It seems that your position and understandings are going to have to be adjusted accordlingly to be more in tune with the reality within the Vatican and it’s approach to ecclesiology that you really have displayed a disconnection with.
Third, an alternative to the tensions between fragmentation and centralization in the Western church seems to present itself in the experience of the Orthodox churches. The Orthodox have come through centuries of persecution with their sense of liturgy, tradition and doctrine intact—and all without the benefit of a centralized authority analogous to the papacy. Cardinal Kasper’s approach to ecclesiology will have strong appeal to Orthodox thinkers, and it makes him invaluable for the work of ecumenism. In fact, in discussing this article, Metropolitan Isaiah, Denver’s Greek Orthodox hierarch, a friend and colleague in local ecumenical dialogue, praised Cardinal Kasper for “captur[ing] the spirit and identity of the church…as accepted by Orthodox Christianity.”
At least two obstacles exist, however, to adopting the Orthodox model as a remedy for the present condition of our local Catholic churches. Reverence for tradition in the East runs deep. It did once in the West as well. But both within and outside the church, “tradition” has been under assault for decades in the West. American culture is deeply skeptical of the old, the venerable and even of history itself. That is why the sociologist Christopher Lasch described Americans as locked in a permanent present, permanently restless, permanently eager for change. American Catholics are not immune to this weakness; in fact, quite the contrary. And while West European cultures have much longer memories, they seem no less eager to forget their patrimonies and get on with the process of secularization—which, at least in the Netherlands, now includes infanticide, assisted suicide and euthanasia. Western Christians hoping to root unity in “tradition” will at the moment be sorely disappointed.
Nor can liturgy suffice. Most practicing Orthodox experience the eucharistic liturgy as deep, organic and sacrosanct. It is the food that sustains Orthodox life. Many Western Catholics are blessed with the same devotion. But for the past 35 years we have operated on the liturgy as surgeons work on a patient—exteriorizing and objectifying it in a way that has tended to remove it from the realm of the sacred and transfer it to the realm of the functional. We’ve compounded that with disputes over language with deep doctrinal implications. To assume that we will now unite around our worship in a manner that guarantees the unity of the local churches with the universal church would be naïve.