THE ATTEMPT TO CRUSH CHRISTIAN TRADITION

by Deacon Nick Donnelly

cardinalbaldiserri

It seems to me that Cardinal Kasper and Cardinal Baldisseri,  in the words of Waugh, are attempting ‘to try and crush out by force historic Christianity’ through a two pronged assault consisting of the dismissal of the apostolic Tradition of the Church and the distortion of the history of doctrine. 

Cardinal Baldisseri, the General Secretary of the 2015 Synod, also appears to reject the apostolic understanding of Tradition when he says that ‘there would be no point holding a Synod if we were simply to repeat what had always been said’. What he fails to understand, or refuses to understand, is that attentively and carefully repeating what has been said before by the Church is at the heart of the Catholic understanding of Tradition.

 

Dr Carl Jung, the Swiss psychiatrist and psychoanalyst, coined the phrase ‘synchronicity’ to describe the common human experience of seemingly random events happening at the same time that disclose significant meaning about our lives and the world. This week I’ve experienced such a meaningful coincidence through reading Evelyn Waugh’s book on Edmund Campion and a post by Cardinal Pell on the US Catholic website The Catholic Thing.

On Wednesday I read this paragraph in Evelyn Waugh’s biography of St Edmund Campion, which includes details about the brutal imposition of the New Religion, that is, the Anglican Church, on the Catholic population of England in the sixteenth century:
‘It is one thing for a Government to suppress dangerous innovations – that was natural enough; but for the innovators to be in command, for them to try and crush out by force historic Christianity – that was contrary to all good sense; it was like living under the Turks’. (p. 22).
And on Thursday I read Cardinal Pell’s post about those advocating the doctrinal innovation of allowing divorced and re-married to receive Holy Communion:
‘One insurmountable barrier for those advocating a new doctrinal and pastoral discipline for the reception of Holy Communion is the almost complete unanimity of two thousand years of Catholic history on this point… It can no more be ignored than the teachings of the Council of Trent or those of Saint John Paul II or Pope Benedict XVI on marriage can be ignored. Were the decisions that followed Henry VIII’s divorce totally unnecessary?’
These quotes from Evelyn Waugh and Cardinal Pell have shown me just how alien Cardinal Kasper’s innovations are to the Catholic faith.
The Innovators’ dismissal of Tradition and Scripture
It seems to me that Cardinal Kasper and Cardinal Baldisseri, in the words of Waugh, are attempting ‘to try and crush out by force historic Christianity’ through a two pronged assault consisting of the dismissal of the apostolic Tradition of the Church and the distortion of the history of doctrine. Cardinal Burke shares Cardinal Pell’s understanding that the innovators’ position is untenable for Catholics as it attempts to ignore the ‘unanimity of two thousand years of Catholic history’. Cardinal Burke said:
‘I certainly had serious difficulties with what Cardinal Kasper was proposing. In proposing it, he was urging a direction which, in the whole history of the Church, has never been taken, a direction which would in some way involve either a disobedience or at least a non-adherence to the words of Our Lord Himself, and no one questions the words of Our Lord in Chapter 19 of the Gospel According to Matthew.’
But it appears that Cardinal Kasper has no problems with ‘non-adherence to the words of Our Lord’ to the point of appearing to contradict Our Lord’s clear teaching that the divorced and re-married commit adultery. Our Lord taught:
‘Whoever divorces his wife and marries another, commits adultery against her; and if she divorces her husband and marries another, she commits adultery.’ (MK 10:11)
Cardinal Kasper rejects applying the language of adultery to couples who divorce their spouses and marry others, openly contradicting Our Lord’s categorical, unequivocal doctrine. He urges that the couple’s feelings of offence take precedence over the words of sacred Scripture, ‘to tell them that’s adultery, permanent adultery, I think they would feel insulted and offended.’
Cardinal Baldisseri, the General Secretary of the 2015 Synod, also appears to reject the apostolic understanding of Tradition when he says that ‘there would be no point holding a Synod if we were simply to repeat what had always been said’. What he fails to understand, or refuses to understand, is that attentively and carefully repeating what has been said before by the Church is at the heart of the Catholic understanding of Tradition.
The Innovators are trying to stop the beating heart of Tradition
What we are witnessing here are cardinals of the Catholic Church trying to stop the beating heart of Tradition, the solemn understanding of ‘paratheke’ that can be traced back to the apostles. The Greek word ‘paratheke’ has its origins in banking practices of the ancient world meaning to hand over a ‘deposit’ for safekeeping, to entrust something precious to another with the understanding that it will be returned unchanged and undiminished. According to Roman law ‘paratheke’ entailed the obligation on the recipient to protect it and keep it safe until its return to the owner. St Paul applies this understanding of paratheke to God’s revelation, which he saw as a precious ‘deposit’ entrusted by God to the safekeeping of Christians with the obligation to pass it on uncorrupted and undiminished to future generations until the glorious return of Our Lord Jesus Christ:
‘O Timothy, guard what has been entrusted [paratheke] to you.’ (I Tim 6:20).
‘Guard the truth that has been entrusted [paratheke] to you by the Holy Spirit who dwells within us’. (II Tim 1:14).
Importance of Guarding the Deposit of Faith
St Vincent of Lerins’ understanding of ‘paratheke’, written in the 5th century, expresses the Church’s perennial emphasis on the importance of guarding the deposit of Faith:
‘What does “Guard the Deposit” mean? St Paul said ‘Guard it’, against thieves, against enemies, to ensure that while men were asleep no one sowed weeds among the good wheat sown by the Son of Man in his field. And so he said, “Guard the deposit”. But, what is the “deposit”? It is what you must believe, not what you invented; what you received, not what you thought up yourself; it is the outcome of teaching, not the result of ingenuity; what comes from public tradition, not from private plundering. It is something which has come down to you, but which you have not produced; something of which you are not the author but the guardian; not the leader but the one led. “Guard the deposit”, the Apostle says; keep inviolate and spotless the talent of the Catholic faith. What you have believed hold fast to, and pass it on to another’. (Commonitorium).
St Vincent of Lerin’s is not advocating the ‘fossilisation’ of the ‘Deposit of Faith’, aware that our knowledge of, and insight into, God’s revelation deepens through time with the assistance of the Holy Spirit. But what St Vincent is doing is keeping up front and centre our basic obligation, handed down to us by the Apostles, to preserve these precious truths entrusted to us by God.
If Cardinal Kasper and Cardinal Baldisseri were both guarding the Deposit of Faith and seeking to deepen the Church’s insight into this sacred trust, none of us could object. But ask yourself the question are these innovators actually seeking to do everything St Vincent of Lerins warns against – inventing, not believing; making up for themselves, not receiving what has been handed to them; ingenious arguments, not teaching the faith, and picking and choosing according to private taste, not maintaining historic Tradition.
Doing violence to the history of the Church
Cardinal Kasper also does violence to the history of doctrine in an attempt to conjure up the illusion of a parallel Tradition to rival the Church’s established Tradition concerning the indissolubility of marriage, the immorality of adultery and worthy reception of Holy Communion.
Dr John Rist, the Fr Kurt Pritzl OP Chair of Philosophy at the Catholic University of America, and Dr Adam G. Cooper, senior lecturer at the John Paul II Institute for Marriage & Family, Melbourne, Australia, have raised serious questions about Cardinal Kasper’s treatment of the history of doctrine.
Cardinal Kasper attempts to draw on the testimony of Church Fathers to support his argument for a more relaxed approach to divorce, re-marriage and adultery. For example, Kasper refers to Origen’s Commentary on Matthew 14:23-24 that reports that certain bishops in North Africa allowed Communion to those divorced and remarried. Both Dr Rist and Dr Cooper point out an omission in Kasper’s version that Origin clearly judged that this practice was contrary to Scripture and the explicit words of the Lord.
Cardinal Kasper also seeks to imply the support of St Basil the Great, St Gregory of Nazienzen, and St Augustine by stating that they were aware of the same practice of allowing divorced and re-married receiving Holy Communion. Dr Rist observes, ‘What he [Kasper] omits to notice is that there is no indication of any of them concurring in what plainly contravenes their ordinary teaching.’ If Origen, Basil, Gregory were ‘hesitant to accept the remarriage of a widow or widower after the death of their spouse’ it’s utterly incredible that Kasper argues that these saints accepted that the divorced and re-married received Holy Communion.
Cardinal Kasper is even more ambitious when he misleadingly claims that the great Ecumenical Council of Nicea ‘confirmed’ a relaxed attitude to the divorced and re-married. He refers to canon 8’s requirement that schismatic clergy seeking to re-enter communion with the Catholic Church must accept that ‘they will be in communion with those who have entered into a second marriage’. Both Dr Rist and Dr Cooper express the universally held interpretation that this canon does not refer to the divorced and remarried, as Kasper claims, but to the widowed and remarried.
The Protestant innovators of the 16th century, and today’s innovators within the Catholic Church have much in common. Like the Protestants before them, Kasper and his allies seem to be in the process of abandoning the apostolic imperative of safeguarding the Deposit of Faith. Like our faithful forefathers before us, in any attempt to distort and misrepresent the history of the Church to justify the creation of a New Religion, we must be steadfast in our resistance.

