“Theology must work freely”

Students in the lecture hall © Thomas Frey

Benedikt Kranemann, a liturgical scholar from Erfurt, has again spoken out in favor of critical theology at universities. "The problem is that the church needs a critical theology, especially today," Kranemann said in an interview.

He cited as an example the recent study on sexual abuse of minors. "Devotion to an institution is not what distinguishes a science, but hinders it," Kranemann told the Suddeutsche Zeitung newspaper.

Theology must not be "domesticated". "Whoever ignores this and does not accept the freedom of science, harms the church itself". Rome cannot proclaim a revolution of thought in the person of the pope and then demand that you register it with the Congregation for Education," Kranemann said. That the catechism can be changed, Pope Francis proved, he said, "when he determined last summer that the death penalty can never be permissible. This was different until then".

"Questioning the traditional in a different way"

Many questions arise anew "the more one compares the Catholic faith with other denominations and religions or gains insights into the historical development of rites and statements of faith," the scientist said. "Theological knowledge generally changes with the progress of science and also with the mentality of a time."

Today, the traditional has to be questioned differently, "and I have to be critical from my time and from today's state of research," Kranemann explained. "This permanent process of confrontation can lead to a more critical view, in any case to differentiations, changed assessments – or can also help to look at and appreciate the tradition in a new way."

"Pope expects impartiality"

The majority of German theology is on the course of the Pope, "who obviously expects an unbiased approach to theological problems," Kranemann said. But the question of how to discuss openly has not been answered, he said. "The fact that theologians are always in trouble with Roman authorities does not fit with a theology that must work freely."

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