the painfully proper, acutely sensitive ecumenist speaks his mind

By Diogenes (articles ) | Sep 15, 2010

To be effective in ecumenical affairs, one must be courteous, cautious, respectful, and above all sensitive. One must judge carefully how one’s remarks will be received by people of other faiths, other cultures, other backgrounds.

Cardinal Walter Kasper spent more than a decade in the Pontifical Council for Christian Unity: first as secretary, then as president—in effect as the Vatican’s top ecumenical official. Apparently he got out just in time, because just a few weeks after his retirement he’s in the headlines with his observation that when you fly into London these days, “you think at times that you’ve landed in a Third World country.”

Cardinal Kasper now says that he won’t accompany Pope Benedict on his trip to England, because he (the cardinal) has recently been sick. The nature of his illness has not been disclosed. Hoof-in-mouth disease, possibly. 

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  • Posted by: - Sep. 15, 2010 10:45 PM ET USA

    Would you prefer that he had waited until 6 months from now for these comments? Honestly, I've met many people who use the excuse of "ecumenism" to ignore revealed Truth. Perhaps instead of screaming that he wasn't polite enough, we ought to be thanking him for a frank assessment of society. (I don't imagine we'd care for the description here in the 'States much either, but we're rapidly heading in the same direction.....) They and we aren't nearly the moral peoples we could be.

  • Posted by: Gil125 - Sep. 15, 2010 6:20 PM ET USA

    As a rule, Di, you correctly fault bishops for obfuscating---and failing to use words of one syllable. Cf. Archbishop Vincent Nichols, quoted in this blog on 9/13. ("one score, one fumble...") This is a rare case when plain speaking served one ill.