About Gertrude

Sáncte Míchael Archángele, defénde nos in proélio, cóntra nequítiam et insídias diáboli ésto præsídium.
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2 Responses to THE ATTEMPT TO CRUSH CHRISTIAN TRADITION

  1. What worries many people is Cardinal Kaspar’s often-quoted statement that “Pope Francis is not a liberal, he is a radical.”

    Is the Pope radical enough to support the idea that divorced and remarried couples, living in adultery, may receive the Eucharist without first obtaining absolution for the sins?

  2. johnhenrycn says:

    Many of us on board the Barque of Peter sailing for the October synod on the family anxiously wonder what Ist and 2nd Lieutenants Baldiserri and Kasper will get up to when Captain Bergoglio lets them take the nightwatch. I, for one, intend to keep my lifejacket on, as I fear they’ll mistake rocks and shoals for a safe harbour.
    ___
    RJB: There are, apparently, some divorced Catholics who respect and observe the precepts of their faith regarding reception of Holy Communion. Here’s an essay in The Spectator by a well known (albeit not always favourably) English divorcée, Louise Mensch, who writes:
    “I’m a divorced Catholic. And I’m sure it would be a mortal sin for me to take Communion.”

    …The article may need a few minutes to load (it did me), so take your time with your sauerbraten😉

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