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Stop the Presses: Hans Küng Speaks!

By Dr. Jeff Mirus (bio - articles - email) | Feb 07, 2006

Dissident theologian Hans Küng has read Benedict XVI’s first encyclical and found it “respectable”. We are so pleased. We had feared a bad review.

For his part, Küng had feared Pope Benedict’s first effort might reveal the Catholic hang-up on human sexuality which Küng has opposed for three decades and more. But since Benedict didn’t say anything noticeably stupid in Deus Caritas Est, Küng is already outlining the pontiff’s next encyclical. Benedict should take “courageous steps” to change Church teaching, says the Swiss theologian. He must reach out to “women and men who use contraceptives, the divorced and those who have remarried, priests who have left the priesthood because of celibacy, the critical voices inside the Church, Protestants and Anglicans whose communion is not recognized as valid.”

Hans Küng’s administrative program for keeping things on track includes the establishment of a Vatican “Congregation for Love” to “verify the conformity of every decree from the Curia with Christian love.” (No, I am not making this up.) In this way, the Vatican will be sure of reevaluating the “structures of justice in the institutional Church” and will develop better relations with those who dissent from Catholic teachings. It has already been a relief to many, said Küng, that the first encyclical does not reflect the “cultural pessimism” of the past. Pope Benedict XVI must build upon this “positive sign”.

Disinterested observers note with amusement that most of Hans Küng’s key points for the next encyclical seem to be preoccupied with sex. They also note that outlining future encyclicals is odd employment for a man who has been barred from teaching Catholic theology since 1979. More curious still, they say, is the fact that almost nobody in the world would have the least interest in what Hans Küng has to say if Pope Benedict XVI had not reached out to those who oppose Church teaching by inviting Küng himself to lunch last September.

It would be discourteous to make a joke about ill-tempered dogs biting the hand that feeds them. But surely it is surprising, given his vast experience of the world, that Hans Küng thought the lunch was free.

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