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:: The Lidless Eye Inquisition ::

A weblog dedicated to the exposure of the crackpots of the lunatic self-styled 'traditionalist' fringe who disingenuously pose as faithful Catholics.
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"Do not allow yourselves to be deceived by the cunning statements of those who persistently claim to wish to be with the Church, to love the Church, to fight so that people do not leave Her...But judge them by their works. If they despise the shepherds of the Church and even the Pope, if they attempt all means of evading their authority in order to elude their directives and judgments..., then about which Church do these men mean to speak? Certainly not about that established on the foundations of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus Himself as the cornerstone (Eph. 2:20)." [Pope St. Pius X: Allocution of May 10, 1909]

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The Inquisitors
:: I. Shawn McElhinney
:: F. John Loughnan
:: Peter J. Vere JCL
:: Greg Mockeridge
:: Apolonio Latar
:: Gregory Rossi
:: Keith Kenney
:: The Curmudgeon
:: Mark Bonocore
:: Gregg the Obscure
Affiliated Weblogs/Websites
:: Rerum Novarum [>>>]
:: Sean O' Lachtnain's Home Page [>>>]
:: Envoy Encore Weblog (Peter Vere JCL, contributor) [>>>]
:: Cooperatores Veritatis [>>>]
:: Thoughts of Apolonio Latar III [>>>]
:: Sancta Liturgia [>>>]
:: Disturber of the Peace [>>>]
:: Vita Brevis [>>>]
Specialty Weblogs
:: The (New) Catholic Light BLOG (Peter Vere JCL, contributor) [>>>]
:: John Betts' Boycott BLOG [>>>]
Ecumenical Jihad*
:: Apolonio Latar and Kevin Tierney's Culture of Christ BLOG [>>>]
Specialty Weblinks
:: A Prescription Against 'Traditionalism' [>>>]
:: On the Intricacies of Dialogue - A Commentary [>>>]
:: The 'Tradition is Opposed to Novelty' Canard [>>>]
:: On Assisi and Catholic Principles [>>>]
:: F. John Loughnan's "Classification of Some Integrist (Lidless Eye) Websites" [>>>]
:: A Syllabus of Various (Mostly Pseudo-"Progressivist") Dissenting Authors [>>>]
:: A Canonical History of the Lefevrist Schism - Peter J. Vere's License Thesis From Saint Paul University, Ontario, Canada [>>>]
:: What Makes Us Catholic Traditionalists - written for The Wanderer December 6, 2001 (I. Shawn McElhinney/Pete Vere JCL) [>>>]
:: Yes Virginia, Fr. Nicholas Has Been Suspended - written for The Wanderer March 6, 2003 (Pete Vere JCL/I. Shawn McElhinney) [>>>]
:: Squelching Fr. Gruner's 'Squawking Squire' [>>>]
:: RadTrad Watch [>>>]
:: Antisemitism and the Catholic Right [>>>]
[:::....Site Intention, Disclaimer, Copyright, Etc....:::]
:: Intentions of this Weblog (I. Shawn McElhinney) [>>>]
:: Weblog "War and Peace Length" Disclaimer (I. Shawn McElhinney) [>>>]
:: Site Copyright (I. Shawn McElhinney/SecretAgentMan) [>>>]
:: Exhortation to Those Who Participate in the Message Boxes (I. Shawn McElhinney) [>>>]
:: On Linking to Tridentine Apostolates, Etc. --A Lidless Eye Inquisition Clarification Thread (I. Shawn McElhinney) [>>>]
[:::....Heretical Pseudo "Traditionalist" Apostolates....:::]
Mario Derksen's Catholic Insight
:: Responses to Mario Derksen--Parts I-III (Apolonio Latar) [>>>]
:: Mario on EENS (Apolonio Latar) [>>>]
:: Mario Derksen's Errors on Man (Apolonio Latar) [>>>]
:: Mario Derksen's Sedevacantism--Parts I-III (Apolonio Latar) [>>>]
:: Response to Mario --Parts I-II (Kevin Byrne) [>>>]
:: Mario's Sedevacantism and His Conscience (Pete Vere) [>>>]
:: Points to Ponder -I. Shawn McElhinney's Discussion List Comments on the "Karol Wojtyla is the Pope" Subject (I. Shawn McElhinney) [>>>]
Gerry Matatics' Apostolate
:: Gerry Matatics Too Hard Line For The Remnant (Pete Vere)[>>>]
:: Concerning Gerry Matatics and His Alleged Sedevacantism (Pete Vere) [>>>]
[:::....Schismatic and Theologically Specious Pseudo "Traditionalist" Apostolates....:::]
Catholic Apologetics International (or CAItanic)
:: Bob Sungenis' "Reply" to Richard John Neuhaus --Parts I-II (The Curmudgeon) [>>>]
:: Points to Ponder - Richard J. Neuhaus on CAItanic (I. Shawn McElhinney) [>>>]
:: On CAItanic and the "Petrification" of their Opponents (Gregg the Obscure) [>>>]
:: On Stunted Ecclesiology and Other Examples of the Arrested Development of CAItanic (I. Shawn McElhinney) [>>>]
:: Baghdad Bob Meets Bible Bob (The Curmudgeon) [>>>]
:: Commentary on CAItanic (I. Shawn McElhinney) [>>>]
:: Sungenis/Ferrara and Double Standards (Apolonio Latar III) [>>>]
:: On Sungenis’ “Novelty”--Parts I-II(Apolonio Latar III) [>>>]
:: A Short Response to John Salza and Sungenis (Apolonio Latar III) [>>>]
:: A Brief Clarification by Your Weblog Host On "Mr. Ipse Dixit" (I. Shawn McElhinney) [>>>]
:: Matatics vs. Sungenis (Pete Vere) [>>>]
:: Sungenis and God's Contingent Knowledge--Parts I-II (Apolonio Latar III) [>>>]
:: On "The Big Bang Theory" and its Pertinance to Catholic Doctrine (I. Shawn McElhinney) [>>>]
The Novus Ordo Watch
:: On "Novus Ordo Watch" (Gregg the Obscure) [>>>]
:: More on "Novus Ordo Watch" (Gregg the Obscure) [>>>]
:: Props to David Alexander (I. Shawn McElhinney) [>>>]
The Remnant
:: Beyond Lunacy (The Curmudgeon) [>>>]
:: The Remnant Gets it Right (The Curmudgeon) [>>>]
:: Commending Christopher Ferrara (I. Shawn McElhinney) [>>>]
The Society of St. Pius X (SSPX)
:: Points to Ponder - on the SSPX (Pete Vere) [>>>]
:: On the "Reconciliation" Rumours of the SSPX (The Curmudgeon) [>>>]
:: SSPX Demotes Key Priest Hoping For Reconciliation (Pete Vere) [>>>]
:: Three Cheers for Sedevacantism (Pete Vere) [>>>]
:: On Fr. Paul Aulagnier (Pete Vere) [>>>]
:: Schism For One Dollar (Pete Vere) [>>>]
:: Bishop Rifan the Prophet (Pete Vere) [>>>]
:: Is the SSPX Still Lefebvrist? (Pete Vere) [>>>]
:: Civil War Breaks Out in the SSPX's French District (Pete Vere) [>>>]
[:::....Controverted Apostolates...:::]
Kevin Tierney and His Apostolate
:: Responding to Kevin Tierney's Criticism (Gregg the Obscure) [>>>]
:: Some Brief Comments on Kevin Tierney's Response to Gregg the Obscure (I. Shawn McElhinney) [>>>]
:: A Response to Kevin Tierney's Response to I. Shawn McElhinney (Apolonio Latar) [>>>]
:: More Sophistry From Kevin Tierney --Parts I-II (Apolonio Latar) [>>>]
:: Briefly on Obedience and Kevin Tierney's Appeal to Canon Law 212 (I. Shawn McElhinney/Pete Vere JCL) [>>>]
:: Responsum ad Tiernam Dubiosum --Parts I-III, Addendum (I. Shawn McElhinney) [>>>]
:: A Note About A Blog (Apolonio Latar) [>>>]
:: Radtrads Again (Apolonio Latar) [>>>]
:: On True and False 'Traditionalism' With Kevin Tierney --Parts I-VII (I. Shawn McElhinney) [>>>]
:: Pope John XXIII, Pacem in Terris, and Global Government --Parts I-III(Greg Mockeridge) [>>>]
:: Clarification on Global Government (Apolonio Latar) [>>>]
:: Brief Response to Kevin Tierney (I. Shawn McElhinney) [>>>]
:: Miscellaneous Musings on Diversity (I. Shawn McElhinney) [>>>]
:: An Example of the Honesty That Must Accompany Dialogue (I. Shawn McElhinney) [>>>]
