The Truce of 2005?

by Jimmy Akin

in Homosexuality

Truces are good things. Right?

I mean, "Blessed are the peacemakers" and all that.

Well, while peace is desirable and to be worked toward–as the Church has pointed out so often in recent times–a mere absence of conflict is not sufficient for the kind of peace that is worth having.

Said another way: Some truces are wrong.

Like "the Truce of 1968," in which Pope Paul VI attempted to settle things down after numerous theologians rebelled against the teaching of Humanae Vitae. Rather than disciplining the malefactors, he let them get away with their dissent, and we have been suffering from the effects of that ever since.

Who know? He may have signed Europe’s death warrant by confirming it in its downward population growth death spiral.

Now Fr. Richard John Neuhaus worries that we may be facing a new, equally disastrous truce–the "Truce of 2005."

He sees this truce as potentially as decisive for Benedict XVI’s papacy as the Truce of 1968 was for Paul VI’s papacy.

He writes:

And so it is that we are faced with what may be a defining test of the pontificate of Benedict XVI. As all who know him can attest, he is in personal relations a gentle man and averse to unpleasantness. He cannot relish the prospect of a direct confrontation with major institutions such as the Society of Jesus. Early on in his pontificate, John Paul II made an effort to bring the Jesuits into closer alignment with church teaching and authority, and ended up with little to show for it. As is his custom, the father general of the society, Peter-Hans Kolvenbach, remains publicly aloof.

With this pope, as with all popes, there is the fear of schism. That was a great fear in 1968. . . .

In 1968, an effort was made to hold accountable those who are solemnly vowed to the service of the Church. And then Rome caved. We are still living with the unhappy consequences of the Truce of 1968. Of course the Church will survive. We have Our Lord’s promise on that. But no one who cares about this pontificate and the integrity of the Church’s ministry can contemplate with equanimity the consequences of a Truce of 2005.

What is this prospective, fearful Truce of 2005?

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{ 64 comments }

Nick January 26, 2006 at 7:16 am

Quick! Correct this typo!
It’s Fr. Richard NEUHAUS…

Steven D. Greydanus January 26, 2006 at 7:32 am

In short, and the instruction notwithstanding, the Society of Jesus will continue to do what it has been doing. (The reference to “either orientation,” with its implicit exclusion of the bisexual and transsexual, is somewhat surprising.)

Ha! :) Those intolerant Jesuits, so hung up on clear-cut binary “orientations” in one definite direction. Blatant ambisexophobia. (Or is that sexambigotry?)

Barbara January 26, 2006 at 7:42 am

The Jesuits used to counter the teachings of the Protestants. Maybe what we need is a new religious order to counter the teachings of the Jesuits.

Tim J. January 26, 2006 at 8:10 am

Give B16 a bit more time, and allow him this encyclical as a foundation on which to build.
I know that he must be aware of all that is at stake.
He himself has commented on the benefits of a smaller, more faithful Church.

Jason January 26, 2006 at 8:17 am

“He cannot relish the prospect of a direct confrontation with major institutions such as the Society of Jesus.”
I know Fr. Neuhaus doesn’t intend this direspectfully, but it reads like a caricature. In “Salt of the Earth”, Ratzinger tells us:
…a bishop whose only concern is not to have any problems and to gloss over as many conflicts as possible is in an image I find repulsive.
I think the Holy Father is up to the challenge. But he knows that it’s not always necessary to crush a spider. Sometimes you just pick it up, and let it out the back door. This generation will be dead soon, and a younger generation, formed by Pope John Paul II, and now, Benedict XVI, will pick up the torch. Sure, he could crush some spiders. But it won’t solve the problem. The roaches are still lurking in the corners and crevices of the local Church.
I am very hopeful for the future, and completely trust Pope Benedict.

Brad Haas January 26, 2006 at 8:23 am

The Jesuits used to counter the teachings of the Protestants. Maybe what we need is a new religious order to counter the teachings of the Jesuits.
I nominate the Ragemonkeys.

AnotherCoward January 26, 2006 at 8:25 am

I’m with Tim … I doubt the Pope is going to let it slide … but there is some diplomacy which can be done, such as building the case why someone is wrong and dismantling the dissenting arguments along the way, before outright rejection of dissenters is necessary. And, just by the even handed manner in which the Pope so far has given attention to dissenting view points and their error before he goes on to discuss the teaching of the Church and its reasonableness and necessity (and here, I’m thinking of his discussion of Vatican 2 in the 22 Dec 2005 address), I think/suspect/hope that’s exactly what the Pope is doing.
I’ve not read the new encyclical yet, but what summaries I’ve read of it, it seems he is to some degree continuing the pattern I saw in the 22 Dec 2005 address.

Laura January 26, 2006 at 9:21 am

pray,
pray,
and when we’re finished praying,
pray somemore

Inocencio January 26, 2006 at 9:31 am

Yes pray and if you have the opportunity to volunteer at your local parish do so. If we follow the Pope’s lead we can have a positive effect at the local level, at least our own parish, while he guides the whole Church.
Take care and God bless.
J+M+J

BillyHW January 26, 2006 at 9:36 am

“I would prefer a million times that a daughter of mine die without the Last Sacraments than that they be administered to her by a Jesuit.”
–St. Josemaria Escriva, founder of Opus Dei.
(Anyone know if this quote is real? Even if it’s not, it’s such a great quote :)

Anonymous January 26, 2006 at 10:38 am

Sometimes these things take a few generations to flush out the bad. Like Tim wrote: “This generation will be dead soon, and a younger generation, formed by Pope John Paul II, and now, Benedict XVI, will pick up the torch.”
Hopefully, we will all be around to enjoy this springtime of the Church.

chris January 26, 2006 at 11:05 am

BillyBW – I certainly hope that quite is not authentic, else the Church has canonized a Donatist.

Margaret January 26, 2006 at 11:18 am

Billy– I would have to dispute that quote. I recently finished the third and last volume of St. Josemaria’s biography, and he really worked to maintain not only peace, but a genuine friendship with the Jesuits. A lot of the friction between the Work and the Society of Jesus appears to have originated in Spain in the 30′s and 40′s when a few young men, who had considered (but not decided upon) vocations to the Jesuits, instead felt that God was calling them to Opus Dei. For his part, St. Josemaria took the gospel message of love very much to heart, and viewed no one as his enemy.

David January 26, 2006 at 12:01 pm

Like “the Truce of 1968,” in which Pope Paul VI attempted to settle things down after numerous theologians rebelled against the teaching of Humanae Vitae. Rather than disciplining the malefactors, he let them get away with their dissent, and we have been suffering from the effects of that ever since.
Who know? He may have signed Europe’s death warrant by confirming it in its downward population growth death spiral.

Jimmy, I must say that this is a grave and unfair imputation (that Paul VI somehow culpably “let them [dissenters] get away with their dissent”) to a man that John Paul II called a “great pope”.
You cannot know what pastoral considerations led not only Paul VI but also other members of the Curia to act with restraint.
While you have every right to deplore the dissent and its effects, you ought not to place the blame for it onto Paul VI.

Eileen R January 26, 2006 at 12:49 pm

*agrees with Margaret* Fake quote, and probably fabricated by his enemies.
I’m not sure you could call not going after the Jesuits right now the Truce of 2005 since no one had been going after them before for years, since John Paul II’s early attempt to try to get them into order.

BillyHW January 26, 2006 at 12:59 pm

BillyBW – I certainly hope that quite is not authentic, else the Church has canonized a Donatist.
Or perhaps just a Humorist.

Veronica January 26, 2006 at 1:42 pm

“Jimmy, I must say that this is a grave and unfair imputation (that Paul VI somehow culpably “let them [dissenters] get away with their dissent”) to a man that John Paul II called a “great pope”.”
I agree with David’s opinion, and I think you were very unfair with Paul VI. Certainly he made mistakes, as all popes do, but to accuse him of fomenting dissent is a very grave matter.

Anonymous January 26, 2006 at 2:09 pm

Quite odd, Fr. Neuhaus’ reaction against the Jesuits, particularly considering that Cardinal Dulles is a major contributor, and Benedict XVI’s fairly warm relations with them, particularly Karl Rahner and the Gregorian University, where he was a guest lecturer for a time.

Eileen R January 26, 2006 at 2:16 pm

Anon, not so odd if you’re familiar with John Paul II’s struggles with the Jesuits. Individually, Jesuits carry out their original mission, on the governance side there are major problems.

Ed Peters January 26, 2006 at 2:41 pm

V: where did Jimmy say the Paul VI fomented dissent? Seriously, where did he say anything like that? Paul VI’s (in?)actions in 1968 will be subject to scrutiny for many decades yet, but no one can credibly say that he fomented dissent. And Jimmy certainly did not.

anon2 January 26, 2006 at 3:01 pm

Ed Peter,
“Like “the Truce of 1968,” in which Pope Paul VI attempted to settle things down after numerous theologians rebelled against the teaching of Humanae Vitae. Rather than disciplining the malefactors, he let them get away with their dissent, and we have been suffering from the effects of that ever since.”

