Monday, March 11, 2013

Fr. Henri de Lubac, S.J. On Pope Benedict XVI And Fr. Hans Kung

Fr. Henri de Lubac, S.J.
Western Europe is considered a religiously barren place these days. The reality, however, is more complex. Books written by two Catholic theologians recently rocketed up Germany’s bestseller list. That testifies to Europe’s ongoing interest in religious matters. But the books’ real importance lies in their authors’ rather different visions of Catholicism’s purposes and future — not just in Europe, but also beyond. One of the theologians is Benedict XVI. The other is the well-known scholar Fr. Hans Kung. His text, Can the Church Still Be Saved? [1], was published the same week as the second volume of Benedict’s Jesus of Nazareth [2]. Though usually viewed as polar opposites, Benedict and Kung have led curiously parallel lives. Both are native German speakers. They are almost the same age. For a time, both taught at the same university. During the Second Vatican Council, they served as theological advisors with reputations as reformers. 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 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. Fr. de Lubac, incidentally, was a model of courtesy his entire life. 
Something about Kung clearly bothered him. After Vatican II, Ratzinger and Kung took very divergent roads. Ratzinger emerged as a formidable defender of Catholic orthodoxy and was eventually elected pope. Kung became a theological celebrity and antagonist of the papacy. Now both men are in the evening of their earthly days. What, many wonder, occupies their minds at this time of life? In this regard, Jesus of Nazareth and Can the Church Still Be Saved? are quite revealing.
From Jesus of Nazareth’s first pages, it’s clear Benedict is focused on knowing the truth about Christ as He is rather than who we might prefer Him to be. Through a deep exposition of Scripture many evangelical Protestants 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.
Link (here) to read the rest of the article at Catholic Exchange.


TonyD said...

Portraying Fr. Kung’s positions versus Pope Benedict XVI’s positions as an argument between “juvenile audacity” and “peacefulness” is not useful. We should be paying attention to God, not persuasive prose.

This reminds me of all the Republicans vs. Democrats arguments. It distracts us from the important truths, while we instead focus on sophisms.

Intellectualism, piousness, helping the poor, protecting life, humility – None of those are equivalent to God’s values and God’s judgment. We know God’s values and God’s judgment. To most readers that statement will make no sense, but that is because the still small voice is quieted with their own thoughts, beliefs, and interpretations.

TonyD said...

Fr. Kung said: “There will be no peace among the nations without peace among the religions.” While this is not literally true, it is something we should consider literally true. Good advice, oversimplified as truth, can be easier to accept and understand by those who are unable to hear the voice of God.

Catholics misunderstand God. Or do some think they know God’s will on topics such as abortion, the death penalty, political allegiance, papal infallibility, relativism, faith, or evil? If you find such issues to be simple, then you are creating your own literal truths from oversimplified advice. You have created your own God – and it is your own judgment.

Monsieur Dubon said...

"God's will" is mysterious indeed. I agree that demonizing the other and throwing rocks at mutual encampments is dangerously simplistic.

On the other hand, Christianity is about dogma, and if one gets too off the mark you lose what is essential and why it is unique among religions.

The value of the Catholic faith is in its unwavering dedication to some fundamental truths regarding Christ. If you get too far off Orthodoxy you enter into some other thing...not Christianity -