Showing posts with label Usual Suspects. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Usual Suspects. Show all posts

Sunday, February 3, 2019

Charles James' critique of Karl Rahner

[In our continuing series critically reviewing the representatives of Nouvelle Théologie (see our earlier post on Bernard Lonergan, Musings, September 6, 2014), we now turn our attention to Karl Rahner. Suggestions for other candidates are welcome.]
Charles W. James, "Karl Rahner's Baneful Impact on Theology" (New Oxford Review, September 1995). Charles James, a convert from Anglicanism, is an Associate Professor of Philosophy, Academic Dean, and Provost at St. Patrick’s Seminary in Menlo Park, California.
Karl Rahner is, without debate, the most influential Catholic theologian of the 20th century. During the course of his spectacular career he wrote or spoke on almost every subject of the Christian faith. When I studied theology at the Jesuit-run University of Santa Clara, Rahner was quoted with more authority than St. Thomas Aquinas.

As an Anglican, that gave me pause, so I decided to dig deeper into Rahner's thought. What struck me immediately was Rahner's insistence on interacting with modern European philosophy, especially that of Immanuel Kant. Rahner was unwilling to carry out his theological task in the vacuum of a biblical positivism. He engaged modern philosophy in theological debate, forcing philosophy and theology to speak to each other. Some found this conversation threatening while others found it refreshing. This ambiguous response toward Rahner was reflected in the way he was treated during the Second Vatican Council. At the start of the Council, Rahner was not allowed to act as a peritus -- a theological expert who consults with the Council Fathers. But this semi-ban was lifted from Rahner when Pope John XXIII intervened and gave him the status of theological consultant.

Tuesday, January 15, 2019

Frank Sheed and Fr. Feeney

Frank Sheed has become a Catholic hero among many conservative Catholics with good reason. He taught the Faith clearly and succinctly

Frank Sheed, Fr. Feeney's former publisher, opined in his autobiography, The Church and I, that Fr. Feeney "was condemned but not answered."

Boston was in the headlines again when the scandals of sexual predator priests surfaced majorly there.

This called another popular Catholic writer to revisit the city of Boston.
Catholic World News editor Philip F. Lawler described the case of Father Leonard Feeney as the first of several times the archbishops of Boston would compromise the Catholic faith for the sake of good politics and cordial relations with the secular powers that be in his 2008 book "The Faithful Departed: The Collapse of Boston's Catholic Culture",.he wrote :

Is the Vatican's recent agreement with China, heretical?

While it is not clear what was totally agreed to with China, it is getting close to serious error.

Pius IX, First Vatican Council, Chapter 3. On the power and character of the primacy of the Roman pontiff #7:
"And therefore we condemn and reject the opinions of those who hold that
this communication of the supreme head with pastors and flocks may be lawfully obstructed; or that
it should be dependent on the civil power, which leads them to maintain that what is determined by the apostolic see or by its authority concerning the government of the church, has no force or effect unless it is confirmed by the agreement of the civil authority."

Monday, January 14, 2019

St. Benedict Center--Sanctioned

Pope Francis and his lackeys are going too far.They are going to lose this battle. Fr. Feeney was never given an official hearing. Because he had dogma on his side. We don't think these clerics really understand the teachings of the Church. It may take some time, but the Modernists will lose this one.

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Modernism vs. Neo-Modernism: What is the Difference?

 The overarching principle of post-conciliar theology is not modernism, properly speaking. Let us get our terms straight.

Above you see Fathers Ratzinger and Biali attentively listening to the comments of Fr. Karl Rahner, left, their mentor
Modernism is the idea that there are no eternal truths, that truth is the correspondence of the mind with one's lifestyle (adaequatio intellectus et vitae), and that, therefore, old dogmas must be abandoned and new beliefs must arise that meet 'the needs of modern man'. This is a radical denial of the traditional and common sense notion of truth: the correspondence of the mind with reality (adaequatio intellectus et rei), which is the basis of the immutability of Catholic dogma.

No, the post-conciliar theological principle is neo-modernism, and the theology that is based on it is known as the nouvelle theologie.  It is the idea that old dogmas or beliefs must be retained, yet not the traditional 'formulas': dogmas must be expressed and interpreted in a new way in every age so as to meet the 'needs of modern man'. 

This is still a denial of the traditional and common sense notion of truth as 
adaequatio intellectus et rei (insofar as it is still an attempt to make the terminology that expresses the faith correspond with our modern lifestyle) and consequently of the immutability of Catholic dogma, yet it is not as radical as modernism. 

It is more subtle and much more deceptive than modernism because it claims that the faith must be retained; it is only the 'formulas' of faith that must be abandoned--they use the term 'formula' to distinguish the supposedly mutable 
words of our creeds, dogmas, etc. from their admittedly immutable meanings

Therefore, neo-modernism can effectively slip under the radar of most pre-conciliar condemnations (except 
Humani generis, which condemns it directly) insofar as its practitioners claim that their new and unintelligible theological terminology really expresses the same faith of all times. 

In other words, neo-modernism is supposed to be 'dynamic orthodoxy': supposedly orthodox in meaning, yet always changing in expression to adapt to modern life (cf. Franciscan University of Steubenville's mission statement).  

Take extra ecclesiam nulla salus as a clear example of a dogma that has received a brutal neo-modernist re-interpretation: they claim that the old 'formula' that "there is no salvation outside the Church" must be abandoned; rather it is more meaningful to modern man to say that salvation is not in, but through, the Church;  people who are not in the Church may still be saved through the Church; thus, to them the dogma that "there is no salvation outside the Church" means that there is salvation outside the Church.  Hence see Ven. Pope Pius XII condemning those "reduce to a meaningless formula the necessity of belonging to the true Church in order to gain eternal salvation." (Humani generis 27).

Yet this mentality of reinterpreting everything anew in order to 'meet the needs of the times' is generally tends to be found in different degrees among different post-conciliar sources:  

Thursday, September 18, 2014

BOOK: The Second Vatican Council: An Unwritten Story

By Professor Roberto deMattei
No event of the 20th century produced a greater effect upon the Catholic Church than Vatican II, the 21st Ecumenical Council. To many it might seem to have been simply a meeting of important churchmen gathered to discuss church matters, but because the Catholic Church is the only church founded on this earth by God himself to guide men to salvation, the reality is that centuries from now historians will likely consider it, (as well as the message to the world delivered by the Mother of God during her personal visit at Fatima in 1917), as one of the two pivotal events of world history for the recently ended century.

Vatican II opened fifty years ago on October 11, 1962. Since it ended in 1965, the council has been written of in countless books, articles, scholarly journals, magazines, and newspapers all over the world. Things said and done since the council, in the name of the council and in opposition to it, have affected the lives of everyone living since that time. As with any significant historical event, it is only after considerable time has elapsed that a fuller story of exactly what happened in those years before, during, and after “the event” can be engagingly told and wisely summarized.

Professor de Mattei’s genius lies in the application of a lucid, literate, and philosophical mind to thorough scholarly research and mountains of documentation. From this framework he has presented us with a story; a story of an event, a previously unwritten story that has been begging to be told for many years. This book will unfold for you the answer to the question, What happened at the Council?”  “A work that is as erudite as it is relevant. I am certain that thanks to its rigorous historical-critical method it will convince a vast readership.” Cardinal Walter Brandmuller, President Emeritus of the Pontifical Committee for Historical Science
Softcover, 640 pages 

Monday, April 8, 2013

Forbidden text and Catholic samizdat: "Vatican II and the 'Bad News' of the Gospel"

[We at Catholicvox are republishing the "forbidden" text. We see how dangerous it is to tell the truth.]

