Volume 3, Chapter
Volume II of
the Apologia contains an article by Louis Salleron in which
he comments on Küng's action in sending the Pope a "fraternal
reprimand" as "an act of charity." Professor Salleron
referred to Küng as "the pope of Tübingen,”
and wondered whether the Pope of Rome would submit to him or declare
him a schismatic (pp. 356-357). There is, alas, little in the Church
today which can give traditional Catholics cause for mirth. But
sometimes, like Molière, we must laugh to prevent ourselves
from crying. The statement which follows is the full text of what
can only be described as an " encyclical" from the "Pope
of Tübingen." The only sane reaction to it must be one
of unmitigated hilarity. I must assure readers that it is totally
genuine, really was written by Küng, and really is meant to
be taken seriously. It is definitely not a hoax, something written
by a conservative to deflate what must be the most massively inflated
Liberal ego of the post-conciliar epoch. Pope Küng's “encyclical”
was published in the 22 March 1980 issue of The Tablet,
and in numerous journals in numerous languages throughout the world.
The fact that the editors of such publications did take this "encyclical"
seriously indicates the lack if seriousness with which we should
Open Letter from Hans Küng
Your many demonstrations
of solidarity from all over the world have been overwhelming; I
received around 6,000 letters and telegrams – not counting
the numerous oral expressions of support – from people of
all occupations and age groups. With this letter I would like to
express my deepest thanks to you. You can imagine that the past
weeks have not been easy for me and for my aides here in Tübingen.
The burden often reached the limits of our physical and emotional
capacity, but it was above all your support which enabled us to
survive in spite of everything. It gave us the feeling that we are
not alone in our fight to have people in our Church treated in a
Christian way, and for a renewal which is guided by the message
of Jesus Christ Himself.
Many distortions and
untruths have been disseminated in the past three months, particularly
by the official Church. For the sake of my own credibility, I therefore
felt it necessary to publicly set forth my basic theological position
once again in the article, "Why I remain a Catholic."
I am enclosing this article. It can serve you and your friends as
a basis for information and discussion.
You know that
the conditions under which my missio canonica was taken
away from me cannot be called just and fair. One cannot detect a
trace of honesty or Christian fraternity in them; on the contrary,
they breathe the spirit of the Inquisition! In the past three months
it has become more than clear that the present conflict is certainly
no longer the " Küng case" (if it ever was), although
Church officials would like to reduce it to that. No, what is at
issue here – in the context of the "cases" of J.
Pohier, E. Schillebeeckx, J. G. Metz, of North American moral theologians
and South American liberation theologians – is nothing more
and nothing less than the direction which the Catholic Church intends
to take in the coming decade. Will it be back to Pius XII, to the
pre-Vatican II era, in which, in the early fifties, there were also
"purgings," or forward along the lines of John XXIII towards
a church of dialogue, a church which is open, humane, Christian?
Many are asking,
"What can one do? Put up with everything? Is it worth it working
for a Church which treats people like this?" Many have been
overcome with sorrow, resignation, bitterness, and I can certainly
understand these reactions well enough. And yet, resignation would
be the worst possible reaction at the moment! One should not give
this pleasure to the opponents of, nor this grief to, the friends
of renewal. No, we must, once again, soberly and with realistic
hope, assert our position in this Church of Jesus Christ, which
I am still not prepared to confuse with the ecclesiastical apparatus.
Already over eight years ago 33 Catholic theologians published a
manifesto in the National Catholic Reporter and The
Tablet entitled “Against Resignation in the Church."
Today, applied to our situation, it is as up to date as it was then.
It does not offer quick, pet solutions, but it does suggest concrete
principles for how to proceed in a difficult situation, one which
also varies from place to place.
not be silent. The requirements of the gospel and the needs
and hopes of our time are in many outstanding questions so unambiguous
that silence out of opportunism, lack of courage or superficiality
can involve guilt just as much as the silence of many responsible
people at the time of Reformation. We must act ourselves.
Complaining about Rome and the bishops is not enough. Whenever human
rights are violated in the Church today, it always depends on the
initiative of individuals to set change in motion. We must advance
together. One member of the parish who goes to the parish priest
does not count, five can be troublesome, fifty can change the situation.
One parish priest does not count in the diocese, five are given
attention, fifty are invincible. We must seek provisional solution.
Discussions alone do not help. It is often necessary to show that
we are serious. Pressure on the ecclesiastical authorities in the
spirit of Christian fraternity can be legitimate when office-holders
fall short of their mandate. Many changes in Church history (liturgy,
tolerance, democracy, human rights) have been achieved only as a
result of continual pressure from below in a spirit of loyalty.
We must not give up. The greatest temptation in the renewal
of the Church is the excuse that there is no point in it all, that
we can make no headway and we had better get out of it: we leave
altogether or withdraw into ourselves. But if there is no hope there
can be no action. Therefore: particularly in a phase of stagnation
and setbacks the important thing is to endure it and hold out with
confident faith. Opposition can be expected. But there is no renewal
without a struggle.
thank you very much, and remember that the most important thing
is not to lose sight of the goal, to proceed steadily and decisively
and not to cease hoping for a truly Christian Church.
Courtesy of the Angelus
Press, Regina Coeli House
2918 Tracy Avenue, Kansas City, MO 64109