Hans Kung on the Beatification: making irony redundant

The NCFishwrap’s editor is advertising a hit piece in The Irish Times: Hans Kung’s reaction to the Beatification of Bl. John Paul II

A sample with my emphases:


In an interview last weekend with German daily the Frankfurter Rundschau , Küng says John Paul II does not merit being presented to the faithful as an example. He says: “John Paul II is universally praised as someone who fought for peace and human rights. But his preaching to the outside world was in total contrast with the way he ran the church from inside, with an authoritarian pontificate which suppressed the rights of both women and theologians.[Better than Ambien.]

In particular, Küng argues that John Paul’s harsh treatment of Latin American liberation theologians such as Gutierrez and Boff represented the “exact opposite” of decent Christian behaviour. [Actually, they were treated with extreme patience.  And this is, of course, a shot at Pope Benedict, who was Prefect of the CDF.] Küng also sees it as totally “logical” that Pope Benedict would be keen to promote the cause of his predecessor but adds: “Wojtyla and Ratzinger are the people most responsible for the chronic sickness of today’s Catholic Church. Behind the sumptuous pomposity of the great Roman liturgy, there looms a total emptiness in many Catholic communities.”  [And that is because of John Paul II and Benedict XVI.  Not John XXIII or Paul VI.  No.]

One of the most regularly touted criticisms of this beatification has been its fast-track time scale, given that it comes just six years after the death of John Paul II. Supporters of the late pope point to the fact that, to some extent, this is a beatification that has come about by popular acclamation, given the cries of “Santo subito” (Make him a saint immediately) that rang out in St Peter’s Square on the day of his funeral.  [See the irony?]

Küng dismisses this justification, [Wait for it…] arguing that the campaign was manipulated: [ROFL!] “I remember those so-called “spontaneous” posters in St Peter’s Square – all neatly and carefully printed. The whole thing was just a con act by conservative and reactionary Catholic groups, especially those ones that are very strong in Spain, Italy and Poland.” [I supposed union activists and professional protesters were bussed in.]


Isn’t it ironic that when there is – at long last! – a positive response from the Church to a movement “from below”, from the people, Hans Kung and other of his world view find a way to run it down?

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
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  1. Scott W. says:

    Kung was a high-caliber dissenter and the only thing more pleasing than watching his errors continue to cirle the drain into the Sewer of History is that fact that there is no one near his level to replace him.

  2. shane says:

    I wasn’t a big fan of the beatification myself but Hans Kung criticises the late pope for all the wrong reasons. The last paragraph reminds me of the 9/11 truthers. How sad that he has come to this.

  3. rfox2 says:

    What is truly ironic is that Küng has a lot to thank JPII for. The late pontiff was actually very lenient with dissident theologians that Küng apparently admires like Gustavo Gutierrez, who now teaches at the University of Notre Dame as a Catholic theologian. I’m not sure if he has the mandatum (how many Catholic theologians actually pursue that anyway?), but he teaches right along side McBrien in full dissent against Rome. I think Küng is just disgruntled that Pope Benedict, when teacher at the University of Tübingen, didn’t stick to the socialist bent most of the theologians were adopting in those days. Küng must be completely out of touch if he thinks the poster bearers for JPII’s “campaign” were “reactionary” Catholics.

  4. Wait… it’s the conservatives and reactionary groups supporting JPII’s fast beatification now? I thought they were the ones saying “slow down!”

    I wonder what he means by ‘reactionary groups’? To me, in a Catholic context, it would mean things like FSSP, Slaves of the Immaculate Heart of Mary, SSPX. But that doesn’t seem to be what he has in mind…

  5. Henry Edwards says:

    This is a poorly written and/or edited article. For instance, in pointing out that

    “Behind the sumptuous pomposity of the great Roman liturgy, there looms a total emptiness in many Catholic communities”

    Fr. Kung should have clarified his intended meaning by pointing out that the emptiness to which he refers is in those “many Catholic communities” which, despite Pope Benedict’s own intent, are still lacking that “great Roman liturgy.”

  6. Geoffrey says:

    ‘Küng dismisses this justification, arguing that the campaign was manipulated: “I remember those so-called “spontaneous” posters in St Peter’s Square – all neatly and carefully printed. The whole thing was just a con act by conservative and reactionary Catholic groups, especially those ones that are very strong in Spain, Italy and Poland.”’

    The scary thing is, the first time I heard that “santo subito” was all orchestrated was from traditionalists. Scary.

  7. Alan Aversa says:

    I thought the Vatican forbade Küng to teach theology. Why do we still hear about him? Why did Pope Benedict XVI waste hours of his life talking theology with him in September ’05? Küng received a Freemason award, after all!

