.- In a sharply written article, Italian Catholic journalist Vittorio Messori has responded to the criticisms of dissident German theologian Hans Küng, who says he has grown tired of waiting for the Pope to die and has published an insulting "review" of John Paul's pontificate in the Italian daily Corriere della Sera.
In his article, Küng lays out eleven supposed contradictions of the Pope and blames him for "the rejection of women in the Church, the spread of AIDS, the loss of vocations, ecumenical decline and the 'inquisitional' attack against theologians who are critical of the Vatican."
Messori says the complaints by Küng are nothing new. Küng had prepared the article months ago and had wanted to publish it after the death of John Paul II. "The Swiss-German theologian probably has gotten tired of waiting. It’s been years since the Corriere della Sera asked me to respond to another article by Küng in which he predicted (for the good of the Church, naturally) the imminent demise of the Pope. And not in the sense of his retirement, but rather in the sense of his death, because otherwise even from his place of retirement he could have influenced the Conclave and determined the election of a cardinal of his kind. And for our theologian this would have been the worst of misfortunes," said Messori, according to a translation of the article in the Spanish newspaper "La Razon."
Messori notes that Küng has not changed his tune one bit since almost the first moment of John Paul II's election as Pope. During the 25 years of his pontificate, in which empires have fallen and cultural perspectives have been shaped, Küng, "deprived for some time now of his title of 'Catholic theologian,' continues to repeat the same things."
Küng's ideas remain those of the mid 1970's, writes Messori, when young priests were awed by the discovery of sociology, psychology, psychoanalysis and all of the "isms," from feminism to socialism. They discovered democracy and they want to apply it in the Church as well. They discovered sexuality and if they didn't leave the priesthood or religious life, like one-third of priests and nuns did, they claimed they could exercise it while remaining in the clerical or religious life. They sought to live like the laity, throwing out their cassocks and Roman collars but holding on to their comfortable status as religious. They discovered the Protestant Reformation, five centuries later, and bragged that it was something new and modern, Messori noted.
While many priests tried to marry Marxism with the Gospels, Küng took as his reference point the secular, opulent and liberal ideas of Northern Europe and organized his theological work like a corporate manager.
"It's clear he had nothing in common with another priest--the Archbishop of Krakow--who came from a Poland where the faith was almost heroic, where popular devotion crossed paths with daily life, where the Virgin Mary was ever-present, were secularism reared its ungodly head and, instead of attracting people, inspired fear and horror, where the catechism was still followed and where the elegant 'papers' by theologians of the Western universities were not read," Messori underscored.
The world doesn’t know what to do with the theories of the 70’s, Messori continued. Believers today are not interested the type of ideas promoted by Küng. “They are not interested in electing their parish priest or bishop, they are not frustrated that their daughters cannot go to the seminary, but they are willing to listen to a priest, probably one who is dressed as such, who will talk to them about God and Christ like they used to do before.”
“Has nobody told Father Küng,” asked Messori, “that if so many people from the most Catholic of the continents, Latin America, are joining the crazy Protestant sects or going back to the Afro-American cults, it’s because they are precisely searching for those things that they no longer are getting from certain Catholic priests” who claim to be choosing the poor but whom the poor have not chosen?
”More than defending the pontificate of John Paul II from the deluge of accusations against him and those who are faithful to him…we need to show how the Küng alternatives are the not the best answer to the problems of the Church. These problems exist today and have always existed. But, in order to address them, we need much more than the prescriptions of an ideological ‘modernism’ that been overcome by history and exposed for its limitations and risks,” Messori countered.