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Hans Küng: an ageing enfant terrible going nowhere

Even at Vatican II, he was regarded as ‘incendiary, superficial, and polemical’. The contrast with Pope Benedict XVI is stark

By on Thursday, 12 May 2011

Hans Küng is pictured in his office in Tübingen, Germany, in 2008 (CNS photo/Harald Oppitz, KNA)

Hans Küng is pictured in his office in Tübingen, Germany, in 2008 (CNS photo/Harald Oppitz, KNA)

How important is the personal character of individual theologians to the intellectual conclusions at which they arrive? Consider, first, the character of the Jesuit Henri de Lubac, who according to Cardinal Avery Dulles, even throughout times of great adversity,

…remained staunchly committed to the Catholic tradition in its purity and plenitude. He humbly and gratefully accepted what the tradition had to offer and made it come alive through his eloquent prose and his keen sense of contemporary actualities. His eminent success in enkindling love for Christ and the Church in the hearts of his readers stemmed, no doubt, from his own devotion, humility and selfless desire to serve.

This humble gratitude for the traditio had a profound effect on his assessment of the post-conciliar years. De Lubac, wrote Cardinal Dulles, perceived in postconciliar Catholicism “a self-destructive tendency to separate the spirit of the council from its letter … The turmoil of the postconciliar period seemed to de Lubac to emanate from a spirit of worldly contention quite opposed to the Gospel.”

De Lubac was, of course, a peritus (appointed by John XXIII to advise him personally) at the Second Vatican Council. Afterwards, he published a Vatican II diary, which contained an interesting assessment of two of his fellow periti, Fr Joseph Ratzinger and Fr Hans Küng. It is uncannily perceptive; and it enables us to look in a new way at the theological discord between them, which grew so much over the years, as being not only a difference of intellectual analysis, but as deriving also from a profound difference of character: the young Fr Ratzinger is portrayed as one whose powerful intellect is matched by his “peacefulness” and “affability”. Fr Küng, by contrast, is described as possessing a “juvenile audacity” and speaking in “incendiary, superficial, and polemical” terms. These quotations are made in a recent article by Samuel Gregg, who goes on to remind us of what happened to these two later: “Ratzinger emerged as a formidable defender of Catholic orthodoxy and was eventually elected pope. Küng became a theological celebrity [nice one] and antagonist of the papacy.” Küng had his licence to teach Catholic theology removed after he denied papal infallibility: but he is still a Catholic priest in good standing, a fact which puzzles many: I suspect he has not been forcibly laicised because it is just what he would like to happen: his claim to a liberal martyr’s crown would then be unassailable.

The contrast between the two men was pointed recently when both men brought out books on the same day: the Pope published his Jesus of Nazareth, part II; and Küng, the “theological celebrity” published what sounds like his usual (to use de Lubac’s words) “incendiary, superficial, and polemical” anti-papal and anti-Catholic ravings. According to one report:

Controversial Swiss-born Catholic theologian Hans Küng on Wednesday launched a new book attacking papal authority and calling on rank-and-file Catholics to seize control of the church from its clerical masters…. Speaking at the book launch in Tübingen, Germany… the 82-year-old said Jesus Christ would not like today’s Catholic Church. “If Jesus of Nazareth returned, he would not prohibit contraceptives, he would not shut out divorced people, and so on,” Küng said.

He charged that the curia, or Vatican bureaucracy, had come up with a long series of rulings over the centuries that opposed the teachings laid down in the Christian New Testament. He said Benedict XVI and his predecessor John Paul II had reinforced this.

In the book, he argues that resistance to church doctrines that are “obviously against the Gospels” is a duty. Küng said this included Catholic parishes insisting on keeping their priests after they marry, even if church law declares the man is no longer a priest. He said the church could only saved by the faithful taking over responsibility for their church.

