Rorate Caeli

Landmark Address on the Responsibilities of Universities
Freedom has a purpose

I address you as one who has been a professor, solicitous of the right to academic freedom and the responsibility for the authentic use of reason, and is now the Pope who, in his role as Shepherd, is recognized as a voice for the ethical reasoning of humanity. While some argue that the questions raised by religion, faith and ethics have no place within the purview of collective reason, that view is by no means axiomatic.

The freedom that underlies the exercise of reason – be it in a university or in the Church – has a purpose: it is directed to the pursuit of truth, and as such gives expression to a tenet of Christianity which in fact gave rise to the university. Indeed, man’s thirst for knowledge prompts every generation to broaden the concept of reason and to drink at the wellsprings of faith.

It was precisely the rich heritage of classical wisdom, assimilated and placed at the service of the Gospel, which the first Christian missionaries brought to these lands and established as the basis of a spiritual and cultural unity which endures to this day. The same spirit led my predecessor Pope Clement VI to establish the famed Charles University in 1347, which continues to make an important contribution to wider European academic, religious and cultural circles.

The proper autonomy of a university, or indeed any educational institution, finds meaning in its accountability to the authority of truth. Nevertheless, that autonomy can be thwarted in a variety of ways. The great formative tradition, open to the transcendent, which stands at the base of universities across Europe, was in this land, and others, systematically subverted by the reductive ideology of materialism, the repression of religion and the suppression of the human spirit.

In 1989, however, the world witnessed in dramatic ways the overthrow of a failed totalitarian ideology and the triumph of the human spirit. The yearning for freedom and truth is inalienably part of our common humanity. It can never be eliminated; and, as history has shown, it is denied at humanity’s own peril. It is to this yearning that religious faith, the various arts, philosophy, theology and other scientific disciplines, each with its own method, seek to respond, both on the level of disciplined reflection and on the level of a sound praxis.
...
Sundered from the fundamental human orientation towards truth, however, reason begins to lose direction: it withers, either under the guise of modesty, resting content with the merely partial or provisional, or under the guise of certainty, insisting on capitulation to the demands of those who indiscriminately give equal value to practically everything. The relativism that ensues provides a dense camouflage behind which new threats to the autonomy of academic institutions can lurk.

While the period of interference from political totalitarianism has passed, is it not the case that frequently, across the globe, the exercise of reason and academic research are – subtly and not so subtly – constrained to bow to the pressures of ideological interest groups and the lure of short-term utilitarian or pragmatic goals?

What will happen if our culture builds itself only on fashionable arguments, with little reference to a genuine historical intellectual tradition, or on the viewpoints that are most vociferously promoted and most heavily funded?

What will happen if in its anxiety to preserve a radical secularism, it detaches itself from its life-giving roots?

Our societies will not become more reasonable or tolerant or adaptable but rather more brittle and less inclusive, and they will increasingly struggle to recognize what is true, noble and good.

... [Pope John Paul II,] as you know, promoted a fuller understanding of the relationship between faith and reason as the two wings by which the human spirit is lifted to the contemplation of truth (cf. Fides et Ratio, Proemium). Each supports the other and each has its own scope of action (cf. ibid., 17), yet still there are those who would detach one from the other. Not only do the proponents of this positivistic exclusion of the divine from the universality of reason negate what is one of the most profound convictions of religious believers, they also thwart the very dialogue of cultures which they themselves propose. An understanding of reason that is deaf to the divine and which relegates religions into the realm of subcultures, is incapable of entering into the dialogue of cultures that our world so urgently needs.

In the end, “fidelity to man requires fidelity to the truth, which alone is the guarantee of freedom” (Caritas in Veritate, 9). This confidence in the human ability to seek truth, to find truth and to live by the truth led to the foundation of the great European universities. Surely we must reaffirm this today in order to bring courage to the intellectual forces necessary for the development of a future of authentic human flourishing, a future truly worthy of man.
Benedict XVI
Vladislav Hall, Prague Castle, September 27, 2009

30 comments:

John McFarland said...

Faith and reason are two wings that lift us to the truth.

His Holiness quotes his predecessor, but does not quote the scriptures, or the Fathers, or the Creeds and Councils for this proposition.

