9 April 2021

Hans Kueng, Priest

Kueng was a precisely defined Icon of heterodox and aggressive Liberalism. He described himself as a victim of the Inquisition because Rome deprived him of the right to claim that his words and writings were authentic Catholic Teaching. But Rome left intact all his canonical faculties as a Catholic Priest. Although he had flouted formally the anathemas of Vatican I, he was, unlike poor Doellinger, never excommunicated. He accepted a secular professorship. Of course, the liberal media described this, in their quaintly perverse way, as the 'silencing' of Kueng! 

Yet he protested, of course, when the 'excommunications' against the Bishops of the SSPX were withdrawn! Well, he would, would'n' he? ... as a celebrated courtesan once said.

Even one of his own admirers was moved to describe Kueng as conducting himself like a second Magisterium ... and commented that just one Magisterium was enough for him! When it is suggested that Kueng might have become pope, people forget that the limits and restrictions implicit in the Petrine Office would never have been acceptable to such an incorrigibly arrogant individual.

But Kueng was a man whose armoured lack of self-doubt meant that he  never forgot and never forgave. God grant him that he may now be able, finally, to forgive, even as the Father's full forgiveness is offered unconditionally to him. And to you, dear Reader.

He was, like me, a man whose hands had been anointed with oil and who had stood before the Altar of the LORD offering up the Sacrifice of the Immaculate Lamb. His first Holy Mass was offered in the Crypt of S Peter's on 11 October 1954, the Feast of the Divine Maternity of the Theotokos. At one time, day by day he drained the Chalice of the Great Victim, as I am privileged to do. May God forgive him his sins, as I pray that God will forgive mine, which are so many, pretty well many beyond number. As we celebrate hic in via the Light of Christ's Resurrection, I pray that Kueng may know, and, knowing, may not hate, the glorious Face of the Beatific Vision.

Among his many honorary doctorates are listed honours from the Universities of Cambridge and Dublin. Happily, I do not recall that Oxford ever sank so low! Among the bodies thus honouring him was an American Jewish institution which was so fanatical in its hatred of its fellow Jews ... that is, of Orthodox Judaism ... that it once organised a banquet in which course after course was pointedly devised so as to humiliate adherents of the Torah.

Liberalism's spiteful malevolence, you see, is not confined to any one religion. And, apparently, it unites its votaries across 'denominational' boundaries in a satanic ecumenism.

But the closer one is to another person or group, the more virulent, it seems, may be one's hatred of them.

I pray that the Lord may never again allow me to forget this.


Victor said...

Dear Fr,

thank you for your words, especially for indicating that Fr Küng was never formally excommunicated. Given that, according to Cardinal Kasper (his erstwhile pupil and assistant) he died "reconciled with Rome", we may and dare hope that he, as well, found "so great, so glorious a Redeemer".

Paul in Melbourne, Australia said...

That is very charitable of you, Father

Ceile De said...

I have had some enlightening conversations with Orthodox Jewish friends about how their "liberal" co-religionists hate them so much. The phenomenon is the same as in the Church.

Compton Pauncefoot said...

A most charitable and humble post, Father.
A quick glance at Wikipedia informs me that, in the book 'The Nonborn King' by Julian May - the third book in the 'Saga of Pliocene Exile' - a minor character, Sullivan-Tonn, is referred to as having once been "Küng Professor of Moral Theology at Fordham University".
I read too that Küng had an asteroid named after him.

Unknown said...

Fm Martin Hartley

In view of the death of HRH prince Philip, I hope there will be a Solemn Requem at Westminster Cathedral presided over by the cardinal Archbishop. Although he was not a catholic, he was born Orthodox and deserves prayers and liturgies for his soul. MMEMORY ETERNAL. May he rest in peace

Fm Martin Hartley

vetusta ecclesia said...

Did not some wag once point out that Küng could not be Pope as he would lose his infallibility!

frjustin said...

That American Jewish institution was 19th-century Reform, which served non-kosher shrimp at a banquet. Those who got up and left formed the Conservative branch of American Judaism.

But there's also antagonism within Orthodox Judaism, and there it's the more traditional Jews who do not get along with the more liberal ones. The antagonism is especially pronounced in Israel, where the secularists hate the religious, "haredim" [ultra-Orthodox] hate the Modern Orthodox, and the various hasidic courts hate one another.

One small sect in Jerusalem, Neturei Karta, does not even recognise the state of Israel, refuses to speak modern Hebrew (only Yiddish), and when hauled before the courts they turn their backs to the judge and read from the "Siddur" [Prayerbook].

All this in a small country in a bad neighborhood!

rick allen said...

It's been over forty years since I read "On Being a Christian," and I can't claim to have closely followed Fr. Kung's career. But my impression was that the lynchpin of his troubles was his dissent from the decree on papal authority in the First Vatican Council.

For all that he seems to have been more respectful of the authority of John Paul II and Benedict XVI than many of our traditionalists have been for that of Francis.

He was of course never "silenced." (I think it was Fr. Boff who took out a full page ad in the New York Times with the three-inch heading, "I HAVE BEEN SILENCED!".) At most I thought that he lost some formal recognition of his authority as a Church theologian.

I was a Protestant when I read "On Being a Christian" and I thought he'd be happier if he called himself what I thought he essentially was, a rather conservative Protestant. As a Catholic I thought it good of the Church to continue to harbor such gadflies (traditionalist as well as progressive) and not drive them out.

Albrecht von Brandenburg said...

It should escape no-one's attention that Kueng, who criticised Benedict XVI for wearing "sumptuous vestments", did not hesitate himself to don the silken academic robes of a doctor.

Nevertheless, requiescat in pace.


Atticus said...

A friend likes to tell the story of his mother being approached after Mass by a parish worthy with the following asseveration: "I don't know about thee, Mrs. X, but I think it's about time they put t' bung in Küng." Now that Someone definitively has, may He also have mercy on his soul.

Pulex said...

"... Solemn Requiem at Westminster Cathedral presided over by the cardinal Archbishop"

Cardinal Archbishop could pray for the soul of the prince privately. Whether HRH died as Anglican or Orthodox, a public Requiem for a non-Catholic would objectively constitute a scandal.

PM said...

This is probably apocryphal, but for what it is worth I once heard the dig at Küng which vetusta ecclesia quotes (Küng could not be Pope as he would lose his infallibility!) attributed to Pope Paul VI.

Terry said...

The Guardian's obituary for Hans Küng included the following:

"… his martyrdom on the altar of an intransigent church leadership elevated Küng into the voice of the many Catholics (in some surveys, the majority of them in the west) who remain within the fold but cannot in good conscience follow the official line opposing female priests, married priests, sex outside marriage and same-sex relationships."

Perhaps this explains why traditional Catholics dislike Küng with such vehemence. Perhaps this explains why you, Father Hunwicke, judge him (Matthew 7:1-3 notwithstanding) to be "an incorrigibly arrogant individual". Surely his crime, in 'traddy' eyes, was to provide rigorous intellectual/academic cover for what a significant number of church-going Catholics feel with regard to the Church's teaching on sexual matters and euthanasia. To quote from what The Times obituary said about his writing, Küng's "… range was vast, the knowledge impressive, the style lucid and succinct".

Let's face it, if attendance at Mass were to be limited to those who agreed and lived by the Church's official teachings on sexual matters, then churches would be pretty empty. (For evidence of this assertion just look at the result of the 2018 referendum on the thirty-sixth amendment of the constitution of Ireland.) Whether or not one agrees with Küng, one surely has to acknowledge that he gave articulate expression to what an increasing majority of those who call themselves Catholic actually believe.

Terry Loane

Victor said...

@Terry Loane: I agree with everything you said. Unlike you (I suppose), I do not think that it contradicts Fr Hunwicke's judgement. If the majority of Western christians are unconsciously heretic, it doesn't make heresy orthodox. Holy Mother Church is not a Westminster democracy!

prince Matecki said...

I would recommend reading father Kuengs three volumes of his memoirs, from his school boy times in Switzerland through his studies in Rome, his first professorship at 32 and his insights into the una sancta catholica.
He was certainly a brilliant intellectual.
As father H. often reminds us, bishops conferences have no executive powers in themselves, only archbishops for their church provinces, bishops for their dioceses and of course the holy see. So why was his missio canonica renounced by the german bishops conference? (And not by the bishop of the diocese he had been incardinated into when ordinated?)
Also, he was not stripped of his professorship. Rather, he as an "Ordinarius" in german style (the equivalent of a regius professor in Oxbridge) was moved from the faculty of (roman catholic) divinity together with the institute he was heading under direct control of the rector magnificens of Ebehard Karls University. And he was no longer allowed to take examinations for catholic students studying for priesthood. For those studying for a qualification as teachers in "catholic religion" in the german system, acceptance of seminars taken at his institute was at the discretion of the examination committee and the bishop granting the missio canonica.
And as His Holyness Paul VI was mentioned above, Kueng knew Montini from the days when Montini was substitute at the secretary of state of the holy see. As Montini saw reforms as necessary, he was moved as archbishop to Milano, but denied the customary cardinals hat by Pope Pius XII. Only John XXIIIrd made him a cardinal.
Getting into business with the institutions of the holy see in Rome is not for the faint at heart. That Kueng was never excommunicated nor had an order to stop teaching and preaching ( confer L Boff et al) and would continue to celebrate mess might give you an impression that things might not be as simple as percieved.
May he rest in peace.

coradcorloquitur said...

As we live in an age of clever euphemisms and false equivalences, I should not be surprised at the false equivalence expressed in this blog between heretical (and insolent) opposition to traditional teachings by John Paul II and Benedict XVI and traditional opposition to what Francis I teaches, even if informally, in opposition to the defined dogmas and hollowed millenial traditions of the Church. So, those traditional Catholics who defend the Immemorial Mass and clear teachings of Trent and other dogmatic councils are now "gadflies," to be lumped together with other "gadfly" apostate liberals of many hues. The injustice and disrespect for historical truth (and faithful Catholics) in these assertions astound---and would make, I think, the late Kung very proud.

Terry said...

Thank you for responding to my comment, Victor. Naturally I am pleased that you say you agree with everything I said, and I certainly agree with what you suggest about a belief not being necessarily correct just because it is held by a majority.

But your second sentence seems to imply that you suppose I am a supporter of Hans Küng. I assure you that I am not. Indeed neither Father Hunwicke nor Hans Küng (were he still alive) would regard me as being on his side. Actually if one wishes to really understand human behaviour it is important to try not to take sides. For example, that is surely the only way, I would say, to understand the paradox of why so many, many people go to Mass on (most) Sundays but neither believe in nor live by traditional Catholic teaching, particularly in relation to sexual ethics.

Terry Loane

coradcorloquitur said...

The paradox is not difficult to unpack: even if you attend Mass daily and devoutly and do not accept the truths taught by the Church on Christ's command and authority, you are quite simply not a Catholic. Just a statement of verifiable fact upheld by church doctors and saints for two millenia.

Terry said...

Thank you for your response, "coradcorloquitur". But the paradox to which I was referring does not really relate to membership of the Catholic church per se, but rather to the motivation of those who attend Mass regularly. (Perhaps I could have made this clearer if I had written "… the paradox of why so many, many people CHOOSE TO go to Mass on (most) Sundays but neither believe in nor live by traditional Catholic teaching, particularly in relation to sexual ethics.")

We know (from several surveys to which I can provide references if required) that 80-90% of those who say they are Catholics do not agree with the Church's official teaching on contraception, and that the percentage is not significantly lower for those who attend regularly. So why do they still go to Mass when they do not believe in what the Church teaches? It is a puzzle to me.

You say that if you "do not accept the truths taught by the Church on Christ's command and authority you are quite simply not a Catholic." Is this definition of being a Catholic compatible with Canon Law #204? And what about the Catholic curate at my parent's parish, who told them back in 1968 "not to worry too much" about Humanae Vitae? Was he "quite simply not a Catholic"?

Terry Loane