Küng to Benedict: Set About Reform

Even if you don't agree with all he writes (and I don't) Hans Küng is a theologian of great learning, distinction and experience.  He's forgotten more theology and church history than I will ever know.  And even if you don't agree with all he writes in his open letter to the world's bishops, it is well worth reading.  (I could have done without the grandiose "pastoral letter" trope, addressing his remarks to the "Venerable Bishops," but c'est la théologie.)  In light of what he calls "the worst credibility crisis since the reformation," Küng lists several missed opportunities , and then makes his suggestions: 1.) Do not keep silent; (2) Set about reform; (3) Act in a collegial way; (4) Unconditional obedience is owed to God alone; (5) Work for regional solutions; and (6) Call for a council.  The former colleague to Pope Benedict begins in a personal vein...

Joseph Ratzinger, now Pope Benedict XVI, and I were the youngest theologians at the Second Vatican Council from 1962 to 1965. Now we are the oldest and the only ones still fully active. I have always understood my theological work as a service to the Roman Catholic Church. For this reason, on the occasion of the fifth anniversary of the election of Pope Benedict XVI, I am making this appeal to you in an open letter. In doing so, I am motivated by my profound concern for our church, which now finds itself in the worst credibility crisis since the Reformation. Please excuse the form of an open letter; unfortunately, I have no other way of reaching you.

I deeply appreciated that the pope invited me, his outspoken critic, to meet for a friendly, four-hour-long conversation shortly after he took office. This awakened in me the hope that my former colleague at Tubingen University might find his way to promote an ongoing renewal of the church and an ecumenical rapprochement in the spirit of the Second Vatican Council.

Unfortunately, my hopes and those of so many engaged Catholic men and women have not been fulfilled. And in my subsequent correspondence with the pope, I have pointed this out to him many times. Without a doubt, he conscientiously performs his everyday duties as pope, and he has given us three helpful encyclicals on faith, hope and charity. But when it comes to facing the major challenges of our times, his pontificate has increasingly passed up more opportunities than it has taken:

Missed is the opportunity for rapprochement with the Protestant churches: Instead, they have been denied the status of churches in the proper sense of the term and, for that reason, their ministries are not recognized and intercommunion is not possible.

Missed is the opportunity for the long-term reconciliation with the Jews: Instead the pope has reintroduced into the liturgy a preconciliar prayer for the enlightenment of the Jews, he has taken notoriously anti-Semitic and schismatic bishops back into communion with the church, and he is actively promoting the beatification of Pope Pius XII, who has been accused of not offering sufficient protections to Jews in Nazi Germany.

The rest of the letter is here.

James Martin, SJ

 

 

