Hans Küng joins sedevacantists

In the midst of worry and concern regarding the canonical status of the SSPX, a light-hearted moment is provided by today's post on Rorate Caeli. Hans Küng has complained that the Pope is to include in the Church invalidly ordained bishops (he means those of the SSPX.) Küng cites the Apostolic Constitution of Pope Paul VI, Pontificalis Romani recognitio in which Pope Paul VI laid down the matter and form of the sacrament of Holy Orders according to the postconciliar rite.

In fact, the matter was not changed, and the form, in the case of the ordination of a deacon or priest, was left untouched. The form for ordination of a bishop was based on the Apostolic Tradition. The Constitution refers to this as "of Hippolytus the Roman" and dates it to the beginning of the third century. Both of these assertions have recently been challenged. In case anyone has scruples, the newer form is certainly valid: there have been and still are different rites of consecration or ordination of a Bishop and there is no reason to doubt the validity of the newer form of the Roman rite.

I think we can also regard it as certain that Pope Paul VI did not intend to declare ordinations subsequently carried out according to the older form to be henceforth invalid. Küng's charge that they are, is simply one of the more absurd consequences of the hermeneutic of rupture.

But the fun is only just beginning with this claim. He veers away from the allegation of invalidity of orders to make the further claim that if Pope Benedict accepts the SSPX bishops into the Church, he will be committing an act of schism. Let us not be distracted by Küng's implied assertion that the SSPX bishops are not already part of the Church. (We can all safely accept that they simply lack regular jurisdiction and canonical status.) Küng's target is not the SSPX but the Holy Father.

Not only does he warn the Holy Father that he will become a schismatic, he spells out the consequence of this: "A schismatic pope loses his position according to that same teaching of the constitution of the Church."

Thus the great liberal Hans Küng joins the ranks of the sedevacantists. You may well doubt whether he would agree to the theory of some, that Cardinal Siri was really elected Pope and not Cardinal Roncalli, but you could be tempted to speculate whether a homely Bierkeller in Tübingen might be the place to add to the list of the Popes at large. (Perhaps Martin VI in honour of another German who could tell everybody what was wrong with the Pope.)

Fun as such speculation might be, I think it would be mistaken. I happen to know, from an unimpeachable source inside the Vatican, leaked to an Italian journalist and thence to my late Auntie Eileen, that Hans Küng was indeed invited to become Pope when the conclave of 1978 became deadlocked. When telephoned with an offer of the post, he declined, saying "No. I would prefer to remain infallible."

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