Hans Kung: “Pope as Putin?”

Yes, the question is asked- among many other (to me) more fascinating things in the Swiss theologian’s interview with Der Spiegel. Excerpt:

SPIEGEL: More than a year ago, you wrote an open letter to all bishops in the world, in which you offered a detailed explanation of your criticism of the pope and the Roman system. What was the response?

Küng: There are about 5,000 bishops in the world, but none of them dared to comment publicly. This clearly shows that something isn’t right. But if you talk to individual bishops, you often hear: “What you describe is fundamentally true, but nothing can be done about it.” It would be wonderful if a prominent bishop would just say: “This cannot go on. We cannot sacrifice the entire Church to please the Roman bureaucrats.” But so far no one has had the courage to do so. The ideal situation, in my view, would be a coalition of reformist theologians, lay people and pastors open to reform, and bishops prepared to support reform. Of course they would come into conflict with Rome, but they would have to endure that, in a spirit of critical loyalty.

SPIEGEL: That’s what led to the Reformation 500 years ago. But at the time, the Roman system was incapable of understanding the criticism from within the ranks.

Küng: After 500 years, we are surprised that the popes and bishops of the day did not realize that a reform was necessary. Luther didn’t want to divide the Church, but the pope and the bishops were blind. It seems that a similar situation applies today.

This man occupies a secure place in my pantheon of heroes…. Full, fascinating interview here.