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April 26, 2008



While I have no problem with the PBC's 1994 document or some of your observations, I think the following is untenable:

The Christian Church has always enjoyed freedom over against Scripture, seeing it as a book to be used. Revelation is not handed to one on a plate; it is an event that occurs when one reads Scripture in community and in dialogue with the “signs of the times.” The fullest form of critical overcoming and reappropriation occurs when an engaged faith-community uses the text as an occasion of potential revelation, or enlightenment for present action.

I don't know in what sense a utilitarian view of Scripture will serve any good. This would give permission for nearly any form of eisegesis, and the distinction between God's word and our own unredeemed desires for power and comfort would be given unqualified liberty. The Scriptures themselves remind us that anyone can quote Scripture for their own purposes (cf. Matthew 3:5).


My apologies for being unclear. I meant:

...the distinction between God's word and our own unredeemed desires for power and comfort would be blurred, and we would have the liberty to christen any of our own wants and desires as expressions of the divine will. God becomes our ventriloquist doll.

James M

Clayton has expressed the concerns I felt when I heard your talk. I hope I have not been unfair to you on my blog (...I could wish to have Clayton's clarity).

See you quoted Luke Johnson on (something like) 'wrestling with difficult texts in Scripture until it rendered a meaning worthy of God'--and you found this problematic. It seems to be to be the perfect way to go. Unless we can find a meaning worthy of God, we have to admit it is too soon for us to understand it, and leave it for subsequent generations. If instead of this we insist on 'breaking' it, on giving it our own meaning in accord with (passing) values, then I think we fail in the sense Clayton warned.

Anyway, thanks for your patience with me in your commment (on my blog).

bill bannon

The area will be confused for centuries to come. Fr. Raymond Brown was appointed twice to the PBC (under both Paul VI and John Paul II) and he did not believe that Mary ever said the Magnificat page 349 "Birth of the Messiah" but that Luke stuck it in there to make his account look like similar moments in the OT. As Tom Sawer would have said..."he threw in some style".
And the reasons Brown gives for Mary never saying it were slight. Granted his "Community of the Beloved Disciple" was very good, there is nevertheless much rationalism in him and in many and few notice it. Ergo we are in for centuries of confusion in this area. John Paul as a result of modern inroads totally confused husband headship to the point that it is absent from the catechism despite being 6 times commanded in the NT....or was that just patriarchal men injecting the "old way" into the NT. Centuries of confusion for centuries to come. An area better left to centuries of debate that gets few people anywhere.

Spirit  of Vatican II

My comment on revelation above is inspired by J. Ratzinger's comments in "Revelation and Tradition" and has NOTHING to do with utilitarianism.

Fobbing off the question of Numbers 31 and the many other "genocidal" texts to a remote future is no answer at all, and the world, including the faithful, are looking for answers. It is the responsibility of theologians to provide them. I have given my answer. What is yours?


In practice, do those engaging in genocide really seek scriptural justification in the sacred texts of Hebrew religion? The irony of doing so would be pretty remarkable.

To bring it closer to home, do the people at Planned Parenthood really trouble themselves with the life-affirming passages of Holy Writ?

I'm trying to understand the pastoral concern you're expressing vis-a-vis Numbers 31. More details would be helpful.

The question of theodicy exists in the world; always has, always will. The theological puberty crisis of the present might deem our age more enlightened than previous ages, but the evidence of such is a bit dubious. I mean, we hardly flinch at allowing mothers to slaughter their own pre-born. Maybe our cruelty has become more refined, but is it any less severe?

Moreover, do we really have a right to expect self-contained answers or sanitized catechetics from the living Word of God? It seems to me that the book of Job is as good as it gets.

I am not familiar with "Revelation and Tradition" by Ratzinger. Please say more about that.

Spirit  of Vatican II

Clayton, there are further remarks here: http://josephsoleary.typepad.com/my_weblog/2007/01/3_respect_for_l.html

I am no enthusiast of pro-life rants that ride roughshod over the complexities of human contexts. Let us not forget that infanticide was a common practice in both eastern and western cultures in the centuries before planned parenthood etc., not let us forget the liberal attitude of the Church's leading moral theologians, such as St Alphonsus Liguori, toward abortion in those centuries.

Of course the Bible does not offer self-contained answers or sanitized catechetics. But the modern doctrines of inerrancy are precisely an effort at sanitization that goes against the human, historical and incarnational texture of revelation, much as the modern doctrine of creationism goes against the evolutional texture of divine creation.

