Rorate Caeli

They could start by disowning Luther


The general tone is one that is to be much appreciated: the great problem of the "Ecumenical dialogue" (the one that followed the Council's Unitatis Redintegratio decree) is that both Protestants and Catholics have been in a framework designed by Protestants and favored by Protestants, as if the "modern 'church'" founded by Luther and his cohorts were the goal, as if Protestantism had a 500-year head start on what the Church should look like - while Catholics and the Eastern Orthodox are still "stuck in the Middle Ages".

In the end, the most controversial words of the interview, which, for the German media, were these:
It is time that those on the Protestant side of the argument completely dissociate themselves from Luther's view that the pope is the Antichrist. Because that was not intended for the Pope as an individual Christian. [It meant that] The Catholic Church was to be considered thus in her self-image. This can not be dismissed as a time-related controversy. We need to move on from the shadows of our denominational perspective on the Church's history.
The words of the bishop have been heavily criticized - including by Catholics (of course) who view them as somewhat quaint. No Protestant says that today! Sorry, we know that Protestantism is not in the best shape in the nation of Luther and Melanchton, but it does not matter: plenty of Protestants around the world (go ask the dozens of millions of new Evangelicals in Latin America) do hold Luther's view of the Holy Roman and Apostolic See faithfully. 

It really remains to be seen if the bishop meant what he said about Luther - in our view, he just wanted to point out the huge hypocrisy of Ecumenical "dialogue", in which only Catholics need to be subdued while we all reach for that final ecumenical nirvana: a Protestantized United Church. That will not happen: after 50 years of failures, the Anglican Ordinariates, created by a German Pope, are a palpable sign of the only path to true Ecumenism. [Image: Bull 'Exsurge Domine', 1520]

29 comments:

  1. After The Devil, he is enemy number one of the church.

    ReplyDelete
  2. "The words of the bishop have been heavily criticized - including by Catholics..."

    I don't believe that at all.

    Delphina

    P.S. I am being sarcastic. It's a pity I have to include disclaimers with my posts...

    ReplyDelete
  3. [Image: Bull 'Exsurge Domine', 1520]

    One of my favorite papal magisterial documents of all time . . . .

    ReplyDelete
  4. Luther had some very serious issues -- and I'm not talking theologically: http://catholiclane.com/from-scrupulosity-to-lutherosity-part-1/

    ReplyDelete
  5. I note that Luther is often invoked as a positive role model by those who post at the Notionally "Catholic" Reporter site.

    ReplyDelete
  6. I will also say this, and I believe I will have the occasion to develop this further in the near future: many Traditional-minded Catholics should always, always, always remember how Luther fed himself with heated rhetoric, in an increasing spiral of disgust, anger, and, in the end, hatred towards the Vicar of Christ. Disrespect, lack of love, and/or hatred for the Bishop of Rome is a sure sign of a very dangerous situation.

    One cannot let one's disappointment with some (or several) decisions of the Holy See stand in the way of filial respect and deep love for the Successor of Peter.

    NC

    ReplyDelete
  7. New Catholic wrote:

    "in our view, he just wanted to point out the huge hypocrisy of Ecumenical "dialogue", in which only Catholics need to be subdued while we all reach for that final ecumenical nirvana: a Protestantized United Church.!

    That's exactly how it is. Cleverly written, N.C. - especially "ecumenical nirvana"!What an apt image for the present insidious and unintelligent mentality on ecumenism in the Church which embraces everyone and everything except those "stubborn and nostalgic" lovers of the TRADITIONAL LATIN MASS! Woe betide them....and a certain famous Archbishop and the Society that he founded.

    NUTS! I can see this hypocrisy so clearly and I have never had any direct contact with the SSPX.


    Barbara

    ReplyDelete
  8. Lee Terry Lovelock-JemmottSunday, May 8, 2011 at 9:56:00 AM GMT

    How about the heretics admit that whatever was wrong with Christ's spouse in the time of the Reformation, was remediable as opposed to the abberation that came forth from the throes of Luther and his devilish cohorts incl Calvin, Zwingli and co. Thus like myself having come from Anglicanism, the heretics should come away from their cognitive dislike for all things Roman and moreover Catholic and come back To Our Lord !!

    ReplyDelete
  9. Essnetially, NC I agree with your admonition about Lutheran digust and hatred of the pope which is grounded in various characteristic vices. Even more surprising therefore that one pontiff described him as righteous.

    One can still make a critical appraisal of a pope once we have read his works; witnessed his public actions and made a seriously and genuinely informed assessment. This way how could we be disappointed with their position when we know and comprehend where they stand? This should enhance our love of the supreme pontiff in our prayer life. On the other hand, to blindly accept all he states and does as worthy only of unquestioning obedience and filial devotion, as many catholics seem to do today, can hardly be interpreted as love. Rather, this is indulgent obsequiousness and singularly bereft of charity.

    When all is said and done we should even wish that the pope take back his rightful divinely bestowed authority much diluted and dispersed in post-conciliar times with an end to anti-papal collegiality which has propagated much contemporary papal antipathy and episcopal contempt.

    ReplyDelete
  10. I just pointed out to a poster on Mark Shea's site that real ecmenicalism is impossible between Lutherans and Catholics as long as any Lutheran body refuses to repudiate the Book of Concord with its Pope is very anti-christ statements. Likewise, no Catholic who accepts Trent's condemnation of the Protestant heresies can entertain any idea of embracing Lutheranism. The people who want to get together as one big happy family lost sight of what made them Lutherans or Catholics years ago. If the Luther-lovers in the Catholic Church want to embrace Marty, they ought to travel to Wittenburg, instead of wasting our time and money with endless dialogue that leads nowhere.

    ReplyDelete
  11. I would also like to point out that Exsurge Domine clearly, emphatically declares that it is a doctrinal error to say that heretics cannot be burned. Am I to believe that Dignitatis Humanae does not completely fly in the face of this?

    ReplyDelete
  12. Of the 41 heretical or erroneous propositions drawn from Luther's writings that were formally condemned in Exsurge Domine, the 33rd. is:

    "That heretics be burned is against the will of the Spirit."

    I suppose one can point out that Dignitatis Humanae never says the capital punishment of heretics is against the will of the Holy Spirit, nor specifically that burning heretics is against the will of the Spirit.

    Of course we also know that while Luther himself claimed that the burning of heretics is contrary to the Spirit's will, he apparently believed the Holy Spirit was a-okay with drowning them.

    ReplyDelete
  13. Jordanes551,

    Dignitatis Humanae states as doctrine that man has the right to be free from legal restriction in the propagating of his religious views, however heretical they are, as long as they do not threaten public peace/safety, do not challenge the intrinsic moral order, and are not presented in an undignified manner.

    This supposed right is to be recognized and enshrined in law and is based on man's very human dignity.

    It's a sure bet that executing a heretic violates Dignitatis Humanae. If a man cannot have public propagation of his views legally restricted simply because they are heresy, he most certainly cannot be executed for expressing his heresy.

    I don't think we can avoid the hard ugly facts of the situation: Either Dignitatis Humanae clashes with Church doctrine, numerous ecclesial laws and the Church's moral indefectability; or for over 1,500 years, the Church continually engaged in a series of immoral abhorent affronts against mankind's very human dignity.

    Sorry, if I'm diverting off of the primary impulse of the thread topic, but since Exsurge Domine is under discussion, I did think it worth mentioning.

    ReplyDelete
  14. as long as they do not threaten public peace/safety, do not challenge the intrinsic moral order, and are not presented in an undignified manner.

    That's a loophole almost big enough to drive a De Haeretico Comburendo through.

    It's a sure bet that executing a heretic violates Dignitatis Humanae.

    But does DH teach that it is "against the will of the Spirit" to burn heretics? I'm not sure it does. A careful reading of the text does not reveal any express proscription of the death penalty for heresy as if it were intrinsically evil. Coercion in matters of religious conscience is prohibited, as the Church has always taught (though not always perfectly practiced by her members), but capital punishment isn't necessarily an instrument of coercion.

    Personally I think DH was written carefully enough (ambiguously enough) so as not to conflict with prior teaching and law, or some hypothetical future situation in which the Faith regains its rightful place in civil society.

    All that said, even if not against the will of the Spirit, it's better not to put heretics to death, and I wouldn't want us to return to that polity.