His predecessor quoted nobody. But then he rarely quoted anything but Vatican II and himself.

The reason is no doubt that there is no one else to quote: this is neither in letter nor spirit a Catholic principle.

REASON IS THE HANDMAID OF FAITH; IT IS NOT ITS EQUAL.

Mother of God, seat of wisdom, pray for us.

Jamie said...

Wouldn't it be nice if the Pope gave us another Aeterni Patris (1879), wherein Pope Leo XIII reinstituted Thomism as the standard for priestly formation.

Jordanes said...

It's a figure of speech, Mr. McFarland. The point is that faith and reason are both needed, that mankind cannot live without both of them, and that if faith and reason are separated from each other, we are incapable of reaching the Truth, just as a bird can't fly with only one wing. It is impossible to think like a Catholic and not believe that.

It is NOT a statement that faith and reason are equal. That's not the point of the analogy.

John McFarland said...

Jamie,

The Pope's whole intellectual development since no later than his seminary days has been based upon the rejection of what liberals like the Pope are wont to call "neoscholasticism." (See Salt of the Earth. I'll send you the page.)

Aeterni patris was the charter of neoscholasticism.

So your hope is roughly the theological equivalent of the Chairman of the Federal Reserve Board's encouraging the nation's economists to buy Ron Paul's "End the Fed." It could happen, but it's going to take a lot of rosaries.

Anonymous said...

I've noticed that too, that Pope John Paul II, as well as this Pope rarely (if at all), quote any other Council of the Church other than Vatican II (and particularly the documents Gaudeum et Spes or Lumen Gentium)
Nor does this Pope Benedict XVI ever quote any other Pope but John Paul II.

To me, this is sick. It is almost as if a completly new Church began with Vatican II and it's "reforms", whereby nothing before it, and no Pope before Vatican II is worthy of mention or quoting.

I used to think that the so called "Catechism of the Catholic Church", is exactly what the name implies. But I have been mistaken.

It is the Catechism of the Catholic Church--according to Vatican II--with little or no reference to anything before it. As if nothing else ever existed.

This is a calculated attempt to supress/supercede the Catholic teachings of all time...with that of only Vatican II....hoping that if this agenda can hold on for long enough, enough time will pass so that no one remembers anything other than Vatican II and all that came from it.

Very dangerous. And it should be repudiated and stopped.

John McFarland said...

Jordanes,

To speak of philosophy as the handmaid of theology is also a figure of speech. But it is a figure of speech that accurately reflects the facts?

Why does the Holy Father's figur of speech NOT reflect the facts?

Why is it always so easy for me to see his statements as at odds with traditional doctrine?

How does it help anything to keep things at best vague?

When Paul spoke to the Areopagites, it took him about ten verses to get to unequivocal Christian doctrine.

In four years, the Holy Father has not yet got there.

When do you think he will?

Mother of God, seat of wisdom, pray for us.

Jordanes said...

I've noticed that too, that Pope John Paul II, as well as this Pope rarely (if at all), quote any other Council of the Church other than Vatican II (and particularly the documents Gaudeum et Spes or Lumen Gentium)

I haven't done an analysis of Pope Benedict's writings and talks since his election as Pope, so I can't say if he rarely quotes any other Church council but Vatican II. It is true, however, that Pope John Paul II quoted Vatican II documents far more than any other council. (This shouldn't be surprising, since he was a man of Vatican II -- even more he was a Pope, and Popes can't help but focus attention on a recent Oecumenical Council, especially one as controversial and problematic at Vatican II.) Looking at just John Paul II's encyclicals, this is what we find:

