Wednesday 14 November 2012

The Salt and Light TV Crisis: Why Loyalty to the Church is Loyalty to Christ - and dissent is Betrayal

Pope Benedict XVI
Reflecting on dissent in the Church, following my review of the very disconcerting interview of the arch-heretic Gregory Baum, by Salt and Light CEO, Fr. Thomas Rosica, I offer these words for reflection by our Holy Father Pope Benedict from his Homily for the 2012 Chrism Mass. I ask, How can Salt and Light advocate a path of renewal for the Church, when Fr. Rosica praises a dissident who has done so much to destroy the Church in Canada? We are not talking about some obscure individual, but a man who was a leading light in the dissenting Winnipeg Statement, a document that caused, and is still causing incalculable damage to the local Church. In his "Tragedy at Winnipeg", Msgr. Vincent Foy wrote: 

Typical was a book published in 1964 by Herder and Herder called Contraception and Holiness. It was presented as "a balanced and perceptive declaration of Christian dissent." Among the contributors were three professors of St. Michael's College in Toronto: Gregory Baum, O.S.A., Stanley Kutz, C.S.B., and Leslie Dewart. Gregory Baum was a catalyst of dissent in Canada and elsewhere. 

He [Baum] described his technique: "The Catholic theologian ... will engage in common research and conversation with others until a certain agreement arises as to whether a position of the magisterium that seems binding at present is losing, for such and such reasons, its normative function for the future" (Christian Century, April 6, 1966, p.429). Gregory Baum had been an "Expert" to Archbishop Pocock of Toronto at Vatican II and was in continuing favour. He focused his attention on the Church's teaching on papal authority and contraception. To destroy either was to destroy the Catholic Church. To destroy both at once was to hasten ecclesial annihilation.

From the Holy Father's 2012 Chrism Mass Homily: 

Recently a group of priests from a European country issued a summons to disobedience, and at the same time gave concrete examples of the forms this disobedience might take, even to the point of disregarding definitive decisions of the Church’s Magisterium, such as the question of women’s ordination, for which Blessed Pope John Paul II stated irrevocably that the Church has received no authority from the Lord. Is disobedience a path of renewal for the Church? We would like to believe that the authors of this summons are motivated by concern for the Church, that they are convinced that the slow pace of institutions has to be overcome by drastic measures, in order to open up new paths and to bring the Church up to date. But is disobedience really a way to do this? Do we sense here anything of that configuration to Christ which is the precondition for all true renewal, or do we merely sense a desperate push to do something to change the Church in accordance with one’s own preferences and ideas?

But let us not oversimplify matters. Surely Christ himself corrected human traditions which threatened to stifle the word and the will of God? Indeed he did, so as to rekindle obedience to the true will of God, to his ever enduring word. His concern was for true obedience, as opposed to human caprice. ...Anyone who considers the history of the post-conciliar era can recognize the process of true renewal, which often took unexpected forms in living movements and made almost tangible the inexhaustible vitality of holy Church, the presence and effectiveness of the Holy Spirit. And if we look at the people from whom these fresh currents of life burst forth and continue to burst forth, then we see that this new fruitfulness requires being filled with the joy of faith, the radicalism of obedience, the dynamic of hope and the power of love.

Dear friends, it is clear that configuration to Christ is the precondition and the basis for all renewal.... The saints show us how renewal works and how we can place ourselves at its service. And they help us realize that God is not concerned so much with great numbers and with outward successes, but achieves his victories under the humble sign of the mustard seed.

...This help we find first of all in the words of the teaching Church: the texts of the Second Vatican Council and the Catechism of the Catholic Church are essential tools which serve as an authentic guide to what the Church believes on the basis of God’s word....

All our preaching must measure itself against the saying of Jesus Christ: “My teaching is not mine” (Jn 7:16). We preach not private theories and opinions, but the faith of the Church, whose servants we are.

Update: Pope Paul VI on the Second Vatican Council


Freyr said...

I am still drawn back to the work of Ronald Knox. He posits that there are two forces within the Church, the institutional and the charismatic. These exist in a dynamic tension and are both necessary to the Church's mission and survival. These people imagine that by freeing the Church of its institutional constraints they will somehow usher in a new age of Christianity. On the other side there are those whose wish is to reduce the influence of the charismatic to a minimum thus preserving tradition. Both of these approaches are wrong headed and cannot exist alone. Unfortunately the polarization of factions within the Church tends to isolate them from each other in an atmosphere of fear and mistrust. Put simply, the heresy hunter, in his zeal to stamp out heresy is also liable to quench the spirit. Similarly the charismatic in his zeal to follow the spirit is liable to discover that he no longer has his feet on the ground at all. Thus far we are talking about the normal life of the Church. There are also those who attempt to throw this balance out of kilter for reasons other than a sincere but misguided search for truth.

Servimus Unum Deum said...

Freyr, I've got a question. So you mention these two parallels in the Church's mission and survival: the institutional and the charismatic. Now, I serve in and attend regular Latin Masses when my duties and other commitments permit. When I have attended the Latin Mass, I don't seem to perceive a sense of the "charismatic" in anyone save the preaching clergy (and a weird exception of one of those uber holy church ladies promoting material on an unapproved revelation of Mary for some "ecumenical" ministry tied to the Two Hearts).

So my question is, where has, or is the Charismatic in the Latin Mass when there seems to be an odd visual lacking of such amongst its laity and the atmosphere? It seems to take the institutional/conservative extreme. Not to mention the "Charismatic" movement was a post Vatican II development.

Freyr said...

I think you might want to read Enthusiasm by Ronald Knox. He explains it much better with examples from church history.
Enthusiasm: A Chapter in the History of Religion with Special Reference to the XVII and XVIII Centuries (1950). Knox's own favourite book,[7] a study of the various movements of Christian men and women who have tried to live a less worldly life than other Christians, claiming the direct guidance of the Holy Spirit, and eventually splitting off into separate sects.

I am not referring to the charismatic movement and neither is he. There have been charismatic people all through church history. Some have become saints and others have become arch heretics. Knox tries to explain what the difference is.

Good luck finding the book; I haven't seen it in years. Here's a good link though.