Pope Benedict XVI meets Hans Küng
"In a dramatic gesture of reconciliation, Pope Benedict XVI met Sept. 24 with his former colleague and longtime nemesis, Swiss Catholic theologian Hans Küng, a fiery liberal who once compared then-Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger with the head of the KGB in his capacity as the Vatican's top doctrinal enforcer." So reports John Allen Jr. (National Catholic Reporter's uber-correspondent from Rome) on the big story of the week:
During a four-hour session that stretched over dinner, the two men essentially agreed to disagree on doctrinal matters. The pope offered warm praise for Küng's efforts to foster dialogue among religions and with the natural sciences, while Küng expressed support for the pope's commitment along the same lines.
"It's clear that we have different positions," Küng told NCR in a telephone interview from his home in Tübingen, Germany. "But the things we have in common are more fundamental. We are both Christians, both priests in service of the church, and we have great personal respect for one another."
A Sept. 26 statement from the Vatican did not say who had requested the meeting, but said that it took place in a "friendly climate" and that Benedict XVI offered special support for Küng's efforts to build a Weltethos, or a moral framework based on values shared among religions which can also be recognized by secular reason.
"We should not have delusions," Küng said of what the meeting suggests about the pontificate of Benedict XVI. "His stances on church policy are not my own."
Nevertheless, Küng said, he regards the meeting as a "sign of hope for many in the church with the same vision as mine."
He described the session as "very joyful," with "no reproaches, no polemics."
Küng said he did not request that Benedict XVI restore his license to teach Catholic theology.
The National Catholic Reporter provides some behind-the-scenes details:
Küng told NCR that he wrote to the new pope to request a meeting roughly a week after his April 19 election. He said he had repeatedly requested a meeting with John Paul II, both before and after the 1979 decision to revoke his license as a Catholic theologian, without response.
I have to wonder if Pope John Paul II might have been more considerate of Küng's request to meet if Küng weren't so vehement in his polemics. Openly ridiculing 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" and accusing him of betraying Vatican II" by "rigorous moral encyclicals [and] traditionalist-imperialist world catechism" (as he did in his biography ) doesn't exactly cultivate an amicable relationship. If anything, this week's conciliatory meeting is a testament to Pope Benedict's patience, forgiveness and goodwill.
- Amy Welborn says "This is Awesome" - "Why awesome? Because it's a model for how all of us should be with each other. It's a model of pastoral fatherhood. Impressive."
- Küng's Gripe Against The Grain April 13, 2005
- On the Withdrawl of Hans Küng's Authorization to Teach, by Hans Urs von Balthasar. Communio Spring, 1980. (Presented in full text, for the first time on the web by Justin Nickelsen -- who, btw, has a good roundup on the Benedict-Kung meeting himself).
- Towards a 'Continual Reform of the Church': Interview with Hans Kung interview with Laura Sheahen. Beliefnet.com. [circa 2004?]
- A Religion the New York Times Can Love, by Donna Steichen. Ignatius Insight August 2005 / Catholic World Report June 2005. (Via Domenico Bettinelli). On Küng's "Global Ethic" -- what he terms theology for a "postmodern paradigm" as compared to the "old paradigm of the medieval church" held by Pope Benedict XVI. Honestly, for Kung to say "it's clear we have different positions" is quite the understatement.
- Heretic Dines with the Inquisitor, by Michael Liccione. Sacramentum Vitae.
In Other News . . .
- Pope to put his stamp on U.S. church hierarchy, by Rocco Palmo. Religion News Service. Sept. 17, 2005. Rocco (Whispers in the Loggia) on a very important element of the Holy Father's task -- choosing the future leaders of the Catholic Church:
For nearly a quarter-century, Benedict, as the former Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, played an advisory role in the appointment of bishops. But when he was elected pope in April, he inherited the papacy’s absolute authority to select suitable leaders for the world’s 2,700 dioceses — 197 of which are in the United States. . . .
- Vatican schedule released for September- December, indicating B16's plans to resume regular visits to Rome parishes, and preside at all the major traditional Vatican celebrations of the Christmas season. Catholic World News, Sept. 26, 2005.
- The Monk under the Mitre, by Austen Ivereigh. Godspy.com. [Reprint from The Catholic Herald] Sept. 9, 2005 -- Reflecting on World Youth Day in Cologne, Ivereigh counters the speculations of the media that the final Mass at Cologne "to launch a broadside against the Dictatorship of Relativism":
f this was an offensive, it was free of offence. It roused prayer, not adulation; it was less holy crusade than meditation for a silent retreat. While Catholics for a Free Choice gave out condoms, the Pope never even mentioned contraception. Those who hoped for a hammering of the heretics were left twiddling their whips.
