Page 1

VOLUME 7 -

n

= 8 n

< 0

r-

c

~

m

.....

z

c

~

Ul

m

NUMBER 2

SUMMER, 1968


I

I

I

CHICAGO

STUDIES

EDITORIAL STAFF Editor George J. Dyer Associate Editors John F. Dedek

William 0. Goedert

Bwiness Manager Richard J. Wojcik

Vincent C. Horrigan, S.J. Production Manager Edmund J. Siedlecki

Editorial Adrmors John D. Baggarly, S.J. Gerard T. Broccolo John R. Clark Robert H. Dougherty John F. Fahey John R. Gorman StephenS. Infantino George J. Kane Julius F. Klose Edward H. Konerman, S.J. William P. LeSaint, S.J. Samuel F. Listennann, S.J. Joseph T. Mangan,.S.J.

Thomas B. McDonough John P. McFarland, S.J. Charles R. Meyer Carl J. Moell, S.J. Norbert E. Randolph Robert A. Reicher Richard F. Schroeder William A. Schumacher Peter M. Shannon Edward J. Stokes, S.J. Thomas F. Sullivan Gerald P. Weber Raymond 0. Wicklander

,,

li li II

" CHICAGO STUDIES is edited by the faculty of St. Mary of the Lake Seminary and the priests of the Archdiocese of Chicago for the con· tinning education of the clergy. 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: $5.00 a year, $9.00 for tl\V years, $16.00 for four years; to students, $4.00 a year. Foreign sub· scribers: add SOc per year. CHICAGO STUDIES is published three times a year with ecclesiastical permission and copyright, 1968, by Civitas Dei Foundation, Box 665, Mundelein, Illinois 60060. Third Class postage paid at Newark, Ohio. 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 Index 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, Mich. 48106. Reprint Articles-35¢ each; 20% Discount · on 5 or more Copies.

'

II '

I I '


VOLUME 7

SUI';IMER, 1968

NUMBER 2

Content~

FREI-:DOM OF THE CATHOLIC CoNSCIENCE

US

John F. Dedek

THE THEOLOGY OF WAR AND VIETNAM

127

]ames P. Hanigan, S.J.

GRACE AS FREEDOM

143

Charles R. Meyer

SACRAMENTAL CoNFESSION

163

Charles A. Curran

CHURCH AND CREDIBILITY ToDAY

175

George K. Malone

RENEWING THE SACRAMENTS {1)

189

Edmund Siedlecki

ECUMENISM AND RELIGIOUS INDIFFERENCE

201

George H. Tavard, A.A.

WHY JESUS SPOKE IN PARABLES - AN ANSWER FROM LUKE 15

213

Charles H. Giblin, S.J.

HUMANAE VITAE AKD THE CoNFESSOR

221

John F. Dedek

COUNSELING AND


MORAL SURVEY Ill

It is not by accident that in Vatican II's Declara:ion on Religious Freedom ( Dignita¡ tis Humanae Personae) the phrase "freedom of conscience" does not appear. The Declaration is a clear univocal affirmation of an individual's right to religious freedom within society. Specifically it affirms a person's immunity from coercion in the practice of religion: society may not force a man to act against his conscience, nor may it forciA Catholic possesses a gelULine bly prevent him from acting according to his conscience. freedom of conscience in But the Council Fathers did not base their affirmation of every area of his life. religious liberty on the slip¡ pery notion of freedom of + conscience but on the objective truth of the dignity 'of the JOHN F. DEDEK human person: the dignity of a person requires that he act + freely, according to his own judgment, without external coercion. It was the intention of the bishops, following the express wish of Pope Paul, to distinguish carefully in the Deelaralion between two different freedoms--the religious freedom of a citizen within society and the freedom of a Catholic within the Church. In endorsing freedom of religion as a principle in the civil order, the Council affirmed a person's immunity from external coercion 115


116

CHICAGO STUDIES

in society. On the other question-that of freedom of conscience within the Church-it said, near the end of the document: "In the formation of their consciences, the Christian faithful ought carefully to attend to the sacred and certain doctrine of the Church. The Church is, by the will of Christ, the teacher of the truth. It is her duty to give utterance to, and authoritatively to teach, that Truth which is Christ Himself, and also to declare and confirm by her authority those principles of the moral order which have their origin in human nature itselr' (art.l4). The intent of this statement is not to deny freedom of conscience within the Church. It only sets it off as a separate question. In a note on this text in Abbott's edition John Courtney Murray says that this document "will be a stimulus for the articulation of a full theology of Christian freedom in its relation to the doctrinal and disciplinary authority of the Church." While awaiting the full articulation of this theology, it might be useful here to note some directions in which it might unfold and to clarify some ambiguities that could obscure or confuse its development. Because the doctrinal authority of the Church- involves some special problems, we will first take a look at freedom of conscience vis-a-vis the disciplinary authority of the- Church and then consider separately its relation to the Church's doctrinal statements. DISCIPLINARY AUTHORITY

The sense attributed to "freedom of conscience" by nineteenth-century continental laicism cannot be taken seriously by Christians. Conscience cannot be conceived as absolutely autonomous, as making up for itself rather than discerning the true moral good and the binding will of God. This crass form of subjectivism is epistemologically and theologically untenable, and no Christian theologian holds it today. Protestant theologians like Paul Lehmann and H. R. Niebuhr emphasize the necessity of avoiding the kind of individualism that would make conscience a god. According to these theologi11-ns, the Christian conscience is neither exclusively heteronomous nor


FREEDOM

117

autonomous. It is better described as theonomous and contextual. While it is not formed in the individual by ecclesiastical authority or by any other person than himself, neither is it a law unto itself, a creator of the moral good. God's will is always normative for it, and this will is not found solipsistically but in a Christian context, that is to say, in a koinonia, a community engaged in conversation. Catholics will agree that God's will can more safely be found in an ecclesial context. But at this point the Catholic notion of Church gives rise to a difference, because for a Catholic the ecclesial context includes a juridical authority. The practical importance of this juridical authority in the day-to-day lives of Catholics can easily be exaggerated. Sometimes people are simply too timid to exercise the freedom that they have. Lay people, priests, even bishops are sometimes afraid to make a decision which is properly theirs to make; so they appeal to ecclesiastical superiors to make it for them. What is more, ¡Karl Rahner has reminded us that there are vast areas of our moral life which the Church does not and cannot regulate. The Church has no competence to determine by Ia w whether a particular girl should enter the convent, join the peace corps, go to graduate school, or marry Tom, Dick or Harry. The Church cannot dictate by precept whether a certain man should become a doctor, lawyer, merchant or chief, whether he should belong to this union or not, vote for this political candidate or against him, work to establish this concrete political, economic, legal or educational system, support this form of colonialism today, use these particular weapons in this particular war, and so forth and so on. Many ethical decisions so depend on the singular concrete elements of a unique situation that they cannot be deduced from universal principles and therefore cannot be regulated by universal laws. And yet existential moral decisions of this sort are often the most important and far-reaching that a man will be called upon to make in his lifetime. All of this, of course, does not obscure the fact that the Church does make laws and issue precepts which are binding on


118

CHICAGO STUDIES

Catholics. Yet the individual in giving obedience to legitimate authority cannot abstain from judging about his own actions. He cannot mechanically obey the law made by legitimate au¡ thority as if the law will always and necessarily prescribe the true moral good and proscribe the genuine moral evil. Laws made by legitimate authority are not necessarily and automati¡ cally good. Certain legal norms may exist at a given moment in history for a variety of reasons. One may be that they are useful or necessary for the common good. But one cannot exclude a priori the possibility that the principal reason for the existence of a certain law at a certain time is the legislator's inertia, ignorance, self-interest, or cowardice before external pressures. One does not presume these motives, but he cannot abstain from judging, as if nothing else were required of him than to mechanically obey the law. The experiences in Nazi Germany have brought home clearly to the world that one cannot take refuge in the fact that he followed orders. Each one of us is responsible for his own actions; he must make his own judgment about his actions, and it is this judgment that he must follow in the end. What is more, even the best laws cannot provide for every situation. Positive laws, St, Thomas tells us, bind in pluribus. They provide for normal situations, not for all of them. The individual conscience must judge whether a law obliges in a particular situation. It is significant that St. Thomas, unlik'e Suarez, did not understand epikeia as a way to get out of moral obligations. He saw it as a virtue by which a man applies the law to his situation in a way that contradicts the words of the law. A man is obliged to do more than merely fulfill the letter of positive laws. He is obliged to seek out and perform the true moral good in each situation. And if in a particular situation the general law is in conflict with the genuine good, a man is obliged to the good not to the law. Epikeia, therefore, is not merely a device to escape obligations or to lighten the burdens of law. It is a Christian virtue which, like any other virtue, can be sinned against. The Christian is called to responsi¡


FREEDOM

119

ble situational decisions and choices, not to the mechanical observance of laws. Freedom of conscience vis-a-vis the disciplinary authority of the Church does not mean that a man tempers his superior's tyranny with his own insubordination. Nor does it mean that he obeys the legitimate commands of authority only when he himself happens to agree with them. Much less does it mean the freedom to do whatever one pleases. Its fundamental meaning is perhaps best expressed by Robert Johann: it is the freedom and duty "to do always and only what I myself think is right." The laws of legitimate authority are normative for the Christian, but they are not always applicable. To judge their binding force and relevance in one's own situation is the burden and freedom of conscience. DocTRINAL AUTHORITY oF THE CHURCH

The question of freedom of conscience before the doctrinal authority of the Church is more delicate and complicated. Sometimes the Church exercises her teaching authority by making authentic fallible pronouncements, and sometimes she makes infallible definitions of faith. This fact splits our question into two: l) What freedom does the individual Catholic conscience have in relation to the authentic non-infallible magisternm? and 2) what freedom does it have in the face of dogmas of faith? ¡ The problem for freedom of conscience before the authentic non-infallible magisterium is posed sharply by these words from Vatican II's Constitution on the Church: "In matters of faith and morals, the bishops speak in the name of Christ and the faithful are to accept their teaching and adhere to it with a religious assent of soul. This religious submission of will and of mind must be shown in a special way to the authentic teaching authority of the Roman Pontiff, even when he is not speaking ex cmhedra. That is, it must be shown in such a way that his supreme magisterium is acknowledged with reverence, the judgments made by him are sincerely adhered to, according to his manifest mind and will" (25).


120

CHICAGO STUDIES

This statement, of course, says nothing new. The same doctrine was already taught by Pius XII in Humani Generis and Pius XI in Casti Connubii, and is found more or less clearly in numerous ecclesiastical documents at least from the time of Pius IX. And, it might be pertinent to notice, it is itself authentic non-infallible teaching. Despite various nuances in the theological explanations of the assent due to authentic teaching, it is generally agreed that it is more than external acquiesce11ce but is an internal assent of the mind which is morally certain, provisional or conditional, and is based on the motive of obedience to religious authority. In a new book (Absolutes in Moral Theology? edited by Charles Curran and published by Corpus Instrumentorum) Daniel C. Maguire underlines some of the difficulties in this explanation. And in the June, 1968 issue of Theological Studies Robert H. Springer, S.J., says: "The earlier epistemology demanding 'religious assent' to authentic teaching has been inadequate and in need of development." Although the matter is very delicate, the following paragraphs are offered, in a provisional way, as a possible contribution to the discussion. In the Spring, 1968 issue of Chicago Studies George Malone calls attention to a recent statement of Bishop Carlo Colombo. Writing in Seminarium (July-Sept., 1967) the bishop said that if the theologian's research reveals that some authentic magisterial teaching is inadequate or erroneous, he can and should withdraw his assent to it and propose his reasons in order to aid the entire Church. Many of the older manualists also taught that in a rare case an expert could licitly suspend his assent to authentic teaching if he had serious reasons for doubting it. And in the June, 1968 issue of Theological Studies Springer describes the recent opinion of Bruno Schiiller: "When both the magisterium and the Christian have access to the same basic evidence, the justification for holding a contrary position is notably increased. This is valid in moral matters, e.g. in the question of birth control. Secondly, when justification is had, those in possession of the contrary evidence are duty-bound to pass it on to the magisterium; an obliga-


FREEDOM

121

tion to follow one's conscience on the issue involved may obtain." In certain instances, therefore, religious assent may and ought to be denied to authentic non-infallible teaching. But what is the tacit principle at work in this casuistry? There are two reasons why a Catholic is obliged to give religious assent to authentic non-infallible teaching. One is that such assent is dictated by prudence: the presumption is in favor of the authentic teacher rather than the individual Christian. The other is that the assent is required by religious obedience: the authentic teacher has authority from Christ to bind the consciences of Christians in religious matters. After cit路 ing St. Pius X's teaching ( Praestantia: DS 3503) that one who impugns authentic magisterial decisions is guilty of both Ierner路 ity and disobedience, Van Noort notes: "The will can prudently order the assent because there is a legitimate presumption that the authentic teacher is not making a mistake; furthermore, the will is attracted to order the assent by the obligation of subjection towards the magisterium established by Christ and, consequently, from a motive of religious obedience" (Vol. III, p. 272). It is easy to see that neither of these reasons is absolute or unexceptional. The presumption is in favor of the magisterium. But presumptions yield to truth. The presumption in favor of the authentic fallible decrees of the magisterium is weighty but not so weighty that it cannot be weakened or over路 come by serious reasons. We are, of course, in a very !reacher路 ous area of conscience here. The temptation is strong in most men to attach too much importance and weight to their own arguments and opinions. This common temptation is probably the reason the older authors cautioned that the legitimate denial of religious assent will occur rarissime. It is true that it will occur as an exception to the normal rule. But it is douhtfu I that the frequency of the exception can be determined a priori. Only historical evidence can reveal how often authentic teaching has been wrong in the past and therefore give some indication of the strength of the presumption in its favor. The second factor requiring assent to authentic teaching is


122

CHICAGO STUDIES

religious obdience. The Christian owes obedience to legitimate authority, and the teaching Church has the authority from God to command the faithful to accept with their minds certain doctrinal propositions. But notice that this motive brings us back into the juridical order of Church discipline. And here, of course, the virtue of epikeia is operative. As we saw above, a Catholic is bound to obey but not to obey mechanically. He is first bound to judge and in the end to do only and always what he himself thinks is right. When the precept commands one to ascent to a statement, to think that it is true, the binding force of this precept in a concrete situation is still subject to the judgment of conscience. A man must also think only and always what he himself thinks is right. What we are after here is not a casuistry of who or when or under what circumstances a man may licitly deny intellectual assent to authentic fallible teaching. It is doubtful that such a detailed or specific casuistry can be worked out with any success. What we are looking for is a principle relating free¡ dom of conscience to authentic magisterial authority, and it seems to come to this. The individual Christian conscience has the same kind of freedom before authentic non-infallible teach¡ ing as it does before Church law. This is not the kind of freedom that escapes external objective norms. Magisterial teach¡ ing is normative for the Catholic conscience: it is presumably true and generally binding. But that is not to say that it is true necessarily or binding in every situation. To decide on other objective grounds the situational validity of authentic fallible teaching is again the burden and freedom of conscience. FREEDOM OF CONSCIENCE BEFORE DOGMAS

The freedom of conscience to depart from ecclesiastical law or to refuse assent to authentic non-infallible teaching is based on objective grounds: either the law does not in fact represent the moral good or the teaching is not true. But it is clear that there can be no objective grounds to justify the denial of dogmas. Taught by the Church's infallible magisterium as God's revealed word, they are always and necessarily true.


FREEDOM

123

Hence, when known as such by a believing Catholic they always and necessarily command his assent. The only usefnl question that can be raised here is whether grounds for freedom of conscience before dogmas can be located in the rights belonging to the invincibly erroneous conscience. Generally speaking, Catholic moral theology teaches that a man not only may but must follow the dictates of an invincibly erroneous conscience. This does not mean that the subjective conscience has an unqualified primacy over the objective moral order. There is a double aspect to every action-the act that is performed and the personal performance of the act. Under the aspect of the personal performance of the act, primacy belongs to the personal conscience: the objective moral order itself dictates that a man always follow his own honestly formed conscience. But from the point of view of the act performed, primacy belongs to the objective order: the evil act itself does not become good because conscience honestly judges it so. Although it is a truism in Catholic moral theology that a man must follow the dictates of an invincibly erroneous con¡ science, a difficulty arises in attempting to apply this general doctrine to a denial of dogmas of the faith. It arises because of the celebrated question of whether a Catholic educated in the Church can lose his faith without committing a serious sin, if not in the act of denial of an article of faith, at least preliminary to it. If the answer is sought merely from the evidence of human psychology, the possibility of losing the faith inculpably has to be admitted. A Catholic may subject his faith to a methodical doubt (not, of course, a real Hermesian doubt); but given the fallibility of human reason this doubt could pass into a real doubt or denial without any moral fault. However, the answer to this question depends on more than the dynamics of human psychology: it depends on the economy of divine providence and so must be sought primarily in the fonts of revelation. And arguing from the fonts of revelation the majority of Catholic theologians hold that an educated Catholic who loses his faith is guilty of some serious sin, either in the act of denial or


124

CHICAGO STUDIES

before it, either against faith or against some other virtue. The reasoning behind this opinion is that God will not desert a man unless he himself is first deserted. Perhaps Tanner's comment on this argument is most to the point: he admits the conclusion follows only if it is restricted to those two (or four) truths which must be known as a necessary means to salvation. In any event, T. Granderath has shown that Vatican I probably did not define any more than that there is no objectively valid reason for abandoning the Catholic faith. The famous sixth canon of session three ( DS 3036) asserted that a Catholic cannot have any just cause for calling his faith into doubt. That the Council meant that he cannot have an objectively just cause is clear; that it meant that he cannot have a subjectively just cause is doubtful. The fact that the words licite possint, which appeared in the first draft of canon 6, were changed to read justam causam habere possint indicates that the Council Fathers wished to leave open the disputed question of subjective guilt. Neither the arguments of theologians nor the definitions of Vatican I provide convincing arguments that a Catholic who denies a dogma is necessarily guilty of grave sin. Therefore the general moral teaching on the invincibly erroneous conscience can be safely applied here. It is possible for an instructed Catholic to have an erroneous conscience which is invincible and inculpable even in matters of faith. And if he should find himself in this predicament, the objective moral order requires that he follow the dictates of his subjective conscience. CoNCLUSION

It seems that it can he safely argued that a Catholic possesses a genuine freedom of conscience in every area of his life. Like everyone else, Catholics must do only and always what they themselves think is right, and they must think only and always what they themselves think is true. Vis-a-vis dogmas of faith ground for this freedom can he found only in the rights of the invincibly erroneous conscience. But in relation to the disciplinary authority and the authentic


FREEDOM

125

non-infallible teaching authority of the Church the basis of a Catholic's freedom of conscience is wholly objective. The disciplinary laws and authentic teaching provide general objective norms which demand serious and sincere consideration. But they do not automatically and necessarily disclose what is really good or really the truth. To determine this is the burden and freedom of conscience.