Ed Peters January 26, 2006 at 3:14 pm

So, anon2, like, the police call off a high speed chase through a neighborhood on the Fourth of July, lest innocent people get run over. Is that the police fomenting criminals’ lawlessness, or just making a prudent judgment with which (I suspect) some might disagree? When Jesus had the farmer tell his farmhands not to pull up the weeds lest the grain be uprooted, was that fomenting “weediness?” Jimmy has not crossed the line between saying P6′s decision was very questionable, and saying that P6 positively aided (V’s word was fomented) dissent. He simply hasn’t.

bill912 January 26, 2006 at 3:18 pm

From Webster’s: Foment: “to promote the growth or development of”. That means a positive action, not a failure to take action.

DJ January 26, 2006 at 3:51 pm

And to comment Ed’s analogy, why weren’t the kids in the neighborhoods throwing jumping jacks or black cats into the open windows of the car leading the high-speed chase?

Veronica January 26, 2006 at 3:53 pm

“Jimmy has not crossed the line between saying P6′s decision was very questionable, and saying that P6 positively aided (V’s word was fomented) dissent.”
Jimmy didn’t say that P6′s decision was questionable. I think he made a (rather harsh) judment by saying “Rather than disciplining the malefactors, he let them get away with their dissent, and we have been suffering from the effects of that ever since” implying that Paul VI was somehow protecting dissidents or at least allowing dissent by turning deaf ears to them.
Like you said, “Paul VI’s actions in 1968 will be subject to scrutiny for many decades yet, but no one can credibly say that he fomented dissent”, so I don’t think Jimmy should be so quick in making such a definitive statement about Paul VI’s actions.

bill912 January 26, 2006 at 4:05 pm

“Rather than disciplining the malefactors, he let thm get away with their dissent…” That is a simple statement of fact.
“…we have been suffering from the effects of that ever since.” That is an observation of what has been going on for the last 38 years.
Jimmy observed that Paul VI’s methods proved unsatisfactory. Anyone with 20/20 hindsight can see that. He made no implication that Paul VI protected dissidents or allowed dissent.

Mary January 26, 2006 at 5:00 pm

Given a prudential judgment, we should at least consider the possibility that he was wrong.

Tim J. January 26, 2006 at 5:16 pm

Allowing dissent and actively encouraging dissent are two different things.
Jimmy did not claim that Paul VI encouraged (fomented) dissent.
However, that P6 allowed dissent is unquestionable.
That this dissent has had an increasingly poisonous effect can hardly be questioned either.
Y’all do the math.
As Mary said, it’s a prudential judgement.
To say that Paul VI was a great Pope or even a saint is not to say that he is beyond criticism.

StubbleSpark January 26, 2006 at 7:14 pm

“It does not require a Ph.D. in psychology to recognize—although a Ph.D. in psychology might be helpful in denying…”
Great quote!
If we really want to avoid a truce in 2005, I think we need to more vocally and concisely address the the Truce of ’68. The charge against irresponsibility and rebellion in the gay culture would dissipate into a mere afterthought once the non-gays are reminded of our responsibilities in marriage, self-abuse, birth control, and being pro-life. This is as much a matter for average joes in the pews like us as it is for the pope. We hold an incredible amount of power here. We must show solidarity.
As a side note, I cannot help but noticed every time someone defends the homosexual lifestyle, they always fall back on the assumption that people are born that way — that it is part of their genetic makeup or something.
What a fascinating superstition. There is no proof. And psychology points to a far more plausible conditioners.

Anonymous January 26, 2006 at 8:22 pm

Eileen, I am indeed familiar with JPII’s conflicts with the Jesuits, and am of the opinion that the MSM is exaggerating it to an extreme level. Find one priest who disagrees even slightly, and add the additioinal perk of him being from the Order known for being the intellects of the Church and defending her, and they’ll blow it out of proportion as much as they can to convince the people that the Church is in turmoil, that change is inevitable, etc. We’ve seen how incompetent the MSM is, particularly with the NYT summary of Deus Caritas Est, why should we be surprised at all by this?

