Friday, April 04, 2003

"Rerum Novarum Beer" Dept.

We at Rerum Novarum extend to you the reader the following monitum on Beer:


Please allow a little time for proper loading of the file. Observe the virtue of moderation being promoted here...

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Tuesday, April 01, 2003

I mentioned last year that I was working on a series on the covenants. It has remained about two thirds done for some time but I have been unable to complete it for a number of reasons. Fortunately, Dr. Art Sippo recently deals with a lot of what I was going to discuss in this writing. I will therefore consign any planned discussion on the covenants from a Jewish perspective and focus instead on the Orthodox thread in my originally planned series. The reason is because to understand the current Church relationship with the Jewish people is to understand a lot about the problems that divide the west and the east from one another.

Anyway, I wanted to note this here for the benefit of those who read my original proposed intention to cover this back in October and wondered if I had forgotten about it. In short, I did not but one person can only cover so much. I will probably finish the Orthodox threads of that planned series sometime in April. Right now I am completing a retouching on the last of my early writings. That, this weblog, and private counseling by email are taking most of my limited time for the evangelization realm.

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Monday, March 31, 2003

A Jew, a Christian and a Muslim were having a discussion about who was the most religious.

"I was riding my camel in the middle of the Sahara," exclaimed the Muslim. "Suddenly a fierce sandstorm appeared from nowhere. I truly thought my end had come as I lay next to my camel while we being buried deeper and deeper under the sand. But I did not lose my faith in the Almighty Allah, I prayed and prayed and suddenly, for a hundred meters all around me, the storm had stopped. Since that day I am a devout Muslim and am now learning to recite the Quran by memory."

"One day while fishing," started the Christian, "I was in my little dinghy in the middle of the ocean. Suddenly a fierce storm appeared from nowhere. I truly thought my end had come as my little dinghy was tossed up and down in the rough ocean. But I did not lose my faith in Jesus Christ, I prayed and prayed and suddenly, for 300 meters all around me, the storm had stopped. Since that day I am a devout Christian and am now teaching young children about Him."

"One day I was walking down the road," explained the Jew, "I was in my most expensive designer outfit in the middle of New York city. Suddenly I saw a black bag on the ground in front of me appear from nowhere. I put my hand inside and found a million dollars in cash. I truly thought my end had come as it was a Saturday and we are not allowed to handle money on Saturdays. But I did not lose my faith in God, I prayed and prayed and suddenly,... for 500 meters all around me,... it was Tuesday!"


Sunday, March 30, 2003

Points to Ponder:

I used to think that the real problem was with the liberals because they sought to loose what the Church bound. It's quite obvious that our traditionalist friends seek to do the exact opposite: to bind what the Church has loosed. [John Pacheco]


"Cleaning Out My Notebook" Dept.
(From early January of 2003)

This was an interesting thread that Mark Cameron had on one of Envoy's threads. It was pertaining to an essay that I wrote with Pete Vere for the December 6, 2001 issue of The Wanderer which was published in the lead editorial slot. (Hence it would imply a strong convergence of views between Pete and I and Al Matt Jr.)

To set this up a bit, Mark was advancing the position that sedevacantists always interpret infallibility in a very broad sense to more easily dismiss the authority of the past four popes when certain apparent incongruities appear. I had earlier pointed to a truth from a prominent sedevacantist that most self-styled "traditionalists" conveniently either ignore or play down. The following sequence of entries spell this out starting with Pete Vere's Topic Starter. The comments thread can be read HERE. To walk you through it a bit, Mark's first response (#3) was to Pete's topic subject but also to Professor Kevin Miller's comments and Pete's response to them. (Messages 1 and 2 respectively.)

My first response to Mark is #5 and I follow it up with a short response in #7. Mark made two responses to me (#9 and #10 respectively) and I responded in two parts to his comments (#13 and #14 respectively). This notebook entry is a response to Mark's response to my two part post (#16 from the thread). Mark's comments will be in black font.


It seems to me that we agree in general that Vatican II contains a mixture of OUM and AM, but we disagree on the specifics of the line between the two. You are right that there would be a presumption of infallibility where the Council sought to settle a theological controversy. But there are very few places one can point to in the Vatican II documents that do this. As Yves Congar wrote:

The only passage of the Dogmatic Constitution on the Church that could be considered a truly dogmatic declaration is the one that concerns the sacramentality of the episcopate (LG III, n. 21): in fact, it settles a question that until now had been freely disputed by theologians.

I quoted that in my treatise actually. (Which is currently being revised.) If I recall correctly, Fr. Congar also said that At the same time [the sacramentality of the episcopate] is proposed as a teaching on the same level with the others, without the use of the emphatic, repeated and solemn formulas that normally introduce a ‘definition’,

Fr. Congar justified his view in noting that The manner of expressing it is not that of a dogmatic definition, but the matter is so important, the place it occupies in the doctrine of the episcopate so decisive, that one can hardly see how on this point the council has not issued a definitive judgment...On so many other might dare to say that by a unanimous act of the extraordinary Magisterium the council has proposed the common doctrine of the ordinary, universal magisterium. This is not the same as a ‘definition,’ but it does suffice for the doctrine thus proposed to be binding as teaching on which the Catholic Magisterium is in unanimous agreement. Most of these teachings would admittedly be in the two Dogmatic Constitutions; however, not in all cases.

But other novel statements would not, I think, rise to this level.

In some cases I can agree with you here. But the problem is, we need to look at what the Council intended to teach. And subsequent declarations by the magisterium have made this clearer on some points than if we went by the Council documents alone. Remember, the Council took place in toto before the modern day crisis in obedience.{1} Vatican II therefore cannot be said to have seen what would come in this regard; however that the Council saw fit to issue the strongest authoritative statement on obedience to the magisterium (even when there is no manifested intention to definitively settle an issue) would IMHO hint towards the Holy Spirit's guidance.

For example, DH's teachings on the permissibility of spreading religious error goes beyond reiterating freedom from coercion.

We are talking about civil religious liberty here Mark. I would suggest that taking into consideration the particular circumstances that existed when DH was drafted, it will be evident that DH's concern was primarily to secure the rights of the Church to evangelize in countries with a government which was hostile to religious profession in toto. Further still, DH did not rule out the possible regulation by the civil authority of practices done under the auspices of "religious liberty".

The Church has always recognized that people cannot and should not be forced to convert, and that they have their right to private religious beliefs and practice.

Aah but the Church has not always practiced this principle Mark. And prior to DH it was postulated by theologians that the civil authority could suppress individuals who were in error simply because they were in error. I dealt with this in my treatise when I covered the encyclicals Quanta Cura and Libertas (and by extension Mirari Vos and Immortale Dei) when discussing the subject of religious liberty.

The issue is public propagation of error, which the Church long condemned.

The Church prior to Leo XIII did not look at this from the standpoint of civil law Mark. The emphasis was on the requirements of the divine law. The first pope to began the thread from which DH built from was Leo XIII.

Along with many others, like Fr. Brian Harrison, OS, I think that DH has to be interpreted in light of previous magisterial teaching from Quanta Cura and elsewhere, rather than vice versa.

A few points:

(i) the two documents discuss different subjects for the most part
(ii) DH reaffirms the traditional teaching with regards to the divine law as espoused by popes Gregory XVI, Pius IX, and Leo XIII
(iii) DH is a declaration of teaching from an ecumenical council that manifested the intention to develop doctrine.

Therefore, while to some degree DH needs to be interpreted in light of Quanta Cura, at the same time DH clearly breaks ground on a few points that QC not only did not cover but which Bl. Pius IX did not even envision. Therefore on these points the text cannot be interpreted in light of QC anymore than Bl. Pius IX's Constitution defining the Immacumate Conception can ne interpreted in light of the teachings of the Council of Constantinople II.

I have a lot of respect for Fr. Harrison and feel that he has contributed a lot to the religious liberty subject.{2} However, he seems to fall into the same "dogmatic vs. pastoral" dichotomy to some degree on this issue and not consider that in "develop[ing] the doctrine of recent popes" (recent meaning in the roughly half-century prior to the Council) that there would be a degree of diachronic identity in such pronouncements.{3} Finally, the core developments of DH were expressely noted to "have its roots in divine revelation" (DH §9) which is to say it pertains to divine revelation.

We both would agree that Church infallibility applies to matters of divine faith and censures of heresy - along with concurring that Vatican II did not define any dogmas of faith or proscribe any errors as heretical. However, Church infallibility also applies to matters which though not part of divine revelation (or de fide) nonetheless still to some extent are related to divine revelation. (Or as it is sometimes said pertains to divine revelation.) This also applies to doctrinal censures of less than heresy. And Vatican II promulgated some of both the latter as well as the former.

It is not always clear to the reader where these are but for all intensive purposes it does not have to be as the Council did not envision selective obedience to its resolutions but indeed religious submission of mind and will to all Council teachings. Hence outlining precise theological qualification is more an exercise for the theologians.

But theologians as well as laity are nonetheless expected to obey in accordance with the Council's manifested intention to the extent that they can discern it. Minimally this means religious submission. Maximally it means with ecclesiastical faith on settled theological issues (and there are more of these than just LG §21) and manifested developments of doctrine.

I want to recapitulate your previous statements as I covered the subject you bring up in my essay on The Syllabus of Errors.

The issue is public propagation of error, which the Church long condemned. Along with many others, like Fr. Brian Harrison, OS, I think that DH has to be interpreted in light of previous magisterial teaching from Quanta Cura and elsewhere, rather than vice versa.

This is very similar to the seventy-ninth proposition of the Syllabus:

Moreover, it is false that the civil liberty of every form of worship, and the full power, given to all, of overtly and publicly manifesting any opinions whatsoever and thoughts, conduce more easily to corrupt the morals and minds of the people, and to propagate the pest of indifferentism. -- Allocution "Nunquam fore," Dec. 15, 1856.

I dealt with that proposition in as follows:

In fleshing out point seventy-nine to assess the sitz im leben of the condemnation, it is important to again reiterate an important hermeneutic principle at work here. The absolute character of these prohibitions needs to be taken into account by the reader for an accurate assessment of what is being stated.

First, "every form of worship" is ridiculously broad and could include not only a Protestant ecclesial group such as the Presbyterians but also cannibalism. "Every form of worship" is that broad of an expression and obviously taken to that extent it would be false and thus rightfully condemned. But is that what Vatican II actually said??? Objections by "trads" of a supposed controversion of this precept would almost certainly be based on a perceived incongruency of the Syllabus with the Declaration Dignitatis Humanae (DH) . Therefore what needs to be considered is the context and aims of the document itself.

DH could be said to be asserting that the human dignity of non-Catholics gives them a prima facie claim to be left free by other human beings in carrying out activity that may well be subjectively meritorious in the sight of God. Certainly we must presume that the motivation of non-Catholics is out of a sense of obedience to Almighty God, however misguided they happen to be. (As it would be contrary to charity to antecedently presume otherwise.)

The traditional norm of public law as not uncommonly espoused by theologians before Vatican II asserted that public diffusion of religious error in predominantly Catholic countries was deemed a sufficiently serious threat to the common good as to warrant legal repression. A commonly espoused interpretation of the pre-conciliar teaching on this theme can be summed up in the following statement from Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre:

It is quite plain that, by the simple fact of their being in error, the followers of a false religion do not enjoy any natural right to immunity (from coercion). Let me illustrate this truth by a concrete example. If you felt moved to repress the public prayer of a group of Moslems in the street, or even to interrupt their worship in a mosque, you would possibly sin against charity, and certainly against prudence, but you would not do these believers any injustice...

Vatican II taught that there would be injustice in such treatment unless the aforementioned Moslems (in Lefebvre’s example) were disrupting the public order. St. Thomas Aquinas in his Summa Theologiae summed up the Archbishop’s position — and that of many if not most self-styled 'traditionalists' in the following objections. (The subject: Whether it belongs to the human law to repress all vices.):

Objection 1. It would seem that it belongs to human law to repress all vices. For Isidore says (Etym. v, 20) that "laws were made in order that, in fear thereof, man's audacity might be held in check." But it would not be held in check sufficiently, unless all evils were repressed by law. Therefore human laws should repress all evils.

Objection 2. Further, the intention of the lawgiver is to make the citizens virtuous. But a man cannot be virtuous unless he forbear from all kinds of vice. Therefore it belongs to human law to repress all vices.

Objection 3. Further, human law is derived from the natural law, as stated above (95, 2). But all vices are contrary to the law of nature. Therefore human law should repress all vices...

Before the assumption is given by this reader that St. Thomas supported the contentions of the Archbishop, it should be noted what his responses were to the above objections. To again quote the Summa:

Reply to Objection 1. Audacity seems to refer to the assailing of others. Consequently it belongs to those sins chiefly whereby one's neighbor is injured: and these sins are forbidden by human law, as stated.

Reply to Objection 2. The purpose of human law is to lead men to virtue, not suddenly, but gradually. Wherefore it does not lay upon the multitude of imperfect men the burdens of those who are already virtuous, viz. that they should abstain from all evil. Otherwise these imperfect ones, being unable to bear such precepts, would break out into yet greater evils: thus it is written (Ps. 30:33): "He that violently bloweth his nose, bringeth out blood"; and (Mt. 9:17) that if "new wine," i.e. precepts of a perfect life, "is put into old bottles," i.e. into imperfect men, "the bottles break, and the wine runneth out," i.e. the precepts are despised, and those men, from contempt, break into evils worse still.

Reply to Objection 3. The natural law is a participation in us of the eternal law: while human law falls short of the eternal law. Now Augustine says (De Lib. Arb. i, 5): "The law which is framed for the government of states, allows and leaves unpunished many things that are punished by Divine providence. Nor, if this law does not attempt to do everything, is this a reason why it should be blamed for what it does." Wherefore, too, human law does not prohibit everything that is forbidden by the natural law...

It would not seem to this writer that Archbishop Lefebvre and other self-styled 'traditionalists' who think as he does are in accordance with the views of the Angelic Doctor on this subject. But let us take a slightly different approach to this. Let us look not at the example that the Archbishop supplied but one that is a little bit more personal.

Rather then arbitrarily disrupting the worship of Muslims at a mosque (which would be contrary to the logic of the Angelic Doctor as noted above), let us look at the Archbishop’s statement on a personal level. If indeed "[i]t is quite plain that, by the simple fact of their being in error, the followers of a false religion do not enjoy any natural right to immunity (from coercion)", then the father raising his son in objective error would not have the right to freedom from coercion in doing so. This writer cannot see how the Archbishop’s statement on a personal level would not equate to this very proposition.

After all, if Islam is a false religion, then if the proposed father in following it would not enjoy a natural right to immunity from coercion from others in how he raises his child. (Error after all has no rights.) But St. Thomas in the Summa Theologiae explicitly denies the right of Christian rulers to take Jewish or Moslem children away from their parents in order to save them from false religious teaching (cf. Summa Theologiae, II-II, q. 10, art. 12). Implicit in this teaching was a distinction between a right to do something and a right to immunity from human interference in doing it.

Those with objections to religious liberty could claim that in these injunctions St. Thomas was not advocating religious freedom as wide in scope as even the narrowly defined scope of Vatican II in DH. However, they would be pushing at an open door here since a whole host of "objections" could be made as to what the Angelic Doctor or any other theologian of high repute in earlier times may have thought about subjects that were decided upon in subsequent periods of history. (With conditions they were in no way familiar with.) In St. Thomas’ time the Catholic Church was the faith of primacy in Western Christendom. However, he still did not recognize the rights of a parent to instruct their children to be violable — even if that parent was instructing their children in non-Catholic beliefs. The Angelic Doctor likewise did not endorse the notion that human law should repress all vices. This is a step in the direction of religious liberty as understood by Vatican II and is certainly not out of conformity with it. However, it would seem out of conformity with the way in which Archbishop Lefebvre and other like-minded 'traditionalists' (self-styled of course) have expounded on the 'traditional' belief of the popes prior to Vatican II. [I. Shawn McElhinney: excerpt from the essay The Counter-Syllabus Canard (c. 2001)]

Yes, I have read Gasser's Relatio and almost everything by Newman, Manning, and Dom Cuthbert Butler on Vatican I's definition of infallibility.

You are much better read than probably ninety-seven percent of those I dialogue with then. But if you have read the Relatio then it seems to me that what I have outlined on this subject would be much more easily understood by you than by one who is not as well read as you are. And since (i) the Relatio played such an authoritative role in the teachings of both Vatican Councils and (ii) it was not translated into English until the 1980's, it is not very well known though indeed it should be.

Venerable Cardinal Newman for all of his brilliance does not appear to have been aware of it. (He presumes the opposite hypothesis of the Relatio but more than compensates for this by the very healthy deference he had to ecclesiastical authority.)

Please do not assume that anybody who disagrees with you is simply ignorant.

I usually take the approach of letting the person demonstrate to me that they understand the issues this is true. I used to take the opposite approach; however there are too often people who discuss these issues from the "traditionalist" camp who are as over their head as the so-called "progressives" are. (Not to mention most of the so-called "conservatives".) But if you have noticed, I have addressed you completely different than most others who identify themselves as "traditionalists". (Much as I do with David Smith and Jeff Culbreath - both of whom I have had many amiable dialogues with.)

For the most part I actually do the opposite of what you would presume. However, on the subject of infallibility, I have found it necessary to presume the worst of those who have not read the Relatio because one thing it makes clear is that infallibility is not some "endangered species" concept historically.{4} Infallibility extends to a lot more than most would presume it does.

It was fashionable after Vatican I to minimize the application of Church infallibility both for tactical advantages in apologetics and also to refute the canard of the Neo-Ultramontaines who thought that the pope was infallible in virtually every utterance from the Holy See. I do not support this notion at all however it may appear. I *do* however reject the facile assertion that church infallibility is as rare as popular apologetics claims that it is. But that is a subject for another time perhaps.


{1} Which in the case of the liberals was spawned by Pope Paul's encyclical Humanae Vitae and by the "trads" on his promulgation of Missale Romanum.

{2} Particularly on defending the Council's intention to reaffirm the prior papal teachings on the requirements of the divine law contra Fr. Courtney-Murray's misunderstandings.

{3} In short, what would appear to be purely synchronic would in fact not be so.

{4} Though I of course am much more irenic towards those who emphasize the binding authority of the magisterium even when it does not seem to be speaking definitively.

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