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Cardinal Dulles speaks out on Ratzinger-Kasper dispute

Cardinal Avery Dulles of New York has weighed in on an ongoing debate between Cardinals Walter Kasper and Joseph Ratzinger on the distribution of authority between the universal Church and the local Church.

Kasper recently escalated the conflict, which began last year, with a recent article in the US Jesuit magazine America.

Kasper argues that the diocesan, or particular, Church takes precedence over the universal Church, whereas Cardinal Ratzinger holds that the universal Church is preeminent. The debate is viewed as highly significant, as it has implications on the extent to which bishops should enforce norms handed down by Rome.

Dulles has offered his opinion in as essay to be published in the forthcoming issue of Inside the Vatican magazine.

"Kasper's grievance against the papacy and the Roman curia," writes Cardinal Dulles, "comes from his practical experience as a pastor. As bishop he found that many of the directives coming from Rome were resented and ignored by the priests and people of his diocese. If the priority of the particular church were respected, he believes, the diocesan bishop could adapt general regulations to the situation of his own flock."

But according to a summary published this week by Zenit, Dulles supports Ratzinger's insistence that the universal Church is not simply the result of the expansion of an initially local community. For him it is the 'Jerusalem above,' which Paul describes as 'our mother' (Gal 4:26)."

Zenit (available soon)