Sunday, September 13, 2015

BANNING A 104 YEAR OLD WOMAN FROM CHURCH SIMPLY STRIKES ME AS MEAN!

This is happening in Elberton, Georgia about 70 miles from Augusta, Georgia's marble and granite Capitol. This is from the Augusta Chronicle:
ELBERTON, Ga. -- Members of Union Grove Baptist Church in Elberton recently revoked the membership of a 103-year-old woman from its flock saying she cannot attend the church “for any reason what so ever.”

“I was unhappy and shocked,” said Genora Hamm Biggs, who received a letter regarding her expulsion. “I joined the church when I was 11 years old.”

Despite the Aug. 2 admonition from the Rev. Tim Mattox of Athens, Deacon Glen Jackson of Elberton, and nine others who signed the letter, she returned to church the next Sunday. Someone in the church called the Elberton police. But the responding officer took no action calling it a civil matter.

The pastor then dismissed the service. The lights were turned off and Biggs, a member for 92 years, was left sitting on the pew of a darkened sanctuary.

Biggs, a retired school teacher who taught first grade for 40 years in Elbert County, plans to be back in church this Sunday. The Rev. Mattox was even one of her former pupils.

Also banned from the church was Biggs’ grandson, Eliott Dye, who has been a member for 30 years, and Kevin Hamm, an ordained minister who was also a member of the church.

“I tried to talk with (Mattox) and he was just determined to say ‘you can’t come over here’ period,” Hamm said.

Mattox did not return a telephone call from the Banner-Herald regarding the church’s stance.

The core of the problem, according to Biggs, is that Union Grove Baptist has been a Baptist church throughout its history. However, she described Mattox as a holiness preacher with a different doctrine.

“He is a holy sanctified minister or so he says. We voted him in and we didn’t know it until he was there. We are Baptists and that’s what we want to stay,” Biggs said.

Hamm said he was upset when he received a letter, but was particularly upset that Biggs was banned.

“To disrespect a pillar and a mother of the church. How can we sit back and watch something like this go forward,” Hamm said.

Current Union Grove deacon Glen Jackson of Elberton said Thursday that those who signed the letter will not comment on Biggs’ removal.

“The church decided not to comment because it’s all a bunch of foolishness,” he said.

Asked about her nearly lifelong membership in the church, Jackson said, “It don’t mean nothing.”

Other longtime members of the church have left Union Grove during the unrest and new members have joined.

Ezell Land, a former deacon who joined when he was 12 years old, said he left as did others, including the church musician.

“Me and him had some words,” Land said about the pastor. “I’ve got a temper and I know me. I’d rather just go on out because I didn’t want no problems at church.”

Biggs urged him not leave, Land said.

A story about Biggs’ ouster was printed recently in the Elberton Star and it had people all over town talking, Land said.

Biggs has always been a head-strong woman, according to those who know her.

“Mrs. Biggs is a good person. She is a determined person. She’s always been for the right thing. You won’t always like what she has to say, but she was for the right,” said Mary Dean of Elberton. “If you’re wrong, she’ll tell you. That’s the way she always was.

“To say Union Grove without mentioning Genora H. Biggs would not be correct,” said the Rev. James Clickscales, who pastored the church from 1989-1996 and is retired from the Elbert County school system.

“She was a leader in the church and the most committed member. She was elderly then, but you wouldn’t have known it,” said Clinkscales, who resides in Anderson, S.C., and pastors a Baptist church.

Even Elberton Police Chief Mark Welsh described her as a “well-revered person” in town,” but he said the issue at the church is civil in nature.

“We’re not going over there and throwing a 103-year-old lady out of her church,” Welsh said.

During one church service, Dye said a woman in the church called his grandmother “Jezebel,” a term with negative connotations for Christians. But Biggs didn’t hear the reference, Dye said.

“I never told her because her feelings would have been hurt,” Dye said. “They have been so rude and I don’t understand why it’s been directed at my grandmother. My grandmother can be pretty outspoken and that could have a lot to do with it.”

The Union Grove letter still stings, according to Biggs. “Any membership or associations that you have had with this church are now officially revoked,” Biggs is told in the letter.

But the centenarian still considers herself a member.

“One woman talking to me this morning told me to stick to my guns,” she said.

65 comments:

Dialogue said...

In congregational communities, the majority rules. If the majority selected a pastor who wants her out, then she should go.

Anonymous said...

Didn't the same thing just happen to H.E. Cardinal Burke? He was shunned and humiliated by the pope for the whole world to see. I know, I know the Holiest Father everrrrrr said it was just a transfer. Yah okayyyyy.....

Dialogue said...

Everyone gets banned now and then. I've been banned from WDTPRS ever since I opposed his pressure tactics on priests! Granted, banning an elderly woman who was a long-time member is extreme, but if she is in the right, then God will reward her soon enough. She'll be fine, and thanks to this, famous.

Anonymous said...

Feel the love.

Mark Thomas said...

Dialogue said..."Everyone gets banned now and then. I've been banned from WDTPRS ever since I opposed his pressure tactics on priests!"

Hey...Father Anthony Ruff banned me yesterday from the PrayTell blog.

A lady had initiated the following thread: "Let Deacons Anoint The Sick."

I responded to her arguments by having quoted the Catechism of the Catholic Church, which, in the teaching in question, had footnoted the Council of Trent.

A priest (not Father Ruff) responded by declaring that the Church has come a long way since Trent.

I also referenced a 2005 A.D. document issued by the Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faith declared that the "doctrine which holds that the minister of the Sacrament of the Anointing of the Sick "est omnis et solus sacerdos" enjoys such a degree of theological certainty that it must be described as a doctrine "definitive tenenda"."

My having quoted the teachings of the Church spurred Father Ruff to suggest that I was a "fundamentalist."

Additional posters to the PrayTell blog accused me of having lacked compassion for the sick and dying.

Finally, Father Ruff said that it may be "harsh," but that he had to kick me off his blog. He removed several of my messages...but a couple remain on the blog.

Oh...even though I was accused of being a "fundamentalist" and a cold person who lacked compassion for the sick and dying, had several posts removed, and was kicked off the PrayTell blog...

...the lady who initiated the discussion that the Church must allow others besides priests to administer the Sacrament of the Sick, responded to the Church's teaching as follows:

"First, the description of the evidence found in the supporting text of the CDF statement is, I believe, incomplete and biased in favor of maintaining the status quo."

Did you get that? For the past 2,000 years, the Church's teaching in question has been "incomplete and biased."

The Church is wrong. PrayTell's folks are not wrong. The True Church is wrong.

I became a controversial and banned figure yesterday on PrayTell for having quoted from the Catechism of the Catholic and a CDF document.

Mrs. Biggs' pastor literally turned the lights out on her as she sat in her church.

Father Ruff turned the lights out on me for having quoted Catholic teachings.

Note to dear Mrs. Biggs: My sister in Christ, we shall both survive as Catholic priests and Baptist Ministers are unable to turn off the Truth and Light of Jesus Christ.

Pax.

Mark Thomas



Mark Thomas said...

If Father McDonald will permit me to follow up on my previous post...

I am not bothered by the fact that Father Ruff yesterday read the riot act to me, then banned me from PrayTell. He said that he had to present the "harsh" facts that pertain to his blog.

This isn't meant in any nasty sense but...big deal. I was banned from a blog. I believe that I can survive that oh-so-crushing "excommunication" from Praytell.

But what concerns me is the broader picture in that is where the Church is headed in regard to the actions of "progressives," "liberals"...whatever the term?

That is, are we to the point within the Church that it's controversial to quote the Catechism of the Catholic Church and the Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faith?

Is a person who quotes the Church's teaching to be considered harsh and lacking in compassion for sick and dying people?

Why would a Catholic laymen who simply quoted the CCC and CDF incur a ban from a Catholic "progressive" blog, while that same blog permitted a post from a person who insisted that a 2,000-year-old Catholic teaching was "incomplete", "biased", and in need of alteration?

Uphold a Church teaching...you will be banned from a Catholic (progressive) blog...call into question a Church teaching and that same blog will permit you to post all day long.

Should anybody believe that I have invented any of the above, then please go to Pray Tell blog, September 11, to read the thread "Let Deacons Anoint The Sick."

It is unbelievable to me that we've reached this point as Catholics. Some folks have insisted that the Church has reached the breaking point...that a split among us is brewing. I wonder.

I realize that many progressives treat poorly Catholics attached to the TLM. But does the simple act of quoting the Catechism of the Catholic Church (or a CDF document) also incur the wrath of progressives?

Pax.

Mark Thomas

Fr. Allan J. McDonald said...

Pray tell can't take discussion or deal with truth, odd it shuts down discussion in such a way .

Anonymous 2 said...

Mark:

I am sorry you were banned. I have never been on Pray Tell (except for one very brief visit over a year ago to see what all the fuss was about). This is the only Catholic blog, indeed, the only blog, I have anything to do with. I can understand why it is sometimes necessary to ban people from a Catholic blog, at least temporarily, but judging from your posts here I cannot fathom why you would be banned from any such blog. In an attempt to understand I am left with what I wrote yesterday (although it is perhaps a little hyperbolic, even melodramatic, when applied to being banned from a blog):

“[W]e humans are fallen, broken, divided, and often twisted and capable of great evil even though we can also be warm and cuddly and capable of great good when we get out of the way and let God work within us. But when we get our grubby little hands on religion, especially monotheistic religion including Christianity (and anyone who thinks Christianity is exempt knows little of history or human nature), as opposed to letting God be in charge of it, we can really mess it up and God weeps. In fact, He weeps so much that He had to come and sacrifice Himself to save us from ourselves.”

It seems to me that in many ways the internet has only made our petty tribalism worse.

Anonymous 2 said...

By the way, Mark, just to keep things in perspective, people have done the same thing on this Blog, not through Father McDonald but through a kind of mob-like, jackal-like mentality that seeks to destroy anything it considers a threat. The most recent example is Father C, who dared to question certain orthodoxies. He had no idea what a hornets’ nest he had stumbled into.

How in the world one is supposed to maintain civilized dialogue under such circumstances beats me. Now who on earth (or elsewhere) would have any possible interest in fomenting such division among Christians (or humans more generally)?

goober of hippo said...

Fr. McD....What was the point of this posting?

Lefebvrian said...

"Orthodoxies".

That's cute.

If you're wondering why most people stay home on Sundays, it starts right there with that sort of ridiculous nonsense.

Calvin of Hippo said...

Uh oh, Anon2, bed-wetting time (wring hands, run in small circles).

rcg said...

A one hundred and four year old Jezebel? Somebody must need serious help with his four hour Viagra limit.

Anonymous 2 said...

Why, Lefebvrian, can’t you handle it? Are we so scared of people like Father C and so insecure in our Faith that we cannot handle what he has to say and have to run him off?

Well, Calvin, I would have thought you were over your bed wetting phase by now.

Calvin of Hippo said...

Read 2 John.

Lefebvrian said...

No, Anonymous 2, I am not insecure in the faith. I despise heresy and those who are the tempers of souls into perdition, especially those traitorous priests. I hate error with a perfect hatred because I am Catholic. This is the natural consequence of a love for Truth, who is our Lord.

qwikness said...

What is a "holiness preacher?"

Flavius Hesychius said...

A2,

I can't speak for Lef., but on the other thread, I didn't see much of an attempt to 'run him off'. He chose to leave. He could have stayed and debated with the others. Is he so insecure in his faith he can't take criticisms from people on 'teh interwebz'? I saw two comments that were out of bounds (name calling, mostly). Then again, he did the same. If anything, 'twas Fr. C who 'couldn't handle it'.

It's easy enough to handle the musings of heretics and heathens. Just ignore them. It's not like their views affect my salvation. Their salvation is not my concern.

Mark Thomas said...

Anonymous 2 said..."Mark: I am sorry you were banned. I have never been on Pray Tell (except for one very brief visit over a year ago to see what all the fuss was about)."

Well...I didn't play by Pray Tell's rules. I quoted the Catechism of the Catholic Church as well as a document from the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.

On Pray Tell, those actions...I'm not kidding...earned me the title of "Fundamentalist".

Oh, well. The sun rose today. I am on Father McDonald's blog. Everything is fine.

Pax.

Mark Thomas

Paul said...

Like many discussions today that are being debated, there seems to be a "shut up!", ostracize, shun and restraining order mentality by the majority flock. I expect this mentality to intensify as society "progresses".

While not entirely unexpected from the myriad of Protestant denominations and cults -- they're cut off from the Deposit Of Faith -- it is rather sad to see such behavior exhibited by Roman Catholics. I think anyone who proposes something in direct opposition to Magisterium teaching should be able to withstand quotes from the Magisterium documents -- after all, in the end, they're proposing changes to those Magisterium documents. Additionally, don't forget the lurker -- perhaps one who is not familiar with the Catechism. To "shut down" those quoting the Catechism is a disservice to the less educated readers.

The Church is full of passionate people with "bright ideas" to "help" Christ's Church to reflect an apparent need. I suspect that the topic proposed in Pray Tell has an agenda and it's not "healing".

Have a tired, aging Priest? Pray that God gives him more strength. Need more Priests? Pray for more Priests.

Fr. Michael J. Kavanaugh said...

