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Hans Küng points finger at the Pope

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William Crawley | 12:09 UK time, Monday, 19 April 2010

kung.jpgI've copied, below the fold, the Open Letter to Catholic Bishops by the theologian Fr Hans Küng, which was published in last Friday's Irish Times. The Irish Times summary of the letter claims that Hans Küng accuses Pope Benedict of direct responsibilty for "engineering the global cover-up of child rape perpetrated by priests". You can decide for yourself, from the text, if that is a colourful overstatement or a fair reading of the theologian's letter. I last spoke, on the telephone, to Professor Küng a couple of weeks ago and he was unwilling to be interviewed at the time but explained that he was planning a number of interventions in the current debate about the Pope's handling of the clerical abuse crisis. Küng and Ratzinger, as he then was, were young theologians at the Second Vatican Council, and are former academic colleagues at Tübingen University. Their paths have taken dramatically different turns since then: Ratzinger became a bishop, a cardinal, head of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, then Pope; Küng became the church's most famous dissident theologian, challenging the doctrine of papal infallibility and other traditional beliefs, and was disciplined by Pope John Paul, who removed his license to teach as a Catholic professor.


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 have always understood my theological work as a service to the Roman Catholic Church. For this reason, on the occasion of the fifth anniversary of the election of Pope Benedict XVI, I am making this appeal to you in an open letter. In doing so, 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.

I deeply appreciated that the pope invited me, his outspoken critic, to meet for a friendly, four-hour-long conversation shortly after he took office. This awakened in me the hope that my former colleague at Tubingen University might find his way to promote an ongoing renewal of the church and an ecumenical rapprochement in the spirit of the Second Vatican Council.

Unfortunately, my hopes and those of so many engaged Catholic men and women have not been fulfilled. And in my subsequent correspondence with the pope, I have pointed this out to him many times. Without a doubt, he conscientiously performs his everyday duties as pope, and he has given us three helpful encyclicals on faith, hope and charity. But when it comes to facing the major challenges of our times, his pontificate has increasingly passed up more opportunities than it has taken:

Missed is the opportunity for rapprochement with the Protestant churches: Instead, they have been denied the status of churches in the proper sense of the term and, for that reason, their ministries are not recognized and intercommunion is not possible.

Missed is the opportunity for the long-term reconciliation with the Jews: Instead the pope has reintroduced into the liturgy a preconciliar prayer for the enlightenment of the Jews, he has taken notoriously anti-Semitic and schismatic bishops back into communion with the church, and he is actively promoting the beatification of Pope Pius XII, who has been accused of not offering sufficient protections to Jews in Nazi Germany.

The fact is, Benedict sees in Judaism only the historic root of Christianity; he does not take it seriously as an ongoing religious community offering its own path to salvation. The recent comparison of the current criticism faced by the pope with anti-Semitic hate campaigns - made by Rev Raniero Cantalamessa during an official Good Friday service at the Vatican - has stirred up a storm of indignation among Jews around the world.

Missed is the opportunity for a dialogue with Muslims in an atmosphere of mutual trust: Instead, in his ill-advised but symptomatic 2006 Regensburg lecture, Benedict caricatured Islam as a religion of violence and inhumanity and thus evoked enduring Muslim mistrust.

Missed is the opportunity for reconciliation with the colonised indigenous peoples of Latin America: Instead, the pope asserted in all seriousness that they had been "longing" for the religion of their European conquerors.

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.

This last point, respected bishops, is the most serious of all. Time and again, this pope has added qualifications to the conciliar texts and interpreted them against the spirit of the council fathers. Time and again, he has taken an express stand against the Ecumenical Council, which according to canon law represents the highest authority in the Catholic Church:

He has taken the bishops of the traditionalist Pius X Society back into the church without any preconditions - bishops who were illegally consecrated outside the Catholic Church and who reject central points of the Second Vatican Council (including liturgical reform, freedom of religion and the rapprochement with Judaism).

He promotes the medieval Tridentine Mass by all possible means and occasionally celebrates the Eucharist in Latin with his back to the congregation.

He refuses to put into effect the rapprochement with the Anglican Church, which was laid out in official ecumenical documents by the Anglican-Roman Catholic International Commission, and has attempted instead to lure married Anglican clergy into the Roman Catholic Church by freeing them from the very rule of celibacy that has forced tens of thousands of Roman Catholic priests out of office.

He has actively reinforced the anti-conciliar forces in the church by appointing reactionary officials to key offices in the Curia (including the secretariat of state, and positions in the liturgical commission) while appointing reactionary bishops around the world.

Pope Benedict XVI seems to be increasingly cut off from the vast majority of church members who pay less and less heed to Rome and, at best, identify themselves only with their local parish and bishop.

I know that many of you are pained by this situation. In his anti-conciliar policy, the pope receives the full support of the Roman Curia. The Curia does its best to stifle criticism in the episcopate and in the church as a whole and to discredit critics with all the means at its disposal. With a return to pomp and spectacle catching the attention of the media, the reactionary forces in Rome have attempted to present us with a strong church fronted by an absolutistic "Vicar of Christ" who combines the church's legislative, executive and judicial powers in his hands alone. But Benedict's policy of restoration has failed. All of his spectacular appearances, demonstrative journeys and public statements have failed to influence the opinions of most Catholics on controversial issues. This is especially true regarding matters of sexual morality. Even the papal youth meetings, attended above all by conservative-charismatic groups, have failed to hold back the steady drain of those leaving the church or to attract more vocations to the priesthood.

You in particular, as bishops, have reason for deep sorrow: Tens of thousands of priests have resigned their office since the Second Vatican Council, for the most part because of the celibacy rule. Vocations to the priesthood, but also to religious orders, sisterhoods and lay brotherhoods are down - not just quantitatively but qualitatively. Resignation and frustration are spreading rapidly among both the clergy and the active laity. Many feel that they have been left in the lurch with their personal needs, and many are in deep distress over the state of the church. In many of your dioceses, it is the same story: increasingly empty churches, empty seminaries and empty rectories. In many countries, due to the lack of priests, more and more parishes are being merged, often against the will of their members, into ever larger "pastoral units," in which the few surviving pastors are completely overtaxed. This is church reform in pretense rather than fact!

And now, on top of these many crises comes a scandal crying out to heaven - the revelation of the clerical abuse of thousands of children and adolescents, first in the United States, then in Ireland and now in Germany and other countries. And to make matters worse, the handling of these cases has given rise to an unprecedented leadership crisis and a collapse of trust in church leadership.

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: On Easter Sunday, he had his innocence proclaimed "urbi et orbi" by the dean of the College of Cardinals.

The consequences of all these scandals for the reputation of the Catholic Church are disastrous. Important church leaders have already admitted this. Numerous innocent and committed pastors and educators are suffering under the stigma of suspicion now blanketing the church. You, reverend bishops, must face up to the question: What will happen to our church and to your diocese in the future? It is not my intention to sketch out a new program of church reform. That I have done often enough both before and after the council. Instead, I want only to lay before you six proposals that I am convinced are supported by millions of Catholics who have no voice in the current situation.

1. Do not keep silent: By keeping silent in the face of so many serious grievances, you taint yourselves with guilt. When you feel that certain laws, directives and measures are counterproductive, you should say this in public. Send Rome not professions of your devotion, but rather calls for reform!

