Page 4, 18th January 1980

18th January 1980
Page 4
Page 4, 18th January 1980 — Hoist by his own petard

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Locations: Rome


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Hoist by his own petard

I HAVE quickly come to the conclusion that Fr Kung wants all the advantages of being a Catholic and all the advantages of being a nonCatholic without the disadvantages of either "Heads l win, tails you lose". hoped and pray that we will lose the fight.

Now after reading "Kung, unity. freedom and truth", I have high hopes that .Kung's admirers will strangle themselves with the exuberance of their own verbosity.

Fr Paul Crane. Si.. puts the issue clearly — either Fr Kung accepts the doctrines of the Catholic Church or leaves the Church.

The other two letters in support of Kung are as clear as smog, Audley Smith's letter being a collector's item. I quote one paragraph from Mr Smith's letter: "An infallible papacy is the ultimate and logical outcome of the bureaucratisation of the Churchclerical which stems from the clergylaitydivision expressed in the supplierconsumer relationship of the Eucharist."

That, and the rest of Mr Scott's letter, is sheer gobbledegook, and in case Mr Scott and his friends don't know. gobbledegook is the language of bureaucracy!

Name and address supplied

THE Vatican's admonishment of Kong and its concern about the orthodoxy of Schillebeeckx should sutprise no-one, least of all those within the Catholic Church who sell their personal brands of theology to the literary and broadcasting market places. in the guise of a 'modern' approach and "in the spirit of Vatican From a limited recognition they are now moving into the open with their support for Kung and Schillchceckx and, either overtly or by implication, are criticising their Pontiff and the Magisterium.

Disrobed of semantics, what is the issue? Simply. that anyone — cleric or .lay. high or low — who calls himself Catholic and who has solemnly undertaken to accept the authority of the Church's Magisterium and the infallibility of the Pope. under the Holy. Spirit. when teaching Faith and morals. rindifig. himself unable to continue in that acceptance, is no longer justified in regarding himself as a Cat Italic.

is as simple as that and no amount of defensive juggling with phrases such its 'liberty of conscience' or 'modern theology' can change it.

If the two fathers in question no longer feel able to explain the Catholic faith (and that is the business Of Catholic theologians) then they should leave the Church, fur they will have ceased to be a believing part of it.

That would be the action of men of conscience, as they are always professing to be. Equally. such honesty might be considered by those, comparatively less, priests and religious in this counts. who, by their literary and teal outpourings, allegedly in the inici-ese, of ecumenism, prostitute their talents and betray their calling by undermining the very faith they have sworn to uphold.

One cannot but look kindly upon those Anglicans and noncomformists who arc openly supporting Kung and Schillebeeckx. Lacking a central theological authority. they are free to accept or reject speculation as they choose.

Sincerely made, no doubt, and certainly understandable, their criticisms of the Sacred Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faith will carry little weight for Roman Catholics, who know what their Church teaches.

Loyal Catholics have been heartened by the pronouncements of Pope John Paul II 1111 mutters of faith. The Holy Father has spoken clearly and simply. in words free from ambiguity.

The great mass of Catholics, despite insensitive attacks upon the foundations of their faith during the post-Conciliar period, will listen to and obey Pope John Paul — not Kung or Schillebeeckx, and they will be proved to have been right_ E. W. Wade Hon, Sec. Pro Fide Movement Surrey

AFTFR absorbing media covering of the Kung affair (January 4) I still do not know what heresy he is accused

of. In the middle ages accused theologians were shown the heretical passages in their writings.

Apparently the Holy Office dislikes his views on papal infallibility, the Virgin birth, and the divinity of Christ, but without actually pointing to the heretical passages.

I have read most of Kung's books available in English, and recall nothing to shake Christian faith, as the Holy Office alleges. Indeed. many Christians testify that Kung's books have greatly strengthened their faith. The Holy Office's judgement would therefore seem to be subjective.

Will Rome now indicate the heretical passages in Kong's works, and will the Holy Office produce its authority for condemning Christians in absentia'? One understood that Vatican II decided to end such exercise of power by the Roman Curia.

Dora Turbin Surrey IN THE predictable rush to portray the Vatican as a medieval ogre, there has, all too often. been little or no mention of, the teachings over which Fr Hans Ming has been censured. I understand that, among other things. Fr Kung has thrown doubt on the Sonship of Jesus ChriSt.

It would be difficult to think of anything more basically destructive than that, It is so destructive, in fact. that it would need to be wrapped up in a most attractive package.

"Exploratory" theologians must be aware of the risk of taking a wrong turn in their explorations, down a road that does not lead to God.

If they are genuinely Catholic, they must know that the Church has been given the authority by God to ask them to retrace their steps. Refusal to do so greatly enhances the reasons for suspecting them of heresy. As ordinary Catholics we need protection from the false teaching that St Peter so eloquently warns ;Mout in his second letter. We need a concrete sign of authenticity in a teacher— and God has provided us with one.

In the last analysis. obedience is the stumbling block placed in the path of heresy. Unable to surmount it, Fr Kong has tried to remove it by

launching an attack on the doctrine of infallibility of the magisterium. In his public stance, at least, Fr Kung seems to me to have shown every sign of pride, and none whatever of humility or obedience. A. G. Williams Cheltenham NOTHING can stop Kung saying, writing or publishing anything he likes: the only question is. whether as he does so he is entitled to call himself is Catholic. Robert Nowell (January 4) pre-empts the entire issue when in his -opening sentence he describes Kung as a Catholic. The whole point is, is he?

A Catholic simply subscribes to a certain ascertainable body of doctrine, to which he conforms, on issues ranging from the Resurrection to Papal infallibility (two that have been questioned by Kung, Schillebeeckx and others). Everyone is perfectly free to subscribe to these doctrines or not: the only question is whether in fact Kung and the others do so. All the Vatican appears to be saying is that people who do not believe Catholic doctrine are not Catholics— and at this, hands are being held up in horror. And all for quite irrelevant reasons.

Peter Bolwell Sussex

A RCI !BISHOP Murphy (January 4) says he is no theologian and therefore content to accept decisions by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith without question. But is this good enough? As archbishop he has responsibility for the spiritual needs of his archdiocese. Ought he not at least to tell us which parts of Kung's writings are unacceptable, and why?

Today's young people have been educated to ask questions and to test theories. A little research will show them that though the basic Articles of the Creed have remained unaltered, their interpretation has changed as knowledge and civilisation have developed. Kung is one in a long line of persecuted theologians who have considered it their duty and their vocation to re-state old truths in a modern way.

Many of these men and women

have been suspect at first but have nearly all been completely vindicated, eventually. Surely we owe it to the rising generation to bequeath to them an adult Church with a living faith, where the endless search for truth is encouraged, not frustrated, and where new formulas can be openly tested by experts in free discussion and informed debate?

Julie Roberts Surrey Catholics concerned to bring about Me unity in Christ for which we shall he praying during the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity should not regard the 'disciplining' by the Vatican authorities of well known and widely respected theologians as purely a domestic issue for the Roman Catholic Church.

Several national newspapers, have revealed a lively interest among our fellow Christians, laity and clergy.

However, this interest is expressed sadly by some as having their fears confirmed that "nothing has changed" in the Roman Catholic Church.

Lord March, a lay member of the General Synod warns against "potential damage to fast growing closer relationships" which will result from the treatment of Professor Schillebeeckx and Professor Kung. He continues "II, for obvious reasons Bishops and clergy of the Roman Catholic Church in England are unable publicly to protest ...are there no laymen and women of that Church who will do so'?"

Catholic Herald letters reveal that there are, and the Catholic Renewal Movement, representing a group of laity wrote both to The Times and to the Apostolic Delegate who will forward our opinions to Rome, expressing our concern regarding the two theologians treatment — on ecumenical grounds particularly.

Those committed to renewal and unity should make their voice heard and reassure fellow Christians of our belief that these Vatican ,'internal procedures' belong more to the past than to the Church we must become.

Jean M. Hewson Chairman, Catholic Renewal Executive Committee London N3

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