Saturday, July 14, 2007

Kevin Johnson and the Boys at ReformedCatholicism Again Appeal to Dissident Heterodox Catholics in Order to Bash Orthodox Catholicism

The hallowed golden halls of "Reformed Catholicism" are
becoming more "diverse" and colorful all the time!

I've long noted this tendency; for example, Michael Pahls claiming that notorious dissident Edward Schillebeeckx was a "reputable Roman theologian" whose ideas surpass the antiquated notions of Cardinal Newman.

It's an old, tired game, that I have long since been familiar with, in my studies of Jehovah's Witnesses errors. You see, the JWs do the same thing to argue against Christianity in general. They'll cite almost invariably liberal theologians and scholars in order to "prove" some point of theirs (e.g., denial of the Holy Trinity) that goes against orthodox Christianity (in a generic sense). This is rather easy to do, because one can always find a liberal professed "Christian" who will deny any important doctrine of Christianity. Muslim apologists like Shabir Ally do exactly the same thing.

So our friends at Reformed Catholicism have (cleverly yet pathetically) applied the identical method in order to counter distinctively Catholic (they always take pains to say Roman Catholic) claims and dogma. In order to war against whatever they don't like (papal infallibility and "one true Church" being biggies), they'll dig up (and praise to the skies) some liberal Catholic who can be pitted against orthodox Catholic teaching.

The flip side of this erroneous mentality is to characterize outstanding orthodox Catholics like Cardinal Newman and Pope Benedict XVI (and their very favorite whipping boys: us dreadful Catholic apologists) as wild-eyed, turn-back-the-clock, "fundamentalist", triumphalistic reactionaries. It is an attempt to shift the goalposts: liberals amazingly become thoughtful, articulate, stimulating orthodox Catholics and orthodox Catholics are transformed into barnacle-encrusted throwbacks to the retrograde Middle Ages.

P. Andrew Sandlin actually favorably appealed to Hans Kung, of all people (probably the most famous Catholic liberal dissident of all):
Peter John mentioned Hans Kung. As an avid reader of Kung’s works, let me recommend them — not all of his views, of course, but the books themselves — to my fellow RC Protestants.
Start with Christianity: Essence, History, and Future and then proceed to The Catholic Church: A Short History.
I suspect that Peter and Dave will not be thrilled with this recommendation, but HK is every bit Benedict’s theological and intellectual equal (and I respect Benedict), and Kung’s determination to follow the historical truth right down to the bitter end should serve as an example to fellow Roman Catholics — and Protestants.
( 7-10-07; bolding added)
This is almost beyond belief. How gullible can someone be? For a devastating orthodox Catholic refutation of Kung's supposed historical acumen, see Joseph Costanzo, S.J.'s article, The Historical Credibility of Hans Kung. Commenter Peter John set this nonsense straight:
Kung has faded fast as being regarded as a real substantive theologian, and will be quickly forgotten. His current primary (dwindling) admirers are greying heterodox Catholics and Protestants. If you want suggest a (former Catholic) theologian who is about 25 years behind current trajectories in the Church, fine, but don’t expect a lot of people to take you seriously if you bring Kung to bear for Protestant arguments against Rome.
The latest poster boy for the "Reformed Catholic" cause is one Aloysius Pieris, S.J., a liberal Sri Lankan priest steeped in warmed-over socialist liberation theology. Kevin Johnson, the main guy at the RefCath blog, wrote:
I by no means think the cause is lost for Rome to change here. Of course, hardened traditionalists will say otherwise but the record of history is clear to point out that the Church though slow to change does move in the warp and woof of history and as such is certainly capable of change. Add to that the sovereign will of God and the power of the Holy Spirit and revival could sweep the halls of such a broken communion.
There are those within Rome of course that feel equal need to see such a change take place. Just today, I read a fantastic appeal to the Pope by Aloysius Pieris, S.J. forwarded to me by a dear friend and brother in the Lord. So, even with this announcement we refer to above and a continued attitude of exclusivity there is still hope that God will change the hearts of men for His glory and their better in His mercy and grace.
( 7-10-07; note the extreme adjectives: "extraordinary", "fantastic")
One wonders what Kevin knew about this person before immediately starting to tout him as an ally in his zeal to bash Catholicism (the "my enemy's enemy is my friend" routine)? Is there no concern for the nature of the sources he wishes to bring to the table and extoll to the heavens? After all, it's not very hard to find information, these days, what with this thing called the Internet and extraordinary search capabilities. Let's take a look, shall we?:
The Church is “the container” for the “mysterium Fidei”; but as Richard Rohr urged the participants in a recent clergy retreat at Ushaw College, we must not mistake the container for the contents; and sometimes the contents take us beyond the container. A case in point would be the Sri Langkan Jesuit, Aloysius Pieris, an expert in Buddhism, who in order to get to the mind and heart of Buddhism forsook all his Christian pre-conceptions, as far as that is possible, and submitted to being enrolled and trained as a Buddhist monk. Seemingly Buddhism has no place for a soul that gives a person a fixed and eternal identity. All is flux. Like waves in the ocean of existence we rise and roll from one identity or incarnation to the next. Aloysius Peiris announced to us surprised listeners that he had come to the conclusion that Christianity could engage more closely with Buddhism by abandoning the concept of soul as a “thing” that can have separate existence from the body. He said that was just an import from Platonic thought. However, God, he did agree, was a non negotiable part of our Faith!

I pondered this surprising revelation of Fr.Peiris and wondered how it was possible to go along with the idea of Christianity sans souls. I reflected on the fact that what gave the three persons of the Blessed Trinity their separate identity as persons was rooted in their relationship with each other. So also all existence is based on various forms of relationship, and amidst the web kaleidoscopic relationships of our personal existence is the pin point of each human being’s special relationship with God, be it known and acknowledged or not. That pin point of vital and eternal relationship, I try to suggest, could be a way by which we could go along with Fr. Pieris’ “no soul” stance. i.e. the soul is not a “thing” but a “relationship” – an eternal one, because God is eternal.

(Thoughts on Inter-Faith Dialogue, David Bingham; bolding added)
Lovely, isn't it? Yeah, this is clearly the guy who can bring down orthodox Catholicism a few rungs lower on the ladder; cut Rome down to size: a guy who doesn't even believe in souls anymore. But he'll do just fine as an ally for the reformed Catholics because he fights against Catholic doctrines that they don't care for! See how it works? Here's some more inspiring information about Kevin's new favorite Catholic:
To speak of Christ the King in such a situation, therefore, we have to address the realities of corporate power and of the cultural imperialism which goes with globalization. Aloysius Pieris offers us a way to think about this in speaking of Jesus as the irreconcilable antinomy between God and Mammon and the irrevocable covenant between God and the poor made flesh. The task of the church, he argues, is to live out this gospel in fellowship with the authentic spirituality and liberative dimensions of other religions, or in other words, in fellowship with what Huntington diagnoses as the heart of non Western cultures. Each of these religions has their own version of the Sermon on the Mount, the Truth that sets us free from being tied to things that cannot give us freedom. The church has to experience solidarity with non Christians by witnessing to the spirituality common to all religions (by practising the beatitudes); and reveal its Christian uniqueness in proclaiming Jesus as the new covenant by joining the poor against Mammon's principalities and powers that create poverty and oppression. In the Base Human Communities which have been developed not only in Asia but also here, 'Each religion, challenged by the other religion's unique approach to the liberation aspiration of the poor, discovers and renames itself in its specificity in response to other approaches.'25 The task of each religion, however, is to call people into a spirituality of nonacquisitiveness and nonaccumulativeness [what a marvelous liberal word!!!] which guarantees a healthy, ecologically balanced sharing of our resources. It is not only the church which does this, but the church must also do it. On this understanding the cross is not, as it is for much Protestant preaching, 'the price for sinners paid' but the price fixed by the rich who refuse to be evangelised by the poor. 'If one day we truly take up this cross as a body and go underground and pay that price for the sake of our intimidated masses, that day the world will see the miracle it is yearning to see, a church which has been evangelised by the poor, and therefore, a church that has become Good News to the poor, as Jesus was'.26
25 Pieris, Fire and Water p.161
26 A Pieris, Fire and Water Maryknoll: Orbis 1996 p.153
(Christ the King and the 'clash of civilizations', Tim Gorringe)
Nice touch there about the meaning of the cross, isn't it? I'm sure that will highly resonate with our Protestant brothers and sisters. Note more delightful theological elements in Robyn Banks' review of Pieris' book, An Asian Theology of Liberation:
Pieris claims that the Asian church cannot rely on the theological idiom and authority of Rome to gauge the orthodoxy of the theology it will develop (p51). Development of an authentic Asian Christianity must ironically run the risk of losing its (Latino-Hellenistic-) Christian identity. . . . So in asking Asian Christians to be immersed in the culture of Asia, Pieris is asking for nothing less than (using his own baptismal imagery) their immersion in non-Christian soteriologies, so that genuine Asian Christologies may be developed. Furthermore, and more controversially, his claim is that the soteriological nucleus of Asian religions is the only door for Christian kerygma (p59).
Fits right in with the "Reformed Catholic" agenda and worldview, wouldn't you think? I hadn't realized they were this far gone, but with such wide-eyed enthusiasm being directed towards this thoroughgoing postmodernist liberal priest, I guess no further proof is needed, huh?

But Fr. Pieris really earns his stripes in RefCath eyes by attacking the Holy Father himself (well, before he was pope):
Lauds for the Jesuit, Fr. Jacques Dupuis, and for other Jesuit contributions to the field came just weeks after Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, the Vatican's chief doctrinal authority, had publicly rebuked Dupuis. The praise from Vatican officials also occurred against the backdrop of Ratzinger's recent document Dominus Iesus, which criticizes approaches to religious pluralism set forth by Dupuis and other Jesuits.

. . . Dupuis and several other Jesuit theologians were among the primary targets of Ratzinger's September 2000 document Dominus Iesus, which reasserted the supremacy of Catholicism over other religions and Christian churches.