2. Set about reform: Too many in the church and in the episcopate complain about Rome, but do nothing themselves. When people no longer attend church in a diocese, when the ministry bears little fruit, when the public is kept in ignorance about the needs of the world, when ecumenical co-operation is reduced to a minimum, then the blame cannot simply be shoved off on Rome. Whether bishop, priest, layman or laywoman - everyone can do something for the renewal of the church within his own sphere of influence, be it large or small. Many of the great achievements that have occurred in the individual parishes and in the church at large owe their origin to the initiative of an individual or a small group. As bishops, you should support such initiatives and, especially given the present situation, you should respond to the just complaints of the faithful.

3. Act in a collegial way: After heated debate and against the persistent opposition of the Curia, the Second Vatican Council decreed the collegiality of the pope and the bishops. It did so in the sense of the Acts of the Apostles, in which Peter did not act alone without the college of the apostles. In the post-conciliar era, however, the pope and the Curia have ignored this decree. Just two years after the council, Pope Paul VI issued his encyclical defending the controversial celibacy law without the slightest consultation of the bishops. Since then, papal politics and the papal magisterium have continued to act in the old, uncollegial fashion. Even in liturgical matters, the pope rules as an autocrat over and against the bishops. He is happy to surround himself with them as long as they are nothing more than stage extras with neither voices nor voting rights. This is why, venerable bishops, you should not act for yourselves alone, but rather in the community of the other bishops, of the priests and of the men and women who make up the church.

4. Unconditional obedience is owed to God alone: Although at your episcopal consecration you had to take an oath of unconditional obedience to the pope, you know that unconditional obedience can never be paid to any human authority; it is due to God alone. For this reason, you should not feel impeded by your oath to speak the truth about the current crisis facing the church, your diocese and your country. Your model should be the apostle Paul, who dared to oppose Peter "to his face since he was manifestly in the wrong"! ( Galatians 2:11 ). Pressuring the Roman authorities in the spirit of Christian fraternity can be permissible and even necessary when they fail to live up to the spirit of the Gospel and its mission. The use of the vernacular in the liturgy, the changes in the regulations governing mixed marriages, the affirmation of tolerance, democracy and human rights, the opening up of an ecumenical approach, and the many other reforms of Vatican II were only achieved because of tenacious pressure from below.

5. Work for regional solutions: The Vatican has frequently turned a deaf ear to the well-founded demands of the episcopate, the priests and the laity. This is all the more reason for seeking wise regional solutions. As you are well aware, the rule of celibacy, which was inherited from the Middle Ages, represents a particularly delicate problem. In the context of today's clerical abuse scandal, the practice has been increasingly called into question. Against the expressed will of Rome, a change would appear hardly possible; yet this is no reason for passive resignation. When a priest, after mature consideration, wishes to marry, there is no reason why he must automatically resign his office when his bishop and his parish choose to stand behind him. Individual episcopal conferences could take the lead with regional solutions. It would be better, however, to seek a solution for the whole church, therefore:

6. Call for a council: Just as the achievement of liturgical reform, religious freedom, ecumenism and inter-religious dialogue required an ecumenical council, so now a council is needed to solve the dramatically escalating problems calling for reform. In the century before the Reformation, the Council of Constance decreed that councils should be held every five years. Yet the Roman Curia successfully managed to circumvent this ruling. There is no question that the Curia, fearing a limitation of its power, would do everything in its power to prevent a council coming together in the present situation. Thus it is up to you to push through the calling of a council or at least a representative assembly of bishops.

With the church in deep crisis, this is my appeal to you, venerable bishops: Put to use the episcopal authority that was reaffirmed by the Second Vatican Council. In this urgent situation, the eyes of the world turn to you. Innumerable people have lost their trust in the Catholic Church. Only by openly and honestly reckoning with these problems and resolutely carrying out needed reforms can their trust be regained. With all due respect, I beg you to do your part - together with your fellow bishops as far as possible, but also alone if necessary - in apostolic "fearlessness" ( Acts 4:29, 31 ). Give your faithful signs of hope and encouragement and give our church a perspective for the future.

With warm greetings in the community of the Christian faith,


Hans Küng


  • Comment number 1.

    Golly - I think I like this chap. Good for him.

    Essentially what he is calling for is root and branch reform, the destruction of dogma and the establishment of Freedom of Thought and Conscience as a cornerstone.

    In effect, he is calling for the Roman Catholic Church to become more like the Non-Subscribing Presbyterian Church or the Society of Friends (again, did everyone see the remarkable Professor Dame Jocelyn Bell Burnell on "Beautiful Minds" on BBC4 recently?).

    Will, you should try to engage him in a proper interview now - he has said this piece, which is pretty hard-hitting, and previously he was probably keeping his powder dry. Now it's fire at will! No - not at Will. Small "w"...


  • Comment number 2.

    A fantastic letter which deserves to be nailed to the doors of more than one Cathedral. The implications for Reformed Protestantism are important too.

    He is right to lay the blame squarely at Ratzinger's feet. Over the last thirty years he deliberately dragged his feet in dealing with abuser priests yet managed to sack/defrock/excommunicate priests within weeks of their 'supposed' crimes, namely challenging his theology.

  • Comment number 3.

    didnt we nearly arrest a senior Israeli politician in London recently for "war crimes" or similar?

    Why didnt diplomatic immunity make this a non-starter?

  • Comment number 4.

    OT, you're referring to the case of Tzipi Livni, Israel's former foreign minister, who cancelled a trip to the UK because opponents managed to persuade a UK judge to grant an arrest warrant. She is now the opposition leader in Israel. The UK government was embarrassed by the court decision and considered a change in the law to prevent it happening again. Unlike the Pope, of course, Ms Livni was not a head of state so different diplomatic laws apply.

  • Comment number 5.

    Indeed - many good points and no doubt would have support from many people in all walks of life within and without of the church.....and good to see someone who is not scared to take on the institution/challenge the Pope.....BUT will the bishops/priests etc have the courage to do what he asks?? or will they be too fearful of the consequences of standing up to the Pope??? Out of interest and ignorance .....can a Pope be de-Poped!! (not the correct expression but I'm sure you know what I mean!) or is it a job for life irrespective of what he does??

    Helio - have not seen said documentary but would like to - is this possible do you know....is it accessible somewhere?? thanks

  • Comment number 6.

    Hi Eunice, they're a lovely set of programmes: if you have access to BBC iPlayer, search for "Beautiful Minds" - you are looking for James Lovelock and Professor Dame Jocelyn Bell Burnell. Both documentaries are well worth the look. As I mentioned about Lovelock, I don't agree about Gaia in the way I *think* he is talking about it, but the general principle that almost any system will hit a point of negative feedback that eventually halts it and establishes a sort of dynamic equilibrium (which includes cyclical phenomena) is one that could and should be explored... not in a spooky way though.

  • Comment number 7.

    Thanks Helio will see if I can access them....agree with what you have said re the re-balancing/dynamic equilibrium....will perhaps say more once I have seen the programmes and if it comes up again!

  • Comment number 8.

    Pathetic giving any credence to Hans Kung, who is as blind as he is bitter. It's a spiteful screed of jealous rant from a man who has discovered his star has long since waned and that no one of any consequence takes him seriously.

  • Comment number 9.

    Post 8 Hans Kung - "No one of any consequence takes him seriously."

    1991 - Swiss cultural prize.

    1992 - Karl Barth award.

    1998 - Theodor Heuss award from the Theodor Heuss Foundation.

    1998 - Interfaith Gold Medallion from the International Council of Christianity and Judaism.

    1999 - Award from Federation of Lutheran Cities.

    2000 - Globart award.

    2001 - Planetary Consciousness Award.

    2003 - Swiss Order of Merit with Star.

    2004 - Druiden award from Germany.

    2005 - Niwano Friedenspreis.

    2005 - Baden-Wuerttemberg medal.