It is possible to be a Magisterial Fundamentalist and, I suppose, to be a Catechism Fundamentalist.

The "fundamentalism" we often deal with is really "literalism." In comments on this blog we have seen examples of it when, for example, "Quo Primum" is read/understood literally as precluding any and all changes to the mass. Similarly, we have seen here references to "Mortalium Animos" which are understood, mistakenly, to ban in perpetuity participation by Catholics, "...in the assemblies of non-Catholics:..."

All Church documents, from Conciliar Dogmatic Constitutions to a pastor's weekly bulletin column have to be understood in context. For the local pastor, that context is, probably, rather limited. For statements from Roman dicasteries or from the Catechism of the Catholic Church, the context is much, much broader.

Those who require absolute doctrinal clarity with no shades whatsoever of grey find the idea of contextualization discomforting. Yet the development of doctrine through the centuries has been an exercise in precisely that.

Simply quoting - out of context both historical and textual - a passage from some Church document doesn't end debate or discussion. If one thinks it does, or that it should, then one is approaching what are often highly complex matters with far too simplistic an understanding.

Jusadbellum said...

The Letters of St. John put us all on notice that sometimes leaders of churches will have their position go to their head and give rise to scandalous situations.

His advice is to advise people to not follow their bad example but follow only good example. He encourages us to 'test the spirit' and to shun those false brothers who are not motivated by God's spirit as proven by their rejection of God's commandments.

It's hard to shun pastors or bishops of course. And it's hard to watch while scandal is fed to the little ones. I think therefore that what's always needed is to publicly stand - when we are sure some leader has gone astray - and remonstrate with them privately and then with a handful of others...and then go big or go home.

This stuff isn't rocket science. They can be clever in their arguments' set up but the arguments themselves boil down to "I must contradict longstanding Catholic doctrine because it stands in the way of me getting what I want or what the world wants".

Invocations of "science" or "culture" are only claims of majority support and in moral cases mean exactly nothing. Claiming such or so moral doctrine must change to 'get with the times' is ridiculous because "the times" is just the collected opinion of the mob held most relevant to the speaker! Sure we need to beware of mobs and avoid throwing pearls of wisdom to irrational swine, but merely being a mob means nothing to the Gospel. Jesus and his Gospel wasn't wrong because the mob called for his crucifixion.

I think the problem of our age is that we think a culture war can be waged without upsetting peoples' feelings or without causing controversy and hostility. It can't. Culture wars inevitably produce aggression and violence. Not for this must they be avoided.

Sometimes heretics do need to be shouted down or made fun of publicly. Sometimes heretics do need to be physically ejected from a place of scandalizing children.

Calvin of Hioppo said...

Kavanaugh, is that why you have always liked to "proof text" with CCC and other documents on the blog whenever someone challenges you or disagrees with you? I think much of your "context" can be seen in cow pastures along the highway.

Anonymous said...

Mark Thomas, I wouldn't take Pray Tell too seriously just because they take themselves sooooo seriously and resort to name-calling if you disagree with them. They are a pretty trite and boring bunch. If you look at the members they're the same old gang, all with very similar ethnic and educational backgrounds. It's an echo chamber. It should serve as a badge of honor to get kicked out from there ( 'cause we know they are soooo tolerant). It is typical left wing intolerance and Ruff, Ferrone and friends are as elitist as they come.
So don't worry...they don't much care about the the CCC, church documents or any authoritative text of the church that they don't like--nothing that represents the "vertical church." They cherry pick their texts because they have an agenda and their expelling you says more about their intolerance and anti-intellectualism than you. Ironically, they subscribe to a sort of left-wing fundamentalism themselves...but they kick you out before you can call them on it. Be at peace.

Flavius Hesychius said...

Mark Thomas,

I just went over to PTB and read the exchange. What in the world? That Ruff idiot banned you for... uh... I don't really know. He said some nonsense about being a moderator, and suggested you 'tried to shut down the conversation'... which he then proceeded to do himself.

Indeed, his reasoning makes me laugh:

It is agreed at Pray Tell that those who wish to shut down discussions by claiming that church teaching settles historical questions, or that doctrine can’t developed and can’t be discussed, are not able to contribute to our discussions. That’s a harsh truth, but that’s the way it is and it is my job as moderator to enforce that – for the sake of our readers who want a good discussion.

Like I told another person on here, I love the flavour this irony gives to my steaks.

Flavius Hesychius said...

I should have not called him an idiot.

Apologies.

Calvin of Hippo said...

Flavius, never apologize for attacking and ridiculing the enemies of the Church. That is a legitimate weapon in our arsenal..besides, it is fun.

Cheryl Meril said...

A response From the folks at Church Folk Revolution https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UIywihzw8OY

wacko of hippo said...

Notice...I'm not naming any names.....BUT....this site is being more and more and more taken over by know-it-all WACKOS.....(And, unfortunately, you probably DON'T know who you are.)

Mark Thomas said...

Flavius Hesychius said..."I just went over to PTB and read the exchange. What in the world? That Ruff banned you for... uh... I don't really know. He said some nonsense about being a moderator, and suggested you 'tried to shut down the conversation'... which he then proceeded to do himself."

Thank you for your comments. I feared that I had overlooked something...that I may have exaggerated my side of the story.

I am amazed that Father Ruff suggested that I was a fundamentalist and banned for simply having quoted teachings from the CCC and CDF.

Father Ruff attacked me for having upheld the Church's teaching in question.

However, he permitted the lady who initiated the discussion to insist that the Church's ancient teaching, that only presbyters may administer the Sacrament of the Anointing of the Sick, is "incomplete" and "biased."

That is interesting. Oh, well.

Thank you.

Pax.

Mark Thomas

Ellen said...

I have a friend whose late mother received a letter from her parish pastor informing her that her "membership" in that Catholic parish had been revoked because she did not meet the minimum level of donations to the parish. She was a widow on a limited income whose late husband had painted the school in his spare time when his children were attending it. She just couldn't afford the acceptable minimum contribution. Very disappointing. And certainly not a reason to deny someone membership in the parish.

Mark Thomas said...

Fr. Michael J. Kavanaugh said..."It is possible to be a Magisterial Fundamentalist and, I suppose, to be a Catechism Fundamentalist.

"All Church documents, from Conciliar Dogmatic Constitutions to a pastor's weekly bulletin column have to be understood in context.

"Simply quoting - out of context both historical and textual - a passage from some Church document doesn't end debate or discussion. If one thinks it does, or that it should, then one is approaching what are often highly complex matters with far too simplistic an understanding."

