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Wednesday, April 13, 2005

Kung's Gripe

I've never really tried my hand at the blogging art of fisking -- but this article from Reuters was practically begging for a demonstration: Catholic Rebel Kueng Fears Manipulation of Conclave April 11, 2005.

BERLIN (Reuters) - Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger is manipulating the papal conclave with a campaign to have Pope John Paul made a saint, compelling his successor to follow in his footsteps, leading theologian Hans Kueng said on Monday.

Oh, yes. And I suppose Cardinal Ratzinger was behind the scenes, orchestrating the crowd of an estimated two million pilgrims who flocked to Rome to witness the funeral of our departed pope? -- Perhaps the Cardinal's evil minions were passing out leaflets to the crowd, choreographing the moment such that they would exclaim "Santo Santo Subito!" together on cue?

If pressed further, I suppose Kung might allege that the funeral of Pope John Paul II was "manipulated" by Cardinal Ratzinger in much the same manner as the Pope himself had "manipulated" a gathering of 70,000 youth during a papal visit to Switzerland, dismissed by Kung as a "triumphalist personality cult" because it did not allow for "questioning of Vatican policies ranging from celibacy to the secondary role for women in the church." (AP June 10, 2004).

Ratzinger's drive would put pressure on cardinals to name a successor who would follow the Pontiff's conservative line, said Kueng, one of the Church's most prominent liberal dissenters.

The agreement by cardinals not to talk to the media ahead of their secret conclave also did not bode well for the chances of getting a reform-minded leader, he said.

"I haven't given up all hope that we will get the right man. However Cardinal Ratzinger is clearly manipulating the whole conclave," Kueng told Reuters in an interview.

Of course, this comes from the same man who openly ridiculed the Holy Father as a third-rate theologian with "a very thin theological foundation -- not to mention a lack of modern exegesis, the history of dogmas and the church" in his recent biography (My Struggle for Freedom, p. 76); and who in a 2000 interview with BeliefNet, charged the Pope with having "betrayed Vatican II" by his "rigorous moral encyclicals [and] traditionalist-imperialist world catechism." Want to take a guess as to who the "right man" for pope would be?

. . . "A campaign for Pope John Paul's beatification, inspired and engineered by the Vatican, is in full swing and it will try to smother all internal criticism," Kueng said. At the Pope's funeral on Friday crowds chanted "Subito Santo" ("make him a saint immediately"), putting pressure on the next pope to bow to the popular will, he said.

Comments by Ratzinger that he had seen the Pope "looking down from the window of heaven" pushed John Paul's candidacy for sainthood, Kueng said.

"Given the mood in Rome, a candidate would not be elected unless they say they are prepared to make John Paul a saint. This is manipulation in a grand style."

It's amusing to hear Kung gripe about "bowing to the popular will", when he has so clearly demonstrated a willingness to advocate "the popular will" on so many occasions, for instance the popular demand to use contraception (Kung was one of the signers of a European document opposing Humane Vitae in 1974).

But to permit the laity to respond in agreement with the clergy, celebrating the life and example of a pope who adamantly refused to subordinate the teachings of the Church to the "spirit of the age"? -- No, we CAN'T have that. Kung won't stand for it!

. . . Kueng listed five attributes he considered important for a new Pope and said there was support for his views.

The Pope should be evangelical, collegial, open-minded on the role of women, ready to push for better inter-faith relations and supportive of freedom and openness in the church.

A South American or African Pope would not be enough to secure the renewal of the Church, particularly if the candidate had spent a long time with the Curia cardinals in Rome.

"We need to find a representative of the global Church with a global perspective and not simply the narrow view of the Roman Curia."

"Narrow view of the Roman Curia" -- This is Kungspeak, plain and simple: narrow as in "preoccupation with distinctly Christian dogmas and morality", which would be readily sacrificed in favor of Kung's "Principles of a Global Ethic", which pretty much boils down to Kant's categorical imperative (a philosophical rendering of the "Golden Rule") shrouded in a misty veil of United Nations multiculturalism. For a critique of Kung's "one world" ethic, see: "United Religions Initiative: Promoting a Politically Correct Global Ethic", by Lee Penn (

Asked how the Church should deal with internal dissent Kueng said: "Instead of trying to liquidate its critics the Church should talk to them . . . It is a paradox that the same Pope, who was photographed so widely meeting the man who shot him, refused to meet theologians like me."

Correct me if I'm wrong, but isn't it the procedure of the Congregation of the Doctrine of Faith to "talk to them," providing heterodox theologians an opportunity to discuss their positions, in order to more closely discern whether they pose a danger to the faith? -- I've yet to see Cardinal Ratzinger dispatch black-cloaked henchmen to "liquidate" the opposition.

Pope John Paul II displayed great enthusiasm for dialogue with all manner of philosophers, theologians, intellectuals. The problem is, there is nothing particularly original about Kung's brand of dissent. I imagine the Pope probably had better things to do with his time, and for that reason delegated the task to the CDF.

* * *

As if you needed another reason to question Fr. Kung's griping about bowing "before the popular will," here's a sound thrashing of his book Credo: The Apostle's Creed Explained for Today by Thomas W Currie, a Presbyterian:

In undertaking this project, Kung enlists in the honorable ranks of those who would make use of new insights to unfold the gospel's story. The question, however, is whether Kung, in so earnestly seeking to be understood by present-day culture, has not made its approval the criterion for what is permissible to be heard in that story. Earnest, eager to resolve doubt, anxious not to give offence, Credo is remarkable in its breadth of learning, yet is strangely non-threatening, hardly disturbing to either the faithful or the unbelieving. Kung's finding that the virgin birth does not lie at the center of the gospel he calls a "momentous decision." The resurrection appearances are for him "probably . . . inward visionary events and not external reality." Who is God? "God is the all-embracing and all-permeating ground of meaning of the world process, who can of course only be accepted in faith," a definition, one might note, which is unencumbered by reference to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, much less the disturbing singularity of the Word made flesh.

Although Kung seeks to answer the concerns of a remarkably diverse number of conversation-partners, his primary audience appears to be those same "cultured despisers" who, having gone to school in the Enlightenment, can pick apart the church's failings and contradictions without breaking into much of a sweat. These folk, he thinks, are embarrassed by talk of miracles, saints, and human sinfulness and need reassurance that committing to the faith will not implicate them in something foolish. Credo is happy to oblige on almost every count, finding in Jesus Christ that "guide for Christians" in whose company "it should be possible to achieve a psychological identity for oneself in the face of all imprisonment in anxiety, and also social solidarity against all resignation in face of compulsive pressure." So it is that the gospel makes sense in the world and proves its usefulness in its ability to help people lead satisfying, fulfilling lives. . . . And just so fails to wound or to heal.

(Source: Theology Today Vol. 51, No. 4. Jan. 1995).

Related Posts:

  • Father Ethan @ Suburban Priest has photograph of one of the poor blokes apparently brainwashed by Cardinal Ratzinger.

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