Monday, May 16, 2005

Schism or Romanism?

Jason has responded to my reply.

<< But unless his [Jaki’s] book was intended for Catechesis, there is no obligation to submit it for an imprimatur. >>

That may well be true, but you are changing the subject. What you originally said, and what I was responding to, was the following:

<< Perhaps you should take a look at the first page of Scott Hahn's (and most other Catholic apologist's) books. They are usually submitted to the local Bishop for an imprimatur (an official review and declaration of its suitability insofar as Catholic doctrine goes). >>

Whether they are “usually” submitted to the local bishop, and whether there is an “obligation” to do so are two very different things.

Indeed, you have now drawn the circle so narrowly that it is unclear that any book by a lay apologist would “bear on the formal education of the faithful, in the context of parish life (eg, textbooks)” or “catechesis.”

So instead of saying that such books are ordinarily submitted to the local bishop for the imprimatur, you now seem to be saying that such book are not ordinarily submitted to the local bishop for the imprimatur. Which is it?

<< It seems you're throwing out the term "schismatic" in a sense which you define, rather than the sense it is given in Catholic theology. >>

Three comments:

1.I am, indeed, using “schism” in an informal sense. That is already clear from how I’ve qualified my own usage: as when I speak of an “inner” schism, not to mention my lengthier distinction: “There’s quite a difference between a group which pays lip-service to the magisterium while going its own way, and one that publicly defies the magisterium. My allegation is that Armstrong is schismatic in the first sense, not the second.”

So all your criticism amounts to is that I’m not using the word the way you do. Granted. That does not affect my allegation.

2. I’d add that even in Catholic moral theology, intentions make a difference. For example, wrong intentions can invalidate a sacramental action. So even if outward conformity is preserved, impediments may remain.

Vatican II says the following:
“This loyal submission of the will and intellect must be given, in a special way, to the authentic teaching authority of the Roman Pontiff, even when he does not speak ex cathedra in such wise, indeed, that his supreme teaching authority be acknowledge with respect, an d sincere assent be given to decisions made by him, conformably with his manifest mind and intention…” (Lumen Gentium 25).

“Loyal submission of will and intellect,” “sincere assent.”

3. It isn’t clear to me, even on your own terms, that “schism” has a “very precise meaning.”

For example, Ralph McInery quotes, with evident approval, the statement of Brent Bozell that “anyone who refuses submission to an authoritative teaching by the supreme pontiff on Faith and morals is a schismatic”; “If they will not do this, they should cease pretending to represent the Catholic Church. Otherwise, they will be personally responsible for widening the schism and increasing the scandal,” What Went Wrong with Vatican II (Sophia 1998), 80.

Notice that he is not talking about people who have either been excommunicated (passive schism), or formally broken ties with Rome (active schism). They are merely insubordinate.

To take another example, when Trent anathematized the Protestants, it thereby branded them as schismatics. Yet Vatican II speaks of Protestants who, although they lack the “fullness of unity,” yet are capable of being in “communion with Christ” (Unitatis redintegratio 22).

So the usage and concept of schism in Catholic parlance doesn’t seem to be as cut-and-dried as you make it out to be.

<< Armstrong's work is not created for catechesis in his parish. It is a private initiative. He has no obligation to submit it to a Bishop for an imprimatur. If he did (and I don't think writings on the Internet would even be eligible) he would receive an imprimatur without a problem. >>

Now you’re moving the goal-post. Remember what you said before? “Perhaps you should take a look at the first page of Scott Hahn's (and most other Catholic apologist's) books. They are usually submitted to the local Bishop for an imprimatur…”

Now you’ve gone from “most other Catholic apologists submit it to the local bishop” to “he has no obligation to submit it to the local bishop…and writings on the Internet wouldn’t even be eligible.”