Forbidden text and Catholic samizdat:
"Vatican II and the 'Bad News' of the Gospel"

It seems disagreeing with Rahner and von Balthasar may place a text in a warped anti-version of the Index Librorum Prohibitorum...
Considering this (Catholic World Report: "If you’re looking for the review, 'Vatican II and the ‘Bad News’ of the Gospel', it has been removed"); and this (Eerdmans: "We were thrilled to learn Monday that Catholic World Report had published a positive review of Ralph Martin’s book 'Will Many Be Saved? What Vatican II Actually Teaches and Its Implications for the New Evangelization.' Our delight turned to bewilderment, however ..."), we cannot help but post said text here. It is actually a text with a highly favorable reading of Vatican II, but some idolized third rails seem to have been touched.
And spread it around the web in samizdat mode, please, before we are perhaps kindly asked to remove the content.

Vatican II and the “Bad News” of the Gospel

Ralph Martin’s new book clarifies what the Council actually taught about salvation outside the Church
David Paul Deavel
April 01, 2013
Ruefully observing statistics showing that only 6 percent of American Catholic parishes considered evangelism a priority, the late Cardinal Avery Dulles once lamented, “The Council has often been interpreted as if it had discouraged evangelization.” Ralph Martin’s new book, Will Many Be Saved? What Vatican II Actually Teaches and Its Implications for the New Evangelization, aims to explain why this interpretation has taken root despite the fact that the Council documents, particularly the keystone document Lumen Gentium (LG), are brimming with talk about evangelization as the Church’s main job. In fact, Paul VI’s encyclical Evangelii Nuntiandi stated that the objectives of the Council were summed up in one statement: “to make the Church of the 20th century ever better fitted for proclaiming the Gospel.” Yet the opposite happened.
Martin thinks, and with reason, that the loss of impetus to evangelize is based upon the widespread notion after the Council that almost everybody will be saved—except maybe really evil people like Hitler and Judas. Having the sacraments or an explicit faith in Christ is seen as a nice add-on. But essentially the theology of salvation could be summed up by the 1989 cartoon movie All Dogs Go to Heaven.
Of course this theology had backing from big names. Karl Rahner declared that the Council had a “theological optimism…concerning salvation.” Richard McBrien’s commentary on LG claimed that the Church now considered the human race as “an essentially saved community from whom a few may, by the exercise of their own free will, be lost.” Even the Jesuit scholar Francis Sullivan, author of a very careful study of the teaching on salvation outside the Church, tended in his more popular writings to throw caution to the wind and claim a “general presumption of innocence which is now the official attitude of the Catholic Church.” These claims were never undergirded by any actual citations or close readings from the Council, which marked a doctrinal development indeed, but not one of automatic salvation or “presumed innocence.”
While the question of the salvation of those who have never heard the Gospel has been bubbling up in a new way since the 16th-century discovery of peoples in the New World, it had been coming to a steady boil over more than 100 years before Vatican II. The categories of invincible ignorance (whereby one could not be held accountable for not knowing about Christ and the Christian message) and implicit faith (whereby the invincibly ignorant might embrace as much truth as God has allowed one to receive and thus embrace Christ implicitly) have been around for a while. That arch-traditional pope Pius IX had already given assent to the possibility of salvation outside the visible boundaries of the Church in encyclicals in 1854 and 1863. This view was even included in a draft document of the First Vatican Council (which was never finished because of the Franco-Prussian war’s interruption). The Second Vatican Council’s teaching of this possibility of salvation outside the sacraments and explicit faith, then, was the culmination of a long doctrinal development that had already been given expression by the papal Magisterium a century before Vatican II.
Martin affirms this development, noting that LG 16 very clearly indicates the possibility of salvation outside of the visible Church and explicit faith. That key passages states:
Those who, through no fault of their own, do not know the Gospel of Christ or his Church, but who nevertheless seek God with a sincere heart and moved by grace, try in their actions to do his will as they know it through the dictates of their conscience—those too may achieve eternal salvation. Nor shall divine providence deny the assistance necessary for salvation to those who, without any fault of theirs, have not yet arrived at an explicit knowledge of God, and who, not without grace, strive to lead a good life. Whatever good or truth is found amongst them is considered by the Church to be a preparation for the Gospel and given by him who enlightens all men that they may at length have life. (LG 16)
Notice, however, that simple ignorance, even ignorance that could not be helped, is not a sufficient condition for salvation—sincere seeking of God, a real attempt to follow the dictates of conscience, and an embrace of whatever truth is given are all necessary. To such people “divine assistance” will be given. But notice also that the Council Fathers said that such people “may” achieve eternal salvation. But what is so striking is that even when this passage is quoted, the final lines which warn of the dangers to those outside of the faith are rarely quoted and even more rarely commented on at length:
But very often, deceived by the Evil One, men have become vain in their reasonings, have exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and served the creature rather than the Creator. Or else, living and dying in this world without God, they are exposed to ultimate despair. Hence to procure the glory of God and the salvation of all of these, the Church, mindful of the command of the Lord, “Preach the Gospel to every creature,” fosters the missions with care and attention. (LG 16)
Far from a human race that is presumed innocent or essentially saved, the Council Fathers see a world in which salvation is neither assured nor easy. It is a world in which, “very often,” rejection of Christ has been a reality, is still possible, and is a main reason for Christian missions. Indeed, the Council also warned about the severe judgment falling on Catholics who do not persist in charity and faithfulness.
The Council’s “optimism,” Martin rightly notes, is about the possibility of salvation outside of the Church, not the probability that everybody inside or outside it will be saved. The Council doesn’t give odds on this question or tell us whether hell is densely populated or not, nor does Martin attempt to do so. But he notes that the “very often” is attached to the negative possibility. In a chapter examining the scriptural references in LG 16 he demonstrates that this “bad news” is indeed biblical. Where, then, did the All Dogs view of the Council come from? Mostly from two sources: Karl Rahner and Hans Urs von Balthasar.
While Martin is clear that he respects both theologians and acknowledges their own pastoral desires, what is demonstrated in the two chapters covering their thoughts is how little backing they had in their own theories. Rahner, while occasionally acknowledging that the Council did not actually say anything new doctrinally on this topic, used the tactic that would later characterize the Bologna school: in Ratzinger’s words, the Council’s texts were interpreted as “a mere prelude to a still unattained conciliar spirit…” Thus, Rahner’s foundations for hope in universal or near-universal salvation were founded upon his own particular theological vision—a vision that gave little attention to the whole witness of either Scripture or Tradition on this point and (as he later acknowledged) underestimated the reality of sin.
While Rahner may have ignored Tradition and Scripture, Balthasar professed to be a man who paid attention to it all. Martin’s brief against him shows, however, that on his professed “theological hope” for universal salvation (best glimpsed in his book Dare We Hope That All Be Saved?), Balthasar has a tendency to ignore and occasionally mischaracterize his sources. Martin offers devastating critiques of Balthasar’s use of Scripture, the Fathers, and indeed logic. Balthasar quotes scriptural passages without even their immediate context, adduces witnesses who do not say what they purportedly say (e.g., Maximus the Confessor’s supposed embrace of universalism), and claims that one cannot love people sincerely if one believes that anyone could possibly reject God—the last a strange claim indeed given his view that the saints stand high as theological authorities. Finally, he seems to back up his positions with rather extravagant extra-biblical speculations about conversions in hell.
Balthasar and Rahner and many of their followers believed that the Church’s missions would be successful only if we could stop telling people the bad news. Whether or not they actually agreed with the speculative views of the theologians, many bishops and pastors embraced the idea that the Church would be better off if it stopped talking about sin and hell and accentuated the positive. As one theologian in 1973 wrote, with this strategy, “men will storm her doors seeking admission.” The result has been less than spectacular. Rare are the people who will spread the faith merely because the Church says so if there is no point to it other than drawing new members into “our community.” To paraphrase Flannery O’Connor, if the Church isn’t a place of salvation, it is simply an Elks Club. And the Elks aren’t doing that well these days either. It was Rahner, after all, whose talk about the “optimism of the Council” yielded at the end of his life to essays on the “winter of the Church.”
Martin does not spare bishops or popes in his criticism of this strategy of talking only about the positives. Paul VI’s and John Paul II’s encyclicals on evangelization, Evangelii Nuntiandi and Redemptoris Missio, are scored for omitting “the traditional focus on the eternal consequences that rest on accepting or rejecting the gospel that motivated almost two thousand years of mission.” Martin calls for an end to this “unwise silence” about a significant part of the Christian message. It is a particularly heartening sign that his book is blurbed by seven US bishops. Perhaps these endorsements are a sign that what Russell Shaw once called the US bishops’ “Potemkin Village” is now being torn down.
Martin’s one misstep is that he too quickly passes by the question of the danger to non-Catholic Christians. While Vatican II’s recognition of the power of salvation at work among other Christians separated from the Catholic Church is accurate, it is perhaps a little too pat. Martin does not mention the dangers to Christians whose baptisms are valid but who do not have the fullness of the sacraments or the guidance of the Magisterium to help them in a world in which, as he notes, the culture’s morality moves further from Christian teaching every day. The bad news is for all of us—Catholics, other Christians, and non-believers. We all need to hear it if the good news is to make sense. And we all need to hear it because it’s true.
About the Author: associate editor of Logos: A Journal of Catholic Thought and Culture and adjunct professor of Catholic Studies at the University of St. Thomas (Minnesota).


