The Catholic Church by Hans Küng

Sunday, September 7, 2008

This book, by the professor of Theology at Tübingen University in southern Germany, is a short history explaining the developments of the Church through time. The Church in this definition refers to the Roman Catholic one, who, as this short history explains, has seen its power and influence in the world wither away over the 1500 year mainly as a result of its own doing.

The Roman Catholic Church is one of the finest representations of rigid hierarchy present today. Decisions come from the top down with little significance given to the input and opinions of its large following at the bottom. The Church created numerous layers of organization from priest to bishop, cardinal and beyond. The effects of this were that Catholics always had a local messenger of God, the priest, who was available and willing to pardon people for their sins. The rise of Luther in the early 16th century called for a direct connection between believers and God. Too many mid-level managers. The repurcussions of this split between the Catholic and what would become the Protestant Church had enormous cultural effects and still today greatly define the differences between Northern and Southern Europe.

The frustrating aspect of the Church is that there were several key points in history in which the setting was ideal for a new direction to be taken. However, each time the conservative option that would preserve the hierarchical power structure was always taken.

In all this it is easy to forget about one important figure - Jesus! The Church and the pope, who is suppose to be the voice of Jesus on Earth, constantly distant themselves from this humble and peaceful figure by refusing to ask one simple question: Is this what Jesus would have wanted for his Church? One of the few positive trends in the current Catholic religion is that there is a very strong grassroots, community-oriented, church at the local level. The members of this church (non-capital "C") are much closer to the embodiment of what Jesus was and what he would have wanted. These people are running soup kitchens in parish basements, gathering clothing during the winter months for the poor, and teaching immigrants the local language for better integration. It sure seems a far cry away from a Pope who dresses himself in silk, gold and jewels at every public event he is present at.


Nels Abrams September 8, 2008 at 5:56 PM  

I agree the Church would be better honor Jesus's teaching through social justice issues. But didn't the Second Vatican Council try to modernize the church and it subsequently lost a lot of its members?

In the United States the conservative side of politics has a strangle hold on religious voters. In South America it was shocking to see that the Catholic church was a leader in fighting poverty and such. It was inspring to see a current alternative to the influence of the Church.

Also, I have been reading about the Social Gospel. It seems that the Progressive era--which led to many great reforms--was led by Protestants.

As a non-Christian I am much more impressed by and see a clearer relationship to the Church's teaching in these socially progressive movements.

You, unfortunately, are screwed. Your reservation in Heaven will be revoked if you endorse any of this hippie bullshit.

YouDefiledMyDriveway June 23, 2009 at 4:36 AM  

I don't exactly know how I stumbled upon your blog, but I've recently been reading books by authors like David Bercot and Frank Viola, who also have an interest in unveiling the historical hegemony of the Catholic church.

Although it lacks the scholarship of your current title, you might enjoy "Pagan Christianity" and/or "Will the Real Heretics Please Stand Up".

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