Sunday, October 7, 2012

Now Here's an Idea

Hans Kung, several of whom's books I have read, is a progressive Roman Catholic theologian. I'll never forget what a huge impact his On Being a Christian (1976) had on me. I read it in the early '80s, and I have to say that Kung has probably had more influence on my thinking about church, Jesus, and matters spiritual than anybody else. (Leaving aside for the moment the question of the Spirit's influence which would, in any event, be pretty difficult to measure.

Anyway, I'm struck by Kung's latest cogent suggestion to the Catholic Church at large. In an interview with The Guardian newspaper, the German priest, now 84 years old, appealed "to priests and churchgoers to confront the Catholic hierarchy, which he says is corrupt, lacking credibility and apathetic to the real concerns of the church's members." He likened the "unconditional obedience" required of bishops to the pope as almost as extreme as the one German generals had to swear to Hitler. (A charge certainly to ring the chimes of the German pope Benedict XVI.)

"The priests and others in positions of responsibility need to stop being so subservient," Kung said, "to organize themselves and say that there are certain things that they simply will not put up with anymore."

Well, this is excellent, I say, as one of those who has been driven out by the Church's rigidity and increasing irrelevance to the lives of people whom I love (especially my children and siblings) but likewise to millions of just ordinary people who long for a spiritual existence that helps them make sense of their lives. But I also have to shake my head in disbelief. The idea that the sheep of the Catholic flock will ever demand anything from Rome (instead of the other way around) is too fantastic to contemplate. I think, sadly, that the Church is doomed to continue its slide into irrelevance.

But God bless Hans Kung for his courage.
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