So, nothing new there, then, except Küng’s question, the book’s title: Can the Church Still be Saved? To which the answer, surely, is that the first thing it needed to be saved from is him and his like; and that thanks to the last two popes it has already been, however much remains to be done. That at least has been achieved: the routing of what Küng and his pals (as part of their programme of unceasing self-promotion) insolently termed the “alternative magisterium”.

What’s wrong with Küng, and what’s right with Pope Benedict, emerges absolutely clearly from the contrast between their respective understandings of the person of Christ Himself. As Gregg puts it, “from [the pope’s book] Jesus of Nazareth’s first pages, it’s clear Benedict is focused upon knowing the truth about Christ as He is rather than who we might prefer Him to be”. Küng’s Jesus on the other hand “is one who would apparently disavow his own teachings on subjects such as marriage because they don’t conform to 21st-century secularist morality. Instead, Küng’s Christ faithfully follows the views of, well, progressive post-Vatican II German theologians”.

There’s another contrast between the two men. At 82, Küng is finished, intellectually. He is consumed by anger; all he can do is repeat himself. But Pope Benedict’s mind and spirit grow ever deeper. He is not angry, but serene. His books emanate from a man who is still travelling, ever more profoundly, into the Mystery of Christ, whose Vicar he truly is, may God be praised.

So, the contrast between their views of Christ is, in the end, also a contrast between the characters of the two men. Hans Küng’s character was already very evident by the time of the Council itself, and not just to de Lubac; a fellow progressive has recalled how he called him aside one day, after he screeched to a halt in a bright red sports car, to warn him: “Hans, you are becoming too evident.” The story was recalled last year in an open letter to Küng from George Weigel published in First Things:

As the man who single-handedly invented a new global personality-type – the dissident theologian as international media star – you were not, I take it, overly distressed by your friend’s warning. In 1963, you were already determined to cut a singular path for yourself, and you were media-savvy enough to know that a world press obsessed with the man-bites-dog story of the dissenting priest-theologian would give you a megaphone for your views. You were, I take it, unhappy with the late John Paul II for trying to dismantle that story-line by removing your ecclesiastical mandate to teach as a professor of Catholic theology; your subsequent, snarling put-down of Karol Wojtyla’s alleged intellectual inferiority in one volume of your memoirs ranked, until recently, as the low-point of a polemical career in which you have become most evident as a man who can concede little intelligence, decency, or good will in his opponents.

He was responding to another open letter from Küng himself, to the bishops of the world – who had of course been panting for his guidance (not) – neatly summed up by the Irish Times in its standfirst: “Pope Benedict has made worse just about everything that is wrong with the Roman Catholic Church and is directly responsible for engineering the global cover-up of child rape perpetrated by priests, according to this open letter to all Catholic bishops”.

Of that, I say nothing: read it for yourself, then read George Weigel’s whole article in First Things. To the Irish Times standfirst Weigel says simply this:

I recognise that authors do not write the sometimes awful subheads that are put on op-ed pieces [actually the Irish Times’s is quite accurate]. Nonetheless, you authored a piece of vitriol – itself utterly unbecoming a priest, an intellectual, or a gentleman… That grotesque falsification of the truth perhaps demonstrates where odium theologicum can lead a man. But it is nonetheless shameful.

Shameful, indeed: and there will be no shame from its author. But what do you expect from a self-constructed theological celebrity, who knows that his media strategy absolutely depends on maintaining and escalating ad infinitum his own brazen impenitence?

  • Josephsoleary

    In fairness, at least one deputy editor of the Catholic Herald was against the neo-con wars: http://www.catholicherald.co.uk/commentandblogs/2010/08/23/the-americans-are-leaving-iraq-%E2%80%93-but-the-war-goes-on/ 

  • Parasum

    Scrupulously impartial article there, then.  

  • Josephsoleary

    The Spirit of Vatican II or the Spirit of the Council are phrases used hundreds of times by Paul VI — the most intelligent and honest modern Pope. 

