Samuel Gregg's thought-provoking article on the two men "usually viewed as polar-opposites" but who "have led curiously parallel lives" — Benedict XVI, Hans Kung and Catholicism’s Future
. An excerpt:
More-attuned participants at Vatican II, however, immediately noticed differences between Kung and the-then Fr. Joseph Ratzinger. One such person was the Jesuit Henri de Lubac – a French theologian who no-one could dismiss as a reactionary.
In his Vatican II diaries, de Lubac entered pithy observations about those he encountered. Ratzinger is portrayed as one whose powerful intellect is matched by his “peacefulness” and “affability.” Kung, by contrast, is denoted as possessing a “juvenile audacity” and speaking in “incendiary, superficial, and polemical” terms.
Mr. Gregg goes on to constrast the two men's latest books:
Through a deep exposition of Scripture many Evangelicals will admire and a careful exploration of tradition the Eastern Orthodox will appreciate, Benedict shows Christ is who the ancient Church proclaims Him to be – not a political activist, but rather the Messiah who really lived, really died and who then proved his divinity by really rising from the dead.
So what is Kung’s book focused upon? In a word, power. For Kung, it’s all about power – especially papal power – and the need for lay Catholics to seize power if the Church is to be “saved” from sinister Roman reactionaries who have perverted Christianity for centuries.
Of course, both men were then, and remain today, liberals, as just about all of us are. (The word is not an epithet.) But some of us, our current pope included, resemble Russell Kirk
's description of the great Englishman: "Burke was liberal because he was conservative."
For the others, almost like characters in Dostoevsky's Devils
, "it’s all
about power." (I mean, get a load of the raving lunatic who, at a blog that recently dropped the word "Christian" from its title, commented, "For the left, political success will always entail a defanging and an inevitable conservative turn — this does not mean we should abandon any aspiration to power, on the contrary, we must pursue the conquest of power ruthlessly!" — Your tax dollars at work
, especially in his "Reform of the Reform
," in contrast, is not at all about power, but about example, much like Confucius
' insistance on rule not by force but by moral example. The Holy Father, for example, has spoken out against having guitars at Mass, but there has been no "crackdown"; I've since seen them as Filipino Masses here in Korea. In contrast, when those like Küng had the upper hand, the Tridentine Mass
was almost stamped out and lost to history, were it not for God's mysterious work through a mystery writer, giving us the Agatha Christie indult
Terms like "liberal" and "conservative," "left" and "right" are vaque enough in the outside world (I'm far more at home with the American decentralist Left than with the regimented European Right); they are meaningless in the Church. Perhaps in both realms we need to speak of people whose approach is "political," i.e.
centered on power, with those whose approach is "cultural."
Labels: America the Beautiful, Deutschland, Europe is the Faith, Modernist Tomfoolery, Politricks, The Catholic Faith