Küng Claim: Dogma of Infallibility Up For Discussion – How Likely Is That?

Fr. Hans Küng, the Swiss theologian, has told The Tablet that he has received a letter from Pope Francis that responds to his “request to give room to a free discussion on the dogma of infallibility”.    

 In my view, the Catholic Church as a community of faith will be preserved, but only if it abandons the Roman system of rule. We managed to get by without this absolutist system for 1,000 years. The problems began in the 11th century, when the popes asserted their claim to absolute control over the Church. (Interview: Spiegel Online International, 21 September, 2011

In my view, the Catholic Church as a community of faith will be preserved, but only if it abandons the Roman system of rule. We managed to get by without this absolutist system for 1,000 years. The problems began in the 11th century, when the popes asserted their claim to absolute control over the Church.
(Interview: Spiegel Online International, 21 September, 2011)

 

The Tablet has been unable to confirm the existence of the letter as Küng refused requests by The Tablet and the National Catholic Reporter to the Swiss theologian to view a copy of the letter.  

“On 9 March, my appeal to Pope Francis to give room to a free, unprejudiced and open-ended discussion on the problem of infallibility appeared in the leading journals of several countries. I was thus overjoyed to receive a personal reply from Pope Francis immediately after Easter. Dated 20 March, it was forwarded to me from the nunciature in Berlin.”

Küng said that in the Pope’s reply, Francis makes the following points which “are significant” to the Swiss theologian: The fact that Pope Francis answered at all and did not let my appeal fall on deaf ears; the fact that he replied himself and not via his private secretary or the Secretary of State; that he emphasises the fraternal manner of his Spanish reply by addressing me as Lieber Mitbruder (Dear Brother) in German and puts this personal address in italics, that he clearly read the appeal, to which I had attached a Spanish translation, most attentively.

“[And] that he is highly appreciative of the considerations which had led me to write in which I suggest theologically discussing the different issues which the infallibility dogma raises in the light of Holy Scripture and Tradition with the aim of deepening the constructive dialogue between the ‘semper reformanda’ 21st century Church and the other Christian Churches and post-modern society.”

“Pope Francis has set no restrictions,” Küng added. “He has thus responded to my request to give room to a free discussion on the dogma of infallibility. I think it is now imperative to use this new freedom to push ahead with the clarification of the dogmatic definitions which are a ground for controversy within the Catholic Church and in its relationship to the other Christian Churches.

The Swiss theologian said in his statement to The Tablet that the letter is part of the “new freedom” that Pope Francis has brought to the Vatican.

“I am fully convinced that in this new spirit a free, impartial and open-ended discussion of the infallibility dogma, this fateful key question of destiny for the Catholic Church, will be possible,”Küng said. “I am deeply grateful to Pope Francis for this new freedom and combine my heartfelt thanks with the expectation that the bishops and theologians will unreservedly adopt this new spirit and join in this task in accordance with the Scriptures and with our great church tradition.


Full text of Fr. Hans Küng statement. Translation: Christa Pongratz-Lippitt, Vienna

The Pope answers Hans Küng

On 9 March, my appeal to Pope Francis to give room to a free, unprejudiced and open-ended discussion on the problem of infallibility appeared in the leading journals of several countries. I was thus overjoyed to receive a personal reply from Pope Francis immediately after Easter. Dated 20 March, it was forwarded to me from the nunciature in Berlin.

In the Pope’s reply, the following points are significant for me:

– The fact that Pope Francis answered at all and did not let my appeal fall on deaf ears so to speak;

– The fact that he replied himself and not via his private secretary or the Secretary of State;

– That he emphasises the fraternal manner of his Spanish reply by addressing me asLieber Mitbruder(Dear Brother) in German and puts this personal address in italics,

– That he clearly read the appeal, to which I had attached a Spanish translation, most attentively;

– That he is highly appreciative of the considerations which had led me to write Volume 5 in which I suggest theologically discussing the different issues which the infallibility dogma raises in the light of Holy Scripture and Tradition with the aim of deepening the constructive dialogue between the “semper reformanda” 21st century Church and the other Christian Churches and post-modern society.

Pope Francis has set no restrictions. He has thus responded to my request to give room to a free discussion on the dogma of infallibility. I think it is now imperative to use this new freedom to push ahead with the clarification of the dogmatic definitions which are a ground for controversy within the Catholic Church and in its relationship to the other Christian Churches.

I could not have foreseen then quite how much new freedom Pope Francis would open up in his Post-Synodal Exhortation Amoris Laetitia. Already in the introduction he declares “that not all doctrinal discussions, moral or pastoral, need to be resolved with interventions of the Magisterium.” He takes issue with “cold bureaucratic morality” and does not want bishops to continue behaving as if they were “arbiters of grace”. He sees the Eucharist not as a reward for the perfect but as “nourishment for the weak”. He repeatedly quotes statements made at the Episcopal Synod or at national bishops’ conferences. Pope Francis no longer wants to be the sole spokesman of the Church.

