Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Yes, Indeed, the Holy Father is a Romantic

Mr. Pabst is right on when he criticizes Father Küng's program, here, at the Guardian, but the dissident's approach is not just a byproduct of a dying post-industrial age where diverse and often contradictory moral standards reside in close proximity with one another, producing the all-too predictable results of a civilization nearing if not immersed in its decline.

Not unlike much contemporary atheism, Küng's tirade owes more to ideology than to reason. His division of Catholicism (and other faith traditions) into a liberal, progressive and a conservative, reactionary wing is a modern, secular distinction that distorts the specificity of each and every religion. That's why Küng's pet project of building a "global ethos" is an abstraction from the unique character of diverse faith traditions – instrumentalising religion in the service of a dubious morality that amounts to little more than "being nice to each other"

When he calls Pope Benedict a Romantic, he might miss the point that both Küng and the Pope are products of a Romantic School of Theology at the University of Tübingen, the spiritual descendents of Father Moehler who taught there in the mid nineteenth Century.

An article which explains this much more accurately is here from the Tidings, which describes Pope Benedict's theology as that of the Resourcement, getting back to the orgins, the Fathers and the pre-Tridentine Church. It's approach can be distinguished from the party to which many of his antagonists belong, which is thoroughly modernist in character. Indeed, this passage is instructive:

Father Ford said another key event that alarmed Father Ratzinger just a few years after the council was the publication of "Infallible? An Inquiry" by his former colleague at Tubingen, Father Hans Kung.

"I was just appalled by Kung's book. It was more a trumpet blast than a serious work of theology," Father Ford said. However, he said, "it was picked up in popular circles" and for the next decade "it caused the wrong debate."

Father Ratzinger was made archbishop of Munich and Freising and a cardinal in 1977, and in 1979 he was involved in the decision of the Vatican, in conjunction with the German bishops, that Father Kung could no longer teach as a Catholic theologian.

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