Friday, May 2, 2014


Please note the age of the Nashville Dominican Sisters in this recent photo and compare it to the LCWR one above! Which order chose the right path of renewal? 
Last night a group of us at dinner were having a discussion about Catholic schools and the fact that numerous religious orders that began many of our Catholic private schools can no longer sponsor their schools as they once did because they have no vocations whatsoever and the average age of their sisters is now well into the 70's. So these orders of sisters, who at one time had abundant vocations, are now in the final hours of agony before their orders die out.

It is sad, especially for the aging sisters who presided over the debacle of deconstructing their order's religious life that has led them nearly to extinction. For some of these orders this extinction will be within the next ten to twenty years.

Yet these same aging sisters heading toward their final days on earth continue to believe that their method of "renewing" their orders was the right thing and that they'd be long extinct before now if they had not done what they did to themselves.

Many of them and their cohorts wanted to bring to the Church the same destroying mentality that they were able to bring to their orders but were unsuccessful because of loyal opposition to their death-dealing ideologies and theologies, although they did inflict considerable damage on the Church Universal.

The National Chismatic Reporter (NCR) has a sad article on 85 year old Father Hans Kung, who himself is at death's door and musing whether or not who should use the "assisted suicide" option as he enters his final days to end his suffering. But isn't that what this clique of academics in the Church who asserted themselves in the 1960's have been trying to do to the religious orders of the Church and the Church herself?

We know about Hans Kung and his serious case of denial of the great evil he inflicted on the Church in his academic career, a similar denial that the aging sisters of so many religious orders continue to experience about what they did to their institutions.

But the 85 year old academic author of this article is another prime example of this denial. We just have to say NO! NO! NO! NO MORE ASSISTED SUICIDE FOR THE CHURCH! STOP IT! GO AWAY!

Read the NCR article and weep for the 85 year old editorialist and those like him who are in such denial as they breathe their final breathes:

Hans Küng knows church's problems - and that change is inevitable


Note from Jamie Manson, NCR books editor: Swiss theologian Hans Küng has written more than 70 books that have influenced not only the ongoing quest to reform the Catholic church, but also theologians and practitioners who engage in ecumenical theology and interfaith dialogue. We asked noted scholar Leonard Swidler and veteran journalist John Wilkins to guide us in our appreciation of the vast scope of his corpus. Not only are Swidler and Wilkins experts in Küng's thought, both have read the third and final volume of Küng's memoir, which has yet to be translated from the original German. Both retrospectives also offer reflections on his latest title, Can We Save the Catholic Church?/We Can Save the Catholic Church! (William Collins, $16.99) Today, we offer Swidler's reflection; Wilkins' will run Friday. Both ran in the April 28-May 8, 2014, edition of NCR.

There are a number of reasons why it is particularly apt that I would be writing about theologian Fr. Hans Küng's latest writings. To begin, we are both 85 years old -- one year younger than that of a former colleague of ours on the Catholic theological faculty of the University of Tübingen, Joseph Ratzinger, now Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI. Secondly, I was at Tübingen even before Hans in the late 1950s, as a student working on my doctorate in history from the University of Wisconsin, and my Licentiate of Sacred Theology from the University of Tübingen.

I arrived in Tübingen, Germany, in the fall of 1957. During the summer semester of 1958, I attended an interesting course offered by the Protestant theology faculty on a newly published book that compared the doctrine of justification according to 20th-century Swiss Protestant theologian Karl Barth with the doctrine of the 16th-century Catholic Council of Trent. The book dramatically concluded that they were essentially the same.

The author was a brash newcomer on the exciting theological scene, the young Swiss Catholic Hans Küng. I didn't know who he was then, nor did hardly anyone else -- except Ratzinger, who was a fellow assistant to Professor Hermann Volk of the Catholic theology faculty of the University of Münster. It was the same Volk who, as cardinal archbishop of Mainz, Germany, grilled Hans about his best-seller On Being a Christian. At one point, Volk blurted out: "Herr Küng, Ihr Buch ist mir zu plausibel!" ("Mr. Küng, your book is too plausible!")

Hans and I first "met" when he, as the successor at Tübingen to my doctoral adviser, Heinrich Fries, wrote to me at the University of Munich, where I was continuing my research, about the publication of my Tübingen thesis. A year later, after I was ensconced in the history department of Duquesne University in Pittsburgh, I invited him to come as a visiting theology professor.
NCR provides comprehensive, accurate coverage (and a lot of inspiration) for all those who love the Church and want to make it better!

At that point, the excitement over the forthcoming Second Vatican Council (1962-65) was beginning to heat up, and soon the English translation of his book The Council, Reform, and Reunion catapulted Hans to the status of a theological rock star. 
He soon made a triumphant lecture tour of the U.S., including Duquesne, where the largest hall was sold out two weeks beforehand. Hundreds more were put into a neighboring hall, where the lecture was piped in. Hans told me that he subsequently had so many offers of professorships -- starting with Harvard -- that he felt he had to turn down my invitation, along with all the others.

It was in the midst of the frenetic excitement of the council that my wife, Arlene Anderson Swidler, came up with the idea of filling a then-gaping hole in theological scholarship, and we launched a scholarly periodical devoted to ecumenical dialogue: the Journal of Ecumenical Studies. We gathered a key group of associate editors, including Markus Barth (one of Karl Barth's sons) and Hans Küng.

The first issue in 1964 (50 years ago this year) contained articles by two young periti at Vatican II, which was reaching its crescendo by then: Küng and Ratzinger. For Hans, Arlene and me, this was just the beginning of a more than half-century-long friendship and collaboration on innumerable projects.

It is through the lens of our long relationship that I read Volume 3 of Hans' memoirs.

It is vintage Küng. Hans must have -- with German-Swiss clockwork -- saved and carefully filed every paper and note he took on his myriad travels, meetings, conferences and conversations. All is carefully documented, not in a pedantic manner, but in a way that assures the reader that she or he is getting wie es eigentlich gewesen, or what really happened.

So many of the world's thinkers and doers came to Hans, or he to them, that this third, and presumably last, volume of memoirs reads much like an intellectual, cultural and political "who's who" of the late 20th and early 21st century. Hans obviously wrote right up until the printer pulled the paper out of his hand to finish the book, for he recorded that on June 28, 2013, he wrote to Pope Francis asking for permission to reproduce the warm, handwritten note Francis had written to him in Spanish. (He clearly received an affirmative response.)

Hans means to make this volume his vaya con Dios in the sense that, at the end, he looks back and reflects on what he judges is a full and complete life. He said goodbye to his lifelong weeks of skiing -- "one of the most fascinating sports" -- in his beloved Swiss Alps as of 2010. He speaks of his various health issues and countering exercises.

The title of the mere 350-page English-language book, Can We Save the Catholic Church?/We Can Save the Catholic Church!, says it all. The second half of the English title is not in the original German (which was Ist die Kirche noch zu retten? -- "Can the Church Still Be Saved?"), but it echoes a sentiment that can be found in all seven chapters of the book. Küng sees long-term history moving through an ongoing series of lesser and larger paradigm shifts that are always resisted until a tipping point is reached and the new paradigm takes the center of thought and action.

He is convinced -- as I am, as well -- that we are in the midst of a major paradigm shift that, expectedly, is vehemently resisted. Nevertheless, it is replacing the old -- in this case, the Catholic medieval/Counter Reformation -- paradigm.

It is interesting and encouraging to read that last summer, when Hans sent a note of greeting and a Spanish copy of this book to Francis (and to the cardinals on the new papal Council of Cardinals, each in his own language), in only a few days he received the handwritten card mentioned above. In it, Francis thanked Hans for his note and the book, which, he said, he would read with pleasure.

Hans obviously knows intimately more about the deep problems of the past and present Catholic church than anyone else alive today, and he distills these structural, deadly flaws with scorching clarity. However, he doesn't simply criticize. He also lays out a set of suggested action plans. Hans, and now his readers, sees the depth of the disease in each portion of the church. But, learning the lessons of history, he knows that change is not only possible, but also inevitable.

Further, Hans also provides grounds for the inner courage that is needed to begin, or continue, those efforts, which will accelerate that positive change in the Catholic church. It is a vision of the church to which Hans, like so many others, has devoted, and will continue to devote, his life.

[85 year old Leonard J. Swidler is professor of Catholic thought and interreligious dialogue at Temple University, Pennsylvania.]


Catholic Mission said...

Diocese of Lancaster is suppressing information about the Catholic Church and misrepresenting Vatican Council II

Bishop Michael Campbell of Lancaster closes Protect the Pope news service and forum

GenXBen said...

The younger, orthodox orders are getting vocations, but no support from the rest if the Church. See the witch hunt against Sister Jane Dominic in Charlotte after she had the temerity to talk about homosexuality. The school, diocese and her employer all threw her under the bus as fast as they could.

The church tolerated Kung, Crossan, Chittister, McBrien for years or decades. When it comes to conservatives, you get one strike and your out.

Anonymous in Archdiocese of Detroit said...

Father, in your area, the liberals may be in their 80s and in their final breath, but here in the archdiocese of Detroit, we have scores of liberal priests and nuns as young as 50, and they have all the power and control. Cardinal John Dearden was one of the originators of the dissenting "spirit of Vatican II", and he really planted the roots of it very very deep in Detroit. He was once named "the most dangerous heretic in the US" by The Wanderer.

Jody Peterman said...

Valdosta has plenty of Spirit of Vatican parishioners, deacons, etc. We do now have a good number of young orthodox Priest in the Diocese of Savannah, but we also have plenty of Kung disciples in the Savannah diocese who are under 70. I have no desire to call names, but I know because I have debated a few of them in person. I have heard the name Kung from the pulpit in the last 12 months in Savannah Diocese from an individual under 60. As long as there is One Holy Roman Catholic Church on this planet, there will always be a devil there somewhere in the Church telling the Church to change.

John Nolan said...

Also, in the last few days the Pope has overruled the CDF in the case of a dissident Irish priest.

No wonder the liberals are cock-a- hoop over this papacy.

Rood Screen said...

Fruitlessness. Very sad.

Fr. Allan J. McDonald said...

John, the guy is 85 years old and sick. Even Fr. Feeney who was excommunicated was reconciled on his death bed.

Gene said...

So, being old and sick is an excuse for any heresy or whatever. Cool.

Dave said...

This ties in to this a little. Here is your new host of CBS' LATE NIGHT, Stephen Colbert (who is active in his parish in faith formation instruction), and pop singer Jack White, with "Catholic Throwdown". Both men can be described as liberal Catholics, but watching them in this video is entertaining. WARNING: some salty language is used when they get wrong answers.

George said...

One of the biggest tragedies of the post Vatican II era will be seen as the implosion and decimation of whole religious orders
and communities. Because of the changes brought about, many lost the original and purpose of their religious vocation.
St Teresa of Avila, who reformed the Carmelites, was well aware of how easily corrupted that even solemnly vowed consecrated religious could become and so she imposed stricter rules and discipline on the members of her order.

George said...

I meant to write:
Because of the changes brought about, many consecrated religious lost the original SENSE and purpose of their religious vocation.

rcg said...

The reconciliation for Fr Feeny and maybe Kung will us the deathbed escape for themselves. Who are we to judge it very rightly spoken in these instances. But it does retrieve the misled souls from Hell, does it? I won't judge, but I expect the escape will not be as clean as hoped.