194: DEAR POPE #7: “Stop punishing dissident priests!”

Dear Mr Bergoglio
I hope you are well. I saw your photo in the paper again the other day. You really seem to be the flavour of the month! I hope this honeymoon period lasts!

I want to ask you about the treatment of radical clergy by your predecessors. I don’t know if you have carried out similar punishments because I don’t monitor the Catholic press; but freedom and forgiveness should surely lie at the heart of the Catholic project. If the church is to evolve with the times it must not dismiss its prophets out of hand. I am going to remind you of what 2 famous Catholic critics have said about the church. Hans Küng and Leonardo Boff. And I am going to ask that if such critics appear on your watch that you treat them with more tolerance than your predecessors did.

Swiss born Küng

  • called on the rank and file Catholics to rise up against the clergy.
  • He said the church had passed many laws down the years which were completely against the spirit of the bible.
  • He said that if Jesus came back he would be in favour of contraception  and divorce.
  • He attacked the notion of papal infallibility.

For his pains, he was banned from teaching Catholic theology. As he had been one of the world’s best known Catholic theologians and teachers, this sentence cramped his style somewhat.

In 1981, Boff, a Latin American like you, published “Church charisma and power”, a book which has been called the strongest challenge to the church since the Reformation.
In it he said:

  • the church hierarchy was copied from that of the Roman empire
  • the church has a feudal type of power
  • it has a tradition of intolerance and dogmatism (think Inquisition)
  • it represses all criticism from below
  • it refuses to accept freedom of thought
  • it has pretensions to infallibility
  • the excessive powers of the pope make him like the general secretary of the Russian communist party!

As you know his punishment for this constructive criticism was one year of “obsequious silence”! Since then he has found the continued restriction and censorship to have gotten worse and he left the Franciscan order in 1992 and became a lay theologian.

I think the church should apologize to these two whistle blowers and reinstate them with full honours. By pointing out what the Vatican couldn’t see, they have done you a big favour.

May I suggest you open your bible, Mr Bergoglio (if you haven’t got one, I can send you one) and read the words of the prophets in the Hebrew Scriptures.

Hasta la Vista, Señor!

Peter Turner.

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