POPE-KUNG (UPDATED) Sep-27-2005 (470 words) xxxi
Pope, Father Hans Kung have 'friendly' meeting, Vatican says
By Cindy Wooden
Catholic News Service
VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Pope Benedict XVI and Swiss-born theologian Father Hans Kung, who have known each other for almost 50 years, met Sept. 24 in Castel Gandolfo in what the Vatican described as a "friendly" encounter.
Joaquin Navarro-Valls, Vatican spokesman, said Sept. 26 that the pope and Father Kung "agreed that in the space of this meeting it made no sense to enter into an argument about the doctrinal questions remaining between Hans Kung and the magisterium of the church."
Father Kung served as a theological expert at the Second Vatican Council, but in 1979 the Vatican withdrew permission for him to teach as a Catholic theologian, although not restricting his ministry as a Catholic priest.
The priest, who has taught in Germany for decades, has challenged official church positions on papal infallibility, birth control, priestly celibacy and the all-male priesthood.
Navarro-Valls said the meeting focused on two topics of Father Kung's recent work: the possibility of developing a "global ethic" drawing from all religious traditions and the dialogue between Christian faith and science.
"Professor Kung emphasized that his 'weltethos' (global ethic) project was not an abstract intellectual construct, but rather it shines light on the moral values on which the great world religions converge," the Vatican spokesman said.
Father Kung believes that the moral values common to the world's main religions can be acceptable to people of no religious faith as well as to believers, Navarro-Valls said.
"The pope appreciated the efforts of Professor Kung to contribute to a renewed recognition of humanity's essential moral values through a dialogue of religions and through an encounter with secular reason," the spokesman added.
"He emphasized that the commitment to a new awareness of the values that sustain human life is also an important objective of his pontificate," Navarro-Valls said.
The spokesman said Pope Benedict also supported Father Kung's attempts to promote a dialogue between faith and science, including his efforts to convince scientists of the need to address the question of God's existence.
"For his part, Professor Kung expressed his praise for the pope's efforts to promote dialogue among religions" and his attention to the variety of social groups present in the modern world, Navarro-Valls said.
In his 1997 book, "Milestones: Memoirs 1927-1977," then-Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger said he had met Father Kung in 1957 at a theological convention. The two served as experts at the Second Vatican Council, 1962-65.
The two had "a good personal relationship," although as time went on it became clear that their theological positions were growing further and further apart, the future pope wrote.
Pope Benedict was archbishop of Munich and Freising, Germany, at the time the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith revoked permission for Father Kung to teach as a Catholic theologian; however, he and other German bishops were consulted by the Vatican.
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