Friday, October 31, 2014

On ignoring doctrine, or trying to "develop" it

I read two disturbing pieces online this morning. The first was Maureen Mullarkey's "King Francis" (First Things, October 24, 2014), which related (via Paul Anthony McGavin) how Pope Francis, in his morning homilies at Saint Martha's during the Synod "hammered away every day at the zealots of tradition, those who load unbearable burdens onto men." In the early days of his pontificate, she writes, "the romance of Francis was stoked with charming stories of his humility. He scrambled his own eggs, tied his own shoes, took the bus. An ordinary Joe, just like you and me but more so. We saw nothing in the press like this:
On communion for the divorced and remarried, it is already known how the pope thinks. As archbishop of Buenos Aires, he authorized the “curas villeros,” the priests sent to the peripheries, to give communion to all, although four fifths of the couples were not even married. And as pope, by telephone or letter he is not afraid of encouraging some of the faithful who have remarried to receive communion without worrying about it, right away, even without those “penitential paths under the guidance of the diocesan bishop” projected by some at the synod, and without issuing any denials when the news of his actions comes out.
"...What bewilders me here is the precipitous end-run being made around collegiality and subsidiarity, with scant regard for the trust of the faithful in the validity of the Church’s essential moral suasion on essential matters. ... The law of unintended consequences is inexorable."

The second was by the Very Rev. [sic.] Robert Barron, "Appraising Kasper’s Proposal via John Henry Newman" (Patheos, October 30, 2014), in which he seriously suggests taking Blessed Cardinal Newman's Essay on the Development of Christian Doctrine as a template for reconsidering Cardinal Kasper's proposal for Communion for the divorced and civilly "re-married" adulterers:
Well, let’s consider the proposal made by Cardinal Walter Kasper regarding communion for the divorced and re-married. Is it an authentic development or a corruption of Catholic moral teaching and practice? Might I suggest that all of the disputants in that argument take a step back and assess the matter using Cardinal Newman’s criteria? Would Newman be opposed in principle to change in this regard? Not necessarily, for he knew that to live is to change. Would he therefore enthusiastically embrace what Cardinal Kasper has proposed? Not necessarily, for it might represent a corruption. As the conversation continues to unfold over the coming months, I think all sides would benefit from a careful reading of On the Development of Christian Doctrine.
Fr. Barron is (sort of) careful not to come right out and say that Kaspar's suggestion might not be a corruption but an authentic development. But it's clearly an invitation to pause, sit down, and consider this possibility. Here, if you squint at this just right, it almost looks like it could be ... Catholic.

Related: Gloria TV report on Cardinal Marx, the German bishops, and the "principle of gradualism."

Postscript: The first commentor in the combox below gently suggests that I may be mis-reading Fr. Barron here. I heartily hope and pray that this is the case. If this is so, then I wish that he were more explicit in saying exactly what he means rather than hedging his views in repeated circumlocutions. Come to think of it, this is precisely what wearied me about the recent Synod, as well as what wearies me about the Holy Father. Fr. Blake goes so far as to say: "I must admit I still don't understand Francis. Is he the greatest thing since unsliced bread, a cunning old Jesuit, a conservative, a trad, a prophet, a fool or even the anti-Christ; a breath of fresh-air or the stench from the tomb of those rather detestable men who surrounded the Blessed Paul VI and added to his suffering?" -- certainly more than I would say, but you get the point: Does Fr. Barron really believe that hell could be empty? If he's willing to entertain that possibility, then what else might be be willing to consider? If his article here is a defence of Church teaching, I, for one, found it confusing. What we need today is clarity -- all the more because of those who do not even know what the Church actually teaches.

I groan with the weariness of all this, as I'm sure many of you do. Oremus.

Related: Fr. Richard G. Cipolla, "No, Newman cannot be used to defend Kasper" (Musings, November 2, 2014).


10 comments:








Anonymous

said...

I think you're misreading Barron. He clearly is leading the reader to consider Kasper's proposal in light of Newman, yes, but the conclusion is implicit - yes this would be a corruption and a reversal, not a fulfilment. I don't think Barron is on the Kasper train AT ALL.





JM

said...

There is no misreading "all sides" need to re-read Newman. It is vague and ambiguous.





Ralph Roister-Doister

said...

Barron is the guy who likes the sound of his own voice on TV, and will get on whatever train it takes to keep it there.





ultimouomo11

said...

Pope Pius IX, in the First Vatican Council, Sess. 3, Chap. 2 on Revelation, 1870, ex cathedra: “Hence, also, that understanding of its sacred dogmas must be perpetually retained, which Holy Mother Church has once declared; and there must never be a recession from that meaning under the specious name of a deeper understanding.”





BenYachov

said...