  • Olsons923

    I think the point is we need to just trust in the Church and Magisterium Christ gave us . Simple as that. Let’s not pretend to be so intelligent that we know more than the Magisterium, even though I am sure you are all very smart people. If you are so bold as to say you do, that makes you not a Catholic but a Protestant. Humility is a virtue.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Ken-Purdie/1162381995 Ken Purdie

    Prophet too Fr. Seems there is no end to your talents.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Ken-Purdie/1162381995 Ken Purdie

    Yes, the one who said “The smoke of Satan has entered the Church”. Well he got that right. 

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Ken-Purdie/1162381995 Ken Purdie

    Not fact. I said no such thing, As we should all know the right to life is equal for everyone, no matter what their size or age is.If you do not believe that Fr there really is no hope.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Ken-Purdie/1162381995 Ken Purdie

    *yawn* 

  • Nick

    I don’t hate him personally.

    Second, recognizing Marxism as a huge evil, perhaps worse than Nazism, is not “panic”.

    There IS morality. When we say “this is good, that is evil” that is not “unintellectual narrow-mindedness”.
    That is morality.

    Eugenics, Nazism and Marxism (for example) are all evil.

    And all these things are evil based on Christianity – not politics. The extreme materialism of Marxism, its attempt to make a radical experiment with human nature itself, leads to extreme suffering. The 100 million deaths of the XX century were a visible sign of that.

  • Nick

    > Catholic charismatic renewal was certainly an occasion of grace in the 1970s, but it quickly lost its steam and was co-opted by traditionalists.
    What? Co-opted by “traditionalists” in what sense? Merely because these people are faithful, they pray the Rosary, worship the eucharist, do you say they are “traditionalist”?

  • Nick

    He may have used the _words_ “spirit of Vatican II”.

    But I strongly doubt that he agreed with the interpretation of certain crazies – that the “spirit of Vatican II” was not put down in writing, so they had a license to do any radical unchristian reform they wanted because, though no document authorized them to do it, the “spirit of Vatican II” did.

  • Nick

    Hardly; the Church teaching (which allows for medical treatments that _indirectly_ cause a baby’s death, provided certain conditions are met) is very reasonable. This includes the possibility of an early delivery, provided some conditions are met.

    If that hospital has condemned, than must likely it didn’t meet the conditions – such as the condition that you do your best to save the baby’s life. For example, if you have to do an early delivery, perhaps you can wait until 24 weaks, when the baby has a greater chance of survival. And even if the poor baby is delivered at 20 weeks, do your utmost best to save him. The baby _must_ be considered as valuable as a 20-year old person.

    But if you simply disregard the baby – if you say “the pregnancy is hard for the woman so let’s dismember the baby without hesitation and toss the remains as biological trash” then you absolutely do not deserve the name “Catholic”.

    In the case of the US hospital, what source of detailed medical and ethical information led you to reach the conclusion that the bishop was “trigger-happy” and uncharitable? I hope that you didn’t simply read some press report and jumped to conclusions… In fact, I doubt _strongly_ that you have 10% of the necessary information to judge that the bishop and his team were wrong.

    Am I wrong? Did you carefully study the case before jumping into “lets spit on the bishop” mode?

  • Nick

    > ” If that hospital has condemned, than must likely”

    Of course I meant “If that hospital was condemned, than most likely”

    Other errors may have remained.

  • Nick

    Also, your spin is impressive.

    The man actually stifles faithful people merely for being faithful and not political activists, and, when I complain, I am the hateful?

  • Nick

    > Well he got that right.
    Not only that. He wrote Humanae Vitae.

    It is true that the Church suffered immensely during his pontificate; but Paul VI  reigned during one of the most difficult times in Church history. I absolutely do not envy his mission. And I don’t know if he could have done better.

    Well, I don’t envy the mission of any Pope actually – I am immensely grateful for these men, who have such a talent that they could be rich businessmen if they wanted, but choose to suffer for the faithful – including the part of faithful that hates them.

    God bless them.