Jack Barry
6 years 7 months ago
Excellent piece in the midst of instantaneously triggered world-wide confusion.   While we wait for translations confirmed as accurate and, one hopes, Vatican clarification, many questions arise. 
Why, with the advantage of forethought, pick a prostitute for one illustrative example involving the ''humanization of sexuality''?   The ''world's oldest profession'' has been around a lot longer than the Catholic Church and is not likely to die out or change behavior before the Church does.   
Does it make a difference in the moral judgment, and why, if: 
-  the prostitute's customer is male or female?
-  the person with whom the prostitute is interacting is spouse or customer?
-  the prostitute is acting altruistically to avoid infecting others or selfishly to avoid becoming infected?
It is now well known that, for a healthy, fertile woman, the ''transmission of life'' is absolutely impossible about 80% or more of the time in every month, year, and decade.  Human nature as God created it is usually contraceptive.   Yet, the Church's requirement does not forbid conjugal acts during those intervals.   The acts cannot ''remain open'', as required, since they aren't open in the first place.  Major clarification is required, a la Fr. Rhonheimer.   Informing the world is rather easy in the 21st century, given a clear message that is understandable by its intended recipients.
Nicholas Collura
7 years 2 months ago
I've read Kung's scholarly work with great interest (even when, like you, Father, I haven't agreed with everything he's had to say), but seeing this letter left me spluttering in indignation. Kung is undoubtedly brilliant, but this shotgun-style, hit-everything-I-can screed settles for nothing more than a litany of pedestrian complaints which are simplistic to an extreme...and this, when they are not flat-out wrong. Benedict ''sees in Judaism only the historic root of Christianity''? Or, even worse, ''he has taken the bishops of the traditionalist Pius X Society back into the church without any preconditions''? These are the kinds of woefully misinformed quips we've come to expect from Maureen Dowd, but to hear them from such an erudite theologian and historian comes as a complete shock. However one lines up on the Ratzinger-Kung theological divide, at least Pope Benedict, who probes patiently and masterfully the complexity and nuance of all ideas, would never settle for such glib, facile sound bites!
With some trepidation, I interpret much more cynically than you may, Father, the ''personal vein'' in which the letter begins. To me, the pompous subtext is clear: ''When my old colleague (see, I can call him that, since I'm the only person left in the world who's his intellectual rival), the Pope, invited me to have dinner with him, I was encouraged that he finally seemed to understand how right I've been about everything having to do with the Second Vatican Council. But since he hasn't seen the error of his ways every time I've written in to correct him and admonish him, I have no other choice than to assassinate his character and mangle his systems of thought with dramatic lies and exaggerations in a letter addressed, let's face it, not so much to you bishops, but to the Catholic public to whom it will be leaked and with whom I'll undoubtedly be much more popular.'' Maybe I'm being unfair here, myself, but even if I'm mistaking Kung's character (after all, I've never met him!), one thing is certain: in the absence of any meaty explanations or justifications of his claims, this angry little manifesto is thoroughly intellectually dishonest. 
Bill Collier
7 years 2 months ago
I think the Church benefits from having someone as brilliant as Kung playing devil's advocate to the power structures in the institution. I have to agree with Nicholas Collura, however, that the kitchen-sink nature of the letter dilutes its rhetorical force. Too much is glossed over-e.g., Kung says BXVI is opposed to stem cell research. That's not true. He's opposed to destructive embryonic stem cell research, but not to somatic stem cell research. Unfortunately, there's not enough room for such nuances when Kung is arguing in so many broad brushstrokes. He touches on some specifics, true, but instead of focusing on 4 or 5 issues in detail, he provides the often fuzzy outlines of a massive overhaul of the Church.
7 years 2 months ago
Thankyou to Fr. Martin for his article on the open letter that Theologian Hans Kung has sent to all the Bishops of the world. I applaud Fr. Kung for his six point plan. Our Church needs to stop and reflect on how we are the salt and light to the world. I never knew that the Council of Constance called for our Church to hold a Council every five years in order to reassess our direction in the real world. Vatican II in the 1960s was an exciting time of hope in our Church and openness to the work of the Holy Spirit in our world. Jesus did not retreat from the world. Jesus welcomed everyone. His message was simple. Jesus asked us to believe in him, to love God, and to love one another. Why are we making life so complicated and full of divisions? Why are priests not allowed to marry except by exception? Why are lay people ignored by the hierarchy? Why are women treated like second class citizens in our Church?
As a physician, I am sad that the leaders in our Church seem more interested in protecting their own jobs and the reputation of "Holy Mother Church" than in protecting the innocence of children. To think that the penalty for the priest is to be lowered to the lay state! What an insult to us lay people, especially since Vatican II acknowledged that all the faithful belong to the priesthood of Christ!
Yes, we need reform! I pray that the Bishops, and the Pope if he is willing, will call a Council to be held in Galilee, not in Rome!  Galilee is where Jesus walked and taught and healed. I pray that the Council will be a gathering of all of the followers of Jesus, Protestants and Catholics, women and men, married and single. In future, I pray that there will be another international gathering in the Holy Land which will include Moslems, Jews, and Christians (and all others who are interested) to celebrate our belief in God and to give Him glory! 
Thankyou, Fr. Hans Kung for your excellent recommendations and for not giving up on our Church. Thankyou, Fr. Martin and to all in the AMERICA staff for your honesty and concern for the problems in our Church which need to be addressed.
Sincerely,
Rosemary Eileen McHugh, M.D.
[email protected]
 