    2006 - Lew Kopelew prize.

    2007 - Honorary citizen of city of Tubingen.

    2008 - Honour for civil courage by the circle of friends of Heinrich Heine.

    2008 - Otto Hahn Freedom medal in gold of the German society of the United Nations, LV Brandenburg, for outstanding services to peace and people communication, in particular for his exemplary record on humanity, tolerance, and the dialogue between the large world religions.

    2009 - The Abraham Geiger prize from the University of Potsdam.

  • Comment number 10.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 11.

    Let's not forget that there have already been a number of large-scale "reformations" in the history of Christianity, some of them quite vigorous, none of them terribly successful.
    For disgruntled Irish Catholics who want that sort of thing the Anglican "Church of Ireland" and the "Presbyterian Church in Ireland" are already there, just around the corner.

  • Comment number 12.

    Rusty, arguably they have been better than what came before. At present the Roman Catholic Church is unacceptable. In my post that was pulled by some over-sensitive mod for reasons that completely escape me, I drew the comparison with Enron. Discredited, and the rot goes all the way to the top. The myth of apostolic succession cannot save this train wreck, but is it even worth saving? A made-up religion that demands absolute obedience and values "faith" above reason and freethought - no-one needs this. Time to consign it to history.

  • Comment number 13.

    mccamley c (post 8):

    Presumably the following are also 'bitter', since they have argued similarly in recent weeks:
    Christopher Hitchens (Slate, 15th March), Johann Hari (Independent, 19th March), Fintan O'Toole (Observer, 21st March), Malachi O'Doherty (Belfast Telegraph, 22nd March), Geoffrey Robertson (Guardian, 2nd April), Andrew Sullivan ( Sunday Times, 4th April), Richard Dawkins (Sunday Times, 11th April), George Monbiot (Guardian, 13th April) Eamonn McCann (15th April). These leading journalists, scientists, lawyers and (in the case of Kung) have all put Benedict on trial and found him guilty.

  • Comment number 14.

    RJB how come you left out his 2007 Cultural prize of German freemasonry?

    As I said, no one of any consequence takes him seriously.

    Gosh, Helio, what a novel idea - I wonder why no one's ever tried that before.

    Wake me up when the moral panic's over.

  • Comment number 15.

    Thanks Brian for making it easy. Don't think I could have assembled a more bitter list of anti-Catholic types myself. As you say, this sad bunch have all "put Benedict on trial and found him guilty".

    And when they come back out of the shower they might discover, you know, real things, like evidence, due process, actual laws, trials etc.

    You know the way you always go on about science and reason and facts and not relying on myth, and prejudice etc. Well as someone once said - try taking the beam out of your own eye first.

  • Comment number 16.

    "RJB, how come you left out his 2007 Cultural prize of German Freemasonry?"

    I'm sure I missed out quite a few of his awards. But now that you have picked on that award, would you mind giving us your opinion on the other 16 awards I did mention, and explain how none of these people are "of any consequence"?

    Then when you've done that, play a wee game with your post # 8. Take out the words 'Hans Kung' and replace them with your own name.

    Frightening how our criticisms of others can be so devastatingly revealing and descriptive our own selves, eh?

  • Comment number 17.

    This is all fun, but perhaps Chris would like to address some of the specific points raised by Kung, rather than engaging in an infantile ad hominem?


    Thought not.

  • Comment number 18.

    Okay, they're of consequence within their own spheres, but they say nothing of him as a "Catholic theologian". They're the awards you get for being a dissident.

    I tried putting in my name in post 8 but I never had a star to wane and I haven't published an open letter attacking a saintly man out of jealousy.

    Helio - basically the letter is a list of all the attributes of Kung and how Benedict has failed and missed by not agreeing with him. He and other liberal theologians have spent most of their careers attacking and undermining the Church and then they express surprise that the Church continues to disagree with them. He's wrong re Benedict and Protestants, Jews, Muslims. He's wrong on birth control, abortion and stem cell research. He's wrong and hypocritical about the Society of Pius X who haven't been "taken back without preconditions". And he's wrong about Ratzinger orchestrating a cover up. Ask the Legionaries of Christ about that one.

    I don't disagree as such with any of his six proposals - they're basically a suggestion that bishops should behave as bishops.

  • Comment number 19.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 20.


    Kung is line with the teaching of Vatican II Council. Ratzinger isnt and is acting without the authority of the College of Cardinals.

  • Comment number 21.

    Apparently my posting has been removed because I broke the House Rules. I dispute that. I try to pay very close attention to the House Rules, and I would appreciate it if someone at the BBC could take a look at my post and ask the moderator in question precisely why they feel my posting should have been removed. We have previously discussed on this forum that robust and frank exchanges of views should not only be tolerated but should be encouraged. Am I being censored? Or is it that I inadvertently strayed across some line or other? The emails from the mods are unhelpful in determining this.

  • Comment number 22.


    We know you think he's wrong. We're asking you to set out some argument, something with a little more theology than 'he's a dissident.'

    I can show where you are wrong/hypocritical and even contradictory in your views about, for example, the welcoming back of the Pius X people.

    When Ratzinger welcomed back holocaust denier Bishop Williamson, you argued on here that Ratzinger was innocent, that he didnt know that he was a holocaust denier, that he was badly advised.

    Now you are arguing that there actually were preconditions set in place by Ratzinger for him and his ilk to be brought back to the fold. Presumably, acknowledging that Hitler was a genocidal maniac wasnt one of them.

    You have argued, on here, that Ratzinger's letter of 2001 to the Bishops ordering them to report incidents of clergy child abuse only to him and to order the victims of abuse to keep silent under pain of excommunication, that this was simply Ratzinger attempting to get "a take on the size of the problem." You plainly plucked this demonstrably silly and untrue argument out of thin air.

    Kung rightly challenges Ratzinger on this based on the testimony of Bishops from YOUR own country who admit that they swore victims to silence.

    You continue to attack the abused and more recently (and dispicably) their parents, who were sworn to secrecy by Ratzinger, for not going to the police. They were doing exactly what your "saintly" Ratzinger asked them to do. Your argument is utterly contradictory. Parents who were ordered by Ratzinger to keep silent are wicked for doing so. But Ratzinger is a saint. I think we are entitled to an explanation of your logic there, MCC.

    Ratzinger continues to allow Cardinal Law - who refused to cooperate with the police - a prestigious position in Rome and your argument was along the lines of, "Well I'm not really sure what is going on there."

    I cant wait to hear your defense of Dario Castrillon Hoyos. And dont ask us to "ask any member of the Legionaries of Christ" about Ratzinger. Why dont you tell us. Why dont you explain why this group werent investigated, reported to the police and disbanded long ago? Would Ratzinger's fear of Sodano have anything to do with it.

    And maybe you could explain too why Ratzinger signed and sent a letter to a Bishop asking him not to sack a repeatedly offending paedophile priest, but instead to consider "the greater good of the universal church"?

    "Everyone who disagrees with the Pope is wrong" doesnt cut the mustard anymore, MCC. Either put up, or shut up.

  • Comment number 23.

    Kung doesn't accept Vatican 1 never mind Vatican 2. Ratzinger is firmly committed to Vatican 2 but understands it within the hermenteutic of continuity, not rupture. He believes in the organic development of Christian doctrine a la Newman. Obviously liturgy was an area where the rupture approach was most evident with altars smashed, vestments dumped, choirs thrown out etc. The Pope wants to restore some sense of continuity. But he is very committed to the ordinary form of the Mass which he uses routinely, usually in the vernacular.