Father Kavanaugh, I am uncertain as to how somebody could, for example, be a "Catechism Fundamentalist" when Pope Saint John Paul II declared that the Catechism of the Catholic Church is "a statement of the Church's faith and of catholic doctrine, attested to or illumined by Sacred Scripture, the Apostolic Tradition and the Church's Magisterium. I declare it to be a sure norm for teaching the faith and thus a valid and legitimate instrument for ecclesial communion."

That is, as long as one states a teaching from the CCC and does not add or subtract from said teaching, then I don't understand as to how that could become a case of "Fundamentalism."

Is my above contention correct?

Thank you.

Mark Thomas

Calvin of Hippo said...

A "fundamentalist," in the eyes of libs and progressives, is anyone who actually believes that Jesus was born of a Virgin ( I mean like an OB/Gyn could confirm it), that He actually got up and physically walked out of the tomb (like you could have gotten it with your Nikon), and that at some time in the historical future He will physically return to break into history again and the grave yards will be the busiest social club in town.
For libs and progressives, this is all a fairy tale and must be interpreted "symbolically" or existentially, meaning it only means that somehow we become renewed in ourselves by following his example...which they interpret to mean being nice, voting Democratic, and getting on board with socialist/globalist politics. The idea that any of the stuff in the Creed actually has literal, historical meaning is nonsense to them...but, they have to maintain their lie in order to make the Church a viable tool of Leftist social change. They will lie reflexively and without shame...priests, Bishops, scholars, nuns, and even Popes...to maintain their charade. After all, if there is no God, what's a little lie in the interest of the greater good? This is called "unbelief" and is running rampant in the Church.

Fr. Michael J. Kavanaugh said...

Gene (Calvin) - I don't "proof text." Never have, never will.
If I cite the CCC or some magisterial document it is to show that someone's assertions, usually yours, about what the Church believes and teaches, are wrong.

Flavius Hesychius said...

Notice...I'm not naming any names.....BUT....this site is being more and more and more taken over by know-it-all WACKOS.....(And, unfortunately, you probably DON'T know who you are.)

Why not name names? It's not like the words of a stranger are going to personally affect anyone here.

Lefebvrian said...

On the other hand, if someone cites a magisterial document to show that Fr. Kavanaugh's assertion is wrong, then the teaching hasn't been properly contextualized or is subject to further development. After all, we the simpletons among the laity "often [approach these] highly complex matters with far too simplistic an understanding." In order to unlock the secret mysteries of what the Church teaches, one must be a cleric. Since we cannot possibly understand it ourselves, we must rely on them to tell us what to believe. So, when they say that the issues of women's ordination or divorce, for example, aren't settled doctrinal issues, we have to believe them because we are too stupid to understand these complex concepts without them.

Fr. Michael J. Kavanaugh said...

And Gene (Calvin) - As I said before you were banned from this blog, I will not enter into your mindless rants. I will defend myself and others and correct your errors.

You would do well to remember the words of pope Paul VI from Ecclesiam Suam, "Dialogue promotes intimacy and friendship on both sides. It unites the parties in mutual adherence to the Good, and thus excludes all self-seeking. . . . The very fact that people engage in dialogue of this sort is proof of their consideration and esteem for others, of their understanding and kindness. They detest bigotry and prejudice, malicious and indiscriminate hostility, and empty and boastful speech."

Calvin of Hippo said...

Kavanaugh, you are no more interested in dialogue than a fish is interested in a shotgun. The only thing you are interested in is yourself. You are even proof texting in your response. What a joke!

Jusadbellum said...

I have to admit I wonder about you guys sometimes....

If I or anyone else raise a specious argument then surely it would be relatively easy to show us the error of our ways, right? Or at least point us in the right direction.

But that rarely happens. On that score proof texting is a welcome addition to talking past each other because at least the proof text is an objective statement from an authority we presumably all agree with.

Take an argument about guns and violence. Getting beyond personal taste and personal philosophy, one necessarily must invoke national statistics.

So one might point out from the 2010 US Census that there are over 310,000,000 people in the USA. One might point out from various sources that there's an estimated 300,000,000 firearms in private hands. Or cite Instant background checks from NICS to indirectly suggest well over 100 million have been purchased since 2000.

But then one must cite FBI statistics of actual gun crimes and gun homicides. 16,000 deaths related to firearms per year with 300 MILLION in circulation is surely noteworthy. Especially when one considers that roughly 1/3 are suicides and the lion's share of the other deaths occur in "gun free" inner cities awash in illegal guns, illegal sex trade and illegal firearms and not in the suburbs.

One might note that the FBI warns us of 800,000 gang members, most of whom must be assumed armed... so that fewer than 10,000 people are killed per year with firearms despite there being so many armed criminal elements, drugs and illegal sex.... despite so much violence on TV and fantasy escapism, terrorism and crazes of disparate groups ought to really make us pause. Given ALL the statistics can it really be said we have a 'gun problem'? Wouldn't the thesis: more guns = more gun crime seem falsified by the federal statistics available to us?

I would think so.

But those disposed to distrust civilians with firearms will continue to insist (or project) that civilians cannot be trusted with guns. It would seem the statistics don't matter.

Nor do they seem to matter if the topic is LGBTQ claims of being natural and healthy. Or claims that global warming is real (what with 30% more Arctic sea ice than before and a curious lack of shipping lanes running through the Northwest passage).

Statistics about the sustainability of federal and state wealth transfers in a global climate of growing debt and budget deficits likewise defy publicly accessible data from the Federal Reserve and US Treasury....those predisposed to think the poor are saved only via government don't seem to care much about arithmetic and what happens when debt is at 3% but income only 2%....

Let the topic be the justification for Vatican II (it will help current Catholics become more holy and lower the threshold for non-Catholics to become Catholic) and the numbers from PEW, CARA and the Vatican itself all point to a colossal mistake unless one posits that the Church was doomed in the West regardless of what we did in 1964.

The arguments we have ultimately must be grounded in quantifiable or knowable objective reality we can point to as 'fruits' or we're just grunting and hooting like wild animals.

Fr. Michael J. Kavanaugh said...

Lefeb - No, you are wrong. There are elements of the faith that are based on Divine Revelation. These do not - and cannot - change. Believing that the Logos became incarnate of the Virgin Mary, died on a cross, and rose three days later does not require seminary education.

Keep in mind, however, that our understanding of these Divinely Revealed Truths can change - and have changed over the centuries. This is not my way of thinking. Dei Verbum teaches, "The tradition which comes from the apostles develops in the Church with the help of the Holy Spirit. For there is a growth in the understanding of the realities and the words which have been handed down. This happens through the contemplation and study made by believers, who treasure these things in their hearts, through a penetrating understanding of the spiritual realities which they experience, and through the preaching of those who have received through episcopal succession the sure gift of truth. For, as the centuries succeed one another, the Church constantly moves forward toward the fullness of divine truth until the words of God reach their complete fulfillment in her."