David January 27, 2006 at 5:50 am

That P6 allowed dissent is unquestionable.
That every pope since Paul VI has “allowed”, while disapproving of, dissent is also unquestionable. None of them have silenced or disciplined every dissenting Catholic theologian, priest, or bishop.
What Jimmy doesn’t even bother to discuss are the other pastoral factors which play a role in dealing with situations where priests, bishops, and theologians publically dissent, and that probably did play a role in what Paul VI and members of his Curia did in response to the events of 1968. And that still play a role in how our present pope deals with dissent.
A charitable approach, even if ultimately critical of his decision, would assess the options available to him, the costs/benefits of each, and the dilemmas or difficulties he faced (not simply of his own making).
Jimmy does none of this in his remarks. He simply isolates Paul VI and blames him.
I think it shows a lack of charity and respect for the man, for his office, and for the difficult circumstances that the Church was in back in the late 60s after VII.
Indeed, go back and read Jimmy’s account of this (in his archives http://www.jimmyakin.org/2005/05/ under the heading “The Commission Of Error”).
His account makes both John XXIII and Paul VI look like fools who should obviously have seen the error of having a Papal Commission on Birth Control and of Paul VI waiting to issue an encyclical on contraception.
I expect this sort of narrative from Garry Wills on the left. What stuns me is how conservatives (Weigel, Neuhaus, and it seems, Jimmy Akin) mirror this portrait of foolish popes missing obvious truths and creating disasters.
Both sides should stop it.

bill912 January 27, 2006 at 5:59 am

David, read my comment of 1/26/06, 4:05 PM.

David January 27, 2006 at 6:23 am

That’s not the way I read Jimmy’s comments, bill912.
While there’s a factual element in them, there seems to be a fair amount of value judgement in them (or implied in them) too.

bill912 January 27, 2006 at 6:30 am

David, Please tell me what you think I got wrong.

David January 27, 2006 at 6:42 am

I just did.

bill912 January 27, 2006 at 6:47 am

Huh?

Inocencio January 27, 2006 at 7:19 am

David,
This is a quote from the post you pointed to:
Now, the Papal Commission on Birth Control and the way Humanae Vitae was delayed were the sole cause of the current mess. The Sixties and the invention of new contraception methods have a lot to do with it as well. But the actions of John XXIII and Paul VI in handling the matter were contributing causes.
Are you saying Pope Paul VI handling of the matter was not a contributing cause? Jimmy seems to be following the same line of reason in both posts. Mistakes were made and if we don’t correct those mistakes (which have to be aknowledged first) we will continue living with the results, theologians who act as their own magisterium.
If anyone else goes back to read the post David is talking about use the address below (if it works) or scroll down to the bottom and work your way up.
http://www.jimmyakin.org/2005/05/the_commission_.html#comments
Take care and God bless.
J+M+J

Tim J. January 27, 2006 at 7:23 am

David-
You seem to be saying that people (from the right or left) should not critique the decisions of Popes, period.
I do not see how you can say that Jimmy is making the last 2 Popes “look like fools” because he expresses the wish that they had acted more decisively aginst dissent. He should be allowed to have that opinion without being accused of smearing the Pope.
Here’s the problem with the Truce; it has been completely one-sided. While the Vatican has treated dissent gently, the dissenters have only increased their attacks on the Church. The more softly Rome has spoken, the more strident and vitriolic has been the rhetoric from the looney left, especially as acceptance their ideas seems to have peaked, and they begin to lose influence with Catholic lay people.
It takes two sides to make a REAL truce.

David January 27, 2006 at 7:38 am

I have never said, nor can it be implied from what I have said, that papal decisions are above criticism. I do think such criticism should be charitable and fair, and that one should temper such criticism with an evensided consideration of that person’s merits and of the good effects of such decisions.
What everyone unfortunately seems to be calling a “truce” is more complicated than the typical conservative line. It is less simple than two sides at war with each other, with one side needing to be what, “defeated”, “removed”.
Many of those who dissent are baptized, practicing, Catholics. Whether you like it or not, they are within the Church. Their dissent doesn’t negate that fact.
Just to take one consideration, look at what happens when the Pope and the Curia do take a stronger line, say, for example, against Archbishop Lefebvre and his followers.
Does everything work out just fine because dissent has been firmly dealt with? No, we have a schism. One whose effects Benedict XVI is still dealing with.
Would it be better, say, to have the Church dealing with two schisms (one of the left and one of the right) at this point in time?

bill912 January 27, 2006 at 7:48 am

“Left”, “Right”, “Conservative”, and “Liberal” are political terms. I know what they mean politically. I don’t see where they have any meaning in regard to the Church.