    As for collegiality - Lumen Gentium was passed by the Council fathers only after ammendment confirming that collegiality means in union with the Pope, not in opposition. A council is not a higher authority than the Pope. The text reads:

    As Supreme Pastor of the Church, the Supreme Pontiff can always exercise his power at will, as his very office demands. Though it is always in existence, the College is not as a result permanently engaged in strictly collegial activity; the Church's Tradition makes this clear. In other words, the College is not always fully active [in actu pleno]; rather, it acts as a college in the strict sense only from time to time and only with the consent of its head. The phrase 'with the consent of its head' is used to avoid the idea of dependence on some kind of outsider; the term "consent" suggests rather communion between the head and the members, and implies the need for an act which belongs properly to the competence of the head. This is explicitly affirmed in n. 22, 12 and is explained at the end of that section. The word "only" takes in all cases. It is evident from this that the norms approved by the supreme authority must always be observed. Cf. Modus 84 It is clear throughout that it is a question of the bishops acting in conjunction with their head, never of the bishops acting independently of the Pope. In the latter instance, without the action of the head, the bishops are not able to act as a College: this is clear from the concept of "College." This hierarchical communion of all the bishops with the Supreme Pontiff is certainly firmly established in Tradition.

  • Comment number 24.

    RJB - only have a minute to respond to your post which appeared at same time as my last.

    >>>>>the welcoming back of the Pius X people.

    They weren't welcomed back - they aren't back. He lifted the excommunication, in the same way excommunications of the Eastern Orthodox were lifted by Paul VI. It was a warm pastoral step to help open up dialogue with the group and it has had some success. The process has strengthened the hand of the more sane members of the group and pushed the crazier elements to the fringe or at least into silence. But you know that Williams (is that his name) cannot be described as a bishop of the Catholic Church in good standing.

    As for the 2001 letter - you continually misrepresent the letter. It led to a significant opening of the process and no where instructed people not to report crimes to the police.

    >>>>>>Kung rightly challenges Ratzinger on this based on the testimony of Bishops from YOUR own country who admit that they swore victims to silence.

    Brady's swearing to silence took place in the 1970s - it clearly had nothing to do with Ratzinger or his 2001 letter.

    >>>>>>>You continue to attack the abused and more recently (and dispicably) their parents, who were sworn to secrecy by Ratzinger, for not going to the police.

    I don't attack the abused - I merely repeat that we are expecting a standard of reporting from bishops but not from anyone else, including parents (name one parent sworn to secrecy by Ratzinger). I contacted the Rape Crisis Centre and the NSPCC to get their views on mandatory reporting - they don't support it and it's the law hardly anywhere so how can you blame bishops decades ago?

    >>>>>Ratzinger continues to allow Cardinal Law - who refused to cooperate with the police - a prestigious position in Rome and your argument was along the lines of, "Well I'm not really sure what is going on there."

    Cardinal Law appeared before the Grand Jury - how much more cooperation can he give?

    >>>>>I cant wait to hear your defense of Dario Castrillon Hoyos.

    I don't know the circumstances completely. I think he may have been misled into thinking that the bishop had refused to reveal something told him in confession. But he should have checked the story before commenting on it.

    >>>>>>>And dont ask us to "ask any member of the Legionaries of Christ" about Ratzinger. Why dont you tell us. Why dont you explain why this group werent investigated, reported to the police and disbanded long ago? Would Ratzinger's fear of Sodano have anything to do with it.

    Perhaps - but why attack Ratzinger for doing what no one else would do when he was in a position to do it? That's like attacking Oscar Schindler for being in the Nazi party. Ratzinger never accepted gifts or hospitality from the Legion when others were doing so.

    >>>>>And maybe you could explain too why Ratzinger signed and sent a letter to a Bishop asking him not to sack a repeatedly offending paedophile priest, but instead to consider "the greater good of the universal church"?

    The priest in question, already deal with by civil authorities, petitioned for laicisation. Ratzinger wanted this to be given further consideration. You know he is generally opposed to easy laicisation in same way as he is opposed to easy annulments. You have misrepresented this case as a bishop writing to have a priest punished and Ratzinger blocking it to protect the Church.

  • Comment number 25.


    Firstly, thank you for at last offering some ‘argument’ to back up your adoration of Ratzinger and your dismissal of Kung. Needless to say, I disagree almost entirely with the “interpretation” of Vatican II you put forward. Ratzinger’s hermeneutics of “continuity and disruption” have also been widely criticised, a fact you fail to mention.

    When you state “altars being smashed, vestments dumped, choirs thrown out”, to what are you referring? Henry the Eighth? Communist persecution of the Church in China perhaps?

    Although the imagery you use is colourful, its hardly the truth is it, MCC?

    Our liturgy had become increasingly devotional and divorced from the Sacred Scriptures. Vatican II tried to address that problem by giving a central place to the Word of God in our liturgy, asking churches to clear the sanctuary of pious statues and religious artefacts which had little to do with Mass. We were asked to simplify, to make more accessable – Jesus.

    No altars were smashed, vestments changed (as they have done since they were first used) and choirs were asked to ‘lead’ communal singing as opposed to making ‘performances.’ It was about inclusion, not exclusion.

    As regards collegiality, there was a recognition that Popes had become increasingly removed and isolated from a rapidly changing world. (It is also imperative to see Vatican II in the light of a world which was only just recovering from two world wars. Christians killing Christians!!)

    No one was trying to oust the Pope, there was simply a recognition that, at the very least, lines of communication had to be improved. That is why we emphasized the importance of the College of Cardinals, had national and international conferences of Bishops and ad limina visits, to give a legitimate voice to the people of God.

    Few Bishops have acted in important matters, unilaterally. If they have, Ratzinger has sacked them, immediately. However, Ratzinger has continually acted in important matters without any consultation with anyone AND has frequently brought the office of Pope into disrepute by doing so.

    Ratzinger’s daily routine is an early morning Mass, meetings with who ever is allowed access in the morning then the afternoon and evening is spent alone in his library reading and writing. This is where he makes his decisions, not in dialogue or consultation with anyone.

    One disastrous example (among many) of his total disregard for collegiality was indeed his revoking of excommunications on four Pius X Bishops, including the infamous Williamson. It was a public relations disaster for the Catholic Church. (Your contention that he further isolated the loony fringe of that particular group, doesn’t stand. They were already isolated. Why bring them back? Especially when he offered no way back for a far greater number of Catholic priests and nuns who had effectively been constructively dismissed by him.)

    Not content with that, he then appointed Fr Gerhard Wagner as Bishop of Linz in Austria. Wagner had preached that Hurricane Katrina was God’s retribution on abortionists, prostitutes and homosexuals in New Orleans. Why would he appoint another loony as Bishop? One phone call to Cardinal Schonborn in Austria could have averted yet another public relations disaster.

    Angered by Ratzinger’s decisions over Williamson and Wagner, Cardinal Christophe Schonborn of Vienna demanded a meeting with him. When his very serious points were ignored by Ratzinger, Schonborn called a meeting of Austrian Bishops who then demanded that in future, Ratzinger learn from his mistakes and be more “scrupulous” in his future appointments. Again he ignored this advice and has set about appointing Bishops and Cardinals throughout the world who are at times, reactionary right wing.

    Ratzinger’s idea of continuity is to return the Catholic Church to an era which itself had drifted so far away from the values of the Gospel that, at times, it was no longer recognisable as being ‘about Jesus Christ and his teachings.’ He has damaged the Body of Christ more than anyone in modern times and is himself the cause of the “RUPTURE” he so bitterly complains about.

