Democratic Bishops for the Roman Catholic Church


The two most famous living Catholic theologians, ProfessorJoseph Ratzinger (Pope Benedict XVI) and Professor Hans Küng, were colleagues both at Vatican Council II (1962-65) and on the Catholic Theology Faculty of the University of Tübingen, Germany (1964-70). Both Professors Ratzinger and Küng, along with their ten colleagues, signed the introductory essay of a special issue (1969) of the Tübingen Theologische Quartalschrift, the print organ of the Catholic Theology Faculty of the University of Tübingen, which advocated 1) the election of bishops by their constituents, and 2) limited term of office of bishops.

Professor Leonard Swidler (Temple University, 1966-) received a Licentiate in Catholic theology (STL) from the Catholic Theology Faculty of the University of Tübingen in 1959—probably the first Catholic layperson to receive a degree in Catholic theology in modern times—and was a Visiting Professor there in 1970. He and his wife Professor Arlene Anderson Swidler (co-founders in 1964 of the premier scholarly journal of ecumenical and interreligious dialogue, theJournal of Ecumenical Studies), translated, edited, published the Theologische Quartalschrift special issue in 1970, under the title: Bishops and People.

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With the growing current calls from below for the true implementation of both the letter and the spirit of the Vatican II reform of the Catholic Church, it was judged opportune to reissue—with an appropriately new title, Democratic Bishops—this carefully thought out scholarly advocacy of the very core of democracy in the governance of the Catholic Church—election of bishops by and limited term of office—by the two most famous Catholic theologians today: Pope Benedict XVI (Joseph Ratzinger) and his Loyal Opposition, Hans Küng.

One of the most timely books. Only if there is a strong public opinion . . . can we hope that the actual system of paternalism can be changed before it will be too late.
— The Reverend Bernard Häring, CSSR
. . . a collection of important studies on a problem that is delicate, pastorally vital.
— L.J. Cardinal Suenens, Archbishop of Malines-Brussels