Pope Needs Kung and McAleese As Cardinals

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Pope Francis plans to add new Cardinals in two months. He really needs to invite courageous Swiss theologian, Fr. Hans Kung, and Ireland’s “straight talking” leader, Mrs. Mary McAleese, to become Cardinals in February, and then to attend October’s Final Synod. Of course, they may be overqualified.

Many Catholics, especially those seeking real reforms, including countless women, are losing hope that this media star pope is the “real deal”. Even some in the media are shedding their earlier “Francismania” mentality, for example, please see David Gibson’s recent article, “Lost in translation? 7 reasons some women wince when Pope Francis starts talking”.

Pope Francis needs to act boldly now and these surprise appointments would surely be bold. Pope John XXIII understood shrewdly the advantage of “surprises” to shake the Vatican up, as he did with his dramatic and unexpected call in 1958 for a new ecumenical council and a papal birth control commission in 1962 with active women participants. Francis should now follow his effective example with these two appointments.

If Pope Francis fails to act boldly now, the escalating child abuse tsunami may sink the Vatican Titanic even  before his struggling Synod strategy plays out. He should consider seriously  appointing these two exemplary Catholics as Cardinals. He likely can do so practically fairly easily, instead of relying so heavily, as he has been, mainly on unpredictable, cumbersome and even amorphous Synods.

If Pope Francis wants to steer his papacy promptly out of the ceaseless child abuse tsunami the Vatican is facing, he must act creatively now.  After almost two years as pope, his advisory committee on child abuse will not even hold its initial meeting with its full membership until next February. The sole current abuse survivor member, Marie Collins, months ago even complained publicly and bravely to AP’s Nicole Winfield about the commission’s slow pace, now ominously operationally under Cardinal Law’s former canon lawyer. Fr. Robert Oliver.

Pope Francis’ seems to be stalling on effectively launching the advisory Commission for Protection of Minors, or so called “anti-abuse group”. The delays now border on the almost farcical,  after almost two years as pope and especially after spending so much time and money on protecting Vatican finances. Is this an exercise in “graduality”?
According to Vatican press officer, Fr. Lombardi, at the recent December 9-11 meetings of the nine member Council of Cardinals, the Council reportedly discussed Curia reforms, the Council for the Economy, and the ongoing shaping of the Commission for Protection of Minors, or so called “anti-abuse group”.
Regarding the anti-abuse group, Fr. Lombardi said that the body’s president, Cardinal Sean O’Malley of Boston, reported to the Cardinals on how the group’s work is proceeding. That must have been a brief discussion, no?  The anti-abuse group  reportedly will NOW begin to hire the personnel to carry on its work, with the efforts of the group’s Secretary, Fr. Robert  Oliver, to shape the advisory Commission and its statutes. So Cardinal Law’s former canon lawyer will shape the Commission. How convenient, no?
This provisional group is currently composed of eight members, but membership will eventually be more than doubled, as indicated by Fr. Lombardi.
“The number of members of the Commission should be increased to 18 people, and it is reasonable that the composition will be completed by Feb. 6, when they will have their plenary session,” said Fr. Lombardi. Reasonable? Perhaps?
On Feb. 6-8, 2015, there is currently scheduled to be the first full get together of the Commission for the Protection of Minors, presided by Cardinal Sean O’Malley.
So Cardinal Law’s former canon lawyer will shape the advisory Commission and its statutes. Will he get any advice from his old boss, Cardinal Law, who lives nearby, or will he just rely on occasional faxes from Cardinal O’Malley?
Pope Francis’ evident stalling here is disappointing and unacceptable. After almost two years as pope and over a year after announcing the anti-abuse group under pressure from UN committees, not even half  of the anti-abuse groups members have been named and its statutes are not yet even prepared.
Both Fr. Kung and Mrs. McAleese can be expected to support actively Francis’ reform goals and help him get the right things done first.



Pope Francis thanked Hans Kung for sending him his outstanding recent reform book, “Can We Save the Catholic Church”. Let us hope Francis and his advisers have read it by now. Fr. Kung and the pope also have reportedly exchanged several notes. And Francis’ preferred theologian, Cardinal Walter Kasper, had been Kung’s assistant decades ago.

There are clear papal precedents for appointing theologians over 80 years old as non-voting Cardinals. Kung surely has earned this appointment if anyone ever has. And Francis needs his unique knowledge and candor at this crucial time for the Church.

Hans Kung has been a leading international Catholic scholar and a best selling author on church history and theology for over a half century. His efforts to promote world peace through inter-religious dialogue have earned him major awards and the friendship of world leaders. He has also incisively and understandably engaged modern physical and social sciences in explaining well Jesus’ ongoing relevance.

Fr. Kung has engaged over more than a half century with, or influenced, several popes, including his former university colleague, Joseph Ratzinger (ex-Pope Benedict), as well as John XXIII, Paul VI, John Paul II and even Pius XII during Kung’s seven years as a student at the Jesuits’ Gregorian University in the 1950’s.

Cardinals and bishops have often sought Fr. Kung’s advice, as early as his time serving as a key expert with Ratzinger at the Second Vatican Council (1962-1965). No one has seen more of, or knows better how to cure, the Catholic Church that Ratzinger left for Pope Francis in very bad condition. Hans Kung is also likely the leading authority on the ex-Pope and the opposition Cardinals Ratzinger appears to have connections to.

Hans Kung has written a unique and readable summary in his new reform book of how self-interested hierarchs have for centuries diverted the Catholic Church from Jesus’ Gospel message to bring the Church to its present dysfunctional and unchristian condition. In a methodical and intelligible manner, he lays out how current problems had developed and how they can be resolved constructively, but only if Pope Francis wants to do more than just help to keep some Cardinals and Bishops out of bankruptcy and criminal courtrooms.

All Catholics, indeed all people of good will, should read this incisive, hopeful and concise book. They will, I believe, be glad they did. I surely am.

The book coherently shows the surprising relationship of the centuries’ old patriarchal “will to power” and the disabling, but curable, Vatican obsession with enforcing unbiblical sexual taboos, often at the expense of children and women. Hans Kung in simple and direct language outlines how the original Gospel message can be applied to resolve many current controversies, including those related to unaccountable bishops who protect child abusers, contraception, mandatory celibacy, women’s ordination, divorced Catholics and homosexual love.

Hans Kung is no dreamer, but is a pastoral priest who knows what is wrong and how to fix it. His suggestions make a lot of sense. Despite the unfair treatment he received in 1979 from the Vatican for questioning papal infallibility, his book is clearly motivated by his love of Jesus and not influenced by his bad treatment.

Francis would be wise also to add Hans Kung to his Council of Cardinals, as a prudent, informed and disinterested adviser, who loves the Church.

The often Machiavellian Vatican has so far paid insufficient heed to the many pleas to reform from well intentioned, but inadequately organized and mostly ineffective, reform groups, even of priests. Vatican hierarchs are subject to civil laws that so far have not been adequately enforced against them. That is changing, but not soon enough to protect children adequately.

Politicians. including President Obama and Chancellor Merkel, can now be expected to reject Vatican economic and political enticements and enforce existing laws to protect defenseless children and to preserve Catholics’ contributions. Sincere, but naive, Catholics are increasingly ending their complicity with, and funding of, the seemingly evil Vatican enterprise, unless and until it reforms. The solutions are there waiting for implementation by Pope Francis and national leaders. Catholics have been waiting for centuries and are increasingly fed-up with waiting. Fr. Kung and Mrs. McAleese can help Francis clean up this Holy Mess now.



Mrs. Mary McAleese would be one of the most qualified Cardinals. She is a wife, mother of three, former Irish President, a barrister, a criminal law professor and most recently a Gregorian University canon law student.

Being a woman would likely put Mrs. McAleese in a unique position to help Pope Francis’ solve his growing problems with women Catholics.

Mrs. McAleese will give her experienced assessment to Pope Francis straight — without the “graduality detours”. Speaking in Australia recently, she argued for a greatly increased role for women in the Catholic Church, reportedly saying: “The old boys’ club is going to have to go.”

She observed that trying to be heard by the Catholic Church hierarchy was comparable to shouting at children: “If I’m yelling it’s because you didn’t listen to me when I said it nicely . . . I look at the curia and I don’t know too many of them who have gone through equal opportunity training.”

Mrs. McAleese noted that the governance of the Church “and the structure of church government needs to change”. “The church is not terribly happy with criticism,” she reportedly said to laughter from the Sydney audience. “I’m saying that as gently as possible … The Church which will not listen to people who speak out of love has a very big problem.”

Speaking about Ireland, Mrs. McAleese indicated that, though 90 per cent of the population of the Irish Republic were nominally Catholic, “regrettably fewer and fewer” were interested in the Church. She reportedly noted that child abuse revelations greatly affected people’s view of the Church. “Everything you thought you had, everything you thought you were, becomes a lie.”