This is the new spirit that I have always expected from the Magisterium. I am fully convinced that in this new spirit a free, impartial and open-ended discussion of the infallibility dogma, this fateful key question of destiny for the Catholic Church, will be possible. I am deeply grateful to Pope Francis for this new freedom and combine my heartfelt thanks with the expectation that the bishops and theologians will unreservedly adopt this new spirit and join in this task in accordance with the Scriptures and with our great church tradition. Source – The Tablet

Comment: 

That Hans Küng is a heretic par excellence is beyond dispute.  He is no stranger to controversy on all sorts of topics. His support for euthanasia is well known, and so it comes as no surprise that he doesn’t believe in “an eternal Hell”.   Yet, despite the fact that he is officially not allowed to teach as a “Catholic theologian”, he appears to have easy access to the pope of the day. In September, 2005, Pope Benedict invited Father Küng to dinner at his summer residence in Castel Gandolfo, where, according to Küng, they spent four hours together in a relaxed, warm discussion in the Pope’s private study and dining room. Now, we have Pope Francis apparently willing to put the dogma of infallibility on the table for discussion aka challenge. 

The Tablet admits that “Küng refused requests by The Tablet and the National Catholic Reporter to the Swiss theologian to view a copy of the letter.”

So we’re asked to take the word of this anything-but-Catholic “theologian” that the Pope is prepared to admit a challenge to the dogma of infallibility. Well. Who’s ever gonna believe THAT?  

The Dogma of Infallibility is a revealed truth of the Faith. No Pope would give the impression that it could be overturned ergo Pope Francis will not permit that to happen.... will he?

The Dogma of Infallibility is a revealed truth of the Faith. No Pope would give the impression that it could be overturned, ergo Pope Francis will not permit that to happen…. will he?  

Pope Grateful To Heretic Kung…

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The following extract is from a report in the National Catholic Reporter – you can read the entire text by clicking on the photo of Hans Kung…

It is through the lens of our long relationship that I read Volume 3 of Hans’ memoirs.

It is vintage Küng. Hans must have — with German-Swiss clockwork — saved and carefully filed every paper and note he took on his myriad travels, meetings, conferences and conversations. All is carefully documented, not in a pedantic manner, but in a way that assures the reader that she or he is getting wie es eigentlich gewesen, or what really happened.

So many of the world’s thinkers and doers came to Hans, or he to them, that this third, and presumably last, volume of memoirs reads much like an intellectual, cultural and political “who’s who” of the late 20th and early 21st century. Hans obviously wrote right up until the printer pulled the paper out of his hand to finish the book, for he recorded that on June 28, 2013, he wrote to Pope Francis asking for permission to reproduce the warm, handwritten note Francis had written to him in Spanish. (He clearly received an affirmative response.)

Hans means to make this volume his vaya con Dios in the sense that, at the end, he looks back and reflects on what he judges is a full and complete life. He said goodbye to his lifelong weeks of skiing — “one of the most fascinating sports” — in his beloved Swiss Alps as of 2010. He speaks of his various health issues and countering exercises.

The title of the mere 350-page English-language book, Can We Save the Catholic Church?/We Can Save the Catholic Church!, says it all. The second half of the English title is not in the original German (which was Ist die Kirche noch zu retten? — “Can the Church Still Be Saved?”), but it echoes a sentiment that can be found in all seven chapters of the book. Küng sees long-term history moving through an ongoing series of lesser and larger paradigm shifts that are always resisted until a tipping point is reached and the new paradigm takes the center of thought and action.

He is convinced — as I am, as well — that we are in the midst of a major paradigm shift that, expectedly, is vehemently resisted. Nevertheless, it is replacing the old — in this case, the Catholic medieval/Counter Reformation — paradigm.

It is interesting and encouraging to read that last summer, when Hans sent a note of greeting and a Spanish copy of this book to Francis (and to the cardinals on the new papal Council of Cardinals, each in his own language), in only a few days he received the handwritten card mentioned above. In it, Francis thanked Hans for his note and the book, which, he said, he would read with pleasure.

Hans obviously knows intimately more about the deep problems of the past and present Catholic church than anyone else alive today, and he distills these structural, deadly flaws with scorching clarity. However, he doesn’t simply criticize. He also lays out a set of suggested action plans. Hans, and now his readers, sees the depth of the disease in each portion of the church. But, learning the lessons of history, he knows that change is not only possible, but also inevitable.

Further, Hans also provides grounds for the inner courage that is needed to begin, or continue, those efforts, which will accelerate that positive change in the Catholic church. It is a vision of the church to which Hans, like so many others, has devoted, and will continue to devote, his life.  END OF EXTRACT

Comment

Let’s just run through that key paragraph (out of all the key paragraphs) again:

It is interesting and encouraging to read that last summer, when Hans sent a note of greeting and a Spanish copy of this book to Francis (and to the cardinals on the new papal Council of Cardinals, each in his own language), in only a few days he received the handwritten card mentioned above. In it, Francis thanked Hans for his note and the book, which, he said, he would read with pleasure.

I suppose we should be grateful that it’s only a handwritten note Kung received and not a personal telephone call, but still. Compare the treatment of Hans Kung, known heretic (who not so long ago intimated that he would consider ending his own life in a spirit of “euthanasia’s not all bad”) with the treatment meted out to anyone of the remotest “traditional” leaning, the Franciscans of the Immaculate springing to mind.

I’m lost for words, except to say that I’m prepared for the inevitable  Kung canonisation when it comes. What about you?