Cardinal Walter Kasper said fresh Vatican criticism of American women religious was typical of the 'narrower' view that officials of the Curia tend to take, and said US Catholics shouldn't be overly concerned, reports NCR Online.
The 81-year-old German Cardinal, who served as the Vatican's chief ecumenical officer under Popes John Paul II and Benedict XVI, is seen as a close ally of Pope Francis. When Francis summoned bishops for a two-day summit on family issues in February, he tapped Cardinal Kasper to give an opening address to lay the groundwork.
In many ways, Cardinal Kasper may better reflect Francis' outlook than the crackdown on US nuns launched by the Vatican's doctrinal office. Just as Francis has downplayed the focus on rule-following and hot-button issues in an effort to widen the Church's appeal, Cardinal Kasper has pushed the importance of pastoral flexibility and realism in walking with Catholics throughout their imperfect lives.
Cardinal Kasper is in the US to discuss his book, Mercy: The Essence of the Gospel and the Key to Christian Life. It includes a blurb from Pope Francis, who has made mercy a cornerstone of his ministry since he was elected last year.
On Monday, Cardinal Kasper told the audience that after Francis praised him by name just days after his election, 'an old cardinal came to him and said, "Holy Father, you cannot do this! There are heresies in this book!"'
As Francis recounted the story to Cardinal Kasper, he said, the Pope smiled and added: 'This enters in one ear and goes out the other.' It was Cardinal Kasper's way of providing context to the news that the Vatican's doctrinal czar, Cardinal Gerhard Müller, had sharply criticised leaders of more than 40,000 American nuns for disobedience to Rome and for 'fundamental errors' in their beliefs.
FULL STORY Cardinal Kasper, the 'pope's theologian,' downplays Vatican blast at U.S. nuns (NCR Online)