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  1. Eddie Finnegan says:

    ‘Fratelli Tutti’ at 287 paragraphs plus a prayer seems to be at least 16% longer than ‘Laudato Si’ at 246 paragraphs and a prayer. After 5 years most of us, and most parishes and dioceses, haven’t made much of a fist of implementing ‘Care for Our Common Home’, or even reading the document. Here on this site – despite the best efforts of Sean McDonagh, Dermot Lane, Donal Dorr, Pádraig McCarthy – our responses haven’t gone much beyond a love-in between Joe O’Leary and Sean O’Conaill (no offence, lads!) and the outlier Lloyd MacPherson doggedly ploughing his own lone furrow. And if we were waiting for the parish priests and homilists of Ireland, or even the ACP 1,000, we’d all be sunbathing at the North Pole resorts within the next five years.

    Perhaps, then, lest we get bogged down on the omissions or weaknesses we find in ‘Fratelli Tutti’, or whether ‘sorority’ should have equal billing with ‘fraternity’, we should concentrate on one or two of those 287 paragraphs and see how they might apply to the FF/FG/Green Coalition, the Irish Bishops, the PPs & Pastoral Councils of All-Ireland, and the ACP & ACI.

    In Chapter 4, ‘A Heart Open to the Whole World’, rather than bite off more than we can chew we should cut our coat according to our tailoring skills and stamina, and home in on a topic almost totally ignored in this forum over the past ten years. I mean ‘The Direct Provision System’, now in its 21st year of operation.

    In Parag 129 Francis suggests that the response to the arrival of migrating persons should be: 1.welcome, 2.protect, 3.promote, 4.integrate.

    In Parag. 130 he lists the typical criteria by which a host country should be judged:

    “As examples, we may cite: increasing and simplifying the granting of visas;

    adopting programmes of individual and community sponsorship;

    opening humanitarian corridors for the most vulnerable refugees (applies to Irish Republic as a continuing EU member, but also to NI post-Brexit);

    providing suitable and dignified housing;

    guaranteeing personal security and access to basic services;

    ensuring adequate consular assistance and the right to retain personal identity documents;

    equitable access to the justice system;

    the possibility of opening bank accounts and the guarantee of the minimum needed to survive;

    freedom of movement and the possibility of employment;

    protecting minors and ensuring their regular access to education;

    providing for programmes of temporary guardianship or shelter;

    guaranteeing religious freedom;

    promoting integration into society;

    supporting the reuniting of families;

    and preparing local communities for the process of integration.”

    From local, parochial, diocesan and national data, could ACP & ACI gauge Ireland’s score on a 0 – 10 scale for each of those 15 criteria over the 20 years in which the so-called ‘Direct Provision System’ has operated?

    It would be one approach to applying Francis’s criteria for fraternity and sorority on a long overdue social justice cause.

  2. Pádraig McCarthy says:

    The Encyclical is long: over 43,000 words. I confess I find that somewhat discouraging, along with the fact that the Vatican’s English translation is not written in user-friendly language.
    The Vatican website does offer a short summary by Isabella Piro: 2,127 words, with a section for each of the eight chapters.
    It also offers a somewhat longer summary, also by Isabella Piro: 3,269 words, by chapters but not under chapter headings:
    Both being so much shorter than the full document, they could perhaps function as appetisers or overviews to help a reader not to get lost in the full version!

  3. Sean O’Conaill says:

    #1 No offence taken, Eddie. With Joe so far away in Japan, and myself here not far from the island of Iona, we have always been socially distancing after all.

    As it happens I was just about to inquire from bro Joe as to the supposed pedagogical or other rationale for and purpose of Papal Encyclicals.

    Is it accepted in Rome that there is an even larger file drawer, or optical disc, or longer Cloud storage password, for these in diocesan offices – equivalent to the smaller ones for canonical directives that bishops couldn’t have time to read?

    I do not doubt the good intentions of Pope Francis, but the more encyclicals we have thrown at us – in the absence of the slightest hope that adjacent clergy will ever notice them, let alone invite us to discuss them – the less capable I feel of grasping the point of the exercise.

    Is there any canonical expectation that anything should happen to these documents other than that Catholic academics will win further cred by quoting them, complete with correct spelling of their Latin titles – in the RCC equivalent of University Challenge?

    This query is with respect to, for example, the aforesaid and now probably exasperated expectation of Lloyd Allan McPherson that by now, in the wake of Laudato Si, all Irish RC church and other ecclesiastical roofs would have sprouted solar panels – contributing nnnn megawatts of power to the island’s electricity grid – to the particular chagrin of the Democratic Unionist Party and the Free Presbyterian Church who found their own HQ electricity bills halved as a consequence. So far as I am aware, this has not transpired so far, because BBC NI would certainly have reported it.

    Is there a mathematical and even theological law behind this – that ecclesiastical textual extrapolation of the teachings of the Gospel must expand in inverse proportion to any hope of this massive historical enterprise having any observable effect – AMDG?

    We could call this, provisionally, the Exponential Circumlocution Hypothesis (ECH) – a pedagigical contradiction to the ‘light yoke’ promised in the Gospel – so dangerously interpreted nowadays to mean that what lies at the fount and summit of the hierarchy of truth can be ported about in the wee head of anyone-at-all.

  4. Joe O'Leary says:

    Sean, nobody reads anything today, least of all drab documents that go on and on in numbered paragraphs. The Documents of Vatican II began this splurge.

    What might have helped is to entrust the writing to real writers. Seeing what has been done to the liturgy in the new English translation one is disheartened at the lack of any literary intelligence in the Vatican.

    A sign of desperation is the way the encyclicals of John Paul II and Pope Francis are full of self-quotation. This is also an effort to lend apparent weight and substance to the papal magisterium.

    Monologues fall flat. If there were lively dialogues instead, some of them might attract attention. But Synods fall flat as well.

    Of course there have been lots of groups clamouring at the doors of the church for a hearing ever since the sixties, and again and again they have been turned away. Our present penury stems from that, and from the theological desert created from 1978 to 2013.

    Even on the topic of ecology, Laudato si was a solo performance. Despite his effort, Francis is sounding like a one-man-show just like John Paul II and Benedict XVI.

    I watched Benedict XVI’s last big ceremony (consecration of bishops including Georg Gänswein) on Youtube, a veritable apotheosis as long as a Wagner opera:

    Maybe there is something to be said for smells and bells, for sonorous diction, attractive hymnody, splendid accoutrements. Cut down on the talk and provide more contemplative space. And then other long repressed voices may begin to sound.

  5. Sean O’Conaill says:

    Thanks, Joe – that helps.

    So what we come to here is the need for the magisterium to get into vivid visual media – computer graphics, animation – and video games too?

    So that Francis III might be up for a writer-director Oscar on the final defeat of organised crime in the Vatican, with Liam Neeson playing the fitted-up but eventually vindicated George Pell?

    While teenagers globally are playing ‘Vatican Finance’ and well able to explain why it’s a horrible mistake to allege that the curia ever had too much money?

    Apologetics should always have been a visual affair anyway. Oh how I wish I still had a copy of the navy blue book presented to us in St Mary’s, Rathmines, c. 1958, by Fr Wally Kennedy CSSp – with the solemn prior warning:

    “Now, lads – the first thing you need to remember about Catholic apologetics is that it has nothing to do with apologising for anything. The Catholic Church has nothing whatsoever to apologise for!’

    He was the Rugby coach also – and the very same principle applied on the pitch whenever we were playing the High School or St Columba’s – or come to think of it, even Clongowes. (I preferred cricket – far more gentlemanly and much less dangerous and mud-bespattered.)