    ReplyDelete
  15. Jordanes551,

    If this loophole is supposedly as big as you suggest it is, then it in effect nullifies the entire document, and anybody up to and including Stalin, Hitler, Mullah Omar, and Kim Il Sung can repress religions in the name of their understanding of public peace and safety.

    I think any reasonable read of DH clearly shows that the Holy Spirit condemns the burning of heretics. Unless we're going to start to claim that since DH does not explicitly declare that God is good, just, and holy, it is possibly written on the theological understanding that God malevolently chuckles and chortles at violations of man's human dignity.

    ReplyDelete
  16. If this loophole is supposedly as big as you suggest it is, then it in effect nullifies the entire document,

    No. Only if words don't have meaning would it nullify the entire document.

    and anybody up to and including Stalin, Hitler, Mullah Omar, and Kim Il Sung can repress religions in the name of their understanding of public peace and safety.

    Where does DH say anything about a subjective, erroneous understanding of public peace and safety justifying the repression of religion? You mentioned that the limits on religious freedom include "as long as they do not threaten public peace/safety, do not challenge the intrinsic moral order, and are not presented in an undignified manner."

    That can only mean an actual threat to public peace and safety, not a purported one based on the whims and perverted philosophies of monstrous political entities.

    ReplyDelete
  17. "Human dignity" is a two-edged sword. Coercion in matters of religious conscience is an assault on human dignity. But so too is holding and promulgating heresy.

    ReplyDelete
  18. Jordanes551,

    DH does not recognize promulgating heresy as an affront against man's dignity, quite the opposite. Man has the right to be free from legal restriction in professing his religious views, regardless of how heretical they may be.

    "In consequence, the right to this immunity continues to exist even in those who do not live up to their obligation of seeking the truth and adhering to it and the exercise of this right is not to be impeded, provided that just public order be observed."

    ReplyDelete
  19. DH does not recognize promulgating heresy as an affront against man's dignity, quite the opposite.

    Nevertheless, promulgating heresy is an affront against man's dignity -- and you are mistaken: DH never says promulgating heresy is not an affront against man's dignity. It merely says it should be tolerated.

    Man has the right to be free from legal restriction in professing his religious views, regardless of how heretical they may be.

    That, however, is not what the passage that you quoted actually says:

    "In consequence, the right to this immunity [from external coercion as well as psychological freedom] continues to exist even in those who do not live up to their obligation of seeking the truth and adhering to it and the exercise of this right is not to be impeded, provided that just public order be observed."

    That talks about the failure to fulfill one's obligation to seek the truth and adhere to it. It doesn't talk about promulgating erroneous religious opinions. One may fail to seek and adhere to the truth without promulgating and propagating heresy. There are other passages in DH that say man has the right to be free from legal restriction in professing his religious views, regardless of how heretical they may be, but the passage you quoted does not say that.

    Also, even if one actively spreads heresy, the Church has always in principle recognised that under certain circumstances it may or even should be tolerated.

    Another important consideration is the respective levels of authority as well as the purpose of the bull Exsurge Domine and the conciliar declaration Dignitatis Humanae. Conciliar declarations are nothing to sneeze at, especially when approved by the pope, but aren't necessarily of greater authority or weight than a papal bull which invokes the Petrine prerogatives. Even though DH refers to fundamental and unvarying principles, in several places it uses language that signals its provisional nature, speaking to a particular moment and not necessarily to all times. DH does not appear to be an infallible and irreformable definition of the Magisterium, nor appears even to contain any such definitions. (DH comes close to admitting that its stance on religious freedom is not a part of the deposit of faith, though argues plausibly that it is consonant with it.) It could even be susceptible to invalid application of the absolute principles to which it refers and on which it bases its reasoning and conclusions: but even when the application is valid, it isn't necessarily the only valid application of those principles, and there are other principles to be kept in mind than the ones mentioned in DH.

    ReplyDelete
  20. Scotju wrote: " just pointed out to a poster on Mark Shea's site that real ecmenicalism is impossible between Lutherans and Catholics as long as any Lutheran body refuses to repudiate the Book of Concord with its Pope is very anti-christ statements."

    You are a brave, brave man for writing such a thing on a Mark Shea blog! Be prepared for a heap of burning coals to descend upon your head.

