Friday, 26 March 2010

Ratzinger, Kung, Schillebeeckx, and Jesus

There was this wonderful joke that went around religious scholar types in the mid to late 1980s. First, the info so that those who don't belong to this esoteric field can get the joke. This is my version of the story.

The Players:

Cardinal Ratzinger/Pope Benedict XVI as head of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith was always considered to be entrenched in the (radically) conservative theological position of the Roman Catholic Church.

Hans Kung was a Swiss Roman Catholic theologian who was considered to have deviated somewhat from the "party line". For example, he wrote a book on the Priesthood that suggested that since a celibate priesthood was historical in development, it could be changed and priest should be allowed to marry. The hyperlink is the Google hyperlist of his books. He wanted change, but did not think that it needed to be as radical a other theologians. Mind you, I saw him Carleton University years ago (c. 1983), and then met him at the after-reception. I couldn't understand why he just didn't convert to Lutheranism. His talk was sooooo Martin Luther. I'll bet he never studied Luther, except from the POV of Roman Catholic "history".

Edward Schillebeeckx was a Dutch/Belgium Roman Catholic theologian. He was considered a radical liberation theologian (this link may have problems, but in general will give an overview of the issues & the issues between Ratzinger & Liberation Theology).

Saint Peter and Jesus: Do I have to explain?

The Story:

Ratzinger, Kung and Schillebeeckx all died on the same day. No surprise, they all ended up in the waiting room at the Pearly Gates of Heaven and were met there by Saint Peter. Saint Peter told all of them that they would have to have a discussion with Jesus to decide whether or not they had been good enough Christians to go straight into heaven, or whether they needed to spend a little time in Purgatory to ponder on their errors.

The first one to sit down with Jesus was Hans Kung. They had an amiable discussion that lasted about 2 hours. Then Kung walked back to the waiting room. Ratzinger and Schillebeeckx wanted to know how it went. Hans answered that he guessed that he hadn't been a good enough Christian because he was going to spend the next 6 months in Purgatory.

Schillebeeckx said that he would go next, and Kung said that he would hang around just to see what happened to him. After all, Schillebeeckx was the really radical one. Well, the three of them sat around for what seemed like forever waiting for Edward to come out. After about ten hours, he came out shaking his head saying "I guess I really wasn't a good enough Christian. I'm going to Purgatory for three years."

Now it was Ratzinger's turn. He went in to see Jesus while the others waited to see what would happen. They all thought that it would probably be a shoo-in. The first day passed; then a second. The three in the waiting room sat around discussing this in amazement. St. Peter said that this had never happened before. None of them could imagine what was going on.

About noon on the third day, a stunned Jesus walks out. They all look at him with various expressions on their faces. "What happened? What happened?" they clamoured. "Why are you here?"

"Well," said Jesus. "I guess I wasn't a good enough Christian. I have to spend the next five years in Purgatory contemplating my sins!"

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