Thursday, March 1, 2018


Finally we are hearing from the new prefect for the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith and it isn't bad at all. I don't think, though, he will try to become a media celebrity as Cardinal Mueller tried to be.

But there is a new document from the CDF that I think is very good. I think that modern Catholics, be we clergy or laity should engage with the world, not to proselytize but to evangelize and help bring understanding to what the Church is about and to clarify our positions when we are misunderstood. And yes the "world" misunderstands us and either intentionally or ignorantly misrepresents us.

Several years ago when I was in Macon, Mercer University held a panel on same sex marriage and the issues surrounding sexuality. I was asked to be on the panel, but because it was a university setting I recommended that the university invite our young, articulate Polish parochial vicar to be represent the Catholic Church's views. He did a great job and was well received all the while promoting what the Catholic Church teaches. He witnessed to it in other words in what could have been a very hostile environment for him and Catholics. No one asked to become Catholic but there was better understanding about the Catholic Church's teachings.

The commentary below condemns once again the heresies of pelegianism and Gnosticism. Both in one form or another seperate the true Church from belief in Christ, a sort of go it alone mentality found among fundamentalist Protestants. They often say you can find Christ interiorly and be saved and then you go find a bible beleiving church that supports your faith which you discovered through a special knowledge of God.

I am not sure Catholics do that, in the south it is a Protestant mentality. But Catholics disengage from the Church because they are put off by her either in her teachings or how other Catholics act or the Church asks too much from them because it is both body and soul, spiritual and material. Think of those who leave the Church because of the sins of others or the Church asks for money too frequently to support her ministries or to build buildings to house her ministries, etc.

But with many Protestants becoming Catholic, especially evangelical Protestants, often they do not leave this idea that you can find Christ and live as a Christian simply with Bible in hand and no real dependence on the Church, her sacraments and the graces God mediates through her.

But here is the Crux article on the CDF's new document:

Vatican revives fine art of smacking down heresy, this time in modern guise

Vatican revives fine art of smacking down heresy, this time in modern guise
In this Tuesday, Sept. 8, 2015 file photo, Archbishop Luis Francisco Ladaria Ferrer smiles during a press conference at the Vatican. (Credit: AP Photo/Riccardo De Luca, File.)
In the Holy See’s first major document on Christian salvation since the controversial text Dominus Iesus in 2000, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith - the Vatican’s doctrinal watchdog agency - released a reflection Thursday on two of Pope Francis’s recurrent laments about contemporary religion: the rise of new forms of the ancient heresies Pelagianism and Gnosticism.
Eighteen years ago, Dominus Iesus stirred polemics for what critics saw as its air of superiority towards other religions, especially its assertion that non-Christians “objectively speaking … are in a gravely deficient situation” with regard to salvation.
Thursday’s brief, four-page letter, Placuit Deo, or “Pleasing to God,” largely steers clear of controversial territory and focuses instead on unpacking Francis’s thought on the perennial dangers of excessive self-reliance and withdrawal from the world.
“This document does not wish to directly enter in discussion on the issues regarding Dominus Dei,” said Italian Archbishop Luis Francisco Ladaria Ferrer, the prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith during a press conference at the Vatican on Thursday, adding that the sole scope of the text is to address means and obstacles to salvation.
“Salvation cannot be simply reduced to a message, a procedure, a gnosis or an interior sentiment,” he stated, rather it’s in “the relationship with God and with brothers that man finds his full completion.”
The Jesuit added that since the Second Vatican Council (1962-65) there has been the recognition and acknowledgement that “there are many elements of other Christian and ecclesial communities that lead toward salvation,” and for this reason, the Catholic Church is committed to ecumenism.
“Even though the document does not delve into this issue, it doesn’t mean that the teaching of the Church on this issue has changed. It remains the way it was, though analyzed in greater depth,” Ladaria said.
In essence, the purpose of the letter released Thursday is to take two frequent objections voiced by Pope Francis to trajectories in contemporary religion, and to give them a theological foundation by situating them within classic Catholic teaching on salvation.
The document clearly reaffirms that teaching, which, it says, “proclaims Jesus as the only savior of the whole human person and of all humanity.”
The pope’s concerns referenced in the letter, which he’s voiced on multiple occasions, pivot on what he sees as a modern revival of Pelagianism, which held that the individual can achieve salvation on his or her own, through human effort; and Gnosticism, which treated salvation as an interior journey that distances the individual from the created world and human relationships.
As Francis sees it, Pelagianism overlooks the fragility of human beings and their ultimate dependence on God, while Gnosticism, among other flaws, provides an inadequate basis for Christian commitments such as care of creation and defense of the poor.
The document concedes there are important differences between how those trajectories played out in early Christianity and today, but says, “insofar as Gnosticism and Pelagianism represent perennial dangers for misunderstanding Biblical faith, it is possible to find similarities between the ancient heresies and the modern tendencies just described.”
Theologically, the document asserts that the salvation offered in Christ rejects both Pelagianism and Gnosticism.
“Faith in Christ teaches, rejecting all claims of self-realization, that [human aspirations] can be fulfilled completely only if God himself makes it possible,” the document says.
Further, it says, “it is clear that the salvation Jesus brought in his person does not occur only in an interior manner.”
One place where all this becomes concrete, according to the document, is the Church. Both Pelagianism and Gnosticism, it suggests, tend to downplay the importance of the Church, suggesting that one can just as easily pursue salvation and a relationship with Christ outside it.
“The place where we receive the salvation brought by Jesus is the Church, the community of those who have been incorporated into this new kind of relationship begun by Christ,” it says. “In her we touch the flesh of Jesus, especially in our poorest and most suffering brothers and sisters.”
This topic was directly addressed by Italian Archbishop Giacomo Morandi, secretary of the Congregation, during the press conference.
“The Church is not first and foremost a human institution. It’s inseparably united with Christ - as the body to the Head and the bride to the Groom,” he said. “It, as the new people that God calls to himself, is the place where all men from all time can find the Savior and Salvation.”
The document was adopted in a plenary session of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith on Jan. 24 and approved by Pope Francis on Feb. 16. The pontiff then ordered its publication.
“Different theologians asked the Congregation to explore the document on the topic human salvation,” therefore the initiative did not come directly from the pope, Ladaria said.
“There is no special reason to publish this document now rather than later,” he added, noting that the process for the publication of the document had to go through several steps, including internal studies, opinion from consultants, approval by cardinal members of the congregation and finally the okay by the pope.
“Obviously a push for this document, not the initiative but the development, was the idea of the Holy father to fight these reductionist ideas, which he calls neo-Pelagianism and neo-Gnosticism,” the prefect continued.
“The Holy father encouraged us to publish it as soon as possible, and we did what we could to do that.”


John Nolan said...

Cardinal Müller was never a 'media celebrity' - it is doubtful that most in the mainstream media had ever heard of him. The only CDF prefect who achieved some sort of media recognition was Cardinal Ratzinger, since he held the post for a quarter of a century and had to deal with liberation theology, the homosexualist agenda of Nugent and Gramick, the heretics who pushed for women's ordination, and the clerical sexual scandals which landed on his desk in 2001.

Neo-Pelagian is one of PF's descriptors for traditionally-minded Catholics like myself. Thanks, Holy Father, for what it's worth I have no confidence in you either.

Fr. Allan J. McDonald said...

John, I think this new document actually clarifies Pope Francis' who uses these two "neo" heresies in the wrong way implicating people like you. I am sure many people have wondered exactly what Pope Francis means on this and so many other things and the new prefect has clariified these heresies in a classic way.

Gnosticism is tied to dualism, the spirit is good, the body/material bad or immaterial to salvation. This is a heresy. We are called to take care of both body and soul in life and in death. Proper burial of the body which we should have cared for while alive and praying for the souls of the faithful departed who should have taken care of their soul in this life.

Therefore, a desire for the perfection of heaven is symbolized in the care of creation which is a theme of Pope Francis, the care of the earth.

I had a parishioner angrily denounce me when I wrote in our bulletin that I hoped and prayed that a grieving family would find the body parts of their daughter, my parishioner, who was murdered and dismembered and only her torso found, but not head, legs and arms. I stated these needed a Christian burial and would bring comfort to the anguishing family who wanted their daughter's body back in its entirety to give a Christian burial.

The parishioner said, the soul is what mattered and I shouldn't put emphasis on her body! That's not Catholic for her to think or believe that!

John Nolan said...

According to PF, neo-Pelagians are 'self-absorbed' and 'promethean'. The last term has a number of meanings and Abp Ladaria might like to clarify that. And while he's at it, he could issue a definitive clarification of Ch.8 of AL.

But then, he's a Jesuit.