The problem I wish to address myself to in this paper is more a question of method than of substance. Yet it is intimately related to the good news of Jesus Christ. The problem can be unfolded in a series of questions. How can the man of religious faith com· municate with the political man about the ethical issues inevitably involved in politi· cal decisions? What insight does the gospel offer to the problems and dilemmas which What in.sight does the gospel are the daily staple of politi· cal existence? What are the offer into the dilemma of political consequences of dog· Vietnam? matic truth? Or finally, what is the connection between the love revealed and commanded in the Christ-event and the use + of power which is the very JAMES P. HANIGAN, S.J. substance of political action? The problem as I have posed it is essentially a theological + one. It is from a theological angle that I would like to con· sider the war in Vietnam. The extensive, and often acrimonious, debate on Vietnam has per· suaded me that neither the confused and confusing factual situation nor conflicting attitudes toward communism alone can explain the wide-ranging differences of opinion on the morality of the· war. Moral judgments about this war, or any war for that matter, involve a host of prior judgments and expects·

Jhe Jheo/ofJ'i o/ War

and 'Uelnam

127


128

CHICAGO STUDIES

tions about such matters as the nature and purpose of war, the use of power for political or other purposes, the function and purpose of the nation-state, the nature of right and wrong, the relationship of the Christian community to political society, and most basically the Christian's task in the world. Responsible moral judgments can only flow out of an integrated theological understanding. Just as this understanding is useless without a firm grasp of the factual situation, so too, I suggest, an extensive knowledge of the factual situation will be useless without the theological understanding. What I propose to attempt here, then, is an examination of the war in Vietnam from what seem to be the three possible ways of viewing it theologically, in order to test the adequacy of the three views. Since all judgments are made in terms of some frame of reference, some fixed norm of judgment, the factual situation in Vietnam is being understood todoy in terms of an at least germinal theological viewpoint. I intend to countertest these viewpoints by the factual situation, then to pursue our findings toward a judgment on the morality of United States participation in the Vietnam war. It is to be noted that the three views presented here are not mutually exclusive; they each share points of contact with the other views. Furthermore, I do not intend the schematic presentation of the views to be discussed to be a caricature of these views. They are really held in the form presented here, at times perhaps in a more nuanced way. But, as given here, they could be documented almost to the word. HoLY WAR THEOLOGY

The first view I shall call Holy War Theology. For this view war is an obligation and an unambiguous good. It is both the right and obligation of the United States to take up arms against the evil totalitarian regime of North Vietnam which is maliciously trying to force the poison of godless communism upon a helpless and innocent people. As a nation under God dedicated to the ideals of freedom and justice for all, the United States is the chosen instrument of God's wrath to punish men who deny his existence and practice unrighteousness


VIETNAM

129

against their neighbors. This view is not without the support of facts and history. The approximately one-quarter million peasants Ho Chi Minh starved to death or liquidated upon taking power in the North, the scores of thousands of village chiefs and innocent civilians who have been systematically slaughtered, the ruthless suppression of religious and political freedoms in the North, the unscrupulous and indiscriminate use of terror and assassinations by the Viet Cong, the flagrant in¡ filtration from the North, all bear eloquent testimony to the evil nature of the enemy. On the other hand, the strength and prosperity of the United States, its position of responsibility in world affairs, its domestic principles and practice of freedom and equality, its lavish generosity both private and public in Vietnam, its meticulous care of the sick and wounded, and especially its self-sacrifice for an oppressed people, all mark it as the good guy in the battle. It is certainly the duty of a Christian people to oppose the spread of evil by all means at hand wherever possible, but especially when asked to do so by a people who cannot do it for themselves. The United States, of course, has been asked into Vietnam by the legitimate govern¡ ment of the South. So the argument runs and it could be extended. It will not be necessary to indicate the inadequacy of this view at any length. Its basic premises depend heavily on a fundamentalistic exegesis of history and Scripture, markedly favoring the Old Testament. It confuses the chosen people of God with the American political community, the power of God with the military power of the United States (the old "might makes right" syndrome), and denies the basic autonomy of the political order by making it dependent upon and guided by religious purposes. It misconstrues the nature and purpose of war by making it an instrument of God's righteousness. It has enormous confidence in its own good intention and a basic suspicion of anyone opposed to it. Deceptively, it presents a rather objective view of morality, but it is the most subjective of all. Finally, it reveals a static conception of right and wrong as something closed and given. Consequently it interprets the


130

CHICAGO STUDIES

Christian's task in the world as the defense of the order established by God. The Holy War Theology in practice removes all limits from the prosecution of war and becomes little more than an excuse for unabashed imperialism. As a theological view of war it is more than inadequate. It deserves unmitigated condemnation. PACIFIST THEOLOGY

The second possible view I shall call Pacifist Theology to indicate a position which holds war to be wrong in principle and unacceptable in practice. This view has less trouble with the facts of the Vietnam situation, for the facts here are irrelevant to its basic stance. Jesus was a pacifist who made it quite clear by his teaching and even more by his life and death that evil was not to be overcome by violent resistance, but only by self-sacrificing love. The practice of war is simply incompatible with love which is the fundamental demand of the Christian life. War, then, is intrinsically immoral and the obligation of the Christian community is to refuse all participation in warlike activities, for there is simply no way of reconciling participation in war with being a Christian. If the Christian community would adopt this position, it is likely that the refusal of some 900,000,000 people to participate in war would put an end to all wars. But even if it led to the slaughter or enslavement of a nation, the Christian is obeying the command of Christ and has to expect to share in his sacrificial death. Only in this way can evil be overcome. When asked to address the concrete situation, Pacifist Theology is inevitably critical. Even admitting the basic justice of a cause, it will go on to point out the inability of war to cope with evil. It will indicate that United States intervention has only added to the horrors of terror and death. More people not less are being killed, burned and mained; the economy of the South is close to collapse; corruption, social chaos, political tyranny have increased and a legacy of hatred and violence is being developed which will make the restoration of peace and justice to Vietnam that much more difficult. Further, the United States intervention has forced it to neglect


VIETNAM

131

serious domestic InJUstices which it could cope with without violence, has served to heighten world tensions, to prevent increased understanding and relationships with the Soviet countries, and has brought the world closer than ever to unthinkable nuclear holocaust. Whatever a practical solution in Vietnam may be, war is not it. As an understanding of the spirit of the New Testament this view has much to recommend it. By cutting the Gordian knot that the dilemma of war creates for all other interpretations, it has brought into clear focus the horror and madness of war; it has relieved the Christian community of the intolerable and ludicrous burden of defending the practice of war as a good thing. It thus has scope for a creative and open conception of the Christian vocation. For the pacifist is not content to condemn war. He too stresses the necessity of resisting evil and proposes love as a viable alternative to violent action. Since love stimulates men to search out new possibilities, the pacifist is generally an ardent defender of measures designed to forge the instruments of peace: international authority, disarmament or arms control treaties, social reform and development, international cooperation and exchange. By refusing to agree that war can ever be the solution to anything, pacifist theology confronts man with a hope and challenge fully worthy of human life. It takes human responsibility with full seriousness, yet continues to look to God for man's redemption. INADEQUACIES OF PACIFIST THEOLOGY

The inadequacies of this view, however, are equally glaring. Supported by a forced, often arbitrary exegesis of the New Testament, a questionable reading of the early tradition of the Church and a total rejection of 1600 years of that tradition, its basic premise starts out on rather shaky grounds. An exaggerated prophetic ecclesiology and an expected obedience to the gospel that 2000 years of history make extremely doubtful do not strengthen the initial foundation. Its failure in political understanding is even more patent. The demands it makes of political power are impossible. Self-sacrificing love


132

CHICAGO STUDIES

is not among the resources commanded by political power. To insist upon it as the only possibility in the face of vi'!lence is to render the political community impotent and, in effect, to confuse by identity the political and Christian community. It is the mission of the Christian community to transform the world by the power of faith which works through love. The function of political power is to limit the effectiveness of evil and to control its manifestations. War is one instrument of political power-admittedly a dangerous and ultimate one--to achieve this control. By meeting violence with counter violence it does not pretend to conquer evil. The intent of war is to force an enemy to reconsider his purpose and means and, failing that, to prevent him from achieving his purpose. No politician can seriously claim that war creates peace and justice. It is used in the hope of restoring or establishing conditions in which peace and justice will he possible. The political inadequacy of Pacifist Theology becomes manifest in a specific situation. Faced with the question of what would you do in Vietnam, it can do little more than point out the horrors of war and the ineffectiveness of bombs and bullets to remedy evil. This is a useful function, hut it offers no moral guidance to the man with political responsibility. In short, Pacifist Theology offers patience and hope, not a policy. Two basic misconceptions, I suggest, are at the root of the inadequacy we have discussed; one theological, the other political. Love is unquestionably the central demand of the Gospel, but to conclude that love is incompatible with war needs to be proved. All war certainly has its origins in the moral and intellectual failures of men, but it is a big step from there to equate participation in war with sin, i.e. failure to love. Given the human condition, love is forced at times to be selective, inconclusive, aggressive, concrete, structured. To insist that love requires only non-violent resistance to evil is to beg the whole question of the limits and possibilities of love in a given situation. The political misconception is of a piece with the theological. Politics has often been called the art of achieving the possible.


VIETNAM

133

For a nation caught in a situation where war seems to be the only choice, the possible is severely limited. There is in fact not much scope here for self¡sacrificing love. If this love were available on call, war would not become a live possibility. We can lament all the wrong decisions and hostile passions that have led us to the present slaughter in Vietnam, or which now prevent peace. But they remain real. In the situation of today what kind of political or moral alternative is self-sacrificing love? Just who is it that we are loving by self-sacrifice? And who is being sacrificed? JusT WAR THEOLOGY The third possible theological view of war is that it is, in certain circumstances, a possible, if regrettable moral option of political decision. I shall use the term Just War Theology to identify this position, though all who fall within its range would certainly not claim allegiance to the traditional Just War Theology. Additionally, positions within a Just War Theology can and do range from a practical pacifism (no just war has ever occurred nor is one likely to) to a Machiavellian view of the state or practical imperialism. This diversity already hints at one of the weaknesses of this view and poses problems for a fair presentation here. Since the differences along the spectrum, however, are mainly a matter of emphasis or interpretation, I shall present an understanding of Just War Theology in terms of Vietnam, indicating these differences only where they seem significant for the over-all argument. Consulting the sources of its inspiration, Just War Theology recognizes that Scripture gives no unqualified answer to the question of war's legitimacy, nor do the practices and doctrines of the primitive Church. The question as we face it did not arise for the early Church. From Augustine on, the position that war is justified in some situations has held sway in Christianity with only occasional dissident voices. Therefore the Christian must face each war situation individually, and conscience must render account in terms of its faith and the practical situation. Many Protestants halt the argument here, while the Catholic tradition has structured the accounting process


134

CHICAGO STUDIES

conscience undergoes. Whether or not it is systematically worked out, some such process is followed in reaching a judgment. Granted the basic right of self-defense, conscience faces several qualifying factors before a judgment can be made. Four factors are basic, three peripheral. We will consider the latter first, all from the standpoint of the United States involvement in Vietnam. To be just, war must be initiated by competent authority (1), with the right intention, (2) and in reasonable hope of victory ( 3). How does Vietnam measure up on this score? Competent authority in this case is the Congress under the Constitution. The congressional resolution of 1964 giving the President "full authority to take all means he judged necessary to repel armed attack against the forces of the U.S. and to restrain the aggression," is in itself of doubtful legality and meaning for our present involvement. Yet there is little doubt that two-thirds of the United States Congress originally supported the war, and opinion polls indicate that the same was true of the American people. In addition there is more than adequate reason for not getting an official declaration of war. Right intention is difficult to judge; war aims are the main point at issue here. The stated aims of the United States: to end the aggression from the North and to provide the opportunity for the South to determine its own future seems consonant with right intention. Anything beyond this would certainly be questionable. As for reasonable hope of victory, it depends on how victory is defined. Despite the recent speculation and unrest in regard to the United States objectives just stated, they do seem to define what the United States means by victory in this case. It is clearly within United States capacity to achieve these objectives. At what cost is a question for later consideration. The four central factors in determining the morality of war are these: 1) the injustice opposed must be real and certain, 2) the damage caused by war must be proportional to the injustice being opposed, 3) the means of waging war must be moral or indifferent in themselves, and 4) war must be a last resort.


VIETNAM

135

A RE.U. AND CERTAIN INJUSTICE Of the four central qualifications the most fundamental, and one of the two major points of objection to the war today, is the requirement that the injustice which the war is opposing be real and certain. There is no doubt that infiltration from the North has been going on since before 1960, that the Viet Cong were and still are trained, equipped and directed from the North, that the North violated the Geneva Accords to which they gave their consent by not removing all their men and arms from the South and by not allowing full and free passage to the zone of people's choice. Nor is there any doubt about the North's ambition to assume control of the whole of Vietnam and to impose, by force if necessary, a type of communist regime. This prospect is viewed with dismay by a sizable number of Viet· namese, by Thailand, by many in Laos, and is seen as up· setting the balance of power in Southeast Asia and as a distinct threat to United States interests. What precisely these interests consist of, is vague and indefinite. On the other hand, it is at least arguable that North Vietnam was provoked to aggression by violations of the Geneva agreement, notably the refusal to hold free elections in the whole of Vietnam in 1956 and by the threatening presence of the United States interest in the area represented by the SEATO Pact, refusal to sign the Geneva Accords, and its vigorous support of Diem. It can further be argued that the government of Ho Chi Minh represents the majority of the Vietnamese people who had fought a war against Japanese occupation and French colonialism for 20 years, whose victory was taken away by the United States' refusal to accept the Geneva Accords. The success of the guer· rilla movement in the South depends upon the active support of a large number of Southerners, and it is suggested with impressive evidence that the government of the South represents the interests of an established minority who insist on waging a civil war to preserve their vested interests. What we are witnessing in Vietnam today may simply be the continuation of an historic struggle for independence. The prospect of a communist Vietnam seems to hold little fear for Cambodia,


136

CHICAGO STUDIES

parts of Laos, Japan, other Southeast Asian countries, and most of Europe. It is hard to see just how vital or extensive United States' interests in the area really are. Arguments can be heaped up on either side, and it is clear that the facts alone cannot decide the question. Since just war theory demands that the injustice be real and certain, an impartial observer might suggest that there is nothing certain about the whole situation. A common Protestant view argues at this point for the moral ambiguity of all situations such that, no matter what choice is made, injustice will be done ( cf. Reinhold Niebuhr. Moral Man and Immoral Society. New York: Charles Scribner's Sons, 1932). War is advocated if it seems to be the lesser of two evils. The traditional Catholic view insists that war can and must be the lesser of two goods, one of which is unavailable at the moment. Everyone agrees that the decision is a painful one and must be made according to one's best judgment. This theological view offers no further guidance on this point. THREE FURTHER QUALIFICATIONS

The second major qualification before a war can be considered just is that the damage caused by war be proportional to the injustices being opposed. This is to be understood in terms of moral harm, though today we would extend the scope of this beyond the traditional understanding. This qualification seems to be the major point of concern today for the majority of those objecting to the war and is also their point of contact with the genuine pacifist. We will develop this factor of "proportionality" at greater length, after discussing two other factors. Closely connected with this qualification is a third point, that the means of waging war must be moral or indifferent in themselves, i.e. be susceptible to rational purposes and control. This immediately leads to passionate debate over the use of napalm, white phosphorus, defoliation and crop-destroying chemicals, torture, etc. Since this does not touch on the morality of the war itself but only on phases of its execution, I shall leave this question with one comment. If the war cannot be waged without the use of immoral means, it is immoral to


VIETNAM

137

wage war at all. But the question of the immorality of means can only be decided on the basis of rational purpose and control in relation to the question of proportion, not in abstraction from the total situation. Before returning to the question of proportion, however, let us consider briefly the fourth qualification, that war must be a last resort. There has been, as we all know, much debate over the sincerity of United States peace overtures and willingness to enter into unconditional negotiation. I would only make a brief comment here. Whether or not the war was a last resort is, at this point, an academic question and really not susceptible to proof. Granted the war and the mutual distrust of those involved in it, what other possibilities are available to achieve what the war is intended to achieve? This is the question that must be met in discussing the qualification of last resort. A unilateral action by either side is an impossibility, because it requires a degree of trust that does not exist. If it did exist, there would be no war in the first place. An act of trust and evident good will may well be needed to break the present impasse, but it will have to be one that does not require a surrender on one of the basic points of conflict. THE QUESTION OF PROPORTION

We return now to the question of proportion. This qualification is fluid and difficult to manage. The arguments on either side are based on different value perceptions and include facts, conjectures and hopes. The just war theory offers no help in sorting out conflicting values. Yet this is really the basis dilemma in all war, both morally and politically. For the basic question is this: is there anything worth killing for? If so, what? And at what cost? In an effort to bring Christian values and insight to bear on this question, the Pacifist Theology gives an automatic no. The Holy War Theology gives an unqualified yes, for it believes that it possesses justice and truth. As indicated this is defensible neither morally nor politically. How do you weigh the relationship of values? Is a secured and stable village worth the tragedy of burned or mutilated civilians? Is the future hope of a stable and progressive society


138

CHICAGO STUDIES

worth the economic and social chaos that American intervention is presently causing in South Vietnam? Or is the prospect of securing religious and political freedoms for some worth the thousands of dead whose only fault was to be caught in the middle of a war they neither wanted nor understood? Between the obviously extreme views that this is a war to preserve civilization and that there is nothing at stake at all in Vietnam, how does one determine the price worth paying for an undetermined and problematic future? And is it right for any to make such a decision except those who must pay the price and whose future it will be? On the central point at issue, the Just War Theology is of little help, other than to pose this question sharply. The strength of the Just War Theology lies in its practical approach. It is a valuable tool for talking about political realities, for it copes with them on their own terms. Its very structure does not provide answers, but a framework for questions in which there is room for moral and political decision. It does not oversimplify and locates the difficult questions with precision. Yet as a theology this is also its weakness. For it contains no norms for the judgments it. requires except an abstract reason. So it becomes terribly cold and impersonal, divorced almost completely from the whole spirit of the Gospel. It has in fact dissociated itself from the tradition out of which it grew. Therefore it runs several dangers: the fact and necessity of war are taken too much for granted; war ceases to he a burning moral dilemma and becomes an intellectual problem. The responsibility for its declaration and execution are left solely to those with direct political responsibilities. This has led to a denial of the individual right of conscientious objection, to a lapse in individual political responsibility and to the phenomenon we today call the credibility gap. The Just War Theology has an exclusive, aristocratic outlook. Its purpose in the face of war is threefold: to condemn war as evil, to limit the evils it entails, and to humanize its conduct as far as possible. This is useful, even noble, but not quite enough, for it unduly limits man's responsibility and creativeness.


VIETNAM

139 POSSIBLE GUIDELINES

What is left? Having rejected all three views as inadequate, it seems we are forced to admit that the Christian man stands almost mute before the horrors of war. Can he only wring his hands in anguish and pray to his God for peace? Can the Christian faith present no unified witness in the face of war? Or is there some glimmer of light on the horizon? I think the seeds of a fresh understanding are in the Second Vatican Council's document The Church in the Modem World (cf. nos. 77, 78, 84). Let me indicate briefly where I think the pos· sibilities lie. Vatican II makes quite clear that the thrust of the gospel message is with those who would give up war as an instrument for resolving international disputes. A theological position must point in this direction. We are undoubtedly at a point in our historical evolution when the pacifist spirit must energize and direct the just war understanding. Vatican II also highlights the fact that true peace is con· tingent upon mutual trust and justice among men. Surely it is the work of the churches to develop and nourish these at· titudes in their members in order that the same attitudes may begin to shape and inspire our domestic and foreign policies. Finally, Vatican II has reiterated the necessity for an in· ternational body with genuine authority and power if the menace of war is to be checked. This points in two directions. On the level of understanding our most urgent need is for real insight into the nature and uses of power in all its forms, particularly how the power of faith and love fit into the whole. Politically there is the obvious need to make the United Na· tions into such an authority. Which brings us to the need for decision. What assessment are we to make of the current involvement of the United States in Vietnam? In the light of the foregoing discussion I would like to offer a few reflections on that involvement which will point toward a decision on the morality or immorality of the war. This presentation does not claim to he an apodictic proof of my conclusion, or even a firm demon·


140

CHICAGO STUDIES

stration. For the element of personal choice is and must remain a constitutive part of any moral judgment. Furthermore, as individuals or as a nation, we are not in a good position to make a judgment about this war, since our emotions, our personal loss, our pride, are too deeply engaged. Yet the im· perative to share our moral insights and the need for decision remain, and are an adequate defense for what follows. THE WORLD COMMUNITY

A country at war, in the absence of an international au· thority, must always consult the interests of the world com· munity as well as its own. Certainly a Christian position de· mands this much. In fact, this is really the central considera· tion, both morally and politically, in a decision about war. The answer to the question of whether our involvement in Vietnam is in the interests of the world community can take three forms, corresponding to the three views of war already dis· cussed. A Holy War Theology immediately answers yes, since it is essential to defend the world against communism. We have already seen the reasons for rejecting this answer, since it represents an arbitrary and irresponsible use of power. Both a pacifist theology and a just war theology would give a more nuanced answer. From their different perspectives we can ad· duce a principle of judgment about war. War will not over· come evil, but it can limit and restrict the extent of evil's ability to affect men and society. A corollary of that proposi· tion is the recognition that war brings its own evil with it, an evil that can easily outstrip the evil it is designed to check. For that reason it must always be a last resort and must always be waged under careful restrictions. The truth of these propositions is more than evident in Vietnam. Even the United States military authorities give at least verbal acknowledge· men! to the essential importance of pacification programs over military victories. The United States press and Congress, among others, have supplied all the documentation necessary to prove the evils that war brings with it: civilian death, refugees almost beyond count, corruption and social chaos,


VIETNAM

141

bitter anti-Americanism, the destruction of CitieS, villages, family and cultural patterns. What one must achieve in war, therefore, if it is to be moral at all, is a check upon the evil one opposes and a limit on the evil war inevitably brings with it, such that it is of a lesser magnitude and quality than the evil opposed. Or in political and factual terms, the United States war effort in Vietnam, to be moral, must be such that it checks infiltration, arbitrary terrorism, totalitarian rule, death and destruction, without in turn inflicting greater evils on the Vietnamese people. Yet at this late date it must be admitted that this is not what is happening in Vietnam. United States involvement has meant greater death and destruction, greater social disruption, greater terrorism, more restrictive government rule, and not just on the part of the North Vietnamese. On a large scale there is the consideration of how United States involvement has served world interests. Some would say that we are the sole bastion against a communist take-over of all of Southeast Asia, the lone guarantee of peace in the world, the one hope that Vietnam will one day take its place among the nations of the world as a free and responsible nation. Yet this too is highly unpersuasive. It is not for the United States to decide on what terms a nation takes its place in the world community. Nor is United States power the sole guarantee of peace in the world, nor is the United States power to be employed in keeping the world as it is, in support of the status-quo, in support of governments that are agreeable to our interests but insensitive to the needs of their people. There can be little quarrel that the developing nations of the world are in the throes of revolution. It is both the right and obliga¡ lion of other nations to contribute to the direction of that revolution, but not to direct it on their own terms. The future of Vietnam is not to be decided by the interests of the United States but by the interests of the Vietnamese as these make themselves felt in the dynamics and processes of that society. The one norm of judgment that a foreign power can use in judging that future is its relationship to the peaceful func¡ tioning of the world community.


