Who are the “fideles” of McBrien’s “sensus fidelium”?

There they go again.  

Aged McBrien, Richard, is defending the abortion performed at the Catholic hospital in Phoenix and rejecting the Church’s position about abortion as an evil meriting excommunication.

First, I would remind McBrien that Bp. Olstead did not excommunicate Sr. Margaret Mary McBride (without whose approval the direct abortion could not have taken place).  My understanding is that Bp. Olstead affirmed that sister president’s excommunication took place by the fact that she did what she did.  Had Bp. Olstead wanted to issue a formal statement, he, a canonist, would have made it clear that that is what he was doing.  Read this.

But wait!  There’s more!

McBrien exalts the opinion of Charles Curran to defend sister president’s action.   But the amusing dimension of it comes from his reference to the sensus fidelium as a force or dimension of the Church which (to McBrien’s mind) trumps or changes the Church’s teachings and laws.

"In my judgment," Curran concludes, "the strong reaction by many Catholics to the action taken by the Bishop of Phoenix could well indicate the sensus fidelium ["sense of the faithful"]. At the very minimum … the church should study again the history and reasons proposed in this case.

"It is clear that many theologians and some bishops have come to the conclusion that an abortion to save the life of the mother is a morally good act."

That is "clear"?  Who are these bishops?  Names please?  May we have a list?

Sensus fidelium?

Sensus fidelium is not cobbled up at the water cooler of NCR and LCWR or the Theology Department of Notre Shame, or at Charles Curran’s office at Southern Methodist University.

Who are the "fideles" of their sensus fidelium?

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47 Responses to Who are the “fideles” of McBrien’s “sensus fidelium”?

  1. Igne says:

    I can’t imagine that Richard McBrien would get any support for this at the Theology Department in Notre Dame. Just so you know.

  2. medievalist says:

    Careful Father…I’m not sure that Fr McBrien and NCR would even recognise fideles as simply another declension of fidelium. You see, such terms just aren’t in a very accessible language.

  3. Widukind says:

    While McBrien and company want to fiddle with the sense of right and wrong, I for one do not want to be counted as one in his fiddled census, For if the sensum fidelium is a gift of the Holy Spirit, the faithful census will hold then to only what is true.
    I vote for the Church. I am a sensus fidelius, not a sensless fiddle. So McBrien etal., don’t count me in as one of yours.

  4. stgemma_0411 says:

    Wow….Morally good act? An intrinsically evil act is now deemed good? I mean, I understand the Principle of Double Effect, but that still doesn’t render the act to be anything but intrinsically evil. Someone needs to gag this guy quick, fast, and in a hurry.

  5. Leonius says:

    This faithful has the sense that Curran should be excommunicated as well for encouraging schism and harming he unity of the Church.

  6. Arieh says:

    Fr. John A. Hardon, S.J. In The Catholic Catechism:

    “Those who believe, and insofar as they believe, are one community not only or mainly because they subjectively believe but because what they believe is objectively true, indeed is the Truth that became man and dwelled among us. Against this background, it is easier to see what universal agreement among the faithful must mean. They are faithful insofar as they are agreed on the truth, where the source of their agreement is not a semantic use of the name ‘Christian’ or ‘Catholic,’ but the deeply interior adherence to what God has revealed.

    Consequently, whether they realize it or not, all who agree on the revealed truth, under the guidance of the sacred magisterium, belong to the faithful. Their agreement on the truth and allegiance to the magisterium gives them universality, i.e., spiritual unity. The truth interiorly possessed gives them consensus, and not the other way around, as though their consensus on some doctrine made it true.” (pp. 226-227).

  7. Thomas in MD says:

    They are so far outside of the Church. It is so sad.

  8. Athelstan says:

    Sensus Fidelium is a nice Latin phrase which gives the appearance of ancient imprimatur to a theological position – but actually comes from Lumen Gentium 12, where it is used in the context of the entire body of the Church “from the Bishops down to the last of the lay faithful”. In reality it seems hard to reduce it to anything more than “it’s right because a lot of us think it is.” No other standard is provided.

