LA STAMPA: Hans KÜNG on Pres. Bush and Pope Benedict XVI

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.]


About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

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  1. Brian Day says:

    I find it amazing that HE Kung would in strictly political terms. Kung is a theologian (admittedly censored) but did not speak of philosophical differences/similarities. But politics = power. So maybe Kung’s real problem is power (or his lack thereof).

  2. malta says:

    I saw this joker years ago at the UM; he advocated for unfettered abortion even then. Bxvi is sweet on him even though they are divergent. The Pope is human.

  3. Deusdonat says:

    Brian, I agree.

    Father Z – if anyone was ever in need of your sour grapes gif… Hansl definitely sounds like a bitter opponent who has been “bested” and has no recourse to a comeback match, so he attempts to disparage and snipe from behind the net. I swear, I don’t think I have heard such anti-scholarship and ad hominem argument since Christopher Hitchens.

    Stuff and nonsense.

  4. Jeff M. says:

    I’ve never read any of Kung’s works, but from what I’ve heard he has a commanding intellect. What surprises me about his missive is how boilerplate it sounds. Where is the great intellect? This essay could have been ripped from the pages of Time Magazine, written by a third-rate journalist. His litany of complaints against the Holy Father could have come from a high-school cafeteria Catholic writing on a blog. Maybe he just *sounds* unintellectual next to Father Z’s commentary… Yes, that’s it.

  5. Ioannes Andreades says:

    If someone wanted (I don’t, mind you) to blame an encyclical for AIDS, wouldn’t Casti Conubii be the one? Shouldn’t Kung know that Humanae Vitae was not written in a vacuum? Maybe I’ll blame my flat tire on Humanae Vitae while I’m at it!

  6. Lucia says:

    I weep.

  7. Geoffrey says:

    Nuts to the left of us (Kung), nuts to the right of us (SSPX). I know the Holy Father is taking a well-deserved rest, but I need him to write something quick! A homily, an Angelus address, something! I guess it’s a good time to re-read Spe Salvi. :-)

  8. David2 says:

    Silly old fart!

    Who cares what him and his ilk, like Shillebeexquzyz think anymore> I pray that, before his death, he will have sufficient time for repentence and conversion.

  9. Johnny Domer says:

    The immediate-Post-Vatican II period must have been pretty wild to have produced nutjobs like Kung and Rembert Weakland. It’s really unbelievable.

    It just seems like Kung has no real basis for determining which teachings of the Magisterium and disciplinary decisions are true and good and which aren’t…differences between the East and West are just Medieval legalese, not a matter of Petrine Primacy; Vatican I can and should just be ignored; celibacy is evil and medieval; Humanae Vitae is pernicious. However, Paul VI and Vatican II’s supposed act of abolishing the Old Mass must be respected. He really is his own Magisterium. Basically Benedict is only good insofar as he listens to what Hans Kung says.

    Has anyone noticed that there are certain elderly people who, as they age, become more and more dogmatic in their views? They absolutely refuse ever to keep an open mind on anything, and always insist on the fact that they are right, no questions asked? Sometimes this is accompanied by a bit of senility. I feel that Kung is like that at this point. His views are right because they’re right because they’re right and that’s that, no proofs needed, no nada. For someone who hates infallibility so much, he sure seems to revel in his own.

    I think my favorite part is the brilliant non sequitur: Older, richer vestments => Benedict doesn’t understand the Reformation in depth. Who are these Protestants he mentions, by the way, who think that Benedict doesn’t understand the Reformation? I believe Benedict cited more than a few Protestants in Jesus of Nazareth, and I’m pretty sure he’s written like 40 books…gonna guess one of them dealt with the Reformation in one way, shape or form.

  10. Deusdonat says:

    I guess since this heretic has long been excommunicated, there really is no reason for any of us to get worked up over these vile comments any more than when the likes of Jerry Falwell (down the hatch), Bob Jones, John Hagee et al make their own anti-papal rants. Just because this guy happened to be on the “home team” once upon a time doesn’t give him any special credibility on the subject. Luther was Catholic once upon a time too. I guess I just don’t see the fuss.

  11. David2 says:

    What about the gazillion young folks who turned out in Sinney last week. Not a Kung-ite heretic ampngst ’em. The “spirit of Vatican II” lives only in the breastys of creaky octognerians an nonogenarians and 60-year-old lesbian nuns. Who else cares?

  12. Brian Kemple says:

    “[Ahhhh…. that’s why Benedict did what he did. To score points!]”

    Last I checked, he was up 42-17.

    I’m glad to see that this sort of licentious, radical modernist, heretical so-called liberalism is on its way out the door of the Church; but it’s also important, I think, to be reminded from time to time that it is still here and still a threat.

