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Postmodern Pontifications

At the apogee of nineteenth century Ultramontanism, W.G. Ward reportedly lusted for a papal bull to spice every breakfast.

Monday breakfasts in Boston regale on bull of a different breed (courtesy The Globe):

The God whom atheists aggressively deny (the all-powerful,all-knowing, unmoved Mover; the God of damnation, supernaturalintervention, salvation-through-appeasement, patriarchy, puritanism,war, etc.) is indeed the God enshrined in propositions of the Councilof Trent, and in its liturgy. But this God is also one whom more andmore believers, including Catholics, simply do not recognize as the Godwe worship.

Such people regard the fact that God is unknowable asthe most important thing to know about God. Traditional propositions ofthe creed, therefore, must be affirmed neither rigidly nor as if theyare meaningless, but with thoughtful modesty about all religiouslanguage, allowing for doubt, as well as respect for different creeds-- and for no creed.

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"Whatever new wisdom the Enlightenment brought,,,,it brought us new errors as well...So we are led around by the nose and by every headline that says, "Studies have shown..." That, for Catholics, is a huge error. Our minds are not our own, and that means a huge part of our human dignity has fallen by the wayside."To me, reflexively acquiescing to expert opinion is like giving my car to the mechanic because he knows more about it than I do. In any event, the best curative is a healthy dose of Hume's skepticism and Kant's reminder that "Out of the crooked timber of humanity no straight thing was ever made."

Carroll thinks the most important thing to know about God is that he is unknowable. The second most important thing, it seems, is that God is understood far more adequately (and in a radically different way) by moderns instead of the ancients. And a third thing, in Carrolls view, might be that faith in God is a fulfillment of all that fully modern people affirm when they assent to science or object to violence.In contrast, Jack Miles, in his review of Jesus of Nazareth in the current issue of Commonweal, scolds Benedict for not telling us enough about the nature of God. But he, too, seems to be in no doubt as to the importance of non-violence.As for what the Incarnation reveals about Gods character that the Old Testament did not know, this we are never quite told, nor does this book ever confront the unsettling ways in which God as we encounter him in the Old Testament seems decidedly unlike God incarnate as we encounter him in the New At issue, I submit, is the relative importance, within Christian revelation, of Gods incarnation and his renunciation of violence. http://www.commonwealmagazine.org/article.php3?id_article=1974Would Carroll be upset if Benedict followed Miles advice and stressed the pacifist features of the gospel as clearly and unmistakably revealing Gods will for us? Carrolls learned ignorance appears to be wholly compatible with Cambridge liberalism, as is Miles claim that we know more than Benedict is saying.I suppose Im one of those whom Carroll affectionately describes as less than fully modern (though if Im lucky I may qualify as one of his primitivists) but I will be relieved if Benedict follows the advice of neither one of our advanced thinkers.

Isn't the concept that God is essentially unknowable a tenet of Modernism that is shared by the most primitive religious expressions?

Isn't the concept that God is essentially unknowable a tenet of Modernism that is shared by the most primitive religious expressions?Christian orthodoxy of East and West maintains that the divine essence is unknowable in the sense of our having comprehensive knowledge of it.That said, Carroll's column adolescent nonsense (and that's an insult to adolescents).

As I remember, according to Aquinas what we can most accurately say about God is what He is *not*. Our only knowledge of Him is by weak, weak analogy or metaphor. Thomas was so impressed with the unknowable immensity of God that he even held that although we are able to say that we are to some tiny extent like HIm, we cannot properly say that He is like us.

James Carroll--isn't he a fiction writer?I think it's important to distinguish between the negatively-expressed theology that is part of the Catholic Tradition, and the post-Kantian, post-Schleiermachian agnosticism of the last few hundred years. Thomas believed that our language and human concepts were limited in their ability to fully grasp the reality of God. But we could say something. He wrote a lot of positively-expressed theological statements; he considered his own work to be "scientific" in the sense that it was deduced from given principles--the principles being revelation.Nowadays many people believe that human minds cannot, and have not, received the revelation of God. Whereas Catholics believe very much that there has been a revelation by God to us in Christ, and that the revelation is given also in the Holy Spirit:"I have told you these things while I am still with you; but the advocate, the Holy Spirit whom the Father will send in my name; will teach you everything and remind you of all that I have told you." (John 14: 18)The single greatest error in the history of thought is this: because I cannot prove it, it cannot be true. But that is what the atheistic models of modern science take as their starting point. And so did Kant (following Hume).

"James Carroll--isn't he a fiction writer?"James Carrol wrote "Constantine's Sword" -- a history of the Church and anti-semitism."The single greatest error in the history of thought is this: because I cannot prove it, it cannot be true. But that is what the atheistic models of modern science take as their starting point. And so did Kant (following Hume) but that is what the atheistic models of modern science take as their starting point. "I'm no expert, but I think you've got Hume and Kant wrong. As to 'atheistic science' -- there is no such thing. While some scientists may be atheists, science does not require that God not exist. Rather science requires that scientifically valid statements about the world must be testable and based on natural phenomena.

I think what I mean about Modernists and God's presumed unknowability is that they would contend that we can never know what the mind of God is about anything because we could never really understand God. I think this relates to the deposit of faith and whether we can ever know anything about God's will even about His self-revelation of Himself.A modernist would say go ahead and ordain women because we could never presume to know what God's will in the matter is or is not so just rely on human reason in this matter. The Catholic on the other hand would say we know what God's will in this matter is from the deposit of faith via the Magisterium (OS).

James Carroll has published 10 novels since he "left the priesthood to become a writer." At least that's what his publisher says.Antonio, do you have any particular thoughts about what Hume and Kant did say? As for me, I like this expression of Hume's: "If we take in hand any volume, of divinity or metaphysics, for instance, let us ask: Does it contain any reasoning concerning quantity or number? No. Does it contain any experimental (probable) reasoning concerning matter of fact? No. Commit it then to the flames: for it can contain nothing but sophistry and illusion. " (ENQUIRY)

May I modestly ask who W G Ward was? On the basis of the post he could have been either an irredentist Catholic or a fire-eating anti-Catholic.I'm reluctant to speak about James Carroll (I did actually like a column of his once), but somebody should point out that Late Antiquity is one of the areas of history that has been most excitingly transformed in the last forty years, and it really won't do to use the pre-1960 valuation of Constantine as a stick to beat the Church or Western Civilization or the bishops or whoever over the head with.

Gene,William George Ward, influenced by Newman, was a convert to Catholicism. He became a staunch advocate of defining the dogma of papal infallibility. Hence the "papal bull" statement.His son, Wilfrid Ward, was an early biographer of Newman.Wilfrid's daughter was Maisie Ward, of Sheed and Ward fame.Thus, if I'm not mistaken, Wilfid Sheed is the great grandson of W.G.Quite a family!

http://www.bustedhalo.com/features/AstridStormonEcumenicalDialogue.htmLet the "youth' follow the lead of the Holy Spirit.

Despit the Maid's pontifications, I',m sure we can know more about what God desires than questions of women's ordination - abizarre choice on the difficult question of analogy (which always limps) when w we talk about the Creator/ Savior.I wonder when the day comes when we encounter extraterestrial intelligent life (which, now, on balance, has a certain probability) what we'll say about creation/redemption etc.

"This is not an entirely new way of being religious. One sees hints of it in the wisdom of many thinkers, from Augustine in ancient times to Nicholas of Cusa in the Renaissance to Kierkegaard in the modern era."I'm curious to know which passages in Augustine that Carroll has in mind here. The rest of the column isn't helpful in providing much context. It seems more like a sustained scream than a discourse.

Kathy:I like the following:"I must confess that a man is guilty of unpardonable arrogance who concludes, because an argument has escaped his own investigation, that therefore it does not really exist. I must also confess that, though all the learned, for several ages, should have employed themselves in fruitless search upon any subject, it may still, perhaps, be rash to conclude positively that the subject must, therefore, pass all human comprehension. (David Hume, 1737)"

Exactly, Antonio. Like the other epistemological revolutionaries (Hegel nauseatingly so), Hume saw himself as bearing a torch of new wisdom heretofore unguessed at into the world that would enlighten everyone. Just because Aristotle and other people hadn't come to the brilliant conclusion that there is no such thing as cause and effect (Hume's new wisdom) doesn't mean that it can't be taken as gospel now.Whatever.Kant actually sought to mitigate the effects of Hume's thought by making it epistemologically possible for freedom, God, and immortality to exist in the world after Hume. (And thereby, for morality to exist.) But he took as axiomatic the unreality of both space and time, and any description that involves space and time. And the reason he did so is that while space and time cannot be proven to exist outside the human mind, they do exist as constructing elements of the human mind. Whatever new wisdom the Enlightenment brought--particularly the means of harnessing the power of the natural world, leading to the development of modern medicine, civil infrastructure, and The Bomb--it brought us new errors as well. It brought the positivistic mindset that really "believes" in something once it is "proven," but not before. But, don't ask people to say what they mean by "proven" because they can't. So we are led around by the nose and by every headline that says, "Studies have shown..." That, for Catholics, is a huge error. Our minds are not our own, and that means a huge part of our human dignity has fallen by the wayside.