142

CHICAGO STUDIES

There is no question but that, with or without United States involvement, the development of Vietnamese society will be an ugly and savage business. United States involvement in that development at present is only exacerbating the ugliness and savagery, when the only possible justification for involvement would be the alleviation of it. The United States professes high ideals in Vietnam: the defense of freedom, selfdetermination, opposition to violence, terrorism and rule by force. But in respect to Vietnam, these ideals are without practical substance. It is as easy for a nation as for a man to get caught up in the defense of principles, while losing sight of the people for whose sake the principles exist. The Christian gospel does not demand the defense of principles, but the service of men. We cannot always do as much as we would like to serve men, but we must be content to do the little that we can. We are seeing in Vietnam today the horrors that occur when man sins by excess. It must end. The present United States involvement in Vietnam, in both style and in substance, must be considered a crime and abomination. The Christian must add his voice to the cry of so many others: "In the name of God, stop."


DOCTRINAL SURVEY IV

The strange paradox about theology is that, although it is formally concerned with the truth about God, it has always developed in response to the needs of men. So much has this been the case in the past that some theologians like Dietrich Bonhoeffer have vigorously protested against any kind of conception of God as an answer to human problems. They say that man must come of age. He must shoulder his own Some recent theories on the burdens. He must face up to nature of human freedom, his responsibilities. God is in his heaven; it is up to man its relation to actual to manage the earth. It is useand habitual grace less for human beings, like spoiled, sniveling children, to run crying to God. + If the error of the past was, in the words of John Calvin, CHARLES R. MEYER that "gross stupidity gripped the whole world," and made it "pant after visible figures of God," {Institutes, l, xi, 1) if the world in ages gone by has been nothing but a giant idol factory, the error of the present is just the opposite--God has been banished from the world. Whether from a recrudescence of deism or an overzealous application of the Protestant principle, the breach between God and man is growing ever wider. And as a result theology is giving way to anthropology.

(!race

+

143


144

CHICAGO

STUDIE~

History has proven that wherever dialectical forces are at play, a synthesis is bound to emerge. Medieval theologians portrayed God as the alleviator of human Angst. More modern ones see him as the ineffable Other standing over against man as a constant reminder that the direction of the world is in human hands, and that man must make himself what he is to be. But the task of future theology will be to restore the immanence of the divine without destroying its transcendence. In preserving the purity of its devotion to God theology cannot afford to eschew the human. To do so would be to deny in practice the reality of the Incarnation. The starting point of a relevant theology for tomorrow must be the human situation today. It seems to me that nothing is more central to human existence now than the question of freedom. The civil rights movement, the rebellion against authority, the hippie drop-out from society-all evidence the paramount concern of people today in maintaining their individual identity and freedom in a society whose principal thrust is toward categorizing, stereotyping and homogenizing. Man today does not want to be put into a box. His being cannot be captured by a few punches on an IBM card. This is what he is telling the world. There has been a gradual infringement upon human values evidenced in the three great revolutions the past two centuries have witnessed. The industrial revolution pointed up the inferiority of man's labor to that of machines. Totalitarian encroachment in the political arena has made man more than ever the pawn of government. The cybernetic revolution has robbed man of his superiority in that domain which seems to Le most properly his, the noosphere. Man has found himself stripped of everything but that which he will now protect with every fiber of his being-the ability to protest, the power to escape at least mentally from being put into a box, his hasic freedom. The theologian, then, if he is to be relevant, must address himself to the question of human freedom in our day. Traditionally it has been in the tractate on grace that the problem


GRACE

145

of liberty has been treated. The seeming conflict between freedom of the will and God's complete control over the economy of human salvation through his free distribution of actual graces has engendered a plurality of responses from various schools of theology. The New Testament description of what theologians later on called habitual grace precisely as freedom from the law has given rise, from patristic times on, to an attempt to correlate life-giving commitment to Christ, which seems actually to be a surrender of liberty, with escape from a death-dealing juridical system, as St. Thomas terms it. It will be my purpose brief! y to explore some recent theories on the nature of human freedom and its relation first to actual and then to habitual grace. THE NATURE OF FREEDOM

Modern psychology and existentialist philosophy have provided us with a much clearer concept of the true essence of human liberty than was possible in eras past. The traditional definition of Molina-that freedom of the will means a person can, when all things are triggered for action, either act or refrain from acting, and if he chooses to act, to elect one alternative or another-today is seen as developing only one facet of the complex polyhedron that freedom is. This definition was concocted in a world in which nature and not person was central. It comes from a world dominated by absolutes, a world comprehended only in the light of Aristotelian laws of mechanics and justice. It comes from a world in which personality is viewed only as a kind of accessory function of nature, rendering it individual in the concrete being. In contrast today's world is one of persons and energies. It is dominated not by mechanics, but by physics. Its prophets are not Plato and Aristotle, but Einstein and Schriidinger. The hub around which it revolves is not justice, but love. Its concerns are concrete and individual, not abstract¡ and universal. Personality is no longer seen as just a reference point. It is the totality of man's subjectivity, the totality of his concrete humanity, from which all things distinctly his emanate. And it is freedom that founds personality.


146

CHICAGO STUDIES

Phenomenologically a person is seen as the sum total of his choices. If his psyche is integrated, if he is not psychotic or neurotic, a person is precisely what he has made himself to be through free election or at least non-resistance in regard to his life-situation. Metaphysically the very being of a person is a to-be-made through the investment of his existence in freely chosen projects. It is this idea that is pivotal to the existentialist definition of man's being as such. Man precisely as man is Dasein, being-there. Man is the one whose being is never complete, never finished, never in total possession. It is always out there, in front of him. It is forever a to-hemade. And it is made by election, by his choice of projects. It is influenced by the patterns of his operation, by identification, introjection, reaction-formation, regression, rationalization, repression, dissociation and sublimation. Its residue is the overall organization or integration of his structures, his modes of behavior, his aptitudes and attitudes. It is the sum total of the traits that might distinguish him as agreeable, dominating, anxious, depressed, temperamental, cerebral or ambiverted. Empirically it is, in short, the person himself as he is apprehended by others. Modern psychology does not then and cannot look upon freedom of the will as just an appurtenance of human nature as such. It must abandon the example used in the scholastic philosophy courses of yesteryear. The person cannot be pictured as the driver of a car and his free will as the steering wheel, accelerator and brakes. Existentialist philosophy does not relegate freedom to a peripheral or secondary position as the act of a faculty that is seated in a nature which in itself is complete and determined. For the modern thinker, be he scientist or philosopher, free will lies at the very roots of human existence as such. Freedom must be conceived first of all as the vectoring of man's being as such toward a goal or objective. It must be seen as energy set in motion, given potential and direction. As motion freedom has a "from" and a "to." As involving an individual and a goal it is ipso facto limited and determined.


GRACE

147

As an act of a person who has an identity, who is unique and irreplaceable, it must be seen as completely distinctive, subjective and responsible. fREEDOM AS MOTION

Viewed as motion from, freedom is an escape. It is flight from being just an essence, from being what one already is. It is an evasion of stereotyping. It is an avoidance of being boxed in, of being able to he totally comprehended. As direction to any number of possible goals, freedom is election or preferment As emanating from a formed and distinct personality freedom cannot he seen as complete indetermination. Unde1· this aspect it is immanent necessity, self-limitation and affirrna· tion. As the most characteristic act of the ego, freedom is totally subjective and completely defined by what the "I" perceives itself to he. As a responsible act, the exercise of freedom can· not hut reflect the personal ego-synthesis of the individual. It cannot be, if it involves the full disposition of one's being, anything hut the full expression of the inner depths of the "[." The fact that an act does reflect the sel£-image of the one who placed it is precisely what makes it free. If it in no way responded to the personality of the agent, the agent could in no sense be considered responsible for it. That is precisely what responsibility means. And it is the notion of responsibility that founds freedom and its perception. When one feels responsible he knows that he has acted freely. If his action does not correspond to what he perceives himself to be, the agent cannot acknowledge his responsibility for it. Still he knows that he could have acted in another way. This reflection also is essential for the conscious apprehension of one's acts as free. Yet it cannot imply a complete indifference before alternatives. A person to be responsible must choose what he perceives is in accord with his self-image. He must choose the good that is best suited to himself as he apprehends himself at the mo· ment of election. The alternative of which he is aware--the possibility of having done otherwise--cannot be conceived except in terms of a different disposition. The person who

I

(

i


148

CHICAGO STUDIES

freely chooses feels himself responsible for his choice and senses his ability to have acted differently in the situation; but what he really says to himself is that, had he been differently disposed, had his grasp of himself been different, had he seen himself in a different light at the moment of choice, it might have been otherwise_ Thus his sense of freedom does not mean that his choice was absolutely indetermined- As Hume indicates, a completely indetermined action would be one for which it would not be possible to praise or blame, punish or reward a man, because it would be connected to nothing permanent in his nature_ In the light of modern psychological research, then, freedom of the will cannot be described just in terms of a complete indifference in relation to alternatives_ It cannot be seen as mere spontaneity_ True, Erich Fromm defines freedom precisely as "the spontaneous activity of the total, integrated personality" (Escape from Freedom, Avon, 1966, P- 284). But by spon¡ taneity he means creative action flowing from the ego whereby a person senses that an action is his. Other psychologists contradistinguish responsibility and spontaneity. Spontaneity im¡ plies for them automatic, inexplicable and consequently irresponsible action. An animal may spontaneously devour one bowl of food rather than another even though both are identical in every way possible. A human in the same situation may act in a similar fashion. But there is also the possibility that his choice may be made with reference to his self-concept, and so responsiblyThus it is that necessity and freedom are mutually immanent in the same act. The free act'. is a necessary one in the sense that it must correspond with the self-image of the one who places it. Otherwise it could not be a responsible action. It is free in the sense that it flows from the total personality of the agent. He is in the fullest sense the cause of the action. And since he acts in a human way, he is also responsible for it. He had to act in the way he did because of what he saw himself to be; but had he seen himself in a different light at the moment of choice, he might well have chosen differently.

\


GRACE

149

This the person who acts non-reflectively, with mere spontaneity, could not have done. As freedom then does not imply the absence of all internal determinism, but rather demands it in the sense that the free act must proceed in accord with the self-image of the agent, so it also allows for a determining influence of some kind on. the part of the external object toward which the act is directed. The freest person, paradoxically enough, is the one who is completely enthralled by the object he chooses. Heaven has always been proposed as a state of absolute and perfect freedom. If man were not free in heaven, he would not really be human. Yet it is not possible for a person in heaven to choose to be elsewhere. Since the object of the will is the good, it is not possible for what is perceived as the total good of the individual, in accordance with his self-concept, to be rejected. The person most freely dedicates himself with his total energy to that good. Analagous situations can be had on earth, when, for instance, children are held in complete thraldom by a movie or concert and experience themselves as both having most freely dedicated themselves to this enjoyment, and still not being able to relinquish it. Because freedom involves determination both on the part of the ego-synthesis of the agent and on the part of the congruence of the object for the subject under its aspect of being good, it would be possible infallibly to predict a free choice. But to do this, one would have completely to comprehend both the self-image of the agent and the aspects of the object he is pondering before making his choice. Obviously a person is not always completely aware of his own self-image; he is never in full possession of it. Even with the help of a psychiatrist it is not always possible for him to delineate it in a totally satisfactory way. Depth-psychology is needed at times to bring out hidden facets. Myriad contingencies and circumstances are involved in the concealment or revelation of various aspects of the good object. So it is that often the agent himself cannot predict his future choice; much less the observer, close as he may be to the subject. It is only God whose understanding of both the


150

CHICAGO STUDIES

ego of each individual as well as the contingent attractions of the object is absolutely perfect and exhaustive. Only he can predict with absolute infallibility the free choices of men.

Two

DEFINITIONS OF FREEDOM

It will be necessary in the light of the foregoing discussion to propose two separate definitions of freedom, one relating to the free act as a transient choice, and the other referring to the state or condition of freedom resulting from that act. Antecedent or potential freedom, the type required to act freely, can he defined as the basic openness of a person to the possibilities of his being. It is rooted, as Sartre says, in the perception of himself as not-enough, as a to-he-made within the limits of both his mode of being in the world and what he actually perceives himself to he. Obviously a person is not born free. There is a prepersonal conditioning of his existence by the circumstances of life into which he was born. But there comes a time when he must ratify the image of himself engendered by this conditioning. As Sartre says, each person must become an absolute choice of himself from the standpoint of the world of knowledge and of techniques, which this choice both assumes and illumines. One's consciousness is of being not enough. One's itch is to transcend. One has to be outside of oneself. It is necessary that a person eventually come to a point where he will nihilate his facticity. It is only in that way that he can escape being just an essence. It is at this point 'that he begins to affirm himself as a self, that he begins to establish himself as a person, that he hegins to have an identity. It is at this point that he becomes free. Consequent or achieved freedom refers to the plateau one has reached in his self-definition through his free choices. It can he defined as the thraldom of being what one sees oneself to be and has committed oneself to be. But the very state itself reloads the human mechanism. For one can never rest. He perceives himself still to he not enough. More is to be made of himself. The very state that he finds himself in demands it; it is a springboard to further development in accordance with


GRACE

151

one's self-concept as it has thus far been elaborated. Thus he is invited further to free himself from his facticity by additional ecstasies of his being, by new exercises of his free will. Sartre sees freedom as at one and the same time man's greatest glory and his most horrible curse. Because man is free he can escape from being just what he is; his potential is virtually limitless. But because man is free he can never be true to himself and at the same time indulge himself in rest or complacency. He is doomed forever to be not enough. He is always urged on by his mode of being itself to become more. He must always live in fear and dread of the terrible urge and power he has; by his being itself he is driven to nihilate his facticity. Kierkegaard defines dread precisely as the reality of freedom as a potentiality, before this potentiality has materialized. FREEDOM AND ACTUAL GRACE

The problem of human freedom and efficacious grace has long vexed the theologian. If grace is intrinsically efficacious in actu primo, it seems to preclude the possibility of a completely free act. This has always been the charge of the Congruists, those who hold that the efficacy of grace must come ab extrinseco, from the circumstances in which it is given, against the followers of Domingo Banez. The Banesians have counter-charged that the Congruists have robbed God of his mastery over salvation by means of grace, and in addition, if they are also Molinists, that they have postulated without foundation in reality the existence of a unique kind of knowledge in God, the scientia media. Undoubtedly today the charge of the Congruists against the Banesians is to be considered less valid, provided that freedom is not described in scholastic terms, but in those employed today by psychologists and extentialist philosophers. For efficacious grace as an illumination of the intellect or inspiration of the will by God could be conceived of as an active part of the selfconcept of the agent, which, as we have seen, ultimately determines his choice. But it is hard to squeeze a system formed in the press of scholastic philosophy into the matrix of existentialism. In most of the older systems of theology internal


152

CHICAGO STUDIES

grace is seen as a force, that is, as a physical power or energy emanating from God and terminating in the human intellect or will. More modern theologians might well have a different notion entirely. They might see God ruling the world and managing the economy of human salvation not by the exercise of physical force, but by love and the delectation that love offers. Thus they would be much more in accord with the Augustinian school of theology than with either the Banesians or Molinists. And they might be much more in tune with the revelation of Hosea the prophet, through whom God spoke, saying: "With human lines I led them, with the cords of love" ( ll, 4). They would see grace, both actual and habitual, as God's loving presence in man. If there is question of actual grace, of course, this special presence would be transitory, and would transform not the person as such, but only his actions. They might tend more to¡ ward the ideas of Thomassin than of those who hold to main line Banesianism. They would see love as irresistable when it is manifested clearly, super-abundantly and frequently. The modern theologian who espouses the tenets of psychology, existentalism and personalism might find a much more plausible solution to the question of predestination and efficacious grace in a new theory proposed by William G. Most (Novum tentamen ad solutionem de gratia et praedestinatione, Romae, Editiones Paulinae, 1963). Though this exposition is couched in scholastic terminology, follows the methodology of the schools, and still conceives grace as physical force, it is readily translatable into terms more palatable to the personalist-existentialist. I shall attempt to do so. It is customary when considering the question of predestination to divide God's actions into stages. These stages, of course, do not indicate any temporal progression, but are merely anthropomorphic ways of projecting causal priorities. In the first slage God wills the salvation of all men. He implements this act by proffering to all his love in a manner at least sufficient to obtain a response. Since the lavishing of his personal love is perfectly free and gratuitous however, he may offer it to some individuals in such abundance and with such frequency


GRACE

153

that they will not be able, in accordance with their self-image, to resist it. Of course, these persons are free, but, as was explained above, freedom does not mean absolute indetermina¡ lion, especially when there is question of a clear proposal of God's love and the delectation that love can offer a human being. Nor, as it strikes me, does the necessity of responding to God's offer of love have to occur in any particular single act. Necessity to respond might well be induced because of the persistence of God's love through a whole series of actions. While freedom to resist might be maintained in regard to each single act in the series, it would be impossible to resist the series of graces as such. The case would be similar to the one envisioned by theologians when they are dealing with the possibility of placing good acts without grace on the one hand, and the necessity of having grace to observe the natural law for any length of time on the other. While a person without grace would be free to do good in each individual instance, he could not continue to resist evil over a long series of trials. Apart from this extraordinary exercise of divine providence, however, a gratia versatilis is given. That is, ordinarily God's offer of love can be resisted or not; it all depends on the man and his disposition. This possibility of resistance would exist not only in relation to individual acts, but also in regard to the whole series that determines a person's salvation or condemnation. Should a person resist, he resists through a positive act of his own. He cuts off God's offer of love. Of course, if he persists in doing this until death, he will be condemned. His condemnation as forseen by God is, of course, post praevisa demerita. In no sense would God be the cause of his demise. All God did was to offer his love. It was the person himself who rejected this offer and so became the author of his own condemnation. This notion is in perfect agreement with traditional theology which has always rejected antecedent positive reprobation; in fact, many schools have also repudiated antecedent negative reprobation. SovEREIGNTY AND FREEDOM

Does this explanation of reprobation deny God's absolute


154

CHICAGO STUDIES

mastery over creation? Not at all, because although man's act of resistance, as we have said, is a positive entity subjectively, although it is really and truly an act of his, its object as such is a pure negativity. It is a rejection of love. It is formally an act of negation of being, an act centered on non-being, on sin. Since God's mastery is of being, and not of non-being or sin, there is no question of man's freedom in this regard restricting God's control of being. In creating man free, God willed to permit sin. Moreover, this concept is more in line with the existentialist idea of man's freedom. Man has no power or absolute control over being as such. He can exercise his freedom only by negating being or placing negative conditions on being, by limiting being. Man's freedom formally consists in a power to negate. Thus Sartre says that freedom is precisely the nothingness which is made-to-be at the heart of man and which forces human reality to make itself (by limiting its possibilities for being) instead of just to be. Freedom, he says, is not itself a being; it is the being of man, that is, his nothingness of being. When, on the other hand, God's offer of love is not resisted, man does not act. No positive act of resistance to love is elicited. If this is the case throughout man's life, then in the second stage of God's foreknowledge predestination occurs. It is made ante praevisa merita, because non-resistance to grace is not an act and therefore cannot be meritorious. In short, here is what occurs in the various stages of the process as foreseen by God: God offers his love. Man does not resist. God predestines him. Since this predestination occurs before man has acted it is independent of any merit on man's part. Man acts in response to the love he has not resisted. He merits. He is rewarded. It must be seen that the key to the understanding of the whole process is the idea that non-resistance to grace is nothing positive at all, but only a negative condition of predestination. If a person does not resist love by using his negating power of freedom, he is predestined, and when he is predestined, God's love will necessarily have its effect. It will


GRACE

155

produce an act. Before a man is fully committed, that act will be one of faith, fear of God, sorrow for sin or the like. If God's love is such that it will evoke a full response of returned love, then man's response will be meritorious de condigno. Thus God through his love becomes the sole author and cause of a man's salvation in so far as that regards being. Man can only claim not having resisted; he has only a negative part in the initial operation. When later on he is freely moved by God's love, he acts under the influence of that love, and in that sense saves himself by meriting heaven. He acts with perfect freedom, for his non-resistance has already made love a part of his self-concept; yet for the same reason the good act he performs follows with necessity. Non-resistance to love puts the person in a state of achieved freedom. He could have resisted; he did not. As a result he is caught up freely in the thraldom of love, and in accordance with this love, which has now as it were become a part of him, necessarily produces a good act. The original offer of love on the part of God is a prepersonal situation of his existence; it is his non-resistance to it that makes it a part of his ego-synthesis by which his future free acts will he determined. Yet non-resistance is not an act. The fact that I was born in America is a prepersonal situation influencing my mode of existence. Being an American is part of my ego-synthesis. It influences my free choices. Yet it is something that has become a part of me not by an act of mine, but by the fact that I have not resisted it, by repudiating what happened to me before I could do anything about it. I can never stress enough the notion that in this system man has absolutely no power over God, nor does he in any way save himself. Non-resistance as non-action is in no sense causative. It is merely a condition in God's foreknowledge. If a person does not resist love, he is predestined. In full agreement with the ideas of St. Augustine, predestination is in no way dependent upon merit or the acts of man. Rather merit is the result of predestination. So when a person merits, God merely crowns his own work of love. The new philosophical ideas about freedom and the modified


156

CHICAGO STUDIES

theory of Most bring into clearer perspective, I believe, the actual complementary nature of human liberty and the movement of God's love that we have called actual grace. Far from presenting a problem in relation to man's fredom, efficacious grace and predestination enhance the possibilities of liberty when it is conceived as the to-be-made at the root of human existence. HABITUAL GRACE AS RESTORED FREEDOM

The reason for the astounding success of Christianity in winning over hordes of ancient peoples, especially those oppressed by the tyranny of the Romans or enslaved by the picayunish legalism of the Pharisaical tradition, is quite apparent: it was essentially a call to freedom. And the converted Pharisee Paul was the chief herald of Christian liberty. The Epistle to the Galatians bears eminent witness to the fact that the Christian has been freed from the law. "Brothers," Paul wrote (5, 13) "you have been called to liberty." The same sentiment is echoed in his letters to the Romans and Corinthians. "Where the Lord's Spirit is, there is freedom" (II Cor. 3, 17). Undoubtedly this teaching is to be considered as an elaboration of the teaching of Jesus: "The truth will make you free men" Jn 8, 32). It is faith that founds Christian liberty. It is his belief that stimulates a person to become something other than he is. It is the truth about oneself that frees one from the shackles of ignorance and doubt. Thus Martin Luther in his Treatise on Christian Liberty considers faith as the foundation for the freedom that is characteristic of Christians. But he realized full well that faith is a grace, a gift of God, and that it is really because it is informed with God's love that faith is able to set men free. Commenting on¡ Romans 5, 5 he says: "Our hearts will be filled by the Holy Spirit with the love which makes us free, joyful, almighty workers and conquerors over all tribulations, servants of our neighbors and yet lords of all!" (Freedom of a Christian, ed. by J. Dillen¡ berger, Anchor Books, 1961, p. 76). St. Thomas Aquinas, using the Vulgate version of Romans 7. 24-25, comments that in the mind of Paul it is precisely


GRACE

157

from sin and from death that the Christian is freed by grace (Super Epistolas S. Pauli Lectura, Taurini, Marietti, 1953, v. 1, p. 106-7). Apart from the exegesis of any particular text, there can be no doubt that St. Paul insists upon the fact that it is the law that binds, while it is God's loving concern, his favor ( charis) bestowed in Christ, that frees. So it is easy to see how so many theologians, both Catholic and Protestant, see grace as the formal constituent of Christian liberty in his doctrine. Ch. Baumgartner, S.J. (La grace du Christ, Tournai, Desclee, 1963, p. 26) says to the point: "The freeing role of grace is one of the characteristics of Pauline theology; the same notion is also found in St. John (8, 36) . . . for whom grace is freedom from sin, death and darkness." The Fathers of the Church also lend some support to the conception of grace as freedom. Many seemed to have been fascinated by the statement that God created man in his own image and likeness. They see this similarity of man to God particularly exemplified in six facets of human existence: substantively in man's reason, freedom and dominion over other creatures; participatively in his sanctity, incorruptibility and divine sonship. Many say that it is primarily in freedom that this likeness is evidenced. Ephraem states that Scripture would not "have designated man as being similar to God at all were it not for the fact of human freedom and what results from it, power over other creatures (In Gen. 1). Tertullian sees nothing in man that reflects God more than human freedom (Adv. Marcionem, 2, 5). But whatever of God is reflected in man by creation is further enhanced by recreation through grace. Naturally man is an image of God (imago). Supernaturally he becomes a true likeness ( similitudo) (De Baptismo, 5). So Tertullian explicitates an analogical relationship which is implied in a number of other patristic texts: grace is to freedom as supernatural likeness is to natural image. Grace is a kind of supernatural freedom. Clement of Alexandria goes a bit further when he indicates that the divine will itself is communicated in some fashion to


158

CHICAGO STUDIES

the just to enable them to carry out different kinds of superhuman ministries (Stromata, 6, 17, 157, 4). But most explicit of all is the doctrine of St. Augustine who proposes in a radical and direct form the identity of grace and freedom. Without grace, he says, it is impossible for man to be free in the fullest sense, because he is not free to love God. "We have lost our freedom to love God because of the enormity of that first sin" (Ep. 217, 4, 12). The will becomes freer to the extent that it is removed from the ambit of sin and linked more closely with God (Cf. Enchir. c. 105). It is precisely through grace, through God's creating a man anew in Christ, that one becomes perfectly free: "We shall be made truly free then, when God fashions us, that is, forms and creates us anew, not as men-for he has done that already-but as good menand that his grace is doing now" (Enchir. c. 31). TOWARD A

NEW UNDERSTANDING

Psychological research and existential philosophy open the way to a fuller understanding of this presupposition of tradition as to the connection between grace and freedom. When there is question of the relationship established by habitual grace between God and man, of course, no peripheral or tt¡ansient exercise of free will is envisioned, but the full use which involves a total and relatively permanent disposition of self to the roots of one's being. Freedom is the being of man. It is Dasein. It is the nothing¡ ness that man perceives and makes himself to be. It is the to-be-made of human existence. It is an existential invitation to transcendence. It is the urge to ecstasy, to stand out from oneself. It is man's need to alienate himself, to be other than he is. It is a fact that in alienating himself man also alienates his freedom. Freedom exists to be surrendered, to be relinquished. Only in being exercised, in being alienated, in being used up, can freedom's existence itself be verified. And if in reality freedom is the basic constituent of human existence, it is only in alienating his freedom that a man can prove his humanity. The more complete the surrender of freedom,


GRACE

159

the firmer the commitment to a decision, the greater will be the consequent state of thraldom, the greater the seeming unfreedom of the ensuing state of existence. But as was pointed out, this condition is best described as a state of achieved freedom. If it is a true state ¡of human existence, it will be full of new and even greater potentialities, potentialities that never would have been open to a person who did not make the initial commitment, who did not surrender his original freedom in choosing it. But such a state of achieved freedom is fully possible only when there is a mutual surrender of basic freedom between two persons in love. It is only when the freedom of one person is completely merged and identified with that of another that the ensuing state can be one of real freedom. If the self is totally surrendered to an object, freedom is alienated; but the condition then of the subject is not one of achieved freedom, but enslavement. Objects as such can command only a partial, only a reserved and conditional surrender of self without destroying freedom. One must always retain the possibility of withdrawing the commitment to an object if one is to remain free. When there is question of another person, however, the commitment can be total and complete, if from the standpoint of both persons involved it is seen as mutual. In this situation the state achieved is still basically one of freedom, not indeed the freedom of each of the individuals, but the common freedom of both. Such a state, of course, must be one of genuine mutual love. The partners in such a commitment have achieved the goal of their human existence. They have surrendered their own freedom, and so have proven and established it for themselves. Yet they have not really surrendered it entirely. They have alienated it only to acquire a new and better freedom, a common freedom, a freedom involving another, a freedom which truly replaces, augments and reinforces the original freedom they surrendered. They see their new freedom as a common to-be-made, a mutual invitation to further ecstasy. Each sees his very being as a person involved with that of the other.


160

CHICAGO STUDIES

Theology has always emphasized the fact that God also is a free being. And God's exercise of freedom too involves an alienation of self. As Karl Rahner, S.J. says so well: "If God wills to become non-God, man comes to be ... " (Theological Investigations, IV, p. 116). But the first man to arise was the God-man. Because of him and through him other men came to be. The Word-made-man is the first expression and verification of God's freedom outside of himself. In the Word-made-man, to the human way of thinking. God reaches a state of achieved freedom. In the Word-made-man there are opened up for God and man new possibilities for ecstasy, for standing out from self. In the Word-made-man the very being of God becomes involved with that of man. The Word-made-man is grace par excellence. It is the Word-made-man that made it possible for God to be apprehended as free, to be other than himself. And it is the Word-made-man that makes it possible for man to be other than himself in the fullest sense, to escape from being just an essence, just a man. For only through a surrender of personal freedom, only through committing oneself totally to God. only by identifying oneself with the project of God's freedom that is Christ can man share with God a common state of achieved freedom. Only thus can man identify his freedom with God's, and through this medium, his very being with God's, and so in a sense become divinized. It is this divinization, this transformation of man through God's love, this realization in him of the project of God's freedom that is Christ -made possible to be sure through the surrender of his own freedom-that we call grace. So it is only the graced man who is in a perfect state of achieved freedom. Only he has escaped from being no more than an essence. For whatever men make of themselves through the investment of their freedom in love of persons or projects, it is not possible for them to escape being merely human except through grace. They will always fall back on themselves: they will continually seek to alienate themselves and never completely succeed. They will always see themselves as not enough, their being as nothingness, their humanity as a to-


GRACE

161

be-made. The graced person alone has touched what lies beyond his essence. He alone has contacted, in the fullest sense, divinity. He alone has, through the investment of his freedom and his being in God, while remaining what he is, become truly other to himself. He alone has become truly free. CoNCLUSION

Now is the time for people to realize how relevant the Christian doctrine of grace is to their current quest for freedom. Too long has religion been preached to them in terms of a master-slave relationship. Too long have they lived in what Hegel described as an "awareness of their wretchedness." Too long have theologians disregarded Hegel's warning that the only medium of communication between the finite and the infinite is love, not reflection.


The idea, sometimes expressed, that we now have a special knowledge of personality that should radically change the confessional and confessional practice is at present without adequate support from research findings in counseling and psychotherapy. Rogers and others have repeatedly stressed the need for more counseling and psychotlierapeutic research and new A distinguished psychologist methods of such research. The sees some contributions which report of the conference on Research in Psychotherapy, counseling therapy might sponsored by the Division of make to confessional Clinical Psychology of the American Psychological Aspractice. sociation comments that: " ... Much research has been done + . . . but there has been relaCHARLES A. CURRAN tively little progress in establishing a firm and sub+ stantial body of evidence to support very many research hypotheses" ("Epilogue" in Research in Psychotherapy, edited by E. A. Rubinstein and M. B. Parlofl, Washington: American Psychological Association, 1959, p. 292). So the suggestion that methods from counseling and psychotherapy should entirely supplant the traditional methods in the administration of sacramental confession seems unfounded. Some changes will and should be made. But anything tliat has been in existence for a long time usually has had valid reasons for existing and perhaps for continuing to exist.

Coundetng

and

Sacramenta/ Con/eddion

163


164

CHICAGO STUDIES

This having been said, namely that we do not intend any radical suggestions here, we can yet recognize some possible genuine contributions which modern counseling therapy might offer. These would still be considered, however, within the framework of present confessional procedures and practice. THE FEELINC OF CUILT

A person comes to confession because he feels guilty but usually this guilt is somewhat undefined. The examination of conscience is intended to define the sin aspect of this feeling of guilt. A list of sins would be the means or "mechanism" of doing this. This is not simply ~ list like a grocery list or even a list of medical complaints, but it is a psychological process whose purpose is some kind of discriminated awareness of guilt and ~orne communication of this awareness. In other words, I do not merely say I am guilty of sin. I say that in the "Our Father," and other prayers. What is added to this is the minute discrimination of "how" or "why" I am guilty, in a communication of guilt in terms of sin and the reasons for sins, rather than a vague and general sense of guilt, that constitutes the psychological process of confession of sins. A further aspect would be the absolution of the confessor. But prior to this is his human understanding of what is confessed. This we usually use to justify, for example, the priest's asking certain basic questions that, in his judgment, are necessary to judge and evaluate the meaning and significance of the sins and state of guilt that was symbolized by the penitent. But this understanding of the confessor can be interpreted to be a kind of Cartesian intellectualism and Kantian legalism. In this sense, to understand the details of "why," "when," "how many times," would become the only meaning of "understanding." But such a categorization of sin is not necessarily an adequate communication of guilt. On the contrary, it can leave the person uncommunicated in his guilt because the list itself is so


CONFESSION

165

depersonalized. Granting that there is a personal and even embarrassing element here, yet, "I told four lies, I got angry six times," can, in certain ways, be as remote as any other list. This is especially so after long practice and frequent repetition. Depending on how this communication is made, it can simply be an "l-it" relationship, as Buher calls it. The coldness and rigidity of the categorization seen simply in its Cartesian quality of a focus on "things" and "number of times," can in this way, tend to depersonalize the relationship between priest and penitent. A CONSTRUCTIVE GUILT We need therefore to personalize this communication and not assume that this category sin-list of discriminations is the end of the confessional communication of guilt. This can be achieved by an additional personal identification with one's guilt and sinfulness and a correspondingly personal response on the part of the confessor. The confessor does not always need to ask questions, or, if he does, his manner need not be so depersonalized that he has constituted himself in an "l-it" relationship with the penitent. The relationship can become personal. That is, guilt is a personal anxiety and concern for the penitent. Its singular cir¡ cumstances mark it with his own uniquely personal identity. In this sense his sins are not simply a list to be gone through as a fetish ritual. This will not psychologically discharge his guilt but tend to suppress it, and so it may only appear again in more complicated disguised and self-defeating forms. The purpose here is obviously not this but rather to make guilt constructive and positive as a force for personal charge. But perhaps this is the psychological reason why the confession of a list of sins may sometimes leave the penitent still feeling psychologically guilty. Granting that he truly believes in the forgiveness of sins, psychologically he may still feel "unredeemed" because he has not communicated himself clearly as far as his guilt is concerned. In the Old Testament, Solomon, we are told, prayed to God for an "understanding heart" and this was the essential quality


166

CHICAGO STUDIES

of his remarkable wisdom and effectiveness with people. If we re¡interprete the "understanding" of the confessor in the sense of Solomon's prayer, then we re-interprete the human agency of the confessor. In a counseling way, then, the confessor is understanding the guilty person, and not simply understanding details of the sin or the number of times. To understand the guilty person means to come to some sense of belonging together, "to become like man" in the sense that God first loved us and became like unto us in all things save sin. In that two human beings are becoming "like" one another in shared humanity, then the one who stands for God, would most completely represent an incarnate and human Christ in this process. This redeeming sense of human sharing, not the intellectual remoteness of a questioning judge who seems far removed in his "l-it" relationship, would constitute the deep psychological sense of "understanding" that we put into the phrase "He was a very understanding person." This will not be achieved by a simple list of sins and details which, taken alone, tend to depersonalize the relationship and do not make it real understanding at all. If you ask me questions and I answer them, we are getting farther and farther away from one another. We are not genuinely relating by such cold interrogation. A simple skilled counseling response could help this and yet would not have to take a long time. We do not need a lengthy exchange. Even if we limit the time of the confessional relationship to five minutes at the most, an exchange that could be deeply personal, might still be facilitated. Since the confessor's responses would predictably center around guilt, a number of somewhat routine counseling responses might be anticipated. By routine we do not mean that they become artificial. They must be filled with genuine warmth and spontaneity. But we might yet foresee some of the kinds of responses that could be made so that in the person's communication, his guilt feelings could be helped to emerge. A COUNSELING SITUATION What the priest would be seeking is a "living" communication


CONFESSION

167

of guilt rather than a "dead" list of sins. And so a response might break up the list into a particular category. This could he, for example, "You mentioned being quite angry with your wife. ¡would you care to epeak a little bit about that?" This is simply an exploratory type of response, hut it is exploratory in a living sense. In other words, it breaks up the cemented list with which the person came and loosens the communication in order to make it more spontaneous. The person is more likely to begin to speak in an unprepared, spontaneous way. He may, for example, even blurt out something about his relationship with his wife. He will possibly be at least slightly surprised by this break in the depersonalized structure of the list of sins. He may even become momentarily threatened. It was safer to have a cemented list and it is threatening to have to make it a living communication. His comment might be: "Well, I don't know what to say (this is quite understandable since he came with a list). I just . . . get angry with her . . . I don't know whether it is her problem or mine. I guess it is mostly about the kids, although it is not just that. I don't know what to say." This is the beginning of counseling. It expresses confusion and conflict. It no longer has the clarity and discrimination of a distinct list of sins. The human condition from moment to moment is far more confusing and disordered than that Therefore the second, somewhat predictable response would be in that direction. Having made the exploratory one, one could expect some type of confused response back. Or, if the atmosphere now seems slight! y threatening to the person, a partly defensive question might follow: "What do you mean, talk about it?" Here he may be made momentarily defensive by this personalization when he is used to a depersonalized relationship. Feeling defensive, threatened and confused are obviously counseling situations. The movement from depersonalization to personalization establishes this counseling relationship. A person might say, "Well, I don't know what you want. I told you that I just get angry with her."


168

CHICAGO STUDIES

The priest might respond, "It is hard for you to know how to describe this any further." This would be different from the confessor saying, "Well, you can surely give me some details, can't you?" In this case, the confessor himself is now defensive. This is not counseling but two people in open conflict. In the first situation the priest understands and is prepared for the peni· tent's defense and sense of threat and so is able to respond to it. This would make it counseling. The penitent, now less threatened because his defense is understood, may then say: "Well, I don't know what to say. I guess the big thing is about the car. We seem to be quarreling about the car quite a bit lately. She has to have the car for the kids at school and I . . . I just think she makes herself a servant. She is chasing around after them everywhere and they have bicycles. They can walk since they need exercise. But no ... if one of the kids says that he has to go to visit a friend down the street, out comes the car. I think she uses that automobile everywhere and makes herself a slave." This is now clearly a counseling situation concerning a husband-wife tension over the issue of the children. This moves quickly. from a category of "angry six times" to a common marriage conflict. The response would now be a broad one catching his feeling and its stated causes. "One of the big sources of tension between you and your wife is the children and the use of the car. You feel she should not be a servant to them and you resent it." The counselor-confessor hit the emotion ·clearly with, "You resent it., "Well, yes, I do resent it. In fact, I just feel she sells herself out to the children." We notice that this is broader and deeper. It has left the car now. This is the way counseling goes. What started as a list of sins, is now a clear and deep cleavage between husband and wife. This happened in two responses. The priest counselor responds: ."You resent her losing her· self in the children."


CONFESSION

169

"Yes. I just resent the whole situation. When we were first married I felt deeply related to her. I mean I am glad we have the children that we have, hut . . . I just think we have lost part of our marriage over the children. I guess I have not said this to her exactly this way, but I've been thinking about it. But I suppose that's why I resent it so much when I see her chasing ·after the kids. We never have· any time together. I need her too and I've told her that a few times but I don't think she pays any attention to it. I suppose many men feel this way if you could judge from articles-! read an article in the Reader's Digest the other day, and that is exactly the way I feel-I am just being used at home." We are in a counseling relationship in three responses. FROM A LIST OF SINS

This is what we mean by moving from a list of sins to a broad communication of feelings and "why." Guilt may he a disguise of personal confusion and conflict not clearly understood or resolved. Here is a man in the confused state of need· ing to talk about a painful psychological tension he is under, and perhaps not knowing where else to go, he comes and con· fesses sins. He also wants to go to confession, of course-the two are interwoven. But it is obvious that just confessing "being angry six times" is not remotely going to reach this alienated feeling that his anger contains. In the light of the idea that there should be a human under· standing between the confessor representing Christ and the penitent, this is a deeper and more understanding relationship than merely giving more minute details about the precise cir· cumstances of a particular sin even when this may be necessary. These details are often not nearly as significant as the communication that could be arrived at in perhaps three skilled counseling responses. Now that the man's anger has been communicated at this understanding level, one might even question whether his anger was a sin or a kind of justifiable indignation. At this point the person might be given an option, such as,


170

CHICAGO STUDIES

"I don't want to keep you too long. Would you care perhaps to discuss this further, say, at your next confession, or, if you wish, I could see you in the Rectory. You might perhaps even want to have your wife come with you." People often take such an option and it can become a secure counseling relationship with one or both. At least the person now knows he can speak further of this, if he chooses, at his next confession. He always has a later option to come to the rectory himself or with his wife. Human understanding of the state of guilt or sinfulness between confessor and penitent would not change the traditional idea of a list of sins and their details. The change would rather be that which, to some degree, has a parallel in medicine. In place of the physician's concern merely for "Where does it hurt you and at what time does it hurt you?" we have the psychosomatic notion that the whole person is hurting. It is now the doctor's effort to understand the whole person in pain. In a similar way, the confessor's effort to understand the whole person in sin and guilt would lead to a quite different relationship than that of simply the categories and details of sins. It would rather engage confessor and penitent together in a deeply understanding commitment of mutual trust and communion of belonging together and sharing the pains, con¡ flicts and confusions of being human. The end product of this, the sins a person commits, would be simply the starting place for this kind of healing, forgiving dialogue. THE SUBTLETIES OF SORROW

A second phase of confession we might now consider is usually called "sorrow for sin." While such sorrow can be obvious, it can sometimes contain subtleties. There is often a kind of ambiguity here. The person rejects the wrongness of the action on the one side but is still strongly pulled or at least attached to the person or other circumstances surrounding the action. So, sorrow may be mixed with satisfaction and even a partial sense of fulfillment. A person may say: "I'm not sure about sorrow. I guess I


CONFESSION

171

regret the sin but I don't regret a lot of the things that went with it. In fact, the whole experience meant a great deal to me." Since such ambiguity reactions are common in counseling, we are therefore in a counseling relationship. "The confessor-counselor might respond by holding up both sides of the ambiguity, "The wrongness of the sin, as I get it, you regret but other aspects you see in a very positive light; they had real meaning for you." "Yes, they did. I never felt so respected before and I had some wonderful experiences. I really do feel badly about the sin though and I don't want that." Here one can see a counseling process emerging. It can be discussed further in this or later confessions or more directly in a separate counseling relationship with the priestcounselor or another skilled counselor. The sin, however, and sorrow for it, is now already being distinguished from other complex personal fulfillments, real or hoped-for, which are also intertwined here. Most human situations are, in fact, similarly complicated. Sin and sorrow for sin are often parts of a complicated motivational fabric of good and evil together. Even brief counseling can often help people, in some measure, to distinguish these more clearly and so define their sorrow. Related to sorrow is the sense of forgiveness or, more exactly, the psychological issue of accepting forgiveness. It is sometimes said that, of all phases of the penitent's state, the most important is "sorrow for sin." To determine this, one would have to look carefully at what is meant by "sorrow." If by sorrow we mean simply self-condemnation, then we are up against the very serious issue of Judas and Peter. There seems to be no question that Judas was overwhelmingly sorry for his sin judged by the way he acted it out: he went to the high priest, he threw the money at his feet, he said, "I am guilty of the blood of a just man." This is heroic sorrow as far as human sorrow is concerned, and heroic penance as well. This was risking all the danger and harm these powerful persons could invoke. In contrast to this, we have the pusillanimous fear and


172

CHICAGO STUDIES

anxiety of Peter, afraid even of a servant girl in the courtyard. By comparison to the heroic acting out of sorrow of Judas, Peter seem an inferior and even a shameful figure. Judas seemed far more penitential. How much more could he have done? In this sense, Judas appears more sorrowful than Peter and even more honest. We do not hear of Peter's going back to tell people that he lied. THE FORGIVENESS OF SELF

The real issue seems rather to center on the forgiveness of self. This can be overlooked if we simply focus on external evidence of "sorrow." The difference between Peter and Judas is that, in the Gospel report on Peter, no stress is laid on any kind of dramatic penance. The only record that we have of Peter is that he seems to have forgiven himself enough to come and face Christ. This is what Judas could not do. The facing of Christ seems to follow from Peter's forgiveness of himself. How did he get to the place where he could look at Christ's face? The answer seems to be that he had enough faith, self¡ respect and trust to go there. Judas, in a hatred of self, could not go to Christ and so was caught in a masochistic bind. In Aquinas's terms, he loved to hate himself in place of loving to love himself. We can recognize a similar masochism in some people who come to confession--centered only on self-condemnation. But simply to pour out self-condemnation as a symbol of sorrow for sin, can be a distortion. It can be¡ the use of confession to scourge oneself. In such a masochistic bind, sorrowful as Judas was, he yet could not forgive himself and so he remained bitterly hateful of himself. The issue hightened here is the psychological movement from hatred of self to forgiveness of self. This in turn leads to approaching Christ in faith and trust and accepting his redemptive forgiveness. Consequently, another tone that might lead to a counseling exchange would he the confessor's ear for this Peter-Judas conflict. That is, while the person has confessed his sins, he may still be faced with the issue of forgiving himself.


CONFESSION

173

Let us consider the situation where the confessor routinely says, after the confession of sins, something like, "You feel genuinely sorry for these sins, don't you?" The person replies, "I don't know. I'm just disgusted with myself. I never thought I would strike a woman and most of all I never thought I would strike my wife." In the upheaval of a quarrel he is explaining how he struck his wife and so is now caught up in self-rejection for this action. The counselor's aim then would be to understand his difficulty in forgiving himself and reflect or recognize it in his response. The understanding of the priest would have to reach out beyond the feeling of sorrow to the hatred of self that can also be involved. Certain types of sins, then, as well as certain types of relationships, can have counterparts of self-hatred. In fact, one might propose that sin itself is often an acting out of a masochistic self-hatred. Until such self-hatred is it¡ self understood and worked through, sin is simply going to continue to he the agent and expression of that self-hatred. To be reprimanded, corrected and warned-even if this could be seen as the function of the confessor--could here feed into this psychological state of self-hatred that the penitent himself already has. This would seem further to cement him in the state of Judas. It might not at all help to lead him to the penitential state of Peter-the forgiving of self and the facing of Christ. Despite his sin, Peter was somehow restored to a state of dignity and self.respect. Otherwise he could not later have accepted the position of being head of the Apostles with all the responsibility that followed from this. He would have done something like what Judas did. THE CONFESSOR'S GOAL

In this sense then the understanding of the counselor-confessor would be aimed at the forgiveness of self. The goal would be to restore friendship and love between Christ and the person as it was restored between Christ and Peter. Experiencing the friendship of the confessor, in the sense of his warm, accepting understanding, allows the penitent to begin to ex-


174

CHICAGO STUDIES

perience the human counterpart of Peter and Christ. In other words, the priest himself first convalidates the forgiveness. The respectful quality of his understanding can make possible then the feeling of truly relating to Christ in a self-forgivmg way. To achieve this, the confessor-counselor, might respond to the person's self-rejection with: "You are just very ashamed and it is very difficult to forgive yourself for having struck your WI.fe., "Father, you just don't know what it is. Even telling you this way about it I feel better already. I'm just awfully relieved even to be able to tell you about it. I said I was just angry before, but I guess I was just too ashamed to tell you about it. I wasn't sure I could." As in the previous option, the issue might then become counseling in the rectory at some later hour or day. The process of forgiveness, then, involves the sense of accepting forgiveness, the belief and inner security that one's sins have been removed, that one no longer needs to be in a state of self-attack and condemnation, that one is freed of sin. Basic to these is the quality which permeates and interrelates them, the conviction of faith. Beyond the psychological experience, the symbolic, verbal communication and exchange, and the deep sense of the communion and communication with another person, is the relationship with the total Other, God, which the priest and the sacrament represent. Through this faith, sacramental communication and friendship with God, if lost has been restored, if impeded, the impediments have been removed. The confessor and the sacraments, then, stand for friendship with God and the sense of restoration renewed healing, and redemption in this God relationship. But since these are also often difficult psychological experiences, skill coming from counseling awareness may noticeably aid the degree to which the confessor's words, manner and actions achieve not only their natural and psychological purpose but more fundamentally their ultimate intent as human acts and instruments of the Divine.


APOLOGETICS SURVEY, IV

and CeditiAt'j Joda'j

In the second article of this series (Fall, 1967) we discussed the credibility of Roman Catholicism. Since then that credibility has been at¡ tacked and defended anew. How does the question stand today?

OF

ALIENATION AND THEOLOGY

The young man with his guitar gazed off into nowhere. He was one of today's "beautiful" people, one who was, In the light of recent writings at least by his own profession, is it still possible to assert "turned on to love." Mass or, as he preferred, the Eucharist Roman Catholicism's had been for him on some occredibility? casions a truly meaningful experience. "I do believe, I do believe," he had asserted, quot+ ing heroes Simon and Garfunkel. Having heard the Mass GEORGE K. MALONE by the Electric Prunes, he had even decided to try com+ posing his own guitar Mass. He of course expressed today's conventional gripes about the institutional church, "When I go to Mass at Saint Frigida's, it's cold and impersonal. There just isn't any love there--the vibrations are really bad. If you say that Christ is truly present there, I just won't believe it, and I don't." But then the neighboring parish of Saint Amorosa, staid and conservative, announced that it was for the first time planning a guitar Mass to be developed by and for the young people 175


176

CHICAGO STUDIES

of the parish. The pastor had become convinced that such a Eucharistic celebration could indeed be both beautiful and fruitful. But who could help arrange and plan such a celebration? Why, some one suggested, how about the young man from the neighboring parish? With his musical knowledge and with his guitar such a Mass would surely be a success. No one doubted it. Will you help us? Will you work with our young people?" The response was vague, "Well, I'll think about it. I just don't know." The time grew short. Finally the answer arrived, "No, I'm sorry. I've forgotten all those melodies. I don't know how to play them anymore. You wouldn't have the music any· way. And, besides, I don't want to." Despite dimmed hopes and expectations, plans went ahead. The Mass itself? A routine sort of affair. "Very nice." "Rather pretty." "Not as bad as I thought it would be." "Somewhat disappointing. I had ex· pected more." And it happened that Saint Amorosa's became more like Saint Frigida's every day. And they wondered why. "We've got guitar Masses and everything else the young people like. What's wrong?" And while they wondered, the young man with his guitar gazed off into nowhere. Perhaps the saddest part of all was that he had had within his own gifted hands the power to help achieve some of the very changes he so desires-and he "didn't want to." Now alienation, with "cop-outs" such as that just described, is not limited only to the young. Disillusionment with structures and disappointment over goals not attained can affect adults and professionals in every field of endeavor. Sometimes it seems the easier path just to shut one's eyes and fantasize the problems away, pretending that they do not exist and that "everything will be all right." At other times it seems easier to reject the structures outright, eitther turning one's back on them or perhaps attacking them head-on. Of the two ex· tremes, the first is perhaps the more dangerous over the long run, since it is so subtle and can remain unnoticed. But the second must inevitably lead to theological negativis~, for


APOLOGETICS

177

in it one cuts oneself off from the faith-community in which theology flourishes. The frustration which such rejection engenders is best described by Paul Tillich, "Participation in a religious community is a presupposition of all theology. You have to be within the circle of a concrete religion in order to interpret it existentially." The alienation of the professional is not the same as that of youth, but the responses may be remarkably similar. A QUESTION OF CONSCIENCE One of the most widely publicized attacks against the institutional credibility of Roman Catholicism is that leveled by Charles Davis in A Question of Conscience (New York: Harper & Row, 1967). In explaining his decision to leave the Roman Catholic Church, Davis asserts, "I do not find the Roman Catholic Church sufficiently credible as a structure embodying Christian truth and values . . . ; What I reject as no longer an embodiment of Christian truth and value is the Roman Catholic Church in its present form as a structured community. And, as far as my theological understanding goes, the key features of that structure are authoritatively imposed upon the faith of all its members under pain of anathema" (p.60). The central portion of Question (pp. 62-178) deals with the two principal lines of argumentation used in traditional apologetics to establish the Church's credibility and explains why these arguments have ceased to convince the author. Against the first of these-that the Church herself by reason of universal unity, of sublimity and holiness of teaching, of the inexhaustible fruitfulness of Christian life within it is a perennial sign of her own divine origin-Davis contends that he had come "to see the Roman Church as inimical to Christian faith," "pervaded by a lack of concern for truth," "an obstacle to Christian love," in which "people were being damaged and destroyed." The list goes on, "stifling for the truth and unlovingly repressive," "crushing people into anxiety and fear" ( p. 63). The obvious conclusion? "I do not perceive, so my argument has run, sufficient signs within the Roman Catholic


178

CHICAGO STUDIES

Church to support belief in its claim as the Church of Christ to be a visible embodiment of faith, love and hope. Indeed, there are weighty indications militating against any belief that it is such an embodiment" (p. 126). Against the second of these--that Christ instituted a visible Church, that he gave his Church an hierarchical constitution, that he established Peter as its visible head and the apostles as its rulers, and that he intended Peter and the apostles to have permanent successors in pope and bishopsDavis asserts "if hierarchical structure and papal primacy are regarded as irreversible developments, then they must re· main sufficiently credible as Christian institutions. . . . If the hierarchical and papal social structure is no longer credible in its concrete existence and working, it cannot be claimed as an authentic irreversible development" (pp. 141-142). We should like to comment about what some have dubbed Davis' "ecclesiology in reverse," but a few introductory remarks are in order. THE FUNCTIONS OF RELIGIOUS DISCOURSE

First of all, it is necessary to distinguish religious discourse of a speculative·theoretical sort from the practical. Thus, it is quite possible for an individual to assert belief in God and simultaneously to admit that this belief has little effect on his day·to-day life. To phrase this somewhat differently, the three principal functions of religious discourse are the emotive, the conative, and the cognitive. One who holds to a purely emotive function of religious discourse will approach, say, the Lord's Prayer in terms of its reassuring effect on the believer. For him it does not really matter whether there is a God who is man's father or whether this God is in heaven or anywhere else. If the person expressing these words achieves a feeling of emotional security and satisfaction, then the prayer has achieved its end. One holding to a purely conative function of religious dis· course will approach that same Lord's Prayer in terms of the ethical values to which the believer commits himself. Again it does not really matter whether there is a God in heaven


APOLOGETICS

179

or elsewhere. If the person expressing these words is truly committed to an ennobling ethic with ideals of love and forgiveness, then again the prayer has achieved its end. One holding to a purely cognitive function of religious discourse will approach the Lord's Prayer in terms of thought content and propositional truth-assertions to which assent is given. Here it does matter whether there is a God our Father in heaven. If the person expressing these words assents to these propositional truth-assentions, the prayer has achieved its end. An exclusivist theory--one which would hold any of these functions to be the only function of religious language-is quite untenable. We shall develop this point more fully in our next article. Suffice it for the present to assert that in addition to the emotive and conative functions, at least a certain portion of religious discourse does achieve a cognitive propositional goal, one involving truth-assertions. Secondly, it is necessary to recall the distinction between what theologians have termed the "judgment of credibility" in relation to the "judgment of credendity." Although some, such as Gardeil and Garrigou-Lagrange, would disagree, the credibility judgment is generally regarded as being primarily speculative rather than practical. In other words, one appraises a given truth-assertion and decides that the evidence proffered is such as to make an affirmation at least reasonable. Can one reasonably assert this proposition to he true? Yes, affirmation is at least reasonable. Although there may be evidence against its truth-content, there is also evidence in favor of it. At any rate assent is at least reasonable. On the other hand, the credendity judgment is generally regarded as being pri¡ marily practical-to use scholastic terminology, it is the ultimate practical judgment in matters of faith. Here one ap¡ praises a given truth-assertion and decides that the evidence proffered is such as to make affirmation not only reasonable hut necessary. Must one assert this proposition to be true? Yes, affirmation is mandatory, for the evidence in favor of its truthcontent is such as to render dissent unreasonable. To sum up, credibility involves an affirmative answer to the specula-


180

CHICAGO STUDIES

tive question, "Can one believe?" Credendity involves an affirmative answer to the practical question, "Must one believe?" The importance of this distinction is found in the older traditional apologetic emphasis upon the judgment of credendity. Arguments were frequently designed to lead the inquirer not merely to the reasonableness of Roman Catholicism, but also to the obligation of acceptaing those claims to be true. We shall return to this point shortly. BAUM ON DAVIS; DAVIS ABOUT BAUM ON DAVIS

Until the present writing the most widely received response to Davis' objections has been Gregory Baum's The Credibility of the Church Today, New York: Herder & Herder, 1968). Some have been led to dismiss Baum's reply as a rather hastily gathered reply to a rather hastily written attack. Others have considered Baum's remarks about original sin as a clear instance of "the processes by which an institution distorts the truth in order to keep its authority intact." Still others won¡ der about his remark that he does "not see how a Catholic of the post-conciliar Church can still desire the conversion of Protestants to Roman Catholicism" (Credibility, p. 128). But aside from such relatively minor points, with which a number of Catholic exegetes and theologians will surely disagree, Baum does build a strong case for Roman Catholicism's institutional credibility. It is therefore quite understandable that Charles Davis should disagree. In responding to author Baum's reply to himself, reviewer Charles Davis (!) is disturbed because Baum pays "so little attention to the need for sound criteria to check both his overflowing idealism and institutional loyalty against the relevant data," and because he "fails to employ a rigorous method and objective criteria in his quest for truth" (NCR; June 26, 1968, p. 9.). After reading through the original, the reply to the original, and the review of the reply to the original, the reader is reminded of Orestes Brownson's wry comment that in religious controversy one's own doxy is always orthodoxy while the adversary's is always heterodoxy!"


APOLOGETICS

181 THE NOTION OF "CHURCH"

One of the strong points of Baum's Credibility is his discussion of the various usages of the term "church" in Vatican IL It is indeed difficult for many today to recall that for some time the very term "church" was used in magisterial documents in reference to either the Roman Catholic Church or the "separated brothers" of the Eastern Orthodox churches. Baum's point is to indicate that in this most recent of magisterial pronouncements this sacred term "church" is also applied to other communities. Six such variegated usages are mentioned-"church" as applied to the Roman Catholic Church; to the various local congregations within that same Roman Catholic Church (dioceses, parishes, et al.) ; to whole community of the baptized; to the people of Israel; to the whole human race; and, finally, to the "domestic church," or family. of which all men are open by bonds of brotherhood and love. Davis takes exception to this interpretation of Vatican II. He apparently agrees with the Council's application of the term "church" to the whole Roman Catholic Church, to the various local congregations within the Roman Catholic Church, and to the people of Israel. But he seems to disagree with Baum's understanding of conciliar texts as applying "church" to the whole community of the baptized, to the whole human race, and to the so-called "domestic church." With regard to the first of these, the application of the term "church" to the whole community of the baptized, we agree that Baum could perhaps have phrased himself more clearly. It is true that the Council fathers did distinguish among the baptized between "churches" and "ecclesial communities," but is this criticism not some sort of ecclesiological nit-picking? As a matter of fact, the Council fathers have here extended the use of the word "church" beyond the Eastern communities. It is strange, then, that Davis should crticize Baum on the grounds that Baum "ignores all the nuances of conciliar language." If anything, it would seem that on this point Baum observes such nuances far better than Davis. Can one apply the term "Church" to the whole human race?


182

CHICAGO STUDIES

Davis says that the Council fathers never understood the term applied in this sense. Here we would make a distinction. On the one hand, Davis is correct when he chides Baum for citing the expression "the Church from Abel on" as though it were a direct citation from Lumen Gentium. While the notion of the "ecclesia ab Abel" is hardly a new one, it is not ex¡ pressed in precisely those terms by the Constitution on the Church. On the other hand, we feel that Davis goes too far in accusing Baum of distorting "an eschatological statement about the Church into a new definition of the Church on earth." For Baum himself interprets this usage of "church universal" as "equivalent to saying-in scholastic terminology-that hu¡ man history is supernatural" (p. 26). This interpretation is hardly a distortion of common Catholic teaching and is quite consonant with the conciliar text under discussion. The sixth item in Baum's discussion of conciliar usages deals with the so-called "domestic church"-the family. Here we would be inclined to agree with Davis that Baum seems to build up and read into the conciliar text more than is actually contained therein. Nevertheless, we do feel that Baum's remarks are generally well made, given their avowed purpose and scope-to examine the various ways in which the term "church" was actually used in council documents. Baum rightly sees this varied of usages as significant in an historical context which tended to use "church" as synonomous with the visible structure of Roman Catholicism alone. Does this analogous usage indicate a new openness to the other churches and to the world? Indeed yes. Despite the real or imagined feelings of individual Council fathers, at least five of these six usages are present. Do they represent a significant departure? Yes. We shall continue this discussion in our next article. THE NOTION OF "CREDIBILITY"

In perusing Davis' Question, the reader wonders whether the credibility-credendity distinction is clearly expressed. Why did Davis leave the Church? Because Roman Catholicism "had


APOLOGETICS

183

lost its credibility for me" (p. 38). Because he had reached the conclusion "that the Roman Church lacked credibility as the Church of Christ" (p. 43). What does the author mean by this "credibility?" Davis himself replies, "The pivotal moment in the process of faith is the acknowledgement or judgement by the prospective believer that he can and should believe. It is this judgement that makes the leap of faith both possible and obligatory as a human and intelligent action . . . . Guiding the leap is the judgement I have mentioned, which is usually called the judgement of credibility. . . . The judgement in question is both a declaration and an imperative. By it the person declares the possibility of faith and affirms his obligation to believe. In other words, the judgement is the acknowledgement of the duty to believe in a particular instance" (p. 45). We do not assert that Davis does not recognize such a fundamental distinction. In fact, he himself states, "No doubt the signs pointing to God's Word, which are formulated in the argnments of apologetics, can be handled by reason .... But reason alone can never bring a man to the conviction that he ought to believe" (p. 47). It is just that the notions of "can" and "should" become so intermingled in the course of Question that the real importance of the distinction can be overlooked. What is this importance? And why all this fuss about some speculative distinction? Thus Davis, "All the fuss Baum makes about traditional apologetics and credibility obscures the issue by its unclarity and irrelevance" (NCR, p. 9). Aside from the obvious advantages of promoting hook sales by fanning controversy's flames, the real issue remains unjoined. The principal deficiency of most traditional Roman Catholic apologetics was that it tried to prove too much. And in so doing it, of course, ended up by proving nothing. We have already discussed this deficiency and made some suggestions as to how it might he remedied (Chicago Studies: Summer, 1967; Fall, 1967). Briefly to summarize those suggestions, we remarked that 1) the apologist's primary task is to establish credibility, not credendity (for to establish any sort of true


184

CHICAGO STUDIES

credendity would seem to derogate from the necessary freedom of the believer's faith-commitment); 2) the apologist is well advised to discuss biblical and patristic evidences from the point of view of connotation rather than that of denotation (for on the apologetical level opposing interpretations are truly possible and are neither to be dismissed or despised). With these in mind, let us briefly consider the so-called "classic" apologetical arguments in the light of Davis' lengthy objections against them. THE "cLASSic" ARGUMENTS

First of all, regarding the Church herself as sign, we had already noted previously that such an approach might be helpful as some sort of suasive device, but that as a precise line of formal argumentation it was relatively useless for the practical apologist. Why is Cardinal Dechamps' method unsuitable as a formal line or argumentation? Precisely because of its extremely personalistic approach. That is, one poses the question, "Is the Roman Catholic Church today a visible sign of faith, hope, and love?" (Not the question as posed by Dechamps, but as posed by Davis). Some would say a resounding "Yes!" Some, in fact, would hold that the papal-episcopal structure of Roman Catholicism renders it among the most efficient world-wide structures for the promotion of Christian values. Others, such as Davis, would reply: "My conviction is that present corruption arises precisely because the existing structures are obsolete and their continued imposition is having increasingly unchristian effects. In other words, the mean¡ ing embodied in the present structures contradicts the Christian insights of contemporary believers" (NCR, p. 9). In other words depending upon one's own personal world-view the same empirical data can be and are interpreted differently. One can, for instance, look at the vigorous and forceful stance adapted by Chicago's Cardinal Cody towards civil rights and school integration. And what does one see there? One who favors integration sees an embodiment of Christian love and justice. One who disagrees sees a denial of the same virtues.


APOLOGETICS

185

To put it briefly, it is absurd to talk about structures as such as embodiments of virtues. For the sign value of the structure is nothing if not in relation to the persons involved. It is precisely here that Davis' example of South African apartheid limps the most. For one can examine apartheid and build up a strong case that it involves in, of, and by itself a sign-denial of Christian unity, fraternity, and love. But one can examine the Roman Catholic papal-episcopal structure and would be forced to conclude that in, of, and by itself it is neutral in sign-value and takes on such value or lack thereof in relation to the persons involved. It makes little sense to assert that the papacy as a structure is or is not a sign of Christian love. It makes a great deal of sense to point to John XXIII as such a sign. Secondly, regarding the biblical-patristic evidence in favor of Roman Catholicism, any intellectually honest apologist is willing to admit that on the level of practical apologetics there are strong arguments in favor of a petrine-episcopal structure of the Church of Christ as well as strong arguments against such structure. We have already discussed this (Chicago Studies, Fall, 1967) and have shown that discussion of these counterindicating interpretations not only does not militate against credibility, but is in fact a necessary factor in its establishment. THE HEART OF THE QUESTION

In speaking of the Church of Christ, Vatican II's Lumen Gentium asserts, "This Church constituted and organized in the world as a society, subsists in the Catholic Church, which is governed by the successor of Peter and by the Bishops in communion with him" (n. 8). Is this assertion credible? While it has emotive and conative implications, we are considering especially its cognitive content. For when one speaks of credibility, one is speaking primarily of the evidences for or against an assertion's truth-content, which pertains to the cognitive function of religious discourse. Is then the evidence in favor of the truth-content of Vatican Il's statement such that assent to it would be at least reasonable? Intellectual


186

CHICAGO STUDIES

honesty demands an affirmative response. Is assent mandatory? Since this ultimate practical judgment is on such a deeply and intimately personal level, the practical apologist will best leave its response to the individual. If one reads Question with this distinction in mind, it will make much more sense. Chicago's archdiocesan newspaper, The New World, (June 7, 1968, p. 14) recently published a review of Hans Kiing's most recent book, The Church (New York, Sheed & Ward, 1967). The review's author, Loyola University's theology pro· fessor Francis L. Filas, S.J., comments that "some of the positions which Kiing seems to espouse come perilously close to wiping out any essential distinction between the Church governed by the Roman Pontiff and an amorphous 'church of Christ' as subjectively drawn from the pages of the New Testa· ment." He further asserts, "The reviewer is firmly convinced that theological students who read this book as an oracle will draw from it a strong anti·papal bias, tending to wipe out the papacy as an essential and visible indication and property of the Church of Christ." Strong words indeed, and a serious accusation if the re· viewer's interpretation of Kiing is justified. We feel that it is not for the following reasons. First of all, Kiing repeatedly refers the reader to his earlier study Structures of the Church (1962) as a prolegomenon to the present hook (p. xiii), as one which is "presupposed" in Kiing's discussion of ecclesiastical office as ministry (p. 388), as well as in his discussion of the Petrine office and the Petrine ministry (p. 445). In other words, the reader is repeatedly warned that he is not to read The Church as if it were in a vacuum of some sort. Structures is presupposed and pre· required. It is strange therefore that the reviewer takes no cognizance of Structures in the current review. Secondly, a distinction between the "Petrine office" and the "papacy" is not unwarranted. And this for several rea· sons. First of all, the classic Petrine texts, while they do con· note a special Petrine function, cannot be said to connote "'papacy" as that. term is historically understood. Pursuing


APOLOGETICS

187

this point a little further, we note, the term "papacy" connotes a wide variety of images, both pleasant and unpleasant. To the average American, living as he does so far from Continental Europe, the word "pope" may conjure up images of a jovial Pope John embracing his brothers or of a serious Pope Paul pleading for world peace. But to many Europeans this same word "pope" my evoke images of papal armies occupying territories, while to many Africans and Asians "papacy" may connote just another western European, and hence totally foreign, form of government. So while the distinction between "Petrine office" and "papacy" is simply one of reason, it is not unwarranted because of the diverse connotations involved. Thirdly, we suggest that Kiing's remarks about apostolic succession are not taken in their full context if it is said that they "reductively would lead to anarchy in the Church." Kiing does not question the validity of apostolic succession or its importance. Rather he strives to emphasize the very real need of presenting this succession to the world in a meaning. ful way. Thus he writes, "John XXIII not only made the Petrine ministry more human once again, and brought it closer to ordinary people, much more than all the imposing papal rulers of our century had done.... The voluntary Ia ying aside of the tiara, the emblem of papal dominion, by Pope Paul VI, and other measures of reform in the same direction, show that this hope is not entirely without foundation" (Church, pp. 471¡472).Philosophers distinguish carefully between the esse and the bene esse of various functions. For the bene esse of the papacy and of the episcopacy, Kiing contends, we must never so extol magistery as to lose ministry. Who would dis¡ agree with this?


LITURGICAL SURVEY Ill

Renewin'} lhe Sacramenlj The renovation of the sacramental rites is underway.ls the reform too little and too late?

+ EDMUND SIEDLECKI

+

(1)

The centrality of the Eucharist in Catholic life demanded that first and chief consideration be given to the reform of the Mass. Since this reform is well under way, though far from complete, attention can be directed to the other sacraments. At the Synod of Bishops Cardinal Lercaro announced that a new rite for the Baptism of Adults was being tested in several countries and that a new rite for the Baptism of Infants was soon to be tested. These rites were prepared by the Con. silium, now a part of the Sacred Congregation of Rites. This article will review the work of the Consilium and other suggestions to revise the rites of Baptism, Confirma¡ tion, and Marriage. A future article will deal with the remaining sacraments. GENERAL PRINCIPLES

The Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy presented the fundamental guidelines for the restoration of all liturgical rites: "Both texts and rites should be drawn up so that they express more clearly the holy things which they signify; the Christian people, so far as possible, should be enabled to understand them with ease and to take part in them fully, actively and¡ as 189


190

CHICAGO STUDIES

befits a community" (art. 21). "The rites should be distinguished by a noble simplicity; they should be clear, short, and unencumbered by any useless repetitions; they should be within the people's powers of comprehension, and normally should not require much explanation" (art. 34). In sacred celebrations there is to be more reading from holy scripture, and it is to be more varied and suitable" (art. 35). Besides the use of the vernacular, "provision is to be made for the legitimate variations and adaptations to different groups, regions and peoples, especially in the missions, provided always that the substantial unity of the Roman rite is preserved" (art. 38) . Some elaboration of these guidelines can be found in the doctrinal and pastoral introduction of the third chapter of the Constitution. This introduction also notes: (The Sacraments) "have indeed the power to impart grace, but, in addition, the very act of celebrating them effectively disposes the faithful to receive this grace fruitfully, to worship God duly and to love each other mutually" (art. 59). The festive character of some sacramental rites has been lost particularly because little or no music is used in the rites. In the rites to be described in this article ministerial and congregational singing should be an integral part of their celebration. BAPTISM OF ADULTS

The Constitution called for restoration of the catechumenate so that the time of preparation for baptism could be-sanctified progressively through the celebration of appropriate sacred rites. In 1962 the Sacred Congregation of Rites prepared an Order of the Baptism of Adults Arranged According to the Stages of the Catechumenate. The Consilium thoroughly revised this rite. The changes, omissions, or additions were determined by these "rules of precedence": 1. Precedence was given to traditional solutions rather than to innovations, so that the Roman Rite would be reformed, in terms of the Constitution, "according to the pristine norm of the Fathers of the Church" (art. 50). 2. When texts were chosen from Oriental rites, precedence


SACRAMENTS

191

was given to those texts which were derived from the Roman rite. 3. In formulating new texts precedence was given to those found in Sacred Scripture. ¡ The ideal day for the celebration of the baptism of adults would be the Vigil of Easter and thus the various steps of the rite would be traversed during Lent. Outside of Lent, the baptism should be celebrated on a Sunday-"little Easter." DESCRIPTION OF THE RITE

Attracted to Christ by the preaching of the Gospel, the candidates take four major steps in their spiritual journey. The first step, the Order for the Making of a Catechumen, has seven ceremonies: l. An introductory dialogue expresses the candidates' desire to become Christians because of their initial faith in Christ which leads to eternal life. The candidates are then asked if they believe in a summary of the Good News of Salvation:eternal life is knowing the true God and the One he has sent, Jesus Christ; a disciple of Christ should learn all the truth he has revealed to man and should conform his life to the twofold command of love. 2. The next ceremony is an exorcism in which the celebrant breathes upon the candidates and prays that spirit of evil recede. This ceremony is at the option of Episcopal Conferences. The reason for the option is that converts from agnosticism might not understand such a ceremony, while converts from animism might need such an exorcism. 3. The celebrant places his hands on the candidates and places them under the possession of Christ-the highpoint of this step. 4. The preceding essential ceremony can be completed, at the option of Episcopal Conference, by a renunciation of false cults and by the conferring of a new name. 5. The candidates' foreheads (and, at the option of Episcopal Conferences, the hearts and senses) are marked with a sign of the cross.


192

CHlCAGO STUDIES

6. While a processional chant is sung, the candidates are led into the church for the celebration of the Liturgy of the Word. Any sign of hospitality of a particular country or culture can be adapted and incorporated into this ceremony. 7. The first step closes with a liturgical dismissal of the catechumens. They approach the celebrant and he imposes hands upon them. In the meantime the congregation prays a litany. After the catechumens have left (or, if this were considered impolite, have been seated in a separate area of the church) and after the Prayer of the Faithful, the Liturgy of the Eucharist is celebrated. The following ceremonies in the 1962 rite were dropped:the introductory psalms, because they prolong the rite too much; the renunciation of Satan, the profession of faith, and the breathing in of the Holy Spirit, because these ceremonies are premature and would anticipate similar ceremonies of a later step; the giving of the salt, because this ceremony has lost its meaning for our times. During the time of the catechumenate appropriate Bible Services, minor exorcisms and blessings ought to be integrated into the catechesis. The second step, the Election, to take place ordinarily on the First Sunday of Lent, consists chiefly in inscribing into the official list of the Elect the names of those catechumens who are judged ready to receive Baptism at the Easter Vigil. The priest (or catechist) presents the candidates to the presiding priest (or deacon) who interrogates their sponsors regarding their docility to the Word of God, their moral life, their adherence to the Christian community, and thus their readiness to be baptized this year. He then inscribes each name, indicates that they are now among the Elect, and addresses an exhortation to them. This step concludes with a litany prayer for the catechumens. The third step consists in the scrutinies and the presentations of the Apostles' Creed and the Lord's Prayer to the Elect. The scrutinies ought to take place during the traditional scrutiny Masses, the Lenten Masses containing the Gospel of the


SACRAMENTS

193

Samaritan Woman, the man born blind, and the raising of Lazarus. These Masses can be celebrated as first class Votive Masses on the 3rd, 4th, and 5th Sundays of Lent or on more convenient days of Lent. The traditional ceremonies of the scrutinies are retained: a prayer over the kneeling or prostrating Elect, the exorcism, the prayer of the priest with outstretched hand over the Elect. Dropped as unnecessary duplications are the signings of the Elect by the celebrant and sponsors. The sponsors, however, place their bands on the Elect during the litany prayer before the exorcism. The Creed is to be presented during the week after the first scrutiny; the Lord's Prayer after the third scrutiny. The presentation would take place after the homily of the Mass in which special readings would replace those of the Mass for that day. The Sacraments of Initiation and their proximate preparatory ceremonies make up the fourth step. The preparatory profession of the Creed, and the imposition of a new name (optional) should take place on Good Friday or Holy Saturday morning. In the Ephpheta ceremony, without the use of saliva, the ears and lips are touched with the formula: Ephpheta: which means be opened and to the glory and praise of God profess the faith you have heard. The rite provides a new fomula for the consecration of baptismal water at the Easter Vigil (and a shorter formula for outside of Paschal time). After the consecration of the water the candidates make a triple renunciation of Satan. Their chest and shoulders (or only the hands) are anointed with the Oil of Catechumens. The anointing may be omitted at the option of Episcopal Conferences. The profession of faith, in question-answer form, mentions Christ's birth from Mary, his burial, resurrection and ascension. The rubrics provide for baptism by immersion or infusion. The postbaptismal anointing remains, but if the minister is also the minister of the sacrament of Confirmation he omits the postbaptismal anointing with chrism. The baptismal cere-


194

CHICAGO STUDIES

monies conclude with the putting on of the white garment, the presentation of the lighted candle, with formulas that have both a paschal and an eschatological theme, and an explanation of one's Christian name. The newly-baptized would receive the Eucharist under the appearances of both bread and wine at the Vigil Mass. During Paschal Time the neophytes should be introduced into a deeper understanding of Christian sacramental life at specially composed Masses. Many revisions of the 1962 rite were suggested by the experience of a very flourishing catechumenate program in France. One suggestion, not yet adopted, is that there would also be a form~l presentation of the Scriptures. Above all there must be a deep involvement by the whole Christian community not only in the above ceremonies but in the whole catechumenate. Commenting on the French experience, F. Coudreau explains: "The catechumen urgently needs to discover the fundamental character of his new relations with divine and human persons and the necessity of entering progressively into the new world he has discovered. This is impossible without community. Here we have the main problem of the catechumenate: it must provide the experience of the ecclesial community. It is nonsense to think one can be a catechumen all alone. Dialogue with a catechist does not suffice for an encounter with the Churchwhich is a mediating community Even a priest giving the best catechesis is not, of himself, the Church, and in encountering him one does not adequately encounter the Church. The catechumenate is necessarily communal in character." BAPTISM OF INFANTS

Hitherto the rite for the Baptism of Infants was an abridgment of the rite for adults. A new rite, composed by the Consilium and being tested in some dioceses throughout the world, follows the injunction of the Constitution: "The rite of the baptism of infants is also to be revised and it should be adapted to the circumstances that those to be baptized are,


SACRAMENTS

195

in fact, infants. The roles of parents and godparents, and also their duties, should be brought out more clearly in the rite itself' (art. 67). The new rite is directed, for the most part, to the parents and sponsors. The rite opens with a Liturgy of the Word. Its concluding prayer asks, through the intercession of the Saints, for God's grace to come upon the infant, his or her parents and sponsors. The promises, renunciations, and profession of faith are made by the parents and sponsors to show that the child is baptized in the faith of the Church. Out¡ side of Paschal time the baptismal water is consecrated with a new short formula. The blessing of the mother is changed into a blessing of both parents and integrated into the conclusion of this new rite. Ideally, the baptism should take place on Sunday and, hopefully, in the presence of some of the parish community, perhaps even at Mass. Provision is also made for the inclusion of customs which have been approved by the local authority. It is hoped also that the parents and sponsors would receive some special instructions before the baptism and that special Mass formulas would be composed to accompany these in¡ structions. CoNFIRMATION

Only a preliminary sketch of a new rite of Confimation has been considered by the Consilum. After the homily of the Liturgy of the Word (within or outside of Mass) the candidates are presented to the minister, preferably a bishop. They renew their baptismal promises and are invited to join the prayer for the grace of the Holy Spirit. It is not clear whether the imposition of hands would precede, as a distinct sign, the anointing with chrism, as some have suggested. If the sacrament is celebrated outside of Mass, the concluding ceremonies would be slightly longer than those of the present rite. It would seem, however, that a definite rite can come into existence only when there is greater unanimity concerning the theology of Confirmation and, consequently, the age at which this Sacrament should be received. The school of thought that emphasizes that Confirmation is one of the sacraments of


196

CHICAGO STUDIES

initiation would defend, ordinarily, the traditional order of Baptism, Confirmation, and Eucharist. Confirmation, then, would be received at a very early age, before First Communion, and the rite would have to be accomodated to very young children. Those advocating the postponement of this sacrament to adolescence or young adulthood would favor a rite that expresses one's commitment to the mission of Christ in the contemporary world. It is even suggested that a preparation for Confirmation, similar to the catechumenate, take place. Other suggestions made for improving the celebration of this sacrament are: that a special Mass be composed in which this sacrament could he celebrated, that the chrism be blessed as a part of the ceremonies or, at least, carried into church with some solemnity, that its perfume-quality be better manifested, that it not he wiped immediately from the head of the confirmed, that the attending priests join in a collective imposition of hands, that the role of the sponsors be clarified and incorporated in some way into the rite, for example, by having them present the confirmandi to the bishop or by signing the confirmandi with the sign of the cross, that the slap on the cheek be replaced by the kiss of peace or some other gesture of friendship and hospitality, that a special formula be used in the Confirmation Mass for the distribution of Communion: "The glorious Body of Christ, the pledge of the Holy Spirit's coming." MARRIAGE

The Constitution states: "The marriage rite now found in the Roman Ritual is to be revised and enriched in such a way that the grace of the Sacrament is more clearly signified and the duties of the spouses are impressed upon them." Even without changing the text of the present marriage rite, the Instruction for the Proper Execution of the Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy greatly helped to put this principle into practice by inserting the marriage ceremony within the Mass so that the Liturgy of the Word would be the immediate preparation for the celebration of this Sacrament. Conceding to the bride and groom the reception of the Eucharist under


SACRAMENTS

197

the appearances of bread and wine also helped to show that Marriage is directed to the Eucharist for its fulfillment. The weekday lectionary provided alternate Scripture readings which the couple and/ or priest might choose and thus tailor each celebration to the particular couple to be married. Likewise, the couple could participate in the selection of the music and hymns and, to some extent, in the writing of a commentary and a Prayer of the Faithful. Encouraging the fullest possible participation on the part of the bridal party, relatives, guests and the rest of the congregation would make even the present rite more meaningful. Finally some dioceses have suggested that the bridal party procession be integrated into the Entrance Rite to eliminate two separate entrance processions (that of the celebrant with his ministers and that of the bridal party). The Consilium has prepared a new rite of marriage which is still to be tested in select dioceses throughout the world. The ritual booklet contains the following: Chapter I presents a short doctrinal exposition of the nature and dignity of marriage among the People of God as well as a summary of the mutual functions and obligations of the spouses. This chapter provides the background for a proper understanding of the new rite. Chapter II presents the norms by which native or national customs can be incorporated into the new rite. This chapter recognizes the great variety and value of marriage ceremonies throughout the world, especially in mission lands, and offers the means of integrating these traditions into the Roman Rite of Marriage. Chapter III contains the rite itself: the formulas for the introductory questions, for the showing of consent, for the blessing and exchange of rings. The most notable change occurs in the prayer for the bride, which, although it remains a prayer for the bride as it was originally, nevertheless, speaks of the equal duties of mutual fidelity. Chapter IV provides for the celebration of the rite outside of Mass. In these last two chapters necessary adaptations for mixed marriages are indicated.