Spirit  of Vatican II

"In practice, do those engaging in genocide really seek scriptural justification in the sacred texts of Hebrew religion?"

Yes: examples include Elizabeth I's genocidal adventurers in Ireland, the slayers of the Indians in America, and hard-line Jewish fundamentalists in Israel today; also some American generals in Iraq have used biblical language of this kind to justify their gung-ho attitude to taking bloody vengeance for 9/11 on the Iraqi people; the bishops of England and Wales actually allude to this in their document.


And I am no enthusiast of hermeneutical forays that would ride roughshod over the dignity of the human person.

Frankly, I'm at a loss to understand any moral outrage at the examples you have mentioned if a mother is not required to respect the life of her offspring. This is the most intimate of human bonds. If there are not serious moral obligations here, how could such an obligation exist in the context of bonds less intimate? This was the insight of Mother Teresa in noting that peace on a global scale cannot be achieved in a context that accepts abortion.

If sin clouds the intellect, can we really be surprised if the perpetrators of genocide do violence to the sense of scripture as well as to their neighbor? I don't take madmen at their word, nor trust their interpretation of the Word of God. I'm just not seeing a causal connection between legitimate scriptural hermeneutics and genocide here.

On another note:
"The texts of Sacred Scripture never address the question of deliberate abortion and so do not directly and specifically condemn it. But they show such great respect for the human being in the mother's womb that they require as a logical consequence that God's commandment 'You shall not kill' be extended to the unborn child as well....

Christian Tradition -- as the Declaration [on Procured Abortion] issued by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith points out so well -- is clear and unanimous, from the beginning up to our own day, in describing abortion as a a particularly grave moral disorder. From its first contacts with the Greco-Roman world, where abortion and infanticide were widely practised, the first Christian community, by its teaching and practice, radically opposed the custom rampant in that society, as is clearly shown by the Didache.... Among the Greek ecclesiastical writers, Athenagoras records that Christian consider as murderesses women who have recourse to abortifacient medicines, because children, even if they are still in their mother's womb, 'are already under the protection of Divine Providence.' Among the Latin authors, Tertullian affirms: 'It is anticipated murder to prevent someone from being born; it makes little difference whether one kills a soul already born or puts it to death at birth. He who will one day be a man is a man already.'

Throughout Christianity's two thousand year history, this same doctrine has been constantly taught by the Fathers of the Church and by her Pastors and Doctors. Even scientific and philosophical discussions about the precise moment of the infusion of the spiritual soul have never given rise to any hesitation about the moral condemnation of abortion."

Evangelium Vitae, JPII, paragraph 61


"... the world, including the faithful, are looking for answers. It is the responsibility of theologians to provide them."

Yes, yes, yes. And yes again.

Spirit of Vatican II

Of course a mother is required to respect the life of her offspring. Nonetheless, this moral law has not been interpreted as drastically as it currently is in the course of Catholic history. John Paul II's historical overview overlooks a thousand nuances which you can find documented in Noonan and Maguire if you are really interested.

"If sin clouds the intellect, can we really be surprised if the perpetrators of genocide do violence to the sense of scripture as well as to their neighbor?"

Quite -- but can you identify exactly how Cromwell, and the other genocidists in Ireland and America did violence to the scriptural texts? They read them out of context, certainly, but how does the macro-context of the entire Canon and of the Church's living understanding of Scripture make the texts any less problematic in themselves?

"I'm just not seeing a causal connection between legitimate scriptural hermeneutics and genocide here."

Even if there is no causal connection, the genocidalists could "quote Scripture for their purpose". Can you clarify for me why you think they were not entitled to do so? Numbers 31 and countless other texts contain divine commands to massacre men, women and children down to the last person as well as, in the case of Numbers 31, appropriating the virgins who are to be kept alive for sexual use.

Spirit of Vatican II

See http://www.marymagdalen.blogspot.com


Reading Clayton's first comment, I was reminded of Edward T.Oakes' insight (Commonweal 1998) wherein he cites Thomas Aquinas's Commentary on Job: It should be remembered that truth does not vary according to persons; when a human being says something true he is invincible, irrespective of the one with whom he may be disputing." From this, Oakes takes "... whenever our image of God is discrepant with our view of the truth, the truth takes precedence." I find this comment and now, equally, your talk on scripture, the source of hope. N Cloghesy

Bernard Brandt

Thank you again, Fr. O'Leary, for a thoughtful essay regarding divine revelation and the problems occasioned by a fundamentalist assertion of biblical inerrancy.

