Skip to comments.Catholicism, “Updated”
Posted on 08/18/2005 5:23:45 AM PDT by Desdemona
If youve spent time in an RCIA group, walked through your parish community center, or requested an explanation of some Church teaching, chances are youve come across a Catholic Update. Produced by Cincinnatis St. Anthony Messenger Press with the imprimatur of the archdiocese, these short tracts have spread like kudzu in parishes throughout the US.
They cover a wide range of topics and are written at an accessible, Readers Digest level of sophistication. A quick survey of Catholic Update titles suggest they provide Catholic answers to the faithfuls questions: We Believe in the Resurrection, Eucharist: Food for Mission, and the Scripture from Scratch mini-Bible studies. Many of the tracts are good, featuring, for example, pastoral letters from Cardinal George or explanations of Church teachings on euthanasia by Bishop Gregory.
But all too often, whats inside is more likely to sow confusion than provide clarity. And you can seldom go more than a few paragraphs without reading some forced contrast between a musty, preconciliar Church and the très moderne, spring-like Church brought about by Vatican II.
Take, for example, Fr. Stephen Doyles Jesus Christ: Why the Word Became Flesh. Youd expect Father Doyle to present the Catechisms four-fold explanation that Christ came (1) to reconcile sinners to God; (2) to show the depth of Gods love; (3) to establish a pattern of holiness; and (4) to allow us to partake of the divine nature (CCC 456-460). Doyle touches lightly on the first two of these, but spends most of his time musing on the development of Pauline theology, ending, on a bizarre environmentalist note, with a call to live the vision of Christ by treating the earth with reverence. Given a simple task, he treats it like a creative writing assignment.
Fr. Lawrence Micks July 2005 update Finding Jesus in the Eucharist: Four Ways He Is Present gives equal footing to the various modes of Christs presence during the Mass while failing to note that only in the Eucharist is He substantially present. What difference does it make? The presence of Christs Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity in the Eucharist is why the Catechism calls it the source and summit of the Christian faith and it is why Catholics are to make a profound bow of reverence at the head of the Communion line before receiving the Blessed Sacrament. At a time when various polls show clear majorities of Catholics doubting the Real Presence, Micks omission is all the more culpable.
Authors known for speculative, free-wheeling theology seem right at home in these publications. Cincinnati's Fr. Thomas Bokenkotter is one such contributor to Catholic Updates. His book A Concise History of the Catholic Church finds him lauding both the violent Sandinistas and discredited elements of Liberation Theology. In the Cincinnati Enquirer, Fr. Bokenkotter criticized Pope John Paul II by casting doubt on the Magisterium's teachings on contraception, accusing the late Holy Father of chilling theological "creativity," and smearing Opus Dei as purveyors of cheap grace.
Another contributor is the collarless priest-theologian Fr. Kenneth Overberg of Xavier University. In the Archdiocese of Cincinnatis Catholic Telegraph, he urged the Church to recognize freedom of genital expression among homosexuals. Citing the Vatican-disciplined Schillebeeckx and Rahner, Overberg also recently denied the Fathers redemptive plan at work in Christs suffering and death. His Catholic Update was a highly-opinionated piece about the countercultural message of the Churchs teaching on the death penalty.
Catholic Updates by writers like these too often present teachings that are in conflict with what the Church teaches. Consider Fr. William H. Shannons The Resurrection: How We Know Its True. Here is an excerpt from the section called The Resurrection: An experience of faith:
The point which I am trying to lead up to is the realization that seeing the risen Jesus was not an experience of empirical data; it was an experience of faith. For the very best that empirical experience might have achieved was an experience of resuscitation, not resurrection. Think of Lazarus in John's Gospel (Jn 11:1-45). He was mortal and he died. He was resuscitated and therefore was living again, but even after his resuscitation he was still mortal. Hence people could see him before and after because in both cases he was mortal. Lazarus was as much a subject of empirical data after his resuscitation as before his death.
