Monday, October 07, 2013

For the record: Germain Grisez on Pope Francis

"Letter #90: Editorial on Pope's Interview" (The Moynihan Letters, September 29, 2013):
Dear Dr. Moynihan,

Insofar as I understand what Pope Francis had to say, I can agree with him, but he said some things that I do not understand, and that have already been made bad use of by the secular media. Take the following passage:

“The dogmatic and moral teachings of the Church are not all equivalent. The Church’s pastoral ministry cannot be obsessed with the transmission of a disjointed multitude of doctrines to be imposed insistently. Proclamation in a missionary style focuses on the essentials, on the necessary things: this is also what fascinates and attracts more, what makes the heart burn, as it did for the disciples at Emmaus. We have to find a new balance; otherwise even the moral edifice of the Church is likely to fall like a house of cards, losing the freshness and fragrance of the Gospel. The proposal of the Gospel must be more simple, profound, radiant. It is from this proposition that the moral consequences then flow.”

The teachings of the Church certainly are not all equivalent. There is a hierarchy.

But what is the point of saying that the Church’s pastoral ministry cannot be obsessed with the transmission of a “disjointed multitude of doctrines to be imposed insistently”? Making this assertion suggests, unfortunately, a caricature of the teachings of recent pontificates. I assume Pope Francis would reject that reading. But where, then, is the state of affairs that needs to be overcome?

Proclamation in a missionary style does focus on essentials. But the new evangelization cannot proceed as if the Gospel has not been already preached, and either understood or not, but in either case, rejected. Still, I agree that what is central needs to be presented more clearly and forcefully than has generally been the case. Unless people believe that Christ has risen and will come again and gather into his kingdom all who are ready to enter, and unless they hope to be among those ready to enter, there is no use trying to instruct them about what they need to do in order to be ready to enter.

But what is meant by “moral edifice of the Church”? Many people mistakenly think that the moral truth the Church teaches is a code she has constructed and could change. If that were so, it could collapse like a house of cards. Perhaps Pope Francis means that the moral teachings, though they are truths that pertain to revelation, will collapse for the individual who lacks hope in the kingdom to come. But who knows what he means? The phrase is impressive. It reverberates in one’s depths. But if it was suggested by a spirit, it was not the Holy Spirit, for it is bound to confuse and mislead.

I’m afraid that Pope Francis has failed to consider carefully enough the likely consequences of letting loose with his thoughts in a world that will applaud being provided with such help in subverting the truth it is his job to guard as inviolable and proclaim with fidelity. For a long time he has been thinking these things. Now he can say them to the whole world — and he is self-indulgent enough to take advantage of the opportunity with as little care as he might unburden himself with friends after a good dinner and plenty of wine.

[Hat tip to JM]


Ralph Roister-Doister said...

Pope Francis wants to pick and choose among the lessons of the Sermon on the Mount and interpret them as he pleases (in a modified, relatively inarticulate approximation of liberation theology), and jettison EVERYTHING else as too juridical, too scholastic, too litigious and uncharitable, too pharasaic, too "pelagian", etc, etc, yammer, yammer, yammer. His version of Catholic morality tosses away the refinements and clarifications of centuries and reduces to not so much "love the poor" as "grovel mindlessly before them and all of their spokesmen, regardless of the latter's faith, mindsets, or endgames." His message is, in short, a radically dumbed down pelagianism. Where Pelagius himself insisted on the sufficiency of virtue in its fullness, Francis preaches one virtue only: charity, seemingly oblivious to the fact that any virtue can only be understood in the light of all of the others, as well as the fact that any virtue without grace is futile.

Anonymous said...

Jesuit Molinism which started as a slight departure from Dominican teaching on Divine Providence has opened wide its jaws to devour the gospel itself and spit it out as a Hegelian gruel and modernist dreck.

What would Parsifal do?

I am not Spartacus said...

Dear Ralph. I've ben waiting to read your take and I am not disappointed.

While his two predecessors were the rennet binding the conservative catholic collective to V2, he is a man who will sew confusion amongst the Girondists and scatter even more of the soi disant Traditionalists.

He is Our Pope and Our Cross
and he bringeth Chaos.

Mons. Lefevbre appears prophetic and, more an more, sedevacantism appears reasonable and I find these thoughts less and less surprising to me today whereas ten years ago I would have sought psychotropics had they popped into my head.

Michael Ortiz said...

Sedevacantism is not reasonable.

Please, read some more Newman!

Anonymous said...

Mr. Ortiz,

Sedevacantism??? I don't know of anyone here who approaches being a sedevacantist.

What we have here is actually much worse: the cognitive dissonance of believing that Francis actually IS the authoritatively elected, reigning Pontiff!

I am not Spartacus said...

Dear Mr Ortiz. Were Newman to be resurrected and walk into any crummy gathering space where some presider was eye-balling him during a memorial meal, he'd immediately re-die from shock.

Yes, sedevacantism is quite reasonable given who Bergoglio is. What is not reasonable is to claim that he and Newman had the same Faith; or that Bergoglio and I have the same Faith, or that Pope Saint Pius X and Bergoglio have the same Faith

I am not Spartacus said...

Mystici Corporis

If we would define and describe this true Church of Jesus Christ — which is the One, Holy, Catholic, Apostolic Roman Church — we shall find nothing more noble, more sublime, or more divine than the expression "the Mystical Body of Jesus Christ" — an expression which springs from and is, as it were, the fair flowering of the repeated teaching of the Sacred Scriptures and the holy Fathers

If you think Bergoglio will say that, say nothing about believe that, then I've got some nifty land out in the Everglades you might be interested in....

