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Ratzinger and Kung: Parallels and divergences

Though usually viewed as polar-opposites, Benedict and Kung have led curiously parallel lives. - Samuel Gregg

Published: March 24, 2011 07:34 AM GMT

Updated: March 24, 2011 11:45 AM GMT

Ratzinger and Kung: Parallels and divergences

Western Europe is considered a religiously-barren place these days. The reality, however, is more complex. Books written by two Catholic theologians recently rocketed up Germany’s best-seller list. One of the theologians is Benedict XVI. The other is the well-known scholar Fr. Hans Kung. His text, Can the Church Still Be Saved?, was published the same week as volume two of Benedict’s Jesus of Nazareth. Though usually viewed as polar-opposites, Benedict and Kung have led curiously parallel lives. Both are native German-speakers. They are almost the same age. For a time, both taught at the same university. During the Second Vatican Council, they served as theological advisors with reputations as reformers. More-attuned participants at Vatican II, however, immediately noticed differences between Kung and the-then Father Joseph Ratzinger. One such person was the Jesuit Henri de Lubac – a French theologian who no-one could dismiss as a reactionary. In his Vatican II diaries, de Lubac entered pithy observations about those he encountered. Ratzinger is portrayed as one whose powerful intellect is matched by his “peacefulness” and “affability.” Kung, by contrast, is denoted as possessing a “juvenile audacity” and speaking in “incendiary, superficial, and polemical” terms. Father de Lubac, incidentally, was a model of courtesy his entire life. Something about Kung clearly bothered him. After Vatican II, Ratzinger and Kung took very divergent roads. Ratzinger emerged as a formidable defender of Catholic orthodoxy and was eventually elected pope. Kung became a theological celebrity and antagonist of the papacy. SOURCE AND FULL ARTICLE - Samuel Gregg Benedict XVI, Hans Kung and Catholicism’s Future (Acton Institute) PHOTOS Dresden Katholikentreffen (Wikipedia)

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