Fr. Z to Card. Cottier: Check your facts!

The Italian monthly 30 Giorni published an article purportedly by His Eminence Georges Card. Cottier, 87, the former papal theologian under the late Pope John Paul II.

In 2005 Card. Cottier retired at the age of 83.

Was Fr. Wojciech Giertych, the current papal theologian, otherwise engaged? 

I’m just askin’…

The Italian language piece under Card. Cottier’s name is entitled "La politica, la morale e il peccato originale: I discorsi del presidente Usa Barack Obama alla University of Notre Dame e all’Università islamica Al-Azhar del Cairo si possono utilmente confrontare con elementi della fede e della dottrina sociale cristiana"  [Politics, morality and original sin: the discourses of the US President Barak Obama at the University of Notre Dame and at the Islamic University Al-Azhar of Cairo can be usefully compared with elements of the faith and social doctrine of the Church.].

Mr. John Allen, the nearly ubiquitous former Rome correspondent for the ultra-lefty NCR posted a good precis and some comments in his Friday piece relevant to the article under Card. Cottier’s name.  If you don’t read Italian you might start with Allen’s piece.

Keep in mind: some in the Secretariat of State really wanted to have this meeting with President Obama. They too hope to promote "common ground".  The timing and content of this 30 Giorni article were tailored for Pres. Obama’s Rome visit.  Consider: it is not written by a current member of the papal household, but Card. Cottier was once a member.  30 Giorni is not a Vatican sanctioned publication, but it was sure to be picked up by the Catholic Press in the United States and it is very visible in Italy.  The article could be issued with effect, bearing as it does a noticeable name, appearing in a noticeable journal.  It can if necessary also be denied by the Holy See as representing the the Holy See’s interests.

There are a lot of claims in the Cottier article I could debate, but there is one central claim at issue between us.

The writer of Card. Cottier’s article argues that the Church should trust that President Obama is sincere in wanting to reduce the number of women seeking abortions, and that on this point the Church shares a “common ground” with the President.

But there is an abundance of convincing evidence that the President was insincere in his statement to this effect at Notre Dame.

I reject as naïve the idea that there can be “common ground” between Pres. Obama and the Catholic Church where abortion is concerned.

The writer of Card. Cottier’s article says (with my translation and my emphases), 

“C’è chi, come noi, considera l’aborto un intrinsece malum; ci sono quelli che lo accettano, e addirittura alcuni che lo rivendicano come un diritto. Il presidente non prende mai quest’ultima posizione. Al contrario, mi sembra che dia dei suggerimenti positivi – lo ha sottolineato anche L’Osservatore Romano del 19 maggio –, proponendo pure in questo caso la ricerca di un terreno comune.  [There are those who consider, as we do, abortion to be an intrinsece malum; there are those who accept that, and some – really – who claim it as a right.  The President never takes this last position.  On the contrary, it seems to me that he gives positive suggestions – which also the 19 May L’Osservatore Romano underscored – , proposing even in this case the search for common ground.]

Il terreno comune che lui propone è questo: lavorare tutti insieme per ridurre il numero delle donne che cercano di abortire. E aggiunge che ogni regolamentazione legale di questa materia deve garantire in maniera assoluta l’obiezione di coscienza per gli operatori sanitari che non vogliono dare la propria assistenza a pratiche abortive. Le sue parole vanno nella direzione di diminuire il male. Il governo e lo Stato devono fare di tutto affinché il numero di aborti sia il minore possibile. È certo soltanto un minimum, ma è un minimum prezioso.” [The common ground he proposes is this: to work everyone together to reduce the number of women who seek to abort.  And he adds that every legal regulation of this matter must guarantee in an absolte manner conscientious objection for health workers who do not want to give their own assistance to abortive practices. His words tend in the direction of diminishing the evil.  The government and the State must do everything so that the number of abortions be as small as possible There is certainly only a mininum, but it is a precious mininum.]

First of all, Card. Cottier is flat out wrong in stating that Obama does not support abortion as a right.

