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Karl Rahnerís Girlfriend
Catholic Family News ^ | May 2004 | John Vennari

Posted on 04/28/2004 6:30:50 PM PDT by Land of the Irish

Karl Rahner’s Girlfriend

by John Vennari

Father Karl Rahner, the progressivist Jesuit who “set the direction for the Second Vatican Council,”1carried on a secret 22-year “romance” with German writer Luise Rinser.

This revelation came to light in 1994 when Rinser published her autobiography which contained her half of the correspondence between herself and Rahner, a correspondence that lasted from 1962 to Rahner’s death in 1984. The book was entitled Gratwunderung, loosely translated as “a walk on the edge”. Published in Germany, it has not yet been translated into English.


The Jesuits have never denied the truth of the Rinser-Rahner relationship, but refused to allow Rinser to publish the letters Rahner sent to her, claiming that Rahner’s letters are the property of the Jesuits, not Rinser.

 The subject of Rahner’s bizarre romance received little press in the English- speaking world. England’s Tablet published a brief 1995 report about Rinser’s book. The National Catholic Reporter ran a story about it in late 1997, which was not the result of NCR’s own investigative reporting, but spotlighted the work of Pamela Kirk, Associate Professor at Saint John’s University in Jamaica, New York, who is described as a Rahner specialist.

Luise Rinser’s writings fascinated Kirk, who published two academic papers2 on the German author: “Luise Rinser’s Celebration and Suffering” in Theology and the New Histories;3 and “Reflections on Luise Rinser’s Gratwunderung” in Philosophy and Theology: Marquette University Journal.4

 Kirk writes, “Rinser (b. 1911) was first brought to my attention in 1995 because of the publications of her letters to Karl Rahner, which revealed Rahner’s passionate attachment to her.”5

None of this received any mention at a recent conference at Rome’s Lateran University that celebrated Rahner’s Centenary. The Congress was attended by Vatican dignitaries who praised Rahner’s vagaries as “orthodoxy”.


“My Fish, Truly Beloved”


Luise Rinser, who died two years ago, met Rahner in 1962 when she was a widow and two-time divorcee. She initially wrote to Rahner to consult him on a theological matter for an essay she was working on. Rinser visited Rahner at Innsbruck early in 1962, and afterward “their theological exchange became suddenly more personal”.6

At this time, when Rahner was being praised by the liberal Cardinal Frings as the “greatest theologian of the 20th Century,”7 and as he was becoming the prime progressive theologian of Vatican II, he began the heavy correspondence with Rinser, sometimes writing to her 3 to 4 times a day.8 In all, Rahner would write her more than 2200 letters, 758 of them written from 1962 to 1965, the years of the Second Vatican Council, while he was steering the Church into its brave new future.

According to Rinser, theirs was a non-physical romance. Rahner said that he wanted to be “faithful” to his vow of celibacy, but this did not prevent his kneeling before her in a protestation of love. Rinser speaks of the incident in a letter to him dated August 12, 1962. “My fish, truly beloved,” she writes, “I cannot express how shaken I was as you knelt before me. You were kneeling before the Love that you are experiencing and before which I also kneel in amazement, in reverence, with trembling and with an exultation that I hardly dare to allow myself to feel. We are both touched in the innermost part of our being by something that is much stronger than we anticipated.”9

Rinser and the Jesuit priest employed pet names for each other. Rahner called her Wushcel, the German rendering for the Woozel character in A.A. Milne’s Winnie the Pooh (a nickname first given to Rinser by her two sons). She called him “my beloved Fish,” a reminder of the ancient Christian symbol, and a nod to his Zodiac sign of Pisces.

Curiouser and Curiouser

The story becomes more bizarre when we learn that Rinser and Rahner were two parts of a love triangle that also involved an unnamed Benedictine Abbot referred to as “M.A.”. All three were at Vatican II. Rahner was the liberal theologian directing the Council’s course; Abbot “M.A.” was a voting member at the Council and an expert on Eastern Orthodoxy; Rinser covered the Council as a correspondent for the German newspaper, Die Welt am Sonntag.

Rinser’s letters reveal Rahner as impatient and jealous that Rinser favored the Abbot over him. In a 1964 letter, alluding to a situation that seems too pathetic to be real, Rinser addresses Rahner’s jealousy: “I have M.A. and you. You shouldn’t say, write or think that you have to be afraid of the one person ... You are part of the very fabric of my life.”10

NCRs Pamela Schaeffer wrote, “As the relationship progressed, Rahner was petulant, reproachful, wanting greater loyalty from Rinser, who warned him that another man, a Benedictine abbot and her spiritual director, took priority over Rahner in her affections. All three parties to this apparently celibate love triangle — Rinser, Rahner and ‘M.A.’, as she refers to the abbot — connected at Rinser’s second home near Rome during the Second Vatican Council.”11

Rinser’s letters go on to indicate that Rahner was miffed because “M.A.” had been the one to bless her house near Rome and had celebrated Mass in her chapel. Rahner also celebrated Mass at her home, but his jealousy burned nonetheless because Rinser attended the abbot’s daily Mass during the Council years. In order to make his presence more manifest in her% 0D life, Rahner would show up at her house unexpectedly, sometimes very early in the morning. The word obsession springs to mind: not exactly a model of what Saint Ignatius intended a Jesuit to be. Rinser says in her autobiography that Rahner increasingly wrote of his despairing love.12

Pamela Kirk, who does not necessarily reprove Rahner for his illicit affections, writes “Compared to Rahner’s very frequent letters to her, Rinser’s average of two or three letters a week are the cause of one of his most frequent reproaches: she doesn’t answer his letters. She has to keep reassuring him. She does pay attention to his letters. She tries to set aside time to answer them, but sometimes she is involved in building a house, she has guests coming, she has to cook, go grocery shopping, do a lot of things he doesn’t have to do, in addition to her writing in order to make a living. Rahner’s repeated accusations of her neglect of him, her betrayal of the early phase of their friendship are nearly overwhelming. He rebukes her for not taking him seriously enough as a thinker. She doesn’t read what he sends her. She doesn’t really care for him. She ought to care for him. These reproaches force Rinser repeatedly to renew her commitment to the abbot, a man who refuses to acknowledge that he once said he loved her ...”13

Despite Rahner’s reproaches, Rinser tells him that the Abbot still has the first place in her heart, even though “M.A.” appears cool and distant. She tells the love-sick Jesuit that after the Abbot and her two sons, Rahner is the main man of her life. Rahner is not satisfied, as he wants Rinser’s exclusive affection.14

These petty jealousies are what swirled in the mind of Karl Rahner at the same time that he set the course for the Second Vatican Council.

A “Divine Experiment”?

Rahner wrote Rinser 2,203 letters that were both theological and personal. According to Kirk, he wrote her 110 letters in 1962, 123 in 1963, 276 in 1964, 249 in 1965, 222 in 1966, along with sending her the diary of his U.S. trip. Rahner wrote her 252 letters in 1967, and more than a hundred letters per year from 1968 to 1970. The correspondence started to slacken in 1971 when he sent her 75 letters and 50 in 1972 (beginning in the 70s, they communicated more frequently by telephone). From then until Rahner’s death in 1984, he sent her about 3 to 15 per year.15

Rinser writes of her relationship with Rahner, “We were both clearly aware of the implications of a relationship which became gradually closer, a spiritual pilgrimage along a rocky mountain edge” — the Gratwunderung, as she called her book — “We did not see it as a lurid tasting of forbidden fruit but as a divine experiment, being wholly man and wholly woman, flesh and blood, and yet intent to live in a spiritual way.”16

Few Catholics would call a Catholic priest’s open protestations of love to a woman a “divine experiment”. Imagine a wife who learns her husband writes love-letters to another woman, calls her by a pet-name, and kneels before this woman in a pageantry of affection. The wife further learns of her husband’s jealousy that the woman prefers another married man to him. She learns that her husband shows up at the woman’s house in the early morning hours. Would the wife simply wink at her husband’s oddities as a “divine experiment”? Far from it. She would recognize it for what it is: an infidelity that reeks of the underworld, whether the “experiment” is physical or not.

Yet a priest’s shower of affection for a woman is worse than a husband making cooing noises to anyone but his wife, since the priest is consecrated to God Whom he is commanded to love and serve “with all his heart, all his mind, all his soul, all his strength.” In the masterful work The Priest, The Man Of God, His Dignity and Duties, Saint Joseph Cafasso does not mince words about the danger — and scandal — of a priest becoming familiar with a woman.

“I shall not stop to quote,” writes the Saint, “the many passages from Scripture and from the Doctors of the Church telling priests to be on their guard against visiting women and remaining in their company. They all cry out, threaten and grieve over the inevitable ruin of the priest who is not on his guard. It is useless for him to put forth pretexts of relationship, suitability, urbanity, good motives, honest intentions, blameless life, irreprehensible conduct, not even the shadow of danger. No one will listen to such excuses, and people will just repeat: woe to the priest who trusts himself to them, who does not seek safety in flight; he is lost.”17

“God” says another writer, “has always demanded a higher degree of chastity and continence of His priests than of other persons not having been selected for His special service.”18 Saint Joseph Cafasso thunders against the type of transgressions that “the greatest theologian of the 20th Century” exhibited. It should be noted that the Saint’s condemnations encompass the “non-physical” hankerings indulged in by Rahner:

Yet Karl Rahner broke so many of the rules of Catholic theology, caused so much damage in the Catholic world, that it is no surprise if his personal life was also a walk on the wild side.

“My Way” Religion

Rahner and Rinser certainly had one point in common: they were both “religious” individuals who approached God on their own terms.

Born in 1911 in Germany, Rinser grew up a Bavarian Catholic. In the 1930s, she married Conductor Horst- Günther Schnell. The couple were anti-Nazi, which is admirable. Rinser had two sons by Schnell, but Schnell was drafted in the autumn of 1942 and was dead by Christmas the same year.20 Rinser herself then ran into trouble when she wrote The Glass Ring, a novel with an implicit anti-war tone. She was arrested in 1944.

While in prison she drafted her prison diaries, writing on any scraps she could find, including bathroom tissue and edges of newspaper. Sentenced to execution for high treason (undermining morale in the war effort), she was rescued by the Allies in 1945. Her prison diaries were published a year later.

In 1943, before her arrest, she married the author Klaus, who was a homosexual and a Communist. She did this to save him from the Nazis, who would have executed him because he was both red and lavender, a crime on both counts in the Third Reich. The marriage would “mitigate the suspicion of his homosexuality and allow him to be registered in Bavaria where he was less known.”21 These “nuptials” apparently ended in divorce, as she subsequently married composer Karl Orff in 1954. Five years later, this too ended in divorce.

By 1962, she was involved with Father Rahner and Abbot “M.A.,” and corresponded with Rahner until his death on March 30, 1984 (Kirk said the couple spoke by phone just hours before Rahner’s death).22As of 1994, Rinser was keeping up some sort of relationship with Abbot “M.A”.23 She died on March 17, 2002.

Rinser was a recognized author in Germany, publishing more than 30 novels, four memoirs and an autobiography. Some of her titles made the best-selling list in her native country and many of her works were translated into various languages. She was also well known for her leftist leanings, both politically and religiously.

 Luise Rinswer with North Korean dictator Kim Il Sung

The German-American Institute eulogized her as “a feminist, an environmentalist, and a protestor against atomic weapons”. Though she claimed to be “deeply rooted in Catholicism in her heart,” she indicated many times that she “lived a blend of Christianty and Eastern religions, seeking a universal harmony”. An admirer of Teilhard de Chardin, “she crafted a universal world view of her own in her blending of Buddhism and Christianity.”24

The London Times wrote of Rinser at her death, “She remained a practicing Roman Catholic to the end of her days, but campaigned for abortion and against celibacy, as well as against the power of the priesthood. In spite of that, she counted among her personal friends Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger ... She stood for the German Presidency in 1984 at the age of 73, as the Green Party’s candidate ... and campaigned in the West for the North Korean dictator Kim Il Sung.”25


Rahner the Radical


Karl Rahner himself showed a similar maverick strain. Remaining “deeply rooted” in his own version of Catholicism, he undermined perennial Catholic truth at every turn. Unlike the great Father Denis Fahey, whose motto was “the world must conform to Our Lord, not He to it,” Rahner’s motto was effectively, “Our Lord must conform to the world, not it to Him.”

 Two progressivist shirt-and-time priests at Vatican II. Father Joseph Ratzinger (R) was a co-worker with Father Karl Rahner (L) at the Council

Rahner’s influence was enormous. He satisfied a modern world, and modern churchmen, whose ears were itching for doctrinal compromises under the pretext of “enlightenment”.26

Rahner was one of the leaders of the New Theology, which held that religion must change with the times. Father David Greenstock in 1950 warned against this madness, and exposed the movement’s subversive methods. “The main contention of the partisans of this new movement,” wrote Greenstock, “is that theology, to remain alive, must move with the times. At the same time, they are very careful to repeat all the fundamental propositions of traditional theology, almost as if there was no intention of any attack against it. This is very true of such writers as Fathers de Lubac, Daniélou, Rahner, ... All of whom are undoubtedly at the very center of this movement.”27

Rahner, along with other progressivist theologians such as Fathers Congar, de Lubac, and Chenu were rightly deemed “suspect of heresy” under Pius XII’s Holy Office, and were forbidden to write on various topics. Pope John XXIII, “whom the progressives believed to favor their cause,”28 invited these theological hippies to become expert advisors at Vatican II, thus “rehabilitating” them, even though they never corrected their heterodox teachings.29 These were the progressivists who gained control of Vatican II, where Rahner’s influence was supreme. Father Ralph Wiltgen in The Rhine Flows into the Tiber illustrates Rahner’s impact:

Bishop Aloysius J. Wycislo (a rhapsodic advocate of the Vatican II revolution) spoke of theologians such as Rahner who had been “under a cloud” for years. These men “surfaced as periti (theological experts advising the bishops at the Council), and their post-Vatican II books and commentaries became popular reading.”31 Wycislo further praises Rahner as one of the “leading lights” of post-Vatican II theology.32

Johann Baptist Metz, Rahner’s student and friend, wrote that by the time Rahner died, “he had become probably the most influential and important Catholic thinker of his day.”33 A priest from the southwestern U.S. said that of his 1970s seminary training, “Everything was Rahner; Rahner was in; Aquinas was out.”34 Metz said elsewhere, “Karl Rahner has renewed the face of our theology. Nothing is quite as it was before.”35

“Rahner Fever” had struck indeed. The Church worldwide remains gripped in the epidemic.

Rahner: The One-Man Disaster Area

Karl Rahner “originated a new religious category, ‘Anonymous Christianity,’ saying it embraced Buddhists, various other non- Christians and even atheists who are conscientious, upright and caring.”36 “Some kind of faith in God is basically there, whether they know it or not,” said Rahner. “They are a part of a ”Christianity that does not call itself Christianity ... ‘pagans’ who have received grace, but who are not aware of it.”37

This heterodox concept, which defies the thrice defined infallible dogma that “outside the Catholic Church there is no salvation”38 is what made Vatican II’s pan-religious ecumenism possible. The “Spirit of Assisi” rests upon it.39 The modernist Father Jacques Dupuis relies heavily on Rahner to advance the false notion that all members of all religions are equal members in the “Reign of God”.40 The Dictionary of Modern Western Theology acknowledges, “The council’s openness to other religious traditions can be linked to Rahner’s notions of the renovation of the church, God’s universal salvific revelation and his desire to support and encourage the ecumenical movement.”41

Indeed, Rahner was a “single theologian” who had his “views accepted by the whole Council” with catastrophic results. The gale force from Vatican II that uprooted dogma, dislodged morals, blew apart revered Catholic customs, destroyed Catholic landscapes, swept away Catholic landmarks, and toppled the entire Catholic edifice, could rightly be called “Hurricane Karl”.

Father Karl Rahner also

This last point was driven home in Rahner’s last book Unity of the Churches: an Actual Possibility, co- authored with fellow theologian Heinrich Fries. The book proposes that Catholics and Protestants agree on enough fundamental concepts to unite into one “Church,” provided that all participating bodies accept the Creeds up until the 4th Century.

In other words, Protestants who reject the solemn teaching of the Council of Trent, Papal Infallibility, and any Catholic dogma promulgated since the 4th Century, should unite with Catholics in this super- church in which their ministers will share pulpits. The book also lays the ground work for inter-communion. The Pope would still be the head of this new construct but only in the capacity as a “sign of unity” rather than as a ruler with autonomous, God-given authority. The pope would only pronounce dogmas ex cathedra that had achieved the consensus of the “churches within the Church”43.

“Catholic Down to His Toes”?

Yet none of this stopped Vatican dignitaries from celebrating the Centenary of Karl Rahner on March 4-5, 2004 in Rome, and from pronouncing the Jesuit’s unwholesome writings as safe for consumption. 

The high profile conference held at the Lateran University boasted participants including Cardinal Crescenzio Sepe, prefect of the Vatican’s Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples; Archbishop Angelo Amato, secretary of the Vatican’s Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (under Cardinal Ratzinger); Bishop Rino Fisichella, rector of the Lateran; Jesuit Fr. John Michael McDermott of the Josephinum in Ohio; and Jesuit Fr. Luis Ladaria of the Gregorian University.

The conference concluded that Karl Rahner was an orthodox Catholic. The National Catholic Reporter’s John Allen, a weekly voice of progressivism, gloated, “for all those who fear the influence of right-wing extremists on Catholic officialdom, it might be some comfort that the VIP speakers at the Lateran came to praise Rahner rather than to bury him.”44

Archbishop Amato from the Vatican’s Sacred Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith said, “Notwithstanding some ambiguous formulae, Rahner was an orthodox Catholic theologian.” Father McDermott said the controversial Jesuit has been “misinterpreted,” but that Rahner was “Catholic down to his toes”.45

Yet the first person who would contest the claim that Rahner was “Catholic down to his toes” would be the late Cardinal Joseph Siri of Genoa. In his 1981 book Gethsemane: Reflections on the Contemporary Theological Movement, the Cardinal unmasked as unorthodox three “sacred cows” of the post-Conciliar period: Henri de Lubac, Jacques Maritain and Karl Rahner. The bulk of the Cardinal’s criticism, in fact, landed on Rahner.

For example, Cardinal Siri points out that Rahner effectively claimed that the heretical Protestant notion of “The Bible Alone” is just as valid a tradition as the true Catholic teaching that the two sources of Revelation are both Sacred Scripture and Sacred Tradition. Rahner says:

Quoting this and similar statements, Cardinal Siri concludes that Rahner effectively undermines the Catholic teaching on Sacred Tradition. Cardinal Siri laments that:

Cardinal Siri goes on at length to explain that Karl Rahner confuses the notion of the natural and supernatural orders, attempts to “demythologize” (i.e. undermines) Catholic truth, introduces the heterodox notion of the “anonymous Christian,” and effectively denies original sin.

This denial of original sin surfaces in various ways, without Rahner stating it explicitly. In this connection, Cardinal Siri spotlights Rahner’s treatment of Our Lady’s Immaculate Conception.

Doctrinal Subversion

Cardinal Siri explains that in 1953, Rahner cited the Definition of Pius IX, and seemed to accept its infallibility.49 Here, Rahner recognized that Our Lady was preserved from original sin of which every man carries the stain in coming into the world. Rahner’s acceptance of this dogma, says Siri, “is enveloped in a multitude of considerations concerning the common destiny of man; and this with uncertain and sometimes very contradictory nuances, which attenuates the character of doctrinal certainty. But in any case he seems to admit in these texts, the doctrine of original sin and the preservation of the Blessed Virgin from the stain of original sin.” By 1970, however, in his Theological Meditations on Mary, Rahner writes:

However, the definition of the dogma in Ineffabilis Deus says clearly and repeatedly that the Most Holy Virgin was preserved from all stain of original sin. The text reads:

Cardinal Siri goes on to show the fallacy of Rahner’s teaching: “... if man at his birth” says the Cardinal, “ is not accompanied by a stain, of what stain does the Bull of Pius IX speak? How can one claim, as Rahner does, that there was not any stain to avoid and that Mary did not need a privilege?”52

In short, this is nothing more than Rahner’s implicit denial of original sin. It also undermines the infallibility of Papal pronouncements, since Rahner’s words clearly contradict Pius IXs solemn definition.

Catholic down to his toes?

How many thousands of Catholic college students, who at a crucial juncture of their lives, have had their faith destroyed or dismantled by reading Rahner in theology courses? Rahner does not confirm the faith of his brethren, rather, through the introduction of doubt and confusion, he pulls the Catholic rug from under his reader.53

Rahner also undermined the doctrine of the Perpetual Virginity of the Blessed Virgin Mary.

Herbert Vorgimler, a disciple of Rahner, relates, “In 1960 Rahner had written an article in which he had questioned the Catholic doctrine of the virginitas in partu, the doctrine that Mary had remained a virgin perpetually after the birth of Jesus.” This article, says Vorgimler, caused serious disturbance in Roman circles.

According to Vorgimler, Rahner “attempted to interpret this doctrine ... in his ‘typical’ manner. He sought the ‘nucleus’ of the statement ... Now the invention of all the ancient writers who had said anything about the virginity of Mary was certainly not to express the biological or anatomical aspects ... He came up with a religious and theological content; a person is virgin who is wholly oriented on the fulfillment of the will of God, who is ‘at God’s disposal.’ Of course in this deeper sense, married people, too, can be virgin...”.54

Here Rahner, as in his other writings, plays with fire. The Lateran Council of 649 taught clearly, “If anyone refuses to confess, in accordance with the holy Fathers, that Mary was properly speaking and of a truth the Holy Mother of God and always an Immaculate Virgin ... That She conceived of the Holy Ghost without seed and gave birth without corruption, Her virginity remaining inviolate also after parturition, let him be anathema.”55

Incidentally, Rahner’s redefining of “virginity” in order to undermine Catholic dogma reminds one of Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger’s “redefinition” of the Immaculate Heart in his document that accompanied the “release” of the Third Secret. Here Ratzinger defines “immaculate heart” (lower case “i,” lower case “h” in Ratzinger’s document) as any heart that says “yes” to God.56 This downsizing of Marian devotion was not lost on the Los Angeles Times, who observed that Ratzinger “gently debunked the Fatima cult”.57 It seems that Ratzinger learned well from Karl Rahner, as the two of them worked closely at Vatican II. The technique is simple: do not deny a doctrine openly. Rather, keep the existing terminology, but redefine it. No wonder Rahner’s “orthodoxy” is now celebrated in post-Conciliar Rome.

Rahner’s undermining of Marian doctrine demonstrates that he loved the wrong lady. Rather than truly devote himself to Our Lady and Holy Mother Church, he divided his heart between his own rendering of Catholicism, and Luise Rinser, a woman for whom he pined in forbidden love and petty jealousy.

A Walk on the Edge

The publication of Rinser’s book received some initial publicity in Germany where it received both scorn and praise. One writer criticized her “perhaps unconscious intellectual-spiritual vanity”. Another called Rinser a “priest-hunting lioness”. On the other side, Paul Konrad Kunz in Frankfurter Ellgmien Zeitung praised the book as “the most moving human happening in German Catholicism in the second half of the 20th Century.” Another reviewer honored it as a “frank, but never exhibitionist testimony of a relationship of which neither of these people should be ashamed ...”58

Right-thinking Catholics would disagree with this last statement, for there is nothing honorable about a Catholic priest — worse, a Jesuit lauded as the “greatest theologian of the 20th Century” — hovering like a love-dove around a two-time divorcee, demanding her affections, and bombarding her with over 2,000 letters. The fact that the Jesuits refuse to allow Rahner’s letters to Rinser to be published only deepens the impression that there is something squalid to suspect.

It is no surprise that Rahner’s obsession with Rinser receives little worldwide press, especially in the English-speaking world.59 Nor is it a mystery why Rahner’s Order is adamant that his love letters to Rinser never see the light of day in publication. The last thing today’s Jesuits want is to have their prize revolutionary exposed for what he really was: a weirdo who nursed an adolescent fixation on a pro-abortion feminist; a freak who should neither be admired nor imitated.

Yet in the “New Springtime” of Vatican II, where Catholics faithful to Tradition are treated as spiritual lepers, Karl Rahner remains one of the star-studded “heroes” whom our post- Conciliar shepherds fawn over, celebrate and set loose upon the flock.




1. “Karl Rahner’s Secret 22-Year Romance,” Pamela Schaeffer, National Catholic Report, December 19, 1997.

2. These papers were not yet published when NCR wrote its story, nor were their titles given.

3. Theology and New Histories, The Annual Publication of the College Theological Society, Volume 44, Gary Macy, Editor, (Maryknoll, New York, Orbis Books, 1998).

4. Philosophy and Theology: Marquette University Journal, 1996, Vol. 10.

5. “Luise Rinser’s Celebration and Suffering,” Kirk, Theology and New Histories, p. 188.

6. “A Walk on the Edge,” Roland Hill, The Tablet, September 9, 1995.

7. The Rhine Flows Into the Tiber, Ralph Wiltgen, (Rockford: Tan, 1985), p. 80.

8. “Karl Rahner’s Secret 22-Year Romance,” National Catholic Reporter.

9. Ibid.

10. Ibid.

11. Ibid.

12. Ibid.

13. “Reflections on Luise Rinser’s Gratwunderung, Kirk, p. 298.

14. Ibid.

15. National Catholic Reporter, December 19, 1997.

16. The Tablet

17. The Priest, The Man of God, His Dignity and Duty, Saint Joseph Cafasso [1811-1860] (Rockford: Tan, 1979), p. 132. The entire section of this book “The Company of Women” is well worth reading. St. Joseph Cafasso goes on to say, “Women and priests have to be as distant from each other as two opposite poles, if not in actual distance apart, at least in heart and will. Let women come to the church, to the confessional, if they have need of a priest; let them meet outside these places, if it is necessary; but let it be as rarely as possible and with proper precaution; for the rest, let them keep their own places and look after their own business; and when a necessity to speak occurs let the priest remember: Sermo brevis cum mulieribus et rigidus est habendus, and as Saint Bonaventure says: “let thy conversation be dignified and serious”. St. Joseph Cafasso goes on to say, “The houses of women are not made for priests. ‘Let him go and say his Breviary, this is not the place for him,’ was said by a lady about a priest who wanted to prolong his visit.” pp. 132-3.

18. Guidance of Religious, Father Ignaz Watterott, OMI, (St. Louise, Herder, 1950), p. 332.

19. The Priest, The Man of God, His Dignity and Duties, Cafasso, pp. 133-4.

20. In her article in Theology and New Histories, Kirk writes that Schnell was dead by Christmas, 1942 (p. 142). In her piece published in Philosophy and Theology, Kirk places Schnell’s death in 1943. (p. 295).

21. “Revealing Resistance: Luise Rinsers Celebration of Life and Suffering,” Pamela Kirk, Theology and New Histories, p. 193. This essay spotlights Luise Rinser’s resistance to Nazism.

22. “Reflections on Luise Rinser’s Gratwunderung,” Kirk, Philosophy and Theology: Marquette University Journal, p. 293.

23. National Catholic Reporter, Dec. 19, 1997.

24. “One of the Great Story-tellers: Luise Rinser,” Paul A. Schons, Published by the German-American Institute, November, 2002.

25. “Luise Rinser,” The London Times, April 17, 2002.

26. And when doctrine collapses, morals fall with it, as doctrine is the foundation on which moral teaching is based.

27. “Thomism and the New Theology,” Father David Greenstock, The Thomist (October, 1950). The entire article is well worth reading if one wishes to grasp the erroneous nature of the New Theology.

28. Vicomte Leon de Poncis, Freemasonry and the Vatican (Palmdale, CA: Christian Book Club, 1968), p. 14.

29. This story is laid out in “A Model of Papal Authority, Saint Pius X,” John Vennari (Catholic Family News, August & September, 2003). Section II spotlights the fact that Pope Saint Pius X’s effective anti-modernist measured were weakened by John XXIII and subsequently discarded by Paul VI. This collapse in discipline led to the breakdown of doctrinal and moral teaching in the Church, since purveyors of unsound doctrine were not only free to teach, but even encouraged. (The articles are now published in a single booklet form for $6.00 post-paid from Oltyn Library Services, 2316 Delaware Ave., PMB 325, Buffalo, NY 14216).

30. The Rhine Flows Into the Tiber, Father Ralph Wiltgen, (Rockford: Tan Books, 985), p. 80.

31. Most Reverend Aloysius S.J. Wycislo, Vatican II Revisited, Reflections By One Who Was There, Alba House, Staten Island, New York, 1987, p. x.

32. Ibid. See pp. 28-34.

33. Quoted from A Critical Examination of The Theology of Karl Rahner, S.J., Robert McCarthy, (Buchanan Dam: Carthay Ventures, 2001) pp. 1-2.

34. Ibid., p. 2.

35. Ibid., p. 3.

36. “God’s Twentieth Century Giants,” George Cornell, Associated Press, December 22, 1988.

37. Quoted from Ibid.

38. The most forceful and explicit definition of “outside the Catholic Church there is no salvation” was pronounced de fide from the Council of Florence: “The Most Holy Roman Church firmly believes, professes and preaches that none of those existing outside the Catholic Church, not only pagans, but also Jews, heretics, and schismatics can ever be partakers of eternal life, but that they are to go into the eternal fire ‘which was prepared for the devil and his angels,’ (Mt. 25:41) unless before death they are joined with Her; and that so important is the unity of this Ecclesiastical Body, that only those remaining within this unity can profit from the sacraments of the Church unto salvation, and that they alone can receive an eternal recompense for their fasts, almsdeeds, and other works of Christian piety and duties of a Christian soldier. No one, let his almsgiving be as great as it may, no one, even if he pour out his blood for the Name of Christ, can be saved unless they abide within the bosom and unity of the Catholic Church.” (Pope Eugene IV, Council of Florence, Feb. 4, 1442).

39. Professor Howard Kasimow writes, “To my knowledge, the Pope has never used the term ‘anonymous Christian’. Yet John Paul’s position on this issue seems to be similar to that of Karl Rahner,” Pope John Paul II and Interreligious Dialogue, (Maryknoll: Orbis, March 1999), p. 7.

40. The Jesuit Father Jacques Dupuis takes ecumenism to the next logical step claiming that members of all religions are part of the Reign of God. This was the topic of the speech he gave at Fatima in October, 2003. Dupuis said that he based his new theology on that of Karl Rahner. Dupuis also openly denounced the Council of Florence as a “horrible text”. I attended this Congress at Fatima and wrote subsequent reports about it. See “Fatima to Become an Interfaith Shrine? An Account from One Who Was There by J. Vennari, Catholic Family News, Dec., 2003. Also available on the web at This new pan-religious concept, based on Rahner’s theology, is also covered in Dupuis’ books, Toward a Christian Theology of Religious Pluralism, 1997, and Christianity and the Religions: From Confrontation to Dialogue, 2003.

41. Dictionary of Modern Western Theology (from the web through

42. These first two points, and other flaws in Rahner’s theology, are dealt with succinctly and in an easy-to-understand manner for the layman in Robert McCarthy’s noteworthy book, A Critical Examination of The Theology of Karl Rahner, S.J. This book also summarizes Rahner’s impact on the post-Conciliar Church, manifest in the Protestantized New Mass as well as the upsurge of “lay ministries” carrying out priestly duties. Rahner’s confusion of natural and supernatural, and the denial of original sin are too complex to cover here. These points are dealt with at greater length and on a more complete theological level in Cardinal Siri’s superb book, Gethsemane, discussed later.

43. See Unity of the Churches, An Actual Possibility, Heinrich Fries and Karl Rahner, (Ramsey: Paulist Press, 1983). The book is a commentary on eight theses for “Church Unity”. According to U.S. News and World Report, an editorial in a late February 1985 edition of the Vatican’s L’Osservatore Romano attacked the Fries-Rahner book for its “grave errors”. See “Church Unity Scores Some Quiet Gains,” U.S. News and World Report, Joseph Carey, April 8, 1985.

44. The Word from Rome,” John Allen, National Catholic Reporter, March 12, 2004.

45. Ibid.

46. Sacra Scrittura e Tradizione, in Nuovi Saggi I, Ed. Paoline, Rome 1968, p. 192). (emphasis added) Quoted from Cardinal Siri’s Gethsemane p. 33.

47. Karl Rahner says, “For theology, Scripture is practically the only material source of the faith, to which it must refer as to the source clearly original, not derived and ‘orma non mormata’. With that, we are not excluding the tradition of theology.” (Rahner, Sacra Scriptura e Tradizione, in Nuovi Saggi I, p. 168). (Emphasis added.) Quoted from Gethsemane, Cardinal Joseph Siri, (Chicago: Franciscan Herald Press, 1981) p. 33.

48. Gethsemane, Cardinal Joseph Siri, Ibid.

49. K. Rahner, L’Immacolata Concezione, and Il dogma dell’immacolata e la nostra pieta, in Saggi d Cristologia e di Mariologia, ed. Paoline, 2nd ed., Roma 1967, p. 413 and ff. Quoted from Gethesmane, p. 87.

50. K. Rahner, Maria Mediazioni, Herder-Morcelliana, Brescia, 1970, 3rd ed. (1st edition, 1968), p. 50. Quoted from Gethsemane, p. 88.

51. Denzinger, 1641. Emphaisis added

52. Gethsemane, p. 89.

53. I personally know two people who entered college full of good will, and whose Catholic faith suffered as a result of being forced to study Rahner (and Teilhard) at a Jesuit University. One left the Church altogether, and returned to the traditional (non- Rahnerized) Catholic Faith many years later. The other rescued her faith by trashing her Rahner books and reading the lives of the Saints, who were walking catechisms of Catholic truth.

54. Herbert Vogrimler, preface to Understanding Karl Rahner, (New York: Crossroads, 1986), p. 91. Quoted from A Critical Examination of The Theology of Karl Rahner, McCarthy, pp. 39-40.

55. Cited from Mariology, (Volume IV of Dogmatic Theology, a 12 Volume set) by Pohle-Preuss, (St. Louis: Herder, 1953), p. 97.

56. Ratzinger said in the June 26, 2000 document “The Message of Fatima” that accompanied the release of the Vision of the Third Secret: “To reach this goal, [salvation] the way indicated — surprisingly for people from the Anglo- Saxon and German cultural world — is devotion to the Immaculate Heart of Mary. A brief comment may suffice to explain this. In biblical language, the ‘heart’ indicates the center of human life, the point where reason, will, temperament and sensitivity converge, where the person, finds his unity and his interior orientation. According to Matthew 5:8 the ‘immaculate heart’ is a heart which, with God’s grace, has come to perfect interior unity and therefore ‘sees God’. To be ‘devoted’ to the Immaculate Heart of Mary means therefore to embrace this attitude of heart, which makes the fiat — “your will be done” — the defining center of one’s whole life.” [p. 24].

57. Referring to Ratzinger, the paper said, “The Vatican’s top theologian gently debunked the Fatima cult”. “Catholic Church Unveils ‘Third Secret of Fatima’,” Los Angeles Times, June 27, 2000.

58. All quotations and references of German reviews are from The Tablet, September 8, 1995.

59. The National Catholic Reporter said there was concern that Rahner’s letters “would provide grist for Rahner’s conservative “theological adversaries”. England’s Tablet was more explicit, quoting one reviewer who said, “there are many, in Rome and elsewhere, for whom Rahner has always been too liberal and humane ... Now at least he provides them with ammunition which in the Church always has the desired explosive effect: a celibate priest betraying his oath, if not in bed, then in the depth of his soul, and this is held to be much worse than being incapable of love or betraying a fellow man”.

 Reprinted from the May 2004 edition of
Catholic Family News</span

TOPICS: Apologetics; Catholic
KEYWORDS: catholic; catholiclist; rahner
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To: Land of the Irish
A picture of the Pope. Keep posting pictures of the Pope.

Pictures of the Pope are a good thing.

51 posted on 04/28/2004 9:52:02 PM PDT by sinkspur (Adopt a dog or a cat from an animal shelter! It will save one life, and may save two.)
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Even if it were a picture of the pope, I don't see anything wrong it. In a way, I wish it were a photo of the pope. Makes him look human. He could be on a little outing with a niece or something. In our times, we tend to read scandal into everything. It wasn't always that way. There were scandals, but there was innocence as well.
52 posted on 04/28/2004 9:56:52 PM PDT by Aliska
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To: sinkspur
Pictures of the Pope are a good thing.

To paraphrase the little old Wendy's lady, Where's the beef ring?

53 posted on 04/28/2004 9:58:07 PM PDT by Land of the Irish
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To: Land of the Irish
I see it. Can't you?
54 posted on 04/28/2004 10:00:40 PM PDT by sinkspur (Adopt a dog or a cat from an animal shelter! It will save one life, and may save two.)
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To: Land of the Irish
Maybe it isn't all true. Who knows?

If it is true, he sounds seriously immature, which one might expect of a man who didn't interact with women other than in very formal ways and controlled circumstances. She sounds like she is on some kind of ego/power trip who plays the men in her life against one another for her own amusement.

I've no doubt that platonic relationships have existed throughout church history. St. Teresa of Avila and St. John of the Cross are a good example. Surely you wouldn't pick on them. Their correspondence stayed more on a spiritual plane but that wouldn't necessarily conceal worldly feelings and emotions fueling it.

55 posted on 04/28/2004 10:02:58 PM PDT by Aliska
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To: Land of the Irish
I don't see anything wrong with those pictures. What should I be seeing? A silly old man or worse? I see a man whose religion hasn't killed the human warmth in his soul. Maybe privately he is as cold as a fish. How can any of us really know?
56 posted on 04/28/2004 10:06:37 PM PDT by Aliska
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To: Land of the Irish
A Critical Examination of the Theology of Karl Rahner, S.J.
by Robert C. McCarthy

An excellent read.

57 posted on 04/29/2004 12:19:59 AM PDT by Dajjal
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To: Land of the Irish

and to think I thought this was Carl Rahner's girlfriend.

58 posted on 04/29/2004 12:27:23 AM PDT by Cvengr (;^) oops, that's Rob Rahner, we say it down south more affectionately, Meathead!)
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To: Palladin
So true!!!!!!!
59 posted on 04/29/2004 6:16:27 AM PDT by johnb2004
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To: RobbyS
Tertullian succumbed to the apparent purity of life of the Montanists.
For Tertullian, rigorism seems to have been more a crutch for a wounded ego than a true conviction. JMO.
60 posted on 04/29/2004 7:07:32 AM PDT by eastsider
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To: Aliska
I've no doubt that platonic relationships have existed throughout church history. St. Teresa of Avila and St. John of the Cross are a good example.
Excellent example. I'd like to add Saints Francis and Clare.
61 posted on 04/29/2004 7:13:30 AM PDT by eastsider
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To: Hermann the Cherusker
I have no idea what Cardinal Siri is getting worked up about.
In all likelihood, neither does Cardinal Siri ...
62 posted on 04/29/2004 7:21:23 AM PDT by eastsider
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To: Hermann the Cherusker
I am similarly struck by the allegation of "Fatima-bashing" leveled against Ratzinger. His 'immaculate heart' discourse was a backgrounder, not a proposal of definition. And it was an enlightening background, too.
63 posted on 04/29/2004 7:54:16 AM PDT by ninenot (Minister of Membership, TomasTorquemadaGentlemen'sClub)
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To: Hermann the Cherusker
Fr. Dormann, the author of the book, is not an SSPX priest. He is a regular Novus Ordo priest.
64 posted on 04/29/2004 8:34:12 AM PDT by Bellarmine
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To: eastsider
Maybe, then maybe not. I hestitate to ascribe motive to people so long dead. Even someone who wrote as much as St. Augustine is hard to figure out.
65 posted on 04/29/2004 8:36:25 AM PDT by RobbyS (JMJ)
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To: RobbyS
I must have read more into the word "succumbed" than was intended : )

Have a great St. Catherine's Day!

66 posted on 04/29/2004 8:54:44 AM PDT by eastsider
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To: Aliska
I don't see anything wrong it. In a way, I wish it were a photo of the pope. Makes him look human. He could be on a little outing with a niece or something.

The picture of the pope was never intended to be seen as scandalous. It is published on the cover of an Italian newspaper as a heartwarming look at the human side of the pope. The photo was taken before he was elected pope, but published afterwards.

What strikes me about the photo is how strong he looks. He looks like a dockworker or fisherman or something.

In our times, we tend to read scandal into everything. It wasn't always that way.

This is not historically accurate. People have always suspected scandal with the least provocation. Miss Jane Marple, who is supposed to represent the epitome of the Victorian lady, says, "I always suspect the worse of everyone, and I am rarely proved wrong." The author of the 18th century work "Sentimental Journey through France and Italy" was thrown out of his hotel in Paris for having a woman visit his room. The hotel proprietor required very little evidence to suspect the worse. Such has always been human nature.

67 posted on 04/29/2004 10:24:46 AM PDT by Maximilian
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To: Land of the Irish
"uise Rinser, who died two years ago, met Rahner in 1962 when she was a widow and two-time divorcee..."

Then we read she was born in 1911, which made her 51 years old...heck, even Bridgette Bardot at 51 doesn't look so hot...

(sarcastic pornographic comment removed here by poster) you think?

Poor Rahner. At least he could have chose a nice blond bimbo...
68 posted on 04/29/2004 4:36:03 PM PDT by LadyDoc (liberals only love politically correct poor people)
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To: sinkspur
"A Polish cardinal, in 1975, is not going to go out without his ring, ..."

LOL, in fact, many in the Church went in mufti at that time. Let's not let facts trouble us, shall we?
69 posted on 04/29/2004 5:25:07 PM PDT by narses (If you want ON or OFF my Catholic Ping List email me. +)
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Malachi Martin, as someone told me today, "is indicted on the same "kind" of circumstantial "evidence". He sought release from his vow of chastity, but it was denied him. He sought permission then to otherwise cease acting as a priest and did. Till the end when book sales needed pumping and he decided to mix "fact" with fiction against the Vatican and Pope he praised only a few years before. He was accused of living an immoral life many times with his bizarre close women (plural) friends almost to the day he died. A famous journalist who covered the Second Vatican Council even accused Martin to the jesuits of sleeping with his wife and later wrote a book about it. What does all this say for traditionalism, if rumors about Rahner are supposed to say anything about Vatican II? It was probably platonic, like Francis and Clare, Padre Pio and his spiritual daughters...he often spoke of his "affection" for them and spoke as in the Song of Songs with them.

Also, probe the Institute for Christ the King which John Vennari used to support before the priest there was found tying young men to the bed and having his way with them. And ask why the SSPX is so often sending private detectives out to follow / shadow many priests suspected of immorality (so many stories of this from former priests themselves).

It is pitiful to hear Mr. Vennari wax vicious again as a dirt digger when he has his own dirt in his own crowd he is not revealing. Anything to persecute the Pope". It is soul sickness.

70 posted on 04/29/2004 8:03:52 PM PDT by McClave
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To: McClave
LOL!! Malachi Martin was one of the biggest media phonies to come down the pike.

But, put your helmet on. You're going to get slammed for questioning St. Malachi.

71 posted on 04/29/2004 8:08:15 PM PDT by sinkspur (Adopt a dog or a cat from an animal shelter! It will save one life, and may save two.)
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To: sinkspur
No helmet needed. It's all be said a thousand times. But the stubborn facts remain. There is MUCH more evidence for Martin's lifelong trysts than for Rahner's "girlfriend," at least as John Vennari presents it. See the recent letter from the jesuits confirming that Martin wanted and requested officially release from his vow of chastity, which the Vatican denied him.

Strange behavior for a traditionalist "saint" who didn't like Roman collars, preferring secular clothes and who said verrrrry weird things to Art Bell. Get the transcripts for that if you want to hear weirdness. But you'd better have a stiff drink next to you if you are easily shocked by hypocrisy. But, like all rogues, maybe he took to saying Mass for the stipends in the end after betraying his one time hero JPII.

72 posted on 04/29/2004 8:29:10 PM PDT by McClave
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To: McClave
But, like all rogues, maybe he took to saying Mass for the stipends in the end after betraying his one time hero JPII.

Saying Mass? He wrote "Left Behind"-type books, and took stipends from fringe radio stations in his later years.

And trashed the Pope, at length if not in depth.

73 posted on 04/29/2004 8:32:33 PM PDT by sinkspur (Adopt a dog or a cat from an animal shelter! It will save one life, and may save two.)
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To: sinkspur
I think the moral of all this is that it is not edifying and John Vennari is re-opening a bad can of worms and hiding others.

His real objective is to get at the Pope, obviously. It is Satanic.

He should drop it, pray for the souls of all and work on his own soul. Leave all others, especially the dead, to God.

74 posted on 04/29/2004 8:39:37 PM PDT by McClave
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To: LadyDoc
Yeah, but she managed to snag Carl Orff for a few years. I love the Carmina Burana!
75 posted on 04/29/2004 8:41:24 PM PDT by TradicalRC (Bibo ergo sum.)
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To: McClave
He should drop it, pray for the souls of all and work on his own soul. Leave all others, especially the dead, to God.

You don't pray for the deceased? You must not believe in Purgatory.

