The Catholic Church is in serious trouble. That much is clear if only from the never-ending series of revelations of priests’ abuse of children put in their care that have sprung up in a number of countries. The situation cries out for someone willing to think clearly about finding an appropriate and effective response, above all one that could in some way work against such abuses ever happening again. Unfortunately, so far such a reaction has been forthcoming only from outside observers, such as from the (non-official) theologian and priest Hans Küng, and in an earlier blog-post I discussed his suggestion about abolishing the centuries-old requirement that priests stay celibate.
That was back around the beginning of March, but in the meantime even more abuse-revelations (from Germany, from Norway, etc.) have surfaced in the world’s press, and Küng has apparently felt the need to radically re-think – with the emphasis on “radical.” Yes, the occasion of the five-year anniversary of Benedict XVI’s accession to the papal throne earlier this month has clearly concentrated his thoughts, but what has clearly moved him even more to write publicly again is his sense of the Catholic Church now “in the deepest crisis of confidence since the Reformation.” The result is his recently-published open letter, addressed to all Roman Catholic bishops – thus going under the Pope’s head, so to speak, to appeal instead to his direct constituency within the Church hierarchy. That’s a rather audacious approach to take when the head of that hierarchy is held by official dogma to be infallible, even more so when what you’re advocating is a far-reaching reform program that goes far beyond the sexual abuse of children. (Kung nonetheless does term those abuse revelations himmelschreiende Skandale, or “scandals crying to Heaven.”) (more…)