CARDINAL KASPER transcript as broadcast – 15/1/06
BBC Radio 4, Sunday
Reporter – Christopher Landau
This conference emphasises the need for the church to listen to the experience of other churches – why is that a useful purpose for the RC church to engage in?
Well, the Catholic church is of the opinion that every church has elements of the gospel, elements of ecclesiality and often they have developed these elements profounder and deeper and larger than we have done – so we can learn from each other the definition of Pope John Paul’s statements that ecumenism is not an exchange only of ideas but of gifts.
So could you foresee the RC Church making changes on issues as a result of listening to what others churches have to say, for example on an issue like priestly celibacy?
I do not think that we will change about priestly celibacy but there is a possibility that others churches may have married priests. No, we have already changed a lot. If you think what we have learnt from the protestants about the importance of the Bible, of the word of God, of the preaching, and they are learning now about our liturgical symbols. There’s a process of learning going on.
And how significant are the internal problems within the Anglican Communion – on issues like homosexuality, the ordination of women?
Well the ordination of women is an institutional decision of the Anglican Communion which is an obstacle now; I have no solution at this point.
The problem of homosexuality appears everywhere nowadays, and I think it’s a very serious problem. It’s not the most important in the hierarchy of truth but it’s a very emotional problem, it has a divisive power. The Anglican Communion is still struggling with these problems – as much as we can we want to help the Anglican Communion to find a solution.
At a local level, for people, there is often surprise that it is still impossible for people to share the eucharist if one is Catholic and one is Anglican. Do you ever see the likelihood of movement on that issue which affects people in their local churches?
I know very well this problem because it’s very acute in my homeland in Germany, where we are 50-50 Catholics and Protestants. I think both the AC and the Catholic church has the same principle – that Eucharistic communion is linked with church communion, therefore it cannot be a principle, to bring confusion in both, but there can be single or particular cases of certain spiritual urgency where it’s possible as a pastoral solution.
We have a new pope… in the past he has not been regarded as a great friend of the ecumenical process…
He is not an enemy of ecumenism. He has written as a theologian many good articles on the ecumenical movement, and on the first day of his pontificate he declared clearly that the unity of the church is his priority, but the battle against secularism is linked with the unity of the church because in this new situation the church has to speak with one voice.