The error of fundamentalists, Catholic and non-Catholic, is the belief that one Scripture verse or one paragraph from a magisterial document contains and expresses fully a particular belief, and does so for all time. That's why I cited the prohibition from Mortalium Animos regarding attending non-Catholic prayers and assemblies. This prohibition wasn't Divine Revelation. As a discipline it was open to change - and that change has come.

We know all too well how some Evangelical Christians think that by holding up their "JOHN 3:16" signs, they might actually accomplish the salvation of some pagan passerby. They believe, wrongly, that simply "accepting Jesus as personal Lord and Savior" completes ones salvation and that nothing more is required. You and I both know that they are wrong.

And they are wrong because they approach a complex matter with "far too simplistic an understanding"...

Jusadbellum said...

I have to admit I wonder about you guys sometimes....
If I or anyone else raise a specious argument then surely it would be relatively easy to show us the error of our ways, right? Or at least point us in the right direction.
But that rarely happens. On that score proof texting is a welcome addition to talking past each other because at least the proof text is an objective statement from an authority we presumably all agree with.
Take an argument about guns and violence. Getting beyond personal taste and personal philosophy, one necessarily must invoke national statistics.
So one might point out from the 2010 US Census that there are over 308,000,000 people in the USA. http://www.census.gov/2010census/data/
One might point out from various sources that there's an estimated 300,000,000 firearms in private hands. http://www.gunfaq.org/2013/03/how-many-guns-in-the-united-states/
But then one must cite FBI statistics of actual gun crimes and gun homicides. http://www.cdc.gov/nchs/fastats/homicide.htm
16,000 deaths related to firearms per year with 300 MILLION in circulation is surely noteworthy. Of guns used in criminal homicides, the vast majority were pistols not rifles. http://www.firearmsid.com/feature%20articles/0900guic/guns%20used%20in%20crime.htm
One might note that the FBI warns us of 800,000 gang members, most of whom must be assumed armed... https://www.fbi.gov/stats-services/publications/2011-national-gang-threat-assessment/ (incidentally, gangs are increasingly sending members to join the Army and Marines to get battlefield experience…)
So the data suggests that the hypothesis: more guns = more homicides of innocents by innocents is simply a myth. Most of the people killed by gangs or common criminals are other gang members or victims of criminal activity.
Balancing out 800,000 gang members are over 11 MILLION civilians who have concealed carry permits (4% of the population!) http://crimeresearch.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/07/Concealed-Carry-Permit-Holders-Across-the-United-States.pdf
Let that statistic sink in a little…. Over 11 MILLION civilians packing pistols which are the single most common form of gun used in homicides…. And yet there are less than 11,000 homicides per year in the entire country?
Given ALL the statistics can it really be said we have a 'gun problem'? Wouldn't the thesis: more guns = more gun crime seem falsified by the federal statistics available to us? I would think so.
But those disposed to distrust civilians with firearms will continue to insist (or project) that civilians cannot be trusted with guns. It would seem the statistics don't matter.
Nor do they seem to matter if the topic is LGBTQ claims of being natural and healthy. http://www.cdc.gov/hiv/statistics/basics/ataglance.html Despite being less than 4% of the population, MSM continue to be 78% of all HIV cases…. Which, if the lifestyle was healthy and natural wouldn’t be the case. But it doesn’t matter to those whose myth insists that it must be healthy and awesome and some nebulous, magical force is really at fault beyond free choices to act in a certain, known to be risky fashion…
Or claims that global warming is real (what with 30% more Arctic sea ice than before and a curious lack of shipping lanes running through the Northwest passage). http://www.reportingclimatescience.com/news-stories/article/latest-data-shows-arctic-ice-volume-has-increased.html
Statistics about the sustainability of federal and state wealth transfers in a global climate of growing debt and budget deficits likewise defy publicly accessible data from the Federal Reserve and US Treasury.... http://www.usdebtclock.org/
The arguments we have ultimately must be grounded in quantifiable or knowable objective reality we can point to as 'fruits' or we're just grunting and hooting like wild animals.

Lefebvrian said...

I like how you provide one paragraph from a document to support your "way of thinking" about doctrinal development and then, in the very next sentence, go on to talk about how it is an error of fundamentalists to believe that one paragraph from a document contains and fully expresses a particular belief.

Anyway, what is it that I am wrong about? You didn't get around to explaining that after starting off with a blanket assertion of my wrongness.

Jusadbellum said...

Good catch Lefeb!

How many of us are defending mere disciplinary norms as though they were dogmatic?
How many of us don't know the difference between small t tradition and capital T tradition or between dogma and doctrine?

Humane Vitae was no new doctrine foisted on a surprised Church but the renewed and reinforced doctrine of the Church going back to Roman era prohibitions against contraception and abortion. Yes, the Romans had contraceptive drugs and performed abortions and more often, infanticide. http://www.jstor.org/stable/177539?seq=1#page_scan_tab_contents

So our early Church fathers had to deal with a culture that accepted universal access to contraception, abortion and infanticide. Rather than quibble like modern era Fr. Currans (not a terribly bright theologian because he was not a terribly bright philosopher and didn't have a very accurate view of anthropology but I digress). Instead they rejected all such anti-fertility activities as evil and shunned them in favor of fertility as a blessing not a curse.

Similarly, earlier ages and cultures of Catholics have had to deal with occasional outbreaks of sodomy in convents and monasteries or among the secular clergy. Then, as now, hidden sin or secret lusts cast wide nets of blackmail and "Omera" type codes of silence. Then, as now, there were powerful secular rulers who served as supporters of these religious or clerics. But the Church's response was not to confuse internal with external forum and assume if one was not a sin the latter was not either. Long before the rise of modern psychology, Catholicism understood the distinction between ideation and action. Between thinking about some act and doing it. Between fantasy and fact. Between 'occasions of sin' and actual sin.

And we also grasped that not all sin is equally grave - surprise surprise, our medieval ancestors were quite nuanced - a lot more than we tend to imagine them to have been, Shakespear's plays and Quijote notwithstanding.

Most of us grasp that rite is not the sacrament. Dogma is not doctrine. But I wonder if our modernists and progressives fully grasp what is changeable and what's not?

Fr. Michael J. Kavanaugh said...

Lefeb - You are wrong is asserting that I think you and others are simpletons. I don't think that at all.

You are wrong in asserting that I think that one must be a cleric to "unlock the secret mysteries of what the Church teaches." I don't think that at all. I am not a gnostic.

You are wrong in asserting that I think you must have others to tell you what the Church's teaching means. I don't think that at all.

That's what you are wrong about.

