If you haven't already gotten to know Hans Kung, it is a good time to do so. He is like the Howard Dean, the Bernie Sanders, of the Catholic Church. It is he who truly deserves to be pope. And that being more than unlikely, his words are the most reliable and trustworthy guide that we have today about what is going on in the Catholic Church, and more importantly what needs to happen and why. Fortunately for us, he giving us his analyses as we go forward to a papal change.
Hans Kung, the leading progressive voice in the Catholic Church, has written an oped contribution for the New York Times in which he asks whether it might be possible to have a "Vatican Spring," like an 'Arab Spring,' reforming the catholic church?
He answers his own question by noting that the Catholic Church does not resemble the governments of the countries of the Arab Spring,
so much as an absolute monarchy like Saudi Arabia.He then brings 'fact check' information to bear on the catholic church's insistence of maintaining a 2000 year old absolutist monarchist tradition, by noting:
It was not until the 11th century that a “revolution from above,” the “Gregorian Reform” started by Pope Gregory VII, left us with the three enduring features of the Roman system: a centralist-absolutist papacy, compulsory clericalism and the obligation of celibacy for priests and other secular clergy.So, the claims of the church on the length of its 'traditions' are inaccurate. These were not 'made by Christ', but by popes, quite a few years after Christ. In fact the current structure and traditions are the product of the 11th century!
He describes how efforts to roll back these 'reforms' met with little success, noting that the Second Vatican Council was trying to address several of them, which was blocked by those in the curia intent on maintaining the 'absolute monarchy' model of the church. He notes that under the papacy of John Paul 2 and Benedict 16, there
has been a fatal return to the church’s old monarchical habits.Hans Kung should know about this, since he served in the Second Vatican Council with Josef Ratzinger and later suffered under Ratzinger's role to block him from teaching theology, over Kung's questioning the doctrine of papal infallibility. He details in this article, the recent meetings between the two, and his continued disappointment at the entrenched reactionary position of benedict.
He notes the many scandals of Benedict's reign and then comments on the handling of
the widespread sexual abuse of children and youths by clergymen, which the pope was largely responsible for covering up when he was Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger.And then considers that Vatileaks may have been the eventual reason Benedict resigned, concluding that the church itself is falling apart.
He is very clear about what he thinks is the solution. No half measures here; he addresses several major concerns, including the way that those in the church have been muzzled in order to fall into line and spout the 'talking points' of the Vatican:
In this dramatic situation the church needs a pope who’s not living intellectually in the Middle Ages, who doesn’t champion any kind of medieval theology, liturgy or church constitution. It needs a pope who is open to the concerns of the Reformation, to modernity. A pope who stands up for the freedom of the church in the world not just by giving sermons but by fighting with words and deeds for freedom and human rights within the church, for theologians, for women, for all Catholics who want to speak the truth openly. A pope who no longer forces the bishops to toe a reactionary party line, who puts into practice an appropriate democracy in the church, one shaped on the model of primitive Christianity. A pope who doesn’t let himself be influenced by a Vatican-based “shadow pope” like Benedict and his loyal followers.His article is well worth the read for the understanding of an open minded, highly informed critical thinker about the Catholic Church. His criticisms are sourced on Truth, not propaganda.
As the last active theologian to have participated in the Second Vatican Council (along with Benedict), I wonder whether there might not be, at the beginning of the conclave, as there was at the beginning of the council, a group of brave cardinals who could tackle the Roman Catholic hard-liners head-on and demand a candidate who is ready to venture in new directions. Might this be brought about by a new reforming council or, better yet, a representative assembly of bishops, priests and lay people?
If the next conclave were to elect a pope who goes down the same old road, the church will never experience a new spring, but fall into a new ice age and run the danger of shrinking into an increasingly irrelevant sect.
(Hans Küng is a professor emeritus of ecumenical theology at the University of Tübingen and the author of the forthcoming book “Can the Church Still Be Saved?” This essay was translated by Peter Heinegg from the German.)
Did you know that his book, "Can the Church Be Saved?", which was published in March 2011 (March,) in Germany has yet to be published in the English speaking world? Apparently English publishers are afraid to touch it because of the control of the Catholic Church..... Talk about muzzling dissent! An English
review of his book, summarizes Kung's challenges in this book to the absolutist monarchy of the papacy.
On Oct 2012, The Guardian printed another English speaking article which described the contents of his book: Catholic theologian preaches revolution to end church's 'authoritarian' rule.
Basically, Kung is advocating a grassroots revolt against the church from its members; sort of an "Occupy The Hierarchy" movement. Any wonder his book wasn't and to this date, hasn't been, translated into English?
Catholic theologian Hans Küng has had enough already. This week in an exclusive interview in the Guardian he called for a revolution from below to force radical reform at the Vatican. You might have seen the news story making its way through cyberspace. In case you haven’t, he has appealed to priests and churchgoers to confront the Catholic hierarchy, which he says is corrupt, has lost credibility and totally out of touch with the concerns of ordinary Catholics.Here is a man worthy of being pope. A true prophet in the tradition of Martin Luther King, Jr. It is heartening to read the words of truth when so much propaganda is aimed at drowning it out by this vast absolutist monarchy corporation.
Küng described the church as an "authoritarian system" with parallels to Germany's Nazi dictatorship. "The unconditional obedience demanded of bishops who swear their allegiance to the pope when they make their holy oath is almost as extreme as that of the German generals who were forced to swear an oath of allegiance to Hitler," he said.
The Vatican made a point of crushing any form of clerical dissent, he added. "The rules for choosing bishops are so rigid that as soon as candidates emerge who, say, stand up for the pill, or for the ordination of women, they are struck off the list." The result was a church of "yes men", almost all of whom unquestioningly toed the line.
"The only way for reform is from the bottom up," said Küng, 84, who is a priest. "The priests and others in positions of responsibility need to stop being so subservient, to organize themselves and say that there are certain things that they simply will not put up with anymore."
And certainly in all the pomp and circumstance that we are about to witness in the papal selection, with all the propaganda that will come from it, knowing the facts can help illuminate what is really going on. Because the body of cardinals has been 'gerrymandered' to a fare thee well, and stacked with 'ditto heads' by both John Paul 2 and Benedict 16, no one expects a reformer to emerge. In fact, the opposite.
It may take the Church global corporation another generation to implode. But Kung is the lonely prophetic voice who has refused to be silenced since Vatican Two and continues to speak for truth.
Know the Truth, and the Truth will set you free.