Inocencio January 27, 2006 at 7:50 am

David,
Yes, two schisms would be better than the confusion that exist today.
Because two schisms would put the responsiblity on those in schism to reconcile or remain outside of the Church.
Dissent on certain teachings can place a baptized Catholic outside of the Church. Dissent can and usually leads to heresy.
Take care and God bless.
J+M+J

David January 27, 2006 at 7:54 am

Inocencio, there must be a typo in that quote you cite:
Now, the Papal Commission on Birth Control and the way Humanae Vitae was delayed were the sole cause of the current mess.
Because he goes on to say there were other causes as well.

Inocencio January 27, 2006 at 7:59 am

David,
I thought the same thing. I would guess Jimmy meant to say were NOT the sole cause of the current mess”.
But only he could clear that up for sure.
Take care and God bless.
J+M+J

Tim J. January 27, 2006 at 8:12 am

David-
Nobody thinks that any decision of the Pope could just make dissent go away. That is not his job.
But he can (and should) clearly say, “THIS is Catholic, and THIS is not.”.
Take, for instance, the recent teaching on the male priesthood. JPII made plain the fact that female priests CAN”T HAPPEN in the Catholic Church. While the dissent continues on the matter, the Pope made clear how far out of bounds this dissent really is.
If this leads to “schism” on the matter, this is not the fault of the Pope, but the dissenters, as with the LeFebvreites.
Are you saying that the Pope should not have taken such a hard line with the Society of St. Pius X? Have you considered all the good effects of this decision?

David January 27, 2006 at 8:19 am

But he can (and should) clearly say, “THIS is Catholic, and THIS is not.”
And I thought that was what Paul VI did, in Humana Vitae.
What is at issue between Jimmy and I is, in part, how one deals with dissent, among bishops, priests, theologians, and others within the Church. And whether a no-holds-barred crackdown in terms of discipline is the obvious or ultimately correct solution.

bill912 January 27, 2006 at 8:32 am

Is David reading more into Jimmy’s post than is there, or am I just thick?

Tim J. January 27, 2006 at 8:36 am

“And I thought that was what Paul VI did, in Humana Vitae.”
David-
The Pope can go a good deal further, in that he can say;
“THIS Bishop is Catholic, and THIS one is not.”
“THIS University is Catholic, and THIS one is not.”
“THIS politician is Catholic, and THIS one is not.”
That is the essence of the Pope’s authority.
Even the few, small steps taken in this direction lately, have begun to bear fruit, in that we see pro-choice Catholic politicians being marginalized, we see signs of improvement at Notre Dame University…
We may even see the Pope say “THIS seminary is Catholic, and THIS one is not.”.
It could only lead to a healthier vocations picture in the U.S..

Karen January 27, 2006 at 9:48 am

But he can (and should) clearly say, “THIS is Catholic, and THIS is not.”
And I thought that was what Paul VI did, in Humana Vitae.

Yup, I thought so too.
What is at issue between Jimmy and I is, in part, how one deals with dissent, among bishops, priests, theologians, and others within the Church. And whether a no-holds-barred crackdown in terms of discipline is the obvious or ultimately correct solution.
I’m with David here–that was very well-put. Since yesterday I’ve been wanting to post, but I see that others have been speaking better to this than I would have at the time.
What seems obvious to any of us isn’t necessarily the fullness of what’s obvious to the pope. A lot of the sentiments here are very presumptuous.
Frankly, it’s irritating to have hand-wringing over the fact that he is known to be gentle and averse to unpleasantness. Who ISN’T fundamentally averse to unpleasantness!? Heaven forbid he’s a nice guy. Heaven forbid he’s just as pastoral as he is erudite. Heaven forbid, he might know more than we do about this situation.
I remember reading about some initial apprehension others had about the title of his new encyclical, simply because it mentions love. I see the same thing going on here when they just “happen” to mention that the pope’s gentle and averse to unpleasantness.
This tells more about the concerned person’s problematic binary thinking than it does about the pope’s abilities to do his job effectively. It’s the same thinking that confounds the Press, only reversed. Look at how that was written, as though his gentleness were cause for concern and is supportive of a deeper suspicion.
It doesn’t mean Benedict is not willing to discipline when he needs to–and I leave it to him to know how, why and when. He can surely be pastoral and do God’s will without sacrificing principles. I have complete faith in his ability to do what needs done. If I *don’t* see something done, my assumption will be that there were other concerns over timing or what-have-you, but that the delay was for a greater good.
I don’t know what kind of pope you thought we were getting, but Benedict has all sorts of qualities bundled into one, and these qualities DO NOT NECESSARILY DILUTE any other. This is WHY some people have a hard time figuring him out. It’s not every day you find someone of whom people say, “He has the intelligence of four cardinals, and the childlike wonder and innocence of a little boy”.
Do not dismiss his pastoral nature as less significant than it really is, or fear that it may hold him back in these matters. Some of you may have come to love him by parsing his ideas in lofty books, but it was this, AND his pastoral nature that brought many people closer to the Church than they were before. I just know some folks are going to say, “Nobody’s dismissing it”. I can hear it right now. But that’s how the choice of words came across.
I’d like to add, that he knows more than what the Press is telling us (or even different things from what the Press tells us.) This kind of handwringing is ignorant. It translates as, “What? We thought he’d be puttin’ the smack down left and right shortly after he was elected! What’s wrong? Did you hear that he’s *gentle*? He’s not doing these things quickly enough for us, and certainly in the way we’d do it, based on what we know! He’s not doing anything in way that’s obvious to us! Hasn’t the Vatican subscribed to our webcals and project planners yet?”
Sheesh.