    Well, at Mt. Sinai, the sensus fidelium arguably was that golden calves were imminently suitable objects of worship.

  9. Athelstan says:

    TO clarify my last: my gloss is aimed at McBrien and Curran, not Lumen Gentium. Because Lumen Gentium speaks quite clearly of the unanimity of the entire body of the Church, not a majority at a CTA convention or the comboxes of NCR.

  10. dmwallace says:

    I just completed writing my Master’s thesis on the sensus fidei. I could write a lot in response to Fr. McBrien’s nonsense. I will, however, limit myself to some concluding remarks:

    Congar wrote, “Too much must not be attributed to the sensus fidelium, not only in
    view of the hierarchy’s prerogatives…but in itself. History tells us of widespread failures of faith in the Christian people: in the East of the seventh century in face of Islam, in England and in Scandinavian countries in face of the Protestant Reformation, in unhealthy
    enthusiasms here and superstitious devotions there.” [37] The body of the faithful is infallible in its possession of the faith not in a particular act or judgment. Infallible judgments pertain only to the Petrine office and the body of bishops united to the bishop of Rome. [38] As Lumen gentium teaches, the sensus fidei “is exercised under the guidance of the sacred teaching authority.” [39] Opinions of the faithful cannot be completely identified with the sensus fidei. “Not all the ideas which circulate among the People of God are compatible with the faith. This is all the more so given that people can be swayed by a public opinion influenced by modern communications media. Not without reason did the Second Vatican Council emphasize the indissoluble bond between the ‘sensus fidei’ and the guidance of God’s People by the magisterium of the Pastors.” [40]

    Why then consult the sensus fidelium? Because it is a monumentum Traditionis. Tradition becomes visible through the witness of the laity. In truth, when consulting the laity, one sees either the Tradition of the apostles handed down from Christ or the results of what happens to society when that Tradition is ignored. It is “[d]issent [which] sometimes also appeals to a kind of sociological argumentation which holds that the opinion of a large number of Christians would be a direct and adequate expression of the ‘supernatural sense of the faith.’” [41] In recent years, one need only look to those Christians who have embraced contraception as a normative practice in their lives. Though a majority of Catholics reject the magisterium’s teaching against the use of artificial birth control, we may appropriate the words of St. Paul: “where sin increased, grace abounded all the more” (Rom 5:20). Though many have embraced a sensus infidelis, the prophetic words of Paul VI in Humanae vitae have become a “sign of contradiction” to the world: increased marital infidelity, a general lowering of moral standards, the degradation of woman and misogyny, and an unhealthy unbalance of power given to the State have all arisen from a rejection of the Church’s moral teaching. [42] As the laity were faithful amidst the trials of the Arian crisis, they were unfaithful during times of laxity. Despite the infidelity of many, the promise of Christ remains with the Church; she is infallible in docendo and in credendo, for she is always obedient in listening to her Spouse and faithfully answering the question: “Who do you say that I am?”

    37. Congar, Lay People in the Church, 275.
    38. LG 25
    39. LG 12
    40. Instruction on the Ecclesial Vocation of the Theologian, “Donum veritatis” (Congregation
    for Divine Worship, 24 May 1990), n. 35.
    41. Ibid.
    42. Paul VI, Humanae vitae, no. 6.

  11. Dear Fr. Zuhlsdorf,

    Of course, Fr. McBrien’s position is most charitably described as wrong, and of course, his argumentation (such as it is) is rather wanting in, ahem, anatomy.

    I am glad you bring this silliness (again, an attempt to be charitable) to the attention of the readership.

    Why the parting dig at ND?

    There are a great many excellent people at ND, a place that remains an excellent Catholic university that is struggling with and against the worst angels of our culture.

    Even if ND were not as I have described it, I would still demand (in the French sense) of your continued employment of the “Notre Shame” appellation: Quid boni?

    Best,
    C.

    [Why indeed? Hmmm.... ]

    Notre Shame

  12. Mrs. O says:

    How do you say nonsense of the faithless in Latin?
    That sums it up.

