Pope John Paul II and the Church

By Peter Hebblethwaite | Go to book overview

10
Most-asked question in Rome: "Who goes next?'

( December 28, 1979) It would not be true to say that there was a mood of glee in the Roman universities after Edward Schillebeeckx's hearing and Hans Küng's condemnation. The mood was rather one of deep apprehension. "Who is next?" and "Where is the pontificate heading?" were the questions earnestly discussed over coffee.

The feeling of gloom was particularly acute at the Jesuit Gregorian University, which houses Fr. Jean Galot. Last Saturday John Paul II went to the Gregorian and offered a gift-wrapped olive branch for Christmas. Galot was introduced to him after supper. "I think we've met before," said John Paul. Someone said, sotto voce, "Yes, of course, you've met. He's your Grand Inquisitor."

"There is a feeling," said one Gregorian professor, "that Galot has isolated himself from the way the Society of Jesus should work. He is altogether too mordant, too biting. He constantly questions the methods of theologians -- unjustly. And his intervention on Vatican Radio was a disgrace."

"Jesuits who work in Rome," continued the necessarily anonymous source, "have a strong sense of the magisterium and a firm allegiance to the pope -- perhaps stronger than in the U.S.A. But they also have an allegiance to correct principles of conduct vis-à-vis fellow theologians. Galot has not observed them."

" Galot's lectures on Christology," said a student from the Latin American College, "consist entirely in an attack on all theologians who have dared to ask questions about Chalcedon. His view is that since everything was settled 15 centuries ago, there is no point in going back on past history."

It is also fair to say that a distinction is usually made between Schillebeeckx and Küng. It is felt that Schillebeeckx has played the game according to the rules. Küng on the other hand has sometimes been deliberately provocative -- publishing, for example, his correspondence with the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. Some go further and suggest that some sort of statement on Küng was needed. Otherwise, "the whole idea of church could become so in

-35-

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