  13. Larry says:

    “but it’s also important, I think, to be reminded from time to time that it is still here and still a threat.”

    This is probably true; but, I really get sick and tired of reading this drival. One thing Hans fails to mention is that with all his likes and dislikes he is still the Pope which means that the Holy Spirit probably likes and dislikes the same things.
    Of course I doubt Hans even believes in that kind of Divine intervention or any other kind for that matter.

  14. Matt Q says:

    How is it this person continues to linger?

  15. Devin says:


  16. techno_aesthete says:

    ‘Tis better to remain quiet and be thought a fool than to speak and remove all doubt.

  17. B. says:

    Both love pompous appearances
    This is quite funny coming from Hans Küng, when it is well known that when they were both Professors in Tübingen, Ratzinger used to go to the University by bike while Küng used his Alfa Romeo sportscar.

  18. B. says:

    I guess since this heretic has long been excommunicated
    No, no. Fr. Küng is a priest in good standing who is neither excommunicated nor suspended. Those punishments are reserved for Traditionalists.
    He still celebrates mass from time to time.

  19. Bruce says:

    Just more pride. I’m sure he wishes he’d been elected Supreme Pontiff.

    And after subtly praising Obama, he asks: “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. ”

    I guess he doesn’t get what the reform of the reform is…change for the good.

    But like “B,” I’m going to have to be wary of Deusdonat’s claim that Kung had been excommunicated. I wasn’t aware of this, and don’t think it’s true (please prove me wrong…?). But, why hasn’t he been excommunicated? His pride reminds me of the Lefebvrite claims of a parallel Magisterium.

  20. Rob says:

    Wow, that was harsh. I thought Kung, though he disagreed philosophiocally and theologically with Benedict, was still friendly with him. This seemed really vicious.

  21. Brian O'Gallagher, Boston says:

    I hope there’s room on this blog for those who criticize both Kung and President Bush, or American politics (or lack thereof) in general.

  22. Warren says:

    Well, it would seem that Prof. Kung has made his choice (…me, angry me versus all the other stupid people). He lost it (his mind and the respect of any decent academic) long ago because he, quite frankly, gave in to his messiah complex (Don’t you know who I am? I was a peritus to the Second Vatican Council!).

    He’s probably not getting the attention he feels he deserves, so why not stir the pot and drum up some controversy. Let’s face it, some people thrive on attention (which puts him in the company of Britney spears, Paris Hilton and just about everybody in Hollywood). He’s just acting out.

    It’s about time such radicals come to their senses and stop boring us with their infantile diatribes. Where’s Supernanny when ya need her?

  23. John Enright says:

    Thanks, Father. Your comments are right on the mark, as usual. You have more patience than me; I’d have just said to Kung “Liar, Liar, pants on fire.”

  24. Dob says:

    Has anyone noticed that holy people seem to grow more wise as they get older. Heretics seem either trapped in some formative stage of development or grow more stupid.

    As regards Pope Benedicts regalia I’m sure it cost less than Kung’s hairdressing bill.

  25. I am not Spartacus says:

    [On the other hand, he has Yale degree in history and a Harvard MBA. He was a successful businessman (baseball team owner…

    I am sure his grades were all earned and had nothing to do with his blue blood,establishment, and political connections :)

    If it were not for nepotism, Bush would have remained a small time failure instead of becoming a flat out war criminal (war of aggression and torture were crimes adjudicated at Nuremberg) and one of the worst presidents in history.

    Bush’s Texas Ranger sweetheart deal was an obvious scam.

    The third unusually easy deal for George Bush Junior was his involvement in the Texas Rangers baseball team. In a nutshell, he was offered a piece of this valuable franchise for only $600,000, by supporters of his dad who also bailed out his failing oil company. He sold his stake for $14 million – while Texas governor — to a Texas millionaire with lots of businesses regulated by his administration. “When all it is all said and done, I will have made more money than I ever dreamed I would make,” Bush told the Forth Worth Star-Telegram.

    Bush was allowed to buy 1.8% of the team for $600,000 of borrowed money, and was even made one of the two general managers. His qualifications for partial ownership? Several years working at failing oil companies, and his political connections through his father. It’s hard to be sure, but we’re guessing that latter was probably more important.

    Junior tripled his investment, like the other owners, with the help of massive government intervention and subsidies. But his real wealth came from simply being given 10% of the team as a “bonus” for “putting together the investment team.”

    Even if he really had done that work, it’s an absurd bonus ($12.2 million), but the fact is that he didn’t add much. Cincinatti financier William DeWitt brought Bush in, not vice versa, shortly after George Bush Sr. was elected president. (DeWitt had also invested in Junior’s oil companies.). The only investor Bush actually brought in was Roland Betts, a Yale fraternity brother, and that wasn’t good enough.

