Saturday, November 22, 2014

In case you missed it: an interesting correspondence between Ross Douthat and Fr. James Martin

"James Martin and Ross Douthat on Pope Francis, the Synod and the Demands of Law and Mercy" (America, November 18, 2014).

Granted, it's an online conversation between a New York Times religion columnist and the Culture Editor of the Jesuit magazine America. Yet there are some provocative moments. For example, this, in which Douthat responds to an earlier correspondence by Martin:
Dear Father Martin,

I’ll start with your provocative question of whether some matters can be too dangerous to even discuss, where I think the answer is no and yes: Mostly no in the casual context in which you and I are debating, but absolutely yes when the person encouraging the discussion has supreme teaching authority in the church. Would it be advisable, for instance, for the pope to invite a discussion among the faithful on whether to strike ten stanzas from the Nicene Creed? Or whether to discard transubstantiation in favor of a Zwinglian understanding of communion? Or whether to strip the Gospel of John from the canon? Or—to pick some debates from the not at all distant past—whether to integrate theories of racial and eugenic hierarchy into Catholic moral teaching? Read more >>
[Hat tip to E. Echeverria]


RFGA, Ph.D. said...

'While the basics remain firm, doctrine develops over time, under the guidance of the Spirit. (As an example, just ask any Catholic whether he or she was permitted to set foot in a Protestant church before the Second Vatican Council.' FJM

This is supposed to be an example of progress? As if the Holy Ghost wants us to worship with heretics? I spent the night of my son's recent high school graduation fuming because the administration at UD Jesuit saw fit to hold the ceremony in a Protestant false worship space.

JFM said...

Interesting piece. Also predictably obfuscating for all it helps make plain. The happy day I hear or read Fr. Martin affirm that he agrees with Church teaching that gay sex is intrinsically sinful is that day I'll take his words at face value. There is a hierarchy of truths, but they are all true. And moral theology is not merely pastoral policy. I also noticed that Douthat freely identified himself as a conservative, whereas Martin distinctly avoided likewise singing himself with any interpretive framework. He may be a hardworking and compassionate priest but he is not a teacher given to straightforward or bottom line explanations. Which makes any encounter leave the impression you are not getting his full mind.

RFGA, Ph.D. said...

Let me just quote one passage from "Nostra Aetate." It concerns religions other than Catholicism.

"[O]ther religions found everywhere try to counter the restlessness of the human heart, each in its own manner, by proposing ‘ways,’ comprising teachings, rules of life, and sacred rites. The Catholic Church rejects nothing that is true and holy in these religions."

Needless to say, that represents an immense change in church practice—and indeed in teaching. That one statement stands in stark contrast to statements from popes and councils and other parts of the magisterium, over the centuries, too numerous to mention.

Or look at "Dignitatis Humanae,” the document that guaranteed the “right to religious freedom,” that is, to worship and believe as each person desires. This is also in stark contrast to the former church dictum, “Error has no rights.”

There you have it JFM- what more would the man have to say to evince his 'full mind?' He thinks that there was nothing wrong with the false ecumenism espoused at V2. He's drunk of that Kool-Aid and there's no convincing him that the whole thing was a huge, demonically inspired mistake, a catastrophe from which it we are now only beginning to recover. He would be sure to indignantly oppose someone like me who fervently believes that there is no holiness to be found outside of the HMC and would strenuously resist the notion that something erroneous deserves to be countenanced. His misguided ilk have had their innings, however. Young Catholics in droves are rejecting their un-Catholic nonsense. As the Rolling Stones sang, time is on our side, yes it is.'

RFGA, Ph.D. said...

Apart from his false theology the main thing I hold against men like Fr. Martin is they don't they have the stomach for a good fight. When other generals complained to Lincoln about Grant's supposed drinking, he responded as tersely as possible 'He fights.' Yeah I like my priests pugnacious, ready, willing, and able to fight heretics tooth and nail.

RFGA, Ph.D. said...

The problem I have with men like Fr. Martin, apart from their false theology, is that they lack the stomach for a good fight. I'm fond of men like U.S. Grant, of whom Lincoln simply said 'He fights' when confronted by other generals with tales of his drinking. Pugnacious priests, that's what I'm looking for; ready willing and able to fight heretics at the drop of a anti-Catholic hat.

RFGA, Ph.D. said...

Dr. Blosser,

Please add to that last comment 'poised to defend their Mother's honor'. Thank you.

RFGA, Ph.D. said...

Here's what I'm talking about; here's what someone who could beat the intellectual hell right out of the shallow-minded, but oh so cocksure, Fr. Martin has to say about heretics and other non-believers. A comforting thought if you ask me, but to be rejected out of hand as 'medieval' by false ecumenists like him, the above quasi-ad hominen (poorly) substituting for argumentation:


1. The sufferings of the damned will be perfectly known to the saints or blessed in heaven, and will only make them the more thankful to God for his great mercy towards themselves.

2. There can, however, be no pity in the saints with reference to the damned. For, on the other hand, they know that the damned are suffering what they chose and still perversely choose. On the other hand, pity is painful in the one who experiences it, and there can be nothing painful in heaven.

3. The blessed are in full conformity with the will of God who wills justice. The saints rejoice in the accomplishment of God's justice. To this extent it can be said that they joy in the pains of the damned.'

St. Thomas Aquinas, Summa Theologica(IIIa Supplement to the Third Part, Questions 94, 97, 98 & 99)

Pertinacious Papist said...

Mr. Allen,

I just posted your "P.S." as is, because Google Blogger's comment system is fairly clumsy and would otherwise require reconstructing a separate post. Trust that works. Kind regards -- PP

Pertinacious Papist said...

Mr. Allen,

As to the "error has no rights" idea: from my conversations with colleagues at the seminary, I suspect they would insist that the integrity of that idea is still preserved intact, even though "erroneous persons have rights."

My problem with many of the mainline attempts to try to demonstrate continuity with the past is that they end up requiring such subtle distinctions that they are virtually lost on the public or the faithful at large. That, I think, is a real problem.

For example, I think that most Catholics now think that since John Paul II apologized about the Galileo affair, that means the Church must have been wrong and was refuted by science. Or that the statement of John Paul II to the Pontifical Academy of Sciences about Evolution means that the Church has finally thrown in the towel and embraced "Darwinism." Or that Pope Francis' statements now must mean that the Church is in the midst of "softening" its positions on divorce and re-marriage, homosexuality, and communion for those in both sorts of relationships.

Subtlety is not the same thing as clarity. We may require more "simplicity" than we've been getting lately.