Monday, April 19, 2010

Hans Kung finds his moment

The long knives are coming out for Joseph Ratzinger, such as this public letter from liberal theologian Hans Kung published in the Irish Times. It's a good read.

A major theme in the life story of Joseph Ratzinger, one not well understood by the press (the American press in particular doesn't really have anyone who understands the crucial subtexts of Vatican actions, statements and positions) has been his personal crusade against liberalism in the Church since his tenure in the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (formerly known as the Supreme Sacred Congregation of the Roman and Universal Inquisition).

Ratzinger and Hans Kung were the two youngest theologians at the Second Vatican Council, and both were liberal. Ratzinger had a conversion experience that correlates very closely with his ascent up the hierarchy, after which he pursued and harassed virtually every major liberal Catholic theology in the post-war era. He toppled Hans Kung from his post at Tubingen University (after Kung went out of his way to get Ratzinger a job there!). As Archbishop of Munich, he blocked Johann Baptist Metz from teaching at the University of Munich. As Inquisitor, he suspended Liberation theologian Leonardo Boff and investigated Gustavo Gutierrez multiple times. He took issue with Karl Rahner and investigated Edward Schillebeeckx. He had Uta-Ranke Heinemann, the first woman to hold the chair of Catholic Theology at the University of Munich, excommunicated.

Since he became Pope, conservative American bishops have become increasingly emboldened and overtly political, while American nuns are suddenly finding themselves and their lifestyles under widespread investigation, with the possible consequence of losing their homes and being rounded back up into convents.

It should be a cruel irony for the Church that it gets one of its most dogged and intelligent Inquisitors in years installed during the 80's and 90's, but he spends all his time chasing liberal theologians and pays no mind to the scourge of clerical pedophilia. Unfortunately, there's nothing ironic about it, as we're starting to see that pedophilia and its tacit acceptance likely has a long, quiet history in the Catholic hierarchy.

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