 
Jeff Bagnell
7 years 2 months ago
 
It is supremely ironic that one of the most urgent advocates for radical change of the pre-Vatican II Church (which had no sexual abuse crisis which we know of) is now begging its leaders to call another council to clean up one of the messes left in its wake.  Of the two of them, Ratzinger is the only who has been able to admit that the period following Vatican II has been decidedly unfavorable for the Church. We may need another council, but Kung is the last person who should be calling for it given his track record of dissent and defiance.  
John Raymer
7 years 2 months ago
Hans Kung's "The Church" laid the groundwork for my eventual conversion to Catholicism 30 years later. (But after reading the first third of his book "Does God Exist?" I didn't care any more, but that's another story.) His work is thoughful and deep, and his open letter is exactly right. I hope our pope can see the truth in it.

We are at a crossroads. The Church has a government designed for the 16th through 18th centuries. This government is inacapable of facings the problems of the 21st, or even 20th centuries. The successful countries of Europe have all become democratic - either republics or constitutional monarchies -while the Catholic Church remains the last absolute monarchy. This monarchy will not survive for long. Either the church will fragment as it did in the Reformation or its governance will change to a more modern form. The change can be peaceful or violent, depending on how the pope responds, but the change is inevitable. I hope the pope will listen, for the sake our Church.
Vince Killoran
7 years 2 months ago
Thanks for posting this with the link to the IRISH TIMES-the letters there were as interesting (and heartbreaking) as Fr. Kung's piece.
 
Aside from the ham handed attacks on Kung (e.g., "thoroughly intellectually dishonest," " he barely qualifies as a Christian") I didn't get a sense that his detractors on this site have actually read any of his work, just other blogs with short barbs.  I remember reading Kung thirty years ago as an undergraduate and thinking, "Now this is theology for grown ups!"
Nicholas Collura
7 years 2 months ago
I know I started the Kung-hating, so maybe it's out of place for me to say this, but I want to backtrack a little. I don't care much at all for Olson's sarcastic (and not really very witty) review, which is as short on substance as Kung's letter is. I was perhaps a bit harsh in accusing Kung of arrogance, but I wouldn't want to go so far as to impugn his religious faith or Catholicity, as Olson does. What I find interesting, actually, is that much of Kung's beautiful theology (such as his leaning away from scholastic Thomism and definition of faith not as a rational conclusion about God's existence but as ''an act of unconditional trust'') finds many parallels with much of Benedict's theology (cf. his analysis of the linkage between faith and hope in ''Spe Salvi''). My own main objection to Kung's letter is not that it is too progressive but that it doesn't take adequate note of the progressiveness of much of Benedict's own theology (measured not by political issues like women's ordination, but by its fidelity to an intellectual spirit such as that of the Council-era nouvelle theologie, of which Ratzinger was a leading proponent, or by the fact that Caritas in Veritate - which includes under a dozen direct references to Jesus Christ in 100+ pages - resembles conciliar documents like Gaudium et Spes far more than it does anything JPII ever wrote).
 
Whether Kung is sincere in his love for the Church - a Church whose historical transmutations he has studied extensively and which he would like to say transmutated some more - is between him and God. I would hope that we can challenge Kung's theology, and perhaps point out the arrogance of a gesture like this one, without resorting to the tired conservative ''who's Catholic and who's not'' judgment calls.
 
(Oh, and Jeff, I was with you in parts of your first paragraph, but honestly, I detect more than a whiff of homophobia in your final salvo, which makes me a little uncomfortable...I'm sure you didn't mean anything by it, but it's one of the prejudices that progressive theology can perhaps be very helpful in freeing us from.)
 
Peace.
James Dominic James
7 years 2 months ago
Lake: "Fr. Jim, we know from the Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius that if we create even a tiny opening the evil spirit will enter."
 