<< The PBC has no magisterial authority, and so merely criticizing something it wrote would be no problem. Ratzinger, as a Cardina, certainly had no magisterial authority in his forward. >>

<< Your charges of quasi-schism have to be demonstrated with hard evidence. Theological disagreements with people in high places doesn't qualify for schism. The authentic magisterium of the Church is not to be confused with personal opinions. >>

The problem here is what would ever count as “hard” evidence for the “authentic” voice of the magisterium. That has been a problem all along.

Can you point me to a cumulative index of the “authentic” magisterium? Or does a Catholic have to sift through all the raw data himself and size up their relative authority?

If so, he is having to authenticate the church’s teaching rather than having the church authenticate his own teaching—in which case we’re back to the right of private judgment.

We Evangelicals have a cumulative index. It’s called the Bible. The cut-off point was 2000 years ago. We don’t have to distinguish between fallible and infallible, prudential and magisterial.

5 comments:

  1. Indeed, you have now drawn the circle so narrowly that it is unclear that any book by a lay apologist would “bear on the formal education of the faithful, in the context of parish life (eg, textbooks)” or “catechesis.”

    Correct, they don't. Unless someone is a Bishop, nothing they write represents the Church in a formal sense. Apologists speak for themselves (they speak for the Church, just not in any formal capacity).

    So instead of saying that such books are ordinarily submitted to the local bishop for the imprimatur, you now seem to be saying that such book are not ordinarily submitted to the local bishop for the imprimatur. Which is it?

    I stand by what I said. Most apologists submit their books for an imprimatur. Why a specific books doesn't have one, I can't say. For a book such as you mentioned (ie, Keating's), I can guarantee that it would meet with the approval of a Bishop for an imprimatur, if eligible. There are plenty of Bishops who have shown their informal support for an organization like Catholic Answers. They have no need to be distrustful of their Bishop. They have proven to be friends.

    So all your criticism amounts to is that I’m not using the word the way you do. Granted. That does not affect my allegation.

    Well, I think herein lies the problem. You are analyzing Catholics in relation to the Catholic Church. To do so, you must employ the standards of Catholic theology, not loose personal definitions from an Evangelical perspective.

    I’d add that even in Catholic moral theology, intentions make a difference. For example, wrong intentions can invalidate a sacramental action. So even if outward conformity is preserved, impediments may remain.

    As far as someone's loyalty to the Catholic Church goes, we have nothing to consider except their outward conformity. God alone judges the heart. It's possible that all these Catholic apologists secretly hate the Catholic Church and its doctrine. But they have a funny way of showing it. A man's fruit indicates what kind of tree he is. Most known Catholic apologists are manifest in their conformity to Catholic doctrine and discipline, and also enjoy the approval of many Bishops. That's all we have to consider.

    “Loyal submission of will and intellect,” “sincere assent.”

    Again, I don't see how this bears on your charge of schism. The passage you cited is dealing with matters of doctrine. Most well-known Catholic apologists try their best to conform to Catholic doctrine. Where free inquiry is permitted among Catholics, they are as free as anyone else to embrace an opinion.

    So the usage and concept of schism in Catholic parlance doesn’t seem to be as cut-and-dried as you make it out to be.

    The only concept that matters is that which is given it in Canon Law. Canon Law defines schism as "the refusal of submission to the Roman Pontiff or of communion with the members of the Church subject to him" (Canon 751).

    The topic of Protestants you raise is a completely different issue, which I would rather not go into here. Just to say that Trent and Vatican II are addressing two completely different historical situations.

    Now you’ve gone from “most other Catholic apologists submit it to the local bishop” to “he has no obligation to submit it to the local bishop…and writings on the Internet wouldn’t even be eligible.”

    I was referring to published apologists. As I said, I don't even think internet writings are proper objects of an imprimatur. To repeat again, a book may not have an imprimatur for many reasons, whether it's not eligible to one to the author chose not to petition for one. Either way, most apologists DO choose to petition one. It would be upon you to demonstrate that a lack of an imprimatur indicates a nefarious plot by an apologist to write in contradiction to the Magisterium.

