Cardinal Kasper denies statement against African bishops, journalist insists

Vatican City, Oct 16, 2014 / 03:34 pm (CNA).- The president emeritus of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity, Cardinal Walter Kasper, denied on Thursday afternoon that he made any statements against African bishops, but audio to that effect was soon produced.

On Wednesday, Zenit had run an article by Edward Pentin which included an interview with the cardinal in which he had said that Catholics in Africa “should not tell us too much what we have to do.”

According to the Austrian Catholic agency, Cardinal Kasper responded the following day: "I'm shocked. I have never spoken against Africans in this way, and I never would speak like that. I note: nobody has approached me in these days and weeks from Zenit asking for an interview.”

Cardinal Kasper also announced that he would ask Zenit to clarify. In the summary of Zenit’s interview, had pointed out from the beginning that there was uncertainty whether the interview had been actually authorized by the cardinal.

Zenit took down the interview from its site, but Edward Pentin issued a statement confirming its validity.

"His Eminence Cardinal Walter Kasper spoke to me and two other journalists, one British, the other French, around 7.15pm on Tuesday as he left the Synod hall,” Pentin wrote Thursday at his own website.

“I transcribed the recording of our conversation, and my iPhone on which I recorded the exchange was visible. I introduced myself as a journalist with the (National Catholic) Register, and the others also introduced themselves as journalists. I therefore figured the interview was on the record and His Eminence appeared happy to talk with us. In the end, I posted the full interview in ZENIT rather than the Register. ZENIT removed the article on Thursday in response to Cardinal Kasper’s denial.”

“His Eminence made no comment about not wanting his remarks published. It depends on the context, but normally in such a situation, comments are considered on the record unless otherwise requested."

Following this statement, Pentin posted both the audio recording of the interview, and a transcript.

“If there was a misunderstanding, I apologise,” Pentin concluded, “but I stand by the interview that was published as a correct account of the exchange.”

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