    Under Junior’s management, the deal was about to fall apart until baseball commissioner Peter Uebberoth brought in another investment group led by Fort Worth Billionaire Richard Rainwater and Dallas investor “Rusty” Rose. Since the deal, both men have profited greatly from business with the Texas administration of George Bush, Jr. Rose personally invested $3.2 million and became the other general manager of the team. Under the team partnership agreement, Bush Junior couldn’t take any “material actions” wihtout Rose’s prior approval. There was also a method for removing Junior as a general partner, but no way to remove Rose. Yet Rose’s “bonus” for his role in setting up the deal was less than half of Junior’s.

    What kind of owners would approve such a big payoff to Bush? In addition to Rose and Rainwater, men with business pending before Texas government, the owners included William DeWitt and Mercer Reynolds, major contributors to President Bush who had also purchased Junior’s failing oil company through their Spectrum 7 Energy company.

    If this deal doesn’t smell bad enough already, consider Bush’s blatant hypocrisy. The main value of the team is its new stadium (ranked by Financial World as the most profitable in baseball) and 300 acres of vacant land the team owns between the stadium and 6 Flags of Texas, which is next door

    His other business ventures, when not flat out failures, were also questionable at best.

    [This is not a political blog. The real interest in the entry is not really focused on Pres. Bush, but on Kung’s view of Pope Benedict. So, I will allow this comment to remain. But it is the LAST political comment about Pres. Bush for this entry. I will delete other comments and, if people persist on dwelling on the political rather than the ecclesiological, I will block his IP address. I hope this is clear to every one. This is a rabbit hole I will not permit. – Fr. Z]

  26. Michael says:

    If in London, he could start an excellent new career as a correspondent of the Sun or Tablet.

  27. Jake says:

    Wow. And here I thought that ol’ Hans was a “great man” to many in the clergy. Oh, wait, that was before socialists and communists were considered crazy.

    Yes, both Ratzinger and Kung were both contemporaries, and some of the more extreme traditional elements (many of whom I call into question regarding their mental faculties) seem to think that once a heretic, always a heretic. It’s all in the experiences of the individuals.

    I’m a recovering modernist, myself, coming from a diocese where Kung’s writings were the in thing. I have to admit, I was wrong.

    I thought humility was a vow that priests had to take, and why doesn’t it apply to Hans here? Methinks that 4 hour meeting at Castel Gandolfo in 2005 was more Benedict saying to Hans “it’s not you, it’s me” regarding what he was about to do to restore Tradition in the Church.

  28. Can you say n-a-r-c-i-s-s-i-s-m?

    I knew you could.

    I recall reading a description of Kung’s theologizing:”Kung is an academic who writes his theology in a mirror.”

    How he still functions as a Catholic priest in good standing is beyond me. Perhaps the popes have not wanted to make him a martyr for the cause: his “zuper-zized” ego.

    In ICXC,

    Fr. Deacon Daniel

  29. Michael says:

    Sorry, I meant Fr. Kung, not President Bush.

  30. I agree with Deusdonat:

    Stuff and nonsense!

    People like Kung are dinosaurs,
    still stuck in the dated theology
    of the 60’s and 70’s.

  31. Not this time... says:

    Fr. Kung reminds of a certain type of academic: someone who is absolutely certain of his own intellectual (and probably moral) superiority, and infuriated that he is not in a (“rightfully deserved”) position to implement his ideas. This is especially rampant among thinkers in the liberal arts, who do not feel that they get the respect that is given to those people who actually PRODUCE things.

    Now, I think that there is a problem with the ‘cult of production’ in the US, and that the liberal arts are not sufficiently emphasized; the value of a person really is seen in terms of their (at least potential) economic output. But there is also a measure of hypocrisy as well: these same academics feed off of the public trough, which is ultimately funded from such activity. I am working on my Ph.D. in philosophy, and I am grateful that I live in a society which is sufficiently wealthy so that I can do this for a living.

    Many intellectuals, IMHO, suffer from increased resentment from this; we are ‘humored’, in a sense, by a society that values the economic over the truly human. We are given our safe perches, and allowed to teach what we love and believe to be right. But we do not have actual power, and resentment follows from this. Given many of the academics I have known (myself included!), all I can say is: GOD IS GOOD!

  32. Calleva says:

    Definitely a candidate for the sour grapes picture. As Warren says, this has all the hallmarks of a cry for attention. Kung is worried that B16’s views are not only increasingly finding resonance with people, but are becoming ‘de rigueur’ again after 40 years. How he must hate this! His audience is no longer young and vibrant (during my student years in the 70s he was considered the voice of the future and a hero), but a diminishing band of ageing sandalistas. Darn it! he’s used to being revered as a guru on all things ecclesial and theological.

