See how the farmer waits for the precious fruit of the earth, being patient with it until it receives the early and the late rains. - James 5:7

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Rethinking Christopher West and other Catholic punching bags.

Getting a grip.
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The brouhaha over what the pope really said in the Peter Seewald interview sent me back to my copy of Salt of the Earth - thanks to Michael R., a conscientious objector and commenter on this blog from time to time, who reminded me about the earlier interview.  I spent some time this morning re-reading points I checked earlier - taking time to meditate if you will, what was being discussed.
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I'm just a student as it were, a learner.  I was reminded of this when I came across a response by then Cardinal Ratzinger at the beginning of Seewald's interview.  Seewald asked Cardinal Ratzinger about his 'private' opinion on cases before the CDF - if he exercised it in discussions and debates - as if the Prefect had the power to dictate the teaching of the Church - imposing his private opinion, etc..  (It is my understanding decisions are arrived at when consultors are in 'substantial agreement' and implemented after approval by the pope.)  But I digress.
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What impressed me is how Ratzinger responded to the question regarding his private opinion - it is quite humbling to consider, coming from such a learned and brilliant scholar:
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"[...] I worked for many years as a professor, and I still try my best to keep up with the theological discussion.  Naturally I have my own ideas about how theology should look; I also express them in my own publications." - Salt of the Earth; Words and Signs
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As for me, it is all too convenient to have my own ideas and express them in my own publications (blog), but how much do I know so much?  To whom am I accountable?  A man without training and even without access to consultation with expert consultors.  At one point in the interview discussing the apparent slowness of the Vatican, the Cardinal points out that some questions resolve themselves in time without intervention.  Yet I want everything to be reformed and settled over night. 
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Asked if the Cardinal would have to contradict himself on occasion, Ratzinger responded:
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"Let's put it this way: time can certainly bring correction.  I can simply learn through dialogue that I haven't seen this or that matter properly.  [...]  A development through further learning that also brings a correction of past views is entirely within the realm of possibility."  Salt of the Earth; Words and Signs
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And?
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So what's my point?  As a blogger I need to be open to correction and contradiction of my ideas - especially when it emanates from a critical spirit.  Hence what appears to be my own backtracking on certain matters is usually a development of learning.  As I always say and everyone must understand, I'm no authority.
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That said, I thought of Chris West and all of the criticism he has undergone after I came across another reply by Cardinal Ratzinger to a question regarding young priests in youth ministry:
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"This means that young priests out in the youth ministry who in part have problems proclaiming the sexual morality of the Church as they are supposed to be can be forgiven if on occasion they say something that you don't like? 
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Yes of course, if the basic intention is there.  That is the crucial point.  No one unfailingly finds the right means at the first go." - Salt of the Earth; The Prefect and His Pope
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I'm not making any defense or apology for West and the TOB enthusiasts, I'm just saying that though I may take issue with certain points, I'm not competent to critique his entire body of work for instance.  The Cardinal (Rigali), bishops and priests and academics who more or less oversee these matters are the competent authority to answer questions and objections regarding the theology of the body.
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Hopefully, if indeed I continue this blog, I can be less repellent to persons genuinely interested in the faith, the Church, and Catholicism.  I'm afraid the critical spirit gets the best of me at times and I frequently fail in charity when discussing contemporary morality and church-people.

8 comments:

  1. '...Yet I want everything to be reformed and settled over night..."

    Yet here is an authority in the Church making this statement knowing full well the Church's enemies ordered the Novus Ordo Mass replace the True Mass within six months. No exceptions.

    Six months is a lot less than overnight in Rome time.

    Were it not for bloggers, right or wrong, communicating, those that meet together against God and His Christ in the Church Hierarchy would have an open road to further demolish Holy Mother Church; unimpeded.

    The only time a man should apologize is when he is in the confessional.

    If his friends are so punk sissy they need to be apologized to, he needs new friends.

    I have lost track of how many times I have been offended reading this blog, let alone keep track of how many times my feelings have been hurt.

    Have I asked for an apology?

    *

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  2. Well, I'm hoping to make it to confession this afternoon.

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  3. The Holy Father, and when he was a Cardinal, is always very careful in all his interview books with Mr. Seewald to stress when something is his personal opinion versus doctrine. The Seewald interview books (I've read and I own them all) I find extremely interesting. I don't read them as a theologian reciting doctrine and tenets (though he does talk about them) so much as a journey of faith seen thru one of the greatest minds of our time.

    I'll be buying the new book. I can't wait!

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  4. michael r.6:25 PM

    Contientious objector? Hmm... I try to be contientious. I'm not sure what you think I object to. Most people who know me think I'm a fuddy duddy. I accept the Churches deposit of faith, but I believe that the deposit of faith deepens over time. Theology is not static. Our understanding of things broadens, and sometimes requires more nuance. This is precisely what Benedict is addressing. I'm certainly grateful for him, because he is a brilliant scholar and is interested in real dialogue. I have no doubt, he knows exactly what he is doing. And yes, there can be a difference between his personal opinion and what he expresses for the Church.

    I am saddened to realize that many people are feeling lost because of what the Pope has apparantly said. It's like they hitch their wagon to too many things that are not essential to the faith. I read this today: "I feel utterly confused, betrayed and demoralized. It’s like an earthquake has just occurred in the Vatican, and St. Peter’s edifice which I always believed was rock-solid and permanent now has cracks running all through it." Please get a grip, people. All will be well. Remember that the Holy Spirit will be with the Church, as the Lord said.

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  5. michael r: Good comment. I'm sure you and I disagree on some things regarding the Church but your comment was very much a moment of "common ground"

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  6. Michael - I meant that you call me out sometimes and it is good that you do.

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  7. Somewhat related to a discussion of fraternal correction; a family member was involved in a youth religion class which met this time in the church. One of the kids was overheard to say to another "...geez Jamie, effing genuflect, ya loser!"
    Couldn't help it, I had to laugh when I heard about that. They have the right idea about reverence, but maybe need to work on telling the truth in love.

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  8. Theology changes? Sounds like a recipe for moral relativism to me.

    The Pope didn't say what the media, bloggers, and the breathlessly hopeful homosexual enablers at the editorial desk of America think he said.

    The use of condoms for prophylactics for contraceptive means is always objectively wrong, but it's not too much of a stretch that someone deeply immersed in a sinful and disordered life could bee led to understand his folly by realizing that his precaution in one area [which isn't much of a precaution actually] ought to belong to his entire life, such a realization would necessarily prohibit him from pursuing the life of a prostitute.

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Please comment with charity and avoid ad hominem attacks. I exercise the right to delete comments I find inappropriate. If you use your real name there is a better chance your comment will stay put.