Is Cardinal Francesco Coccopalmerio’s “Letter on Diaconal Continence” more than his personal opinion?

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Two letters from the PCLT issued in 2011

do not resolve this question.

(Conclusion: Cardinal Francesco Coccopalmerio’s letters are no more than his personal opinion on the matter of diaconal continence.  All clerics are bound to continence whether married or celibate. [Canon 277])


Happy Easter Bishop Michael C. Barber, SJ !

Bishop Michael C. Barber, SJ

Bishop of Oakland and Berkeley.


His Eminence, Raymond Leo Cardinal Burke: Viva!

James F. Hitchcock on the Death of Saint Augustine

“Augustine wrote The City of God primarily to refute the pagan claim that the sack of Rome by the Visigoths in 410 was due to the wrath of the gods against the impious Christians; it was, he asserted, due to Rome’s own sins. But as he lay dying in 430, Hippo itself was under siege by a people so terrible that their very name  became a synonym for destructiveness—the Vandals. Justinian would later briefly reconquer North Africa, but the golden age of the Fathers, the most creative period in the entire history of the Church, was over. In the West, a long darkness was descending.”

History of the Catholic Church: From the Apostolic Age to the Third Millennium
by James F. Hitchcock
Chapter 4, Holy Wisdom, p. 99
Ignatius Press, 2012

Jacques Maritain rescues Dietrich von Hildebrand, 1940

“Arriving with his family in the Portuguese capital, Dietrich found out that the American Rockefeller Foundation had been desperately trying to locate him. He had in fact covered his traces so well that their efforts had been in vain. He was informed that his friend Jacques Maritain had managed to put him on the list of one hundred professors whose lives were in danger because of their ‘impure blood’. Dietrich’s name, along with that of his friend Balduin Schwarz (whose wife was Jewish), was added to the list because Maritain knew that von Hildebrand had fought against Nazism in Vienna and that he was sought by the Gestapo. The Rockefeller Foundation would cover the costs of the trip to the United States. Gretchen, Franzi, Deirdre, and little Catherine waited in Portugal until the middle of October 1940 to obtain the necessary visas that would enable them to depart for the United States. On October 15, Dietrich and his wife obtained an American immigration visa….”

The Soul of a Lion: Dietrich von Hildebrand
A Biography by Alice von Hildebrand
page 321
Ignatius Press 2000
Foreword by Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger

Golda Meir on the death of Pope Pius XII (1958)

At Pope Pius XII’s death in 1958, Israel’s Foreign Minister Golda Meir sent an eloquent message: “We share  in the grief of humanity. When fearful martyrdom came to our people in the decade  of Nazi terror, the voice of the pope was raised for its victims. The life of  our times was enriched by a voice speaking out about great moral truths above  the tumult of daily conflict. We mourn a great servant of peace.”

quoted by Sister Margherita Marchione  [photo below]

In January, 1973, Golda Meir was received at the Vatican by Pope Paul VI, the first Israeli head of government to have an audience with the Pontiff. A Vatican statement released later noted that during the meeting, the Pope had recalled “the history and sufferings of the Jewish people.”


Golda Meir was the Fourth Prime Minister of Israel

Golda Meir 03265u.jpg

Golda Meir was an Israeli politician born on May 3, 1908 in Kiev, Russia. She and her family immigrated to Milwaukee, Wisconsin, where she became an active Zionist. From the 1940’s through the 60s, Meir worked for the Israeli government in various roles including as its minister to Moscow. In 1969, party factions appointed her as the country’s fourth Prime Minister, thereby also becoming the world’s third woman with that title. She died in Jerusalem on December 8, 1978.

© 2014 A+E Networks. All rights reserved.

Peddicord on Maritain, Garrigou-Lagrange, Pétain and Vichy

And, in a letter of 18 December 1946, Maritain continued:

When you took the part of Marshal Pétain — to the point of declaring that to support de Gaulle would be a mortal sin — I thought that your political prejudices blinded you in a serious matter for the country; I did not think to suspect your theology nor to reproach you for a deviation in a doctrinal matter.

Garrigou and Maritain would not be able to get beyond the rupture caused by this episode. It turned out to be a wound that would not heal. Both men were passionate in defense of their positions and strong emotions had to co-mingle with reason and faith. From our vantage point it is impossible not to conclude that in this matter Garrigou was in the wrong: wrong in supporting Vichy and wrong in avoiding reconciliation with a long-time friend.

Before leaving this discussion, an issue raised by Maritain’s letter of 18 December 1946 bears highlighting. Maritain said that in disagreeing with Garrigou, he had not thereby called into question Garrigou’s theology. Nor had he reneged on his commitment to Thomism. His point was that one’s theological commitments do not lead inexorably to specific choices in the real world of contingency. This is important to underline because one might be tempted to think that Garrigou’s support for Action Française or Francisco Franco or Marshal Pétain is enough to show that his theology was corrupt. Even though Garrigou would attempt to justify his positions by appealing to the faith, it is safe to say that they rested upon his personal socio-political presuppositions.

Richard Peddiord, O.P.
The Sacred Monster of Thomism: An Introduction to the Life and Legacy of Réginald Garrigou-Lagrange, O.P.
St Augustine’s Press
South Bend, Indiana
pages 99-100
[Note: does "wrong in supporting Vichy" imply wrong in supporting the
deportation of the Jews from France?  See ]


Editor’s comment: I do not like the name of Francisco Franco mentioned, as above, in the same breath as Marshal Pétain or Action Française. Franco is credited with saving between 40,000 and 75,000 Jews, many of whom were from Germany, and others from Vichy France, Germany and Hungary. Even if they lied and said they had “one drop” of Sephardic blood, they were welcome in Franco’s war-torn Spain. This little known fact is inconvenient for some who routinely demonize Franco, and so it is not mentioned. See Hitler Stopped by Franco by Jane and Burt Boyar (CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform, 2012). Paul Preston’s standard biography of Franco omits this information.


From Hitler Stopped by Franco, page 104:

“In 1927, as Colonel in Morocco, observing the Arabs persecuting the descendants of those Jews who had immigrated there four centuries earlier, Franco had written to the dictator of Spain, General Primo de Rivera, seeking and receiving permission to protect them with Spanish troops. Nine years later, in 1936, at the beginning of the Spanish Civil War, the Moroccan Jewish community demonstrated its gratitude by coming to Franco’s aid with strong financial backing.”


From Francisco Franco: The Jewish Connection by Harry S. May (1977), page 29:

“Since the end of World War II, Jewish and non-Jewish historians have estimated, in a truly inflationary binge, that Franco did save by this incredible ruse from fifty to one hundred thousand Jews. Or more. But we know that over thirty thousand Jews crossed the Pyrenees, often in the bitter cold of winter, and were let through by the border guards who had been instructed to close their eyes as to the refugees’ true ethnic, i.e. Sephardi origin. We have to keep in mind, though, that Spain found herself in the throes of a severe bread and food shortage, yet she allowed the hapless to escape the Nazi version of the Limpieza de Sangre. And more than ten thousand others who had escaped the death camps, found shelter, however temporary, in the Iberian Peninsula.”



Mr. Cory Noeker, Father Van Hove, Mr. Nathaniel Robert Hop: “The Teutonic Knights”

The Teutonic Knights

The Teutonic Knights January 2014

from The Jews in the “New Middle Ages”: Jacques Maritain’s Anti-Semitism in Its Times by John Hellman

Vichy and the Vatican -

In August 1941, Léon Bérard, Vichy’s ambassador to the Holy See, tested the Vatican’s reactions toward the Jewish laws just enacted in France and found no objection. Back in France there was “quasi- absolute silence of the Catholic hierarchy in the face of the anti- Jewish legislation of Vichy.” The dean of the French hierarchy, Cardinal Gerlier, spoke to the leaders of the Jewish community of Lyon in 1941 of the unfortunate “errors” of Léon Blum and “expiation” in the circumstances.  Despite heroic individual acts taken in de- fense of Jews by individual Catholics including Gerlier during the war, many in the hierarchy continued to compromise themselves with racists and anti-Semites to the bitter end, such as when Cardinal Suhard of Paris presided over the funeral services of the notorious milice leader and racist radio orator Philippe Henriot on July 1, 1944, in the Cathedral of Notre-Dame. In the name of “Christian France,” French Catholic leaders found the “exclusion” of the Jews acceptable (in a way not dissimilar to the Israeli leadership’s expulsion of Palestinians from their homelands in the name of “Greater Israel” today).

The savage attacks on European Jewry during the war was a matter of great personal distress to Maritain. He wrote to his friend Yves R. Simon in September 1941:

‘How can one live when thinking of the Jews tortured and massacred in Poland … of the treatment of the refugees in France … If I wasn’t responsible to other people, I would return over there to be put to death.’

Yves Simon responded that one had to face the fact that, behind things like Father Tizo’s laws against the Jews, there was deep-rooted anti-Semitism in the Church, and recognize that the last decade had seen “a de-Christianization of the Church herself. ” Simon insisted that the role of Thomism in the inadequate Catholic response to fascism and militant racism had to be critically examined because “If Saint Thomas were alive today he would be for Pétain, Tizo, and the rest,” as the positions taken by leading Thomist of the day, Father Garrigou-Lagrange, demonstrated. Simon helped persuade Maritain that a rethinking of Catholic philosophy was in order. Some important post-war writings on Christian Democratic political philosophy would result.

The deep vein of anti-Semitism in the French Catholic world into which the Maritains converted at the beginning of this century would not soon disappear. But the Maritains retained a particular perspective on the Jews from their godfather Léon Bloy: the conversion of the Jews would announce a “New Middle Ages” and hence racist anti-Semitism was out of place. Citing Saint Thomas, Jacques Maritain always distinguished between the religious Jews with their mysterious supernatural role and the “carnal” Jews. Since Maritain eschewed racial hatred he became known as a great friend of the Jews even if his “carnal” Jews would not be given total freedom in a “Christian” democracy. While the Christian order would take measures to restrain secularizing Jews, it would denounce racial hatred and keep open the highest of hopes for those Jews of good will, the believing Jews, the potential converts.

Maritain’s apparently moderate and common-sensical thinking about the Jews figured in the background to the initial exclusionary measures taken against French Jews by the Vichy regime even if Maritain himself would soon be horrified by what followed. Maritain’s approach has resurfaced in the thinking of his student John Paul II, whose “Thomist Personalism” envisages the toleration of the Jews as a distinct community within a “Christian Europe” consciously reaffirming Christian values. There was little that was liberal or pluralistic about Maritain’s approach to the Jews until he encountered the savagery visited on them by World War II.

Manly Palmer Hall — the Outer Court and the Inner Court

Manly P. Hall,
Lectures on Ancient Philosophy

This two dimensional organization is described by Manly P. Hall (who is a Mason himself). Hall was honored by The Scottish Rite Journal, who called Hall ‘The Illustrious Manly P. Hall’ in September, 1990, and further called him ‘Masonry’s Greatest Philosopher’, saying “The world is a far better place because of Manly Palmer Hall, and we are better persons for having known him and his work”.

Manly P. Hall wrote:

“Freemasonry is a fraternity within a fraternity, an outer organization concealing an inner brotherhood of the elect. . . . The visible society is a splendid camaraderie of free and accepted men enjoined to devote themselves to ethical, educational, fraternal, patriotic, and humanitarian concerns. The invisible society is a secret and most august fraternity whose members are dedicated to the service of a mysterious arcanum arcanorum. . . . In each generation only a few are accepted into the inner sanctuary of the work, but these are veritable princes of truth, and their sainted names shall be remembered in future age together with the seers and prophets of the elder world. . . . They are dwellers upon the threshold of the innermost, masters of that secret doctrine which forms the invisible foundation of every great theological and rational institution. (61)

We have presented in a few brief pages a general review of the relationship between Freemasonry and the dark side of the occult world. We have documented the connections between Freemasons and the Illuminati, the New Age movement, the Theosophical Society, Satanism, the O.T.O., the Rosicrucian Society, the Golden Dawn, Witchcraft, the Egyptian Mystery Religions, many history making key people, and many famous Freemasons who were involved with these groups. Much more could have been said on this subject, but we believe what has been presented is sufficient enough to show the fact that Freemasons have played the leading roles in the 20th Century occult explosion.

This is a side of the Lodge that Masons don’t like to talk about. However, it is a side that exists nonetheless. The Scripture admonishes us not to be unequally yoked with unbelievers; and when a man can bow the knee at the Masonic altar and make the Freemasons that we have discussed in this chapter their lodge brothers, they have taken upon themselves the most unequal yoke that could ever be imagined.”

Manly P. Hall,
Lectures on Ancient Philosophy,
Philosophical Research Society, Inc. 1984,
p. 433,
note 61

Kardinal Michael von Faulhaber (1869-1952)

Michael von Faulhaber


The view from my front door in Alma: January 2014

All Fixed at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota

All Fixed at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota

All Fixed at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota

Father Paul M. Quay on file and on Kindle: “The Q-Source”

TheChristianMeaningOfHumanSexualityProduct Details

The Christian Meaning Of Human Sexuality

by Fr. Paul Quay S.J. (Feb 16, 2011)

From a friend:

Even though… John Paul II’s Theology of Human Love,  called the Theology of the Body,  has such wide circulation, Father Quay’s book adds another facet to  the diamond (using the late  Father Richard Hogan’s terminology)  which is Christ.

Given our culture’s strong push to separate sex from procreation it is important to utilize all good means to counter with an integral vision of the human person,  as Fr. Quay’s book does. JP begins by going back to the beginning in Eden,  but by holding out the integral vision  at the beginning, he unintentionally but actually lays a guilt trip on those who do not correspond now,  while Quay begins by facing humanity as it is,  even in its fallen state, but points out what is still present despite the fall and builds on that.   The goal and the theology are the same, but the approach is different, and more attractive, to many.

2013 in review–WordPress

The stats helper monkeys prepared a 2013 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

The concert hall at the Sydney Opera House holds 2,700 people. This blog was viewed about 11,000 times in 2013. If it were a concert at Sydney Opera House, it would take about 4 sold-out performances for that many people to see it.

Click here to see the complete report.

Looking Back at ‘Humani generis’ [HPR Online, 23 December 2013]

Looking Back at ‘Humani generis’

The First Vatican Council failed to complete its work. Papal encyclical letters instead promoted teaching that was needed on philosophical and theological questions, including some from the council’s own agenda. Nine years after a violent revolution shut down the First Vatican Council, Pope Leo XIII promulgated Aeterni patris, “On the Restoration of Christian Philosophy.” It may have seemed belated damage control after Kantianism, German Idealism and their baleful offspring.

The 1950 encyclical Humani generis, “Concerning Some False Opinions Threatening to Undermine the Foundations of Catholic Doctrine,” should be understood in the context of the pontifical effort to reform Catholic intellectual life. James A. Weisheipl, O.P. traced the history from the vantage of 1962. (Weisheipl, 1962).

Between 1879 and 1993 Leo XIII’s encyclical Aeterni patris addressed the reform problem. We may consider Humani generis as a certification in the vein of Pascendi dominici gregis and Lamentabili sane exitu of 1907.
In 1994 F. Russell Hittinger explained the 1879 Leonine reform as a story not of errors (as Pope Pius IX expressed it) but of destructively one-sided positions incapable of representing the Church’s tradition and of satisfying man’s thirst for the truth. (Hittinger, 1994, 17).

The crucial word is “modernity.” In the years immediately after Aeterni patris, the Catholic Church endeavored to respond to the intellectual challenges of the Enlightenment and Darwinian science. The Catholic Modernist Movement spanned the decade before and the first decade after the turn of the twentieth century.

Institutional Thomism was the preferred philosophy sponsored by the central teaching office of the church to engage new ideas . Why? Thomist metaphysics accepted the existence of absolute truth or certitude in contrast to the post-Enlightenment secular academy dominated by the proponents of materialism, relativism, determinism and atheism. Thomism was a sure defense against epistemological skepticism and its cousins, moral relativism and metaphysical deterioration. The Thomist system was superior to eclecticism and idealism.

Church historians and historians of theology including Hubert Jedin, Roger Aubert, Yves Congar and James Weisheipl surveyed the first Modernist Crisis. Its progress was interrupted by two world wars.

After the Second World War, another wave of intellectual ferment affected the Church in Europe, especially in France. This development confirmed the age-old adage that “the Church does its thinking in France, but is governed in Rome.”

However in Poland, Adam Stephan Cardinal Sapieha also promoted an intellectual revival. Sapieha ordained Karol Józef Wojtyła in 1946 and then sent him to Rome for advanced studies. Wojtyła earned two doctorates, one of them under the direction of Réginald Garrigou-Lagrange, O.P. His 1948 dissertation was entitled Doctrina de fide apud S. Joannem a Cruce.

Wojtyła disagreed with Garrigou-Lagrange on a significant point. Wojtyła refused to call God “Object” because for Wojtyła, God was “Person.” Rocco Buttiglione reported that Garrigou-Lagrange objected to Wojtyła’s philosophy on this account. The Italian edition of Wojtyła’s book included Garrigou-Lagrange’s position in the appendix. (Buttiglione, Karol Wojtyła, 35, note 22). Perhaps the seed of a much later disagreement between Wojtyła and Garrigou-Lagrange’s manualist system ripened from this initial discord.

The influential professor of the Pontifical University of St. Thomas (the “Angelicum”) in Rome where he taught from 1909 to 1959, and where he served as censor for the Holy Office, Garrigou-Lagrange was an enforcer of Aeterni patris according to a precise interpretation. For him, Catholic orthodoxy and philosophical Thomism coincided. There was an identification of systematic theology with the doctrinal tradition. His interpretation left no room for historical consciousness, and it devalued historical studies as well as exegesis and biblical theology. Garrigou-Lagrange was said to have accepted Dominican commentaries on Thomas such as Cajetan and John of St. Thomas, perhaps because Thomas died young and never finished his work, as if the commentaries were the real Thomas—just as Jesuits had been accustomed to see Thomas through the trajectory of Francisco Suárez (1548-1617). (Gerald A. McCool, “Réginald Garrigou-Lagrange,” Biographical Dictionary of Christian Theologians, 205-207).

Father Garrigou-Lagrange began his teaching career when the Modernist Crisis was in full bloom, and he ended it after the second “modernist battle” had been waged by means of Humani generis. Réginald Garrigou-Lagrange died in 1964.

French Ressourcement Theology or the “retour aux sources” was a theological undertaking from the early twentieth century through the Second Vatican Council. The movement saw the key to the revitalization of both theology and pastoral life in the church as a reappropriation of its fundamentals – in the liturgy, the Scriptures, the Early Church Fathers and the writings of others saints and doctors in whom the Catholic tradition came to especially powerful expression, particularly St. Thomas Aquinas. Thomas himself needed to be exhumed and resuscitated from decadent Scholasticism. In 1940-1941 Henri de Lubac and Jean Daniélou co-founded the collection Sources chrétiennes to make critical editions of the Church Fathers available. Daniélou himself specialized in St. Gregory of Nyssa.

Derisively called the “new theology” or “la nouvelle théologie” by its opponents, this movement found synergy with French theologians including Henri de Lubac (later a cardinal), Jean Daniélou (later a cardinal), Henri Bouillard, Yves Congar (later a cardinal), Louis Bouyer, Marie-Dominique Chenu and the Swiss theologian Hans Urs von Balthasar (later a cardinal-elect).  The ressourcement movement (de Lubac called “imaginary” any idea of a “new theology”) employed the ideas of philosophers and poets, especially Maurice Blondel, Pierre Rousselot, Étienne Gilson and Charles Péguy.

Certainly Karol Wojtyła was aware of Garrigou-Lagrange’s opposition to the nouvelle théologie. Its approach was regarded as outside the boundaries of Aeterni patris and Humani generis.

Henri de Lubac published his Catholicisme in 1938, and Le Surnaturel: Études historiques appeared in 1946. Garrigou-Lagrange wrote against the nouvelle théologie in 1946 and he most likely thought that more fuel was required for the fire.

Even the much older Dominican view of Jesuit theology was an unhappy one. The influence of Francisco Suárez’s “Thomism” made Jesuit “Thomism” different from that of the Dominicans. More than one brand of Thomism coexisted with dissonance. The history of the “De auxiliis” controversy between Jesuits and Dominicans in the sixteenth century seemed to be replicating itself in the perceived dispute between de Lubac on the one side and Garrigou-Lagrange and perhaps one of his French Jesuit allies from the Gregorian University, Charles Boyer, on the other side. One emphasizes “perceived” since neither party ever publicly acknowledged the other as an adversary. In 1985 de Lubac said that he did not think that he was targeted by Humani generis. (Susan Wood, “Henri de Lubac,” Biographical Dictionary of Christian Theologians, 331).

In 1950 Pope Pius XII promulgated Humani generis. The encyclical named no individuals, but suspicion was widespread that its focus was the “new theology,” chief among them the “ressourcement” French Jesuits who had published. There was speculation that a Dutch Jesuit at the Pontifical Gregorian University, Sebastian Tromp (1889-1975), was the pope’s ghost author for the encyclical. (For more on Tromp, see the studies of Alexandra von Teuffenbach.)

Though he was not the only one to feel the repression, de Lubac was asked by his religious superiors not to publish or to teach (1950-1958). De Lubac in a 1985 interview with Angelo Scola in 30 Giorni said that this silence was in part his own idea.

The mood generated by Humani generis was dark and fearful. A theologian quipped “the only safe topics today are canon law and Mariology or Josephology.” At least one theologian, ironically not a Jesuit but a Dominican, Mathieu-Maxime Gorce, O.P. left the Catholic Church and moved to Switzerland in order to publish freely.

The refined presentation of “monogenism” and “polygenism” in HG # 36 is probably a reference to the writing of the French Jesuit Pierre Teilhard de Chardin who died in 1955. In 1962 the Holy Office issued an explicit warning against the writings of Teilhard de Chardin. At stake was the idea that ancient doctrinal truths could be expressed with different or newer vocabulary. In 1962 Pope John also promulgated the Apostolic Constitution Veterum Sapientia confirming the importance of teaching theology in Latin.

During the preparatory commission meetings before the Second Vatican Council, Henri  de Lubac and Karol Wojtyła became friends. [An account by the Italian Jesuits is available at].] There is no information as to whether they corresponded before this period, but the association of de Lubac and Wojtyła in Rome is clear after 1959.

With the election of Wojtyła as Pope John Paul II in 1978, there occurred an implicit re-evaluation of French Ressourcement Theology or the “new theology.” Pope John Paul II, who had the highest esteem for de Lubac, stopped during a major address in 1980 and acknowleged the presence of de Lubac, saying “I bow my head to Father Henri de Lubac.” When Henri de Lubac became a cardinal in 1983, this elevation by itself rehabilitated his intellectual career, including by implication his spirited defense of Pierre Teilhard de Chardin.

Ironically, at the end of his life, de Lubac even defended Thomism. One commentator described de Lubac as loyal to Augustine to the degree of missing points that Augustine so long ago had missed. (For more on de Lubac, see Rudolf Voderholzer’s Meet Henri de Lubac [2012].)

The broader impact of Humani generis was a freezing of systematic theology into a Thomist orthodoxy represented by the “twenty-four theses.” It was simply called “manualism.” Thomistic philosophy had created an illusion that theology could be perfectly systematized. This rationalism reduced theological speculation to servility. It became a straightjacket for theology, though this was presumably unintended by the popes.

In 1993 Pope John Paul II issued an encyclical which “corrected” Aeterni patris and Humani generis. Though the thought of St. Thomas took precedence, other avenues may be explored for the good of the Church. A genuine competition replaced the Leonine strategy of Aeterni patris and later Humani generis. Paragraph #29 of Splendor Veritatis stated: “Certainly the Church’s Magisterium does not intend to impose upon the faithful any particular theological system, still less a philosophical one.”

It was widely known that Pope Benedict XVI was an Augustinian.



Journal Articles

Jean Daniélou, “Les orientations présentes de la pensée religieuse.” Études 249 (1946): 5-21 (French).

Réginald Garrigou-Lagrange, O.P., “La nouvelle théologie, où va-t-elle?” Angelicum 23 (1946): 126-45 (French).

Robert Guelluy, “Les antécédants de l’encyclique Humani Generis dans les sanctions romaines de 1942: Chenu, Charlier, Draguet.”  Revue d’histoire ecclésiastique 81 (1986): 421-497 (French).

Richard J. Neuhaus, F. Russell Hittinger, et al., “The Splendor of Truth: A Symposium,” First Things 40 (January 1994): 14-29 (English). Available at

Edward T. Oakes, “The Paradox of Nature and Grace: On John Milbank’s The Suspended Middle: Henri de Lubac and the Debate Concerning the Supernatural,” Nova et Vetera, English Edition 4 (2006): 3, 667-696. Abstract available at nk&cd=1&gl=us

R.R. Reno, “Defending Truth,” First Things (7 July 2009). Available at


James A. Weisheipl, O.P., “The Revival of Thomism: An Historical Survey”. [Lectio occasionalis a Reverendo Patre Lectore F. Athanasio Weisheipl, O.P., D.Phil. (Oxon), facta A. D. 1962, coram professoribus et alumnis Facultatis Theologiae Studii Generalis Ordinis Praedicatorum atque Seminarii Montis Sancti Bernardi Dubuquensis.]
Available at


Marcellino D’Ambrosio, “Henri de Lubac and the Recovery of the Traditional Hermeneutic,” doctoral dissertation directed by Avery Dulles, S.J. and submitted to the Catholic University of America, 1991. Abstract available at


Hans Urs von Balthasar, The Theology of Henri de Lubac: An Overview (San Francisco 1991). (English).

Rocco Buttiglione, Il pensiero di Karol Woytła (Milan 1982). (Italian).

Romanus Cessario, A Short History of Thomism (Washington, D.C. 2005). (English).

Yves Congar, Fifty Years of Catholic Theology, edited by Bernard Lauret (Minneapolis 1988). (English).

James M. Connolly, The Voices of France (New York 1961). (English).

Paolo Dezza, Alle Origini del Neotomismo (Milan 1940). (Italian).

Étienne Gilson, Letters of Étienne Gilson to Henri de Lubac (San Francisco 1988). (English).

Henri de Lubac, Catholicisme. Les aspects sociaux du dogme (Paris 1938; reprinted 1983). (French).

Henri de Lubac, Le Drame de l’humanisme athée (Paris 1944 and revised 1998). (French). *[This is the first in a series of the collected works of Henri de Lubac edited by Georges Chantraine and Michel Sales.]

Henri de Lubac, Surnaturel. Études historiques (Paris 1946). (French).

Henri de Lubac, La pensée religieuse du Père Teilhard de Chardin (Paris 1962) (French);

The Religion of Teilhard de Chardin (New York 1968). (English).

Henri de Lubac, ed., Trois jésuites nous parlent (Paris 1980) (French); Three Jesuits Speak, translated by K. D. Whitehead (San Francisco 1987) (English).

Henri de Lubac, Augustinianism and Modern Theology (New York revised 2000). (English).

Gerald A. McCool, Catholic Theology in the Nineteenth Century: The Quest for a Unitary Method (Seabury 1977). (English).

Gerald A. McCool, The Neo-Thomists (Milwaukee 1994). (English).

Richard Peddicord, The Sacred Monster of Thomism: An Introduction to the Life and Legacy of Réginald Garrigou-Lagrange, O.P. (South Bend 2004). (English).

Rudolf Voderholzer, Meet Henri de Lubac: His Life and Work (San Francisco 2012). (English)

Jean-Pierre Wagner, Henri de Lubac, collection Initiations aux théologiens (Paris 2001). (French).

Chapter or Article in Book, including signed encyclopedia articles

Robert J. Henle, “Transcendental Thomism: A Critical Assessment,” in One Hundred Years of Thomism, edited by Victor B. Brezik (Houston, 1981): 90-116 (English).

Robert J. Henle, “The American Thomistic Revival in the Philosophical Papers of R. J. Henle, S.J.: From the Writing of R. J. Henle, S.J., Professor Emeritus of Saint Louis University.” (Saint Louis 1999) (English).

Gerald A. McCool, “Réginald Garrigou-Lagrange,” in Biographical Dictionary of Christian Theologians, edited by Patrick W. Cary and Joseph T. Lienhard (Peabody reprint 2005) (English).

Henri Rondet, “Nouvelle Théologie,” in Sacramentum Mundi 1: 234-236 (New York 1964) (English).

Susan Wood, “Henri de Lubac,” in Biographical Dictionary of Christian Theologians, edited by Patrick W. Cary and Joseph T. Lienhard (Peabody reprint 2005) (English).


John A. Hardon, “God the Author of Nature and the Supernatural. Part Two: Creation as a Divine Fact. Section Two: Supernatural Anthropology. THESIS VII: Adam was an Individual Man, From Whom the Whole Human Race Derives Its Origin.”
Available at

Michel Fedou, “Le cardinal Henri de Lubac” (French). Available at

Joseph M. de Torre, “Thomism and the Encyclical ‘Veritatis Splendor’” in The Fellowship of Catholic Scholars Newsletter vol. 18, n. 2 (April 1995): 21-24 (English). Available at


De Lubac: A Theologian Speaks. Interview with Angelo Scola. Twin Circle Publishing Company, Los Angeles, California, 1985. English translation from the Italian. Francis X. Maier, ed.

Papal Documents

For the text of Pope Pius XII’s “Allocutio ad Patres Societatis Jesu in XXIX Congregatio Generali electores” see Acta Apostolicae Sedis 338 (1946): 381-385 (Latin).

For the text of Pope Pius XII’s “Allocutio ad Patres delegatos ad Capitulum Generale Ordinis Fratrum Praedicatorum”see Acta Apostolicae Sedis 338 (1946): 385-389 (Latin).

For the text of Pope Pius XII’s encyclical Humani generis (1950) see Acta Apostolicae Sedis 42 (1950): 561-578 (Latin); The Papal Encyclicals, vol. 4 (1939-1958), ed. Claudia Carlen, 175-184 (Wilmington, NC: McGrath, 1981) (English); (reprint n.p.: Pieran, 1990) (English). Available at (English).

For the text of Pope John Paul II’s encyclical Splendor Veritatis (1993) see Acta Apostolicae Sedis 85 (1993): 1134-1228 (Latin); and Origins (14 October 1993): 297-336 (English). Available at (English)

Brian Van Hove, S.J.
Alma, Michigan

from Letter to a Friend: ‘Vichy’

One of the ironic twists in the St. Paul story of continued manualism is a revived interest in Réginald Garrigou-Lagrange, OP.

Apparently even Garrigou-Lagrange’s devotional works are being reprinted and recommended since he is so “untainted” by liberalism and progressivism. Maybe the students are taught to adore Garrigou-Lagrange— to the detriment of Tanquerey, Marmion, Vonier, Sertillanges, von Speyer, Boylan, Leen, van Zeller, Sheen and Goodier!

What the young people are not being told is the fracture in the relationship of two Thomists, Father Garrigou-Lagrange and Jacques Maritain. Both of them were French at a time when the Church still “did its thinking in France.”

Maritain represented the non-manualist or “back to the sources” movement in theology. He rejected Bolshevism, but after 1940 he also repudiated the Vichy government of occupied France. Garrigou-Lagrange, on the other hand, supported Vichy, a breach which separated them for the rest of their lives.

But Maritain’s wife and mother-in-law were Jews; he managed to take them out of Europe to the United States where, during the war, he taught at Princeton, and later became acquainted with intellectual Catholics such as Thomas Merton. Maritain was also an apostle of sorts , even engaging in conversation such Jewish leftists as Saul Alinsky.

Vichy and its politicians were complicit in the deportation and murder of thousands of Jews. Any support of this atrocity is unconscionable. Charles Maurras (1868-1952) was arrested and sentenced to prison after the War in connection with his support for Vichy and Pétain. It is said that Charles De Gaulle urged Pius XII to depose bishops in France who had been collaborationist during the Occupation and that the pope consequently demanded the resignation–-by telephone–-of a quarter of the French hierarchy. Pius XII also ordered the “quarantine” of the Austrian titular Bishop Alois Hudal in Rome (a consultant to the Holy Office along with Garrigou-Lagrange), and the layman Paul Touvier never found a lasting refuge in a Catholic institution. Charles Coughlin “the radio priest” from Detroit was finally silenced. Garrigou-Lagrange is now a candidate for “Holocaust Studies!”

Indeed, Maritain himself as a Thomist has been criticized. John Hellman wrote:

‘Simon insisted that the role of Thomism in the inadequate Catholic response to fascism and militant racism had to be critically examined because “If Saint Thomas were alive today he would be for Pétain, Tizo, and the rest,” as the positions taken by leading Thomist of the day, Father Garrigou-Lagrange, demonstrated. See The Jews in the “New Middle Ages”:  Jacques Maritain’s Anti-Semitism in Its Times by John Hellman.’

Garrigou-Lagrange died in 1964 and Maritain died in 1973. Maritain’s “Peasant of the Garonne” was a rejection of post-conciliar folly and the book was the target of intense ridicule by the NCR located in K.C., Mo.

I find the “new enthusiasm” for Garrigou-Lagrange distasteful and an embarrassment for the Church. If you meet some of this enthusiasm in St. Paul, you may quip “I wonder what Maritain would think?!”

For more on the Vichy regime, see:


P.S. -
7.7.2009 |

Lawrence Cunningham says:

In my days in Rome as a young man I went over to the Angelicum more than once to hear the Old Lion before he retired. The distaste for him was not predicated on his strict defense of Thomism since Chenu and others were doing more interesting work. His name was in bad odor even in Rome because memories lingered over his support, first, for Action Française and, then, for Vichy. If Father deLubac lamented his influence it was because so many suffered via his influence in the Vatican dicasteries. He almost had Maritain’s works proscribed while others did see the direct influence of his intransigence (both Congar and Chenu to name only his own brethren). Few read him today and not without reason. There are many Neo-Thomisms so we must not collapse his work as being the only Neo-Thomism abroad in those days.

Donald Hensrud on “Coffee”

Coffee and health: What does the research say?

What does the research say about coffee and health? Is coffee good or bad for me?

Answer from Donald Hensrud, M.D.

Coffee has a long history of being blamed for many ills — from the humorous “It will stunt your growth” to the not-so-humorous claim that it causes heart disease and cancer. But recent research indicates that coffee may not be so bad after all. So which is it — good or bad? The best answer may be that for most people the health benefits outweigh the risks.

Recent studies have generally found no connection between coffee and an increased risk of cancer or heart disease. Why the apparent reversal in the thinking about coffee? Earlier studies didn’t always take into account that known high-risk behaviors, such as smoking and physical inactivity, tended to be more common among heavy coffee drinkers at that time.

However, the research appears to bear out some risks. High consumption of unfiltered coffee is associated with mild elevations in cholesterol levels. And another study found that two or more cups of coffee a day can increase the risk of heart disease in people with a specific — and fairly common — genetic mutation that slows the breakdown of caffeine in the body. So, how quickly you metabolize coffee may affect your health risk.

Newer studies have also shown that coffee may have benefits, such as protecting against Parkinson’s disease, type 2 diabetes and liver cancer. And it has a high content of antioxidants. But this doesn’t mean you should disregard the old maxim “Everything in moderation.” Although coffee may not be very harmful, other beverages such as milk and juice contain nutrients that coffee does not. Also, keep in mind that coffee accompaniments such as cream and sugar add fat and calories to your diet. Finally, heavy caffeine use — on the order of four to seven cups of coffee a day — can cause problems such as restlessness, anxiety, irritability and sleeplessness, particularly in susceptible individuals.

Bella Dodd and Bishop Fulton Sheen: 1952

Tom Hoopes was executive editor of the National Catholic Register from 1999-2009.

Comment by TOM MADISON on Thursday, Dec 19, 2013 12:03 PM (EST):

In the early 1950s, Mrs. Bella Dodd provided detailed explanations of the Communist subversion of the Church. Speaking as a former high ranking official of the American Communist Party, Mrs. Dodd said: “In the 1930s we put eleven hundred men into the priesthood in order to destroy the Church from within.” The idea was for these men to be ordained and progress to positions of influence and authority as Monsignors and Bishops. She stated that: “Right now they are in the highest places in the Church” — where they were working to bring about change in order to weaken the Church’s effectiveness against Communism. She also said that these changes would be so drastic that “you will not recognise the Catholic Church.” Dodd gave testimony on communist infiltration of Church and state before the House UnAmerican Activities Committee in the 1950s.

On Tuesday, August 5, 1952 she publicly announced that on April 7th of the same year, she was received back into the Roman Catholic Church. Not being able to secure her baptismal certificate from Italy after inquiry, she was therefore conditionally baptized by Bishop Fulton J. Sheen in St. Patrick’s Cathedral, New York.

Read more:

Dishonorable Disclosures by Scott Taylor

Dishonorable Disclosures

by Scott Taylor

Former Special Operations members and CIA officers are stepping forward in unprecedented numbers to declare enough is enough. I chair an organization called OPSEC – short for operation security – which is a coalition of Navy SEALs, Army Special Forces, DELTA Force, Marines, and CIA operators who have emerged from the shadows to speak out against these leaks on behalf of those still in harm’s way who lack the ability to go public.

Whether fighting a war, running a business, or simply playing a game of basketball, disclosing your strategies or capabilities hinders success – and in combat it can be a lethal mistake. The youngest athletes and lowest of ranks in the military understand this but apparently some of our nation’s most senior leaders do not.

There has been an alarming rise in classified leaks from the highest levels of Government intended to drive policy – or even worse, political — agendas. Unless something is done to stop it, the success of those very missions and the safety of the Americans who undertake them will be severely threatened.

Among the worst examples of leaks and politicization was a highly partisan TV ad the Obama Administration produced on the one year anniversary of the raid in which Navy SEALs killed Osama Bin Laden. I and others volunteered for dangerous work to protect our country and using that sacrifice for political purposes is simply offensive to those who serve no matter which candidate they support.

Unfortunately, the damage done by leaks from the Obama Administration goes from offensive to downright dishonorable. By leaking classified information about operational tactics and tradecraft and disclosing highly sensitive operations like Stuxnet and the infiltration of al Qaeda, this Administration has put the lives of our forces and our allies and the success of our operations at much greater risk.

From cozy offices in Midtown Manhattan or over drinks in Georgetown, these concerns are brushed aside as being naïve or even at odds with the principles of democracy. To those people, leaks are just a part of doing business in Washington or are actually necessary to keep government in check.

As a former Navy SEAL, I feel certain the perspective of these people would change significantly if their place of business was closer to Helmand province than Times Square or if their drink was coming out of a canteen near Ramadi rather than a tap on K street.

Risks to American lives and success of our Special Operations missions from leaks are all too real. More knowledgeable leaders like Dianne Feinstein and Bob Kerrey have said that the amount and detail of leaks over the past couple years have been unprecedented. Efforts to stop them must be unprecedented therefore as well.

Special Operations members have an ethos of staying quiet, not seeking recognition for our achievements. While we will continue to avoid acknowledgement for our successes, we will not be quiet in criticizing the leaks of politicians and policymakers anymore.

I’ve hugged the widows and children of fallen brothers and many of my peers are still active, still serving in faraway places as their families and friends pray for their safe return. I and others are speaking out to try to protect them from even one unnecessary death brought on by irresponsible leak for a selfish political or policy gain.

Politics may be the art of persuasive speaking. But when it comes to sensitive or classified information that is critical to the safety and success of our CIA and Special Operations forces, it’s time for the politicians to shut up.

Very Respectfully,

Scott Taylor

“Why They Rescued Horses, Not Jews” by Dr. Rafael Medoff

Why They Rescued Horses, Not Jews
By Dr. Rafael Medoff

Sixty years ago next week, General George S. Patton ordered U.S. to attack a German position in Hostau, Czechoslovakia, to rescue 150 innocent prisoners. The prisoners for whom Patton was willing to risk his soldiers’ lives were not, however, Jewish refugees or other innocent hostages of the Nazis. They were horses.

Patton’s rescue of the prized Lipizzaner horses might be regarded as nothing more than an oddity of history, if not for the fact that in recent years, public attention has been focused on another issue related to the propriety of diverting military resources for non-military objectives: the refusal of the Roosevelt administration to bomb the railroad lines to Auschwitz or the gas chambers and crematoria there, where an estimated 1.5-million Jews were murdered.

During the spring, summer, and autumn of 1944, Jewish organizations repeatedly asked U.S. Officials to bomb the death camps or the railways leading to them. The War Department rejected the requests, claiming it had undertaken “a study” which found that such bombing raids would require “the diversion of considerable air support essential to the success of our forces now engaged in decisive operations elsewhere…”

Today, we know from the War Department’s files that no such study was ever conducted. The rejections were based on a secret War Department policy to never divert any attention or resources to helping refugees.

Ironically, the Roosevelt administration did divert resources and alter military plans on various occasions because of non-military considerations. They just wouldn’t do it to save Jews.

For example, a U.S. Air Force plan to bomb the Japanese city of Kyoto was blocked by Secretary of War Henry Stimson because of the city’s artistic treasures. Assistant Secretary of War John McCloy –who was particularly adamant about not diverting U.S. Bombers to hit Auschwitz–personally intervened to divert bombers from striking the German city of Rothenburg, because of its famous medieval architecture.

In 1943, the State Department, which opposed any U.S. Government action to rescue Jews from Hitler, did establish its own rescue agency–a government commission “for the protection and salvage of artistic and historic monuments in Europe.”

The following year, FDR ordered air-drops of supplies to the Polish Home Army rebels in Warsaw, even though his advisers warned that “the [Polish Home Army] fight was a losing one,” that “large numbers of planes would be tied up for long periods of time and lost to the main strategic effort against Germany,” and that most of the supplies would be confiscated by the Germans.

And while the administration was claiming that bombing Auschwitz would necessitate “considerable diversion” of U.S. Air power, in fact in the summer and autumn of 1944, Allied plans repeatedly bombed German oil factories close to Auschwitz, some of them less than five miles from the gas chambers. How much of a “diversion” would it have required to have a few of those planes fly five more miles and drop some bombs on the gas chambers?

The reason the Allies did not take any meaningful steps to help the Jews in Europe was that they did not want to have large numbers of Jewish refugees on their hands. Roosevelt did not want to bring more refugees to America. England did not want more Jews going to Mandatory Palestine.

In March 1943, British Foreign Minister Anthony Eden met with President Roosevelt, Secretary of State Cordell Hull, and other senior U.S. Officials at the White House. When Hull raised the issue of perhaps helping the 60,000 Jews in Bulgaria, Eden replied “that the whole problem of the Jews in Europe is very difficult and that we should move very cautiously about offering to take all Jews out of a country like Bulgaria. If we do that, then the Jews of the world will be wanting us to make similar offers in Poland and Germany.” None of the U.S. Officials disagreed.

In a similar vein, a State Department official, later that year wrote in an internal memorandum: ‘There was always the danger that the German government might agree to turn over the United States and to Great Britain a large number of Jewish refugees. In the event of our admission of inability to take care of these people, the onus for their continued persecution would have been largely transferred from the German government to the Allied nations.”

As we reflect on the sixtieth anniversary of General Patton’s rescue of the Lipizzaner horses, perhaps it is worth recalling the bitter –and prescient– remark made by the Zionist leader Rabbi Meyer Berlin to U.S. Senator Robert Wagner, in early 1943: “If horses were being slaughtered as are the Jews of Poland, there would by now be a loud demand for organized action against such cruelty to animals. Somehow, when it concerns Jews, everybody remains silent.”

j. the Jewish newsweekly of Northern California

Friday, April 29, 2005

Nicole Winfield — “Legion of Christ Reform?”

posted without endorsement for the interest of readers            

Legion Of Christ Reform? Future Of Order Uncertain Under Pope Francis

By NICOLE WINFIELD  12/13/13 10:38 AM ET EST AP 

legion of christ reform

VATICAN CITY (AP) — First, one of the Legion of Christ’s top officials abruptly quit the troubled religious order in frustration over the slow pace of change. The priests in the cult-like movement empowered proteges and associates of the order’s disgraced founder, the Rev. Marcial Maciel, to vote for their next leader.

The past month has seen some setbacks the Legion’s efforts to rehabilitate itself as it moves toward electing a new leadership next month, the culmination of a three-year Vatican experiment aiming to overhaul a damaged order. Yet even as the Legion prepares to present a new face, high-ranking members continue to speak nostalgically and even reverently of Maciel — a sexual predator who molested his seminarians, fathered three children and was, in the words of Vatican-appointed investigators, “devoid of scruples and authentic religious meaning.”

It all means that hopes are dwindling that the Vatican’s effort to radically reform the Legion has succeeded, raising the question of what Pope Francis will do with the once-powerful and wealthy order after the mandate of the papal envoy running it expires.

Francis’ predecessor, Benedict XVI, took over the Legion in 2010 and appointed a Vatican cardinal to govern it after investigators determined that the congregation itself needed to be “purified” of Maciel’s influence. In reality, the Vatican knew well of Maciel’s crimes for decades but turned a blind eye, impressed instead by his ability to bring millions of dollars and thousands of seminarians into the church.

Rome’s failure to stop him marks the most egregious case of its indifference to victims of priestly sexual abuse, and has tarnished the legacy of Pope John Paul II, soon to be canonized, because he had held up the Legion as a model for the faithful.

To be sure, some progress has been made during the past three years of Vatican receivership: The order rewrote its constitutions, released statistics about sex abuse cases, and a well-respected priest recently begged forgiveness from Maciel’s victims for how he and the Legion ignored and defamed them. But if recent elections in the Legion’s consecrated lay branches are any indication, the membership itself has voted for the status quo.

That mindset has driven dozens of disillusioned priests and hundreds of seminarians and consecrated members out of the order: On Saturday, the Legion will ordain 31 new priests, half as many as were ordained just three years ago.

Last month, the Legion’s reform-minded governing counselor, the Rev. Deomar De Guedes, announced that he was not only resigning his position but was leaving the congregation altogether, a major blow coming just weeks before the Jan. 8 assembly to approve the new constitutions and elect a new superior.

In his farewell letter, De Guedes said he didn’t have the strength to carry on. But the Legion’s spokesman, the Rev. Benjamin Clariond, acknowledged that De Guedes was often the “minority” in pressing for deeper and faster reform and that this was a source of “tension” for him.

“We grant that the reform has gone slowly up to now,” Clariond said in an email. “That is because we intend to effect changes that are not just cosmetic, but that address the underlying causes of the problems … As is understandable, this takes time.”

But with the mandate of the papal delegate, Cardinal Velasio De Paolis, ending after the assembly, key questions are being asked now that will pose a major test for Francis: Has the Legion truly shed the cult-like practices that French bishops recently denounced in a letter to victims of spiritual abuse? Will Francis approve the constitutions and essentially give the Legion a clean bill of health? Or will he make some provision for continued Vatican oversight after De Paolis leaves?

Francis has already said the Legion’s assembly, or General Chapter, isn’t the end of the reform process but merely a “step.”

Yet the process itself seems questionable when even the Legion’s current leader continues to speak fondly of Maciel.

In a recent interview with a Spanish-language online journal, Vida Nueva, the Rev. Sylvester Heereman said that regardless of the bad things Maciel did, “he continues to be someone to whom I owe a lot, whom I remember with a mixture of gratitude and compassion, even though I understand and respect those who personally suffered and cannot share those feelings.”

Recently, a senior member of the Legion’s consecrated lay branch, Alejandro Pinelo Leon, visited Maciel’s tomb in Cotija, Mexico on a pilgrimage of sorts: “Our founder teaches us many things and before his tomb I got emotional and thanked him for all that I learned about God from him,” he wrote on Facebook.

The Rev. Thomas Berg, an American priest who left the Legion in 2009, said such nostalgia shows that a considerable portion of the Legion membership is still unable to shake itself from Maciel’s toxic influence.