What if the sense of emergency attending the degree of self-monitoring required to know whether a "tiny hole" has formed just is the evil spirit entering?
7 years 2 months ago
Thanks for posting Hans Kung's letter, Fr. Martin.  I think his six suggestions are good ones.
Nicholas Collura
7 years 2 months ago
Ah, whoops - sorry, Jeff, for attributing that to you: I got lost in the quotation marks and honestly had gotten too exasperated with the Olson piece to get as far as when he makes that remark. Many apologies. I thought that your first paragraph sounded too sophisticated for you then to come up with something like that!
 
I don't know whether Kung is a luminary of Catholic thought of the rank of Rahner, von Balthasar, et al. I haven't read enough of him to be able to say. I do think that some of his ideas are powerful, and having read a fuller, book-length treatment of his ecclesiology (called "Theology for the Third Millennium," or something like that), I can say that his willingness to study the Church's history (anchoring our pious abstractions in the concrete and time-tested lived experience of Catholics) is quite valuable. For instance, his long meditation on the figures of Luther and Erasmus as case studies of diametrically opposed ways of dissenting from the Church's teaching during a moment of historical crisis (one, dramatic and proud to the point of schism, the other, self-effacing to the point of abdicating his responsibility to be an effective and respected internal reformer) is, in my opinion, quite brilliant. (It's also touching; it's clear from the way he discusses the two figures that as much of an outsider as Kung must sometimes feel, he longs to remain within the Church.) This historical perspective could probably serve the modern Church quite well; if only Kung hadn't become so bitter somewhere along the line and begun settling for screeds such as the present letter!
James Lindsay
7 years 2 months ago
The Church that Jesus started has continued in the East. Those who read both Kung and Wills know the origins of Rome and the problems it has always had. Of course, none of that is important. What is important is that Kung is right (including about stem cells - since the fact is when stem cells are "harvested" only the part that will become the afterbirth is discarded, not any essential part of the child - harvested stem cells are ontologically equivalent of "adult" stem cells, except that they are less likely to have utility since they have not been through the filter of gastrulation to weed out defective genomes).

I would think that some of the "ultra-Catholics" on this list would be more familiar with the prophesies of St. Malachy. No matter how you WANT reform to look - you have to admit that it is happening (unless you really think the world is about to end). More importantly, the Vatican is full of Malachy watchers and I can bet that most are running scared. They probably go into palpatations anytime the Pope rings up the Ecumenical Patriarch in Constantinople - since they know what is inevitable. Part of that inevitability is likely either an American national Church or an English linguistic Church. Such a Church will not long be able to resist most of the reforms called for by the laity - especially those concerning women.

Whistle in the dark all you want. Change is inevitable. The only question is will it happen because of the Pope (with the help of Father Kung) or in spite of him. My bet is on the former, which will be much to the chagrin of the more Catholic than art thou set.
Julius-Kei Kato
7 years 2 months ago
Fr. Jim, I'm surprised that it surprised you that Kung uses the ''grandiose 'pastoral letter' trope'' as you term it. As the one dealing with cultural topics in America, you, above all, should know that we have to use whatever we can especially in the media in order to get our message heard by its intended audience. The grandiose trope of Kung is rooted -I think-  in what he himself and Kate B. expressed above - ''I have no other way of reaching you...'' 
 
There's already a lot of heat in the comments string here but, if I can add my two-cents, I guess the reason why some people are very supportive of Kung while others are vehemently against him is found in what Kung himself explains at length in his works such as ''Christianity'' (Eng. 1994) - the different paradigms that coexist in Catholicism. Paradigms are particular ''ways'' to view the world which we interiorly accept as correct and rarely question anymore. It is so difficult to understand, more so even, to talk with each other when we don't have a grasp of the whole (''whole'' here meaning the different ''grand paradigms'' that have become dominant in Catholicism and which still continuously coexist in the contemporary church). 
 