When the Catholic Church changes one iota of her Doctrines (contra Oath Against Modernism and Vatican I), when she changes even one letter, the results can be galactically catastrophic.

Consider the seeming small difference in these two words - jus a measly little "i" but what results from adding or subtracting that teeny "i" to a word can have dramatic consequences.

Here is the The Maillard Reaction

Here is The The Mallard Reaction

Those who have the "i" to see are not blind to the devastation the revolution has wrought and I am headed to Nashville where I'll drink some beer, go to The Bluebird Cafe, and think about sedevacantism because other explanations just ain't cutting it anymore.

I am not Spartacus said...

The Girondists in the Conservative Catholic Collective, who ought to be hanging their heads in shame, are doing their damndest to defend this dissembler.

But this is exactly the Conciliar Jacobin the Gelaro-wearers, chosen by Pope Benedict XVI and Pope John Paul II, desired and so we see in Bergoglio the Vatican Two Revolution actualised in his person.

His two immediate predecessors were the rennet binding the Girondists to the V2 Revolution and so it will be interesting and, yes, highly amusing, to see them scattered now that they see how deeply the revolution struck the Shepherd.

Our Pope, Our Cross
Bringeth us Chaos

bill bannon said...

Mr. Blosser,

go here...go to the last paragraph and then tell me Grisez is the person to comment on the orthodoxy of others:

Last time I looked, marital separation in this world aims at reuniting in this world. Please email Donald McClarey too who did a similar article. He banned me for questioning another of his heroines in that case.

Charles said...


I'm sure "Mr." Blosser can speak for himself. However, I went to the last paragraph to which you linked, and, yes, Grisez is the person to comment on the orthodoxy of others as well as orthodoxy in general.

I'm not sure what you're personal animus is against Professor Grisez' apparently failed attempt at marriage. Has he broken any moral precept? Has he proclaimed any heresy?

Clearly, just like you and me, he is a frail and fallen creature. Who are we to speculate, much less judge, what the reasons are for the marital separation of he and his wife? Do you see any of this impairing his moral judgment or that of his career of faithful scholarship devoted to serving the Church?

bill bannon said...

Grisez's duty to his vow is to work on reuniting during separation....not to settle for what effectively is a divorce.
For a moral theologian to represent reuniting in the next life as the goal is to represent capitulation to the forces working against his vow. If the real story is that one person was incapable of a vow, then there is no vow and he can remarry. But the representation at the site is not that they are separated but not working on reunion in this life. If the story is a lie to cover for something embarassing, he is thus hurting doctrine rather than being silent or telling the truth...while accusing the Pope of self indulgence.

This is not about marriage failure or weakness. This is about not seeking the Catholic solution afterwards and then critiquing a Pope publically on top of that.

Charles said...


Get real. The good professor is 84 years old, and you're quibbling over whether he should get an annulment and consider marriage? What would it mean for an 84-year-old man to work on "reunion" with his wife? Viagra? Maybe you should write and ask him?

Jacques and Raissa Maritain lived their entire Catholic lives without sexual relations. What makes their marriage sacramental and Grisez' not? The proximity of their bedrooms?

You are way off base here, my friend. This is not a doctrinal matter but a matter of discipline. Grisez is not re-defining marriage. He is not teaching heresy. He is declaring that, for personal reasons which neither you nor I can assay, that his wife and he are presently living apart.

If you think their situation warrants marital counselling, why don't you write and offer him your assistance while the thread of his life remains unbroken?

Charles said...

(Bill, not Charles.)

bill bannon said...

To readers in general here:

Catholic canon law requires return to the domicile eventually unless a permanent separation is allowed for by the Church for grave reason like adultery....the exception made by Christ but in a four year marriage, grievous reason would be looked on as cause for nulility...radical trouble early on.
None of that is signalled to young readers at the site. Both spouses are said to have striven toward continue in prayer with no compliance to the canon requiring return to the domicile.
And this man is going public calling a Pope self indulgent and listening to a spirit which is not the Holy Spirit.

Charles said...


Call him up. Tell him he's in violation of canon law. I'm sure he'll comply if it applies. But what if there is some factor incapable of being revealed to the public?

Or what if it was an "agreement" he couldn't help but comply with? What if she simply announced that she was leaving and he didn't want to embarrass her with blame?

The issue here does not even concern speculative detail. The issue is Professor Grisez's competence and moral right to make theological judgments, and I don't see why you think his personal trials in marriage should cast moral aspersions upon his capacity to be theologically discerning.

Even the writings of Tertullian, who formally died a heretic and therefore cannot be sainted, are prized by the Church for the light of truth they shed in the patristic era.

If you'll pardon my speculation, at worst Grisez made a stupid mistake in agreeing to marry an apparently younger someone in his old age. It was probably of questionable wisdom for the priest to permit them to marry. But he's no heretic.

I'm sorry you're scandalized by the last paragraph in your Grisez bio. I would imagine there are more irregular situations like this than most people suspect. I know a Scandinavian fellow who divorced his wife, re-married, then within two weeks told his new wife he had made a mistake, and went back to living with his former wife. His situation, he says, is miserable. He's not a Catholic, but still. It's a commentary on our time, I would say. Not sure how a canon lawyer would assess the situation if he had been a Catholic. But there's also more to life than canon law. Some things are lawful but less than good.

JM said...

Someone is scourged for simply not living under the same roof as their wife? Seems very severe. Meanwhile, I will say Grisez's lengthy bio *also* seems a bit, well, severe in wanting to wither inform or impress, but that is another topic and certainly not one that impugns his moral judgement.