A DISCUSSION OF HANS KŰNG's ANALYSIS
OF THE LIFE OF POPE JOHN PAUL II
About Hans Küng:
Hans Küng is a priest and one of the best known
theologians of the Roman Catholic Church:
||He played a major role at Vatican II from 1962
||He wrote the draft of the "Declaration
towards a Global Ethic" which was endorsed by the Parliament of the
World's Religions during their 1993 Chicago meeting.
||According to Amazon.com, he is a prolific
author. He has written at least 140 books. Among the best known are: "The
Catholic Church," "On being a Christian," "Does God exist?,"
"Theology for the Third Millennium," "Dying with dignity," and
"Infallible?" An inquiry."
||He is a member of the Group of Eminent
Persons convened by the UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan.
||He recently retired from the Institute for
Ecumenical Research at the University of Tübingen. He is now president of the
Foundation, a group which encourages inter-cultural and inter-religious
research, education, and dialogue. 1
His book on papal infallibility resulted in a very
public debate on the topic. It became a irritant that was largely responsible
for the Vatican withdrawing his permission to teach theology.
About his article:
He wrote an article about the influence that Pope
John Paul II has had on the church and the rest of the world. It was published
in Der Spiegel,
a leading German newspaper one week before the pope's death. It has been
widely duplicated on the Internet;
www.Google.com lists 26 hits on 2005-APR-08.
Küng complemented Pope John Paul II for "battling
war and suppression," for being "a beacon of hope for those who long for
freedom," for his staying power in spite of his devastating medical
problems, for his opposition to the war in Iraq and to war in general, and for
the role that he played in the collapse of the Soviet Union.
Küng wrote, in part: "Karol Wojtyla was not the greatest
pope of the 20th century but he was certainly the most contradictory. Outwardly, he called for conversion, reform and dialogue with the rest
of the world. But this was sharply contradicted by his internal policy,
which was oriented toward the restoration of the pre-Second Vatican Council
status quo, obstructing reform, denying dialogue within the church and
absolute Roman dominance....." 2
listed nine of what he calls the pope's "most glaring contradictions:"
- Human Rights: The pope promoted human
rights around the world, but seriously restricted them within the Church --
particularly among the bishops, church theologians "and especially women."
3 The Church has not signed the European Council's
Declaration of Human Rights." Vatican investigations of its personnel
lack due process.
- Role of Women: "The great worshiper
of the Virgin Mary preaches a noble concept of womanhood, but at the same
time forbids women from practicing birth control and bars them from
ordination." The result is an exodus of women from the Church.
- Human sexuality: Although the pope
preached against poverty and suffering, his policies on the birth control
pill and condoms has made him "...more than any other statesman....partly
responsible for uncontrolled population growth in some countries and the
spread of AIDS in Africa." In the developed world, sexual policies of
the church are being largely ignored by the laity.
- Married priesthood: By requiring
priests to be celibate, the number of men willing to enter the priesthood
has dropped precipitously. Küng notes that the number of new priests in
Germany has reduced from 366 in 1990 to 161 in 2003. The average age of
priests in many developed countries has approached or has passed retirement
age. He also attributes the pedophile scandals which have rocked the church
in the U.S., Canada and other countries, to the requirement for priestly
- Ecumenical movement: "The pope likes
to be seen as a spokesman for the ecumenical movement." However, he has
continued the church's policy of not acknowledging their "ecclesiastical
offices and Communion services."
- Collegiality: Some of the main
principle of Vatican II were collegiality -- i.e. power sharing -- and
dialogue. This did not materialize. Bishops are selected by the pope
according to their willingness to be "...absolutely loyal to the party
line in Rome."
- Clericalism: Küng suggests that the
pope's policies generate hostility against the Church. These are
particularly visible in matters relating to human sexuality: e.g. abortion,
artificial insemination, birth control, and divorce. This "strengthens
the position of dogmatic anti-clericalists and fundamentalist atheists."
- New blood in the church: The pope
relies heavily on conservative "new movements" like Opus Dei, Regnum
Christi, Focolare, etc to involve youth in the Church. Other youth movements
are financially starved.
- Sins of the past: Pope John Paul II did
confess failures and transgressions by Roman Catholics in the past. But the
apology was "vague, non-specific and ambiguous." Blame was placed on
individual Catholics; the popes and the Church itself are regarded as
innocent. "The half-hearted papal confession remained without
consequences, producing neither reversals nor action, only words."
Küng concluded: "Contrary to all intentions
conveyed in the Second Vatican Council, the medieval Roman system, a power
apparatus with totalitarian features, was restored through clever and ruthless
personnel and academic policies. Bishops were brought into line, pastors
overloaded, theologians muzzled, the laity deprived of their rights, women
discriminated against, national synods and churchgoers' requests ignored, along
with sex scandals, prohibitions on discussion, liturgical spoon-feeding, a ban
on sermons by lay theologians, incitement to denunciation, prevention of Holy
Communion -- 'the world' can hardly be blamed for all of this!! The upshot is
that the Catholic church has completely lost the enormous credibility it once
enjoyed under the papacy of John XXIII and in the wake of the Second Vatican
The home page of the Global Ethic Foundation is at:
Hans Küng, "The nine
contradictions of Pope John Paul II. He had many qualities, but consistency
was not one," The Toronto Star, 2005-APR-03, at:
Hans Küng, "The nine contradictions
of Pope John Paul II. He had many qualities, but consistency was not one of
them," Der Spiegel, 2005-MAR-26, at:
Copyright © is held by the persons issuing the statements
Originally posted: 2005-APR-08
Latest update: 2005-APR-14