  • Weary Convert

    Reading the endless sniping and bad temper on this issue is most depressing.  However, if Mr Oddie enjoys the debate of the public bar, then I suppose it will carry on.  But looking at the literary side of this “debate” has perhaps some interest.  Years ago I read one of Kung’s books – On Being a Christian – in translation and found it rather difficult, but so far as I recall, it seemed at least to speak to the real world in its convoluted, Teutonic way. Then I read his much smaller book on Papal Infallability which was much easier to read, even though he had to twist and turn to find an interpretation that left a thread of respect for the Vatican I definition.  That is the extent of my reading of Kung’s works, apart from articles. For an Englishman, rather than plough through German translations, I found much more persuasive the writings of such as Lord Acton in both his letters and essays.  He was a man to whom his Catholic faith meant more to him than life itself but was unafraid to tell the truth about Papal history and for his pains had the threat of excommunication hanging over him for many years.  Very relevant to today’s idolising of the last two Popes is, I feel, the coda to Lord Acton’s famous quotation on the corruption of power, ” Great men are almost always bad men, even when they exercise influence and not authority: still more when you superadd the tendency or the certainty of corruption by authority.  There is no worse heresy than that the office sanctifies the holder of it.”  (quoted in “Lord Acton on Papal Power” by H A MacDougall published by Sheed & Ward in 1973).  I think that this statement is as true today as it was in 1887.

    And incidentally, is Kung really a very rich man as his enemies seem to claim?  Poor Lord Acton finished up having lost most of his wealth and only able to preserve his huge library courtesy of Andrew Carnegie.

  • AJ

    Hans Kung just believes in himself  as with all those groups (SSPXs, Sedevacantists, protestansts etc) who really believe they have the interpretive authority of Scripture and Tradition and that “they-got-it-right-and-the-Church Councils-got-it-wrong” mentality. As catholics who are faithful to the Magisterial Authority (Pope and Bishops with him) have said, they will all go and be buried in the funnyfarm.

  • Weary Convert

    Since Nick’s views on the plight of the little 12-years old are so strong, perhaps one may ask what he has done practically to help the girl?  Has he contributed to a fund that will look after her? Has he, perhaps, started one?  Has he approached the Braziliam authorities to find out how they are helping?  Is he, perhaps, willing to learn Portugese and even go to Brazil to see how he can help? If the answer to all these is “No,” I fear that his views seem rather smug and self-serving – like Marx when Engels wanted to give a penny to a beggar but was told not to do so as it might delay the revolution.

  • Nick

    Dude, you know nothing of the story (if the story you are alluding to is the famous one of Pernambuco).

    The girl was pregnanat; a group of politically-motivated hard-core feminists found about the case. They found the girl and her mother; took her to the butchers – I mean abortion “doctors”; told the girl’s mother that she needed a medical procedure to save her life (a lie); the mother, who was illiterate and did not really understand the situation, complied by making a thumb-mark on the consent document; then the babies were murdered.

    The case went public _after_  the babies were already murdered, the feminists reaped their PR reward, with the media crucifying the bishop who told the baby butchers (I mean, abortion “doctors”) that they had automatically excommunicated themselves.

    What can I do now that the babies are already long dead? Except for fighting against abortion in general.

    http://www.providaanapolis.org.br/index1.htm

    The guys above fight against abortion ideologically, and also help crisis pregnancy centers.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Ken-Purdie/1162381995 Ken Purdie

    We can only help the fight against murder locally. We are not resposible for the whole world. “Let it begin with me” 

  • Jason Clifford

    Rabbi Neusner apparently feels otherwise as he described the dialogue as open and honest.

    Having read Neusners book myself as a result of reading volume 1 of Jesus of Nazareth I do consider the Holy Father’s response to have been very complete. As for opportunistic, what specifically do you mean by that?

  • Josephsoleary

    Actually, the spirit of Vatican II, in the changes made in the liturgy for example, is fully licensed by its letter (the constitution on the liturgy is a revolutionary charter). Whatever one thinks of Kung’s abrasive style, church historians agree with him that the Vatican has reneged on the Council not only by interpreting it narrowly, against the grain of its intention, but even by trampling on its letter. Sentimentality about suffering go-it-along popes is misplaced.