  8. Charles E Flynn says:

    You might think that the following Google search would lead to nothing outstanding:

    Kung “I am writing a book”

    Yet, right near the top of the results, we are reunited with one of the most stinging appraisals I have ever encountered:


    On the Withdrawal of Hans Kung’s Authorization to Teach, by Hans Urs von Balthasar

    Key excerpt (relevant to Fr. Z’s comment about patience):

    One can be justifiably annoyed by Kung’s poor taste in publicly questioning and throwing doubt on the Pope’s Christianity and then falsely claiming that in retaliation he was deprived of his teaching position. The disrespect with which he addresses the representatives of the Congregation is also irritating. But most aggravating is his obstinacy in leaving the bishops’ questions unanswered and, instead, focusing attention on Roman procedures which he deems unsatisfactory. His technique of prolonging the proceedings is, to say the least, provoking: he answers invitations too late or with a curt “I have no time,” or “it is mid-semester,” or “I am traveling,” or “I am writing a book”.

  9. Kevin B. says:

    What is this “sumptuous pomposity” that Kung sees and how can I bring some of it to my local parishes??

  10. Gabrielle says:

    I’ll scweam and I’ll scweam and I’ll scweam until I get my own way!!! Do hoi polloi really think they have a right to think???

    Strikes me as if Kung will do anything to keep himself in the attention of the media so as to generate more and more publicity and approximate to where he would really like to see himself.

    “Yes, I think we’ll have more muted, neutral, metrosexual shades of beige in the antechambers, and scrap the Cappa Magna, I’m more of a jeans and Tshirt guy myself. And pare the liturgy right down, symbols are for losers.”

  11. Centristian says:

    “Wojtyla and Ratzinger are the people most responsible for the chronic sickness of today’s Catholic Church. Behind the sumptuous pomposity of the great Roman liturgy, there looms a total emptiness in many Catholic communities.”

    Sumptuous pomposity? Sumptuous pomposity? Of the great Roman Liturgy? During Pope John Paul II’s papacy? Where??? When???

    There exists a total emptiness in most Catholic communities, agreed, but it’s hardly because of anything resembling “sumptuous pomposity” (gathering that what Kung means by ‘sumptuous pomposity’ is the traditional majesty once universally associated with the ‘great Roman liturgy’).

    While I would also tend to blame many of the modern Church’s woes on Pope John Paul II, it would hardly be on account of that pope’s “harsh” and “authoritarian pontificate”…and certainly not because of the “sumptuous pomposity” of his liturgies.

  12. Stephen says:

    Ha! I love Kung… only he could blame those whose mission is and has been to salvage some of the craziness caused by his cronies. I’m not comfortable leveling accusations against John XXIII or Paul VI because what John XXIII wrote about Latin right before calling the council is beautiful and Paul VI was duped. I am, however, comfortable blaming Bugnini for his part in what Kung is complaining about.
    John Paul, champion of authentic feminity was anti-woman… You’ve gotta have the crazies on both sides to remind the rest of us that we need to work harder to authentically follow Christ, even when people like Kung cause great errors.

  13. Rich says:

    Hans Kung is disingenuous in his treatment of how tough Blessed John Paul was with liberation theology. Anyone aware of the reality of the situation in Central and South America knows that liberation theology is well and alive in the thought of clergy and church leaders. The most that the pope is doing to combat liberation theology is only presently happening with gradual the replacement and reappointment of bishops and cardinals in those regions.

    And, you cannot so neatly put your finger any “groups” who would be behind anySanto Subito effort. “Conservative and reactionary Catholic groups”, as Kung puts it, would actually be opposed to sainthood immediately for reasons such as altar girls, liturgical tone-deafness, Assisi, listening too closely to apostolic nuncios with regard to the appointments of new bishops, etc. Liberal groups would be opposed to sainthood at all, let alone immediately, for reasons such as those as Kung gives. There may actually be an movement in Santo Subito inspired by heartfelt admiration of Blessed John Paul among the people.

  14. Bryan Boyle says:

    He’s still around? Nothing like continuing to whine; he must know in his heart his opinions are irrelevant. Guess he has to keep up appearances, though.

  15. benedetta says:

    How charitable of him. But where I am where his stuff is read and consumed and promoted, we have the banal liturgy along with the great “emptiness”. Perhaps next we can expect some pronouncement on where exactly his followers went wrong in the carrying out of his voluminous instructions. Strange how obsessed he is with Rome, and the Popes — I thought we were to proceed, as if they did not exist? Now, we are supposed to acknowledge Rome, and, be embittered, all at the same time? If only he had been the Pope, or someone he would approve of, then, what…? People have accepted all of what he has taught and yet, Catholic culture is far from flourishing even where it is all about only his sort of ideas. Who to blame when they reject Rome, they reject the Church, the secularism embraced and promoted, and when the teaching that was promoted, even the social justice element, is, well, rejected, people shrug. Was secularism supposed to have ushered in the Gospel values with which we were to be able to, magically treat one another? I guess in gambling on the secularism to achieve their ends, they gambled, wrong.