So as I was saying, the problem with Hume's skepticism (which is not at all like the healthy skepticism that would, for example, lead a person to ask a mechanic pointed questions) and especially the Kantian system of the epistemological world is that we are left effectively in a deistic universe. We don't know God, we can't know God through the created order because we really don't know the created order--we don't know anything at all about anything important.Now Kant was able to work out a system of ethics nonetheless, which is a whole other boogeyman. And Schleiermacher worked out a system of theology based on the Kantian view of the world.This leaves us in a bit of a quandary: Do I believe that God is unknowable? Or do I believe that there is a revelation?Do I believe in the permeability of the firmament?

"This leaves us in a bit of a quandary: Do I believe that God is unknowable? Or do I believe that there is a revelation?"Why not both? Why can't one's knowlege of God unfold the way Newton's theory of celestial mechanics was subsumed by relativity and the way relativity might be subsumed by an even more comprehensive theory to come?Maybe my reading of the Carrol op-ed piece was off base and more charitable than it warranted, but I thought that's what he was getting at.

Antonio,To read generously is most certainly a virtue, and one too often lacking in our "gotcha" culture.In this case, however, I think Kathy is correct in associating Carroll's views with an empty Kantian-style agnosticism rather than a rich patristic apophaticism.But then I have the "advantage" of having spent numerous Monday breakfasts with the man -- with the consequent "agita."

When Carrol says:"... religious people can retreat into fundamentalism or throw out religious faith altogether. Or we can quite deliberately embrace what the philosopher Paul Ricoeur called a "second naivet." This implies a movement through criticism to a renewed appetite for the sacred tradition out of which we come, even while implying that we are alive to its meaning in a radically different way."I find it hard to see on public display the empty agnosticism apparent in your personal encounters.

Thank you, Fr. Imbelli.Antonio: ???

Fr. Imbelli:I sympathize with your 'agita'. After reading some blogs (not this one, of course) I've experienced the same problem.I appreciate your contributions and hope that nothing I've posted here has contributed to your heartburn.

W. G. Ward was probably a more substantial personage than the caricatures suggest. He was a close friend of Newman and then of Tennyson -- hardly an indication of idiocy. His book The Ideal of a Christian Church has been reprinted recently, and I was lucky to be able to buy a copy for only $6 at my local bookstore in Koenji, Tokyo, last week!James Carroll's piece is not up to his usual level -- but Benedict XVI is always difficult to address in a satisfactory way. That he has written 10 novels should surely not be taken a disqualifying him. Henry James remarked that many a man has had a great reputation for intelligence until the day his first novel was published; that is, it takes high intelligence to be a novelist.Now may I ask a taboo question (delete if you wish): Could it be that some of the Cardinal electors are already asking themselves, "Have we put a Lefebvrite on the Throne of Peter?"

Bob,At the risk of inviting another ad hominem from you I recommend C. S. Lewis' "Out of the Silent Planet" where he addresses the idea of alien life and what that means in respect to original sin.The Maid

Hello Prof. O'Leary,"Now may I ask a taboo question (delete if you wish): Could it be that some of the Cardinal electors are already asking themselves, "Have we put a Lefebvrite on the Throne of Peter?""In all honesty this would really be an uninformed question to ask (or charge to make).Going into the conclave, Ratzinger was about as known a quantity as you could ask for as papabiles go - certainly more so than anyone since Montini, and insofar as his theology is concerned, even more than him. I think the cardinals knew what they were getting - both his supporters and his opponents. There has been some development in his thought but he remains what he was at the Council - a ressourcement man, not aggiornamento or traditionalist. This isn't to say he couldn't spring the occasional surprise - having lunch with Hans Kung, for example. But the basic contours of his understanding of the Church, of the tradition, of the liturgy, and of the Council are pretty well known. And whatever Joseph Ratzinger is, he is not a Lefebvrite. A cursory search of the traditionalist commentary on this suffices to demonstrate this. Ratzinger in his covering letter as in his previous comments emphasizes continuity in the liturgical tradition, not rupture. Lefebvre/SSPX is not happy with this particular aspect of his analysis. They see the new liturgy as a rupture, and certainly not the same rite at all. In this respect the SSPX has more in common with some progressives than they do with Pope Benedict: both see the new missal as something fundamentally new and different. They just disagree on whether that's a good thing or not.But then it is also true that the Pope's personal feelings on this question are not quite exactly what he said this month. A number of his comments in recent years suggest that at least the actual practice of the Pauline missal has been rupture, effectively, and even that the way in which it was developed also constituted a rupture. But because - unlike SSPX - the Pope is determined to uphold the normativity and authority of the Council, he is not prepared to give up on it, or take that line of analysis where it might tend to lead, whether we're talking liturgy of the ecclesiology of "subsistet in" in Lumen Gentium. So maybe you could ask whether they put a man who is an unwitting (or semi-witing) tool of the Lefebvrites on the throne. But that's quite different from saying that Lefebvrite is a traditionalist, at least in the context of Lefebvrism. He's not.

Somewhat late in the day let me enter an objection to the curious claims about Kant that have been made in this string of comments. I don't know what it could mean to say that Kant was "agnostic." Granted that his three "Critiques" do not make up an integrated systematic whole, each of them contains important claims that are hardly the claims of a skeptic. Rather, they are the fruit of a respect for careful thought that recognizes the limitations intrinsic to everything human.

"Going into the conclave, Ratzinger was about as known a quantity as you could ask for as papabiles go - certainly more so than anyone since Montini, and insofar as his theology is concerned, even more than him. I think the cardinals knew what they were getting - both his supporters and his opponents. There has been some development in his thought but he remains what he was at the Council - a ressourcement man, not aggiornamento or traditionalist."Did the Cardinals take seriously the many extraordinary writings of Cardinal Ratzinger on the Novus Ordo, his identification of "creativity" as a Marxist, Promethean concept, and so on? Bishop Bernard Fellay sees the Pope as his friend in the Roman Curia and takes the Motu Proprio as confirming that the Pope agrees with him on the liturgical question. (Whereas others in the Curia he regards as enemies, reserving for Cardinal Arinze the epithet "traitor".)Fellay now things that the 1988 excommunication will easily be lifted and that the Pope is amenable to persuasion on their residual disagreements, on ecumenism and religious freedom."This isn't to say he couldn't spring the occasional surprise - having lunch with Hans Kung, for example." He's also received Bishop Fellay." But the basic contours of his understanding of the Church, of the tradition, of the liturgy, and of the Council are pretty well known. " So I have argued in my dispute with Philip Blosser, but in the course of that dispute I have discovered an extraordinary number of loopholes. "Of course we respect the infallible authority of Councils", for example, means "Vatican II was merely a pastoral Council, and none of its teachings or decisions were infallible, so we are free to reverse them"."Ratzinger in his covering letter as in his previous comments emphasizes continuity in the liturgical tradition, not rupture. Lefebvre/SSPX is not happy with this particular aspect of his analysis. They see the new liturgy as a rupture, and certainly not the same rite at all." Again I have pointed this out to those who see the Motu Proprio as confirming that the Novus Ordo was a mistake. But do you understand the subtlety of Lefebvrite hermeneutics? They can argue that the Pope's recognition of the Novus Ordo is de facto rather than de iure and that ultimately he would like to abolish it altogether, as they would."But then it is also true that the Pope's personal feelings on this question are not quite exactly what he said this month. A number of his comments in recent years suggest that at least the actual practice of the Pauline missal has been rupture, effectively, and even that the way in which it was developed also constituted a rupture."And those statements will be seized on by Lefebvrites as the hermeneutical key to the document."But because - unlike SSPX - the Pope is determined to uphold the normativity and authority of the Council, he is not prepared to give up on it, or take that line of analysis where it might tend to lead, whether we're talking liturgy of the ecclesiology of 'subsistet [recte: subsistit] in' in Lumen Gentium. So maybe you could ask whether they put a man who is an unwitting (or semi-witting) tool of the Lefebvrites on the throne."Now you are lending my question an uncanny plausibility. An "unwitting tool" of a schismatic or heretical group would be even more dangerous than a conscious ally.