  • Josephsoleary

    Marx was a benefactor of humankind — to equiparate him with Hitler is just rightist nonsense. Cardinal Martini got it right when he said that the Church must safeguard what was good and true in Marxism. The dialectical critique of capitalism is due for an upgraded revival in light of the recent depradations of capitalism. To blame Stalinism on Marx is like blaming the Inquisition on Jesus. All prophets are betrayed.

  • Josephsoleary

    I remember Ronald Reagan acclaiming John Paul II as his moral guarantor for supporting the Contras in Nicaragua. John Paul II in his hatred of Marxism linked himself with these murderers. Since the advocatus diaboli has been abolished there was no one to state this objection to the hasty beatification.

  • Josephsoleary

    But what if the magisterium contradicts previous utterances of the magisterium. Vatican II contradicts Pius IX, and now the fans of Pius IX, who beatified him, are contradicting Vatican II. That is Kung’s one accusation against them, and it becomes more credible every day. Criticizing Kung’s manners only reinforces the feeling that what he says is unanswerable.

  • Josephsoleary

    I take it then that you do not accept that the mother and child should both have died if aborting the baby was direct abortion? If so, by your own rhetoric, this makes you a baby-killer.

  • Josephsoleary

    So you actually, like Nick, disagree with church teaching in this case. Does not this, by your own heated rhetoric, make you then a baby-killer?

  • Josephsoleary

    It is interesting to see how you both resort to ambiguity and pirouettes when challenged as to whether you really subscribe to church teaching that it is better to let mother and child die than to save the mother by aborting the child. I give you credit for decency and common sense, in holding back from cruel extremism. Give Kung the same credit.

  • Josephsoleary

    Please tell us about the missal translations — I suspect you will find most people are unaware of them.

  • Josephsoleary

    Kung got a million dollars for the Niwano Peace Prize, I hear. I have no doubt he spent it on worthy causes, not on expensive clother.

  • Weary Convert

    I am sorry that I was not fully informed about the details of the case.  From the endless comments on this website I had assumed that it was still a “live” (and that is not a weak pun) issue. But, if ever one wanted a case to demonstrate the sort of awful dilemma that can involve abortion, one could hardly look for a more relevant example. 

    I doubt if always calling abortion doctors “baby butchers” or feminists “politically-motivated hard-core” or to treat the illiterate grandmother with distain, will gain many converts for the Church’s position on abortion.

    Finally, I must say that I was surprised to be addressed as “Dude.”  I am not sure of the meaning but it is, I suppose, encouraging to see that Ultra Catholics are actually moving into the 21st century, even if it is only to address an elderly Englishman in the language of New York street gangs.

  • Weary Convert

    I see from Wikipedia (not I confess, always a reliable source) that the Niwano prize is 20 million Yen, rather over USD 200,000.  A little different from the USD one million this gentleman quotes.

  • Nick

    > Marx was a benefactor of humankind
    He was a benefactor to  the business of building mass graves
    >  — to equiparate him with Hitler is just rightist nonsense
    I didn’t mean to compare him to Hitler, personally; I meant to compare Marxism with Nazism;

    >. Cardinal Martini got it right when he said that the Church must safeguard what was good and true in
    > Marxism.
    Usually, error spreads when it has a grain of truth; that does not change the fact that it, taken as a whole, is error.

    > To blame Stalinism on Marx is like blaming the Inquisition on Jesus.

    First, Stalin killed a coupe orders or magnitude more people than the inquisitors.
    Second, Stalin activelly commanded those deaths; but the Inquisitors were responding to the pressure of civil governments and the hysterical populace. In fact, in the places when the Roman Inquisition was established, those accused of heresy got far more justice than before – they were judged by competent theologians and had a defense lawyer. The Roman Inquisition was established to alleviate the mistrials that were already happening. Read more here http://www.crisismagazine.com/2011/the-truth-about-the-spanish-inquisition

    More importantly, the disgrace of Marxism is not just a bout Stalin’s Russia. It is about:
    1) All Eastern Europe under the soviets;
    2) China
    3) Cuba
    4) Vietnam
    5) Cambodja
    6) North Korea
    [...]

    The grand total body count is about 100 million. Wherever a Marxist revolution occurred (and Karl Marx explicitly encouraged violent revolutions – don’t pretend he was betrayed) the result was humanitarian catastrophe.

    Equally as bad was the application of Marxism to culture. The work of Gramsci, Marcuse unleashed an umprecedented attack on morality. Marxist sociologists convinced themselves that the wished-for revolution didn’t happen because of the “cultural hegemony” of the burgeoise. Then they set to destry the “burgeois values” – namely marriage and family.

    To claim the “Marx was a benefactor” is perplexing.

  • Nick

    [corrected many English errors - Enlish is not my native tongue]

    > Marx was a benefactor of humankind
    He was a benefactor to  the business of building mass graves
    >  — to equiparate him with Hitler is just rightist nonsense
    I didn’t mean to compare him to Hitler, personally; I meant to compare Marxism with Nazism;

    >. Cardinal Martini got it right when he said that the Church must safeguard what was good and true in Marxism.
    Usually, error spreads when it has a grain of truth; that does not change the fact that it, taken as a whole, is error.

    > To blame Stalinism on Marx is like blaming the Inquisition on Jesus.

    First, Stalin killed a coupe orders of magnitude more people than the inquisitors.
    Second, Stalin actively commanded those deaths; but the Inquisitors were responding to the pressure of civil governments and the hysterical populace. In fact, in the places when the Roman Inquisition was established, those accused of heresy got far more justice than before – they were judged by competent theologians and had a defense lawyer. The Roman Inquisition was established to alleviate the mistrials that were already happening. Read more here http://www.crisismagazine.com/2011/the-truth-about-the-spanish-inquisition

    More importantly, the disgrace of Marxism is not just a bout Stalin’s Russia. It is about:
    1) All Eastern Europe under the soviets;
    2) China
    3) Cuba
    4) Vietnam
    5) Cambodia
    6) North Korea
    [...]

    The grand total body count is about 100 million. _Wherever_ a Marxist revolution occurred (and Karl Marx explicitly encouraged violent revolutions – don’t pretend he was “betrayed”) the result was humanitarian catastrophe. Not just in the soviet union, but everywhere.

    Equally bad was the application of Marxism to culture. The work of Gramsci and Marcuse unleashed an unprecedented attack on morality. Marxist sociologists convinced themselves that the wished-for revolution didn’t happen because of the “cultural hegemony” of the bourgeoisie. Then they set to destroy the “bourgeois values” – namely marriage and family.

    To claim the “Marx was a benefactor” is perplexing. The only reason that Nazism is unnaceptable in polite company, but Marxism is, is that Hitler lost the war and had no one to make Nazi propaganda anymore – then history was written by the winners. In truth, Marxism is just as bad as Nazism – which mean it’s hideous.
     

  • Nick

    Replace “English” for “Enlish”

  • Nick

     The Magisterium never contradicts infallible dogma.

    What you say about Pius IX is either misinterpreted or was Pius IX’s fallible teaching.

    When you consider valid ecumenical councils and ex cathedra papal declarations, they never contradict.

  • Nick

    > And now the fans of Pius IX, who
    beatified him, are contradicting Vatican II

    What? Beatification does not mean declaring as perfect. We beatified (and then canonized) Thomas More, but we disagree with his work “Utopia”.

    >That is Kung’s one
    accusation against them, and it becomes more credible every day.

    It makes little sense.

    > Criticizing Kung’s manners only reinforces the feeling that what he says
    is unanswerable.

    No, it as pretty answered already. Read Benedict’s works; read the Catechism; read Communio.

    People criticize Kung’s manners because they are, indeed, awful. I am not aware of other famous theologians that publicly fling so many personal insults against another (read, John Paul II and Benedict XVI) as Hans Küng. Also, the way he politicizes crisis – when something bad happens in the Church, Mr Kung writes a book blaming it all (even when it makes little sense) on “conservative” theology. This way he cashes in the media scandal. Cheap opportunism. As a certain politician said, “never let a crisis go to waste”

  • Nick

    I take it that apparently you didn’t even read what I wrote?

  • Nick

    > So you actually, like Nick, disagree with church teaching in this case.

    How exactly?

  • Nick

    > It is interesting to see how you both resort to ambiguity and pirouettes

    Not at all; it just the I felt your question was similar to “have you stopped beating your wife?”. By the way your question is asked, no quick answer (“Yes” or “No”) would be adequate.

    > when challenged as to whether you really subscribe to church teaching

    I fully believe in the Church.

    > that it is better to let mother and child die than to save the mother by
    aborting the child.

    I don’t interpret the teaching of the Church that way.

    Read what I said before; that is my good-faith interpretation of Church teaching.

    > Give Kung the same credit.

    Kung does nothing similar; in the interview I read, he was actually saying that early unborn babies (soon after conception) are not really people (due to his misinterpretation of Aquinas) and have much less value. He insinuates that research that kills embryos is OK.

  • Nick

    > Actually, the spirit of Vatican II, in the changes made in the liturgy for example, is fully licensed by its letter

    The missal of Paul VI, maybe (I say “maybe” because I am not expert).

    But certainly not the abuses that happened in the 70′s – such as priests saying the Mass wearing shorts.

    Pope Benedict is merely trying to bring reverence back to the Mass, and “reform the reform”. He does not wish to impose the TLM. Speaking of the TLM, he simply authorized it for people that want it.

    > Sentimentality about suffering go-it-along
    popes is misplaced.

    I don’t know what “go-it-along” means, so I’ll interpret your sentence without it.
    Thanking the Popes that suffer for us (when they could be resting in Cancun, if they had used their talents to become rich) is not meaningless sentimentality. It is charity.

  • Nick

    By the way, since i have just criticized Hans Küng’s manners, I must apologize for my rudeness too. I am a young, socially inadequate nerd. One day I will be more polite.

    To my defense, at least I don’t pretend to be wiser than the Pope.

  • Nick

    > I
    doubt if always calling abortion doctors “baby butchers” or feminists
    “politically-motivated hard-core”

    What they did was heinous. And those _are_ politically motivated. Feminist groups use very similar strategies in other countries that forbid abortion – they find a very young pregnant girl, encourage her to abort (sometimes being very persistent until the girl consents) and create a media circus.

    And I did not mean that all feminists are hard-core; I was speaking of a specific group.

    Anyway, if I was communicating verbally to a group of people, I probably would chose softer words.

    > or to treat the illiterate grandmother
    with distain

    Either I wrote poorly, or you read poorly. I meant no disdain for the woman. I do think that illiterate people are easier to take advantage of, and that is what those feminists did. This makes their crime even worse.

    > Finally, I must say that I was surprised to be
    addressed as “Dude.”  I am not sure of the meaning but it is, I suppose,
    encouraging to see that Ultra Catholics are actually moving into the
    21st century, even if it is only to address an elderly Englishman in the
    language of New York street gangs.

    English is not my native tongue, so don’t presume too much about my choice of words – it may be accidental.

    Second, don’t group me with “ultra Catholics”. I merely try to follow Christian doctrine.
    I am currently a bad example though – I should spend less time on the Internet and more time praying, studying, and helping people.

  • Nick

    What I meant about the Inquisition is that it was instituted to _acquit_ people who were being denied fair trials. It replaced mob-trial with fair trial.