Those other Jesuits include Fr. Michael Amadaloss of India and Fr. Aloysius Pieris of Sri Lanka. In response to Dominus Iesus, Pieris warned in a Sept. 30 talk of "a Catholic fundamentalism raising its head among some members of the hierarchy in Europe, which is at once defensive against what is non-Christian and what is non-Catholic."

(Rome sends mixed signals on Jesuit contributions, John L. Allen, Jr., National Catholic Reporter, 4-27-01)
Lastly, Kevin and others at RefCath absolutely love -- so it seems -- when Fr. Pieris bashes the orthodox papacy (even episcopacy), in an article he wrote (with also the obligatory pleas for women's ordination and married priests):
My allusion is to the mundane way the Vatican extends its "diplomatic tentacles" to every local church on the globe, perpetuating a Roman imperial caricature of the Pauline principle.

. . . We have a hierarchical structure that finds it hard to keep step with the God of history.

. . . It is a well accepted conviction today that the whole belief-practice cycle revolving round the unexamined slogan repeated in Church documents (including those of Vatican II) that "the bishops are the (sole?) successors of the apostles" needs to be qualified (Tillard, 93ff).

Good ecclesiology does not permit us to use the word and concept of "succession" in this context. For instance, the pope is certainly the successor of his predecessor in office but not the "successor" of Peter and Paul; he is their vicar or their vice-gerens, their locum tenens! The word "apostle," as applied to The Twelve, does not allow succession.

. . . Unfortunately, the innovative frontier ministries faded away into the ancient patriarchal model of local leadership! Bishops and priests began to monopolize all ministries. This is the androcratically hierarchical monism which accounts for the present crisis. . . . the overwhelming patriarchal power of the episcopate-presbyterate has overturned the earliest ecclesiastical arrangement by subordinating the role of the missionary ministries to the monistic jurisdiction of an all-male hierarchy.

[note Fr. Pieris' high regard for lay ministry -- which is what my own is -- while RefCath is notorious in its disdain for lay Catholic apologetics; of course, Catholicism encourages lay ministry without pitting it against the hierarchy, as Fr. Pieris does]

. . . The unexamined but widely vulgarized assumption that Jesus "ordained priests" at the last supper and the other related belief that the (ordained) priest confects the sacrament by pronouncing words of consecration over bread and wine, do recur in official documents even today but are conspicuously absent in post-Vatican II works that reflect the spirit of Vatican II (Wicks 1975:99-165). That Jesus together with his whole body, the Church (head and members), exercises his one sole priesthood in all sacraments, and most eminently, in the Eucharist, must be officially endorsed so that the presbyters may re-learn to exercise their leadership role without ritually expressing or theologically claiming a superior sacerdotal character; rather let them manifest, in an appropriate liturgical idiom, their vocation to community service, a vocation they receive from God through the mediation of that same sacerdotal community of the laos.

This means two things. First of all, the statement that Bob Kaiser attributes to Cardinal Schotte (the man who organized the last synod in 2001), namely, that the bishops are not accountable to the laity but to the pope and the pope to Christ (Kaiser 2001), reflects an ecclesiology and a Christology that cannot claim Vatican II as their source. As Schillebeeckx has pointed out, it is precisely "what came from (the community) below" that was believed in the early Church to have "come from (God/Christ) above" (Schillebeeckx, 5). All office bearers of the Church, including the pope, are accountable to the laos, the Body of Christ.

. . . Firstly, I am not going to make a false start by arguing for the ordination of women as the first item on the agenda. This is the wrong end of the question. The ordination of women without first declericalizing the Church would end up in clericalizing the women, too, unless of course the women can succeed in redeeming all ministries of clericalism. . . . the scripturally unsubstantiated theory that Jesus ordained priests at the last supper (and that only males were present, there) is the major obstacle to the resolution of this issue. The biblical commission appointed to discuss the question of women’s ordination has clearly come out with a nihil obstat. Despite this, we seem to place our patriarchal tradition over and above the scriptures. Bibliophobia and gynephobia seem to go together among us Roman Catholics!

. . . even papacy should not appear incompatible with womanhood to the orthodox Catholics who feel bound in faith to accept Roman Catholic Mariology!
In other instances of the same mentality, we see Michael Pahls nonchalantly citing the notorious dissident Richard McBrien, as if he were a good Catholic theologian.

There you go folks! Just pick a good liberal / heterodox / dissident to criticize a Christian tradition or communion that you have something against, and fire away! This would be a blast to apply to analysis of Protestantism. It would be easy enough to locate a Bishop Spong or a Clark Pinnock or the practicing homosexual ordained by the Episcopalians (I forget his name) as a counter-weight in bashing Reformed Protestantism. If I tried to pull a stunt like that, I'd never hear the end of it, including accusations of my profound ignorance regarding what Reformed Christians believe.

But when it comes to Catholic-bashing, anything goes. No rules of fairness or intellectual solidity and consistency apply (quite obviously in this case). The dumbest thing of all is that this dissident will be praised in these circles as a "good Catholic": supposedly among the best that my Church has produced (and one that the Catholic Church should listen to and heed), when in fact he is scarcely a Catholic (in good standing; one who fully accepts the Church's teaching) at all.

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