Hans Kung Accuses Pope Benedict of Being (Gasp!) a Fisher of Men

Who even knew Hans Kung was still around? Like a rickety old submarine that surfaces now and then to vent the noxious fumes that have built up inside, this disgruntled Vatican II peritus pops up every so often with a querulous screech about how the pope (JPII & BXVI) hasn’t been driving the big ol’ Churchbus in the leftward direction he so badly wants it to go.

Oops, he’s done it again, taking another potshot at his former colleague, Pope Benedict XVI.

Father Kung’s aggressive ambivalence toward the Catholic Church is almost cute now, like the part where he maunders on about how Pope Benedict engaged in piracy(piracy!) in his recent ecumenical gesture toward Anglicans.

Dissident theologian Father Hans Kung criticized Pope Benedict XVI for his recent opening to discontented Anglicans, charging the pope was “fishing” for the most conservative Christians to the detriment of the larger church.

Father Kung said the invitation to traditionalist Anglicans to join the Roman Catholic Church went against years of ecumenical work on the part of both churches, calling it instead “a nonecumenical piracy of priests.”

The pope’s basic message is: “Traditionalists of all churches, unite under the dome of St. Peter’s!” Father Kung wrote in an editorial Oct. 28 in the Rome daily La Repubblica.

“Look: The fisherman is fishing above all on the ‘right’ side of the lake. But the water is muddy,” he said.

The Vatican announced Oct. 20 that the pope was establishing a new structure to welcome Anglicans who want to be in full communion with the Roman Catholic Church while maintaining some of their spiritual and liturgical traditions. Many of the Anglicans who have asked the Vatican for such a provision are dismayed by the ordination of women and by the blessing of homosexual unions and the ordination of openly gay bishops in some provinces of the Anglican Communion.

While emphasizing the importance of celibacy for priests, the Vatican said a dispensation would be made for former Anglican priests who are married to be ordained Catholic priests. However, they will not be able to become bishops.

Father Kung, a Swiss theologian who has taught in Germany for decades, warned that married newcomers will cause resentment on the part of celibate Catholic clergy.

In 1979 the Vatican withdrew permission for him to teach as a Catholic theologian, although it did not restrict his ministry as a Catholic priest.

In the editorial, Father Kung also lambasted Pope Benedict’s recent efforts to bring back into the fold members of the Society of St. Pius X, a group of breakaway Catholics opposed to the changes in the church following the Second Vatican Council.

“After reintegrating the anti-reformist Society of St. Pius X, now Benedict XVI wants to flesh out the thinning ranks of Roman Catholics with like-minded Anglicans,” Father Kung wrote in the editorial.

He also criticized Anglican Archbishop Rowan Williams of Canterbury, head of the Anglican Communion, who “in his desire to ingratiate himself with the Vatican apparently didn’t understand the consequences of the papal fishing trip in Anglican waters.” (source)


  1. Thursday

    Hans Kung, in the body of Christ he is the appendix. benign until infected and when ruptured, painful and in need of surgical removal.

  2. Nick

    We who are the members of His Body must be ready for the just punishments of sin which we receive, for it was His Body which is scourged, crowned, beaten, spat upon, sheds tears of blood, is filled with agony, suffers, and dies upon the Holy Cross. We in Him and He in us bear this suffering, this humiliation, this cross for the world, especially poor sinners, in atonement, in reparation, in adoration, in thanksgiving, and in supplication for the appeasement of Divine Justice, for Mercy and Grace, and for the Strength and Spirit of Christ lest we rely on our own weakness rather than on God, lest we live in the world rather than in God, lest we not cooperate with God for the consummation of the world rather than help Him to save souls and hasten the coming perfection which creation journeys to, was created for, and yearns for. So let us offer up the attacks on the Holy Father, for our enemies' salvation and sanctification. May they become holier than us!

  3. Charles J. Miller, MD

    Patrick – I am thrilled heartened to see Kung labelled 'dissident theologian' the the Catholic News Service, a characterization which happens to be dead-on accurate. It has such a nice ring to it, like "Wylie Coyote, Super-Genius". Oh dear, I am not being very charitable, am I?

  4. M. G. Hysell

    Mr Madrid:I don't care for Hans Kung any more than you do, but is it really necessary to ooze uncharity and sarcasm? I know you are mature enough to engage Fr Kung in a responsible fashion, but you opted to behave in a less-than-Catholic fashion.I'm disappointed in you.Matthew G. Hysell, M.A., M.Th.

  5. Patrick Madrid

    That's quite alright, Matthew. I don't mind if you're disappointed. I express my opinion on this blog, and you can take it or leave it.

  6. Kindred Spirit

    To have earned the disapproval of Hans Kung is a far better thing than to have earned, for example, the Nobel Peace Prize… As Our Lady said at Fatima, "Pray much for the Holy Father", especially as we see him perscuted, even as his Master was persecuted, for doing God's work in the world. Mother of Divine Grace, pray for us.

  7. Ismael

    LOL!Jesus said the same to… Peter

  8. Ismael

    — The pope’s basic message is: “Traditionalists of all churches, unite under the dome of St. Peter’s!” Father Kung wrote in an editorial Oct. 28 in the Rome daily La Repubblica. —A few points:1- I lived in Italy for several years so I am well aquainted with its press:"La Repubblica" is a comunist/socialist paper with a strong anti-catholic bias. No wonder they would print and support something written by Kung or anyone who likes to bash the Church or the Pope.2- Kung seems to have his ideas mixed up. The Pope and the Magisterium are not traditionalists. The problem with lefrebrians was indeed they were (too) traditionalists.3- The anglican church is split up (or almost split up) between those who tried to mantain the purity of their religion and those who betrayed to be 'politically correct'. 4- I think the Church stayed true to itself. Sure we have accepted some anglicans and we are talking with the lefrebrians, but we are not compromising our faith for the benefit of having more followers.5- Isn't ecumenism about unity? The news brought me great joy, but the press started throwing insults like chimps throwing their own feces.I thnk many are bitter because they cannot stand that something good can happen… and that is truly perverse, in my opinion.

  9. catholic

    "Hans Kung, in the body of Christ he is the appendix. benign until infected and when ruptured, painful and in need of surgical removal."LOL.Wittily put!

  10. Chris

    Patrick,"Like a rickety old submarine that surfaces now and then to vent the noxious fumes that have built up inside …"Man, that cracked me up! I probably couldn't think of a better simile for Hans Kung if you were to offer me $1000.Anyway, thanks for the chuckle. If anyone here thinks sarcasm is always less-than-Catholic, then they obviously haven't read the Church Fathers. Tertullian and St. Augustine were the masters of sarcasm.

  11. Jim G

    Mr Madrid, I discern a distinct spirit of arrogance in your reply to Mr Hysell, one that I must say I 've detected before, Are we not to love our enemies and pray for those who persecute us rather than dismiss their importance to us as you so clearly did to Mr Hysell? At worst perhaps Mr Hysell is your enemy so…

  12. Jim G

    Mr Madrid, Do you struggle with pride? Are you conscious of it in you? I will pray for you in that regard because I believe I may detect that in your comment to Mr Hysell.

  13. Patrick Madrid

    Yes, Jim G. It's no big secret that I'm a sinner and am always in serious need of prayer. Everyone who knows me knows that. Look at the "about me" section on the upper left side of my blog. That says it all. It's great that you're praying for me!

  14. Flexo

    Fishing on the right side of the lake?Actually he has fished on the left side as well, as when he and you had that private discussion shortly after he became Pope.Indeed, a lot a people would be overjoyed, Fr. Kung, if you were to rejoin the Church.

  15. Brandy Miller

    Guess those who are worried about Mr. Madrid's sarcasm haven't read those biblical passages which start out "You imbecile!"

  16. Sean

    I am a catholic Christian – albeit not Roman Catholic – but belong to the one body of Christ formed by His Word and shaped by His Spirit. I am appalled at the lack of respect I see in these discussions regarding Hans Kung. No wonder Jesus said the world would know we are His disciples by our love for one another. We will not be judged on how clearly and eloquently we articulate the "truth", but rather on how we lived it. Christ have mercy.

  17. Anonymous


  18. Derek

    Good God! I had no idea such people existed in the Church! Mind you, I am speaking of Mr. Madrid. I do wonder whether any of those criticising Dr. Kung have actually read his work. 50 years from now we will be looking back to him in gratitude – I only pray that before that happens we re-capture and re-appropriate the teachings of V2. By the way (in case you are going to accuse me of being an "old fogey") I am 25 years old. I grew up in a "traditional Catholic" family. It is my love for the Church which propels me to hope for true reform – the triumph of academic theology over piety mixed with fear, with a few multi-syllabic words thrown into the mix.

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