The Tablet Blog
Pope is provoking disobedience
Fr Hans Küng, guest contributor
24 May 2012, 9:00
General discontent and frustration over the delay of church reforms dominated both the alternative and the official Katholikentag [Catholic Congress] at Mannheim this year.
This is even to take place if the SSPX, which continues to reject decisive texts of the Second Vatican Council, should have to be reincorporated with the help of canonical artistic devices.
The Pope should be warned in the strongest terms against doing this, not least by the bishops, because he would be taking invalidly ordained bishops and priests definitely back into the Church.
According to Pope Paul VI’s Apostolic Constitution Pontificalis Romani recognito of 18 July 1968, the ordinations of bishops and priests undertaken by Archbishop Lefebvre were not only illicit but also invalid. This is also the view taken by Karl Josef Becker SJ, an authoritative member of the Reconciliation Commission and now a cardinal, among others.
Pope Benedict should also be warned that, with such a scandalous decision, he in his already much-bewailed aloofness, would further distance himself from the people of God. The classical teaching on schism should be a warning to him.
According to the teaching, a schism occurs if one separates oneself from the Church but also if one separates oneself from the body of the Church. The authoritative Spanish theologian Francisco Suarez (1548-1617) wrote: “Thus the Pope could also become a schismatic if he did not wish to maintain the union and affinity he owes to the whole body of the Church.”
According to the same church teaching, a schismatic Pope loses his office. At the very least, he can no longer reckon with obedience. Pope Benedict would thus further promote the already growing movement of “disobedience” to a hierarchy which is disobeying the Gospels. He alone would be responsible for the serious rift and strife which he would thus promulgate in the Church.
Instead of seeking reconciliation with the ultra-conservative, anti-democratic and anti-Semitic Society of St Pius X, the Pope should rather attend to the interests of the majority of Catholics and seek reconciliation with the Reformation Churches and with the whole of ecumenical Christianity.
In that way he would not divide minds.
Fr Hans Küng is a theologian and author.
Fr. Hans Kung, a former friend and colleague of the present Pope, Joseph Rattinger, at the time of the seminal Vatican II (the Roman Catholic Congress initiated by the Roman Pontiff, Pope John XXIII, in 1962) has long been seen as a source of trouble for those in the Church who have resiled from the liberating theology at one time espoused by both Rattinger and Kung, and later enunciated at Vatican II.
A fellow alumnus of Tubingen University, Dr. Kung has lately been critical of Pope Benedict’s tendency to follow on in his predecessor’s, Pope John Paul II’s, footsteps in refusing to tackle the implications of Church renewal and progression implicit in the deliberations of the Vatican II Council, which opened up the Roman Catholic Church to radical new initiatives in theology and ministry objectives.
In this particular protest, subsequent to the much-touted ‘Katholikentag‘ (Catholic Congress) in Mannheim, Germany, Professor Kung has this to say:
“Instead of seeking reconciliation with the ultra-conservative, anti-democratic and anti-Semitic Society of St Pius X, the Pope should rather attend to the interests of the majority of Catholics and seek reconciliation with the Reformation Churches and with the whole of ecumenical Christianity.”
Pope Benedict’s decision to seek reconciliation with the ultra-conservative ‘Pius X‘ sodality, whose anti-Jewish stance caused post-war scandal in the Roman Catholic Church’ , is seen by Kung, and many others in the Church, as being reactionary – at a time when Rome might rather be looking towards reconciliation with the Protestant and Orthodox Churches, whose agenda is more attuned towards love than hatred.
Father Ron Smith, Christchurch, New Zealand