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CHICAGO STUDIES EDITORIAL STAFF

Editor George J. Dyer

Associate Editor

Business Manager

John F. Dedek

Frank Potesta

· Production Manager

Executive Director Marjorie M. Lukas

Edmund J. Siedlecki

Editorial Advisors Louis Cameli John Canary William D. Carroll John J. CoJiins Agnes Cunningham, sscm James P. Doyle Mose Glynn Willard F. Jabusch James P. Keleher Edward H. Konerman, S.J.

Thomas B. McDonough Charles R. Meyer Thomas J. Murphy Joseph J. O'Brien Timothy E. O'Connell John J. Shea Richard F. Schroeder Edward J. Stokes, S.J. Thomas F. Sullivan Richard J. Wojcik

CHICAGO STUDIES is dedicated to the continuing theological d<>velopment of priests and other religious educators. The editors welcome articles and letters likely to be of interest to our readers. All communications regarding articles and editorial policy should be addressed to the editors. Subscriptions should be sent to CHICAGO STUDIES, Box 665, Mundelein, Illinois 60060. Subscription rates: $6.00 a year, $11.00 for two years, $21.00 for four years; Foreign subscribers: add $1.00 per year. CHICAGO STUDIES is published three times a year by Civitas Dei Foundation, Box 665, Mundelein, Illinois 60060. Third Class postage paid at St. Meinrad, Ind. Views expressed in the articles are those of the respective authors and not necessarily those of the editors or editorial board. Indexed in The Catholic Periodical Review and New Testament Abstracts. Microfilms of current and backfile volumes of CHICAGO STUDIES are now available from University Microfilms, Inc., 300 N. Zeeb Road, Ann Arbor, Michigan 48106. • Manuscripts will not be returned unless accompanied by self addressed stamped envelope. Copyright, 1975, by Civitas Dei Foundation.


VOLUME 14

FALL 1975

NUMBER 3

Articles CHRISTIAN ETHICS AND PERFECTION

227

Norbert J, Rigali, S.J.

PRIVATIZATIONA CONTEMPORARY CHALLENGE TO IGNATIAN SPIRITUALITY

241

William J. Byron, S.J.

SACRAMENTS-AN INSIGHT FROM THE ORTHODOX CHURCH

252

A. Nihal

. WHY CONFESS TO A PRIEST

260

Kenan B. Osbome, OFM

VIRGINAL CONCEPTIONFACT AND FAITH

279

J. R. Sheets, S.J.

LITURGY AND REVOLUTION

297

Emil S. Payer

PLURALISM IN CATHOLIC MORAL THEOLOGY

310

Charles E. Curran

INDEX

335

OUR COVER: "Moses at Nebo," stone, 19" high, by Ruth Nickerson, Permission by the National Sculpture Society.


Norbert J. RigaJi, S.J.

Christian Ethics and Perfection Moral theology cannot legitimately maintain that there is no distinctively Christian Ethic until it has re-incorporated ascetical theology-the science of Christian perfection.

When it was first generally acknowledged that moral theology needed to be reformed, theologians frequently lamented that this discipline had developed away from its roots in the Bible and dogmatic theology. There was much talk of developing a Christocentric moral theology. But by the end of the last decade many theologians were no longer thinking in terms of a Christ-centered ethics. Instead, the opinion that there is no distinctively Christian ethics had moved into the forefront of moral theology. If this rapid secularization of moral theology seems to have been precipitous, it perhaps would not have occurred at all, had theologians perceived the need for reform with a larger view of the inadequacy of traditional moral theology. Moral theology developed as a science for confessors and was thus understandably oriented toward the delimitation of sins. Less than a century after moral theology was established as an independent science, another independent subject, asceticism, emerged .. Whereas moral theology, directed toward understanding sin, had a negative thrust, ascetical . theology sought to understand the fulfillment and perfection of the Ch1istian life. By the historical accident of its having been born as a science of sin and thus separated from the science of Chris227


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tian perfection, moral theology had from birth an inherent tendency toward transforming Christian morality into a kind of legalism. When the need for reforming moral theology was eventually acknowledged, theologians were acutely aware of this tendency. They knew, too, that the focus on sin in moral theology needed to be replaced by a focus on the positive center of Christian life. However, what was at the time not generally recognized is that the deficiency of moral theology was due also to its being cut off from ascetical or spiritual theology. Although there was a wide consensus that the layperson's rightful role in the Church had to be restored, and every Christian, not only the religious, is called to Christian perfection, these convictions did not lead theologians to what seems to be their logical conclusion: if moral theology is to be, instead of the science of sin, the science of the Clu¡istian life, it must be also the science of Christian perfection. Had this inference been perceived, it would have seemed obvious that the reform of moral theology entails the creation of a new kind of science, a science that breaks down the barrier between the traditional disciplines of moral and ascetical theology. Before it had had time to realize the implications of the rediscovered notion that every Christian is called to perfection, moral theology was launched into the age of dialogue, charted for the Church by the Second Vatican Council. Impressed by the unanimity that men of good will can achieve in conversations about the common concerns of mankind, many Catholic moralists concluded that Clu¡istian ethics is essentially secular ethics. Thus, in less than a decade Catholic moral theology had come full circle. From its traditional secularization, in which moral theology had rested chiefly upon the foundations of natural law, this discipline passed into a brief flirtation with Christocentrism, only to move back quickly to a position of secularization, although in a new form. A QUESTION FOR CURRAN

The foremost American moralist espousing the new secularization is Charles Curran. He has explained his negative answer to the question, "Is there a distinctively Christian


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ethic?" in this way: "To deny a distinctively Christian ethic merely means that others who have never accepted o1¡ even heard of Christ Jesus are able to arrive not only at the same ethical decisions about particular matters but are also able to have for all practical purposes the same general dispositions and attitudes such as hope, freedom and love for others even to the point of sacrificing self." In replying to a reaction to a more recent presentation of this thesis at a theological convention in 197 4, Curran explained that the question about a distinctively Christian ethic is to be understood, not as an empirical question, but as a question of principle: Its answer therefore means that all men are in principle able to arrive at the same ethical decisions and to have the same general ethical dispositions and attitudes. However, it seems that adding the qualification "in principle" will not solve any of the difficulties of maintaining that there is no distinctively Christian ethic. For, first, one can just as easily say that all men are in principle capable of being Christians and hence, if there is a distinctively Christian ethic, are in principle capable of living in accord with it. Furthermore, in an "in principle" theological argument everything depends on what principle the theologians is considering. If we speak, for example, about the level of sanctity that an individual can attain in principle, it makes all the difference whether the principle is sufficient grace or efficacious grace. Similarly, we can say that man in principle does not need divine revelation to know those revealed truths accessible also to reason, or we can say that man in •principle needs revelation to know these truths. All depends on whether the principle is the inherent power of human reason, considered in itself, or the attainment of truth with certitude and without admixture of error. To be told then that the argument against a distinctively Christian ethic is an "in principle" argument is to have the problem of attempting to dete1mine what the principle is. Christ is not only God's revelation of himself. He is also God's revelation of man. But does man need this revelation of himself in Christ? The thesis that there is no distinctively Christian ethic seems to imply that man does not need the revelation of himself in Christ in order to know how to live


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human life in its fullness. Of course, it does not imply further that man does not need the grace of Christ. On the contrary, Curran's thesis rests explicitly on the premise that God's grace is offered to everyone, a teaching well founded in Vatican II. It seems, in Curran's theory, that, precisely because God's grace can be received by even the non-believer he, the Christian, and anyone else can alTive at the same ethical decisions and have the same general moral dispositions and attitudes. The principle then in Curran's argument against a specifically Christian ethic is apparently the universalism of God's offer of grace. But the principle involves a particular understanding of grace, one that renders Christ as the revelation of man essentially superfluous for ethics. The life, death and resurrection of Christ do not provide content for what would be a specifically Christian ethic. The notion of grace implied in this secularization of moral theology appears to assume that grace in the non-believer is as normative as grace in the Christian. Assuming this is like assuming in a theology of baptism that infant baptism is the normative instance. But if infant baptism can be understood adequately only in relation to the normative instance of adult baptism, the grace of the anonymous Christian can be explained only on the basis of the normative instance of grace, the grace in the Christian or, more precisely, the grace in Christ. Just as denying that baptism works the same fullness of its effect in the infant that it works in an adult is not to deny the ex opere operata character of the sacrament, so also to deny that grace works the same fullness of its effect in Christian and non-believer alike is not to deny that the non-believer can truly receive grace. But, because we know that the nonbeliever is offered grace, we cannot assume that he is capable of arriving at the same ethical decisions and of having the same moral dispositions as the Christian. For is it not possible that only through a certain fullness of the effect of grace are they aware of some of its implications and the capacity to live in accord with these? Finally, the notion of grace underlying the theory of secularization is individualistic. It seems to assume that the grace


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that is in an individual causes its effect in him only in virtue of its being in him. Is it not possible, however, that the grace that is in an individual can work a certain fullness of its effect in him only in virtue of his being in the community that brings grace to fullness of expression or visibility? Is it not possible that grace works a certain fullness of its effect in the individual only by reason of the fact that grace is in the Church of which he is a member? In summary, then, Curran's secularization theory implies a concept of grace that has major drawbacks. On the other hand, a notion of grace that does not entail these disadvantages cannot, it seems, support an "in principle" argument against Christian ethics. Moreover, it appears impossible to find a principle other than the universalism of God's offer of grace to do the job. For any other that might be considered seems to be reductively the same one. Therefore, the "in principle" argument against Christian ethics appears to be a theological cul-de-sac. ¡ MITIGATED SECULARIZATION

What could be characterized as "mitigated secularization" marked Josef Fuchs' entry into the secularization movement. According to this view, Christian morality in its categorical aspect, as distinguished from its transcendental aspect of "intentionality," is "fundamentally and substantially human, hence a morality of authentic humanity." The "newness that Christ brings us is not essentially a new (material) morality but the new man of grace." Material morality, then, is "essentially" or "substantially" or "fundamentally" identical ¡for Christian and non-Christian alike. One infers therefore that the material morality of the Christian differs from that of the non-beliver only accidentally or incidentally. What differences does Fuchs himself see on this categorical level? The relation of Christians to "the Person of Christ, the Holy Spirit working in us, the Christian community, the hierarchical Church, the sacraments, Christian anthropology" must be "realized in our conduct." This assertion apparently means the same as the statement that the intentionality of Christians "can influence their -particular categorical be-


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havior, above all through Christian motivation." More concretely, although the humanist can appreciate "the cross" inasmuch as he can value the conquering of egoism, the Christian teaching gives "a deeper understanding of the meaning of the cross in the sense of voluntary renunciation-for example, voluntary poverty in the world of the fall and redemption." Furthermore, the "true believer who lives in the community of believers and in the hierarchically ordered Church will not escape the ethos of the community and the Church in his manner of life." Besides, "only the believer will grasp the meaningfulness of Christian virginity." And, finally, "The religious and cultic relation of man to God is at one and the same time moral behavior and is determined in its Christian concretization largely by the Christian element in the believer." The disadvantage of "mitigated secularization" is that it implies that all these material differences between Christian and humanist moralities are only incidental or accidental. A further implication is that values such as the cross understood in a Christian sense, voluntary poverty and Christian virginity are only incidental or accidental in the Christian system of values. Obviously, values such as these have not been considered merely incidental ones in the Christian life as it has been studied by ascetical theology. But it is understandable that moral theology is still inclined to regard them implicitly as incidental to Christian morality. For moral theology has always been divorced from the science of the life of Christian perfection. Values connoting perfection seemed to be beyond the pale of moral theology and to pertain substantially only to ascetical theology. They appeared incidental in moral theology, and it treated them only incidentally, i.e., only inasmuch as it had to deal with the different states of life in the Church, and the religious life was one of these states. THE REUNION OF ASCETJCS AND MORAL

Nevertheless, since Vatican II rediscovered the basic truth that all Christians are called to the life of perfection, the Church can no longer tolerate this dualistic approach to the Christian life, in which morality is separated from perfection,


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and moral theology is completely distinct from ascetical or spiritual theology. The Church must now create a new science, which studies the value-system that constitutes the Christian perfection required of the whole Church. However, to dissolve the long-standing dichotomy, it seems that the Church must do one of two things. Either it must decide that the specific values, such as voluntary poverty and Christian virginity, that it has traditionally seen as essentially linked with "the life of striving for perfection" are really not essentially connected with perfection. Or it must determine that every Christian is really called to participate in some way in these values. Here it will be maintained that every Christian is indeed called to participate in these values. But we will have to narrow the field of values and ask only: how can every Christian be expected to participate in the value of Christian virginity? Then we will add a briefer, final section dealing with the question: why should every Christian be called to participate in this value and similar ones? To answer the first question, it might be good to ask another. Why should we think that every Christian is not called to participate in the value of Christian virginity? The literalist would answer that a Christianity without marriage is impossible and unthinkable. But beyond the literalist answer is the fact that there have been two kinds of Christian life in the Church, "the life of the commandments" and "the life of the evangelical counsels," and only the latter was viewed as being "the life of striving for perfection" and as including the value of Christian virginity. In other words, the Church has been living with two value-systems, one for the "ordinary" Christian and the other for the person striving for perfection, and only the second one included this value. Moral theology dealt essentially with the one value-system, and ascetical theology with the other. However, if all Christians are in fact called to perfection, we must move beyond the categories just outlined to find one basic value-system of the perfection required of all Christians, The question now is: does Christian virginity belong in this basic value-system of Christian perfection? And, if the answer to this question seems to be obviously negative, it should be noted that one who answers it thus should in turn face other


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questions. Why has Christian virginity played such an important role in the history of the Church if it is only an incidental value? Was there no genuine Clu¡istian insight involved in the Church's linking this value with the striving for Christian perfection? Let us begin to answer the question of whether Christian ¡ virginity pertains to the basic value-system of perfection by noting that, like any value-system, the value system of Christian perfection cannot be a collection of unrelated value-units. Rather, it must be an integral unity of interrelated values, which arises out of and expresses a total and unified stance toward the meaning of man's life in this world. VIRGINITY-A BASIC CHRISTIAN VALUE

If, then, Christian virginity is a basic Christian value, it must be part of a unified system of interrelated values. Spiritual writers have long shown how the values of poverty, chastity and obedience are interrelated in the value-system known as "the life of the counsels." But a similar interrelation between Christian virginity and the values of the "ordinary" Christian life must obtain if Christian virginity is truly a basic Christian value. And, if this interrelation obtains, we should expect to see it most clearly with regard to the sexual values of the "ordinary" Christian life. The official teaching of the Catholic Church regarding sexual morality for the layperson does indeed reflect the value of Christian virginity. The prohibition of premarital sexual intercourse and adultery, of homosexual acts and masturbation, the caution regarding even rhythm as a method of birth control, the refusal of H,omanae Vitae to accept sterilization and artificial contraception as morally neutral ways of regulating conception-all these facts regarding the magisterium reflect the value of Christian virginity inasmuch as in all of them there can be seen a demand for a certain degr<.oe of sexual self-renunciation. In other words, it is possible to see the official Catholic sexual ethic as so many interrelated values, integrated by the basic value of Christian virginity. It is being suggested here only that the Church's sexual ethic is actually integrated with the value of Christian vir-


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ginity and not, of course, that the magisterium has explicitly based its ethic on this value. For even if the Church's ethical teaching in sexual matters was actually based somehow on the value of Christian virginity, the magisterium could not have rationalized or objectified its teaching to itself, much less to others, in this way. It would have had to objectify its teaching even to itself in te1¡ms of natural law. Because Christian virginity was understood as an element of only "the life of striving for perfection," completely distinct from "the life of the commandments," and because the only methodology in sexual ethics known to the science that studied the latter life was the argument from natural law, the magisterium, both in conceiving and in expressing a sexual ethic, would necessarily have been restricted by the limitations of moral theology and indeed by the very division of sciences into moral and ascetical theology. In other words, in developing and expressing sexual ethical teaching regarding the layperson, the magisterium was limited by the categories of an underdeveloped moral theology, completely cut away from ascetical theology. Since, on the level of rational objectification, there were two value-systems in the Church and only the lesser pertained to the laity, the magisterium could not have taught, for instance, that artificial contraception has a morally negative element inasmuch as it cannot be totally integrated with and is not perfectly compatible with the basic value of Christian virginity. Because the theology of the time rendered invalid or meaningless a moral argument based on values pertaining to "the life of striving for perfection," the magisterium would have had ~o find an argument from natural law against artificial contraception if it knew by "instinct" that this kind of behavior is not completely compatible with the life of perfection to which all Christians are called. I am suggesting, then, that the Church's official sexual ethic may actually be based on the unformulated insight or intuitive knowledge that "the life of striving for perfection," with its value of Christian virginity, is to be participated in by all Christians. Assuming it existed, such an intuition would have had to remain "unconscious" and unformulated because the formulation of it is directly contradictory to the theology of


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the time. With respect to the suggestion made here it is worth noting certain facts. THE ECCLESIAL INTUITION

(1) Much of the Church's moral teaching, including teachings regarding sexual morality, existed long before a natural law system of morality was developed. Consequently, they originally were based on something other than a natural law system. (2) While the Catholic Church, including its theologians and moralists, found the natural law arguments regarding sexual matters convincing at the time, other Christian communities, in which there were no religious orders and celibate priesthood and in which there was, consequently, either no existential acknowledgment of the value of Christian virginity or at least no emphasis upon it, were generally unconvinced by the arguments. This fact seems to indicate that the persuasive power of the arguments were derived partly from an antecedent intuition about the matter in question. (3) Moral theology itself, as it existed in the past, frequently seems inexplicable unless Christian virginity is presupposed as a basic value. Note, for example, the following from Jone. "All directly voluntary sexual pleasure is mortally sinful outside of matrimony. This is true even if the pleasure be ever so brief and insignificant. Here there is no lightness of matter." It would seem that this extraordinarily strict and rigid teaching must have been actually derived from some idea far more radical than the notion of natural law. It must have come from an idea like the notion that Christian virginity is a basic Christian value, to be shared by all, or the notion that human nature is totally corrupt. And it seems that the Catholic moralists who subscribed to this teaching did not derive it from the latter notion. ( 4) The fact that much of the natural law argumentation regarding sexual matters is no longer convincing to many Catholic theologians suggests again the possibility that its persuasive power was always derivative, i.e., derived from a historical context in which Christian virginity was highly esteemed in the Church and could have been intuitively known


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to be a basic value of the Christian life of perfection which all Christians are called to share. One might reply that the fact that such natural law argumentation no longer convinces many Catholic theologians suggests only that the understanding of natural law itself has changed, as it indeed did change in the preceding decade. But here the way in which the understanding of natural law changed should be noted. It is, of course, true that a static understanding of natural law has been replaced by a dynamic, developmental, progressive understanding of it. But this change was an element of an overall transformation of consciousness within the Church, which has frequently been described as a movement from a classical mentality of historical consciousness and of which Teilhard de Chardin became a symbol. This movement of the last decade, as Curran often notes, was marked to a significant extent by a naive optimism which was inclined to overlook ¡ the reality of sin and to exaggerate the goodness of man and his perfectibility in this world. There may never have been a period in the history of the Church in which there was more said about self-fulfillment and less said about self-renunciation. In any case, it is important to see the change in the understanding of natural law in its actual historical context, in which the new understanding was not unaffected by naive optimism and tended to emphasize beyond measure the notion of self-fulfillment. In light of the historical context, then, it seems to be no accident that, as soon as the natural law argumentation against artificial contraception lost credibility extensively in the Church and many theologians began to maintain that artificial contraception is morally neutral per se, a crisis, focusing largely on celibacy, swiftly developed in the priesthood and the religious life. For the Church's official teaching on birth control had in fact demanded a certain degree of sexual selfrenunciation on the part of the laity, which made the layperson's Christian life continuous with "the life of striving for perfection" and its complete sexual self-renunciation. The argument, then, that artificial contraception is morally neutral and in accord with the new understanding of natural law in effect emphasized sexual self-fulfillment for the layperson and challenged his being called to sexual self-renunciation and the


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need for his life to be in continuity with "the life of striving for perfection." Moreover, the argument challenged also the celibacy of the priesthood and the religious life. For, if it in effect established that the layperson's life could be fully Christian without sexual self-renunciation and indeed should be a life of sexual self-fulfillment, this new understanding of the lay Christian life necessarily generated a questioning of and a crisis over the meaningfulness of living of life of complete sexual self-renunciation as a priest or a religious. A NEW TASK FOR MORAL THEOLOGY

Regardless, however, of what one thinks of the thesis that the implicit and "unconscious" basis of the Church's sexual ethic has been its notion of Christian perfection, it seems that moral theology is by no means finished even with the question of artificial contraception. For, if all Christians are called to perfection, moral theology as a science of the Christian life will have to turn itself explicitly into a science of the life of striving for perfection. It will have to say explicitly what perfection and a life of such striving are. With regard to artificial contraception, it will have to state explicitly. how this behavior fits or does not fit into the life of striving for perfection. If it seems at the moment sufficient for moral theology to say that this behavior is not per se contrary to the natural law, such as assertion will be insufficient in the future unless moral theology will have first demonstrated that the Christian life of striving for perfection is really the same as conforming to the natural law, at least as far as sexual matters are concerned. To deal now with the question of why such values as Christian virginity should be participated in by the "ordinary" Christian, I would like to outline briefly the thesis that there is a distinctively Christian ethic, and it is an ethic of kenosis or self-renunciation in order to do the will of the Father. Knowing that perfection is the love of charity, why did the Church see an essential bond between perfection and such values .as Christian virginity in categorizing the religious life as "the life of striving for perfection?" Is it not because the Church recognized such values as self-1¡enunciation par excel-


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lence and knew that the love that constitutes perfection is the selfless love revealed in Jesus, the man completely for others? Has not the Church always known that the authentic Christian life is a following of him who, coming into this world, said, "I have come to do your will, 0 God" (Heb. 10 :7), and who "emptied himself," obediently accepting even death, death on a cross" (Phil. 2 :7-8)? Has not it always known that truly to follow Christ involves a "hating" of one's life in this world (Jn. 12 :25) and a turning of one's back on oneself (Lk. 14 :26) ¡1 Has not the Church always realized that the Christian life of perfection is an emptying of oneself in order to do only the will of the Father after the pattern of Christ? Unfortunately, however, when "the life of the commandments" came to be recognized as an aternative to "the life of striving for perfection," the Christian life, as moral theology exemplifies, came to be conceived basically as a matter of conforming to natural law rather than to Christ. And in this diluted objectification of the Christian life, even supernatural charity, which formally constitutes Christian perfection, was conceived in a way that increasingly lost contact with the revelation of selfless love in Christ and transformed it into the self-interested love presupposed by any natural law. theory. Consider, for example, what the charity revealed in Christ supposedly is in the following application of the law of charity toward the neighbor in moral theology (J one). "In grave spiritual or temporal need our neighbor must be helped in as far as this is possible without serious inconvenience to ourselves." Although it is difficult to imagine an authentic interpretation of natural law that would not include at least this minimal amount of humane concern for one's fellow man, we are supposedly seeing here the supernatural, divine love revealed in Christ, the love in which man is called to participate and a love that transcends natural law as grace and supernatural transcent nature. With the charity that constitutes Christian perfection diluted beyond recognition as the charity revealed in Chl"ist by the . science studying "the life of the commandments," this science, namely, moral theology, was unfortunately but understandably, prepared to move swiftly in recent years to announce that there is no distinctively Christian ethic and that Chris-


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tian ethics are essentially the same as humanist, secular ethics. Having based itself on Greek ethics, which were ethics of self-fulfillment, moral theology has indeed been essentially the same as all the other great ethical systems that have arisen on the same basis in western culture. However, if one reflects on the fact that the application in moral theology of the law of charity toward the neighbor just mentioned has more in common with the secular ethical systems than it has with the understanding of charity in the ascetical theology of the past and the spiritual theology of the present, one may readily suspect that there is indeed a distinctively Christian ethic but that moral theology has yet to discover it. . One thing seems certain. Moral theology cannot legitimately maintain that there is no distinctively Christian ethic until it has turned itself into the science of the Christian life of striving for perfection and has then asked itself, What constitutes Christian perfection and the life of striving for it?


William J. Byron, S.J.

Privatization--A Contemporary Challenge to lgnalian Spirituality. Privatization fragments communities into isolated individuals, withdraws them from action to private cocoons. lgnatian spirituality offers a bridge between the deeply personal and the social needs of . the human person. Along with the evident economic growth and prosperity that have characterized America in the years since World War II, a social process called "privatization" has been underway. Under the impact of privatization, communities disintegrate into isolated individuals who tend to find their satisfaction in fantasy and sensation rather than action. Anyone concerned with the care and maintenence of the social order, anyone committed to the struggle for social justice, and anyone who is even halfconvinced that none will survive if all become isolated islands, will want to assess the danger of society posed by our present cultural tendency to withdraw from public action into the cocoon of privacy. Indicators of the privatization process are numerous: the private car, the private home, the private room and bath, the private telephone, radio, television, stereo and library. As theSe increase, public transportation, neighborhood community, communal recreation and celebration decline. Private schools and private property support this privatizing tendency. Private clubs, beaches, pools and planes are among the status symbols of this emerging condition. That these private objectives are not unconnected with wealth is evidenced by the fact that 241


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"private," in the American vocabulary, has imperceptibly and almost invariably come to connote the pursuit of affluence. Moreover, many signs that say "Private" also say "Keep Out" -hardly an invitation to community. The privatization process produces isolated individuals, many of them alienated and lonely rather than satisfied and secure. Community is all but collapsing in America while privatization keeps rolling along. In privatized America, anxiety generates markets for better locks; discontent motivates the quest for newer thrills. Boredom is widespread. The exploration of sensate experience increases as contact with the community diminishes. Borders of fantasy expand as concern for the needs of other wanes. "I don't want to get involved." "Do your own thing." "Live and let livejdie." "Stop the world, I want to get off." Negative social indicators of this withdrawal tendency are the drug culture, rising divorce rates, declining birth rates, the rise in educational drop-or stop-outs producing a burgeoning army of unskilled but highly mobile youths who specialize in "getting by." There are, of course, positive signals too. There has been a growth of personalism. Sensitivity to the moods and feelings of those within immediate reach is also growing. But with all the talk about in-depth interpersonal and small-group relations, there is disturbing evidence that growing. numbers of individuals are attempting to negotiate their way through this age of anxiety by selecting someone to cling to rather than some cause to commit their lives to. Without commitment, community cannot exist on any scale. And this, I will suggest a bit later on, provides us not only with a social problem but with a spiritual opportunity. lGNATIAN SPIRITUALITY-DEEPLY PERSONAL

Ignatian spirituality seems to be prospering in this era of privatization. Ignatian spirituality is deeply personal. It is summarized in the book of the Spiritual Exercises, communicated in the personally directed retreat, and preserved, for the person who has once made the Exercises, by the occasional or annual return to the retreat setting-a private setting, a condition of temporary withdrawal. In the introduction to his


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book, St. Ignatius instructs the retreatant and reminds the director that "Ordinarily, the progress made in the Exercises will be greater, the more the exercitant withdrawals from all friends and acquiantances, and from all world cares." (Spiritual Exercises, No. 20) To make the Exercises well, one should be "disengaged," living in "as great privacy as possible." (Ibid.) Moreover, Ignatian spirituality focuses on personal choices. (Ibid., No. 21) It first prepares one for and then fosters participation in life-long discernment process wherein a person, now committed to respond in faith to the call of Christ, daily withdraws for moments of consciousness of the active presence of God in one's life. This is not a mere intellectual awareness of God's existence. It is a deeply interior exercise that engages intellect, will and emotions in a reflective review of God's dealings with this unique person, of this person's unique experience of God through consolation and desolation in the presence of the Lord. The person at prayer searches his or her moods, impulses, "highs" and "lows" for traces of the Lord. This, of course, is prayer in the Ignatian style. Prayer, like faith, must always be personal, but-and this will be the point of the remainder of this essay-it is never really private. For I pray in a social context mediated to me by other persons. Among those "other persons," many who characterize their spirituality as Ignatian would number the prophets, the psalmist, Matthew, Mark, Luke and John, St. Paul, all the inspired writers. Following these would come a long list of persons, known and unknown, who shape the life and world of the one who prays, those by means of whom the Lord has chosen to touch the life of the one who prays. Hence prayer, although it may appear to be quite solitary, is indeed social. Perhaps that last point might be reinforced by a remark about the social context of faith. Faith, too, is highly personal. But as Thomas Clarke has pointed out, "it is always with a people, never with isolated individuals, that God enters into covenant. The individual person exchanges the pledge of fidelity with God only as part of a community of covenant." ("Jesuit Commitment-Fraternal Covenant?" in Studies in the Spirituality of Jesuits, June, 1971, p. 78.) The "Israel," the community of believers, the Church, is the covenant part-


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ner with God. His covenant is with me personally, but only as person-in-community. SOCIAL CONCERNS

The contemporary renewal of scholarly analysis and daily practice of Ignatian spirituality has set off a corresponding movement to relate the Spiritual Exercises to social theology arid social concerns. This movement has my own participation and full endorsement. But it would be a mistake, I think, to permit the Ignatian retreat experience to move away from the private (physical withdrawal) and personal (solitary prayer under the guidance of a personal director) in an effort to enhance social awareness or deepen social commitment. At the appropriate time, some first hand experience of social problems and oppressive social structures is necessary; if this is an extended experience, all the better. But it is in the "Apartness" of the guided prayer experience that social consciousness can deepen and social commitment be consciously incorporated into the commitment to Christ. This, of course presumes the presence of a socially sensitive director. It also presupposes that the retreatant will not be "deaf" as St. Ignatius would say, to the call of Christ in prayer. And finally it presupposes that, for all, the call of Christ will be toward greater social sensitivity and some degree of action. As that degree rises, defenses and resistance might be expected to rise as well in most of us. It is precisely in its capacity to provide the environment, method and continuing process for dealing with this resistance that lgnatian spirituality may have its greatest contribution to make to the development of the social apostolate. Let me borrow the insight, imagery and vocabulary of an expert to emphasize this important point. The Georgetown theologian Thomas King is an experienced retreat director. He once observed that the director, in discussing with the retreatant his or her experience of God in prayer, should "go after the spark." He should be alert to what it is in the meditations on the life, death and resurrection of Jesus that causes a "spark." He should be equally alert to the presence of a "spark" that might cause the retreatant to "jump back." Fr. King interprets Ignatian consolation


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in terms of freedom before the Lord; desolation is seen as unfreedom. When an obstacle, a ban-ier to freedom, cuts you off from that toward which you are tending, you experience desolation in the Ignatian sense; you experience a certain dread. The Spiritual Exercises are designed to deal with those ban-iers to freedom. The Exercises, however, are much more than a mechanism for freeing a person to get "out there" and work on social problems. For as much of the developing literature on sinful social structures suggest, social sin is personal sin or sinfulness "writ large," and unjust social structures are projections of my pride, my greed, my exploitative and evil tendencies. To deal with the problem "out there," means dealing with it in myself as well. This need not, indeed should not be a negative, depressing experience. For, as William Barry says so well: "When God reveals our sinfulness to us, it is always with the purpose of amendment of life and the empowerment to change. And only God can reveal sin to us. The state of sin is characterized by the inability or unwillingness to see oneself as sinner, as alienated. Only God can break through the barriers. When we are able to look at ourselves through the eyes of the Lord who loves us, only then can we see ourselves as we really are, as loved sinners. Both the adjective and the noun in that description are important: We are enabled to see ourselves as sinners precisely because we feel ourselves loved. It is for this reason that condemnations, whether for private or public sins, have little or no good effect unless accompanied by the love of God that empowers change." ("The Spiritual Exercises and Social Action : The Role of the Director," in Soundings, op. cit., p. 22 emphasis added). PRIVATIZATION AND SPIRITUALITY

It would be misleading to speak of "before" with respect to

the revelation of my personal condition as a "loved sinner" and "after" in relationship to my part in the necessary reform of sinful social structures. In fact, as Peter Henriot has said, a certain "simultaneity" is involved. Similarly, Thomas Clarke has noted that the healing grace that makes me a "loved sinner" is also at work on a societal scale. With this in mind, I want


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to consider now the opportunity that privatization presents to Ignatian spirituality in its contemporary concern for social relevance. No one person, ideology, methodology or institution can solve all levels of all social problems. Quite obviously, therefore, no one need apologize for addressing the needs of a Christian social apostolate in a less than comprehensive fashion. Yet in some fashion, some of these needs must be addressed by all of us. How does the apostolate of the Spiritual Exercises fit into the larger social apostolate? The experience of the Exercises is personal and interpersonal. Joseph Whelan has remarked that this experience is really "a meeting of two freedom-yours and your Father's, through the assistance of a brother (the director)." It is here at the intersection of those two freedoms, I believe, that the apostolate of the Exercises and the social apostolate meet. In Aleksandr I. Solzhenitsyn's The Gulag Archipelago, there is a passage that is illuminative for those who tend to blame social problems on evil people who are at work "out there" oppressing the poor, exploiting the powerless: "If only it were all so simple! If only there were evil people somewhere insidiously committing evil deeds, and it were necessary only to separate them from the rest of us and destroy them. But the line dividing good and evil cuts through the hearts of every human being. And who is willing to destroy a piece of his own heart? "During the life of any heart this line keeps changing place; sometimes it is squeezed one way by exuberant evil and sometimes it shifts to allow enougl1 space for good to flourish. One and the same human person is, at various ages, under various circumstances, a totally different human being. At times he is close to being a devil, at times to sainthood. But his name dosn't change, and to that name we ascribe the whole lot, good and evil. "Socrates taught us: Know thyself! Confronted by the pit into which we are about to toss those who have done us harm, we halt, stricken dumb: it is after all only because of the way thinks worked out that they were the executioners and we weren't." lgnatian prayer focuses on the "life of the heart." Ignatian discenunent searches out the light and darkness there; it mea-


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sures the shifting "line" between good and evil that Solzhenitsyn sees in every human heart. Ignatian spirituality would insist that man, the changeling, reflect upon the moods, impulses, motives and inspirations that might account for his changeabilities. Those who question the relevance of this for the social apostolate might ponder a sentence from the Constitution of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO): "Since wars begin in the minds of men, it is in the minds of men that the defences of peace must be constructed." The question, of course, is how to get the right minds into the ambit of the Exercises. St. Ignatius was an elitist in this regard. "If I were giving the Exe1'Ci.,es in their entirety, I should give them to very few, and they educated, or persons who are very desirous of perfection, or very prominent ... " wrote Ignatius to his Jesuit brothers in Portugal. He seemed to be thinking of the "best and the brightest" among whom, even today, there are surely some whose faith and desire for spiritual progress suggest that they could profit from the experience of the Exercises. Not everyone who is affected by privatization is isolated in fantasy or insulated by sensation, preferring these to prayer and action. And if Ignatius were with us today, he would surely not overlook the genuine elites that exist among the poor and powerless. They too have their actual and emerging leaders. We often forget that "elite" and "excellence" are relative terms. There is all around us a renewed interest in spirituality. In many lives, a contemplative dimension is opening up. Priyatization poses a challenge to the proponents of Ignatian spirit. uality to find among the prominent and powerful in all classes of society those persons whom God might be calling to meet Him at the intersection of the two freedoms, his and theirs. Such meetings are always personal, but never really private, although the Ignatian expectation is that they happen best in a setting of disengagement and apartness. Call it privacy, if you will, but recognize that it has social roots and societal consequences. In any case, our preference for privacy in America suggests a cultural disposition that is congenial to this one element of the Ignatian approach to prayer.


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FAITH A BRIDGE

I suggested earlier that faith, like prayer, is personal but never private. I have also suggested how personal prayer is, in fact, social. Let me now cite an insightful passage from William Lynch's chapter on "Reimagining Faith" from his Images of Faith to show how faith is the bridge from individualism to social consciousness and concern. "In any human situation .where the alternatives are the choice between an individualistic or narcissistic construction of the facts on the one hand and a human and social construction on the other, it is finally faith alone that permits us to make the decisive move from a narcissistic, self-enclosed world to a public world. But it is only at the point of this decision that the whole order of true human feelings and truly human sensibility becomes possible. The purely private is ahvays ugly; there is no beauty in it." (William F. Lynch, S.J., Images of Faith, 1973). Faith, in this sense, is not necessarily religious faith and it is certainly not a pure intellectual assent to a ~et of propositions. It is, at bottom, trust; human trust in others. Such trust derives from love. I said that this is "not necessarily" religious faith and thus implied that it might be. I had in mind the notion of faith-as-trust articulated by the Second Vatican Council which described faith as an act "by which man entrusts his whole self freely to God." Fr. Lynch writes of faith's "body," the "horizontal" dimension as contrasted with "vertical" or transcendental faith. Faith is "embodied" in . human trust relationships. "Can faith be thus embodied and thus imagined" I think it can. It can be experienced and imagined if we conceive that it has not only a vertical life, directed in the most formal way toward God, but a horizontal life as well, directed toward creating and being the very essence of the life of man in society and politics ... And so hard and deep is the relationship of faith to society that it is wrong for religious men to say that they apply or "relate" the principles of faith to society (make them relevant!). All such external language misses the point and, despite all straining and good will, is condemned to the agonizing irrelevance it strives so much to avoid. Hu-


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man society is faith itself. And I do not mean thereby that religious belief, that is to say belief in God, makes society. To say, rather, that belief in God has a body, and that body is the belief men have in each other, and that this constitutes human society comes nwch closer to what I mean." (Lynch, op. cit., pp. 56-57 italics in the original). The deepening of faith in a prayer experience is not without social relevance, for society itself depends on faith for its very existence. Faith is the act by which 'we not only entrust ourselves to God but entrust and commit ourselves to each other in human community. The author of the Letter to the Hebrews defines faith in a famous sentence: "Only faith can guarantee the blessings that we hope for, or prove the existence of the realities that at present remain unseen'' (Heb. 11 :1). He then encourages us to "keep running steadily in the race we have started. Let U$ not lose sight of Jesus, who leads us in our faith and brings it to perfection" (12 :3). Jesus tn1sted his Father; it is in Christ that we are able to do the same. In the Ignatian retreat, the person at prayer tries never to "lose sight of Jesus." It is unthinkable that Jesus would draw such a trusting person away from trust and concern for others. THE QUEST FOR JUSTICE AND HOLINESS

To borrow once more and finally from Lynch, I want simply to quote the words he cites (from Cardinal Roy, at the Roman Synod, 1971) to acknowledge that justice is really holiness, and that those who witness to the work for justice must also be questing for holiness. We are not witnesses to just any justice, but to evangelical justice; that is where our sights should certainly be set. If not, we could be swept toward the ambiguous solutions of a human justice which is obscured by sin and often turned in on itself. What then is the root of justice according to the Gospel? It is necessary to respond that justice which is sanctity is the root foundation of social justice: one gives rise to the other. Nothing is holy if it is not justice; nothing if fully just that is not seeking holiness. Therefore, the love of God and of neighbor are inseparably united.


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From this flow several consequences. 1. The action necessary to change political structures cannot replace the transformation of people; conversion of heatt is indispensable. 2. The Christian cannot accept class struggle as the sole means for the transformation of the world. He must examine with equal care the way of law, of nonviolent action, of love. Justice must be a progress toward liberty in charity. History shows us that exclusively human justice based on power creates a hardship for men, especially when it becomes a political regime. It does not change hemts, it does not liberate men: it reigns over rebels. (Quoted by Lynch, op. cit., p. 90) The Spiritual Exercuws are here, quite literally in our hands, waiting to be used as one means employed by God for the transformation of people, for conversion of hea1ts, for human liberation. My Loyola University colleague, the poet-theologian Francis Sullivan, shared with me his own reflections on how lgnatian prayer gives one the "eyes to see what is there." This is a skill, he says, that the compositions of place, called for by Ignatius, should develop. Quoting from a note he sent me on this point: " ... Jesus and what happened to him, and the forces at work on him, and the killing of him must be envisioned with the senses and imagination; and, failing senses and imagination, the hope of seeing is over. So I see the Exe1¡cises as opening the senses up to others in their historical passion. But structures of injustice require to be pointed out, by asking the senses and imagination of the exercitant to live there where the injustices exist. So the retreat master, I guess, should have lived empathetically the injustice." Fr. Sullivan sees the "Contemplatio Ad Amorem" as irreplaceable." It hints "at that Early Church phrase 'you have seen your brother, you have seen your God.' ,; And he adds: "God is the one who suffers (undergoes) the total passionecstasy of his creation by choice of his love and leaving it its freedom. Thus whoever puts on the mind of that God must live the society of. mankind, live its whole passion-ecstacy as much as possible in order to be more truly like God." The most intensely personal and deeply contemplative moments of the Ignatian retreat experience contribute to a developing social consciousness. It is my conviction that the


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Exercises are designed to advance the development of a person in a way that encourages that person's subsequent contribution to the development of the peoples of this world. And here again, simultaneity is at work. In that personal development, society is developing too. But it is also true that the Exercises are a "school" which produces persons committed to subsequent service of God in man. Without such commitment, society will collapse. In this age of privatization (the negative view) and inwardness (the positive side!), those who steward the wealth of Ignatian spirituality have a good opportunity to increase "enrollments" in their school while retaining high admissions standards. They will thus make significant contributions to the manifold needs of the Church's social apostolate. And this micro-rather than macro-approach to the social significance of Ignatian spirituality should not be too surprising. For, as the depth psychologist Carl Jung has written in The Undiscovered Self, "It is unfortunately only too clear that if the individual is not truly regenerated in spirit, society cannot be either, for society is the sum of individuals in need of redemption." (Boston: Little, Brown, 1957, p. 56) Such regeneration is the apostolate of the Exercises. The antecedent agenda for those committed to this spiritual apostolate involves the identification, invitation and motivation of those individuals who can do most to regenerate society.


A. Nihal

Sacraments--An insight {rom the Orthodox Church. In the administration of the Sacraments Catholics may learn much about flexibility from the Greek Orthodox Church. Francois Houtart, the well known sociologist of Louvain, points out that the challenge for the Church today is to be able to give a flexibility to her laws according to the needs of the rapidly changing world. Every pastor has felt this need at one time or another, as he often asks himself: How is he to insert the situational dimension of the life of ordinary people in his parish into the totality of their existence as Christians and citizens of the world, while still remaining within the structure of the Church and accepting its categories of thought. It is true the situation of the individual is something particular and singular. But it is also true that this particular empirical reality colours the structure of our entire life and ¡manner of insertion into the whole, which in this case is the universal dimension of faith. The present article does not seek to give a solution to the problem. But it seeks to propose a certain context within which this problem may be set in order to move towards a solution of it. This context is what can be called the doctrine of economy, which is held in the Greek Orthodox Churches. This doctrine is not very well known to those of the Western tradition of Christianity. Hence, even the fact of knowing that such a doctrine does exist has an obvious ecumenical value. But as the present article will try to point out, their solution of the problem is not tied down by legislation. Rather their 252


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emphasis is on the context within which one inserts oneself into the universal dimension of faith especially through the sacraments and this context is theological and ecclesial rather than juridical. The basic idea of the doctrine of economy is the notion of God's condescension (katabasis) in becoming man-a notion which is found in the Fathers of the Church. The "condescension" is now confided to the Church which is the sole treasury of God's grace; and therefore there is need for the Church to accept the human situation and adapt to it in a manner similar to that in which Christ became man. The important value of the doctrine of economy is the theological and ecclesial context within which it is set. The theological context is the notion of God's condescension which is now confided to the Church. The ecclesial context is that the Church is constituted the one and only treasury of God's grace and consequently the need for her to adapt herself as a good administrator of this treasury to the human situation especially in her sacramental discipline. WHAT IS THE DOCTRINE OF ECONOMY?

An important study of the question of what is economy has been made by Mgr. Jerome Kotsonis. The study is founded on documents which have authoritative value in the sphere of jurisprudence. The study itself has a certain prestige because, since its publication Mgr. Kotsonis has become the Archbishop of Athens and of all Greece. He speaks of the situation of economy as a situation which is present when by necessity or for the greater good of a certain number of people or of the whole church, there is a certain derogation from the exactness of the law. This derogation is permitted temporarily or permanently, provided that the derogation permits piety, faith and purity of doctrine to remain unaltered. It must be noted that this deviation from the exactness of the law is not necessarily towards leniency. It could in certain cases be stricter than the requirement of the law. (Mgr. Kotsonis gives the example of Acts 16:3, where Paul had Timothy, whose father was a Greek, circumcized).


