This is London
Its lead editorial shines with happiness
WHEN CARDINAL Joseph Ratzinger was elected Pope in April, there was much comment on his choice of papal name. Benedict, it was felt, boded well. The previous Pope Benedict was a peacemaker, and St Benedict chose as the first word of his Rule, ‘listen’.Going forward, Robert Mickens interviews Kung, who offers more detail on the evening's festivities in Albano
This week, Benedict XVI surprised the world when he announced that he had held talks with Hans Küng, the celebrated theologian who for so long has been cast adrift from the Church, following the removal of his authority to teach. The two men spent four hours together, first talking alone, and then dining with the Pope’s secretary. The comments about the name Benedict seemed to be true that autumn afternoon at Castel Gandolfo: a certain peace was made, and the Pope listened.
The communiqué issued from the Vatican – which, Küng later explained, the Pope prepared himself – stressed that the meeting was friendly and that both sides had agreed not to bring up old controversies. “It was a really personal conversation for four hours,” said the Swiss theologian. “Then we had dinner in [the Pope’s] private dining room.” He said the two prayed with one another: “We said an Ave Maria together in the gardens.” Such lengthy visits – and over a meal! – are not everyday events in this papal household.Methinks this is the resumption of a beautiful friendship.
Professor Küng insisted that he did not ask the Pope to restore his “authority as a Catholic teacher” because “I saw that without such authority one can still engage in theology recognised as being Catholic”. Instead, he engaged Pope Benedict in discussions about faith and science, and world ethics. “I had already sent him my new book – The Beginning of All Things: Science and religion – and he was fascinated by this. Then we talked about a global ethic. He affirmed this, and we talked about non-believers and some common ethical standards and that these could be shared even by non-believers. We then talked about secularisation in European countries like Ireland, Germany and Spain.”