Within the Church's corridors is a confusion and a crisis that is masked by an abundance of words, speeches, reports and even a grave crisis masked by perhaps the calling of Synod on the Family itself. Through the mist of daily PR, more and more observers are able to distinguish that what at first appears to be a confident Church and a confident papacy is a Church and a Papacy marked more by doubt than by anything else.
Why should this be so? Ostensibly, the Synod on the Family was convened in order to gather Bishops and Cardinals together to face the problems affecting marriage and the family together in the 21st century, but it has turned out to be so much more than that. 'New ways' from the very outset, were proposed. As soon as these 'new ways' of presenting and offering 'pastoral care' were presented it became obvious that far from a Church confident of Herself and Her Lord, the Catholic Church is now a Church marked by a breathtaking lack of confidence in Jesus Christ.
Despite the apparent strength and vitality of its Pope, whose boldness in speaking on many matters, from the environment, to the plight of the poor and refugees, to insisting that God's tender mercy is proclaimed within the Church, even to its 'peripheries', something is certainly lacking in the new direction that the Vatican has taken since the abdication of Pope Benedict XVI. It was a something that was, of course, very apparent among Bishops who had steadfastly ignored Pope Benedict XVI's message. What is that something?
Catholic commentators, some of them priests, have put their finger on what they consider to be the reason of the shift in emphases within the Catholic Church that appears to be coming from the head down. The missing link, they assert, is the idea - or rather the immutable Catholic doctrine - of sanctifying grace. Gradualism as interpreted by Cardinal Kasper would deny to man the essential truth about God and man's relationship with God, namely that God will give to the sinner who seeks it earnestly the Grace required to overcome sin in his or her life. There is great irony in the following quote from a book by Cardinal Kasper in 1967 is doing the rounds at the moment. It is very revealing of the mindset of the author then and, most likely, now, since it is a quote never repudiated by Kasper himself...
'The God who is enthroned over the world and history as a changeless being is an offence to man. One must deny Him for man’s sake, because he claims for himself the dignity and honour that belong by right to man. We must resist this God, however, not only for man’s sake, but also for God’s sake. He is not the true God at all, but rather a wretched idol. For a God who is only alongside of history, who is not himself history, is a finite God. If we call such a being God, then for the sake of the Absolute we must become absolute atheists. Such a God springs from a rigid worldview; he is the guarantor of the status quo and the enemy of the new. [Walter Kasper, “Gott in der Geschichte”, an essay that appeared in Gott heute: 15 Beiträge zur Gottesfrage, edited by Norbert Kutschki (Mainz: Matthias-Grünewald-Verlag, 1967),]'
To traditional Catholic eyes this statement will appear absolutely and completely incompatible with Catholic teaching and for good reason, but it needs a little bit of unpacking in order to see where Cardinal Kasper is coming from and what we have left of 'God' once we have basically stripped Him of His Lordship over all Creation.
One illustration is particularly worthwhile exploring. News has recently emerged that the Catholic Church will in many places be asked to pray fervently for the environment - yes - even before the Blessed Sacrament. The 'God of Cardinal Kasper' is not - we are assured - a God Who is enthroned over the world and history as a changeless being, despite St James's words that point to the opposite:
It is all that is good, everything that is perfect, which is given us from above; it comes down from the Father of all light; with him there is no such thing as alteration, no shadow of a change. St James 1:17
So, leaving aside asking how a 'changeless' God is a an 'offense to man' and leaving aside the question as to quite why a 'changeless' God is worthy of such contempt, we would do well to ask of what use to man is a God Who is basically firstly either limited or impotent and secondly changeable - even fickle. For the God of the 21st century cannot, apparently, to modern man be the God of the Old Testament or the New for two millennia, because we have changed. God must have changed with us and if He hasn't, then He is in the wrong. That's as arrogant as Cardinal Kasper's theology is.
However, there are important contradictions going on here, for if God is really, as Cardinal Kasper suggests, changeable, then how can we know that God loves us? If God is not 'changeless' then how can we know His mercy is everlasting? If God is not Lord and Master of the Universe, enthroned above His creation, with seraphim and cherubim surrounding Him, why would we bother to ask Him to save the environment and tend to the needs of 'Mother Earth' in His almighty power? Apparently, the idea of an Almighty God Who is supreme over all things and Whose Kingship extends over the whole of Creation is an offense to man. So why pray at all? Why pray for employment, or for an end to violence, for an end to war, for peace, for the end of abortion, if God is not truly Lord of all things.
If God is not 'changeless', if with Him there really is such a thing as 'alteration' and 'shadows of change', then how can God be trustworthy at all? We would be like a wife who was told by her husband that yesterday he loved her but today he is 'not so sure'. If we cannot depend on the trustworthiness of God's Law how on earth can we depend on the trustworthiness of God's Mercy? How can we trust even that God is 'loving' if doubt is the new creed, and certainty is the new enemy, because in order for us to trust that God is merciful we have to rely on Scripture and Tradition? How can God help us if He is not the God revealed in Scripture and Tradition? We cannot in one instance make God impotent and dethrone Him and then ask God for assistance that will save the World from environmental degradation? Indeed, if God is not Lord over all things, enthroned high above the Heavens, how can He help us at all, whether that be in order to become virtuous and leave a life of sin, or whether that be to come to the aid of the environment?
