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The End of the Para-Creed?

For much of recent history, (say, 30 or 40 years,) if you asked random people on the street what the Catholic Church teaches, you'd likely get a pretty short list: no contraception, no women in authority, no abortion, no remarriage after divorce (without annulment,) no marriage for priests, no gay sex, and (more recently,) certainly no same-sex civil marriage. These teachings had become a tidy para-creed often used to label those of us who quibbled with any of these items "heretics."

Pope Francis has made no changes to any of these para-credal doctrines, as the preachers of that creed are quick to point out. What he seems to have done, however, is to remove their status as inerrant indicators of the "true Catholic." As he said,:

We cannot insist only on issues related to abortion, gay marriage and the use of contraceptive methods. This is not possible. I have not spoken much about these things, and I was reprimanded for that. But when we speak about these issues, we have to talk about them in a context. The teaching of the church, for that matter, is clear and I am a son of the church, but it is not necessary to talk about these issues all the time.

The dogmatic and moral teachings of the church are not all equivalent. The church’s pastoral ministry cannot be obsessed with the transmission of a disjointed multitude of doctrines to be imposed insistently....We have to find a new balance...

That new balance doesn't begin with doctrine, but with human beings:

We must always consider the person. Here we enter into the mystery of the human being. In life, God accompanies persons, and we must accompany them, starting from their situation. It is necessary to accompany them with mercy.

Two comments. First, I think this step is a necessary precondition for any change of doctrine, should such occur. The use of the small handful of moral teachings as a para-creed meant that any challenge to them--actually, any discussion about them--is ruled out--or at the very least immediately turned into a shouting match about orthodoxy--from the start. Now, perhaps, a new conversation can begin.

Second, this would seem to pose an opening to a real engagement with human experience as a primary source for ethics. Moralists have been doing this for decades, of course, but wherever experience (individual or "condensed" by social scientific methods,) conflicted with extant doctrine, it was ruled inauthentic or even evil. Consider this sentence from the USCCB's statement against Todd Salzman and Michael Lawler's The Sexual Person:

The fact that the alternative moral theology of The Sexual Person leads to many positions in clear conflict with authoritative Church teaching is itself considerable evidence that the basic methodology of this moral theology is unsound and incompatible with the Catholic tradition.

If it isn't what was already taught, it's likely wrong from the start. A similar dynamic sunk the USCCB's attempt to formulate a pastoral statement on women decades ago. The expressed thoughts, dreams and hopes of Catholic women had to be carefully edited lest anybody seem to raise a challenge to what the magisterium already "knew."

To be sure, nothing in Pope Francis' statements indicates an imminent change in doctrine. But starting by accompanying people "in their situation" has to shift the conversation, at least. For those of us who have difficulties with the para-creed, one big issue is that it seems to exclude, condemn or otherwise harm whole categories of human beings--women called to leadership in the Church (whose desire to lead as they are called is said to reflect a defect in their femininity,) LGB Catholics (whose sexuality, should they act on it, is said to pose a threat to society,) people in truly difficult marital or reproductive situations (whose difficulties are too often simply dismissed as less important than upholding the teaching,) etc. etc.

This opening to serious engagement with experience is a necessary consequence also of Francis' inversion of St. Ignatius' idea of thinking with the Church. Ignatius meant with the leadership of the hierarchical Church. Francis interprets this as thinking with the People of God. Well, gotta listen to them first.

None of this means that Francis' ponitificate will necessarily mark changes in the articles of the para-creed. I'm still waiting to see what he'll actualy do, nice though this start is--though his comments on the role of women in the Church are puzzling and unhelpful so far. (What the heck is "female machismo," anyway, and who gets to decide?) But here's another quotation from his interview:

Instead of being just a church that welcomes and receives by keeping the doors open, let us try also to be a church that finds new roads, that is able to step outside itself and go to those who do not attend Mass, to those who have quit or are indifferent. The ones who quit sometimes do it for reasons that, if properly understood and assessed, can lead to a return. But that takes audacity and courage.

Audacity and courage--great virtues! And not just for potential returnees. The whole Church will need them, if Francis' words are to come to fruition,and we all begin to think with the Church, the People of God. All the People of God. We'll see...

 

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Nicely put. And may I add the end of quoting Augustine.

from homily of Pope Francis, August 28 2013:

"“You have made us for yourself, and our heart is restless until it rests in you” (Confessions, 1, 1, 1). With these famous words St Augustine addresses God in his Confessions, and these words sum up his whole life.

The US bishops have spent so long conforming to the para-creed, with their war on marriage equality, contraception, and abortion ... it will be interesting to see them doing the backstroke.

Cardinal Bergolio was reportedly a runner-up in the conclave that elected Benddict XVI.  I might not have converted to the Episcopal Curch several years ago had Cardinal Bergolio been elected at that time.

Right Bob. It is the nuance that you don't get.

I like that phrase:  Para-creedal.  For me, it aptly describes most of the things that I have rejected or abandoned from the Catholic experience because I could not longer maintain the necessary cognitive dissonance to maintain intellectual and personal integrity.  

I have often found it uncomfortable when engaged with folks from different traditions, or with different values and world views, to acknowledge my own moral and religious ties to a ideology and morality, discounted in the public and professional spheres in which I live and work, a morality that always seemed confined to and rooted in pelvic regions.  Humans don't live by that bread alone.

I believe, as I think Lisa Fullam is saying, that if the Catholic Church is to even survive this century "the Church, the People of God - All the People of God" need to take center-stage in our thinking and practice.  

For me, it is captured in my proscribed mantra for us survivor Catholics that I have posted many times on these blogs:  Let the People Decide!  

I have long since despaired of the hierarchy and priestly caste of the church has even the capacity to lead us out the mess that we find ourselves.  They are too reverential to all that para-creedal dream of life.  

I believe the only element that can lead the church now is the People.  I may be guilty of reading into what the pope is saying [Maybe I'm just taken-up in my own hope?], but I sense that he believes the same thing.  

Francesco's difficulty may be that he knows he is himself a creature of the very system that brought him to the papacy, the same system that must now be divested of its feudal governance of the church.  If the reform and renewal flows from the People, maybe we have a chance?  I guess hope is the operative word.

Now my skepticism:  How could Bergoglio rise to rank of cardinal-archbishop of Buenos Aires, and then the papacy, without the support of the most reactionary ideologues in the hierarchy?  How could Francesco now embrace ideas and reforms that are considered subversive by the governing oligarchs in the church?  How could Francesco turn his back on the hierarchs so easily?

My head tells me that Papa Francesco can't do this just with the sheer force of his will and intellect, or all his pastoral skill.  The memories of JP2's cult of personality and B16's attempts at consolidation and restoration both seem to be spent forces.  

But, Francesco just may be able to create enough space to realize what Papa Giovanni long ago prayed for when he called for Vatican2:  "To return to the Church the face of Christ."  

I know what we Catholics must do:  Teach. Pass on the Gospel, the Beatitudes and the corporal works of mercy to new generations.  Await the day when new ideas and new voices can be heard again in the church of our birth.

Pope Francis in his stunning interview is not just ‘shooting his mouth.’ It is a very carefully reflected and calculated intervention, and can even be seen as his real first Encyclical. I read it with the same sentiments as those of my mother on hearing Pope John Paul II preach in Limerick in 1979: ‘Wasn’t it great to hear a man tell you what you’d always believed!’

 

What most strikes me is the lucidity with which the Pope expounds a mature, broad, and integrated vision of the nature of the Church and its teaching, and with which he names and refutes the distortions created by conservatives who see the Church in sectarian terms and its teachings as a collection of shibboleths. He takes aim in particular at the Congregation for the Doctine of the Faith, suggesting that its role is to be a mediator not a manager and that worries about the orthodoxy of a given teacher are best handled by the local bishops.

 

The hierarchy of truths has been restored by Francis. Strikingly, at the top of the hierarchy he does not place any dogma, be it that of the Holy Trinity, but rather the first, original teaching of Jesus. The earliest layer of the Q document, reconstructed by scholars, that it the nearest we can come to the actual words of the historical Jesus and that underlies much of the Sermon on the Mount for example, provides the themes that Francis has most insistently stressed.

 

On moral issues, he makes a very simple but far-reaching point: they have to be seen in context. The broader context is that society as a whole has radically changed and that the Church must factor this into its moral reflections. He even mentions changes in the family, which will give aid and comfort to those who think the right to marry should be accorded to same-sex couples.

 

The language of the new pope is the language of people of today. He has no qualms about using the word ‘gay’ or naming ‘restorationism’ as a bad thing. His musical and literary tastes, also, have a freshness about them that one missed in Benedict XVI’s confessed fondness for Plato, Mozart, Storm, Hesse, Goethe, Mann, Kafka, Annette Kolb. The difference lies I think in the sense that Francis shares his tastes with others, speaking in the demotic tones of a fan when he refers to Puccini’s Turandot or Knappertsbusch’s sublime 1962 Bayreuth Parsifal (a well-known Philips recording) or I promessi sposi.

 

Are there shadows in the picture? Many people will find his way of talking about the role of women quite inadequate, and will remember that his religious order the Jesuits is unique among religious orders in never having had any female branch at all. Another shadow is the doubt whether Francis can implement structural changes that would enable his vision of church to become real. Barack Obama also made inspiring speeches, but his performance in office has disappointed many of his supporters. 

Why does Jim Jenkins say "us survivor Catholics" -- is that respectful to those who are actual survivors of abuse?

I tried to find Michael Voris's comment on the Pope's interview, but I found only his gloating over the alleged defeat of contraceptive legislation in the Philippines, which is utterly nauseating: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EuHrUSmczwM&list=PL91feG5gFxM8goAO9Q-I5XRhE78k_U7pG

Quoting Augustine is hardly ever a bad thing. 

So, Lisa:

I assume you,ve been out asking people (in the last 10 years) what the Catholic Church teaches.  Is any of this documented, or is this simply a ploy with which to deride the Church for what you may beleive to be it's myopic vision.  The people I've talked to would add to your list the vicious racism, anti-immigration, and xenophobic tendencies of "white America".  In the Los Angeles area, whoever is bishop regularly bashes us (white people) for being, in addition to the above, hateful to "the stranger" in our midst; we are, you see, supposed to welcome "the stranger" as a brother in Christ.  We are also lectured on implementing "social justice", which is never defined.  Like a slogan wielded by Big Brother, "social justice" is a large container within which is included just about every lunatic leftist fever dream ever concocted.

I assume that that's why The Credo exists.  That's what the people I communicate with think the Church teaces.  They are the sane ones.

Bob Schwartz, as it happens, social justice, "never defined," gets a pretty good definition in today's first reading. The Catholic bishops ("lunatic leftists"?) have used it in a recognizable (to anyone who pays attention) context since the beginning of the last century.

Now, it is perfectly possible to read into today's Gospel a justification for the recent behavior of large banks, and some people do so. (The large bank I am leaving owes me a four-figure amount for which it says it will cut a check in two weeks. I assume that's to suck up my interest. I can't imagine that it can get its check-writing machine to work only once in 14 days.) But that would not be reading the Gospel against the background of mercy, a word which Pope Francis stresses (and which, by the way, is not mentioned in the creeds even though it comes up a lot in the Gospels.)

BM: "It is the nuance that you don't get."

RI: LOL

While I welcome Pope Francis' insistence that what should come first is the proclamation of salvation in Christ, what we believe in and not what we condemn, I don't like the word "para-creed." It seems to be used here in a pejorative, dismissive, even condescending fashion. It could suggest that there is no link between our fundamental faith-commitments and our ethical commitments, which I think would be dangerous. And I'd be concerned thar other ethical implications drawn from the central Gospel (e.g., about immigration-reform) could be dismissed as simply "para-credal."

