----- Original Message ----- 
  From: holyuncle 
  Sent: Tuesday, June 17, 2008 3:40 PM
  Subject: [mediacare] Islam stuck in the Middle Ages, says Professor Hans Kung

  June 17, 2008

  Islam stuck in the Middle Ages, says Professor Hans Kung

  Ruth Gledhill, Religion Correspsondent 

  Islam is stuck in its own version of the "Middle Ages" which is 
  contributing to a global crisis, one of the religion's leading 
  experts has argued. 

  Professor Hans Kung, a leading Roman Catholic and theologian from 
  Germany, warned in a lecture of a "deadly threat" to all humankind 
  unless new efforts are made to build bridges with Islam. 

  He said in London that Islam has "special problems" with modernity 
  because, unike Christianity and Judaism, in which he also 
  specialises, it has never undergone a "serious religious 

  He questioned whether Islam is even capable of adapting to a post-
  modern world in the way that Christianity and Judaism have done. But 
  he also outlined why he is hopeful that the present problems around 
  radicalisation within Islam can be resolved, and how the other two 
  Abrahamic faiths are subject to some of the same problems on their 
  extremist edges. 

  Violence has been practicised in the sign of the crescent, but also 
  in the sign of the cross, he warned. 

  In his lecture, seen by The Times, Professor Kung said: "The options 
  have become clear: either rivalry of the religions, clash of 
  civilizations, war of the nations - or dialogue of civilizations and 
  peace between the nations as a presupposition for peace between the 

  "In the face of the deadly threat to all humankind, instead of 
  building new dams of hatred, revenge and enmity, we should tear down 
  the walls of prejudice stone by stone and thus build bridges of 
  dialogue, bridges particularly towards Islam." 

  Professor Kung, author of Islam: Past, Present and Future, published 
  last year and one of the most authoritative works on the subject, was 
  speaking on "Challenges to Islam, Christianity and Judaism" in a 
  lecture organised by the Royal Fine Art Commission Trust and Sky 
  Arts. It will be broadcast on Sky Arts later this month. 

  He described how liberal Jews, Christians and Muslims often get on 
  better with each other than they do with fellow Jews, Christians and 
  Muslims from the traditionalist wings of those religions. A Roman 
  Catholic "imprisoned in the Middle Ages" will find himself closer to 
  the "medieval element" of Islam and Judaism than with liberal 
  Catholic believers. 

  Professor Kung said that one of the main causes of conflicts between 
  religions is the persistence of outdated ways of thinking. 

  Islam and Christianity regard the actual Middle Ages as the "great 
  time" for their religions. But modernity has forced all three 
  religions of the book onto the "defensive", and they all face 
  challenges over how they react to their own "Middle Ages". 

  He argued that Christianity and Judaism have moved on, but not Islam, 
  adding: "It remains an open question if the ecumenical paradigm of 
  post-modernity will develop also in Islam." Professor Kung, who aged 
  80 is a contemporary of the Pope and worked with him as a theological 
  adviser to the Second Vatican Council in the early 1960s, was 
  influential at the council in persuading the Roman Catholic Church to 
  adopt a more positive attitude to Judaism and religious freedom. 

  He has also spoken out constantly in favour of the official 
  recognition of the State of Israel by the Vatican and for a two-state-
  solution for Israelis and Palestinians. 

  Professor Kung, whose own liberal views cost him his official 
  Catholic teaching licence in the last century, said that the essence 
  of all three religions must be preserved, but those who want peace 
  and reconciliation will not be able to avoid criticism. They must 
  engage in self-criticism to enable their faiths to adapt to 

  Referring to Christianity, for example, he said: "Jesus Christ as a 
  basic model is a constant, but the law of celibacy is a variable." 

  He argued: "After the Reformation, Christianity had to undergo 
  another paradigm shift, that of the Enlightenment. Judaism, after the 
  French Revolution and Napoleon, experienced the Enlightenment first, 
  and as a consequence, at least in Reform Judaism, it experienced also 
  a religious reformation. Islam, however, has not undergone a serious 
  religious reformation and so to the present day has quite special 
  problems also with modernity and its core components, freedom of 
  conscience and religion, human rights, tolerance, democracy." 

  Professor Kung also set out what the three religions have in common, 
  such as injunctions against murder and respect for life. "They do not 
  recognise themselves in our picture of Islam, because they want to be 
  loyal citizens of the Islamic religion. 

  "Those who make Islam responsible for kidnappings, suicide attacks, 
  car bombs and beheadings carried out by a few blind extremists ought 
  at the same time to condemn Christianity or Judaism for the barbarous 
  maltreatment of prisoners, the air strikes and tank attacks carried 
  out by the US Army - 10,000 civilians have been murdered in Iraq 
  alone - and the terrorism of the Israeli army in Palestine." 

  Professor Kung's lecture will be broadcast on Sky Arts, channel 267, 
  on June 23 at 7.15pm The Sky Arts accompanying series on the art and 
  architecture of religious buildings, called Art of Faith, can be seen 
  on Sunday nights at 7pm. 



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