Wednesday, May 03, 2006

One wonders what St. Dominic and St. Thomas think of teaching like this....

Below, I have excerpted a passage from a prepared talk given by the former master general of the Dominican Order, Fr. Timothy Radcliffe at the L.A. Religious Education Congress. You can find the whole text here.

First, a preface to clarify a few terms he uses (these quotes are from his address): 1) "By Communion Catholics I mean those who came, after the council, to feel the urgent need to rebuild the inner life of the church. They went with theologians like Hans von Balthasar and the then Joseph Ratzinger. Their theology often stressed Catholic identity, was wary of too hearty an embrace of modernity, and they stressed the cross. They had their publication. It was called Communio;" 2) "By Kingdom Catholics, I mean those of us who have a deep sense of the church as the pilgrim people of God, on the way to the kingdom. The theologians who have been central for this tradition have been people like the Jesuit Karl Rahner, and the Dominicans Edward Schillebeeckx and Gustavo GutiƩrrez. This tradition stresses openness to the world, finding the presence of the Holy Spirit working outside the church, freedom and the pursuit of justice. They became very much identified with a publication called Concilium."

On the topic of sexual ethics, Radcliffe writes, "The church faces something of a crisis in sexual ethics. We propose a beautiful ideal, of sexual intercourse within the context of a lifelong commitment to a person of the other sex, open to the reproduction of children. And yet this ideal is hardly understood, let alone practiced, by most people within our society. A large percentage of people are either divorced and remarried, or living with partners, or practicing contraception or in same-sex relationships. The percentages, at least in Britain, are not much different for Catholics. So there is a chasm between the church’s teaching about sexual behavior and what Catholics live."

You got that? The Church's teaching is an ideal. And many people ignore the Church's teaching anyway. So, shouldn't the Church's teaching be discarded since nobody is following it? Certainly a very good "Dominican" argument. St. Thomas would be proud.

Radcliffe continues, "One reaction to this, often that of Communion Catholics, is to insist on the teaching. This has been the teaching of the church through the centuries, and it would be dishonest to surrender it or to compromise with a corrupt society. If our teaching is true, then we must stand by it, even if it offends people. Many Kingdom Catholics will feel unhappy about this. Millions of decent Catholics will find themselves pushed to the edge of the community because they are in what are called 'irregular situations.' This may be by chance, or weakness or a genuine disagreement with the church’s teaching. It is for people like this that Christ came, and how can we act in any way that makes them feel less than fully welcome?"

When has the Church ever insisted that the teaching should be maintained because it is the teaching of the Church. I have never heard of such a circular argument ever given by the Church. But if the Church insists on its' teachings, then people who do not follow the Church's teaching are marginalized. Did not Christ come for them? Not to repeat things I have already posted, but let us turn back to what John Paul II says concerning the idealized Church teaching and the marginalization of Churchgoers. "Only in the mystery of Christ's Redemption do we discover the "concrete" possibilities of man. 'It would be a very serious error to conclude... that the Church's teaching is essentially only an "ideal" which must then be adapted, proportioned, graduated to the so-called concrete possibilities of man, according to a "balancing of the goods in question". But what are the "concrete possibilities of man"? And of which man are we speaking? Of man dominated by lust or of man redeemed by Christ? This is what is at stake: the reality of Christ's redemption. Christ has redeemed us! This means that he has given us the possibility of realizing the entire truth of our being; he has set our freedom free from the domination of concupiscence. And if redeemed man still sins, this is not due to an imperfection of Christ's redemptive act, but to man's will not to avail himself of the grace which flows from that act. God's command is of course proportioned to man's capabilities; but to the capabilities of the man to whom the Holy Spirit has been given; of the man who, though he has fallen into sin, can always obtain pardon and enjoy the presence of the Holy Spirit.'" John Paul II notes that Christ has freed us from the domination of concupiscence and has given us what we need to be able to realize the "truth" of our being. So we have a choice. We can either be dominated by lust - which seems to be Radcliffe's scenario or we can be redeemed by Christ, which would be the Church's teaching. Which do you prefer? A slave to sin? or freedom in Christ?

Finally, Radcliffe says, "This is a real dilemma. Often what happens is that the church’s official teaching is proclaimed, but we look the other way and let it be known that everyone is welcome. We call this “the pastoral solution,” but it can look simply dishonest. Should we firmly proclaim the traditional sexual ethics and risk distancing people from Christ? Or should we be more accommodating, with the risk of just surrendering a moral vision?"

You follow Radcliffe? It is the Church and its outdated teaching which keeps people from Christ instead of sin! Radcliffe says we should make accomodations and do away with the idealized moral vision of the Church's teaching. Who needs it! So ultimately, the Church should remove the notion of sin, it would seem, and more people would embrace Christ and the Church????
Why bother with Christ then if we are free to do what we want? Once you have removed the evil that man can perpetuate through his own freedom and actions, then you remove why Christ came in the first place. The power of the Cross has been emptied.

Radcliffe says more one more jewel to adorn crown of accomodation, but my blood pressure needs to calm down. I will end on a far positive note. It is the concluding paragraph section of Veritatis Splendor:

"In the heart of every Christian, in the inmost depths of each person, there is always an echo of the question which the young man in the Gospel once asked Jesus: "Teacher, what good must I do to have eternal life?" (Mt 19:16). Everyone, however, needs to address this question to the "Good Teacher", since he is the only one who can answer in the fullness of truth, in all situations, in the most varied of circumstances. And when Christians ask him the question which rises from their conscience, the Lord replies in the words of the New Covenant which have been entrusted to his Church. As the Apostle Paul said of himself, we have been sent "to preach the Gospel, and not with eloquent wisdom, lest the Cross of Christ be emptied of its power" (1 Cor 1:17). The Church's answer to man's question contains the wisdom and power of Christ Crucified, the Truth which gives of itself.

When people ask the Church the questions raised by their consciences, when the faithful in the Church turn to their Bishops and Pastors, the Church's reply contains the voice of Jesus Christ, the voice of the truth about good and evil. In the words spoken by the Church there resounds, in people's inmost being, the voice of God who "alone is good" (cf. Mt 19:17), who alone "is love" (1 Jn 4:8, 16).

"Through the anointing of the Spirit this gentle but challenging word becomes light and life for man. Again the Apostle Paul invites us to have confidence, because "our competence is from God, who has made us competent to be ministers of a new covenant, not in a written code but in the Spirit... The Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. And all of us, with unveiled faces, reflecting the glory of the Lord, are being changed into his likeness from one degree of glory to another; for this comes from the Lord, the Spirit" (2 Cor 3:5-6, 17-18)."

1 comment:

Stuckwidiot2 said...

I wonder how people can read about the early saints/martyrs and think that their message to us is no longer useful. I agree with you and am at a total loss about this.
Sorry to be so brief, but I am very tierd.