What people could do better before they condemn each other is to withhold evaluation and judgement of the ''other'' first and take some time to learn better the ''big picture'' of Christian history in order to grasp that different people come from radically different places in their convictions and comments. 
Coming from one who has professionally studied Kung, just let me say that I think Kung is one of the great theologians of our time who deeply loves the church more than many of us here.
Peter Lakeonovich
7 years 2 months ago
This is a link to an insightful open letter to Mr. Kung:

http://www.firstthings.com/onthesquare/2010/04/an-open-letter-to-hans-kung
Vince Killoran
7 years 2 months ago
Peter:  It's "Fr. Kung," not "Mr. Kung."
Jeff Bagnell
7 years 2 months ago
Mr. Binder, I must confess that I routinely find your prose virtually impenetrable and filled with non-sequiturs.  But that could just be me.  In any event, your bestowal of the title of "prophet" on Kung - - which I'm sure he'd be thrilled to accept - - is interesting and puts you at odds with the Holy See of course.  Maybe you are both prophets.  We will have to wait and see.  In the meantime, it would be more charitable for you while canonizing Kung to avoid belittling those who disagree with his approach by labeling them "ultra" Catholics.  Name calling should be beneath you. 
 
Kung is not the theological equal of Ratiznger, nor is he the equal of the Church's teaching office.  His writings should be viewed with great caution.
Peter Lakeonovich
7 years 2 months ago
Vince, you are technically correct. Too bad Hans Kung does not embrace the reverend title. Let's pray he does one day.

I agree with the posts herein which call for, in world of Hans, a little less Kung and a lot more von Balthasar.
Peter Lakeonovich
7 years 2 months ago
James, I'm not exactly sure what you mean, but to the extent you are suggesting that the discernment of spirits is anything but a fruitful spiritual exercise, then I reject that outright. To the extent you are suggesting there are no evil spirits to discern, then, again, I reject that outright. I made no such implication regarding Fr. Jim, whose writings by the way I read all the time. (I still love the line in his book on the Saints where he quotes a fellow Companion saying that when he gets to heaven it's St. Ignatius's judgment he's worried about.) In any event, I was talking about Kung, not Fr. Jim. My point is to be careful when you hear a Catholic (especially a priest! i.e., Kung) calling for the Church to change, but doing so in a manner that is not humble and without humility, then chances are that individual has created an opening for the evil spirit. Perhaps you should take it up with St. Ignatius.
James Dominic James
7 years 2 months ago
Pete,

I suppose a humble person's criticisms of the Church might have more initial appeal, other things equal. Is there a particular way Kung lacks humility that is frustrating his reasoning? Does this lack of humility amount to not performing the act "religious submission of intellect and will" in a CDF-approved way? If so, is that a way of lacking humility that systematically distorts one's judgment of what will promote the common good of the church? Even if it did, would that justify the sense of alarm being voiced over the event of Kung's article being recommended as something to read? I have doubts. That's where I'm at.

-

I may have had a bad experience with Ignatian stuff, but I'm only an n of 1. I apologize to you and to others who observed me being unfair to Ignatian stuff.


Bill Collier
7 years 2 months ago
Ooops...should have been "the often fuzzy outlines of a blueprint for a massive overhaul of the Church."
Peter Lakeonovich
7 years 2 months ago
"Even if you don't agree with all he writes (and I don't) Hans Küng is a theologian of great learning, distinction and experience. He's forgotten more theology and church history than I will ever know."

What a sad statement Fr. Jim, you gotta do better than that (tongue-in-cheek) and I hope you're doing something about it, because it seems from the open letter that Küng has forgotten enough theology and church history to the point of remembering nothing. Nothing authentically Catholic anyway.

I did not find the open letter "well worth reading," in any meaningful sense, except that it did make reading the following response (consistent with Nicholas's and Bill's comments) on the Ignatius Insight website thorougly enjoyable:

"Uh, that's the "Hans Küng Catholic Church," not "the Roman Catholic Church" See http://www.ignatiusinsight.com/index.asp

Fr. Jim, we know from the Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius that if we create even a tiny opening the evil spirit will enter. In this regard, any time I hear a Catholic (especially a priest, JMJ pray for us!) talking about how the Church needs to change, I can't help but think that a tiny opening has been created in that individual or priest, as the case may be. The truth of the matter is, as evidenced by no one better than Küng, that it's usually the person clamoring for the Chruch to change who needs to change himself. (Remember Henry VIII clamoring for the Church to change its stance on divorce? Now look at the Church of England, with no leadership, no authority, but in earnest finding its way back home to union with the One, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Church).

