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Cardinal Kasper: Francis has launched new phase of Vatican II.

In today's L'Osservatore Romano,Cardinal Walter Kasper argues that by emphasizing social justice -- and nods toward collegiality -- Pope Francis has inaugurated a new phase of Vatican II. John Thavis reports:

In this sense, Pope Francis from the first day of his pontificate has given what I would call his prophetic interpretation of the council, and has inaugurated a new phase of its reception. He has changed the agenda: at the top are the problems of the Southern hemisphere, Cardinal Kasper wrote.Its useful to remember that it was Pope John XXIII who presented the image of the church of all, and in particular the church of the poor shortly before opening Vatican II in 1962.Cardinal Kasper said Pope Francis election had also underlined a related point: that the church's make-up has changed greatly since the time of the council.At the beginning of the last century, only a quarter of Catholics lived outside Europe; today only a quarter live in Europe and more than two-thirds of Catholics live in the Southern hemisphere, where the church is growing, he said.Cardinal Kasper also noted that Pope Francis appears to be open to a more collegial exercise of papal authority. The role of the pope as a unifying figure in the church should not lead to an exaggerated centralism, Kasper said.

Pope Francis cited Kasper in his first Angelus address, calling him a "talented theologian." Maybe the feeling is mutual.Read the rest of Thavis's post right here.

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Cardinal Kasper will be at Notre Dame for a conference in his honor on the occasion of his 80th birthday April 25-7. Details here:

Well, disenfranchisement and suffering of the multitude are hardly limited to the undeveloped world. The developed world, though, has dived so deeply into the warm waters of relativism that it may be largely lost to the Church, at least until its inhabitants come to the realization - gradually, reluctantly - that the certainties of science are contained within the narrow limits of human understanding. Service to God through service to one another is just about all that matters.

David S. --And some of the certainties of theology will also have to be given up. Just look at what is happening with approval of Kasper et al -- they are giving implicit *approval* to some homosexual relationships. Face it, this is a change affecting prior certainties, a welcome one to more and more of us.

This keeps getting better and better.

Kasper's is the most encouraging statement I have read about the new pope. Still, please consult the Aparecida document of CELAM for an idea of the limits that a new turn to social justice may exhibit.

Who is approving homosexual relationships? Just "Kasper et al"?

I believe it is the Church (= People of God) that is approving homosexual relationships. At some point, one hopes, the Vatican will catch up.

Margaret D. --According to an editorial in The Tablet this week",Speaking in London this week, Cardinal Christoph Schnborn of Vienna urged that same-sex relationships should be respected and recognised in law. Meanwhile in Colombia, Cardinal Rubn Salazar said in the context of the gay-marriage debate in that country, Other unions have the right to exist no one can ask them not to. Both cardinals were clear they oppose same-sex marriage, on the grounds that marriage can only exist between a man and a woman. As Archbishop of Buenos Aires, Pope Francis is reported to have expressed similar views to those of Cardinal Salazar." C. Schonborn said that the unions "should" be respected, and C. Salazar said they "have a right to exist". Neither said that they should just be tolerated. Given also when C. Kasper said, things seem to be looking up.

"A new phase of Vatican2 ..."!?!Interesting perspective - especially coming from a cardinal who comes from a class not know for new ideas. It would seem that the cardinals and their newly elected pope, being consummate politicians, still have enough skill at reading the signs of the time to recognize that timing in politics is everything. Now with the Panzer Pope out of the way, the hierarchs may be more willing to contemplate the really dire straits to which the Church has fallen - and do something about it.All this talk about the Council's 50th anniversary coinciding with the election of a new pope who seemingly would like to embrace the tradition of J23 tends to highlight how the last two papacies were almost successful in their drive toward restoration of the "Church triumphant" that we all learned about in church history class.It remains to be seen if the election of a Francis can really spark a revival of Vatican2's legacy. Will our "little brother Francis" take to heart that interior whisper? "Go, Francis, and repair my house, which as you see is falling into ruin."

Both cardinals were clear they oppose same-sex marriage, on the grounds that marriage can only exist between a man and a womanCan someone clarify for me the moral distinction between supporting "civil unions" and supporting "[civil] marriage"Does the goodness or evil really depend on the name if both describe the same reality?Would it matter to Archbishop Vigneron?"the archbishop of Detroit, Allen Vigneron, told the Free Press Sunday that Catholics who receive Communion while advocating gay marriage would "logically bring shame for a double-dealing that is not unlike perjury."

Sorry, the italics should have ended with the first paragraph.

