Friday, January 02, 2004

First Things 'critiques' Hans Kung's Memoir

Well, they could have let us know what they really think about it...
At age seventy-five, Catholicism’s best-known theological dissenter has published a memoir that is an unmitigated embarrassment. The vulgarity of the author’s self-aggrandizement is breathtaking, the viciousness toward those who disagree with him deeply saddening. He is the courageous warrior against “spiritual dictatorship” and “church totalitarianism.” Unlike others who sold out in their ambition for ecclesiastical power and prestige, Hans Küng would not compromise his conscience. His most particular target is Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger, but he names many others who are allegedly traitors to the truth. But never mind, he is happy and has found power and prestige elsewhere. He notes with satisfaction that Kofi Annan has accepted an invitation to his 75th birthday party. “In all modesty, which I have learned in my childhood, in the tumult of the times I have been able to assert myself as a free man, a Christian, and a theologian.” The book ends with a letter from a Swiss pastor who compares him with the prophet Elijah. To which Küng responds, “Oh no, the fate of a professor is enough for me.” There is that modesty again. Küng says he is writing a second volume of memoirs. It is a pity that what he describes as his great success in life did not include friends who might have discouraged him from publishing the first.

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