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Cardinal says Church can and should welcome different views

The Pope's right-hand man on ecumenical issues is urging Australian Catholics to embrace Pope John XXIII's vision for a Church that is at home in the modern pluralistic world, and not the "ghetto" of 19th Century Catholicism.

Cardinal Walter Kasper is President of of the Pontifical Council for the Promotion of Christian Unity and a leading world expert on how Jews, Muslims and Christians can live together harmoniously in challenging situations such as post-war Iraq.

He told an audience at the University of Adelaide on Friday night that recognition of truth in different faiths should begin with the acknowledgement that there are many valid ways of practising the faith within the Catholic Church.

"Pluralism is not only possible but even desirable within the Church: the plurality in liturgy, in forms of piety, in theology, and in the local churches," he said.

Cardinal Kasper said the position on religious freedom that urges us to work for a harmonious co-existence of different religious, originates from Vatican II, and is supported by Pope John Paul II. It is a radical departure from the 19th Century vision for a Catholic State allowing only Catholic truths.

But at the same time he warned against a post-modern attitude in which fashion rather than truth prevails.

"One helps oneself at the la carte market of possibilities and puts together one's own religion with set pieces from various religions," he said.

Cardinal Kasper said the solution lies in the promotion - rather than suppression - of public dialogue.

His speaking tour continues to Sydney, where he is speaking at the Adventist College, Strathfield, on Wednesday evening. Then on Saturday, he will address an audience at the Pharmacy College Hall, Parkville, in Melbourne.

The Future Of Christianity: A Meditation on the Church and Contemporary Pluralism in the Post Modern Era
Cardinal Walter Kasper (text of talk, available at after 14/7/03)

Helder Camara/Knox Lecture
Leadership in the Church: Essays on Theology and Church by Walter Cardinal Kasper (CathNews/John Garratt Book of the Month for July)
Top Vatican official heading for Australia (3/6/03)
Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity
Walter Cardinal Kasper (
Cardinal Kasper sees ecumenical progress with Orthodox churches (21/2/03)
Cardinal Kasper sees new hope for ecumenical relations (14/6/02)

7 Jul 2003