198

CHICAGO STUDIES

Chapter V contains the texts of the Scripture readings, prayers, prefaces, blessings, and psalms for use in the Rite of Marriage and the Nuptial Mass. The testing of this rite should reveal its strong and weak points. It would still seem preferable not to have a prayer directed mainly to the bride, for while in ancient times she was the center of the marriage rite, such is not the situation in the United States. It has also been suggested that this prayer be placed at the end of the Eucharistic Prayer, before the minor elevation, the traditional place for conferring a blessing in Mass or be placed immediately after the exchange of rings-(the present American rite seems to have two bless¡ ings). The wide latitude given to introduce other customs into the rite affords each country the opportunity to develop the rite further. At present there do not seem any generally accepted American marriage customs that are not already in¡ eluded in these rites. Marriage rites are virgin territory for experimentation. A. Nocent objects to the formula used by the priest: "I join you in matrimony . . ." "If the Church is only the principal witness, she should not intervene as though she were a principal actor. The ritual of marriage for the Belgian dioceses has corrected this formula to read: 'In the name of our Holy Mother Church, I bless this marriage which you have just contracted.' " Another suggestion is that the rings, some symbol of the home, and coins as pledge of support which the groom would give to the bride he blessed at the end of the Eucharistic Prayer. One writer proposes that the wedding ceremony take place in the parish in which the couple will live, that after the exchange of vows a representative couple would welcome the newly married into the community of the married, and that all couples present would pledge to assist the new couple in developing their Christian marriage. Some additional rites would be useful in preparation for the marriage or following it: an engagement ceremony, Bible devotions in connection with the marriage instructions, a blessing of the wedding reception meal, a blessing of the couple's


SACRAMENTS

199

first residence or home, a Votive Mass for the anniversary of marriage. A CLOSING REFLECTION The work of the Consilium on these three sacraments is to be regarded only as a first step in the renewal of these rites. Their pristine character has been or will be restored with those additional ceremonies that present-day pastoral care has indicated would be effective. The obvious obstacles that hampered the effectiveness of the present rites have been or will be removed. The rubrics of these new rites allow for much adaptation to particular countries or cultures. This adaptation would be the second major step in the reform of these rites. How these new rites, even when adapted, will serve Catholics in the last third of this century is unknown. As indicated in a previous article (Chicago Studies, Fall Issue, 1967) some believe that the reform is already too little and too late. What if time should prove them right? Without abandoning the present effort at reform and adaptation, some select experi¡ mental centers might well begin a much more radical reform of these rites.


The encyclical of Pius XII, Humani generis (1950), pointed out the danger of what it called, without describing it clearly, "false irenicism." A fairly long tradition stands behind this warning, since fear that Catholics would suffer from too close contacts with other Christians dictated the tone of the encyclical of Pius XI, Mortalium animos ( 1928), Ecumenism may expose as it had previously motivated the attitude of Benedict XV religious indifference; to the feelers for cooperation it never causes it. tended by the initiators of the Faith and Order movement (1918 and 1919). Beyond that, the reaction against the Modernist movement, under + Pius X, naturally discouraged attempts at better understandGEORGE H. TAVARD, A.A. ing between Catholics and Protestants, since Modernism, + as described in the encyclical Pascendi (1907), gathered into one all the bad tendencies at work in the liberal Protes¡ tantism of the times. Still further back, Leo XIII, with excellent intentions toward historical truth and the requirements of sacramental theology, had effectively squashed a reapproachment with Anglicans, with his encyclical Apostolicae curae (1896) declaring Angelican Orders "null and void." Fears die hard. No surprise, therefore, in the fact that the fear of encountering the members of churches issued from

!:cumenijm

and JeAfjiouj .Jndl/erence

201


202

CHICAGO STUDIES

the Reformation (somehow the fear of indifferentism never arose in regard to Orthodoxy) has in places-and in some office of the Roman Curia itself-survived the publication of the Vatican Council decree Unitmis Redintegrmio. The only way that I know of exorcising this ghost consists in taking a better look at ecumenism. Ecumenism ought to be distinguished from a number of ideas, movements, assuptions, etc., with which it has been at times confused. I will therefore start with a series of nega路 tions. Firstly, ecumenism is not a "new theology," a new way of theologising, or a new theological method. There is no such thing as an ecumenical theology, although the expression seems to become more and more frequently used to describe the requirements of a theology for today or the hoped-for theology of tomorrow. As "faith that seeks understanding," theology remains always no less and no more than the desire and the effort of faith to encompass the whole of reality in a total and unitive vision. Its methods are those perennially used by Christian reflection on Christian reality. Although legitimate diversities of point of view, orientation, method and content in biblical, patristic, monastic, scholastic, post-reformation, and contemporary theology must be recognized, the basic intention of theological research remains constant. In it, man's deep路 seated desire to know confronts the revelation in Christ as it has come down to us through the ages and as it is vivified daily in spiritual experience. To this, ecumenism can add nothing. Admittedly, the need for comparative theology will be felt all the more as closer contacts are entertained among Christians. But the experience of the Faith and Order move路 ment has clearly shown that the comparison of theologies is not theology, and that, once comparisons have been made, the task of elaboration or of reconstruction remains untouched. One should also recognize that new perspectives and methods linked to ecumenical concerns may legitimately appear. Em路 phases have changed in the history of theology and they still do so. Thus, ontological concerns in scholasticism have been


203

INDIFFERENCE

largely replaced by the historical accents of modern theology, which are themselves being crowded out by the anthropological focus of the theology of tomorrow_ Yet, on the one hand, this movement of theological reflection from being as being, to being as historical, and thence to being as human, has not been significantly influenced by ecumenism; on the other hand, the second steps of theological reflection never abolish the first ones, so that historical being is still being, and human being is still historical man. There is never a "new" theology prescinding from the past.

NoT

A NEW WAY OF WORSHIP

Secondly, ecumenism is not a new way of worship. This stress is particularly needed at this time, when hopes for general intercommunion among all Christians are spreading fast among both many Protestants and some Catholics, although these I would call, with no intention to hurt but with concern for truth, less theologically enlightened than they ought to be. Worship, and especially Eucharistic worship, remains now what it has always been, namely, the gathering of the community of the faithful around the sacramental presence of the Lord. This presence creates the community, calling it into one being out of the discontinuity of our separate selves, overcoming our estrangement from one another as men in order to insert all of us into the realm of Redemption. It antedates each one of us. No one therefore can manipulate it in order to squeeze from it something else, or something more, than the gathered community. There is nothing lacking in the Eucharistic community, which is of course the Church, the Body mystical of the Lord. To experience this oneness means to be aware of the Church. When there are diverse and, to some extent, contradictory experiences of this oneness, we can only conclude to the paradoxical fact of several and contradictory experiences of the Church. This is precisely the situation of broken Christendom, in which baptized Christians are gathered in distinct churches out of communion with each other. Should Catholics, Protestants, Anglicans take part in each other's Eucharistic worship, they would


204

CHICAGO STUDIES

not thereby be ecumenically one. Either they would constitute another community, another church, which would not be the great reunited Church to which they now look forward, but another ecclesial body; or they would simply make individual gestures of protest against disunity. The first alternative fits the experience of mergers among Protestant communities: these do not end in an all-embracing Church, but in new institutional units. The second alternative is more or less overtly practiced by some. Protest should be respected. But one should ,point out that Eucharistic participation in another church than one's own is a contradictory concept. For communion means Church; and there can no more be an intercommunion than there is an interchurch. The demanJ for permission for immediate or remote "intercommunion," which has been made by some Catholics who should have known better, is not the advanced wave of ecumenism, but an expression of retarded thinking.

NoR

A NEW ECCLESIOLOGY

Thirdly, ecumenism is not a new ecclesiology, which would overcome the institutional aspects or conditions of the Church and somehow introduces us into the purely eschatological community, the invisible community of the saints. Recent descriptions of this community vary. With Charles Davis, it reaches concreteness in small, spontaneous informal groups of unattached believers; with Rosemary Ruether, it requires "breaking with the past and annihilation of tradition," to be followed by "taking up and recovery of the past on a new level," this eschatological level, this level of the Spirit of the "Word-event" being, to my mind, undistinguishable from a new Revelation; with James Kavanaugh, it is a "future life of freedom and joy," the eschaton anticipated, not in the traditional liberty of the children of God, hut in the happy discarding of moral restraints. Despite C. G. Berkouwer, there is no "New Catholicism" budding forth from the ecumenical endeavors of the Vatican Council; and I am afraid that Daniel Callahan's title, The New Church, betrays rather than depicts the fermentation now taking place. The tension between two


INDIFFERENCE

205

aspects of the Church, spiritual and institutional invisible and visible, heavenly and earthly, is by no means a new phenomenon. It is an integral part of the incarnational status of the messianic community. Eschatology and temporality are not exclusive happenings, between which one could choose, as though one could decide to live in one's soul rather than in one's body. As the whole man is both, so is the whole Church unmistakenly and inseparably institution and event, organization and spirit, hierarchy and prophecy, horizontality and verticality. Under the conditions of human existence these two sides are indispensable to each other. Without the institution, we live in a dreamworld of recovered innocence, the unsubstantial chimera of free spirits, the deluded utopia of discarnate souls. This is the temptation of angelism, which has threatened the Church before our times and, when it was not overcome, has always ended in its opposites, the cults of eroticism in ethics and of absurdity in doctrine. Without the spirit, we live in a human society with merely human means and purposes, at its best an interesting fraternal club, at its worst a concentration camp. This is the temptation of the will to power, into which abuses of authority at all levels have often plunged the Church. Fourthly, ecumenism is neither inter-denominationalism nor non-denominationalism. By inter-denominationalism I mean the abolition of institutional harriers between Christian bodies by merging them into one, or at least by taking the steps that will, in the course of time, lead to an institutional merger. By nondenominationalism, I mean the shrinking of institutional barriers by ignoring them. This needs underlining, as many public activities of the ecumenical movement, in the World of Council of Churches and in many National Councils or other similar organizations, take the form of inter-denominationalism or of non-denominationalism. That mergers may become desirable, possible and eventually necessary in the process of restoring Christian unity need not be denied. The mutual relationships of many Protestant Churches in a pluralistic country like America make non-denominationalism a reasonable attitude


206

CHICAGO STUDIES

among Protestants. But I utterly repudiate the idea that these can be the ways to ultimate unity, and specifically to the reconciliation of Protestantism, Catholicism and Orthodoxy. As inter-protestant phenomena, mergers are theologically justifiable. As bridges over the gap between Catholics and Protestants, they are inadmissible. For the chasms are deeper than can be spanned by measures taken at the level of the institution only. Ecumenism does not amount to a pragmatic search for ways and means, to an experimentation of suitable techniques, to an imaginative planning for steps and stages along the way to unity. For a man-made unity of this kind does not contain in itself its own warrant, and the messianic people is not the creation of men, be these the most devoted leaders, the greatest theologians or the highest mystics. In this lay the built-in weakness of the Life and Work movement, and reside the unavoidable limitations of research groups like the Consultation On Church Union. There are unmistakable signs that an empirical way toward union attracts many American Catholics, wary of the alien colors of more theological approaches. 'In this, I daresay, they are more American than Catholic. Computers and thinking machines may do many good things for the man of the future; but the blueprint for Christian unity will not be discovered by cybernetics. I have ruled out several conceptions of ecumenism which are at this time rampant in the land and which all constitute, in my opinion, blind alleys. I will now try to describe ecumenism in positive terms. Each of the four misconceptions that I have studied corresponds to an authentic aspect of genuine ecumentsrn.

A GENUINE ECUMENISM In the broad area of theological research, ecumenism opens up a dimension that could not be apparent in the ages of a united Christendom, when Catholic Christianity being identical with the known world, was felt to be the all-embracing totality of creation. Suddenly, in the 16th century-much more so than in the 11th, for the East-West estrangement did not question the Church's structure-the Church found that it no longer


INDIFFERENCE

207

was the universe. Hard facts were eloquent: the Church in its traditional capacity as the holy society, as the sacred dimen路 sion of the world, as the fullness of the community of men, had died. Within the very borders of a Christendom fighting for life against the Moslem armies, several claims to universality were heard; rival appeals were addressed to the conscience of the Christian man; the self-awareness of the Christian was couched in contradictory vernaculars. And yet no one-Catholic or Protestant, Anglican, Lutheran or Calvinist-, no oneexcept the members of the sectarian movements of the "Radi路 cal Reformation"-could forget the former identity of faith and culture, of Church and Empire, of the theological outlook and the empirical reality. None of the new churches, and still less the old, was free of a lingering nostalgia for the days of old, for the past theonomy, for the lost sacramen路 tality of the very soil of Europe. All churches tried to account and to apologize for the catastrophe that had taken place. They built theological models of Christian unity, in which each Church defined its place in relation to the theologically asserted, yet empirically lost, oneness. Each tradition saw itself as related to the invisible and indivisible unity of the body of Christ either by identity (Catholic, Orthodox), or by participation (all others) . These models were so built that responsibility for the separations was systematically attributed to the other side, the Catholic model blaming Protestants and Orthodox, the Protestant models blaming Catholics and by and large ignoring Orthodoxy, the Orthodox models blaming Catho路 lies, and, by implication, Protestants. Ecumenism started when it became patent that none of these models is demonstrable beyond doubt, that the systems and categories erected upon them are not verifiable, and that, accordingly, all former assumptions about the causes, the nature and the consequences of Christian disunion may be questioned. Ecumenism thus opens up a long series of problems which the ages of polemics and apologetics could not handle, but which have now been laid bare by the ebb of antagonisms. All these problems hinge around the notion of catholicity: how is the communion of the


208

CHICAGO STUDIES

disciples together adequate to the whole of salvation and revelation? In the field of worship, ecumenism is a fundamental con路 cern for the adequate expression of the communion of the faithful around the presence of the Lord in their midst, and for the missionary value of their unity as the chief witness fot路 redemption. The credibility of the Christian witness has been immeasurably damaged, first in "pagan" lands, then in the modern world, by the breaking up of the empirical unity of Christians. The desire for intercommunion does indeed ex路 press a valid search for the true meaning of communion, and it translates in radical terms the unimpeachable conviction that there ought not to be separate altars where there is oneness in faith. That I reject intercommunion as a theologically viable means toward reunion does not imply that the underlying problem is to be forgotten. Christianity is not primarily a doctrine, but an experience, a creed, but an event, a table with both mystical and historical episodes, but the encounter of the living God manifesting himself through the man Jesus of Nazareth, the Word made flesh. And it is in worship, and primarily in the Eucharistic gathering, that this encounter breaks forth into our lives, shattering the complacency of our selves, the mediocrity of our ideals, the selfishness of our purpose, tearing up our idols and, in a continuing movement of descent and ascent, reconstructing our lives, our selves, our ideals, our purposes, in the Person of the Christ. Ecumenism, here again, brings up from our subconscious a set of ques路 lions that are implied in the experience of separate Eucharists. These relate to communion as the center of oneness and the leaven of the Church, to priesthood and ministry as the chosen channels of the Lord's sacramental advent, to forms and modes of prayer, to the relationships of individuals and collective prayer, to the possibility of an immediate experience of God in the filiation of the Son. Not by accident did the ecumenical movement start at the same time as the liturgical movement. And, in keeping with the inner structure of worship, the more far-reaching questions relating to unity and reunion have been


209

INDIFFERENCE

asked by the more liturgical traditions at the cost of seeming reluctant to advance rapidly toward reunion, whereas the less liturgical sections of contemporary Christianity could be easily satisfied with superficial answers and a superficial unity.

A NEW

CLIMATE IN ECCLESIOLOGY

In the field of ecclesiology, ecumenism is a new climate. It brings the churches in a dialectical relationship to each other. which includes affirmation and negation, the effort to under路 stand other points of view and the desire to assimilate as much of them as possible, and the corresponding belicf.ful criticism of the assumptions and assertions of the other sides. The faithful man who has committed himself to ecumenism still endeavors to "sense with the Church," which is prerequisite to his sharing the charism by which the Church keeps and pro路 motes the Gospel; yet he also wants to "sense" with the church to which he does not belong, to learn the feeling of a Protestant, or an Orthodox or, as the case may be, a Catholic, so that what happens to and in a communion which is not his own does not remain foreign to him, but also reaches him at the fine point of his Christian conviction. There is no prospect of becoming the other, of denying one's patrimony. Yet a new horizon opens up, revealing ranges and valleys, streams and forests, meadows and village that could not be discerned when knowledge of them was deemed to be an un-christian ex路 perience. Ecumenism here entails the trust that Providence has guided the Christians who have inherited the Reformation, without thereby endangering the uniqueness, the unicity and the unity of the older Catholic tradition. Admittedly, this is an apparent contradiction, since the Reformation was born, and has remained, as a protest against basic aspects of the Catholic synthesis. Yet a contradiction may cover up either a falsity or a paradox. One must reject the untrue, but live with the paradoxical. The ecumenical attitude implies the hope that we face a paradox, the truth of which will uncoil itself at the time chosen by the Spirit to bring us all into unity. It cannot conclude that there is a double truth, that Protes路


210

CHICAGO STUDIES

tantism and Catholicism are both true at the very points where they disagree; yet it expects this dilemma to resolve itself some day in keeping with the principle of the identity of opposites, which derives from a respectable theological tradition. Finally, ecumenism inspires practical means of encountering other Christians. I suspect that this is where many, laymen and priests, are afraid of being caught in a double jeopardy. On the one hand, nobody seems to be very clear as to what ought to he done at the level of the people and of ordinary parish life. A good token of this is that all I have said so far refers primarily to theologians and could very well he confined to the world of universities, seminaries and other more or less academic circles. On the other hand, many suspect that practical programs destined to know each other better may actually misfire by causing confusion rather than understanding. If, as I have insisted, effective blueprints cannot possibly he drawn up, if unity will not result from negotiations at the end of which the leaders of the main churches will put their signature at the bottom of a unity-restoring agreement, it remains that the ecumenical movement must not become a reserve, an occupation for theologians only, out of bound to everyone else. All the People of God must become involved in it to the extent of local possibilities. In other words, it ought to have its popular as well as its theological aspects. This is where the organizational structures of the various churches may help or hinder progress. For instance, should initiative from below need to be strictly controlled from the top? In my opinion, the more initiative from below, and the less control from the top, the better. For in the matter of charisms the Spirit does not give more to the hierarchy than to the laity; and this is ultimately dependent on charisms. But initiatives, however effective they may be and whatever the generosity of their inspiration, must he faithful to the requirements of doctrine and to the tradition. For this reason, the first step in bringing the whole People into the ecumenical attitude lies in the field of forming lay leaders with a thorough grasp of theological principles. I am afraid no short cut will be found


INDIFFERENCE

211

to avoid the necessity of a solid theological education, and there will be no escape from the burden lying on the shoulders of bishops, priests, ministers and teachers, whose function is to provide the laity with sufficient acquaintance with their faith to be able to meet other Christians without thereby losing their bearings. RELIGIOUS INDIFFERENCE AND ECUMENISM

This brings me finally to the question asked: Does a danger of religious indifference arise from ecumenical thinking and activity? No. Multiple dangers of religious indifference stem from bad theology, from insufficient theology, from ignorance of theology, from the endless compromises with secularism and materialism that we are all tempted to devise, from fear of financial, military and political power, from our hands· off policy, avowed or unavowed, when a new crisis appears in the making, from our reluctance to take sides in the moral problems of war and peace (and specifically from our con· sent by silence to the commitment of America to unjust violence in Vietnam), or in those of racial justice and injustice and of poverty and wealth, from our sinful propensities,-but not from ecumenism. The causes of religious indifference do indeed exist and they are powerfully at work. But ecumenism has nothing to do with them. If we blame ecumenism for religious indifference, I am afraid we blind ourselves to glaring facts of the world we live in and to the kind of persons we become when we bow to the pressures of the secular city. I would even go further, and affirm that ecumenism is a school of fidelity. Anyone who is acquainted with the career of Charles Davis knows that he has never been ecumenically prominent. His writings and activities as a theologian connected him much more with the defense of Roman Catholic institu· tions than with bold approaches to other Churches. As described in A Question of Conscience, the causes of his leaving the Church were theological (that is, in the last analysis, they arose from bad theology) and psychological (he had problems -and who is without them?-relating to ecclesiastical superiors and colleagues). The occasion of his break with the Church


212

CHICAGO STUDIES

was, however, ecumenical. On the recommendation of Cardinal Heenan he had been nominated to the Joint Commission for Catholic-Anglican Dialogue. He had further been invited to prepare a position paper for the first meeting of this Commission at Gazzada, in northern Italy, in January 1967. This is how Davis describes what happened then: "My reading for it (for this paper) did not tell me anything I did not know before, but it forced me to examine the state of my own convictions on the papacy and on the Roman Catholic Church as a social entity. I found that I no longer believed in the papal claims as defined in the First Vatican Council and repeated in Second Vatican and that my general understanding of the Christian Church put me outside the Roman Catholic body" (A Question of Conscience, p. 138). In this experience, the requirements of an ecumenical encounter pushed a man to be utterly sincere and to see himself as he was in reality. As a theologian, as a priest, as a seminary-professor, as an author, he could live with a bad conscience because he was not forced to see it as had (I am not taking this expression in its moral hut in its existential sense). As an ecumenist he could not, for those he was to meet compelled him to identify himself with his own Church. Ecumenism places us squarely before an existential option: we have to pass from an abstract to a concrete commitment to the Church. By doing this, it promotes lucidity and courage, qualities that are required for the growth of a mature fidelity. Indeed, as in Charles Davis' case, some may decide against total involvement in the Church and either continue to pay lip-service to an abstraction or, unable to live with the abstract and unwilling to serve the concrete Church, withdraw into a Christian stance of their own making. They are not victims of ecumenism but of their own psychological and theological weaknesses. And we may be thankful that the ecumenical situation has lifted the ambiguity of their previous position. Ecumenism may expose religious indifference; it never causes it.


