Today I present
This editorial was in La Stampa, an Italian daily based on Torino (Turin). The translation is provided by WDTPRS’s good friend Fabrizio Azzola.
It is hard to know whether to laugh or cry reading this.
My emphases and comments:
La Stampa July 22nd 2008
The Pope and Bush united by the same errors
Last April, Benedict XVI celebrated his 81 years with George W. Bush at the White House. Odd: the Pope, ambassador of peace and truth who touches glasses with a war president who, even in the eyes of many Americans, dragged a great democracy into a war by means of lies and propaganda, with no apparent exit strategy.
According to a recent survey, 80% of Americans are convinced that the US is “on the wrong track”. Hence the slogan for the current electoral campaign for the White House: “Change”. And what about the Pope? Beside a belated admission of guilt about the countless cases of pedophilia among the Catholic clergy, he’s said not one single word of change in the Church and in society.
George W. Bush and Joseph Ratzinger are as different in their character, education, and way of talking as a Texas cowboy and a Roman prelate can be. Bush has never hidden his anti-intellectual attitude. [?] His knowledge of history is limited as is his knowledge of geography, foreign languages and philosophy. [On the other hand, he has Yale degree in history and a Harvard MBA. He was a successful businessman (baseball team owner), two-term governor of Texas, and two-term US President … and Kung is still heretic.] His worldview his enclosed in the Manichean model of the opposition between good (“us”) and evil (“them”) [This is rather embarassing. After all these years he doesn’t know how to apply the term "Manichean".] Conversely, Benedict XVI has benefited from an excellent classical education and could learn some foreign languages. His thought is subtle, his language is sophisticated, his actions prudent. For a quarter of a century he has carefully observed the world from the windows of the Vatican. To makes decisions, he follows the lead of the centuries-old customs of the Roman Curia, the administrative body of the Roman Catholic Church. [Kung is trying to tar Benedict with the brush of being in an ivory tower. And Kung’s world of academia sure isn’t. Right?]
But the two have also a lot in common. Both love pompous appearances [Their offices require such.], be they from a plane or in front of the crowds of St. Peter’s square. On the occasion of the Pope’s visit, the President tried to compete with the imperial ceremonial of the Roman Pontiff [Here Kung is reverting to form, even more radical than most of the Rahnerian’s of the Concilium strain: the Council didn’t go far enough to eradicte the encrustations of Antiquity and the Middle Ages.] by resorting to a guard of honor and a 21-cannon salute [Due to a head of state.]. Both the President and the Pope share a conservative attitude, especially when it comes to birth-control, family morals, and flaunted Christian devotion [And…. is that bad?]. In the President’s case, such an attitude seems rather of a fundamentalist kind while the Pope’s is overloaded with tradition. [Curious. In one breath Kung is saying that Benedict is a subtle thinker. Then he says he isn’t. But remember, for Kung "Tradition" is precisely what is holding us back.] Obviously, both thought that such an ostentation of shared moral principles would score points with the American public [Ahhhh…. that’s why Benedict did what he did. To score points!]
In his recent farewell trip to the capitals of Europe, it was obvious that the President – who met only a weary indifference [I wonder if that is what happened on his trip.] instead of hostile demonstrations – had been put aside as a lame duck. Unfazed, he repeated his speech on the struggle for freedom and democracy, for “security” and peace. [In other words he sticks to his position. Kung did not stick to the positions he tooks oaths to uphold both before ordination and before being allowed to teach theology.] In this way he showed his own version of infallibility, [NB: This is the huge problem for Kung. Kung forever will blame the Council and everyone involved and everyone after for not having "corrected" Vatican I on infallibility. This is a huge deal for Kung. It is a very bad word for him.] which makes him incapable of learning anything and prevents him from seizing any chance to admit his guilt before the immense disaster his actions have caused in the world. [This is most a polemic against the wielder of the infallible teaching authority, his old former colleague Pope Benedict.] The Pope is no lame duck instead. And even though he – according to a more recent Roman doctrine [See? This is a reference to Vatican I and then Vatican II’s Lumen gentium which describes infallibility and the Pope Magisterium] – has still some [!] “infallibility on matters of faith and morals”, [How can you have "some" infallibility? You either got it or you ain’t. No?] he is also capable of learning [And Hans Kung is teaching!]. After all he granted me, a critic of his, a friendly four-hour conversation in the summer residence of Castel Gandolfo, during which he showed a surprising ability to make steps ahead in his reflections [Unbelievable. Kung is conceding that the Pope isn’t a dope. I wonder… did the Pope "touch glasses" with Fr. Kung too?]. And during his trip to Turkey of 2006 he corrected – with an unscheduled visit [ummm… no…] to a mosque and a clear expression of high consideration for Islam – the controversial statements on Islam as a religion of violence he had made some months earlier at the University of Regensburg [I think Fr. Kung didn’t pay attention to what Pope Benedict did in Turkey. He certainly didn’t correct his own address in Regensburg!].