Redemptor hominis: 3 citations of Vatican I, 31 citations of Vatican II
Dives in misericordia: 5 citations of Vatican II, no citations of any other council.
Laborem exercens: 9 citations of Vatican II, no citations of any other council.
Slavorum apostoli: 5 citations of Vatican II, no citations of any other council.
Dominum et vivificantem: 27 citations of Vatican II, no citations of any other council.
Redemptoris mater: 50 citations of Vatican II, 1 citation of Ephesus, 2 citations of Chalcedon, 1 citation of Nicaea II.
Sollicitudo rei socialis: 22 citations of Vatican II, no citations of any other council.
Redemptoris missio: 86 citations of Vatican II, no citations of any other council.
Centesimus annus: 13 citations of Vatican II, no citations of any other council.
Veritatis splendor: 48 citations of Vatican II, 3 citations of Vatican I, 6 citations of Trent, 1 citation of Vienne, 1 citation of Lateran V.
Evangelium vitae: 24 citations of Vatican II, 1 citation of Catechism of Trent.
Ut unum sint: 43 citations of Vatican II, 1 citation of Vatican I.
Fides et ratio: 22 citations of Vatican II, 8 citations of Vatican I, 1 citation of Synod of Constantinople, 1 citation of first council of Toledo, 1 citation of first council of Braga, 1 citation of Vienne, 1 citation of Lateran IV, 2 citations of Lateran V, 1 citation of Chalcedon.
Ecclesia de Eucharistia: 24 citations of Vatican II, 4 citations of Trent, 1 citation of Lateran IV.

Of course it must be kept in mind that most of John Paul II's citations and quotes in his encyclicals were from Holy Scripture, followed in frequency by quotes and cites of Fathers and Doctors of the Church or of earlier popes (most of them being pre-Vatican II popes). It must also be kept in mind that John Paul II wrote many, many other documents or gave many other talks or allocutions -- this is only a look at his encyclicals and how many times he quoted or cited Church councils. We should also remember that Vatican II also cited previous councils and popes, so in referring to Vatican II's documents John Paul II was referring to the teachings of earlier councils and popes as well.

It's true that John Paul II cited Lumen Gentium and Gaudium et Spes frequently -- in his encyclicals, I believe his Vatican II quotes and cites are usually from those two documents. As he cited them, however, he effectively integrated them (or showed to be integrated) into the Church's Magisterium, demonstrating their continuity with the Church's tradition and excluding the erroneous, heretical "spirit of Vatican II" readings of LG and G&S that have infected the Church since the last council. Following Vatican II, many began to teach new, erroneous doctrines in place of the Catholic Church's teachings, justifying them by referring to the idea, rather than the reality, of Vatican II. One of John Paul II's concerns was to counter the dissenters' instrumentalisation of the council with an authentic interpretation. That is also one of Benedict XVI's concerns (i.e. "hermeneutic of continuity").

Jordanes said...

Nor does this Pope Benedict XVI ever quote any other Pope but John Paul II.

That I know to be false. Since soon after his election, Pope Benedict has been engaged in a series on the Apostles, Fathers, and Doctors of the Church. One of the Apostles was St. Peter, the first Pope, and one of the greatest of the Latin Doctors was Pope St. Gregory I. He's quoted and discussed them at length.

To me, this is sick. It is almost as if a completly new Church began with Vatican II and it's "reforms", whereby nothing before it, and no Pope before Vatican II is worthy of mention or quoting.

Your characterisation of John Paul II's and Benedict XVI's papal magisterii is erroneous. Both of them refer to pre-Vatican II councils and popes not infrequently. John Paul II even cited St. Pius X's Pascendi in one of his encyclicals.

I used to think that the so called "Catechism of the Catholic Church", is exactly what the name implies. But I have been mistaken.

No, you were right before. You're mistaken now.

It is the Catechism of the Catholic Church--according to Vatican II--with little or no reference to anything before it. As if nothing else ever existed.

It is, in truth, the Catechism of Vatican II, comparable to the Catechism of Trent. It has PLENTY of reference to what went before it. At times it even quotes the Catechism of Trent.

This is a calculated attempt to supress/supercede the Catholic teachings of all time...with that of only Vatican II....hoping that if this agenda can hold on for long enough, enough time will pass so that no one remembers anything other than Vatican II and all that came from it.

If that's what John Paul II and Benedict XVI have been trying to do, well, I'll just say that quoting previous councils and popes and Church Fathers and Doctors and Holy Scripture is NOT a very smart way to go about it.

Very dangerous. And it should be repudiated and stopped.

If that's their agenda, yes, it should be repudiated and stopped. But your appraisal of their magisterii isn't even close to the truth.

Jordanes said...