Let's not create any tiny openings by calling Küng's diatribe "well worth reading."
Jeff Bagnell
7 years 2 months ago
I can't agree with Jack's comment on the government of the Church.  The essential structure of the Church's government was set up by a little known (at the time) carpenter in Nazareth.  It cannot and will not change.  What we need to do is what sports teams need to do when things start going haywire and players start shooting off-balance air balls - - get back to fundamentals.  We don't need a new structure of Church government, we need more holiness among all of us.  More grace, less sin.  
Carl Olson has a witty take on Kung's megalomania over at Ignatius Insight.  Here is one funny excerpt:
"How touching that Kung is so concerned about the Catholic Church when he, by any fair measure, barely qualifies as a Christian, at least not in any traditional sense of the word (you know, as someone who believes in Jesus Christ, true God of true God, etc.). But the bottom line with Kung seems pretty clear to me: it's all about him and his popularity. "His later writings," notes Steichen, "especially his autobiography, My Struggle for Freedom, suggest that his pretentious rhetoric may not, after all, reveal a pathetic hunger for praise but rather a delusion of breathtaking arrogance. Mercifully, we have it on the highest authority that his audacity is doomed to failure." Rumor has it that Küng is still working on a three-volume, 2,153-page "My Letter to My God: My Under-Appreciated Struggle to Change the Divine, Save the Cosmos, and Bash Ratzinger" (the audio version, sources tell me, will feature Deepak Chopra, Maya Angelou, Barney, Matthew Fox, the living members of the Grateful Dead, and a 100-member gay men's choir led by Gene Robinson).
 
 
Jeff Bagnell
7 years 2 months ago
Vince, do you think CDF had read his works when it removed his faculty to teach as a Catholic theologian in 1979?  Or were the cardinals just reading a few blogs here and there (which didn't exist)?  Hmmm, I wonder why they didn't see it as "theology for grownups."  The CDF is such a buzz kill.
One need not read his utterly verbose collection of writings to know how far he has drifted from Catholicism.  He may want to start his own Church at this point, given his indisputable "brilliance" - - putting aside his absurd contentions regarding Pius XII and Ratzinger's actions on the liturgy.  
He is like a new Martin Luther.  We have Lutherans and maybe some day we will have Kungites.  
 
Jeff Bagnell
7 years 2 months ago
Nicholas, that last salvo was from Olson's piece, who I think was simply exasperated at Kung always seeking the limelight.  I would have expressed things differently, but overall I think he makes some humorous points.  Gene Robinson is another one out there shouting that Christianity must change, when in fact we are the ones who have to be changed by Christianity...
I haven't followed Kung much lately, and it wasn't my doing that his faculty to teach as a Catholic theologian was stripped from him.  My point really is that it's amazing that someone who has urged such a defiant attitude toward authority for so long, is not presuming to lecture Rome on how to regain its moral authority.  If it were not for his impressive sounding name (kind of like an English accent), no serious Catholic would view him as a luminary of Catholic thought - - however good a person he may be.  We have so many others, Hans Urs Von Balthasar, de Lubac, Gilson, etc. 
John Raymer
7 years 2 months ago
No Jeff, the essential part of Church government that was set up by Jesus was to have the apostles and their successors repeat the story to subsequent generations - the story "that you have heard from the beginning." In time, these stories were committed to Holy Scripture to keep them straight. The successors to the apostles approved these scriptures as authentic. And those successors are supposed to interpret those scriptures and repeat those stories in a manner that is authentic and relevant to the modern world.