    I agree with Jeff M (the Jester?) that I expected a more erudite tirade from the infallible one. People raved about how clever he was, but this article is little more than a peevish rant. Maybe he simplified it for a national newspaper. Someone here said that holy people get holier but dissidents sound more angry as they age. They don’t often get more sensible – cf Leonardo Boff’s snide obituary for JP2 on his own website (the article can’t be linked to directly, but is worth reading for what it says about the writer) – both pieces scream frustration that their authors are no longer considered mainstream.

    Now I’m sounding like sour grapes. Must remember to pray for Kung!

  33. QC says:

    The wailing and gnashing of teeth of one left alone in the darkness…

  34. Fr. WTC says:

    The shrilled rants of Dr. Kung and his ilk against the person of the Holy Father is only indicative of the correctness, and success of the Holy Father’s plan for the reform of the Church. Nevertheless, I do not know how it is that a heretic the likes of Dr. Kung enjoys the communion of the faithful, nor do I understand how it is that a man such as he can still posses priestly faculties (which include the right to preach at Mass).

  35. Stephen Morgan says:

    Message to Fr Z, to posters and to editors of newspapers – do not feed the Kung Troll. This man survives only on the oxygen of publicity and by giving him it, you’re making the situation worse. Lord Hailsham (former Lord Chancellor of England and therefore the ex officio Speaker of the House of Lords) once said that whenever and Anglican Bishop made a speech in the Lords, he simply kept trepeating to himself the word, “Bollocks”. I find that the same tactic makes reading Kung bearable.

    [Good suggestion. However, I want to help people understand what is really going on behind the rhetoric, the motives in the writer’s mind. Kung has a bone to pick with the Council texts themselves, because they don’t go far enough, and then all those who have not tried to use them as a mere starting point for a deconstruction. But I am sure that, at this point, the washed up old man, seeing all he worked for fall apart, is nostaglically seeking the lime-light. – Fr. Z]

  36. Phil Steinakcer says:

    Kung is NO theologian – he’s merely a third-rate hack politician.

  37. David says:

    Father Zuhsldorf:

    La Stampa=Turinese newspaper [Right… I was tired.]

  38. Fr. Marie-Paul says:

    Kung is a poster child for those priests who reject God’s Grace. Let that be a sober warning to us priests.

  39. Padre Steve says:

    Thank you for posting this! It was a reminder that these folks are still out there… And, they are as blind as ever to the real signs of the times. Thank God for Pope Benedict, and yes, thank God for our President as well!

  40. David Osterloh says:

    quote came to mind from early post on different subject: spiritual Alzheimer’s” and “ecclesial Parkinson’s”. seems the disease is rampant.

    What a dolt

  41. Woody Jones says:

    The last howls of an aging wolf.

    Maybe he pines for good old days when the Commies were in the Kremlin and Ike was on the golf course, too.

    See the current issue of “Chronicles” for a debunking of the Fifties.

  42. tertullian says:

    I haven’t laughed this hard since the last episode of Top Gear. [I LOVE that show! – Fr. Z]

  43. Brian says:

    I am afraid that Hans Küng is not mad, ill or a patient with Alzheimer’s disease. This vicious attack is part of a “greater plan”.

    Well, it seems that the aim of the “modernists” present at the Second Vatican Council was not the “protestantisation” of the Catholic Faith, but the destruction of the Holy Church.

    “With the reintroduction of the traditional Latin rite of the Mass, abolished by the Second Vatican Council and by Paul VI” – LIES!

    “The Pope shares the responsibility for overpopulation” – This is freemasonry propaganda! Everybody who talks about “overpopulation” is a freemason. “Because to prevent overpopulation we need birth control, abortion, euthanasia, etc, etc.” These are lies. There is no overpopulation.

    So, Hans Küng is a freemason: [Um… we don’t know that.]

  44. [Remember that Kung was one of the theologians consulted by the Consilium to rewrite the Roman Canon, to correct it.]

    Exactly what did this heretic end up changing or were his consulting just laughed at? Surely he was a heretic with clear intentions before and during the second vatican council and not just afterwards.. [I’ll post his version sometime.]

  45. Chironomo says:


    Not that I carry the torch for GW, but how does someone so pathetic get more than half of the country to vote for him for President, not once, b ut twice, and in the midst of the conflict that is supposedly his greatest failure [See my warning above!]

  46. Ioannes Andreades says:

    I am not Spartacus,

    Harvard MBA exams are and have been graded without knowledge of examinee’s name. Moreover, Bush wouldn’t have been the only child of influential parents there at the time. Same would be the case with Yale, and I’m not sure that liberal professors are inclined to bend the rules for the son of a famous Republican. Am not a fan of W myself, but credit where credit is due. [See my warning above!]

  47. RBrown says:

    5. By insisting on the 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.

    The two most populous nations in the world are China and India, comprising about one third of the world population.