    Of course, you can say that the Church should not have participated (even indirectly) on executions. Instead of trying to alleviate the Inquisition (demanded by the populace and the civil government) the Pope should have demanded it to outright stop. I merely ask people to be just; while the human part of the Church is not perfect (only the divine part is), Europe was much better after Christianization than before. And to this day, I would much prefer to live in a Christian place (or at least place that, although now secularizing, still reflects Christianity in its law and culture) than in a Muslim or, God forbid, a Marxist place.

    And I repeat: Marxism is just as bad as Nazism – both are inhuman. By the way, Hitler and Stalin divided Europe on a map even before the war (a fact many people overlook). The invasion that marked the begin of WWII was the Nazis attacking Poland from the West, and Marxists attacking from the East. Only after Hitler betrayed Stalin (dealing with the devil is unwise) did Stalin turn against him.

  • Josephsoleary

     go-it-alone, I meant — those who monopolize power bring suffering on themselves.
     Your image of the Inquisition is absurd — it was CENTRAL to the Church’s policy, theology, spirituality, for 7 centuries — torture was positively promoted by the medieval Popes for inquisitorial purposes and introduced into French and English law under their influence. “Abuses” is a complete red herring — in 60 years of Mass experience I have witness about 3 liturgies that could be critiqued as abusive. I have witnesses lots of routine and lack of imagination. Benedict is doing NOTHING to solve that problem. Priests in shorts, or priests dressed as clowns, are just a bogeyman for those who want to kill the revolutionary openings of Sacrosanctum Concilium.

  • Josephsoleary

    First, why did it take you so long to say you don’t interpret the teaching of the church that way (unlike the bishop who denounced the Catholic hospital). Second, you are in fact changing the Church’s teaching, tempering its moral extremism, just as Kung asks.

  • Josephsoleary

    Infallible statements are so few and far between that they really don’t help you comb out the “dissenters” at all. Papal infallibility is claimed for only 2 statements, and even there there is debate about their infallibility (1854 and 1850). 

  • Josephsoleary

     The Fathers of the Church flung insults at bishops they considered heretical — and did it with the most juicy and calumnious rhetoric. Medieval scholastics had better manners. The Reformers and their Counter-Reformation critics were inflammatory in their mutual excoriations. What Kung says publicly is not far from what Newman and Congar said in private about the Vatican of Pius XI and the Vatican of Pius XII.

  • Josephsoleary

    I was once in a room with Hans Kung and saw the women — often very critical feminists — flock around him adoringly. His autobiographies also suggest a man who likes and is liked by women.

  • Nick

    Regarding the Inquisition, at least read the article I linked to.

    > “Abuses”
    is a complete red herring — in 60 years of Mass experience I have
    witness about 3 liturgies that could be critiqued as abusive.

    I am a new convert and I haven’t seen egregious abuses. But the priest on my parish (who likes liberation theology, by the way) complains that he has seen other priests in the neighborhood skipping essential parts of the liturgy.

    And while egregious abuses may be rare, there is nowadays lack of reverence, and plain ugliness. Some modern Churches lack a reference to sacred (have little sacred images, for example) and are just plain ugly. Church music is often ugly. I would like to see a little bit more of Gregorian chant (it doesn’t need to be exclusive, but it should be there). On the other hand, I have to take into consideration that the churches I visit lack resources.

    > I have
    witnesses lots of routine and lack of imagination. Benedict is doing
    NOTHING to solve that problem.

    At least he wrote a good book about the liturgy; he also gives an example (in the Masses he says) of communion in the mouth (increasing reverence) and putting the cross between the priest and the people (so the priest is versus populum and still looking at a sacred symbol).

    But I know little of the above (I haven’t seen a Mass by Benedict); let’s focus on the next sentence, which is more obvious for me:

    > Priests in shorts, or priests dressed as
    clowns, are just a bogeyman for those who want to kill the revolutionary
    openings of Sacrosanctum Concilium.

    As far as I know, no one wants to kill anything. In fact, I don’t understand the hysteria of “oh no! The TLM is coming back!”. I really can’t see any problem that those who want the TLM, will be allowed to. Can you explain to me what is the problem?