Appeal to the experience of the People of God is, of course, quite necessary, but it is also a very tricky thing to do.  To whose experience are we to appeal?  Can "experience" here even be used in the singular: Is there a single experience of the People of God? If not, whose experience will count?  And how does one discern what that experience is?  Opinion-polls?  I remember what such surveys discovered about attitudes of Catholics in our sourthern states with regard to race-relations, as also the white-flight to the suburbs of many, many Catholics in northern ctiies.

I'm wary about putting all our eggs into any one of the bearers of the Gospel from generation to generation: the Bible, the liturgy, the tradition, the magisterium, the sensus fidelium. When they all come together and point in one direction, we can have some confidence that we're discerning what the Spirit is saying to the churches. 

And note that in the "Interview" we read:

And, of course, we must be very careful not to think that this infallibilitas of all the faithful I am talking about in the light of Vatican II is a form of populism. No; it is the experience of "holy mother the hierarchical church," as St. Ignatius, called it, the church as the people of God, pastors and people together. The church is the totality of God's people.

The interviewer notes that Pope Francis added and emphasized this "to avoid misunderstandings [fraintendimenti]."

Breaking apart faith teaching and ethical teaching would be a painful and ultimately vain exercise. In throwing the mantle of divine authority over them both, the Church has insisted that they stand or fall together. And so they do. Believe one, believe all. Doubt one and begin to question all. It is ironic that the assertion of infallibility, which was supposed to be a comfort and reassurance for the faithful, may in a more skeptical age prove a stumbling block.

Whatever the mix of beliefs may be, perceptions matter, especially if one hopes to win converts and retain those already in the fold. But for far too many people today, including many Catholics, the Church is a bunch of old scolds tricked out in the finery of dead noblemen and yelling, "No, no, you're doing it all wrong." It's rules, condemnations, and punishment, about as appealing as reform school. The joy of the Gospels? Never heard of it.

That is why the words and gestures of Pope Francis are so welcome. He gets it. He may not in the end justify the most fervent hopes. Indeed, it may be well if he does not. But he understands that no one will be eager for a spirituality that is drearier and more burdensome than everyday life.

Crystal Watson's comment about US bishops doing the backstroke made me think of this event this week.

http://www.cvent.com/events/the-manhattan-declaration-returns-home/event...

It will be interesting to how Cardinal Dolan handles this appearance before a group focused on the very issues Francis calls us to keep in proper context.  The Manhattan Declaration does mention the poor -- but seems to deliberately push them to the side and focus on abortion, same-sex marriage and the amphorous "religious liberty".

During a week when the Congress is trying to cut billions from SNAP (Food Stamps) and the Republicans are holding all government spending hostage (including aid to the poor) -- context is certainly called for.  The whole approach to the Affordable Care Act cries out for a better contextual look from our bishops!!

There is much talk of mercy toward "sinners" in the church right now. Maybe that is a start. But how much better it would be to admit the way rules that falsely classify much innocent behavior as sinful, have harmed ordinary, normal human beings.  Isn't it time to move past "merciful" concessions to the weaknesses of human  nature and the complexities of modern life, toward tustice and the prompt reform of canon law?  

Sorry. That last line should read "toward justice." Type in haste; regret at leisure. 

Wow - the manhattan Declaration.  Eugene McCarraher commented on that document in 2010 ...  http://theotherjournal.com/2010/01/27/meet-the-new-boss-same-as-the-old-... .... and as he says there, "the religious right really doesn’t give a damn about poverty, racism, ecology, health care, et cetera ..... they consider them secondary to sexual and bioethical matters."  He goes on to give a tdetailed examination of the declaration's moral bankruptcy.   Cardinal Dolan  :(

Father K: Lise's use of the word "para-creed" stopped me, too, for a minute. But then I remembered what my ethics teacher's obiter dicta of 50-plus years ago. He said if you want to hear heresy pay attention to the sermons on Sunday. That may have been a Jesuitical way of getting us to listen to homilists, but it worked. And it's true. If you try to preach on one important point, you will inevitably diminish or exclude another equally important point.

