Wednesday, March 09, 2016

Hans Küng to “Pope Francis”: “Re-open discussion on ‘Infallibility’”

The renegade Roman Catholic theologian Hans Küng has made an urgent appeal (urgent given that he is 88 years old) to his little buddy Bergoglio, a.k.a., “Pope Francis”, to “re-open the discussion on ‘Infallibility’”.

Küng notes, “I have spared no effort to collect the relevant texts, order them factually and chronologically according to the various phases of the altercation and elucidate them by putting them in a biographical context for Volume 5 of my complete works.” Much of what I took from this link was from Küng’s “Infallible? An Inquiry”.

“Receive this comprehensive documentation and allow a free, unprejudiced and open-ended discussion in our church of the all the unresolved and suppressed questions connected with the infallibility dogma. In this way, the problematic Vatican heritage of the past 150 years could be come to terms with honestly and adjusted in accordance with holy Scripture and ecumenical tradition. It is not a case of trivial relativism that undermines the ethical foundation of church and society. But it is also not about an unmerciful, mind-numbing dogmatism, which swears by the letter, prevents thorough renewal of the church’s life and teaching, and obstructs serious progress in ecumenism. It is certainly not the case of me personally wanting to be right. The well-being of the church and of ecumenism is at stake.

“I am very well aware of the fact that my appeal to you, who ‘lives among wolves,’ as a good Vatican connoisseur recently remarked, may possibly not be opportune. In your Christmas address of Dec. 21, 2015, however, confronted with curial ailments and even scandals, you confirmed your will for reform: ‘It seems necessary to state what has been — and ever shall be — the object of sincere reflection and decisive provisions. The reform will move forward with determination, clarity and firm resolve, since Ecclesia semper reformanda.

“I would not like to raise the hopes of many in our church unrealistically. The question of infallibility cannot be solved overnight in our church. Fortunately, you (Pope Francis) are almost 10 years younger than I am and will hopefully survive me. You will, moreover, surely understand that as a theologian at the end of his days, buoyed by deep affection for you and your pastoral work, I wanted to convey this request to you in time for a free and serious discussion of infallibility that is well-substantiated in the volume at hand: non in destructionem, sed in aedificationem ecclesiae, ‘not in order to destroy but to build up the church.’ For me personally, this would be the fulfillment of a hope I have never given up.”

It will be interesting to see how he expands on what he has already written about “Papal Infallibility”. Küng says he is not writing to destroy, but if ever there was a need for destruction, it is here. Wrong-headed from the start, both “papal infallibility” and “the papacy” both need to be headed toward “the ash-heap of history”. If anyone can muddy the waters right now (further than they have been muddied), it will be “Pope Francis”.

I should note that much of what Küng says is for the purpose of admitting things that Reformed believers would never admit to. On the other hand, Küng is someone of whom Steve has said, “knows where all the bodies are buried”. And of course, “Pope Francis” and Hans Küng are not far apart in many respects. Note the respect that “Pope Francis” has for Küng’s former assistant, Walter Cardinal Kasper, who today has most recently been instigating for a “pastoral” way to re-admit divorced-and-remarried Roman Catholics to communion.

This instigation for a new discussion of “Papal ‘Infallibility’” should prove interesting to say the least.


  1. John, ISTM Bergie is on the horns of a dilemma: if he refuses to reconsider infallibility, his mask will come off as just another establishmentarian; if he takes the bait, he risks losing the ace up his sleeve and risks rendering himself unable to rule save by moral suasion. On the other hand, the papacy has been the major sticking point with RC - EO relations; with what would an infallible papacy be replaced with if not sobornost?

    1. Hi Kirk -- well, so far, he hasn't refused to consider anything. He openly excoriated the conservative bishops of the synod who refused to acquiesce (looking for ways to get the divorced and remarried into communion. This borders on "changing doctrine", if not outright changing it.) And he has already signaled that he is more than ready to move in the direction of the Ravenna document (see this). It basically removes the whole notion of "jurisdictional primacy" and "does not diminish the sacramental equality of every bishop or the catholicity of each local Church." (And I think we're already seeing some of this, with the bishops in Germany able to implement their own rules for re-admitting the divorced and remarried to communion).