Kasper on Intercommunion: “One Cannot Ask of Protestants What is Asked of Catholics”

Kasper on Intercommunion: “One Cannot Ask of Protestants What is Asked of Catholics” May 14, 2018

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Just days after the Archbishop of Hamburg, Stefan Hesse, affirmed that Pope Francis has given a “clear wink” to the possibility that Protestants can be admitted to Communion, Cardinal Walter Kasper has claimed that the Second Vatican Council and Pope John Paul II already gave a green light to the participation of these non-Catholic Christians in the Eucharist. “In my opinion, there is room for a continuation of the discussion”, said the 85 year old German prelate, President Emeritus of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity, in an interview with Vatican Insider.

On May 3, the Vatican released a statement that said that though he “appreciates the ecumenical commitment of the German bishops”, Pope Francis had asked them “to find, in a spirit of ecumenical communion, a possibly unanimous decision” on their proposal that Protestant spouses be allowed to receive Communion, a proposal that was passed 54-13 in the Spring assembly of the German episcopate. Critics such as Cardinal Willem Jacobus Eijk, Archbishop of Utrecht in the Netherlands, immediately jumped on Francis’ response to the German idea, and claimed that canon 844 of the Code of Canon Law provides that Protestants may only receive the Eucharist in danger of death. But this canon, in Cardinal Kasper’s opinion, is a red herring, and the key texts in the debate are in fact the Second Vatican Council’s decree on ecumenism, Unitatis Redintegratio, and the encyclicals Ut unim sint and Ecclesia de Eucharistia of Pope John Paul II.

“Every situation is a ‘unique case’, because every person is unique”

For the German cardinal, the conciliar text (8), on the one hand, establishes that the question of Communion for Protestants may indeed be settled by the local episcopal authority, independently of the Pope and the Vatican. The letters of John Paul II, on the other hand, show that non-Catholics can in fact receive the Eucharist even if they’re not on death’s door: as the late Pope says, “the intention is to meet a grave spiritual need for the eternal salvation of an individual believer”. And indeed, this aspect of the care of souls is a principle that is often lost in the so-called intercommunion debate, lamented Cardinal Kasper, or reduced to a “superficial… pastoral argument”. When admitting the faithful to Communion, “of course, one cannot ask of a Protestant what is normally asked of a Catholic”, said the prelate. “It is enough to believe, ‘This is my body, given for you…’ […] the more developed doctrines of transubstantiation or consubstantiation, even a “normal” Catholic believer doesn’t know them…”.

So it is – with Vatican II and John Paul II – that Kasper thinks the objections of the seven German bishops who protested to Rome over the intercommunion proposal can be answered. “When one descends into the realm of concrete life and concrete pastoral care”, concluded the cardinal, “situations are very differentiated. Every situation [of admittance to Communion or not] is a ‘unique case’ [Einzelfall], because every person is unique”. A point of utmost importance, since “theological principles” – such as worthiness to partake of the Eucharist – “are always valid, but their concrete application is not done in a deductive and mechanical way“. If the Church worked that way, said Kasper, “it would be the heresy of gnosis, which is rightly denounced by the present Pope”.

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  • john denis jackson

    Clearly Kasper is correct as I can’t see Jesus refusing himself from believing Protestant Christians !

  • Mike

    Luckily the Church has come to It’s sense after 1967 years, and realized, with no doctrine or dogma involved, that It has been wrong all along.Now we can chuck all of those stuffy old pious beliefs, and be The Church for anybody who is mildly interested! I don’t think this play is gonna end well…

  • Bob

    So why be Catholic? Why go to confession, keep my Sunday obligation? If all this is the case I might as well chuck it all. Hard to believe the Catholic Church was wrong to 2,000 years. Thanks for clearing it up.

  • john denis jackson

    Dear Bob,

    I have been a cradle Catholic all my life , I’m 73 now . I have studied philosophy & theology in a seminary and have kept up to date with theogical developments . However my life changed a couple of years ago when a catholic friend introduced me to the writings of the American mystic Joel S Goldsmith , he wrote a seminal work called The Infinite Way . I find great help in my understanding of the nature of God thru readings his books etc . I remain a Catholic follower of Jesus Christ .
    Also thru the writings of Fr Richard Rohr and Eckhart Tolle I have changed the way I think . It is possible to leave the old religion behind you know and still be a faithful follower of Jesus. The Church is there to point us towards God isn’t it . If we are pilgrimaging towards that final Union with God why can’t we discover that union here and now ?
    “Everything we hold about Catholic teaching and worshipping and praying comes from one theology or another. Briefly two theories are referred to here . The more commonly taught and that best known to Catholic Christians , is what is called the ‘sin/redemption’ theology. It believes that God’s first plan for the Earth and human beings was shattered by the sin of Adam & Eve in a garden of Eden. They and we were angrily banished from this haven of happiness and we are still suffering, still involved in the terrible fallout from this out-of-time moment in a garden with two,perfect specimens of humanity, a talking snake and a tempting Apple . When myth is mistaken for history, when a strory is read as reality, terrible consequences ensue. The flow of truth is disasterously distorted ”
    Taken from Fr Daniel O’Leary’s book ‘ An Astonishing Secret’
    The theology that makes most sense to me now is the alternative one of ‘nature and grace’. Why not read Dan’s great book and see for yourself whether his arguments for a new theology of Love holds up ?
    Pope Francis is leading the way to a new theology of love by his challenging paradigm shift thinking. Have you studied this Way ? It’s the Way of Jesus ….which the Church has unfortunately lost to a great extent .
    Our view of God must change . If you are stuck in the old way of thinking , consciousness …then you are bound to feel disillusioned , disappointed , fearful etc ….Many will deem what I have said here as heretical! That thought just makes me laugh because I cannot believe for one second that teachers like Rohr, Pope Francis , Cardinal Kasper and O’Leary are false or heretical ….


  • john denis jackson

    But it’s bound to end well !

  • john denis jackson

    Another thing Bob ; just looking at your questions ….’why go to confession ? , keep my Sunday obligation ? ‘ what on earth do you really mean by these very ‘Catholic’ questions ? Do you believe it pleases God for us to have to ask these neurotic questions ?
    What have they to do with a loving union with a Father God ?

    Aren’t they fundamentally the wrong kind of questions ?

    Of course being a cradle type Catholic I know what you mean , but isn’t it odd that typical Catholic thinking has to frame ones spiritual direction with these types of (meaningless ) questions . ?

    And to base ones Love of God on these questions so much so that if the answer is to throw them out then “I might as well chuck it all” ! It doesn’t add up does it ?
    Have you never thought perhaps the Church has laid too much emphasis on Original Sin and its interpretation as explained so well by Dan O’Leary et al ?
    Isn’t it time the Church grew up ?

  • Michael Barnes

    The life of a disciple of Jesus Christ is the consistent process of forfeiting our will for God’s will. Within the Catholic Church either the chair of Peter exists or it does not – the Keys of the Kingdom are held by the pope or not. The Eucharist is the Eucharist because of the priesthood of each priest. If there is no priesthood then the Eucharist is but a wafer.

    The contention is that Protestant spouses and Protestants in general that attend Mass feel the draw to participate in the Eucharist. The simple answer is not to then allow anyone to partake of the Eucharist. The simple answer is do what is necessary to qualify to partake of the Holy Eucharist.

    God the Father wants each of his children to partake of the flesh and blood of his Son. In this sense the invitation to worldwide and for everyone. However, there are steps that are necessary to faithfully join the Holy Church of God the Son. Were it not so then Jesus would never have been baptized.

  • Mike


  • Mike

    Let’s face it JD …Protestants, protest what Jesus came to teach us and the methods He has provided for our salvation. In other words, they want Jesus to be truly present and to enter into them without having to agree with His teaching, Unfortunately, St Paul said if we eat his Body and drink His Blood unworthily, we eat and drink our own condemnation. Pope Frances can’t change the teachings of Christ or the Dogma of The Church. I judge no one,but I want everyone to know and choose their own path. As for me and my house, “we will choose the Lord.”

  • Hempfield Pat

    I agree with you !! Pope Francis has been long waited for and speaks the truth!

  • john denis jackson

    Indeed lets face the truth Mike
    Many ‘Protestant’ followers of Jesus Christ do NOT protest against ‘what Jesus came to teach etc …’

    I know lots of good Protestant Christians who believe the same as Catholic Christians ! And they are surely not receiving un worthily as they believe Jesus is really present in their Holy Communions . So does God hold himself back from such Eucharists ? ! Ha ….it’s laughable .
    Pope Francis is changing nothing of the teachings of Christ . He is rather enhancing and enriching …..good for him !

  • john denis jackson

    Thank you HPat

  • john denis jackson

    Just a thought : was judas in a state of ‘mortal sin’ at that First Eucharist ?

    Jesus at that time would have known judas evil intentions ….And yet he presumably offered his body-bread and chalice to him .
    Jesus gave Himself (communion ) to a man who was going to betray him ….

  • Mike

    JDJ… While I completely agree that Jesus wishes for all to partake of His Body,Blood,Soul and Divinity, He did not offer Communion to the Pharisees,Saducees,ect. Why not? They were the acknowledged men of God…Yet they had abandoned what God had revealed to His chosen people and twisted His messages to the prophets and in the end, justified killing the Messiah, because they felt it was their right to define who God is and what He wants from His believers. Do you think they are all worshiping before the Throne of God now? Why would anyone who has been born after Jesus came to win our freedom from sin,who chooses to change His teachings and message, be welcomed into His Glory?

  • Mike

    OBTW JDJ…I think Jesus knew what Judas planned to do but He also knew that Judas had a free will and he probably desired that one last supernova of grace for him ,to give him every opportunity to turn away from his evil intention, before he committed that most grievous of sins.

  • john denis jackson

    Well Mike , you might have guessed that I am something of a Universalist !
    I’m sure the poor Scribes, Saducees & Pharisees didn’t really have a clue who Jesus was ….so I’m sure they come under the “Father forgive them for they know not what they do…”
    Yes they will be worshipping before the Throne of God now ! As will the vast majority of mankind .
    If there are souls who reject God ? …..is that possible ? ….then Conditional Immortality could apply ….
    God could withhold the gift of immortality to such souls ….

  • Mike

    In your Universalist philosophy…what could Jesus have meant when He said the road to perdition is wide and easy and many will follow it,but the road to heaven is narrow and hard and few will take it? You seem to be the kind of guy I would love to have a beer with but most people that have taken a different path towards heaven are usually rather truculent. I find you quite engaging so thanks for keeping up the dialogue.

  • john denis jackson

    That’s very courteous & kind of you Mike ! Yes wouldn’t it be great to chat over a beer ….life is too short to be argumentative or judgemental …
    A book I would recommend written by a Canadian priest friend of mine …of the Madonna house Community .(..Catherine de Hueck Doherty )
    Fr Robert Wild : ‘ A Catholic Guide to conditional immortality ‘…a seriously studious book about hell and Church teaching thru the ages …fascinating stuff .
    You might like to take a look .
    Blessings to you


  • Mike

    So in a nut shell…what is conditional immortality?

  • john denis jackson
  • john denis jackson

    That there is a condition attached to salvation ….to accept Jesus or not .
    God gifts us with immortality , so it can be argued that He can withhold the gift if the person totally rejects Gods mercy & love . Some theologians find this hard to believe …but who knows . It’s all linked with annihilationism . So souls could be annihilated instead of eternal hell /torment .

  • Mike

    If God were to simply annihilate us to avoid our just punishment for our actions…wouldn’t that be worse than suffering for our wrong choices? Isn’t LIFE the greatest gift God bestows upon us? If He completely destroys our existence, are we better off than living out our just sentence? I detest the thought of being in hell…but it still seems better than nonexistence. Your thoughts?

  • john denis jackson

    It’s all very interesting Mike.

    Many folks I’ve spoken to on this would prefer to be annihilated than undergo everlasting torment …ughhhhh! ,

    Another view like yours only better ….is that yes we do have to suffer the consequences of rejecting Almighty God , but the word ‘everlasting’ has been mistranslated …..as it really means for a long time …..& is finite . This would seem to fit our definition of a purgatorial cleansing …
    I personally would prefer that !

    I mean if there is another choice after death , which some theogians say there may well be ! Then who on earth ! Ha ( in hell!) …would choose to live without God ! Once we have a glimpse of Gods heaven ….(as people who have Near Death Experiences) then how can we choose hell ?

    I personally always go back to Jesus on the cross uttering those immortal words “Forgive them Father …………because they don’t have a clue! ”
    ……my translation

    I work as an ecumenical & interfaith chaplain in a large psychiatric hospital and prison for the mentally disordered and I must say I’ve never come across anyone who is pure evil . Everyone is unique , most folks have a mental health problem …..trauma . So they need Gods Love & Mercy ….not condemnation .
    Look at Hitler …..he had a terrible abused childhood etc ….
    However poor mental health does not let one off the hook totally ! We all ,ill or not have to make choices & decisions ….

    I go about my job offering healing, forgiveness , understanding , compassion , absolution from sin …..

    The response from these poor injured souls is fantastic and heart warming .

    I am a good man ; so when I see suffering , hardness of heart , psychosis ,

  • john denis jackson

    Sorry , I never finished that ! The wifi connection broke and I thought I had lost all that ….internet is dodgy here in Italy !

    As I was saying : I am a good man ! …..but I am only that way because of gods grace ! I boast in the Lord , Mike !

    But if I want to forgive people who have committed awful crimes …..like child abuse stuff , which I come across every single week ………then how much MORE must an incredibly Loving Father God want to forgive and welcome home to the Fathers House ……all the souls .

  • john denis jackson

    Also Mike , if you Google CI ( conditional Immortality) you will see loads of good info and Ratzinger and Balthasar were very good on this topic .

  • Mike

    Sorry for the long delay in responding…I didn’t know you ever finished your thread. I agree we should always be ready to forgive and offer reconciliation to those who have done wrong,but the Church has consistently taught that forgiveness comes after repentance.If a person is not sorry for his sin,they reject God’s Divine Mercy. It seems that we do them no favor by allowing them to wallow in their sin without offering them an opportunity to be truly sorry for their sin. Every sin degrades our bodies and damages the spiritual well being of the world around us,repentance restores us to happiness with God and our fellow man.I a long life of badness but 24 yrs ago God flooded me with grace when I repented.(it took 10 days in jail but I got the message!) I just want every one to have the same beautiful,loving life I enjoy.

  • john denis jackson

    Oh yes Mike , it goes without saying there has to be repentance , sorrow , change of heart etc …

    Praise God for the Grace you received !