    PS The point about Cardinal Law is not whether or not he appeared before a Grand Jury, as you keep repeating. THE POINT IS - He covered up for, time and time again, abuser priests. He did not act to protect children and many more children had their lives destroyed because of his inaction. Do you understand that, MCC? The fact that he is still accorded a senior position by Ratzinger is a continuing scandal and shows the world that Ratzinger is not serious about the issue of child abuse. Do you understand that it is important that Ratzinger sacks him?

    And if you dont know anything about the former Head of the Congregation for the Clergy, Cardinal Castrillon Hoyos, I suggest you find out about him as a matter of urgency.

  • Comment number 26.

    When Wilde was told that Carson was to prosecute him he said: "he will pursue his case with all the added bitterness of an old friend". Kung pulls no punches, nor should he.

  • Comment number 27.

    I have read Kung's letter with keen interest. He is indeed a professor.
    What has struck me outside of his erudition is the fact that he has so missed the mark on so many issues - especially those I feel he has over-relied on the media as his source!

    Missed is the reality that rather than decrease cases of HIV/AIDS in Africa, condoms have increased this. A worker on the field over the years would testify to this. In a village where condoms were distributed freely over a period of 10 years in Nigeria, numbers of those infected increased to about 125% over the same period. How is that so? Some have said - Oh, they didn't know how to use them properly. Were they distributed or not? The large sums of money expended on this program could have been used to give water to the community and educate the villagers on the need for one partner, etc.

    Missed is Kung's idea of reconciliation. He proposes reconciliation of Jews - good; Protestants, especially Anglicans - good. He however discountenances the reconciliation of the Pius X society Bishops. Where is that adage that "Charity begins at home?" This makes me believe that Kung has a hidden agenda. Why? If the Pope concentrated efforts on anything thing else, there would be something else to use against him! Here is an adage: when you want to kill a dog, give it a bad name!

    Missed is the point that the "celibacy rule" is responsible for many priests leaving the Church. Some, yes, but not that many. While it is easy to read anyone who's left use that as the easiest satisfactory reason, many of those who leave have ulterior motives. When you check their files, you are bound to see that they had issues from time and only very few of these border on sexuality. After all they knew it was there before they got in.

    Sexual scandals have been there from time. Perhaps they are well highlighted at the moment. Kung, why don't you come out and give us statistics of what you know about this? You of all should know at what time the CDF too charge directly of such affairs. You should know the extent the Local Bishops have (enough) power to deal with such matters. You should know how culturally, families covered abuses up until recently. You should know the difference between sexual abuse and physical abuse and realize that 90% of ause claims today were physical - and that the press is not making any distinction here.

    This makes me to ask the question: WHAT IS YOUR GROUSE WITH BENEDICT XVI?

    I cannot believe the reports I read - purportedly coming from the great Hans Kung. I think he has overstayed his days on earth. Forget popular acclaim: if in this age and time someone claims there is a link between paedophilia and celibacy, he does not deserve to speak!

    Paedophilia stems from a moral defect that cuts across all. Can anyone tell Kung what the data is of married men engaged in paedophilia?

  • Comment number 28.


    You might get away with such nonsense in the Telegraph, but not on here my friend.

    Condoms, like all contraceptives, are not 100% foolproof. Most condom failure is due to human factors, failure to use them properly or consistantly, regardless of what comics you've read, say. This could be corrected with proper safe sex education but, tragically, the anti-condom brigade are against that too. Poorly manufactured or heat or transport or age damaged condoms can fail too. Non latex (sheep skin) condoms can also fail as the pores do allow the HIV virus through. Latex condoms dont - fact. (US Centre for Disease Control and Prevention. CDC.) Latex condoms have been proven to also prevent the spread of herpes simplex, CMV, hepatitis B, chlamydia and gonorrhea.

    Please could you tell us where we can find the stats on this magical Nigerian village so we can verify your claims. Was it in 'Noddy goes to Africa?'

    You also leave yourself wide open to attack using the "wasted money" argument. The Peter's Pence collection on its own presently tops up the Vatican's already brimming coffers to the tune of £70 million per annum. Let THEM use some of that money, or the millions they spend on theatrical liturgies or fine Vatican wining and dining, on "water for the community." I've never met a thirsty priest yet, never mind Bishop or Cardinal. And the "education on the need for one partner" you call for, is yet another arrogant colonial imposition of European morality on the rest of the world. We arent exactly shining examples of one partner, life time monogamy here in the West, in case you hadnt noticed. And, in case you didnt notice either, the Church doesnt get to lecture anyone on sexual morality any more.

    If you read Kung's words carefully, he is not against the reconciliation with the Pius Xth crowd. He actually stated that he wanted to see Ratzinger make preconditions for their return. Not denying the horror of the gas chambers should certainly have been one of them. Vast amounts of priests left to get married, contrary to what you say. All of them went into priesthood with the intention of leading celibate lives. If they are guilty of anything it is of being subjected to being locked away from society during their training, having little or no experience of the world, of relationships and any mention of sexuality being frowned upon by sexually repressed clergy teachers.

    There are scores of problems stemming from this archaic monastic type formation, not just paedophillia. Have a wee look at the instance of alcoholism and the priesthood and try telling me that there is not a direct link with mandatory celibacy. There is a phrase used amongst clergy, "sex substitute." It refers to anything from playing golf five days a week to being ever presents at the local horse or greyhound track.
    The lives of many priests are simply dysfunctional with many instances of all sorts of innappropriate behaviour patterns.

    The leadership of the church knew only too well about the problems (especially the sexual acting out) of immature priests. Many senior seminaries, my own included, recognised that taking kids from being locked away at junior seminary from aged 12 to 18, then placing these young men straight into senior seminary for 6 years and ordination at aged 24, was just asking for trouble. A rule was brought in by many Bishops Conferences that such students had to take a year out after second year (aged 20). They had to take jobs and live IN the world for a while and learn a bit from the university of life. Why did the Bishops quietly do this? Because they were constantly being faced with 'scandals' of priests behaving badly, immature adults. Men who in some facets of their personalities, were still only 12 years old.

    Junior seminaries in my country were all closed by 1980. Not because of lack of numbers but because the Bishops recognised that the best place for teenagers to be is in their own homes with their own families - away from predatory priests too!!

    Kung knows these problems and has written extensively on them in many of his books. He couldnt have got such information from the Media because the Media has never touched on many of these subjects and is quite clueless (as you are) about the inner workings of the Catholic Church and what training for the priesthood actually entails. Why wont they allow young men to study theology and philosophy at universities? Contro, control, control!

    And if you wish to look beyond priests leaving the Church to get married to 'ulterior motives' for them leaving in such vast numbers, cast a glance at Ratzinger. The morale of the Roman Catholic clergy was never so high as it was in the period just after Vatican II Council. It was a much needed breath of fresh air blown into the Church at the behest of the saintly John XIII. Ratzinger and his cronies in the CDF with their absolute fixation with 'authority' have systematically squeezed the life out of the Church, persecuted decent men and women, while promoting cliques and 'private, by invitation only' churches within churches like Opus Dei and the sickly Legionaries of Christ with their money, that tainted thing. Ratzinger only reads Gospels like, "Thou art Peter" while conveniently skipping past Jesus words on "leaders not Lording it over their people."

    Kung also insightfully mentions that there is a problem right now with young men putting themselves forward for priesthood, both "quantitavely and qualitatively." He is spot on. If you are a yes man, step this way. If you show a modicum of intelligence and an ability to be creative, to question, to be thoughtful and mature, you're out the door. Even at this moment, the Church is nurturing time bombs with its absolute insistence on conformity in its few remaining seminarians. The most many of these young men will ever be, is banal.