To speak of philosophy as the handmaid of theology is also a figure of speech. But it is a figure of speech that accurately reflects the facts?

So too does the analogy of faith and reason as two wings accurately reflect the facts.

Why does the Holy Father's figure of speech NOT reflect the facts?

It depends on which facts you prefer to be reflected in an analogy. I think both analogies tell us important, needful things about faith and reason, whereas you think only one of the analogies does. Both analogies have their limits, though -- for example, reason as faith's handmaid does not mean faith can entirely dispense with reason the way a master can get rid of one handmaid and replace her with another. Faith that is entirely separated from reason is fideism, a proscribed heresy (even as reason entirely separated from faith is rationalism, another proscribed heresy).

Why is it always so easy for me to see his statements as at odds with traditional doctrine?

You habitually misinterpret his statements because you don't understand traditional doctrine as well as you think you do, but think you understand it better than the Pope does. For him you have, it seems, little more than a thinly disguised contempt and condescension.

When Paul spoke to the Areopagites, it took him about ten verses to get to unequivocal Christian doctrine. In four years, the Holy Father has not yet got there.

He got there well before he was elected Pope.

Anonymous said...

Too bad it will be ignored and have absolutely no effect. Even in Catholic universities, unless there is an extremely strong bishop and, even more than that, contributing alumni who care about the Church's mission in education and threaten to cut off substantial donations - nothing gets done.

Anonymous said...

I suspect that it is no accident that Papa Benedict is giving his addresses in English, instead of his native German or in Italian.

Bryan Dunne said...

Jordanes:

"Your characterisation of John Paul II's and Benedict XVI's papal magisterii is erroneous."

Magisterium is Neuter (declines like Auxili-um -i) - so the nominative plural should be Magisteria. (eg Bella premunt hostilia) But why not leave it as "the magisterium of Pope...and Pope"?

Jordanes said...

Thank you, Mr. Dunne. I had a sense that there was something wrong with my attempted plural, but as my knowledge of Latin is . . . well, laughable, I couldn't figure out what was correct.

Bryan Dunne said...

An interesting secular response to the Holy Father's visit from the Czech Press Service (CTK)

http://www.ceskenoviny.cz/news/zpravy/pope-s-visit-arouses-more-interest-than-expected-czech-experts/399897&id_seznam=

PS: Jordanes - not to worry - I can see from your blogger profile you have more things to keep you occupied than Latin declensions! Good wishes, bryan

John McFarland said...

Jordanes,

A quick epitome of our exchanges:

McFarland: how does what the Pope says in thus and such a place jibe with thus and such and thus and such and thus and such and thus and such in scripture:

Jordanes: NOnonononoNO! You're stoopid and captious and nothing will satisfy you.

You're clearly not much interested in coming out of the tall grass and explaining to me how the words of the Holy Father and the words of the gospel jibe. But you're not getting away that easily.

Let's start with a bit of a five-finger exercise:

Among the scriptures cited in Redemptor hominis of Pope John Paul the Great, what do you make of the fact that in contains few if any references to the fact that redemption does not save you unless you repent, believe the gospel and are baptized? Why write an encylical that deals entirely if not exclusively with redemption that does not save?

***

I could only smile sadly at the exchange over the plural of magisterium. The real point is that except grammatically, magisterium has no plural. The Faith is one, and so the teaching of the faith by the Teaching Church (the Pope and the bishops) is one.

But now there are indeed magisteria; and that is our profound problem.

Jordanes said...

You're clearly not much interested in coming out of the tall grass and explaining to me how the words of the Holy Father and the words of the gospel jibe.

Mr. McFarland, if you with your education can't figure it out on your own, there's no way I'll be able to show you.

Of course I don't really believe that you can't see how the Holy Father's words jibe with the words of the Gospel.

Among the scriptures cited in Redemptor hominis of Pope John Paul the Great, what do you make of the fact that in contains few if any references to the fact that redemption does not save you unless you repent, believe the gospel and are baptized? Why write an encylical that deals entirely if not exclusively with redemption that does not save?

"Entirely if not exclusively"? Are you sure you didn't mean "exclusively if not entirely"?

The Catholic Church does not believe that the redemption available to us solely through Jesus, the Redeemer of Mankind, is a redemption that does not save. Nor does Redemptor hominis teach any such nonsalvific redemption.

Nor does John Paul II's encyclical slight the need for repentance (RH 20).

The real point is that except grammatically, magisterium has no plural.

Maybe it doesn't in your mind . . .

The Faith is one, and so the teaching of the faith by the Teaching Church (the Pope and the bishops) is one.

True. Each Pope's particular magisterium is but a part of the Church's one Magisterium.

But now there are indeed magisteria

There always have been.

John McFarland said...

Jordanes,

He does indeed make reference to penance back in 20.

But further towards the front (11)we see language that seems more in tune with the general tenor of the encylical, and very hard indeed to square with 20:

"In Christ and through Christ God has revealed himself fully to mankind and has definitively drawn close to it; at the same time, in Christ and through Christ man has acquired full awareness of his dignity, of the heights to which he is raised, of the surpassing worth of his own humanity, and of the meaning of his existence."

Or even more to the point (13):

"Man as "willed" by God, as "chosen" by him from eternity and called, destined for grace and glory-this is "each" man, "the most concrete" man, "the most real"; this is man in all the fullness of the mystery in which he has become a sharer in Jesus Christ, the mystery in which each one of the four thousand million human beings living on our planet has become a sharer from the moment he is conceived beneath the heart of his mother."

Now if you don't think that these passages at least strongly imply universal salvation (or, if you prefer, Rahner's anonymous Christian), I'd be interested in knowing what you think they mean.

John McFarland said...

Jordanes,

Magisteria?

Is there one faith, or is there not?

Jordanes said...

But further towards the front (11)we see language that seems more in tune with the general tenor of the encylical, and very hard indeed to square with 20:

If that language is really so hard to square with RH 20, what do you make of the passages of the New Testament that teach the same thing about Jesus?

You never level any accusations against the teachings of John Paul II and Benedict XVI that cannot also be leveled against the Holy Scriptures.

Now if you don't think that these passages at least strongly imply universal salvation (or, if you prefer, Rahner's anonymous Christian), I'd be interested in knowing what you think they mean.

They do not imply universal salvation, but indicate the potential for universal salvation. God is, after all, not willing that any should perish.

Pray and reflect awhile on the first two chapters of St. Paul's epistle to the Hebrews. It might shed some light on the things John Paul II is telling you in Redemptor hominis.

Is there one faith, or is there not?

Check your Catechism. It'll tell you.

Jordanes said...

Note to "Okie":

Thanks for your comment and I do appreciate the bit of levity you have provided . . . but I hope you can understand why we deem it better that your comment not be approved.

Anonymous said...

It isn't uncommon to refer to the "magisterium" of one pope and the "magisterium" of a different Pope as a reference to what they specifically taught.

For example, the JPII's Magisterium can be described as greatly concerning itself with providing an interpretative key to the Second Vatican Council documents (since in many ways they lack their own interpretative key by not having any anathemas).

We can then compare that body of work (another term might be his "corpus" of work) with B16s, which is clearly focusing on the relationship between the Church and the Secular world.

To say "Well, which is it, do different Popes have different Magisteria, or does the Church only have one Magisterium" is like saying "How can John Paul II have a corpus of work if the Church is one body?"

The term is being misused and a contradiction is being created where there isn't one. When a Pope's magisterium is referenced it is a reference to their body of work and how they used their teaching authority.

John McFaland said...

Jordanes,

I had thought that I'd made this request before; but I guess I hadn't, so let me make it now:

Can you give us one or more examples of cases in which my criticisms of the conciliar popes would also apply to the scriptures?

John McFarland said...

Anonymous 20:04,

It certainly isn't uncommon to speak of the magisterium of this pope or that -- since Vatican II.

But if you were to use such language around the Vatican 75 or 100 years ago, you'd be looked at funny; because traditionally, the magisterium means the teaching authority of the Church considered as a unity, and by extension the doctrine that the Church as a unity teaches.

But the point is not to quibble over usage. It is, rather, to remind everyone that the Faith of the Church is one thing, given once for all, and none of it later than the death of the last Apostle. There's a lot more to be said; but if that is not one's starting point, he is wrong from the start, and bound to go further wrong as he proceeds.

