A Papal Clarification

A recent exchange on another’s Facebook page made me think. The exchange, centring on an article on the Patheos site, saw both the author and the some commenters admonishing those who took umbrage at the recent papal pronouncements on the Lord’s Prayer (and others), to quite whingeing and just get on with being good Catholics.

Of course, we should always be good Catholics, but must we really be content to sit in silence in the face of the most alarming papal phenomena for a long time?

Pope Francis is not evil. He is the pope. His papal court is the most disedifying in recent history. But that is another story. Our purpose at present is the person of the pope. Continue reading “A Papal Clarification”

Paternostergate

Yet again the pope has captured the headlines of the mainstream secular press, both in the UK and the USA, as elsewhere. The coverage is generally laudatory, with +Francis presented as courageously facing sacred cows that have had their day, or never should have had a day at all. The issue this time, as you know, is the Lord’s Prayer. Pope Francis feels that “lead us not into temptation” is “not a good translation”. A father does not “push” his child into temptation, but only Satan leads into temptation, and we can fall or not. Well, that’s his case in a nutshell.

Others, Christopher Altieri for example, are addressing this more comprehensively than I can. Some are more shrill than others. The points they raise are salient in the main.

There are just two things I would dare to note.

The first is that, Continue reading “Paternostergate”

L’Affaire Weinandy: A Watershed?

In yesterday’s post the subject was Fr Thomas Weinandy OFMCap’s letter to Pope Francis of 31 July, seemingly still unanswered; the release of this letter has been afforded a reception which is gaining momentum. This is for a very good reason: one who was approved by the establishment has broken ranks. Not just anyone, but an eminent theologian who had been head of the US bishops’ own doctrinal commission. One does not need to be Einstein to see in the circumstances surrounding Fr Weinandy’s resignation as theological consultant to the US bishops that the bishops’ conference has thrown him under a bus.

Prepare to see many establishment figures rushing to distance themselves from him. It is an understandable and otherwise laudable Catholic instinct that leads some to see any opposition to a pope as tantamount to blasphemy. Yet some situations are not so clear cut. This is why we must read Fr Weinandy’s letter very carefully; he is no Luther and far more a Newman.

There are two posts you might want to read for an idea of the reaction to Fr Weinandy and some of the points being raised, some of high significance and some not. Continue reading “L’Affaire Weinandy: A Watershed?”

Here I stand; I can do no other.

Whether or not Martin Luther actually uttered the words attributed to him and found in the title of this post, it certainly had become the principal rallying cry for the claims of conscience, equalled only by (the oft-decontextualized use of) Newman’s “I shall drink to conscience first, and to the Pope afterwards”. Both are seen within the context of a challenge to the papacy, be it the brazen hubris of Luther or Newman’s more subtle and nuanced disquiet at the proclamation of papal infallibility at Vatican I.

Both might be seen as applicable to the case of Fr Thomas Weinandy OFMCap and his recently-released letter to Pope Francis regarding the current crisis of authority in the Church. In the preceding link one will find also Fr Weinandy’s explanatory note, which is in many ways perhaps even more arresting than the letter itself. It is important to note that Fr Weinandy is no fringe-dwelling extremist nor some rare and exotic flower in the vineyard of the Lord. He is as mainstream, in the best possible way, a theologian as one can get. Widely-read by students (including myself), 12 years teaching in Oxford and, for some of that time, as chairman of the theology faculty, former head of the US bishops’ doctrine commission. But this is barely to touch upon his eminence as a theologian. Continue reading “Here I stand; I can do no other.”

The Adulterous Theologian

Thanks to The Catholic Herald, an article about the long-term adultery with his assistant of the greatest Protestant theologian of the 20th century, Karl Barth, came on screen. It is worth reading, not least for its implications in assessing his corpus of theology.

The author, Mark Galli, notes that Barth’s theology was centred on the knowledge of God through objective revelation rather than subjective experience, the great flaw of 19th century liberal theology that still flourishes today. Yet, Galli discovers in the great man’s personal writings, Barth justified his own adultery precisely on subjective terms, overriding the objective demands of morality and the binding nature of the marriage vows he had freely pronounced. Modern liberals might say he was following his conscience in a difficult situation. It is all the more interesting in light of current Catholic controversies.

In fact Barth was engaging in self-contradictory self-justification. Continue reading “The Adulterous Theologian”

Is there a statistician in the (Catholic) house?

Professor Stephen Bullivant has written recently of the Church of England’s latest set of national statistics. It is a lot to get through and Professor Bullivant pulls out a few points of interest to him. The Executive Summary has some bracing moments (with a little commentary): Continue reading “Is there a statistician in the (Catholic) house?”