Thursday, March 29, 2018

Be Careful What You Read at "The Catholic Thing"--It May Not Be Catholic

Today the editors at the well known site The Catholic Thing

Editor in Chief: Robert Royal
Senior Editor: Brad Miner 
Managing Editor: Hannah Russo
Associate Managing Editor: Emily Rowles 
Contributing Editors: Rev. James V. Schall, S.J., Mary Eberstadt, Hadley Arkes, George J. Marlin, Rev. Gerald E. Murray, Ralph McInerny (RIP), Michael Novak (RIP), Anthony Esolen, David Warren, Howard Kainz, Rev. C.J. McCloskey, Randall Smith, Rev. Bevil Bramwell, O.M.I.

saw fit to publish an article by Fr. Robert P. Imbelli, Eucharist and New Creation. Who is Imbelli?

Following his graduation from Yale, Imbelli continued his teaching at St. Joseph's Seminary as a professor of systematic theology.[1] Leaving St. Joseph's, Imbelli continued his teaching at the Maryknoll School of Theology. Finally in 1986, he was given a leadership position as Director of the Institute of Religious Education and Pastoral Ministry at Boston College. In 1993, he stepped down from this position and has remained an associate professor of theology.
In addition to teaching, Imbelli has been a prolific contributor to journals and magazines like Commonweal, America and L'Osservatore Romano. He also edited and contributed to a book, Handing on the Faith: the Church's Mission and Challenge, in 2006.[1] In addition to his frequent articles, he maintains an almost daily updated blog on Commonweal.
Imbelli is also the author of Rekindling the Christic Imagination: Theological Meditations for the New Evangelization.

The reference to "the Christic Imagination" is a dead giveaway that we're dealing here with a Teilhardian. "The Christic" is the title of an article that Teilhard de Chardin wrote near the end of his life. If you take a glance at it you'll get a flavor for Teilhard's Gnostic, non-Christian, cosmogony. In it you'll find such gems as:

It is Christ, in very truth, who saves,
— but should we not immediately add that at the same time it is Christ who is saved by

Wednesday, March 28, 2018

Is Cardinal Dolan Signalling a Sea Change in the American Catholic Church?

Last Thursday Cardinal Timothy Dolan of New York penned an essay in the WSJ. The title of the essay, and it's subtitle, tells you pretty much all you need to know if you don't subscribe: The Democrats Abandon Catholics: If you value religious education or life’s sanctity, you’re not welcome in the party.

This is a far more political statement, in an overtly partisan way, than we're used to seeing from the US Catholic bishops. It also has broader implications for the Church generally and for politics generally, so what's going on here?

For starters it's helpful to ask: Who would have been pleased by this essay, and who would have been, well, let's say, displeased?

Let's see--displeased? The Democrat Party--that's a no brainer. They just lost a presidential election because they lost the heavily Catholic Reagan Democrats in the Midwest. This won't help--not in 2018, not in 2020.

How about the Bergoglio Vatican? Displeased? You'd better believe it. It's a given that Bergoglio personally has no use for the USA, and all you have to do to remind yourself just how virulent that dislike is, is reprise the article by Antonio Spadaro, the Jesuit editor of La Civiltà Cattolica, a journal that is reported to be personally vetted by Bergoglio himself. The article is titled Evangelical Fundamentalism and Catholic Integralism: A Surprising Ecumenism, and you can find an analysis of it by Sam Gregg here. The long and the short of it is that Spadaro--and presumably Bergoglio--are disturbed by the ecumenical cooperation between Catholics and Evangelicals. Why? Because they fear the rise of a "theocracy." Here's how Gregg puts it:

Friday, March 23, 2018

A Case Study On Continuity Between Ratzinger and Bergoglio: The Spirit And "Living Tradition"

Back on March 17, 2018, Fr Hunwicke pointed out in his blog post Heureka! Heureka! that

"The first and fontal dogma there attributed [in Wikipedia] to 'Modern Church' [i.e., Modernism] is ... lo and behold ... the prime distinctive dogma of Bergoglianism:

What Fr Hunwicke is referring to is Bergoglio's constant contention that the Holy Spirit is speaking to him and that he is only doing what the Spirit bids him to do. The "God of surprises" communicates His surprises to Bergoglio through the Spirit. And we all know that whoever sins against the Spirit commits the unforegiveable sin. (Mark 3:28-29)

Fr Hunwicke appeared to believe that this notion, that revelation has not come to an end--which I refer to as "continuing revelation"--is a dogma that is distinctive of "Bergoglianism." In the comments I sought to rectify that misconception. It certainly is a distinctive mark of Bergoglianism, but it's just as certainly not unique to Bergoglianism. What, to me, makes this question a matter of some topical interest is that within a few days of Fr Hunwicke's post the whole question of an "inner continuity" between the pontificates of Ratzinger and Bergoglio took on added significance due to the famous letter of Ratzinger. In the letter Ratzinger responded to what amounted to a request that he endorse Bergoglio's ideas, as described in "eleven small volumes" by a variety of pro-Bergoglio theologians. I wrote about that controversy in Bergoglio's LetterGate--Continuity and Discontinuity, my central contention being that Ratzinger was quite correct in pointing out the "inner continuity" between his pontificate and that of Bergoglio. This fact of substantial theological agreement is, of course, exactly what Ratzinger cultists are in a complete state of denial about. To admit it would bring their entire worldview crashing down on their heads.

At any rate, wishing to bring some clarity to the matter, I commented on Fr Hunwicke's blog:

But, speaking of "continuing revelation," that, of course, is a position that Ratzinger was accused of holding as far back as his seminary days and right through his Dei Verbum days up to the present. A point of "inner continuity" with Bergoglio? [Dei Verbum, the Word of God, is the Dogmatic Constitution on Revelation, at Vatican II.]

Sunday, March 18, 2018

UPDATED: Bergoglio's LetterGate--Continuity and Discontinuity

For the past week the world of the Vatican II Church, and especially that corner of it occupied by Ratzinger/Benedict cultists, has been consumed with the Ratzinger letter fiasco. Let's get the obvious out of the way right up front: the affair was a tawdry attempt by Bergoglio to trade on the continued popularity of Ratzinger among "conservative" Vatican II adherents, who place their hopes for the Church on Ratzinger's "hermeneutic of continuity." The clear intent was to influence those who invoke Ratzinger to justify their opposition to Bergoglio to drop their opposition. The Bergoglian scheme backfired in spectacular fashion amid an explosion of conspiratorial speculation, most of it suggesting that by use of secret decoder rings or other devices the letter can be seen to diss Francis' thought and his policy. (For thorough coverage of the controversy, a good source is Sandro Magister's blog.)

There is both more and less than meets the eye in most of this speculation. The implicit assumption behind most of it is that Ratzinger engaged in some sort of preturnaturally clever passive-aggressive ploy against Bergoglio and his communications team. The truth is that Ratzinger's letter is clearly carefully written, carefully worded, and therefore should be taken at face value. It is polite and fair as well as honest throughout. The reason this assessment is so widely resisted is obvious: those who blame all the Church's troubles on Bergoglio will resort to virtually any rationalization to avoid accepting that Ratzinger really is in fundamental "philosophical and theological" agreement with Bergoglio--that the two pontificates share an "inner continuity"--as the letter affirms. To admit this continuity would be to expose the whole Ratzinger-as-bulwark-of-orthodoxy construct as a baseless fantasy. And yet, when this continuity is accepted, the observer is free to consider the rest of the letter with an open mind, and the benefit of doing so is that the letter also gives a clear hint in the direction of the discontinuity that actually does exist between the two pontificates. This understanding will open broad vistas on the mortal danger facing the Church.

Monday, March 5, 2018

UPDATED: A Colloquy with Fr Hunwicke on Typology--And Much Else

Fr John Hunwicke, the erudite liturgical scholar, recently published a blog post in which he took up the cudgels in defense of the traditional typological form of exegesis: The Liturgy of the Hours, friday week 2; eviscerated! He even went so far as to maintain that typological exegesis is the only defense against problematic passages in the Psalms:

The reason why it is so questionabe to expurgate a psalm in the way that LH does is: expurgation still leaves words like "There is no crime or sin in me, O Lord", and leaves them decontextualised . If such things are said simplistically, they can only foster a very dangerous sense of of complacency and self-righteousness. ...
I am not one who believes that every psalm needs to be read in the Divine Office. History gives imperfect support for such an integralist approach to the Book of Psalms and their use in Christian worship. ...
Lastly, I draw your attention to the root of the problem: the loss in the Western Church of the Typological Method which was the heart of scriptural exegesis in both the Patristic and Medieval periods and in both East and West. When people discuss the authority and inerrancy of Scripture, dicussion often seems nowadays to be mired in reductionist considerations ... Of course vast swathes of Scripture provide enormous difficulties ... are in fact not so much unusable as potentially positively poisonous ... IF we do not trace out the richly complex patterns of intertextuality which formed the basis of their apprehension by Christians before the dark shadow of the 'Enlightenment' fell upon the study of Scripture. The Bible is, indeed, highly dangerous if we do not use it in the Tradition. Reducing Scriptural semiotics to the naked Historicism of the 'Enlightenment' is to hand the Bible over to the Devil.

I offered the following comment:

I"m unaware of Jesus ever tracing out "the richly complex patterns of intertextuality" when explaining Scripture or teaching. Some might say, how about when he "opened" the Scriptures to the disciples on the road to Emmaus? but unfortunately neither this nor any other example of Dominical "tracing out" was actually preserved by the disciples. What was preserved was examples of remarkably modern, if you will, exegesis. For example, when Jesus offered his teaching on divorce he stated that Moses--Moses, be it noted, not God in the revealed Word of God as we V2ers are wont to incessantly repeat--allowed divorce out of the hardness of their hearts. If we take that approach seriously, and of course we should, I suspect that Jesus didn't have much time for typology, any more than he had for the "traditions of men."
Typological exegesis is fundamentally subjective in nature, and basing it on the tradition of men doesn't alter that fact. I suggest that what the Church really needs is to free itself from the false either-or dichotomy of Typology v. Enlightenment style rationalism. To paraphrase Paul, if our faith is based on "richly complex patterns of intertextuality" then ...

Thursday, March 1, 2018

REUPDATED: Mueller's Emerging Strategy?

​It appears we're starting to see a pattern emerging from recent reports of Mueller's activity--a pattern that may amount to a strategy. Recall that on February 16, 2018, Mueller indicted 13 Russians for attempting to create confusion during the 2016 Presidential election. Of course, there are other credible theories, such as that the laughable activities of these Russians amounted to no more than attempts to make a bit of money off gullible intenet users. Certainly, as Andy McCarthy pointed out,
"Mueller’s team made it clear that the Russians neither colluded with any U.S. citizens nor had any material effect on the election’s outcome." 
Further, the 13 Russians are all in in Russia​ and will therefore never stand trial--which means Mueller will never have to prove the dodgy charges in the indictment.

Now, according to NBC News via Gateway Pundit, Mueller is said to be preparing indictments against more absentee Russians--more risk free indictments that he'll never be called upon to back up. This time the claim will be that these Russians were responsible for the famous DNC hack. That would be the famous DNC hack in which the DNC refused to allow the FBI to examine their server: DNC Refused FBI Access to Its Servers … Instead Gave Access to a DNC Consultant Tied to Organization Promoting Russia Conflict. Once again there are alternative explanations, such as that the "hack" was done by an insider--perhaps a Sanders sympathizer--simply by downloading the data onto a thumb drive.

Of course none of that has been proven, tantalizing as some theories may be. But has Mueller and his Gang had access to the DNC server, the better to bolster their indictment and rebut alternative explanations? As of December 17, 2017, Andy McCarthy believes the answer to that is: No. And as McCarthy asks: "... if not, what’s the point of his investigation?" Good question. Maybe the point is more political than anything else.