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Cardinal Walter Kasper: Profile of a Candidate for Pope

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Who is Cardinal Walter Kasper?:

Walter Kasper was born in Heidenheim-Brenz, German, on March 5, 1933.

Background and Early Life of Walter Kasper:

Walter Kasper was ordained priest in Rottenburg-Stuttgart in 1957 and named Archbishop of Rottenburg-Stuttgart in 1989. In 1979 Walter Kasper became one of a dozen Catholic theologians to sit on the World Council of Churches' Faith and Order Commission. In 1994 he was co-chairman of the Lutheran-Catholic Commission of Unity.

Current Status of Walter Kasper:

Walter Kasper is president of the Pontifical Council for Christian Unity, which also makes him president for the Commission for Religious Relations with the Jews. In this position he has come into conflict with conservative prelates who have asserted the superiority of Catholic Christianity over other religions and other Christian denominations.

Theology of Walter Kasper:

Walter Kasper is theologically moderate. In 1993 he signed a letter with other German prelates calling divorced and civilly remarried Germans to return to the sacraments. Arch-conservative cardinal Joseph Ratzinger flatly rejected this.

Assessment of Walter Kasper:

Because of his moderate theological views, Walter Kasper has been popular with liberal and progressive Catholics. Because of his support for decentralization in the Vatican hierarchy, he has also gained some support from those who are otherwise conservative. His chances of garnering enough votes to be elected pope, however, are not very strong.

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