Thursday, 20 May 2010

An open letter

Fr Hans Kung's open letter to the Bishops of the world is interesting as a phenomenon of dialogue - or of non-dialogue - in the Church. Blogs that are faithful to the Church pretty much ignored it. Dissenting sources lauded it, and gave it good coverage. I had difficulty understanding why main stream media outlets were giving it coverage, as Fr Kung is really quite marginal to the life of the Catholic Church these days, and has been so for many years.

If you read Fr Kung's open letter, it seems very plausible. It is another example of saying something confidently in public and thereby having it believed, regardless of whether or not it is really credit worthy.

The open letter appeared on 18th April 2010. On 21st April, the website of the American edition of the journal Communio posted a link to an archive article by Hans Urs von Balthasar On the Withdrawal of Hans Kung's Authorisation to Teach. This does, of course, put the whole position of Fr Kung into its proper context - essentially that of dissent from what the Catholic Church believes. And one can then see the open letter rather more for what it is.


Unknown said...

Joe, you write:

essentially that of dissent from what the Catholic Church believes.

When you say 'Church' here, do you mean the offical doctrines of the Church? And where does leave him? What do you have to believe to be a Catholic and what parts can you dissent from -if any- and still be a Catholic? And who decides?

Joe said...

My own reference point for what is and what is not Catholic teaching is the Catechism of the Catholic Church. When he promulgated it in 1992, Pope John Paul II wrote: "I declare it to be a sure norm for teaching the faith and thus a valid and legitimate instrument for ecclesial communion".

Who decides? The ultimate referenc point is the Pope - but so many of the points taught in the Catechism draw on Scripture and the tradition of the Church to support what is now taught. And concensus of the Bishops and faithful - though people like Fr Kung are not always willing to recognise that many of the doctrines they deny are quite comfortably held by Catholics the world over.