Saturday, November 1, 2008

A decent critic of church, religion and sexual moral: Uta Ranke - Heinemann: Eunuchs for the Kingdom of Heaven

It was a bestseller in the early nineties, is was out of print but is available
on Amazon:
Uta Ranke - Heinemann: Eunuchs for the Kingdom of Heaven

Ranke Heinemann was born in 1927 in Essen in Germany. She studied
theology, had Pope Benedict XVI, Josef Ratzinger, as class mate, taught at
a Catholic seminary from 1955 on and became the first female professor of
theololgy worldwide in 1970. She married in 1954 and has two sons. Her
husband died a couple of years ago.

She taught Catholic theology at the University of Duisburg before teaching in
Essen. Her license to teach theology was revoked by bishop Hengsbach in
1987 after voicing her criticism about the virgin birth on television.
She was a critique anyhow from 1970 on, concerning matters of war
and peace and other issues and was active for humanitarian and peace

The loss of her permission to teach Catholic theology was a bit of a
scandal in Germany. She became professor of history at an independent,
secular, faculty soon after.

Heinemann was critical of the latent homosexuality in the Catholic Church
long before the scandals blew up. The indoctrination of priests going back
a long time meant a hatred of the human body in principle, and an
indoctrinated misogyny on top of that, which bred a particular - abnormal -
kind of homosexuality. In other words, she had good reason to be critical
about theology, knew the stuff from inside out.

Her critique, long before the scandals blew up, included among others
two secret letters from the Vatican concerning homosexuality and the
pedophile scandals. One was  from cardinal Ottaviani in 1962,
(Crimen Sollicitationis) and one from cardinal Ratzinger in 2001
(De Delictis Gravioribus) in which, carrying the threat of excommuniciation,
bishops were commanded to secrecy concerning such matters and scandals.

The Church managed to fool the world by going in the offensive, ranting
about and condemning  the sin of homosexuality,  thus projecting their
offenses upon others. It worked. The whole lot of Church - critical
journalists would, for many years, not take serious any complaints, reports,
etc. about such scandals because of that.

Eunuchs for the Kingdom of Heaven is giving a proper account of the
theological reasoning, what those "fathers" were thinking. And that is
actually a scandal in itself.

Fortunately, quite a lot of what was once moral is meantime obsolete.
The interesting thing  is that the whole lot of that sexual moral is
actually Godless.

As it is, the theologians simply could not justify their moralizing with bits
or pieces from the Old or New Testament, Jesus for instance never
bothered about the sexuality of young people, for instance sex before
marriage nor did he tell his principles to mind such matter. Neither would
he or his principles interrogate married couples about their love and sex
life like theologians later made it their business and major source of

The merits of knowing the history of that moral is that it is easy afterwards
to make such comparisons if someone wants to do that.

Ranke Heinemann is a great example of intellectual sincerity, a quality
not too often found in the theological arena.
When losing her faith in her Church - based faith she did not lose her
faith in God. Her marriage was a happy one, that was very important
for her.

The comments and reviews of readers at amazon give a nice idea what
the book is about. A look at those can be recommended very much.To
quote one of them:

"Did you ever have an intuition that everything was not as simple and rosey
as some would have you believe? Did you ever think that there was more to
the story than was being revealed? If so, then this book is an excellent resource
for you for topics such as misogyny, celibacy, sexuality, family planning and
I am a Roman Catholic and a religious educator, but far from finding the book
to be shocking or full of "dirty words," I found it to be an insightful challenge to
the church to return again to the central teaching of Jesus and to turn away from
its obsession with genitalia and what people do with them. There is more to faith
than that. And only by embracing the truth of our past can we grow beyond it"

The Ryan Report in Ireland, just recently published, brought
the whole issue again to the forefront. A really interesting article
was written in IrishCentral, what outraged Irish Americans
remembered certain things.

Update 2: A recent book review in the Irish Times about a
catholic columnist working for the long defunct National Press from 1963
to 1980 who advised readers about matters of sexual moral makes very
interesting reading. For instance:
It was an Ireland where a young couple, trying vainly to control the size of
their family by the “safe period”, had four children inside five years. They finally
decided that the only way out for them, “Catholic style”, was to abstain from
sexual intercourse altogether. As the young wife concluded grimly, “That was
12 years ago.”

(This book is available in some Dublin public libraries.)

The comments and reviews of readers on amazon are quite
interesting, they give additional information and insight.

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