A few weeks ago, I reported on the fallout from L’Affaire Wagner. For those of you with short memory spans, Pope Benedict XVI’s candidate for auxiliary bishop of Linz was bullied into withdrawing his nomination by the Austrian bishops. To add insult to injury, the Austrian bishops sent an open letter to Pope Benedict XVI that he not interfere in their affairs.
It is now Hans Kung, who is voicing his disappointment with the policies of the Holy Father. According to Deutsche Welle , the eminent Swiss theologian has been disappointed with the reactionary views of the Holy Father with regard to ecumenism. Kung also hoped that Pope Benedict would be “reforming, ecumenical, and open to the future.” Kung also notes that the Pope has lost a great deal of his credibility among Catholics and said that the Pope should justify the lifting of the excommunication of Bishop Williamson.
For many conservatives like myself, Hans Kung is one of the most controversial names in modern Catholic theology. In 1971, Kung rejected outright the dogma of papal infallibility. Additionally, he also served as an advisor to the Second Vatican Council. Some traditionalists believe that he along with Annibale Bugnini was responsible for the reform of the Gregorian Mass as well as the controversial documents on ecumenism and religious liberty.
Given his controversial background, I am not surprised that Kung would be disappointed with what the Holy Father has done in recent months. If anything, Kung cannot see the good that has been coming out of this pontificate since the Pope promulgated “Summorum Pontificum.” That document allowed the Catholic Church to breathe with both lungs and gave the Gregorian Mass back to those that sought it.
While Kung decries the Holy Father’s lack of ecumenism, I would like to point out that the Holy Father’s job is to discuss with other religions those issues which are of importance to all. These include world peace. This does not and cannot mean that the Holy Father endorses these religions when he kisses a Koran or prays in a synagogue. He only does this to show his respect for these other religious traditions.
I personally do not believe that we are living in a reactionary pontificate. Pope Benedict XVI is a man who is trying to repair the damage done to the Church over the last forty years by people such as Hans Kung and Annibale Bugnini. Of course, the damage is too widespread to be repaired in one pontificate yet there are hopeful signs that things are turning around for the better.
Let us continue to pray for the Holy Father during this most difficult time.
Our Lady of the Angels, pray for us!