That insight ties into John Prior's note  that faith and ethics, as he says, "stand or fall together." That is true in theory, but not in conversation. For example, as a matter of faith, we believe in the Ascension (it's in the creed), but we have a whole lot less to say about that than what we can say about the Resurrection. Some day the Church's thinking may even things up, but the Church's talking today is much more about the one than the other.

The same is true of ethics. The command to welcome the alien and strangers is on about the same level as the command to protect the unborn. Somehow the Church Talkative speaks as if it knows exactly what to do about the latter but is much more vague about what to do about the former. I am a seamless garment guy myself. I would feel more comfortable supporting 40 Days for Life in a diocese, like Bob Schwartz's seems to be, where immigration reform gets at something like equal billing with abortion. All-abortion, or all-gay-marriage all the time is a becomes a para-creed.

Pope Francis, I am beginning to understand (I think), is recontextualizing both faith and ethics to move them within Jesus's example of compassion and mercy. He's not pushing a program so much as a relationship. I hope.

 

And just prior to this passage:

"We should not even think, therefore, that 'thinking with the church" means only thinking with the hierarchy of the church."

@ Joseph S. O'Leary:  Keep your shirt on.  

I guess the term "survivor Catholics" was my failed attempt at a humorous designation for all those of us Catholics [who survived Catholic schools and Catholic ideological indoctrination in general].

I trust that most [survivors of abuse] will get the joke and will not be offended.

@ Jim Jenkins

I find the term "survivor Catholics" in regard to Catholic schools pretty offensive also.  I am a VERY PROUD product of an education taught by nuns and find swipes like this unhelpful to say the least.  

The infallibility of the faithful (including hierarchy) is what I  see as the church of dogma. Certainly, there has to be tenets. But in all the credal elements Matthew 25 and Luke  4:18 are ignored; and they are the sine qua non of the gospel. 

As far as Augustine is concerned  he can arguably be called a False Prophet for asserting that it is ok to use force against other Christians to get them to join the Catholic church. Violence is the most anti-gospel one can get. So Augustine violates a central tenet of the gospel. I do like the quote that RI related from Francis from Augustine. Used it many times. But Augustine, who reputable scholars call the Father of the Inquisition, has to recede to the background more. Unless one is into violence. 

So the pope is urging us to put the issues of abortion, contraception, etc. in perspective.

Wasn't one of the criticisms of the LCWR  that they were not putting those issues front and center?

Methinks that the oversight of the LCWR by Sartain et al will, like old soldiers, just fade away.

@ Jim Jenkins ... I'm a sex abuse survivor and I wasn't offended at all by what you wrote.

Nicholas Clifford,

yes indeed he said what you quoted, but then added the further exposition, lest the prior assertion be misunderstood.

I'm not on Bob Schwartz's end of the political spectrum, but I think he makes a good point about the term "social justice," a general principle/idea that has been co-oted and fragmented by those who want their pet social evil--everything from abortion to xenophobia--to be especially taboo. 

A priest might do his parish a favor by discussing some ways the CCC applies the term "social justice," perhaps in a homily. It strikes me that the notion of Catholic "social justice" offers opportunities for all of us to feel hinky about what we have done or what we have failed to do, regardless of our political affiliation.

Pope Francis has been trying to restore a more holistic notion of social justice by warning the faithful to be wary of limiting it to what Lisa Fullham calls the "para-creed." It would be just as wrong for others to limit notions of social just to whatever Bob might identify as "lunatic leftist fever dreams," (though I'm not sure what those dreams might be other than white-people bashing ...)  

To be sure Augustine chose the wrong policy toward the Donatists, but this occupies very few pages of his massive oeuvre; the same is true of his gloomier predestinationist passages and his morose utterances about original sin as sexually transmitted. The Church turned its back on the first of these at Vatican II and he has never been quoted approvingly on that point since then; the gloomier aspects of his soteriology were corrected by the Church over the centuries; the anti-sexual stuff was also toned down, and is quite gone today -- it has not been quoted by church teachers for a long, long time.

 

There remain millions of words of lucid insight, deep spirituality, brilliant and modest theological striving, and a radiant message of love, grace and spiritual freedom. 

 

Why not say, no more quoting St Paul because he got it wrong about women, gays, slaves, and Cretans, no more quoting St John because of the dangerous rhetoric against the Jews in parts of his Gospel, no more quoting Luther because of his antisemitic rant, no more quoting More, Calvin, Melanchthon because they approved of executing heretics, no more quoting Newman because he called Muhammad an imposter, no more quoting anybody, since they all had their blind spots?

Apples and oranges.

Joseph - what if rather than not quote them at all we once and for all time refuse to allow cherry picking?  We make it church dogma that as utterly remarkable as so many were they were never prefect and, however well intended, the church hierarchy's attempt, intended or not, to even suggest they were was a serious mistake.  There is, after all, only one God and, consequently, only one Perfection, right?

JAK --

 

It seems to me that the term "para-creed" simply helps distinguish the statements which are part of a creed from those which don't.  As parts of a creed statements have authority that other dogmatic statements (para-creedal ones) don't.  True, sometimes some people treat the para-creedal dogmas as less than true without being false  -- as if a statement can be more or less true.  (Yes, statements which are parts of complex statements can be true and other parts false or their truth value might be unknown, but that happens only when complex statements are made of many statements.)  

 

Still there is something besides the truth of the statements involved here:  the authority of the creedal and para-creedal ones.  This gets us to the question of what "authority" adds to a statement besides a truth value and how there can be *degrees* of authority.  My problem is this:  if there can't be degrees of truth, it would seem that there can't be degrees of authority.  And you bring up an associated question:  whose experience should we rely on when trying to determine how authoritative a statement is?  And you add the question:  *how* can we determine whom should be taken as an authority?

 

This, I think, gets us back down to the question not only of just what "authority" means but to the theological epistemology which asserts there are "degrees of authority".  This, it seems to me, brings up another thorny issue:  the *certainty* that accompanies our contemplation of a more or less authoritative statement.

 

I just don't see that the term "para-dogma" adds to any of these problems.  Rather, it makes a neat distinction which helps clarify three issues surrounding the statemens:  truth, authority, and certainty.

 

"I'm wary about putting all our eggs into any one of the bearers of the Gospel from generation to generation: the Bible, the liturgy, the tradition, the magisterium, thesensus fidelium."

JAK --

But if each is infallible in its own way, why not put your eggs into any one of those baskets?  (Or maybe they're not infallible in isolation from each other?  And what could that mean?) 

 

"And just prior to this passage:

"We should not even think, therefore, that 'thinking with the church" means only thinking with the hierarchy of the church.""

There's what strikes fear into the traditionalists. To be a traditionalist is to think that it is *only* the hierarchy which possesses the truth about the Lord.  Francis explicitly denies this.

I think we would be best off just iistening to what Jesus tells us to do in the Gospels. What His priorities are should be our priorities as well.

Augustine is to Catholic theology something like what Mozart is to European music -- yet the Church has often had to distance itself from Augustine -- was it the 2nd Council of Orange that toned down his predestationism? and didn't the condemnation of Jansenism entail rejection of a lot of Augustine in practice? Augustine has not had the same status as the scriptural authors, where the doctrines of scriptural inspiration and inerrrancy have created a big barrier to critical assessment. We get into very deep waters here. Scripture attests the ultimacy of the divine but is not itself ultimate -- this has to apply to the sayings of Jesus as well -- the status and function of Scripture remain an issue that the Church has not come fully to terms with.

Augustine is to Catholic theology something like what Mozart is to European music -- yet the Church has often had to distance itself from Augustine -- was it the 2nd Council of Orange that toned down his predestationism? and didn't the condemnation of Jansenism entail rejection of a lot of Augustine in practice? Augustine has not had the same status as the scriptural authors, where the doctrines of scriptural inspiration and inerrrancy have created a big barrier to critical assessment. We get into very deep waters here. Scripture attests the ultimacy of the divine but is not itself ultimate -- this has to apply to the sayings of Jesus as well -- the status and function of Scripture remain an issue that the Church has not come fully to terms with.