  13. The only defense a dissenter really has: quoting other dissenters.

  14. Dear Mrs. O,

    I would say flatus infidelium. Flatus, us 4m is “wind”.

    The full expression is flatus vocis, literally, “wind of the voice” where “wind” is understood to be of a kind that boy-children find intensely amusing.

    Best,
    C.

  15. JohnMa says:

    Can anyone explain to me why Rome hasn’t taken action against McBrien yet. Yesterday he was spewing nonsense in the Washington Post about how Catholic University should give awards to those that support abortion. He makes these nonsense statements on a daily basis and has yet to be told to knock it off.

  16. Andy Milam says:

    JohnMa,

    Because McBrien’s actions are not the responsibility of the Holy See. It is the responsibility of his Ordinary. In case you’re not aware, he is from the Archdiocese of Hartford. If you are, then it is a reminder for those who are not. His Ordinary is Archbishop Henry J. Mansell. It would be at the discretion of Archbishop Mansell to censure him.

    While it seems clear that Archbishop Mansell is doing nothing to thwart the ludicrous actions of Fr. McBrien, it is still his job to reign in his priests. If, however, one would feel compelled, one could take it to a higher court and see what would come of it.

    The major issue is this though, even though he could be silenced, he could still talk. He just couldn’t do it comporting himself as a Catholic priest in good standing. And it would follow that he would continue to do that, regardless.

    Sad really…

  17. KAS says:

    O’Brian’s version of the Sensus fidelium doesn’t include me….that is what I think.

  18. lmgilbert says:

    “I hear that there are divisions among you; and I partly believe it, for there must be factions among you in order that those who are genuine among you may be recognized.” I Cor 11:18

    So it is useful to have a spokesman, “senza fiducia”, for the “sensus infidelium.” Let as many as wish rally to his flag. It gives great clarity to our situation.

    Still, “Aged McBrien”? One could write of “Aged Ratzinger,” or “Aged Alice von Hildebrand,” too. We are all aging- as I pointed out to my shocked fifth graders a few year ago-and at the same rapid rate. At New Melleray Fr Daniel my 103 yr old priest friend, still very sharp and industrious, doesn’t seem to know that he is aged, still concelebrates with his Cistercian confreres every day, still says another Mass every day for the men in the infirmary, still gives wise counsel by phone and mail (At least all this was true last year at this time, and we’re going to see him again in a few weeks and verify)

    So let’s say a prayer for Fr. McBrien that he come to his senses and do some good in the time left to him…which may be considerable.

  19. robtbrown says:

    The only defense a dissenter really has: quoting other dissenters.
    Comment by Cathy_of_Alex

    Excellent point. Fr McBrien likes to use the 15-year-old-girl excuse: Everybody is doing it!

    It would be interesting to speak with him privately about articles of faith. My guess is that he would hedge on every one of them.

  20. catholicmidwest says:

    Well, I see in this article a whole bunch of people that ought to be excommunicated for endorsing the act of abortion, starting with the woman, her boyfriend/father/pimp or whoever wrote the check, the doctor and the nurse(s). Then of course, also the hospital/clinic board for dereliction of duty, the bishop whose diocese this concentration camp is in BECAUSE he didn’t do anything about it, Sr. Margaret Mary McBride for accessory to murder and betrayal of her vows, and McBrien and Curran because they hate the church and betray her every chance they get.

    I say toss em all. It might do them good, and if they’re unsalvageable, which at this late date is a possibility for several of them, then it sure won’t hurt the rest of the Body of Christ to see something rational and sensible to happen. FOR ONCE!

  21. catholicmidwest says:

    Seriously, there are many Catholics who have ceased to believe most of what the Church says because the Church itself acts like it doesn’t believe any of it. This is one of the key reasons why people leave.

    When the Church starts acting like what it says is the truth, AND starts acting like what it does matters, and reinforces that with acts of reverence and decency, THEN the flood of people leaving for that reason will start to dry right up. You want evangelism? There’s evangelism of the real kind.

  22. Athelstan says:

    Hello dmwallace,

    Congar wrote, “Too much must not be attributed to the sensus fidelium, not only in view of the hierarchy’s prerogatives…but in itself. History tells us of widespread failures of faith in the Christian people: in the East of the seventh century in face of Islam, in England and in Scandinavian countries in face of the Protestant Reformation, in unhealthy enthusiasms here and superstitious devotions there.” Congar makes an excellent point – I am glad you brought that up. In the early and mid 4th century there were entire dioceses where you could have gotten overwhelming super majorities for Arianism – including the bishop and most of the clergy.

    It is long past time when Fr. McBrien should have had his faculties to teach as a Catholic theologian removed (as were Curran’s). His current and past ordinaries have likely been afraid that Notre Dame would formally separate itself from the Church if they forced the issue. They might be right, but I still would have done it. The scandal is too grave to allow it to continue.

  23. robtbrown says:

    It is long past time when Fr. McBrien should have had his faculties to teach as a Catholic theologian removed (as were Curran’s). His current and past ordinaries have likely been afraid that Notre Dame would formally separate itself from the Church if they forced the issue. They might be right, but I still would have done it. The scandal is too grave to allow it to continue.
    Comment by Athelstan

    The cases of McBrien and Curran are not the same.

    Fr Curran was teaching in a Pontifical faculty at CU. Fr McBrien was not.

  24. Dear Fr. Zuhlsdorf,

    Do you really think that graduates of Notre Dame ought to be ashamed of their degrees, of their participation in the life of the university? Do you really think that we Catholics ought to be ashamed of Notre Dame – the whole institution – do you really believe that the unpleasantness in May 2009 destroyed utterly and irreparably the character of the entire university?

    I am asking, because that is what calling it “Notre Shame” means.

    With regard to the ramifications of the response of some Catholics to POTUS at ND:

    POTUS came and gave his crappy speech, and Fr. Jenkins gave his silly stalker talk, and that guy no one remembers said some stuff in place of Ambassador Glendon, and everyone went home, and the world went right on turning.

    It happened, and whatever side you were on, a few things are certain: there was an enormous amount of absolutely unneccessary acrimony, a great deal of ill-will created, fostered, encouraged, reinforced; most importantly, there was an incalculable political capital burned – capital that could have been spent to defeat the monstrous elements in the “health care” reform that recently passed.

    Instead, certain elements (tragically, many of them were the elements that regularly line up on the right side of matters doctrinal and liturgical) made the issue one of “us vs. them” when the “us” stood for “we, who oppose the President’s presence at ND for graduation and his receipt of a doctorate honoris causa” and the “them” were those who neither participated in, nor approved of their reaction to ND’s unfortunate decision.

    The only problem was that people – like me – who hate abortion as they hate hell, and were appalled at POTUS’ positions and policy agenda in at least as far as abortion is concerned, but who questioned the prudence of the more exercised response to ND’s unfortunate decision not to forget their tradition of inviting newly-elected presidents, were decried by their interlocutors (erstwhile fellows in struggles doctrinal and liturgical) as softies, wafflers, and even crypto-abortisti. At the same time, their vitriol gave the McBriens and Chittisters of the world plenty of fodder, on which they were happy to gorge and purge.

    The result of this was that the President’s team – the real enemies of life and true religion – saw the Church and especially the bishops as a divided force, one they could afford not to take too seriously in the health care debate.

    Best,

    C.

  25. Henry Edwards says:

    Do you really think that we Catholics ought to be ashamed of Notre Dame – the whole institution – do you really believe that the unpleasantness in May 2009 destroyed utterly and irreparably the character of the entire university?

    Straw man. As you probably know, the shame of Notre Dame — and the reason so many of her finest are saddened by that shame — goes way back. In case you are not familiar with this, there is an excellent book detailing ND’s decline as a Catholic institution, written by one of the University’s most eminent and best-loved professors:

    Charles E. Rice
    What Happened to Notre Dame?

  26. Andy Milam says:

    Chris,

    I don’t mean to enter into a conversation that you and Fr. Z are having [We really aren't.] in an uncharitable way, but not everyone went home. Several, including a US Amabassador were arrested.

    You ask if the unpleasantness destroyed the character of the University? No. The approval and acceptance of a KNOWN supporter of abortion (which is directly contrary to the moral teaching of the Catholic Church) destroyed said character.

    If you believe that the health care bill could have been ultimately defeated by re-focusing those particular energies, you’re mistaken. The energies were not wasted. And had I set foot on ND’s campus, which I will never do, until they formally renounce the degree given to the Pro-Abort POTUS, I would have been right next to the protestors. In retrospect, I disagree that there was much political capital burned, at least from the Republican side. There has been much more burned by POTUS and it is showing.

    The issue is us v. them. It certainly is. Regardless of how you view it, the us are faithful Catholics; the them are those who supported Notre Dame’s position of giving the degree to POTUS.

    By Notre Dame cow-towing to the likes of and including the McBrien’s and the Chittisers of the world; they were given a shot of hope that the Humanae Vitae obsession might be given new legs. This has given them even more fodder, as Fr. Z is showing.

    We can’t simply sit back and take this, we must sit back and we must protest Notre Dame. The institution is a sham with regard to Catholicism. Sure, there might be orthodox Catholics who attend the University, but then again, there are orthodox Catholics who attend Yale. At this point, what’s the difference?

    Thanks for listening…

    Andy

  27. Andy Milam says:

    Apologies…..

    …we must NOT sit back and we must protest Notre Dame.

    I hit the wrong button.

  28. Athelstan says:

    Hello robtbrown,

    That is true. CUA is unique in this respect.

    However, the bishop could refuse to give McBrien a mandatum. The university could choose to ignore that and still employ him. But it would be on their head.

    The CDF could also have been more aggressive in making formal investigations of his work. The ordinary could suspend his priestly faculties. There are canonical processes involved with any of these steps; but they are not even explored.

  29. robtbrown says:

    Still, “Aged McBrien”? One could write of “Aged Ratzinger,” or “Aged Alice von Hildebrand,” too. We are all aging- as I pointed out to my shocked fifth graders a few year ago-and at the same rapid rate.
    Comment by lmgilbert

    Perhaps his point is that what Fr McBrien spews is outdated, whereas Truth transcends time and place. And so loyal Catholics are inclined to Beauty ever ancient ever new.

  30. Dear Henry Edwards,

    Mine is not a straw man: Fr. Zuhlsdorf attributed the sobriquet to ND after, and in response to, the May unpleasantness in 2009. So, my question is whether it is an adequate (in the strict, etymological sense) response.

    Yours, however, is a petitio principii: you take the “ND is corrupt” thesis for granted, even though what is at issue is whether ND is utterly and irremediably corrupt.

    I respect Professor Rice very much. I greatly admire his work. I do not think that What Happened to Notre Dame? proves (or even wants to prove, despite its provocative jacketing and the essays prefatory and introductory) that ND is beyond recovery.

    It seems to me to be written by a professor who loves ND very much, and would not see the currently surging forces of radical secularism permanently achieve the high ground, and therefore the upper hand, in the ongoing debate.

    Said simply: with his book, Prof. Rice is in the fight, and taking big licks, while you are citing his book as though it were the final address of a defeated general to his corps.

    Let it be clear: when I say that ND is not beyond redemption, I do not mean to say I think everything at ND is hunkey-dorey.

    Best,

    C.

  31. Dear Andy Milam,

    Please, no need to apologize to me.

    I, like you, am just a guy in a combox, grateful to Fr. Zuhlsdorf for providing this space.

    In response to the substance of your comments, I would only say that you ought to be careful: you write, “You ask if the unpleasantness destroyed the character of the University? No. The approval and acceptance of a KNOWN supporter of abortion (which is directly contrary to the moral teaching of the Catholic Church) destroyed said character.” This is a straw man. The “unpleasantness” to which I refered was precisely that unpleasantness.