  6. Fr. Albert Maroun NSEF says:

    We recognize that there is a gap in wanting to establish and being able to establish. The Nova Scotians for Equalization Fairness run into this issue daily through their advocacy of economic reform in Nova Scotia. As a committee dedicated to a national issue we are a small group of local supporters and activists who feel a greater call to sustainability and commitments as outlined in Laudato si. Lloyd Allan MacPherson, through a local support role, has helped us decentralize our communications so that local initiatives can get the needed attention that sometimes governments are hesitant to provide. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if grass roots initiatives such as “Parish Solar” were able to launch simultaneously in both Canada and Ireland? This is something that we are individually looking at and willing to collaborate with other groups virtually in an effort to strengthen that parish movement. I look forward to learning more about collaboration on much needed reforms.
    Fr. Albert Maroun.

  7. Lloyd Allan MacPherson says:

    From: Jesus and Violence: The Importance of René Girard II
    An article by Sean O’Conaill – March 2015

    My statement – “I’ve always believed that the target demographic of “change” is that 13-17 year old mind whose hasn’t stepped too far into adulthood (insanity/mimetics).
    I can’t predict the future but I firmly believe if there were a way to fully encourage the hopes and wishes of this demographic and their projections for the future, they could possibly bridge the generational/intellectual gap within a maximum of 7 years.
    The seven years would certainly bring this demographic into adulthood where the results will be revealed. The only question I have for all of you is could you see this through without the need for a scapegoat?
    I urge all members of the ACI/ACP to get involved in such an initiative. Sean, based on your writings, education, work history and current Girardian research, you would be poised to lead such a charge in Ireland, in my opinion, if you were able to fully abandon all inclinations towards finding this scapegoat and somehow were presented the medium to launch such an initiative. This is the true test.”

    Sean O’Conaill’s response: “Couldn’t agree more heartily, LLoyd Allan. No scapegoats needed, by anyone, ever again! We must even stop blaming the bishops for everything. As they say to be wise these days, ‘we are where we are’!”

    We are where we are, aren’t we? 5 years later, we are all the wiser as to the ways of the world and our place in it. Have we become the people we were waiting for yet, Sean O’Conaill?

  8. Lloyd Allan MacPherson says:

    “When small, easily forgivable transgressions are labeled “sins” and equated with evil, we trivialize the very real notion of evil and divert our attention from the real thing. Before it becomes personal and shameable, evil is often culturally agreed-upon, admired, and deemed necessary. The apostle Paul already had the prescient genius to recognize this, and I believe he taught that both sin and salvation are, first of all, corporate and social realities. In fact, this recognition could and should be acknowledged as one of his major contributions to history. I believe it still will be.

    We largely missed that essential point, and thus found ourselves in the tight grip of monstrous social evils in Christian nations, all the way down to the modern era. Thus we also lost out on the benefit of a corporate notion of salvation that far exceeded anyone’s individual worthiness or unworthiness.
    We are all guilty with one another’s sin and not just our own.
    We are all good with one another’s goodness and not just our own.
    My life is not just about “me.” “

    Richard Rohr

  9. Joe O'Leary says:

    Oh, Richard Rohr. I thought it was a quote from Pope Francis…

    The Pope’s thoughts in Fratelli Tutti need not be lost in space if we just take some of them and use them as texts for homilies, or if we have a reading group to ponder them.

    Reading Thomas Albert Howard’s engaging book “The Pope and the Professor: Pius IX, Ignaz von Döllinger, and the Quandary of the Modern Age,” it strikes me how the Definition of July 18, 1870 gave the Popes an aura previously unknown and generally used for good.

    The Francis haters would like to strip him of that aura, and may imagine that his very unpretentious style of self-presentation, his sermo humilis, makes him an easy target.

    But it still means something that a Pope shares his considered thoughts, in the name of Christ, and we can all benefit from this, even if there is no need for noisy propaganda.

  10. Paddy Ferry says:

    Joe, did you mean to say “and generally used for good” So, infallibility has, on the whole, been a good thing. Am I missing something here?
    We are talking about infallibility, are we?

    “…it strikes me how the Definition of July 18, 1870 gave the Popes an aura previously unknown and generally used for good.”

  11. Joe O'Leary says:

    Yes, the papal aura that was a spin-off from Vatican I was generally used for good.