Our thanks to Angelqueen for providing the full version of this forbidden text... (Tip: Pertinacious PapistCWR removes Deavel's review of Ralph Martin's book).(The book cover image comes from Eerdmans.)

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Modernism & 50 Year Anniversary of Vatican II

Here is an interesting interview to listen to that gives some good insights.  I think it is worth listening to.

We think it might be a little too negative about the Church politics but again worth listening to.

Monday, July 16, 2012

Anathema sit!

Good video. One point of distinction is "no new dogmas." While we understand his point there has never been a "new dogma." Revelation ended with the death of the last Apostle a dogmatic definition is the Church clarifying something believed always and everywhere.

Monday, July 9, 2012

Critique of the Theology of Karl Rahner

A_009br_KarlRahner.jpg - 11203 Bytes

[editor: We at Catholic Vox have often heard critical things of Karl Rahner and positive. He is a very confusing figure because of the breath and vagueness of his voluminous works; it is hard to find a concise critique. He is the man who put the Protocol Letter to the Bishop of Boston, regarding the Fr. Feeney's controversy, in the Denziger, when he was editor. It often baffled "heresy hunters" (such as those form the SSPX) why Rahner didn't use this opportunity, as a dissenting theologian, to insert heresy into such an influential book as the Denzinger. We think he did by translating into Latin the Protocol Letter 122/49 ( it was only in English and never officially published as an act of the Vatican) and inserting it into the Denzinger. It was so subtle few noticed.

Here is The Foreword of the book "A Critical Examination of the Theology of Karl Rahner" by Fr. Robert C. McCarthy: a book that at least tries to wrestle with one of the most influencial theologians of Vatican II.]

Friday, July 6, 2012

Heresies of Von Balthasar

For the past month, I have been slogging through Alyssa Lyra Pitstick's monumental tome "Light in Darkness", subtitled, "Hans Urs von Balthasar and the Catholic Doctrine of Christ's Descent into Hell." It is a massive work, but tremendously thorough and takes on von Balthasar like few in the post-Conciliar Church have been willing to do. Balthasar is most known, of course, for his idea that we may reasonably hope that hell may be empty, but Pitstick takes the fight to the heart of Balthasar's theology: his doctrine that Christ was abandoned by the Father and suffered the pains of hell on Holy Saturday. As Pitstick demonstrates, this theology of the "Descent" is actually central to all of Balthasar's theology and actually serves as the premise upon which he will build his conclusion that we may hope for universal salvation.

I have not finished the book yet, though I am drawing close. Even so, I can say that Miss Pitstick has done us all a tremendous service in putting this work together. I for one an appalled that so many otherwise orthodox individuals in the Church, from theology professors right on up to John Paul II and Benedict XVI, find Balthasar's theology credible. I dismissed his "hope for universal salvation" theory as completely contrary to tradition about two seconds after somebody explained it to me, and it mystifies me that so many other learned persons continue to dally with it. But Pitstick's book does more than expose the flawed thinking behind Balthasar's empty hell theory - it exposes him as heretical (or at least extremely counter to orthodox tradition) in his Christology, soteriology, Trinitarian theology, sacramental theology, ecclesiology and almost every other area across the theological spectrum, leading the reader to the conclusion that, not only is Balthasar mistaken on his empty hell hypothesis, but his entire corpus of theology is extremely questionable and that this man is far from the trustworthy theologian that Ignatius Press and many in the Magisterium would have us believe.

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Barron, Neuhaus, and Von Balthazar-ites

Something for the Barron-ites and the Balthazar-ites:

The Council of Quiersy in 853 stated that, "not all will be saved" (Denz. No. 318); 

and Pius II in 1459 even condemned the opinion "That all Christians are to be saved" (Denz. No. 717[b]);


"17. Good hope at least is to be entertained of the eternal salvation of all those who are not at all in the true Church of Christ." -- Condemned
"24. The exegete who constructs premises from which it follows that dogmas are historically false or doubtful is not to be reproved as long as he does not directly deny the dogmas themselves ."-- Condemned

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

The Inflated Reputation of Hans Urs von Balthasar

by Rev. Regis Scanlon, O.F.M. Cap.


The theological ideas of Hans Urs von Balthasar, the Swiss Catholic theologian who died in 1988, have captured the imagination of Catholic scholars throughout the Church. Both "conservative" and "progressive" churchmen have hailed him as one of the century's pre-eminent theologians. He has been called one of "the twentieth century's outstanding Catholic thinkers," and compared to Augustine and Aquinas. Clearly, Balthasar's opinions carry considerable weight among Catholics today.

Balthasar's "Hope" For Judas & All Men

Balthasar, in Dare We Hope "That All Men Be Saved"? claimed there was no certainty that anyone is in Hell or ever will be in Hell. He stated that "the Church ... has never said anything about the damnation of any individual. Not even about that of Judas." Thus, he declared, every Christian has the "obligation" to hope that all men are saved, including Judas.

It seems compassionate to desire that all men be saved and to be horrified at the thought of anyone suffering eternal punishment -- even Judas. But this feeling must not cloud the intellect to the point of undermining the Gospel or the natural law and truth itself. The problem with Balthasar's "hope" is that it conceals an implicit doubt about the Church's philosophy of truth and her doctrine on Jesus Christ.

A hope is absurd unless there is the possibility that it will be realized in the future. But, if Balthasar's "hope" would come to fruition and everyone would in fact be saved, what would then be said about the fact that this situation contradicts statements in sacred Scriptures, Tradition, and the Magisterium of the Church? If these sources clearly teach that Judas or someone else is in Hell (or will be in Hell), then to hope that everyone will be saved is to hope either that these sources of revelation are in error or that the natural law with its principle of noncontradiction is in error. A hope like this really seems to be a doubt that the natural law and "unchangeable truth" exist and can be known by the Church. It seems to be a doubt about one's faith and the sources of revelation. And if Jesus Christ Himself taught that Judas or anyone else is in Hell (or will be in Hell), then to "hope" for universal salvation is to hope that Jesus made erroneous statements. The most disconcerting feature of Balthasar's hope for universal salvation is that its logic appears to require an assumption of Christ's ignorance and fallibility.

But the question is: Do Scriptures, Tradition, and the Magisterium clearly teach anything about the end of Judas and the possibility of universal salvation? Let's investigate.

Monday, August 8, 2011


 Some of the New Theologians refused to wear clerics 
at Vatican II. Pictured above is Fr. Karel Rahner and Fr. Joseph Ratzinger at Vatican II.

[ Here is a interesting article that has come to our attention. It shows that the crisis in the Church didn't start at Vatican II but has been forming much before that. Some are innocent devotees to the new theology, like JPII and B16, who seemed to be able to hang on to the essentials of the Faith, but the influence of false premises from the "new theology" is still being felt. Influential publishers like Ignatius Press are promoting a lot of these dubious theologians. Whether all proponents of the "New Theology" are in serious error, we will leave to the magnetism  to decide, but some are clearly in serious error, like Hans Kung.--CFT; editor Bill Strom]


The New Theology is a false "religious" system that became popular among Catholics in Europe from the 1920s onward. Because it was recognized as resurgent modernism, it was kept under a lid by the Vatican and was condemned by Pope Pius XII in Humani Generis. Its primary founders were Maurice Blondel, Father Henri de Lubac and Hans Urs von Balthasar. It enjoys an undeserved popularity today.

What is the main contention of the partisans of the New Theology?

 In 1950, "The Thomist"[link] published an article by Father David Greenstock that warned against the New Theology. He explained that "The main contention of the partisans of this new movement is that theology, to remain alive, must move with the times" and that "traditional theology is out of touch with reality." Their hallmark has always been scorn for the Magisterium.

How do they scorn the Magisterium?

 The Popes have consistently taught that the philosophy and theology of St. Thomas Aquinas (Scholasticism) is the irreplaceable basis for a proper Catholic theology. In his Encyclical Pascendi, Pope St. Pius X said that Scholasticism was the remedy for modernism. He further warned, "We admonish professors to bear well in mind that they cannot set aside St. Thomas especially in metaphysical questions, without grave disadvantage."  Yet the founders of the New Theology were unanimously resolved that the Aristotelian system on which Thomism is based must be abandoned in favor of new philosophical systems.

Why is this fatally flawed?

 Father Greenstock shows that modern philosophies cannot be "synthesized" into Catholic theology because "most people outside the Church suffer from an almost complete incapacity for logical thought. Their basis for argument is sentiment rather than reason. ... This incapacity (for logical thought) is a direct result of these modern philosophies which we are now asked to adopt and to baptize — an impossible task."

Where is the difficulty?

 Father Greenstock explained, "we are asked to substitute for the clear metaphysical notions of Aquinas the fluid concepts of modern philosophies, and it is very difficult indeed for us to see how that can be done without harm to the unchangeable doctrines of the Faith."

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Raymond Brown-- deceitful claim of changed criteria in Biblical Criticism

Pius XII did not approve an about-face:
"After forty years of rigorous opposition, the Catholic Church in the
1940's under the pontificate of Pope Pius XII made an undeniable about - face in
attitude toward biblical criticism. The encyclical Divino Afflante Spiritu (1943)
instructed Catholic scholars to use the methods of scientific approach to the Bible
that had hitherto been forbidden to them. Within about ten years teachers trained
in biblical criticism began to move in large numbers into Catholic classrooms in
seminaries and colleges, so that the mid- 1950's really marked the watershed."
Raymond Brown

Raymond Brown-- deceitful claims of changed criteria in Biblical Criticism

Raymond Brown
Raymond E. Brown, S.S. Biblical Reflections on Crises Facing the Church , Paulist
Press, New York, 1975.
I was so horrified on reading this book that I thought I better do a review
of it to try and get back my peace of mind. Let me begin with Father Brown’s

"...In recent years I have had the grace of teaching Protestant students for
the ministry as well as Catholic candidates for the priesthood. The Roman
Catholic Church could not have made its advance in biblical criticism without
Protestant aid. In the first third of the century the torch of biblical criticism was
kept lighted by Protestant scholars; and when after 1943 [he means after Divino
Afflante Spiritu, as we shall see later] Catholics lit their candles from it, they
profited from the burnt fingers as well as the glowing insights of their Protestant

It is no accident that Protestant and Catholic biblical scholars have
been coming closer together ever since, to the point now of producing common
studies of divisive problems. Such ecumenical experience governs the themes in
this book, for I hope and pray that the ultimate goal of the Roman Catholic
biblical pilgrimage in the twentieth century will be a unified Christianity." (p.ix)

Father Brown is trying to set himself up that you can’t criticize him without criticizing ecumenism.

He identifies three divisive areas which are impeding a unified Christianity: 1) the ordination of women, 2) the Papacy and 3) Our Lady. So by means of biblical criticism in union with Protestant scholars, we can re- examine these areas, and hopefully eliminate this divisiveness. This tool which they are using, biblical criticism, is of Protestant origin. The very term “criticism” implies that the Bible is just a human book; if it was a divine Book you wouldn't want to criticize it. They claim that biblical criticism is scientific, and therefore they can’t approach the Bible through authority, the Tradition and the Magisterium; that wouldn’t be scientific. This is basically the Protestant principle of sola Scriptura --Scripture alone.

Biblical criticism breaks down into three parts:
1.) Textual Criticism, (which could be good if used properly) attempts to recover the original text in which a book is written. They assert that the Bible is inspired only in the original text. (Which can be true to a point, if we had no Magesterium that could approve a certain translation like the Vulgate as inspired and free from error. This official approval was given by the Council of Trent) For instance in the Gospel of St. Matthew errors of copyists could have crept in, or marginal notes that were accidentally incorporated into the text. Now there are very few of these and they are all unsubstantial, and they have to be decided on
by the Church. But these people claim that the Bible is just full of errors.

2.) Literary Criticism which identifies the literary forms of the Bible could
also be good - the books of the Bible are historical, prophetical, etc., but they
want to identify fictional literary forms like the myth or midrash , which are not in
the Bible at all.

3.) Historical Criticism, which we can’t accept at all, because it implies
that the Bible is errant, in error. It breaks down into two parts:

Authenticity, is the particular book by the author it claims? For example, are
St. Matthew’s and St. John’s Gospels, really by St. Matthew and St. John? They will
say no, but we can’t accept that, because the Bible is officially aproved by the Magesterium and it says that St. Matthew and St. John did write these books.

b.) Historicity, is this account of the life of Our Lord really historical? They will say no, which again we can’t accept. They say we can examine divisive areas, like the Papacy and see that the primacy and infallibility are not in Scripture at all, the accounts of Our Lady are
not historical in any way. They are just symbolic, and there is nothing in
the Bible which would prohibit the ordination of women.

In this paper, I would like to just go after biblical criticism itself, rather than go through the three areas, because once you get biblical criticism, they won’t be able to use it for such

Father Brown has to go after the Church
condemnations that were made of his method in the early part of the century,

to use biblical criticism his way

Abbé Loisy an early Modernist, who was excommunicated for heresy, was a forerunner of Father Brown, and his
condemnation also condemns the Neo- Modernist, Brown. From 1905 through
1915 the Biblical Commission condemned this use of biblical criticism.

In a motu proprio, Praestantia Scripturae, Pope St. Pius X, made these decisions binding in conscience:
"Moreover, in order to check the daily increasing audacity of many modernists who are endeavoring by all kinds of sophistry and devices to detract from the force and efficacy not only of the decree "Lamentabili sane exitu" (the so-called Syllabus), issued by our order by the Holy Roman and Universal Inquisition on July 3 of the present year, but also of our encyclical letters "Pascendi dominici gregis" given on September 8 of this same year, we do by our apostolic authority repeat and confirm both that decree of the Supreme Sacred Congregation and those encyclical letters of ours, adding the penalty of excommunication against their contradictors, and this we declare and decree that should anybody, which may God forbid, be so rash as to defend any one of the propositions, opinions or teachings condemned in these documents he falls, ipso facto..."

Then in 1943 Pope Pius XII in Divino Afflante Spiritu encouraged the scientific study of the
Bible. He mentioned textual and literary criticism favorably, but came down
strongly against historicity, especially in regards to the life of Our Lord:
#3."Finally it is absolutely wrong and forbidden "either to narrow inspiration to certain passages of Holy Scripture, or to admit that the sacred writer has erred," since divine inspiration "not only is essentially incompatible with error but excludes and rejects it as absolutely and necessarily as it is impossible that God Himself, the supreme Truth, can utter that which is not true. This is the ancient and constant faith of the Church..."

#50."...[L]et them confirm the Christian doctrine by sentences from the Sacred Books and illustrate it by outstanding examples from sacred history and in particular from the Gospel of Christ Our Lord; and -- avoiding with the greatest care those purely arbitrary and far-fetched adaptations..."

Then Father Brown is going to say that in 1955, this very some Biblical Commission abrogated these 1905 to 1915 decisions. Let me read Father Brown’s summary of this:

“Physical, historical, and linguistic methods, known to us only in
approximately the last one hundred years, have produced a scientifically critical
study of the Bible, a study that has revolutionized views held in the past about the
authorship, origin and dating of the biblical books, about how they were
composed, and what their authors meant. In the first forty years of this century
(1900 to 1940 approximately) the Roman Catholic Church very clearly and
officially took a stance against such biblical criticism. The Modernist heretics at
the beginning of the century employed biblical criticism, and the official Roman
condemnations of Modernism made little distinction between the possible
intrinsic validity of biblical criticism and the theological misuse of it by the
Modernists. Between 1905 and 1915 the Pontifical Biblical Commission in Rome
issued a series of conservative decisions on the composition and authorship of
the Bible. Although phrased with nuance [a favorite term of the Modernists], these
decisions ran against the trends of contemporary Old and New Testament
investigation. Yet Catholic scholars were obliged to assent to these decisions and
teach them.

“After forty years of rigorous opposition, the Catholic Church in the
1940's under the pontificate of Pope Pius XII made an undeniable about - face in
attitude toward biblical criticism. The encyclical Divino Afflante Spiritu (1943)
instructed Catholic scholars to use the methods of scientific approach to the Bible
that had hitherto been forbidden to them. Within about ten years teachers trained
in biblical criticism began to move in large numbers into Catholic classrooms in
seminaries and colleges, so that the mid- 1950's really marked the watershed. By
that time the pursuit of the scientific method had led Catholic exegetes to
abandon almost all the positions on biblical authorship and composition taken by
Rome at the beginning of the century. No longer did they hold that Moses was the
substantial author of the Pentateuch, that the first chapters of Genesis were really
historical, that Isaiah was one book, that Matthew was the first Gospel written by
an eyewitness, that Luke and Acts were written in the 60's, that Paul wrote
Hebrews, etc. This dramatic change of position was tacitly acknowledged in 1955
by the secretary of the Pontifical Biblical Commission who stated that now
Catholic scholars had complete freedom. with regard to these decrees of 1905-
1915 except where they touched on faith or morals (and very few of them did).” (pp.6,7)

The little book Rome and the Study of Scripture put out by the Abbey Press
at St. Meinrad, purports to be all the Roman documents on the study of Scripture,
yet they have left out Pascendi , Lamentabile, and the Oath Against Modernism, all
crucial documents in the study of the Bible, as well as Humani Generis in which
Pope Pius XII tried to plug up the holes he had left in Divino Afflante:

#23. "Further, according to their fictitious opinions, the literal sense of Holy Scripture and its explanation, carefully worked out under the Church's vigilance by so many great exegetes, should yield now to a new exegesis, which they are pleased to call symbolic or spiritual."

Then he
ends with this 1955 thing that they are claiming is a Roman Document. In the footnotes they always tell you where you can find a particular document in the Acta Apostolicae Sedis, what Congregation put it out, etc. It turns out that this particular document is just a book review of the Enchiridion Biblicum , a collection of Roman biblical documents in Latin, a new edition having come out in 1955. The book review appeared in a German Benedictine magazine: Excerpts from Das Neue Biblische Handbuch, Benedictinishche Monatschrift . The review is signed A.M., but there seems to be no doubt this is the Very Reverend Athanasius Miller, O.S.B., secretary of the Pontifical Biblical Commission.

So in no way is this a Roman document; it is not in the Acta , or any

other official register. The Sword of the Spirit is an excellent little book by
Monsignor Steinmueller, a consultor of the Biblical Commission, who was there at this time, 1955, and he has this to say:

“I was a consultor of the first Pontifical Biblical Commission from 1947
(after the publication of Divino Afflante Spiritu ) to 1971; and I never heard any
intimation that any decrees of the Commission were ever revoked...Recently some
Catholic scholars have asserted that the decrees were implicitly revoked by Divino
Afflante Spiritu (1943) and that this is confirmed by two articles written by AS.
Miller and A. Kleinhans, who seem to restrict the scope of the decrees to matters
of faith and morals (cf..Jerome Biblical Commentary Vol II, p.629) [This is an
article by Brown. This 1955 thing seems to be his invention.] The articles referred
to were unauthorized and were condemned by the voting Cardinal members of
the Commission. A. Miller and A. Kleinhans were to be brought before the Holy
Office because of the articles, but were saved from this ordeal through the
personal intervention of Cardinal Tisserant [the Cardinal Prefect of the Biblical
Commission at the time] before the Holy Father. It was my friend Father Miller,
O.S.B., who told me the whole story before his return to Germany.” 2

Evidently Father Miller was shipped back to his monastery in Germany
after this event. Imagine trying to push this thing as a Roman document
abrogating the former decisions of the Biblical Commission, and what is worse,
getting away with it! It is a complete phony!

Father Brown then goes on to an Instruction of the Biblical Commission
issued in 1964 during the time of the Vatican Council, which he claims says that
the Gospels are not historical accounts of the life of Our Lord. Then he is going to
say that Vatican II incorporated this Instruction into its decree Dei Verbum on the
Bible. To follow Father Brown’s argument you have to understand what he means
by form criticism , which Rudolf Bultman, (1921), a liberal Protestant, used, to
claim that the Gospels are the artistic creations of the primitive communities.

The Gospels are not historical accounts of the life of Our Lord. They are in layers
added by the various communities that have turned Our Lord into a mythical
Pope Pius XII, Humani Generis:
#39. "Therefore, whatever of the popular narrations have been inserted into the Sacred Scriptures must in no way be considered on a par with myths or other such things"

Brown says we have to dig down till you come to the primitive layer, what Our Lord
actually said and did, a process he calls demythologizing . When you get down to
the bottom layer you find that Jesus was a mere man who never claimed to be

You also need to know another one of these liberal Protestants, Dibelius
(1919) and his redaction criticism , which is very similar to form criticism. He
claims that the redactor or editor, gathered together all the artistic creations of
the primitive communities.

The point being that these redactors were not the eyewitness Matthew and John, as had been always been believed, but late disciples, who then added their own artistic creations. By this means these men were able to deny the historicity of the four Gospels. Here is Father Brown on this document:

“The Historical Truth of the Gospels, an Instruction of the Pontifical
Biblical Commission (1964).
“...Stage One recognizes a limited worldview on Jesus’ part, even if it
delicately attributes this to accommodation. Most Catholic scholars would speak
more openly of Jesus’ own limited knowledge rather than accommodating himself
to the limited knowledge of his time.”(pp.111,112)

Father Brown says that Jesus didn’t know that He was God or the Messiah.
He denies His traditional beatific and infused knowledge, and claims He had only
experimental knowledge:

“Stage Two recognizes that the Christology of the early Church was post -
resurrectional in origin and read back into the accounts of the ministry. It allows
for development within the pre- Gospel of the Jesus tradition, and is a stage of
formation close to what scholars isolate by form- critical analysis.”(p.112)
The Gospels are not historical accounts of the Resurrection by
eyewitnesses, but rather post - resurrectional theological insights by later

“Stage Three acknowledges considerable freedom of authorship by the
evangelists. It is a stage of formation close to what scholars isolate by redaction
criticism.” (p.112)

The Gospels were not by eyewitnesses but by later disciples who added
their own meditations. Here is what the Instruction actually says:
“Stage One: The ministry of Jesus

“...When the Lord was orally explaining his doctrine, he followed the modes
of reasoning and of exposition which were in vogue at the time. He accommodated
himself to the mentality of his listeners.” [Brown’s italics] (pp.112,113)
Of course Our Lord accommodated Himself to the mentality of His
listeners. In the Synoptics he is speaking to Galileans who are very simple people.
He speaks in a completely different way than He does in St. John’s Gospel which
deals mainly with Our Lord’s Judean ministry. Here He is speaking to a people
who are very cosmopolitan, Pharisees and Sadducees, the intellectuals of the day,
so of course Our Lord had to accommodate Himself to the
mentality of His listeners. But they would say it was rather because of the
limitations of His human knowledge.

“Stage Two: The Preaching of the Apostles [Brown puts in italics the parts
he want to emphasize, and the following is in italics.]
“...After Jesus rose from the dead and his divinity was clearly perceived.”
(p.113) Of course the Apostles saw Jesus’ divinity more clearly after His
resurrection, but Brown will then claim the accounts in the Gospels where the
Apostles profess His divinity are not historical. Especially when St. Peter was
given the primacy: “Thou art the Christ the Son of the living God.” (Matt. 16:16).
Of course the Apostles’ faith was weak at that time, and they more clearly saw His
divinity after the Holy Ghost descended on them. Now the following passage, the
continuation of the above, is not in italics - evidently you weren’t supposed to
read it:

“, far from destroying the memory of what had transpired, rather
confirmed it, because their faith rested on the things which Jesus did and taught.
Nor was he changed into a ‘mythical’ person and his teaching deformed in
consequence of the worship which the disciples from that time on paid Jesus as
Lord and the Son of God.” (p.113)
This is an explicit repudiation of Bultman’s form criticism and
demythologizing. The Evangelists didn’t just add artistic creations after the
resurrection which turned Our Lord into a mythical person, but rather the
resurrection allowed them to understand more clearly what Our Lord said and did
during His public life.

“This primitive instruction, which was at first passed on by word of mouth
and then in writing - for it soon happened that many tried ‘to compile a narrative
of the things’ which concerned the Lord Jesus - was committed to writing by the
sacred authors...”(pp.113,114)

Ah, they say, notice they didn’t say Matthew, Mark Luke and John,
especially Matthew and John the eyewitnesses, but just “sacred authors.” These
are the late redactors. All you need to do is to give them a little phrase like that
and they are in. This Instruction does not deny the historical truth of the Gospels,
but rather affirms it. Now Father Brown will go on to say that this document was
incorporated into Dei Verbum of Vatican II.

There is a wonderful book "The Rhine Flows into the Tiber" by Fr. Ralph
Wiltgen, S.V.D. on Vatican II. It is not at all a sensational book as were so many on
the Council; one I especially remember was by Xavier Rynne, who turned out to be
a Redemptorist named Mahoney, who broke his oath of secrecy. He leaked all the
inside proceedings of the Council while it was still in session, and his book
became a best - seller. Father Wiltgen ran a Catholic news service at the Council,
and his reporting was so accurate that all the different factions of the Council
came to him with their releases. What he means by the title, The Rhine Flows into
the Tiber, is that before the Council actually began its sessions, the Rhineland
bishops with their periti , that is the bishops of Germany, France, Switzerland,
Holland and Belgium (about 150 of them), met, and they planned to introduce
Neo- Modernism into the Church. Father Wiltgen will say that in part they
succeeded, because they were able to introduce into the Council documents,
ambiguous phrases susceptible of a Modernist interpretation, and thus in a sense
the “Rhine flowed into the Tiber” Neo- Modernism flowed into the Church.

In the Constitution Dei Verbum the Neo- Modernist campaign was fought
out on three articles, 9, 11, and 19. The Theological Commission drew up the
schema for this Constitution and it was dominated by these Rhineland men; the
periti included Father Rahner, Father Schillebeeckx, and Father Küng. In Article 9
they tried to say that the sole source of revelation was the Bible, the Protestant
principle of sola Scriptura . Revelation didn’t also come from Tradition. That
would deny, for instance, that there are seven sacraments; which comes primarily
from oral tradition. What they are after especially is the priesthood, the sacrament
of Holy Orders.

Article 11 limited the inerrancy of Holy Scripture just to matters of faith
and morals; this is something they have been after for a long time. And Article 19
is this Instruction of the Biblical Commission which Father Brown claims denies
the historicity of the Gospels. Believe it or not this schema was passed by 83 %of
the Council Fathers, a tremendous majority. It was in; all they had to do was to
get the signature of the Pope. But a small group of Council Fathers, mainly
Americans and Italians, protested to the Holy Father that these articles were Neo-
Modernist. The Holy Father was very upset, and he sent a letter to the Theological
Commission protesting these three articles.

Here is Father Wiltgen:
“The Commission met on October 19 to hear the contents of the letter.
The first of the three papal directives concerned Article 9 [the one on sola
Scriptura ], and suggested seven possible renderings. Cardinal Bea explained why
he preferred the third one. After some discussion and balloting, the Commission
decided to add to Article 9 the words: ‘Consequently, it is not from Sacred
Scripture alone that the Church draws its certainty about everything which has
been revealed.’ This had been Cardinal Bea’s choice.” 3
So this addition strikes down the bid for sola Scriptura. Father Wiltgen

“In regard to Article 11 [the one on the inerrancy of Scripture] the
Commission was invited by Cardinal Cicognani, [he is the one who brought the
Pope’s letter, and read it to the Commission] on behalf of Pope Paul to consider
‘with new and serious reflection’ the advisability of omitting the expression ‘truth
pertaining to salvation’ from the text.” 4
The phrase “truth pertaining to salvation” is an ambiguous phrase, and in
their interpretation it would be used to deny the inerrancy of some sections of the
Bible. The Holy Father wanted it dropped, but the Commission refused to remove
the dangerous phrase.