    Kung's "GROUSE" with Ratzinger is the same "GROUSE" millions of Catholics have with him. (And millions more now.) Ratzinger said quite openly that "the Church must grow smaller in order to purify itself." He has attempted to crush any legitimate questioning from the people of God, silenced as best he could any critical voices from within the church and behaved like an autocratic bully and a tyrant (while claiming to be "just a humble servant in the Lord's vineyard.")

    He is the one man we know for sure who knew exactly the size and scale of the paedophile problem in the Church. (And there is a lot more yet to come.) He did nothing. The only thing which is saving him at the moment is his Office.

    Finally, in response to your silly claims about most cases being about violence as opposed to sexual crimes against children by clergy, and your comparison of priest paedophiles with married paedophiles, I suggest you go to the Abuse Tracker web site. There you will read the actual court documentation, the facts about what these priests - hundreds of them in America alone - did. You'll find very little about slaps on the hand with slide rules. You will, however, find account after account of the rape of children, forced oral sex on children and a catalogue of deviant crimes against children, all of a sexual nature.

    Hundreds of these accounts landed on Ratzinger's desk - at his own request. The vast majority are still waiting on replies from him. He is condemned by his own actions and any amount of attempting to divert the blame away from him is not going to get him out of this one. The Vatican shredding machine may well be in action 24/7 at the moment, but there is enough evidence out there to justifiably lay the blame at his door, and rightly so.

    Its not Kung who is spouting nonsense he has read in the Press, its actually yourself, my friend. Maybe you should stick to the Telegraph blog.

  • Comment number 29.

    Quite tiresome.

  • Comment number 30.

    The discussion so far over-complicates what is fundamentally a simple issue. For decades (centuries perhaps) huge numbers of Catholic clergy have been violently abusing children, and have been getting away with it, because the church has put itself not just above the Law of man, but above the Law of God.

    The church has been complicit in these crimes, and is therefore just as guilty as the perverts who committed them.

    Pope Ratzinger will face his Day of Judgement and will in all likelihood be "sent below" for his part in the cover ups, but this is scant consolation to the many thousands of people who have suffered at the hands of this insidious institution.

    If the Law of God will not punish these perverts, its time for the Law of Man to take control.

  • Comment number 31.


    Fair comment. But it is also important to find out why this happened.

  • Comment number 32.

    "But it is also important to find out why this happened. "

    Yes indeed... and the Law of man does just that. Even though the evidence for wrongoing is overwhelming, the accused are fully entitled to defend themselves in an open court. The judicial system is designed to get at the truth, so let's allow it to proceed.

  • Comment number 33.

    @romejellybeen. You wrote such a beautiful piece as a response to me. I smiled all through as I read. What struck me was your agreement with me except for the fact that you were bent on disproving me! Of course I am aware I'm not on the Telegraph!
    1. You admitted condoms could fail ... but that was what I stated. Latex has been there since the 1930s ... it's not something new - and has been failing. Asking me about this village in Nigeria is unethical ... I did enough harm mentioning the country. If you are involved with Planned Parenthood, do your research if you are so keen on knowing the place. With a few "tips" here and there, you will get the truth.
    2. You said the Church should use Peter's pence for provision of water and other amenities. Are you the only one in this world who does not know that the Catholic Church has the highest level of charitable works?
    3. On the reconciliation without pre-conditions ... It is always different when the shoe pinches your own toe! If it doesn't, it was done wrongly. Is this about the person (now tagged "a holocaust denier") or the group of persons? Should I really be condemned because my dad or brother did something? Think about it. How about saying he began reconciliation and should extend it accordingly?
    4. When you write about "archaic monastic type of formation," I think of how well the Religions of the East have been blossoming in the recent past - despite their "archaic formation." Seriously, don't you think the problem is more with the fact that the Catholic heritage is being abandoned? If you would examine the richness of this heritage (as I should believe you have) and see how best to apply it in our modern times, you would be doing such a great good ... (work for you)! True, formation could fail - but sincerely, often times because of the very strong influence of the society on the persons before, during and after the formative years. Could this be why the very "attractive" Buddhist monastic way takes people completely away from the society? Formation in the Catholic Seminaries has developed a lot ... but I really don't know when you have in mind. At least the Religious Orders were sending their aspirants to College before Vatican II. Formation is developing (I didn't say change) all the time, but according to whose criteria? Sure, Vatican II talks about concern for the "Psycho-sexual" and emotional maturity of the candidates and of course, John Paul II in underscores the invaluable importance of "human formation" in Pastores Dabo Vobis. This is development. Has it occurred to you that the initial human formation from the family in our modern society may be terribly faulty? What are you doing about it? Anything goes ... it is the one who says "NO, some things can't just go like that" who is the devil. What a world! Biological age does not really matter when it comes to maturity ... I hope you know that. Depending on the nature of initial formation, someone who is 20 may be more emotionally mature than one who is 30. Did you ever have pen-pals? We did it from around age 9-13. For many, by 13, it was something childish! We moved on to the "next level." But have you seen or heard of a 30 year old pen-palling?
    5. You said "Kung's "GROUSE" with Ratzinger is the same "GROUSE" millions of Catholics have with him. (And millions more now.)" Christianity has never being about a "popularity contest." John 6:66-67: "After this, many of his disciples went away and accompanied him no more. Then Jesus said to the Twelve, 'What about you, do you want to go away too?'" I do remember that it was on one of those occasions regarding matters such as sexual abuse that the Pope said he would rather have a "small but sane Church." I wonder where you got the script of the Pope saying "the Church must grow smaller in order to purify itself." This was a response he made based on - as you say - his knowledge of "the magnitude of the Problems" now quoted out of context.
    6. I insist that one priest abusing a minor or anyone at that is one too many! If for nothing, for the position he holds. However, you and I know (assuming we are both being sincere) that if you want to get the truth, you examine all the parties concerned. It is a fact that many of the "abuse" claims so called are just that - claims often stemming from the inquisitive imaginations of those "manufacturing" them, be they the claimants or their lawyers. Getting on the "survivors' network" and so on would not give you the real stuff.

    Finally, I again submit that the "issues" raised by Kung are issues that every society grapples with - spiritual and temporal. Something else is at stake - and ... romejellybeen ... you may have picked to support what appears to be what it is not.

    Knowing Kung and the now Benedict XVI were both "periti" at Vatican II and that both were kind of "radical" makes me think Kung sees Benedict XVI as a traitor. Worse still, that he is so "orthodox" as against their initial "radical" stance ... that he chose to accept to be a bishop and leave the academia, etc. made Kung to "give up on him." Until you become a bishop, you don't truly know what "being a bishop" entails. As they say, "the one who looks into the pot knows the quantity of food remaining." What Kung needs to give Benedict XVI is understanding - not attack that is based on personal prejudices.
    I rest my case - whether on the Telegraph or on BBC.

  • Comment number 34.


    I see rather more disagreement between us than you do.

    You see sex education on the use of condoms as a waste of money. I see it as imperative for the fight against HIV/Aids.

    The Catholic Church, as in its people, its parishes and its charities are amongst the most generous in the world. Certainly not the Vatican. (Ever wondered why there's such a big Communist Party in Rome? - They watch the life styles of these "Servants" of Christ, close up... and sign up.)

    On Pius Xth's crowd. Seems to me that the Church has a choice. Romero or Maciel? They've been choosing the Maciels for the last thirty years and now its time to face the consequences.