I have several thoughts in this regard

1. Regarding Psalm 137, I believe that most of the problems relating to the last several verses may be resolved by reading them in context with the whole psalm, a precis of which would crassly read as follows:

"You, our captors, who have taken us into bondage, and have taken us far from our homes, now want us to sing a Psalm on your behalf?

"All right, here goes: We will never forget you, O Jerusalem. And as for those who have destroyed her, blessed are those who do the same things to them as they have to us. Blessed are they who bash their babies' heads against a wall."

While modern sensibilities perhaps would reject the conclusion that the Psalmist here comes to, reading the psalm in that context would at least make it more understandable.

2. Similarly, the "herem" (sorry, no italics available here) is much more understandable when seen in light of the Canaanites' oppression and attempts at eradication of the Hebrew tribes in the centuries before the Exodus and those tribes' return as conquerors to that land. Seen in that light, it becomes more understandable in the common parlance: "What goes around, comes around."

3. Much of Scripture (as well as Holy Tradition and some aspects of Church Authority) may be made more understandable if seen as attempts by the Holy Spirit to communicate with or to inspire people of various times and places, who themselves have particular historical or literary contexts present to them. A less fundamentalist hermeneusis would be concerned both with attempts to divine what the Holy Spirit was attempting to say, as well as trying to understand the various contexts of the people so inspired.

4. I think that the tension between the inspiration of the Holy Spirit and the limitations of those who are inspired by it may best be delineated by W.H. Auden, in his reworking of the "Our Father", in his Christmas Oratorio, "For the Time Being":

"Though written by Thy Children with
A smudged and crooked line,
Thy Word is ever legible,
Its meaning unequivocal,
And of Thy Goodness even sin
Is valid as a sign."

Spirit of Vatican II

Thanks for those fruitful reflections. I am very sympathetic to the situation of Israel as one small nation surrounded on every side by other nations big and small. But the understandable human context of their war-god outlook cannot be regarded as saving it from error. The general providential protection of the chosen seed does not seem to entail that they are always endowed with angelic wisdom.

One Volpius Leonius has a reply to my essay with a magnificent florilegium of quotes. The quotes verify my remark at Durham that the Church cannot very well criticize fundamentalists since it has fed them most of their lines. Creative amnesia is not enough; we need to critically overcome and dismantle what we said with such solemnity for two millennia!

Volpius talks in the following style: "God did command those things whether you like it or not, you are not the judge of God, God is the judge of you." S/he argues that "private interpretation was the cause of all the ills you previously mentioned in your speech. The scriptures themselves condemn this telling us that our own opinions have no bearing on the truth which God has revealed." But in these cases the private interpretation is true to the literal sense of Scripture; the escape from that sense through allegorizing does not work, since we know so much about the herem practices of that time, which the Israelites like the surrounding peoples took to have divine authority.

Here are some choice quotes from recent Popes:

"It is with no less deceit, venerable brothers, that other enemies of divine revelation, with reckless and sacrilegious effrontery, want to import the doctrine of human progress into the Catholic religion. They extol it with the highest praise, as if religion itself were not of God but the work of men, or a philosophical discovery which can be perfected by human means. The charge which Tertullian justly made against the philosophers of his own time "who brought forward a Stoic and a Platonic and a Dialectical Christianity"[2] can very aptly apply to those men who rave so pitiably. Our holy religion was not invented by human reason, but was most mercifully revealed by God; therefore, one can quite easily understand that religion itself acquires all its power from the authority of God who made the revelation, and that it can never be arrived at or perfected by human reason. In order not to be deceived and go astray in a matter of such great importance, human reason should indeed carefully investigate the fact of divine revelation. Having done this, one would be definitely convinced that God has spoken and therefore would show Him rational obedience, as the Apostle very wisely teaches.[3] For who can possibly not know that all faith should be given to the words of God and that it is in the fullest agreement with reason itself to accept and strongly support doctrines which it has determined to have been revealed by God, who can neither deceive nor be deceived?" (POPE PIUS IX, Qui pluribus, Nov. 9, 1846)