The Word Youth Day homily was just that: not a manifesto; not a Gettysburg address; not even rhetoric tailored to television. It was a superb, old-fashioned piece of catechetics, unafraid to be bookish, which paid young people the compliment of not patronizing them. In the age of CNN and MTV it takes real daring to explain the Eucharist in front of a million young people by dwelling on the nuances of the word 'adoration' in Greek (proskynesis, in case you wondered).
It was a flawless performance: the Pope smiled and waved, radiated hope, reached out to Protestants, Jews and Muslims, and confirmed hundreds of thousands of young people in their faith. Not only did Cologne exorcise the Panzerkardinal demons, but Benedict "left critics taking a new look at the Church he leads" according to the Reuters religion editor, Tom Heneghan. "It was his humility," clapped The Times, "that captured hearts".
- On a similar note, Hartwig Bouillon (freelance journalist, Germany) reports that "Project Benedict confounds German critics" (Mercator.Net, Sept. 9, 2005):
What actually happened left German TV journalists gobsmacked. The received wisdom -- that youngsters would like the event, but didn’t care for the Faith -- was shattered. More than one million joyful young pilgrims invaded Cologne, cheered the Pope and openly prayed. The sheer impact of the images was overwhelming. Dominating the news was the white-garbed Pontiff on a catamaran slowly cruising up the Rhine encircled by 1200 youths from all over the world. On both banks of the immense river half a million more, the front row standing knee-deep in water, were cheering and singing: “Be-ne-detto! Be-ne-detto!”(Thanks to Rocco Palmo (Whispers in the Loggia) for passing along this article.
Now that a few weeks have elapsed, the penny has dropped for the commentariat. Benedict XVI is neither the “German shepherd”, as he was dubbed by the British tabloid press, nor a doddering Übergangspapst, a mere nightwatchman for John Paul the Great’s legacy. In fact, Pope Benedict has his own agenda. Shy and friendly he may be, but with his razor-sharp intellect, long experience, and deep piety, he is setting his own course. . . .
- Radio-Novel Looks at Life of Joseph Ratzinger Zenit. Sept. 13, 2005. Zenit News Service reports that "Beginning Sept. 25, and continuing every Sunday for the next 12 weeks, Vatican Radio will broadcast the Italian-language novel [on the life of Pope Benedict XVI] by chapters. . . . The idea of a radio broadcast of the Pope's biography came to journalist Franco Bucarelli when paging through the volume "My Life," written by Cardinal Ratzinger himself, and published in Italian by St. Paul's, which has granted the rights for this program."
St. Blog's Reads Pope Benedict: Book Reviews and Reflections
- At Cahiers Peguy, Clairity and co. are reading Pope Benedict's Feast of Faith, posting some good reflections:
- "The Origins of the Liturgy" Sept. 17, 2005 (on the chapter: "Form and Content in the Eucharistic Celebration", p. 33);
- "The Gift of the Liturgy" Sept. 20, 2005. Response to, "On the Structure of Liturgical Celebration", p. 61);
- "the Nature of Christian Prayer" Sept. 9, 2005 (on "On the Theological Basis of Prayer and Liturgy").
- Stephen M. Bauer ("Musings of an Ordinary Catholic") posts his review as well.
- Justin Nickelsen (Sources Chretiennes) reads and reviews On The Way to Jesus Christ. Sept. 1, 2005.
- Shawn Tribe -- founder and coordinator of the excellent new weblog The New Liturgical Movement -- reviews Looking again at the Question of the Liturgy with Cardinal Ratzinger: Proceedings of the July 2001 Fontgombault Conference, edited by Dom Alcuin Reid, OSB. St. Michael's Abbey Press: 2003.
Closing with some powerful words of prayer and reflection from Pope Benedict's Sept. 25 Angelus: On the Eucharist and Love: "Source of the Spiritual Energy That Renews Our Life":
The whole of Jesus earthly existence, from his conception until his death on the cross, was an act of love, to the point that we can summarize our faith in these words: "Jesus, caritas" -- Jesus, love. In the Last Supper, knowing that his hour had come, the divine Master gave his disciples the supreme example of love, washing their feet, and entrusted to them his precious legacy, the Eucharist, in which the whole paschal mystery is centered, as the venerated Pope John Paul II wrote in the encyclical "Ecclesia de Eucharistia." Take and eat, all of you, because this is my Body," "Take and drink all of you, because this is the cup of my Blood."
Jesus' words in the cenacle anticipated his death and manifested the consciousness with which he faced it, transforming it into a gift of himself, in the act of love that gives itself totally. In the Eucharist, the Lord gives himself to us with his body, with his soul and with his divinity, and we become one with him and among ourselves.
Our response to his love therefore must be concrete, and must be expressed in a genuine conversion to love, in forgiveness, in reciprocal acceptance and in attention for the needs of all. Many and varied are the forms of service that we can offer our neighbor in everyday life, if we pay a little attention. The Eucharist becomes in this way the source of the spiritual energy that renews our life every day and, in this way, renews the love of Christ to the world.