The Transformation of Roman Catholicism Hans Kung presented a possible major retransformation for Roman
Catholic Christianity. He believed that
'the renewal of the Catholic Church willed by the Second Vatican
Council has come to a standstill.'
The transformation of Roman Catholicism both by the councils of Trent,
Vatican I and II was believed to have been needed in order to look ay
the way in which the Christian tradition encapsulates the truth of the
religion. Both the Vatican councils attempted to transform Roman
Before I can first look at Kungs objections to the concept of an
infallible church, I believe I need to establish what the Roman
Catholic church meant by the concept of 'infallible' and thus the
basis of Kungs arguments.
The doctrine of papal infallibility is the impossibility of the church
falling into error. It is believed to have begun with the council of
Trent (960) and the First Vatican Council (1828), both of whom
believed that the bishops are the successors of the apostles. Due to
their role as pastors and teachers of the 'faithful' they are also
'agents of the infallibility assured to the ecclesiastical teaching
office; their active infallibility in teaching is the cause of the
passive infallibility of the faithful in believing and ascending.'
The main elements of Kungs enquiry according to Haring and found
within Kung's book 'Infallible? An enquiry' are 1. The serious problem
with the biblical basis of infallibility; 2. Objections on principle
from tradition of the whole church; 3. The massive questions about the
representative character, course and freedom of the council which made
the decision of infallibility; 4. Criticism of the legalistic,
centralistic and rationalistic narrowing of the concepts of faith,
doctrine and infallibility. In addition Kung questioned whether faith
depends at all on infallibility statements or on infallibly true
In this essay I am going to look at the questions raised by Kung and
attempt to critically analyse these against the doctrine of
infallibility. In order to do this I will take each of Kung criticisms
of the Roman Catholic concept of church infallibility, as outlined
above and examine them.
The theological concern therefore of Kung is the reform of the Roman
'against a Biblical and an ecumenical horizon'
under minding the
'stability and immutability of doctrinal statements as guarantees of
truth- especially when they are obligated to Vatican I's rationalistic
and legalistic concept of faith.'
For Kung the discussion about infallibility is a discussion about the