Of course, what Cardinal Kasper is really saying is that we can redefine the nature of God and God Himself and God will not mind because the concept of a God Who is omnipotent is offensive to man, so He cannot be as He has revealed Himself to the Church. We can be atheists and still believe in God, apparently. If, indeed, the God of Cardinal Kasper - Who Cardinal Kasper can never claim to be the 'One True God', because such a title would be 'offensive to man', is 'changeable' then of what use, indeed, are any of the Scriptures which are read out at Mass. The Gospels and the Letters of St Paul as well as the Old Testament would, if God is changeable, be completely useless to us since there is nothing for us to learn or be taught about how we should live, perhaps other than a vague ideal that they in some way represent a good life. Ultimately, however, they are mere goals, unattainable except for a strange, nebulous 'elite' of 'heroic Christians'. More than this though, the information we receive in the Word of God is useless to us anyway because God can change His mind about any of it at any time He pleases, or rather 'the people' please.
|When God is changeable...|
If the God preached by the Catholic Church is to be rejected simply for being the guarantor of the status quo then why should we ever say, with any categorial assurance whatsoever, that God is merciful at all? Because Scripture tells us so? Because Jesus Christ conveys it in the Gospel? But the Gospel isn't trustworthy anymore. We have made His words unnecessary, irrelevant to our times. God Himself can change according to the times after all. Cardinal Kasper relies on some Catholic rhetoric to present his ideas on mercy, but he cannot call God 'Love' or 'Mercy' without some relying on some kind of 'orthodox' source, such as Scripture or Tradition, the two very elements of Catholic theology that he simultaneously undermines.
The sad truth - and it is very sad indeed - is that the God of Cardinal Kasper - if his writings are anything to go by simply does not exist. God - the Blessed and Most Holy Trinity - does exist, but this does not seem to be the same God, trustworthy, changeless, merciful, holy, just, pure, benevolent and eternal as that of Cardinal Kasper. If the Catholic Church were to adopt Cardinal Kasper's 'vision of God' nothing - absolutely nothing - that the Mass attending Catholic, or even the atheist had been told about God by a Catholic, could be trusted, including the very concept of His infinite goodness. For how can we say God is even Good without the authority of Scripture and Tradition and the timeless teaching of the Church? It is true that in Jesus Christ God became man and embraced weakness, poverty and took on Himself our lowly state, but it is equally true that Jesus Christ is truly Risen and when He returns He will return 'coming on the clouds in glory' as Judge of the World.
One could, if one chose, decide that the God of Cardinal Kasper, being so open to redefinition by His own creatures so as to agree with them that the past two hundred years of Catholic teaching had been 'one big misunderstanding' was so irrefutably confusing and changeable that maybe Lucifer was a better option in terms of worship, because at least with him you always know where you stand. Indeed, the Catholic Church, with a God so changeable as Cardinal Kaspers, who says things 2,000 years ago that of no relevance to modern man today, having abandoned all sense, all tradition and all understanding, however limited that may be of the Infinite Majesty of the Godhead, may well decide to adopt Satanism as part of its new creed for the 22nd century.
|Cardinal Kasper likes to quote Scripture when it suits his theology|
For 2,000 years the Catholic Church has preserved Her doctrines in fidelity to Her Lord and King, Jesus Christ, not to offend man, but to draw man into the a restored relationship with the Most Holy Trinity, even to being refashioned in the likeness of the Son of God. Jesus Christ is truly Our Saviour. God truly is God. Salvation - Eternal Salvation - truly is at stake for us and at the Synod on the Family is at stake so much more than simply marriage and the family, for if Jesus Christ cannot ultimately be trusted, if for 2,000 years, the Catholic Church was untrustworthy, if Scripture lies concerning God's nature, then we will lose sight entirely of who we are, why we were created and of our ultimate destiny. In that way, Cardinal Kasper's agenda is perfect for this age, if you wish to live in a godless, hopeless, temporal, amoral dystopia.
'The God who is enthroned over the world and history as a changeless being is an offence to man. One must deny Him for man’s sake, because he claims for himself the dignity and honour that belong by right to man. We must resist this God, however, not only for man’s sake, but also for God’s sake. He is not the true God at all, but rather a wretched idol. For a God who is only alongside of history, who is not himself history, is a finite God. If we call such a being God, then for the sake of the Absolute we must become absolute atheists. Such a God springs from a rigid worldview; he is the guarantor of the status quo and the enemy of the new.'
Without a God Who is enthroned over the world and history as a changeless being, how can we call upon Him confidently and in hope? What hope have we of Heaven if Earth and its story is all there fundamentally is? How can we have honour and dignity as sons and daughters of God if there is no King, robed in light and majesty, to confer us with honour and dignity? How can we proclaim Salvation and a 'changing' God at the same time, for He might have changed His mind about His Salvation completely? How can we proclaim the forgiveness of sins - and obtain forgiveness of sins from a God Who, despite having become Man and suffering and dying for our sake, can be so indifferent to us that He would change and be subject to alteration along with the vicissitudes of modern thought and simply by our willing Him to change? Cardinal Kasper, not God, must be resisted, not merely for God's sake, but for man who he claims has permission to take offense at his Creator's audacity in simply being Himself.
God said to Moses: I AM WHO AM. He said: Thus shalt thou say to the children of Israel: HE WHO IS, hath sent me to you. (Exodus 314)
Amen, amen I say to you, before Abraham was made, I am. (St John 8:58)