The Man Who Would Be Küng

The Man Who Would Be Küng

The Man Who Would Be Küng

Long time, no post.  I think I’m pretty much done doing what I started doing on this blog, but I think I might post more random thoughts of mine here in the future, so if you’re interested you can read them.  I was received fully into the Sacramental life of the Catholic Church on April 11 of this year, and have been regularly practicing ever since.  Deo gratias!

Anyways, my roomate read me this bit from Phillip Trower’s book “Turmoil & Truth: The Historical Roots of the Modern Crisis in the Catholic Church” (p. 25, footnotes 7 and 8 ) ( and I felt like sharing, especially as it plays into conversations I’ve had with my Reformed friends vis a vis Church discipline.  It really sheds a lot of light on what the hierarchy of the Catholic Church has been up to the last half century, especially as concerns dissent.  Based on what I’ve heard and read elsewhere, the way the Church has dialoged with others these past 60 years has much in common with the approach Poland always took to religious dissenters and minorities.  This is, for the most part, a good thing in my book.

“7. There seems to be reason to think that at the time of the Council the highest authorities were persuaded that had Luther not been excommunicated, the reformation would never have happened.  A little more dialogue and Luther and his followers would have returned to the fold.  This would explain the handling of Fr. Hans Küng.  Ironically, Fr. Küng has shown every sign of wanting to be a new Luther.  He has done everything in his power to get himself excommunicated.  However the Holy See seems equally determined not to oblige him.  he must be a deeply disappointed man.

8.Explaining the new policy over a decade and a half ago, the then secretary of a Roman congregation (now the cardinal prefect of a different one), told the author that, rather than condemning errors, the Holy See today preferred to ‘swamp errors with truth’, or in the words of John Paul II to André Frossard, allow ‘error to destroy itself’ (Catholic World Report, Nov. 1995).  This is simply an extension of Pope John’s principle ‘it is better to use the means of mercy than of condemnation’.  Most Catholics thought Pope John was talking about its use at the Council.  They did not realize the principle would continue to be applied more or less indefinitely.  However, Cardinal Ratzinger [now Pope Benedict XVI for those keeping track] has thrown the clearest light on the origins of the new policy in his Principles of Catholic Theology (Ignatius Press, 1987, p. 229: German original, 1982).  After speaking of the ‘great tension and turmoil’ in the Church, of the demand by many of the faithful for ‘a clear drawing of lines’, and the inability of “the Pope and bishops as yet to decide in favor of such an action’, he attributes it to ‘the resentment that has grown up in the last half century because of innumerable faulty decisions, and above all because of the too narrow handling of Church discipline (in the past)’, a resentment he describes as ‘like an inward-growing boil on the ecclesial conscience’ that ‘ has created an allergy to condemnation, from which we can more readily expect an increase of the ill than its cure’.  As to whether truth wil succeed in swamping error in the long run, the cardinal [now Pope] confines himself to the cautious statement ‘we shall have to see whether…this approach to discipline in matters of doctrine can serve as a model for the future.'”

I would like to note that since becoming Pope, Benedict has in fact continued along similar lines in terms of discipline.  “Always proposing, never imposing”.  Hans Küng is still not excommunicated, and no other mass excommunications seem imminent.


~ by Sam Urfer on October 24, 2009.

5 Responses to “The Man Who Would Be Küng”

  1. It would seem however that Kung doesn’t have a real following, except for those in the secular press who are always looking for a dissenting quote from a renegade. Kung couldn’t start another “reformation” if it was handed over to him on a Silver platter. But i understand their need to be cautious.

    • Who knows? If he had been treated in the 70’s the way Luther had been early in his career as a reformer, people may have taken notice. The author quoted is arguing, not for himself, but that the agenda of the curia and Popes has been one of respectfully marginalizing Küng & co. in order to not radicalize them. Küng will grouse about the way the Church is going, but if they had tried to crush him, he may have been radicalized and in a way, legitimized in many peoples eyes. Why would the Church persecute him if he didn’t have a point? So they choose not to persecute.

      I actually have some conservative Presbyterian friends who point at Küng and demand to know why if the Catholic Church is really the Church, he isn’t being condemned. I think this goes some way to show why some in the hierarchy choose not to punish, but to dialog.

  2. Interesting. btw i came to your blog via your post on Mark Shea’s blog. I was wondering why the heck you were defending the Catholic position, because i’d always thought of you as a protestant whenever i saw you on the rdtwot blog.

    • I’m not sure which blog you mean by rdwot?

      To be fair, when Mormons attack, Protestant and Catholic positions are mostly identical, except that Catholics can feel a bit more comfortable denying many of their claims.

  3. But after perusing your blog a little bit, i know why.

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