Gian Vian, the director of L'Osservatore Romano responded last week to an article written by a Swiss priest and theologian aimed at discrediting the Pope and German hierarchy. Vian described the article as “mediocre and of terrible taste” and noted that “it wouldn't deserve a response but as the attacks of the Pontiff are direct and explicit it might be opportune to say some words."
Fr. Hans Küng, an old colleague of Pope Benedict XVI from when they were both Theology professors in Tübingen in the 1960s, wrote an article for last Thursday's edition of Italy’s “La Repubblica” newspaper in which he called for a direct apology to German sex abuse victims from Pope Benedict XVI. He claimed the Holy Father is “the man who has been for decades the main person responsible for the hiding of these abuses on a worldwide level.”
In a seething tone, he denied the Pope's definition of celibacy as a "precious gift" saying that the Pontiff ignores biblical teachings that specifically allow married clergy. He further demanded recognition from German bishops and the Pope for their responsibility in cases of abuse.
In the course of the article, he also specifically denounced the president of the German bishops, Archbishop Robert Zollitsch, for his statement that "all experts" exclude the possibility that celibacy is directly related to pedophilia.
Fr. Küng's article was met with a variety of responses on Friday, among them was that of L'Osservatore Romano's director Gian Vian, who was interviewed by “Il Foglio” newspaper.
Vian defended celibacy within the Church saying that in addition to the 11th century reforms that established the vow, it has evident foundations in the Gospel of Matthew (19:11) and First Corinthians (7:1), both which offer "clear words" from the "primordial times" of Christianity.
Regarding the placement of the sexually abusive priest Fr. Peter Hullermann in a parish within the Archdiocese of Munich and Friesing while then-Cardinal Ratzinger was in charge, Vian noted that "the facts didn't take place as Küng and certain press have recounted them." Disobedience of Cardinal Ratzinger's wishes to prohibit the priest from activities in parishes led to the further crimes against young people, Vian explained. Fr. Küng had written that the Pope could not be "exonerated" by the vicar general's full acceptance of responsibility.
Fr. Küng's "attacks" on the Pope and Archbishop Robert Zollitsch, according to Vian, appear to have been written more to "uphold stereotypes" than solve any specific questions.