By Martin E. Marty

Martin E. Marty

Martin E. Marty

The names of Catholic theologian Hans Küng and Pope Francis are both in the news because Küng was sighted saying friendly things about the Pope and the Pope was apparently saying friendly things about God and atheists. Such stories demand or evoke in this “sighter’s” mind some historical recall which helps set the news in context.

Background: in June, 1966, one year after the modernizing reforms of the Second Vatican Council, when there were still many Catholic priests in Canada, hundreds of them gathered in Montreal for four days at then Loyola, now part of Concordia University. On stage were Catholic Küng, Baptist Harvey Cox, Lutheran M.E.M., and host Father Elmer O’Brien, S.J. We guests were evidently competing for the Chutzpah-in-Theology Guinness record by agreeing to appear on stage for four hours with no texts, scripts, or notes. O’Brien and members of the audience made up of priests were free to ask questions or bring up topics of any kind. I ran through all the theology I knew, but learned much by listening. (Chutzpah? We were 38-years-old!).

While we two Protestants did not have anything personal at stake with respect to the papacy, Küng did. A star peritus (adviser) at the Council, he had dreamed dreams inspired by John XXIII and was seeing them dimmed by Paul VI, about whom he was ambivalent. Those dreams turned into nightmares for Küng as John Paul II and Benedict XVI — the latter, had earlier been a friend of Küng’s from Tűbingen, Germany — countered much that the Council had achieved. Or so, at least, it appeared to Küng. Read More…

A newly-formed group of priests and nuns calling themselves the Catholic Whistleblowers contend that the Roman Catholic Church is still protecting sexual predators, in spite of decades-old zero tolerance policies.

Laurie Goodstein at the New York Times has written a piece announcing the launch of the group, which began to form nine months ago, out of the public eye and without oversight or knowledge of their superiors. According to Goodstein, the steering group consists mostly of priests and nuns who have blown the whistle in the past, plus three canon lawyers who have handled abuse cases for the church. Four of the twelve members are themselves survivors of child sex abuse.

The Catholic Whistleblowers intend to provide support for whistleblowers in the church, as well as for victims of all ages. Most of all, they hope to reduce sexual abuse within the church by instituting better policies, protecting whistleblowers, and prosecuting the guilty parties.

For a fuller explanation of the group, as well as insights from individual members of the steering committee, see the New York Times article.


By Frank Bruni, New York Times

COLUMBUS, Ohio — No one at the Catholic high school that fired Carla Hale in March claimed that she was anything less than a terrific physical education teacher and coach, devoted to the kids and adored by many of them.No one accused her of bringing her personal life into the gym or onto the fields. By nature she’s private. And she loved her job too much to risk it that way.

But she lost it nonetheless, and the how is as flabbergasting as the why is infuriating.

Read the full story at the New York Times.

By Nicole Winfield, Huffington Post

VATICAN CITY — The Vatican said Monday that Pope Francis supports the Holy See’s crackdown on the largest umbrella group of U.S. nuns, dimming hopes that a Jesuit pope whose emphasis on the poor mirrored the nuns’ own social outreach would take a different approach than his predecessor.

The Vatican last year imposed an overhaul of the Leadership Conference of Women Religious after determining the sisters took positions that undermined Catholic teaching on the priesthood and homosexuality while promoting “radical feminist themes incompatible with the Catholic faith.” Investigators praised the nuns’ humanitarian work, but accused them of ignoring critical issues, including fighting abortion. Read the full article at