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.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."
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.
Friday, July 22, 2016
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: