Sunday, April 21, 2019

THEOLOGY WITHOUT THEOLOGIANS

At the center of Benedict’s concerns are the distinctive theological matters of the loss of a meaningful sense of God in contemporary culture and the grievous decline in Eucharistic reverence and practice in great parts of the contemporary Church.


THEOLOGIANS WITHOUT THEOLOGY

by Robert P. Imbelli

Two representatives of the “German Association of Moral Theologians” have issued a critical “Commentary” on the recent analysis by Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI regarding the origins and causes of the abuse crisis afflicting the Church.

Professors Christof Breitsameter and Stephan Goertz level several charges against Benedict XVI. They contend that he places unique blame for the crisis upon the sexual revolution and the social upheaval of the Sixties, rather than acknowledge the Church’s own institutional culpability.

They are particularly incensed at his criticism of developments in moral theology since the 1960s which, according to Benedict, promote a situationist approach that ultimately eventuates in a moral relativism. They insist this indictment is unfair and inaccurate, and that the moral theology practiced by the members of their Association does indeed affirm moral absolutes, such as the inhumaneness of the death penalty.

Without seeking to endorse every jot and tittle of the Pope Emeritus’ analysis, two features of his critics’ statement appear to me both regrettable and symptomatic.

First, the whole style of their indignant response suggests the concern of a self-regulating guild intent on defending their privileges and prerogatives against outsider criticism.

Second, though the signatories refer to themselves as “moral theologians,” their statement contains little that is recognizably “theological.” At the center of Benedict’s concerns are the distinctive theological matters of the loss of a meaningful sense of God in contemporary culture and the grievous decline in Eucharistic reverence and practice in great parts of the contemporary Church.

In stark contrast, the statement of the eminent professors, officers of an Association of Moral Theologians, contains no reference to God or to his Christ. There is absolutely no hint of normative commitment to a Eucharistic vision and practice founded in the real Presence of Jesus Christ.

Though they have the effrontery to accuse Joseph Ratzinger of pursuing an “escapist approach to theology,” they themselves fail to manifest any sense of theology as an ecclesial disciple governed by “the rule of faith.” Rather, the impression conveyed is that contemporary culture provides the standards of authentic living to which the Church must submit. This is not the approach of true “aggiornamento,” but of rank capitulation.

One need not be a “contextual” theologian, therefore, to wonder whether the Association of Moral Theologians is instead an association of professors of ethics, groping toward some understanding of the good life that State-endowed university chairs in a late-capitalist society make possible for their occupants.

5 comments:

TJM said...

LOL, little Martin Luther "mini mes!"

Gene said...

Given Germany's not too distant past, "German moral theologians" is something of an oxymoron. Sort of like Japanese humanitarians.

Gene said...

Karl Barth and Jacques Ellul, two Reformed theologians, have written at length about the "impossibility of a "Christian ethic." For them, ethics is Christology. The Christian life cannot be codified or systematized, but is a constant seeking of the will of God.

John Nolan said...

Interesting that the only moral absolute they cite, regarding the death penalty, has never been a moral absolute.

TJM said...

John Nolan,

The "subtleties" of the liberal "mind!"