bill912 January 27, 2006 at 10:09 am

“Frankly, it’s irritating to have hand-wringing over the fact that he is known to be gentle and averse to unpleasantness.” What hand-wringing?
“This tells more about the concerned person’s problematic binary thinking than it does about the pope’s abilities to do his job effectively.” Huh?
As I commented above, I may be thick. But, Karen, either you are assuming things that aren’t there, or I’m not seeing things that are there. Please enlighten me.

Inocencio January 27, 2006 at 10:27 am

Karen,
I have confidence in Pope Benedict and I know he is smarter, more informed and holier than I am.
I love JP II but to this day don’t understand his picks for bishops or why more bishops and theologians weren’t brought in line.
I pray, volunteer at my parish, my daughters school and other places trying to live my faith and follow Pope Benedict XVI’s lead in the hope I can have a positive effect in my community.
But it will be very disappointing to me if the confusion is allowed to continue. I deal with people on the diocesan RCIA team, in my diocese, who think there is such a thing as “humble dissent”. They point to theologians who teach contrary to the Catholic faith and defend them by saying “well they haven’t been corrected or excommunitcated”.
Of course I know I have to deal with my bishop directly. It would be very nice if some pressure from the pope could clear out a lot of the dissenting theologians.
I have a great deal of respect for Jimmy Akin’s and Fr. Neuhaus’ opinions. I will be obedient and loyal to Pope Benedict but if I do some hand-wringing that leads to prayer I hope you understand.
Take care and God bless.
J+M+J

Tim J. January 27, 2006 at 10:32 am

Karen-
In an earlier comment I made it clear that I also fully trust that the Holy Father knows what is at stake, and will do what he thinks is prudent.
Again, allow him this documant as a foundation on which to build. We are still (I hope and pray) early in his Pontificate.
This trust in B16 does not preclude speculating on what he should do, or what previous Popes should have done. To say that the Pope has knowledge and perspective that we don’t have (doubtlessly true) does not mean that we can’t argue the merits of the different courses he might take.
In a very real sense, the laity also have knowledge and perspective that the Pope does not have (being “in the trenches” as we are), and discussing these perspectives is part of the whole process. Is it possible that the concerns raised in the Catholic blogosphere might to some degree “filter up” to influence to process? Of course.
Why does “pastoral” always mean being lenient? Is is pastoral to allow people to go on in confusion, doubt or error? Firm discipline is just as “pastoral” as leniency.
Those (on the left and the right) who were surprised that Love was the theme of B16′s first encyclical might be surprised yet again.
In the words of C.S. Lewis, “Love is a high and hard discipline”.

Karen January 27, 2006 at 10:34 am

Bill912:

And so it is that we are faced with what may be a defining test of the pontificate of Benedict XVI. As all who know him can attest, he is in personal relations a gentle man and averse to unpleasantness. He cannot relish the prospect of a direct confrontation with major institutions such as the Society of Jesus. Early on in his pontificate, John Paul II made an effort to bring the Jesuits into closer alignment with church teaching and authority, and ended up with little to show for it.

