Saturday, February 2, 2013

IN DEFENSE OF CARDINAL MAHONY: THE 1970'S AND THE 1980'S I'M OKAY; YOU'RE OKAY AND THE TRIUMPHALISM OF PSYCHOLOGY AND THE THERAPEUTIC MODEL

It is meltdown time in the Archdiocese of Los Angeles and when you think a scandal where hundreds of young people have been damaged by a Cardinal's mismanagement of his clergy and poor theology and even poorer Catholicism, there would be a way to bring things back to center and a healthy theology and Catholicism, it just gets worse rather than better.

Cardinal Roger Mahony on his own blog chastises his successor and tries to spin what has happened. I think at this point it would be better for him to go to a monastery to reflect just like what the founder of the Legionaries of Christ was made to do by Pope Benedict the XVI.

Before I go further, pray for the Cardinal and Archbishop Gomez and the people of the Archdiocese of Los Angeles. This is a circus from the Twilight Zone they are experiencing. It is a nightmare and horror show for the victims in all of this.

You can read Cardinal Mahony's full statement from his blog HERE.

In his defense, I'd like to comment on his last two paragraphs:

"I have stated time and time again that I made mistakes, especially in the mid-1980s. I apologized for those mistakes, and committed myself to make certain that the Archdiocese was safe for everyone.

Unfortunately, I cannot return now to the 1980s and reverse actions and decisions made then. But when I retired as the active Archbishop, I handed over to you an Archdiocese that was second to none in protecting children and youth."


MY COMMENTS:

I do believe that most people prior to the mid 1980's and in high places in the Church did not view the sexual molestation of children and teenagers as a crime but more as a sin and that the victim like the perpetrators may both have culpability. I think this is especially true when the victims were teenagers. I think that many bishops felt that these teenagers, boys or girls acted in a seductive way towards the priests and the priests couldn't resist. They dealt with perpetrators and victims as sinners, not as criminals. They dealt with them as having a pathology that could be treated and cured.

It is also true that parents of children abused and even abused teenagers did not want their abuse to go public and these parents and victims were content simply to have the offending priest transferred somewhere else, out of sight and out of mind.

The blind spot in which they were either oblivious or thought nothing of was the ramifications of the molestation and/or rape of children and young people by a priest who represents God. There seems to be a callous disregard for the victims and potential victims and the old adage "Caveat Redemptor" or "let the buyer beware." (Please keep in mind that the vast, vast majority of cases were not truly pedophile cases or of young children, the crimes were against teenagers with adult looking bodies. But again, keep in mind that the biggest issue is how bishops handled each and every case and the recirculation of molesting priests back to unsuspecting congregations.)

In fact most bishops felt they had an obligation to protect their priests more so than their parishioners. They felt that their priests were married to the Church and that was indissoluble and so through thick and thin, in good times and bad, the bishop had to do all he could to preserve the ministry of a priest and make sure he could exercise it.

And this I know first hand. Bishops relied upon psychiatrists and psychologists who worked for the Church and ran the mental institutions that priests were sent to for therapy to advise them on what to do.

These professionals and the institutions they ran were for priests and religious. They were not concerned about victims.

As vocation director, I heard from some of the top professionals working for the Church at various conferences I attended to help us to screen candidates for the priesthood. (Again this was in the late 1980's and well into the 1990's.) They told us quite frankly that through medication, therapy and support groups, most priests could be returned to ministry if they maintained a the therapeutic
regimen that was prescribed.

On top of that, we were told that the prophetic ministry of the Church was to change the larger culture's attitude about child molesters just as our culture in the 1960's and 70's had changed its attitudes about alcoholics, that it wasn't their fault, they had a disease and that this disease could be treated. The Church's ministry is about love and recovery, not punishment and retribution. I kid you not! This was the triumphalism of the therapeutic model of recovery! It was also a product of the theology of escathology where we could bring heaven to earth and make people perfect here on earth and that heaven was on earth. Again, I kid you not, but escathology was a very strong trend in the seminary of the 1970's and 80's and in the Church too. It is a religious form of Utopianism.