    It is circumlocution, and it is well known: when the US government wrote to foreign powers that had encroached on American spaces during the years 1861-1865, the letter read, “The late unpleasantness on these shores has kept us from enforcing the Monroe Doctrine, which is still US policy.” If Seward can describe the Civil War as “the late unpleasantness” then I can thus safely describe the May, 2009 doings at Notre Dame.

    Also, I do not say that we ought to “sit back and take” anything, nor do I ever suggest – because I do not think – that we can afford not to “protest” ND.

    I doubt the usefulness, and, frankly, the justice of Fr. Zuhlsdorf’s sobriquet.

    I do not say this lightly: I think Fr. Zuhlsdorf’s blog is an important element in the “good fight” that we are all waging together; I am grateful to him for his work, and I would not see its effectiveness diminished.

    Finally, a question for you: if it is “Us vs. Them” in the way you say it is, i.e. that the “us” are faithful Catholics and the “them” are supporters of Notre Dame’s position of giving the degree to POTUS, then how do you explain someone like me, who hates abortion and the president’s policies and agenda regarding abortion, but who also thinks the expressions of outrage did more harm than good?

    Best,
    C.

  32. Dear robtbrown,

    I wonder whether CDF is not concerned about causeing something like what we might call a “Kung effect” with McBrien?

    Best,
    C.

  33. Jerry says:

    “Fr. Zuhlsdorf attributed the sobriquet to ND after, and in response to, the May unpleasantness in 2009″

    I can’t speak as to when Fr. Z began using the term “Notre Shame”, but I recall hearing the name applied to Notre Dame as early as the late 1970s. Clearly, Notre Dame’s reputation is based on far more than a single incident.

    “you take the “ND is corrupt” thesis for granted, even though what is at issue is whether ND is utterly and irremediably corrupt.”

    I don’t recall anyone charging that ND is “utterly and irremediably” corrupt, nor could anyone do so without denying the power of the Holy Spirit. In fact, you appear to be the only one referring to the corruption as absolute and permanent. Thus, I concur with Mr. Edwards that this is your strawman.

    “There are a great many excellent people at ND, a place that remains an excellent Catholic university that is struggling with and against the worst angels of our culture.”

    I don’t doubt there are some excellent and orthodox faculty at Notre Dame — I’m sure the late Dr. Ralph McInerny wouldn’t have remained had he been the only one — the university as a whole has not been considered excellent, at least from a Catholic perspective, for at least 40 years (I draw the line there because it’s as far back as I can remember).

  34. Dear Jerry,

    I do not know when the term was coined.

    Fr. Zuhlsdorf began employing it in earnest during the 2008-2009 polemic over ND’s invitation of the President to commencement exercises and the university’s award of an honorary Doctor of Laws.

    I am also well aware of the role ND has played in the weakening of Catholic identity at Catholic institutions across the country.

    The point is that to apply that sobriquet to ND, sic et simpliciter, that is, absolutely and without qualification, is to say that ND is a cause for shame – and it follows from this that everyone associated with the university is thereby morally compromised – that association with and/or involvement in the life of the university is shameful, as such.

    The plain meaning of the words of the appellation say this. Once you introduce all the qualifications, the diction loses its strength.

    TO his dying day, Prof. McInerny thought ND was well worth fighting for – and Prof. Rice still does.

    There are many others, students, faculty and staff, who agree with them.

    We can support them, and fight the good fight, and criticize the failings and shortcomings of the administration, and express disagreement with the positions of individuals and the policies of the institution, without issuing blanket condemnation.

    America needs Notre Dame to be Catholic to the core.

    Name calling does not help the cause.

    Best,
    C.

  35. Ad OMNES:

    The exchanges in this thread may give cause to some, and especially to new readers, for misunderstanding.

    I hold Fr. Zuhlsdorf in the highest esteem.

    Several month ago, in another exchange in these pages, I suggested that we Catholics are, perhaps, airing our dirty laundry in public. I did not mean by this to object that we are conducting the debate over our Catholic identity in public (it is a public issue, finally), but to express a concern that we are conducting the debate in a way that makes it easy for those, who would see Catholics excluded from the public square, to divide us and weaken us.

