Development of Doctrine III

John of Fides Quaerens Intellectum has replied to my post Development of Doctrine II, primarily with a 1,700-word comment thatis longer than the post itself.  As supporting material, he has posted two entries at his own blog: one consisting chiefly of quotations from the late Prof. JND Kelly and Fr. John Behr on St. Irenaeus; the other consisting chiefly of quotations from Klaus Schatz, SJ’s Papal Primacy: From its Origins to the Present. Given that each exchange in our discussion—one which stretches back to old comboxes at Sacramentum Vitaeis longer than its predecessors, I find myself wondering with some amusement how many faculty and students will stick around for the seminar. At least the seminars in real academic departments have scheduled beginnings and ends! But even if the education ends up being John’s and mine alone, I think the discussion well worth pursuing. Speaking for myself, I come off every online discussion of DD better equipped to carry on the next one—and there always seems to be a next one, even when that’s not the plan. Who knows whom I might thereby reach? It might even be somebody here. And so I proceed with my latest reply as a productive exercise in what contemporary Catholic theologians term “fundamental theology.”

Continue reading

The toils of ecumenism – a new doctrine or an old policy?

The problem

A source of perplexity for many Catholics is their Church’s continuing commitment to ecumenism.  The reason is obvious.  The commitment sometimes seems to come with a degree of troubling ambiguity, even at the highest level, and even under the papacy of Benedict XVI.  A case in point has been Cardinal Kasper’s puzzling recent statement in Osservatore Romano on the strange ecclesial identity of Brother Roger – supposedly both Calvinist and Catholic – after Brother Roger’s reception of communion at the funeral of Pope John Paul II, from the hands of the then Cardinal Ratzinger.

Yet among those Catholics perplexed about ecumenism, there has been an important division. So-called Traditionalism bluntly rejects ecumenism as a bad business; and does so in the name of the continuing validity of Pius XI’s Mortalium Animos of 1928.  Accordingly Traditionalism condemns Vatican II’s Decree on Ecumenism of 1964, Unitatis Redintegratio, and later documents as modernist departures from past Catholic teaching as well as practice.

Whereas so-called Conservatism shares Pope Benedict’s continuing espousal of the Council and its ecumenical commitment – a commitment that, it is regretfully admitted, may have led to excesses, but is in essence sound.  Sound, indeed, because it seems the Conciliar magisterium has taught the pursuit of Christian unity to be divinely mandated.  And how can a divine mandate be ignored, or the magisterium disregarded?

But the problem facing Conservatism is obvious: how can a hermeneutic of continuity reconcile Mortalium Animos and Unitatis Redintegratio?  How can what is now supposed to be a divine mandate, to pursue ecumenism, have been rejected and condemned, in 1928, by Christ’s then reigning Vicar, and in the most blunt and forthright terms?

Continue reading