I asked a very prominent priest-psychiatrist at one of these conferences publicly, "But what about these priests' victims and/or their future possible victims???" I can't remember his complete answer, but I was not satisfied and found it circumvented what I had asked and he simply restated that medication, therapy and a support groups would help most of these priests who were recovering molesters to remain in recovery but no one could guarantee that they wouldn't relapse like some alcoholics do!

To be fair, these therapists also stated that it should be public knowledge in the parishes where these recovering priests were sent of their history in this regard and that they were in recovery, like alcoholics. This one aspect, which I think was tried in Chicago by Cardinal Bernadine, may have mitigated against future victims. And it is true that some priests molested only when they were drunk and the problem was more associated with alcoholism and the loss of personal control. Many priests where successfully treated and never committed further sins and crimes in this area.


Because of this "I'm okay, you're okay" mentality, vocation directors and bishops in the late 1960's and well into the 1990's began to accept candidates for the priesthood that really should not have qualified for the seminary. These bishops expected the seminary to form new priests from broken men and to put into place a therapeutic model of formation to take care of their psychological issues.

Prior to Vatican II the seminary was primarily an academic institution and a spiritual house of formation. It was like a monastic community. That all changed after Vatican II and other formation concerns sometimes competed and diluted the spiritual and academic formation of the priest. And broken men were being sent to the seminary to be fixed before they were ordained.

I heard at one conference a Benedictine rector of a seminary say to us vocation directors: "Don't send us men who need psychological and psychiatric therapy. We are academic institutions, not mental institutions!"

Bishops, whether they be flaming liberals or ultra-traditionalists have always had to manage their priests and they have done so according to social custom and norms. Prior to the 21st century they did so as most other professional organizations would do, such as teachers and doctors and law enforcement. Avoiding public scandal for these professions was more of a priority than the victims and the victims could take care of themselves. Law enforcement usually worked with the Church and these other professions to lessen the likelihood of public scandal.

So, I would caution against applying our "tell-all generation mentality" that only developed with Phil Donahue and Oprah Winfrey and the talk show genre beginning in the 1980's to every previous generation where the mentality was not to air your dirty laundry whether that be in your personal life, your family life, or your particular institution's life, church or otherwise. And in the Catholic Church the only place to air your dirty laundry was under the seal of confession and in a most secretive and confidential way.

Somehow the tell-all generation is just as out of control today as the tell nothing generation was. Perhaps we need a happy middle ground here, no? And the tell all generation formed by the therapeutic generation of "I'm okay, you're okay" tell all not out of sorrow or for justice but for bragging rights.

Here is a good summary of the "Twilight Zone" mentality of Cardinal Mahony and other bishops in the Church during the 1960's through the 90's. This article is from the Los Angeles Times, Priests' ecclesiastical missteps treated more sternly than abuse. YOU CAN LINK TO IT HERE.

25 comments:

Gene said...

Fr., Please do not use eschatology in that way. You are talking about Utopianism, not true eschatology, which is not about creating a humanistic society here on earth. In fact, eschatology is about just the opposite.

Fr. Allan J. McDonald said...

I agree, but as with new trends in Catholic theology and even with Vatican II so much was misrepresented and misinterpreted and misapplied. Perhaps you should give us your take on eschatology and the eschaton.

Anonymous said...

Father,
Back when you were dealing with Church psychologists, did they differentiate between true pedophiles and homosexuals? I think most of the damage came from clergy with same sex attraction. I can say this was the case with the mothership of Pray Tell, St. john's, here in Minnesota. I also would say that the vast majority of the places that had this problem had a problem with dissent as well. What are your thoughts on this?

Vianney1100

Fr. Allan J. McDonald said...

V1100, Yes, these psychologists made it clear that the cases of true pedophile priests in the Church are miniscule in number. However, the number of victims a true pedophile priest can have can be exorbitant.

