<%@LANGUAGE="JAVASCRIPT" CODEPAGE="65001"%> Küng's Comments concerning Cardinal Ratzingers March 1998 Letter  ARCC
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Professor Hans Küng's Comments concerning Cardinal Ratzingers March 1998 Letter  

Translator's Note: On April 2, 1998, Christian Weisner with the German KirchenVolksBewegung "Wir sind Kirche" faxed me a letter in German from theologian Hans Küng which I am presenting here in English.  This is a first draft, dated 2 April 1998, and may be changed.  Please check the date at the bottom of this page and be sure to include it if you cite the letter.

Note that in Küng's letter the phrase "We Are Church Movement" points to the Austrian (and German)  KirchenVolksBewegung which is part of but not identical with the recently established International We Are Church Movement (IMWAC).  The "Groer/Krenn"  reference pertains to Cardinal Groer, the former archbishop of Vienna, who was asked to resign after allegations surfaced that years earlier he had molested students under his care while he was principal of a boys' school (earlier this year, after an extensive investigation, the Austrian bishops issued a statement confirming the accuracy of those and additional related allegations).  Public outrage over the Groer affair along with mass exodus from the Austrian church initially precipitated the immensely successful Austrian Kirchenvolksbegehren (literally: "Petition of the People of the Church" which I translated into English and distributed via Vatican2,  the e-mail list of ARCC, when the petition drive first began) between Easter and Pentecost 1995.  The Austrian movement led to the German "referendum" and in combination both eventually sparked parallel efforts throughout the world.  Bishop Krenn of St. Pölten has all along been a strong supporter of Groer and an outspoken opponent of the various reform movements and especially of allowing the Austrian reformers any voice in the "Dialogue for Austria."  The Ratzinger letter of March 7, 1998 was a response to Krenn's attempt to have Rome issue an official document to that effect.  Now for Professor Küng's deliberations concerning that letter:

Ingrid H. Shafer
2 April 1998

Related links:

Cardinal Ratzinger's "secret" June 1997 letters to the Austrian Bishops
Alternate site

Cardinal Ratzinger's March 1998 letter to the Austrian Bishops
Alternate site

Translation of the Hans Küng Letter

24 March 1998

Dear Mr. Weisner,

Cordial thanks for so quickly sending me Cardinal Ratzingers letter to the Austrian bishops.  I wish to add two comments:

1.  The condition of the Austrian church is so catastrophic and the publication of the two secret letters from Cardinal Ratzinger had such negative repercussions that now the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith finds itself on the defensive and suddenly agrees to dialogue with the We Are Church Movement (KirchenVolksBewegung).  This is a victory for the We Are Church Movement which demonstrates that even the Vatican must now take the We Are Church Movement  into account after having previously rejected any sort of dialogue.  This should be appropriately emphasized to the public.  However:

2.  This represents a form of offensive, a maneuver to relieve pressure, rather than genuine dialogue.  Not only is there the allegation, without any substantiation,  that the interpretations of the We Are Church Movement do not fully agree with the teaching and discipline of the church in several points – which should first have to be demonstrated.  In addition, the bishops are clearly, if diplomatically, informed that they should not "lose sight of the charge of  being custodians of the Gospel and Tradition."  It is not necessary to explain that in Roman eyes this "tradition" includes precisely the reactionary [German: traditionalistischen] positions to which the We Are Church Movement objects.

In my judgment, prior to this dialogue the question must be cleared up whether the Austrian bishops really want authentic and open discussion of the concerns of the We Are Church Movement, or whether they are once again only interested in appeasement, mollification, and empty promises.  That the case Groer/Krenn on the one hand, and the visit of the Pope on the other hand will play a decisive role does not require further elaboration either.  I am putting this so bluntly only because good and faithful Catholics are forever falling into the trap of basically quite primitive Roman strategic maneuverings.  This should not happen to those in charge of the  We Are Church Movement.

I am forwarding this letter to our friend Dr. Plankensteiner and Fr.  Schermann of Kirche Intern.  I have no objections if the letter is used for the public purposes.

With good wishes and cordial greetings,

(Signed) Your Hans Küng


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(Bishop Geoffrey Robinson in converation with Dr Ingrid Shafer)

Last revised 2  April 1998 5:30am CST
Translation and Hypertext copyright © 1998 Ingrid H. Shafer
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