Jordanes said...

But the point is not to quibble over usage. It is, rather, to remind everyone that the Faith of the Church is one thing, given once for all, and none of it later than the death of the last Apostle. There's a lot more to be said; but if that is not one's starting point, he is wrong from the start, and bound to go further wrong as he proceeds.

Since it does not follow that referring to the magisteria of individual Popes must mean that one does not believe in the unity of the Church's Magisterium, you are quibbling over usage.

Can you give us one or more examples of cases in which my criticisms of the conciliar popes would also apply to the scriptures?

Sure. St. Paul tells the Romans, "A man is justified by faith apart from works of the law." St. James, however, tells the Jewish people, "A man is justified by works and not by faith alone."

In Hebrews, it says Jesus "learned obedience." How could Jesus be God and yet He learned obedience to God?

WHY WON'T ST. PAUL MAKE HIMSELF CLEAR?

In the Gospels, Jesus says no one knows the day or the hour of the coming of the Son of Man, not even the Son, but the Father only. How could Jesus be coessential with the Father, fully possessing the divine intellect, and not know the day or the hour of his return?

WHY WON'T THE EVANGELISTS MAKE THEMSELVES CLEAR?

St. Peter says Christians can come to share in the divine nature (II Peter 1:4). That sounds pretty equivocal to me, even blasphemous to tell the truth. Does he really mean that human beings can become divinities, on the same level as God?

WHY WON'T ST. PETER MAKE HIMSELF CLEAR?

There can be only one explanation for these things: we can't understand what the Scripture writers meant, but we can be sure of one thing: they never meant to be understood! They were confused and erring, unreliable teachers! We must reject their teaching and stick to the clearer, simpler teachings of Moses as taught by the Scribes and Pharisees!

[sarcasm off]

Mar said...

Jordanes,

The way you refer to the above examples from scripture is rather facile. They are only 'contradictory' if you approach them in a shallow way. Or shall we say a 'protestant' way, where they can mean anything you want them to mean - each man for himself. But quotes from scripture are never to be treated that way, rather as parts of a solid and coherent 'whole' linked together with references and cross-references, and often with various levels of meaning.

The explanations of the examples you give are available in the Church's treasury of knowledge, and they have been there for yonks: starting from the oldest Fathers of the Church to more recent confessors and defenders of the Faith.

That is another problem with the 'protestant' approach: 'sola scriptura' taken without any reference to an oral tradition of exigesis, which is in fact older than the written word, will inevitably go off track.

St. Paul, St. Peter and the Evangelists *have* made themselves clear - through the exegetes and teachers of the Church. Catholics know that. Your histrionic juxtapositions may work for protestants but the exercise falls flat when you are dealing with catholics.

Jordanes said...

Yes, I know all that, Mar. You're completely missing the point of my exercise (and you also didn't notice that "my" histrionics are only a put-on, an imitation of my interlocutor).

If it's seriously erroneous to treat Scripture that way, it can't be that much more acceptable to treat documents and declarations and theological treatises of councils and popes the same way, can it?

okie said...

Jordanes,

Your example from scripture is brilliant! You even had someone accidently make your point for you...to read each and every single bit of information as disassociated from the larger and unified point is exactly what PROTESTANTS do...its called proof texting when it comes to scripture. I think it is fair to say that proof texting the Pope's words in order to prove your point and sow seeds of discord and doubt is also a rather PROTESTANT thing to do, and any good CATHOLIC would stop doing it.

Yes, I'm looking at you, you know who you are.

Mar said...

Jordanes,

I am aware of what your intentions were but my point was that there *is* no comparison and I shall elaborate on that in a moment.

Okie,

Before you get too carried away with gloating, stop and consider that maybe you are the one who needs to 'get the point'.

St. Paul, St. Peter and the Evangelists were dealing with the Deposit of Faith; they were the ones who 'enshrined' it, as it were, in the written word. We, on the other hand, have been talking about recent popes and a recent council - BIG DIFFERENCE.

What St. Paul says in his letter to the Galatians is apposite here: '...though it were we ourselves, though it were an angel from heaven that should preach to you a
gospel other than the gospel we preached to you, a curse upon him! ...if anyone preaches to you what is contrary to the tradition you received, a curse upon him!'
(Gal 1:8-9)

We as catholics in the twenty-first century are in a position to look back on history and see how the Deposit of Faith has been handed down in one piece - a seamless garment - in spite of dungeon, fire and sword; and in spite of bad popes and councils. That is the miracle of the Church.

We as catholics therefore have a right, nay a duty, to test what is preached to us - be it by a pope, or a council, or a document, or a declaration, or a theological
treatise - against this seamless garment. That is *not* proof texting. Far from it; it is taking St. Paul's injunction to the Galatians very seriously, not to mention other injunctions about standing firm and keeping watch.

Jordanes said...

I am aware of what your intentions were but my point was that there *is* no comparison and I shall elaborate on that in a moment.

I can see no evidence that you were, or are, aware of the purpose of my comment. Your words betray no sign of awareness of what I was doing.

Let's take your words, "The way you refer to the above examples from scripture is rather facile. They are only 'contradictory' if you approach them in a shallow way. Or shall we say a 'protestant' way, where they can mean anything you want them to mean - each man for himself."

That is exactly how Mr. McFarland prefers to treat magisterial and papal declarations and discourses of the past fifty years. Yet if he were to be consistent, he would have to attack the Scriptures in the same way that he attacks and casts doubt on the meaning of the words of what he likes to call "the conciliar magisterium."

Continuing, you said, "But quotes from scripture are never to be treated that way, rather as parts of a solid and coherent 'whole' linked together with references and cross-references, and often with various levels of meaning."

That's not unlike how we are supposed to treat quotes from magisterial and papal teaching -- but it's not what Mr. McFarland does.

St. Paul, St. Peter and the Evangelists were dealing with the Deposit of Faith; they were the ones who 'enshrined' it, as it were, in the written word. We, on the other hand, have been talking about recent popes and a recent council - BIG DIFFERENCE.

That difference has no bearing on the validity and force of my argument. Mr. McFarland wanted me to show him cases in which his criticisms and rejection of papal teachings also apply to the Scriptures. I showed him passages of the Scriptures that are unclear or apparently contradictory or equivocal. Is it your contention that it's a grievous offense for the Church's Magisterii to be unclear or to say things that require catechesis and reflection to understand, but it's a-okay for the Holy Spirit to inspire writers who are often unclear and confusing in their expressions? Put it another way: if the divinely-inspired sacred writers didn't always make themselves plain and clear, how could it be fair to demand that the uninspired Magisterii always be plain and clear? Or if the Fathers and Doctors and Popes and Councils haven't always spoken in perfect agreement nor always with the greatest clarity, as the past 2,000 years show they haven't, how can we attack the contemporary teachings of popes for not being in perfect agreement with past statements of the Church or for not always making themselves clear (or at least not as clear as Mr. McFarland thinks they should be)?

Jordanes said...

We as catholics in the twenty-first century are in a position to look back on history and see how the Deposit of Faith has been handed down in one piece - a seamless garment - in spite of dungeon, fire and sword; and in spite of bad popes and councils.

AND because of good popes and councils . . . .

Just because we are in a position where we have the potential of looking back on how the Church has handed on and expounded and "unwrapped" the deposit of faith, it doesn't follow that all Catholics can do it. No one can do it without first having adequate catechesis and proper formation -- and it is never to be done in a dismissive, questioning, doubtful spirit.

We as catholics therefore have a right, nay a duty, to test what is preached to us - be it by a pope, or a council, or a document, or a declaration, or a theological treatise - against this seamless garment. That is *not* proof texting.

No, it's not necessarily proof texting. But Mr. McFarland isn't just testing the contemporary teachings of the Church against what the Church has always believed. You see, we as Catholics also have a right and a duty to approach the teachings of the popes with charity, humility, docility, and fairness. But sadly, literally every single time Mr. McFarland hears or reads something from the recent popes, he reacts immediately with a dismissiveness, questioning, skepticism, even cynicism. He talks as if his understanding of the Faith is the ruler against which Church teaching and papal commentary is measured.

His way of reading contemporary papal teaching is not a Catholic way.