The problems in the priesthood (apart from the manner in which abusive priests were shuffled about to unwitting parishes and regardless of the reasons why) is one of ephebophilia or arrested sexual development combined too with substance abuse, alcohol or otherwise. Ephebophilia is an adult attraction to a teenager, whether it is heterosexual or homosexual, but it clearly hinges on the sexual orientation of the person. Oddly enough in the Catholic and Protestant Churches there is the same percentage of clergy who act out in this way, but in the Catholic priesthood it is mostly, not entirely, homosexual whereas in the Protestant denominations it is heterosexual.
The added burden on teenage boys molested by homosexual priests is that it confuses their sexual identity and opens them to unnatural sex. The boys may well be heterosexual or confused in their personal sexual development and thus the priest exacerbates their issues and the added insult that the priest or any religious figure representing God is doing it compounds it.
Not always, but usually, the sex if cultivated and not violent--there is a relationship that is cultivated and the priest may honestly think he's not doing anything wrong--it is arrested development. I don't think mature homosexuals take advantage of teenage boys or mature heterosexuals of girls, the problem is being heterosexual or homosexual and arrested in development.
But with that said, if you have a liberal theology and do what your ill-formed conscience allows and you have dissent from the Church, that is going to exacerbate the problem of those in arrested development. I think the pre-Vatican II Church that had more structure and discipline for priests and seminarians could hold some of this nonsense in check but once all these structures were removed and one became fiercely independent and did his own thing, then all hell broke loose and I'm not sure that bishops knew what the hell to do.

Henry Edwards said...

"Unfortunately, I cannot return now to the 1980s and reverse actions and decisions made then."

His most odious offenses--for which he has not apologized publicly, so far as I know--occurred not in the 1980s, but in his cover-up and attacks on others in the 1990s and right up to his retirement. Thus, his deliberate obfuscation and cover-up continues to this day.

Gene said...

Fr. Upcoming...my take on Eschatology...film at 11...

rcg said...

Card. Mahoney's response is lame. He was not put in place to figure out how to lead, he was supposed to be a leader before he got there. Compare this with the current President. But in both cases we have two people who gained a position of leadership and responsibility and blame others for the end state of their own work. This statement by Mahoney is the best evidence one could hope for to conclude he should have not more responsibilities as a Bishop. He should be willing to address his own experiences and how he dealt with them, as successes or failures, as a Catholic who can relate to the rest of us who deal with similar problems. What a damn shame.

Anonymous 5 said...

I think a truly contrite person in his place would best serve the Church by taking his lumps and not even attempting a defense; to do what Fr. mcD suggests and instead go to some monastery some place that emphasizes spartan living. The fact that Mahoney has to get in his 2 cents shows that he has massive ego problems, in addition to his other shortcomings. While that's expected (though not desireable) in a politician, a massive ego is one of the last things any Catholic should have, since it's incompatible with humility. This applies with particularly strong force to bishops.

Someone should be taking a very hard look at how such a man was made a bishop, let alone a cardinal. But I imagine that nobody is.

Henry Edwards said...

"The blind spot in which they were either oblivious or thought nothing of was the ramifications of the molestation and/or rape of children and young people by a priest who represents God."

That bishops trained in Catholic morality would be "oblivious to or think nothing" of the consequences of serious sin? What an incredible assertion! It's not as though this was a new problem requiring new understanding.

Why not just admit forthrightly that they themselves were guilty of serious personal sin--not merely poor judgement or "mistakes"--in showing callous disregard for the protection of the least of those in their charge? A bishop has a solemn sworn responsibility for his flock that many of these bishops--good and bad, liberal or conservative--plainly did not meet. That "everybody (of them) was doing it" does not lessen their personal culpability. Why gloss over the plain truth?

Fr. Allan J. McDonald said...

Henry agreed.

Gene said...


