PopeWatch: Hans Kung



PopeWatch recalls an episode of the Hogan’s Heroes sitcom from the sixties.  Colonel Hogan is attempting to disarm a bomb.  He has to cut one of two wires, and if he cuts the wrong wire the bomb will go off.  He asks Colonel Klink which wire he would cut, and after Klink chooses a wire he cuts the other one and disarms the bomb.  Klink asks Hogan why he asked his advice if he wasn’t going to follow it.  Hogan responds that he wasn’t sure he would pick the right wire but he was confident that Klink would pick the wrong one.

PopeWatch views Hans Kung as filling the Klink role when it comes to the Catholic Church.  One can be certain that his views in regard to the Church will be wrong.  PopeWatch thus read with interest a column written by Kung which appeared in The Tablet:

Church reform is forging ahead. In his Apostolic Exhortation Evangelii Gaudium, Pope Francis not only intensifies his criticism of capitalism and the fact that money rules the world, but speaks out clearly in favour of church reform “at all levels”. He specifically advocates structural reforms – namely, decentralisation towards local dioceses and communities, reform of the papal office, upgrading the laity and against excessive clericalism, in favour of a more effective presence of women in the Church, above all in the decision-making bodies. And he comes out equally clearly in favour of ecumenism and inter-religious dialogue, especially with Judaism and Islam.

All this will meet with wide approval far beyond the Catholic Church. His undifferentiated rejection of abortion and women’s ordination will, however, probably provoke criticism. This is where the dogmatic limits of this Pope become apparent. Or is he perhaps under pressure from the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith and its Prefect, Archbishop Gerhard Ludwig Müller?   

In a long guest contribution in Osservatore Romano (23 October 2013), Müller demonstrated his ultra-conservative stance by corroborating the exclusion of remarried divorcees from the sacraments who, unless they live together as brother and sister (!), are ostensibly in a state of mortal sin on account of the sexual character of their relationship.

As Bishop of Regensburg, Müller, as a clerical hardliner who provoked numerous conflicts with parish priests and theologians, lay bodies and the Central Committee of German Catholics, was as controversial and unpopular as his brother bishop at Limburg. That Müller, as a loyal supporter and publisher of his collected works, was nevertheless appointed CDF Prefect by Papa Ratzinger, surprised people less than the fact that Pope Francis confirmed him in office quite so soon.

And worried observers are already asking whether Pope Emeritus Ratzinger is in fact operating as a kind of “shadow Pope” behind the scenes through Archbishop Müller and Georg Gänswein, [Benedict’s] secretary and Prefect of the Papal Household, whom he also promoted to archbishop. One remembers how in 1993 Ratzinger as cardinal whistled back the then-bishops of Freiburg (Oskar Saier), Rottenburg-Stuttgart (Walter Kasper) and Mainz (Karl Lehmann) when they suggested a pragmatic solution for the problem of remarried divorcees. It is revealing that the present debate 20 years later was again triggered by the Archbishop of Freiburg, namely Robert Zollitsch, the president of the German bishops’ conference. It was Zollitsch who ventured a fresh attempt to re-think pastoral practice as far as remarried divorcees are concerned. And Pope Francis?

Go here to read the rest.  The one comment made by Kung that PopeWatch agrees with: ” And Pope Francis?”  which seems to be the question all Catholics, orthodox and heterodox, are asking, at least privately.

11 Responses to PopeWatch: Hans Kung

  • It’s creepy to see someone so preoccupied with his own hobby horse that he can’t analyze the situation around him. Kung thinks that the Pope is good, and since good means agreeing with Kung on divorce, if this good pope isn’t doing what Kung would do, there must be forces inside the Vatican preventing him. It’s so tidy. Kung also seems to think that Jesus is good, and where Jesus didn’t agree with Kung on divorce, He must have been issuing a recommendation rather than a command. The history of the Church, from the earliest days to the time after the Council, is intepreted as a black-hats-and-white-hats narrative about welcoming the divorced.

    Kung can’t even see that the way to untie his mental knots is exactly what the Church has consistently taught on the subject. The Church doesn’t separate from anyone due to their divorce and remarriage; the people have separated themselves from the Church. If there is no real second marriage, and sex outside of marriage is sinful, then living as brother and sister is perfectly ( ), not (!). The Church welcomes back the repentant with Jesus’s words, you are forgiven, go and sin no more.

  • Good Answer Pinky.

  • I actually ended that mid-rant because I got a call. I could complain about Kung for hours.

  • I say that it is up to God to judge me whether or not I can receive Holy Communion even though I have divorced and re married…if it is a sin to receive Holy Communion even though I have gone to confession and admit my sin of divorce then that should be up to God to decide….True I have not remarried in the Catholic Church as I was re married in a town hall…my former husband has also remarried….before this whole thing with not receiving communion started I was receiving because I was told that my sin was forgiven…I guess I should not have got married so young as my first marriage only lasted 8 months and that was back in the early 1990’s….

  • JAC you are loved by our good Lord Who knows your heart intimately. He is the One Who gives you your desire to receive Him. Before we receive Him we all reconcile with Him from our various hindrances. Your hindrance is not the divorce. If I understand your note correctly, the hindrance is in your remarriage while still sacramentally married. Your short 8 month marriage may very well be one that did not bind you sacramentally and that would have to be judged by the Church in your particular diocese, If that were the case it would be recognied as nul (annulled) and you would be free to address also in Reconciliation any other hindrances you may be be aware of, after talking with a good confessor.

  • I’d have to agree with Anzlyne. I’m the child of my dad’s second marriage. His first one was a bad idea; he rushed into it young and his wife didn’t have a good understanding of what marriage meant. Before he got married again, his diocese reviewed the first marriage and granted an annulment. I guess you could say that he was only married once, although there were two civil marriages.

    Back to my earlier comment, I find myself Kunging when I read the economic portion of the recent text. I’m approaching it as a judge rather than a student. That’s wrong. I have to fight the instinct. It’d be cool if humility is something you had to do once, but it’s something that’s necessary all the time, especially when it doesn’t feel like a good fit.

  • JAC the Church explicitly teaches that in order to be forgiven of your sin through Confession, you must first repent of it and have a firm purpose of amendemnt, that is you must firmly intend to NOT commit the same sin again. If you confessed to having had sexual relations with a man during the lifetime of your first validly and sacramentally wedded husband, i.e. committing adultery, your confession was INVALID if you intended to have sexual relations with him again.

  • As a Catholic revert (raised Catholic, wandered and finally recently have come home), I’ve encountered Kung and his theology many times over the years. Bottom line — it was my reading and analyzing of his work “On Being A Christian” that led me to and got me in school to become a Lutheran pastor. ‘Nuff said.

  • Kung holds to the possiblity of universalism. For that reason I decided not to read him. He recently came out saying euthanasia is OK. I found that very disturbing. I wonder how someone so advanced in theology could miss the Christian take on life.

  • Tonight on EWTN I heard Joseph Peace say “Intelligence is not a guarantor of goodness” while discussing Bilbo’s journey. It made me think of your observation Jon. It seems that education even to the point reaching “higher levels of theology” may not have the good fruits it might have had if it were gained in a disinterested study/search for God, instead of a study set forth to satisfy self.

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