    Can you point me to a cumulative index of the “authentic” magisterium? Or does a Catholic have to sift through all the raw data himself and size up their relative authority?

    Yes, the Catechism of the Catholic Church. It sums up the Catholic faith. To judge a work in greater depth, yes, you would have to go to the original sources (Encyclicals, councils, etc).

    If so, he is having to authenticate the church’s teaching rather than having the church authenticate his own teaching—in which case we’re back to the right of private judgment.

    Yes, the Church doesn't micromanage her children's lives. She trusts them to learn the faith as best they can and communicate it. When they want to do so in a formal capacity, however, the Church tries to assure their suitability.

    We Evangelicals have a cumulative index. It’s called the Bible. The cut-off point was 2000 years ago. We don’t have to distinguish between fallible and infallible, prudential and magisterial.

    Well, you are free to profess any faith you want. I profess the Roman Catholic faith, and make no apologies for it. :)

    I have no "dog" in this fight. Catholic apologists may well be quasi-schismatics. It wouldn't affect my own faith one bit if they were. But I don't see any hard evidence that they, in fact, are. It would have to be demonastrated with hard evidence that they consistenly spurn the magisterium of the Church. If, for example, you could show me writings from Dave Armstrong that say, upon the release of a new encyclical, "this encyclical is nonsense. I'm not submitting to it", you might have a case. You have basically taken non-magisterial celebrities (eg, Ray Brown) and decided that they speak for Catholicism, and so Catholics who don't like them are spurning the Magisterium. It's too laborious to go into here, but the Magisterium has formal means by which she exercises her authority. Judge Dave Armstrong (or any Catholic) by these formal means, and maybe you can make a case against them. I don't see it happening.

    This will have to be my last response. I appreciate you taking the time to correspond. God bless.

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  2. Referring to Trent and Vatican II as "addressing two different historical situations" is of course true, but it sure looks like this is the prologue to a handwaving away of the seemingly insurmountable differences between them. Are Trent and V-II infallible or not? And if so, would the anathema of Trent cerrtainly without a doubt apply to me? I meet the conditions laid therein.

    Also, you told me on the NTRMin RCT blog that Hardon is not part of the magisterium. By referring to the CCC as a summary of the Catholic faith, you are therefore referring a reader to a work by somebody who is not part of the magisterium by what you stated.

    I'm stuck with Brown, Fitzmeyer, and even Ratzinger's liberal statements. They're not part of the magisterium, or so the defense goes. Yet they occupy teaching and research positions of standing in the Roman Church. These somehow don't mean anything. I'm then referred to a work [CCC] by somebody not in the magisterium. Somehow, this has a more authoritative aura to it than the aforementioned scholars. Sounds like special pleading to me.

    Now ultimately, what matters is whether something is true or not, so whether a lay RC apologist with no official standing says X or whether the Pope says X, X is still true in both cases or false in both cases. I'm most certainly not disputing that! =D I'm merely adopting the pose of asking just what epistemic advantage there is in being RC, with its shifing goalposts of authority and infallibility. Even if RCism is true, there is no advantage over classical Protestants with respect to issues of certainty. In this case, we're wrong, but not because we're epistemically defective. =D

    Yours as usual,
    PP

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  3. "Yes, the Catechism of the Catholic Church. It sums up the Catholic faith. To judge a work in greater depth, yes, you would have to go to the original sources (Encyclicals, councils, etc)."

    But, so far as I know the Catechism and VII only speak in generalities about, say, Scripture. The teach that the Bible is inspired, but what if I want to know if the RC church teaches that Paul wrote the Pastorals, Daniel was written ca. 6th century BC, whether the infancy narratives are historically accurate or whether they are "Midrash," whether the creation stories are from the time of Moses, etc.

    The Catechism and Vatican II don't give me the answers. So why not look to the Vatican's chief doctrinal enforcer and now Pontiff, who apparently take the liberal line on all or most of these questions?

    ReplyDelete
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