So WHAT if he’s a gentle man in personal relations. Why mention that? The author obviously thinks it’s worth mentioning in supporting his “concern” or else he wouldn’t have said it. So what if Benedict might not relish the prospects of unpleasant, direct confrontation. It doesn’t mean he might not engage in it when he must.
We have our own jobs to do as members of the body of Christ. I don’t see “overseers of the pope” as one of them, because we certainly don’t have the knowledge for it that the pope does have.
As to the handwringing:

Now Fr. Richard John Neuhaus worries that we may be facing a new, equally disastrous truce–the “Truce of 2005.”

… along with the fact that his handwringing even gets anyone’s attention.
What seems implicit in all of this is that we could even dare to know the full situation as the pope himself does.

Karen January 27, 2006 at 10:45 am

This trust in B16 does not preclude speculating on what he should do, or what previous Popes should have done. To say that the Pope has knowledge and perspective that we don’t have (doubtlessly true) does not mean that we can’t argue the merits of the different courses he might take.
But we can’t do a very good job of it, without also having the knowledge that the pope has. Period. How can we argue the merit his actions if we don’t know why he did what, or delayed this or that–based on precisely on some grounds that we are not aware of? The only thing we COULD say, is “This or that unfortunately happened.” We don’t know what greater goods might escape our awareness, or how much worse things could be if a pope would act exactly as we expect, based only on what we do know.
In a very real sense, the laity also have knowledge and perspective that the Pope does not have (being “in the trenches” as we are), and discussing these perspectives is part of the whole process. Is it possible that the concerns raised in the Catholic blogosphere might to some degree “filter up” to influence to process? Of course.
It’s essential, but it doesn’t warrant this kind of criticism.
Why does “pastoral” always mean being lenient? Is is pastoral to allow people to go on in confusion, doubt or error? Firm discipline is just as “pastoral” as leniency.
I’d like to ask the same thing! Why such apprehension whenever someone mentions “pastoral”, as if they don’t understand that “pastoral” also entails “discipline?” I know it does. Do not think I equate “pastoral” with “lenient”. But pastoral discipline takes many forms besides outright public condemnations to appease bloggers. Politics, charity, considerations for what brings a greater good, etc. all factor in there–and the factors that are obvious to Benedict might not be obvious to US.
Those (on the left and the right) who were surprised that Love was the theme of B16′s first encyclical might be surprised yet again.
Let them keep being surprised till they finally learn something.

Tim J. January 27, 2006 at 10:49 am

“What seems implicit in all of this is that we could even dare to know the full situation as the pope himself does.”
Karen-
That’s just goofy. That’s exactly like saying that no one should criticize the Iraq War because, after all, the President knows the full situation and we don’t. I support the war, BTW, but I also support the right to criticize it.
The fact that we are not in a position of authority does not mean that we can’t have an opinion as valid as the Pope’s in areas of prudential judgement.
I think to back-peddle on the recent instruction on the priesthood by allowing it to be ignored with impunity would be disastrous, and would needlessly leave the Western Church languishing in confusion.
To say that I fear the consequences of such an action is not to say I distrust the Pope.

Karen January 27, 2006 at 11:40 am

People came to many false conclusions about one thing or the other during and after the Iraq War, due to not having knowledge or being misinformed. People come to false conclusions about all sorts of things because they don’t have a thorough understanding, or knowledge of what is really happening behind the scenes. What *good* are these opinions they form, then? Not much, if they’re misinformed, missing information, lied to, etc. So it’s not goofy at all to say, we can’t criticize a pope for his reactions (or delayed reactions, or *apparent* failure to act in the way we expect) if we don’t know everything he knows. How could you think that? Is it okay for Catholic bashers, then, to criticize the pope based on disinformation and lack of knowledge? What do you tell them, “I respect your opinion?”
The fact that we are not in a position of authority does not mean that we can’t have an opinion as valid as the Pope’s in areas of prudential judgement.
It sounds like you’ve decided that you know what Pope Benedict’s opinion of Father Neuhaus’s concern is already.

David January 27, 2006 at 12:00 pm

I’ve said my piece and I appreciate the “dissenting” comments as well as the ones that agree with some of what I’ve said.
Food for thought.

bill912 January 27, 2006 at 12:09 pm

“We can’t criticize…if we don’t know everything he knows.” That’s irrational. Since no one knows EVERYTHING someone else knows, it would be impossible for anyone to criticize anything.

