Cardinal Kasper: Opposition to Vatican leads to the brink of schism

Curia Cardinal Walter Kasper has justified the Vatican's letter to the German bishops on the topic of the "Synodal Council".

Saint Augustine debating with Donatists

The Bishops would be violating their personal responsibility if they allowed lay people to have more say in such a body.

Self-renunciation of official responsibility would be a "contradictory trickery"

In the opinion of Cardinal Walter Kasper of the Curia, it is not permissible for bishops to cede parts of their official authority to synodal councils, committees or similar bodies also staffed with lay people. In a statement for the conservative lay initiative "New Beginning", the German cardinal emphasised that the bishop's ordination conferred on him the pastoral office for his respective diocese in succession to the apostles: "He cannot subsequently relinquish the exercise of this sacramentally conferred authority in whole or in part by binding himself to a synodal council without violating the responsibility conferred on him personally."

Kasper's comments were made in light of a Vatican letter to German bishops published this week. The letter from the Secretariat of State declares, among other things, the planned establishment of a nationwide synodal council, which is to give lay people more co-determination, not permissible. The same applies to similar bodies at parish or diocesan level.

Scope for reform limited

Specifically, it says: "We wish to make it clear that neither the Synodal Way, nor a body appointed by it, nor a bishops' conference have the competence to establish the 'Synodal Council' at national, diocesan or parish level." The Vatican thus limits scope for church reform in Germany.

If German bishops wanted to cede official responsibility by "self-renunciation", this was "in truth a dishonest and self-contradictory trickery", Kasper criticised. The letter approved by Pope Francis is unambiguous and must not be reinterpreted, Kasper continued: "Resistance to the Roman letter or its tricky reinterpretation and circumvention, contrary to all well-intentioned assurances, inevitably lead to the brink of schism and thus plunge the people of God in Germany into an even deeper crisis."



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