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Sacramentum Caritatis

Bill Mazzella, over on the "Swallowing the Gnat" post, suggested that we start another thread onSacramentum Caritatis.

Bill noted:"Despite some good points,[Sacramentum Caritatis]appears like a backward attempt to nullify some valid points of renewal. For example, there is a whole paragraph on the Eucharist as food and then it summarily dismisses the term "banquet" saying Christ nullified that since he said, "Do this in memory of me." I suppose this made sense when Catholics were not allowed to think."

Let the comments begin.


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As an initial matter, how about quoting the entire paragraph that supposedly says these things? I'm not seeing it.

Stuart, In #2 he speaks of food. Here is #11: 11. Jesus thus brings his own radical novum to the ancient Hebrew sacrificial meal. For us Christians, that meal no longer need be repeated. As the Church Fathers rightly say, figura transit in veritatem: the foreshadowing has given way to the truth itself. The ancient rite has been brought to fulfilment and definitively surpassed by the loving gift of the incarnate Son of God. The food of truth, Christ sacrificed for our sake, dat figuris terminum. (20) By his command to "do this in remembrance of me" (Lk 22:19; 1 Cor 11:25), he asks us to respond to his gift and to make it sacramentally present. In these words the Lord expresses, as it were, his expectation that the Church, born of his sacrifice, will receive this gift, developing under the guidance of the Holy Spirit the liturgical form of the sacrament. The remembrance of his perfect gift consists not in the mere repetition of the Last Supper, but in the Eucharist itself, that is, in the radical newness of Christian worship. In this way, Jesus left us the task of entering into his "hour." "The Eucharist draws us into Jesus' act of self-oblation. More than just statically receiving the incarnate Logos, we enter into the very dynamic of his self-giving." (21) Jesus "draws us into himself." (22) The substantial conversion of bread and wine into his body and blood introduces within creation the principle of a radical change, a sort of "nuclear fission," to use an image familiar to us today, which penetrates to the heart of all being, a change meant to set off a process which transforms reality, a process leading ultimately to the transfiguration of the entire world, to the point where God will be all in all (cf. 1 So the sacrifice may be repeated but not the meal. Then what is Paul talking about?It is a lot of work reading the document itself. I got this from reading one commentary which I now cannot find so I had to go to the document itself. I picked up of #2. The commentary was on #11.It is a long document and even Amy Wellborn seemed weary of it. Maybe someone can capsule the salient points.

Well, that's an interesting paragraph, but I can't see how it has anything to do with the point you made: "Despite some good points, [Sacramentum Caritatis] appears like a backward attempt to nullify some valid points of renewal. For example, there is a whole paragraph on the Eucharist as food and then it summarily dismisses the term "banquet" saying Christ nullified that since he said, "Do this in memory of me.""The paragraph you quoted: 1. Has nothing to do with "renewal."2. Does not even mention the term "banquet," let alone "dismiss" it (and I can't see any other paragraph that supposedly does this either).3. Does not mention the phrase "in memory of me," let alone in supposed opposition to the term "banquet."The bottom line is that I can't figure out how even a single word in your original point was accurate.

Stuart,Banquet an meal is synonomous. At least the way the terms are used vis the Eucharist. The words from #11 say "the meal need no longer be repeated. "Also #11 read " in remembrance of me"Really Stuart? Read and think about it carefully.

It doesn't reject the term "banquet," which is what you claimed. Nor does it reject the term "meal." Instead, when it says that the meal "need no longer be repeated," it's referring to the "ancient Hebrew sacrificial meal." And why does it not need to be repeated? Because that "ancient Hebrew" meal was just the "foreshadowing," but now we have the fullness of the "truth itself," i.e., the Eucharist. So again: What about this paragraph is rejecting the term "banquet" (or "meal" or whatever you are now claiming)? What about this paragraph is opposed to "renewal" (whatever you think that word means)? What about the phrase "in remembrance of me" forbids us to repeat a "banquet," rather than specifically *asking* us to repeat it? Until you can come up with an explanation that has any connection to what's actually going on in Benedict's passage, you really shouldn't accuse Benedict of writing for unthinking people.

Sorry, that was an unkind crack.

Stuart, in case my response a couple of weeks ago didn't reach you, let me repeat that it was good to know that you have fond memories of UGA and some of the philosophers there. Thanks for saying so.And, though I have not read the document in question in this present string, Your reading of # 11 rings true.Bernard

Yes, thanks, I did see your response.

