Monday, March 14, 2011

For Catholics Who Still Don't Get It . . .

Hans Küng

Swiss Catholic theologian Hans Küng has an important message: 

In the book [i.e., in his new book Can the Church Be Saved?], he argues that resistance to church doctrines that are 'obviously against the Gospels' is a duty.  . . .

He said the church could only saved by the faithful taking over responsibility for their church.

The preceding snippet from the Clerical Whispers site points to an article at the reactionary Catholic website Catholic Culture, which identifies Küng, who was a peritus at Vatican II along with the present pope, as a "dissident" theologian who is "attacking" the church.   But for some reason, the version of the Catholic Culture article to which the Clerical Whispers link points is not synonymous with that on the latter site, and does not include the observation about the faithful taking responsibility for their church--though the truth-evading title about Küng attacking the church remains the same.

The pope himself would seem not to share Catholic Culture's magisterial dismissal of Küng as a dissident attacking the church, since, as John Allen reported in 2005, Küng and Benedict met following Benedict's election to the papacy in a meeting widely regarded as cordial.

And back to my primary point: Küng is, in my view, right on target with his observation that the Catholic church is in serious trouble today, insofar as lay Catholics have not yet awakened to their ownership of the church and taken responsibility for its future.  As I said some days ago, I turn an increasingly deaf ear to the special pleading of Catholics who continue to stick with the church--special pleading on behalf of bishops who have, as the Philadelphia story tells us all over again, grossly abdicated pastoral responsibility for the church.

So spare me the litany of excuses, including the silly argument often floated on right-wing Catholic websites, that the Catholic church is somehow special and above non-Catholic churches, and its leaders are God's men in a special way that is not the case in Protestant or Orthodox churches.  If you imagine you can push that argument with a straight face now, and convince folks, go for it.  I admire your chutzpah (or foolhardiness, or plain foolishness) in trying to press this point in the face of all we've learned about the abuse crisis in recent years, and most recently in Philadelphia.

But spare your breath when it comes to trying to convince me that the bishops are some special group of men led by God in some unique way.  Not after Boston.  Not after Philadelphia.  I'm not buying what you're selling.

For me, it's glaringly obvious that the Catholic church is in serious trouble, and that if you want to have any kind of church at all for the future, you're going to have to stop covering for the bishops and start taking responsibility for your church--as Jamie Manson notes in her recent reflection on the Philadelphia events and the legacy of lay passivity in the Catholic church.

Call Küng or Manson dissidents or defective messengers all you want.  Killing the messenger is not going to make this particular message goes away.

If lay Catholics don't wake up soon and stop making silly, evil excuses for the bishops and asserting their ownership of the Catholic church, there is not going to be anything left to own--not very far down the road.

No comments: