pastoral care that are based simply on an application of doctrine,” for such an approach “would not respect the conclusion of the Extraordinary Synod Assembly and would lead their reflection far from the path already indicated.”[19]
            This directive is not only textbook Modernism, but also textbook “Kasperism.” We saw earlier Kasper’s claim: “The questions of the day require a new and deeper exploration of the Gospel
so to stimulate new answers which are not just abstract conclusions from past beliefs.” This approach exalts the “pastoral” (the supposed “real needs” of people here and now) over the doctrinal, and opens to the door to an effective shift in doctrine as a response to the “signs of the times.”
            Does it do any good to express concern to Pope Francis about this? Yes, we can still make a noise for the sake of teaching others, but Francis already stated his own obstinacy to let such complaints “go in one ear and out the other.”
            The upcoming Synod promises to be heavily influenced by this Modernist dementia. What the final outcome will be remains to be seen.
 
Don’t be Deceived
 
            Our Church is presently in the hands of perfidious masters of deception who accept the Modernist principle that there can be ”some transformation of the dogmatic message over the course of the centuries.”
[20] This deviancy is at work since the time of Vatican II, particularly with its celebration of the counter-Syllabus, and its new program of ecumenism and interreligious dialogue.[21]  The hideous inevitability of this Modernist approach now plays itself out in the field of morals. We read in the various 2014 and 2015 Synod-related documents the possibility to ‘rethink’ permission for divorced and “remarried” Catholics to receive Communion (the Kasper proposal), and the alleged positive aspects present in both cohabitation and homosexual relationships.[22]
            We take comfort, however, in the fact that Catholic doctrine and morals cannot change. In traditional Catholic Theology, we establish certitude to a given doctrine by demonstrating Proof from Scripture, Proof from Tradition, and Proof from Reason. In this vein, I have assembled a quick three-point proof that doctrine cannot change over time. Due to space considerations, we will only mention a few:
 
Proof from Scripture:
 
            “
But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach a gospel to you besides that which we have preached to you, let him be anathema.” – Galations 1:8.
 
Proof from Tradition:
 
            Pope St. Agatho (+681) taught,
"Nothing of the things appointed ought to be diminished; nothing changed; nothing added; but they must be preserved both as regards expression and meaning."[23]
            Vatican I’s
Dei Filius teaches infallibly, “Let therefore the understanding, the knowledge and the wisdom of individual men, and of all men of one man, and of the entire Church, grow and advance greatly and powerfully, over the course of the years and the ages, but only in its own class, in the same dogma, with the same meaning and in the same explanation.
            The Oath Against Modernism, contained in St. Pius X’s Motu Proprio
Sacrorum Antistitum, brings out the same truth using identical terminology. The man who takes this Oath makes the following promise, “I sincerely receive the doctrine of faith handed down to us from the Apostles through the orthodox Fathers, with the same meaning and the same explanation; and consequently I completely reject the heretical fiction of an evolution of dogma, changing from one meaning to another, different from that which the Church first held.”
 
Proof from Reason:
 
We look to G.K. Chesterton, the crown prince of reason, who aptly derided the notion of changeable doctrine:
 
An imbecile habit has arisen in the modern controversy of saying that such and such a creed can be held in one age but cannot be held in another. Some dogma, we are told, was credible in the twelfth century, but is not credible in the twentieth. You might as well say that a certain philosophy can be believed on Mondays, but cannot be believed on Tuesdays.”[24]
 
            Bishop Fulton J. Sheen used to say, “God has His day, the devil has his hour.” We are now in the hour of Modernist supremacy in the Church, but the disorder will not be of permanent duration.
            No matter how our present-day Church leaders attempt to mangle the Faith, our duty is to publicly resist their “imbecile habits,” and maintain the immutable Faith as commanded by the Athanasian Creed: “Whoever wishes to be saved, needs above all to hold the Catholic Faith;
unless each one preserves this whole and undefiled, he will without a doubt perish in eternity.”