Bernard, I didn't mean to suggest that Kant was a thoughtless or sloppy thinker. My main concern is his influence, particularly, through Schleiermacher (and dare I say Rahner) on theology.Still, I have never understood the necessity of the conclusion of the following path of reasoning, which I am pretty sure establishes one of Kant's foundational principles.1. The human mind supplies a spatial framework in sensory perceptions 2. We cannot know beyond doubt whether there is a correspondence between this spatial framework and the world as it is3. Therefore we must assume that there is no correspondence.

Kathy,Would it make sense to soften your point "3" to say: "therefore, we can make no philosophically grounded cognitive claims about such correspondence." In that sense Kant is "agnostic."Years ago, while doing graduate study at Yale, I was sitting next to the Professor in a seminar on theological anthropology. For that particular session we were reading an essay of Rahner. I noticed in the margins of his text the Professor (who was not Catholic) had several time written: "Schleiermacher!"I would be interested in your own reaction to Rahner's influence on contemporary Catholic theology. I gather you don't consider it completely positive.:)R.I.

Fr. Imbelli, yes, you are right to clarify the substance of Kant's claim. On the other hand, the claim functions as a foundational principle of the first Critique--the fact of non-correspondence is presumed and deduced from thereafter as though it has been proven or at least established. Maybe I'm missing something.I wish I knew more about Rahner. I hear he died praying the rosary--fascinating--but there is general agreement that he was devout. So irreverence as such wouldn't have been his intention. Why has it been his legacy? I can see a number of problems that come pretty directly from his influence:-"God as horizon" as presented in Foundations of Christian Faith is a concept that could conceivably be very helpful to an advanced contemplative who wonders why God is not imaginable or conceivable. But I don't think that (very imaginative and conceptual) image is helpful at all to "beginners" or seminarians, which I take to be Rahner's primary audience in that work. It gives the impression that at an early stage of coming to know God, the revelation is not as important as the via negativa. In other words, it could foster a certain quietism regarding revelation.--I would need to read a lot more to understand why this is so, but Rahnerians I know have a hard time distinguishing between grace and creation, and between the Holy Spirit and the collective human spirit. I take it that Rahner held that graced nature is a necessary condition for the possibility of saying "yes" to God--but I don't know why that is necessary. Why couldn't God intervene? In any case, the effect of this kind of collapse of the supernatural into the created order seems to have had all kinds of negative effects. First of all, groups in the Church have become vulnerable to coercion and steering, by leaders equating ephemeral enthusiasms with the movement of the Holy Spirit. Secondly, sin and error are less likely to be acknowledged, because how can a graced nature be wrong? Etc.--Rahner argued that while dogmatic (esp. Christological) formulas are enduring, their verbal expressions are not. But this makes belief in the early dogmas vulnerable to those who would relativize both dogma and expression.--Some combination of these problems has helped us to come to a situation in which the preaching of the truth is embarrassing.Sometimes I think that Rahner's chief fault was in overestimation of his audience (similar to Eckhart's vernacular preaching). But sometimes I think he really bought into the idea of what I call Kant's doctrine of the impermeability of the firmament.

Re Kant: 1. To call Kant an agnostic because he rejected the metaphysical context in which the correspondence theory of truth is a central feature and proposed in its stead another well developed account of empirical knowledge is, I think, simply unfair. An agnostic is someone who admits the propriety of a specific question, but finds no clear answer to it. Kant is not "agnostic" about the antinomies of reason. An antinomy is constituted by two contradictory but nonetheless logically satisfactory answers to the question at issue, a question that is,in the end, not a genuinely empirical question. For my money, what Kant has taught us is the importance of facing up to the limits of human knowledge. He is right, I think, to say that there is no way to prove the existence of God or of human freedom by way of empirical evidence. But his entire 2nd and 3rd critiques show that there is a strong case that can be made for knowledge claims that do not rest on empirical evidence.Of course, one can have good reasons for not being a Kantian. But fairness calls for getting what he does say straight.Re Rahner: I don't know Schleirmacher's work so I can't say anything about him and Rahner. But Rahner's own work, at least what I know of that work, strikes me as just right.Specifically, I find his treatment of the "grace and creation" question to be most appealing. There was no temporal moment when there was creation but no gift of grace. What would it mean to say that we can know, by faith or some other way, what nature would be like without grace, if there is no time in which there has been no grace? Should we not acknowledge the unity of God's creative and salvific activity, especially if we want to say that, from all eternity, the Incarnation is an integral part of God's purpose in creating. Unless I'm badly mistaken, Congar shows the importance of Eastern theology's talk about deification to be of great importance in understanding God's creative activity. Rahner seems to me to grasp this.

Bernard, agnostic means not-knowing. Even if the "God exists" antimony were demonstrable, that would still leave Kant as an agnostic regarding almost the entire content of the Catholic faith. But my point is that Kant is agnostic regarding realism in the first Critique--I really don't know the others.My question for you is, was there a Fall?

Kathy, in the context we are discussing, the word 'know' needs clarification by saying how we know. I can know some things by faith, others by acquaintance, others by empirical evidence, others by historical inquiry. In some of these cases of knowing, our knowledge is fallible. Thus we reasonably say, "To the best of my knowledge...."Re the word 'agnostic': Kant was not Catholic, so he didn't accept as true some of our beliefs. I wouldn't call that agnosticism, but if you insist on using the word that way, what can I say?Finally, I do believe that I, like all mankind, am in need of redemption. If you want to express that condition by the word 'Fall,' fine. There is a good long tradition of talking that way. I do it too and mean it. But when I'm trying to talk carefully in some scholarly context, I'd want to know just what you are referring to as "a fall" before I said whether I agreed with you or not.Cheers.

Leaving Kant aside...I think that one ought to hold on to faith firmly, not loosely, as implied in expressions like "to the best of my knowledge", nor equivocally, like someone who believes in Christianity while in the States and Hinduism when in India. The reason is, not because I've got it all figured out, but because there has been a revelation. It is a mystical revelation to be sure, and will be best expressed negatively (like the alpha-privative adverbs of the Chalcedonian formula). But its mysticism does not negate (haha) its concreteness. To say that Christ is consubstantial with God--yes, that will take a gazillion years for me to fathom. But that does not mean it is not concretely true.The reason I asked about whether you think that there is a Fall is because I am trying to understand better what you mean by the unity of God's creative activity. If you mean, salvation is available to those who died before the Incarnation, we don't disagree, though Dante would. But honestly I'm not sure what you mean.

I was drawn back to this thread -obviously still going - by the piece about Novak in the new NCR and the need to construct a new spirituality in the post modern world.John Allen's on-line piece on Church megatrends is important there too for it emphasizes a commitment by Church leadership to reasserting (perhaps slowly with a long range view) of Catholic "identity." This in reaction to the secularism induced by the Enlightment in Europe.It seems to me that approach is fraught with difficulties. the first of which may well be that postmodernistic Europe is not the secularist problem that the Enlightmen tis alleged to have produced.The reassertion, even if slow motion, causes problems to :-older post Vatican II Catholics who feel that the promise of the Council is being dragged away to placate a radical right in the Church;-moderate groups like NPLC who hope to fashion real dialogue (not one in which one tells the other,"I'm right, you're wrong."-disaffected younger folk who want real spirituality that is unative coupled with their social justice desires.For a fine read on how divisive things can get, look at Melissa Nussbaum's piece about "Two Rites, Two coffe carts..." in the new NCR about the Cathedral in Colorado Springs.The theory I guess, is to create that smaller "purer" community - but I'm not sure what purer means as we are all sinners.Maybe it means to fal in line always and never question ( I refer again to the Greeley article on the church in Ireland in the current America.)A further problem that Allen rightly notes is the power swing away from Europe in the Church to the global South and politically from USA/Europe to BRIC.The essenttally European vision at the heart of the Vatican approach based in Papacy/Curia may well be seen as even more incestuous in its approaches to the 21st century world.Benedict will visit our country and the UN, if all goes well, next year.Undoubtedly he will bring an unswerving message of faith and rightly so, but will it speak to the issues/needs and complexities of the day?

Bob, as I see it, Carroll is setting up the division on even more radical terms:1. Real Catholics hold this tenet of faith above all others: the truth cannot be known. Real Catholics have a lot in common with atheists.2. Anyone who believes anything is an ignorant, provincial fundamentalist.

Thanks to Gene palumbo for catching the error in the first paragraph of my post - the regerence is to Nolan, Albert Nolan, not Novak in an NCR article on his new book.