Kasper queries Anglican status

15 May 2008

by Pat Ashworth

THE ANGLICAN Church must decide where it belongs: with the Roman Catholic and Orthodox church tradition, or with 16th-century Protestantism, Cardinal Walter Kasper, president of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity, told The Catholic Herald last week, .

He described the Anglican Church as “somewhere in between”, and said: “It must clarify its identity now, and that will not be possible without certain difficult decisions.”

The Cardinal, who has been invited to speak at the Lambeth Conference, said he hoped that “certain fundamental questions will be clarified at the Conference so that dialogue will be possible. “We shall work and pray that it is possible, but I think it is not sustainable to keep pushing decision-making back, because it only extends the crisis.”

At a General Synod debate in February, an atmosphere of gloom had descended when the Bishop of Chichester, the Rt Revd John Hind, said: “Up until now, Rome has believed we are a single dialogue partner with an ability to make worldwide agreements. Whether this aspiration has any future remains to be seen.”

Cardinal Kasper’s comments came in the context of his visit to Oxford to give the inaugural John Henry Newman Annual Lecture at St John’s College. Addressing the theme “The timeliness of speaking of God”, he said that atheism had reappeared in the guise of science, and “with nothing short of missionary zeal”.

Richard Dawkins represented “an atheistic fundamentalism”, he said, and he urged Christians in Europe to be more assertive about their beliefs. “The self-assuredness of militant atheism is polarising into defeatism, scepticism, agnosticism, and even nihilism, and undermining the great European ideals of human rights and universally valid truths.”

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