I noted at LifeSite something which is personally upsetting. It concerns a friend and old prof of mine at the Augustinianum, the Patristic Institute, in Rome. Prof. Rist taught at the Augustinianum for years. He is a serious and well-known scholar, still working! Prof. Rist, even when he wasn’t teaching courses at the Augustinianum, still used their excellent library for his research.
The Augustinianum has, apparently, banned Prof. Rist because he signed that (ill-fated, I think) Letter to Bishops which levels a charge of heresy at Francis. In other words, this is nothing other than payback.
Prof. Rist recounted what happened to LifeSite. The President of the Aug.num. also stripped Rist of his supervision of a candidates thesis, thus punishing also the student (who pays the school for services).
Not only, Prof. Rist seems also to have been banned from all other Pontifical institutions, including CUA. And CUA cancelled a Festschrift!
I also understand that no communication has been given to Prof. Rist explaining why.
We. Know. Why.
BTW… Prof. Rist was the author of one of the essays in the amazing Remaining in the Truth of Christ: Marriage and Communion in the Catholic Church. [US HERE – UK HERE]
Rist wrote: “Divorce and Remarriage in the Early Church: Some Historical and Cultural Reflections”.
BTW… this book was famously stolen from the mail boxes of the participants of the Synod on the Family.
Rist’s treatment is the stuff of the Stasi. It’s called Zersetsung.
Here is the definition from East Germany’s own manual. Zersetsung is… (my emphases)…
… a method of operation by the Ministry for State Security for an efficacious struggle against subversive activities, particularly in the treatment of operations. With Zersetzung one can influence hostile and negative individuals across different operational political activities, especially the hostile and negative aspects of their dispositions and beliefs, so these are abandoned and changed little by little, and, if applicable, the contradictions and differences between the hostile and negative forces would be laid open, exploited, and reinforced.
The goal of Zersetzung is the fragmentation, paralysis, disorganization, and isolation of the hostile and negative forces, in order to preventatively impede the hostile and negative activities, to largely restrict, or to totally avert them, and if applicable to prepare the ground for a political and ideological reestablishment.
Zersetzung is equally an immediate constitutive element of “operational procedures” and other preventive activities to impede hostile gatherings. The principal forces to execute Zersetzung are the unofficial collaborators. Zersetzung presupposes information and significant proof of hostile activities planned, prepared, and accomplished as well as anchor points corresponding to measures of Zersetzung.
Zersetzung must be produced on the basis of a root cause analysis of the facts and the exact definition of a concrete goal. Zersetzung must be executed in a uniform and supervised manner; its results must be documented.
The political explosive force of Zersetzung heightens demands regarding the maintenance of secrecy.
Edward Feser, very smart, reacts to this news HERE. Feser thinks that that Letter wasn’t the best move, but that this is,
“undeservedly shabby treatment. Whatever one thinks of his views, Rist is not some hotheaded pamphleteer or hack blogger. He is a serious thinker, an eminent scholar of classical and early Christian philosophy, the author of many important books, a longtime professor at the Catholic University of America, and a loyal and orthodox son of the Church. It seems to me not irrelevant to point out that he is also 83 years old.”
A couple things come to mind. First is the issue of academic freedom. That’s obvious.
However, Feser also brings up the point of Prof. Rist’s age. If the Aug.num., or any other institute, thinks they are defending Francis from Rist, consider what Francis has said about treatment of old people.
I agree with Feser. This is shabby. Especially shabby is how Rist seems to have been banned from all Pontifical institutes.