    Looking back behind 1870 we see a landscape that is very alien. The Vatican executed rebel leaders, and Catholics were asked by Civiltà Cattolica to pay not only a “tribute of wealth” and a “tribute of the intellect” but a “tribute of blood” to defend the pope. Volunteers, including Irish, duly signed up to kill and die for the Papal States, thought to be divinely gifted to the popes.

    The bombardment of the Porta Pia on 20 September 1870 (50 deaths) ended the Middle Ages, and gave us the modern papacy, which has enjoyed huge respect for 150 years.

    Döllinger begged Newman to speak out against the proposed new doctrine and got this reply: “I suppose in all Councils there has been intrigue [and] violence. But God over rules”; “all that was guaranteed in a Council was the truth of its resulting decision.” Newman would later defang the Definition and make papal infallibility anodyne, so that it has never been much of a burden to Catholic faith. See Thomas Albert Howard, “The Pope and the Professor” (Oxford UP, 2017).

  12. Joe O'Leary says:

    To find papal infallibility something to do, it was claimed that the canonization of saints is an infallible decision. I don’t know the history of that claim. But I noticed three beatification processes that leave me wondering.

    The last Hapsburg emperor, Charles I, was beatified by John Paul II in 2004. He was a pious man who died aged 34 and who said nice things about Pope Benedict XV and his peace efforts, but who also licenced the use of poison gas in World War I.

    Pope Francis has beatified a 14 year old Italian boy as the first blessed of the new millennium.

    The cause of 4 year old Little Nellie of Holy God (1903-08) was initiated by Pius X (who was inspired by her to reduce the age of First Communion to 7) but interrupted by his death, and it is being energetically revived.

  13. Joe O'Leary says:

    Here’s a piece on the alleged infallibility of canonizations:

    It again confirms that Vatican I, wittingly or not, sharply limited the scope of papal infallibility.

    Roberto de Mattei gives a similar answer, though from the vantage of someone who believes John XXIII was a disaster and should never have been canonized:

  14. Paddy Ferry says:

    Thanks for all that, Joe. Even before I came across the Great Hans I thought papal infallibility was a seriously dodgy doctrine and that was during the early years of my being a very devout, naive and holy boy.

    Seriously though, anyone who has not read Infallible? by Hans Kung should try and do so. I wonder is it still in print. It is a brilliant read and you learn much more than just the dodgy nature of infallibility – the history of European philosophy, for example.

  15. Seamus Ahearne says:

    Joe of Sophia University Tokyo writes of Fratelli Tutti; even of infallibility and offers us wisdom on many topics. Nellie Organ or Little Nellie of Holy God has found her way into his comments.

    Joe is busy ‘teaching’ Paddy of Donegal and Edinburgh. As a Portlaw native myself, I am pleased to say that Nellie is often claimed by all of us local folk from the village.

    Her mother’s name was Mary Ahearne (I’m not sure how her name was spelt). She had at least a name of note! I am surprised and amused to see young Nellie visiting the ACP forum.

    Seamus Ahearne osa

  16. Joe O'Leary says:

    A student in First Year Divinity in Maynooth wrote an essay expressing the same sense that Papal Infallibility was an “iffy” doctrine. Kevin McNamara (later archbishop of Dublin, a great friend of archbishop Joseph Ratzinger) gravely quizzed the student, who asked, “Is it really all that important?”

    Same student, who had done science, commented, “this theology is a very odd subject, it begins six feet in the air.”

    Ireland had a special stake in the Definition of 1870 because the chief framer of its text was the gifted linguist and Latinist Cardinal Cullen, and the clinching phrase, “ex sese, non autem ex consensu ecclesiae” (irreformable of themselves and not from the consent of the Church) was seen as “the feather in Ireland’s cap.”

    Before that phrase was inserted the text read simply: “Romani Pontificis definitiones irreformabiles esse” rather than “Romani Pontificis definitiones ex sese, non autem ex consensu Ecclesiae, irreformabiles esse.”

    That turn of the screw could be compared (salva reverentia) to the “genitum non factum, consubstantialis Patri” of Nicaea. On both occasions a Council used the adversaries’ words against them. “You denounce ‘homoousios’? Well the Son IS homoousios to Patri. So there!” “You Gallicans claim that papal infallibility in doctrinal matters presupposes confirmation by the total church (4th of the Four Gallican Articles of 1682). Well, thanks for telling us exactly what we do NOT believe!”

    The “ex sese” clause has an influence today in that the entire non-reception of Humanae Vitae is written off as having no bearing on ex cathedra papal teaching which does not need the consensus of the Church. Küng was much criticized for citing Humanae Vitae in his polemic against Infallibility, since it was a non-infallible document, but he was on to something. “Creeping infallibility” ensures that the thought-forms of the 1870 decree can be invoked for any papal teaching.

    Richard F. Costigan, SJ, wrote on the complex background of the Gallican Articles in Theological Studies 1990 and 1995. He has a 2005 book, “The Consensus of the Church and Papal Infallibility: A Study in the Background of Vatican I” (Catholic University of America Press).

    One of the shapers of the infallibility doctrine of Vatican I was Pope St Agatho, r. 678-681, who was more than a hundred years old when elected to the papacy!

    Although the 150th anniversary of Vatican I passed unremarked, its ultramontanism is more entrenched than ever:

    Today I’ll be looking at Maynooth theologian Patrick Murray’s Tractatus de Ecclesia Christi (1860), summoned up from the bowels of Sophia University library. I’m curious to see how it reads after 160 years.

  17. Joe O'Leary says:

    The only really funny moment in Joyce’s “Dubliners” is about infallibility:

    — Papal infallibility, said Mr Cunningham, that was the greatest scene in the whole history of the Church.
    — How was that, Martin? asked Mr Power.
    Mr Cunningham held up two thick fingers.
    — In the sacred college, you know, of cardinals and archbishops and bishops there were two men who held out against it while the others were all for it. The whole conclave except these two was unanimous. No! They wouldn’t have it.
    — Ha! said Mr. McCoy.
    — And they were a German cardinal by the name of Dolling…or Dowling…or –
    — Dowling was no German, and that’s a sure five, said Mr Power, laughing.
    — Well, this great German cardinal, whatever his name was, was one; and the other was John MacHale.
    — What? cried Mr. Kernan. Is it John of Tuam?
    — Are you sure of that now? asked Mr. Fogarty dubiously. I thought it was some Italian or American.
    — John of Tuam, repeated Mr Cunningham, was the man.
    He drank and the other gentlemen followed his lead. Then he resumed:
    — There they were at it, all the cardinals and bishops and archibishops from all the ends of the earth and these two fighting dog and devil until at last the Pope himself stood up and declared infallibility a dogma of the Church _ex cathedra_. On the very moment John MacHale, who had been arguing and arguing against it, stood up and shouted out with the voice of a lion: _Credo!_
    — _I believe!_ said Mr Fogarty.
    — _Credo!_ said Mr Cunningham. That showed the faith he had. He submitted the moment the Pope spoke.
    — And what about Dowling? asked Mr M’Coy.
    — The German cardinal wouldn’t submit. He left the Church.
    Mr Cunningham’s words had built up the vast image of the Church in the minds of his hearers. His deep raucous voice had thrilled them as it uttered the word of belief and submission.

  18. Sean O’Conaill says:

    Papalist Catholics alone can be oblivious to the obvious origins of the papacy in Roman imperialism. This is why endlessly there is an evasion of the obvious corruptive effect of power and of the moral contrast between Jesus and Caesar.

    The rivalry of Constantine and Maxentius is therefore still historically mirrored in the internal Vatican rivalries that brought Francis to Rome and in the resentment that fuels hatred of Francis by the Catholic right. And the sin of covetousness – of wanting what someone else has and resenting an inability to get it – goes unseen and unnamed.

    Meanwhile the wider world is increasingly scandalised by the recovery of the memory of the horrors of Christian imperialism, including especially these times the Atlantic slave trade. And there we find the same pattern – of murderous covetousness sanctioned and encouraged by popes.

