Head of the Jesuits: “Doctrine is a word that I don’t like very much”

CP&S comment: What a world of difference between our previous post with Bishop Schneider’s interview and the one below with the head of the Jesuits! The beauty and clarity of authentic Catholic teaching presented in the former makes the confusion and error of the latter all the more sinister. Let us pray for Father Arturo Sosa Abascal and for the Society of Jesus.


From  Father Z’s blog:

Yesterday I posted an entry with the title: Has the head of the Jesuits jettisoned doctrine and the words of the Lord in Scripture?

The General of the Jesuits effectively said that doctrine has no fixed meaning and that we must reinterpret everything, from Scripture to dogmas, according to our own exigencies.

Today I’ve read more.

I must now answer my question: Yes, the head of the Jesuits jettisoned doctrine and the words of the Lord in Scripture.

Sandro Magister has the whole exchange at his place. Thus, with my emphases and comments:

Why such adamant silence from the pope on words of Jesus [about adultery] that are so unequivocal? [The Five Dubia of the Four Cardinals are still out there… unanswered.]

One clue toward a response is in the interview that the new superior general of the Society of Jesus, the Venezuelan Arturo Sosa Abascal, very close to Jorge Mario Bergoglio, has given to the Swiss vaticanista Giuseppe Rusconi for the blog Rossoporpora and for the “Giornale del Popolo” of Lugano.

Here are the passages most relevant to the case. Any commentary would be superfluous.

Q: Cardinal Gerhard L. Müller, prefect of the congregation for the doctrine of the faith, has said with regard to marriage that the words of Jesus are very clear and “no power in heaven and on earth, neither an angel nor the pope, neither a council nor a law of the bishops has the faculty to modify them.”

A: So then, there would have to be a lot of reflection on what Jesus really said. At that time, no one had a recorder to take down his words. What is known is that the words of Jesus must be contextualized, they are expressed in a language, in a specific setting, they are addressed to someone in particular.

Q: But if all the worlds of Jesus must be examined and brought back to their historical context, they do not have an absolute value.

A: Over the last century in the Church there has been a great blossoming of studies that seek to understand exactly what Jesus meant to say… That is not relativism, but attests that the word is relative, the Gospel is written by human beings, it is accepted by the Church which is made up of human persons… So it is true that no one can change the word of Jesus, but one must know what it was!

Q: Is it also possible to question the statement in Matthew 19:3-6: “What therefore God has joined together, let not man put asunder”?

A: I go along with what Pope Francis says. One does not bring into doubt, one brings into discernment. . .

Q: But discernment is evaluation, it is choosing among different options. There is no longer an obligation to follow just one interpretation. . .

A: No, the obligation is still there, but to follow the result of discernment.

Q: However, the final decision is based on a judgment relative to different hypotheses. So it also takes into consideration the hypothesis that the phrase “let man not put asunder…” is not exactly as it appears. In short, it brings the word of Jesus into doubt.

A: Not the word of Jesus, but the word of Jesus as we have interpreted itDiscernment does not select among different hypotheses but listens to the Holy Spirit, who – as Jesus has promised – helps us to understand the signs of God’s presence in human history.

Q: But discern how?

A: Pope Francis does discernment following St. Ignatius, like the whole Society of Jesus: one has to seek and find, St. Ignatius said, the will of God. It is not a frivolous search. Discernment leads to a decision: one must not only evaluate, but decide.

Q: And who must decide?

[NB] A: The Church has always reiterated the priority of personal conscience.

Q: So if conscience, after discernment, tells me that I can receive communion even if the norm does not provide for it…

A: The Church has developed over the centuries, it is not a piece of reinforced concrete. It was born, it has learned, it has changed. This is why the ecumenical councils are held, to try to bring developments of doctrine into focus. Doctrine is a word that I don’t like very much, it brings with it the image of the hardness of stone. Instead the human reality is much more nuanced, it is never black or white, it is in continual development.

