Hans Kung, great teacher and theologian, issues a devastating critique of the Pope and the Vatican, carried in full in the Irish Times. If the Pope won’t reform, the bishops should take it into their own hands. But will anything change?
Joseph Ratzinger, now Pope Benedict XVI, and I were the youngest theologians at the Second Vatican Council from 1962 to 1965. Now we are the oldest and the only ones still fully active…. I am motivated by my profound concern for our church, which now finds itself in the worst credibility crisis since the Reformation. Please excuse the form of an open letter; unfortunately, I have no other way of reaching you.
Missed is the opportunity for rapprochement with the Protestant churches:
Missed is the opportunity for the long-term reconciliation with the Jews
Missed is the opportunity for a dialogue with Muslims in an atmosphere of mutual trust:
Missed is the opportunity for reconciliation with the colonised indigenous peoples of Latin America
Missed is the opportunity to help the people of Africa by allowing the use of birth control to fight overpopulation and condoms to fight the spread of HIV.
Missed is the opportunity to make peace with modern science by clearly affirming the theory of evolution and accepting stem-cell research.
Missed is the opportunity to make the spirit of the Second Vatican Council the compass for the whole Catholic Church, including the Vatican itself, and thus to promote the needed reforms in the church
There is no denying the fact that the worldwide system of covering up cases of sexual crimes committed by clerics was engineered by the Roman Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith under Cardinal Ratzinger (1981-2005). During the reign of Pope John Paul II, that congregation had already taken charge of all such cases under oath of strictest silence. Ratzinger himself, on May 18th, 2001, sent a solemn document to all the bishops dealing with severe crimes ( epistula de delictis gravioribus ), in which cases of abuse were sealed under the secretum pontificium , the violation of which could entail grave ecclesiastical penalties. With good reason, therefore, many people have expected a personal mea culpa on the part of the former prefect and current pope. Instead, the pope passed up the opportunity afforded by Holy Week.
Former BBC journalist and manager in Belfast, Manchester and London, Editor Spolight; Political Editor BBC NI; Current Affairs Commissioning editor BBC Radio 4; Editor Political and Parliamentary Programmes, BBC Westminster; former London Editor Belfast Telegraph. Hon Senior Research Fellow, The Constitution Unit, Univ Coll. London