    Neither are Catholic.

  48. Jrbrown says:

    Why is this priest still in good standing? Should he not be punished with ‘just penalties’, as per Canon Law, for his open repudiation of definitive doctrine?

  49. Mitchell says:

    People like Kung were the danger of flirting with and embracing the open air attitude of change that overwhelmed the 60’s. It was so severe and most of what that decade produced has now been relegated to that decade. It is viewed as having been over the top. And Kung is still stuck in the middle of its’ theology, clinging to a bygone era. An oppeonent of tradition it appears is stuck in his own version of it. “The short lived 60’s traditions”.

  50. I wonder if Hans Kung still celebrates Mass?

  51. Andy Milam says:

    I wonder if Kung has realized that it isn’t 1967 any longer? His views are very old and very passe.

    I am sorry that people still think this way. I mean, seriously, we live in the 21st century and we are “supposed” to be stronger, faster, SMARTER, than in eras past.

    A bit of advice for Fr. Kung….Join us in the 21st century. You have a wonderful mind, but you need to apply in a very basic philosophical pricinple, RIGHT THINKING. It was in vogue to think that way in the 1960’s, but just like the mop hairdo, it went out rather quickly.

  52. Rose says:

    Vicious but not surprising. A certain segment of La Stampa is trying to ride the Obama wave in Europe and they find a very useful tool in Fr. Hans Kung. Fr. Kung’s ego makes him very vulnerable to exploitation (no one has heard from him for a few years and so he must have been flattered.) By linking anti-Bush sentiment to Pope Benedict, La Stampa wants to tar BXVI in the process. [Probably right!] As for Professor Kung, he is fairly typical of those I would call “loser” academics (many of whom- more than in the average population-are permanently resentful because they cannot understand why they are not richer, more powerful or influential when they are so SMART and did so well in school??? And they know they will have an audience because of tenure) Even then, Fr. Kung’s rant betrays a tone of hysteria. One wonders if Fr. Kung is losing his grip. Also wonder if The Tablet or National Catholic Reporter or Commonweal will comment on the tone.

  53. Marcin says:

    4. By rigidly upholding the medieval law of celibacy for the western clergy, he bears the main responsibility for the decline of the Catholic clergy in many countries

    I gather from Kung that in the old times celibacy wasn’t that much of an impediment to growth of the clergy in number. Now:

    1. assuming that in the old times people were engaging in sexual activity to no less extent than now, and that majority of clergy adhered to celibacy, it follows that clergy begot clergy in some asexual way. True, such case is not unknown among animals, but entirely foreign to men.

    2. assuming that in the old times people were engaging in sexual activity to no less extent than nowadays, but clergy were giving not a shred of thought to celibacy, thus not perceiving that regulation as an impediment to entering clerical state, the greater number of clergy was indeed sustainable. But then there can’t be more sexually permissive societal environment then today, and yet we have sharp decline in the numbers.

    3. when to the contrary we assume that people back then exhibited much less propensity to sex, and therefore celibacy did not prevent anyone from forsaking family life, past high numbers and low current numbers (liberal society!) are perfectly justified. But then where did I and my ancestors come from?

    Kung was simply stoned when he wrote it, and it surely wasn’t incense…

  54. Dale says:

    Darn It! Since coming back to the Catholic Church 4 years ago I have been cultivating a proper sense of Humility. All I have is a high school education and now I think that I am more intelligent than Hans Kung with all his degrees.

  55. MIchael says:

    Pope invites Kueng to lunch.

    Kueng slaps Pope in the face.

    What would Jesus do?

    [Invite him to supper?]

  56. TJM says:

    Ah, the ravings of another double-knit dinosaur. Tom

  57. Aelric says:

    Hans Kung: another flake in the ash heap of history.

  58. Paul says:

    “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”

    Quite wonderful Father Z, you really do make us see the foolishness of these so called “theologians” and their 1960’s ideas that people are so tired of.

  59. pattif says:

    Is it just me, or does anyone else note a certain similarity of tone between Dr. Kung’s offering and that of Bishop Tissier de Mallerais? It seems to me that another thing the ‘Spirit of V2’ crowd share with the ‘Pope Benedict is a Modernist’ brigade (apart from a vested interest in the hermeneutic of rupture) is unremitting joylessness. [There does seem to be a tendency on both sides to be offended by the idea that somewhere, someone, in some way, may be having a good time. Or, as the translator of the article at the top has famously quipped, “If your life doesn’t suck enough, you’re not a good Christian”.]

  60. Father Bartoloma says:

    I think it’s amusing that Kung is still around and as cranky as ever. The only thing that I am more entertained by is a good Joan Chittister rant. Now if you’ll excuse me, I have to go and celebrate the Extraordinary Form for my Feast Day.