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This doctrine is very much in the spirit of the etymology of the word "economy" (derived as it is from "oikos" -house + "nemein"=to administer or to govern). The Greeks who loved good order considered a good director as an "oikonomikos." Already at the beginning of the fourth century B.C., Xenophon had written a work entitled "oikonomikos." In this work, he considers that a good "oikonomikos" needs knowledge (episteme) and skill (techne). These are really two qualities which could apply to the member of any profession, and obviously to the pastor in the Church. In Eph 3:9 we find the term used in regard to the mystery of God hidden for ages and revealed in Christ. It is this treasure that has been confided to the Church; it is her duty to administer it as a good "oikonomikos." This presupposes a knowledge or the situation and skill in adapting the norms to the situation-all the time retaining the essential elements of the Christian message. It is against this background that one must study the scope and the goal of the doctrine of economy. THE SCOPE OF ECONOMY

One can say right away that there are certain spheres to which the doctrine of economy does not apply and this is to the realm of dogma and faith. In these areas, there must always be adherence to the exactness of the law. In other situations and this includes especially the administration of the sacraments, as a general rule, there must be adherence to the exactness of the law. But in cases where the exactness of the law cannot be applied, one can use the principle of economy. The exact scope and extent of economy in such situations cannot be ascertained with any degree of unanimity. Francis J. Thomson examines the opinions of several Greek theologians and concludes that almost anything is possible. To cite his own words, "It is evident that no clear idea of economy can be obtained. The results can thus be tabulated in four main groups: (a) Economy can make what is invalid to be valid and what is valid to be invalid (Androutsos, Dyovouniotis), (b) Economy can make what is valid to be invalid, but not what is invalid to be valid (Patriarch Meletios), (c) Economy cannot

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make what is valid to be invalid, but can make what is invalid to be valid (Georgiadis), (d) Economy can neither make what is valid to be invalid nor what is invalid to be valid (Amvrasis, Alivizatos) . In this variety of possibilities which are envisaged as coming within the scope and extent of economy, one notices contradictory opinions being held by theologians. But one can understand these seeming contradictions only by looking at the conditions under which economy can be applied. And here it will be seen that the stress is on the context of faith and doctrine, which are considered of prime importance. Where these are lacking, no matter how the "rite" is performed, it does not confer grace (and is therefore invalid). But where these are present, it is possible to envisage grace which is conferred in some way and it is the duty of the Church to recognize this and therefore to uphold the value (or the validity) of the "rite" through which it was conferred. CONDITIONS FOR APPLYING THE DOCTRINE OF ECONOMY

The primary condition for the application of the principle of economy is that there should be fa,ith in the one who seeks to have the principle applied in his case. For the Holy Spirit is considered to act on believers even outside the ambit of the visible Church in proportion to the faith of the believer. Consequently, it becomes the duty of the Orthodox Church to recognize this action of the Holy Spirit, for it is an action in view of the Church, the only treasury of grace. Since faith is the requirement for the action of the Holy Spirit, one can say that this is outside the scope of the Church. If the Church is to function as administmtor of the treasury of grace and recognize this "anonymous" action of the Holy Spirit as being in view of the Church, the believer has also to recognize this orientation. Hence together with faith, there is also demanded some orienta,tion to the Orthodox Church. This orientation may be at the level of the particular church to which the believer belongs or at the level of the person himself. To evaluate this orientation, the Orthodox Church takes into account, the history of the relation of the particular church or the particular person to her.


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In this perspective, one can see that both faith and orientation to the Orthodox Church viewed in terms of past history have the possibility of receiving diverse assessments and interpretations; hence, there is the possibility of the divergent and seemingly contradictory gamut of opinions on the part of theologians. The document on the subject of economy prepared for the fourth Panorthodox Conference considers this to be a sufficient explanation why one local church would consider sacraments administered by a heteredox church valid, while a similar case would receive a contradictory assessment in another local Church, which considers that this negative evaluation could lead the heteredox group so treated to the bosom of the Orthodox Church. A concrete example of the manner in which the principle of economy is applied would perhaps be helpful in understanding the principle and its application somewhat better. The Conference of Orthodox Churches held in Moscow in July 1948 studied the question of the recognition of Anglican orders. They studied the Thirty nine articles and found them insufficient in regard to their doctrine about the sacraments and particularly the sacrament of orders. However, the conference affirmed that a recognition of the validity of the Anglican hierarchy was possible, if there was unity of faith and confession with the Orthodox Church. When this unity of faith and confession would be realized, then the Anglican orders could be recognized by the principle of economy on the strength of a decision of the entire Holy Orthodox Church. So here, it is a question of looking first to the context of faith and doctrine and then at the "minimum requirements" for validity. They consider it useless to speculate on "minimum requirements" if the context does not exist. BASIS AND GOAL OF ECONOMY

The theological basis of the principle is that the Orthodox Church considers herself alone the true Church of God and as such, the sole steward of divine grace. The sacraments are sacraments of the Church administered in and within the Church. The Church as sole steward of grace is especially steward of


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the sacraments as channels of grace. To them she has to apply the Jaw-as a general rule, the Jaw in its strictness; but at the same time not forgetting the spirit in which these have been founded, a spirit of condescension and adaptation to the human situation. Therefore, in a very profound sense, she recognizes that the sacraments are for men and consequently the need of catering to their actual situation so that redemption may be made available to as large a number as possible. CRITIQUE OF THE PRINCIPLE OF ECONOMY

The critique of the principle can be made especially from the point of view of its theological basis. It is not possible for the Catholic to accept the notion that the Orthodox Church is the only true Church and that all the other Churches including the Catholic Church are heterodox. But though this basis of the doctrine can be criticized, it is very important to remember that there is another aspect of the doctrine which is perfectly valid and whose understanding can enrich the understanding of the principle, "Sacramenta sunt propter homines," of the Catholic Church. This second aspect of the doctrine of economy is in regard to the nature of the sacraments in their relation to the Church, namely the insight embodied in this doctrine that the sacraments are sacraments of the Church and that they are and can only be validly administered in and by the Church. This insight immediately moves sacramental legislation away from the minimum that is required for validity and gives a certain dynamism to sacramental legislation. The sacraments have always to be considered in their context of faith and communion with the Church. The legislation in regard to the sacraments is to be observed, it is true, as a general rule. But more important than the Jetter of the law is the context. Consequently, there is the possibility within this perspective of considering cases, where the context exists, but the where the exactness of the Jaw cannot be observed. In such cases the principle of economy requires that there be a deviation from the exactness of the Jaw. This deviation, it must be noted, need not always be in favour of leniency. It could be towards a stricter demand than :the law,


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if this would help to give the sacraments a more profound ecclesial and theological context in a given situation. In the Catholic Church, it is true that there is the possibility of deviation from the law through the principles of epikeia, dispensation, sanatio in 1¡adice. But these principles are of philosophico-juridical origin. They can be given a fresh vitality and a much more dynamic flexibility by an understanding and appreciation of them within the theological and ecclesial perspectives of the principle of economy. A RE-CONSIDERATION OF SACRAMENTAL LEGISLATION

There is one situation especially in which a pastor finds it hard to decide on a norm of pastoral action and this is the case of those who are involved in unlawful unions. In terms of juridical categories, it is only possible to class them as living in sin (concubinatus). But this cannot be fully accepted as regards their theological and ecclesial status. Fr. Bernard Haring has pointed out very well that there is an important element present in such marriages which is not present in the case of "concubinatus," namely the will of marriage, an intention of an irrevocable union, and therefore the need of taking this aspect into consideration in their pastoral care. In so far as this will is present, they are at least partially and imperfectly reflecting the "reality" of man¡iage, the union of Christ to his Church. This context has to be taken into account and if it is one cannot speak of their situation as being totally "lawful;" while at the same time one cannot condemn it as being totally "unlawful." Some intermediary category has to be found, because it is a situation that is extra-ordinary (out of the ordinary) and cannot be fully covered by philosophicojurdical categories. It is a fact that no solution that is fully acceptable to the Church has yet been found. But it does not mean that one can stop trying. One has to search for a solution especially in view of the fact that every Christian by the very fact of his Baptism has a right to the Eucharist. St. Thomas Aquinas even speaks of no one having grace before the reception of the eucharist or at least by some desire of receiving it ( S. Th. III, q. 79, art. 1). Perhaps the more careful consideration of the


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context of Christian life of persons involved in such unlawful unions may help toward finding a solution for them within the Catholic Church. Not only for such persons, but also for all who approach the sacraments, one has to search for ways and means to make their sacramental life a reflection and a sign of the total context of their Christian lives and particularly their faith and communion with the Church. CONCLUSION

With the revision of the new rites of the sacraments after Vatican II, there are many aspects of their administration which are left to the prudent judgment of the local hierarchy and the celebrant. There is also the emphasis on the sacraments as being sacraments of faith. It is well to remember that these aspects of post-Vatican II pastorate call for serious consideration of the context of life in terms of theology and ecclesiology. The pastor has to apply the norms of the Council aware that it is his duty to choose not necessarily the easier solution, but the more theological and ecclesial one depending on the situation. Today, then, as the Church is called upon more and more to face the problems of the modern world, to many of which there are no predetermined solutions, it is well for her to look to the doctrine of economy of the East; so that while preserving intact her deposit of doctrine and faith, she can at the same time imitate her Master. During his life he met life situations for which there was no juridic precedent, but he solved them under the inspiration of his condescending lov~a challenge which the Church as a whole and each pastor in the area committed to him should accept and live up to amid the changing conditions of our world today.


Kenan B. Osborne, OFM

Why Confess to a Priest? What is the difference between mortal and venial sin? What, if anything, is effected by the Sacrament of Reconciliation? Why confess to a priest? The Ordo Paenitentiae gives a new and sharper intensity to these age-old questions. The promulgation of Ordo paenitentae on December 2, 1973, marks an historic moment in the history of the sacrament of reconciliation, and already important commentaries have been written by P. Jounel, and F. Sottocornola, both members of the second study-group that prepared the document. In Worship A. Tegels has devoted two brief essays to the document and its ramifications. In the United States, the Federation of Diocesan Liturgical Commissions Convention, meeting in Spokane, Washington, during October, 1974, focused the entire convention on the sacrament of reconciliation and in particular on the new rite. It is clear, however, that both before and after the English translation is finally approved and the new rite is officially promulgated by the United States Bishops, an enormous effort at catechesis for priest and lay person alike will be necessary, and at the same time theologians must devote their own energies towards elucidating issues connected with the renewal and changes of the sacrament of reconciliation. One of these issues in the reason why one should confess to a priest, and this present essay is a modest attempt to reconsider some of the factors involved in this matter. The question regarding the necessity of confession to a priest, is, of course, an age-old problem: but Ordo paenitentiae raises this 260


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ancient issue anew, and perhaps with even sharper intensity than before. This question, however, is not an isolated one, for it is closely connected with other matters, such as: what, if anything, does the sacrament of reconciliation cause? and what is the difference between "venial" and "mortal" sin? The way one answers any of these issues necessarily influence the way one answers the other two. One might ask, however, why the question of confessing to a priest arises from the decree, Ordo Paenitentiae, for in no way does the decree indicate that confession is not to be made to a priest, nor that there is no difference between serious and slight sin, nor that the sacrament of reconciliation, as a sacrament, has no efficacy. More than anything else, it is the. manner in which the decree presents the sacrament of reconciliation that gives rise to a new review of the age-old issue: why confess to a priest. Ordo paenitentiae, of course, and in particular, the praenotrmda do not pretend to offer a ecomplete theological treatise on the sacrament of reconciliation, but behind the comments and statements lies a wealth of theological input, and this theological material governs the manner in which the sacrament of reconciliation is presented. Let us consider this in detail. RECONCILIATION AS A LIFE LONG PROCESS

The first point that is of immediate theological interest in the praenotanda is the presentation of "reconciliation" as an historical process, indeed, as a life-long historical process. Since all Christian reconciliation is grounded in the Christevent, the document, in superb methodological procedure, begins with Christ, the reconciler. His life, his death and to some extent his resurrection are seen as an historical process of reconciliation, which is not merely to be interpreted as a call to us for reconciliation but rather as an active reconciliation. The very first sentence of the praenotanda reads: "The Father has manifested his mercy, reconciling .the world to himself in Christ." And again in a few sentences farther on we read: "Jesus, however, not only exhorted men to penance, so that they would abandon sin and turn wholeheartedly to the Lord, but he likewise, in accepting sinners, reconciled them to his


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Father.'' The Christ-event, then, is not simply a call for reconciliation, but in itself, that is, as an historical, processive event, it is a reconciling event. There¡ is no isolated "Moment" of reconcilation in the Chrst-event. The event itself, with its duration in space and time and in its risen dimension, is a reconciling event. After grounding all christian reconciliation in the Christevent, the document proceeds to the church; and in a similar manner the church is ¡portrayed as an ongoing reconciliation event. We read, for instance, that "the church, which embraces sinners to her own bosom, and which is holy but at the same time always in need of purification, continually seeks out penance and renewal.'' Or again: "In many and various ways the people of God perform and perfect this continuous penance.'' There is a self-conversion on the part of the members of the church, whereby the church from day to day is formed more and more into the likeness of Christ. Even the progression: contrition, confession, satisfaction, absolution, indicates the historical process of penance. The paraliturgical celebrations of penance, envisioned in nos 36-37, have as some of their goals: to help the faithful prepare for the liturgical celebration of the sacrament itself at some later date; to educate younger people so that they gradually develop a mature conscience; and to aid interested non-baptized people toward a final step of conversion. All of this describes "penance" as a progression, a process, and a development; in no way is it seen as something instantaneous. Jounel notes, in his commentary, that penitential reconciliation belongs to the very fibre of the life of the church. Against this background of the Christ-event as reconciling and the church-event as reconciling, Ordo paenitentiae goes on to its main focus: the sacrament of reconciliation. This methodological progression, Christ, church, sacrament, makes the Christo-centricity and ecclesial orientation of sacramental reconciliation very explicit and prevents the sacrament from becoming separated from the large-scaled reconciliation of which it is a sacrament. However, in the life of a christian there is never a time when reconciliation is absent, and the heart of this personal reconciliation is "conversion." This conversion is spoken of


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in paragraphs 1, 3, 4, 6, 8, and 11 of the praenotanda. J ounel succinctly describes this conversion: "It is God who takes the initiative in reconciliation, for it is he who calls the sinner to conversion. Nonetheless, he (the sinner) must make his response by entering with all his being into metanoia, that is to ~ay, the intimate and total change and renewal of his thoughts, his judgements, and his life. The entire being of a man has need to be penetrated by the grace of conversion: heart, body and spirit, the conscious and the unconscious. ("La liturgic de Ia reconciliation," Maison-Dieu, 1, 1974, p. 13). This intimate, internal and total conversion of a person is what reconciliation as a process is all about, and the emphasis on just such a conversion is unmistakeably evident in the document. CONFESSION AND THE PROCESS OF RECONCILIATION

It is precisely this emphasis on personal, life-long reconciliation and conversion, together with the presentation of reconciliation as a process, that makes the question of confession to a priest acute. The emphasis on the subjective, personal dimension of the reconciliation-conversion process upstages, in a way, the objective side, that is, the ecclesial dimension which culminates in "absolution." A theologian immediately recalls a similar situation, which arose at the time of Peter Abelard. In his characteristic way Peter Abelard perceived that the role of one's personal conscience in the act of converting sin to God's grace was decisive. For Peter Abelard, penance is contrition of heart, and this deep regret of sin immediately procures pardon. The essence of sin is not to be found in the external action, but rather in one's internal contempt of God. Likewise, contrition and conversion are not essentially to be found in external actions such as accipere paenitentiam or agere paentitentiam; rather, they are situated in the internal change of one's heart. On this matter Abelard writes: "Moreover, with this sigh and contrition of heart which we call true repentance sin does not remain, that is, the contempt of God or consent to evil, because the charity of God which inspires this sigh does not put up with fault. In this sigh we are instantly reconciled to God and we gain pardon for the preceding sin, according to


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the prophet: 'In what hour soever the sinner shall sigh, he shall be saved,' that is, he will be made worthy of the salvation of his soul. He did not say: in what year or in what month or in what week or on what day, but in what hour, so as to show that he is worthy of pardon without delay, and¡ that eternal punishment in which the condemnation of sin consists, is not owing to him." (Peter Abelard's Ethics, D. C. Luscombe, ed. trans. 1971, p. 89) Abelard, of course was not the first to make this assertion, but because of his preciseness and his influence, this position gradually became the standard view, although its onesidedness, that is, its subjectivism, tended to be modified in one way or another. It should not, however, be thought that Peter Abelard rejected actual confession to a priest; indeed, he addressed himself to this issue on many occasions and rather pointedly in Scito Te lpsum. Although confession to a priest in Abelard's view is obligatory, he sees the priest's role as limited to the measuring of satisfaction, i.e., penitential works the sinner is to perform for the remission of temporal punishment. Hugh of St. Victor, in turn, challenged Abelard's position and stressed the power of the keys administered in the sacrament of penance. Hugh was, of course, correct in his counteremphasis on the objective aspect of sacramental reconciliation, but he was incorrect in his reason for confession to a priest. For Hugh, the sin was indeed forgiven by a person's earnest contrition, but the eternal penalty due to serious sin was remitted through the absolution of a priest. Peter Lombard, on his part, made a distinction between the virtue of penance and the sacrament of penance, and in this way was able to affirm Abelard's basic intuition on contrition, while at the same time he maintained the ecclesial dimension that Hugh of St. Victor had stressed. He writes: "Without oral confession and performance of external penance sins. are taken away by contrition and humility of heart. For from the time a person, with a contrite heart, proposes to confess, God forgives the sin." Peter Lombard, without going into any theological explanation, joins contrition to an intention of some future priestly confession. This situation was taken up more earnestly by. the great scholastics, and B. Poschmann in his book, Penance and the


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Anointing of the Sick, has provided us with the main lines of this theological struggle. According to Poschmann, St. Thomas Aquinas claims that internal contrition derives its power from the absolution that is only in voto at the time the sin is actually forgiven, and is at some future date actually bestowed. The difficulty in this explanation is that something. as yet non-existent is called upon to exert instrumental causality. Alexander the Greet and St. Bonaventure reject this explanation, because of the difficulty just mentioned. John Duns Scotus, on his part, sees that there are two ways for the forgiveness of sin: one is contrition, which is non-sacramental. The other is sacramental; here the sinner who is only attrite received the grace to be contrite through the sacrament. Theological discussion of this issue continued into the Tridentine and post-Tridentine period; it has re-appeared, at least to some extent, in our own century in the discussion on the relationship between reconciliation with God/reconciliation with the church by such scholars as B. Xiberta, B. Poschmann, P. Galtier, M. Schmaus, to mention only a few. Most recently, PielTe-Marie Gy has written: "For a certain number of people, here is perhaps the true question. Does contrition truly refer to absolution? If this is actually the question, it is important to explain how the sacrament is bound up with and sacramentalizes in a mutual way the reversal of the heart which the penitent confesses to in accusing (himself) of sin, and the pardon of God of which the priest is the minister." The title of this last section of Gy's article says the same thing only more bluntly: can one confess directly to God? ("Les bases de Ia penitence moderne," La Maison-Dieu, I, 1974, p. 84). As mentioned above, this emphasis on life-long reconciliation as an historical process, on contrition as the very heart of the reconciliation process, on the Christ-event and the church-event as historical, processive reconciliation events, raises this historically important theological question anew and, given other trends in contemporary theology, with greater insistence than perhaps ever before. FORGIVENESS OUTSIDE THE SACRAMENT OF PENANCE

That sin is forgiven outside the sacrament of penance has


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been a constant teaching of the christian church. For slight

or "venial" sin, the issue is quite firm. Our contemporary theological discussion of sin, however, (with its suggestions concerning a fundamental option, its questioning of the traditional demarcation-lines between mortal and venial sin, its serious consideration of the data from psychology on motivation), suggests that the extent of "venial" sin seems larger than traditional theology had allowed; conversely the area of "mortal" sin appears far more restricted than traditional theology had portrayed it. Wherever this ferment in contemporary moral theology might eventually lead us, the basic point of our question remains untouched, since the question of confession to a priest has been traditionally posed against the background of serious sin. Even though "mortal" sin might be less frequent, the relationship between internal conversion and the penitential ministry of a priest needs to be theologically explicated. In the case of serious sin, we cannot say categorically that confession to a priest is essentially necessary. We have seen above that the standard view of theologians from Abelard on was that contrition remits serious sin and the eternal punishment due to sin. Baptism, in the case of adults, remits all sin, serious sin included, and there is no necessity of sacramental confession and absolution. Ordo paenitentiae. itself speaks of the fact that reconciliation occurs multis et variis modis, in many and sundry ways. It speaks of the Eucharist as a source of reconciliation. Indeed, the council of Trent already expressed the doctrine that the Eucharist forgives sin (DS 1743) even in the case of serious sin when actual confession has not yet occurred (DS 1647). The contemporary studies of J. M. R. Tillard and L. Ligier on Penance and Eucharist has reassessed this eucharistic. source of true reconciliation. The Council of Trent likewise attributes forgiveness of sin to contrition itself (DS 1676). If we turn to the early church for assistance in this matter, we realize documentation for its earlier stages of development is thin. In his historico-sociological analysis of public penance during the first six centuries, Marie-Francois Berrouard remarks that in the first and earliest period, the first two centuries, "we are very poorly informed ; the documents are


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sparse and difficult to interpret; and penance has but an episodic place." Only with Tertullian, in hjs De pudi~itia, do we have the first mention of the role of the bishop in the organized, sacramental reconciliation of sinners. A. Teetaert and P. Galtier (to select a representative earlier and later author of our century who have done considerable work in the history of the sacrament of penance) agree that often the priest's role in the penitential discipline was minimal and that the bishop was the real ecclesial leader of the penitential discipline. As time went on, of course, the priests were entrusted with supervision of the penitential discipline, and although the question might be raised that priests as such were not always ministers of the sacrament of penance, it is, nonetheless, clear that some minister of the church was entrusted with the laying of hands, the symbol of reconciliation itself. Whatever historically correct picture of penance that might arise from careful research, the relationship between the sorrow of sin on the part of the penitent during the long period of "doing penance" and the culminating act of the laying on of hands needs to be clarified ; and this clarification runs parallel to our more modern discussion on the relationship between per~ sonal, internal contrition and the chronologically later, actual confession and absolution. In both cases, it is theologically justified to say that sin is remitted with perfect contrition, which generally occurs long before the laying on of hands and the confession-absolution. What is the relationship between the internal contrition and the ecclesial act? Or, to express the matter differently and thereby emphasize another difficult point in sacramental theology, what, if anything, does the sacramental action cause as regards the remission of sin? CONFESSION TO A PRIEST

In our own century, some theologians have proposed that reconciliation with the church is the res et sacramentum of this sacrament of penance. Karl Rahner describes this as follows: "In so far as man, therefore, through the process of reconciliation with the Church (sacramentum: loosing on earth), enters once more into the state of being fully reconciled with the Church (res et sa~amentum: pax et communio ~m


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eccle.sia}, he necessarily received a (new or more profound) share in her Spirit which forgives guilt and justifies before God (res sacramenti: peace with God)." (Forgotten truths concerning penance, Theological Investigations, II, p. 171) Rahner is not interested in a two-way theory of forgiveness: one sacramental, and the other non-sacramental. Rather, he strives to unify contrition, the church as proto-sacrament, and the sacrament of reconciliation. Although there might be some chronological differences, these three elements are, in his view, intimately interconnected; so that even an act of interior contrition has ecclesial dimensions and sacramental connections. The position of the minister, priest or bishop, in this approach is clear: if there has been a serious renunciation of the church-and all sin is viewed not only as an offense against God, but an offense against the church as well-then there must be an official acceptance on the part of the church that such a renunciation has been voided. The willingness of the ecclesial community to reaccept the sinner is declared officially in and through the minister. The presuppositions for this approach are evident: all sin is both an offense against God and the church. It is God who forgives the offenses committed against him; it is the church, through its ministers, which forgives the offense against the ecclesia. This peace with the church, the res et sacramentum, is caused, at least in part through the ministry of the priest. Sin, in so far as it is an offense against God, is, indeed, taken away by internal, personal contrition, but in so far as it is an offense against the church, this aspect of sin is removed only by the sacrament of reconciliation. ¡ The early church serves as a model for this view, s.ince the sacrament of reconciliation was developed and practiced only in view of serious, substantive deviation from one's christian life. A heretic was one who renounced the church, and his or her desire to be reaccepted into a church which he or she had renounced required some expression of the community that it was willing to reaccept such a person. This was done through the community as a group but also, and in a formal and solemn way, through the minister by the laying on of hands, which was the culmination of the reconciliation process and which bespoke communio after a long period of an ex-communions.


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However, heretics alone were not the only people who substantively rejected the church: others by serious intent and action belied in their behavior a substantive part of what it means to be a christian, and these too were not able to be part or not be part of the church-community on their own whim. Belonging and participating in the church-community has a mutual aspect to it, in which both the individual and the community has some input. An outright renunciation of the church and the faith (heresy) and substantive behavioral practice which deviates seriously from the christian life-style manifestly require the admission of guilt (confession), evidence of such a change (satisfaction) and acceptance by the church (absolution) signifying the underlying metanoia (contrition) and are, therefore, the res et sacramentum. Because these also remove the excommunication and effect communion with the church, they are as well the res et sacramentum. Since all such sin is an offense against both God and the church, contrition has as an ingredient sorrow that one has offended the community and a willingness to express and make up for this offense, as well as sorrow for the offense against God and a willingness to make amends. In this view, then, contrition, forgiveness, the church and the sacrament of reconciliation are quite interconnected and the need to confess to a priest and receive absolution lies in the need for pax cmn ecclesia beyond the pax cum Deo. Paul Galtier, however, has succinctly noted the difficulty of this entire approach, in which the reconciliation with God is made possible by reinstating the sinner into the church or into that sphere of grace, outside of which sin is not forgiven even by God. Remission of sin, therefore, is ascribed totally and exclusively to the subjective penance of the sinner, which attains its effect only after reconciliation has been granted by the church when and in so far as it is adequate. For Galtier, reinstatement into the church is consequent upon one's restoration of a right relationship with God, not vice versa. This approach goes quite contrary to Rahner's, which envisions the reacceptance into the church not merely as one effect of the priest's absolution, but the first effect in the objective, ontologi¡Cal order through which the other effects-especially the remis-


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sion of guilt before God-are attained. Galtier's objection that the cart is before the horse seems to be correct. Rahner's other approach in which he sees the reconciliation with the church through absolution as providing a new or more profound share in the Spirit does not advance the situation, since he is merely speaking to an augmentation and perfection of the grace that is imparted through contrition. This same kind of argument is developed at great length in his article. "Personal and Sacramental Piety," The sacrament of reconciliation rrtight easily be seen as a completion and perfecting of the internal, personal contrition of a sinner, but less easily can it therefore be seen as a first cause that effects the grace of contrition. Ordo paenitentiae speaks of reconciliation with the church, although in the actual formula for absolution no mention of this reconciliation with the church is made. J ounel, among others, regrets ,this. Nonetheless, reconciliation with the church is clearly part of the theology of this sacrament which undergirds the document. Pax cum ecclesia should surely, then, play some role in answering the question: why confess to a priest? SOME GUIDELINES TOWARDS A SOLUTION

The problem of the theological reasoning for confession to a priest has been part of the theological enterprise for some time, and has never been established in a totally satisfactory way. The following paragraphs are meant only as an attempted guide toward a possible resolution of the problem. The starting point, which is really not at all novel to christian theology, lies in the foundational statement that it is really God alone who forgives sin. In all reconciliation events, it is God who acts: God acts in baptism, in the sacrament of reconciliation, in the eucharist, in prayer, in the reading of the scriptures, in the church and in Christ. On the other hand, there has been from its earliest times a ministry of reconciliation in the church, brought about to a great extent by ordained ministers. The gospel of Matthew attributes to Peter (16,19) and to the other disciples (18,18) the power to bind and loose. John's gospel speaks about the forgiveness and retention of sin (20,23). In his very thorough analysis of the background


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for these texts in rabbinic Judaism, and of the content and context of the pericopes themselves, B. Rigaux notes : "It does not seem that in the strictly literal sense one could see in our gospels an institution of the sacrament of penance as being directly affirmed. Nonetheless, it is proper to note that the post apostolic church did not falsify the tenor of these texts in extending them to the penitential discipline." ("Lier et delier," La Maison-Dieu, 1 (1974) p. 135) Raymond Brown, in his commentary on the Gospel of St. John, makes the same kind of judgement as regards the Johannine text. We have, then, both the foundational and primordial action of God in the matter of forgiveness and reconciliation, and the ministry of reconciliation within the church; for it is in and through the Christ event, and therefore the church-event as ongoing witness to the Christ-event, that God has revealed and does continue to reveal his forgiving action. THE CHURCH'S FORMAL STATEMENT

Over the course of the centuries, particularly when established positions were under challenge, the church has made formal and binding statements regarding this ministry of reconciliation and forgiveness. Of primary importance .in this matter are the statements of the Council of Trent (DS 1684, 1685, 1710). In interpreting these statements of Trent, one must continually bear in mind that the council fathers in no way wished to settle disputed issues that the various schools of theology at that time were discussing. These inter-church differences were simply left open. Rather, the import of their statements was geared towards the teachings of protestant reformers of that age. By exception, some statements of Erasmus were formally rejected, but the various differences beween Thomists and Scotists were left unsettled. This applied in a very clear way to the question of the causality of the sacraments. At that time, the thomists were maintaining in some form or another an instrumental-efficient causality, while in the Franciscan school, the followers of Bonaventure were promoting a moral causality and the followers of Scotus an occasional causality. The council of Trent in no way excluded any of these theological positions.¡


1 272

CHICAGO STUDIES THE QUESTION OF SACRAMENTAL CAUSALITY

Today, then, we are under no theological constraint to accept some form of instrumental-efficient causality as the ground for onr thoughts on the relationship between one's personal contrition, in which God's action is central, and a chronologically subsequent confession-absolution, in which the church's ministry of reconciliation is central. Karl Rahner, in his many writings on the sacraments, stresses the sacramental, i.e., significatory, essence of all sacramental processes, that of reconciliation included. In one of his essays, after pointing out the difficulties in all the scholastic approaches, notes: "In all these theories it is noteworthy that the fact that the sacraments are signs plays no part in ex~ plaining their causality. Their function as signs and their function as causes are juxtaposed without connection. The axiom everywhere quoted, sacramenta significando ejficiunt gratiam, is not in fact taken seriously." (The Church and the Sacraments, p. 36). He is, it seems following an analysis of sign that Martin Heidegger develops in Being and Time. Rahner's positive explanation is that the sacraments precisely as signs are causes of gmce, that we are dealing with a causation by symbols. He writes: "\Ve mean for our purpose here, the spatio-temporal, historical phenomenon, the visible and tangible form in which something that appears, notifies its presence, and by so doing, makes itself present, bodying forth this manifestation really distinct from itself." Or again: "What is manifesting itself posits its own identity and existence by manifesting itself in this manifestation which is distinct from itself." Or again: "The sign is therefore a cause of what it signifies by being the way in which what is signified effects itself." (38) In every sacramental sign, we ask two questions: what is being signified and to whom? In the case of reconciliation, the sacramental sign is of the forgiving action of God and for the person involved and the christian community in general. In this approach, absolution alone cannot be seen as the sign, but rather the total sacramental process of reconciliation. The almost exclusive concentration of the sacrament of penance in absolution, which derives in great measure from


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Scotus, has had undue influence on theology and christian piety in general. Absolution should be integrated into a larger quantum, so that the reconciliation-event in its totality is seen as the sacramental sign. That is the first step 1¡equired by this "sacramental causality." The second step is to indicate that what is signified is primordial; that which signifies, announces, or brings forth¡ is derivative. The sign declares the presence of God's forgiveness. Such language, of courSe, immediately conjures up memories of the reformation-tridentine discu6.;ion on the question whether or not the absolution of the priest is merely declaratory. Rahner, however, has cast the question into a new mold, indeed a very subtle and intricate one. He sems to be SJ'leaking out of a phenomenological matrix, and in particular out of an Heideggerian substrate. For Heidegger, a being (Das Seiende) announces, brings forth, declares present Being (Sein). In this process, a "lighting up" process, in this event of Aletheia-truth, in which that which is primordially concealed comes into revealment, there is something more on the part of Das Seiende than a mere declaration that Sein is present. It is declaration, but it is more. Das Seiende or Dasein mediates the presence of Sein. It is not the place here to go into a lengthy explanation of this fundamental issue in Heidegger, but it is apposite to point out deliberately the matrix from which Rahner's view on this matter should be understood. Just as the Word of God is revealed to us in the Word-madeflesh (and for that reason Christ is the original sacrament), so too the word of forgiveness is made evident in its fleshiness, namely the sacramental sign. The flesh does not "cause" the Word of God, but it declares it (the revelation aspect) and makes it effectively present. So, too, the sacramental sign, which includes absolution but is not limited to it, declares the forgiveness of God and makes it effectively present. This already begins to nuance significantly the entire concept of priestly absolution. THE QUESTION OF THE VOTUM

Sin is forgiven through a contrite heart, and the heart is moved towards this contrite metanoia because of God's initiating and free gift of grace. For a person in the christian com-


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munity this metanoia includes a willingness for the peace with God as also the peace with the church. Formally and publicly this peace with the church might not occur until some time much later. But to say that a not-yet existent penitential celebration which will include priestly absolution makes its influence felt in advance is untenable. One's personal intention, which is present it).. the contrite individual, does indeed play a role, but not some merely possible, still future and still very indefinite moment of sacramental reconciliation. The contemporary attempt to avoid a two-way manner of forgiveness of sins, one sacramental and the other extra-sacramental, and to bring sacramental reconciliation efficaciously into the change of heart along the lines sketched by Thomas Aquinas is not at all helpful. THE QUESTION OF "SERIOUS" SIN

Contemporary catholic theologians have approached not only the question of "serious" sin, but the entire phenomenon of sin and guilt in a quite forthright and intense manner. They work out of presuppositions which are different from those found in scholasticism and post-tridentine theology. A. Landgraf's excellent study, Das Wesen der lasslichen Sunde in der Scholastik bis Thomas von Aquin, focused, of course, on the essence of "light" sin, but in doing so could not help but indicate as well the contra-distinguishing essence of "serious" sin in that entire period. Psychology in both the nineteenth and twentieth centuries has awakened us to the complexity of behavioral motivation, and this complexity has been taken seriously by contemporary theologians. P. Schoonenberg, in his articles "Der Mensch in der Sunde," works his way very carefully through his discussion on the gradation of sin, and one sees that the entire phenomenon of sin and guilt is being nuanced differently and perhaps more carefully. The two-fold structure, "mortal" and "venial," no longer seems adequate to express this more finely nuanced approach to sin. This nauncing of sin cannot help but bring about a nuancing of the minister's part in reconciliation. Absolution, particularly from the time of Scotus on, has been seen as the judicial moment in which something bound is loosed. Serious sin had


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ereated a situation of not-being-in-communion with God and the church. In the sacrament of reconciliation this "ex-communication" was removed. Moreover, the entire structuring of the penitential practice of the early church, in contrast to that ¡of the celtic church, focused exclusively on "serious" sin. The ¡confession of venial sin, confessions of devotion, etc., simply did not arise. As a result, the whole emphasis of theological study on this matter of the minister's part in the reconciliationevent dealt totally with "serious" sin and reconciliation of someone who was ex-communione. Ordo paenitentiae opens the door, even though but slightly, to a different shift in emphasis. In discussing the pastoral exercise of the minister, it mentions that he is to discern spiritual weaknesses, to come up with ways and means which will strengthen a person spiritually and thus overcome these weakness. He is to be a man who continually equips himself with the knowledge and the skills that will make him a better minister of that sort. He is to be a man in whom the discretion of spirits is evident. All of this indicates that an emphasis on spiritual direction, counselling and guidance nuances the narrow view of the act of the minister as simply a judicial act. This alone makes the problem of confession to a priest somewhat more credible, since the minister begins to appear as a spiritual director and guide and not merely as a judge. The nuaucing of sin does indeed demand a nuancing of the minister's role. Nonetheless, the minister's role will evidence its real meaning only when it is integrated into the total reconciliation-event of the sacramental action. It is this total sacramental event that is the sign of the presence of God's forgiveing love. This event, which includes "absolution," both theologically and pastorally, needs to be weighted more into a prayer-event, a moment in which the people of God celebrate the presence of God in their midst. Again, movements towards this are found in Ordo Paenitentiae, and the following are but some of the indications for this. 1. The reconciliation-event is a prayer-event in the spirit. In John's gospel, Christ says: "Receive the Holy Spirit! If you forgive any man's sins, they stand forgiven if you pronounce them unforgiven, unforgiven they remain." (21,18) Forgiveness of sins, within the church, has meaning because of


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the presence of the Spirit of God, the presence of uncreated grace. P. Fransen, helps us in this understanding of the presence of the Spirit, when he wrote recently ("Das neue Sein des Mensch en in Christus") : "The more intensive our humaniza-. tion is, the more radical is our divinization, and the more total our divinization is, the more profound is our humanization." (932) Divinization is the presence of the Spirit of God, and in the sacrament of reconciliation the presence of the Spirit becomes most noticeable whenever the sacrament makes us more deeply human. The human experience is so necessary in this matter that Fransen does not hesitate to say in another place: "Whatever in one way or another cannot be integrated into human experience is meaningless for theology." (926) If the priestly ministry, which includes "absolution," is aimed at humanization of the people of God, the presence of God's forgiving Spirit will become ever more evident. Allusions to the Spirit throughout the Praenotanda and the trinitarian prayer of absolution are indications in Ordo Paenitentiae that in the prayer-event of reconciliation the Spirit of God plays. a fundamental role. 2. The word of God, the reading of the scriptures or better the proclamation of the scriptures, has been reintegrated into the reconciliation event. God "speaks" to us his forgiving word not only in the priestly "absolution" but also through his own words, the Bible. The addition of such readings, together with the prayers and hymns that accompany these readings, tends to take the focal weight off the priestly absolution and to diffuse that focal weight over the entire process. 3. The Praenotanda also emphasizes the role of the community as an agent of reconciliation. Once again, and in a very deliberate way, the coming to presence of God's forgiveness sacramentally is moved beyond any exclusive concentration in the priestly absolution. "And even more," we read, "the church itself becomes an instrument of conversion and absolution of the penitent through the ministry handed down by Christ to his apostles and their successors." This is general enough, and indeed the new rites themselves remain heavily weighted towards that culminating moment of absolution, but a door has been opened whereby the total prayer-event of reconciliation,


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with all its participants, tends to become the sign of reconciliation: sacramenta significando causant. CONCLUSION

Confession to a priest, an official minister of the church, is required for reasons mentioned above, whenever there has been substantive rejection of God and the church on the part of the penitent. One of the reasons for this is the pax cum ecclesia. Visibly belonging or not belonging to the church is a mutually conditioned situation between the individual and the people of God. One does not arbitrarily and one-sidedly decide to belong to the church, and pax cum ecclesia involves both the peace of the individual extending to the people of God and the peace of the people of God extending to the individual. A formal break of such peace requires a formal reestablishment of that peace, and this is done through the total reconciliation event in which an official minister of the church plays an important role. Such a situation, however, does not exhaust the reasons for priestly ministry in the process of reconciliation; and as a consequence the reasons underlying the need for priestly ministry in this extreme case are not the only reasons for such ministry. The stubborn presence of sin, the obstinate compromise in one's behavioral motivation, the arrested growth of one's spirituality, the life-long need of conversion call out for some sort of counter measures. We believe that in the church there is present the forgiveness of God; and because of our bodily human situation, this forgiving presence is revealed to us in bodily ways. One of these ways is through the mediation of inter-personal relationships, and the sacrament of reconciliation is a net-work of such relationships, involving all the people of God, including its official ministers. Nonetheless, there is both sacramental (penance, eucharist, etc.) and extra-sacramental forgiveness of sin; and the question is not precisely whether one should confess directly to God or to a priest, but rather whether one should seek in his or her ongoing process of metanoia forgiveness of God sacramentally or non-sacramentally. In this matter one presupposes that a person is deeply aware of the inroads of sin in his or her life and wants very much to grow away from sin and into the


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Spirit. Likewise, one presupposes that sins are nuanced differently than the categories "mortal" and "venial" allow; and there is serious sin even though it might not be "final" sin. With all of these presuppositions it is fair to say that confession to a priest, or better sacramental reconciliation, can be seen as a possible but not a necessary option for the christian's desire to cope with the problem of personal sinfulness. At first blush, this appears to be a de-emphasis on the question of priestly ministry in the reconciliation-event; but on the basis of what has been said in this essay concerning the total sign event as the locus of significative power (sacraments significando causant), this de-emphasis or deconcentration tends to enhance the real meaning of the priestly ministry, for such ministry becomes reintegrated into the total sign of the reconciliation-event. To make participation in the sacramental reconciliationevent, with the priestly ministry that is entailed therein, not only an option but a desirable option, the power of the sign must be strong, so that the forgiveness of God is made manifest and the sacramental sign mediates this presence. In this effort to bring out the power of the sign, the opus operantis and the ()pus operatum coincide. It is here that all the items mentioned by Ordo Paenitentiae for the minister, such as spiritual counselling and guidance, discernment of spirits, etc., need the minister's utmost strivings, for opus operantis means that man must work at the sacraments, that they are not simply automatic, that sacramental signs have at their core human symbolizaion and all that this entails. ¡


J. R. Sheets, S.J.

Virginal Concepiion-Fact and Faith Raymond Brown's reflection on the virginal conception predictably elicited hosts of comments. They ranged frmn open hostility to uncritical acceptance. The author believes that all but one missed Brown's central point-infallibility. He has his own reservations about B's methodology on this precise point.

Over two years have passed since Raymond Brown published his original article on the virginal conception ("The Problem of the Virginal Conception of Jesus," Theological Studies (1972) 3-34). In the fo)lowing year the same article with a few clarifications appeared in book form together with a companion article on the resurrection, The Virginal Conception and Bodily Resurrection of Jesus (New York, 1973). Discounting the initial reactions which were often uncritically offensive, or those, on the other hand, which were equally uncritical in their defense, the reviews which appeared subsequently have been quite varied. However, it is striking that none of them hit squarely the main point Brown was trying to make. (Here let me summarize some observations on the Brown article: "Thomas Comerford Lawler, Homiletic and Pastoral Review, 1972, p. 61-6, relying mainly on J. N. D. Kelly's Early Christian Creeds, finds historical inaccuracies in Brown's argumentations. Quentin Quesnell is very positive in his as279


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sessment in National Catlwlic Reporter, Sept. 28, 1973, p. 9; so is Nicholas Lash in the Tablet 227 (1973) 115-6. David Stanley is high in his praise in his brief review in Catholic Biblical Quarterly 1973, p. 517-8. The same can be said of Eugene Maly in his review in Theolouical Studies 1973, p. 708-10. John Ashton sings a different son:-:. He finds the book a "heap of chaff," and wonders why the book was written at all, in The Month 1974, p. 525. Rene Laurentin feels that Brown's contribution is constructive, in Rev. des Sciences Philosophiques et Theologiques, 1974, p. 285-8. J. A. T. Robinson admires the presentation mainly from the point of view of Brown's deftness and agility to travel a tortuous path without knocking ¡down any of the markers, coming from such different sources at magisterium, history, and biblical scholarship. Out of all these reviews only one came close to picking up what Brown was trying to do. Leon-Dufour understood correctly that Brown was using the problem of the virginal conception only as a means of illustrating other issues, namely the relationship between exegesis and doctrine, Scripture and tradition, historical certitude and the conviction of faith. (Cf. Recherches de Science Re.ligieuse 1974, p. 277-8.) However, none of the reviewers put his finger on the point that Brown singles out as the main one. He is concerned above all with infaUibility. The problem of the virginal conception is posed as a kind of test case of the usual criteria for infallibility. In an initial sketch of this article which was submitted to Brown's criticism, I found that I had really missed the centrality of this issue. He was kind enough to clarify this for me in his remarks on my article. I hope that he will not take it amiss if I take the liberty to quote from his critique of my original article in the interest of. clarification, since it seems, judging from the various reviews, that I was not the only one to miss the point. His words are as follows. ¡"I classify the doctrine as de fide according to the ordinary magisterium according to the usual criteria applied in RC theology. That is all important to me, for what I am really asking is: are the criteria stringent enough? You are quite right that a truth of faith cannot be called into question by reason or scientific research. But since it was both reason and scientific research that classified something as a truth of faith,

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what can be called into question is whether the classification was correct. I state on p. 12 of the article that while the virginal conception more clearly meets the usual criteria for being classified as infallible, it might be a test case as to the limits of infallibility, at least in regard to the applicability (Is the classification of "infallible" applicable to such a question of fact?) and criteria. (Have stringent enough criteria been applied in designating the virginal conception infallible?). Again, on p. 13 I invited theologians to study the question of the virginal conception, especially as regards the criteria of infallibility and the inter-play between authority and evidence. You assume that I am asking: is the virginal conception really a truth of faith. All I concede is that 'according to the usual criteria applied in Roman Catholic theology the virginal conception would be classified as a doctrine infallibly taught by the ordinary magisterium." Perhaps the very fact that so many were missing his point accounts for the insertion of two paragraphs on infallibility in the book version of his essay (p. 35, 36). Maybe this also indicates how neuralgic we can be in our reaction to someone raising the problem of the virginal conception, even to the point that we miss the main question for which Brown is using the virginal conception-only as a test case. On the other hand, Brown's article touches so many problem areas that it is easy to see how the problem of infallibility could be seen as only one of the many. Among these problems are the relationship of history to faith, the tension involved in the exegete's commitment to his methodology and at the same time his faith commitment, methodology of the exegete itself, and finally the¡ problem of the immutability of dogma. Then there is the specific problem to which Brown directs himself, namely: what are the criteria for judging w!lether a doctrine is infallible, and does the virginal conception meet these criteria? In what follows obviously I do not want to address myself to all these problems, which in any case would be impossible both from the complex nature of the questions¡ and the brevity of space. After commenting briefly on some of the problems, I would like to take up at length the specific problem of the relationship between historical fact and faith. But first I would like to make a


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few preliminary remarks, by no means adequate, concerning Brown's key question about the criteria for infallibility, then a few remarks on the tension that exists between the work of an exegete and his commitment to doctrines of faith, then something about the methodology of the exegete. Brown ha.s made it clear that the central point of his article concerns infallibility, in particular, whether the "usual" criteria of infallibility at¡e sufficient particularly when one considers the various arguments against virginal conception that could be brought up against it from contemporary biblical scholarship. He never mentions what he considers to be the "usual" criteria, which makes it even more difficult to answer his question. His main point is that of classification. Theologians classify certain doctrines with certain notes, for example, de fide, de fide ex ordina,¡io .nagisterio. But theologians, he says, have changed classfications for certain doctrines, for example, the doctrine of God's direct creation of the human body, which they classified de fide, but which they would now give a different classification, certainly not de fide. One of Brown's reviewers sums up Brown's position on this point. "In a nuanced theological discussion, Brown finds no dogmatic reasons why reinterpretation or reformulation could not take place. This has happened often enough in the past to other doctrines which theologians once classified as 'of faith, from the constant teaching of the church.' The textbook-writing theologians who classify the doctrines are, after all, not ¡ themselves infallible" (Q. Quesnell, op. cit., p. 9). Brown's notion of theological notes has unwittingly taken on the characteristics of a kind of theological taxonomy, where the theologian acts as a kind of inventory-taker, shelving doctrines in various places. An even more serious problem is a surreptitious Kantianism which reverses the basis for the truth of the propositions. Traditionally the truth or validity of the notes came from the recognition of the reality that was taught by the Church, not from the categories into which the theologian would shunt the various doctrines, which sounds very much like the Kantian approach to truth, where the categories of our mind give the truth to the phenomena we perceive. Further, the use of the theological notes is a relative late-


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comer on the theological scene, beginning with the use of theological censures in the middle ages, and only coming into prominence in a more positive fashion as "theological notes" after the sixteenth century. In any case, a subsequent methodology of classification could not nullify what had been a lived experience of the Church for 1800 years. Although Brown is at pains to say that theology has no authority to decide what is a matter of faith, and what is not, the logical implications of his position (if I understand him correctly) would make the theological taxonomist the final arbiter of what is infallible and what is not, since he would be the ultimate judge of the criteria of infallibility. To control the criteria is to control the content of what is admitted as well as what is excluded. However, in pointing out the inadequacy of Brown's solution, I myself do not claim to have solved the problem which is an aspect of the perennial problem of reason and faith. Brown thinks that he can find an example to illustrate his point about the way classifications of doctrines are changed from de fide to a lesser level of certitude in the change in the Church's attitude toward evolution as a possible way of explaining the origin of man's body rather than by direct creation. The comparison is deficient in many respectS. The mode of God's creation of man is no more a part of faith than the idea that Christ ascended through the physical heavens to take his place at the right hand of the Father is part of the mystery of the Ascension. A Ptolemaic system is no more part of the mystery of the Ascension than a Copernican view. The mode in which God creates the human body in the same way is not related to the mystery of creation as a matter of faith. Going on to a further problem, that of the tension existing between the strictly exegetical approach and the commitment that a person has to truths of revelation received in faith and taught as such by the Church no one in his right mind would contest either Brown's ability as a scholar or his loyalty to the Church, which manifests itself in his ¡sensitive pastoral concern as well. At the same time, however, one wonders what role faith or the teaching of the Church has in relationship¡ to his scholarly study of Scripture. This is, of course, a problem not only for him but for any scholar who wants to do justice


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both to the demands of his discipline as well as the demands of his faith. However, it seems that Brown too easily performs a kind of phenomenological epoche, where the existential aspect of faith is bracketed off, leaving a kind of neutral content that can be studied by scientific methods. I would like to coriunent on Brown's methodology as a final point before taking up the main point I want to treat, namely, the relationship of faith and fact. There is the hidden assumption that if one links together enough statements that are qualified, by "perhaps, possibly, probably" that a certitude emerges. Sometimes the hypothetical character of some of the argumentation is overlooked. As the saying goes, one swallow doesn't make a summer. And any number of hypothetical swallows doesn't refute a real summer. Again, there is the piecemeal approach which ignores the nature of the truth that we are dealing with. Hans Urs von Balthasar's remarks are pertinent here. "Suffice it to say that we suffer from a kind of spiritual color-blindness if we are unable to perceive and appreciate the uniqueness and indestructibility of the revelation presented to us in the Old and New Testaments and prefer instead to search myopically for microscopic details because we have lost the 'sensorium' for the quality and the relationship of the total form." (Hans Urs von Balthasar, The Moment of Christian Witness Glen Rock, N.J., 1968). SOME REFLECTIONS ON THE RELATIONSHIP OF FAITH AND FACT

After these preliminary remarks I would like to come to the main issue. Prompted by Brown's article, I would like to offer some reflections on the relationship of faith and fact. What is meant, for example, when we say that the fact of the virginal conception can be perceived only by faith? Is faith a kind of superpower that in some way can get to the truth which lies hidden in the ambiguity of historical evidence? Lonergan describes the historian as one who can perceive from historical data what was going forward at the time. Is the person of faith gifted with eyes that are sharper than the sharpest historian to perceive hidden facts and hidden movements? The questions concerning the relationship of faith and his-


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tory, dogma and historical setting, are difficult for many reasons. For one, terms like history, historicity, historicality have no set meaning that everyone agrees upon. But even more the problem arises from the nature of revealed religions. Both Judaism and Christianity are "historical" faiths. They believe that God has acted and continues to act in history, constantly shaping history to his design. For the Christian this design is Christ, the incarnate Word. What evidence is there for the truth of such faith? While everyone will agree that faith is not produced from historical evidence, it is not clear, on the other hand, how such evidence and faith are related. I can sum up my remarks in four statements whlch I shall develop below. ( 1) History belongs to the meaning of the truths of faith. (2) The relationship between history and faith depends on the analogous nature of evidence. (3) The relationship between history and faith is circular, originating in the spatic>-temporal order, pointing to the order of life and love and union, returning again to the spatio-temporal order. ( 4) The certitude of faith has a certain contingency to it, when it is seen from one aspect of the circular process; but from another point of view, it transcends all certitudes. HISTORY AND MEANING

In the first place, then, history belongs to the meaning of the truths of faith. Christian faith is not a matter of discerning eternal ideas by observing shadows on the wall of a cave. Christian faith comes from the fact that God has revealed himself to someone(s) at sometime (s). In revealing his intentions, and the way his intentions are accomplished, he also reveals himself. Does history enter into our faith in the Trinity, to take an example? Not of course in the sense that the Trinity is in process, since each person is the fulness of being. In this connection, it is difficult to see how a process theology that relativizes the being of the persons of the Trinity to the flow of our spatio-temporal world is compatible with our faith. On the other hand, when we as Christians affirm the truth of the Trinity, we are also affhming that this truth has been communicated in and through our spatic>-temporal world. The


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meaning of the Trinity, then, includes the historical fact (s) that God has indeed revealed himself in and through events. Our faith is not only the affirmation of a truth, but of the fact that the truth has come to us in and through a spatio-temporal process of revelation. History, therefore, belongs to the truths of faith as the medium through which and in which revelation takes place. Christian faith is not only an affirmation of what is true in God's revelation, but faith in the way that we come to the truth, namely, through God's free communication of himself through persons and events in history. ANALAGOUS NATURE OF EVIDENCE

In the second place, I would like to call attention to the fact that the solution to the problem of the relationship between fact and faith depends on the analogous nature of evidence. Unless I am mistaken, Brown has a univocal notion of evidence, which approximates that of the physical sciences. I think it would be helpful if we could clarify the question of the relationship of faith and fact by distinguishing the different levels of evidence. First of all, I shall attempt a workable definition of evidence. Evidence is an intelligible order somehow present in signs pointing beyond themselves to that intelligible order which they manifest. There are three levels of evidence. All three have the common factor of expressing in some way an intelligible order. They differ, however, according to the way in which the perception of the order is recognized. I hope this rather theoretical presentation will be clearer as we go on. On the first level of evidence, we find signs that are simply "there." They do not disclose any personal intention. If someone has the instruments or the intelligence to perceive the intelligible order, the signs yield their evidence. We find this type of evidence, for example, in the data of science, in archeological remains, etc. The intelligible order yields itself to untiring research. .The evidence is, so to speak, "passive" before the efforts of the one who is trying to get to the intelligible order which the evidence both manifests and hides. Such evidence is like a lock which will open if one finds the right key. The second level of evidence goes beyond the first. It has


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the mark of human intelligence. An intelligible order is created bearing the imprint of man's mind. The stamp of intelligibility is given to things in two ways: first of all, such evidence can point to man simply as an ordering being, as we find, for example, in tools, which are evidence of the presence of man; in the second place, such evidence can point to man as a particular kind of ordering being, namely, a being who creates intelligible order in order to communicate with others, as we see, for example in language, documents, art, etc. ¡ There is, therefore, a special kind of evidence, bearing the stamp of the human mind. It is deliberately created by man in order to communicate an intelligible order. Such evidence is aimed at other intelligent beings who can pick up the meaning. Since intention enters into the picture, there is in this kind of evidence a twofold order: the intrinsic order of the words to each other, and the order of the totality of the words to the intention of the one communicating. The intrinsic order of the words is a function of the one who wants to communicate meaning through the words. The words are tangible evidence of the meaning that cannot be directly perceived. This type of evidence is not merely "there" like that of the fossils in a limstone deposit. Understanding such evidence demands that mysterious engagement of mind with mind that takes place through such evidence. There is, further, a third level of evidence. In this case signs are chosen not merely to communicate meaning, but to communicate communion. Such signs are evidence not only of what is in one's mind, but of what is in one's heart. They are not intended to embody merely an intelligible order of ideas. In this case the evidence shows forth the inner desire to communicate the communicator. Such evidence becomes a medium of attracting another, not. simply a matter of communication of ideas. This type of evidence manifests an invisible order seeking communion, and serves as the medium to attract to that communion which is desired. In this third kind of evidence, then, we see a type of order which is not present in the first two.. There are indeed three levels of intelligible order present in this third type of evidence: first of all, the order within the evidence, e.g., the order within the words so that they make sense; in the second place,


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the order of the signs to the intention of the one who desires to corrununicate; in the third place, the evidence manifests and renders intelligible an affective ordering. Where this is the case, the first two orders of intelligibility come into being only as a function of the third. All of the communication !:4kes place in order that the desire for communion be rendered in-¡ telligible. The whole process of communication becomes a function of the desire for communion. This third type of evidence is obviously not "passive," as is the case with the first type. Further it demands more of the one to whom it is directed than is the case with the second type, which engages only man's mind. This third type of evidence engages not only the mind but the spirit. It is possible, however, for someone confronted with this third type of evidence, which we could call three-dimensional, to pick up only the first two dimensions, namely, the "thereness" of the evidence, and the aspect that engages only his mind. In this case he has grasped the evidence materia/iter but not in the full sense. The full sense of the evidence can only be perceived if one opens himself to the communion to which one is invited through the communication. Thus there are two ways in which one can approach evidence that serves as a medium for communicating communion: one can remain on the "outside" of such evidence, perceiving the . intrinsic intelligibility of the words, as well as their relationship to the communicator's intention; or he can go from the "outside" to the "inside" if he opens himself to the communion that is intended to be communicated. When this takes place, the viewer perceives the evidence in the only way in which it makes complete sense, from the "inside" and from "above." Love letters, for example, might be of some use to the historian as evidence. For him, however, they are evidence which is only two-dimensional. By the very nature of the case he has to remain on the "outside" of this kind of evidence. He perceived the communication only nzaterialiter. Only those who wrote and received the love letters perceived the evidence authentically, three-dimensionally, because they see the tangible evidence from within a relationship of loving communion. Evidence that serves to communicate communion is only partially seen unless a person opens himself


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fully to the intentionality of the evidence, which is directed both at the mind and the heart. Such evidence is flat, unless it is perceived both by the mind and the heart. So far in our discussion of the relationship of fact and faith, we have seen that history belongs to the very meaning of Christian faith, because our faith is based on communication that takes place in the spatio-temporal world. We then went on to comment on the analogous nature of evidence, going from an intelligible order which is simply there, to an order of communication which is intended, to an order of communion which is intended. In order to perceive this evidence authentically, one has to have a disposition corresponding to the disposition of the one who desire the union. Returning to Brown's article, though he puts so much emphasis on evidence, we feel that, he does not appreciate the different levels of evidence. It seems as if all evidence is reduced to either the first or the second kinds. It is either just "there," to be exposed by diligent research, or it is the kind of evidence that engages only the mind. I do not feel that the third level of evidence is acknowledged. CIRCULAR RELATION

OF

FAITH AND HISTORY

In the third place, there is a circular process that binds fact and faith together in a distinguishable but inseparable unity. There are, as I mentioned, facts that are simply "loose"¡ facts, simply there, like archeological remains. Then, there are facts that come to be because they are a function of someone who is intending something, as we find in consciously articulated signs. There are in addition facts which come to because one wants to communicate communion. In this latter case¡ their fully factual nature can be recognized only by someone who allows the fact to exercise its full scope. It seems that the word fact is often limited only to a happening that can be classified in the spatio-temporal continuum. This way of looking at fact is satisfactory where the fact is simply an occurrence, simply there. But where the fact is a tangible expression of design, the manifestation of the desire to communicate communion, then its fullness as fact can only be appreciated if a person is open to the design. Perhaps our whole idea of the relationship of fact and faith


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is inadequate because we fail to see that not all facts are alike, since some facts are functions of the will to communicate communion, not simply bringing about information for someone's mind but conformation of hearts. We have to effect a kind of "Copernican revolution" in our view of the relationship of fact and faith, something like the total change of perspective which Kant demanded for his new approach to reality. We tend to see history as a kind of launching pad to get into faith, as well .as a tracking station to see if our faith is on target. On the other hand, faith is often thought of either as trust with little or no cognitional value, or as a kind of super cognitional power that allows one to penetrate the fog of history to get to what no historian could see with his tools. We have to get an entirely different view of time and history if we are to appreciate the relationship between fact and faith. Faith is not a conclusion from evidence, nor a deduction, nor a corollary to historical evidence. To repeat the words of Kierkegaard, we only begin to exist when we begin to believe. In this sense faith is the existential, synthetic center, from which reality is lived and perceived. Only the person who lives in faith lives authentically. Similarly, only one who lives in faith gets through the level of fact on the first and second level to the third level, where facts are not atomized events, which an historian attempts to draw into some kind of unity. Only the person living in faith can see fact within the "field of force" of communion. Faith monitors, illumines, relates the "flat" facts perceived through reason, to the Center, which Kierkegaard called the intersection of time and eternity, in the Incarnation. If we effect such a "Copernican revolution" in our view of faith in its relationship to fact, then the familiar objection that one goes from the probability of history to the certitude of faith is exposed as a fallacy. Such an objection is based on a limited view of fact. It is possible to appreciate fact in its full dimensions only when it is located within the fuller context of meaning. Where facts are evidence from delibcmte intentionality to communicate communion, then they can only be appreciated fully as fact by¡ the person who orientates himself for this communion. We used the example above of the love letter. Let us return


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to it, since it illustrates the point I am making. What is factual in a Jove letter? For the historian the Jove letter is a particular qualification affecting a certain kind of evidence, a particular genre that he has to be aware of in assessing his facts. Only the one to whom the love letter is addressed is able to appreciate, however, the fullness of the fact, since he alone has a c~intentionality with the person who wrote the letter. There is, therefore, a kind of circular motion as one proceeds from fact to faith and returns from faith to fact. We are supposing in the first place that the fact is the external, tangible evidence of the desire for inner communion. This external evidence leads, prompts, invites, excites another. It is a factum attrahens, exc-itans. The fact is a kind of precipitate within an affective field, a condensation of potential affectivity, creating the same affectivity in another. This is obvious in the case of those who love one another. Every act, as far as it is humanly possible, proceeds from the intention to attract and unite. In this case, every fact is indeed a proposal. What is true of human facts which are the deliberate expression of the desire for communion is true on a much deeper level of divine facts. The whole of the spati~temporal world is the affective field for the union for which we are made. In a special way the revelatory facts par excellence, which we find in the history of Israel in a preliminary way, are found in the life of Christ where the Word becomes fact by becoming flesh. The completely real but unfactual love of God becomes factual in the Incarnation. This can be treated as a problem (by the philosopher), a scandal (to the Jews), a fact on the first level or second level (by the historian), or a mystery (by the person of faith). When one is on the level of mystery (the third level of fact), facts becomes a medium not merely for communication but for communion. This movement from fact to faith, and the return of faith to fact has a certain parallel in the relationship of our sense knowledge to our understanding. We see with our eyes. From• this sense knowledge we rise to intellectual knowledge through• understanding and judgment. Then our understanding and¡ judgment in turn bring about a certain super-ordering in our action of seeing. Similarly in the process of falling in Jove there is a kind of circular motion. Signs of love are first of all


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merely informative. However, once a person opens himself to the intentionality behind the sign they become conformative. They mediate not merely information but loving communion. This faith perspective, which alone allows us to see loving facts in their full meaning, does not subsume the other orders of evidence in a kind of process of sublimation which denigrates research into the infra-orders of intelligibility. Faith does not do away with or substitute for technique. Faith might have built the cathedrals of Europe, but faith would have been helpless without the skills of engineering. I hope, therefore, that the primacy given to the need for openness of heart where we are confronted with communionevidence will not be interpreted as a fideistic downgrading of the reasonable effort of reason and research. Authentic existence, which means existence in conscious awareness from within the communion for which we are made, fosters authenticity on every other level including that of research. Life-incommunion helps appreciate the distinctive levels of communi-¡ cation, each with its own characteristics. Each level of evidence meets with its own kind of resistance in the one who tries to make sense out of the evidence. On the first level it is a problem of reducing what is unsystematic to some kind of system. On the second level there is the problem of meaning. On the third level there is the problem of conversion. The idea of conversion is central in Bernard Lonergan's thought. Its not merely a change in what a person knows or does. It involves a metamorphosis affecting the whole of the person. Where this conversion is effective, there is a new synthesizing center to a person's life. This center is a synthesizing power which from within the order of love gives a new and authenticating view toward all evidence that touches the communion, where the implications of the evidence have to be lived at least in an anticipatory way before the evidence itself is recognized. In the circular process, when the evidence was still exercising its preliminary effect of communicating some lesser type of order, the strength of the evidence was weak and fragile. However, when the internal dynamics within the evidence are allowed to reach their full fruition, that is, communion, then the tenuousness of the evidence-in-process takes


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on a new strength, since it is now perceived from within the union possessed. Faith, therefore, is a synthesizing center. It does not create evidence. Rather it empowers one to see evidence truly. While it arises in the spatio-temporal world, its life is not encapsulated in that world. The life of faith is like that of man's spirit. While dependent on matter, man's spirit transcends the limitations. Putting the same thing in a more incamational way, spirit expands matter beyond its limitations, giving a deeper authenticity to matter itself. Similarly fact finds it authenticity only in the spirit expansion given by faith. Faith arises in the spatio-temporal world in which God reveals himself, through which he is perceived by his creatures living in the spatio-tempo1¡al world. However, the movement from knowledge to faith is like that which Teilhard de Chardin speaks of in regard to evolution where man appears. It is a jump from zero to infinity. While there is continuity, there is at the same time radical discontinuity. To sum up this section, I have tried to show the circular relationship between fact and faith. I have stressed the different levels on which fact is found, where facts which are not organized are looking for organization, or facts which are not understood are looking for understanding, or facts which are not appreciated become the medium of communion when they are appreciated. The appreciation of fact-for-communion is what is called faith. While the appreciation of such facts begins with organization, rises to a certain understanding, the judgment about the fact is not limited to mere recognition of evidence, but the judgment comes from a correspondence of heart with the intentionality behind the facts. This brings us to the final point I wanted to take up in our discussion of the relationship of fact to faith. It concerns the certitude of faith. THE CERTITUDE OF FAITH

It is axiomatic that historical lmowledge is not of the same order as that which belongs to philosophy, mathematics, or science. For the moment it is not important to determine whether the certitude that belongs to history is moral certitude, high probability, or some other kind. Everyone agrees at least


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that there is a kind of certitude peculiar to historical knowledge. There is also a particular kind of certitude belonging to supernatural faith. It is an existential certitude surpassing all other certitudes. Coming from union, communion, belonging, sharing, fulfillment, it is the greatest of all certitudes. It is not ,however, an intellectual certitude built on argumentation, nor one that can defend itself with argumentation. Nor is it a psychological certitude that brings a feeling of emotional security. The certitude that belongs to supernatural faith is of the kind that St. Paul speaks of when he speaks of the basic truth which comprehends Christian existence. It is a conviction not merely of an abstract truth, but of a relationship. So many of the difficulties that arise in the relationship of fact and faith, the certitude of knowledge and the certitude of faith, arise from confusing the order of knowledge which has to do with fact on the first and second levels with the order of faith, which is an awareness of a personal,. reciprocal relationship. This is illustrated in St. Paul's certitude about the love of Christ for the Christian community, and for each one personally. Even though this certitude has its spatia-temporal base in the ,life of Christ, it excedes all other certitudes. "For I am certain of this" (Rm 8. 38). Not all of the "facts" in the world, such as persecution, suffering, trials, destitution, even death itself, can threaten the certitude that his existence is now an existencewith, an existence-in-communion with Christ. From within this personal relationship all "facts" are seen in their proper perspective. Even the utter opaqueness of death itself yields an intelligible order when viewed through this love-light that comes from existence-in-communion. In this mystery of the relationship of the facts of Christ's life and the perception of that which overflows and transcends the facts, namely, the love of Christ, we have in a unique way an example of what takes place in every form of knowledge expressing an absolute or transcendent truth. All human truths are born in contingency, yet transcent their humble origins. Ever since Plato's attempt to account for this mysterious phenomenon, where the effect seems to be out of all proportion to the cause, the human mind has struggled to account for an explanation of this phenomenon of knowledge. Perhaps the at-


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tempts in the past to solve the problem have been doomed to failure, because of the implicit reduction of spirit to mind. It is only in the realm of man's spirit that the greater is born from¡ the less. CONCLUSION

In his article on the virginal conception, Brown asked for dialogue with the systematic theologians particularly on the question whether the doctrine of the virginal conception met the "usual" criteria of infallibility. I hope that this essay is understood as a contribution to the dialogue, not as impugning Brown's approach, nor certainly as the last word. However, it was necessary to ask certain questions, and express certain reservations, for example, concerning his notion of the theologian as creating the criteria by which doctrines are catalogued; also the way that he conceives the work of the exegete working out of a context of faith; again, there are questions about his methodology itself, where it seems that from a concatenation of hypothetical or probable arguments certitude somehow emerges; finally, there is the question about the immutability of dogma. I have not taken up the various questions concerning the virginal conception as found in Scripture and in the faith of the Church, becaus.e, in the first place, I am not a mariologist, and in the second, the literature on the subject is reported on at length by Rene Laurentin in his survey of mariological literature. (Cf. the January and April 1974 issues of Revue des Sciences Philosophiques et Theologiques). I have in this article attempted to single out and clarify only one of the problems, that of the relationship of fact and faith. Perhaps what I have said could be best summarized with a quotation from Bernard Lonergan. "There is a notable difference between the fuller understanding of data and the fuller understanding of a truth. When data are more fully understood, there results the emergence of a new theory and the rejection of previous theories. Such is the ongoing process in the empirical sciences. But when a truth is more fully understood, it is still the same truth that is being understood ... Now dogmas are pennanent in their meaning because they are not just data but expressions


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of truths and, indeed, of truths that, were they not revealed by God, could not be known by man. Once they are revealed and believed, they can be better and better understood. But that ever better understanding is of the revealed truth and not of something else. Nor is this opposed to the historicity of the dogmas. For dogmas are statements. Statements have meaning only within their contexts. Contexts are ongoing, and ongoing contexts are related principally by derivation and by interaction ... What pennanently is true, is the meaning of the dogma in the context in which it was defined. To ascertain that meaning there have to be employed the resources of research, interpretation, history, dialetic." (Bernard Lonergan, S.J., Method in Theology, New York, 1972, p. 325). These remarks sum up what I have tried to do in this article. In particular, I have tried to show that there is a Context and there are contexts. The Context is the abiding mystery received in faith. By distinguishing evidence and facts on three different levels, I tried to show that the perception of this Context is not merely the organization or understanding of data but the response to a personal invitation to enter into communion. The faith-awareness of this Context is the awareness of the abiding truth that is revealed within the changing contexts of time and history. What does my rather abstract treatment of the relationship of fact and faith have to do with the virginal conception? Von .Balthasar sees the doctrine as woven into the very heart of the Christian faith and finds the attempt to interpret the doctrine "theologically" rather than historically as contravening the nature of our Christian faith. "Are Catholic theologians becoming so blind that they can no longer see that the conception of Mary as a virgin mother is built into the very fabric of Christian dogma? Or are we to begin trying to distinguish between 'theological' and 'historical' truth in a religion which is concerned precisely with incarnation and therefore with the historical content of belief?" ( op. cit., p. 55)


Emil S. Payer

Liturgy and Revolution Can the Church create a liturgy of peace in a world charged with tension? The author believes it can be done by a Christian Community unafraid to challenge the world it lives in.

"Just as living organisms cannot survive without selective adaptation to their environment, the Church herself must continually adjust through the modern world. And today the world needs a liturgy which will help bring the faithful and others closer to the Church and its Lord." Augustine Cardinal Bea. The Church is a human community, not solely a divine institution but also a human, sociological and historical ¡structure. No one can deny that the Church is in the world, and, conversely, the world is in the Church. "This world exerts its influence on the Church in a thousand ways, and places conditions on its daily conduct." (Ecclesiam Suam, Par. -U) And the world in which she lives is made up of many little worlds. By this I mean that there are worlds of culture. nationality and customs. When the Church wishes to 1¡each them, she must become similar to them, at least to a certain degree. Because of such a composition, the Church is to an incalculable degree affected by the spiritual condition of her members and the purity, greatness, and strength of individual personalitieS. No one can deny that the Church is composed of sinful beings, and if her members are sinful and, as sinners, remain her members, then she herself is sinful. Thus, as Hans Kung 297


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states, "The Church because she is DEformed and continually being DEformed, must continually be REformed." (The Council, Reform, and Re-union p. 33). Just as this vibrating, pulsating, living and human community develops and strives for perfection and maturity in the fulness of Christ, the vehicle or means by which the members express and manifest the mystery of Christ must develop concomitantly. "The Liturgy ... is first and foremost a development, growth, ripening being ... the Liturgy is a process of fulfillment, a growth to maturity." (Romano Guardini, The Spirit of The Liturgy, p. 5). The Liturgy always reflects the teaching of the age in which it was created. Since the Church acknowledges doctrinal development, it seems obvious that the Liturgy is in need of repeated modifications so that it always teaches the doctrine of the contempm¡ary Church. The doctrinal development that took place at Vatican II has transcended several positions held by the Church in the past. These new doctrinal positions arc not yet a part of the Church's Liturgy. "The Liturgy teaches not only through texts recited at worship; it also teaches, and does so more powerfully, through the action in which it is celebrated." (Gregory Baum, The Ecmnenist, March-April, 1967). The Liturgy therefore can never remain static; declaring unequivocally that its pUl'pose was "to adapt more suitably to the needs of modern times those institutions which are subject to change," Vatican II decreed: " ... The Liturgy is made up of immutable elements divinely instituted, and of elements subject to change. These latter not only may, but ought to be changed with the passage of time ..." (Comt¡itution of the Sacred Liturgy as promulgaterl December 4, 1963 p. 5,21.) The Church is now experiencing a deep stirring, realizing that in a world of flux she must be "ecclesia semper reformanrla." Time never stands still, and so the Church cannot but keep marching forward. In every age, she faces the difficult task of presenting herself anew. And, in the 21st century, she must present herself totally to the world. The Liturgy of which we will speak in this paper is not just a set of rubrics anrl laws; it is a living-out of the Christian message. Liturgy means the "Gospel in Action," action in every area of human life; and above all Liturgy is the call to Christian response


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and revolution, a call which will cultivate sentiments of peace among the people. All this calls for men who can get out of themselves, who will cease walking by lonely paths, and will come to the high roads where men of all nations pass by. Such Christians are those who will stand up before men, bearing the light of Christ past the winding ways and false mysticisms which mislead them. This also calls for men to leave the ghetto in which they so often shut themselves up--in our churches, our papers, our good works; this calls for them to be among pagans and really become theirs as Christ became ours, giving up their life, their time, their resources, their activities, for those who haven't yet heard the "good tidings." A Christian has not finished his job when he has gone to Mass on Sunday. He must take the living waters of the Liturgy and drink deeply. His own self must become sanctified so that he can go out and help others. The Church's prayers are given to him only as a help toward bringing Christ to the world. And if men do not recognize in us the peace and love and goodness of our Father, then we have done nothing: we have not begun to serve either Him or them. And we don't begin until we insist, by whatever means, that the Church be herself. Then, we will have a tremendous beginning of new individual relationships in clericalhuman equality and honesty, pointing the way toward the possibility of remade Christian community of fellowship and peace. Great prayer over the deepest of human causes needs the assistance of great prayer forms. Will they emerge in a world marked by a spirit of revolution? Specifically, is our Roman Catholic Church capable of creating a liturgy of peace at a moment of history when the globe is exploding? We need to know something of the answer to that question if we are to be even remotely at ease in the liturgy we are now developing, for we cannot alford to live much longer without hope. PEACEMAKERS: MINISTERS

OF RECONCILIATION

Pacem in Terris certainly recognized that Catholics themselves were to a great extent out of contact with the rest of the world, enclosed in their own spiritual and religious ghetto. One of the chief contributions of Pope John's brief pontificate


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was that he opened the ghetto and told Catholics to go out and talk to other people-to Protestants, to Jews, to Hindus, and even to Communists, perhaps even to other Catholics. He knew that this openness would be a bridge to the road of peace. We live in an age of compounded crises, an age of hot and cold war, the constant threat of total annihilation by the weapons that we ourselves have perfected. It is an age more and more bereft of authentic human existence, and even the image of such existence increasingly deserts us. Those who cannot accept the compromise of our age run to the extremes-the yogi and the commissar, the saint and the political actionist. The one prayer that seems least likely to be answered, the prayer we have almost ceased to pray, is "Dona nobis pacem"-Give us peace. It is the attitude of openness prescribed by Pacem in Terris that must form our thinking as Christians in time of crisis, and not the close and fanatical myths of nationalistic or racial paranoia. Only if we remain open, detached, humble in the presence of objective truth and of our fellow man will we be able to choose peace. Where there is deep, simple, all-embracing love of man, of the created world of living and inanimate things, then there will be respect for life, for freedom, for truth, for justice, and there will be humble love of God. But where there is no love of man, no love of life, then we can make all the laws we want, all the edicts and treaties, issue all the anathemas, set up all the safeguards and inspections, fill the air with spying satellites, and hang cameras on the moon; and it will all be worthless. As long as we see our fellowman as a being essentially to be feared, and thus hated and ultimately to be destroyed, there cannot be peace on earth. And who kn0ws if fear alone will suffice to prevent a war of total destruction? Pope John was not one of those who believe that fear is enough. Action, revolution is needed! Our community today is a gathering of peacemakers. We pray that the God of peace may cleanse us of our will to war, that he may bestow on us some measure of His wisdom and steadfastness in the tasks of peace. We gather, we pray together, and we disperse again, knowing that the work of peace cannot be accomplished in Churches; it can only begin there.


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The making of peace implies the will to return to our world of love, to stand firm in public, to confront the powers and principalities, to assert in time of war that no government which makes war can govern well ; that we ourselves will not submit before a governing hand that would thrust weapons into our hands and command us away from the paths of peace. The ecumenical activity of God has entered history and liturgy, inviting men to take up the burdens of their brothers, to renounce hatred and violence, and to unite with one another in a love which will be worthy of the God of love. If we interest ourselves in one another, if we dislocate our personal and churchly interests in favor of the oppressed and poor, perhaps we can be certain for the first time that now we are doing the works of God. And, throughout history, God's intercession has shown itself powerfully in men who make peace. God is the God of peace, not the God of war or those who make war; this is the import of the word which is both living and life-going. Accepting this word, we may hope to stand under the blessing of God, imbued with His hope, His universal love, His passionate conscience. THE REVOLUTION

Revolutions are and have been a part of the evolution of the world. All the constitutions in force today originated at a time more or less marred by a revolution, that is to say with a break from some system that no longer insured the common good, and the establishment of a new order more likely to bring it about. A revolution must be and is taking place in the Church, and especially in the concept of Liturgy. Liturgy can no longer be a stagnant set of rubrics, it must become the full living-out of the Gospel of Christ, and when this response is made on the part of each and every Christian a world of true peace will exist. Certainly, Christianity is profoundly revolutionary. It entails, first of all in the life of every individual, and subsequently in the life of society too, a conversion, a radical change; as a religious revolution, Christianity cannot but be a social revolution too. To identify Christianity with social and economic conservatism or immobilism is an absurdity. To his


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' credit, Bishop John J. Dougherty (Bishop's Committee on World Justice and Peace) once stated that the U.S. Church has not been providing sufficient leadership in the peace movement: "The Church greets with joy and pride a new mankind that respects the worker, the poor. She looks forward to the day when we have a nation which will enforce justice between peoples and distribute goods justly. Therefore we must agree that it is high time that the poor effectively defend their rights to life. Thus, we address to all men the Gospel words : "We urge you to remain constant and dauntless, as evangelical leaven in the workers' world, relying on the words of Christ. 'Look up, and raise your heads, because your redemption is drawing near.' (Luke 21 :28) Hence, the Christian must fight against social injustice, against racial discrimination: the Christian must oppose political and economic regimes that tend to reduce man to a condition of slavery, to oppress him politically and to maintain him in a condition of economic misery and moral abjection." From the doctrinal point of view the Church knows that the Gospel demands the first fundamental revolution, which is called conversion, from selfishness to love, from pride to willingness to serve. This conversion has a communal aspect laden with implications for all society. The Gospel has always been the most potent fennent of deep social change. The social doctrine of the Church, reaffii"IIled at Vatican II, is already disassociating our Churches from all traces of dependence on great international finances. As soon as any sysstem ceases to ensure the common good, the Church must not merely condemn such injustice, but disassociate herself from the system of privilege, ready to collaborate with another that is more just and better adapted to the needs of the time. Likewise, our Liturgy, if it is to be a liturgy of peace, must recognize in these events that the "mighty are being put down from their thrones and the humble raised up, the rich sent away emptyhanded, and the hungry filled with good things." (I Samuel 1 :7-8; Luke I :52,53.) Today the world urgently demands a recognition of human dignity in all its fullness and social quality of all people. Christians and all men of good will cannot do otherwise than ally themselves with this movement, even if it means renouncing privilege and goods for the sake


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of the human community, in a greater conception of society. The Church is not the protectress of private property. She insists with Pope John on the sharing of property since property has primarily a communal function. As St. Ambrose wrote, "the earth is given to everyone and not to the rich." In living our Liturgy of the Word, we, like the Church herself, cannot tolerate a society where so little conforms to the moral teaching of the prophets and the Gospels. We cannot but rejoice to see another social system appearing that is less distant from that teaching. Christians have the duty to demonstrate "that true socializing is a full Christian life that involves a just sharing of goods and fundamental equality." (Melkite Pahiarch Maximos IV) And, until this is a reality, there can be no peace. To further the development of peace, we must make our liturgy a form of communal life adapted to our times, and keeping with the spirit of the Gospel. MODEL FoR THE CHRISTIAN : THE REVOLUTIONARY LEADER

We should look upon the Church as part of the community of mankind. We ought not to have simply a functional view of the clergy within the Church; we ought to press our functionalism much further; we ought to have a functional view of the Church within mankind. It is only within communities that people have functions. Many, however, see the Church as a community and the priests as functional within it. We should want to see the community as that of mankind, and see the Church as functional within it. (Herbert McCabe, September 20, 1968) It will follow from this that the important distinctions in the Church-those we call sacramental (the distinction established by baptism, confirmation, orders and marriage)-.are functional only in relation¡ to the community of man. The bishop or pil¡est is not a man with a special job to do in the Church; he is a man with a special job to do in the world. Any differentiation within the Church is a mere consequence of this. You cannot lead a revolutionary movement either as a job or a hobby; you can only lead it if you are recognized as cledi-


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cated to and embodying the spirit of revolution. A ;¡evolutionary leader is not simply a charismatic figure. He cannot rely simply on the enthusiasm he inspires as an individual. Precisely because he embodies the revolutionary spirit of the people, he speaks for them as a movement, and hence exercises direction and authority in the movement. The business of the priest is to be one jump ahead of the Christian life of his age; it is his job to be constantly representing to the Christian people and to the world the evangelical and revolutionary significance of their Christian, secular lives. It is every Christian's task to be critical and interpretative of his world; it is the ministerial task to be interpretative of the Chrisian life, to see through it to the Gospel that it be more or less adequately embodied. It is to seek out and re-present to men the Christianness of their Christian, the evangelical character of their lives. This is what promulgation of the Gospel means. It is here where the credibility of the church is to be judged, not according to whether it is a community in which we can begin to satisfy our personal need for human warmth and kindness and decent personal relations, but according to whether it is effective as a force in revolutionizing and Christianizing the world. The first sign of real recovery of Christianity will be the hostility of the world. "I passed your word on to them and the world hated them." (John 17 :14). If the world, the powers of the establishment, does not hate the Church, her ministers and her people, it is because we successfully concealed from the world the character of the word that has been passed on to us. This view probably sounds to some completely out of touch with the way men celebrate their deepest emotions. Two hundred years ago there was a struggle in France for freedom, equality and brotherhood, and Rouget de Lisle's "Marseillaise" came out of it. The heavens were dry for eons in the southwest, and the Hopis made their rain dance. Decades in the cotton fields created both the spirituals and the blues; other decades in the asphalt ghettos created a liturgy of imprecation of "the Man." We do not make great art, song or liturgy to order. If a people's experience of life is shallow, its liturgies will be shallow. Depth of feeling alone can result in depth of expression. Are we realistic in supposing ourselves capable of


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great vehicles of prayer when in fact we have no great prayer? Can only the patriot, the man oppressed, the person religiously exalted give vent to his feelings, while the bourgeoisie of which the Church-going public is largely composed is condemned to realize how few are its feelings which are worth celebrating? What is the relation between expecting the resurrection of the dead and "never having had it so good?" And what is the condition of that Church, large segments of which entertain as their deepest human feeling a resentment of their religious leadership? The question comes down to this: must we expect social protest and social satisfaction to create its liturgies? Will the world of unreality furtively go on borrowing elements from the world of reality to express aspirations it has not experienced but wished it could? Will the two ever meet in liturgy-the heart's cry and the artistic expression given to the heart's cry? TRUE EXPRESSIONS OF THE LITURGY OF PEACE

There is one particular group of Christians who attempt to reveal what has been concealed in the past and to express the heart's cry. Having been called many names such as "underground church," this group's double thrust of pragmatic ecumenism in a liturgical sense and radical social action saves it from any tendency to become an ingrown pseudo-holiness sect, cut off from the problems of society. There have been many attempts to create liturgies in the last ten years, chiefly outside the structure sanctioned by the Concilium which serves as the follow-up of Vatican II. Worship for an incredibly large number of people at one time went underground. The alternative was an unchanged Sunday morning charade; consequently, extemporaneously, primitive, indigenous liturgies grew up, invariably in home settings. Liturgy of this sort operates on the assumption that there is a sufficient cultural heritage held in common-and a similar orientation in life--that people may pray together. I am speaking of liturgy in its classic sense here, namely, as the vehicle of prayer of large and disparate populations. The like-minded find it easy to pray together. Social fragmentation is congenial to our nature because it requires the least exertion, the


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smallest attempt at brotherhood. One point that must be kept in mind is that even though the intimacy of the small group is beautiful, it often can become too easy to enjoy, too little related to all that is contained in the challenge to be Catholic, to be Christian. With populations as huge as ours we cannot afford the luxury of fragmentation on principle. The modern nation conducts its activities on the large scale to achieve its end. So does industry, advertising, international economy. It is too facile to say that size is opposed to personal concern. Already our country has been crippled by division into whites and blacks, the rich and the poor, the educated and the uneducated, people of this national origin and that. If we seek peace for the country and the world, we cannot afford another division; least of all built on principle in a rite that is meant to signify unity. If fifty or sixty million people of every color and social condition can come together over a World's Series, a variety show, or "The Graduate," then surely they can achieve unity in profounder realms such as that of prayer. We tend to say it is impossible because at the moment almost all segments of the population have found the liturgy irrelevant for various reasons. The false conclusion is then drawn that any liturgy drawn up for fifty million people is fated to irrelevancy. (Gerard S. Sloyan, Speech given at National Liturgical Conference, August 20, 1968). But if that were so, no composer would ever begin a symphony, no man of letters would try to reach the minds and hearts of thousands by his writing, or political leader by his speech and action. Given a great theme and great execution, the masses cannot fail to be reached in the personal centers of their beings. It would be quite wrong to abandon the project before it was ever begun, which is the danger we run into in interpreting "relevance" in terms of immediate cultural familiarity. And such interpretation is shortsighted. The worship of God in a spirit of brotherhood and peace is relevant to every man; so are the words, the song, the action that convey the meaning of this activity to millions who are not culturally close to one another. If the bulk of the nation can be brought into one over the death of Dr. King or Senator Kennedy, its Christian people can surely be unified over the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ! It is not liturgy's business to fill Churches or amphitheatres.


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Showmen do that on bad terms; the Holy Spirit alone can do it on good terms. It is the business of Liturgy, however, to be ready to give people a chance to pray if they come to church, to cause discomfott to those who come to church for any reason except to pray. I do not think it possible to compose religious liturgies precisely for the use of social revolutionaries. Normally, they will not be here to pray them; not-mally, too, if they are believers, they will be satisfied with the prayer form of all believers, provided those prayer forms reflect something of what the revolutionary has experienced. I do not think it possible, to compose liturgies for a world in revolt. They will be composed by men of insight, prophetic figures who at least know that the globe is in revolt. They will have some of the patience and compassion of God himself, in that the liturgies will not attempt to solve the world's problems. They will simply contemplate the measure in which sinful man has created these problems and leave to the divine mercy that measure of solution which only God can achieve. Christianity is a movement of change within the world, a movement which seeks to transfol"IIl institutional relations between men in order to better express the relationships that constitute them as human; this movement is to be hated by the world, is to come into conflict with the power structure of the world, but is essentially to "overcome the world." "This is the victory that overcomes the world, our faith." (I John 5 :4). The preaching of the Gospel is a danger to the values of the world and to the economic and political structures which embody these values. It, therefore, seems not unreasonable to describe the Church as a revolutionary movement within the world. CHRISTIANITY: HUMAN LIBERATION

In the past, the Christian Church has not done a very creative job of responding to the challenge of revolution. In some instances, it has been one o~ the main bulwarks of the old order; in others, it has stood on the sidelines and watched the struggle. Usually, some decades after the success of a revolution, the Church has reluctantly entered into dialogue or estab-


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lished a modus vivendi with it. Must this be the case? Does the very nature of the Christian faith force us to take our stand in support of the old order? In the descriptions of the Liturgical activities in the Old Testament, we can clearly see that it was not merely a stand for the old order. They lived a Liturgy which looked forward to a peaceful world, gave thanksgiving for the gifts of the past, and a firm affirmation of the beliefs for which they lived. Certainly, their liturgical expression offered resources for understanding a revolutionary situation and participation in a struggle for social reconstruction. It is generally accepted that the Judeo-Christian heritage overcame the dominance of the cyclical view of history. In its place it introduced the ideas that man's historical existence was gradually moving toward a goal, and that this goal was nothing less than the creation of a new humanity, a peace-filled humanity, a new possibility for human fulfillment within a new social order. The original Christian symbols which provided the resources for such understanding have produced a wide variety of eschatological views, often in contradiction with each other.. Nevertheless, they suggest that God is at work in human history, breaking it open to a new tomorrow, and that we are best able to understand what is going on around us and respond to it when we have our eyes open to perceive new possibilities and strive to create them-when we begin to live the Gospel we preach. Our Christian faith affirms that the Christian symbols provide us with clues to the reality of historical development and of personal existence. Jesus Chris~rucified and risen-is both the Messiah who initiated a new area of peace in human history and the Second Adam, the new man. For this reason, I believe that the central Christian symbols for us today are those of death and resurrection. No modern thinker has stated this more powerfully than Eugene Rosenstock Huessey, in his book, The Christian Future. He puts it this way: "Christianity is the embodiment of one single truth through the ages: that death precedes birth, that birth is the fruit of death, and that the soul is precisely this power of transforming an end into a beginning by obeying a new name." . These words are certainly relevant to our Liturgy of peace. They challenge us to a radical orientation of our lives. For


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those who have been surprised again and again on the road to the future, death can be brought into the center of life and overcome. They are free to Jose their lives in the hope of finding them; to break out of the dead end of stagnated liturgy and repetition by burying the old when its time has come, and working to give form and action to the new. This is yet to be accomplished completely. The price we may have to pay to achieve peace, to share and to live it will at times be great. But, in this framework, it is possible to contemplate and accept the loss of that which we most cherish, even though we do not yet know for sure what will take its place. The willing acceptance of the agony of creation takes the place of the security of the old passive stabilities: and those who have no future or give up the future already guaranteed for them, turn out to be the ones who are free to create a new tomorrow-a peace-filled tomorrow!