Q: I seem to understand that for you there is a priority for the practice of the discernment of doctrine.

A: Yes, but doctrine is part of discernment. True discernment cannot dispense with doctrine.

Q: But it can reach conclusions different from doctrine.

A: That is so, because doctrine does not replace discernment, nor does it the Holy Spirit.

Discernment = When you are about to do something you know you shouldn’t do, twist a previously crystal clear teaching of the Church until it means whatever the hell you want it to mean in order to salve your conscience.

We’ve seen dark days in the Church before, friends.  But we haven’t seen anything quite like these dark days.

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9 Responses to Head of the Jesuits: “Doctrine is a word that I don’t like very much”

  1. J.P. says:

    Tempora mutantur et nos in illis mutamur, for those on this blog so fond of the official language of the Church.

    [Moderator – Iesus Christus: “Caelum et terra transibunt, verba autem mea non transibunt”, Mt.24:35.]


  2. A horrific interview.

    If the head of the Jesuits can speak this way, then all the leading figures in the Church must more or less think the same thing. At least so it seems to me. And if that’s true, then I’m afraid we’ve reached a point of no return.

    It will take a future pope or a future council to correct all of the errors that are now devastating the Church and the Magisterium.

    In the meantime, those of us Catholics who are left can only guard and practice our Faith as best we can under these circumstances. At the same time, we must never stop praying for God’s help, for ourselves and for the whole Church:

    “St Michael the Archangel, defend us in battle; be our guard against the wickedness and snares of the devil….”


  3. HumblePie says:

    Tempora mutantur, nos et mutamur in illis;
    Quo modo? fit semper tempore peior homo.


  4. The Raven says:

    I’m not entirely sure that you improve your case by quoting a Protestant reformer, John. (The attribution to Ovid is incorrect).


  5. Jude Punch says:

    The Raven,I didn’t attribute the phrase to Ovid as many indeed do. Although supposedly of German origin, whether in fact it is attributable to a Protestant reformer is debatable. One way or the other,it accords with the idea of aggiornamento- a bringing up to date-the task proposed to the Second Vatican Council by Saint Pope John XX111 which is good enough for me.


  6. The Raven says:

    This twenty-first Ecumenical Council can draw upon the most effective and valued assistance of experts in every branch of sacred science, in the practical sphere of the apostolate, and in administration. Its intention is to give to the world the whole of that doctrine which, notwithstanding every difficulty and contradiction, has become the common heritage of mankind—to transmit it in all its purity, undiluted, undistorted.

    It is a treasure of incalculable worth, not indeed coveted by all, but available to all men of good will.

    And our duty is not just to guard this treasure, as though it were some museum-piece and we the curators, but earnestly and fearlessly to dedicate ourselves to the work that needs to be done in this modern age of ours, pursuing the path which the Church has followed for almost twenty centuries.

    Nor are we here primarily to discuss certain fundamentals of Catholic doctrine, or to restate in greater detail the traditional teaching of the Fathers and of early and more recent theologians. We presume that these things are sufficiently well known and familiar to you all.

    The whole merits careful reading and can be found here.

    The purpose of the Council was not to ‘bring up to date’, but to better proclaim and express what we already had.


  7. J.P. says:

    The Raven@12:17. If the purpose of the Council was ”not ‘to bring up to date’ ” as you say, why then, do you think, did Saint Pope John XXIII use the word ‘aggiornamento’ to describe the task he entrusted to the Second Vatican Council ?


  8. The Raven says:

    Pope St John XXIII was very careful to frame his vision of aggiornamento in terms of modernising the way that the Church preached to the modern world, not what was preached.


  9. GC says:

    In the 70s I used to think, from personal experience, that the Jesuits were busy setting up a sort of “parallel Church” to the Catholic Church. Although that “parallel Jesuit Church” has endured a long winter, it has survived to the present mainly due to their ample historical, physical and financial resources. They were able to wrap themselves in a cocoon.

    Springtime has now arrived for these survivors.


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