76 posted on 04/29/2004 8:55:20 PM PDT by Land of the Irish
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To: McClave
"There is MUCH more evidence for Martin's lifelong trysts than for Rahner's "girlfriend," at least as John Vennari presents it."

77 posted on 04/29/2004 9:08:49 PM PDT by pascendi
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To: Land of the Irish
A certain individual has been posting A LOT of garbage in recent days bashing traditionalists in particular and now Catholics in general.
78 posted on 04/29/2004 11:30:11 PM PDT by Canticle_of_Deborah (The day the Church abandons her universal tongue is the day before she returns to the catacombs-PXII)
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To: eastsider
Many traditionalists claim that Cardinal Siri was elected pope in both the 1958 and 1963 conclaves, but the KGB forced the Cardinals to dump him and elect John XXIII and Paul VI.
79 posted on 04/29/2004 11:41:35 PM PDT by Revenge of Sith
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To: Land of the Irish
Catholic Family News supports the Slaves of the Immaculate Heart of Mary, a traditionalist order founded by excommunicated priest Leonard Feeney that believes that there is no salvation outside the Catholic Church. Because Feeney was excommunicated by Pius XII, his movement is condemned by both the Society of St. Pius X and the sedevacantists.

The SSPX's position on Feeneyism is on this web page.

Here is a sedevacantist attack on Feeney.

80 posted on 04/30/2004 12:31:47 AM PDT by Revenge of Sith
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To: pascendi
Yes, really. Note the Source quote:
I spoke with Fr. Vincent O'Keefe, former vicar general of the Society of Jesus who is now retired. According to Fr. O'Keefe, Malachi Martin was indeed dispensed from his vows of poverty and obedience but not the vow of chastity. At the time Martin requested such dispensation, the Vatican was not dispensing priests who so requested such dispensation from the vow of chastity or celibacy. Fr. O'Keefe pointed out that Martin never married. His obituary in the New York Times, however, points out that Martin lived with a female companion. Fr. Widner

Tom Widner SJ
Secretary for Communications
U.S. Jesuit Conference
1616 P St. N.W., Suite 300
Washington, D.C. 20036-1420
Fax: 202-328-9212

Do saints request release from the vow of chastity? That Martin did speaks volumes.

81 posted on 04/30/2004 5:20:46 AM PDT by McClave
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To: pascendi
Malachi Martin ran away from his priesthood for his---let us say---"vital" years. This is a Saint, an icon of traditionalism?

But yes, the secret files of the SSPX also show many priests who turn to schismatic groups are running away from many things (not that Martin enterd any such groups---he cynically scorned them---- except to solicit book sales.)

He left the priesthood (threw the collar off, donned a sweater and beret and enjoyed female company, and was accused by living people of even bedding their wives) as was his wish for all practical purposes, and was not allowed to have his wish about chastity, so he did things, according to reports, HIS own way. hardly a good priests way. The legacy is feet of clay. Not a good priest---not by a long shot.

John Vennari is curiously silent about many things.

82 posted on 04/30/2004 5:32:57 AM PDT by McClave
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To: Revenge of Sith
Catholic Family News supports the Slaves of the Immaculate Heart of Mary, a traditionalist order founded by excommunicated priest Leonard Feeney...

Catholic Family News and all those people support almost any "Catholic" fringe Pope-hater, so long as they keep those subscriptions coming in.

As a friend said, what's the law of contradiction among subversives? Everyone knows Solange Hertz is a Sedevacantist, but hush....

The only criterion to join this club is: Despise Vatican II (not just liberal distortions of it, even its texts, the Pope's elucidations of it), and the Pope himself, forsake the Roman Missal of 1970, despite its clear orthodoxy (every word), its ancient orthodox pedigree (much more ancient that the Tridentine era revisions of the Missal).

Now, as a trick, they (CFN, Remnant, etc) sometimes wink and write that they are not sedes, Feeneyites, Old Catholics, SSPX, etc, etc, even as they hold tiny "conferences" with all of these. Watch what they do not what they say.

Bishop Williamson, SSPX, Vennari's friend, is not a Sedevacanstist? He is, rather, an expert in cynical doubslespeak.

John Vennari, again, has one goal, persecute the Holy Father. In that he is, with the others, Satan's agent.

83 posted on 04/30/2004 5:50:11 AM PDT by McClave
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To: McClave
"John Vennari, again, has one goal, persecute the Holy Father. In that he is, with the others, Satan's agent."

But you see no problem with Karl Rahner?
84 posted on 04/30/2004 8:39:05 AM PDT by pascendi
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To: Revenge of Sith
Many traditionalists claim that Cardinal Siri was elected pope in both the 1958 and 1963 conclaves, but the KGB forced the Cardinals to dump him and elect John XXIII and Paul VI.

Semper in Excrementum
Sole Profundum Qui Variat

85 posted on 04/30/2004 8:44:31 AM PDT by eastsider
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To: McClave
Old Catholics are not traditionalists. Their Masses are in the vernacular and intercommnunion is permitted with Anglicans. It was an Old Catholic bishop who consecrated left-wing black supremacist priest George Stallings a "bishop" for Stallings schismatic African-American Catholic Congregation.
86 posted on 04/30/2004 11:05:10 AM PDT by Revenge of Sith
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To: pascendi
Mark Lowery
<In this his first essay for Faith & Reason, Dr. Mark Lowery offers a critique of the thought of Karl Rahner from an orthodox Catholic perspective focusing upon the late Jesuit's treatment of doctrine.>

In the ongoing polemic between revisionist and traditionalist Catholic theologians, Karl Rahner's monumental project in transcendental method stands on somewhat of a precipice. Many traditionalists who have read his work have respect for the sheer breadth of Rahner's knowledge of the tradition and his varied accomplishments. But at the same time, traditionalists are acutely aware that Rahner himself in his later work,1 and the majority of Rahner's interpreters, have fallen off the precipice into some degree of a revisionism that is incompatible with the Catholic faith.

One approach to this problem is to surmise that there must indeed be something fundamentally wrong with Rahner's very method.2 For this view, however much one might respect Rahner's effort and integrity, he is simply mistaken methodologically and must be dismissed. But as George Vandervelde has noted:

Rahner's stature is beyond dispute. Given his stature and his brilliance, and given the profound way in which he has addressed the core of theology, i.e. the meaning of grace, any theologian worth the name must come to grips with his thought.3

Hence, a more positive approach is taken in this article, based on several presuppositions. First, all methodologies are theological hypotheses <about> the Faith, and ought never be confused with the Faith itself. Second, all methodologies have their inherent weaknesses. When dealing with the Christian faith, one is thrust into a variety of startling paradoxes—not least of which is the one Rahner wrestled with most of all, the relationship between nature and grace—and a rationally consistent methodology may very well falter at one point or another or at least have tensions inherent within it. Third, one need not agree with a particular methodology in order to appreciate it and recognize its apologetic value. I might think that the moment one takes Kant seriously one has taken a posture inimical to the Christian faith, but a method like Rahner's may be just the item to make a Kantian reflect further about the credibility of Christianity.

Given these presuppositions, I contend that Rahner's method can indeed be used in a way fatal to orthodox Catholicism, but that this misuse is not inherent in his method. Indeed, the method, whatever its limitations, when properly used can make a genuine apologetic contribution.

This inquiry presupposes certain central themes from the Rahnerian corpus. There is a fundamental distinction between transcendental and categorical experience. The former is our inescapable orientation (philosophically grounded in the notion of the <Vorgriff>) to the absolute mystery of God, the latter our everyday lives experience. With these foundational concepts, Rahner refigures the nature/grace relationship inherited from neo-scholastic extrinsicism, wherein grace was super-added to a nature that already had its own integrity. There is indeed room for debate about the various aspects of such refiguring. But the present inquiry looks instead to the impact of Rahner's method on doctrine.

Rahner himself, and many of his interpreters, have driven a sort of wedge between the fundamental transcendental experience of the human person and the full mosaic of the doctrinal heritage. One gets the impression from many Rahnerian texts that doctrines no longer have ontological validity but rather serve as humanly conditioned approximations of the transcendental experience of mystery in human life. Such a view of doctrine is incompatible with the Catholic faith as defined by the Magisterium, and as demanded of Catholic theologians by the recent oath of loyalty.4 Is it possible, however, to recover the genuine insights of Rahner's achievement without denigrating the doctrinal heritage? Can orthodox Catholic theology truly "come to grips" with Rahner, meeting Vandervelde's request, rather than abandoning such an influential figure in theology?

I. Doctrinal Ambiguity in Rahner's Work

The doctrines of the Trinity, the Incarnation and Grace ultimately point us to the absolute mystery; and indeed the entire Catholic doctrinal heritage is intelligible in this light:

But let us try to understand the whole structure of Christianity, with all its detailed implications and explications, in the light of this ultimate essence of Christendom. Once we do this then, as Catholic Christians, we have no need to maintain that there is any official doctrine of the Church absolutely binding upon us against which we are compelled to assert an absolute negation as a matter of our own subjective conscience with regard to truth, and of our own intellectual honesty. For all the individual statements in the whole doctrinal structure of Catholic Christianity are capable of being read and interpreted as so many concretizations and variations of that quite simple truth which we have just pointed to as the true substance of the Christian revelation. He who posits a rejection of <this> must of course reject the whole of Christianity and the Church. But where are the compelling grounds for such a rejection?5

It is easy to see two different conclusions about the doctrinal heritage working simultaneously in this text. On the one hand, Rahner shows how the entire heritage coheres together in light of "the ultimate essence of Christendom," which is our <a priori> transcendentality that in turn is rooted in the Incarnation.6 On the other hand, there is a clear sense in which that heritage is relativized: as long as one accepts the core truth, which all the other "truths" are stammering to articulate, one can justifiably hesitate in the face of those doctrines that do not correspond with experience. While Rahner speaks positively of the particularities of Catholic doctrine in a variety of places, there are numerous other places in the Rahnerian corpus that undergird this second attitude; one sample must suffice here:

We are not people who always and in every case have to uphold all that they actually state with the deep notes of ultimate interior conviction and with an 'absolute assent' (as with the dogma of the Church) as though we were convinced of the fact that we are already in absolute and total possession of the truth in its fullness. Precisely so long as we are neither willing nor able to do this, precisely as long as we are, in this sense, humble individual Christians, subject to the influence of historical conditions, there is a difference between the official teaching of the Church and that which concerns the concrete content of the personal faith of each particular individual. And this difference is not only inevitable, but perfectly justified. . . . There is, in fact, a wholly justified attitude of indifference towards this or that particular doctrine of the Church, an indifference affecting the concrete existence of the individual which constitutes something approximating to a process of ridding oneself of a burden in one's own personal life. Under certain circumstances such an attitude is in principle justified. We do not in any sense need, so far as our own personal concrete lives are concerned . . . to act absolutely as though we were in some great chemist's shop in which we had to watch over all the various doctrines of the Church, drawn off, so to say, in so many bottles.7

It is precisely this type of analysis which undergirds Rahner's request for immediate ecumenical unity:

What we are thinking about is the actual, average sense of faith of Christians in the different Churches. We are thereby presupposing the normative character of this actual faith. . . . We are further presupposing that the variations in the sense of faith . . . are quite legitimate in the context of the existential hierarchy of truths which belongs to faith. . . . But given these presuppositions we would say: the average faith of contemporary Christians in the various Churches hardly shows any differences. And so we must ask: why, really, should the official doctrinal differences between the individual Churches forbid that institutional unity which is a factual identity in the actual faith held in the individual Churches?8

It is just such passages that put Rahner's contribution on the aforementioned precipice. For Rahner simultaneously takes two paths: a focus on the full range of doctrine and on only the essentials. However, it is possible to use Rahner's own understanding transcendentality and to support the former and exclude the latter.