Charles Curran

Pluralism in Catholic Moral Theology. Catholics are well aware of the range of opinion in contemporary moral theology. Is this pluralism compatible with the Church's right to speak authoritatively? The author explores this important but complex question. In a recent assessment of contemporary Catholic moral theology (Theological Studies, 1973, 446-467) I pointed out that pluralism now characterizes Catholic moral teaching both in . methodologies employed and in the solutions to particular moral questions involving such issues as medical ethics, abortion, conflict situations which had previously been solved in terms of the principle of double effect, some questions of sexuality and divorce. Pluralism on these specific moral questions was justified from the viewpoints of ecclesiology and of moral methodology. In reacting to this assessment Thomas Dubay has acknowledged the accuracy of the description of pluralism on specific moral questions in the writings of Roman Catholic theologians, but he disagrees with the evaluation given to this fact. (Ibid., 1974, pp. 482-506) Dubay closes his article with several unanswered questions that moral theologians should explore. In the interest of pursuing the present discussion and hopefully of clarifying some of the reasons proposed I will respond to the more important questions raised by him. THE FIRST QUESTION

Dubay proposes his first question: "Is habitual and frequent 310


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dissent from authentic, non-infallible teaching in the Church biblically or theologically justified?" (p. 501). Dissent in the past was a rare phenomenon considered permissible only within narrow limits and confined to the pages of scholarly publications. It is academically unacceptable that an exception should now be blown up into a rule (pp. 501-2). Yet, I believe that the possibility of frequent dissent from existing teachings of the authentic, hierarchical magisterium on specific moral matters is theologically justified today. Dubay and all Catholic theologians admit in theory the possibility of dissent from such authentic non-infallible teaching of the hierarchical magisterium. The disagreement centers on whether or not such dissent can be frequent. What is the ultimate theological reason for the possibility of dissent-be it rare or frequent? In my judgment the ultimate reason is epistemological. On specific moral questions one cannot have a certitude which excludes the possibility of error. Such an epistemological approach distinguishes the degree of certitude which can be had depending on the degree of generality or specificity with which one is dealing. As one goes from the general to the more specific, the possibility of a certitude which excludes elTor is less. One can be quite certain, for example, that murder is always wrong, but the problem is to determine in practice what is murder. One can assert with great certitude that a Christian should be a loving, self-sacrificing person of hope and a sign of the fruits of the Spirit to the world, but one cannot know with great certitude how to solve conflict situations involving human lives. Roman Catholic theology in the past has solved the question of conflict situations which might involve killing or abortion on the basis of the understanding of the principle of double effect. Such a solution rests on a philosophical understanding of human actions in which the meaning of direct effect is defined in terms of the physical structure of the act itself. Such a solution is based on one philosophical understanding of the human act, but many people, including Roman Catholic theologians today, point out the inadequacy of that particular philosophical understanding as a solution to conflict situations. (Cornelius J. van der Poe!, "The Principle of Double Effect," in Absolutes in Moral Theology? ed. C. E.


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Curran, 1968, pp. 186-210; Leandro Rossi, "Diretto e indiretto in teologia morale," Rivi8ta di Teologia Morale, 1971, pp. 3765.) Catholic teaching should, in season and out of season with great certitude, proclaim that the Christian must respect life. One, however, cannot have such certitude in determining precisely when death occurs. Catholic moral theology has been willing to recognize the difficulties in determining precisely when death does occur. In a somewhat similar way it seems that one cannot have absolute certitude about when human life begins. The solution to the question of abortion ultimately rests on determining the beginning of human life. The judgment about the beginning of human life cannot claim to be so certain that it excludes he possibility of error. (For indications of some diversity already existing among contemporary Roman Catholic authors on the question of the beginning of human life, see Abtreibung-Pro und Contra, ed. J. Grundel Wurzburg: Echter, 1971; Avortement et respect de Ia vie liumaine, Colloque de Centre Catholique des Medecins Francais Paris: Editions du Seuil, 1972; D. Mongillo, F. D.'Agostine, F. Compagnoni, "L'Aborto," Rivista di Teologia Morale, 1972, pp. 355-392 ; Richard A. McCormick, S.J ., "Notes on Moral Theology: The Abortion Dossier," Theological Studies, 1974, pp. 312-392.) One cannot exclude from the Church of Jesus Christ a person who holds that the test for the existence of individual human life is the same at the beginning of life as at the end of life-that is, the presence of brain waves. Even though I personally would not hold such an opinion, I cannot exclude anyone who does from the Church of Jesus Christ. MORE FREQUENT DISSENT?

Why is the possibility of such dissent now recognized to be much more frequent than in the past? There are three factors contributing to this changed understanding. First, the emphasis on historical consciousness in moral theology has affected theological methodology and the understanding of certitude in the area of theological ethics. A more historically conscious methodology, as illustrated in Pastoral Constitution on the Church in the Modern World which begins its consideration


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of substantive questions by discerning the signs of the times, employs a more inductive methodology. The old methodology in Catholic moral theology tended to be more deductive so that the conclusion that one reached was just as certain as the premises from which one started, provided the logic was correct. An historically conscious methodology gives greater appreciation to the reality of continuing historical change and the need to begin not with an abstract, universal, essentialist statement but rather with the concrete, historical realities with which we live. Such a changing methodology with its emphasis on a more inductive approach will never be able to achieve the type of cet-titude which a more deductive methodology claimed to achieve. (Bernard J. F. Lonergan, Method in Theology New York: Herder and Herder, 1972, pp. 153-234.) Second, contemporary moral theology recognizes the impossibility of an absolute identification between the physical aspect of the act and the moral description of the act. In fairness it should be pointed out that for the most pati; Catholic moral theology has avoided the problem of identifying the physical structure of the act with the moral aspect.¡ Thus, for example, our theology never claimed that all killing is wrong but only that all murder is wrong. One can have great certitude in claiming that all murder is wrong, but there might be more difficulty in detetmining in particular cases whether a specific act is murder or not. In a similar way Catholic moral theology taught that lying is alway wrong, but in the last few decades many theologians do not define a lie as the lack of correspondence between what I say and what is in my mind. The malice of lying consists in the violation of my neighbor's right to truth. Not every falsehood (defined in a somewhat physical n¡ay as the correspondence between what is uttered and what is in my mind) is a lie (defined in a moral sense). (J. A. Dorszynski, Catholic Teaching abont the Morality of Falsehood Washington: Catholic University of America Press, 1949). However, the physical is a very important aspect of the human or the moral, and at times the moral is the same as the physicaL In this world, my humanity cannot be .separated from my physical, corporeal existence. There is a definite danger in some con-


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temporary ethical discussions of not giving enough importance to the physical aspect, but one cannot merely assert that the physical is always the same as the moral. FIVE AREAS OF INVESTIGATION

In my judgment the areas of questioning today in Catholic moral theology are especially those areas in which the human moral act has been identified with the physical structure of the act itself. The areas under discussion today can generally be reduced to five--medical ethics, the solution of conflict situations which traditionally were solved by the application of the principle of double effect, abortion, sexuality, and divorce. There is not an opportunity here to develop fully an approach to these different questions, but rather the aim of this particular section is merely to seek intelligibility. Why is there questioning today about these particular issues? Why is it that it will be very difficult to achieve on these questions the certitude which we thought we had in the past? The answer is that in all of these questions one cannot automatically make the identification of the human moral act with the physical structure of the act itself. In medical ethics involving questions such as contraception and sterilization the older Catholic approach defines the morally wrong act in terms of its physical structure. The principle of the double effect understands the direct effect as the finis operis of the external act itself. In the question of sexuality, some ask why the physical act of sexual intercourse alone is permitted only between husband and wife even though many othet¡ acts such as revealing most intimate secrets can be done with one who is not a spouse? Some people today argue that human life does not begin at conception because according to them the human is more thanjust the biological, the physical and the genetic. I do not agree with all these new approaches. At times the human act is the same as the physical structure of the act, but such an identity cannot be accepted with a certitude that excludes the possibility of error. Here again, there are a number of different epistemological approaches being taken by contemporary moral theologians on the basis of which they deny the fact that the moral aspect


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is always identifiable with the physical aspect of the act itself. Moral theologians such as Milhaven, McCormick, and Schuller have insisted on the need to judge the morality of actions in terms of the consequences and seek justification for good acts in tenns of proportionate reasons. (Richard A. McCormick, S.J., Ambiqnity in MoTal Clwice. The 1973 Pere Marquette Theology Lecture Milwaukee: Marquette University, 1973; John Giles Milhaven, "Objective Moral Evaluation of Consequences," Theological Studies, 1971, pp. 407-430; Bruno Schuller, S.J., "Zur Problematik allegemein verbindlicher ethischer Grundsatze," Theologie und Philmophie, 1970, pp.1-23; Schuller, "Typen ethischer Argumentation in der katholischen Moral Theologie": Theologie nnd Philosophic, 1970, pp. 526-550). A more relational or phenomenological approach judges the morality of actions not in terms of the physical structure of the act but rather in terms of the manifold relationships with God, neighbor, the world, and self. William H. Van der Marek, Towatd a Chri.,tinn Ethic, Westminster, Md.: Newman Press, 1967, pp. 41-79). Other Catholic theologians such as Capone, Fuchs, Janssens and Knauer agree in distinguishing between moral evil and ontic evil although they might not all employ the same terminology. Such authors often appeal to the Thomistic distinction between the interior act and the exterior act. The decisive factor in deermining the moral act is the internal act, especially the intention and not just the external act itself. (Domenico Capone, "II pluralismo in teologia morale," Rivista di Teologia Momle, 1974, pp. 289-302; Joseph Fuchs, "The Absolnteness of Mom! Terms," Gregorianum, 1971, pp. 415-458; Louis Janssens, "Ontic Evil and Moral Evil," Louvnin Studies, 1972, pp. 115156; Peter Knauer, S.J., "La determination du bien et du mal moral par le principe du double effet," Nouvelle Revne Theologique. 1965, pp. 356-376; Knauer, "The Hermeneutic Function of the Principle of the Double Effect," Natural Law Forwn, 1967, pp. 132-162.) All of these approaches to the evaluation of the moral act differ from the approach of the past which often spoke of intrinsically evil actions in terms of the physical structure of the act itself. These contemporary approaches differ among themselves, but they agree in proposing an evaluation of the human


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moral act which includes so many other considerations that one cannot identify the human moral act and the physical structure of the act which such certitude that the possibility of error is excluded. In a sense the debate about contraception in the Roman Catholic Church in the 1960's necessarily involved more than just the question of contraception. Some "conservative" Catholics, perhaps in an exaggerated way, pointed out that a change in contraception would involve a change in other teachings of the Catholic Church. In one sense they were correct. The methodological approach employed in justifying the condemnation of artificial contraception was the same general approach used to justify some other Catholic teachings. Logically, the call for a change in the teaching on contraception will also have reverberations in other matters where the same methodological difficulties occur. Even if one does not advocate different conclusions on the specific questions mentioned above, at least the newer methodological approaches realize that one's conclusions on these questions cannot have the same type of certitude as that proposed in the older methodology. Third, contemporary Catholic theology acknowledges the overly authoritarian understanding of the Church which prevailed in the Catholic ethos until the last few decades. This authoritarian overemphasis also had its ramifications in the area of moral theology. Free theological discussion on many questions such as the possibility of parvity of matter in sexual sins or the solution of conflicts situations in the question of abortion was not allowed. In the earlier article I tried to show at great length how an overemphasis on an authoritarian imposition of moral methodology and of solutions to particular moral ¡problems arose and intensified from the time of the nineteenth century. Decisions of the Holy Office were sufficient to prevent any discussion of the particular questions mentioned above and other questions such as direct sterilization. Since older Catholic teachings on specific moral questions were often based on a monolithic methodology which is no longer accepted and were imposed in an extrinsic and authoritarian way, one must now expect there will be greater disagreement with such teachings.


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317 THE SECOND QUESTION

The second question proposed by Dubay is: "Does not a 'right' to frequent dissent and public teaching of it postulate two magisteria in the Church?" (p. 502). Dubay correctly notes my intentional references to the "hierarchical magisterium" and concludes that my position does postulate two magisteria in practice. Again one must recall that Dubay acknowledges the possibility of dissent from authentic, authoritative, non-infallible Church teaching. Anyone who admits such a possibility must deal with the same question. In theory one can at times go against the hierarchical magisterium and thus appeal to other criteria or sources of teaching. The question thus stands not. only for one who would admit more frequent dissent but for anyone who in conformity with Roman Catholic self-understanding admits the possibility of dissent from authentic, non~ infallible Church teaching. The key to the solution of such a question again involves a consideration of the reasons justifying the possibility of dissent. The theological reason for dissent rests on the epistemological recognition that on specific moral questions one cannot have that degree of certitude which excludes the possibility of error. The ultimate ecclesiological reason justifying dissent is that the hierarchical magisterium is not the only way in which the Church teaches and learns. A loyal Roman Catholic must acknowledge the hierarchical teaching office and the special assistance given by the Holy Spirit to such an office. However, since the hierarchical teaching office is not the only way in which the Church teaches and learns, the loyal Catholic can, and at times should, test this teaching in the light of a broader perspective. The teachings of the Second Vatican Council show that the hierarchical magisterium is not the only way in which the Church teaches and learns. The Declaration on Religi&us Freedom begins by recognizing in the conscience of contemporary human beings the demand for a responsible freedom with regard to free exercise of religion in society. "This Vatican Synod takes careful note of these desires in the minds of men. It proposes to declare them to be greatly in accord with truth


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and justice" (n. 1). In the light of this assertion one can ask when did the teaching on religious liberty become true? The moment a document was signed in Rome? No, the teaching had to be true before that time. The hierarchical magisterium changed because it learned from the experience of people of good will. Many of the documents of the Second Vatican Council insist on the importance of dialogue, not only with other Christians, but with non-believers, professionals, scientists, and others. Dialogue implies that one can and does learn from others. History illustrates the truth of the assertion, for the Roman Catholic Church has been taught by others, even nonbelievers. One should not wonder at this because a basic Catholic premise in moral theology is that our moral teaching is often based on our humanity and human reason which we share with all persons. The Constitution on the Chunk proclaims that the holy people of God shat¡es in the prophetic office of Christ (n. 12). Theology has traditionally spoken about the threefold office of Jesus as priest, prophet, and king. Through baptism the individual Christian shares in these threefold functions of Jesus. The liturgical movement found a deep theological basis in the fact that through baptism all Christians share in the priestly office of Jesus. The existence of the priesthood of all believers does not deny the need for a special hierarchical priesthood, but the complete priestly ministry in the Church cannot be identified solely with the hierarchical office of priesthood. So too, the fact that all Christians share in the prophetic teaching office of Jesus does not take away from the need for a hierarchical teaching office, but such a hierarchical teaching office cannot be identified with the totality of the teaching office and function in the Church. The ultimate theological reason why all Christians share in the teaching function of Jesus comes from the fact that the primary teacher in the Church is the Holy Spirit, but the Spirit dwells in the hearts of all the baptized and in some way in all persons of good will. The possibility of dissent from authoritative, authentic, non-infallible Church teaching rests on the theological reality that all the baptized share in the gift of the Spirit; and the hierarchical, non-infallible teaching office


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in the Church has never claimed to have a total monopoly on the Spirit. The Constitution on the Chu1¡ch acknowledges that all people in the Church are given different gifts (n. 12). We are reminded of St. Paul's recognition of the different charisrns and gifts which are given in the Church-some are called as apostles, prophets, teachers, workers of miracles, healers, helpers, administrators, speakers in various kinds of tongues (I Corinthians 12 :27 If). The role of the prophet exists in the church and is not always identified with the hierarchical teaching function. The prophets both in the past and in the present have continually taught the whole Church. There arises the difficult question of the discernment of the Spirit and the discernment of the true prophet. But at least one has to admit that the acceptance of the authoritative, non-infallible teaching of the hierarchical magisterium cannot always be an ultimate test of the true prophet, although the prophet like all others must give due weight to this consideration. The ecclesiology proposed in the Second Vatican Council clearly indicates that the hierarchical teaching office is not the only way in which the Church teaches and learns. This is the theological foundation for the teaching also accepted in the Constitution on the Church that dissent from authoritative, authentic, non-infallible Church teaching is a possibility for the Roman Catholic. The frequency of such dissent will depend on the other factors mentioned in response to the first question. In this connection, Dubay also raises the question of public dissent but elsewhere at great length I have justified public dissent in the Church. (Charles E. Curran, Robert E. Hunt, et. al., Dissent In and For the Church: Theologians and Hurnanae Vitae New York: Sheed and Ward, 1969, pp. 133153.) THE THIRD QUESTION

Dubay proposes a third question: "Is a contradictory moral pluralism a weak effort to make a virtue of necessity?" (p. 503). Earlier, Dubay has recognized the need to distinguish between complementary pluralism which is a healthy part of the life of the Church and contradictory pluralism which de-


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stroys the unity of the Church. Such a contradictory pluralism also diminishes the support of a secular observer who will not pay attention to a group who cannot speak out authoritatively and with one voice on important matters (pp. 91-92). As an introductory note, it is important to point out that here and in other matters Dubay's differences are not only with my interpretation but with the approaches taken by many well recognized Roman Catholic moral theologians writing today. Dubay expressly admits, "For the most part, I have no problem with Curran's factual description of the pluralism situation" (p. 484). My explanation of this situation attempts to give meaning and intelligibility to the fact of pluralism which we both admit. Dubay does not want to admit the legitimacy of such contradictory pluralism which he recognized does exist in the writings of many Roman Catholic moral theologians today. The consequences of Dubay's position are staggering-the many Catholic moral theologians today who are questioning various teachings of the Church and proposing alternate solutions are not truly within the pale of true Catholicity. In the light of such an interpretation, the Roman Catholic Church would be in the awkward position of acknowledging that probably the majority of Roman Catholic moral theologians who actually contribute to theological journals are not truly Catholic. But his question still remains-am I and many others, merely making a virtue out of necessity? While recognizing the rightful need and place for complementary pluralism Dubay denies the possibility of contradictory pluralism on important moral questions. I contend that the Roman Catholic Church has now and always has had a contradictory pluralism even on important moral issues. The Catholic Church has been catholic enough to embrace both a William Buckley and a Dorothy Day, or in a wider context a Generalissimo Franco and President Julius Nyerere. There are Catholics who are for capital punishment and Catholics who are against it. The majority of Roman Catholics (rightly in my judgment) were against the open shop, but some Catholics approved it. There are Roman Catholics who were in favor of the American involvement in Vietnam and Roman Catholics who were opposed to it. Some¡ Roman Catholics are pacifists;


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others accept various forms of just war theory. Some Catholics favor busing as a means of overcoming racial imbalance in schools; others are opposed. Some Catholics believe that smoking is morally wrong because it is harmful to health, while other Catholics are willing to justify cigarette smoking. There can be no doubt that a contradictory pluralism already does exist within the Roman Catholic Church on important moral matters. Many of the issues mentioned above pertain to the area of social ethics, but they constitute very important issues facing Catholics and the total society. It is strange that so often one tends to think of moral theology only in terms of personal morality and forgets the very important aspect of social morality. However, some of the examples above belong to the realm of personal morality, so it is not sufficient to say that contradictory pluralism can exist on the level of social morality but not in the sphere of personal morality. UNITY AND PLURALISM

The reason explaining the possibility of such pluralism in both cases is the same-the epistemological reason because of which on specific moral questions it is impossible to have the type of certitude that excludes all possibility of error. The unity of the Church has coexisted in the past and even now in the present with contradictory pluralism on very important moral issues. All references to the need for unity in the Church as proposed in scripture and mentioned by Dubay must take account of this fact-contradictory pluralism on important moral questions does not destroy the basic unity of the Church. How can one attempt a more positive explanation and reconciliation of the unity of the Church and the possibility of pluralism on specific questions. A good starting point for such an explanation would be the well accepted axiom-in necessariis, unitas; in dubiis, libertas; in omnibus, caritas. There can and should be unity in terms of the general values, goals, attitudes, and dispositions that the Gospel and human experience call for. Here attention centers on such things as the beatitudes of Matthew, the fruits of the Spirit proposed by Paul, or those basic Christian attitudes such as care, love, hope, forgiveness and compassion which should characterize the life of the Christian.