Full quote of the statement:"Asked by the Free Press about Catholics who publicly advocate for gay marriage and receive Communion, Vigneron said Sunday: "For a Catholic to receive holy Communion and still deny the revelation Christ entrusted to the church is to try to say two contradictory things at once: 'I believe the church offers the saving truth of Jesus, and I reject what the church teaches.' In effect, they would contradict themselves. This sort of behavior would result in publicly renouncing one's integrity and logically bring shame for a double-dealing that is not unlike perjury."Vigneron said the church wants to help Catholics "avoid this personal disaster."

At least Kasper admits that Vatican II did not bring about a "new springtime" in the Church. Instead, what followed in the West was widespread apostasy, a collapse of religious life, a great decline of vocations, and even the virtual extinction of Catholicism in some places.

That Protestants were no longer going to hell, nor were Jews who were not the killers of Christ, that the rest of the church was part of the royal priesthood, that social justice was important. that people worshiped in a language they understood. that the Eucharist was understood as essentially a community act. that women could study theology and be on the altar. that the people could distribute communion and receive under both speies, that anger was more serious than sexual sins, etc, etc. Yea this was a springtime. Numbers in the clergy and religious life are not as important as the quality of Christian living.

Moving ahead:(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis has appointed a Group of Eight cardinals to advise him in the governance of the Universal Church. In a communique issued Saturday the Secretariat of State announced that the Holy Father decided to set up the Council following on from discussions that emerged during the General Congregations in the lead up to the Conclave which elected him the 265th Successor to St Peter.The group of Cardinals will be coordinated by Card. Oscar Andrs Maradiaga Rodrguez and is drawn from across the Universal Church. It will also help Pope Francis revise the Apostolic Consitution on the Roman Curia Pastor Bonus.The group is composed of:Card. Giuseppe Bertello, President of the Governatorate of Vatican City State; Card. Francisco Javier Errazuriz Ossa, Archbishop emeritus of Santiago del Cile (Chile);Card. Oswald Gracias, Archbishop of Bombay (India); Card. Reinhard Marx, Archbishop of Mnchen und Freising (Germany);Card. Laurent Monswengo Pasinya, Archbishop of Kinshasa (Democratic Republic of Congo);Card. Sean Patrick OMalley. O.F.M. Cap., Archbishop of Boston (U.S.A.);Card. George Pell, Archbishop of Sydney (Australia);Card. Oscar Andrs Maradiaga Rodrguez S.D.B., Archbishop of Tegucigalpa (Honduras); Mons. Marcello Semeraro, Bishop of Albano, Council secretary.

That sounds promising.

Fr. Imbelli has started a separate post about the Group of Cardinals so it's probably best to dscuss it over there.

I simply cannot take Vigneron seriously.I mean, Really.

Joseph J. ==Given what I've read of Bishop Vigneron he seems extraordinarily conservative. One thing that concerns me about Pope Francis is that he might change some things so fast that the super-conservatives like Vigneron might be inclined to join the SSPXers. A look at the American Episcopal Church, with its devastating division into trads and progressives, forces me to admit the possibility that the American Catholic Church might also be susceptible to schism. And where but to the SSPX would the super=conservatives go?

"One thing that concerns me about Pope Francis is that he might change some things so fast that the super-conservatives like Vigneron might be inclined to join the SSPXers".I fully expect to be disappointed in many ways by Pope Francis, and I also think that it is as it should be. He should stick to the center, to avoid losing people. I think that Pope Benedict was excessively conservative for a pope, not because there is anything wrong with conservatism per se, but because he was too far from the center of the current sense of the faithful and caused a number of people, who could not recognize their faith in his ideas, to drop out. As the pope it is important that Francis represent all the faithful, even if that means that it might not be quite to my taste. The direction of the changes has to be towards a better church, but the rate of change must be such that all can be part of it.That's why his take, with his insistence on centering attention on the poor, is so heartening: it's different and seems to sidestep the divisions of the church. It seems to redirect priorities without fitting into the conservative/progressive divide. It's a different angle. His actions (if they can be called that) are completely different from what would be on our "to do" lists. It's refreshing, and maybe he will restore some unity to the church.

" I simply cannot take Vigneron seriously. "Those of us who reside in the Diocese of Oakland let a thousand candles and shouted hosannas from the steeple tops when Vigneron left to "bless" Detroit.Unfortunately, his successor ... Big Sal Cordileone ... was simply cut from the same cloth. I'm sure that the first bishop of Oakland, Floyd Begin (originally from Cleveland), has turned over in his grave more than once these last few years.Unfortunately bad pennies don't go away and now SC is now the "blessing" of the Archdiocese of San Francisco. But he'll never get his pretty hat there so his buddy (assuming he survives the cleaning of the Vatican augean stables) Raymond The Pretty Burke will have to ensure that SC gets some good moves soon and on the road to the Big Red Hat (no shoes or purse, though).I suspect that Allen Henry Vigneron is a safer and smarter driver than Salvatore Giuseppe Cordileone, particularly after parties and in the presence of his mother fer crying out loud.

Claire,Your anlaysis of Pope Francis and what the Church needs contains much wisdom.

Thorin, Your comment to Claire was very gracious and is the most tangible evidence I've yet seen of the potential of the new Pope to make all hearts more open to the unifying presence and power of the Holy Spirit. Your comment just made me happy. It's a bit of a personal breakthrough for me. As an adult convert, I've had problems getting myself to believe in the teaching authority of the Magisterium. I just couldn't get myself to believe in Pope Benedict, even though I understand that this would be considered to be heretical. Your simple, short, gracious comment suddenly has me believing in Pope Francis. I know this probably sounds vacuous, but it's real to me, and I just wanted to thank you.

Ann, several years ago, theologian Richard McBrien observed that JPII moved the Great Middle (my caps) to the left and essentially shoved the Left off the ecclesial table. At the same time, JPII moved the Right to the center. And who became the new Right? McBrien, as I recall, suggested it might be the SSPXers and their brethren still within the Church of Rome. I think when it comes to discussing the state of the church today, we need to keep this observation in mind. Thanks to JPII and B16, the Great Middle today is the old Right, or so it goes.I see Francis as a "safe bet". He is doctrinally conservative ("orthodox") but stresses outreach to the poor. No one but a true grinch could criticize a pope who wants to help the poor. Like others, I don't expect anything major from this pope: no pronouncements on women's ordination, contraception, optional celibacy, etc. Francis is the "caretaker" pope, or so (I presume) the cardinals are hoping. If Bergoglio's election brings in more shekels, all the better!For me, the larger question is, What comes *after* Pope Francis is no longer pope?

Mr. Weisenthal, you wrote, "I've had problems getting myself to believe in the teaching authority of the Magisterium. I just couldn't get myself to believe in Pope Benedict, even though I understand that this would be considered to be heretical."Please know that I myself left the Church of Rome at age 58 just over six years ago. Until then, I'd been a "regular churchgoer" all my life. I left *precisely because of* Pope Benedict! Generally a moderate, I simply found B16's behaviors and pronouncements too much to stomach. As time went on and the more I looked into matters, I came to embrace gay civil marriage, women's ordination, and, under very limited circumstances, abortion. I've supported optional celibacy since my college days.Back to your comments: Do you not see a distinction between (a) embracing a specific papal teaching and (b) accepting the teaching authority of the Magisterium? If, for example, I accept the right of bishops to teach, does such acceptance mean that I must embrace a particular teaching, for example, the doctrine that the church lacks authority to ordain women to the presbyterate and episcopate? Are you not aware that Rome itself differentiates infallible from non-infallible doctrine, and doctrine from discipline?Refusal to accept a proposed non-dogmatic teaching is not heresy. Most official teaching is not *of faith* because it is not part of the Deposit of Faith, defined as all that God has revealed through Christ for our salvation. If you conclude after study that a papal teaching is not *of faith*, and if you must of conscience reject such teaching, there is no heresy.

Joseph J. =I too do not expect much substantive change from Frances. However, he seems to be extraordinarily perceptive of the sufferings of others and is strongly inclined to help them. I would expect that he is inclined to change at least how well the dissenters and complainers are treated by the Vatican. Railroading decisions about dissenters and complainers should stop -- he should at least give them all fair hearing. The problem might remain, however, that he will be protected from hearing just what the complaints from outside the Curia really are, how serious they are, and how seriously the faithful view the problems. Unfortunately, there doesn't seem to be any talk of ensuring that dissenters/complainers get a fair hearing. Without that it will be the same ole same ole, though Vatican finances will probably be straightened out, and maybe the Curia will become more efficient. I think that the key to real change (however slow it is) will be whether or not Francis can be kept from talking to ordinary people. If they put him in the Palace, significant change is lost.

My guess is the curial heads will make sure THEY are the papal gatekeepers, Ann, at least to the extent they can exercise this interference.

Joseph J. ==That's where a savvy institutional structure plays a crucial role. Nowadays experts in management realize that secretaries who set appointments for their bosses have enormous power in an organization, so their job descriptions are extremely important even though their work does not make policy.I've read more than once that Francis as Archbishop of Buenos Aires made his own appointments, in a tiny notebook :-) And he kept phone numbers of various people handy. His reputation as an administrator was excellent. I expect that such a savvy guy will do a fine job restructuring the Curia. Now if only he puts the right people in the right slots. But that should take years, I suspect. I wonder if he'll reduce the mandatory retirement age, say down to 72. That should eliminate some of the old guard sooner than now expected.

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