Theologian: Pope's Policies a Disaster

A liberal Swiss Roman Catholic (search) theologian who clashed with Pope John Paul II (search) said Sunday that the late pontiff's policies were a disaster.

In a column published in the Zurich weekly SonntagsZeitung, Hans Kueng (search) said John Paul's legacy would be a problem for the church.

Kueng wrote that he didn't question the pope's piety and pastoral commitment during his numerous trips to meet with his worldwide flock. But he said its impact, and the effect of John Paul's support for human rights and world peace, would fade.

"Within the church, there is a prevailing crisis of hope and confidence," Kueng said. "The internal policy of the Polish pope was dreadful."

John Paul appointed "many mediocre — even incompetent — bishops, in many countries half the rectories have no priest, and there are fewer and fewer qualified recruits."

He chastised the pontiff for barring priests from getting married, condemning contraception, refusing ordination of women and stopping lay theologians from preaching. Many Catholics are hoping that the next pope will be a reformist, he claimed.

Kueng was punished by the Vatican in 1979 for his failure to adhere to the doctrine of John Paul, then a year into his pontificate. He lost his charter to teach at a Catholic university in Germany because of his dissident liberal views.