DAILY CATHOLIC    THURSDAY     February 11, 1999     vol. 10, no. 29

Pat Ludwa's VIEW FROM THE PEW

To print out entire text of Today's issue, go to SECTION ONE and SECTION TWO
    INTRODUCTION
          Pat Ludwa, a committed lay Catholic from Cleveland, has been asked to contribute, on a regular basis, a lay person's point of view on the Church today. We have been impressed with his insight and the clear logic he brings to the table from his "view from the pew." In all humility, by his own admission, he feels he has very little to offer, but we're sure you'll agree with us that his viewpoint is exactly what millions of the silent majority of Catholics believe and have been trying to say as well. Pat puts it in words that help all of us better understand and convey to others what the Church teaches and we must believe. Today, he shares with the readers all of our frustrations at the way dissident theologians refuse to swallow their pride and teach the true doctrines of the Church. Rather, they feel intellectually superior and will search and fabricate anything they can to divert the faithful from the obvious truth, always giving a rationalization for something to make them look superior and place doubts in the minds of the student.

What a concept!!

          Imagine going to your grocery and buying a can of peas and opening them you found…..peas!!! What a concept! Or buying a can of corn and finding…..brussel sprouts!!! You'd bit upset wouldn't you?

          Recently, a New York Times article wrote about how upset various Catholic scholars were that they may have to teach Catholic doctrine and follow Catholic teaching in their schools.

          WHAT A CONCEPT! Catholic education in a Catholic institution of learning!!!! Needless to say, a number of dissident theologians and educators are in an uproar about this. The Catholic Theological Society of America formed a committee to 'study' the Profession of Faith and Oath of Fidelity. They were gravely concerned that these would require Catholic theologians to actually teach Catholic theology.

          Here is the Profession of Faith they hedge on: "I, N., with firm faith believe and profess everything that is contained in the symbol of faith: namely: I believe in one God, the Father, the Almighty, maker of Heaven and Earth, of all that is seen and unseen. I believe in one Lord, Jesus Christ, the only Son of God, eternally begotten of the Father, God from God, Light from Light, true God from True God, begotten, not made, one in being with the Father. Through Him all things were made. For us men and our salvation He came down from Heaven; by the power of the Holy Spirit, He was born of the Virgin Mary, and became man. For our sake He was crucified under Pontius Pilate; He suffered, died, and was buried. On the third day He rose again in fulfillment of the Scriptures; He ascended into Heaven and is seated at the right hand of the Father. He will come again to judge the living and the dead, and His kingdom will have no end. I believe in the Holy Spirit, the Lord, the giver of life, who proceeds from the Father and the Son. With the Father and the Son He is worshiped and glorified. He has spoken through the prophets. I believe in one, holy, catholic, and apostolic Church. I acknowledge one baptism for the forgiveness of sins. I look for the resurrection of the dead, and the life of the world to come. Amen"

          Pretty reactionary isn't it? What's their argument with this? Well, first, " For us men and our salvation" Many want us to believe the Church means men only, not mankind. This is the 'inclusive language' tactic.

          Another one is: "I believe in one God, the Father, the Almighty, maker of Heaven and Earth, of all that is seen and unseen." God the Father, to many, is 'patriarchal', yet; "Not once in the Bible is God addressed as mother, said to be mother, or referred to with feminine pronouns. On the contrary, gender usage throughout clearly specifies that the root metaphor is masculine father." (John W. Miller, Mahway, NJ: Paulist Press, 1989, p. 61.)

          Another: " by the power of the Holy Spirit, He was born of the Virgin Mary, and became man." Here's what Fr. McBrien of Notre Dame's theology department wrote in his new book "Catholicism"; "Catholicism presents the virgin birth of Jesus as being of uncertain and perhaps even doubtful historicity. (The book identifies two factors that have brought to an end the "virtual unanimity of belief" in the virgin birth and led many to deny the virginal conception of Jesus-"a newly critical way of reading the New Testament, and a newly evolutionary way of perceiving human existence and human history" (p. 543). Throughout the book, both of these are presented as unambiguous advances of modern thought and modern theology. Indeed, the book points out that the two factors that have led many to deny the virgin birth are "two of the same factors which generated a change in our understanding of Jesus Christ and of Christian faith itself" (p. 543). The implication is that those who embrace the new theology (supposedly vindicated at Vatican II) are those who deny or at least call into question the virgin birth.) "the book continues to describe belief in the virgin birth as 'nondoctrinal.' This belief, however, has been a constant part of church teaching from the first century and has been reaffirmed by the Holy See since Vatican II."

          This is even found in the 'celebrated' New Jerome Biblical Commentary "The JBC reduces the infancy narratives to imaginary stories based on Old Testament incidents and prophecies, and having little connection with what really happened. Let us first look at the commentary on St. Matthew, written by Benedict T. Viviano, O.P. The quotations are from page 636.

          "The star that leads to Christ is probably a midrashic element derived from Numbers 22 24." Note, I'm not sure what Viviano is referring to here because Numbers 22:24 reads; "Then the angel of the LORD stood in a narrow path between the vineyards, with a wall on either side." Though I have to admit this doesn't really surprise me. I've had a number of people speak of something, give a Scriptural reference, only to find it doesn't relate in the least. They often don't expect anyone to actually check. In other words, there probably wasn't any star. Fr. Viviano continues: "If historical, it could be a supernova, a comet . . . or a planetary conjunction." Note how the miraculous is excluded: If there really was a star it is assumed to have been natural.

          On the gold, frankincense, and myrrh: "The list of gifts may be inspired by Isaiah 60:6, 11, 13 . . . " That is, there may not have been such gifts. Likewise, concerning the slaughter of the Innocents: " . . the story may not be historical...."

          The last assertion implicitly questions the Church's veneration of the Holy Innocents and assumes the Church may be in error by having liturgical celebrations in honor of babies who never existed.

          The flight into Egypt is similarly questioned: "Matthew has used Moses traditions as reshaped in Josephus...."

          Turning to the commentary on Luke's Gospel, by Robert J. Karris, O.F.M., we find the same skepticism. Regarding the Visitation: "It strains credulity to imagine a 14-year-old Jewish virgin making a four-day journey by herself. Rather Luke's intent in the Visitation is literary and theological." In plain English: Fr. Kerris thinks Luke made it up. Notice how the point that "strains credulity" is a mere assumption, for Luke does not say Mary traveled alone. Fr. Kerris doesn't accept Bethlehem as Jesus' birthplace, and suggests the census was another Lucan invention. "The census provides Luke with a means of getting Mary and Joseph from Nazareth to Bethlehem." (DESTROYING THE BIBLE by John Young)

          If you feel that the New Jerome Biblical Commentary is okay because it has three censors, consider that the censors are also the editors, and authors of some of the commentaries.

          If these Universities don't feel comfortable with holding to Catholic teaching, why call themselves Catholic? (The same holds true for Catholic publications) It's fine, and even laudatory to learn about other beliefs, but not that they're just as good as Christianity. While attending a Jesuit University, I studied Islam, Buddhism, Hinduism, etc. The professor (not a Catholic) spoke glowingly of these beliefs. When it came to Christianity, he exclaimed; "I believe in the death and resurrection of Christ, but this walking on water is hard to take." (Many of my friends lost their faith in this 'Catholic' University)

          These other beliefs may have 'elements' of the truth (hence making them invisible, imperfect members of the Church), but the fullness of truth of truth is found only in the Catholic Church. (Hence the meaning behind "Outside the Church there is no salvation)

          We do not have a 'grocery store' faith where we can go 'shopping' for more 'palatable' beliefs. Our faith is like a vestment with no seam, not a quilt. But there are many who have been lead away from the fullness of truth. This is understandable when many of these dissident theologians and scholars hold the chairs of many Universities.

          (Thomas) Sheehan (a self proclaimed member of the 'liberal consensus'), wrote how Kung and other 'internationally recognized' Catholic theologians, who hold the academic chairs, get the grants, publish the books, and define the limits of science and theology. And that they "deny that Mary was a virgin at Jesus' birth, deny that Jesus was or even claimed to be divine, deny that He founded or meant to found a Church, nor established a priesthood or a hierarchy, or even rose from the dead. Some of the names in Sheehan's 'concensus'? Such 'Catholic scholars' as Rudolf Schackenburg, Raymond E. Brown (censor and editor of the NJBC), Roland Murphy (another NJBC censor/editor), Pierre Benoit, John P. Meier, J.A. Fitzmeyer (also a censor/editor of the NJBC), David M. Stanley, Rudolf Pesch, Walter Kasper, David Tracy, Edward Schillebeeckx, Hans Kung, and others.

          Two things to remember as I close. Recall the words of Sr. Maureen Fiedler (Head of the We Are Church Referendum and member of Call To Action) "we need people with chisels inside (the church) chiseling away at that institution or it is never going to fall." (Women's Ordination Conference; Washington D.C. November 10-12, 1995)

    And the words of Christ:

          "And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build My Church, and the powers of death shall not prevail against it." (Matthew 16:18).

          Note, I thought of quoting the Douay-Rheims which refers to "the gates of hell," but stayed with the RSV due to it's reference to death. With the Pope speaking about the culture of death, and how many dissident theologians contribute to it, I felt it fit.

          They would like you to follow them, but it's our children they've targeted. Why else would a Catholic University balk at teaching Catholic truths?

    Pax Christi, Pat


February 11, 1999       volume 10, no. 29
VIEW FROM THE PEW

DAILY CATHOLIC

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