Daily Archives: December 22, 2008

“The Companion to the Catechism of the Catholic Church: A Compendium of Texts Referred to in the Catechism of the Catholic Church”

The Companion to the Catechism of the Catholic Church:

A Compendium of Texts Referred to in the

Catechism of the Catholic Church

  • Paperback: 975 pages
  • Publisher: Ignatius Press (October 1994)
  • ISBN-10: 0898704510
  • ISBN-13: 978-0898704518

To those who might complain about the cost of this book of over nine hundred pages, it could be answered that it will save the reader thousands of dollars. To collect the original works and translations of all the texts referred to in the Catechism would require a library, so the Companion is first of all a money-saving resource. However, it is also a labor-saving tool which saves the work that it would take to search in libraries for various texts that are out of print or restricted to very specialized collections. The Companion was not assembled for its own sake, and it does not stand alone. It helps the ordinary reader to appreciate the Catechism more by performing this service of placing so much easily at hand. Nor are there alternatives because no other publishing house has attempted this enterprise, and nothing can compete with it.

There are some observations that can be made about the book. We have here a vast array of sources from the Bible, the Church Fathers, the Councils, the Scholastic thinkers, the Popes, and the Code of Canon Law. Not all of them are of equal weight in the Catholic tradition, and they have varying degrees of authority. Therefore the Companion, like the Catechism, must be used by the reader who has some background. Otherwise, the format of organizing everything in sequence could give the impression that Sacred Scripture is on the same plane as an obscure encyclical or a canon from the Code of Canon Law. It is also useful to see who is quoted at length, and who is not. For example, #1898 of the Catechism has a footnote with a reference to Leo XIII’s encyclical “Immortale Dei” and “Diuturnum illud.” In the Companion, these together take up pages 675-694. Quoting integrally takes up space. On the other hand, Pius XII’s important encyclical “Humanae Generis” which is excerpted in the Catechism in #37 and footnoted, does not show up in the Companion which skips from#36 to #38. Again, in #676 of the Catechism there is a reference to Pius XI’s encyclical “Divini Redemptoris” which is footnoted as 577. In the Companion, the full text of “Divini Redemptoris” on atheistic Communism is given between pages 219 and 237, with no editorial explanation of why. Clearly there is an advantage in finding this encyclical integrally, but would there not also be an advantage in finding “Humanae Generis” whole and intact?

Another useful reference in the Companion is the Denzinger-Schönmetzer (DS) number accompanying the decrees of the more recent Councils of the Church. However, at the same time, the correct title of some of the conciliar decrees is omitted. Two good examples are on pages 492 and 493 of the Companion. The Council of Trent is given with a year and the DS number, but no further identification of the citation, whereas the reference to Vatican II on page 493 gives “Sacrosanctum concilium” but not the name of the Council, although we tend to be more familiar with it. Uniformity would suggest the name of the Council, the name of the decree, the year and the DS number be presented in the Companion. At the same time, it is a happy juxtaposition to see Trent alongside Vatican II which illustrates both Catholic continuity and the harmony of the Church’s dogmatic heritage. While the editor had no choice in this matter, the visual effect is achieved in the Companion whereas the footnoting system in the Catechism hides it.

Translations are being produced in every age. Only scholars familiar with the technicalities of biblical, Patristic, philosophical, legal, and pontifical literature can judge their adequacy. The translations used in the Companion are quite common ones and credited in the Acknowledgements at the end of the book on pages 971-975. Happily no intrusive language jars the flow for the reader of the Companion, and current extravagances in the use of American English are not to be found.

The reader has to learn how to use the Companion to the Catechism after learning to use the Catechism. We all need more study, and this is the place to begin. If every pastor preached from these two books regularly, and if every Catholic was nourished from them, the intent of both books would be achieved. These books are meant to be together, but they are not the preserve of teachers or catechists to be consulted only for occasional reference. They belong on every shelf as a point of departure for a deeper reflection on the Faith.

Rev. Brian Van Hove, S.J.
Published in The Catholic Faith, 6/2 (March/April 2000): 49.

“Goodbye, Democrats” by John F. Kavanaugh, S.J. [America Magazine, 7 October 2002]

Goodbye, Democrats

W hy do media moguls think we are interested in Ashleigh Banfield? Why do they believe that we couldn’t wait to be afflicted with Phil Donahue again? Why do they imagine that we are concerned about Rosie’s magazine? Why do they think that Ann Coulter would be a media fixture if she were a rational brunette? Why do they think we like to hear Chris Matthews constantly interrupting?

Stunned by my recent spate of questioning the incomprehensible, I turned the laser sharp inquiry on myself. Why am I still a registered Democrat? At least that’s what I think I am by default, even though over the last decades I have voted for a spectrum of candidates ranging from Carter and Dole to Nader.

So I don’t think I belong anymore. I still would like to identify myself with the great Democratic Party tradition of civil rights legislation, protection of laborers and fairer distribution of wealth, but it all seems to have disappeared. And while the Democrats have on almost every issue but abortion and taxes become Republicans, I am not drawn to the Grand Old Party either. I just cannot develop a knee-jerk categorical imperative to reduce taxes for corporations and the super-rich.

The Democrats are afraid to challenge seriously the war-mongering of the president. They colluded on Nafta and Clinton’s Republicanized notion of welfare reform. They are terrified by a full-blown investigation into corporate fraud, since their own hands were in the till.

One thing the Democrats really stand for, however, is abortion—abortion on demand, abortion without restraint, abortion paid for by all of us, abortion for the poor of the earth. I am not a one-issue voter, but they have become a one-issue party.

The latest proof of the Democrat’s lockstep uniformity on abortion was the failed nomination of Texas Supreme Court Justice Priscilla Owen to the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit. All 10 Democratic senators voted against her—the first time in history that a nominee ranked “well qualified” (highest rating) by the American Bar Association was defeated in committee. There was one reason for the rejection: abortion.

Judge Owen’s great failing, which won her accusations of being rabidly against women’s rights, was her ruling in favor of parental rights when the performing of abortion on minors was involved. Senator Diane Feinstein, Democrat of California, found the vote against Judge Owen “difficult,” since it was the first time she had opposed a female nominee. Judge Owen’s reservations about under-age women procuring abortions without parental knowledge “troubled” the honorable senator.

What really troubles Senator Feinstein and all the abortion absolutists is that Judge Owen is a woman who believes there can be moderate restraints on the killing of unborn human beings. If her nomination were ever brought to the full Senate, two things would become painfully clear.

First, not all women are for abortion on demand. One of the great frauds perpetrated on the American public is that the “women’s vote” goes to the most “pro-choice” candidate. That is a disservice to millions of women who are against abortion and a simplistic reading of the diversity of thought among women. Women are not as monomaniacal as the Democratic Party.

Second, it would become clear that extremists on abortion have captured the imagination of most Democrats. It is no secret that a strong majority of citizens are in favor of some restriction on abortion, but this is rarely admitted by the ideologists. You have a better chance of getting a bill through Congress protecting laboratory rats than one that would protect viable human beings (or should we call it tissue?).

And so a moral alternative struck me as I was ruminating about all the contrived hypedom of our culture. Instead of trying to change a party from within, why not try changing it from without?

If those Republicans who are alienated from party policies favoring corporations and the end of capital gains and so-called “death” taxes would become registered Independent voters, might not the politicians listen to them more attentively?

And if traditional Democrats who are disillusioned with the selling out of the working poor and the unborn simply became registered Independent voters, would not more attention be paid?

It seems fairly clear that a third party movement cannot get off the ground, largely because the two parties have set the rules to protect themselves. But an independent voter movement could make a difference. If enough Democrats and Republicans unregistered themselves to reduce each party to the level of 20 percent of eligible voters, those 60 percent independent voters would find themselves in a new political arena. No longer could the pols count on automatic votes. Issues would have to be engaged. Debates between candidates would no longer be a matter of how much a nominee could hide. And in that matter of abortion, we might finally have a true discussion of what it actually is and of the moral costs it has exacted from us by repressing the facts and squelching the debate.

As for the Democrats, it seems that they will finally be shamed into confirming one of Bush’s nominees for the circuit court. The conservative University of Utah law professor Michael McConnell is being handled with kid gloves as the hearings begin. After all, a number of law school deans, 300 law professors and even liberals like Laurence Tribe of Harvard are supporting him.

Best of all, he is not an embarrassing woman with a mind of her own.

John F. Kavanaugh, S.J., is a professor of philosophy at St. Louis University in St. Louis, Mo.

“The Legacy of Avery Dulles, S.J.” [America Magazine]

The Legacy of Avery Dulles, S.J.

the cover of America, the Catholic magazine

C ardinal Avery Dulles, S.J., has been writing for America for over 40 years. Many of his articles were drawn from his Laurence J. McGinley lectures, which he delivered twice yearly at Fordham University since 1988. The cardinal’s farewell McGinley address is featured in the April 21, 2008 issue of America. Below is a selection of articles Cardinal Dulles has written for America over the years, including a few of his McGinley lectures.

“Clarifying the Council,” Letter, October 1, 2007

“What Distinguishes the Jesuits?” January 15, 2007

“The Theologian: A Reflection on the Life of John Paul II,” April 18, 2005

“Rights of Accused Priests,” June 21, 2004

“A Eucharistic Church,” December 20, 2004

“Vatican II: Myth and Reality,” February 24, 2003

“An Interview with Avery Dulles,” James Martin, S.J., March 5, 2001

“Henri DeLubac: In Appreciation,” Sept. 28, 1991

“Leonard Feeney: In Memoriam,” February 25, 1978

“Infallibility Revisited,” August 4, 1973

“Loyalty and Dissent: After Vatican II,” June 27, 1970

“Karl Rahner on ‘Humane Vitae,’” September 28, 1968

“Faith and Doubt,” March 11, 1967

Cardinal Avery Dulles, S.J., was the Laurence J. McGinley Professor of Religion and Society at Fordham University, Bronx, N.Y.