Cardinal Emeritus Walter Kasper gave an interview to Passauer Bistumsblatt, the diocesan newspaper of Passau which ran a special on the Synodal Path, but also on the situation of ecumenism today.
After having praised Pope Francis’ decision regarding the convocation of a “synodal path” for the whole Church on the occasion of the next Synod of Bishops convened for the fall of 2023, Cardinal Kasper needs to answer an original question from journalist:
“The Roman Catholic Church in Germany is on the synodal path. … Harsh words can be heard. …The speech brings to mind a passage from the book of Acts: ‘Now some cried one thing, some another. For the assembly was confused, and the greater part knew not for what cause they were come together’ (Acts 19:32). How is it possible to find a common denominator with the universal Church?”
The high prelate replied with humor: “You have accurately described the German synodal path, which is very different from what one can perceive in the media.” Then he clarifies: “I am very worried.”
Realistically, he adds: “I dare not imagine that demands such as the abolition of celibacy and the ordination of women to the priesthood could one day find the majority of two thirds of the episcopal conference or be consensual in the universal Church.” But he hopes “that the prayers of many faithful Catholics will help orient the synodal path on Catholic rails.”
He then proceeds to an analysis: “The Synodal Way is structurally on fragile foundations. This is neither a synod nor a simple process of dialogue. At the beginning, there is a process of dialogue, then the Episcopal Conference had the floor and finally, with regard to the requests of the universal Church, it is the pope’s turn, and each bishop is free to resume in his diocese which seems suitable to him.”
From which he concludes: “It is difficult to imagine how all of this can be brought down to a common denominator, given the obvious disunity of the German bishops. In addition, there is an even more serious birth defect in terms of content,” a sort of birth defect according to the title of the interview.
“Why did the Synodal Path... not consider critical issues in the light of the Gospel? Of course, we have to take into account recent human scientific findings, but the norm is Jesus Christ alone. No one can lay another foundation (1 Cor. 4:7).”
This has the merit of being clear: science is not a theological place, contrary to what the preparatory documents of the Synodal Path say, and many German bishops with them.
The cardinal finally warns the German Church for its arrogance: “I observe that other nations react with irritation when we give the impression that we want to set the course for them according to the motto: 'German society will regenerate the world.' This Nazi slogan had terrible consequences that have not yet been forgotten.”
Let us point out to Cardinal Kasper that this slogan predates Nazism: it is due to the pen of Emanuel Geibels, and concludes his poem “Deutschlands Beruf.” It is at the heart of German nationalism of the time, which was that of Kaiser Wilhelm I. But this is the concept that runs behind the scenes of the Synodal Path.