The Catholic University of America

Nov. 10, 2014

STRS Hosts Talks by Two Cardinals

  Cardinal Gerhard Müller, prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, speaks in Caldwell Hall.

The School of Theology and Religious Studies (STRS) at The Catholic University of America hosted separate talks by two cardinals last week. The talks, which took place Nov. 3 and Nov. 6 in Caldwell Auditorium, were highly attended by students, faculty members, seminarians, clergy, and guests.

Cardinal Gerhard Müller, prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, spoke on Nov. 3 as the invited guest of University President John Garvey. His lecture, “Donum Veritatis: The Contribution of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith to the Theological Enterprise,” focused on the role of magisterium (and hence of the CDF) in protecting and promoting the truth of the Gospel, and on the role of theology in evangelization.

During his talk, which was attended by Cardinal Donald Wuerl, archbishop of Washington and University chancellor, the cardinal urged theologians “not to be content with a desk-bound theology,” but to remember the Church and theology are meant to play their part in spreading the Gospel.

“The person proclaiming the truth has as his or her object not simply something intellectual, but human communion,” he said. “That means the truth must be transmitted in a way that offers an opportunity for people to give themselves unreservedly.”

In his introduction of Cardinal Müller, Very Rev. Mark Morozowich, interim provost, noted his many accomplishments. Appointed prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith in 2012, he was elevated to cardinal by Pope Francis in February 2014.

Cardinal Donald Wuerl welcomes Cardinal Gerhard Müller to the University.

“One characteristic that perhaps speaks most clearly about this commitment to theology is that he remains a dedicated supporter of young academics, as evidenced by his large international circle of students, which has continued to grow even after his appointment as bishop,” said Father Morozowich. “His dedication and scholarship provides stimulus for all theologians to strive for excellence in their own work.”

Three days later, STRS honored Cardinal Walter Kasper, who was president of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity from 2001 to 2010, as the 2014 recipient of the Johannes Quasten Award. The Quasten Award, named after Johannes Quasten, who taught patristic theology at Catholic University for more than 30 years, is awarded annually by STRS for excellence in scholarship and leadership in religious studies.

During his visit, Cardinal Kasper spoke on “Theological Background of the Ecclesiological and Ecumenical Vision of Pope Francis.” He said Pope Francis is “a pope of surprises” who has attracted positive media attention and approval from much of the laity, but also criticism from some groups within the Church.

He “cannot be categorized, much less appropriated by any specific school — he’s not an academic theologian in the professional sense, but a man of encounter and practice,” Cardinal Kasper said, before giving an analysis of the spiritual and theological influences that have shaped Pope Francis.

  Cardinal Walter Kasper is honored with the Johannes Quasten Award.

More than anything, Cardinal Kasper said Pope Francis’ teaching is centered on mercy. “Mercy has become the theme of his pontificate,” he said. “With this theme, Pope Francis has addressed countless individuals, both within and without the church.”

Pope Francis has also spoken strongly against clericalism. “He wants the participation of the people of God in the life of the church,” Cardinal Kasper said. “Women as well as men. Laity and clergy, young and old.

“It is important that the Church is not self-centered,” he said. “A self-centered person is sick. A self-centered church is a sick church.”

Cardinal Kasper was consecrated bishop of Rottenburg-Stuttgart, Germany, in 1989 and elevated to cardinal in 2001. He has taught dogmatic theology at universities in Germany and was a visiting professor at Catholic University in 1984. In 1990, he returned to Catholic University to give the Cardinal Dearden Lecture. He has written veyr many books and scholarly articles, and was Catholic co-chairman of the international Lutheran-Roman dialogue before taking up his Vatican post.

Monsignor Paul McPartlan, acting dean of STRS, said that Cardinal Kasper, like Johannes Quasten, has a passion for understanding the Church and the living of the Christian life amid the realities of history and culture, and for enabling the Church of today to benefit from the wisdom of the early Church.

A packed room of students, scholars, clergy, and guests listen to Cardinal Walter Kasper's address.  

Monsignor McPartlan noted: “Cardinal Kasper once said that in the 20th century, horribly marked by war and innocent suffering, the ecumenical movement was ‘a light shining in the darkness, and a powerful peace movement.’ Among many other things, we salute him this afternoon for all that he has done to keep that light shining, for the good both of the Church and of the world at large.”

Read the entire text of Monsignor McPartlan’s remarks here.

Watch a video of Cardinal Kasper’s remarks here.




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