“The continual resurgence in private and public of the story-line that Macial is a ‘flawed instrument,’ but an instrument of God no less, is proof in the pudding that the purification has not gone deep enough,” he said.

Other indications include the roster of men who will elect the next superior: They include 19 existing superiors and 42 priests elected by the Legionary membership to represent them. The existing superiors include many of the top Legion priests who were close to Maciel and his successor. Electors chosen by the rank and file to represent them include Maciel proteges or still other associates. One recently was forced to explain a bizarre correspondence with a woman under his spiritual guidance.

“With so much of the old guard, so many men who Maciel put in as superiors, and younger priests formed under their influence and supervision, there is no hope of serious reform,” said Glenn Favreau, who left the Legion in 1997 before being ordained a priest and later co-founded ReGain, an online community for former Legion priests that was sued by the Legion after parts of the order’s constitutions were posted on an Internet message board.

Clariond, the Legion spokesman, defended the roster of electors as being fair and representative.

“If you consider that for 42 of the people participating this is their first General Chapter we really cannot be speaking of an ‘old guard,’” he said. “We feel confident that all views will be present, and that the work of renewal will continue on.”

But Xavier Leger, a French seminarian who left the Legion in 2006, said the Vatican’s reform was flawed from the start since the Holy See has relied almost exclusively on current Legion members for its information.

“When you are confronted with cult-like behavior,” said Leger, “the testimony of someone who is under the influence of a cult, this testimony cannot be trusted.”

According to Berg, the American priest, there was never any way the Legion could reinvent itself in such a short time.

“Such a toxic environment cannot be rehabilitated in a matter of three short years,” Berg said in an email to AP. “While the Legionaries desperately want to believe that they are nearing the completion of the reform, this is just one further indication of their inability to deal with reality.”


Follow Nicole Winfield at

“a life-size oil portrait” — from ‘Explaining Hitler’ by Ron Rosenbaum (Random House, 1998)

(….there is perhaps an even more important American source for Hitler’s hatred of Jews. A crucial source of his vision of a Jewish world conspiracy and a perhaps crucial source of funding for Hitler’s own conspiracy to seize power in Germany: Henry Ford. It’s remarkable how easily–or conveniently–Ford’s contribution to Hitler’s success has been lost to memory in America. It wasn’t lost to Hitler, who demonstrated his gratitude by placing a life-size oil portrait of the American carmaker on the wall of his personal office in party headquarters in Munich and by offering, in the twenties, to send storm troopers to America to help Ford’s proposed campaign for the presidency. The worldwide publication of Ford’s vicious anti-Semitic tract, The International Jew, which Hitler and the Nazis rhapsodically read, promoted, and distributed in Germany, the influence of Ford’s work and fame–he was an icon of the Modern Age in Germany–helped validate for a gullible German public Hitler’s malignant vision of the sinister “Elders of Zion” Jewish conspiracy.)

Explaining Hitler: the search for the origins of his evil
by Ron Rosenbaum
Introduction, xxxviii-xxxix

Brother Theodore Haggerty, OSB [Marmion and Meinrad]




Kevin Doherty, Father Van Hove, Philippe Doherty and Paul Doherty: at Donato’s in San Francisco, CA

At Donato's in San Francisco

Father Raymond T. Gawronski, SJ and Deacon Mark Doherty discuss details in San Francisco, California.

studying the details

studying the details


Thank you, City of Alma! The leafmen came!


Father Knapp Rescuing Sheep

Father Knapp Rescuing Sheep

Father Knapp Rescuing Sheep

Deacon Eric Schneider and Nathaniel R. Hop in Columbus, Ohio. The Pontifical College Josephinum.


Ronald Lee Klingler in Mt. Pleasant, Michigan.

Ronald L. Klingler

“the ronster-monster”

Reverend Paul Michael Quay, S.J. (1924–1994)

Reverend Paul M. Quay, S.J.

Paul M. Quay SJdates of photos unknown

Father Maciel’s Last Laugh

[from a correspondent and posted as an item of interest to the reader]

see also: Deomar de Guedes,

“The Last Laugh”

Would you send your son or daughter to a school whose formative program was designed by a pedophile?

Would you seek guidance on issues of morality from a sodomizer?

Would you attend marriage counseling offered by a profligate womanizer?

Would you delegate the role of mentorship and character building to a pathological liar and conman?

Would you donate money to a cause founded by a thief whose only moral compass were the demands of his own outrageous lifestyle?

Would you expect the Catholic Church to entrust the formation of its priests to any of the deviants listed above?

If you answered ‘yes’ to any of these preposterous suggestions, then you will be pleased with the way in which the resolution of the scandal that is the Legion of Christ appears to be approaching its ignominious end.

In roughly 90 days the Legion will hold its General Chapter, the pre-scripted tragicomedy that is supposed to sweep the truth of the embattled congregation under the rug forever and free its weary leadership from future scrutiny, responsibility and, best of all, criticism.

This is not the first General Chapter of the Legion, although its architects are the same as the previous two, held in the early ‘80s and again in 1995 under the controlling gaze of Fr. Maciel. The tone and contents of the first Chapters are an eerie reverse-prophecy of all that will be cosmetically altered come January 2014 as the Legion once again reinvents itself while remaining what it will always essentially be: the legacy of a perverse, devious and recklessly arrogant abuser whose name may no longer be mentioned, but who continues to live and breathe in the fraudulent masterpiece he engineered.

The conclusive documents of the Legion’s General Chapters may be found on the Wikileaks website. Although the translation is fairly poor, enough of the hubris and pathology on which the inner life of the congregation is predicated comes through to offer what will surely be a most interesting contrast with the carefully rendered documents that will be released after the next Chapter as proof of the Legion’s rebirth.

Whatever the outcome, nothing will erase the frustration and disgrace of the inexplicably missed opportunity to truthfully and courageously uproot and atone for one of the worst scandals in the Church’s history.

How did it get this far? When did the Legion become ‘too big to fail’ in the eyes of Church authority? Whose heads would have rolled and who would have been implicated had the Vatican decided to launch a full and impartial investigation into the history, canonical legitimacy, inner workings and finances of the Legion of Christ?

The Catholic Church doesn’t need – never needed – this scandalous brainchild of Marcial Maciel, but it has gone to unfathomable, self-incriminating lengths to keep it on life support.

If mirth is permitted wherever Fr. Maciel finds himself at present, there is no doubt that he has that leering grin on his face that so many of us recognize well. Everything continues to go according to plan.

Unless Pope Francis still has a surprise or two up his sleeve, which we hope will be the case, Nuestro Padre, when all is said and done, got the last laugh.


[from an anonymous source]


Mr. Jeremy Priest, Mr. Nathaniel Hop and Mr. Cory Noeker discuss selling donuts! St. Mary’s University Parish.



Jonathan Anthony Wojtkowiak smiles on Sunday, October 13. Mount Pleasant, Michigan.


RNS: Basyle “Boz” Tchividjian

Billy Graham’s grandson: evangelicals ‘worse’ than Catholics on sex abuse

Sarah Pulliam Bailey | Sep 26, 2013 |

Basyle “Boz” Tchividjian from Liberty Universtiy School of Law speaks during a panel titled “Investigating Religion: The Continuing Story of Clergy Abuse Beyond Roman Catholics” at the Religion Newswriters Association Conference in Austin on Thursday (Sept. 26).

Basyle “Boz” Tchividjian from Liberty Universtiy School of Law speaks during a panel titled “Investigating Religion: The Continuing Story of Clergy Abuse Beyond Roman Catholics” at the Religion Newswriters Association Conference in Austin on Thursday (Sept. 26).

AUSTIN, Texas (RNS) The Christian mission field is a “magnet” for sexual abusers, Boz Tchividjian, a Liberty University law professor who investigates abuse said Thursday (Sept. 26) to a room of journalists.

While comparing evangelicals to Catholics on abuse response, ”I think we are worse,” he said at the Religion Newswriters Association conference, saying too many evangelicals had “sacrificed the souls” of young victims.

“Protestants can be very arrogant when pointing to Catholics,” said Tchividjian, a grandson of evangelist Billy Graham and executive director of Godly Response to Abuse in the Christian Environment (GRACE), which has investigated sex abuse allegations.

Earlier this summer, GRACE spearheaded an online petition decrying the “silence” and “inattention” of evangelical leaders to sexual abuse in their churches.

Mission agencies, “where abuse is most prevalent,” often don’t report abuse because they fear being barred from working in foreign countries, he said. Abusers will get sent home and might join another agency. Of known data from abuse cases, 25 percent are repeat cases, he said.

Still, he says, he sees some positive movements among some Protestants. Bob Jones University has hired GRACE to investigate abuse allegations, a move that encourages Tchividjian, a former Florida prosecutor. ”That’s like the mothership of fundamentalism,” he said. His grandfather split with Bob Jones in a fundamentalist and evangelical division.

“The Protestant culture is defined by independence,” Tchividjian said. Evangelicals often frown upon transparency and accountability, he said, as many Protestants rely on Scripture more than religious leaders, compared to Catholics.

Abusers discourage whistle-blowing by condemning gossip to try to keep people from reporting abuse, he said. Victims are also told to protect the reputation of Jesus.

Too many Protestant institutions have sacrificed souls in order to protect their institutions, he said. ”We’ve got the Gospels backwards,” he said.

Tchividjian said he is speaking with Pepperdine University, a Church of Christ-affiliated school in California, about creating a national GRACE center.

William Coulson on Carl Rogers and Abraham Maslow—and Howard Kirschenbaum on William Coulson

Denigrating Carl Rogers: William Coulson’s Last Crusade

by Howard Kirschenbaum

Journal of Counseling and Development, v69 n5 p411-13 May-Jun 1991

Reviews William Coulson’s assertions that Carl Rogers, Abraham Maslow, and he initiated the humanistic education field, that Rogers repudiated his philosophy late in life, and that they owe the nation’s parents an apology. Argues that these charges are groundless and provides examples and quotations from Rogers’ later writings to show how Rogers remained constant to his beliefs. (Author/LLL)

Keywords: Counseling Theories, Humanistic Education, Nondirective Counseling
Publication Type: Journal Articles; Opinion Papers
Education Level: N/A
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Identifiers: Humanistic Psychology; Rogers (Carl)
Hint: Readers may wish to consult in this regard–

“Carl Rogers and the IHM Nuns:
Sensitivity Training, Psychological Warfare and the “Catholic Problem””
by E. Michael Jones, Ph.D.


Sister Pia Marie and Azelie Schoenherr at Mid-Forest Lodge, Michigan

Sister Pia Marie and Azelie Schoenherr

At Boston’s bombing scene: Catholic priests need not apply

 The City Gates

At Boston’s bombing scene: Catholic priests need not apply

By Phil Lawler (bio - articles - send a comment) | April 26, 2013 

Writing in the Wall Street Journal, Jennifer Graham tells me something that I hadn’t heard about Boston Marathon bombing. As dozens of victims were sprawled across Boylston Street, many of them in danger of death, Catholic priests came running to the scene—and were turned away.

Doctors and nurses were welcome at the bombing scene. Firefighters and police officers were welcome. But Catholic priests, who might have offered the solace of the sacraments, were not.

”Catholics need not apply.” That slogan was familiar in Boston years ago, before Irish and Italian immigrants took over control of the city. Now, after decades of decline in Catholic influence , the attitude has returned. One priest who was barred from Boylston Street remarked that in the past a priest was admitted anywhere. “That’s changed,” he said. “Priests are no longer considered to be emergency responders.”

Unless police officers in Boston are uniquely hostile to priests (a distinct possibility), the tide has turned very quickly on this question. On September 11, 2001, there were Catholic priests at the staging areas near the World Trade Center, giving absolution to firefighters before they rushed into the doomed building: mass-producing saints!

Unable to provide spiritual help to those whose lives were endangered, the priests in Boston retreated to a nearby church, were they “set up a table with water and oranges and bananas to serve people.” Doesn’t that nicely capture what a once-Catholic, now-secular culture expects from the Church? It’s not essential for priests to administer the sacraments; in fact it’s unwelcome. But if they could just stay out of the way, and give people something to eat, that would be fine.

Jennifer Graham captures the problem well:

But it is a poignant irony that Martin Richard, the 8-year-old boy who died on Boylston Street, was a Catholic who had received his first Communion just last year. As Martin lay dying, priests were only yards away, beyond the police tape, unable to reach him to administer last rites…


                   Rev.  Donald J. Keefe, S.J. [1974]
[Father Keefe was an Associate Professor of Doqmatic and Systematic
Theology in the Divinity School of Saint Louis University. Father
Keefe  is a graduate of Colgate University and the Georgetown
School of Law. He received his licentiate in theology at
Woodstock College and his doctorate at the Gregorian University
in Rome. Father Keefe is a member of the Bars of the District of
Columbia, State of New York and the U.S. Supreme Court. He taught
theology at Canisius College in Buffalo before coming to Saint
Louis University in 1970. He is the author of a book, "Thomism
and the Ontological Theology of Paul Tillich: A Comparison of
Systems" (1971).]
During the past few years a number of developments in widely
separated fields have raised the problem of the human norm to a
level of urgency which Catholic theology cannot ignore. Some of
these developments are technical, particularly in the biomedical
area; some are dogmatic, touching particularly the requirement of
masculinity for the Catholic priesthood; some are more properly
cultural and put in question the conventional norms of sexual
morality. Any attempt to propose the fundamental structure of
properly human existence will inevitably reflect upon these
concerns, and doubtless upon many other’s. It is evident that a
brief article on this topic will be open to objections arising
from interests which have been inadequately considered, if at
all, and very few of which can be given a brief response. In
consequence, some limitations must be placed upon any given
discussion, limits which are in no sense a disavowal of the
implications which the norm proposed may entail. For our
purposes, the discussion must be limited to a single issue: the
bearing of the norm upon the morality of “in vitro” conception of
human life. This is in itself a limitation upon the broader topic
of the morality of what has come to be called genetic
manipulation or genetic engineering.
The most adequate treatment of the more general topic by a
Catholic theologian is undoubtedly that of Karl Rahner;(1) his
approach is also endorsed by James Gustafson.(2) As might be
expected, Rahner’s treatment of the topic is not without
subtlety. In the first place, he rejects the possibility of a
deductive approach to moral theology, an approach which would
proceed by inference from some adequate definition of human
nature. The objection to such an approach is its static quality,
and its consequent ignorance of the creative and historical
dynamism of human morality, of human freedom. He then proposes as
his own moral norm what he calls the faith-instinct. This he
regards as universally given to all human beings as the origin of
their moral understanding. The actual process of moral
understanding is one of historical self-determination; otherwise
put, it is the noetic aspect of our con-creation of ourselves in
history. The faith-instinct is directed to a goal, which is
already given: the predetermined nature of man. This
predetermined nature is the object of an existential intuition.
This intuition is simply the direct self-awareness each of us has
of his humanity: it is immediate knowledge, preconceptual, prior
to and the a priori of all reflex thought and utterance. It must
be remembered that Rahner accepts no dichotomy between our
self-awareness and our existence; to exist as human is to exist
as self-aware, and this self-awareness is historical, a
being-toward, an awareness-toward, a final goal which is already
given us as the meaning and the norm of historical existence. It
is this final goal which is the truth of our humanity. Our
immediacy to, our intuition of this truth is also that by which
we are free: to live humanly, historically, morally is therefore
a matter of choice, of decision. We can express our
self-awareness by affirming the human structure which is the
meaning of history, and by so affirming enter into the
con-creation of ourselves, or we can refuse: so to refuse is to
refuse history, the “absolute future” of our humanity. Thus, our
faith-instinct is expressed in moral existence. It cannot be
reduced to objective statement, for its content is the “prius” of
any conceivable conceptual elaboration and is always available
for further expression into history than has been given it. For
Rahner, morality has therefore the structure of self-creativity;
it is a dynamism oriented to a goal which is pre-determined,
toward the production of a self whose ontological truth is not
negotiable, to a destiny uniquely individual which must be
individually accepted as the gift of God, not feared as an alien
trespass upon one’s proper autonomy. For Rahner, it is this fear
of one’s destiny which is expressed in genetic manipulation.
     Now man is in a certain respect most free when he is not
     dealing with a “thing” but calling into being another,
     freely responsible person. If he is not to conceal or fall
     short of his nature, man must be presented clearly with the
     dialectically opposite position of his freedom as a man. And
     in concrete terms that means that the freedom to determine
     another person must remain a clear-cut and radical destiny,
     which one has not chosen but accepted. Procreation in
     particular must not become an act of neurotic anxiety in the
     face of fate. The other person must remain the one who is
     both made and accepted; both an elevating influence, because
     he has been chosen, and a burden to be accepted and carried.
     If man, when confronted with his child, saw only what he had
     himself planned, he would not be looking at his own nature,
     nor would he experience his true self which is both free and
     the object of external determination. Genetic manipulation
     is the embodiment of the fear of oneself, the fear of
     accepting one’s self as the unknown quantity it is.
     . . . . What in actual fact is the driving force behind
     genetic manipulation? What sort of person is driven to it?
     And the answer would be, in the first place, the hate of
     one’s destiny; and secondly, it is the man who, at his
     innermost level, is in despair because he cannot dispose of
This argument Rahner supplements with others: for example, a
sphere of intimacy is necessary to personal freedom, and must be
safeguarded; for another, the fundamental Christian conviction
that history is irreversible should urge our cultivation of “a
sober and critical resistance to the fascination of novel
possibilities.” However, these arguments are not thought to be
conclusive; it is not upon their cogency that the moral decision
is to be based; Rahner considers such reasoning to constitute no
more than
     an appeal to, and the inadequate objectifying of, a human
     and Christian “instinct” which can be discovered in the
     moral field. A moral awareness of this kind (which both is
     and does more than we have mentioned here) forms the context
     in which man has the courage to make decisions; thus a
     decision is also more than its rationale, because the act is
     always more than its theoretical foundation. . . . This will
     is meaningful in spite of the fact that it neither claims
     nor is obliged to be exhaustively analysable by theoretical
     reason; measured against the opposite will, this will is
     more deeply meaningful and more genuinely human.(4)
Rahner is certainly correct in his analysis of the place of
discursive reason in moral decision. The theological rationale
can never be more than an appeal to freedom. It is calculated to
enhance, not displace, free choice and for this to be possible
there must be some co-naturality between the truth which the
rationale proposes, and that presumed to be in the inchoate
possession of the person to whom the appeal is directed.
Consequently, the instinct of faith, understood as the direct
awareness of an as yet unuttered knowledge of the self, is seen
without much difficulty to be the condition of possibility of
moral choice, and so the norm of moral choice, the human norm.
Rahner has also provided it with a certain content, which may be
summed up as historicity: those familiar with his anthropology
will recognize the weight of this word, and acknowledge as well
the power of the transcendental method which has elaborated its
meaning. But in this elaboration we verge upon scholasticism; the
appeal begins to be again to logic, rather than to the instinct
of faith, and this seems to be forced by the need to give the
instinct a public content. Rahner is well aware of the
difficulty; his notion of the anonymous Christian underlies his
attempts to meet it.(5) Unfortunately, this anonymity accorded
the expression of the instinct of faith is in some tension with
its historicity: it should make some identifiable difference to
be a Christian. Given that the anonymity is not complete, and
that the anonymous Christian is urged by his faith-instinct
toward a more adequate, and therefore less anonymous, expression
of his self-awareness, it remains difficult to locate the public
content of the faith-instinct.
In what follows, we will suggest that this human norm which is
given us in the faith-instinct has achieved a privileged public
expression in Judaeo-Christian history. Before doing this, it
will be necessary to look somewhat more closely at the instinct
of faith itself: to many, it will have an unfamiliar sound.
The intuition which is designated the instinct of faith in the
Thomist theological tradition is not a private possession of
Rahnerian Thomism, although the term itself is identifiably
Thomist. Anyone wishing to familiarize himself with its fortunes
in that school may well begin by reading E. Schillebeeckx’s (6)
discussion in the second volume of his Revelation and Theology,
where an ample further bibliography is available. Those standing
outside the Thomist tradition can turn to Tillich’s analysis of
ultimate concern for an understanding of the some reality. More
remotely, we are dealing with Augustinian illumination; still
more remotely, with Platonic anamnesis, given a Christian
conversion. In the medieval period, Bonaventure provided it with
its classic account in the Itinerarium mentis in Deo. Its
importance to the Thomist synthesis is a rediscovery of the
present century, after some centuries of scholastic rationalism.
Schleiermacher revived the interest of Protestant theologians in
it in his equation of faith with a sense of total dependence. The
most important development of it in the modern period is
undoubtedly that of Kierkegaard, whose identification of truth
and subjectivity underlies much of the theological development of
the present century, although the contributions of Newman and
Blondel are also significant. The instinct of faith can thus
claim to be as ancient and as recent as anything in Christian
theology. In the simplest terms, it is intellectual intuition,
the complex datum of immediate awareness. Our problem is to
identify the object of this intuition: precisely what is it that
is intuited, in the concrete? It cannot be simply the triune God,
for the intuition is also an awareness of oneself; further, it is
difficult to understand how an intuition of the Godhead could be
referred to faith in the historical Jesus who is the Christ. On
the other hand, if it is an intuition of the Christ, then the
ontological possibility of such an intuition as a universal datum
of consciousness must be established, and that in such a manner
that the experience permit the anonymity of which we have spoken,
as well as the historical mediation of its content. This is of
course the task of systematic theology: we cannot undertake it
here. Suffice it to say that during the past quarter century or
thereabouts the conviction has been growing that the root datum
of everyone’s direct, preconceptual awareness is a God-given,
gratuitous intuition of one’s relatedness to God in Christ
through the pleroma of his creation, of which we are all
participations. More succintly stated, the instinct of faith,
however labelled, is the intellectual aspect of our creation in
Christ. Rahner has himself been hesitant to go so far,(7) yet
there is some reason to believe that he also is coming to share
this view of the matter. It is in any case the view upon which we
shall now proceed.
If we grant that the object of the immediate intuition which we
have been referring to as the instinct of faith is the Christ, we
must at the same time remember that we have to do with
self-awareness, with the global experience of ourself in relation
to Christ and to his creation which is the condition precedent,
the ontological ground, of our articulated experience. We are
self-aware precisely as radicated in the fundamental relatedness
of Christ to his creation. This correlation of Christ to his
creation constitutes what is usually called the “whole Christ”:
this “whole Christ,” constituted in its entirety by the Father’s
sending of the Son to give the Spirit, is that by which we exist,
for our creation is but our participation in this fullness.
Because our immediate dependence upon it is constitutive of our
whole reality, it is constitutive of our self-awareness, and is
therefore the object, the immediate datum, of the intuition which
we have called the instinct of faith.
This instinct is universal, the subject matter of all religious
experience and of all religious expression. It is a “lumen,” a
continuing illumination, prior to all concepts, which we can no
more escape than we can escape our creation. We can refuse it by
turning away from it, so to speak, but it is inseparable from our
constitution as human in this world. Because it is prior to any
distinction in us between will and intellect, it is immediacy in
the order of goodness as well as in the order of truth: it is
inspiration as well as illumination. It is an invitation, a
continual temptation, to enter freely into the
creative-redemptive work of Christ, to con-create ourselves and
our world in Christ. The appropriate response to this invitation
is simply to live in Christ. Such a life may well be anonymous in
its Christianity, but it is not automatic, for it demands a
decision for the good and the true, for the human, which is not
imposed upon us. This decision is the fundamental moral option,
continually before all human beings throughout history and the
world. Its universal availability is the universal grace of
participation in the Christ, the light of the world.
Because we are immersed in a fallen humanity and in a fallen
history, we have the mysterious ability to refuse to be creative,
to refuse to be free, to refuse to exist in the only order of
history which is real, the history of salvation in Christ. There
is within us a counter dynamism, an inclination contradictory to
that of the instinct of faith. This concupiscence, which
according to the Catholic tradition is rather the effect of sin
and the temptation to sin than sin itself, is oriented to the
nullification rather than the creation of humanity, to the
disintegration of those correlations between Creator and creation
which are the truth and the reality of man, which are intuited in
the instinct of faith.
The most devastating disintegration worked by the concupiscent
instinct is the isolation of the divine from history and so from
the world of men; the cosmos then becomes a place of servitude
and death. This is the commonplace of the pagan religions, whose
salvation schemes, as those of the philosophical systems which
are their heir, require the removal of man from matter and from
One elected people were delivered, by their worship of the God of
history, from this trap; their history is their liturgy, for
Yahweh is present to them in the now, this day, forcing their
exodus from cosmic servitude into the freedom of the desert, into
the responsibilities of freedom. We are today the inheritors of
their history; we stand in continuity with it by our worship of
their God, the God of history. We are then members of a
worshipping community, a community whose history is the history
of the discovery of the structure of truly human existence, which
is the structure of the worship of the God of history. It must be
stressed that we have no other ultimately reliable criteria for
free, moral, historical existence than those which this worship
has discovered, for this worship is the only proper response to
the normative presence of the Lord of history in the midst of his
people. All other criteria can be no more than possibilities of
thought: those of historical worship are the actuality of
This worship is then crucial; it is a struggle, sustained by the
creative presence of God in history. It is a struggle for
significant, sacramental existence. For this worship and for this
significant existence, the bipolarity of human sexuality has been
discovered to be of fundamental importance, of an absolutely
radical liturgical value.(8)
For Judaism, as for the fertility religions which menaced her
faith, woman is the symbol of immanence, of nature, but within
Judaism this feminine symbolism is not of alienation, but of
reciprocity or bipolarity with the masculine, as in the Jahwist
creation account, where she is the helpmate of man, or in
Proverbs 8, where she is the cooperator with God in the creation
of the world. The bi-sexuality of the creation is simultaneous
with its goodness: this is a consistent theme from the Jahwist
creation account to the late Wisdom literature of the post-exilic
period. In particular, the positive value accorded femininity in
the Old Testament is equivalent to the rejection of the
pessimistic dualism which characterizes the cosmic religions of
the pagan world. This was by no means an instant insight; the Old
Testament has many traces of the primitive deprecation of
woman,(9) but the history of the Hebrew people from the tenth to
the first century before Christ is a history of the purification
of Judaism from the primitive tendency to see in woman the
ancient and ambivalent adversary of the masculine divinity. The
value accorded the feminine by the cosmic religions is the
expression of their experience of the natural world, ambivalent
in its simultaneous threat and promise. The value given woman by
the Jahwist religion corresponds to the instinct of faith which
is expressed in the affirmation that the world is created good,
that it has in it no immanent principle of evil, and therefore,
no ambivalence.(10)
The Wisdom tradition is explicit. Created Wisdom, described by
von Rad(11) as “the mystery inherent in the creation of the
world,” as “a voice which came from creation, the voice of the
primeval order,” is also “the darling, the pet,” who, present at
the creation of the world, is personified as feminine: “she was
the dearest child of God, and played with Creation and with men.”
Contrasted in Proverbs 1-8 with the seductive harlot, the
temptress whose lineaments are clearly drawn from the temple
prostitute of Canaanite worship, this created Wisdom is herself a
seductress: her voice is addressed to the individual, not to the
covenant community. She summons those who would possess her,
offering them life; entirely benevolent, evoking and even
provoking the acceptance of her gift of salvation, she is Eve to
those who seek her, a testimony emanating from creation, the good
creation whose primordial order is such that it must be
symbolized and personified as woman. This quasi-personal Wisdom
speaks with the undifferentiated voice of the primordially
feminine: as companion, sister, lover, bride, wife and mother to
men, and as the created cooperator with Jahweh in the creation of
the world. She speaks not to Israel but to the individual who
seeks her, and who is masculine in the seeking.
What is sought is life, the summary salvation benefit which is
the gift of God alone, mediated by motherhood. To see in this
Wisdom the face of Eve, “the mother of all the living,” is no
great step, one all but explicit in the Wisdom hymns. The
antithesis of this Wisdom is not the male, but the harlot whose
temptation is to destruction, to foolishness and death. It is the
harlot who repeats the cosmic symbol of the antagonist of the
masculine, the demonic feminine, the principle of disorder, of
chaos, old ocean and dark night. To follow her is to abandon
Yahweh, to enter upon a pagan worship of the principle of death.
For the harlot is either sterile or the destroyer of her
children: false to Yahweh, she has no life to mediate, for she
serves idols who are not God. The Yahwist worship simply
transposes the pagan religion into demonolatry, at the some time
introducing the true feminine symbolism, the truth which summons
one to leave the foolish servitude of cosmic demons, to enter the
service of the God of history, the God of the living, not of the
dead, who does not enslave but proclaims the year of jubilee.
The application of the feminine symbol to the covenant community
is equally striking. While feminine Wisdom is primarily oriented
toward the individual Hebrew, the feminine symbol which is Israel
is primarily oriented to Jahweh, as bride to bridegroom. This
relation between the God of the covenant and his covenanted
people is too well known to require much illustration here. Some
of its most vivid expressions are to be found in the Prophets, in
Hosea, Jeremiah, Deutero-Isaiah and Ezekiel.(12) The theme is
again insistent: Israel’s infidelity to the covenant is
assimilated to the betrayal of a marriage bond; it is adultery,
fornication with false lovers, harlotry. The prophets continually
summon Israel to return to her first love, to cease her barren
prostitution to false gods. There is then a noticeable tension
between the feminine imagery of the Wisdom literature and that of
the prophets; the latter stress the historical fallenness and
degradation of the bridal community of the covenant, while the
emphasis or tonality of the Wisdom symbol is eschatological or
primordial, with little reference to fallenness. The
eschatologically good creation beckons to each man, enticing him
to an achievement never wholly realized, the achievement which is
his own con-creation of himself,(13) his own integration into the
primeval order of creation. The historical symbol of the fallen
woman who is the unfaithful Israel does not however bear the same
unrelieved condemnation which is visited upon the “alien woman”
and the “seductress” of Proverbs 1 and 5; the pessimism of Amos
and Hosea gives way in the later prophets to the conviction that
Jahweh is intent upon the restoration of his covenanted bride to
the innocence and purity of her primordial fidelity. In one of
the latest of the Wisdom books we find this bridal Israel theme
of the prophetic books resumed; in the Song of Songs the feminine
imagery of the good creation and of the redeemed Israel merge in
the single vision of the eschatological nuptials of Jahweh and
his people, a vision which is also that of Deutero-Isaiah. The
historical creation of the Jahwist tradition finally identifies
with the cosmic interest of the post-Exilic writers, and the
theme of the good creation is given its universal application:
creation is salvific, as history is.(14) The feminine symbols
combine to express this experience which is Israel’s: the
experience of order in history under Jahweh,(15) the Lord of
history and of the world.
The New Testament further develops this coalescence of the
feminine symbols; they now converge upon Mary and the Church.(16)
In Colossians, Paul develops the cosmic role of the Christ; by
him, Christians are set free of their cosmic servitude to the
“principalities and powers,” simply because these, no less than
humanity and the universe itself, are created in Christ and so
are subordinate to him. The entire created order is assimilated
to the Body of which Christ is the head, and in the letter to the
Ephesians Paul has come to realize that this relation is marital,
for the Christ’s relation of headship to his Body is that of
husband to wife. By this life-giving union — for all life
belongs to God — the Church is fecundated by the life-giving
Spirit, as was Mary, the archetype of the Church. This parallel
is brought out first by Luke, then John, and has been the subject
of an ecclesial meditation from that time forward: from it has
been developed all that the Church has taught of Mary, and
necessarily of the Church as well: they are the single locus of
the divine presence in the world, of creation and redemption in
Christ, and of freedom from the ancient enslavement to cosmic
futility. Since the second century, the Fathers have seen in
Mary’s virginal relation to God, as bride and as mother, the
reality of the created Wisdom of which Sirach and the Psalmist
sang; in her “Fiat” they have seen the eschatalogical fidelity of
the covenanted bride, the Church, to the New Covenant by which
she is “one flesh” with her head, the Christ.
Over the centuries the reflex of this meditation, whose ground is
already given in Ephesians, has seen that the meaning of the
sexual relation is realized only in its lived symbolism of Christ
as the head of his Body which is the Church.(17) There has been
more than logic at work here: Paul does not reason from the
nature the marriage to the nature of the Christ-Church relation.
Rather, it is the meaning, the truth, the liturgical significance
of sexuality which is given to him concomitantly with the
revelation of the unity of Christ with his Church. Paul’s
condemnation of extramarital sexual expression is that it is
idolatrous, inseparable from false worship. He insists upon this,
not as a child of his time, immersed in the idiosyncracies of
Judaism despite himself, but as the recipient of a revelation of
the order of God to man so vast as to defeat explanation: it must
be lived, by a life which is in Christ, a life which shares the
experience of order given to Paul in such surpassing measure.
For it is an experience of order with which we have to deal, an
experience which lives out the instinct of faith to call creation
good precisely by symbolizing it as feminine, possessing an
intrinsic truth and beauty which is that of daughter, sister,
bride and mother: the face of Eve, the mother of the living, as
of Mary, the mother of God. It is an experience which has found
abominable all sexual expression which is not liturgical, which
does not celebrate the saving presence of God to his people. It
is an experience which sees, beyond all the long recital of our
betrayal of each other and of God, a steadfast love of God for
his people which is properly that of Father, Son, Brother and
Bridegroom, a relation of love which gives meaning to these human
roles, rendering them holy, liturgical, so that to be a man is to
worship God by imaging his relation to his creation, as to be a
woman is to worship God by imaging the relation to him of his
pleroma, the spiendour by which He is present to us, and we to
This experience is an experience of conversion, an experience
given to faith, in and to the community of the faith, through
some three millennia of historical discovery, a discovery which
has been called by one of the greatest Christian minds of the
century an unveiling of the mystery of the etemal feminine,(18)
whose ultimate realization is Mary, the Mother of God. It is
obvious that any argument for the normative value of this
Judaeo-Christian experience of God in history can do no more than
describe it: the appeal is to faith, as Rahner has said.
Even from such a hasty survey as this, some indication of the
profundity of this sexual symbolism can be obtained, and some
appreciation of its inseparability from the experience of order
which is salvation history, which is the worship of the Lord of
History, and whose only adequate articulation is liturgical. This
liturgical tradition has found in the masculine-feminine polarity
a significance transcending all other signs by which reality may
be communicated. The faith-instinct of the Jewish and the
Christian people has found no more profound symbol of God’s love
for humanity than that which a man should have for his wife, no
more profound symbol of the splendour of the good creation than
that of feminine beauty, and no more profound symbol of betrayal,
the betrayal of the covenant, than marital infidelity. In sum,
neither the Old Covenant nor the New can dispense with the
holiness of the marriage relation, and from the liturgical
significance of masculine and feminine existence. Karl Barth was
not wrong to find sexuality to be at the root of our imaging of
God;(19) if the creation of man is the apt means by which God
expresses himself in the finite, as the Trinitarian theology (20)
of Rahner maintains, the conclusion is inescapable. The mystery
of God’s relation to humanity in history and in the world is not
communicated to us as information: it cannot be conveyed except
as an experience of order, the experience whose initial moment is
that of a conversion, a conversion which is a transvaluation of
the relation between ourselves and the world. This conversion is
simultaneous with the exaltation of the feminine, as the symbol
of the good creation: we refuse both, if we refuse either.
Very simply put, the alternative to the sacramentality of
femininity and masculinity is a relapse to a dualistic pessimism,
the pessimism which finds the individual human being to have no
more than a pragmatic value, to be only a thing whose worth is
precisely measured by its fulfillment of a function. If we do not
approach our sexuality as revelatory, and therefore as
mysterious, bearing a meaning and value which only worship can
unveil, we will again be trapped by an ancient dialectic which
can give no value to masculinity which is not a suppression of
women, and none to femininity which does not conclude to the
emasculation of the male.  Eliade (21) has illustrated the
universal use of the masculine-feminine polarity to depict the
radical dichotomies which are instinct to the experience which
the ancient pagan liturgies express. These antagonisms are the
very structure of a mimetic experience of order which puts no
value in the individual or in personal freedom. Private
initiative and personal responsibility become thus a defiance of
the timeless order established “in illo tempore” by the divinity,
an order which, as Gilgamesh learns, has reserved death to men
and life to the Gods, or as the creation story in the Enuma elish
tells us, an order which charges man with servitude, that the
gods might be free. The absolute tensions placed by this
experience between the free individual and the society, between
experienced reality and discursive reason, between time and
eternity, between man and god, are all epitomized in the
dichotomy between the masculine (understood as the symbol of
order, rationality, divine transcendence) and the feminine (the
symbol of chaos, mystery, nature, immanence). Plato’s rationalist
attack upon the mimetic understanding of the poets is only an
objectification of the instinct of pagan wisdom to defeminize the
world: the stifling of history is its goal, Sparta has been its
inspiration, and a homosexual sterility its destiny. (23)
The correlatives of the secularization of humanity and of human
sexuality do not wait to be discovered: the discovery is part of
every culture unformed by the Judaeo-Christian experience of
order in history. If we do not experience salvation by the Lord
of history within our history, we shall surely seek it outside of
history, as has every primitive religion apart from Judaism, and
as has every rationalist objectification of the pagan experience
of disorder in history, of creation as evil.
Much has been written and said over the past seven years
concerning the problem of what is called “civil religion.”
Insofar as every society, every culture, is in search of a remedy
for the evils at hand, there is a certain kind of quest for
salvation at work in all peoples, at all times. More than most
people, the citizens of this nation seek such salvation: from the
burdens of poverty, of ignorance, of disease and even of death.
But every such quest must decide, if only implicitly, whether the
problems which we encounter are those which yield to logic, to
technology, to the application of the machine. This decision is
one about man, about the source of the evil in his world, about
the value of freedom and of history. When the salvation sought is
equivalent to a foreclosure of freedom, a moratorium upon human
unpredictability and spontaneity, those who seek salvation in
this guise are converted to a new experience of order, one
incompatible to and fundamentally at war with that which has
formed the Western world for some three thousand years. With
every such conversion, a new adherent to a new civil religion is
gained, and the tensions endemic in a free society are increased.
We should not be deceived. If there is no perception of the
indecency of reducing human mating to a laboratory event, it is
because we are involved in a different experience of order than
were the founders of our religious and cultural institutions.
This difference is simply a loss of faith: we are no longer able
to affirm the revelation, for the symbols by which its truth may
be uttered are no longer alive to speak for us and to us. We have
turned away from the light, and no longer recognize the splendour
of our humanity, we no longer see in ourselves the image of God.
Having rejected the symbolic and sacramental significance of the
sexuality whose truth is luminous of Jahweh’s relation to his
people, we have rejected the fundamental mystery by which we live
in history, by which we worship God.
For the Christian symbols are true because they are
participations in the reality of which they speak: their truth is
inescapable in history. It is possible to ignore that truth, but
it is not possible to escape the consequences of that ignorance,
of that refusal of the Wisdom which the good creation utters. The
truth of these symbols is not a matter of information; it cannot
be summed up in however prolonged a statement. Their mystery is
revealed only to worship; it is given to faith and not otherwise.
When that faith is historical, when it is not the mere ritual
re-enactment of a cosmic legend or of a cosmic, because equally
timeless, philosophy of man, but is rather the participation of
the worshiping community in the creative deed of God in history,
then the history of the community is the history of its
participation in the good creation, and in the Wisdom which is
its voice, a voice heard in the streets, not of the faithless and
whoring Babylon, but of that Jerusalem which is the Church. It is
with that wisdom that we are now concerned: it utters at once the
meaning of history, the structure of freedom, and the uniquely
valid norm of the human and the moral.
This norm, as we have seen, safeguards and is safeguarded by the
instinct of faith. By means of this faith instinct, it has become
explicit in the Judaeo-Christian salvation history that human
sexuality is holy, that it is the profoundly meaningful human
structure by which the historical revelation of Jahweh as present
to his people is mediated, not as information, but in reality, as
reality: the meaning of the feminine is Mary’s mediation, as the
meaning of the masculine is Christ’s. Their relation is the
revelation of a single mystery, the truth of God and man. Thus
the relation between human sexuality and salvation history is
reciprocal: only within this relation is sexuality known to be
holy, to be significant, and only when it is so valued, can its
symbolic power be creative, salvific rather than destructive.
Again, there is no matter of logical inference here; we do not
deduce the sanctity of the masculine-feminine relation from the
revelation, or vice versa. These are given simultaneously and
inseparably in what von Rad and Voegelin have referred to as an
experience of order in history: we have made that language our
own. This experience is an ongoing intuition of the structure of
significant existence, of the moral norm. Radically, this is an
experience of living in a salvation history, in a benevolent
world, the good creation. Its ontological prerequisite is our
creation in Christ. Its finality is the building up of the full
membership of the Body which is the Church. The Church is then
encountered as the truth of that eternal feminine which the pagan
seers experienced as the animating principle of nature, which the
Old Testament authors found at once in the figure of created
Wisdom and in the fallen and redeemed Israel whose paradigm is
Eve, and which in the New Testament and the patristic tradition
focuses finally upon the Church, and upon Mary as the archetype
of the Church. This feminine principle is the created medium of
salvation, bridging the abyss between God and man precisely as
feminine: to be feminine has no other meaning than to be the
pleroma,(24) the splendour, the beauty, the fullness of God’s
presence among men, enticing men to their salvation by the
bearing of His gifts.
In this experience, the value of masculinity pivots upon that
assigned the feminine, as the cautionary verses in Proverbs may
remind us. The feminine mediation of Jahweh is also the mediation
of the revelation of the masculine, which can no longer be self-
enclosed, fearful of mutuality, alienated from woman whether by
isolation or nullification. The Jahwist has said goodbye to all
that, and the record of the Old Testament history is a record of
the purification of these symbols from their circumambient pagan
context, a purification worked not by reason but by the worship
which is also the experience of order. In this experience, the
sexual relation is marital, the great sacrament of Christ and his
Of all this, enough has been said to point out the basis for
believing that such technological rationalizations,
secularizations, of human sexuality as in vitro fertilization are
simply blasphemous. They convert the value of the feminine to
that of a producer of egg cells, a functional definition as
inhuman and as suppressive as any known to the ancient idolatries
(which at least respected her mystery even in fearing it). They
are consequently dismissive of any value in masculinity
irrelevant to the process of fertilization. That this will
provide even a technological solution to a human problem is open
to question: that it will introduce a destructive degradation of
the symbols by which we live in history is quite certain.
The fact that such technological procedures are now sufficiently
commonplace to be matters of public and academic discussion is
witness to the presence among us of a new mentality, perhaps not
yet dominant, but certainly interested in domination. Its newness
is however only with relation to the experience of order which
has formed the western world; it is actually the ancient
alternative to the worship of the God of history. Its
re-emergence has not gone unremarked. Eric Voegelin (25) gave an
account of its progressive impact upon our legal and political
institutions some twenty years ago; more recently Karl Stern (26)
has pointed out its association with the decline of trust in our
cultural institutions, as manifested in the writings of half a
dozen salient authors since Descartes. For our own inquiry, Leon
Kass has spoken to the some effect:
     We are witnessing the erosion, perhaps the final erosion, of
     the idea of man as something splendid or divine, and its
     replacement with a view that sees man, no less than nature,
     as simply more raw material for manipulation and
     homogenization. Hence our peculiar moral crisis. We are in
     turbulent seas without a landmark precisely because we
     adhere more and more to a view of nature and of man which
     gives us enormous power and, at the same time, denies all
     possibility of standards to guide its use. (27)
Later in the some article, Kass urges some reliance upon caution
and education for protection against the evident danger of the
new mentality. Education is sufficiently broad a term as to need
some specification. It is axiomatic to decry the equation of
education and morality as a mistake of Socrates; yet, as I have
read somewhere, we may suppose that Socrates, and Kass, know what
any schoolboy knows. For it is true that it is our educational
institutions which must bear the blame for the resurgence of the
new gnosticism. By institutions I do not especially designate the
schools, though it is in their purlieus that most of the more
optimistic estimates of technological salvation are heard. For
all our cultural institutions have failed notably to make their
symbols live and speak. And underlying that failure is a more
sombre and personal one. Many of us have lost all experience of
our own historical significance, and it is perhaps not too much
to say that for all of us that experience is highly dilute; in
these circumstances, it is not remarkable that we are unable to
communicate effectively our own experience of order. It is usual
to refer this loss of conviction to the weight of technological
manipulation, but this is simplistic; even such enormous tools as
the new generation of computers remain without autonomy; they
possess no intrinsic dynamism inimical to man, however enormous
their potential. The primary educational institution remains the
voice of Wisdom, and the worship which responds to that voice.
Our failure is a failure to worship the God of history, to enter
effectively into the con-creation of the world. For that worship
is the only guarantee we have of being more than meets the eye,
more than a rabble of phenomena ripe for rearrangement in the
image, and according to the likeness, of that sullen god of a
timeless utopia, the philosopher king whose transcendence is our
diminution. It is to his foolishness that we must listen, if we
will not hear the voice of Wisdom, if we will not heed the
instinct of faith.
If our technology is not assimilated to the worship of the God of
history,(28) it will be because we ourselves have decided, like
many before us, to be less than we are, and in the service of
that decision, have undertaken our own domestication, which is
also our disintegration, our reduction to the integers of which
Dr. B. F. Skinner has spoken so well. The human truth is then
rendered entirely manageable. The one symbol which resists this
dehumanization utterly is that of the human community, the sexual
community. When we tamper with this, when we treat the stuff of
life as though we were mixing reagents in a bottle, we are in the
sanctuary of a false god, whose image is not man, but a cypher.
And we shall find in that bottle not a man, but a demon.
1.   Karl Rahner, “Experiment with Man,” Theological
Investigations ix, 244-245.
2.   James Gustafson, “Genetic Engineering and the Normative View
of the Human,” Ethical Issues in Biology and Medicine, ed.
Preston Williams, Schenkman Publishing Co., Cambridge, Mass.,
1973, 57.
3.   Rahner, op. cit., 244-245.
4.   Ibid., 251.
5.   Karl Rahner, “Christian Humanism,” Theological
Investigations ix, 187-243; x, Part Four, “The Church and the
World,” 293-388.
6.   Edouard Schillebeeckx, Revelation and Theology, ii, Sheed
and Ward, 1968, 30-72.
7.   Karl Rahner, “Questions of Controversial Theology on
Justification,” Theological Investigations iv, 210-218. Rahner’s
more recent work, The Trinity, Herder and Herder, New York, 1968,
seems to be more amenable to, and even to require, a doctrine of
creation in Christ.
8.   Gerhard von Rad, Old Testament Theology, i, tr.  D.G.M.
Stalker, Harper and Row, New York, 1963, 150.
9.   Thierry Maertens, La promotion de la femme dans la bible,
Casterman, Tournai, 1967, esp. 49 ff. Edouard Schillebeeckx,
Marriage: Human Reality and Saving Mystery, Part  1, tr. N.D.
Smith, Sheed and Ward, New York, 1965.
10.  von Rad, Wisdom in Israel, Abingdon Press, Nashville and New
York, 1972, p. 305.
11.  von Rad, Wisdom in Israel, 163-175; Old Testament Theology,
12.  E.g., Hos 1-3; Jer 2:1-2, 3:1-13, 4:30-31, 5:7-11, 13:20-27,
18:13, 23: 10-11; Is 47, 50:  1-3, 54: 1-17, 62: 1-12, 66: 7-13,
Ezk 16, 23.
13.  von Rad, Wisdom in Israel, 308-311.
14.  von Rad, Old Testament Theology i, 137-139, observes that in
Deutero-Isaiah and in the Wisdom tradition in particular,
creation is understood to be soteriological; the creation of the
cosmos and of Israel are seen almost as coinciding in Is 51:9.
15.  Eric Voegelin has established the meaning of this
expression, whose contrast is with the experience of order in the
cosmos. Each type of order has its peculiar symbolic expression.
Voegelin remarks, relative to the Judaeo-Christion experience,
     For mankind is not constituted through a survey of phenomena
     by even the most erudite historian, but through the
     experience of order in the present under God.
     When finite speculation possesses itself of the meaning of
     history, philosophy and Christianity are destroyed and
     existence in the historical form has ceased.
Order in History, ii, The World of the Polis, Louisiana State
University Press, Baton Rouge, La., 1957, 16, 19.
16.  Ren‚ Laurentin, Courte trait‚ de th‚ologie mariale, 4e
edition, P. Lethielieux, Paris, 1959, provides an indispensable
starting point for the study of the Marian theology which is the
prime locus for the Church’s meditation upon feminine symbolism.
See also Otto Semmelroth, Mary, Archetype of the Church, tr.
Maria von Eroes and John Devlin, with an Introduction by Jaroslav
Pelikan, Sheed and Ward, New York, 1963; Hugo Rahner, Our Lady
and the Church, tr. Sebastian Bullough, O.P., Darton, Longman,
Todd, London, 1961; Karl Rahner, Mary, Mother of the Lord, Herder
and Herder, New York, 1963, as well as the numerous Marian
articles dispersed in the Theological Investigations; Louis
Bouyer, The Seat of Wisdom, tr. A.V. Littledale, Pantheon Books,
Random House, New York, 1962, and Max Thurian, Mary, Mother of
All Christians, Herder and Herder, New York, 1963, for a review
of contemporary Marian theology. The most comprehensive dogmatic
study is H.U. von Balthasar’s Sponsa Verbi: Skizzen zr Theologie
II, Einsiedeln, Johannes Verlag, 1960.
17.  Karl Rahner, “Marriage as a Sacrament,” Theological
Investigations x, 199-221, esp. 218.
18.  Teilhard’s development of this theme is the subject of Henri
de Lubac’s L’ternel Feminin, Aubier-Montaigne, Paris, 1967, esp.
179-215, in which the Teilhardian  symbol, the “veiled Virgin” is
seen as the sign of creation itself, precisely as saivific, and
as finally unveiled in Mary. There is far more than metaphor
19.  Some little digression may be useful here. When Karl Barth
asserted, (Church Dogmatics 3/1, 183-206) some twenty years ago,
with a good deal of vehemence and some contemporary support, that
the creation of man to the image and likeness of God should be
referred to the interpersonality of man and woman, he ran counter
to the received exegetical opinion, which considers that man’s
imaging of God is rather to be found in the dominion given him
over the created world. Cf, von Rad, Old Testament Theology I,
136-153, and The Interpreter’s Bible, i, 484-485. More recently,
Leo Scheffczyk, Creation and Providence, tr. R. Strachan, Herder
and Herder, New York, 1970, 10, has been at pains to point out
Barth’s supposed error. The chief argument against Barth’s
reading of Gen 1:27 would seem to be that supplied by von Rad:
that contemporary paganism understood the image notion, which was
a common one, in terms of man’s imitation of divine despotism,
and further that the Priestly tradition had a horror of the
intrusion of sexuality into Jahweh’s creative deed: this in sharp
reaction to the Canaanite mythology. This argumentation seems
quite inconclusive. If, as is the case, the cosmic Babylonian
creation myths are rejected by the Priestly creation account,
which nonetheless has a cosmic rather than a historical emphasis
(in contrast to the Jahwist creation story), is not the
conversion from dualism which controls the reworking of the pagan
understanding of creation also that which accounts for a
reworking of the negative valuation of sexuality operative in the
Canaanite creation myth? The despotic god of the Babylonian
culture necessarily had an antagonistic relation to the
recalcitrant — and feminine — principle of immanence; does it
really make sense to suppose that the notion of despotic dominion
as the specific attribute of Jahweh remains a part of the
Priestly tradition? If on the contrary this notion is given a
transvaluation appropriate to the Lord of history, of the good
creation, so that lordship is no longer despotic, antagonistic to
creation, then the idea that the sexual mutuality of man and
woman is an imaging of God in his soteriological relation to his
creation is hardly inconsistent with the Priestly tradition,
particularly inasmuch as its final redaction is had at a time
when the Canaanite religion is no longer a vital alternative to
Jahwism. In brief. the good creation theme of the Priestly
account is simultaneously the abandonment of divine despotism,
and of the objectionable content of the sexual symbolism
associated with that despotism; this occurs in the conversion
process which is equivalent to faith in Jahweh, the lord of
history whose relation to his creation, to humanity, to Israel,
is seen as marital at an early period: he is a jealous, not a
despotic God. The “heiros gamos” of the cosmic mythology has not
been abandoned, but transvalued. In consequence, there seems to
be a scriptural base for Barth’s assertion.
20.  Karl Rahner, The Trinity.
21.  Mircia Eliade, Mephistopheles and The Androgyne, Sheed and
Ward, New York, 1966. To assert, as Eliade does, the nexus
between the flight from history is of course to reject the
occasional embarrassment over the sexuality of mankind which we
find even in such eminent authorities as Gregory of Nyssa; v. In
Cantica Canticorum, homilia vii, P.G. 44, 916b, cited in Gregoire
de Nysse, La cr‚ation de l’homme, intro. et trad. de Jean
Laplace, S.J.; notes de Jean Danielou, S.J., Editions du Cerf,
Paris, Editions de L’Abeille, Lyon, 1943, 56. Gregory reads Gal
3:28 to mean that the eschatologically redeemed creation is
sexless. H.U. von Balthasar points out the gnostic roots of this
mentality in Liturgie Cosmique: Maxime le Confesseur, tr. L.
Haumet et H.-A. Prentout, Aubier Editions, Montaigne, Paris,
1947, 127-150. It nonetheless has had a certain vogue of late:
e.g., Wayne Meeks, “The Image of the Androgyne: Some Uses of a
Symbol in Earliest Christianity,” History of Religions xii, 3,
(Feb. 1974) 165-208.
22.  Eric Havelock, Preface to Plato, Harvard University Press,
Cambridge, Mass. 1963.
23.  Henri Marrou, The History of Education in Antiquity, Sheed
and Ward, New York, 1956, has detailed the close association in
classic culture between the devaluation of the feminine, whether
in the militarist culture of Sparta or in the philosophy schools
of Athens, and the perversion of the male. See esp. ch. 2 and 3.
24.  Henri de Lubac. Corpus Mysticum: L’Eucharistie et L’‚glise
au Moyen Age. Etude Historique. Deuxieme Edition, Revue et
Augmentie. Aubier, Editions Montaigne, Paris, 1949, 139. The
author observes of the Pauline notion of the Church, “`Corps,’
c’est aussi organisme, c’est ‚change entre des membres aux
fonctions variees et conspirants, et c’est aussi plenitude.”
25.  Eric Voegelin, The New Science of Politics, The Univ. of
Chicago Press, Chicago and London, 1952, describes a continual
degradation of the historical experience of order as written into
the constitutive law of the American and European republics over
the past two and a half centuries.
26.  Karl Stern, The Flight from Woman, Farrar Strauss and
Giroux, New York, 1965, finds a comparable decline in Western
literature since Descartes, linking it to a decline of the
mutuality of the masculine and the feminine in our culture, and
to a consequent homosexual emphasis. In this connection, the
celebrated vision of Aidous Huxley, as manifest in Brave New
World, may be a bit myopic. The possibility that there may be no
particular demand for the pneumatic ladies of his utopia is quite
real. The anti-utopias envisioned by Orwell and C.S. Lewis are
more realistic.
27.  Leon R. Kass, “The New Biology: What Price Relieving Man’s
Estate?”, Ethical Issues in Biology and Medicine, ed. Preston
Williams, 164.
28.  Philippe Roqueplo, O.P., “La cr‚ation g‚mit en travail
d’enfantement,” La nature: problŠme politique, Desclee de
Brouwer, Paris, 1971, 162 ff, suggests the need for such an
SATTLER:  Don, what do you mean when in the early part of the
paper you refer to the predetermined nature of man?
KEEFE:    It’s difficult to point to an eschatological reality
without treating it in a language that makes it sound
uneschatological, and therefore, unmysterious. Predetermined
means fixed, in the sense that God has created man. Therefore… 
SATTLER:  To be a certain kind of being?
KEEFE:    Therefore, man is what God has made him to be, and this
is determined. It is not open to indefinite change. Man has a
structure. It is one which is to be discovered, certainly. It is
one which is to be discovered in worship.
SATTLER:  In other words, his concreation is not open to his
KEEFE:    No. He is created in the image of God. That image is a
matter of discovery, but it’s also a matter of fact. Does that…
SATTLER:  It’s a start, I’m sure. But we’re going to have to work
at it.
KINDSCHI: Don, in your description of human sexuality as the key
paradigm for a relationship between God and his people, or
between Christ and his Church, how do you explain or how do you
fit into that the fact that two of the key developments in the
biblical imagery are asexual? Both Eve out of the rib of Adam and
Christ from the Virgin Mary, either are asexual. How does that
fit into this picture?
KEEFE:    Let me take the latter one first. Creation is, as
understood theologically, as the Father sending the Son to give
the Spirit, to give the lifegiving Spirit. Consequently, Mary’s
generation of the Christ is virginal insofar as it is a total
dedication of her life-giving function to God. This is the
ordinary patristic explanation of this.
You were saying that, if sexuality is the key symbol, then it
should be operative at the moment of creation. Then it would be a
symbol of itself. Sexuality is a symbol of creation. It’s a
symbol of something other than itself. The incarnation, if we
take the creation in Christ seriously, is the radical moment of
creation. The focal energy of God’s relation to man is released
at the incarnation. If we take creation in Christ seriously, this
is what it means. Therefore, the sexual relation is symbolic of
that reality which precisely involves femininity as that to which
Christ’s humanity is responsive, and that into which his humanity
is sent by God. In consequence, then, her femininity is a
mediation between God and man. Man precisely is Christ.
Now, to answer your question simply would be to go through a
whole theory of symbol. What we mean by symbol, in relation to
that which is symbolized. But ultimately it would seem that the
pagan temptation to use sexuality in its various accounts of the
cosmogenesis are rejected because this is in some fashion a
violation of the good creation. As soon as you have the various
accounts of the sacred marriage in paganism, or more primitively
of some divine masturbatory act by which the first pair of gods
come into being, you are already supposing a web of relationships
which say something about the interrelation to the sexes.
The fundamental mystery is the good creation. The symbol points
to this, but it is not identified with it.
Now, that is about as close as I can get to an answer to a very
difficult question, a difficulty I’m sure you’re aware of.
THOMAS:   If I follow the logic of your argument in terms of the
development, the historical development of the man-woman
relationship, the meaning that that has in the history, etc., the
reflective nature of the divine covenant, it would seem that the
logic would lead to a conclusion that there should be no man-made
technological interference with the basic natural creative
dynamics of this relationship. Now, you can see it, I think,
something like “in vitro” embryology where the technology is
perhaps more apparent. But if you pulled it back a little bit and
think of the issues relating to birth control, say, that you have
a technological intervention there as well. Does your argument
stand, you might say, as the biblical dogmatic basis against that
kind of thing, as well as against other technologiztion?
KEEFE:    It’s certainly relevant to it. It isn’t dispositive of
it. The reason that I restricted this just to the “in vitro”
situation is because there you have the sharpest and the clearest
case that I know of reducing human sexuality to a function and
nothing more. It is, I think, true that a laboratory is an
unhistorical environment in that it attempts to make the
intrusion of the unpredictable as slight as possible. When one
does this there is immediately a refusal of the symbolic truth
insofar as that is not reduced to the univocal symbols of
mathematics. The notion that sexuality then has a value which is
not available to the apparatus in the laboratory is ignored. Now
it seems to me that when you suppose that human sexuality can be
turned over to such a use that you are treating it in an overall
sense as something that is of no more significance, say, than the
processes of digestion. It keeps occurring to me that there have
been many programs for improving the race. These are almost as
old as human history. Attempts to improve the breed by referring
its blood lines to divinity, attempts to keep noble blood pure
and so on. These are commonplace. And all of them failed. The
most recent failure I suppose being that of the Third Reich. They
failed because history finally defeated them. They’re
inconsistent with the realities of history. And almost always
they involve some sort of an attempt to isolate that which is to
be controlled from historical reality. A laboratory is about as
unhistorical as you can get because its isolation from the
contingent is the most complete. And it seems to me when there is
a real attempt to produce human life in a laboratory you have
already admitted that the contingencies of the human reality of
which one deals — and I take it that the fertilized ova of which
we are dealing — are human beings. There could be only one
reason for putting a human being in an unhistorical environment.
That is to subject him or her to total control. That is to deny
his transcendence.
Now, can this be applied to the question of contraception? I
think the question of contraception is a classic instance of an
attempt to solve a human historical, liturgical problem without
reference to worship. It was thought for reasons of natural law,
upon a basis which upon examination seems to be rationalist, that
contraception violates the decencies of sexual symbolism. And
well it may. But this has not been a matter of discovery. This
has been a matter of law. At least we seem to be in a position
where it is practically impossible to find a consensus within
Catholicism on this point. And the failure of consensus on a
point of this importance seems to me to indicate that it has not
been permitted to become a matter of discovery by worship. It
would seem that if there is an indecency in the sort of
contraceptive usages which you refer to, that it would be
discovered by decent Christian people who are truly involved in
Christian worship and would discover in this worship the same
sort of inconsistency between that worship and contraception that
Paul discovered between that worship and the deeds of which he is
concerned with in the first chapter of Romans. But it isn’t
something that is going to be a matter of inference or of
The only possible discovery process for the structures of the
human norm is historical worship which is an educational process
among other things. At least that’s the way it seems to me your
question must be answered.
McLEOD:   When you were talking about sexuality as the symbol of
creation, isn’t it, more fundamentally than that, a symbol of
KEEFE:    Well, it’s a good creation. Presumably it’s a creation
which is an act of love.
McLEOD:   And Christianity is really saying what love is, being
self-giving, free-giving, creation?
KEEFE:    The Father sending the Son to give the Spirit,
precisely. And this immediately involves a sexual expression of
that sending. That is, the incarnation. That is what I mean. I
haven’t said this very well, I recognize.