II. An Orthodox Understanding of Transcendentality/Doctrine

According to Rahner's method our transcendentality is always present as the horizon of all categorical experience, whether or not categorical experience affirms it. Hence, it could be argued that even though people don't experience the meaning or relevance of the doctrinal heritage, that entire heritage (which is like a window opening upon the transcendent, fully accurate as far as it goes) is on the horizon of what they do in fact experience, implicitly present, just as transcendentality is. In fact, it can be argued that this doctrinal heritage, like Revelation itself, is our transcendentality, though not in its fullness. That is to say, if doctrine is accurate there is a certain identity between it and <a priori> transcendentality.

Rahner would admit this, but insist equally on the non-identity. This simultaneous identity and non-identity is rooted in his theology of the real symbol. As one commentator has noted:

At the root of a being's dynamism for self-expression there is a tension between the being itself and that which expresses it, and so ultimately between the being and the words which we use to speak of it. This is preeminently true of the dynamism through which the divine Be-ing communicates himself to the world and through which worldly being hears that self-communication. The believer is thrust into the ambiguity of language as well as into its clarity by the very fact that God has spoken his 'word' at a particular point in history, and by the fact that the believer dares to speak of God and of his 'word' from the limited context of his own particular understanding, history, community, culture and expectations. Intrinsic to the dynamism of historical being towards God, then, is a tension between the word and that which it expresses, between the believer's words and God's 'word'."9

However, the question is whether Rahner and many of his commentators have properly located the "non-identity" aspect of the relationship between doctrine and its term. Might it exist not in or at the doctrines themselves, which are accurate, but at that point where the transcendent is obviously larger than what is revealed through doctrine?10 Then, to repeat the analogy, doctrine is like a clear window opening out to the Transcendent. The window certainly limits what we can see but it gives us a very accurate picture of what we are meant to see. If this is true, we can use the theology of the real symbol but conclude differently than Rahner.

For example, someone, i) attempts to lead a good life, ii) has a vague belief in God, and iii) experiences many concrete doctrines as meaningless. Rahner would see an <a priori> transcendentality as operative in this case and suggest that Vatican II's notion of the hierarchy of truths offers such a person a chance to place the "meaningless doctrines" in perspective and become a candidate for what he calls the "third church."11

What we are seeking to convey is this: the various aspects and perspectives from which any Christian regards his personal life as it unfolds, or alternatively the totality of Christian doctrine from his own individual standpoint, vary very greatly. And this is quite as it should be. In this context we may do something which is also done in other departments of human life with regard to the various areas of knowledge as they are presented to us, namely we may, with full deliberation, go out of our way to avoid this or that theological question because we instinctively feel that we cannot cope with it in the concrete circumstances of our lives. It is also possible to bring a certain subjectivity to bear in selecting certain special and preferred truths of faith to live by, and in this to allow other truths, which are just as valid and important, to recede into the background when we notice that this 'subjective attitude' is healing and liberating.12

Could it not be, however, that regardless of this person's experience the full range of doctrine as a definitive aspect of transcendentality always exists on the horizon as the ontological truth toward which this person is oriented, though experientially it may remain meaningless? There is an inner dynamism within the person which strives toward that truth, whether that dynamism is fulfilled or not.

Rahner's sociological analysis concludes to the experiential meaninglessness of much of the doctrinal heritage, and he places too much weight on that data, allowing it to control the question of truth itself rather than remaining a pastoral concern. This affects the <sensus fidelium> within the Catholic tradition, the "faith instinct" of the faithful, the "sense" or "mind" of the faithful.13 It seems that Rahner has reduced this instinct to a subjective level in which the mind of the faithful regarding truth is equated with what the faithful experience phenomenologically as true. However, according to Tradition the cause of the <sensus fidelium> is not subjective experience but Revelation grasped or possessed in its totality as objectively given to all mankind, and is not privately but publicly rooted in the full doctrinal heritage of the Church.14 The <sensus fidelium>, rather than something the individual creates,15 is something participated in, and the inner dynamism toward the truth is a dynamism toward such participation.

This dynamism strives toward explicitness and concreteness, and is caused by the concreteness of Revelation. This dynamism is intrinsic to Rahner's theology, but can easily be misconstrued or ignored (by Rahner himself as well as his readers). Consider the typical criticism: given <a priori> transcendentality which allows for the phenomenon of anonymous Christianity, Christianity itself can lose its importance, and the particularities of Christianity, especially the sacraments as means of grace, can disappear. As Ratzinger says:

It is part of the Church's ancient, traditional teaching that every man is called to salvation and de facto can be saved if he sincerely follows the precepts of his own conscience, even without being a visible member of the Catholic Church. This teaching, however . . . has been put forward in an extreme form since the Council on the basis of theories like that of "anonymous Christians." Ultimately it has been proposed that grace is always given provided that a person—believing in no religion at all or subscribing to any religion whatsoever—accepts himself as a human being. That is all that is necessary. According to these theories the Christian "plus" is only that he is <aware> of this grace, which inheres actually in all people, whether baptized or not. Hand in hand, then, with the weakening of the necessity of baptism, went the overemphasis on the values of the non-Christian religions, which many theologians saw not as <extraordinary> paths of salvation but precisely as <ordinary> ones.16

Rahner himself at times gives the impression that Christianity and the sacramental order can be relativized.

. . . anyone who courageously accepts life—even a shortsighted, primitive positivist who apparently bears patiently with the poverty of the superficial—has really already accepted God. He has accepted God as he is in himself, as he wants to be in our regard in love and freedom—in other words as the God of the eternal life of divine self-communication in which God himself is the center of man and in which man's form is that of the God-man himself. For anyone who really accepts <himself>, accepts a mystery in the sense of the infinite emptiness which is man. . . . And if Christianity is nothing other than the clear expression of what man experiences indistinctly in his actual being . . . what reason could I have then not to be a Christian?17

One might ask, looking at such a passage, "what reason could I have to <be> a Christian?" for Christianity appears drained of all particularity. Christian particularity involves a sacramental view of history as instantiated in the efficaciousness of the sacraments themselves. As for particular sacraments, Rahner says that we should <not> understand salvation on the model of baptism,18 which is to say that the efficacious nature of the sacraments is not at the heart of the Christian mystery. Rahner wishes instead to emphasize the sign value of the sacraments, convinced that contemporary man does not relate well to the worldview (and understanding of salvation) implied by the causal nature of the sacraments. Emphasizing the sign value "is at least more intelligible and easier to reconstruct for people today."19 He continues: "In particular it gets away from the idea that salvific grace necessarily takes the form of an intervention by God from outside at a definite point in space and time: an idea which for people today somehow savours of the miraculous and mythological."20

III. A Sacramental Method

In fact, however, Rahner's method when looked upon as a whole does not relativize Christianity nor does it <necessarily> relativize any of the particularities therein. I make this claim notwithstanding Rahner's own mislocation of the non-identity aspect of doctrinal particularity and notwithstanding his uneven analysis of sacramental efficacy. In an article about the complaint that anonymous Christianity destroys missionary zeal, Rahner denies charges of relativization:

Even though anonymous Christianity is prior to explicit Christianity it does not render it superfluous. On the contrary, it itself demands this explicit Christianity in virtue of its own nature and its own intrinsic dynamism.21

Even though it is true that anonymous Christianity is "prior to explicit Christianity," according to Rahner's understanding of sacramental causality, the converse is also true since the explicit sacramental particularities of Christianity are causes of and prior to all instances of anonymous Christianity. Here Rahner is indeed being faithful to the tradition as regards sacramental efficacy.

However, Rahner risks being misunderstood by the manner in which he explicates the explicit/implicit relation. When he places the implicit first, he runs the risk of being quoted and understood outside of the broader context which includes the whole relationship. Rahner himself paves the way for this misunderstanding by speaking of implicitly present grace without at the same time pointing to grace as caused, thereby dichotomizing the two dimensions of sacramental efficacy.

Immediately following the above passage, Rahner states:

In the general economy of salvation it is a perfectly logical process for the grace that creates salvation, and indeed constitutes the individual as saved, to be both logically and temporally prior to the sacramental act which signifies it. Yet as such and in virtue of its own intrinsic dynamism it itself demands to be realized in this visible sacramental mode and in the dimension of the Church. It presses forward toward this sacramental incarnation of itself, and thereby insures that it is not impossible for this effective sacramental symbol of this same grace to be itself a cause of the grace and not merely an outward expression of it such as ultimately speaking would make no difference. 22

Here Rahner <admits> that if the sacraments and Christianity itself are mere "expressions" of the implicit, then those expressions are dispensable—precisely the point of his critics. His understanding of symbolic causality saves him from that critique, allowing him to claim that:

Anonymous Christianity does not render explicit Christianity superfluous, but rather itself demands it, and that there would no longer be any anonymous Christianity . . . if he upon whom it is bestowed as offering were radically to close himself to any explicit Christianity.23

Consider this example: I have within me a capacity to receive a gift; I receive one, not knowing who it is from or even what exactly it is, though I know it is valuable and can admire it; I desire to know what it is (or does) and who gave it to me; the already existing capacity for reception is placed within me by the giver of the gift, because the giver has a specific gift he wishes to give. Now we can ask which came first, the receptivity or the gift? One can argue both ways, since the causality works both ways—and such is the nature of a properly sacramental causality. We observe two points: first, there exists an obvious dynamism toward explicitness, such that when the explicitness occurs it ought never be termed a <mere> explicitness. And second, that which the dynamism is striving toward <is> that which caused the dynamism in the first place.

The roots of this vindication of Rahner's theology lie in his theology of the symbol, and the dual-directional causality here prevents reductionism:

[Sign causality is] a type of causality . . . which is proper to the sign as such and is not something added to the sign. In sacramental theology it is not that the qualities sign <and> causality are attributed to the sacramental process with regard to grace and then other categories of instrumental causality of a physical or moral type are applied to cover this sign causality and interpret it. It is rather the case that the sign is the cause. . . . insofar as a sacrament can and should be conceived of as a "real symbol," as a historical and social embodiment of grace, where grace achieves its own fullness of being and forms an irreversible gift (<opus operatum>), to this extent the sign is a cause of grace, although the sign is caused by this grace.24

Thus, the sacraments can properly be seen as causing salvation, even for those whom Rahner would term "anonymous Christians."