    I have heard the argument about us abandoning 'The Faith' (at Vatican II) until I'm weary. I've watched the brain washed, biretta wielding 24 year olds being unleashed on parishes. I only see one good point about them and that is there insistence in wearing those black sutans in public. Those garments tend to have about two hundred buttons on them. While these wee automotons are buttoning up, that's at least ten minutes each day the folk dont have to be subjected to them. They are utterly removed from reality. My lived experience has shown me that those who place such store in this clericalism, as taught and imposed by the 'monastic' set up, are to be watched most carefully. It is no sign of holiness.

    Pen pals? I dont see the relevance.

    Popularity contest? It would appear to me, but maybe I'm wrong, that it is those on the left of the Church who have suffered while those who have persecuted them have lived pretty privileged life styles. It is those on the left who have kept their eyes on the Gospel. You cannot justify the pomp and ceremony type faith the Vatican lives and promotes, from Christ's teaching. Its only propped up by those who live it, justifying themselves with reference to medieval church teaching. The Gospel would condemn them.

    You dont need to lecture me on the victims of abuse. I am one. In my case, it was the opposite to what you say. The police couldnt get the victims to give evidence. It was left to about six of us from well over fifty victims in that school alone. (And it is one of the truly nauseating things for us still to read people calling us, in the majority, gold diggers, as you just did.)

    What is at stake is the teaching of Jesus Christ. That's exactly where I stand. What is at stake for the Vatican is something completely different - power, prestige, position, control and wealth. Thats why it will fall and the wisdom of Vatican II will prevail.

    Kung sees Benedict as a traitor. Other way round. Thats why Ratzinger sacked him.

    Your willingness to take everything Ratzinger has said and says, is naive. You should maybe question why your default position seems to be that he must be protected and supported at all costs.

    If he is the man you say he is, let him sack Law. Let him open up the Vatican archives and let us get at the truth. I've always had a problem about believing someone who avoids giving access to the truth.

    The best bit - Your claim that Ratzinger's words on the Church becoming smaller in order to purify itself, were said in relation to abuser priests. Lol. So why then has Ratzinger spent the last 30 years attacking so called "liberals/reformers/secularists",(bishops, priests and theologians) sacking them, defrocking them and excommunicating them, while at the same time turning a blind eye to the very paedophiles you claim he was referring to?

  • Comment number 35.

    >>>>>why then has Ratzinger spent the last 30 years attacking so called "liberals/reformers/secularists",(bishops, priests and theologians) sacking them, defrocking them and excommunicating them.

    Who are all these people? you make it sound like there are loads of them. who precisely are you talking about?

  • Comment number 36.


    It seems this discussion is turned over to just about two of us. I'd rather it wasn't but you see, you have to respond.

    Very seriously, I'm not sure anyone reading my text (open-heartedly) would accuse me of generalization as you just did. I used the term "many" to describe those exercising their imagination in the claims of abuses. I KNOW that some of the claims are true, otherwise, I won't even come up here to write anything.

    Having written that, I must say I AM SO SORRY to read you were abused ... my heart goes out to you and I will pray for you. (Don't say you don't need it - I mean it).

    However, that you were abused does not really, in the full sense, give you leverage over those who not. I am looking from the outside, without prejudice, from an objective standpoint. I examine all the facts before me without the clouded vision of emotions. Perhaps that is why you see divergences between us.

    I am not choosing to protect Benedict XVI at all costs. I just find it funny that he could be identified and his person so thoroughly attacked - just because of who he is. I am speaking as an outsider. I'm sure Ed Koch didn't exactly say what he said because he is a supporter of the Pope.

    Waoh ... the then Ratzinger "sacked" Kung? You mean from Munich or as Prefect of CDF? Can someone please give us dates here? I my memory serves me well, Kung was "sacked" in '79??? He didn't. Take a deep breath and look again at the merits of what I wrote earlier - don't be reactionary.

    Back to business ... I never wrote anything about sex education, but now that you mentioned it! Would you rather handover the education of your children (if you have) over sexual matters to some person you don't know or do it yourself? My own parents (and I to my children) taught me all of of the sexual education I needed. I'm glad they did - and made us feel secure about our sexuality. By the way, we had a neighbor who was a paedophile, a married man who later abused his own children - leading to a separation. Thank God our parents could talk about sexuality freely. On the other hand, I went to a school where the teacher taught us all kinds of sexual "deviations" and we reported home. Of course, we were always shown the right thing so we never bothered to "try."

    Have you ever read the works of Dr C M Roland on condoms? He may not be popular but I encourage you. He stood the gain nothing. Check it out. The safety of condoms CANNOT be guaranteed.

    Sacking Law is not our problem ... it could be done easily, and it's not beyond Benedict XVI. Will that solve the problem at hand? I seriously doubt it. If all the leadership of the Catholic Church resigns now, I do not see any of these issues being resolved.

    At 30, balanced people should have formed lasting relationships - business, emotional, etc. There is a problem with someone who at age hasn't and is trying to supplement through pen-pals - that's the relevance. Check out the stages of development in the human person.

    Finally, there was something I did not address in your first response to me that I need to. You wrote: "And the "education on the need for one partner" you call for, is yet another arrogant colonial imposition of European morality on the rest of the world. We arent exactly shining examples of one partner, life time monogamy here in the West, in case you hadnt noticed."
    I did notice the fact that monogamy is almost something forgotten. Those who don't want to practice it "claim" the state of things in Africa. Well, I did a research in Africa, precisely Nigeria (again). Those guys were polygamous because they needed manpower on their farms and it showed how wealthy they were - large families, large farms, signifying wealth (ability to cater for all those people). You make me sick when you give me the idea that men are incontinent and therefore need sexual "objects" to gratify their sexual impulses at all times. We are not brutes, and our ability to go for it or control ourselves shows how human we are. If you have a wife, because "one man, one wife" is a "colonial imposition", she can go ahead and you have no problems with that. Anyway, I guess that is why there are condoms, isn't it?

  • Comment number 37.

    Aich, romejellybeen ... I forgot something. When were given sex education at home and told about predators, including our neighbor, we were told that the police may not help us if we go to them, as some among them were a part of the whole thing. Instead, we were taught self-defense and given objects (no need to mention what) that would deal with them (male or female), just in case. Thank God it never happened and I never had to use those things. I think this is better than the crap given out today in schools. Parents should teach their children - not those "funny" teachers.

  • Comment number 38.

    post # 35

    "Who are these people?"

    Fr Tissa Balisuryia, three El Salvadoran priests who took government positions, Fr Peter Kennedy, Karl Rahner, Hans Kung, Charles Curran, to name but a few.

    These were high profile cases and the sackings were mostly on doctrinal issues. My question is why, when the Church clearly shows it can act quickly with regard to doctrinal issues, or priests who had affairs with women, it dragged its feet with regard to known paedophiles.

    There is also a much bigger issue with regard to all the nuns and priests whose position was made untenable because reactionary right wing/Opus Dei Bishops were foisted upon them. These are not documented, but they are there alright.

    We have huge sections of the Church who are totally ignored, then the likes of the Pius Xth mob (who ordained illegally and set themselves against the Vatican), welcomed back with open arms. While those who disagreed with the Vatican from the liberal side of the Church were left out in the cold.

    Ratzinger's agenda is pretty clear.

  • Comment number 39.


    This discussion has been going on for over a year on here and the same arguments you are putting forward now, have been put forward by MCC months ago. Your 'lying victims' argument will no doubt evolve into - but why didnt the police do anything? Or members of the Irish government? and now, what about the parents who knew and didnt report to the police? (You've already started on the 'most assaults were not of a sexual nature' line.) I've heard it all before. Anything rather than acknowledging a brutal and painful truth.

