Sunday, November 16, 2008

A New Counter-Reformation?

The 11/14/08 issue of the Wall Street Journal featured an article of more than passing interest by David Gibson: A New Counter-Reformation Starts at the Vatican. Gibson has been observing the Synod of Bishops at the Vatican and sees hopeful signs of an initiative that could become a New Counter-Reformation:
For most of October, more than 200 Catholic bishops, along with sundry theologians and experts, met at the Vatican to figure out how to get Catholics to read the Bible -- a project easily dismissed by Protestants and some Catholics as too ambitious and about 500 years too late. After all, wasn't it Rome's fears about letting mere lay people consult Holy Writ that stoked the Reformation? And Catholics don't want to read the Bible anyway, right? They're all about the Mass and the sacraments.
Gibson begs to differ with the notion that Catholics and Scripture don't mix too well. Or rather, as Gibson backhandedly concedes, at least a rarefied clerical and academic elite within the Catholic Church has opened itself to Scripture. Just how far this openness extends we will consider, but Gibson claims, after a brief review of 20th century Church history, that the Church has gradually developed an impressive and balanced cultural blend of Scripture and traditional Catholic piety: