Sunday, January 07, 2007

Fillet of Carp

Eh, what the heck, I've got a couple minutes.

Fr. Richard McBrien teaches theology at Notre Dame, a Catholic university, and when he's not in the classroom, he's busy loudly chafing at Catholic Theology. If you can guess how he's maintained such an oddly tenouous position for so long, you're wiser than I. My guess would be possession of photos of certain someones with certain someone elses, with or without certain garments. But, to the substance of tonight's installment..

As noted at the Cafeteria is Closed, Fr. McBrien's recent column was tangentially related to bishop Bruskewitz, as it was a ciphered support of Call To Action. Call To Action is a nominally catholic organization which aims to make the Catholic Church less Catholic, and more like the Episcopal Church. Seeing the Episcopal Church in it's doctrine-rending convulsions is a curious motivation to support application of those doctrines to the Catholic Church, which have caused episcopalians so much grief, but I digress. On to Fr. McBrien, and his discussion on religious inflation:

Inflation not only occurs in the economic order; it can also occur in the Church. When claims for religious truth are "enlarged or amplified unduly or improperly," the actual truth loses some of its credibility. The extreme consequence of such inflation is that all religious truths lose their value.

Only if religious truth is like a currency, which can be traded for self-righteousness, intellectual superiority, or rationalization to obscure sins. But, if truth is really Truth, then it is a whole and complementary system which cannot be parsed into convenient parcels for either acceptance or dismissal. Looking for degrees of truth is, in essence, looking for escape routes from obedience.

Fr. McBrien rehashes bishop Bruskewitz' ecommunication of Call to Action members in the Diocese of Lincoln, and finally arrives at the question in his heart:

These claims beg the question: What constitutes "the Catholic faith"?

Gee, Pontius, is that the best you can do? "Quid est veritas"?!? Your wash basin is over there.

Is every official teaching of the Catholic Church, at whatever level, and every disciplinary decree of a Roman congregation a matter of "Catholic faith," or what the traditional Latin manuals of theology called "de fide"?
Is there no doctrinal difference, for example, between the Church's current discipline of obligatory celibacy for priests of the Latin rite and the teachings of the ecumenical councils on the divinity of Jesus Christ? Is the belief in angels on the same doctrinal level as belief in the Real Presence of Christ in the Eucharist?

If you are looking for doctrinal differences, then you are looking for a way to dismiss the authority of the Magisterium of the Church. For authority has been given to the Apostles and to their successors to loosen or bind, on Earth and in Heaven, in all matters, great and small.


Dad29 said...

Obviously, you and Bp. B. missed the footnote on "authority," which Fr McB uses:

"...and even MORE authority is granted to Full Professors at colleges." (That's to make up for the fact that they generally lack common sense.)

Paul, just this guy, you know? said...

His conflating of the discipline of celibacy and the doctrines relating to Our Lord's divinity is clearly a conscious attempt to obfuscate the issue and confuse the reader.

Your point about the teaching authority of the Magesterium is the sword that cuts through his gordian knot, and settles all the dust he's trying to blow up to cloud the questions.