Cardinal Kasper and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Interview

Cardinal Kasper and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Interview October 16, 2014


Cardinal Kasper says he didn’t say it.

The reporter says he’s got it on tape.

It” is the terrible, horrible, no good, very bad interview that Cardinal Kasper gave yesterday. I can understand why Cardinal Kasper is doing his best to unsay what he said. He truly did open his clerical mouth and insert both his priestly feet.

His terrible, horrible, no good, very bad interview began with a few off-the-cuff remarks about how the bishops from Africa were opposing what Cardinal Kasper wants the Synod on the Family to do. If the quotes are correct, the Cardinal came across like a grand dame sniffing her titled nose at the effrontery of serving salads on warm salad plates. He might as well have said, It is, you see, just not done, but then, you know these colonials; all feathers and drums with no class.

He ended that little riff with a snippy comment to the effect that, while African bishops had to deal with their reality, that didn’t mean that their opinions should be taken seriously by the bishops from the more enlightened parts of the world.

If you want to listen to the interview, go here. If you can read German (I can’t) I’m told you will find the Cardinal’s denial of the whole thing here. If you’d like to read intelligent commentary — as opposed to the big nnnnhhhh I’ve giving you here — check out Deacon Greg Kandra and The Anchoress.

I punted on “the interview” and didn’t write about it yesterday because I’d already decided that Cardinal Kasper was a few cards short of a full theological deck.

I know. Who am I to say that? The answer, of course, is that I’m nobody. I am a pew-sitting convert from Oklahoma, of all backward places.

But I can’t help thinking with my backward little Okie brain (which I’m sure would rank considerably below an African brain.) What I’ve been thinking for a while now is that Cardinal Kasper’s recent spate of press conferences sound like an interview for the position of Catholicism’s answer to Episcopalian Bishop Shelby Spong.

Cardinal Kasper seems to like being interviewed, at least most of the time. He’s been running to the press on a regular basis to engage in an unseemly spite fight with his brother bishops. The quotes from his foot-in-mouth interview were a bit of a face-palm moment for some people, but I was, by the time I read them, all done with paying attention to Cardinal Kasper and his press peccadilloes.

Cardinal Kasper’s terrible, horrible, no good, very bad interview doesn’t, in my opinion, reveal him to be a racist so much as it pinpoints him as a self-important snob. That’s pretty much the message I got from Cardinal Kasper’s comment.

Those “Africans” and their backward countries just can’t be expected to exercise the enlightened Christianity of the Church of What’s Happening Now. Poor things. They can’t help it. We need to be nice to them, but certainly not let their third-world hang-ups get in the way of our first-world compassion and tolerance.

The Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Interview has boiled itself down to a he-said-it-and-I’ve-got-him-on-tape-saying-it/I-didn’t-say-it-and-I’m-not-that-kind-of-guy deal between Cardinal Kasper and Edward Pentin, the reporter who told on him. I can’t see any way that is going to end well for the Cardinal. My advice to him is just belly up to the bar and tell the truth, which is most likely “I didn’t mean it the way it came out.” He can follow that by saying “I denied it because I was embarrassed to admit it.”

That would be humiliating, especially for someone as much in love with himself as the Cardinal appears to be. But it might also end up being spiritually edifying to him.

As for me, I have no desire whatsoever to flog the poor Cardinal for his foot in mouth disease. It really does happen to all of us from time to time. The truth is:

Things often look all different in print than they sounded in your own ears when you were saying them. That’s just a fact.

Anybody who talks to the press a lot is going to, as we Okies say, come a cropper at some point. That’s another fact.

I don’t want to keel-haul Cardinal Kasper for his Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Interview.

I don’t even want to scold him for it.

My beef with the Cardinal is more fundamental. It’s about that Jesus guy.

You know. The One Who said What God hath joined together, let not man put asunder.




Note: The Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Interview is a play on the title of a book by Judith Viorst.

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14 responses to “Cardinal Kasper and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Interview”

  1. Small note (which someone else might have already pointed out): Did you mean it is a play on Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day? Because that was written by Judith Viorst, not Sr. Seuss.
    Attribution aside, I do think you are spot on here. I have been thinking that Cardinal Kasper reminded me of someone, and couldn’t quite put my finger on it. Bishop Spong is exactly who I had been thinking of.
    It’s funny that I wouldn’t have thought of him immediately, as Spong’s books were once very important to me, back when I was a Unitarian considering Christ (but not actually UCC), and was looking for a way to dip my toes in. Spong, and his colleagues at the Jesus Seminar, were also the reason I ultimately did not stay in mainline Protestantism– having developed a craving for spiritual meat, why would I remain where there is only gruel?

  2. You’re right. I’ll change it. Thanks for pointing it out.

    Now where did I get Doctor Seuss???


  3. I pity Cardinal Kasper – he was quite a big fish when I lived and worked in Germany several decades ago, working closely in mending the broken bridges between the ‘Church of Rome’ and our separated Lutheran brothers and sisters — rather successfully too, when one considers the long history of sectarian strife that made forging a new path on ecumenism at VII — I don’t think his ego ever digested the fact that his ‘less popular’ colleague Joseph Ratzinger was elevated to Chief Shepherd of the Universal flock. He’s really rather past his sell-by-date for meeting the global challenges of a 21st Century Church, but I can’t help thinking perhaps some relish his downfall with a rather unseemly degree of shadenfreude to use a German expression we’re readily familiar with, and that someone knew that if they gave him enough rope he’d hang himself on it

    and that I’m afraid leaves a distinctly sour taste in the mouth akin to the vinegar on the hyssop branch offered to our Lord as he hung at Calvary. Let our wine be fragrant sealed in fresh wine-skins not spoiled by too much exposure in sunlight and repellent to the senses…

  4. Does anyone know what the African bishops wanted us to do, but we should not do it? Did Ed Pentin ask Kasper what precisely Africans wanted ?

  5. Ken, I can’t find a link to the story you’re referring to. Can you give me one? I’d like to publish a post on it later today.

  6. Thank you- that explains a huge amount to me, especially his emphasis on the 5 sacrament system rather than the 7. I imagine somebody who did a lot of ecumenicism with Lutheran would have to downplay the Sacraments of Marriage and Holy Orders.

  7. You are wrong. He SHOULD be scolded for it. And flogged. And at least demoted and sent to some undesirable appointment somewhere. Although I am leaning towards defrocking myself.

  8. Because Ed Pentin did not have the time to ask C. Kasper additional question on what the African bishops wanted us to do, but we do not do it, and as a result, he created such a storm, I take the permission to show his answer to me on Oct 17:
    Edward Pentin
    Today at 2:48 AM

    Hi Jenny,

    Thank you for your question. I would have liked to know the answer to that, but unfortunately there was no time to follow up with it.

    Best regards,


    Hide message history

    On 17 Oct 2014, at 07:01, wrote:

    Hi Ed,

    Re: Card. Kasper vsv African bishops:

    Could you have asked Cardinal Kasper what is that the African bishops wanted us to do, but we should not do it ?

    Were you interested to find out what Kasper was talking about ?


  9. Jenny, I edited this to take out your email address. I did this to protect your privacy. If you want me to delete the whole comment rather than edit it, I will.

  10. The “go here” link provided by Ms. Hamilton includes a transcript as well as the audio. It looks to me like there are at least two issues: gays, and divorce. Cardinal Kasper appears more personally interested in the question of divorce. The remarks on the African and Asian bishops were regarding tolerance of gays, and do not seem to suggest Cardinal Kasper is pushing that issue himself. Although he seems disapproving of the degree to which those bishops appear unwilling to even discuss the question of homosexual toleration, it reads more like he was stating observations about the interplay between others.