None of what I have said has anything to do with the current, sorry state of the Vatican bureaucracy and their autocratic method of appointing ineffectual bishops. Until the ultramontanist movement of the mid 1800's, bishops were typically chosen by their local communities and presented to the pope or metropolitan primate for approval and ordination. In the 1700's the voice of the local community was the nobility or the king; today it is the people through democratic election. Both methods are appropriate in their day; neither is more or less authentic or holy. The only method that is unholy is the current practice of Rome making all appointments and then moving bishops around to keep them detached from the communities they are supposed to be serving.

As I read what our bishops in America are saying and what is coming out of the curia in Rome, I cannot help but see that they have forgotten the story that was told in the beginning. If it were not so, how could they have responded so callously to the abuse scandal and how could they be so wrong on the health care legislation?
Juan Lino
7 years 2 months ago

More of the same old rantings of a man who wanted to remake the Church in his own image and is upset that he didn't succeed. Sad and pathetic!  We younger Catholics are tired of these "has beens" and are more interested in the Truth that Christ brings. I've seen the damage that the “progressives” (I'd say heretics in some cases) have done to the Body of Christ. Give us the Truth, not opinions and not deluded nightmares.
Juan
Winifred Holloway
7 years 2 months ago
To Jeff S: The sexual abuse crisis was not the result of Vatican ll reforms.  Abuse is an age-old story in the church as it is elsewhere.  The uncovering of the abuse scandal started in the 80s when people, probably b/c of our freer culture and the subsequent lessening of fear of authority and power, became more willing to complain to bishops about earlier abuse.  Such was the case in my own family.  The boy's abuser was no flower child.
James Lindsay
7 years 2 months ago
One last thing. Be careful, Jeff, about denigrating the spirit of prophesy. I do have pity for Kung, not because of what he is saying (which is mostly true) or how he is saying it - but due to the fact that he has to say it (which makes me feel pity for all the faithful). I believe God is using him to speak to the Pope. God expects much from those to whom he gives great gifts, including enduring persecution FROM the Church. None are more gifted in this age than Fr. Kung. Keep him in your prayers. This cannot be easy for him.
James Dominic James
7 years 2 months ago
All this alarm about Kung is weird. Far better to read him just like you'd read other authors, with the same critical spirit. The world is not a creepy place hiding its secrets from us.
 
Isn't it a contradiction to be in touch with how obviously ridiculous Kung is while at the same time holding that the world is very dangerous because evil spirits are moving through ''tiny holes'' and taking people over by means of sneaky, deceptive people like Kung? If he's that slippery, then he'll fool you.
 
But you are not fooled. Or are you? Time to check your ''tiny hole'' again. Is it really closed? What if it only seems closed? Are you sure you checked correctly last time? Really sure? Fast. Check it. Come on, we're talkin' about demons here! Demons entering you! Demons entering Fr. Martin even, in Pete Lake's first comment. That's what the world's like? Let's hope Colbert's an exorcist. Hold me.
James Lindsay
7 years 2 months ago
@Jeff S.:The best prophets are the ones who follow the Master and speak out against the religious leadership of the day.

Are you familiar with the prophesies of St. Malachy? Are you aware that they have a tremendous following among the Curia? If not, let me explain. The current pope is the Glory of the Olive. Traditionally, this has been read to mean that his name will be Benedict (which came true), that he will unify the Church - especially with the East (given his relationship with the Ecumenical Patriarch of the Eastern Church, this is likely) and that he will convert the Jews (this is an unlikely pipe dream - although under his papacy, it is coming out that the lost tribes of Israel are actually the Romany people and that they are largely Christian). On the first point - who knows whether Benedict was a Malachy fan and his taking of this name was a self-conscious attempt to fulfil the prophesy. The second interpretation has more weight for this debate - since reunification with the East must be done in a matter which is true to history. Hans Kung and others have pretty much shown that Constantinople is the Ecumenical Patriarchy of all the Christian Churches, not Rome. The chief city of the empire - and hence the successor see of Peter, moved from Rome to Constantinople when the city was established. Rome became a western backwater. Unification must recognize that and the current scandal in the Roman Church pretty much takes away any bargaining power Rome had in the negotiation.

Of late, the E.C. has had to fend of critics of unity in the East who fear that a unified Rome will swallow it up. The Eastern model is for disunited unity, with national Churches. I would expect that Rome as part of the East will follow that model, although it may break along linguistic rather than national lines. For example, I expect there to be one to five English Churches (one African, one conservative in union with Peter the Roman, and one to three for North America and the British Islands - my preference and prediction being a single Patriarch seated in Galway, Ireland). Whatever patriarchy covers N. America will likely be a bit more innovative on issues regarding both women, the laity, the married and gays.

Whether you believe in Roman primacy or not, if you are aware of St. Malachy's next prophesy, you almost must regard the last pope as an anti-pope, since under his reign the terrible judge will return and destroy the city of seven hills (Rome). No Rome, no roman church. I suspect that Peter the Roman will be the leader of a rump faction that disagrees with Benedict's overtures to the East and their accomplishment. This could mean the end of time. I don't think the fate of the world revolves around the fate of the Roman Catholic Church. There is more to the Church Christ established than Rome.
Peter Lakeonovich
7 years 2 months ago
James, there are a number of instances in Kung's letter (and in Kung's theology in general) which indicate a lack of humility (for example, read Fr. Jim's second paranthetical statement above), but if I must give you one example, how about this flat-out lie:

"There is no denying the fact that the worldwide system of covering up cases of sexual crimes committed by clerics was engineered by the Roman Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith under Cardinal Ratzinger (1981-2005)."

Please.

If you want to give the "Ignatian stuff" another try, you may want to pick up a copy of "A Pilgrim's Journey: The Autobiography of St. Ignatius of Loyola." It's a short little book and will give you an insight into the making of a great saint and the origins and purpose of The Spiritual Exercies, which you may then want to pursue later (preferably by way of a retreat, as opposed to just reading, but reading would work too).
Kate Smith
7 years 2 months ago
A copy of this letter was e-mailed to me many times......  And there is one sentence that still leaps out at me and distracts me from reading the rest.  It expresses the problems of this church.
 
Writing to our Pope, Kung says, ''Please excuse the form of an open letter; unfortunately, I have no other way of reaching you.''
 
''unfortunately, I have no other way of reaching you.''
 
If I was still in my grad school essay writing days, I could work with that.   ''I have no other way of reaching you.''
 
Perhaps my experience is shaped by the futility I have experienced writing to Jesuit Superior General Adolfo Nicolas - who I have no other way of reaching.
 
I very deeply understand the immense problems in our church when our pastoral leaders build walls around themselves and make themselves unreachable.  Why don't they just step down?  
 
Using Fr. Nicolas as an example again, he wrote back only once, saying he asked the provincial to handle it.    Then Fr. Nicolas ignored every single communication in which I told him the provincial did not handle it (and I had already tried that).   
 
''I have no other way of reaching you.''   I understand why thousands of Catholics are walking away, when our pastoral leaders prefer to hide from us.

Don't miss the best from America

Sign up for our Newsletter to get the Jesuit perspective on news, faith and culture.

The latest from america

Just about everyone is sick of the partisan rancor that radiates from Washington.
The EditorsJune 23, 2017
Beatriz Mejia of El Salvador speaks at a rally in front of the White House in Washington in March 2016 in support of immigrant families who are seeking asylum. (CNS photo/Tyler Orsburn)
Can a Catholic carry out his or her job duties in good conscience if they include the deportation of people facing imminent death in their home countries?
Callanan, a professor and novelist from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, will be awarded the $25,000 Catholic literary prize.
The EditorsJune 22, 2017
Retired San Francisco Archbishop John R. Quinn, left, is pictured in a 2004 photo in Saginaw, Mich. He died June 22 at age 88 in San Francisco. He headed the Northern California Archdiocese from 1977 until 1995. (CNS photo/Brett McLaughlin, Catholic Weekly)
Retired Archbishop John R. Quinn of San Francisco, who led the Northern California archdiocese for 18 years, died on June 22 after a long illness. He was 88.