    The full implications of the Vatican II declaration that truth cannot convey itself into the mind by force have yet to be grasped and articulated by the papacy – for that declaration inevitably refutes Constantine’s contention that God had approved of imperial conquest under the banner of the cross. Who could quantify the reparational obligation thereby acknowledged, including by the trivial matter of Pope Adrian IV, Laudabiliter and the Anglo-Norman invasion of Ireland?

    As to the future directional travel of ‘Peter’s pence’ ….?

    We begin to see, surely, why some will never let go the defence of Christendom, whatever horrors are uncovered?

  19. Paddy Ferry says:

    Joe, at times like this I feel privileged, as I have said before, to be part of a discourse with you on this site and to be educated by you. I had never heard of Little Nellie of Holy God though Seamus could well be a relative. I knew that Pius X brought the age of First Holy Communion down so children could receive even before being confirmed. Here in Scotland there have been efforts to correct that – children being confirmed on a Saturday and then “making” their first communion on the Sunday. In fact, I think, in some dioceses it all happens on the one day during the same mass.

    I think myself that that is a mistake. Leaving confirmation until the child is at secondary school, at the age of 12 or 13, meant that they still had one final big church celebration in their lives and they were more likely to continue the practice of their faith.

    Anyway, at last we are beginning to talk seriously about Papal Infallibility. Alleluia!! But where is everybody else? I do, of course, understand that for those in the institutional church it probably still is a subject that is beyond the pale. But remember we do have Francis now!!

    Sean, I have been watching the Samuel L Jackson series “Enslaved” and while watching it and the recent Michael Portillo series on Empire – was it called “In search of Empire” – have I come to fully understand what an absolutely heinous crime the slave trade was.
    I am genuinely puzzled why it has taken to this stage in my life to realise that.

  20. Joe O'Leary says:

    Ilia Delio says: “theological doctrine is rooted in a metaphysics of substance, where maleness is ontologically superior to femaleness and whiteness is salvific.” Isn’t this a sloppy and unhelpful caricature?

    No Christian theologians would say maleness is ontologically superior to femaleness (Aquinas was saddled with some Aristotelian junk on this and balanced it with Avicennian junk about the male being a defective female; on the level of mind or soul all humans are equally made in the divine image, as Augustine and indeed all Christian theologians insist).

    I’ve never even heard of a theologian who claims that “whiteness is salvific.” Didn’t the exegetes of the Song of Songs wax lyrical over blackness?:

    As to “metaphysics of substance,” it’s offset in the tradition by metaphysics of relation. And “substance” can mean anything. If you replace it with “being” as in “one in being with the Father” or “I am who am” it has a lot to be said for it.

  21. Joe O'Leary says:

    “Anyway, at last we are beginning to talk seriously about Papal Infallibility. Alleluia!! But where is everybody else? I do, of course, understand that for those in the institutional church it probably still is a subject that is beyond the pale. But remember we do have Francis now!!”

    We had John XXIII 60 years ago and he defanged “papal infallibility” by saying he’d never invoke it; and Vatican II melted it back into the infallibility Christ conferred on the Church including the lay faithful, whatever that infallibility may be. It’s a Cheshire Cat doctrine, nothing left but the smile. Küng made a song and dance about it in 1970 and prompted a replay of the old apologetics, but reading the debate today one is likely to say, “much ado about nothing.” Conservatives today, including Cardinal Ratzinger on female ordination, invoke only the infallibility of the ordinary magisterium across the ages, since they know that papal infallibility offers nothing. The only two surviving doctrines sanctioned by papal infallibility, those of 1854 and 1950, are a scanty yield (and Fergus Kerr argued that even these do not meet the criteria of infallible ex cathedra teaching laid down by Vatican I). In short, papal infallibility is not a live issue.

