"A divided and polarised church repels more than it invites"

Cardinal Kasper: Church needs more leadership from the laity

Freiburg - More influence for non-priests in the Catholic Church is a central demand in the current reform debate. Cardinal Walter Kasper believes it is justified. After all, priests and bishops have one task above all others.

Published  on 09.05.2024 at 17:05  – 

The long-serving Curia Cardinal Walter Kasper has spoken out in favour of greater delegation of church leadership tasks to non-ordained Catholics ("lay people"). In an interview with the Viennese theologian Jan-Heiner Tück on the online portal "communio.de" (Thursday) on the Feast of the Ascension, he said that one of the most urgent tasks of bishops and priests is to "proclaim the Gospel according to the needs of the times".

"Today, as in apostolic times, we should entrust many other leadership tasks to deacons or qualified lay people, women and men," Kasper added. He referred to the biblical Acts of the Apostles, which also deals with the election of deacons in the early Christian community.

"A divided and polarised church repels more than it invites," the former President of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity continued: "Only the unanimous witness and practice of love, the commitment to the poor and those living on the margins as well as against blatant injustice, war and violence can make our message of God's love and mercy credible anew."

"Church doom and gloom and lamentation"

Kasper referred to an appeal by the Jesuit Alfred Delp, who was executed by the Nazis. Before his death, Delp had written in the church's handbook: "A return to diakonia is the way out of the crisis."

In the interview, Kasper also lamented a "doomsday mood and lamentation in the Church". The current church crisis is extremely complex and has many causes: "The abuse scandal is one reason, but not the only one. It is also not enough to point the finger at the 'evil world' and the secularisation of our Western societies." Christians should hold up a self-critical mirror to themselves and ask "whether the crisis is not above all a sign of our forgetfulness of Christ".

The 91-year-old Kasper was Bishop of Rottenburg-Stuttgart from 1989 to 1999. He was then appointed to the Vatican, where he was most recently President of the Pontifical Ecumenical Council until 2010. The clergyman, who has been a cardinal since 2001, previously taught theology in Münster and Tübingen for many years and wrote several fundamental theological works. (KNA)