Claims such as this raise the suspicion that the writer of Card. Cottier’s article is either disingenuous or poorly informed.  This sort of statement makes the Vatican, by implication, seem amateurish.

Pres. Obama has frequently stated that he wants to defend the right of women to procure an abortion.

He campaigned on that position.  He made sure everyone understood his differences with his Republican opponent, John McCain, on the matter.

Pres. Obama’s position on abortion as a woman’s right is still proudly posted on his website. Let’s quote directly from Pres. Obama’s website:

“Support Reproductive Choice

“President Obama has been a consistent champion of reproductive choice and believes in preserving women’s rights under Roe v. Wade. At the same time, he respects those who disagree with him. The President believes we must all come together to help reduce unintended pregnancies and the need for abortion.”

So, let’s be clear.

Pres. Obama does in fact support the right to abortion.  Abortion is, in fact, "a need".

As for his stated goal to reduce the number of abortions, or, to put it another way, to reduce the number of women seeking abortion (which he also refers to as reducing the need [sic] for abortion), this claim too is a charade.

While Pres. Obama was – addiritura – being awarded an honorary doctor of laws degree from Notre Dame, his administration was – and still is – doing everything it can to extend access to abortion, not only to women in the US, but, by means of the UN, to women throughout the world.

It is either disingenuous or amateurish to take the President at his word on this promise without checking the facts.

The writer of this 30 Giorni piece could have asked more information from Archbishop Rino Fisichella, President of the Pontifical Academy for Life, who knows very well the Obama administration’s track record on the abortion issue. 

He could have checked with the Catholic Family and Human Rights Institute (www. c-fam.org) which does yeoman’s work at tracking and reporting how the abortion issue is dealt with at the UN. 

He could have asked Priests for Life, or even Tom Grenchik, the Executive Director of the Secretariat of Pro-Life Activities at the USCCB (see his informative posting, “Reducing Abortions by Promoting Abortions?).

He could have asked any one of the 80+ American bishops who publicly protested the decision by Notre Dame University to bestow and honor Pres. Obama.

But the voice you should really have heard, Your Eminence, is that of Pope Benedict XVI. 

During his address to the UN General Assembly on 18 April 2008, Pope Benedict warned that there would be dire consequences for humanity if the 1948 UN Declaration on Human Rights were to be amended in such a way as to recognize the addition of pseudo-rights, such as “women’s reproductive rights”, as fundamental human rights.

“The founding of the United Nations, we all know, coincided with earth-shaking upheavals that humanity suffered when the reference to the meaning of transcendence and natural reason was abandoned, and in consequence, freedom and human dignity were grossly violated. When this happens, it threatens the objective foundations of the values inspiring and governing the international order and it undermines the cogent and inviolable principles formulated and consolidated by the United Nations. In the face of new and insistent challenges, it would be a mistake to fall back on a pragmatic approach, limited to determining ‘common ground’, minimal in content and weak in its effect”.

“Common ground” and “pragmatism” can seem such positive, inviting concepts in political (or religious) discourse.

Yet, as Pope Benedict reminds us, these terms can also conceal morally destructive compromises, as those which the Church experienced prior to, during and after the Second World War, when it searched for ways to coooperate with totalitarian fascist States without compromising its own ethics. As a consequence, the Church did not always allow its opposition to the immoral policies of totalitarian regimes to take the form of explicit political opposition to these policies.

The Church today still lives with this memory that continues to taint its reputation as a result of those compromises.

Like his predecessor Servant of God John Paul II, Pope Benedict is determined not to repeat that history. For this reason, in his UN address Benedict raised the specter of that earlier tragedy as a premonition of the sort of consequences to come from the moral compromises that should be avoided in our times.

I believe that the Pope is signaling that it will be difficult, if not impossible, for the Catholic Church to collaborate with the UN if and when utilitarian ethics and anti-religious world views lead the organization to a complete repudiation of natural law ethics, as it is now headed.

As the author of Card. Cottier’s article admits, appeals to Pope Paul VI’s encyclical letter Ecclesiam Suam or to the Second Vatican Council’s decree Dignitatis Humanae must not be allowed to obscure the Catholic Church’s opposition to intrinsic moral evils such as abortion.

But neither should such appeals be allowed to provide cover for an American President determined to make the practice of abortion more, not less, available to women throughout the world.

_____________

UPDATE 6 July 1405 GMT:

The English version of the Cottier piece is available on the site of 30 Days.

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About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
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42 Responses to Fr. Z to Card. Cottier: Check your facts!

  1. Phil Atley says:

    Cannot Fr. Fessio or some other of Benedict’s former students get direct access to His Holiness and convince him that his liberal Catholic cossetting of Obama has got to stop? Religious liberty in the United States is threatened. Faithful bishops are going to face ultimatums from state and federal governments to acquiesce to homosexual adoptions, gay “marriage,” cooperation with abortion, taxpayer funded abortions etc. How can Vatican bureaucrats get away with pulling the rug out from under bishops in the US? Surely Benedict XVI can see where this is headed? I was given to understand that he had a more than passing acquaintance with American history and culture.

  2. Cole says:

    Who says Benedict XVI knew about this in advance? Byzantine (in the non-ritual meaning) maneuvers by Roman bureaucrats in the Church are as old as the curia itself, no?

    Cole

  3. mpm says:

    Fr. Z,

    I concur 100% with your analysis of the naivete of the analysis of the facts
    in this article. I find this article, and that by Mr. Vian of L’OR to be
    insultingly patronizing to orthodox Catholics in the U.S., almost as if we
    didn’t know how to read, and were just beginning to wake up the the idea of
    living in a pluralistic society.

    And, meanwhile in Honduras, the Won is backing the man who wants to overthrow
    the legitimate constitution of the country with assistance of Venezuela’s
    Chavez.

  4. Virgil says:

    The Vatican, or at least the Church here in Italy, is making a full-court press to welcome Obama, and the hope that he brings.

    See also Friday’s interview in Avvenire, the newspaper of the Italian Bishops. In the interview, Obama makes it clear that he wants to work WITH the Pope, and also gives a clear and generous invitation to the US Bishops to come to the Whitehouse and discuss their differences.

    http://www.avvenire.it/Mondo/intervista+obama_200907030654370600000.htm

    Also, on other subjects, BHO sounds almost like he’s quoting the Catechism.

    Frankly, either Obama is a very very clever liar, or he’s not only willing but very able to meet Catholic Social Teaching facia a facia.

    I’m not sure why so many in the US Church are so suspicious of him. In the Italian Church, at least the folks I know, think that he’s miles ahead of those US Presidents who came before him. IN the past, they were used to hearing platitudes of agreement, and no action. With Obama, they hear disagreement in some things, agreement in others, and a willingness to work together in all things.

  5. LCB says:

    Excellent work Fr. Z, but I think he was just reading L’Or, and has accept L’Or at face value.

  6. Fr. Z wrote:

    As for his stated goal to reduce the number of abortions, or, to put it another way, to reduce the number of women seeking abortion (which he also refers to as reducing the need [sic] for abortion), this claim too is a charade.

    This is very true.

    But I wonder: Has the President ever actually used the phrase “reduce the number of abortions”?

    I was struck by the fact that the chairwoman of one of Obama’s “gathering of diverse views” on abortion explained that “It is not our goal to reduce the number of abortions.” Rather, the goal is to “reduce the need for abortions.” (Full article here.)

    The difference, of course, is that many who want to “reduce the need for abortions” mean they want to prevent pregnancy, but then happily offer abortions to any woman who accidentally gets pregnant. Planned Parenthood happily signs on to this. It’s just like a dentist who wants to reduce the need for fillings. Notice that there is no disapproval of abortion per se in this, because the word “need” makes it clear that abortions are often “needed”.

    Whereas those who want to “reduce the number of abortions” are implicitly suggesting that there is something wrong with abortion. They may not yet be pro-life, but to the Planned Parenthood folks they are taking a major step away from pro-choice orthodoxy.

    It reminds me of a congressional hearing a few years ago, when the discussion turned to the “good reasons” and “bad reasons” for late-term abortions. The Planned Parenthood ambassador to Congress refused to be drawn into this terminology, stating that she would not agree that there was such a thing as a “bad reason” for an abortion.

  7. Michael says:

    I read the comments by various foreign Catholic dignitaries about Obama and it leaves me wondering if the Church has changed its teaching on the licitness of artificial birth control. Don’t they understand that when Obama speaks of reducing the number of abortions that he intends to achieve that goal by making artificial birth control ubiquitous not just in the U.S. but around the world? Are they so willfully blind that they do not see that?

  8. Mark VA says:

    The “objective foundations of the values inspiring and governing the international order” should explicitly recognize that a human being, with an inalienable right to life, exists from conception to natural death. This should be the common ground on which we can all meet.

    To abandon this true common ground and seek some other, is to implicitly agree that the humanity of the unborn is negotiable, and really depends on the circumstances of the parents’ life. By analogy, would we ever agree to a common ground where the freedom of a slave is subject to the life circumstances of the slave’s owner? Certainly not!

    It is unthinkable that the Pope will allow a dilution our Church’s commitment to the unborn human beings. But these shadowy articles that pose as quasi-official pronouncements of supposed “insiders” are becoming hard to bear on this side of the pond. They can be demoralizing.

  9. Rancher says:

    Duped–just like the majority of U S voters in the last presidential election. More intrigued with his style (??) than substance. A pity.

  10. Andreas says:

    Quae participatio iustitiae cum iniquitate?

  11. Jurek Budynek says:

    Remember that the editor of 30 Days is Giulio Andreotti who was prime minister of Italy for many, many years. He is a very ambiguous character in recent Italian history as witnessed by the recent film “Il Divo” (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Il_Divo_(film)).

  12. Phil Atley says:

    Virgil,

    Your comments are a good example of naivete regarding Obama. The meeting with Catholic press was with a handful of selected “Kmiec Catholics” editors who are already on his side. Only one of the eight was not. It was a photo-op and manipulation session. Each was permitted 1 question. His press conferences are all staged, the “average citizens” he hugs at “Town Hall” meetings are preselected campaign workers. This man does NOT want to work with the Catholic Church. He wants to split the Catholic Church and isolate those faithful to the Church on abortion, homosexuality etc. He can do this only because the Church is already badly split. But every vote in his entire career has been pro-abortion, not merely pro-choice. For Italian journalists to say he’s not in favor of a right to abortion and wants to reduce abortions (which as someone else has pointed out, he does NOT want to do, is simply ignorant.

    Nor does he follow Catholic social teaching. The “Stimulus” bill and the Cap and Trade environment bill represent a new level of non-legislation. Rather than appropriating money for specific items, these bills create unheard of pots of money for vaguely described “goals.” The money then is available for bureaucrats to divvy out. This is a power shift from legislature (power of the purse) to bureacratic/patronage rule heretofore unimaginable. It violates the principle of Subsidiarity to the nth degree. From citizen legislators the US has become a nation ruled by bureaucrats and the bureaucrat class, I can assure you, coming out of our universities, is pro-euthanasia, pro-gay activist, pro-abortion, pro-contraception, and anti-Catholic.

    The stage is set for those Catholic bishops and faithful who adhere to the Church’s teachings to be villified as relics of the past, not truly Catholic (the Kmiec Catholics will be used as authorities to declare that Catholics who oppose Obama’s social engineering are against Catholic social teaching).

    This war over “Catholic Social teaching” is dangerous. Catholic leftists keep insisting that Catholic Social teaching requires statism, that anyone opposing federal/bureaucratic rule by Experts doesn’t care about the poor etc.

    Catholic Social teaching does not prescribe which methods, which laws best achieve “care for the poor.” I am sick and tired of being told that anyone advocating free markets is a “brutal capitalist” and that only statism can solve social problems. I am sick and tired of Leftist Catholic lay people, professors and even some bishops insulting my intelligence by telling me that only left-of-center policies achieve the goals of Catholic Social teaching. Catholic Social teaching lays down basic principles but it does not specify specific policy.

    Obama is a statist. Period. How do you square subsidiarity with his level of statism?

  13. shoofoolatte says:

    This meeting between our president and Pope Benedict sounds very hopeful to me.

    Cultivating a society in which life is truly held sacred, from conception until natural death, will reduce the need for abortion, [You have already fallen into the trap. There is no “need”. Go back and read what I read, above.] as well as the number of abortions. President Obama understands this as well as the importance of listening. [You jest, perhaps.]

    I will be watching the chemistry between these 2 men very closely. [Oh?]

    P.S. I never knew that the NCR was considered “ultra Lefty”. It fits very closely to the way that I understand and live the Catholic Faith, and I consider myself pretty solidly Catholic. [Think about that.]

  14. Boko says:

    I’m proud to be an American, but I wonder if ostpolitik is now being aimed at us. That sounds like the least worst explanation. With all that entails. Leftists of a feather, I fear.

  15. Edward 2 says:

    Shoofoolatte: There are two NCR’s. The Legionaires’ very orthodox, loyal-to-the-Church National Catholic Register and the ultra-lefty National Catholic Reporter. Perhaps you read the former?

  16. Larry says:

    Back to normal I see. If a Cardinal writes an article that you don’t like you question if he even wrote the aritcle and emphasise his status as FORMER this or that. Yet if we get a missive from some old prlate you like then it is with great authority. Balderdash! [So… nothing really substantive to say about the content.] If Card. Cottier wants to write an article or give an interview then it is up to us to either read and understand or argue with his views. I recall several years ago when 30 Days was publishing all kinds of things that opposed US froeign policy. My College age children (at the time) were furious. I pointed out that these aricles mirrored the view in Europe. My kids were still furious. But it turned out that not only were the views accurate as to the view in Europe but also were deadly accurate as to the outcome. The campaign is over. We are faced with a President who if not pro abortion is most definitely pro choice (there is a difference if only slight). We have to deal with that and deal with it in a way that minimizes the damage. If we can only limit the number of abortions then we need to do so. [So… you bought into it. Okay.] Time may come for us to win the whole issue but that is not going to happen without a DIVINE INTERVENTION at the present time. Stop beating a dead horse. He said what he said at Notre Dame and it is with what he said that we must deal. [You must be joking.] Wars have been settled by careful understanding of precise words.
    Lower the tone of your rhetoric and we may indeed find a way to save some lives. Or is it your goal to save the whole lot or nobody? Yes Mr. Obama has said and done many things in the past and he will move foreward to allow more access to abortion. If he also promotes programs to discourage the exercise of that access I believe we can work on that area. Remember most of the ways to limit abortion are to improve conditions for prospective mothers and families. That is fundamental to Catholic social teaching and if we don’t provide that guidance it is the state that will and that most definitely will not be Catholic. I am reasonably certain that if I weere a baby in the womb of a mother contempalting abortion I would want the people screaming at her to also show her directly how to avoid this very horrible end of my short life. THINK BEFORE YOU CONDEMN! [Good job. You have given us a good example, here.]

  17. Edward says:

    Virgil –

    I am dumbfounded at your level of naivete. Obama represents everything that is evil in this world. [No, he doesn’t. Not yet, at least. This was an exaggeration.] And that includes his destructive and statist social policies that are going to do absolutely nothing to improve the lives of anybody. His social policies do not in any sense represent Catholic social teaching.

    To any person with half a brain, Obama brings anything but hope. On the contrary, to an average middle class family man such as myself, he brings with him a future of economic misery and government dependency.

  18. LCB says:

    Shoo,

    You write, “will reduce the need for abortion”

    I do not concede the point. There is never a need for abortion. This is like saying “reduce the need for senseless murder.”

    How can the need for something be reduced when there is no need at all?

  19. Rancher says:

    Shoofoolatte
    Obama does NOT understand nor support reducing abortions. And if you have spent any time objectively observing him he IS NOT agood listener.

