Modernism, the sisters, gay adoption, eating right


R. Scott Appleby’s article on the Modernist controversy (“American Idol,” September 14) reminds me of Hans Küng’s observation in his autobiography that the major reason we need a Vatican III is that at Vatican II the church did not have an historical-critical understanding of itself and its origins. A major issue from Pius IX to the present has been the painful process of coming to terms with historical consciousness, first through historical-critical interpretative methods, and then through hermeneutics as a theory of all interpretation.

The Modernist crisis was provoked by the development of historical-critical interpretation, especially of Scripture.

I think of Martin Heidegger’s remark that “language is the house of being.” For the Gospels this house of being is Greek, while the Jesus-event took shape in the house of being that is Aramaic. There are great differences between these two “houses.”

I would consider it one of the burdens of grace for Catholic universities to assist the church in negotiating the difficult, painful, and I hope finally fruitful, encounter with historical consciousness in both its historical-critical and hermeneutical dimensions. In a word, the Modernist crisis has not ended.


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