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Dear Hans

· In response to theologian Küng's open letter to Bishops ·

The following is a translation from Italian of the open letter to Hans Küng, the Swiss theologian, written recently by his first publisher in Italy.

Dear Hans,

In reading your letter to the Bishops I agreed when you wrote “If today in this or that or some other diocese or community, parishioners are deserting Mass, if pastoral work is ineffective, if there is a lack of openness to the problems and evils of the world, if ecumenical cooperation is reduced to a minimum one cannot lay all the blame on Rome. Everyone, from the Bishop to the priest and the lay person, must work for the renewal of the Church in their own environment, regardless of its size”.

Here, I find there is an awareness of the sense of the complexity of the problems, starting with a non-univocal concept of the Church's “renewal”.

Indeed, in these recent years renewal has been understood in many ways, according to personal and cultural preferences, starting with the changes in structures and personal and community conversion.

From the rest of your letter it seems to me you have paid attention mainly if not exclusively to “structural” reforms. I should have liked to find even one mention of the paradox of the Cross which is what endures when all the other scandals have been removed, hence a reference to the seriousness of following Christ, always or to the love of God to be lived out and disseminated, often against the tide, to the need for penance and humility.

Will it be merely an act of ecclesial engineering to resolve the problem of Christian witness?

And then: precisely in the name of complexity, why not pay homage to the One who carries out the evangelical renewal of hearts, before and in preference to the renewal of structures?

There is also a question of style that lacks substance, that is, the misunderstanding of the primacy of love or of charity in truth: “If... I have not love, I am a noisy gong”, St Paul was actually to say in his First Letter to the Corinthians.

Love is magnanimous, it is kind: it is necessary to read the whole of the hymn to love which is the programme of ecclesial patiens, of casta meretrix, capable of renewing and surviving every squall, because “where there is charity and love, there is God”.

Truthfulness is necessary but “the greatest of all... is love” (1 Cor 13:13), which generously recognizes the work of others, which neither opposes nor divides, which does not rejoice in wrong, which is aware that every prophecy is imperfect.

Perhaps, if your letter had breathed a deeper breath of the hymn to love, it might have expressed a more elegantly evangelical hope for your former Colleague on the occasion of his birthday and anniversary and might have made a more fruitful contribution to the Church, which is suffering for her children's weakness.

In telling you this, I hope I have not been lacking in love, for without love I gain nothing.

I should not like to be considered a pious cleric who makes pious remarks on serious matters, for it would then be necessary to distinguish in the texts of the New Testament between those addressed to devout people and those addressed to serious people.

Considering myself neither particularly devout nor serious, I ask for the understanding of your love. Ever with high esteem for your impressive work.

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