“...the Commission decided to reword the phrase as follows ‘...the books of
Scripture must be acknowledged as teaching firmly, faithfully, and without error
that truth which God wanted put into the sacred writings for the sake of our
salvation.’” 5

So all they did was make it a little longer, and the phrase “truth pertaining
to salvation” is still there. This will allow exegetes like Father Brown to deny the
historicity of passages of the Bible which don’t fit their theories. This was done
deliberately by these Rhineland bishops. Now here is the article that Father Brown
claims denies the historicity of the Gospels: Father Wiltgen:

“With regard to Article 19, Cardinal Cicognani advised the Commission
that Pope Paul regarded the words ‘true and sincere’ as insufficient. That
expression, he said did not seem to guarantee the historical reality of the Gospels,
and he added the Holy Father clearly ‘could not approve a formulation which
leaves in doubt the historicity of these most holy books...It was then suggested
that the historicity of the Gospels should be asserted without equivocation earlier
in the same paragraph; this would preclude any ambiguity concerning the words
‘true and sincere’ which could then be retained.
“...The beginning of Article 19 was thus amended to read as follows: ‘Holy
Mother Church has firmly and with absolute constancy held, and continues to
hold, that the four Gospels...whose historical character the Church unhesitatingly
asserts, faithfully hand on what Jesus Christ...really did and taught for their
eternal salvation.’” 6

So this completely strikes down Brown’s claims for form criticism and
redaction criticism. To claim that the Council taught these inept methods is just a
bluff. Now watch what Father Brown can do with that weak phrase from Article 11
“those truths pertaining to our salvation” and this is the reason they got it in:
“The Statement of Vatican II on Inerrancy
“...Only gradually have we learned to distinguish that while all Scripture is
inspired, all Scripture is not inerrant. The first step in narrowing the scope of
inerrancy is to recognize that the concept is applicable only when an affirmation
of truth is involved. In the Bible there are passages of poetry, song, fiction, and
fable where the matter of inerrancy does not even arise. A second step is to
recognize that not every affirmation of truth is so germane to God's purpose in
inspiring the Scriptures that He has committed Himself to it. Already in
Providentissimus Deus (1893) Pope Leo XIII acknowledged that the scientific
affirmations of the Bible were not necessarily inerrant, since it was not God's
purpose to teach men science."(p.115)
This is not what Pope Leo said.

#18"Hence they did not seek to penetrate the secrets of nature, but rather described and dealt with things in more or less figurative language, or in terms which were commonly used at the time and which in many instances are in daily use at this day, even by the most eminent men of science. Ordinary speech primarily and properly describes what comes under the senses; and somewhat in the same way the sacred writers -- as the Angelic Doctor [Aquinas] also reminds us -- "went by what sensibly appeared,"54 or put down what God, speaking to men, signified, in the way men could understand and were accustomed to."

He said that the Bible does not teach science, that is go into the intrinsic nature of things, but rather goes by what sensibly appears. Brown is saying that if you say the sun sets, that's an error; you are denying the Copernican system. This is not an error; this is the way men talk, even still today.
It is ridiculous to say that the Bible is in error on scientific matters.

Eventually the same principle was applied to historical affirmations, but the
last frontier has been religious affirmations. "Job's denial of an afterlife (Job
14:14- 22) makes it difficult to claim that all religious affirmations of the Bible are
Did Job deny the after life?
Job said: “he has kept us for a short time and then let's us go forever.”
Brown is saying that this denies the afterlife. It doesn 't. And imagine taking
advantage of poor Job. He has just lost everything; he is almost in despair; he is
almost ready to blaspheme; he is on the verge of suicide, and then claim, that's
the Bible teaching religion. It is as if when the high priest tore his garments, and
said that Our Lord blasphemed. Ah, there 's a religious error. Can you see the
ridiculousness of the claim that the Bible teaches religious error.

Brown continues:
"Vatican II has made it possible to restrict inerrancy to the essential religious
affirmations of a biblical book made for the sake of our salvation.
The Books of Scripture must be acknowledged as teaching firmly, faithfully,
and without error that truth which God wanted put into the Sacred writings for
the sake of our salvation."(pp.115,116)
So you can see what they can do with an ambiguous phrase which was
deliberately inserted into the Council documents. This is what Father Wiltgen
means when he says “the Rhine flowed into the Tiber.” Let me conclude this paper
with an amusing exchange between Pope Paul VI and one of these self- important
periti. Father Wiltgen doesn 't name the person involved, but I suspect it is Fr.
John Courtney Murray, S.J.. He had drawn up the draft for the Council's
Declaration on Religious Freedom, and was lionized in the secular and religious
press. As a result. he evidently got an exaggerated opinion of his importance at
the Council.
While Pope Paul was considering whether to intervene in the matter or not,
he received a letter from a leading personality at the Council - not a member of
the Theological Commission - who had taken it upon himself to act as the
spokesman for some alarmists at the Council. The writer said that if the Pope
reconvened the Commission, as it was rumored, he would be guilty of using moral
pressure on the Commission and the Council. Such a step, continued the writer,
would damage the prestige of the Council and the Church, especially in Anglo-
Saxon countries, the United States and Canada, where people were particularly
sensitive to any violation of Rules of Procedure.
To this, Pope Paul replied:
'...These principles are no less dear to Romans than they are to the Anglo-
Saxons. They have been most rigorously observed in the Council.' "6

1 Rome and the Study of Scripture, Abbey Press Publishing Division, St. Meinrad, IN,
1964, p.176.
2 Msgr. John E. Steinmueller, The Sword of the Spirit: Which Is the Word of God, Stella
Maris Books Ft. Worth, TX, 1977, pp.7,8.
3 Rev. Ralph M. Wiltgen, S.V.D., The Rhine Flows into the Tiber , Hawthorn Books Inc., New
York, 1966,. pp.181,182
4 Wiltgen, Op. Cit., p.182.
5 Wiltgen, p.182.
6 Wiltgen, pp.183,184.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Father Tissa Balasuriya, O.M.I.--condemnation of the book and subsequent excommunication

Notification concerning the text "Mary and Human Liberation" by
Father Tissa Balasuriya, O.M.I.
Prepared for internet by Msgr. Peter Nguyen Van Tai,
Radio Veritas Asia, Philippines--

On June 5, 1994, the Bishops' Conference of Sri Lanka publicly declared that the publication entitled Mary and Human Liberation by Father Tissa Balasuriya, O.M.I. contained statements incompatible with the faith of the Church regarding the doctrine of revelation and its transmission, Christology, soteriology and Mariology. The bishops concluded by admonishing the faithful to refrain from reading the book. The author, on his part, reacted negatively, contending that his text had been interpreted erroneously and demanded that the truth of the accusations be demonstrated to him.

In spite of the declaration by the Bishops' Conference of Sri Lanka, the erroneous ideas continued to be disseminated among the faithful, even beyond the borders of Sri Lanka; it was for this reason that the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, in keeping with its responsibility for safeguarding the faith throughout the Catholic world, decided to intervene. At the end of July 1994, the dicastery sent the Superior General of the Oblates of Mary Immaculate some observations on the text, confirming that it contained statements manifestly incompatible with the faith of the Church. In addition, the Superior General was invited to take the measures appropriate in such a case, including a request for a public retraction.

In his response of March 14, 1995, Father balasuriya once again stated his positions and maintained that the observations of the Congregation had misunderstood and falsified his doctrinal positions.

To assist the author to demonstrate his full and unconditioned adherence to the magisterium, in November 1995, the Congregation forwarded the text of a profession of faith to the Superior General of the Oblates of Mary Immaculate, centered on magisterial definitions relative to those truths of the faith which the author had denied or had interpreted erroneously. Moreover, it was stated that if Father Balasuriya would agree to sign the profession, it would then be decided how most adequately to repair the harm done to the faithful; should he not agree, in addition to the disciplinary measures which would follow (can. 1364), the possibility of a public Notification would be taken into consideration by the Congregation.

