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Theologian Kueng calls cardinal's word "primitive"

By dpa news     Sep 16, 2007 in Entertainment
Leading Catholic theologian Hans Kueng assailed Cardinal Joachim Meisner of Cologne, saying in remarks reported Sunday that the cardinal had used a "primitive" word.
Archbishop Meisner, 63, had set off a storm on Friday when he inaugurated an art museum with a sermon calling for art to remain rooted in humanity and God. He said otherwise it would be "degenerate."
The Nazis used the word "degenerate" to mock modern art, implying it was not German enough, and sacked modern artists from their jobs.
Kueng told the newspaper Welt am Sonntag that Meisner should not use "primitive language" to discuss complex topics.
The Swiss-born retired theologian, who has clashed with church conservatives such as Meisner in the past, also disagreed with the substance of Meisner's views.
"All true art is about the meaning of life, but you can't ban artists from portraying chaos, ugliness and evil," said Kueng, who lives in Tuebingen, Germany.
The German Council of Jews attacked Meisner, saying he was abusing words and deliberately breaching taboos.
In remarks reported by the newspaper Tagesspiegel am Sonntag, Stephan Kramer, the council's secretary, said, "Meisner is a well-known intellectual firebrand who is not offending for the first time with such terminology.
"He doesn't just test the limits of what is allowed, but deliberately breaches them. He misuses language as a taboo-breaker. If that sets an example, we should not be surprised if Nazi beliefs become respectable again."
Meisner is archbishop of Cologne, one of Germany's most art-loving cities with brash artists, millionaire collectors and rich modern-art museums. He was opening the diocese's own modern, purpose-built art museum.
The archdiocese said Meisner regretted that one word had been "taken out of context" and that he had in fact used the word to attack totalitarianism."
The cardinal's top aide, vicar-general Dominik Schwaderlapp, said on Cologne Catholic radio that Meisner felt hurt that he was being accused of saying the exact opposite of what he had really said.
The controversy comes in the same month as the sacking of a telegenic German television host, Eva Herman, after she told a launch for her anti-feminist book that "even the Nazis" supported family values. dpa jbp mga
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