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Cardinal Walter Kasper leaving the hall where the Synod on the Family was being held at the Vatican.John-Henry Westen / LifeSiteNews

As the Extraordinary Synod of the Family has wound down at the Vatican, the Catholic University of America (CUA) is preparing to confer an award upon Cardinal Walter Kasper, arguably the synod’s most controversial figure.

Cardinal Kasper is scheduled to receive the Quasten Medal for Excellence in Scholarship and Leadership in Religious Studies November 6, according to the CUA School of Theology and Religious Studies website.

The award is named for Father Johannes Quasten, a professor of religious studies at the University for more than 30 years. It is the only academic award given by the CUA department, the school’s site said.

Cardinal Kasper’s lecture for the CUA Quasten Medal event will be titled, “Theological Background of the Ecclesiological and Ecumenical Vision of Pope Francis.” 

Cardinal Kasper became something of a household name in the lead-up to the recent Synod on the Family, after he proposed changing Church practice to allow divorced and remarried Catholics to receive communion in some cases. Kasper, who has frequently received praise from Pope Francis, has repeatedly claimed that the pope himself supports the controversial initiative.

Already a dominant figure in the news prior to the Synod, the cardinal once again shot into the headlines towards its conclusion, when Vatican journalist Edward Pentin published an interview with the cardinal, in which he made remarks widely perceived as being derogatory towards African bishops at the Synod.

The cardinal subsequently denied giving the interview or making the remarks. However, after Pentin posted audio of the interview to his website, the cardinal changed his tack, accusing Pentin of recording him without his knowledge, before releasing a statement partially apologizing.

In the interview he had suggested that the African bishops weren’t being listened to at the synod, particularly on the issue of homosexuality, and said “they should not tell us too much what we have to do.”

Catholic University of America did not respond to LifeSiteNews’ request for comment on the specifics of the Quasten Medal criteria or on the controversy surrounding this year’s recipient.

CUA did say, however, that during the first week of November the university will welcome two cardinals to its campus to deliver a public lecture, Cardinal Gerhard Muller, November 3, and Cardinal Walter Kasper, November 6, and that in the near future the University will issue press releases on their visits.


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