After the publication of an interview with Zenit News yesterday in which Cardinal Walter Kasper made remarks widely interpreted as disparaging the contributions of African bishops at the Synod on the issue of homosexuality, the cardinal has now denied making such comments.
In response, Edward Pentin, the seasoned Catholic reporter who obtained the interview, has now published on his own website the full audio of the interview with the cardinal, who is best known for his controversial push at the Synod on the Family to allow divorced and remarried Catholics to receive communion in some cases.
While Pentin says he is standing behind his interview, Zenit has since removed the interview from their website.
“I am appalled. I have never spoken this way about Africans and I never would,” Kasper told German media after the interview was published. “I assure you that in these days and weeks…nobody from Zenit has introduced themselves to me and no one has asked for an interview. Nobody from Zenit has had an interview from me.”
On the recording, Cardinal Kasper can be heard speaking about different views on homosexuality among bishops saying, “The problem, as well, is that there are different problems of different continents and different cultures.” Africa, he said, “is totally different from the West… especially about gays.”
When asked if African Synod Fathers are listened to on the subject, Kasper replied “no,” adding that the majority who hold those views won’t speak about them.
Pentin pressed again and Kasper said there must be a “general line in the Church” but that local bishops conferences should “solve their own problems.” Kasper added, however, with regard to African bishops, “But they should not tell us too much what we have to do.”
Pentin, who writes for several publications in addition to Zenit, explained in a public statement today that some of the confusion may stem from the fact that he introduced himself as a reporter for the National Catholic Register, but subsequently decided to publish the story with Zenit, for whom he also writes.
Pentin explained the circumstances of the interview, writing that Cardinal Kasper “spoke to me and two other journalists, one British, the other French, around 7.15pm on Tuesday as he left the Synod hall.”
Since they were all journalists, Pentin says he “figured the interview was on the record and His Eminence appeared happy to talk with us.”
He noted that he recorded the conversation on his iPhone and that the phone was visible.
“His Eminence made no comment about not wanting his remarks published,” says Pentin. “It depends on the context, but normally in such a situation, comments are considered on the record unless otherwise requested.”
In the interview Cardinal Kasper had also expressed his belief that a “majority” of the bishops in the Synod are in favor of his controversial proposal to allow divorced and remarried Catholics to receive communion in some circumstances. He also said that Pope Francis supports the proposal, saying, “the Pope wants it and the world needs it.”