  16. skull kid says:

    “All of you who stand fast in the Lord are a holy seed, a new colony of bees, the very flower of our ministry and fruit of our toil, my joy and my crown.” – St. Augustine of Hippo

    Compare the shiny, healthy, happy new bees, to this latest buzzing from the desperate, dying bees.

  17. Glen M says:

    Who’s Hans Kung?

  18. AnAmericanMother says:

    skull kid,

    Speaking of bees, this Kipling story seems quite apropos:

    The Mother Hive

  19. SimonDodd says:

    Only Kung could answer the question “Is the Pope Catholic?” by saying “Yes, but how dare he be.”

    Excommunicate the heretic and be done with him.

  20. RichardT says:

    “sumptuous” liturgy”?

    I didn’t realise that Kung attended the Old Rite Mass.

  21. Widukind says:

    “Who is Hans Kung?” – I doubt that he himself knows.
    Why does one, who supposedly champions the movement of the Spirit in the hearts and dterminations of the laity, now suddenly cry “foul” when the very thing he wants does happen?
    It could be because he himself could not manipulate and orchestrate it to his own ends.
    “Is the Kung, pope? Hardly, but does HE know it?

  22. The beatification was worth it if Hans is having this much of a fit.

  23. Rob Cartusciello says:

    At the end of the day, the beatification would not have gone forward without a miracle.

    There are hundreds of Servants of God who have yet to have a miracle attributed to them, so the process is not a dead lock.

    Ultimately, it was God who bestowed the miracle through the intercession of John Paul II, which enabled the beatification process to proceed.

    Dominus dixit, causa finita est!

  24. chonak says:

    “Progressive Catholic” bloggers seem to be saying that the “Santo subito” demonstration (if that’s the right word) was the work of the Focolare movement.

    That’s one outfit which gets suspicion from all over. “Progressives” don’t like their orthodoxy, traditionalists don’t like their support for ecumenical and interfaith relations, and some Catholics suspect most of the “new movements” for having sectarian tendencies. Go figure.

  25. ipadre says:

    Just a bunch of Kung fubar!

    Very sad that he and his ilk are old and bitter. Such a contrast with those crying out “Santo subito” – young, full of life and joy.

  26. Sam Urfer says:

    Some on-the-ground data on how Blessed John Paul is thought of in the American public, from the notoriously reactionary lay movement, the Knights of Columbus: https://www.kofc.org/un/en/news/releases/detail/poll_jp2.html

    “About six in 10 Americans (59 percent) believe that Pope John Paul II was one of the best or the best Pope in Church history. Among Catholics this view grows to more than 8 in 10 (82 percent of Catholics and 87 percent of practicing Catholics).”

  27. I think Kung thinks to himself that, had he stayed orthodox, he too would have received rewards from the Church, worked side by side with JPII, and perhaps become pope instead of his old classmate Ratzinger. He was kinda hoping that his ol’ buddy ol’ pal would have made him a bishop once he became Pope, but no job came. He has nobody else but himself to blame for not having stayed orthodox, and he knows it; so he complains about everybody else.

    He’s a sad old man, really. Pray for his conversion of heart, before it’s too late.

  28. JMody says:

    Wow – his disdain shows me that “the Left” are really consistent everywhere you find them. Whether you are bringing guitars to Mass or demanding union wages THREE times the private sector or demanding the Czar’s head on a pike, the crowd knows what’s best when they want what you want. But as soon as they stray from Your Plan, they are addled, or put up to it by reactionaries or … I mean, you can’t even satirize it.

    Conversion of heart – hey, we got Hans to admit that some of this stuff is not a matter of popular vote. First step on a road to recovery??

    And as for the KofC poll, remember that there is also a survey that says only something like 30% of American Catholics have a reasonably correct understanding of the Eucharist … I still say he is one of a truly exceptional company.

  29. BLB Oregon says:

    “I remember those so-called “spontaneous” posters in St Peter’s Square – all neatly and carefully printed.”

    What is that supposed to mean? Has he never heard of Kinko’s? Join the 21st century, sir: anyone with $25 and a PC can publish signs like a pro.

    I have to hope that my growing suspicion is correct: that is, that the families who think like Fr. Kung are raising their daughters to hope for a spot in the seminary, but not their sons. The ones who rejoice at the beatification of Bl. Pope John Paul II are doing it the other way around. If that is so, it will make all the difference.

  30. cl00bie says:

    Can we refer to this as “Kung Foo”? (Sorry, I couldn’t resist!) :)

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