    St. James: Pray for us!

  61. RBrown says:

    I’ve read some of his books. IMHO, Hans Kung is simply a Progressive Ideologue who justifies every liberal Protestant interpretation of Scripture by an a priori (i.e., Liberal Protestant) use of the Historical Critical Method.

  62. RBrown says:

    [There does seem to be a tendency on both sides to be offended by the idea that somewhere, someone, in some way, may be having a good time. Or, as the translator of the article at the top has famously quipped, “If your life doesn’t suck enough, you’re not a good Christian”.]
    Comment by Fr Z

    I have an old friend from KU who was a German exchange student and later became a journalist in Tubingen. She is–or was–a non practicing Catholic.

    From what she told us, the good Fr Kung has never had a problem having a good time.

  63. Kung obviously is not a man of honor nor integrity, the fact that he would defame a friend in the secular media. God be merciful to him.

  64. mysticalrose says:

    Kung’s comments don’t surprise me since, as many have already noted above, he has ranted in this fashion for at least forty years. What I don’t understand is why the Holy Father tolerates him. I was very surpised about how lightly Pope Benedict treated Kung in “Salt of the Earth.” Does anyone else remember this?

  65. Andy says:

    I say in all good charity that theologians who speak so ignorantly make me sick.

  66. RBrown says:

    In 1960 a theology chair opened up in Tubingen, and the #1 candidate was Hans Urs von Balthasar. Cardinal Bea, a Jesuit, used his influence to see that HUvB, who had left the SJ’s in 1950, not be named to the chair.

    Instead of von B, Hans Kung was named to the chair in the theology faculty.

  67. ALL: Let’s void saying that Fr. Kung is “ignorant”.

    He is not ignorant!

    Kung is very intelligent, highly educated, and aware of what he is doing.

    Don’t mistake being “wrong” for being “ignorant”.

  68. TJM says:

    Father Z, is correct, he is not ignorant, but he must be arrogant. He is right and the magesterium is wrong. Tom

  69. TNCath says:

    As the late great, Lonesome George Gobel once said: “Do you ever feel like everyone else is a tuxedo and you are a pair of brown shoes?”

    Fr. Kung’s comments (brown shoes and all) only make his influence in the Church even more irrelevant. He is to be pitied and prayed for.

  70. John says:

    Well, at least he’s right about one thing – that is the superiority and necessity of a Classical Education. Such a true education would work wonders for the politicians and would produce true statesmen.

    It’s a shame that being “intellectual” is virtually synonomus with being a left-wing nut. Pope Benedict embodies everything that is good and right with a Classical Education.


  71. Brian G says:

    Hans Kung? The Styx flowing into the Rhine.

  72. Calleva says:

    “Hans Kung? The Styx flowing into the Rhine.” (Brian G)

    Oh excellent!! LOL, why can I never think of things this witty??? I think this just about says it all. Stupendo!

  73. Hierothee says:

    I do not know if it is true that Kung is not ignorant. He has an aversion to (like all modernists) and is a simpleton in regards to matters metaphysical. He is not well-trained in that regard. That constitutes ignorance for a Catholic theologian. Though, of course, one could say that it is a well-educated ignorance: he refuses to learn Christology or the dogma of the Trinity because he is a “sophisticated,” post-critical thinker, or something like that.

    It is ironic that he accused JP II of not being well-trained in history, given that he is himself ignorant of scholastic philosophy.

    Hans Urs von Balthasar (who advised him to study Karl Barth) and Louis Bouyer (his dissertation director) helped to create a monster with this guy.

  74. pattif says:

    RBrown –

    The capacity for having a good time is not to be confused with the capacity for deriving joy from one’s faith.

  75. malta says:

    his on being Christian is brilliant. Too bad such a great mind was wasted on deconstructing Catholicism . Btw his hero is Barth; Protestant sensibility was afterall the impetus behind the new mass

  76. Brian Kemple says:

    In agreement with pattif, there is a huge difference between enjoying what one is doing and really having a “good time.” If something is truly good, it has a good end and a good means, willed with a good intention.

    Sin is oftentimes a lot of fun; but it isn’t having a good time.

  77. Christian says:

    Fr. Z,

    Thank you for the humor your comments weave into this unbelievable article.
    Without it, my anger may have resulted in a stroke! I think my
    favorite is: “HARK! Quiet everyone!”

  78. Andy Milam says:

    I think that it is correct on Fr. Z’s part to say that he is not ignorant. If one looks back in history those who are heretical/excommunicated/silenced and one will see that the mind power is unbelievable….we can thank two things for the thought process of Hans Kung….

    1. Science supplanting Faith as the end.
    2. The Protestant Reformation.

    Sad. Fortunately, we have a guide, Pope Benedict XVI, to show us that even those from the same basic background can and do use right thinking.