  20. Larry says:

    No I did not “buy into it”. Diplomacy is a delicate matter. People say things. We hear them then we respond based not so much on what they have said but upon which what we wanted to hear of what they said. We are dealing with a politcal situation. Not a situation in which we can say you can say do what we say or else! That statement in this case belongs only to God. I do not condemn you but I think that it serves no purpose to pour hot oil on an issue that Pope Benedict has the right, power, and authority to speak, and we have the duty and obligation to obey his leadership because that is what GOD gave him the authority to do. We may think the Holy Spirit is guiding us; we know He is guiding him.

  21. Larry says:

    DEar LCB I admire your feelings. As a father and Grandfather I am aware of situations in which abortion could be a real consideration were I not Catholic and understand the full meaning of this terrible crime. I am in no way able to judge how some women and even men faced with horrific problems decide on the terrible choice. Don’t get me wrong I fully support the Church’s teaching on this issue and am a strong Pro LIfe advocate. But I am a Catholic schooled long before the minimalist BS taught in Catholic schools and universities over the last 30 years. When we have done our job of Re-evangelising as mandated by Popes John Paul II and Benedict XVI we will succeed in steming the number of abortions and of helping those who are faced with the crisis that push some to choose this unspeakable means of murder. Pray that we do our job so that people who have never heard the Truth hear it and act accordingly.

  22. Steve says:

    Virgil, Shoo & Larry at best represent the Neville Chamberlains of Catholicism in that they believe evil (the current president) is willing to negotiate in good faith. It is quite possible the three of them are willing to defend the cover of ‘negotiating’ because they actually believe in the evil this president represents but aren’t willing to publicly admit it.

  23. Larry says:

    Steve you ignorat beyond discription. [I think you meant “ignorant beyond description”. And with that comment, I will now BAN YOU. Bye!] Chamberlain offered to let Hitler have what he wanted. I make no such representation. My point is that we are dealing with words and lives, the lives of unborn babies in the womb. We are not engaged in a shooting war with anyone unless you support the moron who murdered the abortion doctor; in which case you outside the Catholic argument entirely. For you to propose that I or anyone else is a secret supporter of abortion is a cowardly act and very likely a serious sin. If you know a better way to negotiate the release of the hostage babies please tell us. [Babies are not hostages.] And please don’t waste our time with your ratning and raving about who is evil. I think we have a pretty clear idea and it serves only your ego to go on and perhaps infuriate those who may be inclined to move in a more positive direction. Remember our adversaries here have the courts and doctors and the knives; we have prayer and the Gospel.
    Let’s use our tools and save as many babies as we can, even if we can’t save all.

  24. EDG says:

    “I believe that the Pope is signaling that it will be difficult, if not impossible, for the Catholic Church to collaborate with the UN if and when utilitarian ethics and anti-religious world views lead the organization to a complete repudiation of natural law ethics, as it is now headed.”

    The specific issue of abortion is obviously the clearest conflict with Church teachings, but I think abortion itself is expressive of a statist, utilitarian concept of the human being. Hence the “need” for abortion. But whose “need” does it meet? That of the state, of course, since the human being is simply a work unit of the state and has value only as that; if the state feels it has too many work units, or that the pregnancy might take time away from another work unit, or even that the pregnancy might not result in a fully functional work unit, it has a “need” to make sure that this work unit doesn’t get born.

    Everything for Obama and others of his ilk is governed by what is good for the state (which they now refer to as the “common good”); laws are made on that basis and natural law is irrelevant. But it goes beyond the individual state and now refers to a concept of a giant, multi-national hive-like uberstate. As we saw this weekend when the UN tried to force tiny Honduras to override its laws and take back an elected official who had been removed and expelled for violating the country’s laws, not even the just laws of an individual nation have any chance against this master state. And that’s what I think Obama wants to impose. (BTW, I thought that cover photo on 30 Giorni was creepy.)

  25. ALL:

    The English version of the Cottier piece is available on the site of 30 Days.

  26. Brian Mershon says:

    Correct me if I’m wrong, but wasn’t Cardinal Cottier Pope John Paul’s primary theologian? Wow! Things really are off the rails–even more than I had originally thought for the past 10 years.

