With regard to Cardinal Walter Kasper’s Friendly Reply’ to Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger (4/23), the title on your cover is misleading, since Walter Kasper wrote and published the article in German, not as a cardinal but as a bishop, in 2000. More importantly, the English translator has taken considerable liberties in sharpening the language. For instance, with reference to the lack of understanding of some Roman directives on the part of local clergy and laity, the English text states: The adamant refusal of Communion to all divorced and remarried persons and the highly restrictive rules for eucharistic hospitality are good examples. But the words adamant, all and highly restrictive (italicized in my text) have no equivalents in the German, which, accurately translated, would read: This affects ethical questions such as questions of sacramental and ecumenical practice, for example, the admission of divorced and remarried persons to Communion or the practice of eucharistic hospitality. (Dies betrifft ethische Fragen wie Fragen der sakramentalen und der okumenischen Praxis, etwa die Zulassung wiederveheirateter Geschiedener zur Kommunion oder die Praxis eurcharistischer Gastfreundschaft.) The tone of the article has been changed to make it appear inflammatory.
Whether the various local churches should be free to decide these issues for themselves, as Kasper maintains, is quite another question. I would regard them as matters in which local churches ought not to go their own way, since the very nature of the Eucharist as a sign of communion is at stake.
(Cardinal) Avery Dulles, S.J.
Friendly and Gentle
Thank you for publishing the translation of Cardinal Walter Kasper’s letter concerning the relationship between the universal church and the local churches (4/23). It certainly was a friendly and gentle expression of his opinion. The commentary by Raymond Brown, S.S., on John 10 would give very strong support. Figures of authority in the church tend to become all-important in the eyes of those whom they were meant to serve; their presence is immediate, and often it seems that Jesus is reached chiefly through them and their activities. For John the immediacy of Jesus is crucially important because only he can give God’s life.... The Johannine insistence that Jesus is the good or model shepherd and that all others are thieves and bandits is challenging.... Such language is bound to have a dynamism in making Christians qualify the role of their own leaders (A Once-and-Coming Spirit at Pentecost).
A Measured Review
I appreciated the measured and careful review of Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger’s new book, The Spirit of the Liturgy, by John F. Baldovin, S.J. (5/7). Maybe in the early church the priest stood with the people as all faced east to pray. Maybe it is not either-or but both-and.
I agree with Father Baldovin that there is a legitimate argument for the present versus populum arrangement because of our renewed appreciation of the communal celebration of the Eucharist.
Janet M. Haarmann
Many in the Middle
Regarding Identity Crisis by Marian E. Crowe (5/7): your identity crisis may lessen when you find out how many of us are in the middle, part conservative and part liberal and ever growing. If as Catholics we want to come closer to the mark, we will constantly be changing and growing.
I like to think we were brave enough to question the status quo, some of which needed questioning. And that we were humble enough to look back and acknowledge the best of tradition. Putting them together in the present makes for a vital church. This creates the unity of diversity which is the only kind of unity possible anyway.
We tend to be conservative when we are fearful and we tend to be liberal when we are angry. Maybe moderates aren’t flaming because we are neither fearful nor angry anymore. Maybe now we can assist in the mission of the church.
Somewhere in Between
I was glad to read, in Marian E. Crowe’s article Identity Crisis (5/7), that I’m not alone in this expansive middle-ground of the Catholic faith. Born in 1970, I was raised in perhaps one of the more confusing times in history to be raised a Catholic. Now 31, I am actively involved in social justice ministry at a local parish, where I am one of the few parishioners kneeling during the consecration. Politically pro-life (which is to say, anti-abortion, anti-death-penalty, anti-anything that brings about the unnecessary suffering and/or death of one of God’s creatures), I can’t see that as justification for electing a grossly unqualified president who goes against so many other values important to my faith. (Which candidate am I talking about? Take your pick.)
I go to confession regularly, pray the Rosary daily and pray the Liturgy of the Hours as often as I can (not as often as I’d like). Recently divorced, I’m still struggling with the question of annulment and/or remarriage. (I’m inclined to trust God to let me know what to do if and when it truly becomes an issue to be dealt with.) I go to daily Mass as often as I can; I love the ceremony of the Latin Mass and the spiritual energy of the less traditional Masses. The eucharistic mystery, the core of our faith, is great enough to contain all the reverence and solemnity, praise and joy our hearts can muster.
I believe that in our faith, as with most things, the truth lies somewhere between the two extremes. Jesus himself was as troublesome to the anti-establishment Zealots as to the authorities of his day. And I think he who said, blessed are the peacemakers, they shall be called children of God, may be calling on those of us in the middle to create a common ground of faith before those extremes cause the next great schism in this venerable (if still imperfect) institution of ours.
Joshua D. McDonald