Here is a piece that needs considering by North American Catholics: Matthew Schmitz, "Africans Criticize Cardinal Kasper's Remarks" (First Things, October 21, 2014).[Hat tip to JM]
Not because I think Cardinal Kasper is racist. I don't. His comments don't seem race-driven, but theology-driven. He appears to feel that people who believe in "old school" Catholicism are well-intentioned but essentially colonial rubes.
Before everyone shrieks at his hateful comments, perhaps we shold check our indignation slightly. His views are exactly those of the Democratic Party, the President, the Vice President, Hilary Clinton, and most of the Supreme Court. These people are not anti-African. They are anti-Catholic. I wonder: does that bother people remotely as much as the idea that someone could be racially prejudiced?
I have extensive interactions with Historically Black Colleges and Universities in my professional life, and I witness what looks like a growing fissure between those holding older, sacred loyalties and newer, more progressive and secular loyalties in that community. Especially with Obama and Oprah as exemplars, there is a real spiritual battle going on for the soul of African-American culture. I sense that if we do not strongly support our African brethren in their defense of orthodoxy, we are in danger of loosing the faithful remnant in the African-American church. Kasper's comments reflect nothing but what is becoming across-the-board the rapidly accepted wisdom in the secular arena. He might as well be a spokesperson for Obamacare on this point as for the Catholic Church. "We can't let Third World prohibitions based on centuries-old fears dictate our modern approaches." His beliefs may not equal Modernism, but when Hell is seen as a remote and figurative possibility, when mortal sin is blurred with superstitious taboos, when law is opposed to mercy, the tilt is certainly in that direction.
As a fascinating aside to this conversation, here is a review of a recent book related to African Christianity. It is authored by Thomas C. Oden, a name familiar to many Catholics as editor of the Ancient Christian Commentary on Sacred Scripture (IVP). Oden credits on Joseph Ratzinger as among those names who helped him along his path to rediscovering orthodox Christiantity: the review is by Christopher A. Beetham, in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. [Emphasis all mine -- PP]
Wednesday, October 22, 2014
A reader has sent me the following remarkable observations, which I consider well-worth your time: