Wednesday, January 5, 2005

The Effluence of Kung, The Brevity of Ratzinger.

One more note on Dr. Blosser's appraisal of Hans Kung -- I plodded my way through Kung's biography a couple months ago and found it to be a very laborious exercise. Those who have encountered Kung before will recall that he still carries a very large chip on his shoulder against the Church. This was evident in his The Catholic Church: A Short History and is also the case here, as illustrated by subtle (or not so subtle) jabs at his theological rivals. Cardinal Ratzinger, for instance, is described as one who "sold his soul for power in the Church" (a typical perception among many liberal Catholics).

Kung's animus towards the Cardinal is nothing compared to the Holy Father, however. Early on in his autobiography, Kung characterizes the young Karol Wojtyla [Pope John Paul II] 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," and alleges that the Holy Father's motive for aligning his papacy with Opus Dei rather than the Jesuits is to get personal revenge for being rejected at the Gregorian (p. 79).

For one who back in April 1998 "said he would no longer defend some of his past criticisms of Pope John Paul II, and that he is hoping for a 'conciliation' with the Holy Father" [Source: Adoremus Bulletin], it sounds like he's still got some anger-management issues to work through.

* * *

A final point of amusement: the focus of Ratzinger's memoirs (Milestones) and Kung's (My Struggle for Freedom) is approximately the same period: their childhood and early years in the priesthood, culminating in their participation as periti (theological advisors) in the Second Vatican Council.

Covering the years 1927-1977, Ratzinger says what needs to be said in a mere 156 pages. It's a nice and refreshing read and you can polish it off in an afternoon.

By contrast, the first -- wait, there's more? -- volume of Kung's autobiography covers four decades to Ratzinger's five . . . and clocks in just shy of 500 pages (464, not counting the index).

I'm not sure what Cardinal Ratzinger's succinctness reveals about his personality. However, after wading into My Struggle for Freedom, I get the impression that Kung is a man who derives great pleasure in talking about himself.

Thank God he hasn't taken up blogging!

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