Readers will remember the theological debate between Cardinals Ratzinger and Kasper about which comes logically first: the Universal Church or the local, i.e. particular, Churches.
This may seem to Plain Men and Plain Women like us a sort of arid 'theological' debate like the (alleged) debate about Angels and Points of Needles, involving fancy word games and with little relevance to our plain everyday lives. But that is not so. Followers of the Kasper line, in which the particular Church comes first, are now using that belief to justify their conviction that particular Churches, embedded in their different cultures, might adopt different doctrines and disciplines with regard to marriage and sexuality.
That is what lies behind the interview (which Kasper later, mendaciously, denied had ever happened, until Ed Pentin produced the tapes) in which Kasper talked sneeringly about African Catholics and said that "They should not tell us too much what we have to do". He admitted that "in the end there must be ... general criteria", but emphasised that "There must be space also for the local bishops' conferences to solve their problems". Memories for us of a Lambeth Conference at which an American 'episcopalian' bishop was heard to remark "Some of these Africans will do anything for a chicken". REMEMBER that we ex-Anglicans have seen it all. If you want to know what is scheduled by the Enemy to happen next in the Catholic Church, ask your Ordinariate friends.
The truth is that the the Universal Church comes first. It comes first in time because it begins as the One Apostolic Church gathered from all nations into one in Jerusalem on the day of Pentecost; it comes first theologically because it is the Mystical Body of Christ Himself, which must be ontologically [in the order of being] prior to the various gatherings of Christians (incorporated by Baptism into Him) which we call ecclesiae.
This has enormous practical consequences with regard to whether the German bishops, or others, can be allowed to go their own ways (unrestrained by the Universal Church) with regard to things like the treatment of remarried divorcees and of those living in genital homosexual relationships.
In 1992, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith published, over Joseph Ratzinger's signature, a very fine document Communionis notio, approved by S John Paul II and ordered by him to be published. (I would remind readers that 'particular Church' in this and other similar texts refers to what we might call a diocese: the People, Deacons, Presbyters gathered round their Bishop.)
An extract follows.
An extract follows.
" ... the particular Churches, insofar as they are 'part of the one Church of Christ,' have a special relationship of 'mutual interiority' with the whole, that is, with the universal Church, because in every particular Church 'the one, holy, catholic and apostolic Church of Christ is truly present and active'. For this reason, 'the universal Church cannot be conceived as the sum of the particular Churches, or as a federation of particular Churches'. It is not the result of the communion of the Churches, but, in its essential mystery, it is a reality ontologically and temporally prior to every individual particular Church. Indeed, according to the Fathers, ontologically, the Church-mystery, the Church that is one and unique, precedes creation, and gives birth to the particular Churches as her daughters. She expresses herself in them; she is the mother and not the offspring of the particular Churches. Furthermore, the Church is manifested, temporally, on the day of Pentecost in the community of the one hundred and twenty gathered around Mary and the twelve apostles, the representatives of the one unique Church and founders-to-be of the local churches, who have a mission directed to the world. From the beginning the Church speaks all languages.
"From the Church, which in its origins and its first manifestation is universal, have arisen the different local Churches, as particular expressions of the one unique Church of Jesus Christ. Arising within and out of the universal Church, they have their ecclesiality in her and from her. Hence the formula of the Second Vatican Council: The Church in and formed out of the Churches (Ecclesia in et ex Ecclesiis), is inseparable from this other formula: The Churches in and formed out of the Church (Ecclesiae in et ex Ecclesia*)."
*Translation based on the Libreria Editrice Vaticana translation. I have corrected two printers' errors in the last parenthesis. There are also two typographical errors in the references given in the appended footnotes.