Re:Eschatology
Fr., I will presume to take you up on your caveat...You alluded to the issue in the body of your comments. The distinction to be made is between true Biblical/Theological eschatology and progressivist/lib Utopianism. Most of the so-called eschatology coming out of divinity schools since the 70's has been nothing but socialist utopianism.

Some quick theological background: post-Reformation theology tended to view Doctrine of God in three aspects: His pre-temporality, having to do with Creation, election, pre-destination; His supra-temporality, having to do with the Incarnation, Christ's life and ministry, and the manifestation of the Holy Spirit in Him; and His post-temporality, having to do with Christ's return, His judgement, and the Resurrection of those who died in Him to eternal life. The Reformers focused mosty heavily on the first, God's pre-temporality...election, pre-destination, and issues of sin and free-will. Until the 18th century, supra-temporality and post-temporality were either taken for granted or viewed as appendices to the former all important ground work laid by His pre-temporality.
Enter the so-called Enlightenment when, with a renewed faith in Reason and philosophical idealism,, the focus became more on supra-temporality and the life of Jesus as a moral figure and upon his teachings as moral imperatives of some kind. Pre-temporality was viewed as myth or philosophical metaphysics, and post-temporality was seen, as it is by progressives today, as mere speculation or, by some, as a metaphor for the self-aware moral life.
This brings us to the nineteenth century and the liberal protestant theology and theological pietism which flourished in Europe and America and to which the Catholic Church was not immune. (cont'd)

Gene said...

The two most prominent voices of nineteenth century theology were Ritschl and Schleiermacher, to be followed quickly in the twentieth by Rudolph Bultmann and Albert Schweitzer. Schleiermacher rejected the Divinity of Christ and viewed the Christian life as "the perceiving of all eternity in the present." Yes, that is a quote. This was supra-temporality run wild, with no credence given to post-temporality at all and with pre-temporality merely shrugged at. Naturally, what followed was a philosophical pietism that focused on Jesus as the truly moral man upon whose life and teachings we must try to build an ethical system. Schweitzer, of course, in his comic book, "The Quest for the Historical Jesus," echoed much of Schleiermacher's thinking(interestingly, Schweitzer was pretty much demolished in Kahler's later book, "Die So-bekonnten (so-called) Historiche Jesus und die Biblische Christ"). Pope Benedict laid another stone on Schweitzer's grave in his "Jesus of Nazareth."
In the twentieth century, Rudolph Bultmann led the neo-prot lib theologians in the effort to reduce eschatology to an existential awareness within the individual of his need to live authentically in a world governed by benign rulers who were also living authentically.
Now...and what is most frightening...is that this kind of "eschatology," stripped of the theology of true belief, must seek ways of implementing itself in the world. Many of these same German theologians were supporters of the National Socialist movement and, later, of the Nazi party. Collectivism, of one kind or another, became the vehicle of hope for the perfect society. This entire schema was supported by the philosophy of German Idealism, to which neo-prot theology as well as world Socialism owe a tremendous debt. This is today's progressivist eschatology...socialism, collectivism, humanism. Now, back to true eschatology...(cont'd)

Gene said...

