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Vatican Secretary of State expresses admiration for dissident Hans Kung, as Secretariat of State officials seek to discredit Father Nicholas Gruner’s Fatima Apostolate
At the same time that Father Nicholas Gruner is being hounded by Roman administrators, the Vatican’s second highest authority has voiced public esteem for one of the most notorious propagators of heresy in our time.
On March 24, 1998, Vatican Secretary of State, Angelo Cardinal Sodano, delivered the speech “Love the Church and Try to Make Her Loved” at St. John Lateran Basilica in Rome. The lecture is part of a series in the diocese of Rome in preparation for the Year 2000 Jubilee. It was a media event which took place at the very site where Pius XI and Mussolini signed the Lateran Pact.
The theme of the talk was the Church’s “need” for ongoing reform. On the one hand, the Cardinal spoke of the necessity of maintaining tradition, utilizing impressive quotations from St. Vincent of Lerins. On the other hand, he cited and praised Modernist theologians like Yves Congar and Henri deLubac, two of the leading lights of the Vatican II revolution. It was Congar who expressed with quiet satisfaction that at the Council, “the Church has had its October revolution.” Congar also favorably referred to Vatican II as a “counter-syllabus”, referring to the great Syllabus of 1864. In other words, Congar expressed with pleasure that Vatican II “overturned” some of the greatest teachings of the anti-liberal, Venerable Pope Pius IX.
Sodano’s speech reminds the reader of St. Pius X’s warning of how the Modernists operate. In the encyclical Pascendi, Pope St. Pius X taught that the tactic of Modernists is to mingle both traditional and progressive statements in their writings. The Pope said, “in their books one finds some things which might well be approved by a Catholic, but on turning over the page, one is confronted by other things which might well have been dictated by a rationalist.” [par. 18]
The Cardinal’s address contained a curious composite of traditional Catholic terminology, Vatican II lingo, trendy language (such as “concerns for the environment”) and even a New Age reference to the world as a “Global Village.”
Yet the incident that caused a worldwide commotion was when Sodano favorably quoted the radical “theologian” Hans Kung. He cited Kung while making his “final two points” at the close of his speech — quoting a section from Kung’s recent book, claiming that it contained “beautiful pages dedicated to the Christian mystery.”
The April 3 edition of the progressive National Catholic Reporter (NCR) applauded the Cardinal’s friendly mention of Kung. The NCR is a militant promoter of liberal theology, married priests, the acceptance of woman priests, contraception for Catholics and many other non-Catholic atrocities. Hans Kung is one of NCR’s heroes.
Not long after the NCR report, Inside the Vatican printed the Cardinal’s entire lecture claiming that to center on Sodano’s praise of Kung was to miss the entire point of the address. Yet after reading the lecture, this objection seems unconvincing.
Though a detailed study of this controversial speech is beyond the scope of this short article, it is clear from Sodano’s words that he is a “man of Vatican II”, especially since he remarked in his lecture that even though he loves the old Catechism of St. Pius X, its definition of the Church is “quite narrow” by today’s standards. Whether the Cardinal is a calculating Modernist or just one more confused prelate caught up in the spirit of the age is impossible to determine.
And still the question remains: why would this high-ranking Vatican Cardinal dignify the infamous Hans Kung at such a public event? Why lavish unqualified appreciation for a man who disregards bedrock tenets of the Catholic Faith?
Hans Kung’s heretical views are well known, and are expressed in one of his most famous works, On Being a Christian.
In this book, Hans Kung:
Kung has never retracted these unorthodox statements. Moreover, he has also publicly called for a revision of Church teaching on such issues as papal infallibility, birth control, mandatory celibacy for priests and women in the priesthood. (NCR 4/3/98)
Yet Kung, who espouses this flagrant apostasy, is given unequivocal “honorable mention” by the Vatican’s second in command. This is all the more disturbing when we realize that it is the Secretary of State who actually controls the machinery of the Vatican. In many ways, the Secretary of State can wield much more power than the Pope.
It is most significant that in praising Kung’s “beautiful pages” Sodano identified him, without qualification, as “the German theologian.” Sodano knows quite well, of course, that the outrageously heterodox Kung was stripped of the right to call himself a Catholic theologian by none other than Pope John Paul II. Sodano also presumably knows that in remarks reported around the world, Kung impudently accused Pope John Paul II of imposing a “rigid, stagnating and despotic rule in the spirit of the Inquisition.” Sodano’s praise of Kung was no slip of the tongue. He spoke from a carefully prepared text which has since been published in Inside the Vatican.
Sodano’s brazen reference to Kung as “the German theologian” raises important questions: Is the upper echelon of the Vatican bureaucracy, led by Sodano, now acting as if the Pope is already dead, his condemnation of Kung consigned to history? Does Sodano have in mind a rehabilitation of Kung and a host of other radicals during the next pontificate, to which he may well aspire?
Even if Sodano had not favorably quoted this revolutionary priest, the status of Hans Kung is of great interest. Kung was one of the most influential theologians of the Second Vatican Council. Throughout the 60s and 70s, Kung openly propagated his radical views in speech and in print. It was fifteen years before the Vatican took any “effective” measures against him.
When Rome finally acted in 1980, it only declared that Kung could no longer call himself a “Catholic” theologian. He was not excommunicated for his heretical teachings, nor was he suspended.
This means that even though Kung cannot officially call himself a Catholic theologian, he may still celebrate Mass, hear confessions, preach and give advice.
Kung’s many books remain conspicuously present in the libraries of most Catholic colleges and seminaries to this day. He is constantly quoted favorably by other liberal “priests in good standing” like the arch-progressive Father Richard McBrien of Notre Dame University. In his radical book Catholicism, McBrien cites Kung at least 18 times.
Hans Kung is supportive of the syncretistic “one world religion” initiative of the new-age Episcopal Bishop William Swing (San Francisco Chronicle, 6/22/77, p. 3/1) which is working hand-in-glove with Mikhail Gorbachev’s “Global Brain Trust”.
Further, Kung is often invited to lecture for progressive “Catholic” universities and audiences worldwide. One such organization is The Future of the American Church in Washington, D.C. where Kung appeared in 1989. The Future of the American Church is a liberal think-tank whose ideology is identical with the National Catholic Reporter and Call to Action. Priests and bishops “in good standing” like Archbishop Rembert Weakland and Bishop Thomas Gumbleton speak at these conferences and encourage the dissenters. At a November, 1997, Call to Action Conference Gumbleton called for a revision of the Church’s teaching against homosexuality. Yet none of these countless dissenter-clergymen receive even a slap on the wrist from the Vatican.
Predictably, Kung was delighted with Sodano’s speech and called it “a sign of hope for the Church.” Kung further stated, “I never got much praise from the Vatican ... I think ... it’s an indication of a change ... coming changes in the general climate of the Church.”
Sodano’s statement is both ominous and revealing. If the Church, as Sodano indicates, should be subject to “continual renewal,” and if progressives like Yves Congar and Hans Kung are quoted as legitimate contributors to this reform, then it is obvious that a high-profile traditional Catholic priest like Father Gruner, whose worldwide apostolate stands in the way of this “continuous renewal,” will have to be attacked and discredited.
There is no doubt that the heart of Father Gruner’s present difficulties is this conflict between the “new Church” (of Sodano, Congar and Kung) and the true Church of the Fathers, Popes and Councils.