    I would even go so far as to assert that Fr. Kung has incurred latae sententiae excommunication, due to the rejection of papal infalliblity in 1971. This isn’t fecundae sententiae or even interdict latae sententiae, but due to the criteria that an apostate from the faith, a heretic, or a schismatic, incurs this form of automatic excommunication, then I say that we need to pray for his recooperation.

    Now, I could be wrong…..

  79. David Palm says:

    [ I’ve never read any of Kung’s works, but from what I’ve heard he has a commanding intellect. What surprises me about his missive is how boilerplate it sounds. Where is the great intellect? ]

    About ten years ago I was doing a lot of research on papal infallibility, specifically looking at the various challenges to it. I obtained a copy of Kung’s book “Infallibile? An Inquiry”, thinking, “Now here is going to be an intense and robust challenge to the Faith.” I started reading with a certain trepidation. After a few chapters and for the rest of the way through the book I was thinking, “What, is this a joke?” I could write a better challenge to papal infallibility than that and I believe it as dogma.

    There is a very good refutation by a Jesuit, Fr. Joseph Costanzo here:

  80. Ioannes Andreades says:


    Yes, the gap between that book and the writings of, say Cardinal Newman, is unfathomable. Amazing how academia does not always reward the most painstaking scholars but the ones who seem to think outside the box. Thanks for the tip on the Costanzo piece.

  81. Patrick says:

    How do you say sour grapes in German? It sounds like Kung has a bad case of them.

    The interesting thing abou this is that by reading what Kung has to say we can use his statements to build an imaginary interview with Arius, or Luther, and get an idea what those worthies might be saying about their situations. It is clear that the amount of effort Kung is expending is equal to or greater than the amount of impotent rage or loss of influence he may be realising.

  82. paul says:

    This man’s comments on the latin Mass makes me want to go out and hear one right away. This should be a wake up call to all good Catholic priests- please learn how to say the traditional Mass.

  83. Basil Roberson says:

    What a refreshing breath of fresh air. Professor Kung’s clarity of thought and Christianity cut through the shallow world of frippery and dressing up.

  84. Fr Francis Coveney says:

    During the summer of 1978 there was a story doing the rounds in Rome that a small group of Cardinals had sent a telegram (remember them?) to Professor Kung saying that they intended to vote for him as the new Pope.

    Professor Kung telgrammed back thanking them for their kindness but insisted that if he were elected Pope he would have to decline – because he felt that if he became Pope he wouldn’t be infallible any more.

    Se non e vero, e ben trovato:-)

  85. TAAD says:

    The way he talks about the pope dining with “sinners” like President Bush sounds like some the folks talking about Christ in the Gospels. What happened to the liberals being non-judgemental. Guess that only applies to them when they fall.

  86. David Palm says:

    Basil, you crack me up ;o).

  87. James says:

    Kueng started off well (Bush) and descended into idiocy – celibacy.

    The “law” is not mediaeval – it is not a law at all (cf. “Celibacy: Gift or Law?” Heinz-Juergen Vogels). The mediaeval clergy knew this and refused to comply. Master Gratian knew it too.

    It is only with the advent of the seminary system that the “law” truly became enforceable

  88. rcesq says:

    Pope John Paul II had the best reaction to Prof. Kueng. As reported in Time in December 1994,9171,982047-5,00.html:

    “After the dissident Swiss theologian Hans Kung was censured for a book questioning papal infallibility, John Paul commented, without malice, “And I’m sure Kung wrote that infallibly.”

  89. Annibale says:

    Very interesting reflections on the president and the pope. At first I did not think it sounded much like Father Kung, but then I remembered that it was an amateur translation. John, it’s tough reading the original with all the red comments, can’t you use footnotes or endnotes or something? Okay, on the serious side, we never really know what these heads of states talk about behind closed doors. I think Dr. Kung was overly simplifying the situation, clearly it’s a very false dychotomy . . . these two men are of such unequal stature in every respect it’s ridiculous to compare them as if they are on the same level. Whether one agrees with the pope or not, no one could deny that he is a supremely brilliant man. Also, I suspect that on the diplomatic level whenever the pope and the president get together for photo-ops, their underlings are having some very powerful and meaningful exchanges. There can be no doubt the the president is well aware of the vatican’s opinion of the war, for instance. Dr. Kung has done a great job moving theology into the 21st Century, but it seems that his op-ed is over-the-top. Maybe it was meant to be tounge-in-cheek, or maybe Father Kung is experiencing some of the diminishments of mind that we can all expect when we get older.

  90. James,

    Priestly celibacy is not a law of the Latin Church? That will be news to the canonists!