Not to take away from the teaching and presentation styles of previous popes, but, it seems to me that Pope Francis is unique in that his style is so overtly joyful. I am reminded of St. Augustine’s advice in “Catechizing the Uninstructed” - our teaching will be more effective if it is presented with joy.

"I'm wary about putting all our eggs into any one of the bearers of the Gospel from generation to generation: the Bible, the liturgy, the tradition, the magisterium, the sensus fidelium."

Yesterday, the priest who presided at the Mass that I attended spoke about putting all our eggs in one basket - the Easter basket.

My goodness what a welcome chuckle.  In my day the Easter Bunny left our baskets on the floor just inside the front door.  I always wondered how the feat was accomplished.  You know, how was the front door opened and closed leaving the baskets lying on the floor snugly against the inside of the door?  Didn't really matter, of course.  There was an Easter Bunny and, as was said in "Christmas Story", all was right with the world.

Yes, of course. But much depends on that word "hierarchy" and how it is understood and practiced. After all, any national government is hierarchical, as indeed are many institutions, private and public, like Harvard University, and no doubt Boston College, to say nothing of businesses, NGOs, and so forth. Not one of these is populist or democratic (in the absolute sense), nor probably should it be, if it is to function well. But there is no need to conflate the term "hierarchy" with monarchical absolutism, or with a lack of accountability, downwards as well as upwards.

@ A Andreassi:  I'm sure you're a very proud product of Catholic education - as am I.

It was a revelation to me growing-up to hear my sainted-sixth grade teacher, Sister Mary Adelaide, intertwine her faith and committment with her rapier wit.  When I read your post, I could hear her voice so clearly:  "I have come to bring you the Truth, but first it will make you miserable!"

The thing that most bothers me about the para-Creed is how it is more determinative of whether someone is a Christian. An Arian will be classified as a heretic but still a Christian, but someone who believes that governments shouldn't discriminate against gay and lesbian couples will be labeled as non-Christian by many.

Pope did not mention female machismo but said women were blocked by male machismo -- a missing sentence in AMERICA's editing of the interview is to blame for this misunderstanding.

Ryan ... a bit of history:

A century ago, the church was deeply divided over Pope Pius X's campaign against "Modernism," which was a catchall for anything Rome deemed suspicious.

"When Pius X died, the conclave of 1914 elected Benedict XV, who immediately issued an encyclical (Ad Beatissimi Apostolorum - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ad_Beatissimi_Apostolorum) calling on Catholics ‘to appease dissension and strife" so that "no one should consider himself entitled to affix on those who merely do not agree with his ideas the stigma of disloyalty to faith.’

‘There is no need of adding any qualifying terms to the profession of Catholicism,’ he concluded. ‘It is quite enough for each one to proclaim 'Christian is my name and Catholic my surname.’ (ABA Sec. 24)“ **

David Gibson, “Who Is a Real Catholic?” The Washington Post, Sunday, May 17, 2009

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2009/05/15/AR2009051501390.html?sid=ST2009051503626

**  Sec 24:  “It is, moreover, Our will that Catholics should abstain from certain appellations which have recently been brought into use to distinguish one group of Catholics from another. They are to be avoided not only as "profane novelties of words," out of harmony with both truth and justice, but also because they give rise to great trouble and confusion among Catholics. Such is the nature of Catholicism that it does not admit of more or less, but must be held as a whole or as a whole rejected: "This is the Catholic faith, which unless a man believe faithfully and firmly; he cannot be saved" (Athanasian Creed). There is no need of adding any qualifying terms to the profession of Catholicism: it is quite enough for each one to proclaim "Christian is my name and Catholic my surname," only let him endeavour to be in reality what he calls himself.”

 

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About the Author

Lisa Fullam is associate professor of moral theology at the Jesuit School of Theology at Berkeley. She is the author of The Virtue of Humility: A Thomistic Apologetic (Edwin Mellen Press).