In May 1996, father Balasuriya responded by sending a different text, the "Solemn Profession of Paul VI" which had been signed by him with the addition of the following clause: "I, Father Tissa Balasuriya O.M.I. make and sign this Profession of Faith of Pope Paul VI in the context of theological development and Church practice since Vatican II and the freedom and responsibility of Christians and theological searchers, under Canon Law." Prescinding from the fact that the author had responded with a text different from the one requested, the addition of such a clause rendered the declaration defective, since it diminished the universal and permanent value of the definitions of the magisterium.

In June 1996, the Congregation again asked the Superior General of the Oblates of Mary Immaculate to invite Father Balasuriya to sign the text of the profession of faith already given to him, within a period of three weeks and without any conditioning clause.

In the meantime, the Secretary of the Bishops' Conference of Sri Lanka had communicated that Father Balasuriya had made recourse to the State Mediation Board against the Episcopal Conference, as well as against the Archbishop of Colombo and the editors and manager of the Colombo Catholic Press, in response to the declaration regarding Mary and Human Liberation and its subsequent publication in Catholic newspapers.

On July 16, 1996, the Procurator General of the Oblates of Mary Immaculate transmitted the response of Father Balasuriya, dated July 1, 1996, in which he stated that he had suspended the civil proceedings against the bishops, giving as the reason for this decision his hope that there would be a re-examination of his case within the Church. He was, in all probability, refering to his appeal against the bishops of Sri Lanka, dated June 13, 1996, to the Supreme Tribunal of the Apostolic Signatura, in which he maintained that the procedures that led to the declaration regarding his text had been marred be serious irregularities. The Tribunal responded, however, that the question did not fall within its competence. In a similar way, the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples, having received an appeal by Father Balasuriya dated July 17, 1996, recognized its lack of competence in this case and forwarded the author's letter to the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.

Father Balasuriya also asked the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith to allow him some time to reflect further on its request that he sign the profession of faith without any conditioning clause, and promised a response before the end of September; such a response, however, never arrived.

Given the clear refusal of Father Balasuriya to publicly and unequivocally profess his adherence to the faith of the Church, on July 22, 1996, the Congregation, at a meeting with the Superior General and Procurator General of the Oblates of Mary Immaculate, communicated that such a situation could not be allowed to continue and that, therefore, a Notification would be published in his regard.

Father Balasuriya was offered a further opportunity to demonstrate his unconditioned adherence to the faith of the Church when, on December 7, 1996, he was called, together with his Provincial Superior, to the Apostolic Nunciature in Sri Lanka. At that time, the Apostolic Nuncio read to Father Balasuriya the text of a proposed Notification which would be published should he not sign the profession of faith mentioned above. Father Balasuriya once again refused and appealed to the Holy Father, asking that a letter he had prepared be delivered directly to the Pope. In this letter, Father Balasuriya continued to maintain that everything he had written in his text Mary and Human Liberation was within the limits of orthodoxy.

On December 27, 1996, in the name of the Holy Father, His Eminence Angelo Cardinal Sodano, Secretary of State, responded with a letter to Father Balasuriya, assuring him that the Pope had personally followed the various phases of the procedure used by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith in its examination of his writing, and that the Holy Father had expressly approved the Notification of the Congregation.

Therefore, given the failure of this latest attempt to obtain from Father Balasuriya an expression of adherence to the faith of the Church, the Congregation is compelled, for the good of the faithful, to publish the present Notification, in which the essential elements of the above-mentioned observations are made public.

Evaluation of the text Mary and Human Liberation

The aim of Father Balasuriya's publication is, in his own words, "the critique and evaluation of theological propositions and presuppositions" (p. iv) of the Church's Mariological teaching. In pursuing this intention, the author arrives at the formulation of principles and theological explanations which contain a series of grave errors and which, to different degrees, are distortions of the truths of dogma and are, therefore, incompatible with the faith.

Father Balasuriya does not recognize the supernatural, unique and irrepeatable character of the revelation of Jesus Christ, by placing its presuppositions on the same level as those of other religions (cf. pp. 31-63). In particular, he maintains that certain "presuppositions" connected to myths were uncritically assumed to be revealed historical facts and, interpreted ideologically by the clerical "power holders" in the Church, eventually became the teaching of the magisterium (cf. pp. 41-49).

Father Balasuriya assumes, moreover, a discontinuity in the economy of revelation, In fact, he distinguishes "between the faith due in Christianity to what Jesus teaches and to what the Churches have subsequently developed as interpretations of his teaching" (p. 37). From this, it follows that the content expressed by various dogmas is considered to be on the same level as theological interpretations offered "by the Churches," which are the fruit of their cultural and political interests (cf. pp. 42-45, 76-77). This position involves, in fact, the denial of the nature of Catholic dogma and, as a consequence, the relativizing of the revealed truths contained in them.

In the first place, the author relativizes Christological dogma: Jesus is presented simply as "a supreme teacher," "one showing a path to deliverance from sin and union with God" (p. 37), "one of the greatest spiritual leaders of humanity" (p. 149), a person who communicates to us his "primordial spiritual experience" (p. 37), but whose divine sonship is never explicitly recognized (cf. pp. 47, 104-105, 153) and whose salvific function is only doubtfully acknowledged (cf. p. 81).

The ecclesiological errors of the text follow from this vision. In not recognizing that "Jesus Christ wanted a Church - say the Catholic Church - to be the mediator of that salvation" (p. 81), Father Balasuriya reduces salvation to a "direct relationship between God and the human person" (p. 81) and so denies the necessity of baptism (cf. 68).

A fundamental aspect of the thought of Father Balasuriya is the denial of the dogma of original sin, held by him to be simply a product of the theological thought of the West (cf. pp. 66-78). This contradicts the nature of this dogma and its intrinsic connection to revealed truth. The author, in fact, does not hold that the meaning of dogmatic formulas remains always true and unchangeable, though capable of being expressed more clearly and better understood.

On the basis of these positions, the author arrives at the point of denying, in particular, the "Marian dogmas. Mary's divine motherhood, her Immaculate Conception and virginity, as well as her bodily Assumption into heaven, are not recognized as truths belonging to the Word of God (cf. pp. 47, 106, 139, 152, 191). Wanting to present a vision of Mary free from "theological elaborations, which are derived from a particular interpretation of one sentence or other of the scriptures" (p. 150), Father Balasuriya, in fact, deprives the dogmatic doctrine concerning the Blessed Virgin of every revealed character, thus denying the authority of tradition as a mediation of revealed truth.

Finally, it must be noted that Father Balasuriya, denying and relativizing some statements of both the extraordinary magisterium and the ordinary universal magisterium, reveals that he does not recognize the existence of an infallibility of the Roman pontiff and of the college of bishops cum et sub Petro. Reducing the primacy of the successor of Peter to a question of power (cf. pp. 42, 84, 170), he denies the special character of this ministry.

In publishing this Notification, the Congregation is obliged also to declare that Father Balasuriya has deviated from the integrity of the truth of the Catholic faith and, therefore, cannot be considered a Catholic theologian; moreover, he has incurred excommunication latae sententiae (can. 1364, 1).

The Sovereign Pontiff John Paul II, at the audience granted to the undersigned Cardinal Prefect, approved this notification, adopted in the ordinary session of this congregation, and ordered it to be published.

Rome, from the offices of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, January 2, 1997, memorial of St. Basil the Great and St. Gregory Nazianzen, bishops and Doctors of the Church.

January 2, 1997

Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger

Archbishop Tarcisio Bertone
Archbishop emeritus of Vercelli