    In ICXC,

    Fr, Deacon Daniel

  91. Jeff Pinyan says:

    There is no difference between the 1969 Latin Roman Canon and the 1962 Latin Roman Canon (apart from the changes at the words of institution, including mysterium fidei), right?

  92. RBrown says:

    Dr. Kung has done a great job moving Hegel into the 21st Century,
    Comment by Annibale


  93. MM from Brooklyn says:

    I had gone my entire life without reading a single word written by Hans Kung. I wasn’t missing anything. This piece appears to be about the same intellectual level as a DailyKos ranting.

  94. James says:

    “Priestly celibacy is not a law of the Latin Church? That will be news to the canonists!”

    Not those who know their jurisprudence, St Thomas Aquinas’ criteria for a just law, and are more theologians than lawyers contaminated with the philosophy of legal positivism.

  95. diane says:

    What strikes me most about Kung’s diatribe is its stunning arrogance and dripping condescension. Toward Benedict of all people–perhaps the smartest theologian on the planet. With all due respect to Father Kung’s cloth: What a pompous asshat!

  96. Matthew says:

    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.

    huh? Following Catholic teaching causes an increase in promiscuous unprotected sex? How does this work? I thought that the spread of AIDS was prevented by the proper following of Catholic teachings on chastity.

  97. Sid Cundiff says:

    Essentially Kung is a Liberal Protestant — not a card-carrying one, but one all the same.

    As for “Medieval”, Kung is afflicted with a general malady epidemic in Mitteleuropa’s intellectual climate: historicism. By “historicism” I mean the ideology that says
    (1) Everything is to be understood only in terms of its (political) past and its historical (political) circumstance, and thus there is no natural law or transhistorial truth, or superhistorical aesthetic values; thus Shakespeare, Raphael, and Palestrina are to be understood only in terms of the power structures of their times.
    (2) For historicism everything in the past is of the past, and to be left in the past, and thus – to use the trendy 60s word – irrelevant to the present. Thus I wonder to what extent Kung is a Hegelian.

  98. michigancatholic says:

    Why is this man still quoted in classes and Catholic literature? Why is this man still allowed to preach and pretend to be Catholic in public? Why has he not been excommunicated for leading so many into error?

    These are serious questions. People are leaving the faith, and have left the faith, over the erroneous teachings of this man. Why is something not done?

    [Over & above the trivial act of “silencing him” which did no such thing, in actuality, we all know.]

  99. Andy says:

    I meant ignorant when I chose the word. Kung has suggested that the Pope
    learn from President Bush’s mistakes. If that’s not an ignorant mind comparing
    Apples and Oranges and suggesting one pollinate as the other, then I must be
    ignorant too. I’ll give Kung the benefit of the doubt to assume he may not have
    a healthy sense of the difference between Church and State. He also has made an unfounded
    character projection on the pope as if he were the President Bush of the world.

  100. Hoka2_99 says:

    Kung was interviewed by “The Tablet” [“Bitter Pill”] a couple of weeks ago and was reduced to hitting at Pope Benedict by saying that he was “brought up in a police station”. So what? He didn’t qualify this statement. Was he accusing the Pope of having “working class” origins? Shudder! The fact is that Joseph Ratzinger became the Successor of Peter. Hans Kung didn’t. Chip on shoulder, Professor Kung! Remember you were banned from teaching in Catholic universities before Cardinal Ratzinger was called to be prefect of the CDF.
    Pope Benedict welcomed Kung to Castel Gandolfo a couple of summers ago. They were old friends, remember?
    Frankly, my dear, the Holy Father has more important things to do than be bothered about what Kung thinks or says.

  101. RBrown says:

    (2) For historicism everything in the past is of the past, and to be left in the past, and thus – to use the trendy 60s word – irrelevant to the present. Thus I wonder to what extent Kung is a Hegelian.
    Comment by Sid Cundiff

    I think Kung would say that inferring dogma from Scripture is a hermeneutic that “is of the past, and to be left in the past”. That hermeneutic will be replaced by a post modern approach based on Ecumenism, with liberal Protestant exegesis as the foundation.

  102. Patricia Gonzalez says:

    Poor little Hansel — the Big Bad Pope peed in his cornflakes and hurt his feelings. Awww …

  103. str1977 says:

    Historism and Historicism has been misidentified here.

    Historism is a school of historiography that says that each time must be understood out of itself, not by transporting our views back into the past, not by judging the past by present standards. The chief founder was Leopold von Ranke. A vocal opponent was Friedrich Nietzsche, who accused the view of paralysing men’s thoughts and decisions.

    But Küng judges the past by his present standards.

    Historicism, a term popularised by the criticsm of the half-learned Carl Popper, is a synonym for philosphies of history, which detect certain laws of history, such as Hegel’s dialectical view.

    But even that does not seem to fit Küng’s views.

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