Admiration for Barack Obama is such that even the

Catholic Pope is being compared unfavorably to him.



Sueddeutsche Zeitung, Germany

'If Only Obama Were Pope ...'


"While President Obama is capable of looking forward and opening himself up to the people and the future, this Pope is primarily facing backward, inspired by the ideals of the medieval Church, skeptical about the Reformation and ambivalent about the rights and freedoms of the modern age."


An External View By Hans Küng*



Translated By Jonathan Lobsien


January 30, 2009


Germany - Sueddeutsche Zeitung - Original Article (German)

British-born Bishop Richard Williamson: Pope Benedict's decision to rescind his excommunication has created a storm of global controversy, since Williamson is a Holocaust denier who questions whether Jews under Nazi rule were gassed or simply 'disinfected.'


BBC NEWS VIDEO: The reinstatement of Bishop Richard Williamsom brings global condemnation; Jews cut ties to the Vatican, Jan. 28. 00:01:44. RealVideo

In a very brief period of time, President Barack Obama has succeeded in leading the United States out of its depressing mood and has begun digging into the backlog of overdue reforms, putting forth a credible vision of hope and setting in motion what could be a strategic turning point for both the domestic and foreign policies of that great land.


Things are different in the Catholic Church. The mood is oppressive, the backlog of reforms crippling. After nearly four years in office, many see Pope Benedict XVI along the lines of George W. Bush. It’s no coincidence that the Pope celebrated his 81st birthday last year at the White House. Both Bush and Ratzinger are inflexible on questions of birth control and abortion, averse to any serious reforms, egomaniacal and without transparency in their administration, and restrictive in interpreting the freedoms and rights of the people.




Just like Bush, Pope Benedict is suffering from a growing loss of confidence. Many Catholics expect nothing more from him. Worse still: By rescinding the excommunications of four illegally ordained traditionalist bishops, including a notorious Holocaust denier, all the misgivings that people felt when Ratzinger was chosen have been confirmed.


The Pope looks down on people who support the reforms of the Second Vatican Council , which affirmed the freedom of religion, reconciliation with Judaism, holding Islam in high regard and holding a dialogue with the other churches and other world religions - as well as reform of the liturgy.




In order to promote “reconciliation” with a small group of hard-line conservative traditionalists, this Pope has risked losing the confidence of millions of Catholics in all other countries who remain loyal to the Second Vatican Council. That such a misstep comes from a German Pope has only exacerbated the conflict. Retroactive apologies will do nothing to mend the shattered porcelain.


But a Pope would find it easier to change course than a President of the United States. He has no Congress as a legislative hindrance and no judicial power like the Supreme Court to deal with. He is the supreme head of government, lawmaker and highest judge in the Church. He could overnight, if he wanted to, allow contraception, allow priests to marry, permit the ordination of women, and approve a sacramental alliance with the Protestant churches.


During the customary exchange of gifts on a visit to the

Vatican in June, 2007, President Bush gives the Pope a

walking stick hand-carved by a former homeless man

from Texas and covered with the Ten Commandments.


What would a Pope do if he were to act in the spirit of Obama? He would first, similarly to Obama, articulate that the Roman Catholic Church finds itself in a deep crisis, and he would name the trouble spots: many communities without a priest, a new generation staying away from the priesthood and the ruin of pastoral structures that in many cases grew out of unpopular parish mergers over the centuries.



Secondly, he would declare a hopeful vision for the renewal of the Church, a revitalized ecumenism [unity among Christian denominations], an understanding with the Jews, Muslims and the other world religions, and a beneficial evaluation of modern science. Third, he would surround himself with a very talented staff, no yes-men, but rather independent personalities backed up by competent and intrepid experts. Fourth, he would promptly decree the most urgent reform measures (“executive orders”); and fifth, he would immediately initiate an ecumenical council for the promotion of a change in direction.




While President Obama, with the approval of the entire world, is capable of looking forward and opening himself up to the people and the future, this Pope is primarily facing backward, inspired by the ideals of the medieval Church, skeptical about the Reformation and ambivalent about the rights and freedoms of the modern age.


Bush Says to Pope: 'I love God, I've read all of his books'

[Tribune de Genève, Switzerland]


While President Obama cooperatively strives for new partners and allies, Pope Benedict, like George W. Bush, is prejudiced by “friend or foe" thinking. He alienates fellow evangelical Christians by not recognizing such groups as churches, and talks with Muslims haven't gotten beyond empty phrases that are called “dialogue.”  



The relationship with Judaism must be described as deeply unsettled. While President Obama radiates hope, advocates public service and calls for a “new era of accountability,” Pope Benedict is prejudiced by an agenda of fear and prefers to limit the freedom of the people, in order to enforce an “era of restoration.”




While in Washington, President Obama aggressively cites the Constitution and the great traditions of his country to justify bold reforms, Pope Benedict in Rome restrictively construes the Vatican reform decrees of 1962 to 1965 [Second Vatican Council] - in reverse: in the direction of the Restoration Council of 1870 [the First Vatican Council ].



 [Het Parool, The Netherlands]


But since, in all likelihood, Pope Benedict will not become like Obama, for the next term we need an episcopacy [church government] that will not cover up the obvious problems of the Church, but rather openly name them and energetically approach them on the level of the diocese [local churches]; secondly we need theologians who will work together actively on a vision for the future of the Church, and who have no timidity about stating and writing the truth; thirdly we need ministers who will struggle to prevent the constant tendency to overload various parishes by over-centralization, and who will boldly embrace their personal responsibility as pastors; fourth, we have a particular need for women, without whom spiritual guidance would in many places collapse, and who will self-consciously embrace opportunities to exercise influence.


But can we really do this? Yes, we can.


*Hans Küng, 80, is professor emeritus of ecumenical theology at the University Tübingen and president of the Foundation for a Global Ethic [Stiftung Weltethos]. In 1980 the Vatican 'allowed' his ecclesiastic teacher’s license to be revoked .











































[Posted by WORLDMEETS.US February 3, 10:09pm]