- Friday, 08 February 2013 19:50
Be sure to have enough sleep and at least have eaten one meal today before you read and give some serious consideration to what Father George Rutler, pastor of the Church of Our Saviour (NYC) has to say about the death penalty. A recent essay was published today in Crisis Magazine online.
MOST Catholics, the informed and untrained, have no idea what the Church teaches about the subject. Many will recall that Pope John Paul II taught in Evangelium vitae (1995) and that he frequently spoke against the death penalty and it was the subject of intervention when he would visit a country where the death penalty was utilized (think of his visit to Missouri). A papal encyclical doesn’t change the teaching of the Church; it is however authoritative and it needs to be received. The matter of what level teaching an encyclical is, and to what degree it would bind conscience. For our purposes here, let’s say that a papal encyclical is authoritative and it involves the virtue of prudence but that it doesn’t contravene but it does nuance the teaching of the Church. Prudential judgment is just that, prudential. The Pope never changed the teaching of the Church. The blessed pope did try to reorient our thinking and the practice of killing legitimately convicted criminals. Remember, too, several years the heated debated between Cardinal Avery Dulles and Justice Scalia on the subject in First Things?
Father Rutler’s article is helpful in giving us yet another understanding of how we might understand the death penalty. Do we actually accept Christian belief in the salvation of one’s soul, that is, do we want to go to heaven? Read the article with openness, with a critical mind. As Saint Ignatius would teach, approach with the best of intentions to truly understand the other person. Knee jerk reactions are unacceptable for a Catholic who holds the integration of faith and reason. Father Rutler’s argument is Catholic on all levels.
Capital punishment does not inspire roaring humor in healthy minds, so wit on the subject tends to be sardonic. Two of the most famous examples, of course, are: “In this country it is wise to kill an admiral from time to time to encourage the others,” and “Depend upon it, sir, when a man knows he is to be hanged in a fortnight, it concentrates his mind wonderfully.”
The first, “pour encourager les autres,” is in “Candide” where Voltaire alludes to the death by firing squad of Admiral John Byng in 1757 for having let Mincorca fall to the French. The second was Samuel Johnson’s response to the hanging of an Anglican clergyman and royal chaplain William Dodd for a loan scam. Byng’s death was the last instance of shooting an officer for incompetence, while Dodd’s was the last hanging at Tyburn for forgery. Dodd’s unsuccessful appeal for clemency was ghostwritten by Dr. Johnson.
Read more ...
- Wednesday, 06 February 2013 20:49
Theologians are after divine truth and not mere human opinions. There is a danger and a difficulty about this point. We are in danger of modern disregard of theology. . . . The danger nowadays is overemphasis on non-intellectual elements. This means a kind of treachery to the truth. It used to be assumed that man is a reasonable animal. The modern idea seems to be that man is first and foremost a creature with a heart. I am not prepared, however, to give up my reason in connection with the things of God.
Father Georges Florovsky
Remarks made at the Second World Conference on Faith and Order
Edinburgh, August 4, 1937
Is Father Florovsky correct in his perception? I tend to think so….
- Thursday, 10 January 2013 16:10
Back on 31 October 2012, Russian Orthodox Metropolitan Hilarion Alfeyev of Volokolamsk
delivered a lecture dedicated to the past and present of Orthodox-Catholic dialogue at Villanova University (Philadelphia, PA). The 46 year old Metropolitan earned a doctorate from Oxford University and was ordained a bishop in 2002. In addition to being a residential bishop he is also the head of the Department of the External Church Relations since 2009. He is a widely published author and an excellent musician of international repute. The two Churches share the same concerns, though there are nuances to be made but that is a conversation for another time.
I think it is apropos to give a few extracts from the Metropolitan’s talk that pose some points for reflection on the unity of Christians. Remember we beginning the octave of Christian Unity on the 18th.
“The teaching of the holy fathers of the first millennium, when the Churches of the East and the West abided in unity, although at times this unity was subjected to serious trials, is the sure foundation upon which dialogue between Christians can develop successfully and fruitfully. It is my profound conviction that fidelity to the Christian tradition, the preservation of continuity in the teaching and life of the Church is the proper means for the restoration of unity among Christ’s disciples.
Read more ...
- Saturday, 08 December 2012 10:00
The attribution to the following is given to Saint John Chrysostom but the citation has not been found, but the Pope quoted the saint in a recent Wednesday Audience. It’s a striking reflection for our spiritual life, it even can be used for our daily examen. The saint said,
do you lack? You have become immortal, you have become free, you have become a
son, you have become righteous, you have become a brother, you have become a
joint heir, with Christ you reign, with Christ you are glorified. Everything is
given to us, and – as it is written – ‘can we not expect that with him he will
freely give us all his gifts?'(Rom 8:32). Your first fruits (cf. 1 Cor
15:20.23) are adored by angels […]: what do you lack?
- Tuesday, 27 November 2012 13:05
First Things editor RR Reno published his “A 2012 Ranking of Graduate Programs in Theology” yesterday, the annual romp through what’s out there for theological formation. A somewhat helpful review but it doesn’t really cover some important data. Nevertheless, it is good to see a review that advances a good perspective. What is that perspective? In my humble opinion: that in all things God may be glorified AND thinking with the Church.
The study of theology is not merely doing an academic program but it is truly a formation of the person so that he or she can be not only an excellent leader in theological investigation, spiritual formation, good pastoral practice but also work that one works out his or her own salvation.
- The five areas a good school of theology needs to be attentive to: sacred Scripture, sacred Liturgy, patristic study, dogmatic study and ethics. I fully believe that Prosper of Aquataine is correct, and ought to orient all study of theology: legem credendi lex statuat supplicandi. In shorthand, the law of prayer is the law of belief.
I am happy that UND ranked high. I am interested to see how CUA will do in the year to come with the new dean Father Mark Morozowich. He’s got a lot of work to do. CUA is poised.