04 January 2023, The Tablet

Cardinal Kasper pays tribute to the late Pope Emeritus

Benedict XVI was frequently misunderstood, Cardinal Walter Kasper has said, and Germans should be proud of him.

Cardinal Kasper pays tribute to the late Pope Emeritus

Cardinal Walter Kasper differed from the late Pope Emeritus on many theological points, but said “that is quite normal and as it should be”.
CNA/Bohumil Petrik

The late Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI was outstanding as a theologian but was much misunderstood, according to the President Emeritus of the Pontifical Council for the Promotion of Christian Unity, Cardinal Walter Kasper has said.

Cardinal Kasper told KNA: “He was an outstanding theologian and an eminent Pope.

“Unfortunately he was often misunderstood, above all in Germany. In retrospect now that he is no longer alive I think this will change.

“He was, in any case, the only German Pope in centuries and I think we as Germans can be proud of him.”

When his interviewer recalled that as theologians he and Joseph Ratzinger had often had controversial theological debates and that as theologians their paths had frequently diverged, Kasper concurred.

“Our paths did indeed cross again and again in the past 60 years,” he said, “and we had differences of opinion on theological issues but in theology that is quite normal and as it should be.”

“Even when he was Pope we had quite a few disputes but we didn’t make them public then. We always remained linked and in friendly contact,” the cardinal said.

Benedict had been “completely lucid” until shortly before he died. He was keenly interested in events in the German Catholic Church especially in the German Synodal Path, which had “worried him greatly”, but he had not commented on them publicly, Kasper said.

“Only 20 days ago I received a very sweet letter from him which I have in front of me now. I had sent him the 50-page long epilogue of my book on ecclesiology titled The Church of Jesus Christ (“Die Kirche Iesu Christi”). In his very friendly reply he thanked me for sending it,” Kasper said.

Kasper and Ratzinger differed on several theological issues, especially on the relationship between the Universal Church and the particular local churches and over the CDF document Dominus Iesus published in the year 2000.

The language with which Dominus Iesus described the relationship of the Catholic Church to the other Christian Churches was “difficult to get over”, Kasper said at the time.

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