  22. Eddie Finnegan says:

    Well, Joe has been in fine form between 3.30 and 4.05pm (our time) this afternoon, and thank God for him. So I hope that not only Paddy but also Tony, Soline and Ilia Delio will, like me, feel privileged to have been on the fringe of his discourse. An advancement of learning, as Heaney said. In response to Paddy’s question, “But where is everybody else?”, I’m afraid I’ve been yawning over Hans and ‘Infallibility’ with a question mark, apostolic succession, transubstantiation and a few other surviving bugbears on and off over the past fifty years or so. And, in my 79th autumn, life’s inevitably getting a bit short for chasing unicorns.

    Meanwhile, could we not get back to engaging with the content of ‘Fratelli Tutti’, the supposed subject of this thread some 25 comments ago?

  23. Paddy Ferry says:

    Eddie, you are only 78, the age of the next President of the United States of America –my God, how I hope he is!!¬ –at his inauguration.

    You know when I wrote:

    “But where is everybody else? I do, of course, understand that for those in the institutional church it probably still is a subject that is beyond the pale.”

    My next sentence was going to be “But Eddie is not part of the institutional church !” But I stopped myself.

    Yes, Joe is great, absolutely top class. How lucky we are to have the benefit of his erudition on this site.

    I also feel I have been educated by you, Eddie with your brilliant contributions and knowledge over the years. And frequently by Seán and Pádraig too.

    You know when I first heard about Papal Infallibility, at school I think, I immediately sensed it was a bit dodgy though you never say that to anyone out loud. How cowed we were! But, I just had a “gut feeling” even though I knew very little –nothing infact –about the basis of much of our church’s teaching.

    So, when Hans Kung explained why he began to study this subject so earnestly –I think it might have been in his book, The Church -Maintained in Truth, –it was because his professorial colleagues at Tubingen encouraged him to do so because they all had a “gut feeling” that it wasn’t a tenable doctrine, you can imagine how I then felt I was in really good company.

  24. Joe O'Leary says:

    Papal Infallibiility was a provocative doctrine that upset the ecclesiological balance for a century, until Vatican II’s Lumen Gentium. But more than that it introduced an itch into Catholic theology, a growing sense that we could not continue with this frozen and fetichized approach to dogma. Rahner nagged about “Denziger Theology” but had not the resources to overcome it. Schillebeeckx had a wider historical vision (being a Dominican) and navigated Scripture more adroitly, and was one of many theologians raising consciousness about the basic epistemological question of the function and status of doctrinal statements. In 1974 I heard the following exchange: Berkhof: “How would you sum up the meaning of Christ in one sentence?” Schillebeeckx: “I do not think I could find a better answer than: the formula of the Council of Chalcedon.” But he had a realistic assessment of how such doctrines worked within the flow of history. He felt that Aloys Grillmeier’s vast history of the development of Christology might have misled the Church by its strait-laced focus on formulae and schemata (the sort of thing explored so expertly by Johannes Zachhuber in his new book). A step back from metaphysical formalism to the biblical event that dogmas intend to defend (as a fence about it), so that this event can live and resonate more freely in the church today, is one of the approaches to winning a less mystified and clogged relationship to the doctrinal tradition. Then a reflection on how the conventions of language and conceptuality relate to ultimate divine mysteries would open the way to a more skilful deployment of these conventions.

  25. Eddie Finnegan says:

    Dear Papa Francisco,
    Please assure us that you and your Fratelli Tutti inspirers, drafters and researchers did not intend to immerse it in a solution of papal infallibility or to deliver it ex cathedra, and that you tried to write it in a homiletic rather than overly magisterial idiom in the hope that we might find it useful. We would also be glad if you could add that the aforesaid papal infallibility is no more, has ceased to be, is a deceased distraction, bereft of life it rests in peace, and is definitely a very expired ex-parrot which, like Papa Roncalli and Papa Luciani before you, you have no intention of ever reviving, resurrecting, restoring to life or any enforcement role. Your Holiness, such a declaration would greatly help our discussion of this and any future encyclical or apostolic exhortation you may have in mind.
    Eddie F.