As to the concept of the development of understanding of revealed Truth, if you think that the Church is wrong, just say so, and cite your sources.

Lefebvrian said...

Ah, see Fr. Kavanaugh, I had come to my conclusions based on the condescending tone of your posts and your idea that you are the person tasked with telling everyone how wrong they are and how they don't or aren't able to understand the context of the Church's documents to unlock the actual meaning contained therein.

Even in your latest post, I can tell you are desperate to assert how much more you know about the teaching on doctrinal development than I do, which is why you're trying to bait me into saying something on the topic.

Calvin of Hippo said...

Lefeb, take a piece of printer paper. Then, take your pen and put a dot in the middle. The dot represents what Kavanaugh knows about doctrine, theology, and Church history. The rest of the paper represents what you and I, Nolan, Jusad, and a few others on the blog know.

Fr. Michael J. Kavanaugh said...

Lefeb - No, I'm 1) correcting your erroneous assertions about what I think, and 2) asking you to contribute to this conversation about the Church's teaching regarding the development of doctrine which is described in the passage from Dei Verbum I cited.

Lefebvrian said...

In that case, I will attempt a contribution. It seems that there is a subtle difference between legitimate development and outright change when it comes to doctrine and practice. There is no doubt that the way a doctrine is explained can and does change over time. And similarly, there is no doubt that practice can and does change over time.

The problem arises in two circumstances. First, where something is treated as if it were not doctrine, but merely an explanation of a doctrine, and so the something is changed. Even if something is not doctrinal, if it is proximate to the doctrine, then it either cannot be changed without undermining the doctrine or without causing a prudential problem with the practice. Both of those circumstances present the same practical difficulty in that they undermine the faith. Second, where the doctrine is intentionally destabilized as a result of practical changes. While the practical changes are allowed, since they are not directly changing the doctrine, the change in practice is essentially the same as changing the doctrine.

With regard to the specifics of the quote from Dei Verbum, there can be no doubt that theology moves through time in some way, using different language to describe the same reality. However, in a certain way, it is incorrect to suppose that we know more about theology than did our predecessors the Apostles. There is a fine line between knowing more and having a more detailed explanation -- they are not equivalent necessarily.

Secondarily, there is a problem with the quote that you have presented because, taken on its own, it tends to indicate that we are moving toward an endpoint of "fullness" that we are currently lacking -- as if it is saying that we must "progress" from this place to that place in order to have the fullness of Truth. Contrariwise, we already have the fullness of the Truth and there is no more truth to discover and, consequently, there is not a progression toward an endpoint of fullness, or some future Omega point as Teilhard would put it.

There is a properly understood since of progression, which can be seen in the "progression" that St. Thomas made in explaining the existing theological systems in a new scholastic way, for example. He wasn't creating new doctrine or progressing toward an endpoint of knowledge, though. He was providing a deeper explanation of the existing reality using scholastic methodology to do so. The reality itself remained unchanged as a result of his more detailed explanation of it.

As another example, we could consider the Real Presence. Doctrinal development led to the explanation of this Mystery as transubstantiation. That did not add anything to the reality, it simply described the same existing reality in a more scholastic fashion. Of course, the more detailed explanation of the Mystery leads to modifications in the practice, including processions, adoration, liturgical rubrics, and so on.

In summary, it cannot be said that the Church is moving forward toward some endpoint of the fullness of Truth. The Church already has the Truth. The Church can and does move forward in some sense by expressing that same Truth in different ways.

Calvin iof Hippo said...

Exactly, Lefeb. We have the fullness of Truth in Christ. To imply otherwise is the most blatant kind of heresy. Progressives believe it is all about them and "humanity"...oh, and don't forget the mythic "poor."

Lefebvrian said...

I've just thought of an example to illustrate the point about doctrinal development. Consider the Egyptian pyramids. If one discovered these pyramids without any prior knowledge of their history, one would note that they are certain shape and color; they are made of certain materials ordered in a certain fashion. There is also an historical context in which they were constructed, which one could not know unless one were instructed about that.

So, one might, on first glance, take note of the physical aspects of the pyramids and describe them in such and such a way. Time might pass so that a new methodology comes about that would allow one to measure them or to, perhaps, fly over them, to get different perspectives about their characteristics, and one could comment on those aspects of them.

One might learn some background information about them from historical sources and that might provide further descriptive information as well.

Over time, one might learn that there is a way to open the pyramid and go inside, which would reveal additional information about their construction and purpose.

None of the additional information gathered about the pyramid changes the essence of the pyramid -- it always remains what it was in the objective sense whether the person investigating it has all the information or not. And none of the additional gathered information allows one to properly conclude that this is not actually an Egyptian pyramid. If one were to discover that, after all this time, the pyramid is actually the Great Wall of China, then it would not have been the case that one was actually studying the pyramids -- it would have been the case that one was studying the Great Wall of China.

The historical background about the pyramid, in addition to the very existence of the pyramid, is like Divine Revelation, which makes knowable that which is unknowable from reason. The methodologies for evaluating the pyramids are like the theological speculations flowing logically from the objective existence of the doctrine. And the knowledge of the existence of the pyramids and what they mean for our world are like the practice that flows from the doctrine and its attendant speculations.

All that flows from the existence of the doctrine is subject to refinement over time so long as it remains rooted in the objective reality of the doctrine itself. The existence of the doctrine itself, however, is not subject to change since to do so would negate its objective existence -- it would become the Great Wall of China instead of the pyramids.

George said...

Lefebvrian


Your thoughts echo a comment I made back in December which I expand upon below:

Two hundred years ago we knew things about electricity that were true. We know a lot more today of course. What we know to be true today was true two hundred years prior. Our knowledge back then, the "truth we knew at the time" was just incomplete. The "scripture" written into physical matter are the laws described by mathematical principles which govern its behavior and mark it bounderies and limits. Science does not make things up as it goes along. It discovers more about what is already there, and has been there and was put there by God. Like the laws and constants of the physical Universe, there exists spiritual laws and revealed truth whose source is God and these are not subject to opinion , dispute or arbitration. These laws constitute a true reference frame and guide, one of the purposes of which is to restrain the behavior of men who, having the gift of free will, can misuse that gift to disobey God's laws. These spiritual laws, written down and codified by man, also have the purpose of ellightening us to know and serve God better. These constitute the Truth revealed to us by God and through His Holy Spirit, He enlightens us to discover and know more about His unchanging Eternal Truth.

Fr. Michael J. Kavanaugh said...

Lefeb - Thanks for the response. I can agree with much of it, though I would, as you may have expected, take exception to a couple of things.

First, I don't know how you might quantify (or describe) what amounts to a doctrinal formulation being "proximate" to a revealed Truth that developments in this doctrine might undermine our proper understanding of that revealed Truth.