"This consideration too clarifies the great error of those others as well who boldly venture to explain and interpret the words of God by their own judgement, misusing their reason and holding the opinion that these words are like a human work. God Himself has set up a living authority to establish and teach the true and legitimate meaning of His heavenly revelation. This authority judges infallibly all disputes which concern matters of faith and morals, lest the faithful be swirled around by every wind of doctrine which springs from the evilness of men in encompassing error. And this living infallible authority is active only in that Church which was built by Christ the Lord upon Peter, the head of the entire Church, leader and shepherd, whose faith He promised would never fail.” (POPE PIUS IX, Qui pluribus, Nov. 9, 1846)

"But it is absolutely wrong and forbidden, either to narrow inspiration to certain parts only of Holy Scripture, or to admit that the sacred writer has erred. For the system of those who, in order to rid themselves of these difficulties, do not hesitate to concede that divine inspiration regards the things of faith and morals, and nothing beyond, because (as they wrongly think) in a question of the truth or falsehood of a passage, we should consider not so much what God has said as the reason and purpose which He had in mind in saying it -- this system cannot be tolerated. For all the books which the Church receives as sacred and canonical, are written wholly and entirely, with all their parts, at the dictation of the Holy Ghost; and so far is it from being possible that any error can co-exist with inspiration, that 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 unchanging faith of the Church, solemnly defined in the Councils of Florence and of Trent, and finally confirmed and more expressly formulated by the Council of the Vatican. These are the words of the last: "The Books of the Old and New Testament, whole and entire, with all their parts, as enumerated in the decree of the same Council (Trent) and in the ancient Latin Vulgate, are to be received as sacred and canonical. And the Church holds them as sacred and canonical, not because, having been composed by human industry, they were afterwards approved by her authority; nor only because they contain revelation without error; but because, having been written under the inspiration of the Holy Ghost, they have God for their author."[57] Hence, because the Holy Ghost employed men as His instruments, we cannot therefore say that it was these inspired instruments who, perchance, have fallen into error, and not the primary author. For, by supernatural power, He so moved and impelled them to write -- He was so present to them -- that the things which He ordered, and those only, they, first, rightly understood, then willed faithfully to write down, and finally expressed in apt words and with infallible truth. Otherwise, it could not be said that He was the Author of the entire Scripture. Such has always been the persuasion of the Fathers. "Therefore," says St. Augustine, "since they wrote the things which He showed and uttered to them, it cannot be pretended that He is not the writer; for His members executed what their Head dictated."[58] And St. Gregory the Great thus pronounces: "Most superfluous it is to inquire who wrote these things -- we loyally believe the Holy Ghost to be the Author of the book. He wrote it Who dictated it for writing; He wrote it Who inspired its execution."[59]

21. It follows that those who maintain that an error is possible in any genuine passage of the sacred writings, either pervert the Catholic notion of inspiration, or make God the author of such error. And so emphatically were all the Fathers and Doctors agreed that the divine writings, as left by the hagiographers, are free from all error, that they laboured earnestly, with no less skill than reverence, to reconcile with each other those numerous passages which seem at variance -- the very passages which in great measure have been taken up by the "higher criticism;" for they were unanimous in laying it down, that those writings, in their entirety and in all their parts were equally from the afflatus of Almighty God, and that God, speaking by the sacred writers, could not set down anything but what was true. The words of St. Augustine to St. Jerome may sum up what they taught: "On my part I confess to your charity that it is only to those Books of Scripture which are now called canonical that I have learned to pay such honour and reverence as to believe most firmly that none of their writers has fallen into any error. And if in these Books I meet anything which seems contrary to truth, I shall not hesitate to conclude either that the text is faulty, or that the translator has not expressed the meaning of the passage, or that I myself do not understand."[60]
(Pope Leo XIII, Providentissimus Deus, Nov 1893)

"The Church's interpretation of the Sacred Books is by no means to be rejected; nevertheless, it is subject to the more accurate judgement and correction of the exegetes...

Divine inspiration does not extend to all of Sacred Scriptures so that it renders its parts, each and every one, free from every error ...

If he wishes to apply himself usefully to Biblical studies, the exegete must first put aside all preconceived opinions about the supernatural origin of Sacred Scripture and interpret it the same as any other merely human document ...
Revelation could be nothing else than the consciousness man acquired of his revelation to God ...

The Church shows that she is incapable of effectively maintaining evangelical ethics since she obstinately clings to immutable doctrines which cannot be reconciled with modern progress ...

Modern Catholicism can be reconciled with true science only if it is transformed into a non-dogmatic Christianity; that is to say, into a broad and liberal Protestantism ...

The following Thursday, the fourth day of the same month and year, all these matters were accurately reported to our Most Holy Lord, Pope Pius X. His Holiness approved and confirmed the decree of the Most Eminent Fathers and ordered that each and every one of the above-listed propositions be held by all as condemned and proscribed." Pope Pius X, LAMENTABILI SANE, July 3, 1907.

"Holding principles like these, Jerome was compelled, when he discovered apparent discrepancies in the Sacred Books, to use every endeavour to unravel the difficulty. If he felt that he had not satisfactorily settled the problem, he would return to it again and again, not always, indeed, with the happiest results. Yet he would never accuse the sacred writers of the slightest mistake - "that we leave to impious folk like Celsus, Porphyry, and Julian."[40] Here he is in full agreement with Augustine, who wrote to Jerome that to the Sacred Books alone had he been wont to accord such honour and reverence as firmly to believe that none of their writers had ever fallen into any error; and that consequently, if in the said books he came across anything which seemed to run counter to the truth, he did not think that that was really the case, but either that his copy was defective or that the translator had made a mistake, or again, that he himself had failed to understand. He continues:
Nor do I deem that you think otherwise. Indeed, I absolutely decline to think that you would have people read your own books in the same way as they read those of the Prophets and Apostles; the idea that these latter could contain any errors is impious.[41]

16. St. Jerome's teaching on this point serves to confirm and illustrate what our predecessor of happy memory, Leo XIII, declared to be the ancient and traditional belief of the Church touching the absolute immunity of Scripture from error:
So far is it from being the case that error can be compatible with inspiration, that, on the contrary, it not only of its very nature precludes the presence of error, but as necessarily excludes it and forbids it as God, the Supreme Truth, necessarily cannot be the Author of error.

17. Then, after giving the definitions of the Councils of Florence and Trent, confirmed by the Council of the Vatican, Pope Leo continues:
Consequently it is not to the point to suggest that the Holy Spirit used men as His instruments for writing, and that therefore, while no error is referable to the primary Author, it may well be due to the inspired authors themselves. For by supernatural power the Holy Spirit so stirred them and moved them to write, so assisted them as they wrote, that their minds could rightly conceive only those and all those things which He himself bade them conceive; only such things could they faithfully commit to writing and aptly express with unerring truth; else God would not be the Author of the entirety of Sacred Scripture.[42]

18. But although these words of our predecessor leave no room for doubt or dispute, it grieves us to find that not only men outside, but even children of the Catholic Church - nay, what is a peculiar sorrow to us, even clerics and professors of sacred learning - who in their own conceit either openly repudiate or at least attack in secret the Church's teaching on this point.

We warmly commend, of course, those who, with the assistance of critical methods, seek to discover new ways of explaining the difficulties in Holy Scripture, whether for their own guidance or to help others. But we remind them that they will only come to miserable grief if they neglect our predecessor's injunctions and overstep the limits set by the Fathers.

19. Yet no one can pretend that certain recent writers really adhere to these limitations. For while conceding that inspiration extends to every phrase - and, indeed, to every single word of Scripture - yet, by endeavouring to distinguish between what they style the primary or religious and the secondary or profane element in the Bible, they claim that the effect of inspiration - namely, absolute truth and immunity from error - are to be restricted to that primary or religious element. Their notion is that only what concerns religion is intended and taught by God in Scripture, and that all the rest - things concerning "profane knowledge," the garments in which Divine truth is presented - God merely permits, and even leaves to the individual author's greater or less knowledge. Small wonder, then, that in their view a considerable number of things occur in the Bible touching physical science, history and the like, which cannot be reconciled with modern progress in science!
20. Some even maintain that these views do not conflict with what our predecessor laid down since - so they claim - he said that the sacred writers spoke in accordance with the external - and thus deceptive - appearance of things in nature. But the Pontiff's own words show that this is a rash and false deduction. For sound philosophy teaches that the senses can never be deceived as regards their own proper and immediate object. Therefore, from the merely external appearance of things - of which, of course, we have always to take account as Leo XIII, following in the footsteps of St. Augustine and St. Thomas, most wisely remarks - we can never conclude that there is any error in Sacred Scripture.

21. Moreover, our predecessor, sweeping aside all such distinctions between what these critics are pleased to call primary and secondary elements, says in no ambiguous fashion that "those who fancy that when it is a question of the truth of certain expressions we have not got to consider so much what God said as why He said it," are very far indeed from the truth. He also teaches that Divine inspiration extends to every part of the Bible without the slightest exception, and that no error can occur in the inspired text: "It would be wholly impious to limit inspiration to certain portions only of Scripture or to concede that the sacred authors themselves could have erred."[43]

22. Those, too, who hold that the historical portions of Scripture do not rest on the absolute truth of the facts but merely upon what they are pleased to term their relative truth, namely, what people then commonly thought, are - no less than are the aforementioned critics - out of harmony with the Church's teaching, which is endorsed by the testimony of Jerome and other Fathers. Yet they are not afraid to deduce such views from the words of Leo XIII on the ground that he allowed that the principles he had laid down touching the things of nature could be applied to historical things as well. Hence they maintain that precisely as the sacred writers spoke of physical things according to appearance, so, too, while ignorant of the facts, they narrated them in accordance with general opinion or even on baseless evidence; neither do they tell us the sources whence they derived their knowledge, nor do they make other peoples' narrative their own. Such views are clearly false, and constitute a calumny on our predecessor. After all, what analogy is there between physics and history? For whereas physics is concerned with "sensible appearances" and must consequently square with phenomena, history on the contrary, must square with the facts, since history is the written account of events as they actually occurred. If we were to accept such views, how could we maintain the truth insisted on throughout Leo XIII's Encyclical - viz. that the sacred narrative is absolutely free from error?

23. And if Leo XIII does say that we can apply to history and cognate subjects the same principles which hold good for science, he yet does not lay this down as a universal law, but simply says that we can apply a like line of argument when refuting the fallacies of adversaries and defending the historical truth of Scripture from their assaults.

24. Nor do modern innovators stop here: they even try to claim St. Jerome as a patron of their views on the ground that he maintained that historic truth and sequence were not observed in the Bible, "precisely as things actually took place, but in accordance with what men thought at that time," and that he even held that this was the true norm for history.[44] A strange distortion of St. Jerome's words! He does not say that when giving us an account of events the writer was ignorant of the truth and simply adopted the false views then current; he merely says that in giving names to persons or things he followed general custom. Thus the Evangelist calls St. Joseph the father of Jesus, but what he meant by the title "father" here is abundantly clear from the whole context. For St. Jerome "the true norm of history" is this: when it is question of such appellatives (as "father," etc), and when there is no danger or error, then a writer must adopt the ordinary forms of speech simply because such forms of speech are in ordinary use. More than this: Jerome maintains that belief in the Biblical narrative is as necessary to salvation as is belief in the doctrines of the faith; thus in his Commentary on the Epistle to Philemon he says:
"What I mean is this: Does any man believe in God the Creator? He cannot do so unless he first believe that the things written of God's Saints are true." He then gives examples from the Old Testament, and adds: "Now unless a man believes all these and other things too which are written of the Saints he cannot believe in the God of the Saints."[45]

25. Thus St. Jerome is in complete agreement with St. Augustine, who sums up the general belief of Christian antiquity when he says:
Holy Scripture is invested with supreme authority by reason of its sure and momentous teachings regarding the faith. Whatever, then, it tells us of Enoch, Elias and Moses - that we believe. We do not, for instance, believe that God's Son was born of the Virgin Mary simply because He could not otherwise have appeared in the flesh and 'walked amongst men' - as Faustus would have it - but we believe it simply because it is written in Scripture; and unless we believe in Scripture we can neither be Christians nor be saved.[46])" (Pope Benedict XV, Spiritus Paraclitus, September 15, 1920)


"Creative amnesia is not enough; we need to critically overcome and dismantle what we said with such solemnity for two millennia!"

A very hard battle. For many Catholics FAITH has become a nervous dance through a thickly planted minefield of magisterial statements.
There are so very many ways in which one can become a heretic and incur damnation (as some would have it.) So many the corners into which we have painted ourselves and called it the work of the Holy Spirit. Did Christ really intend this? Is this why He sent the Holy Spirit--so that after 2000 years no one could say peep without footnoting it by or defending it from one magisterial statement or another?

It may be that for the young the creative amnesia will be the best solution, what the critics call poor catechesis.


Fr. O'Leary, I just read through your response to JH. Thank you for pointing out the reductio in absurdum arguments, the either/or polarization, and authoritarian tendencies. I've long noticed this sort of thing when I read there, but I haven't found such a careful analysis as yours.

Spirit of Vatican II

Here is a riposte to the above article, consisting mainly of a string of authoritative statements on the inerrancy of Scripture: http://volpiusleonius.blogspot.com/2008/04/answer-to-prof-rev-jospeh-oleary.html

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