Notes:

[1] “Gott in der Geschichte”, Gott heute: 15 Beiträge zur Gottesfrage, (Mainz, 1967) Translation of passage taken from “The New Pastoral Approach of Cardinal Kasper to the divorced and “remarried””, 12 April 2014, Documentation Information Catholique Internationales, http://www.dici.org/en/documents/the-new-pastoral-approach-of-cardinal-kasper-to-the-divorced-and-remarried/ (emphasis added).
[2] A problematic approach we will perhaps address elsewhere.
[3] Mercy: the Essence of the Gospel and the Key to Christian Life, Walter Cardinal Kasper,[New York: Paulist Press, 2013 – English Translation 2014], p. 47. A translation attributed to Martin Buber and Franz Rosensweig.
[4] Ibid., p. 10.
[5] Denz., no. 54.
[6] Ibid., no. 428.
[7] Ibid., no. 1782. Quotation from Father Reginald Garrigou-Lagrange, OP, The One God: A Commentary on the First Part of St. Thomas’ Theological Summa,  [London: Herder, 1943], p. 269. This is contained in Chapter IX: “The Immutability of God” which is well worth reading. (emphasis added).
[8] W. Kasper, Einführung in den Glauben, Matthias-Grünewald Verlag, 1972, 4th Edition 1975 & translated (by V. Green), W. Kasper, An Introduction to Christian Faith, Burns and Oates, 1980, p. 170 (all quotes cited from English edition) .
Full quote: Pope Pius XII warned against the New Theology in a 1946 Allocution to the Jesuits: There is a good deal of talk (but without the necessary clarity of concept), about a “new theology,” which must be in constant transformation, following the example of all other things in the world, which are in a constant state of flux and movement, without ever reaching their term. If we were to accept such an opinion, what would become of the unchangeable dogmas of the Catholic Faith; and what would become of the unity and stability of that Faith” - Quoted from “Thomism and the New Theology”, Father David Greenstock,
The Thomist, Oct., 1950, p. 568. 
[10] Quoted from "Sacrorum Antistitum and the Background of the Oath Against Modernism," Msgr. Joseph Clifford Fenton, The American Ecclesiastical Review, October, 1960, p. 246.
[11] “Full text: Pope Francis’ first Angelus address,” Catholic World Report, March 17, 2013.
[12] David Gibson, “Cardinal Kasper is the 'Pope's Theologian'”, National Catholic Reporter, June 3, 2014.
[13] We thank Dr. Stark for permission to quote his work at length. The full text of Dr. Stark’s presentation – which contains much more than what we excerpted here – is titled “German Idealism and Cardinal Kasper’s Theological Project,”, Catholic World Report.
[14] Einführung, 144; An Introduction, 165. A better translation than “framework” for “Horizont” is “horizon.” All pages numbers noted in body text refer to the English edition, Introduction. I have reproduced Dr. Stark’s endnotes when he wanted to make a clarification regarding translation.
[15] In fact, Kasper refers in a footnote to Teilhard in which he explains: “The importance for Christian faith of an evolutionary view of the world was repeatedly stressed above all by Father Teilhard de Chardin.” Einführung, 144; An Introduction, 165, Footnote 10.
[16] Emphasis added.
[17] Einführung, 123; An Introduction, 139. A better translation would be to swap around “event” and “happening.” The Second Vatican Council is often referred to as “Ereignis,” an event. The meaning is double-edged as any event is a passing phenomenon.
[18] The translator in reference 24 translates “Zeichen der Zeit“ as “signs of the times,” which is more accurate. In the next sentence “questions of the day” is being used for the same term, which is less accurate but responds to the idea of giving an answer.
[19] “The Vocation and Mission of the Family in the Church and Contemporary World,” Lineamenta, (Working document for 2015 Synod), from Vatican Webpage (released December. 2014).
[20] See “The Components of Liberal Catholicism,” Msgr. Joseph Clifford Fenton, American Ecclesiastical Review, July, 1958.
[21] On this score, we are reminded of Cardinal Kasper’s infamous quote: “Today we no longer understand ecumenism in the sense of a return, by which the others would ‘be converted’ and ‘return to being Catholics.’ This was expressly abandoned at Vatican II.” Adisti, Feb. 26, 2001. English translation quoted from "Where Have They Hidden the Body?" by Christopher Ferrara, The Remnant, June 30, 2001.
[22] These points have been covered repeatedly in Catholic Family News over the past year.
[23] Quoted from Gregory XVI, Mirari Vos, #7.
[24] G.K. Chesterton, Orthodoxy, (New York: Dodd, Mead & Co, 1924), p. 135

Published in the August 2015 Catholic Family News (just went to press)


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