Rorate Caeli

Celebrating an Ecumenical Week

Father Gotthold Hasenhüttl thought he could have it all: be a Catholic theologian, a Catholic professor, a Catholic priest, and occasionally celebrate joint services (Mass? Eucharist? What?) with Protestant ministers, as he famously did during an ecumenical gathering in Berlin, in the summer of 2003 (read details here, fifth item).

It is wonderful that he has finally received the "Küng treatment". No, not a five-hour dinner, but the previous suspension (ordered in 2003) of his license to teach Catholic theology (the LICENSE; we are unaware of his ever teaching actual CATHOLIC theology) has been made permanent and has been followed by a dire warning that any students taught by him would not have their degrees recognized by the diocese of Trier (and, therefore, by the formal educational system, according to the German legal framework for theological education).

The news was buried in the past few days and it has been difficult to find more than one source in English. Excerpts (read whole article here):

A German priest suspended for celebrating a high-profile Mass where he invited non-Catholics to partake of the Eucharist has had his right to teach theology withdrawn by his bishop. Father Gotthold Hasenhüttl released a letter dated Jan. 2 from Bishop Reinhard Marx of Trier, who said that Father Hasenhüttl's recent writings "have made it clear that you are not prepared to give way, that you consider your view to be correct and that you see no reason to bow to the ecclesiatical discipline on the issue which led to your suspension."

(...) The diocese has made it clear that it will not give them the right to teach if Father Hasenhüttl supervises their exams, in spite of an appeal by the state ministry of education. A spokesman for the diocese told CNS that it expects the faculty [the college] to find alternative examiners. [See also Catholic News Service]

This French source informs that the decision was taken after the matter was discussed with the Pope himself by bishop Marx:

The [diocesan] decree was signed last January 2 by Reinhard Marx, bishop of Trier, after the latter was received, in the previous weeks, by pope Benedict XVI.
We have not been able to find the exact day of the audience, but it is widely known that not all papal audiences are made public.

Father Hasenhüttl had tried to write a "theology" of his ecumenical abuses, but he gladly found a bishop who was willing to confront him. His permanent exclusion from teaching Catholic theology is a good sign, especially considering the doctrinally confusing emotionally-based Catholic-Protestant dialogue in Germany, but who knows how many students he contaminated during his long years as a Theology professor?

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