  27. I am not Spartacus says:

    Kudos, Fr. Z. You hit every point dead on. I keep waiting for some sign from the Pope that The Catholic Church is facing, in Obama, one of its deadliest enemies in a long long time.

    It seems that no matter who I read, I keep seeing him depicted as a reasonable man, willing to dialogue etc etc etc.

    You are one of the few who are not being mislead by this charismatic politician and I attribute the accuracy of your perceptive powers to the fact you are a Priest whose heart, intellect, and soul is so anchored in what we now call the EF Mass.

    The N.O. has caused a dangerous deterioration in Catholic Identity and caused far too many Catholics to become secularised and Barack has arrived at out weakest moment.

  28. I am not Spartacus says:

    Obama’s syrupy rhetoric shrouds his sulphurous policies.

  29. Brian Mershon: Correct me if I’m wrong, but wasn’t Cardinal Cottier Pope John Paul’s primary theologian? Wow! Things really are off the rails–even more than I had originally thought for the past 10 years.

    Okay, you are wrong. o{];¬)

    Pope John Paul II was Pope John Paul II’s primary theologian.

    Card. Cottier was the theologian of the Pope’s household.  That means that the Pope could consult with him on theological questions.  Cottier did not set the theological agenda for the Holy Father.  It was the other way around.

    Frankly, I think every bishop (and pastors of very large parishes) should have a tame theologian nearby to help them stay up to date and offer points of view on burning questions, etc.    They can scan publications or do some research and writing for the shepherd in question while he is in the midst of everything else he must do.   This doesn’t take away the shepherd’s obligation also to do his own work of theological reflection – in the context also of prayer.  But it could be immensely helpful.

  30. RBrown says:

    Correct me if I’m wrong, but wasn’t Cardinal Cottier Pope John Paul’s primary theologian? Wow! Things really are off the rails—even more than I had originally thought for the past 10 years.
    Comment by Brian Mershon

    Fr Z has it right.

    The influence of the papal theologian varies with the pope and with the theologian. At the very least, his job is to check all papal speeches. I think he also has a seat on the Int’l Theologian Commission. In truth Fr Cottier never had much influence in the papacy of JPII–or in the Dominicans themselves.

    Fr Giertych is a different breed.

  31. RBrown says:

    Should be Int’l Theological Commission

  32. Brian Mershon says:

    “Card. Cottier was the theologian of the Pope’s household.”

    OK. I stand corrected. Here is the OFFICIAL title then. I feel so much better now… so much different than “the pope’s primary theologian.”

    I’m certain everyone else reading does too. Cardinal Cottier was “the theologian of the Pope’s household.”

    He is the theologian whom Pope John Paul II turned to in order to “bounce things/ideas” off of him. I can see how the influence of the non-Thomistic “establishing common ground” approach to dealing with enemies of the Faith is alive and well in this 30 Days article. I’m certain that the Obamaites will use it for its full worth against the U.S. bishops.

    L’Osservatore Romano and 30 Days. With friends like this…

  33. Mr. H. says:

    I am continually amazed at how many people form their judgments about President Obama based on his speeches as opposed to his actions and words.

    Mr. H
    http://www.allhands-ondeck.blogspot.com/

  34. Mr. H. says:

    Correction: The last word of my previous post should have been “record.”

    Corrected text:

    I am continually amazed at how many people form their judgments about President Obama based on his speeches as opposed to his actions and record.

    Mr. H
    http://www.allhands-ondeck.blogspot.com/

  35. RBrown says:

    He is the theologian whom Pope John Paul II turned to in order to “bounce things/ideas” off of him.

    Incorrect.

    I can see how the influence of the non-Thomistic “establishing common ground” approach to dealing with enemies of the Faith is alive and well in this 30 Days article. I’m certain that the Obamaites will use it for its full worth against the U.S. bishops.
    Comment by Brian Mershon

    Let’s try this again:

    The Theologian of the Papal Household (Master of the Sacred Palace) is responsible for checking speeches, homilies, etc., for theological problems. He will also get a read of any Papal document although not necessarily having any part in its writing.