    Facts - Hundreds (if not thousands) of Catholic priests abused children. Bishops covered up. Ratzinger's role in all of this is highly suspect.

    The fact that I was abused is neither here nor there in terms of empathy etc.., and what you do with your prayer time is up to you. The relevance of my abuse is that for decades, I have been closely involved in this issue, before the Boston Globe took it up and long before The Ferns and Murphy reports.

    My opinion stems from lived experience and from direct contact with the Vatican over my case, not from newspaper opinion columns or internet chat rooms.

    I am not going to go through all the arguments yet again, look back the relevant threads and you'll see my opinion set out clearly.

    The main point in all of this seems to be the role of Ratzinger. My argument regarding him is that he failed to act with regard to paedophile priests,(while acting very quickly and with ruthless efficiency when it came to transgressors of a different kind.)

    He also often deliberately slowed down the process. One way he did this was by his use of the "diplomatic bag" form of communication, with relevant Bishops.

    Instead of sending letters via the international mail service, as he did with regard to other perceived transgressors, with complaints about paedophiles, he chose to move via the Papal Pronuncios for different parts of the world.

    A letter which would take two weeks to travel anywhere in the world by ordinary mail, could take over a year when sent by diplomatic bag. It was obvious to me and other victims that Ratzinger clearly stalled in the hope that the specific cases would disappear, that the victims would just give up.

    And if it wasnt for the Press and the courage and tenacity of victims, children across the world would still be being abused by Catholic clergy in their thousands.

    As regards colonialism and Catholicism, I guess I smelled a rat 25 years ago when I heard African children saying the Hail Mary with Irish accents. Something was being imposed there, I concluded.

  • Comment number 40.


    In terms of your comments about moral developement, have a wee look at Lawrence Kohlberg's theory. (Pre conventional, conventional and post-convetional.)

    You'll find that many paedophiles are at the 'punishment/reward' stages and many of the clergy are at the 'policeman' stage. (Rigid obedience to authority figures, even when they are demonstrably wrong.)

    Priests who have gone beyond such stages to 5 & 6 where they see higher values than mere assent, are the ones who are not welcome in our Church.

  • Comment number 41.

    @ romejellybeen. Now I know it's about you ... I can NEVER understand because you are the victim (for it is the one who wears the shoe that knows where it pinches). I'd never even as much as debate with you on such a personal matter, for alas, I'm not a Lawyer. Once you go personal, I will withdraw. My own experience has been SWEET as far as the Church is concerned. I see now why we can never agree - once it is about personal experience.

    But when it comes to Hans Kung, my friend, I will debate with anyone who has that thing called reason. "It's not that we agree on everything," Küng said. "But the pope has great empathy for the problems of the world, and wanted to give a positive sign." This comment was made by Kung after his September 2005 meeting with Benedict XVI. Why do you think he made that statement? Did you join in the praise of the Pope when the statement was made? Why would you now turn the full wrath of your critique when Kung says something else? Kung has issues that I insist, you do not know - I don't profess to know all, but I happen to know some.

    I don't agree with Benedict XVI on some issues. I wrote a review of his liturgical stance at this time. I preferred John Paul II on the liturgy (do you have an idea how many of the Catholic faith nearly lynched the great man just because of that?) At every turn, there would be people for and against. Since you have a personal case, do treat it as personal. But since Kung, the second Magisterium (as his friend Metz called him at his - Metz's - 70th birthday) has called for a second council, it's something public and we all can debate on the issues he raised.

    As to the way and manner of conducting it's business, each government uses the method it trusts. I don't know which government sends confidential information by regular mail. You may have had a different experience wherever you are writing from, but I know that where I am, confidential matters are treated through the best channel possible, even if sluggish means. Companies do same. Things run slow in the Vatican - with a Skeletal staff and enormous work, to paraphrase Timothy Radcliffe in a recent publication. But they still get around making things work.

    No offense meant, but if you ask me (as if I matter), when you have a clouded vision of things because of your involvement, it is not the best time to engage in a public debate on similar issues. An example of the matter is that I raised challenges in my last mail ... I really have not seen them addressed.

  • Comment number 42.


    Again its up to you whether you want to debate the subject of clergy sexual abuse or not. And you are right to say that it has coloured my opinion on a variety of issues. I didnt throw reason, common sense and logic out of the window altogether though.

    However, the whole of your last post typifies the kind of treatment many of the abused have had to put up with and still have to put up with - the criticism that our opinion is somehow slanted or loaded, and therefore not to be taken seriously.

    We dont understand the Church, we are not educated, we are just angry and bitter, we just go on and on about it (see MCC's comment about my post being "tiresome") etc.. How easily we are dismissed. ("They're after money" is a very commonly used way of dismissing us.)

    The problem for me is a. I am a priest and I certainly do understand the workings of the Church, only too well b. I am educated. Having done philosophy, theology, church history etc.., I can identify the issues and coherently comment on them. c. My interest is not financial, I have never asked for money, nor will I.

    That has been a problem for me in the past in that, as I soon discovered when I went public, I had to then be discredited in other ways.

    You are asking me to believe that Kung has a hidden agenda and has issues that you "insist" you know about, but I dont. Okay then, I'll never listen to another word Kung says because a complete stranger on a web site tells me so, without providing any evidence!! Sorry, thats exactly the type of crap which needs to be challenged and which I refer to above. The deliberate and conscious attempt to descredit someone at a personal level because they cannot descredit him intellectually.

    I agree with Kung on accountability, collegiality, ecumenism, inter faith co-operation, the role of women, celibacy, barrier contraception, and a host of other issues. You'll have to come up with something pretty spectacular about Kung for me to change my views on these issues. They are present in me passionately and independently of Kung.

    I actually made no comment when Ratzinger invited Kung to lunch. Although I do seem to remember Kung also stating at that time, that Ratzinger was an intellectual Pope. "Very intellectual, that's why he is so dangerous", was the exact quote.

    You're kinda hinting that given my personal involvement in the abuse issue, I'm possibly not able to be detached enough to argue objectively.
    Maybe if you could see your way past your obvious dislike of Kung, you might be able to see the value in much of what he says.

    Just for some light reading, here's an article which appeared in the Austrian Press yesterday. Again, very serious allegations are made about Ratzinger's involvement in the appointment of an abuser Bishop and in the subsequent cover up. This time from Cardinal Schonborn, someone even MCC might consider, "someone of consequence."


  • Comment number 43.

    Post # 36

    "You make me sick...................... Isn't it?"

    Let me respond. Utter tripe!

  • Comment number 44.

    @ romejellybeen - "Let me respond. Utter tripe!"

    I really wonder which part of it (post 36)- or if it is the whole lot that is "utter tripe" to you. If you have heard about it over and over, and perhaps considered it foolish, dear Father, would you deem to consider it a coincidence that so many people are saying the same thing or that in a way, it is the truth, just not admitted?

  • Comment number 45.

    "You make me sick...." etc..

    Polygamy, in anything I've read, has a lot to do with groups of people in certain parts of the world, reacting to their circumstances and environment in an attempt to assure their survival. For example, in areas where there are traditionally high infant mortality rates. However, I am admittedly no expert on the subject and I'm sure others on here are far more knowledgeable in this area than me.

    However, where on earth do you draw the conclusion that I am equating polygamy in some former colonies with some men's (and women's) inability to control their sex drives? Its utter tripe. The argument isnt true, and I didnt say that it was.

    And I surely dont have to defend the stats in the West, which tell us that a huge percentage of monogamous marriages end in divorce.

    Your being "sick" was unnecessary.


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