Kung’s blast at the Pope

I like to think kindly of the better side of the churches and admit to being completely fascinated by their politics. Here then is the magisterial analysis of what many see as the Vatican’s power grab for Anglican traditionalists, written by that great theologian of ecumenism Hans Kung, whose right to teach theology was revoked by JP2 because of Kung’s repeated criticisms of the then Pope’s “mediocre conservatism.”

“Clearly, the well-meaning Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Rowan Williams, was no match for cunning Vatican diplomacy. In his cosying up with the Vatican, he evidently did not recognise the consequences. Otherwise he would not have put his signature to the downplaying communique of the Catholic Archbishop of Westminster…

As I wrote in 1967, “a resumption of ecclesial community between the Catholic church and the Anglican church” would be possible, when “the Church of England, on the one side, shall be given the guarantee that its current autochthonous and autonomous church order under the Primate of Canterbury will be preserved fully” and when, “on the other side, the Church of England shall recognise the existence of a pastoral primacy of Petrine ministry as the supreme authority for mediation and arbitration between the churches.” “In this way,” I expressed my hopes then, “out of the Roman imperium might emerge a Catholic commonwealth. But Pope Benedict is set upon restoring the Roman imperium.”
As I’m the last to want to feed the prejudices of the Protestant right, here’s another side of the story from comedian Frank Skinner, a Catholic and Kung fan, who deplores the idea of an influx of sexual bigots into a church body that increasingly supports gays and women priests etc., whatever the Vatican may say
Now instead, it seems, a whole lot of bigoted reinforcements are arriving to galvanise those more unpalatable aspects of Roman Catholic doctrine.

  • Pete Baker

    Thanks Brian

    I was wondering how I was going to handle Kung’s article. I think he over states the “offences against” line in his opening shot. Other than that I think he gets it about right.

    As for Skinner, he’s a bit out of his depth here.

    But, his concerns about the motives of converting Anglicans aside, he does get the motives of Emporer Constantine Benedict right

    It felt, at headline level, as if the still weeping wounds of the Reformation might, at last, be healed by tolerance and love — our separated brethren returned.

    It’s an attempted Un-Reformation to add to the attempted Un-Enlightenment.

    Knowledge is power.

  • Fabianus

    I’ve often wondered about the Free Presbyterians calling the RC Church the Great Satan, AntiChrist, Whore of Babylon etc.

    To my mind they, rather than the placid old Anglicans, would make excellent bedfellows, what with their misogyny and homophobia. Had they not got paedophiles priests in common too or am I confusing denominations?

    Küng has their number (and it ain’t 666) which is why he fell foul of Benedict’s predecessor.

  • Seymour Major

    The criticisms by both Hans Kung and Frank Skinner of the vatican moves have very considerable merit.

    There is something very distasteful about what the Pope has done. I am now a Roman Catholic agnostic and so I do, in a sense, look on from the outside regarding this debate. Still, even if I was still an unconditional believer, I would have struggled to find anything defensible about the Pope’s actions.

    One thing I have always respected about the relation ship between Anglicans and Roman Catholics at clerical level is that competition for souls has been conducted in a subtle and gentlemanly manner without open criticism or undermining of the other.

    It does strike me that this move puts the interests of the Catholic Church in terms of recruiting numbers above the more worldly and broader laudible objective of uniting churches in communion.

    I have not seen a comment by Catholic Observer on Slugger for some time. I hope he will find the time to write a post about this on his blog


  • Brian Walker

    Actually Pete, I think Skinner makes the human points people can identify with. He doesn’t want a whole bunch of reactionaries coming into his patch. Nice one, it turns the usual objection on its head. As we know of course, many of the Catholic laity go their own sweet way over contraception and gay rights and many would support women priests. The gap is ever widening with the institutional church, greatly aggravated by the evasions and cover-ups over child abuse. Despite JP2’s brilliant exploitation of modern communication methods, communication for the Vatican remains largely a one-way, in-out process. They show less understanding of the outside world than the Chinese politburo and seem happy with that. The one reaction to this affair to guard against locally is the stoking of anti-ecumenism on the old Paisley model. I’m amazed it hasn’t reared its head already. I hope that practical ecumenism at the grass roots won’t be discouraged. Thankfully the Church of Ireland doesn’t present much of a target. There are very few “Anglican traditionalists” of the English type in Ireland, and almost none who want to sign up to Rome. Indeed if there is a modest trend, it’s in the other direction – Catholics going to CoI churches where the music and service order is traditional but the theology is tolerant, in preference to both the RC happy clappy and Prod evangelical varieties. It’s becoming a matter of shopping around, consumer choice. Even if you don’t call it that, this is a healthy development, I’d say.

  • Big Bopper
  • smcgiff
  • Fabianus


    Liam Meehan appears to live on La Vista Avenue. Somebody please help me out here. Doesn’t La Vista refer to some Marian apparition or other, like the Knock one?

  • kensei

    In the interests of balance, the following article from the Independent:


    That is perhaps to judge the German Pope too harshly. One of his strongest instincts since he was elected in 2005 has been to act not as the rottweiler he was often accused of being as doctrine enforcer to his predecessor, but as a German shepherd rounding up stray members of his flock. He wants as many people as possible to feel at home in the big tent of his Catholic church.

    So, soon after coming to office, he issued a lunch invitation to the dissident liberal theologian, Hans Küng, regarded under John Paul as little better than the anti-Christ. And Rome is currently engaged in a tricky set of negotiations to re-admit the extreme traditionalist Society of Pius X (whose members include the Holocaust-denier, Bishop Richard Williamson). The leaders of the group were excommunicated by John Paul.

  • Brit

    If Skinner doesnt like his Christianity patriarchal and homophobic what the f@ck is he doing in the Catholic Church?

    In fact if he does not like reaction, superstition and obscurantism what is he doing as a Christian.

  • Fabianus


    Worthy questions and ones to which only Mr Skinner knows the answer but I’ll make a stab at answering them.

    If Skinner doesnt like his Christianity patriarchal and homophobic what the f@ck is he doing in the Catholic Church?

    Presumably he reverted to Catholicism because it was the devil he knew as opposed to the bewildering choice of Protestant denominations—thank God for spellcheckers; I typed “demoninations”—there are on offer.

    In fact if he does not like reaction, superstition and obscurantism what is he doing as a Christian.

    I suppose it’s like choosing any group. One opts for the faction that in general reflects one’s own leanings. In a political context I choose to vote Alliance and Green Party. Both seem to be mercifully free of the sectarian baggage that weighs heavily on Unionist parties. I grit my teeth and accept the shortcomings of both parties, in the understanding that broadly speaking they share my political views and aspirations.

  • abucs

    I think the Pope is simply responding to the overtures from the leaders of the Traditional Anglican Communion.

    The process up until the last couple of years has been to deal with the Anglican church as a whole.

    With the further fragmentation and the moving away from the Catholic Church of many groups it looks like the Pope has decided ‘unity in full’ is now an impossibility.

  • Reader

    Fabianus: One opts for the faction that in general reflects one’s own leanings.
    For the religiously inclined, surely it would be an obligation to go á la carte? Or is that just ex-Prod thinking on my part?

  • Reader

    abucs: it looks like the Pope has decided ‘unity in full’ is now an impossibility.
    So, like Greenflag, he has opted for re-partition.

  • abucs

    Has anyone ever seen Greenflag and the Pope in the same room ?

    There’s a scary thought. :o)