The Best of Keefe: “Sacramental Sexuality and the Ordination of Women” [1976]

Sacramental Sexuality

and the Ordination of Women

Father Donald J. Keefe, S.J.



In a paper presented at an ITEST conference held at Fordyce House

two years ago, a theology of sexuality was sketched as a basis

for the consideration of the moral questions posed by the

fertilization “in vitro” of human ova. Such a theology could not

but carry over into other fields of considers e ecumenical

concern. A contemporary focal point for that concern is the much

discussed issue of the ordination of women. If the further

development of that theology in the present essay is to be kept

within reasonable bounds, it must be understood to require as its

preface the Proceedings of the October, 1974 ITEST Conference,

and particularly the article in which its scriptural ground, or

perhaps support, was proposed.(1) Even so, the sum of the present

article cannot amount to more than an introduction to the

questions which such ordination raises and a pointer to the

direction in which their solution lies.

In broadest outline, that earlier paper tied the transvaluation

of cosmic or nonhistorical sexual symbolism,(2) e.g., that of the

Babylonian mythology, to a conversion to the worship of the Lord

of history, a worship which is integral with faith in the

fundamental goodness of creation. More precisely, such faith

causes or is constituted by this transvaluation. The cosmic

religions expressed their ambivalent experience of the universe

in terms of an ambivalent relation between the sexes, a relation

whose liturgical expression variously required priests who were

kingly, and priests who were castrate; virgin guardians of the

temple, and temple prostitutes. The metaphysical expression of

this experience oscillated between a dualist alienation of the

principles of transcendence and immanence, and their monist

identifications.(3) Its supreme poetic integration is the

tragedy,(4) in which human futility and human dignity are found

implacably and eternally opposed.

That cosmic ambivalence found the feminine principle, in all its

manifestations, irreconciliable with that of masculinity; the

exaltation of the one is inevitably the suppression of the other.

Human existence thus experienced and a cosmos thus structured

cannot be called good; their salvation must come from their

dissolution, from the elimination of those antagonisms which are

encountered universally.(5) The experience of all qualification

of reality and of all differentiation as injustice, as strife and

pain puts limits upon what salvation can mean. From this cosmic

point of view, the escape from evil, from the fallenness of

things, is by deliverance from all qualitative differentiation.

The religious, and later the theoretical, explorations of this

salvation found that two modalities were possible to it: the

masculine one of absolute transcendence, the transcendence of an

unqualified self, and the feminine one of an absolute immanence,

the immanence of the absolute community. In either mode an utter

serenity, an unqualified consciousness is attained; the past is

concluded and the future foregone in an intuition of the real

which refuses value to whatever is resistant to undifferentiated

unity. This vision has been competitive with Christianity from

its beginnings, and continues to be in our own day.(6)

The faith of the covenanted people of Yahweh in the goodness of

historical creation, in the goodness of the covenanted history of

Israel, was simultaneously a refusal to accept the cosmic

conflict between transcendence and immanence, between God and his

creation. This faith was identical with an experience of order in

history under Yahweh’s lordship. Within this covenant experience

evil was not encountered as a blind inevitability in the

universe; rather it was experienced as the result of a free

refusal of Yahweh’s good creation. Such a refusal could not avoid

a return to the cosmic religion, lived out in a pagan use of

sexual symbols. No longer expressive of the good creation, such a

use was seen as unholy, as whoring and fornication, and at the

same time as idolatry. The prophetic condemnation of this

infidelity to Yahweh condemns it as adultery, for Yahweh is

understood to be in a marital relation to his people, to the good

creation formed by his continual presence to it as the Lord of

history. By this marital presence, which knows no primal

ambivalence, Yahweh affirms the immanent good of his creation in

a word which the New Testament knows to have been irrevocably

given and uttered into the good creation.(7) That word is his

covenant, the definitive institution of a free people whose

freedom is their history, their worship of the Lord of history.

In this worship they are delivered from slavery to the cosmic

powers through the continual offer of a future which transcends

their past, and in which they can be sustained by him alone. His

word is not uttered in vain; it evokes the created response which

is wisdom, the splendor and fulness of his creation. This

response the Old Testament recognizes to be feminine; by this

insight the cosmic notion of the feminine is transvalued, and the

new realization enters, through the appropriation process which

is the worship of Yahweh, into the reassessment of the marital

relation itself.

This process is impeded by the fallenness of the covenanted

people, who hesitated then as now before the demands of

historical existence. Their fallenness is portrayed in the

prophets by the imagery of a woman unfaithful to her marriage

vows who turns away from Yahweh, the giver of life, toward

sterility and death. But the prophetic protest against Israel’s

and Judah’s sin, however concerned with the threat of divorce and

abandonment by Yahweh, concludes in the later books with the

assurance of his forgiveness and the final consummation of

Yahweh’s covenant with his bridal people. Out of this struggle

emerged a consciousness of the strict connection between the good

creation, the covenant, and the marital relation: all of these

involve the same conversion, the same transvaluation, the same

historical existence, the same faith.

Thus baldly summarized, the Old Testament symbolism announces a

reversal of the pagan assessment of the masculine-feminine

polarity: that polarity is now the structure of the creation

which is good, and the bisexuality which once signalized the

ambivalence of the finite world becomes the symbol of the

reciprocity of God’s love for the people he has made his own, and

their love for him. As this is seen to be the meaning of the

holy, so also the marital relation is transformed, to become a

religious sign and realization of the covenant which grounds

it.(8) In this transformation, the world ceases to be an

ambivalent reflection of masculine value and feminine disvalue;

that ancient antagonism is concluded. The masculine henceforth is

so by a creative and life-giving love, not by isolation from or

supression of a destructive femininity, while the feminine is so

by her mediation of that love, not by subordination to an alien

power. Nor is this symbolism dispensable, as peripheral to

Judaism, for it is integral to the revelation itself; Yahweh is

known only in his election of his people, and that elective love

is marital.(9)

This Old Testament use of marital symbolism is given its highest

development in the Pauline letters, particularly in Ephesians,

whose marital doctrine is rooted in Gen 2:24, “Therefore a man

leaves his father and his mother and cleaves to his wife, and

they become one Flesh.”(10) In this letter Paul integrates the

First and Second Adam theme of Rom 5 and 1 Cor 15, the Church as

Body theme of 1 Cor 15, the tangled intimation of the sexual

bipolarity of the human image of God which we find in I Cor 7 and

11, and the passing reference in 2 Cor 11 to the Church as the

Bride of Christ in an unexplored comparison to Eve. His struggle

to express the truth he had received culminates in a contrapuntal

theology of the New Creation, the New Man and the New Bride whose

Head purifies her by the sacrifice of his body and blood, by

which sacrifice he is “one flesh” with his body.(11) In this New

Creation Christ is the incarnate image of the unseen God; the

letter to the Colossians puts him at the center of the universe

and of humanity. But he is thus Image and Creator as Head of the

Church, his Bride; he is Image as sacrifice, as priest, as the

second Adam to her whom the patristic reflection designated the

second Eve. By this bipolarity Christ is incarnate, and Image.

Luke adds a further modulation to this marital symbolism, in the

parallel accounts of the descent of the Spirit upon Mary, whereby

she becomes the “Theotokos,” and upon the apostles at Pentecost,

where, in what may have been a celebration of the New Covenant, a

commemoration of the body and blood of the sacrifice, the Church

comes to be.(12) The patristic meditation upon the interrelation

of these themes has found in Mary’s virginal motherhood of our

Lord the antitype of the Head-Body relation which constitutes the

Church: it is by Christ’s mission from the Father that his Spirit

inspires at once the freedom of Mary’s “Fiat” and the New

Creation within her body, a child whose masculinity was conceived

by her immaculate response to God’s elective love.(13) By Mary’s

free worship, the New Covenant is given, and the New Israel is

formed, in and to whom God is definitively present, because made

man. The masculine-feminine dialectic is identical in Acts: the

descent of the Spirit of Christ creates the Church in a moment of

ecstatic freedom whose prius is the Eucharistic immanence of the

risen Christ. The “one flesh” of Mary’s conception of her Lord is

identically the “one flesh” of the Church’s celebration of her

Head, the sacramental consummation of the New Covenant which she,

in the integral freedom of her worship, conceived.

The theological development of these themes has found in Gen 2:24

the summary of the New Creation, the New Covenant, the New Adam

and the New Eve, “Una Caro.”(14) There also, inchoate, is the

charter of all Christian sacramentalism, the revelation that

God’s creative freedom is most powerfully exercised in the

creation of our own free response to him, a creation in and of

the Church by the presence in it of His Son. This sacramental

structure of reality, of the good creation which is created in

Christ, is the warrant for Christian freedom and the basis for

Christian morality: it provides the meaning and the significance

of human life and history. This meaning, this value and truth, is

not abstract, not a matter submitted to the judgment of

scholarship and theory. It is a gift, not a necessity of thought,

and it is given concretely in the life of worship which is our

existence in Christ., our communion in the ‘one flesh’ of his

union with his Church.

Within the communion of Roman Catholicism, ordination has

traditionally been reserved to men. This reservation was first

put in question within the less tradition-oriented Protestant

communions; the question is now raised by Catholic theologians.

Because the sacramental principle is so integral with the Church,

any theological discussion of it is inevitably also an

ecclesiology. Disputes over the ordination of women tend to

become disputes over the nature of the Church, and thus to range

beyond the limits of the initial subject matter. In fact, the

ordination of women is often advocated as the implication of a

more fundamental argument.

A most instructive development of the ecclesiological and

sacramental theology which is found consistent with the

ordination of women has been presented in a recent article by

Edward Kilmartin.(15) Kilmartin has been teaching and writing in

this field for some twenty years; his theological credentials are

of a very high order. It may not be too much to say that no more

cogent statement of the theses underlying the advocacy of women’s

ordination is available in English.

The basic concern of Kilmartin’s article is the inadequacy of the

“ex opere operato” doctrine of the Eucharistic worship. He finds

this device employed in such a fashion as to disintegrate the

organic unity of Eucharistic worship; specifically, it reduces

the role of the laity in the congregation to mere passivity while

reserving to the consecrating priest the substance of the

worship. By way of corrective, Kilmartin examines the meaning of

the Church’s apostolicity, and concludes that this meaning is to

be derived from the fundamental mode of the immanence of the

Risen Christ in the Eucharistic community. Kilmartin understands

this fundamental presence of Christ to be a presence by faith.

This faith is of course caused by the gift of the Spirit, a gift

given by the risen Christ. The Spirit inspired in the apostles

that faith which is the faith of the Church; the Church is made

to be Church by this faith, the first effect of the presence of

the Spirit. The faith of the apostles is then a secondary

consequence; Kilmartin understands them to be dependent upon the

prior faith of the Church. Their  apostolic office’ is

consequently a participation in the power of the Spirit only as

this power is mediated to them by the Church: they participate

only indirectly in the priesthood of Christ, as do all other

Christians. Thus understood, apostolicity is not a ‘character’ or

an ‘office’ or a ‘power’ distinct from the one gift of the

Spirit, mediated by the Church, which is faith.

There is no question then of an ontological reality passed on

from the apostles to their successors by the sacrament of orders

in such wise that any bearer of the apostolic character is

dependent for that character upon a line of direct succession by

ordination from one of the apostles upon whom that office first

rested, whether by the descent of the Spirit at Pentecost, or by

a mission from the risen Christ. Rather, office in the Church is

understood now to be a function delegated to an office holder by

the local Church in which apostolicity primarily resides. This

view of office as functional rather than as ontological removes

from it any intrinsic characteristic which the Church must

consider as visibly and historically constitutive for Eucharistic

worship and thus for the Church itself. Instead it is the

Church’s faith, seen as a spiritual “anamnesis” of the sacrifice

of the Cross, which is constitutive for the worship as for the

Church; absent this “anamnesis”-faith, there is no Eucharist, no

Body of Christ, no presence of Christ, no Church. If the

“anamnesis” is given, no particular ordination ritual may be

insisted upon as necessary for the Eucharist, for Eucharistic

presence is by faith, not by an “ex opere operato” effective

consecration by a priest of the bread and wine of the sacrifice.

The radical consequence of this theology is that the Church is

not caused by the sacramental-historical event of Christ’s

sacrificial relation to the Church in and by which he is

sacramentally present as at once priest and sacrifice. Rather,

the Church is caused, created, by the presence of the Spirit sent

by the risen Christ, who is ‘not here.’ The ontological

Eucharistic presence is identified with faith.

Kilmartin draws a number of conclusions from this notion of

apostolicity; they are those already familiar to the Christianity

of the Reformation. They are (1) Priestly character can no longer

be considered the power to consecrate, for the functional nature

of the priesthood excludes such a power; (2) Apostolic office is

required, not for the Church’s liturgy, nor because the power of

orders makes the priest the direct representative of Christ,

“alter Christus,” but because the priest must be linked

historically to an office instituted by Christ for stewardship

over the faith; (3) The role of the priest in the Eucharistic

liturgy is the ritual expression of the faith of the Church;

apart from this faith there is no Eucharist; (4) There can be no

ordination except to a function in a local Church; all absolute

ordination to the Church at large is excluded; (5) The priest

cannot distribute the fruits of the Mass, because he is not an

“alter Christus”; (6) Protestant Eucharists cannot be judged

invalid for failure of valid orders; they must be judged only in

terms of the relation they signify and symbolize between “the

comprehensive ecclesial reality” and the Eucharist; (7) There can

be no basic objection to the ordination of women, since priests

represent directly not the Christ but the one Church which,

according to Gal 3:28, transcends all masculine-feminine

distinction; (8) The pope is not the vicar of Christ in the sense

of effectively playing the role of Christ.

The logic of Kilmartin’s reasoning is unassailable; once the

original concession is made, the conclusions he arrives at are

inevitable, as are others which he does not pursue. When the

presence of the risen Christ to the Church, by which the Church

is created, is understood to be a presence by faith, there is in

view an ecclesiology completely different from that which

understands the Church to subsist and be caused by the immanence

in her of the risen Lord as the unfailing consequence of her

visible and historical worship. In the technical language of

classical sacramental theology, Kilmartin’s theory denies the

infallible efficacy of the sacramental sign (“sacramentum

tantum”) and as a necessary consequence denies the infallible

effect (“res et sacramentum”) of that sign. All saving efficacy

of the Cross is now detached from any free human activity save

that of Jesus on the Cross, and even the efficacy of the Cross is

no longer referred to any contemporary historical event or

structure. The Christian’s worship is now reduced to an absolute

simplicity: that “anamnesis” of the Cross which is without any

identifying characteristics which might distinguish it from

non-worship. The refusal of the “ex opere operato” efficacy of

the sacramental sign (i.e., the denial of the distinct reality of

the “res et sacramentum,” whether the baptismal or priestly

character, the event of absolution, the sacrifice of the Mass as

the re-presentation of the Cross — in brief the denial of the

reliable historicity of Christian worship) rejects the intrinsic

value of all human and historical reality. Any alternative

inevitably tends toward a vainglorious theology of the Church

triumphal, a theology which does not understand how the

significance of the Cross must include the denial of our own


For Kilmartin then,, the reformation of Catholic Eucharistic

worship requires its being telescoped: the sacramental sign

(“sacramentum tantum”) is dispensable because without any

intrinsic significance and without any spiritual and creative

efficacy; it then follows that there is no sacramental effect of

such a sign, an effect which itself signifies and causes union

with Christ but is not itself that union (i.e., no “res et

sacramentum”). All that remains is the Cross of Christ and the

salvation which it causes. Christ’s deed empties human history of

meaning, instead of filling it with meaning; His deed is

discontinuous with all of ours in this life, doomed as our lives

are to complete inefficacy, for without him we can do nothing,

and he is not here but in his Kingdom, the only “res sacramenti.”

The denial of the good creation which this theology entails is

obvious. We should not then be surprised that attached to it is

the refusal of the marital symbolism by which the Old Testament

and the New have known and uttered the goodness of creation.

The union of the faithful with Christ can no longer be understood

in Kilmartin’s theology as the union of the Head and the Body,

for such a comprehension, native to the classical theology, rests

upon the supposition that marriage is a sacrament, a historical

sign of worship whose unfailing effect, the marriage bond (“res

et sacramentum”), is a sign of the greater mystery to which it

can only point, the union of the faithful in Christ. That the

marriage bond, with its exclusivity, its indissolubility, its

sexual bipolarity, is a sacrament means at a minimum that Christ

is to his Body as bridegroom to bride. The classical theology

reinforces this relation by its insistence upon the historical

immanence of the sacrifice of Christ in the historical Church.

The marital dialectic of the Eucharistic ‘one flesh’ is

eliminated with the elimination of all concrete presence of the

sacrificed and sacrificing Christ to his Body, to the Bride for

whom the sacrifice is offered and by which she is created through

the gift to her, in her history, of the Spirit. That dialectic

falls within the condemnation of “ex opere operato” historical

efficacity of all sacramental signs, whether marital or

Eucharistic. Head and Body are now blended in a unity

transcending all masculinity and femininity (we are referred to

Gal 3:28), a unity which must become a logical identity as soon

as the inability of any historical and intrinsically

differentiated symbol to signify it sacramentally is seriously

accepted. Of this Christ-faithful union the most complete union

fallen humanity knows has nothing to say, being utterly

transcended by it. Sacramental signs have been reduced to a

pragmatic gesturing, of some social and psychological value, but

without any intrinsic relation to our salvation, for that faith

has no historical expression which may be relied upon. This

isolation of ritual from any significance, from any efficacy, is

the hallmark of the decadent scholasticism of the 14th and 15th

century; its rejection of all secondary causality prepared the

way for the ‘total corruption’ pessimism of the Reformation: the

road is a well-travelled one.

As Kilmartin observes, his ecclesiology requires that the one

Church “transcend all masculine-feminine distinction.” Once the

sacrifice of the Mass is dismissed by the reduction of the

presence of Christ in the Church to a presence by faith, all

concrete qualification of historical human existence loses

religious value, because every such qualification stands in

contradiction to the ineffable “Una Sancta,” the Church which has

no immanence in the historical humanity it utterly transcends:

absent the Head, absent also the Body. The antihistorical cosmic

salvation is restored, again androgynous, the nullification

rather than the fulfillment of creation in the Image of God.(17)

Such an ecciesiology makes of the Christ an “Uebermensch” whose

transcendence is rationalized; no longer in mysterious union with

his immanence, his transcendence is controlled by an inexorable a

priori logic which forbids such immanence. His unique sacrifice

submits to the same logic, to become the nullification rather

than the sustenance and support of our historical significance,

our worship. Once the proposition is accepted that the sacrifice

of Jesus the Christ on the Cross admits no representation in the

Mass, this cosmic nullification of history is already in effect.

The event of the Cross then has the mythic quality of an event

“in illo tempore,” a moment entirely discontinuous with our

fallen futility.

Whether such a theology as Kilmartin has offered is always and

everywhere satisfactory to those who advocate the ordination of

women may be doubted; certainly some would consider their

ordination consistent with the traditional notion of the

priesthood. But it is upon notions such as his that most

systematic justifications for the ordination of women rest;(18)

at a minimum they play down the sacrificial aspect of the

priestly office as the corollary of the contention that the

priestly role is not that of an “alter Christus,” and therefore

not limited to men. Rather, the priest should be understood as

“alter ecclesia,” as Kilmartin has suggested; sometimes one hears

“alter Spiritus.” With whatever accent the redesignation is

proposed, the meaning of the Catholic worship is transformed: the

Mass, the Eucharistic celebration becomes a faith-response to the

Event “in illo tempore” which voids history of significance, the

event of the Cross. The response which is fit is thereby

problematic, for it can be annexed to no effective sign: the new

notion of worship cannot permit sacramental efficacy. We begin to

hear again echoes of the late medieval dissolution of all

experienced meaning by means of logical analysis, a dissolution

which so separated the elements of reality as to deprive the

created world of immanent value as of transcendent significance,

and so of mediation of God. Upon this we cannot delay, save to

observe that the decision to reduce all worship to faith can rest

only upon a reduction of all human life in history to

insignificance. If this be the remedy for such exaggerations as

have been foisted upon the sacramental worship of Roman

Catholicism, one cannot but wonder at the diagnosis.

That Kilmartin does not push the logic of his reworking of the

Eucharist to its cosmic extremity is clear enough; neither did

the “sanior pars” of the Reformation, but the objections to such

extrapolation are themselves irrational, as the Calvinists

pointed out to the Lutherans, and the sacramentarians to the

Calvinists. When theology does not find its unity in the

historical tradition of the Church, by which the revelation is

mediated, that unity will be found in the ideal immediacy of

God.(19) Only the former position is Catholic; the latter is

cosmic, founded upon the logical isolation of God from man which,

in default of the historical revelation, is understood to be

ontological as well. Between the Catholic and the cosmic there is

no bargaining space. When it is urged that the theological

principle which travels under the tag of “ex opere operato” has

served only to corrupt the Eucharistic worship of the Church, the

appropriate therapy would appear to be the renewal of the primacy

of the reality which is to be understood over the speculative

devices by which theologians have managed to misunderstand it.

One cannot reasonably abandon the ecclesial tradition because it

has been misunderstood by theologians or liturgists; to do so is

to make the same mistake against which the original complaint had

been lodged. It is really not possible to restore the true

function of the lay congregation in the Eucharist by unfrocking

the priest if the reason for so doing is that his performance is

a nullity in any event: what is left to be presided over? Are

women then to be ordained on the grounds that they are no more

futile than men?

The most immediately appealing objection to the restriction of

orders to men is that it is unjust, that it entails a religious

subjugation of women, and their ontological subordination: in

brief, that this practice, however time-honored, amounts to an

indignity. The charge is a serious one, but its correctness is

not self-evident, except on grounds of a cosmic egalitarianism.

These have been found wanting, not applicable to the human

reality; the good creation by whose goodness justice is given its

Christian meaning, is a rejection of the egalitarian cosmos in

which all differentiation is accounted unjust.(20) If we are to

take the charge of injustice with that seriousness which it

merits, we must place it in a Christian frame of reference, that

of the Eucharistic celebration.

This is the celebration of the definitive presence of the Lord of

history in his people, the liturgical promulgation of the Good

News of the definitively Good Creation whose goodness is by the

Trinitarian mission of the Son and the Spirit into the world.

This sending of the Son by the Father, and the Spirit by the

Father and the Son, is not distinct from the creation of the

world. If we are truly to understand what it is we celebrate, it

is necessary to rid our imaginations of the exaggerated reading

of Anselm which later theology accepted in the distinction

between a “natural” creation by the One God, and a subsequent

Trinitarian presence in the world simply “propter peccatum.”(21)

The mistake of this theology was that it made the Incarnation of

the Son merely incidental to the world of man and to his history,

and reduced the role of the Spirit to one of repair, rather than

admit the creativity the liturgy has affirmed of Him. But the

Christocentric theology which began with Scotus finds it

impossible to maintain the distinction which Thomas accepted

between a natural creation “ad imaginem,” and a supernatural

“recreatio”: the Creator and the Christ are one God: as

incarnate, Christ is also his Image, the adequate utterance into

creation of the truth of God. This truth is not information about

an abstract deity, but the truth of God’s relation to his

creation. This truth is the revelation, concretely uttered into

the world at the moment of Mary’s acceptance. But truth and

reality cannot be distinguished: if the truth of creation is

concrete in the Christ, so also is the reality of creation: His

lordship, His revelation and his creation are the some, his

headship and his imaging.

The good creation which is actual in Christ is not then to be

thought of as an object or thing “placed outside its causes” as

an older theology expressed it in quite nominalist terms. The

victory of Christocentrism is required by the doctrine of Mary’s

Immaculate Conception, in which Christ’s grace is understood to

be effective in history prior to the Incarnation, and effective

precisely as creative. His Lordship transcends all time, and all

time is meaningful, historical time only by that Lordship,

through which its discrete moments are unified and valorized. His

lordship is similarly transcendent to space, making it a world;

to humanity, making it the people, the Church; in all its

exercise, his transcendence is effective by his immanence. He is

the creator-redeemer, present in his creation as Image, by a

communication which is “ex nihilo,” without any antecedent

possibility. His presence is so total as to be in personal

identity with himself, not the suppression of any human being by

its subordination to his divinity, but the constitution of his

own humanity in the evocation of the integrally free affirmation

of it in that acme of worship which is Mary’s conception of her

Lord. Her affirmation is constitutive for his imaging; precisely,

it is the constitution of his masculinity, which was not imposed

upon her, but conceived by her in untrammelled freedom as the

total expression of the perfection of her worship, as her

femininity is that in which the Good creation worships, the

wisdom and loveliness by which it glorifies God in the joyful

celebration of the presence of the Lord.

It is this dialectic within creation, now a fallen creation, that

Ephesians 5:22ff describes. Christ’s lordship, his presence in

creation, is his submission to sin and death, and the sacrifice

of the Cross, at once the triumphant vindication of his creative

mission from the Father, of his obedience and of his Lordship,

and the pouring out of his Spirit upon his Bride, the second Eve,

the Church itself, “societas qua inhereamus Deo,” caused by the

offering of his body and his blood. As Mary is intelligible only

within the masculine-feminine polarity by which she is

“theotokos,” the Church is intelligible only through the polarity

by which she is “Sponsa Christi,” continually redeemed by his

sacrifice, continually rejoicing in, celebrating the Good News of

the Good Creation which is in his Image. The reality of his

presence is her food and drink, her daily bread. As Christ is the

Christ by his total self-giving, the Church is Church by her

response to the gift, the worship by which she mediates the more

abundant life he died to give us. In this mediation, the

distribution of the bread of life, she is the second Eve, taken

from the side of Jesus on the Cross, the second Adam. It is as

priest and as sacrifice that Christ is present to the Church; it

is by his sacrifice that the Church is designated the Body of

which he is the Head. The Eucharistic Body which the Church

distributes and by which it lives is the one flesh of her union

with her Lord. If we admit the historicity of this union, we must

admit the historicity of its polar elements, and recognize with

Paul that it is in this union that the full value of human

sexuality is to be found; this is what the sacramentality of

marriage means. Nothing in the relation between Christ and the

Church is unjust, for both exist by their total affirmation of

the other; in this mutuality the Good Creation is actual in its

imaging of God.

Does the Eucharistic worship in which this relation is concrete

require the altereity between Church and alter Christus which the

classical view of apostolicity supposes to be essential to the

Eucharist? Does it require a sacramental representative of the

Head, in order that his sacrifice be sacramentally offered, and

his,Body sanctified by communion in one flesh with him? The

affirmative response which the sacrificial and event-character of

the Eucharist requires does not at first glance force the

conclusion that women should not be ordained, however much it may

suggest it. If Christ’s masculinity is inseparable from his

relation to the Church, it is evidently appropriate that the

priest who stands in his place in the Eucharistic celebration

should be male. But is it necessary? Does masculinity enter into

the very sign-value of the Eucharistic consecration, of the words

of institution, by which the sacrifice of the Cross is

re-presented? To assert such an integration of masculinity with

the priesthood is to assert also that human sexuality, masculine

or feminine, is integral with the personal existence in Christ

which is personal participation in the Church’s worship. This

integration is the fundamental assertion of Eph 5:21-33, an

assertion not in tension with that of Gal 3:28.(22) The latter

speaks of the full equality of all human beings in Christ; to

construe this as removing all religious significance from

masculinity and femininity is to presuppose that our unity in

Christ is unqualified, undifferentiated, which Paul notoriously

denies. Whatever heretofore undiscovered meanings exegesis may

find in Gal 3:28, Paul’s enlistment in unisex will not be among

them. But it is in the Letter to the Ephesians that the

sacramentality of our sexual bipolarity is assured, by the

discovery of the meaning and significance of sexual love in the

relation between Christ and his Church. This Pauline

understanding of marriage is grounded in the ‘one flesh’ of Gen

2:24;(23) it does not at all depend upon the sentence passed on

the fallen Eve. For Paul, the full meaning of Gen 2:24 is found

in the relation of Christ to his Church; in this relation,

marriage has its ground, as from it masculinity and femininity

draw their value and significance. These are indispensable to the

New Testament as to the Old, to the good creation in the image of

God, and to the New Creation in Christ.

The citation of Gen 2:24 in Ephesians 5:31 establishes the

continuity of Paul’s theology of marriage with that of the Old

Testament, wherein it was seen to be holy with that holiness

which belongs to the unfallen condition of humanity: sexual

bipolarity belongs to the Good Creation.(24) Paul merely takes

this insight and adapts it to the New Creation in Christ: the

relation of Christ, the Head, to his Body which is the Church

reflects the Old Testament covenantal relation between Yahweh and

his people. What was there implicit is now explicit: the meaning

of marriage, in which the truth of sexuality is given its

concrete and historical expression, is a matter of mystery, to be

discovered in its wellspring, the mutuality of Christ and the

Church, in which the full meaning of masculinity and femininity

is given, and given in the Revelation whose truth is

appropriated, not by human cleverness, but only in worship. Only

thus is its mystery respected, and the full significance of human

sexuality realized into history.

Paul has no difficulty in expressing the sacrificial nucleus of

Christ’s marital relation to his Body, the Bridal Church. He has

no difficulty in asserting the full equality of husband and wife;

they are to be mutually submissive, each seeking the good of the

other, without any ontological superiority on either side. Nor is

there much difficulty today in seeing that the covenantal

relation which must govern the Church’s bridal response to the

Christ is also the norm for the wife in marriage; her virtue,

like her husband’s, is covenant virtue. Our whole problem lies in

language, in finding words responsive to the truth of the marital

relation thus derived. All our language is tainted by its cosmic

origins, and by our penchant for rationalization. Paul’s language

can be understood only when one keeps firmly in mind that its

meaning is governed not by ordinary usage or by ordinary common

sense; these are not in service of the revelation which he

serves. Paul’s use of such antagonistic words as fear, submission

and the like, to describe the appropriate reaction of the

Christian wife to her husband is entirely misunderstood when it

is forgotten that we do not know what this language means in any

adequate sense.(25) We do know that Paul is neither a dualist nor

a monistic egalitarian; he insists at once upon the full

equality, the full human dignity, of both sexes, and also insists

upon their difference and irreducibility. This is simply

incomprehensible to our ordinary and quite pagan way of thinking,

as the history of theology shows quite plainly. There is no room

here for an examination of the history in the Old and New

Testaments of Paul’s language; it is evident enough that such

words are used in relation to the old Israel and the New without

any consequent demonization of Yahweh or of his Messiah, although

this use involved a complete reassessment of their meaning. One

may then assert the real difference in the masculine and the

feminine modes of worship in the Church without placing a greater

ontological value in one than in the other; only in a cosmic

religious context does qualitative differentiation imply


Nor is this qualitative differentiation between man and woman of

only occasional significance; it characterizes our creation and

our existence. It is not simply by a violation of the marriage

bond that one profanes the sacramental significance of one’s

sexuality, but by whatever expression of sexuality that

contravenes the meaning which is revealed in Christ’s relation to

the Church, and the Church’s reciprocal relation to Christ. This

is the foundation of Paul’s condemnations of promiscuity; it

the “Pauline privilege” as well. We are members of the

Body as masculine or as feminine, not as members of a

qualitatively indifferent fellowship; there is no aspect of our

worship, or of our existence “in Christ” which is neuter, in

which our sexuality is without significance and sacramentality.

If it be true that masculinity and femininity are thus

sacramental, and that all human existence is engaged in this

signing, it must follow that the only paradigms by which the

mystery, the meaning, of masculinity and femininity may be

approached are those provided by the marital relation between

Christ and his Church, between the Head and the Body, a polarity

intrinsic to the New Covenant, to the New Creation, to the

imaging of God. The appropriation of this sacramental truth is

identical to the worship of the Church, for in and by this

worship the Good News which is preached and celebrated is no more

or less than the truth of humanity which is revealed in Christ.

No one can enter into this worship except as a man or as a woman,

as the bearer of an existential meaning which is holy, and whose

affirmation is inseparable from one’s prayer. The content of this

affirmation is the self, which is uttered, not to a neutral and

merely reciprocal Thou, but to another mystery by whom one’s own

is itself affirmed in an utterance which is not repetitive but

responsive to oneself. In this mutuality, that of the Covenant,

the meaning of masculinity is complete in Christ’s sacrificial

relation to the Church, and the sacramentality of every masculine

existence is tested by its conformity to that model. The meaning

of femininity is complete in the Church, and the sacramental

truth of all feminine existence and worship is tested by its

conformity to that model. There has been very little attention

paid to the historical content of this sacramentality, even in

Catholic theology, and it is evidently not possible to make up

for that neglect by any less strenuous device than a thorough

re-examination of the entirety of the Catholic tradition:

scriptural, patristic, liturgical, and also cultural. But short

of that endeavor, we are not entirely ignorant, not entirely

controlled by stereotypes. The Catholic insistence upon the

sacramentality of masculinity and femininity rests upon the

Catholic faith in the historical actuality of the Head-Body

relation of the sacrificing and sacrificed Christ to the Church

in the event of the Eucharistic worship. If this sacrificial

Head-Body relation is not actual in the here and now of our

worship, then the marital relation has nothing to signify, and

sexuality becomes religiously unimportant, deprived of

sacramentality, as all our worship is deprived. Reduced to faith,

no expression of our worship has any intrinsic historical

importance, and no problem exists with regard to the ordination

of women, or indeed with regard to anything else, insofar as

intrinsic structure and value are concerned. Much of contemporary

moral theology is already embarked upon this path. But if we

reject this nihilism, admit the transcendent importance of being

a man or a woman, then the other consequences of sacramental

realism “ex opere operato” also follow; they are in brief the

negatives of those which Kilmartin s drawn and to which we have

already referred. Particularly, the sacramentality of feminine

existence and worship is that of the historical Church, “alter

ecclesia,” which cannot be identified with or assimilated to the

worship of the consecrating and sacrificing priest, “alter

Christus,” in the Eucharistic celebration; the alternative is

that merger of Christ and his Church which would make of them one

nature, “mia physis.” But between this monophysitism and the “una

caro” of the marital symbolism which celebrates rather than

supresses the dignity of sexuality, there is all the difference

which separates the Judaeo-Christian faith in the goodness of the

historical creation from all its counterfeits and from their

devaluation of the humanity which God made in his image, as of

the history through which the good creation is redeemed. Many

voices now urge this devaluation, not least those advocating the

ordination of women to the priesthood. If as seems to be the

case, such a devaluation of human sexuality and human history is

integral to that advocacy, it must follow that such ordination

cannot take place within the Catholic Church.