The mortal Jesus the Jesus before His death could, like the mortal Lazarus, have been experienced as a fact of empirical data; the risen Jesus, however, could only be experienced by faith. For resurrection is not returning from the dead. It is a leap beyond death to an entirely different kind of existence. Such a leap cannot be empirically verified. Father Shannons speculations run counter to Pope John Paul IIs orthodox description of the Resurrection: Christ's Resurrection is the strength, the secret of Christianity. It is not a question of mythology or of mere symbolism, but of a concrete event. It is confirmed by sure and convincing proofs. The acceptance of this truth, although the fruit of the Holy Spirit's grace, rests at the same time on a solid historical base. (From remarks given before praying the Regina Caeli on Sunday, April 21, 1996) Thus, it simply isnt consistent with Catholic teaching for Father Shannon to state that the Resurrection was not an experience of empirical data and that the risen Jesus could only be experienced by faith. Instead, in the popes words, it was a public, concrete event backed by convincing proofs and resting on a solid historical base. No later than 15 years after Christs earthly ministry, St. Paul wrote in his first letter to the Corinthians that 500 brethren saw the risen Jesus at one time. He did not write, as Shannon would have it, that they just sensed Him spiritually. As the Vatican wrote just last winter, the appearances of the Risen Lord and the empty tomb are the foundation of the faith of the disciples in the Resurrection of Christ, and not vice versa."
Am I making too much of a fuss about this? I dont think so. Lets remember who reads these Catholic Updates RCIA candidates, participants in adult faith formation groups, perhaps someone shaky in his faith who wants to be certain of what the Church teaches. That they should be handed something like Father Shannon's wrong musings on the Resurrection is a shame. That his musings bear the imprimatur of the Archdiocese of Cincinnati is, well, something worse.
Any comments? I think there are some valid points.
I learned about 20 years ago that ANYTHING from "St Anthony Press"--US Catholic, St Anthony Messenger--is usually just garbage.
At that time, Leonardi was about 15...
Who reads them? No one except the postmenopausals that actually run our parishes. And they do so with the same glee that they sing the Jesus Christ Superstar "hymns" at Mass. Ugh!
I picked that particular issue up in the vestibule and found it rather disappointing. I expected something else from the title.
I've been a sponsor at RCIA for several years and have seen a number of Catholic Updates over the years. Fortunately, the RCIA team doesn't hand them out willy-nilly. They actually read them and not every Update makes the cut.
I was told at my old university center that I could call on these for any of my Sunday School lessons. I NEVER did. All I had to see, was that the esteemed, Remert E. Weakland wrote one, to know that I wanted nothing to do with them. Instead, I used the Catechism, the Bible, and the Midwest Theological Forums "Intro to Catholicism."
Too many of these "theologians" are dissenters in sheeps clothing and I am a little sick of giving them aid and comfort.
Speaking of turning 75. Is McCarrick still around? I thought his resignation was expected immediately, I was looking forward to finding out his successor.
Cardinal McCarrick has submitted his resignation. Rumor has it that it will be accepted within the year, which I am to understand is relatively speedy for a cardinal.
However, I doubt that Pope Benedict XVI desires to intentionally slap Cardinal McCarrick in the face, so I doubt that any announcement regarding the appointment of a successor will occur much before late Autumn or even Winter.
In the Archdiocese of Washington, we wait with bated breath.
Ok, I was just wondering. Thanks. By the way, you know me, I used to be NWUArmyROTC.
Ok, I was just wondering. Thanks. By the way, you know me, I used to be NWUArmyROTC.
Okay, looks like you got a "promotion." ;-)
I'm personally hoping that Cardinal McCarrick's successor is someone like Archbishop Burke, Archbishop Chaput, or (dare I hope???) Bishop Fabian "Excommunicate ALL the Heretics, Let God Sort 'Em Out" Bruskewitz (I know, I know, that's a bit beyond hoping).
However, I'm concerned that rather we may get a clone of, say, Cardinal Keeler (due to retire in 2006), or worse yet, Cardinal Egan.
"However, I'm concerned that rather we may get a clone of, say, Cardinal Keeler (due to retire in 2006)"
Libera nos, Domine.
Currently suffering in one of the worst Archdioceses on the East Coast (Baltimore). I've only lived in Maryland for 5 years, so I don't knwo much about Keeler (public views and such), but Baltimore reeks of liturgical abuses and heterodoxy. Send me a private mail and let me know specifically what is the synopsis of Card. Keeler. Others I have asked give me very vague responses.
Yes he has many valid points.
In the larger picture however, the whole concept of using "dumbed-down" tracts to teach the Faith in RCIA (where the "A" is for "Adults"), is the problem. The Faith should clearly be taught from a serious catechism designed for Adults, if not the CCC.
It is ultimately the responsibility of the bishops in each of their respective dioceses to implement a strong catechetical formation process for RCIA. Allowing this "tract" method allows dissidents power to distort the Faith before those who are inquiring, just as this article discusses.
You know, he would be perfect for DC, the Capitol of our nation, precisely because he is from the Midwest.
The culture shock he would be able to generate with all our federal officials located there would be awesome. The Catholic Faith would be taught to the whole nation through the national press on nearly a nightly basis. (heehee)
Just think of all the potential threads right here on FR....