Saturday, July 10, 2010

De Lubac, von Balthasar & Other Council Periti Formerly Held Suspect by the Holy Office

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Travis Cooper said...

Leaving aside totally the debate surrounding the "new theology" of de Lubac et al, being under suspicion by the Holy Office is hardly reason to set a theologian aside. Newman was constantly under suspicion by Rome (by Propaganda, especially), but he was strikingly vindicated by Popes Leo XIII and Pius X.

Until Rome speaks officially and censures or condemns a position taken by a theologian, "suspicion" amounts to very little; it shouldn't be the lens through which we read a theologian. Better to point to specific theses in the works of those theologians and lay out objections to those theses, rather than merely to point out that they have been under suspicion by the Holy Office.

This is why I find such websites as traditioninaction to be distasteful, unhelpful, and even a bit silly. As if being "under suspicion" by the Holy Office constitutes an a priori condemnation of a theologian . . . which is, of course, the meaning behind the original post on the traditioninaction website.

Don Paco said...

Dear Travis,

I respectfully disagree with you.

Being suspected by the Holy See IS an reason for us to suspect those theologians. Other theologians who were once suspected were later vindicated by popes with truly orthodox views (Popes Leo XIII and St. Pius X). But this is not the case with the theologians who were suspected before the Council--indeed, some were much more than suspected. As a group, the members of the Nouvelle Theologie were all condemned in Humani generis, and individually some had stronger censures than mere suspicion (e.g., de Lubac had a prohibition to teach or write).

These theologians were suspected (and more) by the Holy See simply because they were heterodox in their foundational principles. After being condemned and disciplined quite sternly by Ven. Pope Pius XII in the aftermath of Humani generis, the saintly pope dies and suddenly Pope John accepts them without correcting their views (the change happened in the views of the hierarchy, not in the theologians). They were even given important positions in the Council simply due to Pope John's "medicine of mercy." No condemnations are issued now (beyond asking Kung not to teach CATHOLIC Theology), and as a result, neo-modernism (and worse) reigns in the minds of today's theologians. Humani generis remains a threat to today's theological arena and for that reason is rejected by most as "too harsh" or is simply consigned to oblivion.

I think the TIA post is meant simply as confirmatory, rather than self-sufficient, evidence. The post does not purport to prove by itself that these theologians were heterodox (presumably on the basis that they were suspected), but simply to provide just one more item of evidence that, together with the hundreds of other posts, makes a strong case for the thesis that the Church is plagued by bad theologians. Personally, I found it helpful to see that document full of names of theologians who were "formerly suspected by the Holy See." I don't know about you, but I appreciate the information. It is just good to know that sort of thing, isn't it?

Although, like you, I cannot say I agree with everything that is posted on Tradition in Action, or even the style or tone in which they express some things, nonetheless I must say that I do agree with the general message: the crisis in the Church is not imaginary. The Church is plagued by real doctrinal errors, and that site offers a service to the average traditionalist Catholic in documenting them, proving that they are real, via real images and documents. There is no idea more absurd or ridiculous than that we are in the "Springtime of the Church." But this stupid idea is strongly planted in the minds of today's neo-conservatives and it needs to be uprooted. I appreciate Tradition in Action for its work in this regard.

Geremia said...

St. Thomas did say, in his De Modo Studendi, "Do not heed by whom a thing is said, but rather what is said" (non respicias a quo audias, sed quidquid boni dicatur).

EricBrooks said...

I agree, Don Paco. At the bottom of the page you linked from TIA there is a wide range of articles documenting various questionable statements and decisions made by Joseph Ratzinger both as Cardinal and as Pope. He's certainly more of a conservative than many of the New Theologians-- so much so that he was at least able to criticize the ecumenical prayer at Assissi-- but I think those Catholics who believe he is a closet traditionalist publicly taking a middle road to avoid scandal are more than a little confused. If you remove from context certain isolated statements about the traditional Mass or other hot topics it is easy to prop up the closet traditionalist theory, but it simply does not add up even with recent events such as the praise of the separation of Church and State on his recent visit to Fatima or his consistent praise of Teilhardianism.

Don Paco said...

I should also add three important points:

1) The TIA article adds things in brackets to the translation, and it seems that what is added is not entirely warranted. The text says that Ratzinger was "suspect," but TIA adds "[of heresy]." This is not warranted because a theologian may be suspect of many things, not all of which are necessarily heresies. Heresy is only the highest (or I should say the lowest and vilest) degree of theological error, but there are many other categories of errors.

Cf. My post on the 'notae theologicae':

Whereas I would not hesitate to say that Josef Ratzinger (like all other members of the Nouvelle Theologie) held many grave theological errors in the past, I would not be so confident in saying he was (or is) a heretic.

2) I forgot to state the obvious: I am not suspicious of these theologians merely because I just found out that they were once held suspect by the Holy Office. Rather, I have been suspicious because their writings are shot through with teachings that are quasi-heretical (proxima haeresi), erroneous, temerary, injurious to catholic schools, scandalous, and offensive to pious ears. The fact that they were once held suspect is only a confirmation that my suspicion is not unwarranted.

3) Let's not be fooled: these are enemies of the faith, and they have been successful in destroying the faith (at least to the extent that it can be destroyed). Let's not defend them; rather, we must organize a counter-attack. Ven. Pope Pius XII's Humani generis should be our starting point.

Geremia said...

Have you read Bishop O'Dwyer's Essay (1908) on how Newman's writings relate to Pascendi and Pope St. Pius X's response? Quite interesting