It all comes down, once again, to the matter of belief versus unbelief. The New Testament witnesses, the Synoptics, John, and Paul, all attest to Christ's teaching that the eschaton began with His Incarnation and would continue through history in His bodily resurrection,and beyond history in His actual return in glory to establish His kingdom. Just as Pope Benedict points out that Jesus announcing that he was the fulfillment of the Torah outraged the Jews, so His announcing himself to be the Messiah of the eschaton was an outrage to Messianic Jewish eschatology. Today, it is also an outrage to progressivist theologians in both the Catholic and prot Churches.
When Jesus taught the Parables of the Kingdom, the Beatitudes, and when He urged upon us acts and behaviors almost impossible to comprehend, He was not developing a Christian ethic. These are eschatological teachings, reminding us that we who are in Him, the Church, are the foreshadowing of the Resurrection life that is to come. It is we who will draw others to Him and to the Church by witnessing in ourselves this fore taste of Glory. This is not a collectivist/socialist imperative. It is a call and a witness to the individual to repent and believe the Gospel that he, too, may be present at the Supper of the Lamb. Christ everywhere sought to reach the individual, to call that person to repentance and belief. The saving of individual souls is the center of Christ's ministry on earth. Everything points to eschatology, the return of Christ at the end of history to judge the living and the dead and whose Kingdom will have no end.
Now, if you do not believe this, all you have is Jesus the good man upon whose difficult and often inscrutable teachings we must build an ethic and a Kingdom on earth. Eschatology becomes sociology and anthropology. Hope becomes political, and the only possible implementation of the good society is through some truly mythical benign government. The individual disappears in the collective; the soul dissolves in existential awareness, and salvation is by slogan. The Church is full of these people in high places. Read Ephesians, the sixth chapter, again. Unbelievers...those who have lost their faith but who remain in the Church in an attempt to make of her a tool of progressivist Utopianism. I apologize for the length of this and for what, I am sure, will be considered presumption by some...

Joe Potillor said...

As a fomer resident, I have 2 words of advice for Cardinal Mahony...zip it.

Anonymous 2 said...

Gene,

Your explanation is extremely interesting and helpful. I leave it to others with greater expertise than mine to determine whether all the details are consistent with Catholic teaching. However, in deference to your own evident expertise, I will assume for present purposes that it is. But now I have a very basic question that I ask at the end and that perhaps you can help me with.

I wonder about some of the dichotomies that you describe: Either the Kingdom Now or the Kingdom at the End of Time; Either the teachings of Jesus are a Christian ethic or they are eschatological foreshadowing the future; Either Jesus was God or He was a good man; and so on.

These dichotomies seem to parallel other ones in the realm of Faith: Either a literal interpretation of the Bible or a metaphorical one; Either transcendence or immanence; Either traditional forms of worship or Christian mysticism; Either the Extraordinary Form of the Mass or the Ordinary Form; Either the sexual abuse cover up scandal is the fault of the Church hierarchy or it is the fault of progressive liberal ideas about sex and therapy; and so on

Moreover, we are bombarded by such dichotomies in the temporal world too: Either Democrat or Republican; Either socialism or laissez faire; Either tyrannical oppression and confiscation of firearms or unrestricted access to firearms; Either government encouragement of home loans for low-income applicants or government failure to regulate the market as the cause of the recession; Either the medical problem is physical or it is mental; Either the event or symptom is caused by X or it is caused by Y; and so on.

And we trend towards dichotomies in our fundamental metaphysics and epistemologies: Either Idealism or Materialism; Either Absolutism or Relativism; and so on.

Why do we trend towards the poles like this? Is it something to do with the Law of Non-Contradiction that denies multi-valence – A is A, and cannot logically also be B? Is it culturally determined software in our minds? Or a hard-wired structure in our brains, and even biologically determined by our genes?

As I comment on one of Father’s later posts, I love the thought that people hate the truth but luckily the truth doesn’t care. But, of course, sometimes (not always, of course), the truth is complex and multi-faceted.

The apparently inevitable tendency to dichotomize and polarize exercised St. Paul: Either Jew or Greek; Either slave or master; Either the gift of prophecy or the gift of tongues, and so on. Moreover, doesn’t his response to it suggest a multivalent valuing of diversity within a greater unity? And don’t our basic theological beliefs, which incorporate a fundamental multi-valence and yet, or perhaps because of this, are_mysteries_of the Faith that we find hard to grasp, provide some central insights into this problematic? Thus: Jesus is fully God_and_fully human; God is One_and Three; and so on.

And so to the basic question I mentioned at the beginning: How far should we go with the tendency to dichotomize, polarize, and divide, and how far should we resist it, and how far should we do both at the same time? And does wisdom reside in knowing when to do which?




Andy Milam said...

Nope. His Eminence does not get a pass. Not this time. There is no defense for what he did or more properly, did not do.

Card. Mahony says, "I have stated time and time again that I made mistakes, especially in the mid-1980s. I apologized for those mistakes, and committed myself to make certain that the Archdiocese was safe for everyone."

And now it is time to be held strictly accountable for them. Simply saying you're sorry isn't enough. Your actions are in need of justice, not forgiveness. I am sure people are quick to forgive, but there is the matter of justice which must be meted out.

"I do believe that most people prior to the mid 1980's and in high places in the Church did not view the sexual molestation of children and teenagers as a crime but more as a sin and that the victim like the perpetrators may both have culpability. I think this is especially true when the victims were teenagers. I think that many bishops felt that these teenagers, boys or girls acted in a seductive way towards the priests and the priests couldn't resist. They dealt with perpetrators and victims as sinners, not as criminals. They dealt with them as having a pathology that could be treated and cured."

At times I have thought abut an answer like that. And at times I think that could even be the case, BUT this is a matter not only of sexual exploitation, but also of a person in authority over another abusing the authority. The priest does have an obligation to protect those who come into contact with him and it is obvious that this was not addressed. Father, it is short sighted to use that argument as any form of justification, no matter how slight.

I notice that in all of this, there is something important missing. There is talk of psychiatry, and victims and pathology, and crime and on and on....

BUT...

There is no talk of prayer. I think that the biggest problem is that priests stopped praying. I think that they went through the 1960s and 70s and 80s and they didn't pray. I know that during my time in seminary, that we a totally personal (really the only personal) thing. No one asked, no one checked and no one followed up on the spiritual aspect.

When the prayer left, so did everything else.

I am of the same mindset as Joe Potillor, it is time for Mahony to just zip it. I know of a nice Carmelite Monestary where he can go and meditate and pray and say the TLM until his days are finished, in silence and out of the spotlight.

A cardinal should participate in a conclave, not must. There is no need for him to go to the next conclave. He should forgo that privilege and offer it up for the souls he hurt.

Gene said...

Anon 2. some things are black or white...either you believe or you do not; Christ is God or He is not; He rose from the dead or He did not. You are setting up artificial dichotomies in order to complain about dichotomies. All your multi valences and diversities within unities are a lot of BS. What I wrote is pretty clear and the lines are drawn fairly distinctly. And, yes, lawyer...some things are yes or no.

Anonymous 2 said...

Gene:

I agree with the following statements:
[S]ome things are black or white.
Christ is God or He is not.
He rose from the dead or He did not.
What I wrote is pretty clear and the lines are drawn fairly distinctly.
And, yes, . . . some things are yes or no.

However, I disagree with the following statements:
[E]ither you believe or you do not. [Sometimes people doubt]
You are setting up artificial dichotomies in order to complain about dichotomies. [They seem pretty real, commonly drawn dichotomies to me]
All your multi valences and diversities within unities are a lot of BS. [No comment needed]

And so I return to my basic question: How far should we go with the tendency to dichotomize, polarize, and divide, and how far should we resist it, and how far should we do both at the same time? And does wisdom reside in knowing when to do which? To take just one example in what you wrote: Why cannot Jesus be seen as offering both a Christian ethic_and_an eschatological teaching? Or should we throw out Part Three of the CCC?

Finally, I also question the dichotomy you imply, between lawyers and . . . I suspect, for example, that in the . . . . category you would probably want to include St. Thomas More, those many of the Founding Fathers who were lawyers, Abraham Lincoln, etc, and those innumerable lesser lawyers who, though lesser, strive to instantiate the virtuous ideals of practical wisdom, civic mindedness, and often of Faith, embodied by these great heroes of the legal profession.

Anonymous 2 said...

Father,

I appreciate your nuanced treatment of the sexual abuse issue in this post. It helps to provide some useful perspective that can also be mentioned when we are called upon, as we often are, to defend the Church against exaggerated and unwarranted attacks regarding this issue. It is good to understand that the truth about the issue is more complex than is often made out, especially by the Church’s adversaries.