1.   D. Keefe, “Biblical Symbolism and the Morality of “in vitro”

Fertilization,” Proceedings, ITEST Conference on Fabricated Man,

Oct., 1974; reprinted in “Theology Digest” (Winter, 1974)


2.   M. Barth, “Ephesians: Translation and Commentary on Chapters

4-6″ (Anchor Bible, vol. 34a) Doubleday and Company, Inc., Garden

City, New York, 1977, 687.

3.   P. Tillich, “Systematic Theology,” 3 vols., University of

Chicago Press, Chicago, Ill., 1951-63, I, 23lff.

4.   Werner Jaeger, “Paideia: The Ideals of Greek Culture,” 3

vols., tr. Gilbert Highet, Oxford University Press, New York,

1965, 1, 237-2-85; Tillich, op. cit., III, 92.

5.   Werner Jaeger, Op. cit., 110, 156f wherein appears a

commentary upon Anaximander’s famous dictum, “It is necessary

that things should pass away into that from which they are born.

For things must pay one another the penalty and compensation for

their injustice according to the ordinance of time.”

Anaximander’s discovery of a cosmic order of justice is a

liberation from the mythic notion of fate by the substitution for

it of a no less fatal physical necessity, the remote anticipation

of the iron laws of thermodynamics.

6.   The universal solvent for all problems, difficulties, and

suffering, from this point of view, is always a return to the

lost primal unity; only thus is the spectre of injustice

exercised. This solution to the problems posed in contemporary

theology is well known in ecumenical circles; it seeks for the

primal unity of Christians in a least common denominator of

doctrine, liturgy and morality. The temptation posed to Catholic

participants in such discussions is considerable, for they also

are frequently against injustice. A fair example of the Catholic

discovery of injustice in the non-ordination of women is George

Tavard’s “Woman in Christian Tradition,” University of Notre Dame

Press, 1973, whose axial theme is the equation drawn between

injustice and the admission of religiously significant sexual

differentiation. This equation is founded upon an egalitarian –

and cosmic — reading of Gal 3:28, which, if taken seriously,

simply puts an end to the sacramental worship of Roman

Catholicism. See esp. pp. 77 and 96.

7.   M. Barth, Op. cit., 688.

8.   Ibid., 630, footnote 85, citing J. Pedersen’s “Israel, Its

Life and Culture,” 2nd ed., Oxford University Press, 1946, 1-11;

702, in which Barth expressly refers to God’s marital covenant

with Israel; Georges Azou, in “The Formation of the Bible,” tr.

Josepha Thornton, The B. Herder Book Co., St. Louis and London,

1963, proposes the same idea (60-61); John L. McKenzie’s “Aspects

of Old Testament Thought,” The Jerome Biblical Commentary,

Prentice-Hall, Inc., Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey, 1968, 11,

752-753, para. 95-8 should be read in this connection. See also

K. Barth, “Church Dogmatics” III, The Doctrine of Creation,” Part

four, ed. G. Bromley and T. Torrance, Edinburgh, 1961, 197-198,

wherein Barth refers to marriage as the supreme manifestation of

God’s covenant.

9.   M. Barth, Op. cit., 707.

10.  Ibid., 615, 618, 669, 720.

11.  Ibid., 614, 618-19, 645, 723, 729ff.

12.  J. Munck, “The Acts of the Apostles: Introduction,

Translation, and Notes.” Revised by William F. Albright and C.S.

Mann. (Anchor Bible, vol. 31); Doubleday and Company, Inc.,

Garden City, New York, 1967, 232. See also 0. Cullmann, “Early

Christian Worship, Studies in Biblical Theology” 10, tr. A.

Stewart Todd and James B. Torrance, S.C.M. Press, Ltd. 966, 21,

footnote 1.

13.  This meditation seems to have begun with Irenaeus, probably

in response to the gnostic use of Ephesians 5 alluded to by M.

Barth, (644-45,, op. cit.) Tavard, op. Cit., 69-70, provides an

interesting commentary upon Irenaeus’ development of these


14.  H. de Lubac, “Corpus Mysticum: L’Eucharistie et L’eglise au

Moyen Age. Etude Historique.” Revue et augmentee. Aubier,

Editions Montaigne, Paris, 1949, 139-209, provides an

indispensable account of the development of the “Una Caro”

terminology in its application to the Eucharist from Jerome

onward through the 12th century. Before Berengarius, its

dialectic served to unite the  three bodies’ of the Eucharistic

worship: The Church, the crucified and risen Lord, the Body of

the Eucharistic sacrifice. The interrelation of marriage and

Eucharist was again emphasized by Bossuet; see G. Bacon, “La

pensee de Bossuet sur l’Eucharistie, mystere d’unite,” Revue des

sciences religieuses xlv, (1971) 209-239. Most recently A.

Ambrosiano has returned to the topic in “Mariage et Eucharistie,”

Nouvelle revue theologique, 98 (1976) 289-305.

15.  E. Kilmartin, “Apostolic Office: Sacrament of Christ,”

Theological Studies 36:2 (1975) 243-264. Kilmartin’s

ecclesiology, while of an evident ecumenical interest, is not

essential to that interest; see Emmanuel Lanne’s “L’Eucharistie

dans la recherche oecumenique actuelle,” Irenikon, 1975, 48:2,

201-214. The controversy within Catholic theology which surrounds

views such as Kilmartin now proposes is well illustrated by C.J.

Vogel, “Die Eucharistie heute,” Zeitschrift fur Katholische

Theologie 97:4 (1975) 389-414, responded to by Alexander Gerken,

“Kann sich die Eucharistielehre „ndern?” in the same issue.

Joseph Finkenzeller has recently addressed the same questions as

Kilmartin: “Zur Diskussion uber das Verstandnis der apostolischen

Sukzession,” Theologisch-praktische Quartalschrift 123:4 (1975)

321-340, and “Das kirchliche Amt und die Eucharistie,”

Theologisch-praktische Quartalschrift 124:1 (1976) 3-14.

16.  Gunther Bornkamm, Luthers Auslegen der Galatersbrief, Walter

de Gruyter & Co., Berlin, 1963, 277-280, provides the radical

interpretation of Gal 3:28 upon which ecclesiologies such as

Kilmartin’s rest: insofar as our justification is concerned, we

are bound to no external work whatever (nulli prorsus uni externo

operi sumus alligati). And the consequence is accepted: the man

of faith is without a name, without species or difference,

without “persona” (homo sine nomine, sine specie, sine

differentia, sine persona). Luther himself of course refused to

deduce social revolutions from his doctrine, a point of view

which is entirely consistent with its dehistoricizing thrust. The

distinction between the “volkisch” and the “religios” sense of

Gal 3:28 is still controlling in D. Albrecht Oepke, “Der Brief des

Paulus an die Galater, 2nd ed., Evangelischer Verlagsanstalt,

Berlin, 1957, 90-91.

“Da das zweite Glied unmoglisch in Sinne der Sklaven, (I KR

7, 20ff) das dritte nicht in dem der Frauenmanzipation

gemeint sein kann (I Kr 11, 7ff; KI 3, 18; Eph 5:22ff) so

ware es ebenfalls verfehit, das erste in Sinne eines blassen

Internationalismus verstehen zu wolien.” Nonetheless: “Die

Glaubigen sind  in Christus’ zu einer Person verschmolzen.

The religious unity in Christ with which Galatians is concerned

has no particular social relevance: “non alligati sumus”; between

the sacred and the secular a disjunction is set which no “works”

can bridge, which no sacramental sign   can transcend.

17.  0. Cullmann, “Baptism in the New Testament (Studies in

Theology 4)”, S.C.M. Press, London, 1950, 30, uses Col

1:24, 2 Cor 1:5 and 1 Pet 4:13 to establish that the Body of

Christ into which we are baptized, the Church, is the crucified

and risen body of Jesus; this theme had been more particularly

developed in his “La delivrance anticipee du corps humain d’apres

le Nouveau Testament,” “Homage et Reconnaissance: Recueil de

travaux publie a l’occasion du 60e anniversaire de Karl Barth,

Cahiers Theologiques de l’Actualite Protestante, Hors Serie 2,”

Delachaux et Niestle, Neuchatel, 1946, 31-40, in which he also

makes some attempt to accommodate the “mysterious identity” of

Christ-Church to the marital symbolism of Eph 5:22ff. This

attempt requires a careful avoidance of the Head-Body language of

Ephesians and Colossians, by which the duality-in-unity of Christ

and the Church as the antitype of the marital ‘one flesh’ is

affirmed, for in Cullmann’s theology there is no Christ-Church

union to be symbolized by marriage: there is only an identity,

mysterious no doubt, but still identity. Thus he understands the

‘one flesh’ of Gen 2:24 and Eph 5:31, leaving quite unresolved

the difficulty of understanding how the inherent duality of

marriage can have any reference to the much-insisted-upon

identity of Christ and his Church. In this connection, see his

“Baptism in the N.T.,” 45, note 1. Cullmann’s reading of Gal 3:28

is consistent with his reading of  one flesh’; “every difference

between men and women here disappears.” (Baptism, 65.) For

Cullmann as for Kilmartin, the active role of the congregation in

worship excludes all “ex opere operato” sacramental efficacy. In

his controversy with K. Barth over infant baptism, Cullmann

insists upon the absolute passivity of all incorporation by

baptism into the Body, which knows no moment of free becoming,

“contra” the doctrine of Eph 5:21-33, in which the Body-Church is

in a relation of freedom to the Head who is Christ. Despite

Cullmann’s well-known stress upon salvation history, his

ecclesiology is finally reducible to an eschatology: between the

Cross and the Parousia, nothing of significance is effected

through the use of historical human freedom. The parallel between

Cullmann’s development and Kilmartin’s seems clear.

18.  Paul K. Jewett, “Man as Male and Female: A Study in Sexual

Relationships from a Theological Point of View,” William B.

Eerdmans Publishing Company, Grand Rapids, Mich., 1975, is a fair

illustration. He assumes the anti-sacramental stance proper to

Protestant theology from its inception, with the expected


19.  Luther’s insistence upon the objectivity of Christ’s

Eucharistic presence, as forced upon him by his loyalty to

Scripture, is in a considerable tension with the theological

account of that presence, which looked upon it as a special

instance of divine omnipresence. The event-character of the

Eucharistic worship having been abandoned with its sacrificial

character, the Eucharistic presence becomes accountable for only

in non-historic terms.

20.  P. Tavard, op. cit., 184, 191, 195; P. Jewett, op. cit., has

the same difficulty as Tavard in admitting that the “submission”

language with which Paul points to the paradigmatic relation of

the Church to her Head need not and cannot be understood as

demanding the ontological inferiority of the feminine. Karl

Barth’s explanation of “submission” as existence within the order

of creation (examined in pages 69-82) is also used by M. Barth,

op. cit. 709. This coincides with the phraseology used by

Voegelin and von Rad to which reference was made in the article

to which the present one is sequel. See footnote 1.

21.  M. Barth, op. cit., 654, 731.

22.  The interpretation of Gal 3:28 which Joseph Fitzmyer has

contributed to the Jerome Biblical Commentary (11, 242a) reads:

“Secondary differences vanish through the effects of this primary

incorporation of Christians into Christ’s body through “one

Spirit” (1 Cor 12:13). This verse is really the climax of Paul’s

letter.” At first glance, this language has considerable

affinities with the Lutheran phraseology cited in note 16, as

with the contemporary views of Kilmartin and Tavard. The

implications which a literalist reading of e.g. Fitzmyer’s

summary statement has for Catholic sacramentalism have been

pointed out. It is curious that even after the 1965 endorsement

by Danielou (v. Tavard’s citation, op. cit., 217, note 10) and

its later popularization via the CTSA (v. vol. 24 (1969) of the

CTSA Proceedings) in this country and the works of Hans Kung

internationally, the recent commentaries on Galatians pay little

attention to the bearing of 3:28 upon women’s ordination. Pierre

Bonnard, “L’Epitre de Saint Paul aux Galates,” 2nd ed., revue et

augmentee, Delachaux et Niestle, 1972, writes, of the distinction

between male and female, “Depasse’es et non supprimees, ces

distinctions ne sont pas abolies dans l’eglise.” (78-79) John

Bligh, in “Galatians: A Discussion of St. Paul’s Epistle,”

Householder Commentaries, No. 1, St. Paul Publications, London,

1969, writes “St. Paul is discussing, Who are the heirs of

Abraham? His answer is that the distinctions between Jew and

Greek, slave and free, male and female are irrelevant here. All

Christians are equally heirs.” (327) Franz Mussner, in “Der

Galater Brief, Herder Theologischer Kommentar zum Neuen

Testament,” ix, Herder, Freiberg, Basel, Wien, 1974, writes “Der

Apostel will domit seltstverstandlich nicht sagen, dass derartige

Unterschiede 5usserlich nicht mehr bestehen — Mann bleibt Mann

und Frau bleibt Frau, auch nach der Taufe –. aber sie haben

jegliche Heilsbedeutung vor Gott verloren.” Mussner does exclude

any identification of Christ ard the faithful, but when he tries

to elucidate further what the baptismal unity might be, he falls

back upon metaphor: “Diese  Heils-sprare’ noch naher zu

bezeichnen, ist sprachlich keim moglich.” (264, 265) “Im ubrigen

redet hier Paulus von einem Mysterium, das sich begrifflich nicht

vollkommen fassen lasst, am wenigsten mit Kategorien moderner

Existenialanalyse.” (266) The categories Paul uses in Ephesians

5:21-33 evidently do not occur to Mussner as applicable here. And

this is odd. Heinrich Schlier has been more sensitive to the

issues raised by Gal 3:28; in the 13th edition of “Der Brief an

der Galater, (Kritisch-Exegetischer Kommentar Uber das Neue

Testament Begrundet von Heinrich August Wilhelm Meyer, Siebente

Abteilung),” Gottingen, 1965, 175, he remarks, albeit in a

footnote, “Erkennt man diese Enschranking der Aussage in V.28, so

hutet man sich, aus ihm direkte Folgerungen fur die Ordnung des

kirchlichen Amtes oder auch der politisehen (sic) Geselischaft zu

ziehen. Das kirchliche Amt beruht ja nicht direkt auf der Taufe,

sondern, auf der Sendung, und die politische Gesellschaft ist

niemals identisch mit dem Leibe Christi.” (Note 4)

23.  M. Barth, Op. cit., 734; see also 641, 703.

24.  Ibid., 645.

25.  Ibid., 630-715.

“The Lasting Legacy of Cardinal Daniélou” from Catholic World Report, 3 October 2012

The Lasting Legacy of Cardinal Daniélou

“Reviled by his progressive contemporaries, Jean Daniélou accurately diagnosed many of the problems that continue to trouble the Church today.”

By Brian Van Hove, S.J.

Wednesday, October 03, 2012

The August 7-11 meeting in St. Louis, Missouri of the Leadership Conference of Women Religious reminds us of the sober words of Cardinal Jean Daniélou, SJ in 1972. The LCWR featured a keynote speaker whose theme was “Conscious Evolution,” which is as removed from the Pope and the Magisterium as science fiction is from Albert Einstein.In the National Catholic Reporter on August 6, 2012 Alice Popovici wrote of the LCWR keynote speaker: “Barbara Marx Hubbard, an evolutionary thinker who is to speak this week before the Leadership Conference of Women Religious, is not Catholic or part of any mainstream religion. But she says she has faith in the future.”

By sharp contrast, Daniélou warned in an interview on Vatican Radio on October 23, 1972:

One of the greatest threats to religious life today is the mass of disputable theological opinions. In minimizing the supernatural aspect of God’s gift, in minimizing everything that pertains to the action of the Spirit, it destroys the very base on which the religious life is built. That is why it is important today to seek out spiritual directors and theologians from those who represent the true thinking of the Church. There must be a care to have a deep unity with the sovereign Pontiff and with the orientations given by him the Sovereign Pontiff, in particular those which concern religious life.

As to a union with the Sovereign Pontiff, the LCWR rejected even the presence of the canonical pontifical delegate:

Archbishop J. Peter Sartain of Seattle, who has been charged by the Vatican with responsibility for supervising a reform of the Leadership Conference of Women Religious (LCWR), has been told by the group’s leaders that his presence ‘would not be helpful’ at the LCWR’s annual assembly this week.

On the subject of the crisis in religious life, again in 1972 Daniélou spoke thus:

Vatican II declared that human values must be taken seriously. It never said that we were entering in to a secularized world where the religious dimension would be no longer present in civilization. It is in the name of a false secularization that religious men and women give up their religious habit and abandon the adoration of God for social and political activities. And this is, furthermore, counter to the spiritual need manifested in the world of today. (Why the Church?, p. 166-167)

Robert A. Connor succinctly summarizes the cardinal’s lifetime work:

After his short spell as a military chaplain ended with the fall of France in 1940, he devoted himself to the study of the Fathers of the Church, and with Fr. Henri de Lubac was one of the founders of Sources Chrétiennes, a popular yet scholarly series of key writings from the patristic period. Over the years, Daniélou produced a flow of books and articles on the worship and theology of the Early Church. Such was his reputation and influence that Blessed Pope John XXIII named him as a theological expert for the Second Vatican Council. In 1969 he was made a cardinal by Pope Paul VI, and elected to the Académie Française.

Why would a patristics scholar of Daniélou’s stature get involved in current Church events at such a popular level?

Perhaps in the tradition of Jesuits such as Robert Bellarmine and Augustine Bea, Daniélou was expressly made bishop and cardinal in 1969 by the Pope. Not surprisingly, a flood of protest pamphlets descended from the clerestory and marred the Mass of ordination. The battle was engaged. Newspapers carried the photo of the “indoor snowfall” in the sanctuary of the church where the ordination took place. Friends of Daniélou reported that same year, 1969, that he had refused these ecclesiastical awards. However, Pope Paul VI had personally ordered him under obedience to accept being made bishop and cardinal “so that you might suffer with me for the Church.” The son of Saint Ignatius of Loyola, Jean Daniélou, might have added, “If this be the case, then together we will proceed, both of us to suffer for Christ.”

At that point Daniélou accepted the burden imposed upon him. He went on to engage in energetic apologetics, what his opponents reduced to polemics favorable to the Pope and the Magisterium, with special reference to Humanae Vitae. They called him a reactionary and a traditionalist, in French “intégriste.”

Unlike many who agreed with Daniélou but remained primarily scholars, he became an activist-popularizer at the price of deeper scholarship. For Daniélou the Jesuit, the apostolate was first. He was not a careerist, but apostolic to the end. He completed the Jesuit “tertianship”in 1940, and in his notes from that experience, he pleaded with God for the grace of apostolic zeal (Carnets Spirituels, p. 241).

In Western Europe and the Americas the voices of Catholic orthodoxy were few and constantly attacked at that time, especially from inside the Church. The Pope needed every voice that he could get, especially after the withering assaults upon his person subsequent to July 1968 and the promulgation of Humanae Vitae.

After the Second Vatican Council, American and European Catholic popular and semi-popular periodicals and publishing houses either disappeared or mutated into organs of fashionable progressivism. Especially in the wake of that fateful year of 1968, they undermined the ecclesiastical Magisterium. Catholic writers who were orthodox in faith and morals found it next to impossible to get published in Western Europe and North America.

With few exceptions, Alba House, the Daughters of St. Paul/Pauline Books and Media (under the spiritual influence of Father John A. Hardon, SJ), OSV and the Franciscan Herald Press were the only publishing houses that remained. They published books consciously faithful to the Magisterium before the founding of Ignatius Press in 1978.

Before the birth of Ignatius Press, the heroic and unflagging persistence of the Franciscan Herald Press’ chief editor, Father Mark Paul Hegener, O.F.M. brought us Daniélou’s Why the Church? in English translation in 1975, the year after the cardinal’s sudden death in Paris. This book was a collection of talks, interviews, and essays delivered in France and in Rome in defense of the historical Church and her authoritative teaching. It was surely as unwelcome in avant-garde circles in the United States as it was in European progressivist ones. Both Hegener and Daniélou were maligned, the objects of scorn as they fought against a growing opposition within the Church. This movement made an effort to portray orthodox Catholics as mere relics of a bygone age. Cardinal Daniélou wrote:

To misunderstand this, to think that we are all going to start from scratch, to believe that everything that came from yesterday is useless to the man of today because today’s man is radically different from the man of yesterday, is one of the greatest illusions of a certain number of philosophers and theologians of today. And it is a total illusion, for what constitute the essential elements, namely, human nature and the spiritual life, are permanent realities. It would be particularly stupid to say that in the area of human genius we had made great strides since Plato or since Dante, or since Shakespeare. That really would be stupid, for there is no progress in the qualitative order of genius. Bach and Mozart will always remain, because they have reached greater depths than certain modern works which grow old so quickly. (Why the Church?, p. 180)

Commenting on the era of Daniélou, an American academic in 2012 put it this way:

In those days, the quasi-Catholic intellectual did not want to read anything defending the Church’s tradition, which is fundamentally Eucharistic. Crouzel noticed the refusal of supposedly Catholic journals to publish defenses of the reservation of Orders to men. Some of us were attacked a number of times during those years for daring to uphold this rank injustice and, worse, for appearing to regard our opponents as not too bright. Those were the days when feelings began to trump honesty, even honest inquiry, and since then little has changed.

In other words, we can say that Daniélou was not alone in the Church’s hour of need. Intellectuals met in Strasbourg in 1971, and intellectuals who had formed the Fellowship of Catholic Scholars met in Kansas City in 1977. They tried. Joseph Ratzinger and others broke with Concilium in 1970. Abandoning Concilium, Americans and Europeans, including Jean Daniélou, took up the invitation of Hans Urs von Balthasar in 1972 to found Communio, an international Catholic journal that would “cross fertilize” various cultural and language groups within the context of Catholic orthodoxy. Louis Bouyer, Henri de Lubac, Stanislas de Lestapis, Stanislas Lyonnet, Ignace de la Potterie, Louis Ligier, Hubert Jedin, John R. Sheets, Paul M. Quay, Benedict Ashley, William E. May, and others worked in their respective fields with dignity and fidelity. Cardinal John Wright founded the Paul VI Institute to foster orthodox catechetics on the diocesan level. There were other small efforts which were not sustained. But it was somehow left to Daniélou to be the voice heard for a time above all others before his untimely death.

This voice was silenced in 1974 and subsequently his memory was nearly erased. Here is how Sandro Magister put it in a May 2012 Chiesa column for Espresso Online:

The clash had been precipitated by an interview with Daniélou on Vatican Radio in which he harshly criticized the “decadence” that was devastating so many men’s and women’s religious orders, because of “a false interpretation of Vatican II.”

The interview was interpreted as an accusation brought against the Society of Jesus itself, the superior general of which at the time was Father Pedro Arrupe, who was also the head of the union of superiors general of religious orders.

The Jesuit Bruno Ribes, director of “Études,” was one of the most active in making scorched earth around Daniélou.

The positions of the two had become antithetical. In 1974, the year of Daniélou’s death, Ribes positioned “Études” in open disobedience with respect to the teaching of the encyclical “Humanae Vitae” on contraception.

And he collaborated with other “progressive” theologians—including the Dominicans Jacques Pohier and Bernard Quelquejeu—in the drafting of the law that in that same year introduced unrestricted abortion in France, with Simone Veil as health minister, Valéry Giscard d’Estaing as president, and Jacques Chirac as prime minister.

The following year, 1975, Father Ribes left the helm of “Études.” And afterward he abandoned the Society of Jesus, and then the Catholic Church.

The hostile media tried to defame Cardinal Daniélou by falsifying the circumstances of his death. We know now the truth. After a symposium sponsored jointly by the Fraternity of Saint Charles Borromeo and by the Pontifical University of the Holy Cross (Opus Dei) on May 9, 2012 entitled “Windows Open on the Mystery,”there is no possible doubt left. His death was in the context of a secret work of charity:

In May 1974, the 69-year old cleric was the chaplain to a group of nuns in Paris, and lived alone in a small apartment close to the convent. On a Monday afternoon that month, the local police were astonished when a Madame Santoni, known to her customers as “Mimi,” phoned them urgently to say that a cardinal had just died in her apartment. They were right to be startled, for the Rue Dulong was one of Paris seedier areas, and the woman in question was known to them as a “madame” and the wife of a man recently jailed for pimping.

When a cardinal suffers a fatal heart attack, with a substantial sum of money in his pocket, and in the house of a prostitute, there’s a story that can run for weeks. The Paris newspapers had a field day, with the anti-clerical Le Canard Enchaîné trumpeting yet another exposé of Catholic hypocrisy.

One thing was for sure, Cardinal Daniélou’s reputation as an authoritative teacher in the Church was eclipsed by his death. Although the French Jesuits carried out a thorough investigation into his sudden death and discovered the visit to the Santoni residence was part of his secret works of charity to the most despised people in need of God’s love, his confrères made little effort to dispel the miasma of suspicion that enshrouded the name of this illustrious scholar. That afternoon Cardinal Daniélou’s final errand of mercy was to give Madame Santoni money to hire a lawyer to get bail for her jailed husband.

Legends and myths perdure, however. After so many years many of those who would have longed for the full truth to be disclosed have already gone to their Lord, while the young do not even know the name “Daniélou.”

But one thing is known to the young. Small religious communities from re-founded older ones are gaining youthful recruits each year. Cardinal Daniélou, in that October 1972 interview, recommended:

I think that the unique and urgent solution is shift from the false orientations taken in a certain number of Institutes. For that, we must stop all the experimentations and all the decisions which are contrary to the directives of the Council; we must be on guard against the books, magazines, and workshops where these erroneous conceptions are diffused; we must restore in their integrity the practice of the Constitutions with their adaptations asked by the Council. In the places where this appears to be impossible, it seems to me that we cannot refuse to the religious who want to be faithful to the Constitutions of their Orders and to the directives of Vatican II the right to form distinct communities. The religious superiors are obliged to respect this desire. These communities must be authorized to have their own houses of formation. Experience will show if vocations are more numerous in the houses of strict observance or in the houses of less strict observance. In the cases where superiors would be opposed to these legitimate demands, recourse to the Sovereign Pontiff is certainly authorized.

Americans, at least, are familiar with Father Benedict Groeschel’s Franciscan Friars of the Renewal, Father Andrew Apostoli’s Franciscan Sisters of the Renewal, Mother Mary Quentin’s Religious Sisters of Mercy of Alma, and Mother Assumpta Long’s Dominican Sisters of Mary, the Mother of the Eucharist. These are only some of the new offshoots from older religious communities which are thriving in the Church today. Cardinal Daniélou predicted that “experience” would show, and so it has. His counsel to seek recourse to the pope also bore fruit when Cardinal James Hickey and Cardinal Augustin Mayer OSB, among others, assisted in the formation of the Council of Major Superiors of Women Religious, which has formal pontifical status. Cardinal Mayer also helped fledgling individual communities achieve canonical pontifical right.

One can be assured the CMSWR would gladly invite Archbishop J. Peter Sartain of Seattle to their meetings—and there would be no chance of Barbara Marx Hubbard ever hearing from the CMSWR.

From Catholic World Report |
Copyright © 2012 Catholic World Report
All Rights Reserved.

Re-read Martin Mosebach’s “The Heresy of Formlessness”

The Heresy of Formlessness: The Roman Liturgy and Its Enemy
by Martin Mosebach
translated from the German by Graham Harrison
San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 2006
Pp. 210, no index; paperback $16.95
ISBN 978-1-58617-127-8
ISBN 1-58617-127-5
LCCN 2005938824
Review-Essay by Reverend Brian Van Hove, S.J.
Alma, Michigan
Posted on Ignatius Insight 21 May 2008

Martin Mosebach writes to convince the reader of the spiritual superiority of the classical rite, the Mass of the missal of 1962. With the talent of an artist and a dedication to Jesus Christ, he tells the story.

The church is torn by a civil war over liturgy. Some hold that the reform did not cut deep enough, that yet more radical adaptation and accommodation are needed. Others think the reform can be reformed, and in this camp we include the pope and the policy of Ignatius Press. There are those who believe that only the old rites, restored fully and integrally, provide the solution to the crisis. And of course a large number of Catholics are apathetic and accept the present situation uncritically (and unthinkingly).

Mosebach chooses the path of restoration, and he does so with quality, intelligence and sophistication. He is a thoughtful religious man of a type hardly found any longer inEurope. His meditation on Mary, chapter eight, is enough to prove that. His essay “Revelation through Veiling in the Old Roman Catholic Liturgy” (pp. 161-173) is a work of religious art.

Louis XIV was crowned in 1654. It was said nobody at court in theRheimscathedral understood the rare liturgy for the coronation of a king. The masters of ceremonies just followed the prescriptions set down from time immemorial. They assigned seven archdeacons to stand here, and seven archpriests to stand there, and so on. The choreography was perfect, and no ingredient was left out of the complicated recipe. The music was excellent. The new king was anointed. Everybody knew he was crowned, and everybody had a sense of the sublimity of the occasion. Even so, later proponents of liturgical reform would criticize such a liturgy on the basis that only a few technician-clerics engaged in any kind of “active participation”.

Mosebach rejects such an analysis as a caricature. Without mentioning it by name, he would insist that this particular liturgy carried the soul aloft, despite any alleged lack of rational grip on the archaic rite. Prayer and rationality are two wings of a bird, two distinct modes of understanding. Only when the holy is concealed is it revealed. A “see-through glass chalice” is a contradiction in terms.

The author makes no reference to Catherine Pickstock, but in After Writing (1998) Pickstock lamented that owing toTrent, and especially to the historical work and interpretation of Josef Jungmann (1889-1975), the Tridentine liturgy became highly rationalized, and this rationalism broke with the medievalMass. Her explanation was complex, but she was not a believing Catholic, and Jungmann definitely was. Jungmann accepted transubstantiation and sacramental realism, whereas it is unknown what Pickstock really believed. While Mosebach disagrees with the post-Reformation Jesuits who introduced dominating vernacular hymns into the liturgy in Catholic Germany (pp. 42-43), he is not inclined toward Pickstock’s philosophical evaluation of the rite so mildly revised afterTrent. As an orthodox, believing Catholic, he is not her ally. Let traditionalists on this side of the ocean know that.

Mosebach opposes the idea that the missal ofTrentwas a break with medieval ritual and symbology. If he follows any contemporary writer on the subject, it is Klaus Gamber (1919-1989) who decades ago exposed the faulty archaeology and weak liturgical history upon which the reform was built. (p. 32) It is the missal of 1969 which is the product of pure rationalism, not the missal of 1962 which the author prefers to call “The Mass of St. Gregory the Great”.

The First Liturgical Movement (1860-1960) called for clarity and simplicity in the rites. In that precise historical setting this was something good and needed, so the argument went. Such a call was not then doctrinal in nature. On the contrary, the movement hoped that doctrine would become better understood through uncluttered liturgy when the ancient beauty of the church could be seen for what it was. Scraping off the accretions was claimed to help the ship sail faster.

A pity the dream of the older generation of scholars, especially Jungmann and a host of Benedictines inEuropeandNorth America, was incrementally hijacked by a dedicated cadre during and after Vatican II. Can anyone say that transubstantiation was understood by the average member of the church in 1980 better than in 1950? Paul VI had to issue an encyclical defending it! (“Mysterium Fidei”, 1965).

Mosebach’s list of German-speaking culprits in this saga of liturgical reform differs from our list, but for us here inNorth Americawe count McManus, Dieckmann, Funk, Mitchell, Empereur, Hovda and Huck among the best known “modern liturgy” and “celebrational style” practitioners. The historic break between Rembert Weakland and Richard Schuler shows that at least a few, like Schuler of St. Agnes inMinneapolis, offered resistance in the worst decades since the council. Like Michael Davies in the English-speaking world, Mosebach blames the dark side of the reform on Pope Paul VI (pp. 24, 91, 115); unlike Davies, Mosebach does not focus on the role of Annibale Bugnini. The author is obviously critical of the German episcopal conference. (p. 63) These and other bishops went well beyond the reform introduced by Paul VI. (p. 172)

Thus, we can now speak of “going back” to the reform of Paul VI! The real reform of the reform may just be the original reform intended by the council and the pope.

In Europe, both Louis Bouyer and Hubert Jedin in 1968 and 1969 publicly objected to the reform process directed by Annibale Bugnini, but they were ignored. (Bugnini did not leave Rome until 1975—it should be remembered by us readers that Frederick R. McManus wrote the lines found on the dust jacket for the English translation of Bugnini’s personal account of his role in the reform.)

Privately, Jungmann denounced the altar “versus populum” (or “coram populo”) as an aberration. Later, under his own name Gamber took the same position.

In 2003 Lauren Pristas analyzed the Latin of the revised Mass (and since then of other revised rites). While not using the expression herself, she concluded that it consists of “junk Latin”. (“Theological Principles that Guided the Redaction of the Roman Missal [1970]” in The Thomist 67 [2003]: 157-195). An exception is Eucharistic Prayer IV which was composed in a much finer Latin. Here Mosebach rejoins that what matters is that such texts are “received”, not “composed”.

A surprising number of motivated reformers promoted a conscious, deliberate rupture with our liturgical past. They quietly ignored the principle of organic development, though this principle was an official one. A stubborn, misguided and iconoclastic anti-traditionalism created an unnecessary catastrophe. Contempt for the old rites was mood-driven and self-conscious.

In chapter four Mosebach gives a vivid example of exactly how the iconoclasm unfolded in 1968 in Neuenheim nearHeidelberg. The cameo-like story is familiar to all of us who lived through that time. It was the same inIowaorOntario. Mosebach shows his knowledge of art history in order to explain the deeper philosophy behind iconoclasm. The destruction of the interior of the parish church at Neuenheim is heartbreaking.

The Benedictine monastery of Fontgombault in France is the living ideal of liturgical spirituality for the author. He does not mention that a very high percentage of the monks are Americans, and probably he does not know that the monastery happily celebrated the Novus Ordo Missae in Latin until the abbot imposed the old rite on the monastic community in the 1980s. The abbot made the point that it was the rite of his ancestors who died in the French Revolution. Many say that the abbot was influential in gaining the indults associated with the Commission “Ecclesia Dei”, though Mosebach himself does not say this. He idealizes the monastery’s every detail, which will cause some readers to be suspicious. No place can be “that” perfect, and one is reminded of the axiom “the only perfect liturgy is in heaven”. But the affairs of Fontgombault are the exception.

Nearly everywhere, the Mass today fails to unite Latin Rite Catholics, even juridically. Liturgical law is rejected, ignored or paid mere lip service by the modernizers (whom Mosebach calls “late Catholic Puritans”―p. 135) who always know more than the Church. Some years ago, reformers replaced the older formalism and legalism with the formlessness decried by Mosebach in his book’s title. Formlessness is the enemy. (For an articulate discussion of what he means by the contemporary rebellion against “form”, see pp. 104-106; 147). A denial of beauty produces formlessness. Formlessness is a heresy when it refuses certain revealed truths. They are mediated by material, concrete signs and symbols which are in themselves beautiful. In a word, Mosebach is preaching sacramentalism. Loss of form means loss of content! (p. 206)

On the other side, most of the antiquarianism Martin Mosebach so well understands is lost on contemporary Catholics, as it was said to have been lost on the French court in 1654. People know too little of their own church history and they have already for too long been deprived of their liturgical tradition. Those who still go to Mass in the industrialized West are minimally catechized. Perhaps it was always this way, everywhere. The elite with Mosebach’s level of erudition could be stuffed into a telephone booth, as a professional liturgiologist once expressed it.

But Mosebach rejects that line of thinking. He tells from his own experience how today simple South German women instinctively, without instruction, wash the purificators after an old rite Mass. Seemingly for him, things would naturally fall back into place when the old rite is restored universally. (pp. 28-29) However, he is pessimistic that this will happen soon. (p. 73)

In our culture wars―broader than the narrower Catholic liturgical crisis―a few voices have been raised to promote and defend beauty. Beginning with Dostoevsky, renewed by Solzhenitsyn, and expressed by Gregory Wolfe, the tradition is formulated in the phrase, “beauty will save the world”. (Gregory Wolfe, “Beauty Will Save the World” in The Intercollegiate Review 27:1 [Fall 1991]: 27-31). Using different vocabulary, Mosebach subscribes to this cry. His chapter six is named “Liturgy is Art”. “Christ desired to make his sacrifice ever-present, and so he poured it into the shape of liturgical art.” (p. 111) The liturgy is like a finished sculpture―all it needs is unveiling.

But practically, what to do? Pastors need a strategy. Mosebach argues that the liturgy itself is the strategy. Of itself it will bring light and salvation. The liturgy “is not a human artifact but something given, something revealed.” (p. 71)

So what went wrong with the reform? We know that after the Second Vatican Council the church lacked pastoral liturgists. Nobody knew what to do, and nobody knew how to implement the norms found in the revised books. The mood of the times was unstable and anti-institutional. Liturgy became highly politicized. What filled the vacuum left by an older certitude was confusion, fashion, whim, ephemeral enthusiasm, and then a surprising agenda to abolish the sacrificial nature of the Mass.A prominent theologian said in this reviewer’s hearing: “I am no longer able even to pronounce the word ‘sacrifice’.” Thus a “protestant-fellowship-meal” resulted from too much talk about banquets. What ensued was a doctrinal battle. Just a bit earlier, this state of affairs was unthinkable.

Horror and devastation remain. Ugliness and confusion reign. With the symbolic language interrupted and its sweet speech broken off, the mystery is reduced to wordiness and meaningless motion and chatter. Aroma therapy is more exciting to some than the holiness of the Mass.

Unbelievers or secular art historians, who happen to visit our churches, remark about the vulgarity and banality. Those from other liturgical traditions which have not degraded as completely, scoff at the debris of what once was the Roman Rite. The “New Mass” is unhesitatingly thought to be something absolutely distinct from the old, even if, in some instances, the new rite is celebrated with concern for aesthetic detail and perfection. Those instances may be found more inEurope, of course, than inNorth Americawhere a greater tolerance for philistinism is acceptable.

Everyone knows from the 1950s that the old rite was usually celebrated in a perfunctory, mechanical manner. (pp. 38-39) Mosebach adds that at least it had potential, whereas the new rite is so deeply flawed that it has no similar potential. One cannot “invent new forms” and expect them to succeed. This is not exactly what happened with the Missal of Paul VI, but it is very close. Those favoring the “reform of the reform” are well advised to make the new rite look as much as possible like the old rite, or face extinction. The lefebvrists think they are the true church, and that the “novus ordo” church will eventually disappear. The Western Rite Orthodox use the most archaic rites possible.

Mosebach’s insights are precious and serious, but he gives no blueprint about how to educate our people in beauty. Yes, one of the first acts of the new pope after his election was to restore Latin to St. Peter’s Basilica in 2005. But his efforts, including the ideas in his books from the 1990s, have not trickled down to parishes in California or Michigan (or Bavaria) where the “new rite” is carelessly and sloppily performed.

In fact, Ratzinger’s books on the liturgy were received with outright hostility in places where, of course, nobody ever expected him to become pope. They shuddered in their boots on the day of his election as it was no secret he would be “the liturgy pope”. In 1992, writing in the preface to the French edition of a book by Klaus Gamber, Ratzinger took the position Mosebach takes in judging the missal of 1969― “a liturgy that had grown organically had been pushed aside in favor of a fabricated liturgy”. (p. 192)

In a short time, the situation in most parishes may become desperately irreformable, so total is the rupture with the heritage of the old rite(s). The “sit down” masses among aging, graying Religious illustrate the finality of this rupture and the abject failure of the official reform. Mosebach says, “A detailed study would be required to show why, for the Catholic Church, an attack on her rites has almost fatal consequences―but space forbids.” (p. 192)

Mosebach’s criticism of the reform employs an underlying philosophy of liturgy. He rejects the very concept of liturgical reform. (p .34) “We are constantly being astounded by the reform introduced by Jesus Christ―the only reform that deserves this name.” (p. 70) We do not shape the liturgy. Rather, the liturgy shapes us. This may be easily understood by his reference to Pavel Florensky, the Russian priest executed by the Communists in 1937.

Eastern churches shun the temporal and locate their worship in eternity. The Divine Liturgy is not made by human hands, and neither hierarchs nor scholars may tinker with it―goes their thinking and that of Mosebach― “academic answers are completely useless in questions of liturgy”. (p. 30; 35) Sacred Tradition formed the Liturgy, and only the Holy Spirit can change it, not bureaucrats inRome, much less diocesan dim-lights. Mosebach is suspicious of bogus scholarship which has been used to promote an agenda. The Eastern Church provides a model of failure when the reforming Patriarch Nikon (1605-1681) was responsible for the Old Ritualist schism in Russia.

The Orthodox Church is rooted in Christian Platonism. The Orthodox Liturgy is described as an ontology, something true in itself, seen in this imperfect world imperfectly, but faithfully representing and accessing our goal in the Heavenly Liturgy. Mosebach favors something like this view for the Roman Liturgy―“We can say that, like Jesus, it is ‘begotten, not created’.” (p. 35) Or again, “Since Holy Mass had no author, since a precise date could be allotted to practically none of its parts―as to when it originated and when it was finally and universally incorporated into the Mass―… it was something eternal, not made by human hands.” (p. 35) In the chapter on the physical structure of the liturgical books themselves, there is a touching passage explaining the celebrant’s submission to the traditional order of prayer as something not made by him, as something given or received. (pp. 200-201) The Book of Seven Seals is the missal, the church’s revealed worship! (p. 209)

In our church few have written from this point of view, not even Klaus Gamber who was no friend of the official reform. Mosebach appeals to him for aid to build his case. The Roman Rite, and liturgy in the West more generally, have traditionally been regulated by pontifical legislation, not one-sided organic evolution. Attila Miklósházy wrote about the “theological foundations” for liturgical renewal and this assumed both the orthodoxy and the need for prayer reform.

We all knew the role of conciliar and pontifical legislation when a post-Tridentine pope suppressed local liturgies inEurope. Very few survived the reform of Pius V—the Mozarabic and Ambrosian Rites are still living, but barely. The old Celtic liturgies vanished. The Old Sarum Usage disappeared from the life of the church. It is known only to scholarly specialists.

If a liturgy is an “ontology”, no pope could abolish it. But rites were indeed suppressed by ecclesiastical authority. Mosebach minimizes this history, though he claims to have done his homework. (pp. 25; 32). He knows about the “two-track” history of parts of the old Mass, and this shows a higher degree of historical knowledge than most amateurs. (pp. 42; 52)

He does not mention that the missal of 1962 already shows sign of pontifical reform because, for the first time in the history of the Roman Missal, the rubrics were minutely codified and systematized. This codification by the Congregation of Rites undoubtedly was an effect of the First Liturgical Movement and Pius XII’s “Mediator Dei”.

Yet, Mosebach presents an airtight case for restoration. Once you enter through his door, it will shut behind you, and you are inside his liturgical world. He writes this meditation for the young, for priests and seminarians of the next generation seeking relief from the conflict of our vexing civil war. He writes for those who find the liturgy a difficult burden. He writes for the whole church, though he is forced to say the prospects for a liturgical Christianity are poor. (p. 72)

Our hunger and thirst for beauty will never leave us. There is hope for the future because of the way we are made. We are made for beauty. Superficiality and ugliness are a choice, not an inevitability. Some of Mosebach’s deepest insights, what might be called his spirituality, must be part of that future in the church. Perhaps there is more reason to hope than Mosebach is willing to admit. Only “perhaps”.

In the Second Book of Kings, Chapter 22, we read that the book of the law was lost in the rubble of the temple. When later it was found, it was presented to King Josiah who rent his garments out of grief.

If Mosebach is correct, something analogous to this exaltation can happen when our youth discover the enduring Mass which is “ever old and ever new”. “I take up the old Missal as if I had found it on some deserted beach. I open it and enter into its rich and ordered life, full of meaning. Here is the standard.” (p. 49)

On Saturday, 7 July 2007, Pope Benedict XVI issued an Apostolic Letter, “Summorum Pontificum”, on the celebration of the Roman Rite according to the Missal of 1962. Martin Mosebach might reply that this is only the beginning.

Posted on Ignatius Insight 21 May 2008

‘Spurious Vocation: The Problem and Suggestions for Solutions’ by Paul M. Quay, S.J. [1976]

‘Spurious Vocation: The Problem and Suggestions for Solutions’
Published in ‘Review for Religious,’ vol. 33 (1976): 1347-1391
At the writing of this article, Father Paul M. Quay, S.J. (1924-1994) was
associate professor in the Department of Physics and adjunct associate
professor of spirituality in the School of Divinity, St. Louis University,
221  North Grand Boulevard, St. Louis, Missouri 63103.

This article seeks, by means of principles discussed in an earlier article (Review for Religious, September 1974, p. 1062-99) entitled “God’s Call and Man’s Response” (hereafter GCMR) to find some practical ways to help those entangled in the problems generated by the various kinds of false vocation. No truly novel methods are possible, I think, for dealing with these problems. But a fresh view of them in the context of God’s own activity concerning them may make a more discriminating use of even the standard methods possible. The orientations indicated in the introduction to GCMR hold here also.

Part I of this article develops more or less descriptively the notions of “non-vocation,” “mistaken vocation,” and related categories. An extended treatment is given since, if these situations have often not been recognized for what they are,
that lack of recognition may result from insufficiently concrete and
experiential categories through which to grasp and understand them.

In Part II the complications introduced into all questions of God’s call and of
His will by the taking of vows are considered. Various practical situations are
dealt with. Particularly detailed attention is given to secularization (after
permanent vows) as a possible solution to vocational problems.

The last part considers in greater detail the social harm done to various religious
institutes by failure to face squarely these situations. Some suggestions are
offered on possible solutions and how these might be approached in practice. I
shall be concerned with concrete situations far more than with any purely
theological questions though, given the subject matter, these can never be
lacking. Even so and despite its length, this paper is still far too brief to
allow us to consider any topic exhaustively or even to mention many which are,
nonetheless, of considerable importance. The most notable omissions, perhaps,
are of discernment of spirits and of the ways to actually form a judgment as to
the presence or absence of a divine call. Nor is any attempt made to deal with
all problems growing from spurious vocation. For example, nothing has been said directly about the touchy but closely related topic of “temporary vocation.”

It is obviously impossible to include all the details pertinent to any particular
situation. Common sense and the standard procedures of the Church are presumed to be available except as otherwise indicated. All these matters, on the level of practice, require great delicacy of discernment, tact, and an unsentimental and faith­ful charity. In no way should what is suggested here be taken as a set of simple formulas capable of direct and immediate application.


