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Diagnosis made and treatment offered - but will the patient comply?,
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This review is from: Can We Save the Catholic Church? (Kindle Edition)
I think this is an excellent study of the malaise presently afflicting the governance of the Roman Church. Kung sets out, as a medical doctor would do, to diagnose the problems and to offer remedies. He does so more out of sorrow than anger and states that this could very well be his last book. I found the way he structures the book to be very helpful indeed - there are lots of bullet-point lists of the important matters which for me anyway makes the material easier to understand.
In his introduction Kung makes the point that throughout its first millennium the Church got along quite nicely without the monarchist-absolutist papacy that we now take for granted. It was only in the 11th century that a revolution started from above, started by Pope Gregory VII and known as the "Gregorian Reform". This gave us the three outstanding features that mark the Roman system today: a centralist-absolutist papacy; clericalist juridicism; obligatory celibacy for the clergy. (The latter feature looks a bit ragged at the edges since the creation of the Anglican Ordinariate by Benedict XVI and the ordination of married former Anglican clergy who now serve as priests in Roman Catholic parishes. So married men who have always been Roman Catholics cannot become priests but married former Anglicans can. Only the Vatican seems unable to spot the injustice.)
Kung mentions the many (failed) attempts over the centuries to reform the system and laments that under last two Popes (John Paul II and Benedict XVI) there has a fatal return to old absolutist attitudes and practices.
Given the background of Kung's struggle with the Vatican one might expect this to be an angry book. It isn't - it's a rather sad book written by a man who is still a Roman Catholic and a priest in good standing and who is concerned about a Church that he thinks is very ill, perhaps terminally so. The surveys by Linda Woodhead, published in The Tablet (November 2013) suggests that British Roman Catholics have moved further from a Vatican-approved model of a faithful Catholic with every generation.They have become Catholic in a different way. But the Vatican carries on regardless, blaming everybody and everything rather than itself. So perhaps the Church isn't terminally ill, perhaps its present form of governance is - and this, I think is Kung's main point.
He writes: " this Roman system of rule is characterized by a monopoly on power and truth, by legalism and clericalism, by hostility to sexuality, by misogyny and by clerical use of pressure on the laity".
This is a challenging book but a book that ought to be read by Roman Catholics seeking honestly to examine the present malaise in the church. You are of course not obliged to agree with Kung.