Monday, August 29, 2011

Quote of the Day

. . . The Vatican’s orthodoxy watchdog department, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, has sharpened its focus on the way theology is being conducted in our church today. The purpose of the congregation is to uphold Catholic doctrine. The congregation, however, misconstrues its role when it becomes the arbiter of what constitutes Catholic theology, managing and even squelching discussions within the theological magisterium. Doctrine and theology should have separate places in the Catholic lexicon.

. . . Theology cannot be dictated – if it ever could be. It serves us best when it exists within the context of healthy discourse. We need free and open discourse to nurture Catholic ideas and Catholic engagement in the world today. This is why it is essential that journals like Theological Studies are free to support healthy discussions – and are not intimidated for engaging in them. Yet for more than a generation now our church’s hierarchy has stifled healthy theological give-and-take. Our church is less healthy for it. The primary areas of Vatican concern have been moral theology, liberation theology, and ecclesiology, including ordination and the role of women in the church.

. . . This has been a tragedy of historic proportions and it can be traced to a stilted understanding of natural law, and the interplay of faithful Catholics with the world in which they live. Church teachings on matters of sexuality (consider birth control) and moral theology (consider gays as “intrinsically disordered”) simply do not hold up for many faithful Catholics. Our church teachings have become divorced from human experience.

Eventually, many Catholics have simply decided to leave the church. According to a recent Pew Research Center report, for example, one out of three U.S.-born Catholics has left the church, many of them citing church teachings on sexuality.

More than ever we need robust theology; we need research, papers and discussions, which bring more life to the church. . . .

– Thomas C. Fox
"Retreat from Theology's Frontiers"
National Catholic Reporter
August 29, 2011

Recommended Off-site Links:
Vatican Pressures Theology Journal – Thomas C. Fox (National Catholic Reporter, August 29, 2011).
Theological Studies and Editorial Independence – Lisa Fullam (Commonweal, August 30, 2011).
"All Voices Must Be Heard": A Response to Archbishop Nienstedt – James Moudry (The Progressive Catholic Voice, July 25, 2011).
Richard Gaillardetz on the Need to "Wrestle with the Tradition" The Progressive Catholic Voice (March 8, 2011).
Urgent Tasks for Church Renewal: A Review of Peter Phan's Wake Up Lazarus: On Catholic Renewal – Pierre Hegy (National Catholic Reporter via The Progressive Catholic Voice, August 17, 2011).

See also the previous Wild Reed posts:
The Call to Be Dialogical Catholics
From Rome to Minneapolis, Dialogue is What's Needed
Why the Bishops Are Being Ignored
Quote of the Day – July 2, 2011
Quote of the Day – June 12, 2011
Quote of the Day – April 26, 2011
Quote of the Day – March 26, 2011
Quote of the Day – March 20, 2011


bill bannon said...

Thomas Fox is incorrect. I like Theological Studies but Rome did not interfere at all when it had a debate involving the early embryo and whether it was an individual or a totipotential cell mass that could twin up til day 14. Rome did not interfere because that area is unsettled dogmatically. The unsettled areas is where there is scope for "frontier" development within theology. Divorce's condemnation was settled at Trent (see sections 88-89 of Pius XI's Casti Connubii). When an issue is settled dogmatically, the Vatican should be monitoring periodicals under the Catholic name to ban discussion of the settled.
If TS had an essay on being open to incest or bestiality, only the insane would fault the Vatican for censuring such writing. Well.....millions upon millions of children get their hearts broken by divorce. I applaud the CDF for stepping in...though it took them too long.

Michael J. Bayly said...

Thanks for sharing your thoughts, Bill.

I doubt Catholics would fault the Vatican for opposing incest or bestiality. Such teaching would not be considered, in the words of Thomas Fox, "divorced from human experience."

The problem, as Fox says, is that on matters such as birth control and homosexuality, Vatican teachings "simply do not hold up for many faithful Catholics. [These] teachings have become divorced from human experience."



bill bannon said...

There are two spheres: settled and open.... gay actions for both genders are settled in Romans chapter one which is from the Holy Spirit. Birth control is open on the theoretic level even though no priest is allowed to trumpet is open as shown by the non action by the Vatican against Frs. Bernard Haring and Karl Rahner some decades past, both international and esteemed and both of whom stated that laity could follow a prayerful, studious dissenting conscience. Things in scripture are settled by God who according to Vatican II is the author of both testaments "with all their parts" (excepting scribal and scientific errors etc.).....thus divorce and gay actions are settled. If one's conscience objects then one might do what the award winning gay poet from Canada, Daryl Hine, did....follow one's conscience away from the Judeo Christian texts. The anomaly is what one sees in the NCR combox: people who want some of Christianity but not they hold everything they want to be open. Daryl Hine was more honest and an incredible poet.

Michael J. Bayly said...

Bill, you mention "people who want some of Christianity but not all." That seems a rather negative way of describing the process of discernment and the place and role of voices other than the hierarchy.

It also fails to acknowledge that the hierarchy itself picks and chooses aspects of Christianity. Scripture is clear about usury, and yet the Vatican operates an interest-charging bank! And how "settled" is the issue of divorce when people can buy an annulment. For most Catholics that whole set-up is a total joke.

Also, the amount of discussion and disagreement re. homosexuality is a clear indication that the issue is far from settled. Clearly there are "scientific errors" in the Biblical writers' understanding of gender and human sexuality. (Women are not the property of men; life in its totality isn't contained in the "seed" of the male, etc.) Accordingly, it's inaccurate to say that such matters have been settled in and by Scripture. Far from it.

Of course gay people are free to "follow their conscience" away from the Church. Yet we're also free to remain and bear witness to the presence and action of God in our lives and relationships -- and thus do our part in facilitating much-needed church reform.



bill bannon said...

Sensitive issues aside, interest of a moderate type is allowed in God's promise to the Jews that they would lend to many nations (allowed by us in 1830 without admitting that we were accepting Calvin's position of it is not alwats hierarchy but sometimes outsiders that influence; our current total ban on slavery is actually originally the Quaker position of several hundreds years I don't overstate hierarchy but everyone understates Scripture including these last two Popes on the death penalty (life sentences give US gangs within
prison carte blanche to do murders within prison as
freebies in anti death penalty states)).
Peace and God be with you