Month: June 2004

New Oxford Review’s attack on Scott Hahn . . . and everybody else besides.

Mark Shea reports:

What is it with some Conservative Christians? The first impulse seems so often to be to bayonet their own.

This month, in a world riven by war, while the Church is bowed under the weight of scandal involving gross sin against the most innocent in our culture, even as a Catholic candidate for President pledges fealty to Moloch, the bomb-throwers at New Oxford Review survey the world with gimlet eye and find the one target that *really* needs to have a fifteen page work of character assassination done:

Scott Hahn.

Yes. Great idea. Do everything you can to destroy a faithful Catholic who has done more good for the American Church than practically any other layman in the past 10 years. Excellent idea. Remember, of course, the prayer of the Church: “Look not on our faith, but remember every nitnoid theological disagreement and sharpen it into a weapon with which to stab a brother in Christ.” And this is already a follow up to their stupid claim that Scott, in mentioning the biblical and patristic tradition of picturing the Holy Spirit as feminine, was somehow asserting the virtues of lesbianism (since, y’know, Mary conceived by the Holy Spirit). (I kid you not.)

This isn’t the first time New Oxford Review‘s gone after Scott Hahn — they went after him in September 2002, in the same issue as their fallout with Crisis and National Catholic Register over Michael Rose’s book A Few Good Men.

I used to enjoy reading NOR back in college. From what I recall they had better writers — Sheldon Vanauken, Walker Percy, Christopher Lasch(!) — and broader interests (I still have in my files an excellent article on Catholic prayer and Zen meditation). Lately, it seems they’ve narrowed their sights and declared “open season” on their fellow Catholic apologists. (Who are they trying to be anyway? Catholic Apologetics International?)

Speaking of the NOR, blogger Robert Reilly reports of their latest attack on Fr. Neuhaus, based on a “nearly heroic act of misreading” of Neuhaus’ commentary on the papal encyclical, Ecclesia de Eucharistia. Reilly concludes: “. . . is so obviously off base that you have to wonder whether NOR does this sort thing with the hope of getting some much-needed publicity should Neuhaus make a reply.”

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Fr. Neuhaus, on Kerry’s oath to Pius XXIII and the NRB Report

I wonder how many ROFTers [readers of First Things] there are who, upon receiving a brand new issue in the mail, tear off the plastic, give a cursory glance to the table of contents, and then rush headlong to Fr. Richard J. Neuhaus’ “The Public Square: A continuing survey of religion, culture and public life” in the back? — Fr. Neuhaus has been “blogging” in such a manner for over a decade, and for me his keen humor and insightful commentary are the highlight of every issue.

Here, from the June issue, is Fr. Neuhaus’ take on Senator Kerry’s proclamation that his “freedom of conscience” — i.e., freedom to promote abortion — is rendered immune from criticism by an “oath privately between me and God [as] defined in the Catholic Church by Pius XXIII and Pope Paul VI in the Vatican II”:

We had better tread lightly here [says Neuhaus]. We’re dealing with the inner sanctum of the conscience. This is a man who apparently has taken a private oath under the tutelage of a pope of whom most of us have never heard. Rumor has it that members of the very secretive Society of Pius XXIII are taught to be so careful about not imposing their religion that, just to be safe, they do not impose it upon themselves. It has also been said that “Pius XXIII” is a pseudonym used by Father Robert Drinan, a Jesuit who has contrived a moral rationale widely employed by Catholic politicians inconvenienced by Catholic teaching. I have no idea whether such rumors are true, but I have a strong hunch that during the course of this campaign we may be learning a great deal about Catholicism that nobody knew before.

* * *On a more serious note, Neuhaus’ is very impressed with the report of the National Review Board (NRB): “A Report on the Crisis in the Catholic Church in the United States” seeing in it a welcome challenge to the Bishops to bring about genuine reform and renewal, restoring confidence in our priests and in the leadership of our bishops — that is to say, if the USCCB doesn’t “congratulate themselves on the public relations success of having commissioned an independant study, thank the NRB for its labors, and inter the report indirectly by referring it to a committee for further study or, more directly, by consigning it to the archives.”

Here is the first part of his review of the NRB’s report (and the response of the bishops): “The Catholic Reform” (First Things May 2003). Check out the June issue on the newstands for the second, and we’ll be sure to expect more commentary on the bishop’s assembly a month from now.

* * *P.S. It seems that I am not the only one who has recently picked up Jacques Maritain’s Peasant of the Garonne; browsing the FT archives from last year I came across this review by Neuhaus. Apparently Ralph McInerney’s The Very Rich Hours of Jacques Maritain: A Spiritual Life had prompted him to pick up what he had at one time dismissed as “the reactionary ramblings of a disgruntled old man.” 😉

Eat your heart out, Jack Chick.

Perhaps Martin Luther would have changed his mind about nailing his 95 Theses to the Wittenburg door on Oct. 31, 1517, were he graced with the premonition that his act would inspire Reformation.Org.

Horrors! — NOT ONLY did Pope Pius IX conspire with the Confederate States of America; NOT ONLY did Rome ruin the United States Postal Service; NOT ONLY is The Pope pulling the strings in Iraq, but, but, . . . ROME RUINED Classics Illustrated! That whore of Babylon!!!

(Thanks to Mark Shea for the tip!)

Karl Keating, briefly, on the Vatican’s use of "subsists"

On Vatican’s use of the word “subsists” in Lumen Gentium par. 8 (“The Church of Christ subsists in the Catholic Church.”):

. . . Because there is a level of ambiguity or misdirection in “is.”

When we say that the Catholic Church “is” Christ’s Church, some people think–not entirely unreasonably–that we mean that no element of the Church can be found outside the Church. If so, this would imply that grace itself could not be found outside the Church.

But we know that Protestants, for example, confer valid baptism (which confers grace), and we know that it is possible for a Protestant who falls into sin to repent and to be returned to a life of grace. We also know that “God wills the salvation of all men,” and that means he must give “all men” enough grace to be saved, even if throughout life they remain outside the Church.

Thus, something that properly “belongs” to the Catholic Church–grace–is found outside of its formal boundaries.

The technical word “subsists” gets around this difficulty. Granted, it has a difficulty of its own. Some people think it means that the Catholic Church is just a subset of the bigger Church that Christ established. But this is not what the word really means. It means that the fullness of Christ’s Church is found only in the Catholic Church, but it also means that certain elements of Christ’s Church may be found elsewhere.

From Kark Keating’s weekly e-letter, always a source of interesting and educational information. (Subscribe Here, and discuss it Here, at the Catholic Answer’s Forum).

It is impossible for a Christian to be a relativist. Those who make the attempt have no chance of succeeding. Let them be pardoned, after all. There is an even better excuse than “invincible ignorance,” and that is what Baudelaire called “la betise au front de taureau,” — bullheaded stupidity.

Jacques Maritain The Peasant of the Garonne

It is impossible for a Christian to be a relativist. Those who make the attempt have no chance of succeeding. Let them be pardoned, after all. There is an even better excuse than “invincible ignorance,” and that is what Baudelaire called “la betise au front de taureau,” — bullheaded stupidity.

Jacques Maritain The Peasant of the Garonne