Synthesis July-August 2012
FAITH Magazine July – August 2012
In his column in this issue William Oddie presents a strong case for the objective injustice of the widely supported call for Cardinal Brady of Ireland to resign in the wake of the BBC's accusatory This World documentary. Interestingly, in a recent Tablet article, Paddy Agnew, the Irish Times Rome correspondent, does not directly gainsay this injustice, nor the "defensive Holy See line" that "the BBC had not played fair" and that therefore the Cardinal should not resign (12 May, "An ever-widening gap"). Rather he proposes that there is a worrying "chasm" between this "instinctive" "line" and the "shock-waves" of "public anger in Ireland". The Tablet's editorial ("A relationship in need ofrepair") elucidates for us. Whether Cardinal Brady is "personally guilty... is not the issue for many in Ireland. The point is the upholding of a system of authority that allowed abuse to flourish."
We would not gainsay the breadth or justification of the anger that exists in Ireland. We would simply question the proposal that perpetrating further injustice, in this case against the Cardinal, for a different agenda - in this case undermining the Church's "system of authority" - can in any way heal the deep wounds in Ireland, let alone help the victims of the terrible crimes of clerical abuse. The means do not justify the end. For opinion-formers to suggest so is, as William Oddie brings out, to add insult to injury.
Which brings us to Canon Luiz Ruscillo's discussion, in this issue, of Pope Benedict's "upholding" of the Church's ability to "preach" revelation, which, according to the solemn doctrine of the Church, "gives rise to faith, whereby we give our heartfelt assent to truth" (Verbum Domini, n.25). An absence of this virtue of faith would seem to be illustrated by another recent Tablet editorial (14 April, "Listen to the People") which affirms: "Disobedience, in theory, includes a rejection of the arguments ... against the ordination of women. Lay Catholic attitudes to homosexuality have changed remarkably over a generation. There is no method of re-evangelisation that will turn thistide" (our emphasis).
The "disobedience" referred to is, primarily, that publicly advocated by the Austrian Priests Initiative, and publicly rejected by the successor of St Peter in his unprecedented Chrism Mass sermon to priests. Their "summons to disobedience", Pope Benedict preached, went "even to the point of disregarding definitive decisions of the Church's Magisterium, such as the question of women's ordination ... Do we sense here anything of that configuration to Christ which is the precondition for all true renewal, or do we merely sense a desperate push to do something to change the Church in accordance with one's own preferences and ideas?"
This was nine days before The Tablet's explicit proclamation of the impossibility of true renewal in the face of such disregard of definitive teaching. It was a month before The Tablet's cover screamed out from the backs of British cathedrals and parish churches in complaint at "the wrath of Rome ... [towards] the nuns of America". To get an idea of the US Leadership Council for Women Religious, the organisation of which the Holy See is making demands, and of some very different American nuns, see our Notes from Across the Atlantic column.
A more faith-filled cri de coeur was contained in Piers Paul Read's "Charterhouse" column in the 27 April edition of The Catholic Herald ("Purity baffles the young"). In a moving story concerning his own children's unanimous affirmation of the moral legitimacy of "same-sex sex" he harked back with nostalgia to his "religious instruction ... in the 1950s [which] was hardly rigorous, but at least I was taught to memorise the questions and answers of the Penny Catechism."
In this magazine we argue that a key problem behind all this has been downplaying the need to update the answers given to catechetical questions at all levels. In this issue Niall Gooch analyses the resulting ecclesial uncertainty and, inspired by a seminal vision handed down to us, we respond to some pressing questions relating to doctrine, belief and catechesis (cf. our Truth Will Set You Free column, our lead letter and especially our editorial).
We fully support the necessary intellectual development pleaded for by Vatican II and recent popes (cf. our Road from Regensburg column). We do so theologically through the contributions of Mgr Cormac Burke and Canon Ruscillo and, in the area of philosophy of science, through our Cutting Edge column, Pia Matthews' review and our response to our lead letter.
FAITH movement, along with numerous other Catholic communities, know from experience that there is an evangelisation approach that can counter the Brave New World fostered by the liberal consensus and its coalition of publications. Its heart is the obedience of faith, including, as affirmed in word and deed by the saints, an obedience to the Church.
Indeed the purity of our reception of divine revelation, as well as a deepening of our interpretation of our world, are clearly key to that new synthesis of faith and reason that can enable the New Evangelisation to be truly culture-transforming.