    Delphina

    ReplyDelete
  21. Jordanes551,

    You seem to have muddied the waters further by conflating and confusing tolerance with a natural right, which has laid at the heart of the controversy surrounding DH.

    In review:

    DH teaches as doctrine that people have the right to be free from restriction in publicly proclaiming their religious beliefs and teachings. This includes beliefs and teachings that Catholicism considers heretical. This is a right founded in human dignity, not merely a toleration that does not have to be allowed, as was held prior to 1958.

    By the way, Pacem in Terris in 1963, a magisterial encyclical, goes even further than DH and says outrightly that man has the right to profess his religion publicly, not merely the right to be immune from restriction, and there are no due limits itemized.

    Exsurge Domine says that heretics can be executed, therefore DH is in conflict with it, since heretics cannot be executed according to any reasonable understanding of DH.

    I don't think we can get into musings about the Holy Spirit somehow, according to DH, being accepting of homicidal affronts against human dignity, unless one wants to claim that God being good, just, and holy has somehow been dispensed with by DH.

    Agreed, that peddling heresy is actually an affront against man. And agreed, I don't see how DH is infallible. All I have been saying is that we have a conflict.

    ReplyDelete
  22. Back to Martin Luther...

    I have been told by more than a few priests in the novus ordo Church how devoted to Our Lady he was supposed to have been. I guess it never occurred to the priest that told me this how such an alleged devotion didn't seem to match up to Luther's attempt to destroy Her Son's Church. His perverse reputation has undergone quite a transformation in many a seminary - especially the North American College where a lot of our seminarians go.

    Fr. John Hardon once told us once that Luther has no descendants as the children that he and the ex-nun had either died young or, if they married, either didn't have children or the children they had never made it to adulthood.

    Delphina

    ReplyDelete
  23. You seem to have muddied the waters further by conflating and confusing tolerance with a natural right,

    No, I've not conflated nor confused them. I wonder, however, if such confusion was operative in the minds of those who composed, edited, and approved DH.

    All I have been saying is that we have a conflict.

    I've not denied that on the face of it, they are in conflict. It would be pretty silly of anyone to deny that. My initial comment in response to you was somewhat sardonic, and when I further opined that "DH was written carefully enough (ambiguously enough) so as not to conflict with prior teaching and law, or some hypothetical future situation in which the Faith regains its rightful place in civil society," I meant on the level of what constitutes infallible and irreformable teaching. In my view, DH clearly is neither infallible nor irreformable.

    ReplyDelete
  24. Fr. John Hardon once told us once that Luther has no descendants as the children that he and the ex-nun had either died young or, if they married, either didn't have children or the children they had never made it to adulthood.

    Yes, I think that is correct. I'm pretty sure I'd read that too.

    As for Luther's reputation among many seminarians, I know there was at least one (who became a priest and now is a diocesan vicar general) who still had a more factually-based view of Luther. I recall one conversation with him, in which he cited Luther and other heresiarchs as examples of the old adage, "Heresy begins below the belt."

    ReplyDelete
  25. Jordanes551, E Michael Jones basically says what you quoted about "heresy starting below the belt" in "Degenerate Moderns" Interestingly enough, one of the chapters of DM is devoted to Luther! Also, that remark Fr Hardon made about Luther's family not having one living descendant, it's also true concerning the families that were involved in the English reformation. Not one living descendent 150 years after King Henry's revolt!

    ReplyDelete
  26. That's certainly true of the English/Welsh royal house of Tudor. Henry VIII has no known living descendants: all of his children died childless (I'm aware of claims of illegitimate descent from Henry VIII -- I mean apart from Elizabeth Boleyn, called Queen Elizabeth I -- but I don't believe there is evidence to back up those claims). I think there are, or were at least until recently, living descendants of a sister of Henry VIII, if I remember right, but her family was no involved in fomenting the Anglican schism.

    ReplyDelete
  27. "DH teaches as doctrine that people have the right to be free from restriction in publicly proclaiming their religious beliefs and teachings.... Exsurge Domine says that heretics can be executed, therefore DH is in conflict with it, since heretics cannot be executed according to any reasonable understanding of DH."