The reason for any man's actions and words can often be inferred from the actions and words themselves, especially when they are judged to be characteristic of the man. Indeed, the meaning of a man's whole life may be at least partly revealed in a representative picture of his deeds and words. These testify to the meaning and purpose of a man's life as they may testify to its lack of meaning and purpose. How much more should we not expect to find the reason for what Jesus Jesus tried to communicate Christ did and said and, ineven with those hostile to deed, an insight into the meaning of his whole life, from his him-but on his own terms. characteristic teaching in parables? One of the most revealing parables in this connection is CHARLES H. GIBLIN, S. J. the principal parable in Luke 15, the Father of the Prodigal Son and of the Prodigal's Elder Brother. The meaning of this parable is considerably more profound than what has been brought out by commentators who in effect restrict tbei r explanation to the first two figures of the story or who overlook the vital connection with the specific situation described at the outset of the chapter. Perhaps the situation is overlooked simply because it seems to he so ordinary, so characteristic of

Wh~

JejUj

Spoke in Parable3-an -.An3wer

15

+

+

213


214

CHICAGO STUDIES

Jesus's actiVIty. He is associating with tax-gatherers and sinners on a friendly basis. For their part, his habitual adversaries, the Pharisees and scribes, exhibit a characteristically negative attitude towards such conduct. To infer from this characteristic episode the purpose of Jesus's speaking in parables, we shall first explain the parables of this chaper in their adequate literary context. The whole of Luke 15 is clearly set off from what precedes and follows, if only by the difference of circumstances and by indications of specifically different audiences. In the two verses which introduce the rest of Luke 15, we find an implicit indication of the audience for whom the following parables are intended: those who are grumbling at the fact that Jesus receives sinners and eats with them. The narrative situation given in vv. 1-2 may be described diagrammatically in the form of a triangle. We shall find that the following parables, es¡ pecially the principal parable in vv. 11-32 correspond diagrammatically with this narrative introduction. The triangular pattern is repeated. At the apex of the triangle representing the narrative introduction {vv. 1-2) is Jesus himself. At the two base angles, respectively, are all the tax-gatherers and sinners, then the Pharisees and scribes. The former are drawing near to hear him; the latter are grumbling at the fact he receives sinners and eats with them. Jesus' reception of the sinners is in the nature of a feast. The object of somewhat hostile murmuring is what Jesus himself is doing in regard to those who have drawn near to him. The parables which are then recounted are uttered in conjunction with this situation and shed light on it, revealing in word the meaning of the narrated event and its implications for the somewhat hostile audience. The first parable is twofold, that of the lost sheep and the lost coin. For reasons which I have discussed elsewhere, one can say that originally the main point of this twofold parable was somewhat different from the main point in the present context. The importance-in terms of the seeker's intense concern-of the one which was lost is not now the important feature of the


PARABLES

215

twofold parable. For the narrative situation speaks of "all" the tax-gatherers and sinners, and the Pharisees and scribes are not represented as a majority nor, unless by implicit irony, as "the just who need no change of heart." In its present context, the main point of the twofold parable lies in the joy to be shared over finding what was lost. This theme, rather than the "percentage" theme, squares well enough with the narrative description which gives the occasion for the parable. What is more, it is this theme which is sounded twice again in the major parable concluding this chapter (vv. 24, 32). The purpose of the twofold parable in its present context, then, is to bring out the theme of joy to be shared by others over a person's finding what was lost. In tum, the theme of this twofold parable prepares the reader for the major parable ( vv. 11-32) concluding this rhetorical grouping, a chreia (cf. Farmer). The major parable, as we shall now see, corresponds even more remarkably with the triangular structure of the narrative description in vv. 1-2. THE PARABLE OF THE PRODIGAL

In the major parable (vv. 11-32) our attention is first drawn to the younger son. The description of his activity converges on his change of heart, his "coming to himself' in his own misery. He realizes the wretchedness of his own state, how he is being lost ( apollymai), perishing of hunger while even the hired hands of his father have bread in abundance. But he moves from remorse to repentance. The focus of his concern shifts from his own misery to his sin and consequent unworthiness to be called his father's son. He plans to ask that he be made as one of the hired servants. His father's compassion is evident from the outset of the second part of the parable ( v. 20b). But it is not based on the prodigal's appeal. Even when the returning prodigal was a long way off, his father had seen him and his father's heart went out to him. The father himself hastens to greet him with affection. When the prodigal confesses his sin and unworthiness to he his son, the father reinvests him as his son. It has


216

CHICAGO STUDIES

Leen recognized for some time that the best robe, the sandals, and the signet-ring indicate that the prodigal has been restored to the status of a son. Quite recently, however, further light has been shed on these details which helps us understand the relationships between the father and the younger son and, in fact, helps us understand the parable as a whole. K. H. Rengstorf has argued that the younger son was legally cut off from the family by his demanding and then squandering his share of the inheritance. The details of his reinstatement (garment, ring, shoes) convey the notion of juridical reinvestiture. The prodigal is really restored to the status of sonship. The juridical image brings out the father's love (which is obviously the essential element, already shown in his compassion and greeting) as a form of justice in response to what was not deserved and what the younger son himself admitted was not deserved. The reinstatement into a interpersonal, family relationship is concretized and manifested in a juridical form which is in no way legalistic. In this connection, one might reflect that what Paul labors to show in the dialectical rhetoric of much of Rom l-8 can quite simply be expressed in terms of this parable of Jesus given to us in Luke. The parable has its own dialectical aspects, which clearly take shape with the entry and conduct of the elder son ( v. 25). The parable is an answer to the grumbling of the Pharisees and scribes at the conduct of Jesus. Their hostile attitude in the concrete situation is answered by a parable in which they can see themselves. Within the parable as a whole, the juridical reinstatement of the prodigal and its basis in the attitudes of the prodigal and his father stand in some contrast to the mercenary and even legalistic attitude of the elder son. THE ELDER SON

When the elder son comes in from a field and hears the sound of the festivities, he calls one of the servant-boys to find out "what these things are." He is seeking the reason for the festivities. He receives a straightforward explanation which has three major features. His brother has come; his father


PARABLES

217

has arranged the feast; the reason for the father's action is that he has received the elder son's brother safe and sound. At this point, the elder son becomes angry and is unwilling to enter. His father comes out to try to explain the matter to him in a way that will bring the elder son to a more positive course of action (parekalei). The brief dialogue which follows is one of the most revealing elements in the whole parable. The elder son betrays his misunderstanding of all the interpersonal relationships in this triangular situation. He implies that the feast is altogether out of proportion to what the younger son deserves, and thus misses the point of the straightforward explanation already given him by the servant-boy. He does not acknowledge the younger son as his brother, but pointedly refers to him as "this son of yours" when answering his father. Lastly, and most important of all, the elder son misconstrues his own relationship to his father. The arguments which his father has used in "exhorting" him are passed over in the parable, mainly because they are really unnecessary. The explanation for the feast has already become quite clear¡ from the preceding passages in the parable. Similarly, the specific purpose of the "exhortation" is not spelled out; the father obviously wants to bring the elder son to come in and to change his hostile attitude in order to do this. Attention focuses at this point on what the elder son himself says. The fundamental misconception which motivates his anger is indicated in the first words which the elder son utters. "For all these many years I have been working for you as a slave ( douleuo soi) and have never transgressed a command of yours, and you never gave me a kid goat to make merry with my friends," He then contrasts with his own faithful conduct and its lack of remuneration the conduct of "this son of yours" and the benefit which the latter has been given. The elder son's querulous retort to the father's implicit invitation reveals that he regards his father as an employer or master, not as a loving and generous father. The elder son expects a favor or reward precisely on the basis of his work as a servant, on the basis of his own steadfast service in not transgressing a precept.


218

CHICAGO STUDIES

In answer to this part of the elder son's remarks, the father affectionately addresses him as a son who is always with him, one with whom he shares everything. The elder son is simply not in a position to he paid as a hired servant or rewarded as a good slave. The second part of the father's answer insists on the need to make merry and rejoice because "this brother of yours" has equivalently been raised from the dead; he was lost and has been found. The "justice" shown in the reinvestiture of the former prodigal is not he he considered an injustice to the elder son. For the reason underlying the ¡reinvestiture and the feast itself is really the father's love, a love which should he shared by those most concerned.

A THEOLOGICAL CHARACTER STUDY On this note the parable ends. One spontaneously asks himself whether the elder son goes in. But the parable, as a theological character study, is complete. Whether the elder son goes in or not will depend on whether or not he alters his own disposition and, more radically, his own misconceptions of the personal relationships involved in "familial justice." If he is willing to recognize the former prodigal as his brother, if he is willing to see in the feast the expression of the father's love as something to he shared, and, most important of all, if he understands the implications of the father-son relationship affirmed in his own case, he will probably enter. If his own concept of justice remains narrowly self-centered and mercenary or slavish, then the feast will probably have to continue without him. As the parable is complete at this point, so is the whole chapter. The event described in vv. l-2 is illumined by the word, especially by the climactic parable. The intention of Jesus in act and word is revealed in the way the word illuminates the event. Jesus's answer to the Pharisees and scribes is to give them food for thought which may bring them to the change of heart which they themselves need in order to see a father's love and justice expressed in Jesus's conduct towards those sinners who have approached him. Jesus does not


PARABLES

219

openly rebuke the murmurers nor does he legislate what they are to do. He looks for an interior understanding, not external conformity. He answers the disaffected by placing on them the real burden of ·the explanation, viz., the wisdom to grasp it and the willingness to act accordingly. In doing this, he is trying to teach much more than what should be done. He is trying to communicate a point of view, a way of thinking which will enable his adversaries to grasp the real issue and respond to it affirmatively. The parable, together with the con· crete events on which it sheds light, is the revelation of a father's love. Perhaps it can be considered the Lucan equi· valent of the saying to Philip in Jn 14, 9: "he who has seen me has seen the Father." But, as in Jn, the revelation of a father's love in not entirely "objective." For it is an attempt at communication, and thus demands a personal response in understanding and a change of heart. The revelation is actual when one has grasped the mind and heart of Jesus. While he does not answer his adversaries simply on their own terms, Jesus does take into consideration the element of truth implied in their position. There is indeed a question of justice here. Accordingly, while Jesus does not legislate an answer, he by no means ignores the value of a juridical under· standing of the situation. The parable seems to contain at least some juridical aspects (the investiture in v. 22) and may per· haps contain others ( cf. the complaint of the elder son, v. 29--which may refer to the kind of payment to which a good slave was entitled, and the father's response, v. 31). But a per· sonal perspective transcends the question of "rights." Justice is seen fulfilling in a fitting act of love. Compassion and forgive· ness take on a juridical form without in the least becoming re· strictive, particularistic, less human or less divine. The elder son's own rights have to be judged in the same perspective. The conciliatory tone of this parable should caution us against taking the ironical statement in Mk 4, 10-12 and parallels ("that looking they may keep looking and not see, etc.") as assigning an adequate or sole reason for Jesus's characteristic mode of discourse, teaching in parables. The


220

CHICAGO STUDIES

parables reveal the mystery of God's sovereign action. Grasping them properly, i.e., as revelation of this mystery, requires an interior perception and, ultimately, the grace of God. When their meaning is not grasped, then, as Mt says (Mt 13, 12), the apocalyptic law of progressively widening opposition is verified. To those who have, further understanding is given; to those who do not, what is had is taken away. This apo¡ calyptic law is verified in many another's teaching experience, but it is eminently realized in the attempt of Jesus to com¡ municate the mystery of God's sovereign action to men, especially since a whole new way of thinking, "supernatural thinking," is entailed in the communication of a mystery. Mark has grasped this point and has fittingly stated it in a way to jolt his readers into an awareness of the mystery of Jesus's teaching (Mk 4,10 ff.). Matthew has clarified the statement, bringing out its dogmatic and moral implications in terms of apocalyptic perspective and in terms of personal responsibility. It is because they do not really look or understand (Mt. 13, 13) that Jesus speaks to them as he does. The irony is preserved, but it is less harsh. What is more, Jesus is seen explicitly as fulfilling the pattern of God's action verified in the case of Isaiah (Mt. 13,14-15). Although the statements in Mk 4,10-12 and parallels remain quite true, they suppose a distinction between Jesus's disciples and others which, in turn, supposes an initial response differing in the case of each group. These ironical statements reflect a situation in which Jesus has been speaking in parables for some time. He continues his prophetic witness to God's revela¡ tion in .the face of misunderstanding on the part of those who, through their initial insensitivity to the grace of revelation, remain "outside." But is is also evident from situations and parables like those given us in Lk 15 that Jesus did attempt to communicate with those hostile to him, though mainly on his own terms. He tried to bring them to an interior understanding of the grace of God's love revealed in characteristic actions of his life's work.


Now that Pope Paul has issued his encyclical, H umaooe Vitae, the practical question that has to be asked is: what is the confessor to do if a penitent says that he is unwilling to follow the authoritative teaching of the Holy See on artificial contraception? There is, of course, little problem with the penitent who accepts the teaching and is sincerely trying to live up to it even though he fails reWhat of the penitent who peatedly. Everyone knows how does not feel that artificial to deal kindly with the recidi¡ vus, especially in regard to contraception is morally sins of weakness. The troublewrong? some question concerns the Catholic who tells the confessor that he has no intention of + following the teaching of the Holy See on artificial birth JOHN F. DEDEK control. Is he now to be refused absolution because he + has no firm purpose of amendment? Or may the confessor tell him that he can follow his own conscience in this matter even though it contradicts papal teaching? A practical resolution of this problem lies, I think, in the distinction drawn by modern psychiatry between theoretical and evaluative knowledge. Joseph Fuchs describes this distinction succinctly in his Theologiae Moralis Generalis (Vol. I, pp. 155-156):

fiumanae

Utae

and

221


222

CHICAGO STUDIES

"Moral knowledge which is merely (more or less) theoretical is one thing; knowledge which is also evaluative is quite another. Only this latter is moral knowledge in the full sense of the word. For in it man not only knows what the law or moral norm is; nor is his knowledge of the value of the moral norm restricted to the theoretical type. But this knowledge of the law and its moral value he genuinely appropriates to himself, so that he is able to perceive and evaluate the goodness personally and concretely, even in such a way that this knowledge arouses a spiritual affection which flows over into the senses. Sometimes this evaluative cognition is absent, although the theoretical cognition remains. This absence is either habitual, as may happen for example in pathological personalities or also in children (children of eight have perhaps well learned what actions are gravely sinful without being able to weigh sufficiently the value of a virtuous act and the concept of grave sin), or it is merely actual. This may happen, for example, because of habit or passion, in the moment of temptation if the value of the moral good is hardly any longer perceived and weighed." The knowledge requisite for a mortal sin is not merely theoretical or speculative. It must be evaluative or appreciative. That is to say, a person must do more than know intellectually that a certain action is ":rong. He must make this knowledge his own. He must personally perceive the moral good or evil involved in an action, so that he evaluates or appreciates it emotionally as well as in a purely abstract way. He must experience a certain emotional or affective revulsion from the evil, so that he can be said to feel as well as know that it is wrong. If in any situation a person lacks evaluative or appreciative knowledge of this sort, or if he does not have it in sufficient intensity to elicit a fundamental option, he lacks the kind of knowledge that must be present for mortal sin. This, I would judge, is the condition of many Catholic adults at the present time. They are aware of the teaching of Humanae Vitae. But for a variety of reasons they are not


r HUMANAE VITAE

223

able, at least for the present time, to personally appropriate as their own the values that it affirms. This is especially true for couples in very difficult situations where compliance with the teaching of H umanae Vitae would require them to sacrifice other very important values. It is easy to believe that they will not be able to attain the requisite appreciative knowledge of the evil of contraception in their circumstances, particularly when there are at work in our society so many other forces instilling into them an exaggerated appreciation of the thisworldly values of pleasure, material goods, sex, self-fulfillment, and so on. When a penitent says, "But I don't feel that it is sinful for me to practice contraception in my situation," he may simply be engaging in the kind of rationalization we are all prone to and so be disclosing nothing more than a conscientia larvata. But he rna y he describing something quite different. He may he expressing his lack of personal appropriation of the moral values at stake. He may he describing a conscience which does not personally appreciate the moral evil of artificial regulation of births. He may, in other words, be describing an invincibly erroneous conscience--one that can not be overcome, at least at the present time, simply by proper instruction or the reaffirmation of recent papal teaching. The confessor can give him the pertinent information. But he can not furnish him with the personal appropriation and appreciation that is necessary for grave moral guilt. Not even the penitent's good will can always do that. It would be a mistake, therefore, for the confessor to deny absolution to everyone who refuses to follow the teaching of the Church on birth control. As the pope said, he should explain the teaching of the Church without ambiguity. But if an individual still says that he does not honestly feel in his heart that artificial contraception is wrong, he should not be deprived of the sacraments unless it is certain that his conscience is vincibly erroneous, that is to say, unless it is certain that he is in bad faith and so would not profit by the sacraments even if he received them.


224

CHICAGO STUDIES

It is in this sense that we can agree that a Catholic may follow his own conscience on artificial birth control even though it contradicts papal teaching. For a Catholic may follow an invincibly erroneous conscience. But if through no personal fault he lacks the requisite knowledge for mortal sin-and the requisite knowledge includes evaluative knowledge-his conscience must be said to be invincibly erroneous. In Humanae Vitae Pope Paul said that the work of education to which he is calling up is great. The necessary moral education of consciences will not he accomplished all at once by his encyclical. The pope himself reminded us that our unambiguous teaching of the Church's doctrine "must ever be accompanied by patience and goodness, such as the Lord himself gave example of in dealing with men. Having come not to condemn hut to save, he was indeed intransigent with evil, hut merciful towards individuals."


AUTHORS Charles A. Curran is a professor of psychology at Loyola Uni¡ versity, Chicago. He is author of the forthcoming books Counseling.and Psychotherapy: The Pursuit of Values and Counseling, Psychotherapy and Religion. John F. Dedek is a professor of moral theology at St. Mary of the Lake Seminary, Mundelein, Illinois and associate editor of Chicago Studies. Charles H. Giblin, S.J. is an Assistant Professor of Theology at Fordham University, New York. He received his S.S.D. from the Pontifical Biblical Institute in Rome. James P. Hanigan, S.J. from Woodstock College, Woodstock, Maryland has a Master's degree in history and will con¡ tinue theological and historical studies at Duke University. George K. Malone is a professor of fundamental theology at St. Mary of the Lake Seminary, Mundelein, Illinois. Charles R. Meyer is a professor of systematic theology at St. Mary of the Lake Seminary, Mundelein, Illinois. Edmund J. Siedlecki is production manager of Chicago Studies, assistant at St. Eugene Church, Chicago, and professor of liturgy, Loyola University, Niles College, Niles, Illinois. George H. Tavard, A.A. is a professor of theology at Mount Mercy College, Pittsburgh, Pa.

Summer 1968  

Volume 7:2

Read more
Read more
Similar to
Popular now
Just for you