After seeing the words below in the second sentence of #12, (There the word banquet is used.) I readily admit that I misinterpreted the use of the word "meal" in the document."The Church, his Bride, is called to celebrate the eucharistic banquet daily in his memory." Sorry about that.In #90 there is a stirring exhortation to care for the world's starving and poor and the imbalance with the amount of money spent on the Iraqi war compared to that spent for humanitarian needs. This has to be more frequently the message.In #24 Benedict compares priestly celibacy as conforming most to Christ's way of life. "The fact that Christ himself, the eternal priest, lived his mission even to the sacrifice of the Cross in the state of virginity constitutes the sure point of reference for understanding the meaning of the tradition of the Latin Church. It is not sufficient to understand priestly celibacy in purely functional terms. Celibacy is really a special way of conforming oneself to Christ's own way of life."Wonder how the first pope feels about that? And the other Apostles?There is also the exhortation about going to auricular confession. The sight of all those Catholics joining in communion without confessing to a priest really seems to frighten them. Wonder how the Church got along without priestly confession for the first millenium. Surely Augustine knew nothing about it let alone Cyprian.Maybe BXVI wants to get to the point where people only receive twice a year and have the Eucharistic banquet's presider be so far away that bells will be needed to tell us what part of the service we are in.

The "nuclear fission" image may be familiar as to the words but I am far from knowing what it means unless it is that the nucleus of an atom is split. Unfortunately. associated as it is with atomic weapons, the image will to me, and I think to many, connote destructive force. Benedicts use of language has a curious infelicity at times.As for celibacy, of course it is a charism to be embraced by those to whom it is given. Does Benedict imagine it is given to all presbyters? If so, why does he not demand it of all presbyters? Or does he think it is only given to all presbyters in the Latin Rite. Is such a view, if that is his view, not rather an unfortunate amalgam of condescension and provincialism?

I dont think the nuclear fission imagery suggests atomic weapons so much as a hugely explosive, almost orgasmic, chain reaction that transforms everything it touches. The metaphysical poets liked to use imagery from science to speak about intimate feelings, and their witty juxtaposition of tender sentiment and cold logic could be quite compelling. But this sort of imagery seems too distractingly vivid to work well in the context of a Papal document.

Bill,I will try and be charitable about this, but why do you even bother with reading what the Holy Father has to say?First, you say the document says things that it doesn't. I, like Stuart probably, spent several minutes trying to figure out what you meant in your critique of paragraph #11 since it didn't even seem to say anything remotely like you represented, then you say paragraph #90 contains a "stirring exhortation to care for the world's starving and poor and the imbalance with the amount of money spent on the Iraqi war compared to that spent for humanitarian needs." The words Iraq or Iraqi War not only don't appear in the paragraph, I can't find them in the entire document. In fact, the paragraph doesn't even use the word war or campare money spent for any purpose.Then we see your critique of priestly celibacy and auricular confession - coupled with the posts on the Sobrino post refuting the Trinity and the Divinity of Christ - and one begins to wonder why you care what the Pope has to say about anything.As I said, it is not my intention to be uncharitable, but I really am scratching my head. Why do you care?

I understand, Sean, that you are trying to be charitable and not playing any kind of "gotcha" game. ' Indeed, "on the basis of available statistical data, it can be said that less than half of the huge sums spent worldwide on armaments would be more than sufficient to liberate the immense masses of the poor from destitution. This challenges humanity's conscience."The following sentence talks about the poor. Tell me if I am seeing things. And "huge sums spent wordlwide on armaments?" Surely the obscene sum spent on the Iraq war qualifies, does it not?The pope is a symbol of unity and he can do his job a lot better. Why you are not clamoring for him to do it and demanding responsibility may be the biggest reason to scratch one's head. As for celibacy, which necessitates an evaluation of priestly behavior, I will close this and write about it on another post because of its importance.

Before the sexual abuse of children by priests became widely acknowledged, it was pretty well known that priests were not that celibate and, worse, that they were abusing women, in inhuman ways. The blockbuster report in the National Catholic Reporter in 2001 where Sister Maura O'Donohue and Sister Marie McDonald wrote about the abuse of nuns by priests in 23 countries. Who was punished by Rome? The nuns. Not the priests. And the Vatican has been reviewing such cases since 1994. That is when public complaints and meetings were made about shameless abuse by clergy.That report does not include the women, other than nuns, that priests are involved with and abusing. Estimates are that more than half of priests are not celibate. 30% are involved with women, 15% are involved with men and 6% are involved with minors. The National Lay Review Board made similar observations though it did not differentiate by gender. The NLRB described the women and men involved as often vulnerable and the priest's behavior as "gravely immoral."Sure I want to talk about celibacy with the pope when he remains the arch enabler by allowing continuous coverups. Call him "holy" father if you will. But only God is good.This is the neglected story with reference to the many women who are abused by priests. And a horrible part of it is that the women are blamed. Please.So celibacy as practiced is a lie for over half the priests in the church. That half has terribly abused women. And the Vatican has been flagrantly irresponsible about it. Just tell me the facts and the backup you need. I have more than I need.

I just wanted to say that I think Bill cares immensly but has trouble with a number of things the Poe says; he makes a number of substantive points that should be dealt with directly and not by ad hominem

On rereading my post above on March 21, I see that clarification should be made. Although the point remains that half the priests are sexually active and therefore makes mandatory celibacy quite dubious, it is not accurate to say that half of the priests have "terribly abuse women." Only 30% are involved with women. Secondly, of that 30% approximately three quarters are involved in relationships that many do not consider abusive as the women are treated well. This still does not speak well for mandatory celibacy, or celibacy as intrinsic to the priesthood,