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Cardinal Kasper calls for an ‘evangelical Catholicism and Catholic Protestantism’

June 08, 2017

The ecumenical Monastery of Bose recently hosted a conference on “justification, the Gospel of grace,” and L’Osservatore Romano has published excerpts of three of the talks.

André Birmelé, a Lutheran scholar and pastor in Alsace-Lorraine, spoke about “the logic of God,” and Sarah Coakley, an Anglican theologian who teaches at Cambridge, discussed “mercy and clemency.” Cardinal Walter Kasper, the president emeritus of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity, spoke about the “ecumenical Luther.”

The prelate argued that a key conclusion of the 1910 World Missionary Conference in Edinburgh—that Christian division is a leading obstacle to evangelization—is more true than ever.

In the beginning, Luther did not set out to form a separate church, but to launch “an evangelical conversion of the universal Church, which we would call today a new evangelization of the Church always in need of reformation,” the prelate said.

What is needed today, said Cardinal Kasper, is an “evangelical Catholicism and Catholic Protestantism” in which, building on shared unity grounded in baptism, Catholics and Lutherans jointly focus on evangelization.

“For common people, confessional debates have become obsolete,” he said. “If we do not want churches to empty even more, we need to focus on the essential.”


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  • Posted by: Randal Mandock - Jun. 09, 2017 5:44 PM ET USA

    The reason why confessional debates have become obsolete is because the episcopal pastors are not feeding their people. A diet of fluff, nonsense, and falsehood is not real food, but rather a denial of the Eucharist. "Common people" ignorant of the depth of wisdom and meaning in our faith cannot not debate what they do not possess. The "essential" is not compromise but rigor, truth, and the handing on of what has been handed down to us from Christ through the Twelve by historical succession.

  • Posted by: TheJournalist64 - Jun. 09, 2017 7:12 AM ET USA

    The tragedies of the sixteenth century were produced by a sincere desire for reformation turning into a political and religious revolution. Prior reformation efforts inspired by the Spirit produced refinements in doctrine, not reversals. The three "solas" were destructive of Church unity but also of true Catholic spirituality and ethics. Just read up on the resulting "wars of religion" that continue to be a historical scandal.

  • Posted by: Elan - Jun. 08, 2017 8:32 PM ET USA

    If you knew how to fill churches your churches would be full. They're not. You had to pad your numbers to get your money. I am a common man and I think confessional debates are more relevant than ever before. How many others did you poll?

  • Posted by: feedback - Jun. 08, 2017 6:48 PM ET USA

    I want to be charitable when talking about Bishops. But what kind of idea is this: if the Protestants compromise some, and we compromise some, then churches would fill up? Our former rigid and proselytizing Popes frequently taught that Christian unity can only come about as a result of radical conversion to Christ and search for the Truth.

  • Posted by: bernie4871 - Jun. 08, 2017 4:27 PM ET USA

    Kasper and Francis seem to be of the same mind. So, while Kasper continues to strategize and promote the destruction of the bond of marriage to help to fill the pews with a disappearing population, Francis can Canonize Luther so they can all become one big happy family and tell the world how united and gracious we are to everyone. Isn't that what they are talking about? When you play with fire, you get burned, and this fire comes from deep down. Unity of this sort is no unity at all.