Monday, November 14, 2005

Kung on Wojtyla

I should start by wishing everyone a happy Kung Week -- I'll be meeting Fr. Hans (who remains a priest in good standing, alongside his more recent attribute as papal dinner guest extraordinaire) in a couple days when he shows up in Philadelphia.

Appropriately enough, given the timing, the following blurb from Kung's memoirs, My Search for Freedom, has been making the e.mail rounds. It's a recollection of his student days, and a commentary (some would say unsurprising, given Kung's history these last thirty years) on a fellow Roman priest-student of the time.
"During those years a certain Karol Wojtyla from Krakow is also preparing for his doctorate in philosophy at the Angelicum. He has been rejected by the Gregorian University, the top place in Rome, because he hasn't completed his studies in Poland satisfactorily. So he has to content himself with the the Roman Dominican university (a hotbed of traditional theology in contrast to the first-class French Dominican college, LeSaulchoir). It is reported that be secretly went to a series of lectures at the Gregorian, presumably by the Yugoslavian Fr. Truhlar, whom we found rather boring. Rejection from the Gregorian must have been quite a blow for the ambitious Wojtyla. That he then as Pope, in contrast to all his predessors, turns to Opus Dei instead of the Jesuits. It is regarded in Rome as late revenge for his student days. Whether or not this is true, to the present day it is more important for the church that while this Polish student learned some philosophy, he evedently has a very thin theological foundation - not to mention a lack of knowledge of modern exegisis, the history of dogmas and the church. At that time - at the Gregorian or the Angelicum - did he spy out a certain Swiss Germanicum student in the red Cassock?"
Ah, a reference to the legendary gamberelli ("the little shrimps"), as the students of the Teutonico were known, thanks to their red cassocks....

Two things to keep in mind:
1. In Kung's defense, before anyone starts screaming -- and, well, you can't, not here at least -- let's remember that Kung was there and we weren't, so he'd have a better knowledge of the situation, his own personal ax against the late pope notwithstanding. This was written, after all, in 2003 and seemingly not challenged then or since.
2. In the late Pope's defense, could it be that the Polish seminary and academic systems were so bombed-out in the early Postwar period that a student could not rack up the sufficient prerequisites to earn admission to the Gregorian, therefore not rendering it as an issue of the competence of the applicant, but one of the intransigence of the administration? Quite possible.

More from DC in a bit.