    Popes usually have a circle of theological advisers, some in Rome, some not. The TPH might or might not be in that circle. Fr Cottier was NOT.

  36. Father Z said: ” The writer of this 30 Giorni piece could have asked more information from Archbishop Rino Fisichella, President of the Pontifical Academy for Life, who knows very well the Obama administration’s track record on the abortion issue.”

    But Father! But Father! Archbishop Fisichella also seems to have stuck his foot in it in Brazil with a tragic abortion case there, even going so far as to publicly rebuke the local archbishop for having excomunicated the doctors who performed an abortion on a nine year old girl. The doctors in question had even bragged about the number of abortions they had done.

    A prominent theologian of the Pontifical Academy for Life has written a public rebuke of Archbishop Fisichella’s statement respecting the consciences of the doctors.

    This all seems particularly disconcerting in that Archbishop Fisichella seems to be looked upon favourably by the Pope and is regarded as an up and comer.

    As well, he is friendly to the EF having only recently celebrated Pontifical Mass in the EF in Rome for the Institute of Christ The King.

  37. Brian Mershon says:

    RBrown, the redactor… {sigh}

    OK. Let’s try this again… Hey, RBrown, do you happen to see any disconnect between Fr. Cottier’s role under Pope John Paul II and the excessive “ecumenical” outreaches and the scandals of the two Assisis?

    Something about “birds of a feather” and the association of whom one hangs out with. According to you, the papal theologian does very little. Really? I happen to remember reading a good deal about what that papal theologian wrote.

    Obvious hints at religious indifferentism at best–scandalous at worst–at least for pious ears (readers).

  38. Prescott says:

    Larry above really did put his finger on the underlying issue here: “If a Cardinal writes an article that you don’t like you question if he even wrote the aritcle and emphasise his status as FORMER this or that. Yet if we get a missive from some old prlate you like then it is with great authority. Balderdash!”

  39. Mark VA says:

    Brian Mershon:

    The link below is to an interview with Father Wojciech Giertych, the current theologian of the papal household. In this interview he explains his duties, with a bit of humor, may I add. If you have ten minutes or so, this interview sheds light on this sometimes esoteric position:

    http://blip.tv/file/2044332

  40. taad says:

    Did Obama say he didn’t want his daughters punished by having to carry a baby
    to full term if they had an unwanted pregnancy? A human being is a punishment?

  41. observer says:

    They certainly don’t see (through their rose colored glasses) the deliberately insidious and evil manipulations as in this so-called compromise:

    Sebelius: Obama Backs Abortion Conscience-Clause Laws But Wants to Rescind Regulation Enforcing Them

    http://www.cnsnews.com/public/content/article.aspx?RsrcID=50608

  42. RBrown says:

    OK. Let’s try this again… Hey, RBrown, do you happen to see any disconnect between Fr. Cottier’s role under Pope John Paul II and the excessive “ecumenical” outreaches and the scandals of the two Assisis?

    The first Assisi was in 1986. Georges Cottier wasn’t named Theologian of the Pontifical Household (Master of the Sacred Palace) until 1990.

    I’m not defending Cardinal Cottier but just saying that he had very little to do with the policies of the JPII papacy.

    Something about “birds of a feather” and the association of whom one hangs out with. According to you, the papal theologian
    does very little.

    I never said that he does little. I said his influence varies with the popes. In fact, since the election of Paul VI I don’t think any Dominican has been among any pope’s primary theological advisers.

    Really? I happen to remember reading a good deal about what that papal theologian wrote.

    He wrote nothing as papal theologian.

    A priest doesn’t need a position in the Vatican to publish books and articles.

    Once again: The influence of the papal theologian varies depending on the pope. PXII used Garrigou LaGrange a lot, but G-L was not the TPH. In fact, he turned down the position.

    Obvious hints at religious indifferentism at best—scandalous at worst—at least for pious ears (readers).
    Comment by Brian Mershon

    Once again, I’m not defending Cottier.