The Case of Non-vocation

A. There are people whom, in fact, God has not called to any state of life but who
have, nonetheless, entered seriously upon some way of life as though they had
been called there. They vow themselves to God in this mode of life, yet God has
given them no invitation. This is the situation of “non­-vocation.” There are
three elements here: God has not called; the person attempts a particular way
of life; and this, under vow.i


Since not moved by God to any way of life, the person is acting, in this respect,
entirely on his own, independently of grace, perhaps contrary to it. The
motives can be various. In some cases, the person acts with a clear head and
knows well enough what is taking place; for example, a young woman enters the
convent to avoid an obnoxious marriage into which she is being forced by her
family; a young man enters the seminary because of the honor, financial
security, and gentleman-scholar’s life he thinks to obtain as a priest.

In other cases, the motives are obscure and deeply buried, arising from
psychological weaknesses or flaws, or from deeply embedded cultural factors.
Thus, a seminarian may be trying to escape from his mother or, conversely, he
may be seeking to win her love; or the intrinsic dignity of the priesthood may
be sought to compensate for deep humiliations suffered in childhood; or the
convent may seem the only mode of escape from an intolerable family situation
from which brothers and sisters have long since fled.

As an example of cultural factors, consider an attitude that is typical of
American Catholics. Not that we deny the grace of God. We admit our need of
light for our minds and strength for our wills to accomplish whatever it is we
want spiritually, but what we want is determined by ourselves. We do not easily
learn to listen so as to find out what God might be wanting of us. Rather, we
identify, according to temperament, what is reasonable, what is emotionally
satisfying, what others desire of us, and so forth, with the will or call of
God. Ultimately, it is we who decide what we are going to do in God’s service; it
is we who bear the responsibility of asking for the needed grace and for
cooperating properly with it when given and for carrying the whole enterprise
through to its conclusion. In the final analysis, it is God who responds to us,
not we to Him. It is we who are the initiators of good in our lives;
psychological mechanisms explain the bad; and, though we never say so, it is we
who receive the credit for making a success of our lives. The American cultural
ideal of the self-made man who takes the little he has and works with it, with
whatever aid he can get from outside, and strives and struggles perseveringly
until he has successfully done what he desired as his life’s work, is simply
transposed to the spiritual level.

It easily happens, then, that a young person can decide to become a priest or Religious without any least embarrassment at not having heard a call from God. Once he has decided, for whatever reasons, to live such a life, he sees nothing more required except to fill out his application papers and set to work.

The fact that God is not calling the people we have been speaking about does not
mean that He has no will in their regard. He very clearly wills their
repentance or maturation or the working through of their motivation in truth,
with professional aid where needed. That done, He will usually call them, in
what manner and in what directions we shall discuss later.

The Case of Mistaken Vocation

B. The situations, however, which are of primary interest to us here have a quite
different structure: God does indeed call and invite these people to some mode
of life; but they misinterpret His call and, as a result, vow themselves to Him
in a way of life other than that to which He is calling them. These are situations of “mistaken vocation.”ii

There are two broad classes of mistaken vocation which it is of considerable
practical importance to distinguish: the first, in which God’s call does not
have as its objective, directly at least, the choice of a’ specific way of life
at all, but is taken by the person called as if so directed, say, for example,
to the Dominicans; the second, in which God calls to one specific mode of life,
and His call is taken as if to some other specific mode.

No Call to a Specific Way of Life

A common example of the first of these classes results from erroneously
interpreting God’s invitation to an “interior life” as a call, say, to a
religious congregation; and many current vocational problems have no more
complex root than this confounding of a real call towards intimacy with the
Lord at an adult level with a call to some specific state of life.

Thus, ordinarily during adolescence, God begins to send His grace in a perceptible way to a youngster. The latter will already have become acutely conscious of growing up physically. With less reflex awareness he will have been growing also religiously. Religion is no longer just a question of delight in sacred
ceremonies or an attraction towards quiet reflection or a desire to do wondrous
things in strange lands like Father X the missionary. Rather, the adolescent is
becoming more aware of God’s commandments and their obligating power, is more conscious of an active with regard to social justice and “charity,” trying to
do in his life something of what adult Christians “ought to do,” to read some
of the things adult Catholics “ought to read.” But all this has remained
somewhat external.

Now begins an interiorization: he begins to savor the greatness of the Christian
heritage or the marvels of God’s works in nature or in history. There comes a certain sweetness in prayer, a realization of how good God is, a certain openness to Him, a sense of awe but not fright in His presence. God begins to make Himself known as personally present, as One who is interested in the young person for himself, not just as a warder-off of evil or a judge of his thoughts, as One who wants to be with him and with whom he deeply desires to remain. He comes to know, perhaps, the joy of being set truly free of his sins by Christ’s pure
love; and he may begin to know God personally, having certain relations with
Jesus and others with Jesus’ Father, now more manifestly his own.

However it takes place, it is something that, from God’s side, is much wanted, even if wholly ordinary, as He stirs the youngster up to desire the sort of
relationship which He would like to have with every Christian adult; for, the “interior life” is simply the inner life of any adult Christian.

The call to interiority is a sign of God’s initiating a more personal relationship
but implies the young person’s need to continue his overall growth. It is an
invitation to incorporate the spiritual more deliberately and consciously into
his life and personal development ‒ the success of which
incorporation is shown by its gradual inversion, so that the spiritual ceases
to be but an element in the young person’s maturation; and his further maturing
is caught up into and forgotten about in his ever developing relations of
knowledge, love, and service of God.

But greatly good as all this is, it need be no more than this. There need as yet be
no least indication of what state God may desire for him. Hence, these varied
graces of prayer or interiority should not be taken, simply as such, as signs
that God is calling this young person to any particular state in life. It is
essential that we allow the youngster to grow up in accord with this call to an
interior life, indeed, insist that he do so, and in no way allow that process
of maturation to be cut short or falsified, as it is only too likely to be if
taken as a “religious vocation.”

The common tendency to jump the gun in these cases seems to be correlative with our own lowering of ideals in the religious life ‒ thinking that any true signs of growth in prayer and closeness to God show an aptitude for the religious state,
or else with a great devaluing of the secular layman’s state, as if a personal
life in and for God was somehow a call away from a secular life. Either
attitude is destructive.

It may be well here to distinguish the situation we have just considered from
another with which it is easily confused: the case of premature response to a
vocation. In connection with non-vocation, we spoke of the person for whom God’s will is simply that he grow up. Clearly, God can will the same thing for a
person He has already called to some state of life. As seen in GCMR, p. 1072, a call by God to a particular state is temporally independent of this willing of maturity. He may call long before, while, or after the growth occurs which He wishes. Conversely, His will for growth is in no way mitigated or satisfied by even the most generous response to His call, whenever, at least, personal maturity is
necessary for implementing the call and reaching its objectives ‒ remember the
long interval of ripening and preparation needed to turn the newly called and
converted Saul into the Apostle Paul.

It is all too easy, then, to think that a call, truly heard, dispenses a youngster
from the pains and struggles of growing up that is required of him before he
enters upon the mode of life to which he is called. The good which God desires
for him can be short-circuited by attempting a mode of life for which, no
matter how truly called, he is not yet ready. For a person rightly to enter any
state of life, he must have matured in the varying manners and to those degrees
that are required by the threshold for that specific state (see GCMR, p. 1093). Otherwise, the life will be too much for him; his ability to live it will depend profoundly on the antecedent soundness of his further growth. It can be a serious error, then, to take the signs of a developing interior life as indications that the person is ready to engage himself actively in accord with his call. The failure to take seriously the threshold requirements of the different religious institutes ‒ or even to work out what these thresholds are in explicit detail ‒ has made this sort of error very common at present. 

Mistake in Identifying a Specific Call

2. The second broad class of mistaken vocations (in which an individual is truly called by God to a particular way of life but engages himself in some other, not by refusal of the call but by mistake in identifying it) is perhaps the more important practically. To a limited degree, it has long been recognized; hence, for
example, the provision in each diocese of a vicar for Religious who, among
other duties, is to assist those individuals who might need, for this reason,
to transfer from one Order or congregation to some other.iii

But most of these situations lay largely unrecognized until Vatican II turned its light not so much upon the problems as upon their sources and origins, thus moving towards their radical cures.iv The first such source we have discussed
already in some detail in GCMR, Section III: the loss of perception of the variety and specificity of the different ways of life, both lay potential candidates and by the religious institutes themselves. As there indicated, the Council set in motion the suitable means for remedying this evil.

A second source of mistakes lay in the neglect, since about the 1690s, of the power, depth, and beauty of secular, especially lay, spirituality, in the loss of the very notion, even, of a secular spirituality in any strong sense. Now, at least, it
is once more evident, as a result of the Council, that God calls people to
great intimacy with and outstanding service of Himself entirely within and as
part of a call to a secular layman’s life. The paradoxical effects of this
clarification we shall consider shortly.

A third source, the most deeply rooted perhaps, is a quasi-Lutheran attitude of mind which fails to take adequate account of natural religious growth and development, even when informed by grace. It is the mentality which is overly eager to treat young people as characteristically Christian in all aspects of their being, before they have had time to “recapitulate” the Old Testament. Hence, young Religious or, indeed, charismatically renewed laymen who are instructed and well versed in turning the other cheek before they have learned to experience the fiery anger of the prophets in the presence of social injustice. The principles for treating this disease are only implicit, it would seem, in Vatican II, evident chiefly in its sense of the dynamic nature of religious history and in the firmness of its stand against any supernaturalism which would bypass human growth and development, fallen or redeemed, or reduce the growth process to a
discontinuous transition from Law to Gospel.

Finally, we may put together the various, purely subjective difficulties: hidden psychological needs, fears, and compulsions; immaturity; poor listening to God; only partial hearing of His call; mistaken notions of what a vocation is or how it might be discerned; false or unbalanced theological opinions which obscure the true nature of the call’s objective. The interaction of these subjective factors
with the more objective ones previously mentioned make for the concrete
situations we shall be concerned to deal with and help.

Further Distinction between Mistaken and Non-existent Vocation

3. Before going on, it is worth pondering further the distinction between mistaken and non-existent vocation. The great difference, of course, is the matter of fact (obvious in theory though often very difficult to ascertain in an actual case): in one case God is calling the person ‒ with all that that implies of grace and promise and fidelity (see GCMR, pp. l074, 1084, 1098); in the other case, He is not.

Sometimes a person balks here: how can one speak of a mistaken vocation if the individual has followed out his supposed vocation in good faith and in accord with God’s will, who has let this happen, if superiors have approved and all the levels of ecclesiastical authority have acted to validate it? I agree that under these
circumstances, the individual has done nothing morally wrong; still, he has
made a mistake because God was actually inviting him to something else. God’s
permitting him to go off in another direction implies no anger at the man nor rejection. God permits the mistake and, in some sense, makes it possible by cooperating with the man who makes it, even as He does with much greater evils.

But if a call truly comes from God, it is other than merely the person called and his circumstances. It is something with its source elsewhere than in creation, and
is independent, in its source, of the person called. In this sense it is objective
‒ I do not wish to say that anyone, including the person called, can examine or
scrutinize it directly in the way in which we can scrutinize some object, or
that others can see it independently of the mind and heart of the person
called. But it does take place, by God’s own intervention, in the real order of
this world. God calls a person to one thing rather than another; thus, mistakes
are possible about that to which the call is directed, as about its other

Further, in the great majority of cases of both non-vocation and of mistaken vocation there will be found a fair amount of self-deception. Obscure psychological fears and cravings can be as active in the one case as in the other, though differing in their thrust and intensity. In non-vocation, they generally constitute the entire motive force; in mistaken vocation, they remain subordinate to God’s grace ‒ they deflect or modify what faith, hope, and love have set in motion. Hence, the role of other factors in the latter case: partial hearing; erroneous theology; incomplete or incorrect facts.

Now, it is true that the mere existence of a mistake is valid evidence for there having been some fault in the will, some affective defect of impatience, over-confidence, carelessness or neglect. Hence, some psychological factors are always at work in interaction with the objective ones. Even if, for example, a young person is directly misinformed about some way of life ‒ say, lied to by one he has every reason to trust ‒ yet if he were listening perfectly, he would recognize the Lord’s call as disagreeing and requiring further investigation or else ‘that the call was unspecific, not as yet complete, in need of further efforts or lapse of time’ (see GCMR, p. 1081-2).

On the other hand, mistakes can easily occur in which this element of affective fault lies far below the level at which human assessment of innocence or guilt can operate. Thus, it proves little or nothing to the point, in a case where this type of
mistake as to vocation is suspected, that the person is much in love with
Christ, desires ardently to serve Him well, and gives himself generously to
meet whatever demands are made upon him. Nor, if a mistake is ascertained, is
there any reason to doubt the person’s good faith, early or late. He may, like
most of us, have some tendency under pressure to cheat a bit, to state things
less openly or directly than he might. But bad faith—no.

Perdurance of the Mistake

4. Some, at this point, object strenuously that, while the initial mistake can be made in good faith, it strains credulity past breaking to pretend that a person could be a Religious for eight or ten years or more and still not be aware of the mistake, not just concretely sensing something wrong; to think that his initial good faith has not long since turned to bad.

I admit that, when dealing with human weakness and sinfulness, no lower bounds can be set. Our capacity for malice and dishonesty is both radical and unlimited. Yet such experience as I have had, directly or vicariously, convinces me that often the mistake perdures for many years in good faith.

Consider a group of Sisters in the technical sense, a group of women who may or may not take simple vows of poverty, chastity, and obedience, and live in community, but who joined together primarily for the sake of a work ‒ they form an apostolic group, a “pia associatio” aimed at some work among God’s people or to draw others closer to the source of their salvation. And they are not about to be tied down by a lot of regulations on cloister, hours of common prayer, habits, perpetual adoration, and so forth. They have nothing against those things; but they are not for them, since they would interfere with their work, which has a dynamic of its own that cuts athwart a mode of life built on the contemplative style.

Suppose you get women in some numbers into a community of this sort who are called by God to be contemplatives and who would desire nothing better than to have six or eight hours a day at some form of prayer and the rest of the time to clean the chapel or be recollected in other silent occupation around the house. These women will be interiorly at odds with the rest of the group. Note that, by assumption, they are not neurotics; nor are they copping out on a lot of tough work; they are not people who got into this and found the wear and tear of the life too much. It is a question of a genuine mistake: here is a woman who was truly called by God to a contemplative life; somehow she got the idea that it was ‘to be found and nurtured in this congregation’; and because the foundress was holy and said some things about the need to pray and to stay close to the Lord if one is to be effective in the apostolate, she screens out much of the rest and sets to work at the cultivation of a contemplative way of life.

Now, just these contemplatively inclined women will be the most likely, with time, to be put in positions of authority ‒ much at ease with reflection, not enthusiastic for energetic activity outside the community, desirous of regular hours, and able to work smoothly and competently in relative quiet. But of course, as superiors, they will tend to stress those elements of the life which they
regard as essential, and never notice, till conflicts arise, how at odds with
the others they are. 

Mistakes in the Opposite Sense

5. Mistakes can occur in the opposite sense as well. There is excellent evidence and in large quantities that God has called many a young person to be a good layman, with a strong and healthy secular spirituality after the model of Vatican II, who mistakenly thought he was being called one way or another to the life of a priest or of a Religious. For such a person it was either the life of the Religious or priest, or the life of the spiritual slob. The great stirring of the Council’s efforts at declericalizing the Church, the strong winds of renewal, charismatic and otherwise, had not yet had their effect. 

Mistaken Vocations and Departures from Religious Life

The great number of these mistaken vocations goes a long way towards explaining the not inconsiderable paradox that a Council which took as its chief goal the spiritual renewal of every part of the Church should appear to have been a more potent agent for the dissolution of religious life than all its declared
enemies of the past. It is fewer than fifteen years since Pope John first spoke
of convoking a Council; fewer than ten years since the Council’s decree On the Suitable Renovation of the Religious Life ‒ periods of time short, even in our impatient days, for any sort of fundamental renewal of complex and world-spanning institutions. Yet already in 1965, numerous Religious were leaving their institutes in the name of the “spirit of Vatican II,” and the flood has not yet subsided.

Undoubtedly, some people, drained of spiritual strength by tepidity, left simply because it was now easy to do so. Others left, frustrated by ways of life, largely ossified, which their members seemed, in spite of the Council, unwilling or even unable to revivify in accord with the gospel. In greater numbers, people left under the influence of the many, currently popular, for the most part highly superficial theologies of religious life and ecclesiologies occasioned though not engendered by the Council, modes of thought which would render the religious life void of any fundamental significance to humanity at large or to the Church in

Undoubtedly, too, the Council’s careful noting of the elements of good contained in the cultures of our age, largely antithetical to a life of faith though these cultures are concretely, led the foolish to embrace their values en bloc and without distinction in a casual form of spiritual suicide now commonplace among would-be intellectuals. Largely concomitant with and partly caused by the Council, a social upheaval has occurred with regard to the clergy, though less important in the United States than in many other places. Once the social, intellectual, and political as well as spiritual leader of his people, the priest has now been “reduced” to his proper functions, a role dull and disappointing to many who saw him as the extension in space and time of an earthly and temporal messiah.

More basic, however, than these and similar grounds for departure and largely at the root of them, is the fact of mistaken vocation: great numbers largely at the root of them, is the fact of mistaken vocation: great numbers of Religious (and priests), perhaps even a majority, had been called elsewhere from the beginning and should never have been permitted to enter or to remain, despite their good
faith and generosity.

One of the major achievements of Vatican II was undoubtedly the magnificent vision it gave of the true role of the secular layman in the Church. It opened up the full dignity of his call, the spiritual depth of his mode of life, the spiritual
beauty of his familial relations, the power for Christ of his action in the world. More, it indicated uncompromisingly how many areas of the Church’s activity, long dominated in fact if not in principle by priests or Religious, rightly
belonged to the secular layman. In brief, it is the Church’s own greatest
manifesto against clericalism. Yet strangely, “clerics” (the quotation marks
indicate an extension of the word to include Religious of all types) seem more
intent today than at any time since the late Middle Ages at thrusting
themselves, for whatever reasons, into secular activity and positions of
temporal influence. Clericalism is more vigorous than it has been for

Now, suppose a young man or woman who has already spent several years in, say, a religious Order, drawn despite its strongly contemplative orientation by its equally salient apostolic effectiveness or manifest sense of Christian community. He picks up the documents of Vatican II, reads with ever growing interest of the restoration of the temporal order in Christ, of the secular’s call to perfection, and the like, and suddenly cries out in his inmost being, whether daring to admit it to
himself or not, “But that is what I have wanted all along! That’s my vocation!”
It is neither tepidity nor lack of generosity nor false theology that brings such
a reaction. The tragi-comedy of our day is that he is right.

Those elements in the life which run athwart his true vocation he tends to ignore as some sort of non-understandable, pious riddle or to reject as undue interference with his call to Christianize the secular. With all sincerity, following the call received, he works against such elements as antiquated, as contrary to Vatican II ‒ as indeed they would be in a secular layman’s context ‒ and, therefore, to be eliminated as soon as possible from the institute of which he is a member. To the extent that his efforts run aground, that the desired “reform” is frustrated, and that he experiences directly or vicariously the actuality of the secular life of the Church, he will be “tempted” to leave the Order.

Happy the man in his situation who is free to do so and does! Otherwise, apart from some special mercy of the Lord, there is only destruction ahead: his own, through increasing alienation and misunderstanding and conflict; or that of his institute, through spiritual hemorrhage, as through his influence and of those like him, it abandons one element after another of its spiritual inheritance and true spirit, “updating” in ironic contradiction to Vatican II’s insistence that it
is primarily in fidelity to its original and distinctive spirituality that its service to the Church lies.


The more difficult problems in practice arise when an error concerning vocation is complicated by the taking of vows. Hence, the present topic of how to help those whose vocation is not genuine divides naturally into considerations- touching the aid that one may bring to: (A.) those who have not yet taken permanent vows; (B.) those who are bound by permanent but not solemn vows; (C.) those with solemn vows. 

The Case of Those without Permanent Vows

The primary reason for including this group here at all is to have thereby a point of comparison and contrast to the remaining groups, and to develop a few useful
ideas free of the complications which the consideration of the vows would bring
in. Since even temporary vows are, at least in many institutes, meant to be seen as permanent from the point of view of the person who takes them, I explicitly omit any such aspects from this section, since they can be treated, mutatis mutandis, in section B. Thus, I am speaking here only of those as yet without vows or of those whose vows imply nothing more than that they are to be kept during a limited, relatively brief period.

The Case of Non-vocation

1. Consider first the case of non-vocation. In most instances, it is not hard to screen out such a person before entry. It should be a rarity that one ever reaches a novitiate or postulancy. If this is not the case, those who are doing the screening need better training or should be replaced. In any event, there will clearly be missing in all these people those positive indications of a true call which are essential before they can be allowed to bind themselves. That so many in fact have stayed on long years, been admitted to vows, and ordained, is something that will need further discussion in Part III.

The general approach here, despite the wide diversity of possible situations, is fairly clear and uniform. The director seeks to discover for himself the true situation, then to draw it as fully into the open and to as full clarity as is prudently possible with the young person concerned, and to assist him to repentance for whatever faults he may have committed in the process ‒ not, primarily, for particular ones but for such general sinful dispositions as, for example, willful blindness, to which he might half-knowingly have yielded. Then he should be sent away, with whatever follow-up advice or aid may seem suitable, to await, as he matures and works out his inner difficulties, his true call from God.

First Point of Special Difficulty

Two points of special difficulty are worth commenting on. The most common type of non-vocation does not involve deliberate choice ‒ certainly not fully ‒ but is based on psychological motivations well hidden from the person himself. Often, then, the person involved will lack the maturity or psychological freedom or insight to be able to easily face or understand his situation, as light is brought to bear upon it, all the more so if, as is ordinarily the case, he is well below the

As a general practical norm, I think that the sooner such a person is sent away, the better. Certainly, charity and sensitivity to the youngster’s needs and feelings are called for. Simply to turn him out, once one has clear knowledge of his case, without effort. at explanation, with flat or impersonal rejection, saying in effect,
“You’re not up to our standards. You flunk. Get out!” would be a serious failure in charity. But to keep him around until one has worked through with him the problem to the point where he can see and accept his situation may well be even worse. There is no guarantee of success, and he might be there forever. If he is below threshold, the life will work against his maturation or equilibration, not for it. Nor is it charity to let a youngster strike roots where he cannot stay, to make friends with those he will unwittingly injure, to spend what remains of his years of most rapid change, of easiest adaptability, of greatest physical and intellectual vigor in a false situation.

To the objection that he will feel rejected if he cannot understand the reasons, I would point out that so the Lord treats all of us often. Life is not such that we will always know why this or that dream or desire is shattered or unfulfilled. If one makes clear that being sent away is not a rejection of him personally, not a matter of ill-will or of disinterest in him, the dismissal will help him, even if
painfully, to learn to face an admittedly not wholly comprehensible real and
introduce him to the unsentimental vigor that most humans today badly need.

Less commonly, the difficulty in understanding why his director should think he has no vocation comes from cultural factors as a result of which the young person does not realize that a divine call and, indeed, to this precise institute, is essential before entry. Though there may be some fairly crass ignorance present, he does not ordinarily need the attention of a psychiatrist. His difficulty can
sometimes be met by bringing him to see, as fully as he can, his own current
interior dispositions and then, in a further and separate step, the dispositions called for by the way of life he has chosen to enter. This is worth doing, as a matter of course, with all entrants, but it should be done as early as possible; otherwise the youngsters will have picked up the “right answers” by rote. Both sets of responses should be kept for future reference in written or taped form.

In either of the above situations, the person is likely to profit from further counseling ‒ spiritual direction is not usually his need as yet. But let him obtain it elsewhere or, if need be, in this same community but as a visitor from outside. The sooner the separation, the better.

Second Point of Difficulty

A second point of difficulty occurs with a person who has deliberately put himself in a life to which he knows he has no call. Here the director’s problem will be rather of discovery than of clarification. More common than the quasi-operatic situations mentioned earlier, are those of people who know (or think) that they have an insurmountable impediment (habit of masturbation; homosexual inclinations; insane parent) and yet, for reasons of economic security or psychological pressures, insist upon entering fraudulently, keeping their “impediment” secret and often doing nothing effective to remove or find out more about it in the years that follow.vii

Despite even a very consistent lying and covering up of such a situation, a competent director will quickly spot, if not the precise difficulty, at least clear indications that something is seriously wrong. The hardest case of this sort to detect (where the impediment is purely imaginary and based on the youngster’s having picked up false information) will still, as a situation of perpetual deception and opacity, show its signs before long. Further, as with the other sort of case, positive signs will be lacking, at least in any clarity and specificity. Again,
sending the person away need not wait on a complete untying of the knot; and
charity would urge it as soon as possible since true repentance is more likely
when he is perforce out from under the pressure to maintain his false stance.

Cases of Mistaken Vocation

2. Turning now to cases of mistaken vocation, if there is question merely of a mistake­ ‒ the threshold has been reached for his present way of life, but he is not where God invited him and invites him still ‒ then it is a matter of bringing his current situation as fully as possible into focus and sending him with encouragement on his way. Even if he is still below threshold for that life to which he is truly called, he can learn from his experience as he waits, aiding himself as he grows by his new-won clarity concerning God’s desires for him.

On the other hand, whatever the type of mistake, if the person falls substantially below the threshold of the particular institute in which he finds himself, much attention should be devoted to assisting his further spiritual and natural development. Since, by supposition, he is well below threshold, most such assistance can be offered effectively only after he has ceased trying to live the Religious life. Yet the institute can always do something for him, after his departure, ranging from prayer for his continued growth in the Lord, if he belonged to a strictly cloistered community which has no means of secular contact, to ongoing education, friendship, and spiritual direction with the more active Orders or congregations.

If, indeed, the young person being sent away has been called to this mode of life from which he is being dismissed, then all such means should be used. Even so, some care is needed that his growth be unimpeded. He should see that God is calling him and be made aware of the risks of falling away from his first response. Yet he should know, too, that he is free; that God, who did not desire this premature entrance, does want him to take that risk and to grow to adulthood (or to the threshold) before attempting to engage himself permanently. Obviously, too, he should be helped to understand why he made the mistake he did about entering, in order to learn from it to avoid others. And he should know that the doors of this institute remain open to him at any time, once he is ready.

The great evil, to avoid at all costs, is the desire to keep him in the institute, to say, “He can grow as well here as elsewhere.” There would be truth in this only if he had entered at the level of the threshold, which is not the case here by supposition. And the further the person is from the threshold, the greater the sin in permitting him or her to remain and the more serious the obligation on others to rectify the situation at the earliest moment possible.

If he was not called to this mode of life, however, he should know that he is leaving for good and know why. If indeed he mistook the call to adult intimacy with a call to religion, it is conceivable that when God does finally call him to a way of life it will be to this one. But it would be a mistake psychologically either to concede the possibility or to advert to it. The doors should be firmly shut behind him. He could as easily be called to an administrative position with General Motors. Any hidden desires on our own part to have him return, while they could in principle proceed from a grace-inspired hope, based on human assessment that he would serve God well with us and aid our institute should God call him here, seem far more likely, save in a great saint, to spring from some tainted source. Why not merely desire that our institute be as well or better served by whomever God does call, and devote our prayers and our longing to that? Otherwise, at best, we would seem to be sighing after mere possibles or to be mistaking this young person, only a symbol of what we rightly desire, for the

Evidently, if he has received a call, but elsewhere, the doors of the institute should not merely be closed but also locked behind him. Here, even more than in the other cases, help and aid should be given, in the measure of the institute’s ability, to help him clarify his situation as fully as compatible with his age and
disposition, before he leaves and after, his situation being more complex,
requiring both growth and a proper response to a true call somewhere else.

Cases of Those with Permanent Vows

B. As soon as one turns to situations the same in all respects as those just considered save for the intervention of permanent vows, one notes that the taking of vows effects a curious decoupling of questions concerning vocation (whether or whither God has called this person) from those concerning the possible modes of practical remedy. By the taking of permanent vows, by the making of permanent promises to God, invitation becomes mostly a thing of the past; God’s direct will is now in the forefront. The flexibility which inheres in a situation of invitation and response is replaced by the solidity and permanence of a covenant.

This recalls again that central and difficult problem of which I made mention at the very end of the previous article (GCMR, p. 1099): if God has not called this person to this state; if, in fact, He does not want him in it at all; if, even, it was a sin of presumption, say, or of cowardice for this person to take vows under these
circumstances, then how can such vows be valid?

Long before we have solved to general satisfaction that thorny and intricate theoretical problem, it has to be dealt with in practice, in people’s lives. The tradition of the Church, however, whether spelled with capital T or small t, stands strongly on the side of a presumption in favor of validity, a presumption, obviously, which may be overturned by the facts of a particular case. The same presumption also seems in far deeper accord than its opposite with the psychological data presently available. When people are honest, they know pretty well how freely they have acted and how fully they have engaged themselves. Hence, whenever conclusive evidence to the contrary is lacking, evidence, that is, of real unfreedom at the time of vows, whether arising from external coercion or inner psychological compulsion, it seems pastorally wiser to assume that such vows were valid.viii

Given, then, a Religious in permanent vows with no vocation or with a mistaken vocation whose vows seem, after due investigation, to have been freely, if wrongly taken, what can we do to assist him?

Evidently, one must be careful to work always from God’s present
call, if any, and present will for him. In many cases, through God’s continuing
goodness, people in these situations have in fact eventually received calls
from Him to the states in which they had earlier vowed themselves. Often, such
a call will have been accepted quietly, without enthusiasm, perhaps, but with a
high degree of free adherence. All kinds of painful problems, especially
emotional kinks and hang-ups of various kinds, may remain from the earlier
period. These can lead to a remarkable humility in the person’s life. So
attractive is this that we can be misled at times into being but slack and half­hearted in our efforts to avoid spurious vocations. When so tempted, let us recall that to seek to force God’s power to do what with His ordinary grace and the powers He gives us by nature we can well do, and should do, ourselves is tempting God.

Possible Solutions When the Person Is at Threshold

1.  This frequent gift of vocation in later years points to a key element in many of these problems, too often neglected or passed over lightly at present. According to a well ­nigh universal patristic tradition, God will call to the religious life anyone who perseveringly and with faith asks Him to. Since the diversity of religious lives was hardly visible in those days, I think that this doctrine can legitimately be extended to obtaining a call to any particular mode of religious life, especially when vows have already been taken therein. The basic argument, crudely put, was that, Christ having invited all His followers to the life of the counsels by public and external call, then, if the internal call was missing, it was
nonetheless available and could be had by prayer. The essential insight of this
reasoning, if updated somewhat, applies with even greater force to the
situations here considered. For those who, whatever their mistakes, are at
threshold level or higher in the institute of their vows, this offers an
effective solution. Repenting of whatever there may have been of fault in their
earlier choices, they accept lucidly and quietly in the Lord their present
condition and vigorously labor by persistent prayer, their own but also that of
their confreres and of members of other institutes, especially contemplatives,
to obtain the blessing of a true call to the way of life in which they have bound themselves. Sooner or later, that prayer will be heard.

Another alternative is sometimes possible where the person is free to transfer to “his own” group, to the place where God is calling him. This is the case spoken of earlier on as being one form of (rectification of) mistaken vocation long publicly
acknowledged by the Church. Thus, though the practical difficulties may be
great, in principle any Religious can move to any other Order or congregation
that will have him.

If, then, a person has mistakenly entered one religious institute rather than another, and if his motivation is now pure and he stands at roughly the threshold level of the institute to which he is transferring, then the problem will be solved by acceptance of God’s continuing call. According to the Code of Canon Law, even solemn vows can be “extinguished” as a result of such a transfer even if to an institute of only simple vows.

The Church has shown, as mentioned earlier, considerable reluctance in practice with regard to such transfers. The reasons are not hard to see. Firstly, there have always existed emotionally unstable people for whom a transfer seems, whenever a problem arises within their own communities or lives, the obvious and only solution. Further, it would be a grave abuse to let a person so move as to extinguish his solemn vows in the manner mentioned in order then to get his newly taken simple vows dispensed. The genuine diversity of types of religious life has, moreover, often been overlooked, especially among those thinking in the categories of the Code, who can regard the change as spiritually non-significant, hence not properly allowable, because the differences may not be as obvious, say, as between the Jesuits and the Trappists. Finally, there is the fact that no such
switch is trivial, even among those of a single religious tradition, for example,
from a more active Benedictine community to a more contemplative one, or vice-versa. There can be enough practical and emotional problems in such a change to make it a statistically poor bet, at least for an older religious. Hence, transfer
should be attempted only after full clarity as to God’s call has been reached.

In many cases of interest today, of course, the person is not free to follow what was his call, for example, if that was a call to marriage and he is now in permanent vows of religion.

Cases When the Person Is Below Threshold

2. If a Religious, on the other hand, is appreciably below the threshold of the state in which he is vowed, the problem becomes much more difficult. People who have spent many years in a way of life to which not only were they not called but to which no call to them has ever come (or, perhaps, come but been refused), whose threshold moreover was for a long time, possibly is even now, over their heads, are almost certainly going to need some highly competent psychiatric help. This should be taken for granted, although how and when to utilize it in each case requires some prudent pondering.

The following alternatives seem available: (a) to help the person transfer to another religious institute, one whose threshold is at approximately his level; (b) to let him remain where he is, but brought to clarity and a special status in that
institute; (c) to have the institute “secularize” him, that is, send him away
with complete dispensations from all obligations save those directly connected
with the priesthood, should such exist.ix

The Case of Transferring to Another Institute

(a.)  An example of what is envisaged here: a Jesuit priest in whom no perception of a call has ever been observed but who has long manifested by his inability to grow how far below the threshold of this life he is, transfers to the Trappists. This alternative has in our day nearly fallen from sight.x This is too bad, for it has much to recommend it. Evidently, it requires a certain minimum of cooperation on the part of the troubled Religious; but this cooperation is frequently not terribly hard to obtain, at least at a certain point in the person’s situation as it develops ‒ few people really like to go back on their word to God; most are willing to make some efforts, even if feeble ones, to extricate themselves from such a situation if they have suitable help and support in the process. The element of support is of particular importance in the sort of case we are here
considering. This alternative is particularly effective for those who, though
below threshold, are still fairly normal men or women, not yet badly damaged
psycholog­ically, people with whom a clear and direct discussion of their
problems and aspirations is possible, whatever the weakness of their flesh.

It should not be forgotten, in this context, that a Religious priest may relatively easily transfer to the diocesan clergy. Whether any of his vows will or ought to be
dispensed in such case is another matter; often not. Yet a much closer
approximation to secular life is thereby made possible, which can in certain
cases be of considerable assistance. However, some care is needed here, for the
diocesan priest’s threshold is often fairly high in a diocese in which he must
deal with people constantly concerning their spiritual lives and which cannot
afford to let a man withdraw into scholarly reflection and writing, say, or
into chiefly external social action.

It is important to take into account whatever history of call there may be for this Religious. Clearly, transfer would be an inept remedy for premature response. Transfer should also help a person, where possible, to move more in the direction of his most recent call, if any, than in some other. Great skill and prudence are called for in the proper balancing of all the factors. The healthier the person is psychologically, the more likely it is that the call can have the greater influence; if no recent calling has occurred, then it is largely the threshold relation which should govern action, This latter will always be the case in situations of continuing non-vocation. Because of the neurotic or pathological
aspects usually involved in these cases when inveterate, any seeking of God’s
concrete will through retreats and the like may prove extraordinarily difficult
if not truly impossible. Generally, skilled psychiatric help will be called for.

 Remaining in the Same Institute

(b.) This approach is often the only one that can be used. When directors and
superiors have for long years failed to take effective action in the type of
case we are considering, very often the person never does receive a call to the
life he is bound to, never does reach threshold, but instead decays and
crumbles spiritually and psychologically. Eventually, of course, age, perhaps
also illness, will make any solution through transfer or secularization
impossible, if even a semblance of charity and justice is to be preserved ‒ this
semblance seems all that is truly desired by some in authority. But, given some
change at higher levels and some effective desire to help these people at last,
can anything be done?

A whole program of action will be called for, usually long, always difficult,
hence often neglected. Since I suspect that harried superiors may, on occasion,
be too close to what seems a totally intractable situation to be able to figure
out how they might proceed, perhaps it will help to sketch out some basic lines
of approach. The goals of the program, while simple, should be clear to whoever
is responsible for its implementation. Perhaps the chief thing to note is that
the goal is composite. The Religious in question is to be helped so far as
possible, but the good, especially the long-range good, of the religious community must also be effectively guarded. Grave reasons of justice and charity may indeed require that these people stay. They may have to live in a community or house of the institute (though this should not be presumed without
investigation) and be provided for, sharing with the others the externals of
the life. But they cannot be allowed, as often happens, to subvert the inner
life of the community, to sap its vigor, to determine what matters shall or
shall not be discussed in public, or to take any part in its governance. Generically, then, the program of action must aim at truth, at repentance, and at public adjustment. Though I distinguish these three elements here, they are not always separable in the concrete.

It is helpful, in the long, often frustrating, difficult effort towards truth, to
keep the goal in mind: that this person come to that truth of his situation
which is the incredible and divine release from an insupportable burden of
tangled and matted falsehoods and half-truths. At last, he knows where he
stands! He is, perhaps for the first time in his life, facing in some fullness
the reality of himself, of his life, and of God, with defenses down. The
darkness is gone. What he does about his situation at this point does not
matter half so much as his recognition of it. Only now does serious and
persevering prayer for a vocation become a real possibility. This would be the
best solution.

But to bring such a Religious to face, in the Lord, the real truth of his situation
is not easy. Often, in fact, this point is not reached. Even with the best of
good will and competence, a superior or director may find here an obstacle that
cannot be budged. Either from psychological constraints or from his own
freedom, the person may not be able or willing to see or to accept the truth.
The power of God’s grace, however, which can draw us to desire a repentance we
did not wish and to seek the light when we preferred darkness, should not be
forgotten. Thus, the community as a whole, not just the individuals dealing
with the troubled person, is bound to much prayer and penance to obtain for him such grace. This aspect of public adjustment will also be, I think, a key
element in safeguarding the community from this person’s bad influence.

But if the effort to bring the person to full truth is not in the Lord, the result
is too likely to be genuine despair, even suicide. It is in this connection
that the best available psychiatric counseling is to be sought, if not always
for immediate treatment, at least for advice on how to proceed. Under the
circumstances supposed, it will evidently be extremely painful for the person. But much here depends on the manner.

From ignorance or embarrassment or “to get the thing over with,” or as a hidden mode of punishing those who have inconvenienced us, or who knows why, we can be terribly brutal about such matters; and brutality can make people come apart at the seams or withdraw beyond any further possibility of help. Even in far less delicate situations, to come at people head on is more likely to generate panic before such an undisguised display of hostility, especially if sudden and
unexpected, than to do good. It is quite insufficient that what has to be done
here be done with love; a very manifest love is essential, so manifest to the
troubled person, that is, that he cannot doubt it. Such love implies among
other things, a great respect for the person’s own freedom and his own “time.”
This is one great advantage of a good retreat, if the person is still
psychologically capable of making one and you can find a sufficiently skilled
director. For the Lord takes His time with them and brings things up in the
order of what He knows to be their true importance or in which alone they can be handled by this individual ‒ a knowledge, I think, He very rarely shares with
anyone. A superior may well be unable himself to carry through personally
discussions that can lead to truth but may have to handle the matter only via
an emissary, due to his poor relations with the person or inability to make sufficiently manifest his love for him.

The inner moral connection with “metanoia,” that change of heart which is true
repentance, is evident. Lucidity will be gained only insofar as there is an
openness to repentance. To suggest repentance today for anyone but one’s self
is to incur every sort of denunciation for being judgmental, for harshness, for
uncharity. Yet the New Testament, no less than the Old, makes it the foundation
of its message, the condition for perceiving and entering the kingdom, the
reason for the redemption and the mode of apprehending in faith its limits. It
is not without reason that the Council says: “The Church, always, in need of
purification, continually seeks after repentance and renewal” (Lumen gentium,
#8/3). There is no renewal except in virtue of and growing from profound
repentance and genuine penitence. Thus, the effort toward truth should be
accompanied by a quiet and gentle but still genuine call to repentance, a
continual reminder of God’s love for sinners of whatever kind and whatever the “monsters” in the dark chambers of their subconscious.

This call to repentance, however, is not the same as a call to live henceforward a
life of penance. Though penance is in place for all men always, one must keep
in mind that what culpability there is for situations of this sort often rests
rather on perhaps long dead superiors, novice masters, and others than on the
man who must live out the “penance.” In any case, whether he has much to do
penance for personally or little, when it comes to the painful and difficult
aspects of the life he must still live, I think a greater emphasis should be
placed on his sharing the sufferings of Christ for the Church’s good. A
knowledge of Carthusian spirituality with its admirable blending of these two aspects is very helpful: Stat crux dum volvitur orbis terrarum.

The third aim is that of public adjustment. The ill effects on the community of the individuals of whom we are speaking should not be underestimated. Psychological and spiritual decay are highly contagious on close contact and over a long time, but the contagion is not always easily perceptible. Such people,
surprisingly often, set a tone for a whole community by their carpings and
complaints, their slanders and not always petty calumnies. Cutting short such
evil talk by command or punishment is ineffective: it cannot touch most
instances; the person is often not fully responsible; and others in the
community will resist the superior’s action, not understanding its motivation.
Hence, while the details of his conscience obviously remain the person’s own
secret, his status as one who does not belong in heart or by call to the
community must be made known within the community.

Sometimes this is quite automatic, as when the community sets up a fund for him, so that he has a suitable income, and has him live elsewhere, not isolated but yet not taking any direct part in the life of the community, especially in what touches its religious spirit. Others times, the members of the community must be
informed privately that was not called here but is for good reasons remaining
among us. Obviously, if true clarity and conversion have been obtained, this
public adjustment will offer no problem to the Religious in question, and
probably little of it will then be needed. During the search for clarity, the
matter is obviously more delicate.xi Regular prayers and Masses for
this intention should be prescribed for all. Whatever the methods used, there
is an urgent need today to cut through the ever more exaggerated “right to
privacy.” Most rules contain some indication that the Religious gives up his
right to good name and reputation wherever considerations of his spiritual good
make it advisable. In any case, by entering a community, one agrees to whatever
shall prove necessary for the community’s good where this is not incompatible
with one’s own deepest and truest good.

A final note here. Suppose that the situation is clearly one of premature
response to a call to the very way of life in which the person lives. By
supposition, the situation has dragged on, the person still below threshold and
decaying, till secularization is no longer possible. The first two elements of
the above program will still be in place. But for the public adjustment, the
image I find most useful is of a clearing of a space in a woods ‒ make a space
around the person so that he can live with a certain freedom from the normal
restraints of the life and allow him to pause a bit, to catch his breath.
Meantime, help him see what his situation is and why it is as it is, supplying
all along encouragement in great doses (never out of place, I think) and give
him the room to maneuver as well as possible until he finds the strength to
move in the normal framework. What is essential is that the institute take its
responsibility to provide special attention to this person and see that
whatever spiritual and psychological assistance is necessary is in fact given.

Solution by Secularization

(c.) Recall that we are still speaking of the means of helping a Religious who has
taken permanent but not solemn vows in an institute to which he has not been
called and whose threshold lies substantially beyond his present psychological
and spiritual capabilities.xii The third alternative, then, is to
secularize this Religious, in the neutral sense of this word noted above. Quite
apart from grave crime, scandal, and the like, secularization seems to me the
instrument of choice in these situations. It is clear, I think, that reten­tion
of the sort discussed in (b) just above is merely making the best one can of a
bad situation, not an independently desirable alternative.xiii Since, unlike either transfer or retention on modified status, secularization involves, in itself, a complete dispensation from valid vows and a return to secular life and since, further, a suitable transfer would not only honor vows freely taken but meet, at least in part, the problem of the threshold and protect the institute mistakenly entered, a legitimate question can be raised as to why secularization should usually be preferred to transfer.

I should judge that secularization is to be preferred to transfer in direct
proportion to: (1) the degree of doubt that may exist as to the validity of the
person’s permanent vows; (2) the degree of psychological handicap or to be
expected in any carrying through on a permanent commitment; (3) the lack of
visibility of a call to any religious state; (4) the certainty of the problem’s
being one of premature response.

As to (1): The more probable it is that the vows are null, the less reason there
is for holding a person to them or to some quasi ­equivalent, since an alternative is possible.

As to (2): The greater the psychological warpings, actual or sure to arise, the
less likely it seems that the transfer can be effective ‒ the person falls
increasingly below any threshold. Further, as mentioned earlier, transfer calls
for an ability to discuss the situation with some degree of emotional
equilibrium or, at least, of intellectual clarity and for a true collaboration
Such clarity and collaboration are not easily obtainable in the cases being
considered. Dispense the person from his vows and he will more quickly respond
to psychological therapy, no longer held in a false position, free to wrestle
directly with his real problems, without having to master those coming from
living under what, for him, is a heavy but largely meaningless superstructure.

As to (3): This is deliberately stated negatively. The lack of positive evidence
of a call to any form of religious life militates also against the life lived in the institute of contemplated transfer. To have positive indications of a call to a secular life would, of course, increase the desirability of a “transfer” thither, that is, secularization.

As to (4): The question here is really whether secularization, at least for an
extended period, is preferable to retention. So far as I can judge, it is always better to send away the premature entrant who is still below threshold
unless incapacity, age, or ill health make it impossible for the person to make
his way at all anywhere else. This is not simply for the good of the community,
though that should be paramount. For such a person to remain in the religious
life is to be threatened, at best, with interior disintegration.

The common argument runs, of course: “It is clear that this person was called here. He does seem somewhat immature. But with just a little more good will and grace and hard work, he ought to be able to make the grade. Indeed, he “ought to”; but it is just that additional “little more” that he is incapable of giving. If given adequate psychological counseling (and spiritual direction, as needed), anyone in the situation we are speaking of will mature and “unkink” faster and more healthily outside the Religious state or seminary than in it. First set him free. Then help him all you want to grow further. Secularization is crucial for the youngster’s growth to a point where he can indeed accept the vocation that is his. The sooner he is sent away, the sooner he can return in full vigor. The Religious is not free to leave; but the institute is free to set him free, in a manner analogous to the parents’ right to nullify vows of their children when still minors.

Basic Reason for Preferring Secularization

But the most basic reason for preferring secularization to transfer or retention is
that every one of these cases results from a mistake made by the institute,
through its legitimate representatives, for which the institute is now fully
responsible before God, whether the original mistake was culpable or not. For,
the person who entered, whether without a call or mistaken as to the nature of
his call, was, save in cases of deception, rightly entrusting to the institute
definitive judgment as to his call and suitability for its mode of life.

More basically, old heads do not grow on young shoulders, The youngster who comes is responsible indeed for telling the truth as best he knows how about his inner life and history and also for having investigated carefully the natures of the
institutes of interest to him, Yet it is impossible for him to gauge precisely the threshold of a community or to know just how he stands in relation to that
threshold.  And, after all, “No man is a prudent judge in his own cause.” What judgment can any young person make, on his own, concerning the requirements for living properly an unknown mode of life? His responsibility is to respond to the movements of God’s grace as best he can. It is the task of interviewers, novice masters and other spiritual guides, and superiors to make the decisions as to the genuinity of his call and suitability for the life.

It is to them that the Church has entrusted the final say on accepting or sending
away the candidate, on admitting to vows or not, and the like. If, then,
culpably or not, these men make the wrong decision, all the more is it their
grave responsibility to rectify their error to whatever extent this is still
possible. Ultimately, then, the institute is responsible for the situation; it
bears the primary responsibility for rectifying it; and this rectification
should be as radical and as complete as possible, due account always being
taken of the present call and will of God, not simply seeking to return to the state
of things before the person’s first entrance or taking of vows.

But, apart from simple non-vocation, more is involved than mere mistake. In cases of mistaken vocation of the second kind (see above, I, B, 2), God has Himself called this person elsewhere. If He is still calling him, then, though He does not wish the vowed individual to back off from his mistaken commitment, yet there seems no good reason to think that He does not wish the institute to set
the person free to follow His call to him. Once the institute realizes the
situation, it is resisting God if it does not do all it can to bring about full

In cases of mistaken vocation of the first kind, though no such opposition to God’s call occurs, at least directly, yet the institute runs serious risk of blocking
or gravely hindering the psychological and spiritual maturation process which
God wills for this individual ‒ to say nothing of his hearing a true call when
it comes ‒ for the sake of a good whose chances of success are at best difficult to estimate, even were there better grounds for confidence than the institute’s antecedent series of errors. It is well to remember, too, whatever the type of mistaken or non-vocation, that a human life and destiny are at stake in each case. For an institute knowingly to let its own mistake continue uncorrected, to let a person spend his best days floundering in a mode of life not chosen for him by God and which he is unable to live well, while he wants to serve God well, is a serious crime of degradation of and contempt for the person. And, after all, if
secularization has traditionally been possible, it is that God, and the Church
acting in His name, wants this possibility to be open; we have no right to close it off except for conclusive reasons.

Consider, in contrast, St. Paul’s, “To peace has God called us.” Given as the ground for dissolving a valid though merely natural marriage, should the same reason not have some weight, at least, for this other dissolution? Admittedly, the natural marriage is not a covenant in the sense that Christian marriage is nor analogous to the religious vows. But I am not here arguing from that analogy; rather, the question is of the reasons for which the Church, through the religious
institute and its officials, is to exercise its already conceded power to
dissolve. The question of peace is important precisely because the person has
given up all freedom to alter his condition himself save by an internal growth
which his condition makes, if not impossible, so difficult that it can rarely
be conceived as a healthy and, therefore, truly peaceful process (“peace” here
being not a leisurely, lackadaisi­cal attitude but the vigorous tranquility of a dynamic setting in order).

Inhibiting Fear of Making a Mistake

The factor that most inhibits serious consideration of secularization in the minds
of superiors and spiritual directors is, I think, the definite risk of sending away someone who is truly capable of honoring his vows and profiting thereby, even if he is less than generous at the moment. Such risks are real. Yet the principle indicated above in the discussion of premature response, (II, B, 2, (c), (4)) can be extended to all these cases: in case of doubt, send the person away with full dispensation. A fortiori does this hold if the person has much contact with those outside the community or is likely to play a governing or advisory or other influential role, for example, teacher of theology, within the community.

For suppose the institute does mistakenly secularize a person whom God has truly called to that way of life and who is able, if he wishes, to live it well. This
person can always come back later and ask for reconsideration, once his own
dispositions are better or he has better evidence of being at threshold. Or he
may be able to apply to some similar institute, if there is one. But in any
event, there is nothing to prevent him from living a good, even a saintly
Christian life, serving God and his neighbor within the Church as a not-so­-secular priest or layman. On the other hand, if God has not called him and he is still well below threshold, then, if he is retained, he will be headed towards real
disaster, for himself, at least, and for the many others whom he misdirects,
scandalizes, or whose spirit he pulls down persistently. Neither aged nor ill,
his troubled spirit will breed nothing but trouble around it ‒ unnecessarily.
Obviously, God in His mercy may prevent such evil and even draw good from the situation; but to bank on that when the proper action lies at hand is the sin of tempting God; and to judge from the present situation in the Church, very often God does not intervene.

Hence, there is no parity, no balance between the two possible mistakes. A mistake of “severity” merely prevents a greater good; a mistake of “laxity” brings about an ever­ widening propagation of spiritual harm. Just as vocation, at the first entrance and during novitiate, if it is doubtful, should be regarded by the institute as nonexistent, so here. If there is a real doubt as to whether a person should be secularized, this is a certain argument that he should be; and the more
apostolic the group and the higher their threshold, the more important is it for all that the doubt be resolved in favor of secularization.

The Holy See has repeatedly made explicit, in regard to ordination, that a grave
obligation exists not to propose a man for ordination unless and until there is
clear and positive evidence of full suitability. If, then, there are positive
grounds for doubt, the case is certain: charity requires refusal of ordination
for as long as the doubt exists. But the living of many forms of Religious life
calls for at least equal grace and qualifications. It then, dismissal is
possible, the presumption should always be: If there is genuine doubt,

At times, however, one senses an attitude of horror towards secularization as if
it were a sort of spiritual euthanasia or, if not that, to be at least in total
contradiction to our Lord’s injunction to let wheat and cockle grow together
until the harvest. Well, for the person himself to break his covenant may be a
sort of spiritual suicide, though always open to repentance. But in what way
does the institute’s dissolving of an inappropriate bond deprive the individual
of any means of salvation? Its whole purpose is to make that salvation more
secure, to make his growth less trammeled. Secularization is not analogous even
to excommunication ‒ which is not intended as uprooting but as chastising
leading to repentance ‒ nor is laicization, however regrettable either may be.

One occasionally runs into the cruder error that secularization involves a sort of elitism. “By what right,” people will say, “may ‘we’ kick ‘them’ out as being less worthy and less suitable?” Such a question misses the entire point. There is no “kicking out” in question; there is no “we” or “they.” The whole effort is to acknowledge the demands of charity, often of justice, to help those in a false position to be set free, internally and externally, to serve God in greater closeness to what He desires for them.

Who Is to Initiate Secularization?

A further question concerning secularization of major practical importance is:
who is to initiate the secularization proceedings? Though I realize that my
position here is in opposition to much current practice, I would hold that the
person who ought to be secularized is not the one to initiate, even formally,
the process as such.

Firstly, the duty to initiate the correction rests primarily upon those responsible for making the authoritative mistakes that began the problem. The obligation to
initiate secularization would seem to reside where the sole power to secularize
and where the sole competence to decide the use of that power reside.

Secondly, it is precisely the young Religious’ immaturity or his lack of fundamental ability to live this life which make it necessary to send him away. These same qualities make it next to impossible for him to face squarely on his own and to deal responsibly with so difficult and psychologically distressing a matter, especially when those set over him have several times judged in the opposite sense. Nor, did he so face it, would he have the competence rightly to judge of it. Thus, for example, the real problem will often be completely different than he experiences it; for example, many think a problem of masturbation to be
basically one of impurity, whereas it is more likely to be one rather of self-pity, social isolation, or frustration.

Thirdly, by supposition his vows are valid and permanent or, if not so in God’s eyes, at least appear so to the individual at the most basic level of his self. For him, then, to ask for dispensation is itself to renege on his vows, at least in any
institute, for example, the religious Orders, in which the vows are meant to
engage God’s fidelity, as we have already discussed in GCMR, pages 1098-9. For, such permanent vows of religion are neither mutable promises to do this always or never to do that nor even abiding promises of the same, but are covenants in which not only God’s fidelity but that exigence for our own fidelity which constitutes that essential element of our being which we call our “honor” are both deliberately engaged. If the person is convinced that he did so pledge his honor, if there is even a solid probability that he is subconsciously so convinced, the institute has no right in either charity or justice to make him act in violation of that conviction. To use coercion or even persuasion to lead another to violate what he sees as his covenant with God is, I should think, a sin of scandalizing little ones, excused, perhaps, only by the unreflectiveness of our times and a wide­spread but abusive practice to the contrary.

It is sometimes pleaded, as an extenuating factor for such insistence by
authority, that requiring such requests for secularization from the individual
before any process is begun is a purely external and juridical formality and,
so, cannot stain a conscience. Yet, formality or not, if it is indeed a necessary first step, a condition without which nothing else will happen, it is hard to see how the troubled Religious can escape the realization that, but for his request, the covenant would stand. His conscience will be wounded, for he has interiorly ratified an action which does not merely indicate the problems he is facing and ask for a solution but which starts the precise process of abrogation of the covenant-relation as the desired solution and which involves his official statement of that desire and intent.

To urge this sort of taking of the initiative on one who has, as in so many of
these cases, an “overly developed” or “overly active” conscience which sees sin
everywhere, who may be in religion just because of fear of what God might do to
him otherwise, is to run the risk of making him sense, deep down and
ineradicably, that he has gone back on his word ‒ a far worse thing, for a man
at least, than any amount of unchastity or disobedience or squandering of the
community’s money. He has lost not merely his virtue but his honor, and that in
the deepest sense. He has been unfaithful at precisely the point where the
maximum of fidelity was required of him. It is the “mere formality” of asking
for a breaking and rupturing of the covenant, not simply a sinning against it.
That is a very dangerous thing to ask anyone to do, no matter how clear it may
be that God does not want the relationship to continue but that he should be
set free and leave.

To plead “conventional language,” analogous to that in which the child tells the
traveling salesman, “My mother isn’t home now,” or a corresponding kind of
mental reservation would seem to push such contrivances from their already
somewhat dubious Christian status into real abuse. For a chief ostensible
reason for requiring such formal petitions is precisely to stand in courts of law,
to prevent the person secularized from bringing civil suits for damages against
the institute by showing, in his own hand, that he initiated the process of
secularization. Now, no court will accept such a document if it is only to be
seen as pure formality, as “conventional language,” as concealing a mental
reservation. It seems much closer to forcing Socrates once again ‘and in more
serious matter to be his own executioner, for the sake of the convenience or
the squeamishness of some in authority, a practice on the part of authority of
which Christian moralists have consistently taken a rather dim view.

On the other hand, can there be any real difficulty in getting a lawyer to set up documentation to meet the same eventuality more honestly? A rough example: “I accept fully your decision in this matter, whatever it be. If you decide on whatever grounds to secularize me, I accept the secularization if not, I accept transfer or retention under what conditions seem best to you and your advisors.” This is, also, less likely to be broken in court by evidence brought in to show coercion and unfair persuasion, precisely because it states the truth, clearly saying what the situation was. Perhaps the commonest, if not the strongest argument urged against the approach suggested here is that one must wait to let the person make his own decision, that to send him away when he has not yet asked for dispensation of his own free will is to cut short his chances of ever making an adult choice.

The chief error there, of course, is thinking that any decision to leave or to stay
could be the individual’s own. His vows bind him never to decide to leave. Any
decision on his part to stay is personally redundant and, with respect to the
institute, not his to make.

The argument is psychologically fallacious as well. For one thing, the person is very likely to be aware, at least dimly or subconsciously, of these restrictions on
his freedom of choice. To inveigle him into a decision against his conscience,
whether well-formed or ill, is hardly a good way to assist his adult decision-making. The very fact that the institute let him take vows and stay this long with such poor results grounds little confidence that it is competent to judge the matter or that it offers very helpful surroundings for growth. Sometimes, too, it is the superior, not the subject, who has to learn to accept the responsibility for making decisions that affect other people’s lives.

Finally, it is God who created the world in its natural order and in the structures of its activity. That is the framework in which people will spontaneously grow
most easily in their natural powers and capacities, if by His grace and the
cooperation of the institute they can do so without sin or harm to even a false
or exaggerated conscience. But we have no right to presume that, above the
ordinary manner of nature, they will grow while in that religious state for
which they have not the grace which alone can make it possible for them.

How to Initiate Secularization

If, then, the individual is not to be permitted to ask for dispensation and free
departure, how can the process get started? In response, it seems to me that
the individual is obligated and, indeed, seriously obligated to make known his
situation to his spiritual director and superiors. If he has failed to do so
before or if those to whom he has spoken have done nothing helpful, there is
still time, and the obligation is no less great as the failure becomes more
dangerous. To put it negatively, I see no problem whatever in the person’s “taking the initiative,” if by that is meant merely that he manifest to those who bear responsibility for his spiritual welfare just how bad his situation is. There
is no reneging on vows in a simple declaration of truth.

It too often happens that the first real manifestation is made only at a time of
crisis ‒ for, this is one of the marks of gross immaturity, that a person does
not open up to those charged with his welfare but keeps everything stored up
inside himself lest “they use it against me” or think badly of him, or else
opens the matter up only with those he knows will see things just as he does.
The first effort, then, will have to be to get to know the person, past as well
as present, as fully as possible while also seeking to bring him to true indifference in the matter (for a mere declaration of willingness to honor his vows does not settle the matter) and to a genuine interior freedom. If genuine, he will be in contact with the full reality of his situation including all the commitments and engagements he has made. Ultimately he can say, in full truth, “So far as I can see, this is not the life for me. God does not seem to have called me to it, nor is there any sign He is so calling me now. There are many indications that He was not pleased with my entering and staying and taking vows. If it were my decision, I’d leave. But it is not in my hands. I took my vows in freedom ‒ imperfect but adequate. I’m quite willing to honor my commitment and stay forever, if that is really God’s will for me as manifested through the decision of you, my superiors; though if the decision is, ‘Stay,’ I may well feel obligated to seek to have the whole matter reviewed by higher superiors.”

It is, then, up to the institute itself to look at his evidence, to check into his past history, to have him examined psychologically and spiritually by others than those he has been dealing with all along, especially if there is any least doubt about their motivation, competence, or judgment concerning this particular person. Certainly, the institute may not simply take a person on his own terms since, as a result of emotional upsets and constraints, he can easily have the picture all distorted and involuntarily misrepresented. He may be quite capable of living the life if he really wants to. This is not rare, for example, in a sudden, sharp crisis, provoked by the piling up, all at one time, of grave difficulties; yet given adequate help, he can recover his balance and live the life well. If so, he
should be told to remain and have the matter carefully explained to him. This
is crucial; the knowledge of the necessity of making a go of it, knowing that
there is no other way out, is probably the strongest motivation for making a go
of it, as is very often quite obvious in marriage.

It is necessary, through other sources than the Religious himself, to ascertain
what has really happened in the past and whether he is truly incapable or
simply not willing to live the life. This judgment as to capability to live at
or rise to the threshold is a place where sound psychiatry and clinical
psychology can make a distinctive contribution. At the least, they can offer
sound advice and some otherwise not easily obtainable evidence.xv If
no convincing evidence turns up of a call by God, early or late, to this life,
nor moral certitude of the possibility of making something good out of it, and
if there is substantial evidence to the contrary, then the person should be
sent away as soon as possible.

Other Remarks on Procedure

A few other fairly obvious remarks as to procedure:

(i) The institute has always an obligation to step in and begin a full
investigation as soon as it is evident that someone is in difficulty, even if
he has said nothing about it to anyone.

(ii) Since secularization is not, at least of itself, punitive, the person should
depart without shame or dishonor. Indeed, since it is his good that is being
sought, he should go, so far as possible, with true consolation from the Lord
and such counsel, prayers, and other aid from the institute as seems called
for, and with every ground for abiding affection and charity towards those with
whom he spent so many years of his life.

(iii) The machinery for this sort of release from vows is not always, so I am told,
well set up to accord with the basic principle which is to govern its use. This
principle, stated rather generally, would be that the more demanding and difficult the threshold, especially as to the supernatural endowments of the entrants, and the higher the specificity of the institute, the greater the freedom and the initiative of the institute to secularize should be. For, given human
ignorance and weakness, mistakes will occur, the more easily and the graver in
their consequences as the spiritual requisites are higher at the start, when
the person is necessarily less well known, and the more profoundly doctrinal
and directly spiritual the institute’s mode of apostolic engagement.

There is a certain “non­-reciprocity” here, by which the individual, ordinarily, is bound to remain with the institute but the institute is not bound to keep him. It is clearly the individual’s good that is most helped by such non-­reciprocity. For
thus he is enabled to commit himself to God in this way of life as soon as
positive grounds exist, sufficient for moral certitude, of his call and fitness; yet he can still be set free, without sin on his own part, if some mistake has been made or, even, if his own laxness renders him unsuited for continuance in the life. What is strange today is to see this same non-reciprocity being demanded also for sacramental marriage at the very time that it is under attack among Religious, even in its chief proponent, the Society of Jesus. For this was one of the most original and significant insights of Ignatius Loyola, a far greater advance, in my judgment, than merely extending the time for and intensifying the preparation for vows: that the Society of Jesus, with the very high threshold it has, should also, given suitable cause, have the power of sending away (and dispensing from non­-solemn vows) on the Order’s own initiative any of its members at any time in their lives.xvi Manifestly, greater reason and more solid proof were required as the person had been longer in the life and more intimately attached to it by successively more stringent bonds, whether these be vows or not (Ignatius lists some six degrees of closeness of incorporation).xvii

In any case, the precise structures at law will perforce vary from one institute
to another. Institutes of high threshold should see to it that proportionate
power of dismissal rest with them. Even if no such structures are obtainable,
they have still the right to approach the Holy See to ask for each such desired
secularization. And a healthy climate and understanding of such cases will lead
Rome to respond more favorably.

If someone comes wanting to be dispensed, charity requires working with him as
long as may prove possible until he no longer wants it, that is, until he is
willing to abide as completely as he can with the decision finality to be
reached by the competent authorities, having made as many manifestations as may be needed to higher superiors, other spiritual guides, psychiatrists, and so
forth. But as soon as he is thus willing, all efforts should be undertaken to
have superiors dispense him and send him away unless clear evidence turns up of his real suitability. At all times, the person has to be helped to get to or
remain in a position where he is consciously honoring his word.

I know of one person to whom no one was able to break through. In no way could he be brought even to consider indifference. He was going to be secularized and laicized, and that was that. No matter what one talked about with him ‒ work, personal affairs, spiritual matters, or whatever ‒ after three or four minutes he would break it off and say, “I don’t want to discuss all this; I want to be laicized; I’m going to get married,” though in fact he had no woman in mind. In such a case, all you can do is to go ahead and fill out the papers from Rome. There is no way to prevent a person from demanding dispensation; ultimately; the matter is up to him. One can and ought to support his secularization, when asked by the competent authorities, for, clearly, he will do far more harm than good to the Church and those around him if he remains. Yet even so, it should be settled, in my judgment, as far as possible on the grounds, “You can’t resign; you’re fired.” Even if he has taken the initiative, we should seek to take it back from him, in hopes, however distant, that he can reach somehow that middle ground of balance and of openness to God’s will from which alone a solid growth can take place.

Admittedly, much current practice works against taking one’s obligations toward God this seriously. All concerned should do whatever they can to remedy abuse in this domain and to convince those able to determine policy that it is an abuse,
however well motivated. In the meantime, we can work with each person in such a way that it is clear to him, whatever letters and forms he must write or fill
out, that it is we, in the name of the institute, who are taking the real
initiative, wherever this is possible.

Cases of Those with Solemn Vows

C. In this section we consider what help can be given to those bound by solemn
vows in a religious Order. Much of what has been said already, with fairly
obvious modifications, can be applied here. The chief difference, of course, is
that the Order has no power to dispense from solemn vows even when it is able
to send the Religious away definitively.

Since the promulgation of the Code of Canon Law in 1918, it is true, the Church has ceased to recognize any totally indissoluble vows of religion. Thus, either the
ancient tradition of religious life as a marriage to Christ is denied or every
kind of Christian marriage is rendered dissoluble by the Church. The effort to
make the latter alternative prevail is the better publicized at present, but
the former has, in practice at least, been widely accepted in recent years, not
without a good bit of genuine scandal of the ordinary faithful.

My own surmise is that the Code’s provisions here were adopted without any deliberate intent to abolish the religious Orders as forms of Christian life. The failure to realize that this had in principle been done by the radical nature of the changes introduced by the Code was due to preoccupation with the urgent practical problems of the immediate postwar period, of the Depression, and of World War II, coupled with the lack of any visible practical consequences until the recent flood of departures began. There are now at least rumors circulating that this unsatisfactory situation is soon to be rectified. It is said most commonly that the reform will entrust to each institute the detailed specification of the
nature of its vows and also of whatever authority of dispensation the Church
may exercise over them, so that, in the case of the Orders, the Holy See would
never intervene to dispense from vows, and solemn vows would be fully indissoluble once again.

In the light of all this and of the call of Vatican II to return to the spirit and
original objectives of the founders of religious Orders ‒ all of whom, I
believe, saw strictly indissoluble vows as fundamental to their institute ‒ I
shall treat the problems of Religious with solemn vows without further
consideration of the possibility of dispensation by the Holy See, a matter in
any case best left to those who alone have power in such affairs. The only
situation that seems really to call for special comment here is that of a Religious
in solemn vows, called originally to some kind of secular life, and who is
living just that sort of life, spiritually speaking, in his Order.xviii Superiors complain that there is nothing they can do in such a case, nothing at least that will not stir up a hornet’s nest, hopelessly dividing the community. He is not living the life properly, but he is not committing any crimes and may indeed be outstanding in the secular virtues. Suffice it to say here ‒ I will return to other aspects in Part III ‒ that what can be done, and ought to be done, is very straightforward: require, in virtue of his vow of obedience wherever necessary, that he live as a Religious of that Order should and abandon his secular mode. This will fairly quickly bring about a clarification of just what his situation is; as always, such clarity and lucidity are the central and crucial elements in any manner of helping. For those neurotic people who cannot hear of anything involving pain and difficulty without interpreting it as punishment or entrapment, it is important to make clear, by actions even more than by words, that there is no such intent in this process.

Once a suitable clarity has been reached, two lines of approach are available. The
person may seek a closer approximation to the type of secular life to which he
was called, whether by transfer to the diocesan clergy, if he is a priest, or to some other institute (preferably, in my opinion, without “extinction” of the solemnity, that is, indissolubility, of his vows) or, less desirably, by living outside the communities of his own Order, as I believe Erasmus did. This could,
depending on circumstances, go as far as complete secularization though without
dispensation from vows. Professional canonists would have to work out the
details of transferring, for example, the right to command under obedience to
the local bishop, and so forth. The chief difficulty with these approaches is that rarely can they take sensitive and full account of the extent of the commitment by vow to the way of life itself, which as in marriage implies a particular partner and not just a set of vows hovering in the abstract waiting for any suitable place to alight. Hence, the odor of legalism too often detected here and the risk of a real infidelity hidden beneath the legal dressings. On the other hand, by any of these, the Order is well protected from loss of spirit.

But, I believe, far and away a better solution is to use the light and clarity
gained to help the Religious to repentance for whatever his contribution to the
bad situation may have been, to live the life in fidelity and suffering ‒ as so
many must do in unfortunate marriages ­and to pray perseveringly for a true
call to this way of life, so that they are able not merely to honor the basic
commitments of their vows, which God’s ordinary grace makes possible always,
but also to enter into the spirit of their institute and to achieve, by their
very difficulties, a greater openness for divine union.


So far, we have considered the effects of spurious vocation upon the individual
affected and the obligations resting upon the representatives of his institute
to assist him. We are now in a position to examine the social effects of spurious
vocations upon the institute itself, wherever these unfortunate situations are
not assiduously and continually straightened out.

Polarizations When There Is Basic Unity

An obvious place to start is with the polarizations, tensions, and conflicts
evident in many congregations and orders at present. Dissension, however, is
not attributable, of itself, to problems of vocation, but can arise from a
number of quite different factors. It can come, as has happened more than once
in history, from laxity on the part of some and strictness on the part of
others, even if most are truly called, at threshold, and so forth, as in some
of the early Franciscan struggles or in the Carmelites at the time of John of
the Cross.

Conflicts are also generated, even among saints, by divergent views on practical matters. Recall Paul and Barnabas quarreling about John Mark, or Paul and Peter at odds over table-fellowship. Perhaps a mode of this is found today in the not uncommon case of “renewal blues”: between those who declare, some sadly, some with joy, “This is no longer the group that I entered.” The remark is usually
true enough in that the organization has changed quite drastically in
externals. Whether its inner spirit has changed is a further question. Thus,
without necessity of genuine vocational difference, there can be real conflict,
some thinking that what the group used to be is what it ought to be, others
thinking that only if it is no longer what it used to be can it become what it
was meant to be.

There is also a sort of genuine and solid vocational diversity within any institute.
For God, having created each person with different talents and temperament,
calls each, within the framework of the one, basic vocation, to different
activity and insight for the building up of this “organ” of the Body of Christ.
The resultant interrelated functionings and complementary contributions may be marked in the very structure of the institute, as with “grades” in the Society
of Jesus, or only concretely in people’s different capabilities and ministries.
This diversity gives rise to tension and, given our perduring ignorance and
sinfulness, even sharp conflict at times. The very fact that one person sees
certain things far more clearly than others see them burdens the seer with, at
best, slowly communicable knowledge. The man­-of-action, in turn, wonders about the “sluggishness” or “indecision” of the others. And so on.

In all such types of dispute, a search for consensus through community meetings, group dynamics, Better World Retreats, workshops, and the like can be of great profit; and the use of some such means is essential if unity is to be
preserved. But there is a unity to preserve; there is a foundation in reality for solid agreement at the level of the dispute, since there is complete
agreement at the more basic level of vocation, a full sharing of the same call
from the Lord.

When Basic Unity Is Lacking

It is just this basic unity of call and of objective that is missing in institutes
which have been careless about false vocations Though the members are all one
at the level of the faith (though even this is, too often, not true), they have no ground for community of life at any further spiritual level though, of course, the natural grounds for friendship and communal life may flourish for a time. Conflicts in this context trace to basic divergences in vocation and represent genuine discord. These conflicts need not involve any particular laxity on the part of either group (see I.B.4 above). People trying to live as one are in fact being called by God to two or more quite disparate ways of life, necessarily interfering with some others’ full following of God’s call by seeking to follow their own. At least one group will be substantially out of harmony with the institute, though often without explicit advertence to that fact.

The commoner situation, of course, is what is politely called that is, a general
mixture: people called to the institute, of all degrees of tepidity and fervor;
those there in response to a mistake as to their true call; and an often
sizable number who have never had a call to anything except, perhaps, to
Christian adulthood.

Lack of Basic Unity and Presence of Mistaken Vocations

In situations colored chiefly by cases of mistaken vocation in the strong sense,
discord is the most obvious characteristic. Orders and congregations are being
torn apart by conflicts among those unwilling or unable to face their diversity
honestly. Whatever the members of the community are called to, to this institute
or elsewhere, the force of their life, their fullest and most developed
response of love and service to God through self engagement, is somehow at
stake. This is extremely threatening, to all parties, probably, to some extent
though more so to those who are in the wrong place. Genuine discussion, which
really touches the question of basic unity, tends to exacerbate the antagonisms
and reactions of defense as it becomes clear that some do not find the center of their life where others do, or not in recognizably the same manner, although they had given themselves as companions to one another on that basis.

Hence, those who are out of place will (as indicated for particular cases in Part I
above) be laboring vigorously to have the institute “renewed” and “modernized,”
by which they mean, in fact, changed into that mode of life to which God has
called them. They will, or at least should, be strenuously resisted by those whom God called to the original form of the institute. These may be as vigorous
as the others in working for certain restructurings and up-datings, to remedy
abuses and brush off the accidental accretions of “temporary” changes, long
since become permanent, but, “inconsistently” and confusingly for the others,
they will not budge on what they see as essential but which are as abusive and
outdated as any others in the minds of those mistakenly present.

Because a certain spontaneous separation of those not called there occurs over the years and because younger Religious who are truly called will ordinarily lack
that depth of knowledge of their institute which would enable them to understand the interactions between the legal structures and the spiritual vitality
of individuals or to grasp the functioning of elements of the life which seem to the uninformed eye wholly superfluous if not harmful, the discord can easily
take on the aspect of a conflict between young and old.

This tendency to divide along other lines than of vocation, even though vocation is the issue, is more extensive than indicated by this one example. Wherever there are large-sized groups in fundamental disaccord within an institute, especially where there are many of no vocation, who will be profoundly threatened by the whole matter, tensions mount in all directions as the discordant groups pull apart. But such tensions produce “jagged” splits, which do not follow the natural lines of cleavage generated by God’s action. Instead, the real issue gets all mixed up with very human passions and psychological disturbances, hardly a situation in which any sort of discernment, even just a using of one’s head, is possible. Thus, such splits occur and yet the problems are unresolved, since each fragment still contains people of different vocational status. Separation is obviously the answer; yet this sort of separation is not, but
only one that is carefully and voluntarily planned for and chosen.

Lack of Basic Unity and the Presence of Non-vocations

But mistaken vocations of this sort are not the only problem, socially speaking,
nor even the most dangerous, jarring and startling though the strife they stir
up may be. If uncomplicated by other problems, they can be relatively easily
resolved, even as in the case of an individual. But the usual situation is the “pluralistic” one, where every sort of mistake and immaturity and inadequacy to threshold have been, even if with the greatest reluctance, allowed or tolerated.

As may be inferred from what has already been said about the harm done to those straitened people themselves, the overall social effect is one of decay of the institute, of degeneration and frittering disintegration ‒ a far piece from the glories of renewal. Two closely related phenomena seem to form the central element in this decline: the lowering and distortion of the threshold; the loss of specificity of the spirituality of the institute.xix

Lowering and Distortion of the Threshold

A good part of the process of decay is fairly obvious just on the grounds of the
psychological threshold. If those who are moving along in the institute are
immature or psychologically damaged, whether called or not, but more so if not,
then one begins to find people of all ages in those communities who have
interiorly buckled under the effort required and have regressed to some earlier
level of maturity or who, while steadily growing at last, have not yet come
near to catching up with the calendar.

The sad consequence of this is that these people eventually wind up in positions of considerable influence as superiors, spiritual directors, professors of
theology, and the like, partly by accident, partly because the institute is short of manpower, often by their own efforts. Too insecure to allow God to do with them what He pleases in terms of call, so they will not wait for His action as to their works or positions or “careers.” Thus, even some major superiors are not only not at what Eriksen calls the integrative level ‒ they have not yet arrived at “generativity,” that level at which, being able to love others, whether loved in return or not, people are psychologically ready and mature enough to accept responsibility for the lives of others and, like St. Paul, can rebuke and even punish, as charity may require, though loving more, in this way, they are loved the less by those they love.

So one finds the person in authority who acts “by the book,” an evenhanded
treatment of all uniformly and without concern or even thought for individual
differences and differing spiritual needs. More commonly these days, one sees
those in authority (often exactly the same people) who are engagingly
permissive and “individually concerned” so long as, again, a direct and
genuinely personal confrontation with others is avoided. Under either sort of
regime, subjects who are immature will be encouraged by the circumstance to
remain so. Long years after high school, then, one finds Religious still
struggling with elementary “identity” or “intimacy.” And often these are the
spiritual fathers and retreat directors of those coming up, hoping to learn how
to deal with their own problems from what they discover in those they would
claim to guide. The blind lead the blind, and the ditches are still not filled.

Further, those who enter, even though truly called, still have many facets of that call which they can only learn by living it under wise direction. Instead,
inexperienced in the spiritual life, the young Religious will hear, from the
first, divergent interpretations and understandings of the life. Their concrete
picture of the life will be composed only partly of what their founder and the
Church put there; the rest is filled in with their own attitudes and half­-conscious
assumptions. Aware of the many opinions and attitudes within their group, they
will come to regard unity in spirituality as unimportant, losing, before they know of its existence, the basis of spiritual community, save at the generic level of the total Christian community. Those without a call will patch together what they can that seems helpful but are little likely to find what will help them out of their bad situation.

Perhaps the commonest source of difficulty in practice is that one admits those who are well below threshold or retains those who retrogress below it in hopes of
nursing them along. The effect of this is simply to lower and distort the
threshold. But the threshold is merely the institute itself seen from the
perspective of its dynamics of formation for those who enter (see the detailed
discussion of this in GCMR, pp. 1093-4). To lower or distort the threshold is to downgrade or distort the inner spirit of the institute.

It is not possible, of course, to limit the downgrading of a communal life to its
effects on the single individual by himself. To the extent that it is truly
communal, it is necessarily downgraded for many. The tone and the typical
activity of each stage of formation, of each style of apostolate, is shifted a bit in this one direction. Also, precedents are set. Others are admitted no worse than this one… and, often, no better.

Loss of An Institute’s Specificity

Specificity suffers, of course, from any lowering of the threshold, but it suffers more, perhaps, from the presence of those who still have no call and so are
necessarily restless, always open to something else. The lower the degree of
specificity of what was a highly specific mode of life and spirituality, drawn
into existence by the power of our Lord through His Spirit, the more vocations
are being lost in a very profound sense: calls from God of this specific type are no longer being heard in the Church or, if heard, have no institutional locus, “no place to go.” The institute sinks into the quicksand of its own irresponsibility ‒ even if it has thousands of members, its particular charism and function in the Church is being allowed to disappear. But an organ of the Church that is no longer serving the Body is Within a short step of beginning to damage the Body by letting its own sickness infect others, its own disquiet show itself through that aberrant doctrine and behavior which do not reflect new insight but only the inner discomforts of those who can thus ease to some extent their misery.

What then? If there are true differences as to vocation within a single institute,
some of its members being called by God in one direction, some in others, some
suffering the lack of any call or frustrated by a threshold too for them, then any real effort at consensus, any real laboring to bring everyone to basic
agreement ‒ save as to the fact and nature of their basic incompatibility ‒ seems
gravely sinful, not perhaps in subjective conscience but objectively. It is a
direct refusal to accept what God’s grace is calling people to; it attempts to
form a unity that is flatly contrary to His will, seeking to make all go in one
direction where He is clearly asking them to go in several. To insist upon or
attempt to force consensus in such situations is a type of coercion which,
insofar as it is “successful,” can only be destructive. To work at this sort of
contrived consensus is merely to skin over the sores, letting them fester all
the more deeply. Refusing the one truth we are called upon to see, we render
phony all other efforts at healing. Such consensus-seeking blocks out God’s
light by suppressing the truth and refuses God’s love because He desires to
heal our wounds, even if by surgery. Totally different is the common effort to
work through the other kinds of conflict, where all parties work on the basis
of genuinely common ground to become what they desire and are desired by God to be. (Here, too, of course, malice and freely chosen ignorance can enter in. If
they do, they must be faced and regarded as such; but often we can help one
another out of such ill will through appeals to that which is best in each, his
love of Christ in accord with our common call.)

Thus, the fact of false vocation strongly affects the means that can be used for
renewal. Those means that help towards manifestation of a fundamental, already
existing consensus are highly desirable, even essential, where all have been
similarly called. But in an institute where God is calling people to more than
one way of life or where many have no call at all, the first, undertaking must
be to resolve that discordance by separation, division, or splitting,
individually or collectively. Sad to say, in many groups today, the drive for
consensus is being vigorously furthered precisely to avoid having to look at
and delve into such threatening questions. Yet such divisions not only help the
individuals involved, but are a great good for the Church, permitting new
growths and modifications which can meet new needs without loss of function in
older and still necessary organs. Franciscans (black and brown) and Capuchins,
Calced and Discalced Carmelites, Cistercians and Trappists, and in our own days
the Little Brothers and Sisters of Jesus and the hermits of the Sahara, the
Sisters of Loretto and the Missionaries of Charity all attest and bear witness
to ‘the vivifying power of God’s grace when allowed to lead individuals or
groups away from their life together in response to His call.

As already remarked, if there are appreciable numbers of spurious vocations in an institute, any division which comes just because people finally explode tears apart both people and institutions and does next to nothing to meet the vocational problem itself due to the jaggedness of the tear. But divisions can also be planned and carefully worked for. The precise manner of preparing for separation in accord with the calls God has given (or not given) depends on the actual situation. Still, a few remarks can be made which have a certain generality of application.

Remarks on Planning for Separation

The fundamental aims are the same here, I think, as when helping individuals: calm lucidity, genuine repentance, public adjustment. But how bring these about in a whole institute?

Getting It into the Open

There is much debate whether these things should be brought up in public, even when abstractly considered. Could it help, for example, to bring up in a community meeting the possibility that a fair number of the people there do not belong there? I incline to those who would say yes to this, but only with the proviso that the discussion of these problems could be kept at the level of theory
only. Even so, it could terrify some; perhaps, in some degree, all. But, at
least, it gets the matter out of the darkness, out where it can be looked at
and talked about, where assumptions and presuppositions can be debated. When
later the topic becomes more concrete, people will not be taken Wholly by
surprise. They can even begin to work their way through it a bit on their own.
It is no longer untouchable, unmention­able.

It will be a sort of dying, but of the sort, I think, that Jesus urged upon us.
But, like any death, it is going to stir our denials of all, then fierce anger,
bargaining, and great depression, and then, at last, serene acceptance of the
truth. As with death, there is no point in arguing the matter, once it becomes
concrete. Then one can only help the person to live through the situation and
support him in his struggling.

Others argue no, it is too bruising, too damaging. If it is brought out into the open it just stimulates the building of enormous walls of resistance and immures
people behind stronger defenses than ever.

One trouble with this latter argument is that it is never supplemented by effective proposals as to how else to deal with the problem; for it must be dealt with. Further, it must be worked through individually with each person so far as the central portion of the struggle is concerned. But if the problem is worked on
solely with individuals and not socially and publicly addressed, then there
seems no conceivable way around the problem that every director runs into again and again: the community as a whole is unprepared for what needs to be done, they fail to understand it, they resist it as soon as one or two have begun to
face it, and build up very active defenses, forcing everything to a halt. It is
hard to see how they could do otherwise. For they have no effective concepts or
thought structures, or else very inadequate ones, for trying to deal with such
serious and painful problems. Public discussion has the virtue of helping those
who are not psychologically impaired to the categories in which to begin to
make sense of their own and others’ problems.

High-level and Individual-level Discussion

I should guess that, to obtain lucidity, the problem must first be officially and
publicly admitted at the highest levels of government of the institute. Some
sort of public discussion of the situation and of apparently useful
possibilities of approach would be carried out at that same level, and expert
help brought in for suggestions. But then the problem would be remanded somehow to the local level, whatever further work may continue at the higher, so that individuals can be helped, by whatever social means seem suitable in the light of the high­1evel discussions as well as by the standard ways of helping individuals.

I do not think that this individual-level effort might ever be skipped or treated
negligently, however much has to be handled at other levels. For, ultimately,
the whole problem is just that of many individuals who are presently elsewhere
than God would have them. Especially for those of no vocation or those whose
only call was to Christian adulthood, the prospects of separation and division
will be terribly threatening; only much individual charity and support is going
to make it tolerable and, finally, fruitful for their lives.

I should think, too, that some sort of overall statement of the possibilities
should be made very early, so that even the most threatened can see that there
will be no ejection of some by others, that none will be unprovided for.
Especially must the old and sick be taken care of; neither materially nor
spiritually can they be neglected or deserted, whether during preparation for
the separation or afterwards. In most cases, even so, the process is likely to
be very hard for them.

But in my judgment this should not prevent the question of vocation from being
raised. So long as the person is compos mentis, it seems essential for his growth and peace of soul to face the truth of his situation ‒ it is not something, after all, with which he is wholly unacquainted. Only so will he be able to deal with it and come to solid, practical judgments. The social effort is to enable each person to live with his own and others’ situations, in peace and repentance, and to serve God in the best way still open for him in the days that remain for his earthly service of his Lord. To refuse this duty of charity is like refusing to discuss the need of the last sacraments with a dying person. It is small charity to let a person
go to his grave and to his God all muddled up and perhaps in bad faith, still
not facing the truth of what lies at the center of his life if, on prudent judgment, it is still possible to help him at all.

Working Together Toward the Separation

Obviously, the atmosphere should be one wholly free of recrimination. If any of our analysis is correct, there is more than enough to repent of on all hands; no
one is in a position to throw the stone. Official acceptance by the institute
of the basic responsibility for its mistakes would be a good first step to
clear the air. All must come to see that it is a bad situation and seek to
change it together. The moment the question of separation is raised,
unfortunately, hackles rise: “Who are they to decide who is a good Trappistine,
a good Vincentian, a good BVM?” But that is clearly a false question. The real
question is, “How can we work together to help all of us live according to our
real calls or situations before God, without obscuring things by pretending?”
If the truth is what we have assumed it to be here, those without vocation
will, with assistance, see it as well as anyone else, unless they are
psychologically too ill to function. Then they must be told, while continuing
to be helped. But, under no conditions should there be set up some group whose
task would be, all armed with criteria and standards, to eliminate and expel
those who do not fit their norms.

The Matter of Timing

What of timing? The public broaching of the subject, I think, should occur as soon as can be arranged. But that done, with the clear intimation to all that things are seriously underway, then my own surmise would be that the less of a prescribed timetable there is, the better. When individuals or groups are ready to separate, the common good would suggest that this not be permitted till it is fairly clear that the others, at least of those who will be directly affected by the division in question, are also adequately prepared for it. On the other hand, long delays and dilly-dallying can hardly be allowed without making the situation worse for everyone. As soon as it is clear that all can swim or that there are lifeguards enough to care for those who cannot as yet, then the best way into the cold water is to jump.

Prayer for a Christian Separation

None of the above efforts, nor any others, can be fruitful unless done in the Lord,
in His manner, for His love, according to His will. If acting in such fashion
can be so hard in easier circumstances, all the more will we have to call upon
His grace in today’s tangles of difficulties. Hence, the principal “method” of
working for a truly Christian separation must always remain that of prayer,
especially the whole Church’s prayer in the Mass and penance. Since our
problems are social, so should be much of our penance and prayer; and we should ask our friends for their Masses and prayers, often much better than our own.

With His grace, then, we will be able to subject our personal opinions to His truth. By close union with Him we can avoid discouragement, even if it seems that He would indeed have our institute dissolve like salt in water (see GCMR, p. 1095). Easy though it is ‒ as some of the above pages may indicate ‒ to slide into grimness if one attends more to the evils present than to the greatness of God’s love, yet if we stand close to Him upon the cross, He will show us the cure for that too: how to love one another in His own truth. If we surrender ourselves to Him, His Spirit will lead us and we will have nothing to fear in any separations He asks of us.

Let us pray, then, and offer ourselves with Him daily at Mass that whatever
separation is needed come about with His peace and quiet charity, with no more
drama than when brothers and sisters leave home for college, jobs, and
marriage, loving each other as always, even when not much taken with their
in-laws. lf it seems wholly natural and right to us that diversity of vocation
should separate the members of a family and lead them in different directions,
we should he neither shocked nor surprised that we, who have been so close to
one another till now in our institute should, by God’s call, correcting our
mistakes, have yet to walk such different roads and move so far apart in space
and mode of life, though remaining close in affection. If God brings forth good
for those who love Him even out of our sins, to which His response was Christ,
He will not be less concerned to draw good from the mistakes we have made in
our efforts to serve Him.


i  Only vowed engagements are considered since only these offer a serious problem practically. If the person has not committed himself by vow, he is not, ordinarily, obligated to continue the way of life chosen. Whenever his situation is clarified, he may simply leave and start to live as God wills for him at the time.

ii  The above elements constitute a definition of “mistaken vocation” as we shall be using the term. As we shall see before long, there are other types of mistakes that can be made with regard to vocation which are not included in “mistaken vocation,” for example, “premature response.”

iii  The proverbial difficulty of effecting such a transfer is not without its reasons which we will consider shortly.

iv The pain and harm resulting from these problems were, of course, evident; but the categories for dealing with them and making them visible and theologically graspable had been too badly melted down over the centuries and blunted to be of use.

v  In much current discussion, questions of vocation become insoluble since the call is seen as if with only two components: the sincerity and good faith of the individual and the (permissive) will of God.

vi  It will be taken for granted here and in all that follows that suitable psychological counseling, or psychiatric help when needed, will be begun as so0n as possible. Such psychological assistance, however, should never be permitted to delay dismissal, still less to avoid it.

vii Such duplicity can also render vows invalid so that much of what is said here will apply no matter how far along they have gone, save for the complications of the priesthood. Obviously, a canonist should be consulted to know what sort of evidence is needed for action in the external forum and what sort of steps to take. Usually there will also be rather serious psychological problems which call for psychiatric care.

viii One must, of course, have expended considerable effort to gather and assess all the available evidence. This pastoral assumption is only meant to avoid theological disputation and resultant inaction; ii cannot be used to avoid the hard labor of discovering the facts. The aid of skilled directors, psychologists, and/or psychiatrists is needed. The spiritual notes, if available, of the Religious
himself should be sought and his memory jogged, as also the memories of his
classmates, friends, directors, and superiors, for recollections from that
period-assuming that he gives whatever permissions may be needed. Nor should
his intervening history be neglected. A certain deliberateness in the process need not ordinarily be hurtful if the time is spent in continually recalling the man to his fundamental self.

ix “Dismissal” seems the only word we have in English for such a separation which does not necessarily imply, in common language at least, a personal antipathy, rejection, or punitive element which any technical term such as
“secularization” seems automatically to inject. Unfortunately, “dismissal,”
when used with regard to those whose vows are permanent, is taken by many to
imply full canonical trials with antecedent warnings, records of
incorrigibility, and the like, What has happened, I believe, is that the
canonical “dimissio”‒ better translated in this context by “expulsion”‒ was
replaced by its English cognate, this being, thus, so restricted as to make of it a purely technical term, leaving us no generic, common-language word at all.
Rather than risk confusing things further, I shall conform to such usage in this article–but under protest, with the insistence that “secularize,” at least, be taken as purely factual and emotionally neutral.

x  There was a time when it was a common method. It was, seemingly, the preferred method of St. Francis Xavier who permitted return of Jesuits to secular states only because this other possibility was not generally open to them in the scattered Christian settlements of Asia.

xi Care must be taken to prevent the busybodies and the gossips from doing harm; some orders under obedience to these people and some salutary punishments (themselves public) could go far to dampen in that line.

xii The judgment that someone is not at threshold should not be based simply on the statements of the person himself, but requires the sort of probative evidence needed for moral certitude, Pressed hard enough by circumstances, most Religious might seem, for a time, unable to live the life. I will discuss this in more detail later.

xiii Retention as a positive solution (cf. II, B. l) depends on the person’s being more or less at the threshold of his institute.

xiv If the person will not be sent away, then indeed he should be allowed to present his case: if need be, to use the canonical form of trial; to have the psychologists and the psychiatrists brought in; and the like.

xv Of course, any number of attitudes which militate directly against all that interests us in this area flourish among present-day psychologists, men for whom, often, freedom is meaningless, where a celibate life is automatically seen as harmful to anyone, where a vow of obedience is necessarily stultifying of maturity and growth. But if one can a psychologist who properly respects and takes account practically of the value and role of human liberty, he should be consulted in all these cases.

xvi Today, the Code requires a canonical trial for those bound by solemn vows in the Society of Jesus; and some form of trial is, I believe, required, outside the Society, for all with final vows. The canonical trial is needed primarily to protect people against overly severe or arbitrary action, to safeguard the Religious trying to live the rule in a lax community or, on occasion, to silence others of the
community who resent and oppose the move to dismiss. The trial has also a
coercive aspect as the only way an institute can force secularization upon the

xvii Canonical trials are out of place ordinarily in our present context. But a canonical requirement as to ascertaining the facts of a case by some sort of panel would seem advantageous so long as it is composed of people competent in the spirituality of that institute, especially as to its threshold, and in clinical psychology or psychiatry. One man, also, should be charged with assembling evidence concerning the person’s previous history.

xviii It is the interior quality of his activity and choices that is in question here. All
sorts of reasons, excellent from an order’s spiritual viewpoint, can call, in
particular circumstances, for an externally “secular” life style.

xix Just as all kinds of dissension arise which are only distantly, if at all, related to
problems of call, so, even more, are there factors of decay and decline of an
institute which are not provoked by vocational problems. Likewise, all modes of
long-standing dissension or of untreated decay, whatever their source, will
seriously damage the institute by generating, among other things, serious
problems for both the personal and the communal (or authoritative) discernment of God’s call. Space precludes treating these interesting topics here.