    Fr. Zuhlsdorf asked me to outline what I meant by this.

    Below are excerpts of the remarks I published as an open letter, in response to his kind solicitation.

    You may read the (lengthy and rather elaborate) full text here.

    ***************

    Rome, Sept 4, 2009

    Dear Fr. Zuhlsdorf,

    Many thanks for your invitation to share an outline of my thoughts regarding the current state of the debate over our Catholic identity, and my concerns over the conduct of that same.

    I recognize the importance of the debate over our Catholic identity, and I believe I share with you the conviction that we are at a critical juncture in that debate.

    There is also a debate underway in our country, one over our national commitments. This debate, too, has long since reached the crisis point, and the part we Catholics shall elect to play in the great national debate will, I think, largely determine the happiness or infelicity of its outcome.

    Now, our faith is an essentially public matter, and our country is grounded in and committed to the idea that man is essentially in conversation with the Divine, and that absolute liberty is the characteristic and condition of that conversation’s integrity. It follows from this idea, that no man ought to be excluded from full participation in political life, because of the way he chooses to conduct that conversation.

    In order for the last sentence of the preceding paragraph to be meaningful, it must be construed to entail the freedom to bring one’s faith into the public square. Some people, however, do not see this. Many of our fellow citizens hold that the bracketing of one’s faith is a conditio sine qua non of full, active participation in public life. This construction is not only wrong; it is wrong-headed, and extremely dangerous. It is not only, nor even primarily applicable to Catholics. It is an understated version, or better, an implicit incarnation of the proposition that religion is detrimental to and corrosive of social cohesion, and as such to be at least relegated to the private sphere. This idea, if it is allowed to win the consent of a majority for even a minute, will spell the doom of our American experiment with ordered liberty in society.

    If we are to see that experiment preserved, we must recognize that its preservation depends upon the outcome of what is essentially a battle for hearts and minds.

    [I]t were not easy to remember, and still is risky to act on the understanding that people who disagree with the Church (whether they are within Her or without) on any number of issues are not, ipso facto, bad. They may have a very inadequate or even seriously mistaken understanding of what the Church’s position on a given issue really is – and this is extremely important, for, what appears to us to be willful opposition to or perhaps flagrant disregard for the Magisterium may be a simple matter of a more-or-less sound conscience acting on bad information. We have all found ourselves in such a situation. In short, to put a positive turn on a famous maxim of Bishop Fulton John Sheen: love bringing people to the truth more than you love being right and winning the argument, and you will find yourself winning more arguments and bringing both yourself and others closer to the truth.

    More to this: True Religion has always inspired men and women to think all the good they can of those with whom they find themselves in disagreement; to mark and toe the line between the position and the one who holds it; to pronounce judgment only in the case of gravest necessity, and only for the best of all possible motives – the good of souls.

    I am sure that, though I have taxed your time more dearly than your kind solicitation warranted, there remains much to be said. Given more time, and greater ability, I might have said more, and more profitably, in fewer words. Please let these, which I have written, be also a token of the great esteem and affection I have for you, an expression of my gratitude for your great work.

    In Domino,

    Christopher

  36. Henry Edwards says:

    Dear Chris Altieri,

    Yours, however, is a petitio principia: you take the “ND is corrupt” thesis for granted, even though what is at issue is whether ND is utterly and irremediably corrupt.

    I have neither said nor implied any such thing, either here or anywhere else.

    . . . that ND is beyond recovery.

    I have neither said nor implied any such thing, either here or anywhere else.

    you are citing his book as though it were the final address of a defeated general to his corps.

    My sole characterization of the book described it as “detailing ND’s decline as a Catholic institution”, a phrase I recall as stemming from Professor Rice himself (or perhaps from his publisher in an ad). However, I am impressed by your “the final address of a defeated general to his corps”, and henceforth will be on the lookout for a context worthy of such flowery rhetoric (though I am doubtful that anything less than an actual defeated general addressing his corps would ever measure up).

    Let it be clear: when I say that ND is not beyond redemption, I do not mean to say I think everything at ND is hunkey-dorey.

