Glimpses Behind Closed Doors: Marco Tosatti on Cardinal Kasper’s Self-Correction

While observers of the discussion concerning the Synod of Bishops on Marriage and the Family are still wondering what it was that has recently caused Cardinal Walter Kasper suddenly (but stammeringly) to deny that which he had claimed a year or so ago – namely, that Pope Francis personally supports his “Kasper proposal” – the well-informed Vatican journalist Marco Tosatti now has his own explanation.

On 10 June, in an article placed on his own blog linked to the Italian newspaper La Stampa, and entitled “The Pope, Kasper, the Denial,” Tosatti quotes the crucial part of the Kasper interview with Raymond Arroyo where Kasper now claims that he did not really have the support of the Pope in his reform proposals concerning the moral teaching and practice of the Church, especially about “remarried” divorcees: “… no, I would not say that he [Pope Francis] approved of my proposal, no, no, no.” Tosatti comments:

These are words that in a way surprised everybody, because they are in contradiction to that which one has been given to understand in the recent months. Eye witnesses of meetings with Pope Francis concerning this topic, as in the one which took place prior to the creation of the recent Cardinals, have a completely different memory; rather, they remember just the opposite.

More importantly, Tosatti reveals what just also happened during the recent assembly of the Italian Bishops’ Conference in May of 2015. Behind closed doors, says Tosatti, Pope Francis is alleged to have said the following: “Some Cardinals have published a book with the single intention to fight against Kasper; that is what a mortal sin is (against charity, probably).” 1

It should be remembered that Cardinal Raymond Burke, one of the authors of this book (Remaining in the Truth of Christ), was dismissed as Cardinal Prefect of the Supreme Apostolic Signatura in Rome, by the personal decision of Pope Francis, and even shortly after the end of the last Synod of Bishops in Rome.

Tosatti comments on Pope Francis’ alleged criticism of Remaining in the Truth of Christ as follows:

There would be much to discuss about this sentence, if it has been actually stated this way, because the book which caused much discussion is a doctrinal text which defends the Magisterium concerning the family, and because Kasper is not even mentioned in it [sic]. It is hard to give an explanation for Kasper’s [recent] ‘denial’.

(It might be noted here in passing that Tosatti is in error when he claims that Kasper is not mentioned in Remaining in the Truth of Christ. That book is an explicit refutation of Kasper’s thesis, and quotes for polemical purposes from passages of Kasper’s own volume, The Gospel of the Family.)

Very importantly – also in the context of a growing resistance in Germany among bishops against the overall Kasper proposal – Tosatti also reports that, a month and a half ago, Cardinal Kasper himself visited the Pope, in order to report to him about the situation and the atmosphere in Germany concerning the upcoming October 2015 Synod. Kasper “had to admit [to the Pope] that not all bishops are in accord with him and with the [German] Bishops’ Conference.” The Pope was somewhat indignant about this report, according to Tosatti, and he counseled Kasper to be cautious. “And it can be that one of the fruits of this counsel is: not to put the person of the Pope himself in direct connection with a proposal which will certainly find a strong and decisive opposition at the Synod next October. And it is not certain at all that it [Kasper’s proposal] will pass.” 2

Tosatti’s report is also in accordance with the reports that the Vatican journalist Sandro Magister has been giving in the recent months, as that Vaticanist tries to grasp why the Pope is now giving more resoundingly orthodox speeches on the questions of marriage and the family.

Some observers of the Vatican – among them the traditional Catholic journalist Guiseppe Nardi – are now wondering whether there are now signs for a true withdrawal or whether there is to be found here merely a change of strategy.

  1. A cautionary note from the editor of Marco Tosatti is a well-known Vaticanist with a reputation for reliability. All the same, the quote attributed to the Holy Father came from one of his sources, and may or may not be accurate.
  2. Editor again: Tosatti is engaging in a fair amount of speculation here.