|Looks to me that Hans Kung has run out of patience and hope for his frenemy Pope Benedict.|
Pope Benedict's personal adversary, Fr Hans Kung, is calling for a revolution from below within Catholicism in order to force radical reform within the Vatican. Kung might be 84, but he doesn't seem to have lost much of his internal fire. The following interview is from the Guardian UK. I have edited it for length and to feature certain topics. It is interesting in it's entirety and worth reading for background on Fr Kung's latest projects.
Catholic theologian preaches revolution to end church's 'authoritarian' ruleKate Connelly - Guardian UK - 10/5/2012
One of the world's most prominent Catholic theologians has called for a revolution from below to unseat the pope and force radical reform at the Vatican.
Hans Küng is appealing to priests and churchgoers to confront the Catholic hierarchy, which he says is corrupt, lacking credibility and apathetic to the real concerns of the church's members.
In an exclusive interview with the Guardian, Küng, who had close contact with the pope when the two worked together as young theologians, 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. (In both cases these oaths were not to the Church or the German State, but to the men who held/hold total dictatorial power. This kind of oath is a form of idolatory.)
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 organise themselves and say that there are certain things that they simply will not put up with anymore."
Küng, the author of around 30 books on Catholic theology, Christianity and ethics, which have sold millions worldwide, said that inspiration for global change was to be found in his native Switzerland and in Austria, where hundreds of Catholic priests have formed movements advocating policies that openly defy current Vatican practices. The revolts have been described as unprecedented by Vatican observers, who say they are likely to cause deep schisms in the church. (If schism should occur, it would be in reaction to Vatican policies, which would suggest the Vatican initiated the schism.)
"I've always said that if one priest in a diocese is roused, that counts for nothing. Five will create a stir. Fifty are pretty much invincible. In Austria the figure is well over 300, possibly up to 400 priests; in Switzerland it's about 150 who have stood up and it will increase."
He said recent attempts by the archbishop of Vienna, Christoph Schönborn, to try to stamp out the uprising by threatening to punish those involved in the Austrian "priests' initiative" had backfired owing to the strength of feeling. "He soon stopped when he realised that so many ordinary people are supportive of them and he was in danger of turning them all against him," Küng said.
The initiatives support such seemingly modest demands as letting divorced and remarried people receive communion, allowing non-ordained people to lead services and allowing women to take on important positions in the hierarchy. However, as they go against conventional Catholic teaching, the demands have been flatly rejected by the Vatican....
....Küng refers to the "heap of legends" that abound about himself and Ratzinger from their "Tübingen days", not least the apocryphal accounts of how he gave lifts in his "red sports car" to the bicycle-riding Ratzinger.
"I often gave him a lift, particularly up the steep hills of Tübingen, yes, but too much has been made of this," he said. "I didn't drive a sports car, rather an Alfa Romeo Giulia. Ratzinger admitted himself that he had no interest in technology and had no driving licence. But it's often been turned into some kind of pseudo-profound metaphor idealising the 'cyclist' and demonising the 'Alfa Romeo driver'." (This story has become something of talking point on conservative sites. Kung the flamboyant Vatican II egoist and Benedict the struggling young pious professor.)
Indeed the "modest'' and prudent "bicycle-rider'' image that pope-to-be, now 85, fostered for years has all but evaporated since his 2005 inauguration, according to Küng.
"He has developed a peculiar pomposity that doesn't fit the man I and others knew, who once walked around in a Basque-style cap and was relatively modest. Now he's frequently to be seen wrapped in golden splendour and swank. By his own volition he wears the crown of a 19th-century pope, and has even had the garments of the Medici pope Leo X remade for him." (This is absolutely true, and at no small cost. Even I find this factoid a little unsettling.)
That "pomposity", he said, manifested itself most fully in the regular audiences who gather on St Peter's Square in Rome. "What happens has Potemkin village dimensions," he said. "Fanatical people go there to celebrate the pope, and tell him how wonderful he is, while meanwhile at home their own parishes are in a lamentable state, with a lack of priests, a far higher number than ever before of people who are leaving than are being baptised and now Vatileaks, which indicates just what a poor state the Vatican administration is in," he said, referring to the scandal over leaked documents uncovering power struggles within the Vatican which has seen the pope's former butler appear in court. The trial ends on Saturday. (The Pope's butler got 18 months.)......
......."The Vatican is no different from the Kremlin," Küng said. "Just as Putin as a secret service agent became the head of Russia, so Ratzinger, as head of the Catholic church's secret services, became head of the Vatican. He has never apologised for the fact that many cases of abuse were sealed under the secretum pontificium (papal secrecy), or acknowledged that this is a disaster for the Catholic church." Küng described a process of "Putinisation" that has taken place at the Vatican. (This is a point I have made myself, except I think the 'Putinisation' started under JPII.)
Yet despite their differences, the two have remained in contact. Küng visited the pope at his summer retreat, Castel Gandolfo, in 2005, during which the two held an intensive four-hour discussion.
"It felt like we were on an equal footing – after all, we'd been colleagues for years. We walked through the park and there were times I thought he might turn the corner on certain issues, but it never happened. Since then we've still kept exchanging letters, but we've not met."......
The relationship between Pope Benedict and Fr Kung is one for the ages. They have become almost archetypal images for the 'reform of the reform' and 'spirit of Vatican II' Catholics. One is portrayed as something of an agent of chaos and the other as the epitome of Catholic order and stability. As the story goes, one is an extroverted egoist, and one a reclusive academic. But I also think their relationship has a lot of academic competitiveness on the part of both men and I find the theology of both unnecessarily dense and convoluted. It's almost as if their theologic treatises and tomes were secretly written for and to each other.
In my book they are worthy adversaries who are now engaged with each other for the future of the Church. Pope Benedict most certainly defends his view from the far more powerful position which has forced Kung to engage from the margins. Pope Benedict chose to engage from inside the power circle. Kung, who was banished to the margins by JPII, has no choice but to engage from way outside that circle. Pope Benedict is calling for Catholics to increase their identity with the center. Kung is calling for revolution from the outer edges.
I don't think the center can hold. Pope Benedict is not JPII. The Vatican center is far too compromised. It acts too much from fear. I don't see any Joan of Arc on the horizon who will save Pope Benedict and his court from the destabilizing influence of the evolution of secular thought.
Cardinal Schonborn seems to have realized that rather than holding the more powerful hand, he's actually playing the weaker hand. In Austria the Vatican bluff was called and Cardinal Schonborn has retreated into silence. This should be an ominous sign for the Vatican. There is real anger on the margins, in the outer circles. The last two papacies have shrunk the inner circle and deprived it of the vitality and creativity the center needed to hold the Church together. Pope Benedict can't keep it viable with loyalty oaths, secrecy, and distilled dictatorial power.
Eventually the Vatican will be forced to realize it's traditional bicycle can't pull the hills of the 21st century. It will ask for a ride from the very car it refuses to learn to drive.