A blog by the magazine's editors and contributors


Kasper & Kaveny at Fordham.

Last night Cathleen Kaveny interviewed Cardinal Walter Kasper at Fordham University in front of a packed house. The cardinal has been making the rounds in New York and Boston, promoting his new book Mercy: The Essence of the Gospel and the Key to Christian Life. It was a fascinating conversation, veering from the abstract (How is mercy the key to understanding God's nature?) to the practical (How merciful must I be when grading students' papers?) and back again. Kaveny asked excellent questions, as did the audience, and Kasper offered fascinating responses, some of which I live-tweeted. After the event, one of my Twitter followers suggested I collect some of my my tweets via Storify. So that's what I'm going to do--or at least try to do. Caveat lector: unless you see quotation marks or I say otherwise, I'm not directly quoting anyone, and it's possible that I misheard some of the Qs & As (and sorry for any typos--autocorrect is against me). I've never Storified before, so bear with me--and let me know whether this is remotely useful--after the jump.

About the Author

Grant Gallicho is an associate editor of Commonweal. You can follow him on Facebook and Twitter.



Commenting Guidelines

  • All

Not bad, Grant. Great to hear that he likes Johnson and Schussler-Fiorenza. (Even Notre Dame U could not handle Schussler-Fiorenza.)

This reminds me of the times when John XXIII was pope when certain people in the Vatican (Muller for one) tried to sabatoge the pope. There will be more. 

Would like to hear about how he clarified Mary being passive in response to Cathy's question. Offhand, it looks like bad theology (marioogy?). Beth Johnson would have flipped reading "passive."

Beth should have been there. Was she? Why not? This is her turf. 

This is tremendous - thanks for compiling all of these. One additional note that fascinated me from the evening:

There has been some talk in the past few weeks by some cardinals of a certain mindset that +Kasper's address on Eucharist for divorced and remarried Catholics was not well-received by many in the body. While the widespread reception of his address was not explicitly asked during the evening, Kasper noted, "The most in favor of this [my address] was the pope himself." I think this should give some real hope to those wondering what will come of the synods taking place over the next two years.

Great evening, and wonderful documentation on your part. 

Not bad indeed. 

Except maybe for the fact that with every tweet comes your face, which is, well, a bit eerie.


Thank you for the post, and I followed your live-tweeting last night, and am now looking forward to the follow up on this tweet of yours:

More to come from Kasper in a Q&A, btw.


very helpful, and many thanks -- but I hope we'll get a full article as well!


very helpful, and many thanks -- but I hope we'll get a full article as well!


"This reminds me of the times when John XXIII was pope when certain people in the Vatican (Muller for one) tried to sabatoge the pope.

To be clear my comment above might have read (Muller for one as an example of present sabatoge). A fellow blogger pointed this out to me. 

I hope to hear more details about the interview. Cathleen is always top-notch.

It's been about 15 years since Kasper and Ratzinger initiated their famous discussion/debate in the pages of America. I was partial to Kasper's side.

In the afternoon seminar with faculty and gradutate students from the department of theology at Fordham, three Fordham colleagues presented comments on Kasper's book and challenged him with questions were some about Kasper's understanding of God's suffering, which he and Beth Johnson both accept, despite the"official magisteial teaching" which denies divine suffeing Both of them affirm that God is love and that the pure act of divine love entails compassion as a component of that love. As such suffering and compassion are not technical "passiones" in the ancien and medieva undersanding, and so God does not undergo "against God's will" any passion, but is compassionate by God's will. Balthasar takes a simiar position.  Much more was said in seminar, but Grant's terrific exposition of the evening meeting shows that both sessions were carried out in similar ways.

Reading this post, Kasper seems like such an open and reasonable person, but when I think of him, I think of the Anglican Communion in 2006 and also his and B16's visit to the UK in 2010. 

When the Anglican Communion was getting ready to vote on women bishops, Kasper spoke at the House of Bishops meeting, warning them against women bishops ... ... NT Wright wrote a response against what Kasper said ...

When visiting the UK with B16, Kasper said some really negative things ... ... that  the UK was like "a Third World country"  because of all the immigtants, and he said this of the Anglican Communion when asked about the sex abuse crisis in the Catholic church ... ""Have a look at the Protestant churches: they don't have celibacy and they have women priests. But are they doing better? The Anglican Church has also taken on formidable problems with these new developments. I wouldn't wish those problems on my church."

Andrew Brown wrote this about Kasper's comments ... ... "This is not only stupefyingly tactless, and wrong (the Church of England has 600 priests in training, half of them women; the Roman Catholic church here has 39), it is also bizarre, in view of the pope's initiative last year to welcome married Anglican clergy, if they are opposed to women priests."

Kasper refused to apologize for his remarks ...

Hard to believe he's the president Emeritus of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity.

as President of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity. - See more at: at the House of Bishops meeting, warning them against that and threatening further divisions between the two churches

Sorry - that last paragraph of my comment above was supposed to have been deleted.

Thanks for the summary, Grant. The Cardinal was a delight to talk with-  extremely erudite and very down-to-earth, as well.

Thanks Crystal for putting it all in perspective. I forgot Kasper's remarks about the Anglicans. Inexcusable. Just shows we have to be careful about putting anyone on a pedestal. 

Cathy, Can you share with us how Kasper responded to your questions as to how he further explains Mary's "passivity?

As for "the Church of England has 600 priests in training, half of them women; the Roman Catholic church here has 39," is it really fair to compare entry into the service of a state church, with all the secular status that is implied thereby with a vocation to a minority faith with far different requirements and expectations?


Is it fair to reduce Cardinal Kasper's entire clerical career of nearly six decades to a few negative flops, and then conclude that it is hard to believe that he is President Emeritus of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity? 

It should go without saying, but Cardinal Kasper did not spend his entire decade as president criticizing the Church of England and making culturally insensitive remarks about immigration, to say nothing of his many contributions to interreligious dialogue with the Jews.



Well, take the US then ... in 2012, there were 700+ priests ordained in the Episcopal church (  In 2013 the Catholic church had 500 (, and apparently 400+ existing Episcopal priests re former Catholic priests (

Considering that the Catholic church has 69,436,660 members and the Episcopal church has only 1,923,046 (Wikipedia), I'd say the ration favors the Episcopal church.

I'm not saying Kasper is a horrible person, I'm just trying to give space to another side of him that doesn't seem to be represented in this post.

Add new comment

You may login with your assigned e-mail address.
The password field is case sensitive.

Or log in with...

Add new comment