In German:


Two by Paul M. Quay, SJ on “Vocation” from ‘Review for Religious’ (1974)

Paul M. Quay, SJ

God’s Call and Man’s Resonse: Structures for the Analysis of True and False Vocations ……………………………………………………………………………….33 (1974) 1062


Spurious Vocation: The Problem and Suggestions for Solutions …………33 (1974) 1347

Diarmaid MacCulloch — Christianity: The First Three Thousand Years

Christianity: The First Three Thousand Years

by Diarmaid MacCulloch

Viking Adult; first American edition (18 March 2010)
pp. 1147 including Notes, Further Reading and Index
ISBN-10: 0670021261;  ISBN-13: 978-0670021260

Review-commentary by Brian Van Hove, S.J.
Alma, Michigan

According to Catholic tradition, faith is a gift. The author’s cultural background is Low-Church or Evangelical Anglicanism. But this is a heritage and not a theological virtue.

Diarmaid MacCulloch is Professor of the History of the Church in the Theology Faculty, St Cross College, Oxford. Professor MacCulloch proclaims himself a skeptic although he writes with the zeal of an apostate. His is a paradoxical mixture of both skepticism and appreciation of religion, especially Christianity. At times he reveals classical Greek tastes which are benevolently pre-Christian, though he has been shaped by the Enlightenment. His erudition permits him to indulge freely in refined, urbane scoffing. And his erudition is considerable.

Why is this important? Because all writing emerges out of a tradition;[1] no author can be fully original. Perhaps he could have written a shorter work had he not considered the subject a formidable one. In over a thousand pages he writes about Christianity not as a Christopher Dawson (d. 1970) or a Paul Johnson or a Hubert Jedin (d. 1980) or a James Hitchcock[2] who ‒ each of them from within the subject ‒ wrote the history of Christianity and the Church. Nor are these religious historians ever quoted. Anglican (especially Owen and Henry Chadwick) and various, often liberal Christian historians including Richard P. McBrien and Hans Küng do appear among the Further Reading selections beginning on page 1098.[3] John W. O’Malley, Eamon Duffy and John McManners are a few of his more favored historians.

He says that Edward Gibbon, who wrote a celebrated Enlightenment-era history in seven volumes,[4] “had a fine eye for the absurdities and tragedies that result from the profession of religion.”[5] The author does not conceal his preference for secularism. One can say that MacCulloch is a thoughtful post-Enlightenment writer who knows more about Christianity than most Christians, including the clergy. Yet another reason for us to posit that faith is a gift, although we must observe that some without this gift at times strenuously defend the Church and the Christian tradition.[6]

An ironic result of the author’s evenly-applied skepticism is his occasional fairness to Catholic positions. For example, he dropped some Reformation biases for which his ancestors would have fought. What is more, in his 2004 work The Reformation, he argues that there were multiple reformations which came from both Protestants and Catholics. MacCulloch is primarily a Reformation scholar, and surely he enjoys being perceived as a revisionist in his field.

At the same time he writes about Christianity with an irreverence toward religion ‒ any religion ‒ because religion is a problem, not a truth. In fact, religion is not only untrue; it can’t be true. And just as he gives a concession to the Catholics with one hand ‒ as when Catholic Bible translators got it right with the term supersubstantial [89] and dismissed the prejudicial concept of the Catholic “Dark Ages” [77] ‒ he usually takes something away with the other hand. For example, he says of Michael Burleigh’s Earthly Powers: “An absorbing survey of European religion, perhaps a little kind to Roman Catholicism, at least by omission.” [1110]

He is uneasy about the inconsistencies and incoherencies of the church’s development and the formation of its doctrinal orthodoxy. In this matter he is close to a similar uneasiness by his Christian ancestors. Compare Rabbi Daniel E. Polish who says of Judaism: “This is a subject which has been discussed exhaustively in Buber’s Two Types of Faith. Jewish religious understanding seems, as a result, to be much more comfortable with ambiguities, and even internal inconsistencies, than the more creedally rigorous Christian tradition.”[7]

The formation of Catholicism is reduced to mere chance. Catholic Christianity might have been different except for accidents. Here Dr. MacCulloch differs from John Henry Newman’s An Essay on the Development of Christian Doctrine.[8] For MacCulloch no religious “truth” is true. All one has is the debris of an unpredictable and unstable historical process.

The author goes so far as to assert: “I live with the puzzle of wondering how something so apparently crazy can be so captivating to millions of other members of my species.” [11] Indeed.

With that, Rowan Williams, Anglican Archbishop of Canterbury, then says in his personal review: “This book is a landmark in its field, astonishing in its range, compulsively readable, full of insight even for the most jaded professional and of illumination for the interested general reader. It will have few, if any, rivals in the English language. The story is told with unobtrusive stylishness as well as clarity.”[9]

Rowan Williams does include a short list of defects in the work. He mentions that:

“Inevitably there are a few slips in detail. Bishops’ mitres are not borrowed from Roman official costume, but are medieval adaptations of a form of papal headwear; the black death was not referred to by that name until a few centuries later. And there are, equally inevitably, some gaps. I missed, in a very good overview of Ivan the Terrible’s reign, any mention of Metropolitan Philip of Moscow, murdered for his attacks on the tsar’s atrocities and a good example of the fact that eastern Christians were not always as supine as is sometimes claimed in relation to secular authority. If Rembrandt is, as has been said, the greatest Protestant commentator on the Bible, we might have expected more of a nod in his direction. And, most puzzling, Dante does not merit a discussion. In one of the rare passages where there is a hint of textbook cliché, MacCulloch contrasts the ‘self-sufficient divine being’ of Augustine and Aquinas with the personal God of St Francis. Apart from the fact that Aquinas would have seen every page he wrote as seeking to hold the philosophical and the relational or personal together, Dante’s Paradiso sets out what it was like, imaginatively and spiritually, to sense these dimensions of faith as essentially one.”

… and then Williams concludes: “But these are small flaws in a triumphantly executed achievement.”[10]

One flaw not noted by Williams is the thin treatment of Jansenism, the most important “heresy” in Catholic ecclesiastical history between the Council of Trent and the French Revolution [707, 797-799, 801]. MacCulloch does not cite Bruno Neveu, Lucien Ceyssens, Jacques Gres-Gayer, Brian E. Strayer, Jean Mesnard, Jean Orcibal, Jean-Robert Armogathe or René Tavenaux, to name just some prominent scholars of Jansenism and the French seventeenth century. It remains unclear if MacCulloch understands this contentious movement in light of the Ceyssens and post-Ceyssens industry.

In a book as lengthy as this one under review, the author-historian may, until he is caught, get away with sentences and claims which lack enough context or which go unverified. On page 386 we read: “… a Greek visiting Spain was offended when he heard St. James of Compostela referred to as a ‘knight of Christ’… ” MacCulloch cites for this reference Christopher Tyerman’s God’s War: A New History of the Crusades.[11] Still, would this Greek have objected to Psalm 24, “Who is this King of glory? The LORD strong and mighty, the LORD mighty in battle”?

Christian prayer, rooted in Jewish prayer, is fraught with military combat terminology. Would our Greek be so offended by the long tradition of Judaism and Christianity? Is it more the iconography or the abstract concepts of combat and warfare used by the religious tradition? No matter Tyerman’s source, does avoiding terminology such as this really represent the Christian East, and is it wise for a semi-popular work to rely upon and quote from something also semi-popular? It is widely held that before the First Crusade the cult of St. George was more prevalent in the Byzantine East than in the West. The Greeks apparently did not object to this soldier-saint. The Hellespont or Dardanelles was called “The Arm of St. George”. 

Since the Enlightenment, certain themes have been developed and deliberately emphasized to discredit Christianity, and one of them is the Galileo affair. MacCulloch devotes only two brief pages to Galileo and his Copernican science. [684, 776] He writes: “Although many Protestants might rage against Copernicans, they did not take action against them as the Roman Inquisition had done in the Galileo case; moreover his treatment did seem all of a piece with the efforts of Europe’s various Inquisitions to ban so much of the creative literature of the previous centuries through their Indexes.”[12] Elsewhere, MacCulloch has written about Galileo.[13]

MacCulloch becomes less fair and more one-sided when he presents these complex questions with an unwarranted oversimplification which approaches the Black Legend theory of Inquisitions. His handling of the Inquisitions would profit from balance and contextualization. The works of Henry Kamen, Geoffrey Parker, and Jocelyn N. Hillgarth are not cited, although happily Edward M. Peters is. Though Galileo and the Inquisitions have been the object of new research in recent years, MacCulloch does not give the reader enough of this history as we lately understand it. His editorial choices are perplexing.

Let us proceed to a topic even more prized by the post-Enlightenment contemporary mind. Nowhere in the index does MacCulloch give us the word “holocaust” or “Shoah,” nor does the word appear under another heading such as “Jews” or “anti-Semitism.” Curiously, the word “holocaust” is used of the 1915-1916 slaughter of the Armenians by the Turks [921] and the great loss of Irish troops at the Battle of the Somme in 1916 [928].

The view of the Holocaust during World War II is superficial and misleading. For example, on page 946 we read about the Pope and the Jews; “the Pope only once nerved himself to make a public statement about their [the Jews’] plight, in his Christmas radio broadcast in 1942.” The statement fails to mention that in the preceding August, fifteen hundred Catholic priests and Religious men and women of Jewish heritage, including Edith Stein, were sent to Auschwitz in reprisal for the Dutch Catholic bishops’ pastoral letter condemning the Nazi racial laws.[14] The Pope would have endangered many more lives than the Dutch bishops had he been more explicit that Christmas. The point should be clarified for the non-specialist reader. Research into this question and matters related to the administration and policies of Pius XII by Robert Graham, Pierre Blet, Victor Conzemius, Ludwig Volk, Konrad Repgen, Joseph Bottum, and Eric Silver should be employed. Though on page 1110 he calls the book “a wide sweep of a central topic,” MacCulloch relies narrowly upon Priests, Prelates and People: A History of European Catholicism, 1750 to the Present by Nicholas Atkin and Frank Tallett.[15]

What Anglican Archbishop Williams hyperbolically calls a “triumphantly executed achievement” may fall short. If Diarmaid MacCulloch’s guiding tradition with its consequent editorial choices was less pronounced, the reader would need no caution. But unless Christianity: The First Three Thousand Years is supplemented or revised, it is needlessly biased or incomplete at least on specific issues so dear to the Enlightenment and its heirs the Marxists and Nihilists. This book is so exciting in university circles because the readership in such settings agrees with the negative assessment of the Enlightenment in matters of religion, especially Christianity.

An edited version of this appears in

Homiletic and Pastoral Review, vol. 111, no. 4 (January 2011): 75-77.

[1] Thus Handel’s Messiah never mentions Mary because George Frederick Handel was a Lutheran. See MacCulloch, Christianity, 789 and 1077, note 40. Music historians say the Colonna family commissioned Handel’s “Salve Regina” first performed in July 1707 in the Church of Santa Maria in Montesanto.

[2] Hitchcock’s forthcoming History of the Catholic Church may appear in 2011.

[3] Thomas S. Bokenkotter’s A Concise History of the Catholic Church, often used by liberal professors in American seminaries, is not listed for Further Reading, nor is John Laux’s Church History: A Complete History of the Catholic Church to the Present Day for High School, College and Adult Reading (TAN Books and Publishers, 2009).

[4] The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire (1776-1788).

[5] MacCulloch, Christianity, 1101.

[6] See the statements of Bernard-Henri Lévy: “French atheist denounces ‘attack’ on Church, Pope” (30 September 2010);;

[7] Amen: Faith and the Possibility of Jewish-Christian-Muslim Trialogue, Respondent to the Annual Fall Laurence J. McGinley Lecture; Inaugural Lecture by Patrick J. Ryan SJ, Fordham University, 18 November 2009, 29.

[8] (1845; 1878). See MacCulloch, Christianity, Notes 58 and 59, pages 1081-1082. Notice the words “sardonic,” “intellectual gymnastics,” and “sneers.” Is this urbane scoffing….?

[10] Ibid.

[11] Belknap Press of Harvard University Press (28 February 2009).

[12] MacCulloch, Christianity, 776. The Index of Forbidden Books, affiliated with the Inquisitions, remains a treasured subject of Enlightenment anti-religious writing.

[13] Ibid., 1069, note 44.

[14] Ralph McInerny who wrote the Foreword to Edith Stein and Companions, On the Way to Auschwitz, by Paul Hamans, adds: “ In this remarkable book… Hamans has undertaken the onerous task of compiling biographies, often accompanied by photographs, of many of the religious and laity who were rounded up from their various convents and monasteries and homes on the same day as Saint Edith Stein, August 2, 1942; most of them were taken to the Amersfoort concentration camp and from there put on trains to Auschwitz, where the majority, soon after their arrival at the camp, were gassed and buried in a common grave between August 9 and September 30, 1942. They were all Catholic Jews, and their arrest was in retaliation for the letter of the Catholic bishops of the Netherlands that was read from the pulpits of all churches on July 26, 1942.
Over the past few years, in striking contrast to contemporary acknowledgments and the magnificent book of Jewish theologian and historian Pinchas Lapide, many authors have accused the Church of silence during the Nazi persecution of the Jews. None of the counterevidence to this shameful thesis has had any effect on the critics. The experience of Jews in the Netherlands, particularly Catholic Jews, is eloquent witness of what could result from public condemnation of the Nazis. The victims whose stories are included in this book were told that they were rounded up in direct retaliation of the condemnation of the Nazi ‘final solution’ by the Dutch bishops.”  See

[15] I.B.Tauris (26 September 2003).

“It Won’t Go Away!” : Response to Denver Opponents of Canon 277

“One of my dear departed mentors said that we have wonderful doctrine transmitted at times by flawed documents. Although he was speaking then about his work on the doctrine of the angels as promulgated by the Fourth Lateran Council, I think we can say the same thing about other aspects of Sacred Tradition in our aggressively secularized environment. Too often, what used to be an instinct of grace is now reduced to legalism, whereupon its impoverished laws are not enforced. We have something like this situation with Levitical continence versus apostolic continence for those in Holy Orders. It used to be obvious — now it is outrageous to say — that a man must be of one wife, and that wife is the Church. The Russian Orthodox theologian Aleksey Stepanovich Khomyakov (Алексей Степанович Хомяков, 1804-1860) claimed that the Roman Church was guilty of “extrinsic” imposition of authority whereas the Eastern Churches relied on the “intrinsic” hold of the authority of Sacred Tradition as binding on believers. In other words, it seems that if some mid-level bureaucrat of the Roman Curia today declared that there are no longer three persons in the trinity, but rather four, Latin Catholics would, I fear, adopt en masse the novel doctrine. Here, documents from the Congregation of the Clergy, “Basic Norms for the Formation of Permanent Deacons,” and from the Congregation for Education, “Directory for the Ministry and Life of Permanent Deacons,” which pivot upon the interdicasterial letter (No. 4092.629) of February 27, 1997, written by the Cardinal Secretary of State, precisely as dicasterial, can have no doctrinal significance. They remind me of the words of my mentor in discussing the texts of Lateran Four. The upshot is that Sacred Tradition can’t and won’t go away any more than the Holy Spirit who formed that Tradition will go away. It will continue to be a very large elephant standing in a very small ecclesiastical living room.”
Rev. Brian Van Hove, S.J.
[* = apostolic continence]

Diogenes on Maciel [Catholic Culture Commentary: Off the Record: "The Legion of Christ and its founder"]

The Legion of Christ and its founder

Posted Feb. 17, 2009 8:47 AM || by Diogenes

Commentary: Off the Record: “The Legion of Christ & its founder”

What do we know about the misbehavior of Fr. Marcial Maciel Degollado, deceased founder of the Legion of Christ? In strict terms: nothing. In part this is the fault of the Holy See, whose 2006 communiqué did not specify the wrongs in response to which it “invited” Maciel to “a reserved life of prayer and penance.” In part it is the fault of the Legion of Christ, which issues assertions about Maciel while withholding the evidence on which the assertions are grounded. In place of publicly verifiable data — such as checkable documents and signed testimony — we have coy and ambiguous declarations based on informal confidential investigations. This is not knowledge. In early February the Legion’s spokesman Fr. Paolo Scarafoni announced that Maciel had sired an illegitimate daughter, now in her twenties. The CNS story reports, “Asked how the Legionaries came to know about her, Father Scarafoni said, ‘Frankly, I cannot say and it is not opportune to discuss this further, also because there are people involved’ who deserve privacy.” This is a transparent falsehood. Scarafoni was in reality communicating “Frankly, I cannot be frank about this matter.” Tactical mendacity of this kind is beloved of Roman churchmen (think of the Jesuit General’s claim that there is no conflict between the Society and the Holy See); it is not intended to be credible, but it serves as a kind of No Trespassing sign, warning outsiders that further inquiry along a given line will not be tolerated. Granted, however, that we don’t and can’t know whether Maciel’s paternity is better founded than any other claim the Legion has made about him, the remarks that follow will assume that this minimal admission is true. Maciel deserves to be reviled by the Legionaries of Christ. By “deserves” I mean his revilement is a debt of justice owed all Catholics by the Legion. This is not on account of Maciel’s sin of sexual weakness, nor even on account of the sin of denying his sexual weakness. The fact of the matter is that Maciel was publicly accused of specific sexual crimes, and that out of moral cowardice he enlisted honorable men and women to mortgage their own reputations in defense of his lie. The lie was the lie of Maciel’s personal sanctity, which Maciel knew to be a myth, and which the fact of his bastard child (putting aside the more squalid accusations) proves that he knew. To the villainy of sacrificing the reputations of others, Maciel added the grotesque and blasphemous claim that the Holy See’s sanctions were an answer to his own prayer to share more deeply in the passion of Christ, as an innocent victim made to bear the burden of false judgment in reparation for the sins of mankind. The Legion cannot share Catholic reverence for the Passion and fail to repudiate Maciel’s cynicism in portraying himself as the Suffering Servant. Yet the LC leadership persists in allotting Maciel a role of (somewhat tarnished) honor: praising with faint damns, and suggesting that his spiritual patrimony remains valuable in spite of his personal life. This won’t work. Many of the greatest saints were repentant sinners. Yet not only did Maciel (as far as is known) go to his death without repenting, but he used wholesome Christian spirituality as a tool in the deception of others. Think of the Soviet mole Kim Philby: while he worked in the UK’s SIS and Foreign Office, his articulate patriotism may have inspired those he duped to a deeper love of country. Yet once he was unmasked as a spy, and after his patriotism was revealed as a contrived distraction from his real treachery, even those who were moved to genuine loyalty by his speeches would not continue to feed on them. And note: Philby’s patriotic words would provoke the most shame and disgust precisely in the persons who found those words truest. Or consider a woman whose husband ingeniously hid his infidelities from her for many years. Once she realized she had been deceived, the gifts he brought back from his business trips would be understood to have been instruments in that deception. Far from cherishing the jewelry he gave her, she’d feel that the diamonds now mocked the affection and fidelity they symbolized. By the same token, Maciel’s addresses will be spiritually kosher — he was after all a highly successful deceiver. But those addresses dishonor the very truths they expound, and it’s impossible that they can cause anything but distress and confusion in those who attempt to nourish themselves on them. To repeat: the fact that he was a flawed priest is not the reason for repudiating Maciel. The Mexican priest-protagonist of Graham Greene’s novel The Power and the Glory was enfeebled by lust and alcoholism and despised by those he served; yet, because of his concern for souls, he kept himself in the arena of danger and died a martyr. Maciel presents Greene’s image flipped on its head: he was a Mexican priest with an internationally cultivated reputation for sanctity. He lived surrounded and cosseted by admirers, and yet in reality he held divine retribution so lightly that he went to his deathbed without undeceiving those he’d taken in, leaving behind him shattered consciences and wobbly faith. When I speak of the Legion’s duty of revilement, I do not mean they should issue so many pages of rhetorical denunciation of Maciel’s sexual iniquities. What is required is an unambiguous admission that Maciel deceitfully made use of holy things and holy words in order to dupe honest and pious persons into taking false positions — sometimes slandering others in the process — in order to reinforce the legend of his own sanctity. Since Maciel’s treachery was sacrilegious in its means and in its effect, he should posthumously be repudiated as a model of priesthood and of Christian life. What is said above is predicated on the minimalist assumption that Maciel’s siring of a bastard daughter is the only canonical lapse that can held against him. Yet he stood accused of sins much more serious, including the sin of absolutio complicis — i.e., of sacramentally absolving one’s own partner in sexual wrongdoing. The Legion’s leadership professes improbably comprehensive ignorance of Maciel’s misdeeds, but even if they are in fact in the dark about Maciel’s guilt in this area, they surely must understand that abuse of the sacrament of confession moves the debate over Maciel’s priesthood onto an entirely different level than a failure in sexual continence. True, we don’t expect Newsweek or NPR to focus on the gravity of abusing a sacrament, because for them sacraments are simply ceremonies. But we would expect orthodox Catholic priests to grasp the importance of the charge. Knowing what they now claim to know about Maciel’s sexual delinquency, can the Legion confidently dismiss the accusation of abuse of the confessional? And if they can’t dismiss it out of hand, how can they fail to address it, even obliquely, in their statements? How can they keep up the public patter of his “flawed priesthood” without the certainty — the certainty — that there are not souls out there that need concrete sacramental help, souls whose access to the sacraments Maciel may have blocked by his villainy? The Legion leadership’s piecemeal public disclosure broadens rather than narrows the general speculation about the extent of Maciel’s crimes. Today and for the foreseeable future they’re in the “half of the lies they tell about me aren’t true” position. They have only themselves to blame. Whereas St. Augustine said, “God does not need my lie,” the Legion’s officialdom appears to base its strategy of teaspoon by teaspoon revelations on the contrary conviction: “God needs our falsehood, and yours as well.” Yet what are we to make of the Legionaries who aren’t superiors and who remain under a vow of obedience to those who are? Are they complicit in the actions of their superiors simply by remaining bound by their vows? If Maciel has real victims whose urgent spiritual needs are being ignored or dismissed by the leadership, can the Legionaries who would wish to address those needs act on their own to do so? If not, what is the course an honorable man would take, and how might the Holy See make it possible for him to act in conformity with a well-formed conscience while remaining a religious in good standing? Many persons of good will associated with the Legion and Regnum Christi have called for prayers for Maciel’s victims. This is entirely proper. But if you were a victim of Maciel, and had been denounced as a slanderer for accusing him, and that denunciation had never been unsaid, would you feel spiritually buoyed by the promise of prayers offered on your behalf?

Commentary: Off the Record: “The Legion of Christ & its founder”

“Blood Drenched Altars: The Mexican Affair, 1934-1936″ [from Faith and Reason]

Blood-Drenched Altars

Baltimore’s Archbishop Michael Joseph Curley,

Oklahoma’s Bishop Francis Clement Kelley

and the Mexican Affair: 1934-1936

Brian Van Hove, S.J.

Today we are accustomed to believe that the Catholic Church in Mexico is on
relatively good terms with the government, especially after 1992 when the Holy See
concluded diplomatic relations which at long last permitted the Holy Roman Catholic
Apostolic Church to register and assume legal existence. On May 24, 1993, the murder
of the cardinal-archbishop of Guadalajara, Juan Jesús Posadas, was not generally
suspicioned to have been instigated by the government, as might have been the case
sixty years ago. Without opposition Pope John Paul II personally visited Mexico as
recently as last August before going to Denver for World Youth Day. It would have
been unthinkable during the reign of “Papa Ratti,” Pope Pius XI.

Thus the persecution which the Church in Mexico endured, especially during the
first forty years of this century, might well be reviewed in order to see how the change
between then and now has taken place.

Two of the most intense years of suffering for the Church were between 1934
and 1936 when Archbishop Michael Joseph Curley of Baltimore, Maryland spoke out in
defense of the repressed. Since 1921 when he succeeded James Cardinal Gibbons, Irish-
born “Iron Mike” Curley never kept his thoughts secret. They were printed in the
official diocesan newspaper, still in existence today, by his alter ego, Mr. Vincent de
Paul Fitzpatrick, managing editor of <The Baltimore Catholic Review> (BCR). In that
period, moreover, the Baltimore archdiocese included the District of Columbia.

The capital city itself, Washington, became a separate archdiocese in 1939, equal
to Baltimore. Only after Curley died in 1947 did the Archdiocese of Washington, D.C.,
along with five counties in southern Maryland, receive its first resident archbishop.
Curley was the archbishop of two archdioceses, in other words. This meant that the
<Review> surely would not escape notice by the political establishment in Washington.
And if anybody was “anti-establishment,” it was Curley. Unlike Cardinal Mundelein,
an ardent Roosevelt supporter, Curley had no use for either mainstream America or for
Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s <New Deal>. He dismissed liberalism in every form.

Furthermore, more than any other of Baltimore’s archbishops, Curley’s private
and official papers were preserved.1 In addition to the original issues of the <Review>
itself, collected in the library of the Catholic University of America, this documentation
is now found in the Archives of the Archdiocese of Baltimore (AAB), and they have
been consulted specifically for this essay. One entire uncatalogued carton is marked
“Mexico (Unclassified).” Unfortunately, Catholic University of America Professor
Christopher J. Kauffman informs us that the archives on Mexico maintained by the
American bishops remain closed for the present.

Curley’s friend, Bishop Francis Clement Kelley, second bishop of Oklahoma City
and Tulsa, Oklahoma, would be perhaps the only other American bishop to work with
him in an energetic and forceful manner on this issue. After John Lancaster Spalding
who died in 1916, Kelley was surely the most intellectually sophisticated bishop since
the nation’s very first was ordained in England in 1790. At one point he nearly became
rector of the Catholic University, and he was the author of seventeen books. No one of
less reputation than the anti-Roosevelt secularist and “Sage of Baltimore,” H. L.
Mencken, was an admirer of his writing style. Although Oklahoma was remote _ very
remote, with a sparse (under 3%) Catholic population _ Kelley and Curley maintained a
lively correspondence and worked tirelessly together on the Mexican question.

The revolution which brought the National or “Institutional” Revolutionary
Party (PRI) to power in the United States of Mexico occurred in stages. But the
Constitution which would regulate the relations between church and state was
finalized in 1917. It is hard to say what “revolution” really meant in the long run _ it
certainly didn’t mean democracy for Mexico _ but it was a type of social upheaval
accompanied by ideological rhetoric which rejected the order of the past. One might
allude to the Constitution of 1857, or the revolutionary events of 1910 and thereafter.
But the Constitution of 1917 is the most fitting point of departure for us presently since
the authorities claimed it as the legal basis for the renewed attacks on the Catholic
Church after some intermittent periods of relative calm.2

A book by the British Catholic writer Evelyn Waugh nicely captured the spirit of
the times with the title: <Mexico: Robbery Under Law.> The Jesuit editor of <America>,
Wilfrid Parsons, aptly entitled his 1936 book on the subject <Mexican Martyrdom>.

In 1926 there was a rebellion of Mexican Catholics against the regime which had
been kept in power by military means and the will of the ruling National
Revolutionary Party. The Party, an amalgam of Masons, Socialists, Communists, and
greedy opportunists, had interpreted the anti-clerical laws arbitrarily and severely.
This led to the killing of priests and the confiscation of churches, schools, religious
houses of all kinds, and other properties. The Catholics who fought against the
government were called “Cristeros,” and today Jean Meyer, a French historian, is
researching this phenomenon from his base in Mexico City. The Cristeros had few
means of their own, and only got their weapons after overcoming the enemy and
taking theirs. They represented the overwhelmingly Catholic majority of the country’s
population, but they only took to arms out of desperation. At one time the Cristeros
were said to have thirty thousand men loyal to their cause. The record shows they were
never defeated.

An exiled Mexican Catholic lawyer, Octavio Elizonde, wrote in a letter dated
January 21, 1935, that he had completed a Memorandum for Curley which was a
detailed report concerning the events since 1929. He also asked for an interview that
week. Subsequently, in a letter to Mr. Vincent Fitzpatrick, Curley confirmed that the
twelve-page text “is about the best thing I have seen on the recent situation since 1929.
The analysis it gives of the so-called peace made in that year is exceptionally fine.”3

Elizonde states that between 1926 and 1929 an armed struggle was carried on in
behalf of the Catholic cause by the rebels known as Cristeros. This army was poised to
deliver the final blow when the Mexican hierarchy, at the wish of the Holy See,
requested them to disarm and to accept the offer of the Mexican government under
President Plutarco Calles to establish a <modus vivendi> in regard to the religious
question. Out of duty and obedience the Cristeros laid down their arms and thereupon,
in the words of the <BCR>:

The first things (sic) Calles did after peace had been made was to shoot down 500
Cristero leaders. The six years of the entente Cordiale between Calles and the Church
have been the six bloodiest years in the history of Mexico.4

Actually, Elizonde puts the figure at 400, but perhaps the exact number will never be
known. Calles was responsible for the killing. Plutarco Elías Calles, President of Mexico
from 1924 to 1928, was depicted in the <BCR> the way Nicolai Ceausescu was in the
popular press of 1989. When Calles left office in 1928 he controlled the government
from behind the scenes, and he dominated the life of the country until 1934 when his
rival Lázaro Cárdenas won out. How did Calles control the whole country for so long?
Very simple _ by owning the army. Cárdenas prevented him from making a final
comeback in 1936. No one has ever been able to explain adequately Calles’ extreme and
irrational hatred for the Church. Perhaps it was a combination of greed and Jacobin
ideology. In any case, Cárdenas also hated the Church, but his fanaticism was more
pragmatic and times had changed by the mid-30s.

The <BCR> described the 1929 revenge upon the Catholic “freedom fighters”
more fully by setting the figure at 500 leaders and 5,000 ordinary men who were shot,
often in their homes in front of their families. Their property was then seized, leaving
the survivors destitute. Elizonde clearly says that the obedience of the Mexican
Catholics to the request of the Holy See was a disaster for the Church, and ended only
in betrayal. The American Jesuit Wilfrid Parsons, on the other hand, claims Archbishop
Pascual Díaz, SJ, of Mexico City, disagreed with those of Elizonde’s persuasion, and
thought the decision to seek a military solution was mistaken in the first place.5
Furthermore, Father John Burke’s biographer, John B. Sheerin, adds:

Almost the entire Mexican hierarchy gathered in Mexico City on November 26th (1926)
at the home of Bishop Pascual Díaz, the Jesuit who acted as secretary of the episcopal
committee but was suspected of being a pliant ecclesiastical opportunist. The hierarchy
met with lay leaders to discuss the Liga’s plans for revolution. Díaz told the lay leaders
that the bishops had examined the plans but could not give their approval to use of
arms. Priests could serve the rebel forces but could not join the fighting. Although in
sympathy with the rebels and unwilling to condemn their armed rebellion, the bishops
did not sanction armed revolt. As the prelates had not actually forbidden the Liga to
join the Cristeros in their fight, the Liga leaders felt that Díaz had given his quasi-
blessing to the rebellion and they set to work organizing the rebellion more eagerly.
Díaz had given his quasi-blessing to the rebellion and they set to work organizing the
rebellion more eagerly. Díaz himself was arrested for allegedly directing Cristero
military activities but was exiled rather than jailed. Deported, he journeyed to New
York. At the administrative committee meeting on April 26, 1927, Burke informed the
committee that Díaz had made clear to him that the Mexican hierarchy did not want the
NCWC to countenance in any way the promotion of armed resistance in Mexico.6

Undoubtedly the <BCR> was merely reflecting the Elizonde Memorandum. In that
document, he had said:

And notwithstanding the fact that an immense majority of all the Catholics of action
who had been struggling for a long time and with all lawful means against the tyrants
of the Mexican people, felt a deep rooted doubt as to the success of an agreement
arrived at under such circumstances and on such bases, we accepted, sincerely, and in
all discipline, through our love for the Church and respect for His Holiness Pope Pius
XI, the situation created by the so-called agreements and made ourselves ready to
struggle within the terms of the “modus vivendi” to reconquer our lost liberties; not
without a feeling, on the part of the great mass of the people, of profound
discouragement and frustration upon the abrupt ending thus brought to the heroic and
bloody movement of defense carried on during the years 1926 to 1929 (<AAB,
Memorandum>, p. 2).7

Curley advised his editor to correct the English, given above in the original, since it was
done by a Mexican whose stylistic skills in American English were limited.

The <BCR> of August 23, 1935 printed the following figures for its American
readers. Between 1926 and 1934 at least 40 priests were killed. Miguel Augustín Pro, SJ,
had been summarily shot on November 23, 1927. Pro was later to be beatified in 1988.
There were 2,500 priests in hiding, many of them in the Federal District, the State of San
Luis Potosí (where the local governor received priests and nuns, despite federal laws)
or in exile. The Apostolic Delegate and Archbishop of Morelia, himself a Mexican, and
five additional bishops had been exiled. Twelve bishops were impeded from their
dioceses, and four were arrested but later released. In 1934 there were 334 priests
licensed to practice their ministry by the government for fifteen million people,
whereas in 1926 there were 3,000 serving the people.8

As early as the year of rebellion itself, 1926, the U.S. Catholic hierarchy issued a
Bishops’ Pastoral on the Mexican Situation: <A Pastoral Letter of the Catholic
Episcopate of the United States on the Religious Situation in Mexico.> It claimed not to
be an appeal for political intervention of any kind or for action of any sort.9

The Mexican Constitution of 1917 contains various articles regulating church
property, church schools, and the quotas of priests or other clergy which would be
allowed and duly licensed. It did not specify any one religion to be restricted, but made
the laws applicable to all religions. In Mexico, the number of Protestants or Jews or
those of other religions was quite small at the time. Therefore it was no secret that the
Catholic Church was the true target for this federal legislation. Between 90% and 95%
of the population was Catholic, and the Shrine of Our Lady of Guadalupe was one of
the most popular in the world.

In 1935 the <BCR> mentioned that a law in one of the Mexican states forbade the
registration, to obtain a license for practice of the ministry, of priests who were
celibate.10 This is one example of the restrictions, but it typifies the anti-Catholic nature
of some of the legal provisions even when the Catholic Church was never mentioned by
name. We are all familiar with the cowardly Whiskey Priest who lived in concubinage
and dereliction as portrayed in Graham Greene’s <The Power and the Glory.>

A small sign of hope in 1935 was the annulment by President Lázaro Cárdenas
of the decree censoring foreign religious mail coming into Mexico _ which had to that
point included, of course, the <BCR>.11

In that same year, Archbishop Curley had considered setting up a Bureau for
Mexican Affairs in Baltimore. On January 4, 1935, he wrote to the exiled Apostolic
Delegate to Mexico, Archbishop Leopoldo Ruiz y Flores. The Delegate since 1932 had
been living across the border in San Antonio, Texas:

It is very largely a matter of money, and just how we are going to get the money I do
not see for the moment. Other Dioceses may not be as interested in Mexican affairs as is
this, and it is a difficult thing at this time, on account of financial conditions, to get
them interested.12

Curley is referring, of course, to the total collapse of the economy which created the
dire conditions of The Great Depression. The lack of funds for special projects such as
aid to the Church in Mexico was obviously acute. Even the state of the <BCR> as it has
survived up to the present moment suggests they were using the least expensive paper
available. There is still some reason to believe other bishops besides Kelley were
sympathetic, although unable, to help.

On April 2, 1935, Kelley wrote to Curley:

It was mighty kind of you to send one hundred dollars. I can do a lot with that. In fact I
have enough now to cover the whole Senate and part of the House. I have written to
John Burke asking him if he will take care of the distribution in Washington.13

The matter being discussed by this letter is the financing and distributing of copies of
<Blood-Drenched Altars> for the members of Congress who were deliberating over the
Borah Resolution whose point was to condemn religious persecution in Mexico. The
book had been published under Bishop Kelley’s name, and hastily researched for him
by Eber Cole Byam:

This volume of more than 500 pages, which made no pretense at being a detached
treatise, defies an adequate summary. Its mass of facts, contentions, and scholarly
references were bound together by a single proposition, supported by two cosmic
themes running through the book. Kelley’s objective was to present to a pluralistic
America the idea that religious oppression was beyond narrow sectarian interest. The
persecution in Mexico was a tragedy that should concern all men and women, whether
or not they were sympathetic to or affiliated with the Catholic church.14

It has endured the test of time, was praised in 1950 after Kelley’s death by Frank
Tannenbaum, sympathetic historian of the revolution, and was even recently
republished. To prove it was taken seriously, we have evidence that it was reviewed by
the Mexican government’s Department of Publicity of the Ministry of Foreign
Relations.15 The name given was deliberate:

Kelley’s choice of title, <Blood-Drenched Altars>, referred to the savage pre-Christian
rites of human sacrifice which greeted the conquistadors and padres. Yet in this
primitive environment these pioneers had built cathedrals, universities, hospitals,
schools, libraries _ relics of a noble civilization which preceded in antiquity and rivaled
in splendor the institutions that evolved in North America. The revolution in Mexico,
Kelley went on, had thus targeted its attack on the two pillars of this way of life, first
driving Spain back to Europe and, a century later, threatening to crush the church.16

Bishop Francis Clement Kelley would certainly not have followed the fashion, so
common lately, of denouncing Columbus for bringing Spanish civilization to the New
World. The human sacrifice represented by the Aztec “blood-drenched altars” was, to
him, even comparable to the slaughter of the Catholics at the hands of the Mexican
government between 1926 and 1936, except the altars were Catholic, not Aztec.

Curley’s chosen investigator and historian of the Mexican persecution was
Georgetown University’s Father Michael Kenny, SJ, who surely agreed with Curley
when the following translation of a smuggled Mexican document appeared in the
<BCR>, July 3, 1936:

As many, if not most, of the evils we now endure have been caused directly or
indirectly by United States influence, and there is undoubtedly a debt of restitution, an
obligation to repair the resultant evils of oppression and suppression of liberties that a
tyrant minority inflicts, and can only inflict by the favor of our all-powerful North
American neighbor. We submit that the neighborhood of our countries and the evils
that we are suffering, materially as well as morally, largely through United States
influence, imposes on the honest people of the United States the duty of aiding us in
averting impending disaster.17

Curley was forever frustrated that he and the Church could not affect the Roosevelt
Administration to do more for the sufferings of Mexican Catholics, even in such a
simple thing as the recall of an ambassador who was perceived as inimical to this
cause, or at best, a bungler in the effort to help. That frustration was spoken of by
Bishop Francis Clement Kelley in a letter to Curley:

I do not understand the President. I had heard that he made a promise. Surely he had
enough visits from ecclesiastical dignitaries to understand the situation. I am afraid that
some of those who went to see him, by avoiding the subject of Mexico, gave him the
idea that we are divided about it.18

If Kelley didn’t understand the president, we may assume Cardinal Mundelein did.
Historian David J. O’Brien says:

Mundelein soon became the President’s closest friend in the hierarchy. In 1935, when
Catholics were incensed by Roosevelt’s Mexican policy, the Cardinal heaped praise on
him in ceremonies at Notre Dame.19

The incident over the recall of the American ambassador deserves special note. It
was the result of the clash between the suppression of Catholic education in Mexico,
even after the <modus vivendi> of 1929, and the introduction of “Socialist” education in
its place.

Promises made in 1929 were never honored by the government of Mexico.
Perhaps this is because the arrangement rested on a “gentlemen’s agreement” no more
solid than oral assurances between President Emilio Portes Gil (described by the
<BCR> as a <callista>)20 and the American Ambassador Dwight Whitney Morrow. The
<BCR> never considered any of them gentlemen, either. In the “modus vivendi” the
Catholics were supposed to be respected. They were to be allowed to use every
democratic means to effect a constitutional change: the “vote, written and spoken
propaganda, appeals before judicial authorities, petitions to Congress, etc.”21 Elizonde
maintains that the Church was lied to, and the American ambassador had economic
interests and the American business community to please above all else. The struggle
which finished the alleged truce was the educational issue when the government strove
to impose a complete monopoly and install a “socialistic” program.

Elizonde in the Memorandum is shocked and at a loss when he says there is no
explanation for the absence of any protocols on the question of education in the 1929

Bishop Kelley had written in <Blood-Drenched Altars>:

The new Constitution prohibited any minister of religion from teaching in a school,
public or private. Article 3 prohibited religious corporations or ministers of any
religious creed from establishing or directing primary schools. Article 130 went further
and ordered the confiscation of any school erected for the purpose of teaching religion.
It provided likewise that in all primary-school matters the curriculum, teachers, etc., be
under the direction of the Federal government. Not only were clergymen forbidden to
teach, but they were even forbidden to maintain any institution of scientific research.
Nevertheless Article 3 begins with the words “Instruction is free.”22

It was the school issue which strained the consciences of Mexican Catholics
when the “atheistic brainwashing” of the revolutionary curriculum was applied to their
children. This schooling had been invested with the content of an alien ideology,
contrary to the faith of Mexican Catholics. The January 24, 1936 edition of the <BCR>
stated that the Mexican Hierarchy in a formal pastoral letter had condemned the
socialistic education curriculum explicitly. Parents were not permitted to send their
children to these state schools under pain of mortal sin, and no Catholic was permitted
to teach in them. They had to give up their jobs if this was necessary. No Catholic was
permitted to be a socialist under any condition. Socialism here, according to the <BCR>,
was just communism using the name “socialism.”23

On one occasion President Lázaro Cárdenas, who had succeeded Calles, tried to
defend socialist education. Sacrilegiously speaking from the Catholic church pulpit in
Ciudad González, he is reported to have said:

It is untrue that Socialistic education may lead to the dissolution of the home; and it is
also untrue that it perverts children and separates them from their parents. Socialist
education prepares the child so that, when he becomes a man, he may comply with his
obligations of solidarity in a spirit of fraternity for his class companions.24

He went on to challenge the <men> to support the revolutionary process, and basically
said religion should be left to <women>. They, the women, if they had these religious
sentiments could believe in Catholic things if they wished, and the revolutionary
government would promise not to infringe upon their rights. This is somewhat
contradictory because part of the National Revolutionary Party’s rhetoric was in favor
of a version of the class-struggle theory which included women as a special part of the
proletariat. He insulted the local priest and said he must be careful to obey the laws set
by the government.25 One can only imagine how Curley took such an attack on the
priesthood and on simple Mexican peons. He was thinking, no doubt, that the federal
president’s words in Ciudad González were aimed at the eight archdioceses, twenty-
two dioceses, and one vicariate apostolic of all Mexico. And it was no secret that the
revolutionary school system was inculcating atheism. Its program of “sex-education”
was crude and laughable in today’s terms. And it was certainly offensive to Mexican
standards of decency. One might also add that the whole persecution was crude
because it only served to enrage the vast multitudes of the population.

If Elizonde repudiated the role of American Ambassador Morrow in the “modus
vivendi” of 1929, Curley did the same for Ambassador Josephus Daniels who
represented the American Government in these years of Franklin D. Roosevelt’s first
term. Daniels, precisely at the time of the educational conflict mentioned above, gave a
short talk in the American embassy in Mexico City, July, 1934, which praised the
Mexican government’s efforts in the educational field.

Daniels quoted President Calles favorably, and the key line was: “We must enter
and take possession of the mind of childhood, the mind of youth.”26 The <BCR>
headline read “Josephus Daniels Offends 330,000,000 Catholics.”27 Curley was furious,
as were many others, even though Daniels maintained his words were innocent and
had been taken out of context by the Catholic press in the United States and by Mexican
Catholics themselves. It does seem that the <BCR> was making this into an artificial
“cause célèbre.”

An exiled Mexican priest writing in the <BCR> quoted Governor Arnulfo Pérez
of the State of Tabasco who approved of the following song in the school curriculum:

God did not create mankind; the latter created God.
There is no God except in petrified hearts and books.
The priests are like bartenders who exploit mankind.28

We might look at the comparison with Baltimore. At this same time Curley’s
archdiocesan newspaper carried numerous articles on the situation of Catholic
education in Baltimore. New schools were opening and old ones were praised for their
efforts. Girls and boys were photographed at wholesome social and athletic functions,
and there was much interest in youth generally. Curley’s friend Bishop Kelley was
chairman of the Bishops’ Committee of the Boy Scouts of America.29

Mr. Vincent de Paul Fitzpatrick in 1929 had written the <Life of Archbishop
Curley: Champion of Catholic Education.> The contrast with the situation in Mexico
was sharp.

Ambassador Josephus Daniels, a Protestant, was a native of Raleigh, North
Carolina. On April 29, 1935, he paid a visit lasting an hour with the Catholic Bishop of
Raleigh, William J. Hafey. Hafey immediately wrote to Curley. A number of points
were considered, but it was Hafey’s judgment that Daniels was worried and that he,
Hafey, had done his part to encourage him to resign “and ultimately he might also
decide that Raleigh, little town that it is, might be preferable to Mexico City.”30 But the
urgency of Hafey’s letter was due to Daniels. The ambassador was asking him to serve
as an intermediary in requesting an appointment with Curley within ten days. Curley
loaned the letter to a Jesuit friend and wrote “Please return” at the top. He also wrote in
the upper right-hand corner: “I feel I should not see Mr. Daniels.”31

The <BCR,> a weekly, had an inflammatory tenor and tone in referring to
Daniels that would surely be unacceptable by today’s standards of journalism. It was so
harsh and severe as to make the expression “flayed alive” seem the only one of
sufficient strength to describe what they were doing to poor Ambassador Daniels. The
paper often used the device of “open questions” rhetorically and sarcastically directed
to Mr. Daniels. Hafey in his letter also adds his visit with Daniels was concluded thus:
“He departed with a copy of the <Baltimore Catholic Review> under his arm and is
probably now thinking up the answers to the questions contained therein.”32

Thomas W. Spalding summarizes all of this:

After a brief respite, the persecution in Mexico was resumed. In 1934 Curley was
roused to action again when the ambassador to Mexico, Josephus Daniels, injudiciously
praised the remark of a Mexican leader to the effect that it was the aim of his
government “to take possession of the mind of children.” Curley had the <Catholic
Review> address a letter to President Franklin D. Roosevelt calling for Daniel’s
resignation. <The Review> asked the president to read its “exposé of the bestial,
pederastic and sodomistic campaign of socialistic education which has gone on in
alliance with the other methods of warfare against God, Religion and Common
Decency in Mexico.”33

Daniels never did resign, though he issued a bland statement defending the idea
of religious freedom. Roosevelt issued a similar statement. Eventually the Borah
Resolution fizzled. None of this pleased Curley or the Knights of Columbus whose
Supreme Knight, Martin H. Carmody, had warmly praised Curley on many occasions,
especially after the thundering speech the archbishop had made in Washington, March
25, 1935. More than the bishops, the Knights took a strong stand on the Mexican
persecution and the need for the United States to do something to help.

The year 1936 saw a good many changes. Father John J. Burke, CSP, secretary of
the NCWC, died October 29. Father Wilfrid Parsons, SJ was replaced as editor-in-chief
of <America.> Archbishop Pascual Díaz y Barreto, SJ, thirty-sixth Archbishop of
Mexico City and a full-blooded Indian, and Archbishop Francisco Orozco y Jiménez of
Guadalajara who at one time had dressed as a peon and hid out in the mountains, both
died that year. Mexican Catholics swarmed to their funerals in unprecedented
numbers. The idealistic President Lázaro Cárdenas _ who seems really to have believed
in the socialist-revolutionary rhetoric of the Party _ began to soften on <the
interpretation and implementation> of the anti-religious sections of the Constitution of
1917. A relaxation was gradually introduced, though sometimes it was two steps
forward and then one backward.

Since there always had been a two-tiered mechanism of enforcement, one federal
and the other exercised by the governors of the states, Cárdenas could sometimes hide
behind an explanation of interference on the part of local authorities against his
intentions in the matter of church closings and the like. This approach worked
especially well when the federal administration had to explain things to the foreign
press. Cárdenas may have been more sensitive to foreign opinions than we are aware

Persecution continued in Mexico, but also relaxation in many areas began to be
reported more and more. The <BCR> reflected these developments, although it usually
urged caution in welcoming good news as true. We must not forget that Curley, and
thus his newspaper, was the destination of <samizdat> documentation and it also had a
correspondent stationed in Mexico City. Even so, priests returned, were given licenses,
and churches re-opened. It was uneven and contradictory. Mexico is not a country
which always handles its affairs in an entirely tidy manner, although the Mexican
propaganda machine did seem to have an effect on quieting the fears of the secular
press in the United States. There had been international embarrassment in the anti-
religious campaigns, and the Cárdenas government was anxious for it to be explained
away. President Cárdenas also may have wished to prevent Roosevelt from being
further embarrassed by enraged American Catholics such as Curley and Kelley.
Diplomats of the period might have worked quietly for a level of understanding that
was not known even to Curley who had so many special sources of information. The
pages of the <BCR>, by 1935-1936, tended to focus on Germany and Spain more than
on Mexico. Especially the atrocities of the Reds in Spain attracted the attention of the
Catholic world, and Curley was naturally annoyed at the <Baltimore Sun> for siding in
with the Loyalists who were murdering so many priests. Curley always like a good
fight, we are not with difficulty able to conclude.

Since the Mexican Church had been dispossessed of so much property and
resources, there was not much they could do to repay the kindness of the American
bishops. What arrived _ and it was the express wish of Archbishop Pascual Díaz before
his death _ was an illuminated, parchment spiritual bouquet from Mexican Catholics
who had prayed for the Americans. The subheading in the <BCR> of January 15, 1937
read “Prelates Send on their Behalf Spiritual Bouquet to American Hierarchy.”34
Besides a scrapper, Curley was deep down ever the sentimental Irishman, and we may
assume he appreciated the spiritual bouquet more than silver or gold.

To this day the problem with the National Revolutionary Party in Mexico has
never been fully resolved. The old Constitution of 1917 is still valid, though it is
enforced in a mild way and parts may soon be changed. Bribes were always more
forceful than principles in neutralizing its worst elements anyway. Mexican Catholic
shrines bring in tourist dollars, and who would wish to spoil such a good thing as that?
The Party has never completely given up its monopoly on power or its rhetoric or its
control of the army. But their situation is eroding. Recent state elections have given
some posts to the opposition, however, and the PRI’s tactics of fraud are less and less
acceptable in a world more conscious of human rights.

The Church never fully recovered either from the savagery of “El Turco” (Calles)
or from the renewed persecution in the first years of the Roosevelt Administration. The
swift advance of the U.S.-based Fundamentalists and Protestant sects in later decades
showed how much Catholicism had been weakened, especially with the destruction of
Catholic schools. A dechristianization had occurred gradually through the long years of ideological contest and suffering. But following the relaxation of 1936 and thereafter came Cárdenas’s chosen successor in 1940, President Manuel Avila Camacho. He was president until
1946 and was described as “a believing Roman Catholic.”35

With the outbreak of World War II, little attention was possible for anyone in the
United States to give to the problems of Mexico. After tensions eased in 1940, Curley
and Kelley must have felt they had done their best for God. Kelley died in Oklahoma
City on February 1, 1948 and Curley died in Baltimore on May 16, 1947.


1 In 1929 Fitzpatrick wrote the only partial biography we have of Curley. It was
entitled <Life of Archbishop Curley: Champion of Catholic Education.> Father Michael
J. Roach of Mount St. Mary’s Seminary, Emmitsburg, MD is preparing the full
biography of Curley, but it has not yet appeared. Therefore no complete account of
Curley’s Mexican “crusade” exists outside some remarks by Thomas W. Spalding in his
ecclesiastical history of the archdiocese, <The Premier See: A History of the
Archdiocese of Baltimore>, 1789-1989 (Baltimore: The Johns Hopkins University Press,

2 From the point of view of ecclesiastical history, a summary of the early phases of the
revolution and the oppression which resulted are found in the chapter “Mexico’s
`Guardian Angel’,” in James P. Gaffey, <Francis Clement Kelley and the American
Catholic Dream>, vol. II (Bensenville, IL: The Heritage Foundation, 1980), pp. 3-57.

3 Archives of the Archdiocese of Baltimore (hereafter AAB), Mexico (Unclassified),
Elizonde to Curley (Memorandum) (copy) and letter (copy), January 21, 1935; also
Curley to Fitzpatrick (copy), February 6, 1935.

4 <The Baltimore Catholic Review> (hereafter BCR), April 19, 1935, p. 1, col. 1 ff.

5 See Wilfrid Parsons, SJ, <Mexican Martyrdom> (New York: The Macmillan
Company, 1936), p. 100.

6 John B. Sheerin, <Never Look Back: The Career and Concerns of John J. Burke> (New
York: The Paulist Press, 1975), pp. 114-115.

7 AAB, Curley to Fitzpatrick (copy), February 6, 1935.

8 <BCR>, August 23, 1935, p. 3, col. 1.

9 AAB, ibid., <Bishops’ Pastoral on the Mexican Situation: 1926 Pastoral Letter of the
Catholic Episcopate of the United States on the Religious Situation in Mexico.> Official
edition published by the Committee of the American Episcopate, NCWC. See Part II,

10 <BCR>, April 9, 1935, p. 2, col. 2.

11 Ibid., July 5, 1935, p. 1, col. 6.

12 AAB, ibid., Curley to Ruiz y Flores (copy), January 4, 1935, p. 1. Ruiz y Flores was
deported in October 1932 by order of the Mexican congress. His successor, Archbishop
Girolamo Prigione, Apostolic Nuncio to Mexico, is the one who registered the Church
with the government after the accords of 1992.

13 AAB, ibid., Kelley to Curley (copy), April 2, 1935, p. 1. John Burke, CSP was the first
General Secretary of the National Catholic Welfare Conference, established in 1919, just
after the First World War. He held that post until his death in 1936. The NCWC was the
predecessor to the current NCCB/USCC, established after the Second Vatican Council.
The establishment of the NCWC as the consolidated voice of Catholicism in the land is
given in “The National Bishops’ Conference: An Analysis of Its Origins,” in Elizabeth
McKeown, <Modern Catholicism,> 1900-1965, ed. Edward R. Kantowicz (New York:
Garland Publishing Co., 1988), pp. 38-56.

14 Gaffey, ibid., p. 87.

15 <BCR,> September 13, p. 6, col. 1, editorial. The Mexican government was sending
propaganda into the United States free of charge. The headline read: “Will Mr. Farley
Tell Why?” He was Roosevelt’s Postmaster General. Among other points made are the
following: “The Mexican government is now, in its propaganda sheets, reviewing books
on Mexico, including Bishop Francis C. Kelley’s <Blood-Drenched Altars>. It is also
advertising books on Mexico for sale.”

16 Gaffey, ibid., Vol. I, p. 88.

17 <BCR>, July 3, 1936, p. 1, col. 4, and p. 6, col. 1.

18 AAB, ibid., Kelley to Curley (copy), April 2, 1935, p. 1.

19 David J. O’Brien, <American Catholics and Social Reform: The New Deal Years>
(New York: Oxford University Press, 1968), p. 55.

20 <BCR>, April 19, 1935, p. 1, col. 1 ff.

21 AAB, Elizonde to Curley (Memorandum) (copy), p. 1.

22 Francis Clement Kelley, <Blood-Drenched Altars> (Milwaukee: The Bruce
Publishing Company, 1935), p. 261.

23 <BCR>, January 24, 1936, p. 3, col. 1.

24 Ibid., April 9, 1936, p. 1, col. 7.

25 Ibid., cols. 6-7.

26 Ibid., September 14, 1934, p. 6.

27 Ibid.

28 Ibid., September 21, 1934, p. 1, col. 1, and p. 6, col. 6.

29 AAB, K-244, Kelley to Curley (copy), November 10, 1934. Letterhead.

30 Ibid., Hafey to Curley (copy), April 29, 1935.

31 Ibid.

32 Ibid.

33 Spalding, ibid., p. 350.

34 <BCR>, January 15, 1937, p. 9, col. 1.

35 Christopher J. Kauffman, <Faith and Fraternalism: The History of the Knights of
Columbus>, 1882-1982 (New York: Harper and Row, 1982), p. 314.

Father Brian W. Van Hove, S.J., is the rector of the Shrine of St. Joseph in St. Louis, Missouri, and is also a spiritual director for Kenrick-Glennon Seminary.

This article was taken from the Summer 1994 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.

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“The Mystery Hidden for Ages in God” by Paul M. Quay, S.J.


posted on AmazonThe Mystery Hidden for Ages in God (American University Studies Series VII, Theology and Religion)
by Paul M. Quay

Biblical Stages in the Christian Life
November 24, 2008

Father Paul Quay died in Chicago at Loyola University on October 10, 1994. He was 70 years old. Although his formal academic doctorate was in Theoretical Physics, his secondary area of interest was theology. He wrote on both morals and spirituality. When he died, he held the position of Research Professor of Philosophy at the same university. His mother preceded him in death by five months. This posthumous book of 438 pages was first conceived as a project in 1964 through conversation with Winoc De Broucker, SJ, and then again in 1969 as a result of further investigation at Fourvière (Lyons) with Henri de Lubac, SJ. The book is really the exploration of the thought of de Lubac, and was distilled into its present form after being presented first as a university course, then as symposium lectures, then as essays. The book is therefore the result of thirty years of meditation upon the theme of “Recapitulation”, that is, how the individual Christian goes through “biblical stages” of gradual transformation into the likeness of Christ. Father Quay’s concern is practical and concrete through the vehicle of his massive and refined erudition. Some of the motivation to ponder these things came from Prof. Alfred Shatkin of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology–convinced atheist who forced Quay to answer hard questions about why Catholics or Christians in general might at times be no better or worse than atheists. Why is there this phenomenon of “baptized pagans”? The book deserves a wider appreciation. Hopefully it will find a translation into other European languages in the near future. There are three major parts: I. Adam and Christ: Original Sin; II. Recapitulation in Christ; III. The Church, the New Israel. The goal of the Christian life is maturity, and maturity in Christ is charity or love, as St. Ignatius says in the Contemplation on Love. Sacrificial love is not sentimentality. So how do we make progress in the Lord, and how do we go beyond “infancy” to “adulthood”? Father Quay explains in great detail the steps that are inherent in Sacred Scripture’s presentation of spiritual development. The hermeneutical difficulties experienced by various generations of Christian thinkers and writers are outlined for us in a clear and direct style. The author is painstakingly precise. His definition of “the spiritual sense of Scripture” is particularly well-defined and exact. It seems that, for the West, a disaster began with the detachment of learning from faith in divine revelation. Faith and reason were separated by a divorce, although very gradually and often not intentionally. We have arrived at the end of the present millennium with no faith at all, either in God or in man. The substitutes have all been found wanting, if not murderous. Father Quay explains the progressive spiritual decline of the West between the Renaissance and our own time. And Catholics need not boast–they have lost the spiritual sense of Scripture just as Protestants have. What we have here is the loss of the Christian sense of dependence upon God and his revelation. The literal sense alone constricts the source itself and prevents us from really understanding what is intended by the Bible, especially the Old Testament. It has become a body of texts for mere technicians, not a vision of history and the explanation of human existence itself. Quay calls this “Marcion’s Revenge: the Disappearance of the Old Testament” (Chapter 20, pp. 396-422). Moreover, since the Enlightenment even the literal sense of Scripture has been under attack by the savants, referred to by Paul Johnson as “intellectuals”. As he says on page 414, “Now, the damage done by an academic approach to the faith through the growth of Western university culture seems to have come in large measure from the late scholasticism that increasingly ignored or misunderstood the spiritual senses of the Bible.” Our contemporary fascination with cultural analysis is the symptom, not the cause, of a prior phenomenon in the loss of the transcendent. Love of God has been replaced with self-preoccupation. Incidentally, Quay is clear that St. Thomas Aquinas is not to be classified among the rationalists. Thomas had not lost or bypassed the spiritual sense of Scripture (pp. 414-415). After some comments on Christianity outside the West, and its future in those places, the book ends with some reflections on the future more generally, and an epilogue. He says, “It is essential, however, to remember that recapitulation is a sharing in the inner life of Jesus.” (p. 421) Evil in the world is only overcome by love, and that love is ultimately seen in the Trinity. We grow in Christ by suffering and learning to love as He loves us already. While it sounds so trite, what Father Quay has done for us is clarify the steps along the way, especially to show how the alternatives have produced the present state of affairs in our Western world. This book is about structures. It is about the structure of charity, the structures of growth, and the structure of the Christian life. It is about the structure of the human person, that is, of ourselves, how we are structurally in sin, and how we can achieve by God’s grace a transformation that makes us like Christ. While we take for granted the “what” in our thoughts about the Christian life, what Father Quay does is demonstrate that the “how” is both coherent and imperative today. Sacred Scripture is more relevant than ever, but only if it is fully grasped in all its senses.

Cardinal James Francis Stafford to CUA: “Quia amore langueo – Because I am sick for love”

Cardinal’s Address to Catholic University of America

November 13, 2008

Cardinal James Francis Stafford

Major Penitentiary of the Apostolic Penitentiary, Cardinal-Priest of S. Pietro in Montorio

Pope Paul VI and Pope John Paul II: “Being True with Body and Soul”[1]

For 51 years of priestly ministry I have been attentive to res sacra in temporalibus in American culture, i.e., “to the elements of the sacred in the temporal life of man” or, in a more Heideggerian idiom, “to man as the sacred element in temporal things.” In 1958 John Courtney Murray, S. J. was my guide. With further guidance from the Church over the years, I have learned that the nucleus of this principle, enunciated by Pope Leo XIII, maintains that the sacred element in secular life, especially our use of language, escapes the undivided control of the supreme power of the State. The secular life of man is not completely secular, nor totally encompassed within the State as the highest social organism, and subject ultimately only to the political power. The sacred word within man in secular life transcends the control of the supreme power of the State. A person’s public life is not encompassed within the State as the highest social organism, and not subject ultimately only to the political power.

President Thomas Jefferson’s celebrated 1802 letter to the committee of the Danbury Baptist Association asserting “a wall of separation between Church and State” formally denied the reality of res sacra in temporalibus. He introduced a latent and powerful virus which would eventually be used to diminish and then to wound mortally a theology of discourse in the public arena. It has led to the increasingly secularized states of the American union and their active hostility towards the Catholic Church. Some of these governments are threatening Roman Catholic adoption agencies because of their refusal to select same-sex couples as potential adoptive parents. They are forcing Catholic hospitals to accept medical procedures which are contrary to the dignity of the human person. They are insisting on hiring practices which will destroy the Catholic identity of health and social services under Catholic Church auspices. They have not refrained from coercing the individual conscience. Here the federal and state governments are enshrining the primacy of secular laws over against religious principles. These decisions are the legal and moral progeny of Jefferson’s insistence on debarring personal faith from the public forum. And this is only a beginning. Their seeds can be found in the 1787 Virginia Statute for Religious Freedom sponsored and promoted by Jefferson. His self-proclaimed Epicureanism and crypto-utilitarianism furnish the hermeneutical keys for interpreting the opening paragraph of his 1776 Declaration of Independence.

This evening. I will cover the following areas: 1) the narrow, calculative, mathematical mind and its manipulation of the humanum and, more specifically, of human sexuality since 1968; 2) the response of the Church’s magisterium in the encyclical letter of Pope Paul VI, Humanae Vitae and teachings of later Popes; 3) other Catholic philosophical and theological responses to what John Rawls calls the “embedding module”, namely the increasingly disenchanted world in which we work and pray.

Furthermore, since this month, November, is the time in which the liturgy of the Church reflects on the final things – heaven, hell, purgatory and death, I will be attempting to strengthen the Catholic faithful, as St. John did in the Book of the Apocalypse, against the ever increasing pretensions of the state making itself absolute. For the next several weeks the Book of the Apocalypse will be read at daily Mass. The theme of that final book of the Bible is that the Battle of the Logos has always already been won on Calvary. In the immense conflicts associated with the teaching of Humanae Vitae, the overarching task of the Church is to make manifest for the faithful the apocalyptic victory of the Lamb in our historical time. The Church, the bearer of revelation, insists that the mysterious beginning and earthly end of every member of the human race is illumined by the light of the divine Logos. [“Every human being] comes from the source of light that irradiates him”.[2] Finally, I will be using the word “apocalyptic” in the Christian sense of “expressing the fundamental law of post-Christian world history: the more Christ’s kingdom is manifested as the light of the world……the more it will meet determined opposition.”[3]

1) The apparent triumph of what has been described as “the manipulable arrangement of the scientific-technological world and of the social order proper to this world” [4] over the past several generations.

1968 was the year in which Pope Paul VI issued, Humanae Vitae (HV); it was the long-delayed and long-awaited encyclical letter on transmitting human life. It met with immediate and unprecedented opposition. American theologians were its choral directors. The encyclical arrived in Washington, D. C. in late July 1968. It had to contend with the chaos of assassinations, overseas wars, the conflicts surrounding the Democratic/Republican national conventions, indiscriminate killings, university strikes and riots, growing use of barbiturates, and ubiquitous insurrections within the cities. It was preceded by a one year An Aquarian Exposition, the for- profit, rock-music event staged on a Woodstock dairy farm in New York State. Since then, the chaos has become chronic, more insidious because partially hidden. If 1968 was the year of the year of “America’s Suicide Attempt”, 2008 is the year of America’s exhaustion.

In the intervening 40 years the United States has been thrown upon unlit roads. There have been few, if any, “clearings” (Heidegger’s Lichtung). In 1973 alone the U. S. Supreme Courts’ pro-abortion decision was imposed upon the nation. Its scrupulous meanness has had catastrophic effects upon the identity, unity, and integrity of the American republic. It has undermined respect for human life. We have been horrified and uncomprehending witnesses for over two generations to America’s decline from “a mansion to a dirty house in a gutted world”[5]. Yet honesty compels me to admit that this decision against human life is in historical continuity with the pragmatism on the part of the Fathers of the 1787 Constitutional Convention for the recognition of Black slavery and, following the Louisiana Purchase in 1803, in continuity with the same meanness toward Native Americans on the part of the politicians, entrepreneurs and settlers. The 1803 event was a meanness enshrined shortly in the doctrine of Manifest Destiny. The 1973 Court’s alteration has even more radically transformed the way we think about others, especially the least among us. Its inexcusable evasions about the dignity of human life, and their prolongation to the present, have condemned those of us who oppose it to disillusionment and bitter isolation. Both Republican and Democratic partisans have abused rhetoric on this issue. The President-elect is a skillful rhetorician. Civic life has been invaded with an anti-humanism so toxic that it is proving mortal to the body politic.

Nothing has been left untouched by the court’s lethal wand. Social engineering and the price-systems have infected all Americans with a pervasive, technological mind-set. Economics, administration, sexuality, language and, above all, human life are being manipulated by complex strategies of power. “Politics in turn becomes an arena for contention among rival techniques.”[6] Obama’s campaign raised over $600 million, a record, and McCain’s over $300 million. An uncritical, unspoken “metaphysics of presence” dominates American life, both private and public. This new way of thinking has led to the creation of a worldwide colossus, America’s military. It is generally acknowledged that nothing in the nation’s economic, social, or political institutions approaches its influence. Freedom itself has been reduced to power.

Part II of Humanae Vitae, called “Doctrinal Principles”, ends with a description by Pope Paul VI of the “Serious Consequences of the Use of Artificial Methods of Birth Control”. His apocalyptic vision has been prophetic of the epoch we have entered. After 40 years of widespread contraceptive practice, the consequences appear now as the Horsemen of the Apocalypse ravaging what St. Paul described as the “ten logiken latreian hymon – “the humanly proper worship” (Rom 12: 1) of the baptized. The demonic four are the following: marital infidelity; disrespect for woman, governmental despotism in the regulation of births, and the human body manipulated and destroyed as a technological artifact. The four horseman have been responsible for the calamitous meltdown in Western demographics and in real development. Sexual aberration has become a way of life for many. These four shades are insinuating their deathworks upon whole nations and cultures. The Middle East is an obvious example.

Mary Eberstadt in a recent article entitled,“The Vindication of Humanae Vitae”, commented on the prophetic vision of Paul VI, “Contraceptive sex…….is the fundamental social fact of our time.” She continues, “In the years since Humanae Vitae’s appearance, numerous distinguished Catholic thinkers have argued, using a variety of evidence, that each of these predictions [of Pope Paul VI] has been borne out by the social facts.” Human life has been conceded to the arbitrary will of the state.

Governments are dissolving religious and philosophical values and remaking them into the distortions of a dominant, cybernetic model. Franz Kafka’s 1915novella, Metamorphosis, is not far off the prophetic mark. The good has been drained of ontological content; it has become “a mere cipher, a monadic carrier of information, a unit of cybernetic science”[7]. The British government has recently set as a national goal the manufacture of human life by technology. Its reductive anthropology allows the unprecedented to happen: the radical manipulation of the substance of the biological heritage of the human race. It has allocated £40 million of public monies for stem cell research. Former Prime Minister Tony Blair envisions Britain to be leader of the world in cloning human embryos for research. Potential benefits, he claims, will be huge. Furthermore, a consortium of leading British bankers and scientists have launched a £100 million fund to finance stem cell research. Plans are being made for a national stem cell research institute, costing £16 million. In 2005, the British Trade and Industry Secretary Patricia Hewitt announced that the Government would spend more than £1 billion on biotechnology by 2008. ‘We want to send a signal to scientists that Britain is open for business in some of the most controversial areas,’ she said. It is not simply a coincidence that economics and technology dominate. Bankers, financial investors, and MBA executives are mentioned consistently with the scientific midwives of this cultural monstrosity, the nub of which is the forgetting of the question of God.[8]

In the United States President – elect Barack Obama and the Vice-President-elect Joseph Biden, a Catholic, campaigned on a severe anti-life platform. Robert P. George, McCormick Professor of Jurisprudence and Director of the James Madison Program in American Ideals and Institutions at Princeton University and a member of the President’s Council on Bioethics, analyzed America’s descent since 1968-1973 into deathworks by summarizing Obama’s vision. George’s analysis appeared in the journal, Public Discourse. “[Obama] has co-sponsored a bill…..that would authorize the large-scale industrial production of human embryos for use in biomedical research in which they would be killed. In fact, the bill Obama co-sponsored would effectively require the killing of human beings in the embryonic stage that were produced by cloning.”[9]

The assumption under girding the positions of Barack Obama, Joseph Biden, and Tony Blair results from a technological mind-set. Such technologically-driven men eventually may assert that human nature, until recently acknowledged to be a unitary composite of two polarities, body and soul, must not only be changed by technology, but, if necessary, be suppressed. It has proven to be the next logical step after the decision to control and manipulate technologically the origins of human life.

But ‘phusis – nature’, has been essential in Western metaphysics for describing the truth of beings. Martin Heidegger writing about the radical reduction of the goals of medicine to what is technologically possible, and its relation to human phusis, asserted that, in the past even until very recent times, “techne can only cooperate with phusis, can more or less expedite the cure; but as techne it can never replace phusis and itself become the arche of health itself. This could happen only if life as such were to become a ‘technically’ producible artifact. However, at that very moment there would also no longer be such a thing as health, any more than there would be birth and death. Sometimes it seems as if modern humanity is rushing headlong toward this goal of producing itself technologically. If humanity achieves this, it will have exploded itself, i.e., its essence qua subjectivity, into thin air, into a region where the absolutely meaningless is valued as the one and only ‘meaning’ and where preserving this value appears as the human ‘domination’ of the globe. ‘Subjectivity’ is not overcome in this way but merely ‘tranquilized’ in the ‘eternal progress’ of a Chinese – like ‘constancy’. This is the most extreme nonessence in relation to phusis-ousia”[10]

A similar technological mind-set has contributed to the recent economic turmoil. Hedge funds were heavily invested in the technology bubble. The October 21, 2008 issue of The Financial Times read, “Blame it on Harvard: Is the MBA culture responsible for the financial crisis?” Technology and operations represent a major component of the MBA imagination at work at Harvard. The news story described the 100th anniversary celebration of the pre-eminent Harvard Business School. “You would have to have a heart of stone not to be amused by this piquant accident of timing. Here, at the spiritual home of the Masters of the universe, distinguished graduates could only look on as that same universe threatened to collapse.”

2) The response of the Church’s magisterium. The issues now facing us are all entwined within the above-developed linguistic and actual deathworks[11] informing Rawl’s “embedding module”. The response of the Church’s magisterium has been based on the ancient Catholic imagination recaptured happily by Pope John Paul II in his now famous phrase,”the nuptial meaning of the human body created as male and female.” The response includes “being true with the body and the soul.” The title of my talk has been taken from Francois Mauriac. He struggled for many years to overcome the unbending austerity and narrow rigidity resulting from the theological pessimism of the Jansenism of his childhood. In 1931 he overcame this heritage. Thereafter life became a creative drama that engages the fullness of the person by being true with body and soul. Mauriac’s “clearing” was where he discovered the dramatic convergence of form and content. The wholeness of two polarities is manifested within the unity of body and soul in the human person. David L. Schindler in a recent paper on human sexuality summarized his first principle supporting the differentiated unity of body and soul: “The Soul as it were lends its spiritual meaning to the body as body, even as the body then, simultaneously, contributes to what now becomes in man, a distinct kind of spirit: a spirit whose nature it is to be embodied”.[12]

The Church’s response to the technological/scientific hegemony just described has not involved any condemnation of technology or of science as such. Rather is based on her recognition of the present spiritual climate for what it is: A New Ice Age. The great American poet and convert to Catholicism, Wallace Stevens, coined the image. “‘America was always North ……. ‘ where God was in hiding.”[13]. We must turn south and even return to our origins, the desert. How? By recovering the structure of truth in its relation to goodness and beauty. Only a linguistic imagination that is analogical – and ultimately liturgical and sacramental – is capable of such rediscovery. In her devastating critique of the deconstructionism of Jacques Derrida, Catharine Pickstock has recaptured the apostrophic voice of Catholicism’s high desert origins, the responsorials first heard in the Sinaitic and Judean wildernesses. The poiesis of the Catholic imagination finds itself in the title of Pickstock’s book, After Writing: the Liturgical Consummation of Philosophy.

In his Post-Synodal Apostolic Exhortation Sacramentum Caritatis (27), Pope Benedict XVI echoes what is partially anticipated by Pickstock, “The Eucharist, as the sacrament of charity, has a particular relationship with the love of man and woman united in marriage. A deeper understanding of this relationship is needed at the present time. Pope John Paul II frequently spoke of the nuptial character of the Eucharist and its special relationship with the sacrament of Matrimony: ‘The Eucharist is the sacrament of our redemption. It is the sacrament of the Bridegroom and of the Bride.’ Moreover, ‘the entire Christian life bears the mark of the spousal love of Christ and the Church. Already Baptism, the entry into the People of God, is a nuptial mystery; it is so to speak the nuptial bath which precedes the wedding feast, the Eucharist.’ The Eucharist inexhaustibly strengthens the indissoluble unity and love of every Christian marriage. By the power of the sacrament, the marriage bond is intrinsically linked to the Eucharistic unity of Christ the Bridegroom and his Bride, the Church (cf. Eph 5:31-32)”. In Familiaris Consortio, Pope John Paul II called for the celebration of the Sacrament of Marriage within the Eucharistic sacrifice to demonstrate the living connection between the two Sacraments. He thereby made more visible “the rich analogy between the una caro of the Eucharist and the una caro of the spouses through which their gift to one another becomes a particular form of participation in the Body ’given’ and the blood ‘poured out’ of Christ that becomes for the Christian family the inexhaustible font of its identity (with) itsmissionary and apostolic dynamism.” [14] Here we sense the flavor of Karl Barth’s analogia fidei in explaining the origins and meaning of linguistics.

What are the philosophical/theological foundations for such assertions? What are the meta-anthropological presuppositions for this vision of linguistics, of reality? Two elements should be highlighted: the biblical image of God and the biblical image of man. In his first Encyclical Letter, Deus Caritas Est, Pope Benedict XVI proposes that the Bible presents us with new image of God – his Trinitarian self-oblation, the self-surrender characteristic of immanent Trinity – and with a new image of man, of which the most sublime sign is the Eucharist. “The Eucharist draws us into Jesus’ act of self-oblation. More than just statically receiving the incarnate Logos, we enter into the very dynamic of his self-giving. The imagery of marriage between God and Israel is now realized in a way previously inconceivable: it had meant standing in God’s presence, but now it becomes union with God through sharing in Jesus’ self-gift, sharing his body and blood” (13). The Eucharist builds up man and woman from within in the image of the Triune God and man learns the complexity of love: St. Augustine’s insight is helpful here: “Capit ut capitur. One grasps in being grasped.”[15] Preeminently in marriage, the Eucharist draws with the cords of love each spouse in the depths of their interiority toward a mutual, total, integrally human, and fruitful self-oblation.[16] The total giving of the Word in the Eucharist is the mirroring of the real language of the human body as created as male and female.

In his Wednesday audiences during the early 1980s Pope John Paul II called spouses to a deeper understanding of the theology of the body. When he described the prophets’ of the Old Testament use of marriage as an analogy of God’s relation to man, the Pope expressed the astonishing insight about the specific “prophetism of the body”[17]. In interpreting this prophetic language, he indicated, one must “reread” the language of the body for “it is the body itself which ‘speaks’; it speaks by means of its masculinity and femininity, it speaks in the mysterious language of the personal, it speaks ultimately -and this happens frequently – both in the language of fidelity, that is of love, and also in the language of conjugal infidelity, that is of ‘adultery’”.[18] A correct rereading must be done “in truth”. The human body speaks “a ‘language’ of which it is not the author. “Its author is man, who as male and female, husband and wife, correctly rereads the significance of this ‘language’. He rereads therefore the spousal significance of the body as integrally inscribed in the structure of the masculinity or femininity of the personal subject.” In other words, the human body as created by God as masculine/feminine is the Ursprache, the primordial utterancefrom the beginning. The “nuptial meaning” of the human body originally was the Adamic language.

All of these texts from John Paul II and Benedict XVI refer to the inner dynamic of the relationship between the two spouses. The subject of moral acts is each person, a dual unity of body and soul, a psychosomatic whole. Anything that smacks of a body-soul dualism is firmly rejected. One cannot attempt to free the soul from the body. When a human being seeks the truth and the good, his body is not an afterthought or an accident or a ‘tomb’ for the soul. The language of the human body, rightly reread, is a language by which “the likeness with God shows that the essence and existence of man are constitutively related to God in the most profound manner. This is a relationship that exists in itself, it is therefore not something that comes afterwards and is not added from the outside.” (Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church [CSDC] 109). In the words of the International Theological Commission, “Human bodiliness participates in the imago Dei.”[19] They echo the ancient teaching of St. Irenaeus, “”the flesh ….was formed according to the image of God.”[20]

As Archbishop of Denver, in 1996 I addressed a Pastoral Letter to the people of northern Colorado on the historical importance of a culture formed by the medieval Anglo-Saxon Sarum Rite and by the even more ancient Gregorian Sacramentary. Peoples in such a culture intuitively interpreted reality through the covenantal and bridal relationship of God and creation and of Christ and the Church. Consequently, they would find absolutely inapprehensible the acceptance and promotion of homosexuality activity as a valid moral option. Such activities are a direct assault not only upon the Sacrament of marriage but also upon the Sacrament of the Eucharist.

In light of all of the above realities, I cannot accept the judgement of Fr. Martin Rhonheimer, who in attempting to prevent the passing on of the Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome, morally justifies the prophylactic use of condoms in a marriage in which one of the spouses is so infected. He summarizes his argument, “The immediate (or proximate) object of one’s choice in such a case is to engage in marital intercourse” and not “to ejaculate into a condom”. I agree with the conclusion of Bishop Anthony Fisher (and many, many other moral theologians) that Rhoneimer’s arguments are not only unconvincing but philosophically untenable and contrary to the Catholic theological and canonical tradition. Bishop Fisher writes about his agreement with the conclusions of [Janet ?] Smith, “Not only is condomized intercourse not a reproductive type of act, it can also be argued that it is not apt for uniting a couple ‘as one flesh’. In the first place the condom places a barrier to complete physical union: while this looks like ordinary sexual intercourse the couple fail, in fact, to touch in the most intimate way; arguably, they do not become ‘one flesh’.”[21]

Rhonheimer dismisses a meta-anthropological objection as a “psychological and perhaps aesthetic” concern, not a moral one. His body/soul dualistic rupture is enunciated with the repulsion he expresses over integral human copulation, “[I find it] intuitively repulsive to make the consummation of marriage dependent upon factual insemination of the woman’s vagina”. Should the wholeness of marriage in its consummation be considered repulsive? The human spirit finds its inner completion only as something honestly externalized, since the human spirit in this life is always already embodied. The body is the externalization of the spirit. The highest expression of human love is embodied in the total self-giving and self-oblation of a couple as “one flesh”.

What renders such repulsion intuitive? A meditation of the “one flesh” found Genesis two? But God described that unity as “very good” in Genesis one. A repulsive intuition before the image of man and woman integrally united as ‘one flesh’ is not only at odds with the biblical revelation but also with the Church’s reflection on that revelation. Pope John Paul II insists on the need for “a correct rereading in truth……of the spousal significance of the body as integrally inscribed in the structure of the masculinity and femininity of the personal subject[22].”

3) Other Catholic philosophical and theological responses to the “embedding module” of John Rawls. I cannot speak highly enough of the reflections on these issues and others by those engaged in the Communio project. According to von Balthasar, Communio’s conversations with the American secularized culture is the project of the Church in the United States. It calls for “the greatest possible radiance in the world by virtue of the closest following of Christ”.[23] Over the decades I have followed and benefitted enormously from reading your quarterly journal. I owe a special indebtedness of gratitude to David L. Schindler, a theologian, and his son, David C. Schindler, a metaphysician and theorist of knowledge. Their clearings have included signs marked “Where we are going!” and “Where we have come from”. I have already cited their works earlier. In these concluding remarks they appear again because they give light for one’s gaze on the mystery of “Being true with Body and Soul”.

David C. Schindler writes that “drama is the structure of being”[24]. From that splendid insight it is reasonable to conclude that the conjugal act itself is a drama that reveals who each individual is and who each is to become. Its principle revelation is not who the individual always was. The meaning of the sacramental act – the summit of the sacrament of marriage in facto esse, is revealed only in the activity of the two spouses. The marital act in its wholeness is a fundamental interpretation or unfolding of the sacrament of marriage.

Each spouse is an actor of truth. Truth has its terminus ad quem, not in the mind of the knower, but rather in a tertium quid, a Gestalt, a structure resulting from the encounter between the appearance of the depths on one hand and the transportation of the seer into the depths on the other. Truth is profoundly relational. It involves the tension of various parts of the whole, the movement from horizontal appearance to the vertical depths. David L. Schindler describes it in this fashion: “The body, always-already informed by soul and spirit and actualized by esse, exhibits an order of love: the body bears within it, already in its creaturely nature as body, the sign of the human being’s constitutive relation to God and to others in God, the sign thus, of a communion of persons and the promise of the gift itself.”[25]

As I mentioned earlier, one of the contested areas of pastoral life today is the predicament of a married couple one of whom has a mortally threatening disease which may be transmitted through the conjugal act. The confusion over this matter is becoming increasingly serious from a pastoral point of view. Fr. Martin Rhoneimer’s position undermines the anthropological teaching of Pope John Paul II and undercuts a coherent Catholic response to the crisis affecting human sexuality.

In concluding, I have underscored that the present crisis is ontological/epistemological and linguistic. At its foundations it is a crisis of signs, which means a crisis that is analogical, liturgical, sacramental. It was a constant theme implicit, sometimes explicit, in the discussions at the recent Synod of Bishops in Rome on the biblical word of God. The participants asked how does religious language refer to reality? The modern response since the Enlightenment has been an “inside-out” approach to epistemological foundations, not an “outside-in”. The Catholic religious education establishment in the USA after the II Vatican Council adopted a similarly subjective-experiential methodology based on an “inside-out” epistemology. Widespread religious skepticism was the outcome. Nothing is recognized as definitive and “meaning itself is forever postponed.” [26] A movement toward “a dictatorship of relativism” is the diagnosis which Pope Benedict XVI has given to this phenomenon.

To counter this nihilism, the discovery of the “Gestalt” character of language, of the word, was pioneered by Hans Urs von Balthasar and brilliantly advanced by many, especially by David C. Schindler in his recent book, Hans Urs von Balthasar and the Dramatic Structure of Truth: A Philosophical Investigation.

The following conclusions may be drawn from the foregoing. First, we must assert the rootedness of language, including the language of the human body, in ontology. A solidly unabashed metaphysics of being, founded on the real distinction between essence and existence, is essential for any recovery of truth and its objective structure. Postmodernists have rejected the tradition of western metaphysics, the concept of being since Socrates, and the real distinction between essence and existence. Metaphysics of this type is fundamental to any discussion of truth and its nature. Using Plato’s Phaedrus Catharine Pickstock has offered a devastating critique of Jacques Derrida’s theory of Supplementation by writing. She insists that his account “is tantamount to a metaphysics of presence”[27].

Secondly, Catholic scholars must explore the nuptial language founded upon the biblical text and upon the Catholic tradition and enriched by the teaching of John Paul II. Pope Benedict XVI affirmed its substance recently, “The Eucharist, as the sacrament of charity, has a particular relationship with the love of man and woman united in marriage. A deeper understanding of this relationship is needed at the present time. Pope John Paul II frequently spoke of the nuptial character of the Eucharist and its special relationship with the sacrament of Matrimony: ‘The Eucharist is the sacrament of our redemption. It is the sacrament of the Bridegroom and of the Bride.’ Moreover, the entire Christian life bears the mark of the spousal love of Christ and the Church. Already Baptism, the entry into the People of God, is a nuptial mystery; it is so to speak the nuptial bath which precedes the wedding feast, the Eucharist.”[28]

Thirdly, an exploration of the relationship between the nuptial meaning of the human body and the Eucharist, as the triform Body of Christ, should be made. Its development by de Lubac and Pickstock would be advanced if accompanied by an awareness of the critical role of the Gregorian Sacramentary and the Sarum Rite had upon the West and especially upon Anglo-Saxon culture. That culture was informed with the perception of the nuptial character of reality. The high medieval poem, In a Valley of this Restless Mind illustrates this. The anonymous English Catholic poet had the same spousal vision of life as that of the modern French Catholic novelist Mauriac when he described the human as “being true with body and soul”.[29] I wish to contrast his cultural vision with that of the dominant political and cultural classes today.

Before doing so, some contextual background of my criticism is important. In early 2003 as our country was preparing to go to war in Iraq, I spoke out against the war and on two occasions condemned the policies of the Bush administration for contributing to the lessening of respect for the dignity of the human person by the use of torture. In the same spirit today as a pastor of souls I do not hesitate again to flag some serious abuses against the natural and divine laws. Our own cultural ambience is not dissimilar from the period of the 1920′s when European intellectuals were moving ahead with an understanding of something “new”. Graham Ward’s description of that period highlights elements which characterize the vision of today’s President – elect, the Vice-President – elect, and the legislators elected to assist them in implementing their vision. Graham wrote, “Briefly modernism’s programme was to ‘make it new’. It courted the unconventional and nonconformist in a conscious effort to overthrow the traditional perspective and stock expectations. Its dynamism was aggressive, disruptive and even apocalyptic. Hostility to the………War fed its anger against the status quo and its desire for a creativity that would be transcultural, transclass and transfrontier.”[30]

On November 4, 2008 a cultural earthquake hit America. Senator Barack Obama and Senator Joseph Biden were elected President and Vice President of the United States together with a significant majority of their Party in the federal Congress supporting their deadly vision of human life. Americans were unanimous in their joy over the significance of the election of a Black President. However, if Obama, Biden and the new Congress are determined to implement the anti-life agenda which they spelled out before the election, I foresee the next several years as being among the most divisive in our nation’s history. If their proposals should be initiated and enacted, it would be impossible for the American bishops to repeat in the future what their predecessors described the United States in 1884 as “this home of freedom.”[31]

While reflecting about the profoundly negative impact of Obama’s vision on the humanum (and also of Biden’s), I recalled how current are the reflections of Mauriac upon his contemporary, an influential European author. Even though Mauriac disagreed with him on almost every point, he acknowledged his great intelligence and personal attraction. “But under all that grace and charm there was a tautness of will, a clenched jaw, a state of constant alertness to detect and resist any external influence which might threaten his independence. A state of alertness? That is putting it mildly: beneath each word he wrote, he was carrying on sapping operations against the enemy city where a daily fight was going on.”[32]

Similar characteristics were evident in Senator Obama’s talk before Planned Parenthood supporters on July 17, 2007 – tautness of will, a clenched jaw, etc. – where he asserted, “We are not only going to win this election but also we are going to transform this nation………The first thing I will do as President is to sign The Freedom of Choice Act……..I put Roe at the center of my lesson plan on reproductive freedom when I taught Constitutional Law………..On this issue I will not yield..” During a town meeting in March 2008 in Johnstown, Pa., he spoke with equal determination on the necessity of universal sex education for preteens and teens, “I don’t want my daughters punished with a baby.” The President – elect did not qualify in any way the methods his single daughters might employ in the event they needed to avoid being “punished with a baby”, that is, giving birth to his grandchild. Obama’s vision is modernist and rooted in the Enlightenment. The content and rhetoric of Obama and Biden have elements similar to those described earlier: aggressive, disruptive and apocalyptic.[33]

Catholics weep over Barack Obama’s words. We weep over the violence concealed behind his rhetoric and that of Joseph Biden and what appears to be that of the majority of the incoming Congress. What should we do with our hot, angry tears of betrayal?

First, our tears are agonistic. Secondly, we must acknowledge that the model for our tears is ancient. Over the next few years, Gethsemane will not be a marginal garden to us. A model, I suggest, is medieval. With an anonymous author, our restless minds search in a dark valley during this exhausting year. With him as our guide, we find a bleeding man on a hill sitting under a tree “in huge sorrow”. It is Christ, the Bridegroom of the Church and of mankind.

Thirdly, we listen to the words of Christ as narrated by our mediaeval ancestor. Jesus pointing to his gloved hands says that these gloves were given him when he sought his Bride. They are not white but red, embroidered with blood. He says that his spouse brought them and they will not come off. Fourthly, we focus our attention on the constantly repeated refrain of the Bridegroom and the reason for his “huge sorrow”, “Quia amore langueo – Because I am sick for love”. And finally, we find that before this vision of the wounded young man, our frustration and tears become one with his “huge sorrow”and we make his love for the unfaithful Bride whom he seeks and never fails, our own. I will close with a citation of this spousal model. It serves as a measure of what we need to recapture for the whole Church in 2008:

Upon this hil Y fond a tree,

Undir the tree a man sittynge,

From heed to foot woundid was he,

His herte blood Y sigh bledinge:

A semeli man to ben a king, (handsome enough to be a king)

A graciouse face to loken unto;

I askide whi he had peynynge, (suffering)

He seide, “Quia amore langueo. (Because I am sick for love).

I am Truelove that fals was nevere.

My sistyr, Mannis Soule, Y loved hir thus.

Bicause we wolde in no wise discevere, (because in no way would we part company)

I lefte my kyngdom glorious.

I purveide for hir a paleis precious; (prepared, a palace)

Sche fleyth; Y folowe. Y soughte hir so,

I suffride this peyne piteuous,

Quia amore langueo.

In the autumn of 2008 we must begin anew with that sentiment of our medieval brother. Quia amore langueo. With Jesus we are sick because of love toward those with whom we are so tragically and unavoidably at variance. The reader has now become one with the narrator who is addressed in line one as “Dear Soul”. As Humanae Vitae with the whole Catholic tradition teaches, we are to “be true with body and soul”.

James Francis Cardinal Stafford

    [1]Francois Mauriac, cited by David C. Schindler, op. cit. 311, 324.
    [2]Hans Urs von Balthasar, Theodrama: Theological Dramatic Theory, IV: The Action, ( San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 1994), 126.
    [3]Ibid. 21.
    [4]Martin Heidegger, Basic Writings, Revised an expanded edition, ed. By David Farrell Krell, (Cornwall: Routledge, 2004), 435.
    [5]Wallace Stevens, The Collected Poems of Wallace Stevens, (New York: Alfred A, Knopf, 1991), 158. Abridged and cited by Helen Vendler, Wallace Stevens: Words Chosen Out of Desire, (Knoxville: University of Tennessee Press, 1985), 34.
    [6]Jacques Ellul, The Technological Society, translated from the French by John Wilkinson, (New York: Vintage Books, 1964), vii.
    [7] David Farrell Krell, ed. Basic Writings: Martin Heidegger, (Cornwall: Routledge, 2004), 428.
    [8]George Steiner, Real Presences, (Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, 1989), 230.
    [9]October 15, 2008
    [10]Martin Heidegger, Pathmarks, ed. by William McNeill, (Cambridge: Press Syndicate of the University of Cambridge, 1998), 197.
    [11]Philip Rief, My Life among the Deathworks: Illustrations of the Aesthetics of Authority,
    (Virginia: University of Virginia Press, 2006).
    [12]David L. Schindler, Persons, Body, and Biology: The Anthropological Challenge of Homosexuality, unpublished paper, 2008, 3.
    [13]Alan Filreis, cited by Charles M. Murphy, Wallace Stevens: A Spiritual Journey in a Secular Age, (New York, Paulist Press, 1997), 72.
    [14]Giancarlo Grandis, in Sacramentum Caritatis: Studi e commenti sull’Esortazione Apostolica postsinodale di Benedetto XVI, ed. by R. Nardin-G- Tangorra, (Rome, Lateran University Press, 2008), 277.
    [15]St. Augustine.
    [16]Pope Paul VI, Encyclical Letter, Humanae Vitae, 1968, 9.
    [17]Pope John Paul II, The Theology of Marriage and Celibacy, (Boston, Daughters of St. Paul, 1986), 309.
    [18]Ibid. 311.
    [19]International Theological Commission, Communion and Stewardship, Human Persons Created in the Image of God, (2004), 31. (cited by David L. Schindler. Ibid., 3).
    [20]Irenaeus, Adversus haereses, V, 6, 1.
    [21]Anthony Fisher, Cooperation, Condoms and HIV, unpublished paper, 2008, 15-16.
    [22]Pope John Paul II, Ibid. 318.
    [23]Hans Urs von Balthasar, My Work in Retrospect, (San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 1993), trans. by Cornelia Capol, 58.
    [24]David C. Schindler, Hans Urs von Balthasar and the Dramatic Structure of Truth: A Philosophical Investigation, (United States of America: Fordham University Press, 2004), 19.
    [25]David L. Schindler, Ibid. 8.
    [26]Michael Drolet, The Postmodern Reader: Foundational Texts, (London, Routledge, 2004), 23.
    [27]Catherine Pickstock, After Writing: On the Liturgical Consummation of Philosophy, (Oxford, Blackwell Publishers Ltd., 1998), 20.
    [28]Pope Benedict XVI, Post Synodal Apostolic Exhortation, Sacramentum Caritatis, 2007, § 27.
    [29]Francois Mauriac, cited by David C. Schindler, op. cit. 311, 324.
    [30]GrahamWard, Barth, Derrida and the Language of Theology, (Cambridge: Cambridge University House, 1998), 7-8.
    [31]“Pastor Letter Issued by the Third Plenary Council of Baltimore”, 1884, found in Pastoral Letters of the United States Catholic Bishops, Volume I:1792-1940, (Washington, United States Catholic Conference, 1983), 216.
    [32]Francois Mauriac, “The Death of Andre Gide”, taken from Gide, a Collection of Critical Essays, (Prentice Hall, 1970).
    [33]“My use of the word “apocalyptic” would be emphatically biblical, rooted in the understanding of the Book of the Apocalypse.