Karen January 27, 2006 at 1:33 pm

Criticism in the way of, “Benedict should definitely be doing something differently” is pretty stupid, which is why I hope nobody’s critiquing him prematurely. Neuhaus seems to be doing so.
Do any of you seriously believe that the pope can just read the papers every day, find things to condemn, and then start firing people and coming out with daily condemnatory statements? If only it were so easy. These are matters that need researched. Sometimes extra private communication is necessary before deciding it’s actually time to pull the plug on some organization, order, university, etc. Perhaps it’s better to correspond privately to correct the matter before condemning an entire organization. Facts need to be researched and parties must be assured that misunderstandings and misinformation have been cleared up before they can decide whether they are actually at odds. Practical concerns need to be addressed, the possibility of lawsuits may have to be anticipated, and replacements need to be in order for anyone who’ll lose their position, in some cases where the loss of a few key positions could devastate an entire organization.
I don’t know everything a pope has to consider in these matters, and I don’t see how can anyone pretend to, and consider their opinions just as valid as the pope’s.
I don’t know what people are upset about. If Benedict needs to put up bold, red, sprawling text all over vatican.va to condemn something, he will. In his own time, and as he deems best. I’ll be right behind him. PATIENCE! He needs to work for the common good when he does the right thing, and he can’t be “lenient” when “lenient” simply won’t work. BUT–if you are disappointed in not seeing something happen exactly and immediately as you expect, don’t you give him the benefit of the doubt that he’s already aware of what needs condemning? That he IS very informed? That he’s thinking of how to proceed wisely? That he DOES have what it takes to administer discipline? That much might be happening privately, and not in newspapers for you to see? Do you ever consider that your idea of the best disciplinary measure might not be the most effective and powerful measure he can take? That it is possible to act prematurely? Maybe he’s got something better in the works. That’s all I’m saying. Maybe he’s still assessing the situation, and one thing he’s rightly not considering is your impatience. We do not know enough to worry about incompetence based on Neuhaus’s fears that our pope is “gentle and averse to unpleasantness.”

Inocencio January 27, 2006 at 1:58 pm

Karen,
Of course we will be patient. We have been patient for a long time. It is easy to tell all of us that we don’t know what we are talking about, but our concern is with the theologians and universities that either ignore or teach contrary to the Catholic faith.
Fr. Neuhaus points out that he thinks this might be the defining test of Pope Benedict XVI. Is it? Only time will tell. Many theologians have come out in attack mode towards the document on excluding gay seminarians. If no public action is taken then people like us keep getting told to be quiet and the dissenters get to keep preaching with their bullhorns.
So yes the hand-wringing will continue as will the dissent unless public action is taken.
Take care and God bless.
J+M+J

Karen January 28, 2006 at 1:06 am

I understand, Inocencio. But when public action is taken, people like us will still be told to keep quiet while the dissenters use their bullhorns. The persecution and arguing will continue, and the people who are fired from their positions will only have more time to devote to their causes. It’s the big picture we should be praying about, not the prospect of the pope’s incompetence because people figured out he’s nice. The pope’s working on these very sorts of things. Tim J. said, “Even the few, small steps taken in this direction lately, have begun to bear fruit, in that we see pro-choice Catholic politicians being marginalized, we see signs of improvement at Notre Dame University…” Aren’t they checking out seminaries and universities as we speak? It has been all over the news lately. I don’t doubt that things are being done behind the scenes that, although not satisfying to public curiosity, are getting the job done.
Concern over the big picture–the dissent and the struggle to keep the truth alive–those are all valid frustrations and pains that I share with you. You gotta pray and do what you can.
What vexed me is Neuhaus’s concern that the pope’s a nice guy who, Neuhaus worries, possibly won’t do anything. THAT is silly.
You take care too, and God bless. Karen

Tim J. January 28, 2006 at 7:41 am

Thanks for your thoughts, Karen, et al…
good, vigorous discussion.
Everybody pray for the Pope’s intentions!
Peace in Christ-

Anonymous January 29, 2006 at 6:12 pm

“Of course the Church will survive. We have Our Lord’s promise on that.”
I believe the more correct word would be “prevail” -that does not preclude disaster for large segments of God’s Church. View Paul’s previously vast Church in Africa -Turkey etc. England and Europe needing religious resucitation, and here in the USA – the Church is but a shadow of her formal self – cafeteria Catholicism and priestly paucity being but a small part of the shadow.

Steven D. Greydanus January 30, 2006 at 6:16 am

I believe the more correct word would be “prevail”

Aye, but FWIW the promise was not that the church itself would prevail, only that it would not be prevailed against.

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