Southern Religion

Theologian ‘saddened’ by Papal decisions on contraception

AIDS, condoms and contraception are a concern even for “superstar” Catholic theologian Hans Kung.

One of the architects of the second Vatican council and also the first major Catholic theologian to attack the concept of papal infallibility, Kung said in an interview this week with euronews:

The Pope is without any doubt a figure who embodies hope in the fight against corrupt dictators and regimes, and this is why I am saddened. The Pope didn’t seize the opportunity to tell people reasonable family planning and sensible contraception is justified.

The interview deserves close attention and we will come back to it, later.

April 9, 2009 Posted by | Pope Benedict XVI, Religion | , , , , | Comments Off on Theologian ‘saddened’ by Papal decisions on contraception

The Pope’s salary

The salary and/or other remuneration of the Southern Baptist Convention president has been subject to some debate. His salary is reported to be nothing, although the SBC files no detailed, public financial reports.

As was made clear in the New York Times several years ago after a moment of confusion about the matter, the Pope in Rome has a salary of nothing.

The Vatican spokesman, Joaquín Navarro-Valls, ended speculation about the Pope’s salary, saying, ”The Pope does not and has never received a salary.” An ambiguous statement by Cardinal Sergio Sebastiani had suggested that the Pope did receive a salary. [07/20/2001]

The Holy See makes the details public:

The pope has the resources of the Holy See at his disposal. He can take out as much as he needs to carry out his mission and his duties. All the recent popes, on the occasion of their deaths, have left everything they personally owned to the Holy See, with the exception of some little gifts that Pope Paul VI left to his personal secretary and to some of his close relatives. The Holy See annually publishes a complete financial report which includes the expenses of the Pontifical Household. Gifts that come to the pope from heads of state around the world and similar gifts go to the Vatican Museums, where they are often on display for the public to view.

Vatican financial disclosures are available to the press. They are sometimes the subject of news stories, which of course are not always flattering. The British Guardian wrote last year:

The Vatican has blamed the weak dollar for pushing it into its first loss in four years.

Annual accounts published yesterday showed that the Holy See dipped into the red last year, recording a loss of €9.1m (£7.25m). It said this was “due mainly to sharp and very pronounced trend reversal in fluctuation of exchange rates, particularly the US dollar”.

Disclosure helps charitable institutions of all kinds earn and sustain the trust of their contributors.

February 23, 2009 Posted by | Catholic, Economy, Pope Benedict XVI, Religion | , , | 2 Comments

Vatican accepts Katrina priest’s withdrawal from bishop appointment

The Vatican has accepted ultra-conservative Austrian priest Gerhard Maria Wagner’s request to rescind the promotion to auxiliary bishop in Linz, Austria’s third largest city.

Wagner said “fierce criticism” prompted him to withdraw. Some conservative Catholic-oriented blogs not only respond with dismay, but also with sentiments like “it’s probably good to find out now rather than later how easily he could be intimidated by the left.”

Wagner has condemned the Harry Potter books as satanic, said homosexuality is curable and ruled out lay participation in Church affairs. After the Hurricane Katrina disaster in 2005, he commented: “It’s no coincidence that in New Orleans all five abortion clinics as well as night clubs were destroyed.”

Pope Benedict XVI’s de-excommunication of a Holocaust-denying priest and appointment Wagner together set off a crisis in Austrian Catholicism that bishops are meet in emergency session today to address.

February 16, 2009 Posted by | Catholic, Pope Benedict XVI, Religion | , , , , | 3 Comments

Papal fear of schism

Pope Benedict’s obsessive “horror” of schism may have lit the un-excommunication wildfire, suggests Martin E. Marty of the University of Chicago Divinity School.

Certainly papal efforts to damp the fire following his Jan. 24 un-excommunications of four right-wing bishops have made it hotter, especially now in Germany.

Today Bild reported:

Theologian Hermann Haering went so far as to say that the Pope should resign: “If the Pope wants to do something good for the church, he should step down.”
But Hamburg bishop Hans-Jochen Jaschke told BILD:
“A mistake was made and it was in his name. He was probably badly advised. There is now a need for damage limitation, the rehabilitation process should be stopped. People want to hear clear words. If he had known what the unenlightened Williamson had said, he would not have undone the excommunication. The matter was badly dealt with.”

Marty approaches it tongue in cheek, asking:

How and why did he get into this situation?
Theories abound, as they did when the Vatican-Muslim flap occurred.
This time is different, says Father [Edwart T.] Oakes, [writing in the Jan. 30 Wall Street Journal], since the offenders are not medieval Byzantine rulers (as in the Muslim case) but living, breathing excommunicated schismatics for whom the pope will do anything, including offend the whole Jewish world and millions of bystanders, among them those who do remember the Holocaust, in order to reincorporate Bishop Williamson and his three Episcopal leaders in the Pius X society.
Put simply, as Father Oakes and numerous Catholic commentators have thus put it:
Benedict XVI has such a horror of schism that he and his team can let almost anything else go – including Pius X Society’s insults to the Vatican II bishops and their successors, and interpretations of Catholicism which the previous pope and team adjudged to be heretical – in order to stall or demolish schismatic movements.

Unlike Bishop Jaschke, Marty doesn’t lay blame at the feet of Vatican curia who should somehow have better advised their pope. Instead Marty asks:

“Is Benedict XVI” too much the history-preoccupied German scholar, driven by the memory of Martin Luther and “other 16th century ‘schismatics'” and consumed by “an inordinate fear of repetition?”

“We’ll wait and see,” he teases, leaving us with the contingent vision of an irrational, obsession-driven pope. Very much the man who should, as Haering said, “step down.”


Vatican demands holocaust-denier repudiate his positions.

February 4, 2009 Posted by | Catholic, Pope Benedict XVI, Religion | , , , , , , | Comments Off on Papal fear of schism

Pope downplays interfaith dialogue (maybe)

Batholics in Bohemia

“Batholics in Bohemia, or when your pastor enquires of you” is a Czeck cartoon which was inspired by Tony Cartledge’s May 20, 2005, blog “Baptists or Batholics?”

I am informed that the caption translates, “Did you vote for Christian democratic party, Civic democratic party or social democrats? According to the new SBC instruction no. 214/09 we cannot accept liberal voters.”

A few days after a Baptist minister called the Roman Catholic Church a cult comes word that the pope himself is sending mixed signals about the worth of interfaith dialogue.

Pope Benedict XVI wrote in a letter to an author that “an interreligious dialogue in the strict sense of the word is not possible” according to a report in the New York Times. In theological terms, the pope said, “a true dialogue is not possible without putting one’s faith in parentheses.”

The news comes after Jim Smyrl, the executive pastor of education at the First Baptist Church of Jacksonville, called the Catholic Church a “cult” in one of his church’s official blogs.

But it’s important to note that the pope also said “intercultural dialogue which deepens the cultural consequences of basic religious ideas” is important and called for confronting “in a public forum the cultural consequences of basic religious decisions.”

A Vatican spokesman seemed to walk back the pope’s comments even further, saying the comments were not meant to cast doubt on the Vatican’s many continuing interreligious dialogues.

Perhaps some good would result now if Jim Smyrl had an audience with the pope. He is, after all, a Batholic.

November 26, 2008 Posted by | Religion | , , , , , , , | Comments Off on Pope downplays interfaith dialogue (maybe)