IV. The Connection to the Doctrinal Heritage

Why not carry a sacramental view one step further and connect it to doctrinal particularity? The sacraments cause all grace, and doctrine can be viewed as the linguistic embodiment of grace. By seeing sacraments and their efficacy as the ground of doctrine, one avoids the view of doctrines as juridical impositions. Also, one can conclude that the inner dynamism of man strives toward and is caused by his intrinsic transcendentality, a transcendentality that affirms a sacramental view of history and is grounded in the efficacy of the sacraments with the full range of the doctrinal heritage as its concrete and accurate expression. The full acceptance of transcendentality is the full acceptance of and trust in, despite the limits of experience, this doctrinal heritage. This heritage, as the concreteness of transcendentality, is the ground and goal within which all mankind moves. As Rahner says:

This fundamental actuation of man . . . cannot and does not want to stop in its anonymous state but strives toward an explicit expression, towards its full name. An unfavorable historical environment may impose limitations on the explicitness of this expression so that his actuation may not exceed the explicit appearance of a loving humaneness, but it will not act against this tendency whenever a new and higher stage of explicitness is presented to it right up to the ultimate perfection of a consciously accepted profession of Church membership.25

Such membership also exists in stages, and its fullness involves the embracing of the full mosaic of Catholic doctrine. In too many places Rahner hesitates before this fullness, taking a wrong turn on an otherwise admirable road. Only with this fullness, though, does the remainder of the above quotation have its complete truth:

Here alone does this belief find not merely its greatest support and source of confidence but also its proper reality and that peace which St. Augustine likened to repose in being: peace and repose which do not mean stagnation and flight but the capacity of casting oneself all the more resolutely into the inexorable will of the mystery of God, since now, as St. Paul says, one knows whom one believes and to whom one fearlessly submits in radical trust.26

V. The Critique by von Balthasar and Ratzinger

The fullness inherent in a sacramental view of history is found in part in the work of Hans Urs von Balthasar and Joseph Ratzinger, who have also severely criticized Rahner's approach. Two examples of that criticism correctly identify some "wrong turns" Rahner has taken, but might miss the heart of his thought which can be compatible with a fully sacramental and thereby Catholic vision.

One of von Balthasar's critiques is stylistically unique. In "Human Religion and the Religion of Jesus Christ,"27 von Balthasar criticizes the Enlightenment concept of religion by blending his own analysis with unfootnoted, italicized quotations from Rahner. He demonstrates that Rahner's theology is an example of anthropocentric Enlightenment method. (At the conclusion he indicates that he has quoted Rahner in the italics.)

[The Enlightenment was] the change from a theocentric to an anthropocentric viewpoint; for religion . . . this means the change from a positive historical religion to a religion valid for man in general, who is essentially religious. . . . <Everywhere in the world and in history, God's self-communication takes place in the Holy Spirit offered to every human being>, a self-communication <which itself already possesses as such the character of a revelation of truth and which finds in Jesus Christ, crucified and risen, only its full historical tangibility.> Positive dogmas, based on history, are transcendentally outlined in human nature. . . . The better the Enlightenment understands its own program, the less it will seek this absolute in contingent historical facts rather than in the inner enforcement of truth in the subject. This also applies to the Church, which wants to make the <transposition of Christian faith into today's modes of understanding> her business. As a necessary consequence, there must ensue a <shift of accent from the objective dignity of truth in itself to recognition of and respect for the dignity of the subjective awareness of truth.>28

Von Balthasar says that this religious universality is incompatible with Christianity, in which truth has its source in Jesus Christ. Von Balthasar correctly finds within Rahner a capitulation to Enlightenment religion. But this is an unfortunate wrong turn for Rahner, who has as his basis a properly sacramental understanding of truth. Von Balthasar admits that Rahner's thought is "more subtle and differentiated,"29 but does not indicate how. (Our foregoing analysis attempts this.) Von Balthasar then asserts that, despite his unnuanced treatment of Rahner, certain "basic structures" of his thought still emerge and that those structures "by their own dynamics . . . 'lead where you do not want to go', namely towards a 'transcendent unity of religions'."30 Von Balthasar is partly correct; but we can also note that the "basic structures" of Rahner's thought are bi-directional: on the one hand, his traditional understanding of sacramental efficacy allows him a proper view of universality in which the center of grace is given its proper place as the cause of grace; on the other hand, he tends to stress the sign value of the sacraments, thereby paving the way for a capitulation to an Enlightenment view of universality which in turn paves the way for a denigration of the doctrinal heritage.

Ratzinger too has difficulty with Rahner's appropriation of universality and particularity, but Ratzinger's criticism is within the context of admiration for Rahner, whose method has something dazzling, something stupendous about it. The particular and the universal, history and being, seem to be reconciled. The uniqueness of Christianity and the universality of man's being coincide. If one accepts the uniqueness, one has the universality as well; if one has the universality, one possesses also the uniqueness.31

Nonetheless, Ratzinger asks "is that really the answer?"32

The central problem that Rahner's method addresses, in Ratzinger's estimation, is "the dichotomy between the particularity of Christian history and its claim to the whole being <man>."33 He solves the problem (a solution that Ratzinger claims is a "squaring of the circle"34) by "designating Christianity as a particularly successful apprehension of what is always more or less consciously acknowledged."35 It is the most successful instance, or rendering explicit, of man's <a priori> transcendentality: "the particularity of Christianity with respect to the rest of history is now located in the realm of reflection; in Christianity is reflected that which, in itself, is always and everywhere."36 Hence, in this light the Incarnation becomes "the highest instance of the ontological fulfillment of human reality, the successful, perfect transcendence."37

But Ratzinger's analysis might miss the two-faceted dimension of Rahner's method that is rooted in a two-fold dynamic of sacramental causality. Rahner does focus on the sign-value of sacramentality, rendering correct Ratzinger's analysis of his method as a positing of the Incarnation as an explicit sign of man's transcendentality. But Rahner also focuses on the <causal> side of the dynamic. Rahner claims that the Incarnation <causes> our transcendentality, thereby saving the particularity of Christianity and the entire sacramental order. If this is the case Rahner does not want the particular to vanish into the universal.

If this analysis somewhat vindicates Rahner's method, Ratzinger's critique can as well be vindicated, based as it is on Rahner's <Foundations of Christian Faith>38 which does not adequately represent his method but ignores the theology of the symbol. <Foundations> appears to be Rahner's own <Summa>, and Ratzinger and others can hardly be blamed for using it as the basis of criticisms. Furthermore, Ratzinger admits that his critique might be wrong <on a conceptual level.>39 But for Ratzinger, the real "test of theological speculation" is in the spiritual consequences, what he calls the "spiritual formulation," of that speculation,40 and he judges these consequences in Rahner's case to be deleterious to the Christian message. The result is a reductionism of Christianity to the merely human:

Is it true that Christianity adds nothing to the universal but merely makes it known? Is the Christian just man as he is? Is that what he is supposed to be? Is not man as he is that which is insufficient, that which must be mastered and transcended? Does not the whole dynamism of history stem from the pressure to rise above man as he is? Is not the main point of the faith of both Testaments that man is what he ought to be only by conversion, that is, when he ceases to be what he is? Does not Christianity become meaningless when it is reinstated in the universal, whereas what we really want is the new, the other, the saving transformation [<Veranderung>]? Does not such a concept, which turns being into history but also history into being, result in a vast stagnation despite the talk of self-transcendence as the content of man's being? A Christianity that is no more than a reflected universality may be innocuous, but is it not also superfluous? And, it might be noted in passing, it is simply not empirically true that Christians do not say anything particular that can be opposed; that they say only what is universal. They say much that is particular. Otherwise, how could they be a "sign that is rejected?" (Lk 2:34)41

Ratzinger accuses Rahner's method of granting an unconditional acceptance to reality as such, to man as he is. Instead, says Ratzinger, reality "rather bears within itself the seeds of a profound non-acceptance,"42 a refusal to base theology in experience and reason alone, a theme of von Balthasar's theology also. Ratzinger concludes by recommending von Balthasar's method over Rahner's.43 Rahner has "sought for a philosophical and theological world formula on the basis of which the whole of reality can be deduced from necessary causes."44 But, says Ratzinger, "revelation has given us no world formula. Such a concept is plainly counter to the mystery of freedom."45 Von Balthasar, in his theology of history, concurs that "it is not given to man to see and express the whole in itself,"46 that is to say, by reason alone, which von Balthasar terms "Enlightenment theology." Rahner, properly understood and contextualized, is not completely guilty of that supposition, for as noted earlier his anthropology is indeed rooted in his theology of the Incarnation. His understanding of doctrine, however, at least in his later works, unfortunately and unnecessarily deviates from an orthodox understanding of the integral nature of doctrine.


1 Many have argued that a shift took place in Rahner's thought. Edward Vacek argues that "This shift might be roughly described as a development beyond the simple argument from authority to a more complex argument that grounds itself in human experience wherever it is found." ("Development Within Rahner's Theology," <The Irish Theological Quarterly> 42 [Jan. 1975], 36-37) The same claim is made by Una O'Neil, <The Function of Doctrines: A Study of the Positions of Selected>, <Contemporary Roman Catholic Theologians> (Doctoral Dissertation, Catholic University of America, 1981) pp. 173-78. Michael Fahey claims that Rahner's ecclesiology shifted during the late 1960's and 1970's toward a more "descriptive and phenomenological" analysis ("A Changing Ecclesiology in a Changing Church: A Symposium on Development in the Ecclesiology of Karl Rahner," ed. Leo J. O'Donovan, <Theological Studies> 38 [December 1977], 762). Likewise, J. Peter Schineller notes that Rahner began to "broaden his horizons and his sources for theologizing. . . . He draws more on contemporary experience, on Protestant theology, and on the insights of biblical scholarship." ( Ibid., p. 745)

2 See, for example, Paul Molnar, "Can We Know God Directly? Rahner's Solution from Experience," <Theological Studies> 46 (1985), 228-61. For a concise and accurate critique, see Leo J. O'Donovan, "A Journey into Time: the Legacy of Karl Rahner's Last Years," <Theological Studies> 46 (1985), 625, note 24.

3 "The Grammar of Grace: Karl Rahner as a Watershed in Contemporary Theology," <Theological Studies> 49 (1988), 445.

4 The oath distinguishes three different kinds of truths, and in regard to at least the first two kinds (which involve the primary and secondary objects of infallible teaching authority) it suggests a certain seamless character of Catholic doctrine. It is to these that the present article refers when speaking of the doctrinal heritage. For the oath, see <L'Osservatore Romano> (Feb. 25, 1989), 6. For an English translation of that part of the formula added to the creed, and a concise and lucid analysis, see Francis A. Sullivan, S.J., "Some Observations on the New Formula for the Profession of Faith," <Gregorianum> 70, 3 (1989), 549-58.

5 "Faith and Doctrine," TI 14, trans. David Bourke (London: Darton, Longman and Todd, 1976), 44-45. (<Theological Investigations> is abbreviated TI throughout, with the volume always indicated. Bibliographical information is included the first time a particular volume is cited.)

Also, see "The Concept of Mystery in Catholic Theology," TI 4 (London: Darton, Longman and Todd, 1966), 37: "It is therefore a very existential problem, when we ask how <the> mystery stands to the many mysteries of Catholic faith and doctrine and whether the whole field of mysteries can be understood as a real unity, without of course trying to reduce all mysteries to one, rationalistically. Is Christian doctrine, where it covers real mysteries, really a highly complicated system of orderly statements? Or is it rather a mysteriously simple thing of infinite fullness, which can be propounded in an immense variety of statements while its mysterious and simple unity remains unchanged?"

Also cf. "Does the Church Offer Any Ultimate Certainties," TI 14, 57, and "On the Concept of Infallibility in Catholic Theology," TI 14, 74.

6 See "On the Theology of the Incarnation," TI 4, 105-120. "[the Incarnation of the Word of God] is the very center of the reality from which we Christians live, of the reality which we believe. For the mystery of the divine Trinity is open to us only here; only here is the mystery of our participation in the divine nature accorded us." (p. 105) Rahner recognizes that his theology is but an attempt to formulate "the necessary ontological counterpart to the ontic statements of the tradition" (p. 111) and that "ontology has to orient itself according to the message of faith and not try to lecture it." (p. 114, n. 3)

7 Ibid., p. 37. For other examples, see the present author's "The Hierarchy of Truths and Doctrinal Particularity" (Ann Arbor: University Microfilms, 1988), ch. 3.