  26. Joe O'Leary says:

    Eddie, maybe you could allow one last blast of papal infallibility for the forthcoming encyclical on lgbt liberation. The opening words are already well known: “As the Church has constantly taught…”

  27. Pádraig McCarthy says:

    Joe O’Leary #23:
    On the matter of “Fratelli”, and on male and female and what Aquinas wrote about them, it may be that there is some misinterpretation of what Aquinas wrote. Michael Nolan, one of our lecturers in UCD in the 1960s, wrote an article in 1993 in New Blackfriars entitled: “The Defective Male: What Aquinas Really Said.”

    In a later edition of the article in a booklet, Michael Nolan expanded the essay somewhat, and he added an abstract at the beginning, which is a useful summary of his argument:

    Kit is curiously believed that Thomas Aquinas said that a woman is defective or is a defective male. Actually, he explicitly denies this five times. This article looks at the source of the contention in Aristotle’s biology. It then examines texts in which Aquinas says explicitly that woman is not defective whether she is seen as part of the Natural World or as part of God’s creation. Prevailing misconceptions are largely due to selective misquotation: Aquinas is cited when he is stating the Aristotelean contention, and his refutation of the contention is omitted. Misunderstanding may also be due to a phrase in a widely used English translation: ‘In respect of the individual nature woman is defective.’ This is sometimes taken as though ‘the individual nature’ in question is that of ‘the woman.’ ‘Individual nature however here denotes not the woman but the male semen, and the phrase simply states the Aristotelean contention that the male semen does not ‘intend’ to produce a female child. Aquinas contends that, even if this were true, it would not mean that woman herself is defective.

    In the second last paragraph of the later edition, Michael Nolan writes:
    One can only be surprised that a single phrase has so readily been taken to express the kernel of Aristotle’s and Aquinas’s thinking. For, of all the great philosophers, they believed most strongly that Nature acts for the best. ‘There too – in the humblest living creatures – are gods’, wrote Aristotle. And Aquinas was a member of an order founded to combat the Catharist teaching that the natural world in general and reproduction in particular are evils, creations of a malevolent God. That, he thought, was the world possible heresy. Neither Aristotle nor Aquinas was ever in the least likely to believe that half the human species is defective.

    The original New Blackfriars article may be found at
    There are some words missing in this from the above paragraph at the turn of the page from 163 to 164 in New Blackfriars.

    Michael Nolan has another article in 1995 in New Blackfriars entitled: “Passive and Deformed? Did Aristotle Really Say This?”
    If you have access to the jstor resources, this article can be found at

    Joe, I’m sure, is more qualified than I to offer an assessment of these articles!

  28. Lloyd Allan MacPherson says:

    “The Bridgers Club” connects parish with arts community for a perpetual fundraiser.

    Young people demand change. Scientists understand the issues but
    somehow can’t bridge the gap. Our communities hold a key to youth
    engagement but our imaginations somehow fail us. By seeing
    through the eyes of a child, can we merge education with action?

    S C I E N C E + A R T = T R A N S I T I O N

    A different artist will be featured each month of the year and will provide a “digital reward” for donors who sign up for monthly donations (perpetual or for the length of the fundraiser). Donor options can range from individual contributions to family-based options. It is recommended that artists be sourced from congregation members. On an equal footing, 6 men and 6 women will be rewarded for their generous contributions. Readily available fundraising platforms like “Chuffed” are available for such an event.

    We are seeking authors, poets, musicians, photographers, and digital artists for an opportunity to make a difference in your
    parish/community. In response to 2015’s Laudato si, the Diocese of Antigonish will be undertaking a virtual fundraiser that will allow
    our parishes to reduce our carbon footprint and help us to offset electricity costs.

    As “Parish Solar” is still a conceptual start-up, it relies on a collaborative model to be pushed forward; the first being the most important. Support for the arts during a period of transition can create mutually beneficial relationships that can lessen growing pains and increase awareness of good news in communities. Our commitment to establishing renewable energy sources within a cooperative framework (inclusive economies) could be a salvation for many children today. Our future depends on it.

    Please join us in this new virtual adventure.

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