If I may prattle a bit.....

Fr. Barron is sanity itself.

Quote"Now how does all of this apply to the Synod? Well, let’s consider the proposal made by Cardinal Walter Kasper regarding communion for the divorced and re-married. Is it an authentic development or a corruption of Catholic moral teaching and practice? Might I suggest that all of the disputants in that argument take a step back and assess the matter using Cardinal Newman’s criteria? Would Newman be opposed in principle to change in this regard? Not necessarily, for he knew that to live is to change. Would he therefore enthusiastically embrace what Cardinal Kasper has proposed? Not necessarily, for it might represent a corruption. As the conversation continues to unfold over the coming months, I think all sides would benefit from a careful reading of On the Development of Christian Doctrine."END QUOTE

He makes no judgement but is clearly content to let the Church judge.

Well Newman's Development of Christian Doctrine can show us how doctrines that have already been defined by the Church are true developments and condemned heresies are mere corruptions.

Thus Newman can show to his Anglican and Protestant audience Catholic doctrine is consistent with the teachings of the Apostles and is not a new set of teachings invented whole cloth by evil Romanists.

This essay also might have some utility in settling current doctrinal disputes.

Certainly we can try to apply it to Kasper's views but in the End it is the Church under Pope Francis with the Bishops in communion with him that can & will make the judgement call.

I am sure I can find a host of Feeneyites on the web who might try to argue the doctrine that "non-believers by negation who follow an extra sacramental saving Grace can be saved" is a corruption of EENS by Newman's standards.

But the Church Authority has said otherwise.

Pope Francis' sermons on the Pharisees are obvious in their meaning. The Pharisees lived at a time when Public Revelation was still being given and with the coming of the Messiah Yeshua he revealed things which cast their views in a different light. They didn't like that and refused to submit to God's will.

Today we can have no new public revelation but doctrine might develop in a manner we might not have foreseen. Will we stick with our private interpretations like the Feeneyites do with their narrow view of EENS? Will we refuse to be surprised? I won't whatever the Church comes up with I have already submitted too in my heart. May God in his Grace make it so for me.

This having been said I personally think Kasper hopes in vain his views will be judged developments but until they are formally condemned and he is forbidden to hold them or preach them I am contend to trust the Holy Spirit.

I have no fear of Pope Francis agreeing with Kasper. So what if he did? Benedict personally doubts the doctrine of Limbo(I do too BTW) but when he revisited it declined to change or drop it.

If Kasper is known by God to be 100% wrong in his views here & Francis erroneously agrees with Kasper well so what?

It's not going to become the teaching.

Let not your heart be troubled.





Pertinacious Papist

said...

Ben,

You're a fatalist: whatever happens God will see to the outcome, so let not your hearts be troubled, all is well, all is well. Well so then what are you doing in this combox, since all is predestined to turn out fine anyway?

I applaud you for your confidence that Fr. Barron is "sanity itself"; but if he makes no judgment and simply commends Newman's treatise to "all sides" and is "clearly content to let the Church judge," does this mean the Church hasn't definitively judged already? Does this mean that neither he nor you knows what Church teaching is on this very simple matter? (This isn't rocket science. It's just hand-wringing over how to leverage something under the "pastoral" rubric that would be impermissible under the "doctrinal" rubric.)

Furthermore, even though Blessed Cardinal Newman is as close to being my patron saint as I've ever got yet, his "seven notes" (or criteria) for distinguishing between authentic developments and corruptions in his Essay on the Development of Christian Doctrine are not without serious oversights and defects. Consider Orestes Brownson's critical review of Newman's Essay. It's a demanding review, but rewards careful study. I am sorry to say that I am not as sanguine about the possibility of Newman's Essay providing the resolution to the Synodical "conundrum" as proposed by Fr. Barron.





BenYachov

said...

@Doc P.

>You're a fatalist: whatever happens God will see to the outcome, so let not your hearts be troubled, all is well, all is well. Well so then what are you doing in this combox, since all is predestined to turn out fine anyway?

Well that is a good question so I will answer you by first correcting you. I am not a fatalist. I am a leaning Banezian Thomist & thus I believe in Divine Providence along the lines of Réginald Garrigou-Lagrange. If you haven’t already read his book on the subject I hightly recommend it. I believe it is online as well & I would give you a link except either my son or daughter erased my bookmarks.

Ah well.

Anyway I believe in free will and as such I believe we do have real choices which effect the outcome of actual events and I believe God Sovereignly brings about those events the way He wills immutably from all eternity. He is the transcendent cause of our Free Choices and is the one who causes them to be free. This mystery of free will and absolute divine sovereignty is as great a mystery as is comparable to the Mystery of the Trinity. Thus in principle it can’t ever be fully understood by human intellect that in it limited capacity errors toward either divine fatalism vs an extreme libertarianism where God somehow on some level doesn’t cause our choices.

So with Lagrange I have confidence in Almighty God and the Church is protected.

>I applaud you for your confidence that Fr. Barron is "sanity itself"; but if he makes no judgment and simply commends Newman's treatise to "all sides" and is "clearly content to let the Church judge," does this mean the Church hasn't definitively judged already? Does this mean that neither he nor you knows what Church teaching is on this very simple matter? (This isn't rocket science. It's just hand-wringing over how to leverage something under the "pastoral" rubric that would be impermissible under the "doctrinal" rubric.)

I don’t know? Seriously, I don’t know. I am sure a pre- Alexander VIII, Pre-Pius IX rigorist "knew" Florence’s teaching on EENS was clear enough to conclude absolutely all non-Catholics where completely lost and have no chance at Heaven & this was a simple matter and not “rocket science” (or whatever was the pre-industrial equivalent in that era). But it turned out he was wrong. OTOH during the reign of Paul VI some might have though some “development” might make the Pill or contraception permissible. Paul VI sunk that faster then a German torpedo did the Lucitania.

So I keep and open mind but in the end I will always side with the Church as my safe bet.

I am willing to be surprised & in principle I am not rooting for either side. I am content to see how the Holy Spirit will guide the Church to resolve it and merely submit to Her rulings on the subject that will come in the end.

>Furthermore, even though Blessed Cardinal Newman is as close to being my patron saint as I've ever got yet, his "seven notes" (or criteria) for distinguishing between authentic developments and corruptions in his Essay on the Development of Christian Doctrine are not without serious oversights and defects. Consider Orestes Brownson's critical review of Newman's Essay. It's a demanding review, but rewards careful study. I am sorry to say that I am not as sanguine about the possibility of Newman's Essay providing the resolution to the Synodical "conundrum" as proposed by Fr. Barron.

Well need I remind you Doc I said Newman’s essay has some utility in settling current doctrinal disputes. I never said it was sufficient in and of itself.

It is primarily for justify doctrines that have already been defined and justifying the condemnations of heresies already formally condemned. In the end the Church protected by the Holy Spirit will provide resolution.

So I am content to let Kasper hope in vain(unless there is some truth there that might be brought out).

Cheers.





Pertinacious Papist

said...

>Sigh<





Pertinacious Papist

said...

Ben, your correction of me doesn't answer my question. You're telling the "chicken littles" of the world to stop worrying, "cool it," chill out like you because the Gates of Hell will not prevail etc., etc. no matter what anyone says or does. My question was: so why are you troubling yourself to say anything if your influence makes no difference in the final outcome?

My point would be that what we do plays a significant role in what happens. St. Paul said to the Roman soldiers on his ship that no souls would be lost before their shipwreck off the coast of Malta -- i.e., God told him that no lives would be lost. So did Paul tell everyone to sit back, chill out, and trust in the promises of God? Not quite. He clearly trusted the promises of God. But he also issued all sorts of commands as to what they had to DO to save themselves -- from not letting the sailors escape on their own to taking food for strength.

The point: God works through us. As Augustine said: "God who created us without our help will not save us without our consent." In other words, divine predestination mysteriously works through human free will and action.

You know this already, Ben, if you've read Garrigou-Lagrange, who is a first rate Thomist. I'm just puzzled why you don't seem to see any of this as applicable to the role of the faithful in the present circumstances. You seem to just want people to be smile, ask no questions, and submit tho whatever is served up. In fact, you were ready to offer up JUSTIFICATIONS rationalizing the distortions of the mid-term Relatio, which were roundly voted down by the majority of Synod fathers. Why? Do you see this as a virtue?





BenYachov

said...

>You're telling the "chicken littles" of the world to stop worrying, "cool it," chill out like you because the Gates of Hell will not prevail etc., etc. no matter what anyone says or does. My question was: so why are you troubling yourself to say anything if your influence makes no difference in the final outcome?

I am trying to influence my fellow Catholics on the ground who might read this comments box not to not freak out.

I don't see how anything I say here will influence the Synod if that is what you are talking about?

>My point would be that what we do plays a significant role in what happens. St. Paul said to the Roman soldiers on his ship that no souls would be lost before their shipwreck off the coast of Malta --

I am not saying don't do anything or not allow God work threw us. I am saying don't freak out & I stand Michael Voris in objecting to attacking the Pope. That should be obvious right now.

Dude you are making all these wild assumptions about what I believe.

Why not just ask me? I am not afraid to tell you.

But I appreciate your sincere objections to my positions.

If there is anything unless I said that is unclear you have but to ask.

It's all good guy.