Friday, July 22, 2016

Jesuitical 'genius': when "development of doctrine" becomes a convenient pretext for revisionism

In a telling review of an article by Jesuit theologian, Thomas Rausch, S.J., which appeared in Civiltà Cattolica, entitled "Doctrine at the service of the pastoral mission of the Church," the irrepressible Christopher A. Ferrara writes:
In typical Modernist fashion, Rausch affirms a Catholic truth in order to deny it throughout the rest of the article. He quotes Saint Vincent of Lerins for the fundamental Catholic truth that legitimate development of Catholic doctrine leaves intact “the same doctrine, the same meaning and the same import­” — precisely as the First Vatican Council affirmed — and that in the course of its legitimate development, meaning only its fuller expression, doctrine “becom[es] firmer over the years, more ample in the course of time, more exalted as it advances in age.” That is, there is no change in doctrine, either in content or understanding, but only strengthening and growth of expression. Hence St. Vincent’s famous formula: “We hold that faith which has been believed everywhere, always, by all.” There is no “God of surprises” in the thought of St. Vincent nor in the tradition of the Church.

Having affirmed this truth, however, Rausch promptly denies it, quoting his fellow Modernist Jesuit, Fr. Spadaro, for the following proposition:

"St. Vincent of Lèrins makes a comparison between the biological development of man and the transmission from one era to another of the depositum fidei [deposit of faith], which grows and is strengthened with time. Here, human self-understanding changes with time and, so too is human consciousness deepened. In this regard we could think of the time when slavery was considered acceptable, or the death penalty was applied without question. So, too, this is how we grow in the understanding of the truth. Exegetes and theologians help the Church to mature in her own judgment. The other sciences and their development also help the Church in its growth in understanding. There are secondary ecclesiastical rules and precepts that at one time were effective, but now they have lost their value and meaning. The view that the Church’s teaching is a monolith to defend without nuance or different understandings is wrong."

Note the stealthy non-sequitur smuggled in via the italicized phrases: from St. Vincent’s biological analogy regarding the growth and development of the same, unchanging doctrine in the Church, Rausch (citing only his fellow Modernist for authority) leaps to the conclusion that just as “human self-understanding changes with time” so the Church’s teaching is subject over time to “different understandings.” Of course, that is exactly the opposite of what Rausch affirmed only a few lines earlier: i.e., St. Vincent’s insistence on “the same doctrine, the same meaning and the same import” down through the ages. God does not change His understanding of the truth, and neither does the Church change her understanding of faith and morals.
Ferrara goes on to point out that Rausch's references to slavery and the death penalty are red herrings, and the Church's nuanced positions on these issues do not represent any 'change' in the 'understanding' of doctrine. "The very essence of Modernism, he says, "is to deny what the Modernist appears to be affirming. Doubletalk is the language of Modernist theology."

1 comment:

bill bannon said...

But Ferrara is incorrect on the death penalty as real development ( he wanted to protect the two previous Popes). St.JPII and Benedict circumvented belief iself in the death penalty by first saying it was rarely necessary in the catechism in ccc 2267....then in the public forum, both sought abolition ( which prevents the rare use the catechism grants) and one called it "cruel" in St. Louis in 1999 which is a doctrinal not a prudential assertion. Gen.9:5-6 and Rom.13:4 were thus contradicted not developed by Francis's two predecessors. Indeed, their circumvention of scripture may have shown Francis he also could circumvent via the pastoral as they did via the prudential. For those thinkng the death penalty is unimportant, look at the largest Catholc population...non death penalty Brazil which had 50,674 murders in 2014
with a murder rate of 24+ per 100,000. Death penalty China has a murder rate of 1.1 per 100,000. It counts where there are many poor people. Where there are not many poor, it counts much less....Austria had 40 murders in the same year that Brazil had 50,674.
If you placed the whole of Brazil in China and placed them under their strict death penalty, the murdered victim number would go from 50,674 to 2111. Catholicism then which I believe to be the true Faith...has guaranteed by this 3 Pope mistake on the death penalty....the needless deaths of hundreds of thousands throughout future history in those poor dominated countries where she is influential as She was for only ten years in the Phillipines.