THE Catholic Church needs another reforming council like the 1960s Vatican II assembly before Rome winds back all the advances it made, one of the world's foremost Catholic theologians said yesterday.
Hans Kung said the Vatican was an authoritarian system that sometimes used totalitarian methods to enforce its views but the problems of this approach were becoming insurmountable.
He said another global council would not happen because the Vatican was afraid. Instead, it was trying to restore the pre-Vatican II church but was encountering strong resistance, not just from the grassroots but from bishops.
''Already the successor of this Pope will have to face the situation that churches are more and more empty, and parishes are without pastors, and communities are dissolving,'' he said.
Dr Kung, along with Pope Benedict, was involved in the Vatican II council that modernised the church. ''A third council would take up the justified concerns that were not fulfilled in the last council. It was forbidden to speak about celibacy; we did not discuss divorce though dozens of millions of Catholics are in this situation; and we did not discuss women's issues like conception.''
Dr Kung came to the Parliament of the World's Religions to launch his manifesto for a global economic ethic. Yesterday, he said if it was ignored the world would probably sink into another financial crisis worse than the last, because several crises were interlinked: economic, climate change, poverty and wars.
He said Wall Street seemed to have learned nothing and wanted to go back to the status quo, but the housing collapse in the US and the different mood in Europe made this unlikely.
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