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Cardinal Kasper is not the Pope’s theologian, says Archbishop of Durban

Cardinal Wilfrid F. Napier of Durban, South Africa, arrives for a session of the extraordinary Synod of Bishops on the family last October (CNS)

The Archbishop of Durban has said that a fellow German cardinal should not be described as the “Pope’s theologian.”

Following a report in the Huffington Post entitled “Cardinal Walter Kasper, ‘The Pope’s Theologian'”, the South African Cardinal Wilfrid Napier tweeted: “@HuffingtonPost It’s a real worry to read an expression like ‘the Pope’s Theologian’ applied to Cardinal Kasper. Why is it a worry? Unlike Pope Francis, Cardinal Kasper isn’t very respectful towards the African Church and its leaders.”

Cardinal Napier added: “Cardinal Kasper considers African bishops to be excessively controlled by taboo & too reticent to address polygamy & similar marriage problems!”

Cardinal Walter Kasper dominated debate during the October extraordinary synod on the family due to his controversial calls to permit Commnunion for the divorced and re-married under strict circumstances.

Tensions simmered when a news report emerged during the time of the synod that Cardinal Kasper had told a reporter: “Africa is totally different from the West. Also Asian and Muslim countries, they’re very different, especially about gays. You can’t speak about this with Africans and people of Muslim countries. It’s not possible. It’s a taboo. For us, we say we ought not to discriminate, we don’t want to discriminate in certain respects.”

Cardinal Napier told Catholic News Agency yesterday that the Pope is “the head of the Church in general and of the College of Bishops in particular. It is wrong therefore for any one group or individual to try to ‘own’ him or even to claim him as the adherent to one particular school or another of theology.”

In the run up to the extraordinary synod, Cardinal Kasper intimiated that Pope Francis agreed with him on doctrinal questions facing the synod. In an interview last September with the Italian daily Il Mattino, Cardinal Kasper said that cardinals who disagreed with him “claim to know on their own what truth is, but Catholic doctrine is not a closed system, but a living tradition that develops. They want to crystallise the truth in certain formulas … the formulas of tradition.”

“None of my brother cardinals has ever spoken with me,” the cardinal said. “I, on the other hand, have spoken twice with the Holy Father. I arranged everything with him. He was in agreement. What can a cardinal do but stand with the Pope? I am not the target, the target is another.”