8 "Is Church Union Dogmatically Possible," TI 17, trans. Margaret Kohl (New York: Seabury, 1981), 208. Also, "it will surely be permissible to say that what we have said really represents the true state of affairs. We are not talking about the theologically highly nuanced sense of faith of churchmen and professional theologians. We are talking about normal Christians." As we shall conclude later, all believers possess a "highly nuanced sense of faith" without being able to articulate it, just as they possess an a priori transcendentality that they may be unable to express.

9 Robert Masson, <Language, Thinking and God in Karl Rahner's Theology of the Word: A Critical Evaluation> (Doctoral Dissertation, Fordham University, 1978), p. 261.

10 Rahner himself seemed to argue this way in one of his early essays, "The Development of Dogma," TI 1, trans. Cornelius Ernst (Baltimore: Helicon, and London: Darton, Longman and Todd, 1961), 43-44.

11 "Third Church?," TI 17, 225-26.

12 Ibid., pp. 38-39.

13 For an overview, see Francis A. Sullivan, <Magisterium. Teaching Authority in the Catholic Church>, pp. 21-23.

14 See Susan Wood, <The Church as the Social Embodiment of Grace in the Ecclesiology of Henri de Lubac> (Doctoral Dissertation, Marquette University, 1986), pp. 31-33. Her analysis is dependent upon Henri de Lubac's "Le problème de development du dogme," <Recherches de Science Religieuse> 35 (1948), and his <Les eglises particulières dans l'Eglise universelle> (Aubier, 1971), as well as Josef Rupert Geiselmann, The Meaning of Tradition, trans. W. J. O'Hara (London: Burns and Oates, 1966). Referring to the <sensus fidelium>, Wood states that "since its object is revelation grasped in its totality and this revelation is given to all mankind, its object is not a private, but a public possession. Furthermore, it is public in character because this 'sense' 'always remains linked to the witness borne by the apostolic ministry and is an organic part of the testimony of the Church as a whole' [Geiselmann, p. 20]. Consequently, the <sensus fidelium> is fundamentally ecclesial in nature, the result of the work of the Holy Spirit within the Church. One may therefore conclude that a person's participation in the <sensus fidelium> is directly dependent upon his or her connection with the apostolic witness testified to by the Church." (p. 32)

15 Such reductionism is commonplace since the Council. It is often claimed that reliance on authority is a sign of immaturity, and that the secure individual trusts his own insights while, of course, taking into careful consideration the teachings of the Church. Cf. Anthony Meredith, <The Theology of Tradition> (Notre Dame: Fides Publishers, 1971), p. 45: "This unquestioning acceptance of the Church's teaching makes life a good deal easier, though it can result in a certain degree of immaturity. Nowadays, however, the Church has begun to pay more attention to the fact that the hierarchy . . . [does] not possess a monopoly of the Holy Spirit's guidance." A paragraph later, Meredith uses the concept <sensus fidelium> for support.

16 Ratzinger, with Vittorio Messori, <The Ratzinger Report. An Exclusive Interview on the State of the Church> (San Francisco: Ignatius, 1985), p. 197.

17 "Thoughts on the Possibility of Belief Today," trans. Karl-H. Kruger (Baltimore: Helicon and London: Darton, Longman and Todd, 1966), pp. 7-8.

18 See "On the Theology of Worship," TI 19 (New York: Crossroads, 1980), 141-49, where Rahner spells out two "conceptual models" for salvation and rejects the one based on baptism, and also "Theology and Anthropology," TI 9, trans. Graham Harrison (New York: Herder and Herder, 1972), p. 44.

19 "On the Theology of Worship," pp. 144-45.

20 Ibid., p. 154.

21 "Anonymous Christianity and the Missionary Task of the Church," TI 12, trans. David Bourke (New York: Seabury, 1975), 171. Rahner mentions this dynamism in all of his articles dealing with anonymous Christianity. Besides the items already quoted, see: "Anonymous Christians," TI 6, trans. Karl-H. and Boniface Kruger (New York: Crossroad, 1982), 395; "Anonymous and Explicit Faith," TI 16, trans. David Morland (London: Darton, Longman and Todd, 1979), 54; "Christianity and the Non-Christian Religions," TI 5, trans. Karl-H. Kruger (Baltimore: Helicon, and London: Darton, Longman and Todd), 130, 132.

22 "Anonymous Christianity and the Missionary Task of the Church," p. 171.

23 Ibid., p. 174. Also, see p. 176 where Rahner speaks in terms of the "Incarnational character" of Christianity and directly addresses the idea of missionary activity.

24 "The One Christ and the Universality of Salvation," TI 16, 213. Also see "The Theology of the Symbol," esp. pp. 231-242.

25 "Anonymous Christians," p. 395.

26 Ibid.

27 In <New Elucidations>, trans. Sr. Mary Theresilde Skerry (San Francisco: Ignatius, 1986).

28 Ibid., p. 76.

29 Ibid., p. 86.

30 Ibid., p. 87. He points out that "the eminent American theologian, David Tracy, S.J., is likewise on a road to such a universal religion in <Blessed Rage for Order.>"

31 Ratzinger, <Principles of Catholic Theology. Building Stones for a Fundamental Theology>, trans. Sr. Mary Frances McCarthy (San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 1987), p. 166.

32 Ibid.

33 Ibid., p. 163. Also, "he attempts . . . to arrive at the particularity of Christianity without, at the same time, sacrificing the identity of the particular and the universal." (Ibid., p. 164)

34 Ibid.

35 Ibid.

36 Ibid.

37 Ibid., p. 165.

38 Ratzinger states that "In the remarks, I refer essentially to Rahner's comprehensive Summa, <Grundkurs des Glaubens>." ( Ibid., p. 163, note 113)

39 Ibid., p. 166: "Rahner could, of course, refute all this by saying that he, too, takes as his point of departure that which is inconceivably new, the <Event> that <is> the Savior. He could say that what is universal has now become that which saves only because, in this Savior, a universality of being has come to pass that could not emanate from being itself. I prefer to leave open the question of whether this does justice, on the conceptual level, to what is particular and unique in the salvation history that has its center in Christ."

40 Ibid., p. 166.

41 Ibid.

42 Ibid., p. 168.

43 Ibid., p. 171, note 134.

44 Ibid., p. 169. This seems to be the case given Rahner's <Foundations>, though it is not in Rahner's theology of the symbol, as this article has argued. Though that theology allows for sacramentality, which is free, not necessitated, it can also use language which is possibly pantheistic, unfree and necessitated (for example, "man is what happens when God gives Himself"), a result, perhaps, of Rahner's Incarnational starting point. The Incarnation is the correct foundation, but must be viewed covenantally to retain freedom and avoid pantheism and Christomonism. Freedom of the covenant is best retained by starting with the concrete expression of the Incarnation in time, the Eucharist.

45 Ibid.

46 Ibid.

Mark Lowery is a Professor of Theology at the University of Dallas.

This article was taken from the Fall 1991 issue of "Faith & Reason". Subscriptions available from Christendom Press, 2101 Shenandoah Shores Road, Ft. Royal, VA 22630, 703-636-2900, Fax 703-636-1655. Published quarterly at $20.00 per year.

Provided Courtesy of:
Eternal Word Television Network
5817 Old Leeds Road
Irondale, AL 35210



87 posted on 04/30/2004 11:30:55 AM PDT by McClave
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To: Revenge of Sith
Yes. Just ask "Fr. Moderator," aka Mr. Morrison of "Traditio". It never stopped him. Scismatics of whatever stripe simply want what they consider apostolic hands laid on their heads.

88 posted on 04/30/2004 11:34:16 AM PDT by McClave
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To: pascendi; Land of the Irish; McClave
IIRC, "Ian" McClave is a friend and cohort of notorious anti-traditionalist Stephen Hand. That fact should explain the inconsistent logic.
89 posted on 04/30/2004 11:39:41 AM PDT by Canticle_of_Deborah (The day the Church abandons her universal tongue is the day before she returns to the catacombs-PXII)
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To: Canticle_of_Deborah
When the chips are down, attack ad hominem,. Right?
90 posted on 04/30/2004 3:50:25 PM PDT by McClave
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To: McClave
Actually, it wasn't an attack at all. You have signed your name on posts as Ian, and IIRC, you are self-identified as the Ian who writes for Stephen Hand's website.

Stephen Hand has quite a history here. It is not flattering. He is well known for his own attacks on traditionalists.

I do not find his or your reasoning consistent, logical or truthful. Your m.o.'s are similiar. Just my opinion based on your posts.
91 posted on 04/30/2004 4:05:47 PM PDT by Canticle_of_Deborah (The day the Church abandons her universal tongue is the day before she returns to the catacombs-PXII)
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To: Canticle_of_Deborah
"Ian" McClave is a friend and cohort of notorious anti-traditionalist Stephen Hand.

That explains a lot.

92 posted on 04/30/2004 4:19:16 PM PDT by Land of the Irish
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To: Canticle_of_Deborah
Some in the group here have a "history" too. And it is surely not flattering; but discussion of issues need not degenerate into their old ad hominem attacks against others and people not present. That is a pathetic diversion.
93 posted on 04/30/2004 5:09:40 PM PDT by McClave
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To: Canticle_of_Deborah
Your m.o. is similar to the people I am criticizing. Many bash the Pope daily in the most vicious ways, but when they are criticized, they howl forever.

Stick to the issues and everyone will get along fine.

94 posted on 04/30/2004 5:12:38 PM PDT by McClave
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To: Canticle_of_Deborah
95 posted on 04/30/2004 6:01:13 PM PDT by pascendi
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To: McClave
You equate criticism of the Pope's unorthodox behavior with Pope bashing. There is a difference between respect for the Office and adulation of the person holding the Office. Traditionalists adhere to the former which is why objectionable Papal behaviors are criticized.

The issues ARE the Pope's behavior or that of the Magisterium. Your m.o., evident to anyone reading this thread, is to change the subject rather than defend the issue at hand. Perhaps you are the one who needs to stick to the issues.

96 posted on 04/30/2004 6:03:05 PM PDT by Canticle_of_Deborah (The day the Church abandons her universal tongue is the day before she returns to the catacombs-PXII)
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To: McClave
Some in the group here have a "history" too. And it is surely not flattering; but discussion of issues need not degenerate into their old ad hominem attacks against others and people not present. That is a pathetic diversion.

You've been here all of four months. How would you know? Or is this a second, third, or fourth screenname for you?

97 posted on 04/30/2004 6:10:47 PM PDT by Canticle_of_Deborah (The day the Church abandons her universal tongue is the day before she returns to the catacombs-PXII)
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To: Canticle_of_Deborah
Oh, is this a private club?

Sorry to have intruded. I'll only post separately on other things, not respond to your posts, as it seems to get you worked up. Ta Ta.

98 posted on 04/30/2004 6:31:06 PM PDT by McClave
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To: McClave
No, it is not a private club, but if you can't deal in facts perhaps it is best for you to avoid me.

I don't mind disagreements but I cannot tolerate dishonesty.
99 posted on 04/30/2004 6:52:40 PM PDT by Canticle_of_Deborah (The day the Church abandons her universal tongue is the day before she returns to the catacombs-PXII)
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To: Canticle_of_Deborah
Editor;Still small voice; Stephan Hand;McClave, etc.
100 posted on 04/30/2004 7:14:14 PM PDT by Land of the Irish
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