Archive for the ‘Catholic’ Category

Hans Kung-Theology for 3rd Millennium

July 25, 2010

pg 54 –
On the question of [Biblical] inerrancy of Scripture the speech by Cardinal Franz Konig of Vienna on concrete errors in the Bible was of fundamental importance. Konig frankly pointed out “that in Holy Scripture the historical and scientific accounts sometimes diverge from the truth” (a veritate quandquoque deficere). For example, according to Mark 2:26 David is supposed to have entered the house of God and to have eaten the showbread under the high priest Abiathar; in fact, of course, this happened we are told in I Samuel 21:1-2 – NOT under Abiathar but under his father Ahimelech. Or in Matthew 27:9 the fulfillment of the prophecy of “Jeremiah” is reported, which is in truth a prophecy of Zachariah (11:13), and so on. Cardinal Konig wanted the discussion of the issue of inerrancy to be “candid, unambiguous, unaffected and fearless.” For deviation from the truth on historical and scientific questions in no way endangered the authority of Scripture. Rather God accepted the human author with all his weakness and mistakes — and reached His goal nevertheless; to teach men and women the “truth” of revelation.

The Spirit of the Inquisition

June 26, 2010,9171,870552-1,00.html

“Even today the spirit of the Inquisition and unfreedom has not died out,” said the Rev. Hans Küng, dean of the Roman Catholic theological faculty at Germany’s Tübingen University, in a lecture on “The Church and Freedom” that he delivered across the U.S. last spring. Such polemics, directed at conservative Italians in the Roman Curia, drew big, interested crowds—3,000 at Boston College, 5,000 in Chicago, 6,000 in San Francisco. The Jesuit-run St.Louis University gave Küng an honorary doctorate of laws, hailing himas “a man of vision.”

Many clerics firmly believe that youthful Theologian Küng’s criticisms denigrate some venerable, valuable institutions of the church, and for them that doctorate was the last straw. On May 25, while Pope John XXIII was dying, Rome’s Sacred Congregation of Seminaries and Universities issued an instruction that would require Catholic universities to get clearance from Rome before awarding honorary degrees. The author of the decree is believed to be Archbishop Dino Staffa, who is the chief assistant to Giuseppe Cardinal Pizzardo, the congregation’s conservative prefect.

Speaking of Stupidities. Explaining the instruction last week, Staffa argued that Catholic universities have recently been giving out too many honorary degrees, often to men who are “not worthy of merit.” Asked if Küng, who is a peritus (theological expert) of the Vatican Council, fell into this category, the archbishop replied that “there are many periti of the council who speak stupidities.” As far as Küng is concerned, “if we give honorary doctorates to him, it would seem that we approve his ideas.” Staffa claimed that the instruction is still under study by the congregation, but many schools have received it (and a few have scornfully pigeonholed it).

Why Staffa has little liking for Küng’s ideas is easy to see. In his new collection of essays and papers called The Council in Action (Sheed & Ward; $4.50), Küng pleads for such reforms as internationalization of the Roman Curia, reduction of its power, greater authority for regional councils of bishops. He speaks of “reactionary doctrinaire tendencies” in certain council fathers, and dismisses the agenda items drawn up for the council by the Curia-dominated preparatory commission as “ill-prepared, partisan schemata.”

Not one of these views is heretical, although some Catholics feel that Küng shows excessive zeal in pointing out the defects of the church. Küng is still listed as one of the council’s theological experts, but there are rumors of an instruction pending in Rome that might restrict his freedom to publish or give public speeches. If so, Küng would join a long list of distinguished Catholic thinkers who have been silenced, at least temporarily, by Curia officials.

The great Jesuit paleontologist Pierre Teilhard de Chardin was forbidden to publish his nontechnical works during his lifetime. In recent years, three of France’s finest theologians—Jesuit Henri de Lubac and Dominicans Yves Congar and M. D. Chenu—have been temporarily relieved from teaching posts and forced to submit their writings to the Holy Office for special censorship. Last year Austrian Jesuit Karl Rahner was required to submit all future writings to his superior in Rome for clearance, a restriction since lifted; Father John Courtney Murray of the U.S. was advised not to write any more on his special field of study, church-state relations. “In the Catholic Church of the 20th century,” a U.S. priest dryly explains, “the grace of martyrdom has been given to the intellectual.”