However, there is one aspect of the accounts that is bothering me, and it is that these cases seem to date from the 1940s onward. Unless I am missing something, this is during the pre-Vatican II era, when the TLM was still the practice, and well before the “sexual revolution” of the 1960s. How many such cases were there and what are we to make of them? What are we to say about them if we are asked about them? For example, was the “therapeutic culture” already underway during this earlier phase?

Fr. Allan J. McDonald said...

We don't have statistics from pre-Vatican II times. I think we can certainly assume these things were handled secretly and if law enforcement was involved, that they assisted the church in keeping things quiet. Certainly there were institutions for priests who had mental problems. The John Jay Study indicates that the sex abuse crisis peaked in 1974, that 1974 was the worst year. I beleive it had to do with the disintegration going on in the Church, the sexual revolutioin and the loss of Catholic identity and priestly identity.
Not all who molest teenagers are sick men, they are men who want sex with teenagers who look like adults--it is a moral issue that happens to be illegal. In South Carolina until recently a 13 year old girl could marry with their parent's permission and they didn't need permission at 14. So this is social too!

Gene said...

Anon 2, Jesus did not offer a "Christian ethic" in any sense of a systematic, philosophical ethic such as many have sought to develop from his teachings. This effort has failed in every theological venue in which it has been attempted. As I pointed out in my post, these efforts generally end by appropriating some philosophical schema within which to embed Jesus sayings and teachings. Interestingly, this schema is usually a socialist/collectivist one, which exactly proves my point that there can be no "Christian ethic" in the sense that is usually understood.
Jesus taught a very individualistic ethic, based upon the individual encounter with Christ and the Holy Spirit's work in that individual to accomplish God's purpose. This Christ-ian life can only be fully lived within the Church that Christ established...which means, as is said in theological parlance, "dogmatics is ethics." The only true Christian life must be lived within the Church and as a believer in Him who was sent. We only understand God's will contingently and contemporaneously...and when contemporaneously, then only contingently. There is no fundamental ethical rationalism as in, say, Spinoza or Kant, nor is there any guiding practical imperative as in, for instance, JS Mill. The Church-is-Christian ethics. This is a very important understanding because it should prevent us from placing our faith in human systems of thought and philosophical moral systems. Even as we must choose certain moral principles for the establishment of law and a liveable society we, as Christians, must bear in mind that these are doomed to imperfect implementation and cannot address the individual heart and soul in the way the Church demands and offers. The Reformed Churches have, in good Reformation theology, emphasized the "freedom of the Holy Spirit." At its best, Calvinism understood that no determination of man...even redeemed man...can capture or compel the Holy Spirit...the good and perfect will of God...through its categories and imperatives.
So, in answer to your question, Jesus did not offer a Christian ethic or an "eschatological teaching." He, himself, is the escahtological moment..."as it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be, world without end, Amen."

Marc said...

To summarize Gene's point I offer this pithy quote:

God became man not to make bad men good, but to make dead men live.

Gene said...

Thank you, Marc. That is very good.

Anonymous 2 said...

Gene:

If you put it that way, of course I agree. At least I think I agree assuming I have now understood you correctly. I may have misunderstood you originally.

Anyway, by “Christian ethics” I do not understand the Jefferson Bible or any secular system of philosophical ethics but the ethical demands of being a Christian within the Church: the “works” that, with the grace of God, proceed from “faith” if you will or, in Marc’s terminology, the good that can proceed from life.

Also, I still want to resist any implication that the coming of the Kingdom is completely postponed until the End of Time. Isn’t it our Catholic belief that the Kingdom is already in-breaking upon the world, in particular through Holy Mother Church?




Gene said...

Indeed so, but only imperfectly and awaiting its final fulfillment in Christ's return. Living the Christian moral life does not require an "ethic" or a rationalist ethical system? Again, dogmatics is ethics.