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However, as one descends to specifics and to more particular acts, then it is impossible to have the type of certitude that exists on the level of greater generality. The question of unity and pluralism finds its solution in terms of the epistemological question. Unity is present at the level of greater generality, but as one descends to particulars the possibility of pluralism arises because in the midst of such complexity one cannot exclude the possibility of error. Once one recognizes that even contradictory pluralism has existed in the Roman Catholic Church in the past on important moral matters, both social and personal, it is now helpful to try to indicate the scope of the new areas in which pluralism is emerging. A survey of the literature seems to limit these questions to the following areas-medical ethics, direct and indirect voluntary as a solution to conflict situations, sexuality, abortion, and divorce. These questions cover only a comparatively small part of the Christian life and should not be identified in any way with the totality of the Christian life or with the totality of the concerns of Christian ethics. Too often in the past few years moral theology has so riveted attention on the situation ethics debate that occasionally moral theologians have forgotten the many other aspects of Christian ethics such as attitudes, virtues, goals, dispositions, and values in the Christian life which can never be simplistically reduced to the one question of whether or not there is a norm. Likewise, as Dubay also points out, there are many more important topics and concerns in the Christian life such as the paschal mystery, the imitation of Jesus, and the Christian's call to perfection. Although the questions mentioned above in which there is now a growing pluralism are comparatively few and not the most important considerations involved in moral theology, nevertheless, they do have some importance. Why is pluralism now beginning to arise in these questions? Once again the answer to this question attempts to give some intelligibility to the fact which has been observed and to understand better some of the reasons justifying such pluralism. In my judgment there is a common denominator which is present in all these questions, although it limps somewhat in the question of divorce which in some ways is a different type of question. In all


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these questions there has been an identification of the moral or human aspect with the physical structure of the act itself. As mentioned earlier, I do not deny that at times, but not always, the moral act is the same as the physical structure of the act. vVhen one does conclude that the moral or the human is identical with the physical, such an identification cannot be made with the same type of certitude that an older methodology claimed. It is precisely the possible questioning of this fact of identification which is the reason for the contradictory pluralism which is now existing on all these questions. The divorce question is somewhat different, but even here one can point to aspects of the identification of the moral with the physical. For example, Roman Catholic theology has maintained that only ratum et consummatu>n marriages are indissoluble. The question then arises about the meaning of consummation. Roman Catholic canonical practice understands consummation as one act of physical intercourse after the marriage vows. Consummation is thus defined in a very physical way and in no way includes the consummation of the love union aspect of the marriage. In addition, an older way of looking at the reality of marriage speaks about the marriage bond as a metaphysical entity (somewhat like a physical entity) which comes into existence at the moment of the contract and thus continues in existence from that moment onward. A more relational understanding of marriage will give more importance to the marital relationship itself and would see the bond in terms of that relationship. Even in the case of divorce there are also elements of the tendency to identify the moral with the physical. It is also interesting to note that in these limited questions, again excluding the question of divorce, the appeal in Roman Catholic theology has always been based on the natural law. In other words the Roman Catholic Church has traditionally claimed that it is human reason by which one is able to arrive at these particular truths and conclusions. No great appeal has been made to scripture or revelation in determing these questions. It should only be natural then that changing understandings of humanity and changing perceptions of human reason might also have important effects in these areas. Again I want to underline that my own approach to such problems


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cannot be fully developed in the short space available here. Sometimes the human is identified with the physical, but even when such identification is made I cannot do it with the degree of certitude which excludes the possibility of error. In conclusion, there has been a contradictory pluralism on many important specific moral questions within Roman Catholicism. There is a tendency today to extend this pluralism to a comparatively few other areas where it did not exist before, but the same epistemological reason justifies the pluralism in these new areas just as it did in the more numerous areas where pluralism has existed in the past. A FOURTH CONSIDERATION

There are several othe1¡ questions raised by Dubay, but I believe I have answered the most significant questions and at the same time responded to other comments he raised on the whole question of pluralism. There remains to be considered a comparatively large section of his article which begins with the heading-" Is Moral Theology Prophetic 7" ( pp. 493-500). This question has great importance and deserves attention, although Dubay himself develops this section not in terms of moral theology, but in terms of the moral theologian. N onetheless, one should first say a few words about moral theology. Dubay asks what the moral theologian says of the new creation and what is the place of the cross and self-denial in Christian morality. He goes on to point out that in the literature supporting premarital sexual relations, contraception, and abortion, little or nothing appears about common Gospel themes such as carrying the cross every day, or renouncing all things to be a disciple or chastising our bodies lest we become castaways ( pp. 504, 505) . In response to this it should be noted that even in the teachings of the manuals of moral theology on the¡ same questions there are no similar ¡quotations or references. As already pointed out, these moral teachings were based primarily on human reason, and the older manuals of moral theology refer to the scriptures in a very occasional and peripherial way. One cannot deny the importance of these aspects mentioned by Dubay and the fact that they must be always integraed


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ino a full development of moral theology. Moral theology as the systematic reflection upon the Christian life must always insist on the basic call to perfection and to the following of Christ. Christians are called to be perfect even as the heavenly Father is perfect. Catholic moral theology in the last few decades has overcome the former separation between moral and spiritual theology so that one can no longer talk about two classes of citizens in the kingdom of God. However, in the light of the fact that the fullness of the eschaton is not yet here, the Christian will never fully live up to the complete Gospel teaching. We are often made aware that in the times in between the two comings of Jesus we experience ourselves as being simul justus et peccator. The radical ethical teaching of Jesus challenges us \\'ith the Gospel call to perfection, reminds us of our own continued need for the mercy and forgiveness of God, and calls us to change of heart and conversion. A true moral theology can never neglect or omit these most significant considerations. The paschal mystery calls for the Christian, who is united in baptism with the risen Lord, to live the Christian life by dying to self and rising in the newness of life. The Christian knows that in union with Jesus suffering and tragedy will always be a part of the Christian life. The paschal mystery remains our hope because in Jesus the Father has changed death into life, and we as Christians are called to share in the promise of that same risen life. However, one must be extremely careful in applying the very important but broad theme of the paschal mystery to particular moral questions. ASCETICS AND MORAL THEOLOGY

In response to Dubay's contention that mention of the cross does not appear in literature on these questions, I might refer to an article I wrote over ten years ago in which I first urged a change in the Catholic teaching on contraception. The article began by saying that my previous arguments in favor of the official teaching of the Church developed along the lines of the controlling influence of love with regard to sexuality. Sacrificing love and self-control will always form part of human existence. True Christian asceticism does not constrain the


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individual; rather it enables the Christian to participate ever more in the freedom of the children of God which only the lifegiving Spirit can produce. Like Christ, we die to self and rise in the newness of life. But then my consideration went on to indicate that such an argument was more of a defense of an already accepted position rather than an argument for the truth of that position. The reasoning assumes the official teaching of the Church and then tries to explain it within the whole context of the paschal mystery. But then, as now, theologians cannot merely assume the truth of the official teaching of the Church. ("Personal Reflections on Birth Control," The Cn-rrent, V ( 1965), pp. 5-12. This was later reprinted in a number of places including my book Ch-ristian Morality Today Notre Dame, Indiana: Fides Publishers, 1966, pp. 66-76. For a more extended treatment of the paschal mystery in Christian life, see my Crisis in Pl"iestly Minist?"1f. Notre Dame, Indiana: Fides Publishers, 1972, pp. 51-102). The above paragraph illustrates that very often the paschal mystery or the cross has been used in a pastoral way to help the Christian find some meaning in the midst of a moral crisis or of suffering. In fact, reference to the cross or suffering in the Christian life is often in terms of such a pastoral approach. The Christian has no obligation to look for suffering or even to avoid the possible means of overcoming suffering. For example, in the case of a person who is sick, one immediately recommends that such a person try to be cured. However, if the best medical knowledge testifies that the disease is incurable and that the individual person will suffer and die, then one understands this in the light of the cross and of the paschal mystery.¡ The paschal mystery also has direct moral implications, but great prudence is required in applying it. Catholic moral theology in its history has tried to avoid the extremes of lax ism and rigorism. A moral theologian cannot forget the new life in Jesus or the paschal mystery, but particular moral questions must be considered in the light of the total Christian perspective. For example, if one wanted to solve every ethical problem by appealing to the biblical text of the need to deny oneself, then there would be no room for legitimate self-love or pleasure which Roman Catholic theology has always upheld. One thus must be very ¡careful in the way in


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which such texts and the ideas behind them are¡ applied inmoral thology. Also, from the strictly moral perspective, the paschal mystery itself does not always call for self-renunciation and selfdenial. The paschal mystery involves us in the dying and the rising of Jesus. We as Christians do not yet participate in the fullness of the resurrection; but, nonetheless, through baptism we already have the first fruits of the resurrection. Roman Catholic moral theology, to its great credit, has never seen the paschal mystery as indicating an incompatibility between Gospel values and human values. Catholic moral theology with its acceptance of the natural law and the goodness of man has seen that the values of the "supernatural orde1~' do not deny or contradict the values of the "natural order" but rather build on them and thus surpass them. The cross does not stand as a denial and refutation of all that is truly human. In my judgment, the relationship should be seen in terms of the transforming of the human in the light of the paschal mystery itself. In conclusion, any Catholic moral theology must give due place and importance to the new life which we share in Jesus. This constitutes the fundamental attitude, disposition and value in the Christian life. On specific moral questions such as cigarette smoking or the drinking of alcohol, one really cannot always appeal directly to the cross and paschal mystery alone to find a solution to such a question. Often on particular questions once one realizes the difficulty and suffering involved, then the Christian seeks to understand it in view of the paschal mystery itself. The paschal mystery does have a meaning and intelligibility from the strictly moral viewpoint, but even here the cross of Jesus in the Catholic tradition does not always stand in contradiction to human values so that one cannot always interpret the meaning of the cross in moral theology in such a way. MORALIST

As PROPHET

Dubay in this section of his article concentrates his attention on the Catholic theologian and tries to see if the Catholic moral theologian fulfills the six traits of the prophet which


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he describes. I can agree with some of the six characteristics provided they are properly interpreted. The second characteristic maintains that "the prophet does not conform his message to popular morality or to what men will" accept" (p. 495). No one should affirm that the majority belief in a certain teaching makes it correct. However, an ethics which in the past has claimed that most of its teaching is based on human reason which is common to all human beings and an official teaching which has lately been addressed to all men of good will must recognize that at times one can and should Jearn from the experience of others. Likewise, the recognition that the Spirit dwells in the hearts of all men of good will also gives an important theological significance to the experience of people although this can never be the absolute or ultimate determining factor any more than the non-infallible teaching of the hierarchical magisterium. The fact that a majority of practicing Catholics in France do not accept the teaching of the Church on divorce does not make their opinion correct; but a theologian must consider this data as well as other important aspects, such as the hierarchical teaching, in arriving at his conclusions. Other criteria of the true prophet proposed by Dubay have some truth for the moral theologian but they cannot be accepted absolutely. The third criterion is that "the prophet is rejected by the majority" (p. 497). Often the prophet is rejected, but not always. Think of the universal acclaim given to Pope John XXIII on the occasion of his encyclical P!Lcem In Terris. At times though the prophet should speak out against the sinful conduct of the majority such as the consumerism so present in our society. The fourth criterian is that the prophet proclaims absolute precepts (p. 498). Dubay ends his whole section on the prophet by remarking that Pope Paul VI best exemplifies the biblical traits of a prophet in his person (p. 501). However, take the example of the very moving speech of Pope Paul VI to the United Nations in which he uttered those very memorable words--"War-never again." Was this an absolute precept? Did the Pope require all nations of the world immediately to put down all their arms and destroy them? No, the prophetic utterance in this case was a moving prayer and not an absolute p1¡ecept.


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The other three criteria proposed by Dubay ("1. The prophet is a man sent, a man commissioned to proclaim the Lord's holy will"; "5. The prophet is faithful to his tradition"; "6. The true prophet proclaims authentic teaching") all can be accepted by me but not with the interpretation given them by Dubay. What is the criterion of this being sent, of being faithful to the tradition and of proclaiming authentic teaching? Dubay explicitly and implicitly makes agreement with all the teaching of the hierarchical magisterium, including the authoritative, non-infallible, hierarchical teaching, the criterion in all these cases. "Insofar as theologians are at odds with the magisteri urn they are not sent. They lack the first note of a prophet among God's people" (p. 495). The faithful are "those who accept the whole Gospel, who are willing to carry the cross every day, who lead a serious prayer life, who accept the teaching magisterium commissioned by Christ" (p. 500). Finally, Dubay cites scriptural warnings about false prophets and concludes that any theory of pluralism which neglects any honest confrontation with these texts cannot be considered adequate (p. 500-1). In all these cases, Dubay thus presupposes that true authentic teaching is identified with the teaching of the heirarchical magisterium even when it is a question of authoritative, noninfallible teaching. Catholic theology and the hierarchical teaching office do not make such claims today. As I have pointed out in my earlier article, the fathers of Vatican II purposely rejected the simple application of the biblical phrase, "He who hears you hears me," to the authoritative, non-infallible, hierarchical teaching function. Dubay's argument is vitiated because he is presupposing what he wants to prove-that the proclamation of a teaching by the authentic, noninfallible teaching office is an absolute guarantee that such a teaching is truly the will of God. THE PROPHET IN THE CHURCH

One could make a very strong case on the basis of the prophetic function of the theologian for the fact that at times the theologian will have to disagree with authentic, non-infallible teaching. There can be no doubt that at times in the Old


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Testament the prophets did speak against what was proposed by the duly constituted religious authorities. The Constitution on the Church explicitly recognizes the existence of the prophetic office in the Church as separate from the hierarchical teaching office, thus indicating the existence of a possible friction between the prophet and the hierarchical teaching office. In the light of the whole understanding of the response due to authentic, non-infallible Church teaching one cannot deny that at times the theologian as prophet must speak in a way contrary to that proposed by the teaching office. The theologian should never do this lightly but must try to discern what God is truly asking of us. The rules for the discernment of spirits and the recognition of true prophets from false are very important, but their very complexity is such that they can never be reduced to the one criterion of the ordinary non-infallible hierarchical magisterium, as important a criterion as this is. One must consider the prophetic aspect not only of moral theology itself and of the moral theologian but also the prophetic role of the hierarchical teaching office in the Church. Granted that the prophetic function and the hierarchical teaching function are not identical, nonetheless there should be a prophetic aspect, along with other aspects, to the hierarchical magisterium. In the past few years it is precisely this prophetic element in the hierarchical teaching function which has been lacking in the opinion of many. The American bishops have often been criticized for speaking publicly and often on such questions as abortion but keeping silent on many other questions facing our society. Today it seems that the American bishops are beginning to speak up more on other issues (e.g., going on record against capital punishment at their November 1974 meeting in Washington) ; but for a long time the American bishops were silent on the issue of the Vietnam War which was probably the most significant moral issue which arose in the United States in the decade of the 1960's. Why such silence on so important a moral question? In fairness, I believe there is a very plausible explanation. Although the American bishops frequently and loudly spoke on the question of abortion, they were for a long time silent on the war


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in Southeast Asia. On questions such as abortion the bishops were convinced that Church teaching was certain; so they had a duty to speak out and inform their people what is the certain teaching of the Church in this matter. In other areas where they realized that such certitude cannot by obtained, they tended not to speak out. They did not want to place any unnecessary burdens on the Catholic people; and, therefore where a freedom of opinion exists, they felt it better not to speak. CERTITUDE AND THE PROPHETIC VOICE

In a true sense the need for absolute certitude has become an albatross around the neck of the teaching office of the hierarchical magisterium. If one waits for such certitude before speaking in today's fast-changing world, one can be certain of only one thing-by the time an utterance is¡ made, it will be irrelevant. The problem will long since have gone by and no longer be a pressing, urgent contemporary problem. The prophetic voice addressing the complexities of modern existence must be willing to accept the risk of being wrong but still speak out in the light of the best possible understanding of the Gospel, human experience, and the concrete facts of the situation. Again, it is the epistemological reason which will prevent the possibility of certitude in these cases, but still some type of direction and guidance on some important issues should be given by the hierarchical teaching office in the church. Such teaching should stress the general Christian attitudes, goals and ideals and the descent into the particularities with the recognition that specific proposals cannot claim to be absolutely certain. In an earlier period it seems that the American bishops did exercise a more prophetic role in questions of social justice. The administrative committee of the National Catholic War Council in 1919 issued a call for a reconstruction of the American social order which was called "The Bishops' Program of Social Reconstruction: A General Review of the Problems and Survey of Remedies." Aaron A. Abell, one of the foremost historians of the Catholic social movement in the United States, mentions that some charged that this document was socialistic and revolutionary, even Marxist, rather than Christian in its


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approaches. (Ame1ican Catholic Thought on Social Questions,. ed. Aaron I. Abell Indianapolis: Bobbs-Merrill Company, 1968, pp. 325-348.) In 1940 the administrative board of the American bishops issued a statement entitled "The Church and the Social Order," which called for far reaching reforms in the American economic system. (Francis L. Broderick, Right Reverend New Dealer John A. Ryan 1963, pp 256-257.) In a sense these were not official statements of the whole American hierarchy exercising its teaching office, but they were truly prophetic utterances. There is a continued need today for official statements by the bishops as hierarchical Church teachers on important issues of our day, but such teachings will be possible only if the hierarchical teaching office recognizes that its teaching might be wrong; but with the best interests of the Gospel, human experience, and the assistance of the Holy Spirit it should nevertheless speak out on some of the important moral issues facing society and the world. Note that the bishops cannot and should not speak out on every issue, but they should strive to discern the most impo!1:ant moral issues and must always acquire a competent knowledge before speaking out. In conclusion, the prophetic is an important aspect of moral theology, of the role of the moral theologian, and of the role of the hierarchical magisterium. But a proper understanding of the prophetic aspect coincides with the accepted Catholic teaching that at times and for sufficient reasons dissent from authoritative, authentic, non-infallible Church teaching is permitted. The prophetic aspect of the theologian's role at times might require the theologian to dissent from such teaching. The prophetic aspect of the hierarchical teaching office will be better accomplished if one acknowledges that such a teaching on specific questions cannot achieve the degree of certitude which excludes the possibility of error. CONCLUSIONS

Two final points deserve brief mention. Some would argue that only the theologian is competent to dissent or disagree with the authentic, non-infallible teaching of the hierarchical magisterium. Such a proposition harbors a poor understanding


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of the function of the moral theologian. The moral theologian studies Christian decision making in a thematic, reflexive and systematic way. Every single Christian is called upon to make moral decisions and try to follow the Gospel call in a nonthematic, non-reflexive and non-systematic way (these are nonpejorative terms). Perhaps a comparison might be helpful. The psychiatrist is the person who professionally studies in a thematic, reflexive and systematic way the questions of human maturity and emotional balance. One can ask the question-are psychiatrists the most emotionally mature and balanced human persons in the world? Without any degrading of a profession as such, I think most people would conclude that psychiatrists are not necessarily the most mature and balanced persons. There are many people who have never heard of Freud who are much more emotionally mature and balanced than those who have read his complete works. This is not to belittle psychiatric knowledge, but it is to show the difference between the more reflexive role of the theorist and the practical day-to-day life situation. There are many Christian people who have never read Thomas Aquinas who are "better Christians" than many theologians. All Christians are called to follow out the Gospel and respond to it with conscientious decisions. One does not need the type of thematic, reflexive and systematic theological knowledge in order to make such decisions, but a prudent person would give some consideration to this particular source of knowledge. The second point concerns the teaching function of the Church and the conscience of the individual Roman Catholic. There are many different ways in which the Church can and should 'exercise its teaching function. The liturgy remains a very important teaching instrument of the Church, although not the only one. The Church also teaches by the witness of its individual members and the corporate witness of the institution. The Church in so many different ways, in season and out of season, should exercise its teaching function. Likewise, the hierarchical teaching office has many different ways of exercising its teaching function in addition to those mentioned above. Sometimes it might raise a challenging question or point to the danger of motivation which is not truly Christian.


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At other times it might speak out on specific matters with the limitations we have already discussed. In traditional Roman Catholic moral theology the ultimate moral decision rests with the properly formed conscience of the individual. Every individual must acknowledge the twofold limitation of finitude and of sinfulness which affect all human beings. The individual person is limited and thus can never see the total picture but only a part of it. Likewise, sin affects all of us and impairs the possibility of complete objectivity. In making ethical decisions the individual thus seeks help from other sources. The community of the Church strives to overcome the twofold limitations of finitude and sinfulness which can affect the individual conscience. The believing Catholic recognizes the God-given role of the hierarchical magisterium but also realizes that the teaching on specific moral questions cannot absolutely exclude the possibility of error. The prudent person will pay significant attention to this teaching and only act against such teaching after a careful and prayerful investigation. The hierarchical teaching office must also recognize its Godgiven function as well as its limitations. ¡The authentic or authoritative teaching of the hierarchical magisterium on specific moral questions receives the assistance of the Holy Spirit. In the future the hierarchical magisterium must operate more in accord with the newer theological methodologies and with the ecclesial self-understanding as proposed in the Second Vatican Council. However, even recognizing newer theological methodologies and following an ecclesiological search for moral truth as described in the documents of the Second Vatican Council, the authoritative, non-infallible, hierarchical teaching on specific issues can never claim to exclude the possibility of error. The Catholic can never hope to have that type of certitude because of the complexities involved in specific moral questions but must be content with the moral certitude and risk involved in such specific decisions. The Catholic should gratefully receive the teaching of the hierarchical magisterium and only for serious reasons and after commensurate reflection make a conscience decision in opposition to it.


INDEX TO VOLUME 14 (1975) n. 2 (Summer), 113-224; n. 1 (Spring), 1-112; n. 3 (Fall) 225-336 Allen, Donald M., M.M., Distribution of World Resources: An Educational Approach .............................................. Byron, William J., S.J., Privatization--A Contemporary Challenge to I gnatian Spirituality ···---····--·-------··········-Collins, John J., Job and His Friends: God as a Pastoral Problem ----·-----··-- __ --····--···--·----........ ·----· ········----···-···-···----· Cunningham, Agnes, sscm, Theology and Humanism: N e>vman Revisited ---·······-·····-------·······----------····-------······· Curan, Charles E., Pluralism in Catholic Moral Theology Dedek, John F., Two Moml Cases: Psychosurgety and Behavioral Control: Grossly Malfmmed Infants ........ Jabusch, Willard F., Priestly Ministry of Music ·----········-·· Lasch, Kenneth E., Dispensed Priests in Ecclesial Ministry: A Canonical Reflection ·--·-·····-------··············Mayo, Reid, A Call to Assembly ·--···---···---······---·---··----·-······-Meyer, Charles R., Speak of the Devil ---------··-·----------------····· Murphy, P. Francis, Resigned Priests: Some Pastoral Concerns ·---·-·-··--·····-·······---·-·---·---·-···-······---·----····-------····· Murphy Thomas J., Sacraments and Ministry ·-----·············· Nihal, A., Sacraments-An Insight {r01n the 01·thodox Church ····-----·······.--·------·········-----------······----····· O'Connell, Timothy E., The Point of Moml Theology ····---O'Neill, Patrick H., O.S.A. Youth Ministry: Ways of Reconciliatim ···---·-......... ······-·---------...... ··----·---········--······ Osborne, Kenan B., O.F.l\1:., Why Cmfess to a Priest? ...... Payer, Emil S., Liturgy and Revolution ·-·--·----······---------····· Provost, James H., Divorced and Remarried Catholics ·-·--335

183 241 97 67 309 19 37 121 115 7 135 83 251 49 205 259 296 218


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Dispensed Priests in Ecclesial Ministry: A Canonical Reflection -----------------·····------·---·-··-------------· Rigali, Norbert J., S.J., Ch1-istian Ethics and Perfection ____ Shea, Leo B., M.M., Reconciliation and the Deprived Nations of the Wor/<1. ---------·-·--··· ·-·--·--·--··--- ·-----------------Sheets, J. R., Virginal Conception--Fact and Faith --·--·---· Skillin, Harmond D., Dis7Jensed Priests in Ecclesial Ministry: A Canonical Reflection -··------·---------·--···--···-· Sweetser, Thomas P., S.J., Libeml and Conservative Catholics-A venue of Reconciliation ---·-·---·---·-···--·-·-·---

121

227 169

278 121 151