The Pope has been in office for just three years. Couldn’t he learn – I wonder – from the failures of President Bush? [HUH?!?] His great intelligence and his historical sensibility [wait… I thought he was mired in tradition…] cannot miss the warning signs for the future of his pontificate.
I’ll highlight five: [HARK! Quite everyone!]
1. With the reintroduction of the traditional Latin rite of the Mass, abolished by the Second Vatican Council and by Paul VI [Nooo….] in favor of a more accessibile liturgy in the vernacular language, [Remember that Kung was one of the theologians consulted by the Consilium to rewrite the Roman Canon, to correct it.] he attracted a lot of criticism from episcopates and pastors. [Two points. First, we reject the premise of "more accesible". What, precisely, is more accessible? The words? I stipulate. But the true content of the texts? The encounter with Mystery? Is mystery more accessible? Also, if he attracted criticism, he also attracted praise. I think was Kung is saying is that Bush was wrong for not governing according to the polls and Benedict should learn from this mistake: Benedict should govern according to majority polling data: but that is Kung’s model for the Church, isn’t it.]
2. During the Istanbul meeting with the ecumenic patriarch of Constantinople Bartholomew I, the Pope gave no sign of compromise about the Medieval Roman legal rights [See how bad everything Medieval is?] over the orthodox churches and thus he made no progress toward the reunification of East and West.[LOL! That’s why Bartholomew I attended the Sts. Peter and Paul Mass in Rome and sat next to the Pope, and preached so irenically.]
3. With the public appearances wearing sumptuous liturgical vestments in the style of Leo X, who wanted to enjoy the pontificate in all its comforts, and bears the main responsibility for Rome’s “no” to Luther’s requests for a reform, Benedict XVI has confirmed the idea of many protestants that the Pope does not know the Reformation in depth. [Well… I am happy to admit that Kung has taken to Protestantism and the objectives of Luther’s reforms and Benedict hasn’t. But, it could be that Kung’s real problem here is that perhaps Pope Benedict is both successful in what he is doing liturgically and he is happy.]
4. By rigidly upholding the medieval law [Remember: medieval = bad] of celibacy for the western clergy, he bears the main responsibility for the decline of the Catholic clergy in many countries and for the collapse of the traditional structures of the pastoral care in the always more numerous communities which are left without a priest. [Because Hans Kung want more and more traditional style male priests, I suppose.]
5. By insisting on the pernicious [pernicious!] encyclical Humanae vitae against all forms of birth control, the Pope shares the responsibility for overpopulation, [Is Kung a Malthusian?] especially in the poorer countries, and for the further spread of AIDS.
Shouldn’t what the journalist Jacob Weisberg calls “the tragedy of Bush” lead Benedict XVI to ponder his action more carefully? [Ummmm… surely Kung doesn’t think that Pope Benedict should ponder his pontificate because of what Jacob Weisberg says…] Ill-advised by the neo-conservatives [I am not sure here if he means Neo-Con in the American sense or in the European sense.] and doggedly backed by the complaisant media [Now I think Kung must either be on drugs or his brain is getting soft. Bush and/or Benedict "backed by a complaisant media"? "complaicant"? Uh huh.] , Bush wanted to lead his country to a “new American era”. Now he ends his career as a failure, barely respected even within his party.
”Sapienti sat” – “enough for the wise” – the ancient Romans used to say. Those who know the situation of the Church need no further explanation. [And Fr. Kung would be wise to remain silent.]