Mrs. McAleese said when she was Irish President a senior cleric laughed at her when she said the Catholic Church should open up its files on child abuse or the State would force it to do so. The State would never cross that line, he said to her. “A week later, the State crossed that line,” she told the audience.

She added that “stories came out thanks to the courage of the victims” and the media, not thanks to the Church.

Regarding the recent initial Synod of Bishops on the Family, Mrs. McAleese alluded to the all celibate male voting membership as “completely bonkers”. She reportedly said there was “just something profoundly wrong and skewed” about asking “150 male celibates” to review the Catholic Church’s teaching on family life.

She added reportedly: “The very idea of 150 people who have decided they are not going to have any children, not going to have families, not going to be fathers and not going to be spouses – so they have no adult experience of family life as the rest of us know it – but they are going to advise the pope on family life; it is completely bonkers.”

She was speaking in a public interview in Dublin to mark her receipt of the University College, Dublin’s highest honor, the Ulysses medal.

In her recent wide-ranging Dublin talk, the former Irish President indicated that, while Pope Francis had raised expectations of change, the odds of this happening were “very poor”. This the view of an experienced political leader.

“You don’t need a new theology of women, you just need to end the old boys club,” she reportedly said.

In advance of the initial Synod of Bishops’ meeting, the Vatican has circulated a questionnaire worldwide seeking feedback on pastoral issues of marriage and family. Mrs McAleese reportedly commented: “I wrote back and said I said I’ve got a much simpler questionnaire and it’s only got one question and here it is: How many of the men who will gather to advise you as pope on the family have ever changed a baby’s nappy? I regard that as a very, very serious question.”

Former Irish President McAleese  has had many dealings with Cardinals, at least one of which was not so pleasant. She revealed in a 2012 interview how Boston’s Cardinal Law — later disgraced for his involvement in covering up child sex abuse — berated her in 1998 for her earlier support of the ordination of women priests. In 1998, she met Cardinal Law, former Catholic Archbishop of Boston, on an official visit to the US.

Reportedly, according to Mrs. McAleese, he told her he was “sorry for Catholic Ireland to have you as President” and went on to insult a junior minister who was accompanying the then president.” His remarks were utterly inappropriate and unwelcome,” Mrs. McAleese told the Irish Independent in Rome in 2012.

According to Mrs McAleese, Cardinal Law reportedly lambasted her and a considerable number of her official delegation, after ushering them into a room where a well-known American conservative Catholic, Mary Ann Glendon, was waiting to lecture the Irish President on her views on women priests.

Incidentally, Mrs. Glendon was recently appointed by Pope Francis as a new director of the Vatican Bank. She reportedly had been for many years an ardent advocate for disgraced Mexican child abuser and fundraiser, Fr. Maciel.

Mrs. McAleese reportedly said that Cardinal Law’s language and attitude were nasty and he demanded that she sit down and listen to the orthodox view on women’s ordination from Mrs. Glendon.

The former Irish President  indicated that  she and her delegation were initially flabbergasted by this “arrogant” man (Cardinal Law). However, she then told the Cardinal that she was the “President of Ireland and not just of Catholic Ireland”. At this point, a heated argument ensued between the two, according Mrs McAleese.

Describing in 2012 the 1998 encounter with Cardinal Law, Mrs McAleese said she felt he had “insulted Ireland and the Irish people”. On her return to Ireland, she reportedly confronted the Irish hierarchy to find out if they had been briefing Cardinal Law. Irish Cardinal Desmond Connell was “visibly upset”, she recalled, and found it “unacceptable” and was “morally certain there was no input from the Irish bishops”.

Irish Cardinal Cahal Daly went as far as inviting her to lunch to apologize and told the President that an invitation by the Irish bishops to Cardinal Law to come to Ireland “had been rescinded”. In December 2002, Cardinal Law resigned as Archbishop of Boston amid allegations he had covered up abuse by priests in the archdiocese. He subsequently fled to the immunity protection of the Vatican and to a comfortable Church position.

Subsequently, Cardinal Law reportedly also served for some time on a Vatican commission on the family with Pope Francis when he was Cardinal Bergoglio. Francis even led a panel discussion in Spain with Cardinal Law and the conservative head of the US Knights of Columbus, Carl Anderson, as principal panelists.

Anderson and Glendon are often associated together with right wing US national political candidates.  Anderson had been a Vatican Bank director, until Pope Francis removed the sitting directors, eventually replacing them with others, including Mrs. Glendon.

Jerry Slevin; Christian Catholics; 11 December 2014