Saturday, January 12, 2008

The Exhange Part 3: Respectful Rebuttal

Respectful rebuttal

By: Patrick Beeman

Posted: 10/4/07

I want to apologize to my readers for the sarcastic tone of my recent column. It harmed the point I was trying to make. I was honored that Dr. Richard Gaillardetz took time not only to read my column, but to write a thoughtful response.

Sarcasm and satire are best left to people like G.K. Chesterton, who are able to pull it off amicably and charitably, which reminds me of something. It was Chesterton who said, "Merely having an open mind is nothing. The object of opening the mind, as of opening the mouth, is to shut it again on something solid." Hopefully, with respect to this controversy, we can follow G.K. Chesterton's advice and close our minds on something solid.

At any rate, the main thrust of my recent column was that, when in doubt regarding moral issues, the liturgy or doctrine and dogma (de fide or otherwise), we should not rely on our own personal biases, but rather follow St. Catherine of Siena's advice: "Go back to Rome." I appreciate Dr. Gaillardetz reminding me of St. Catherine's approach to dissent. Correcting the moral faults of Church leaders, as St. Catherine did, is decidedly different from disagreeing with the ordinary Magisterium (on, for instance, women's "ordination" or contraception). Surely trusting the Church that Christ founded is a good starting point, especially since concupiscence tends to sway us from the life-giving obedience which so affronts our disordered reason and will.

Being innocent of history, I may not be quite right, but didn't Henri de Lubac join B-16 (then Joseph Ratzinger) and Hans Urs von Balthasar in founding the journal, Communio, precisely because de Lubac's original journal, Concilium, had become a forum for dissent "in the spirit of Vatican II" rather than a faithful endeavor to implement the Council's teaching? Moreover, regarding the situation to which Dr. Gaillardetz alluded, it is instructive that, when his Jesuit superiors told him to stop publishing and teaching, de Lubac obeyed; he didn't form some Call to Action or Future Church group to push his own agenda. No wonder he became a Prince of the Church!

At any rate, something in me just cannot picture St. Catherine or St. Bernard styling themselves "dissenters" or going on speaking tours or writing books about "faithful dissent" while obstinately, publicly and openly doing the same. I think they would much rather have fallen to their knees in prayer and obedience than to be the ones stridently proclaiming that "The Church is wrong!" Faithful dissent - if such a thing exists - must not be a theological starting point. If the dissenters are right and the Church is wrong, history will vindicate the quiet, prayerful motions of those who in their sincerity and obedience believe the Church is going about something in the wrong way. This is a far cry from saying simpliciter "the Church is wrong about [abortion, euthanasia, IVF, contraception, universalism, etc]." This latter approach has great potential to harm the faithful, especially those who are not very well catechized.

I am not a "respected scholar" on matters of liturgy or theology. In fact, I'm not respected very much at all. Perhaps my simple approach of reading the documents of the Second Vatican Council and the Catechism of the Catholic Church is not adequate for this kind of debate. However, concerning the obsequium religiosum (religious assent), I want to remind my readers of what Vatican II actually says regarding this:

"The faithful, for their part, are obliged to submit to their bishops' decision, made in the name of Christ, in matters of faith and morals, and to adhere to it with a ready and respectful allegiance of mind. This loyal submission of the will and intellect must be given, in a special way, to the authentic teaching authority of the Roman Pontiff, even when he does not speak ex cathedra in such wise, indeed, that his supreme teaching authority be acknowledged with respect, and sincere assent be given to decisions made by him, conformably with his manifest mind and intention, which is made known principally either by the character of the documents in question or by the frequency with which a certain doctrine is proposed, or by the manner in which the doctrine is formulated" (Lumen Gentium 25).

As always, the Church puts it so much better than I ever could. Pace, Dr. Gaillardetz. Oh, and I almost forgot, please call me Patrick.
© Copyright 2008 Independent Collegian

1 comment:

  1. Patrick
    Lumen Gentium 25 is conditional not absolute as many net Catholic posters mistakenly imply and the way we know that it is conditional is that Rome herself permits moral theology books or tomes (post Vatican II & post Lumen
    Gentium 25) within the Church and within seminaries that speak of faithful dissent in those matters that are not de fide and not infallible....see Grisez' "Way of the Lord Jesus"1997...a very conservative moral theology tome for seminaries and go to Volume one and page 854.

    Why the stereo/two messages approach with only one, Lumen Gentium 25, in plain sight and its complementary antilogy hidden in moral theology tomes???

    In the past and now, the majority of Catholic lay were working class and not extensively read so that it seemed that the right to dissent would hardly be healthy for a group that did not read extensively since dissent should be rooted in knowing superior sources than the one opposed: Bernard Haring...a well known moral theologian, opposed Humanae Vitae on Biblical grounds which are a higher source than encyclicals of the simply ordinary magisterium.

    Abortion, euthanasia and killing the innocent were infallibly defined in Evangelium Vitae in sections 62,65,57 by the Pope having polled the worldwide bishops and thus that let him circumvent the ex cathedra process.
    Therefore when you lumped birth control in with them, you were lumping non equals. Some writers like Grisez held birth control to be infallible but most theologians within the 20th century did not and while the CDF stated that it was irreformable (but why did they not use the word "infallible"), the CDF's document saying so was also not infallible as a document and that let's the papacy off the hook if the Church changes 400 years into the future when stalwart Catholics will note that a Pope never said it was irreformable only the CDF said it was.....and in this linked interview with Benedict in 2004..more recent than the CDF, you will see him say the area needs reflection...remember it was he who wanted an curia office to look into the question of condoms and AIDS if only for married couples and then all talk of that decision was then silenced: