Il Papa

In the late 1960’s the two theologians that I read most frequently were Joseph Ratzinger and Hans Kung. Both attended the Vatican II Council of 1963-65.  Both, native Germans, taught at Tübingen University. The conservative became Pope Benedict XVI; the liberal lost his teaching certification.

The big news of the last week or so was the resignation of Pope Benedict XVI which led to wide-spread speculation, not only of the election of the next pope, but of the life of the Roman Catholic Church itself. The Church that theoretically is open to all has alienated large portions of its own, especially in the  industrialized nations of Europe and North America.  Kung labels those non-practicing Catholics as those who have gone into “internal emigration”. Lack of priests leave large parts of Africa and Latin America with out church leadership.  The big question to Kung and to many others is, “Can the College of Cardinals elect a leader who can best serve the members of the Catholic Church and of the desperate of the world?” Kung hopes that the next pope will not champion medieval theology or liturgy, but will be open to reformation and modernity.

Actually, the cardinals do have the power to make great changes for the betterment of the Church and of the world. Right now they are poised like Tevia (with the fiddler) on the roof top trying to balance tradition with the world in new, challenging turmoil. I pray that they, “Do the right thing.”

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