At Odds with Renewal. Such direct measures may have been acceptable in other ages, but many Catholics believe they are out of keeping with the renewal of the church urged by Pope John. In the Jesuit weekly America, Father Robert Graham makes a strong case for a new “civil rights” policy that would include a drastic overhaul of Holy Office procedures. A number of bishops—reportedly including New York’s Francis Cardinal Spellman—have protested the instruction by the Congregation of Seminaries, and Pizzardo has advised papal nuncios and apostolic delegates not to circulate the decree.

The existence of the order suggests that any considerable change in the methods of the Holy See will have to be carried out by the council. Like John XXIII before him, Paul VI seems to have discovered that elevation to the most powerful spiritual office on earth does not automatically give him control of Rome’s vast bureaucracy. “It has been written of my predecessor that he once said, ‘I’m in a bag here,’ ” the Pope told a friend recently. “Well, I’m not in a bag. I’m inside a crusher.”

Jaroslav Pelikan – The Christian Tradition

June 3, 2010

Jaroslav Pelikan – The Christian Tradition – A History of the Development of Doctrine
Volume I, Pg. 5 – The Emergence of the Catholic Tradition (100-600)
ISBN 0-226-65371-4

The relation between believing, teaching, and confessing also implies that both the subject matter and the source material for the history of the development of doctrine will shift, gradually but steadily, as we trace it through the history of the church. This is not intended to say that a doctrine, once formulated, stops developing and becomes fixed; not even the dogma of the Trinity has stood perfectly still since its adoption and clarification. It does mean that having developed from what was believed to what was taught, and perhaps even to what was confessed, a doctrine gradually became part of the authorized deposit of the faith. To trace its further development we shall have to look, increasingly though by no means exclusively, to its professional expositors, the theologians, as they speculated on it both in their philosophy and in their mystagogy, as they studies it and criticized it, as they used it to interpret the very Scriptures on which it was supposedly based, and as they expanded and revised it. In later volumes of this history, therefore, the history of doctrine will move into, but will never quite become, the history of theology. A graphic sign of this shift through the centuries is contained in the evolution of the theologian’s vocation. During the years 100 to 600, most theologians were bishops; from 600 to 1500 in the West, they were monks; since 1500, they have been university professors. Gregory I, who died in 604, was a bishop who had been a monk; Martin Luther, who died in 1546, was a monk who became a university professor. Each of these life styles has left its mark on the job description of the theologian, but also on the way doctrine has continued to develop back and forth between believing, teaching, and confessing.

Transformative Ideas

May 8, 2010

If I were artistic, I would sketch the cross on Golgotha/Calgary in the distance with one person whispering to another “It’s the THOUGHT that counts!” This might sound blasphemous, but I once blogged about how the IDEA of Christ (and Buddha and Ram) unquestionably exists even if one doubts the historicity, and ideas can be transformational and salvific!

(posted to my Facebook status today )

Paltalk Bible Discussion on Wisdom

April 17, 2010

I gained a new insight yesterday during a long Bible discussion in Paltalk.


..physical anthropology and molecular biology combine to make a convincing case for the origin of the human species in Africa about 150,000 yeas ago in a humanoid population of common genetic lineage.

Here is an excerpt of my reply to a Facebook thread on this:

You all miss the whole point of my post I suspect. Someone in Paltalk said they doubted that the RC would accept anything which contradicts Genesis


, on the contrary, the Pope acknowledges that geneticists and physicists have made strong arguments; i.e. the RC his hardly fundamentalist. There are Roman Catholic Old Testament scholars who deconstruct the Old Testament to reveal the existence of various authors in say Genesis based upon style of language and who entertain as a reasonable conjecture such theories as those of Julius Wellhausen (Prolegomena to the History of Israel – 1878) recognizing four sources of authorship; Yahwest (J), Elohist (E), Priestly (P) and Deuteronomist (D).

In particular I am impressed by “Reading The Old Testament – An Introduction” by Lawrence Boadt, C.S.P, Paulist Press ISBN 0-8091-2631-1

Lawrence Boadt, CSP, is an ordained priest in the Paulist Fathers, and professor emeritus of Scripture Studies at the Washington Theological Union. He has written and spoken widely on Old Testament topics, and currently serves as the president and publisher of Paulist Press in Mahwah, NJ.

