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Kasper III

This man is smiling for a reason.


Today, we changed our opponent and we begin Man Marking Kasper for a day. We begin today by asking a question of you dear reader. You ready?

Have you ever observed an occurrence and thought that something just wasn’t right. Your instinct told you something was wrong but you just couldn’t put your finger on it?

This is a common experience for most people, and those Faithful who have been observing the papacy of Francis closely, must be having these experiences at least once daily. Today we will try to explain what the cause of this internal dissonance is, and we will try to do it through the Peirce/Ockham pragmatic paradigm methodology.

So who’s up for getting scientific?

Who’s the Boss?

And just like most days when we are getting “scientific” we begin with definitions. The logical place to start this analysis is to begin with defining the term “norm”: (As usual, we will be using definitions found in Wikipedia)

A norm is a group-held belief about how members should behave in a given context.

The combination of more than one “norm” begins to produce a “convention”, which is defined here:

A convention is a set of agreed, stipulated, or generally accepted standards, norms, social norms, or criteria, often taking the form of a custom.

A series of “conventions” begin to comprise “etiquette”, which is defined as follows:

Etiquette is a code of behavior that delineates expectations for social behavior according to contemporary conventional norms within a society, social class, or group.

One reason why “norms” are important is that they “suggest” to us the proper way to behave as individuals, i.e. “good manners” or the proper way to behave in a group, i.e. protocol is diplomatic etiquette, which in turn is a set of norms.

A second reason why they are important is that by understanding “norms”, we can gain insights into the behavior of individuals in respect to how they interact in a social setting, i.e. in a group. It is this understanding that allows us to identify which individual member in the group has a superior rank and which individual member is subordinate. We can even define the individual strata (levels) within a given hierarchy by understanding the norms of a particular group or society. And naturally, it is important to understand the “rank” of the individual members so that we can assess which member is in a position of power, and which member is subservient.

It is due to the above, that one feels a sense of “internal dissonance” when one reads the following passage from an article written by the columnist Hilary White: (see here)

A month before the Synod, Kasper was again claiming to speak for the pope when he told Italian media that he was the victim of an ideological campaign. Kasper said, “The target of the controversy is not me, but the Pope.”

“I, instead, [spoke] twice with the Holy Father. I agreed upon everything with him. He was in agreement. What can a cardinal do, except be with Pope? I am not the target, the target is another one.”

Leaving the logical fallacies in the above statement aside, what is being related to us above is a classical example of what is know in academic circles as “agency”. Therefore, we need another definition:

In the social sciences, agency is the capacity of individuals to act independently and to make their own free choices.

The constraints that are placed on the “agency” of any individual are called “structures”. These structures can be formal, as in a legal contract, or informal, as in the constraints placed on an individual by factors of influence such as social class, religion, ethnicity, customs, etc. This is tangential to our issue here, so there is no need to go further into detail at this point.

When dealing with a highly structured, if not the most structured hierarchy such as the Vatican, both formal and informal structures constrain any given member of that hierarchy in his actions.

With respect to Kasper’s contention that he is “speaking for the pope”, this would mean that he is speaking “on behalf of” the pope i.e. Kasper is the pope’s “agent”. This would entail a formal agency agreement (regardless whether it is written or verbal), something along the lines of a “power of attorney”. So when Kasper is “speaking for the pope”, he is implying that he is doing so with the “formal and expressed intent of Francis”.

Which brings up the issue of “agency”. First we need to make clear that when speaking about “agency” in this case, we are dealing with “agency” in a formal setting. The reason that this is a formal setting is that Kasper is trying to influence the decision of individuals that will be voting on a formal document. This needs to be clear from the outset.

As to “agency” itself, in a formal (legal) setting it is the relationship that exists when one person or party (the principal), in this case Francis, engages another party (the agent) in this case card. Kasper, to act for him—e.g., to do his work, to sell his goods, to manage his business or to influence future delegates to vote a certain way at the 2013 Conclave Synod of 2014/2015. The “principle” or “law” of agency would govern the legal relationship in which the agent deals with a third party on behalf of the principal. A power of attorney, whether verbal or written would be issued at this point. The competent agent would then be legally capable of acting for this principal vis-à-vis the third party. Hence, the process of concluding a contract or soliciting a vote through an agent involves a twofold relationship:

On the one hand, the “principle of agency” is concerned with the external relations of the entity that the principal has authority over, (in our case the See of St. Peter) and with the powers of the various representatives or agents that can affect the legal position of the principal. On the other hand, the “principle of agency” rules the internal relationship between principal and agent as well, thereby imposing certain duties on the representative like diligence, accounting, good faith, etc. I know what your thinking dear reader, and yes, I realize that we are speaking about card. Kasper. But I digress…

One more important aspect of a principal/agent relationship is that, the two relationships need not be in full conformity. Thus, an agent’s effective powers in dealing with outsiders may extend to “transactions” that he is under a duty to his principal not to undertake, leading to a situation characterized as “apparent authority.”

And when we are dealing with this specific situation, whereby the pope “speaks on behalf of” and “in the name of” Our Lord on earth, we see that there is a serious problem with appointing an agent that speaks on the popes behalf. Which is why the norms, convention and etiquette are of paramount importance in this case.

Let that sink in for a second or two, or maybe for a few hours.

Is it then any wonder why this case of card. Kasper speaking “on behalf of” Francis would create internal dissonance in any right minded individual?

Hope that answers the initial question that I posed at the beginning of this post. But if it still doesn’t, we will return to this topic in the next post.

Concluding today and as we all rightly know, Kasper does not have an explicit formal written nor verbal agency agreement with Francis to speak on his behalf.

We know this because first of all, Francis is fully aware of this situation with Kasper, as is confirmed in the La Nacion interview published on the 7th of December 2014. To date, Francis has neither confirmed nor denied that Kasper acts as his agent. Secondly, other members of the Vatican hierarchy have asked Francis to clarify this situation. To this day, no clarification has been forthcoming. All participants and observers are left in a rather precarious position. I know, this is what passes for being “Jesuitical” these days. On an aside, my seven year old is more “Jesuitical” than Francis is in this case. But I digress…

So what does the above described situation imply?

There are only one of two possibilities for the above situation. Either:

1) Francis has implicitly given Kasper an agency agreement.


2) Francis has not given Kasper an agency agreement.

In other words, the situation has a binary solution. It can only be one or the other. It can’t be neither and it can’t be both. But regardless of which one of the above two is the correct answer, Francis has created a very serious problem.

In the case of number 1) being true, Francis is responsible for creating a situation that is at the very least confusing. Just to be clear, confusion is the state of being bewildered or unclear in one’s mind about something. Allowing Kasper to claim that he is speaking “on behalf of” Francis who speaks ” on behalf” of Our Lord on earth, creates a situation where a third party can make a decision based on a false premise with quite serious… shall we say “long term” repercussions. Provided you believe in Our Lord, that is. If the third party makes the wrong decision, it will be that third party that will incur the liability as a consequences for that decision, regardless of fullness or correctness of the information on which that decision was made. A more earthly example could be a bishop who votes for giving communion to serial adulterers, only to find out on his return from Rome that half of his diocesans left, which in turn puts the diocese into insolvency. The liability will be incurred regardless of the fact that the decision maker made a decision on false, imperfect or partial information.

In the case of number 2) being true, what we are dealing with here is a situation where the actual authority is not held by the nominal head of the hierarchy, but rather somewhere else. This is a classic example of a puppet monarch or a puppet ruler who does not have the necessary power for the execution of his authority, but rather needs to draw that executive power from an external source. We are witness to this situation in the Ukraine presently. In our case, it would be Kasper with the real authority and Francis with the “apparent” authority. To borrow a quote from Card. Murphy-O’Connor of “Team Bergoglio” fame: capisci?

But in either of the two cases described above, the ramifications of this pathological situation whereby an agent (card. Kasper) speaks “on behalf of” a principal (Francis) without an express agency agreement (authorization) is a very serious matter.

Is it any wonder that the Catholic Church hierarchy are up in arms and Francis and his cabal find themselves in the middle of a major crisis threatening prelates with bodily harm?

How else can one understand card. Baldisseri’s quip regarding the Council of Nicea?

And in this type of a situation, asking “Who is the Boss?” is something that all interested parties should be doing now and for the next 256 days.

I will leave off here for today and will pick up this thought in the next post.