    DH is a document that must be read in toto, because its main declaration comes early in the document while clarifications and limitations occupy several subsequent sections and may be pages away from the statement(s) to which they refer. It is not doing the document justice to cherry-pick quotations, even though I now do so:

    "...it leaves untouched traditional Catholic doctrine on the moral duty of men and societies toward the true religion and toward the one Church of Christ."

    The key word there is "moral"; the whole distinction within DH is between moral and civil duty (both of citizens and states). The moral duty is to the truth, while the civil duty is to public order and the common good.

    First, the state promotes the truth by acknowledging it publicly. In a common law-based system, this could mean recognition of the Catechism as a normative statement of ethics to be cited in case law. Likewise, the mere citation of faith counts for something; the Declaration of Independence has no official standing in law, but it is nonetheless accepted as an expression of fundamental social principles. I am less sanguine about the possible effects of using positive law, with a few exceptions.

    Second, the state can promote the truth by providing the true faith with official copyright and trademark, as well as protections against defamation or libel (these latter would be subject to the usual requirements of demonstrable intent to cause harm). The primary state interest is in ensuring that the true faith may be presented fairly. All these fall under the requirement to maintain public order.

    While DH maintains the right to public expression of heresy, it does not therefore maintain the right to incite against public order. Heresy that remains in the realm of private judgment, and/or disbelief in the state-recognized religion, is not intrinsically a threat to public order; heresy that expresses itself as false statements of fact, particularly where there is slanderous intent to mislead, does threaten public order and would be punishable under DH as I read it. The heretic's offense to civil society is not in disagreement but in incitement.

    The same protections which Christians deserve in a non-Christian society are the same protections which non-Christians deserve in a Christian society.

    If a statement requires the Church's authority to vouch for its veracity (e.g., "one God in three Persons"), then it is not defamatory to say "the Church is wrong about X". If a statement is a claim of fact that can be verified independently (e.g., "the Church aided Hitler", or "the Church did not exist until Constantine created it"), then it would be moral to punish if falsehood and defamatory intent were shown. If it were a repeat offense, and egregiously defamatory, I could see where execution could be sanctioned.

    ReplyDelete
  28. The Anglicans will have their Ordinariates while we continue to wait for a Worldwide Apostolic Administration with its own bishops for the Traditional Mass and sacraments.

    Does ecumenism begin within the Church and its own sons and daughters, or is it strictly a movement to draw in non-Catholics, so-called separated brethren and Protestants? Is the Traditional Movement "stuck in the middle ages" using the language contained in the original post? Where is the Justice in all this? I for one, fail to see it.

    While professing filial loyalty to the Holy Father I am nevertheless in agreement with NC's words: "In our view, he just wanted to point out the huge hypocrisy of Ecumenical "dialogue", in which only Catholics need to be subdued while we all reach for that final ecumenical nirvana: a Protestantized United Church.!" One could easily insert the word traditional before "Catholics" in the above paragraph and make the point crystal clear.

    LtCol Paul E. Haley, USAF(Ret)

    ReplyDelete
  29. Indeed, the church is being ecumenised from within, demonstrated clearly by the number of apparently disparate and sectarian elements that have been validated in the last 40 years: Neo-Cats, Anglicans, Focolare, Opus Dei, NO etc. The Orthodox are often treated as though they are within the fold too (but anonymously of course).

    ReplyDelete

Comment boxes are debate forums for readers and contributors of RORATE CÆLI.

Please, DO NOT assume that RORATE CÆLI contributors or moderators necessarily agree with or otherwise endorse any particular comment just because they let it stand.

_______
NOTES

(1) This is our living room, in a deeply Catholic house, and you are our guest. Please, behave accordingly. Any comment may be blocked or deleted, at any time, whenever we perceive anything that is not up to our standards, not conducive to a healthy conversation or a healthy Catholic environment, or simply not to our liking.

(2) By clicking on the "publish your comment" button, please remain aware that you are choosing to make your comment public - that is, the comment box is not to be used for private and confidential correspondence with contributors and moderators.

(3) Any name/ pseudonym/ denomination may be freely used simply by choosing the third option, "Name/URL" (the URL box may be left empty), when posting your comment - therefore, there is no reason whatsoever to simply post as "Anonymous", making debate unnecessarily harder to follow. Any comment signed simply as "Anonymous" will be blocked.

Thank you!