Even in the 4th century Basil the Great wrote the Hexemeron essay on the six day creation in Genesis and stressed that something like a day could be a metaphor for an eon, since the psalms say that “for God, one day is a thousand years and a thousand years is as a day.” The early century Greek theologians were hardly fundamentalists who took each verse at its literal meaning. At least the Ratzinger was willing to tip his hat to the geneticists and entertain the possibility that they may be on to something. People who insist the Earth is 6000 years old are utterly silly.

(end of excerpt)

First, consider that the serpent in the garden was described as the wisest or shrewdest of all the creatures. Next, consider how King Solomon prayed for wisdom and God promised Solomon that he would not only be wiser that all who came before him but also wiser than all who came after him. Now consider that Jesus calls John the Baptist the greatest man born of WOMAN (which is gyne but not parthenos/virgin). Finally, Jesus states that “a wiser than a Solomon is in your midst” (presumably himself).

We may conjecture from all this the following.

1.) Solomon IS the wisest human of all times, but Jesus is WISER being theos-anthropos and not simply anthropos (i.e. God-man).

2.) If John the Baptist is the greatest born of a non-virgin (gyne) therefore John’s greatest consists in something OTHER than wisdom (i.e. wisdom is necessary but not sufficient).

3.) Genesis concedes that a non-human, the serpent, might be more crafty or shrewd that all other creatures, including humans.

The Greeks like to cite a verse from Isaiah “unless you BELIEVE you shall not UNDERSTAND” to stress that FAITH comes first as a gift from God who foreknows how each recipient will use a gift (yet such foreknowledge in no way robs anyone of free will). Maximos the Confessor (circa 6th century) states in the Philokalia that (paraphrased) “Faith comes first as a gift and from faith proceeds understanding but only as much as is necessary to be salvific for a recipient.”

Aquinas takes the opposite position in the Summa, namely, that understanding comes first and faith follows from understanding.

Buzz Aldrin Moon Eucharist Communion

April 6, 2010

Communion on the Moon: July 20th, 1969 Jul 19, 2009

Forty years ago two human beings changed history by walking
on the surface of the moon. But what happened before Buzz Aldrin
and Neil Armstrong exited the Lunar Module is perhaps even more amazing, if only because so few people know about it

I’m talking about the fact that Buzz Aldrin took communion on the surface of the moon. Some months after his return, he wrote about it in Guideposts magazine. And a few years ago I had the privilege
of meeting him myself. I asked him about it and he confirmed the story to me, and I wrote about in my book Everything You Always Wanted to Know About God (But Were Afraid to Ask).

The background to the story is that Aldrin was an elder at his Presbyterian Church in Texas during this period in his life, and knowing that he would soon be doing something unprecedented in human history, he felt he should mark the occasion somehow, and he asked his pastor to help him. And so the pastor
consecrated a communion wafer and a small vial of communion wine. And Buzz Aldrin took them with him out of the Earth’s orbit and on to the surface of the moon.

He and Armstrong had only been on the lunar surface for a few minutes when Aldrin made the following public statement: “This is the LM pilot. I’d like to take this opportunity to ask every person listening in, whoever and wherever they may be, to pause for a
moment and contemplate the events of the past few hours and to give thanks in his or her own way.” He then ended radio communication and there, on the silent surface of the moon, 250,000 miles from home, he read a verse from the Gospel of John, and he took communion. Here is his own account of what happened:

“In the radio blackout, I opened the little plastic packages which contained the bread and the wine. I poured the wine
into the chalice our church had given me. In the one-sixth gravity of the moon, the wine slowly curled and gracefully came up the side of the cup. Then I read the Scripture, ‘I am the vine, you are the
branches. Whosoever abides in me will
bring forth much fruit.. Apart from me
you can do nothing.

I had intended to read my communion
passage back to earth, but at the last
minute [they] had requested that I not
do this. NASA was already embroiled in
a legal battle with Madelyn Murray
O’Hare, the celebrated opponent of
religion, over the Apollo 8 crew
reading from Genesis while orbiting the
moon at Christmas. I agreed
reluctantly. I ate the tiny Host and
swallowed the wine. I gave thanks for
the intelligence and spirit that had
brought two young pilots to the Sea of
Tranquility .. It was interesting for
me to think: the very first liquid ever
poured on the moon, and the very first
food eaten there, were the communion
element And of course, it’s interesting to think
that some of the first words spoken on
the moon were the words of Jesus Christ,
who made the Earth and the moon – and
Who, in the immortal words of Dante, is
Himself the “Love that moves the Sun and
other stars.”