Second, I think we do know "more" about theology than the Apostles, but I'll allow your point. However, we may know differently that the Apostles. And that difference may be substantial, all the while holding to that which was revealed by God.

Example: My sisters and I have the same father. My sisters were ages 20, 19, and 17 when he died while I was 4. How they knew him and how I knew him are very, very different, yet the person being known is the same.

The fullness of Truth has been revealed, indeed. But I suspect we have not yet come to appreciate or understand that fullness. Hence, we have development of doctrine which tends, for the most part, in that direction.

I think the Church is moving toward an endpoint which will be the complete revelation of Truth - the Kindgom of Heaven. I think Teilhard aroused suspicion when he seemed to want to believe that the progress toward the Omega point is consistently positive and that everyone's arrival there is inevitable. (There are certainly elements of the material world that have been becoming more complex over time and continue to do so. Inasmuch as we are still in the very early stages of understanding the physical nature of the cosmos, there are few hard and fast conclusions.)

That matter can "become" consciousness" - well, at some point consciousness did evolve. Non-conscious beings became conscious beings. We humans became the self-conscious ones. All evolution progresses under God's watchful care and according to God's own design.

Do we want to continue by looking at how the understanding of "Church" has progressed?

Jusadbellum said...

Fr. K, the Apostles knew that they had the power to forgive sins. But from the start they understood that forgiveness required at least a presumption of the sinner being sorry for those sins. Thus the doctrine that our post-baptismal sins may be forgiven in the sacrament of reconciliation developed from a single event to the acceptance that the Church could forgive people hundreds or thousands of times in their lifetime.

There was always an understanding - evident in Acts and the Epistles - that the Apostles grasped the difference between malum prohibitum and malum in se. Some sins are sins because they breach some obligation to lawful authority. So intentionally breaking one's fast out of gluttony or pride can very well be sinful, even mortally so if one's will is thus bent away from God and God's apostles. But fasting or not fasting is not a question of intrinsic evil.

The Church from the Didache forward understood breaches of the 10 commandments, murder, abortion, sodomy, abuse of widows and orphans to be intrinsically evil, always - regardless of culture or rite. The book of Wisdom and the letter to the Romans all make the case that unless a man is mentally impaired, he must know certain actions or omissions are gravely wrong. Those are malum in se.

So while a prohibition based on prudential decisions of the Church may be lifted and thus "developed" such as the frequency and way of giving the sacrament of reconciliation, what is not changeable or 'open to development' is the sinful status of intrinsic, Malum in se" crimes against God and neighbor.

So sure, the Church's doctrine on liturgy, the frequency of Mass and communion, confession and how to properly prepare for orders... all those are subject to development. But it's unsustainable to claim that what was once understood to be malum in se may, by the effect of society change (merely the opinion of others in the mob) change the metaphysical status of malum in se sins.

Sodomy is not going to ever be considered hunky dory. Abortion is never going to be considered an amoral "choice". Prostitution is not going to be praised as a noble profession. Abusing widows and orphans is not going to 'develop' into an acceptable cultural phenomenon.

Most of what we decry on this blog are not the minor developments that are organic to disciple or even tradition - one can easily see the modifications within the Latin Rite over the centuries and between the Tridentine and say, Dominican rites... No, most of what we decry are those who claim that our ancestors were wrong in condemning abortion, contraception, witchcraft, idolatry, sodomy, fornication, polygamy, and the abuse of widows and orphans (otherwise called "tyranny" or "socialism").

There have been two revolutions in the past 150 years: sexual and socialist; both build on ancient errors and heresies "organically", logically. Against both the Church stood as a bulwark. We cannot sustain the argument that we were wrong to oppose these revolutions or that we'll 'evolve' to incorporate THEIR dogmas into our own (such that there is no fixed human nature and hence, no objective moral code valid for all people of all times and all places).

The conceit of Teilhard and those who believe in emergent evolution (as written about by CS Lewis in his space trilogy in the 1940s!) is that human nature itself changes and hence so does malum in se. What was once utterly immoral is now OK because "the times" or "humanity" have evolved". Not so. Besides, our faith says Jesus came "in the fullness of time" not "in an unevolved inferior age".

Jusadbellum said...

Getting back to fisking Fr. K's post:

"All Church documents, from Conciliar Dogmatic Constitutions to a pastor's weekly bulletin column have to be understood in context. For the local pastor, that context is, probably, rather limited. For statements from Roman dicasteries or from the Catechism of the Catholic Church, the context is much, much broader."

AGREED.

Biblical fundamentalists quote the Bible - the broadest authority we have. The counter to a proof text is to quote that same Gospel or letter from a wider view (the "context" is the wider reading of the same font of authority being disputed). Thus the fundie who claims Matthew's Gospel prohibits the use of the term "father" as in "call no man father" is disproven by pointing to all the other places in Matthew's Gospel where the Gospel writer or Jesus or others are quoted as calling men "father" without complaint or contradiction.

Thus the full context explains Jesus' use of hyperbolic language in that particular chapter.

"Those who require absolute doctrinal clarity with no shades whatsoever of grey find the idea of contextualization discomforting. Yet the development of doctrine through the centuries has been an exercise in precisely that."

I don't think you can sustain this belief about "those who require...". It MAY be the case that they find 'contextualization' discomforting. Or it may be that they think people are trying to BS them with the excuse of 'contextualization'. You can pass quite a lot of trucks through "grey areas". The trick about being OK with grey areas is to watch what happens when people use them against YOU....

For example, while we may dispute over the due penalty for adultery because it's a capital offense in the old testament but is readily forgiven in the New testament, in no text of the Bible (old or new) is the act itself considered "not a sin"...EXCEPT by the Pharisees and pagans (which is why Jesus condemned divorce as it makes men commit adultery against their wives and wives to resort to adultery to survive). Thus while one might construe a "grey area" for punishment, one cannot construe a 'grey area' with respect to the moral status of the act itself!


"Simply quoting - out of context both historical and textual - a passage from some Church document doesn't end debate or discussion. If one thinks it does, or that it should, then one is approaching what are often highly complex matters with far too simplistic an understanding."

DISAGREE. It may very well be enough to defeat someone's argument.... but I AGREE that human beings are not their argument and so people do remain stubborn in their resistance despite having no leg to stand on.

If someone declares that Mary was a sinner, it is quite sufficient to provide a proof text from the Gospel of Luke "Hail, full of grace!" and then quote the Church's dogmatic teaching on the same. Case closed for a Catholic. If you don't accept the Church's dogmatic authority or the Bible, well then of course the argument will continue.




Anonymous said...