    Similarly, I neither think nor have said or implied anywhere that ND is beyond redemption. To the contrary, I believe the process of its recovery of a Catholic identity is well underway, and that this is why the May 2009 affair was especially unfortunate and unworthy of the vast majority of the faculty and students of the University.

  37. robtbrown says:

    I wonder whether CDF is not concerned about causeing something like what we might call a “Kung effect” with McBrien?
    Comment by Chris Altieri

    My guess is no because Fr McBrien doesn’t have the influence that Fr Kung has had. And, as I noted above, McB was not teaching in a Pontifical faculty, nor even in a seminary. Further, K directly attacked the papacy.

    In addition to certain doctrinal flaws, McBrien’s Catholicism is a grand example sloppy research and thought. When it was published, Fr Marvin O’Connell of ND wrote a scathing review.

  38. Dear Henry Edwards,

    It seems I attributed too much to your case, and to your invocation of Prof. Rice’s book.

    If all you wanted from it was to say that ND’s decline was a decades long process that has not been entirely reversed, then I cannot fathom why you would have felt the need adduce the work in the first place: it was never in doubt.

    In any case, at stake in this conversation is not what you wanted from Prof. Rice’s book, but what it means to call Notre Dame “Notre Shame”, and whether it is warranted in justice (say “fairness” if you will) and/or prudence.

    Since you believe that a recovery of ND’s Catholic identity is underway, allow me to ask whether you think it is just to call Notre Dame “Notre Shame”? Do you think it helps the recovery?

    Best,
    C.

  39. Dear robtbrown,

    I suppose I am thinking that Fr. Kung was big in certain Catholic intellectual circles in the 60′s and 70′s, and that he really only became a major international sensation with broad cultural appeal after then Card. Ratzinger “silenced” him, i.e., sentenced him to scrape one word off the glass of his office door (Katholische) and keep writing the exact same books at the exact same school in the exact same office and to remain a priest in good standing.

    Best,
    Chris

  40. lofstrr says:

    It is the sense of the FAITHFUL not the unfaithful that the wayward father needs to be looking to.

  41. Rob Cartusciello says:

    To paraphrase Justice Scalia, according to Richard McBrien the sensus fidelium lies somewhere between what McBrien wants the Church to believe and what the Church actually believes.

  42. robtbrown says:

    I suppose I am thinking that Fr. Kung was big in certain Catholic intellectual circles in the 60’s and 70’s, and that he really only became a major international sensation with broad cultural appeal after then Card. Ratzinger “silenced” him, i.e., sentenced him to scrape one word off the glass of his office door (Katholische) and keep writing the exact same books at the exact same school in the exact same office and to remain a priest in good standing.
    Comment by Chris Altieri

    Actually, he became internationally big with the 1976 publication of “On Being a Christian”. I agree that it is a shame that he continued to teach (though not courses for the priesthood) and write, but such is the weakness of Rome these days.

    I think that there is a trickle down effect. The power of Kung, Schillebeeckx, and Rahner came from their works being taught in Pontifical faculties, where the future theology professors were being trained. Then it found its way into seminaries and parishes.
    Once that was nixed (at least, with the first two) their influence began to wither.

    I agree about the question of him being a priest. As a moral theologian friend once said to me about Curran: If he’s not fit to teach moral theology, then he’s not fit to hear Confessions.

  43. Also, Rahner was just weird. K and S we(a)re heretics.

    I think we’re on the smae page her, though.

    You’re right about the “trickle-down” effect.

    I’ll have to think about the Curran quote, but I think I’ll end up borrowing it.

    C.

  44. *same page here.

    You know, I had forgotten about OBaC.

    I suppose it was his first big international splash.

    C.

  45. ALL: I think this entry has been derailed from its true focus.

  46. robtbrown says:

    Also, Rahner was just weird. K and S we(a)re heretics.
    Comment by Chris Altieri

    So was Rahner. Like Schillebeeckx his theology is grounded in a subjective approach to the faith, which only obfuscates doctrine.