An additional critique of Fr. Kavanagh's analogy: He and his sisters may have known their father in different ways, but if his experience of father includes the memory/belief that his eyes were brown, and his sisters' experience includes the memory/belief that they were blue, at least one of the experiences is deficient due to the law of noncontradiction. And the newer or more recent experience is not, thereby, automatically the experience that isn't erroneous.

George said...

Jusadbellum:

"There was always an understanding - evident in Acts and the Epistles - that the Apostles grasped the difference between malum prohibitum and malum in se."

The Church does not in every case make the distinction between the two. Society and the Law may consider illegal drug use to be malum prohibitum, but it is a sinful act if judged by what God desires of us. Wiring a house without a license comes under malum prohibitum, but if one lacks the necessary knowledge and skill to do it properly, then it would come under malum in se.

"The conceit of Teilhard and those who believe in emergent evolution (as written about by CS Lewis in his space trilogy in the 1940s!) is that human nature itself changes and hence so does malum in se. "

From what little I've read of Teilhard and my understanding of what he wrote, his theology does not convey to me that what today is considered "malum in se" will change because human nature will also change. That is the philosophical attitude of the unbelievers, the faithless, and neo pagans.

Fr. Michael J. Kavanaugh said...

Jus - I'll stand by my assertion - "Those who require absolute doctrinal clarity with no shades whatsoever of grey find the idea of contextualization discomforting." I think Catholic magisterial fundamentalists are discomforted by contextualization for the same reason Protestant Biblical fundamentalists are. For Catholics the reasons include, but are not limited to 1) a simple misunderstanding of the text in question; 2) an incomplete grasp of the history of the development of a specific doctrine; and/or 3) an inadequate grasp of the Church's understanding of the development of doctrine; or 4) a fear that, in coming to understand the context, the fundamentalist may have to alter his/her position.

An example of #1 is the error some make in quoting Quo Primum's "permanent prohibition" on changes in the liturgy. An example of #2 is the objections some Catholics raise regarding participating with non-Catholic Christians in prayer. And an example of #3 is evidenced by those who believe that much of what is contained in the documents of Vatican Two is in severe discontinuity with previous Catholic teaching.

People who think "contextualization" is merely camouflage for making changes in Traditional doctrine are, in almost every case, simply wrong.

Anonymous - Yes, if there is disagreement over a fact such as the color of my father's eyes, then reference to a photo or a document (driver's license, maybe) that states the color of his eyes.

Anonymous said...

Fr. Kavanagh,

Wouldn't we have to contextualize that driver's license to know what color it really claimed his eyes to be? The driver's license may say "blue," but properly understood in context it might not mean blue, right?

My point being that after stressing subjective knowledge and the importance of context, your sudden appeal to an authoritative source that you seem to take as objectively certain seems strange.

(And before you say that my assertion that blue might not mean blue on an official document, consider Y2K, in which there was legitimate concern that authoritative records could be off by a century. Nevertheless, that's a digression.)

Fr. Michael J. Kavanaugh said...

Anon - No, we don't have to contextualize the driver's license any more than we have to contextualize what the word "cup" means when a recipe calls for a cup of flour.

Anonymous said...

Fr. Kavanaugh:

In that case, what, in Catholic doctrine, may/must be contextualized, and what in Catholic doctrine amounts to a driver's license or a cup?

Fr. Michael J. Kavanaugh said...

Anon - We read almost everything in context. Scriptures were written in the context of first century Palestine with its particular languages, cultures, religions. It's helpful to have more than a passing understanding of those things if one is going to find the meaning intended by the authors of Scripture.

The Catechism teaches: "109 In Sacred Scripture, God speaks to man in a human way. To interpret Scripture correctly, the reader must be attentive to what the human authors truly wanted to affirm, and to what God wanted to reveal to us by their words."

And: "110 In order to discover the sacred authors' intention, the reader must take into account the conditions of their time and culture, the literary genres in use at that time, and the modes of feeling, speaking and narrating then current. "For the fact is that truth is differently presented and expressed in the various types of historical writing, in prophetical and poetical texts, and in other forms of literary expression."

There is a context that helps us understand the various styles of art that may be seen in our churches. Was the sculptor working in the Byzantine style or the baroque? Was the artist's time high Renaissance or Neo-Classical?

Much has been written about the linguistic context of the documents of Vatican Two. The Council spoke to the world not in the juridical style that had been adopted from the Roman legal system, but in the panygeric style used by many of the Church fathers.

We understand that our doctrine speaks to the meaning of timeless Truths in styles are conditioned, to greater and lesser degrees, by the times in which they were written.

Anonymous said...

Fr. K,

Yes, I understand that. The thing I don't understand is that, since in your example you referred to things (driver's license, cup) that aren't subject to contextualization, presumably you believe that there is likewise something in Catholic doctrine/belief deposit of faith that corresponds to driver's license or cup, i.e. that isn't subject to contextualization. What would that be?

George said...


To expand a little more on my comment above @September 16, 2015 at 6:59 PM, I'll use as an example the Dogma of the Assumption of the Virgin Mary.
On November 1st, 1950, Pope Pius XII formally declared and defined that that the Virgin Mary "having completed the course of her earthly life, was assumed body and soul into heavenly glory". From that point onward, this dogma became a binding article of faith and belief for all Catholics. Now, even though this truth was not formally defined by the Pope until the middle of the 20th century, it did not start being true at that point. What was declared to be true in 1950 was just as true in the year 150 and just as true going back to that point in History when the Virgin Mary was assumed into Heaven.
A few years after the Assumption of the Virgin Mary was formally defined by Pope Pius XII, James Watson and Frances Crick discovered the double-helix structure of DNA. Now what was found to be true about the structure of DNA in the early 1950's was just as true two thousand years before that and of course wayback to its beginning point in time. What was already true about DNA from time immemorial was finally revealed to the two scientists.



Fr. Michael J. Kavanaugh said...

Divine Truth is not subject to contextualization. God said, "I AM." Our understanding of Divine Truth is subject to being understood in context.

George, remember also the contributions of Rosalind Franklin as a co-discoverer of the structure of DNA.

Jusadbellum said...

The interesting thing is that we now know that stem cells from the fetus pass over to the mother during pregnancy and remain with her for life... thus part of the Incarnate Word passed into Mary's body and remained with her for life.... when the Word was raised from the dead, when the Word ascended into Heaven, Mary was intimately affected. One might say, that on account of this close, biological and ontological connection between her and the Incarnate Word, Mary had to be the first fruit of the Resurrection and divinization of human nature. She had to go to heaven body and soul inasmuch as Jesus' divinity opened the way for humanity....

http://vitals.nbcnews.com/_news/2012/06/06/12090106-babys-cells-may-transfer-to-mom-during-pregnancy?lite