:: Miscellaneous Muttering On Many Subjects (I. Shawn McElhinney) [>>>]
:: A Detailed Response to Kevin on The Revised Missal, Corpus Christi, Church Attendance, Church Forms, Protocol 1411, Etc. (I. Shawn McElhinney) [>>>]
:: Miscellaneous Musings (I. Shawn McElhinney) [>>>]
:: "Responsum ad Tiernum" Dept. (I. Shawn McElhinney) [>>>]
:: Discussing the Liturgy and Various Contrastings With Kevin Tierney (I. Shawn McElhinney) [>>>]
:: Refuting the “He’s Not Disobedient. He's Just Stupid.” Defense (Greg Mockeridge) [>>>]
:: "Responsum ad Tiernum" Dept. (I. Shawn McElhinney) [>>>]
[:::....Controverted Subjects and People in General....:::]
:: Response to a Self-styled "Traditionalist" (I. Shawn McElhinney) [>>>]
:: On the Term "Inquisition" (Gregg the Obscure) [>>>]
:: Addressing a Sedevacantist Heretic (I. Shawn McElhinney) [>>>]
:: February's Quote of the Month (The Curmudgeon) [>>>]
:: On TAN Books (F. John Loughnan) [>>>]
:: On Defining Modernism (Chris Burgwald) [>>>]
:: Refuting the Late 'Trad' Michael Malone's Errors on Vatican II (I. Shawn McElhinney) [>>>]
:: Points to Ponder - From His Beatitude Melkite Patriarch Maximos IV Saigh, Cardinal of the Roman Church (I. Shawn McElhinney) [>>>]
:: The Catechism and Radical Traditionalists (Apolonio Latar) [>>>]
:: Screwtape Parody on Radical Traditionalism (Apolonio Latar) [>>>]
:: Dialogue With a Rad-Trad --Parts I-II (Apolonio Latar) [>>>]
:: On Hell and the Catechism (Apolonio Latar) [>>>]
:: On Sola Fide Trads (I. Shawn McElhinney) [>>>]
:: Some Traddie Fallacies Examined (F. John Loughnan) [>>>]
:: Dialogue With Adrian a Self-styled 'Traditionalist' --Parts I-VIII (Apolonio Latar) [>>>]
:: Points to Ponder - From St. Opatus of Milve (I. Shawn McElhinney) [>>>]
:: Mr. Smith's Misunderstandings --Parts I-VI (I. Shawn McElhinney) [>>>]
:: On the Integralist-'Traditionalist' Conection --Parts I-V (I. Shawn McElhinney) [>>>]
:: Discussion With Christopher Blosser on Reflections on Covenant and Mission (I. Shawn McElhinney) [>>>]
:: On the Morality of Promoting Conspiracy Theories (Gregg the Obscure) [>>>]
:: Question About the Magisterium (Apolonio Latar) [>>>]
:: John Paul II and Islam (Apolonio Latar) [>>>]
:: Have 'Traditionalists' Been Too Hard on the Pope Viz Islam (F. John Loughnan) [>>>]
:: A Conversation --Parts I-II (I. Shawn McElhinney/Apolonio Latar) [>>>]
:: Fatal Flaws of False 'Traditionalism' With Albert Cipriani--Parts I-VII (I. Shawn McElhinney) [>>>]
:: A Conversation on Spiritual Maturity and the Traditional Catholic Approach to Difficulties --Parts I-III (I. Shawn McElhinney) [>>>]
:: Is it Okay to Complain? (Apolonio Latar) [>>>]
:: Obedience: The Rise of True Catholics --Parts I-II (Apolonio Latar) [>>>]
:: Radtradism and Mother Teresa (Apolonio Latar) [>>>]
:: Common 'Traditionalist' Errors in Dogmatic Theology and the Ordinary Magisterum (I. Shawn McElhinney) [>>>]
:: Notes on the Ordinary Magisterium (SecretAgentMan) [>>>]
:: Some Self-styled "Traditionalist" Mendacity (I. Shawn McElhinney) [>>>]
:: Posting Rules for Radical 'Traditionalists' (The Curmudgeon) [>>>]
:: Thoughts on Radtradism (Apolonio Latar) [>>>]
:: Why Garrigou-Lagrange? (Apolonio Latar) [>>>]
:: The Syllabus (Apolonio Latar) [>>>]
:: Refutation of Some Common Radtrad Misuses of Citations (I. Shawn McElhinney) [>>>]
:: The Errors of Michael Malone Revisited (I. Shawn McElhinney) [>>>]
:: Confuting an Attempted Justification for Schism --Parts I-II (I. Shawn McElhinney) [>>>]
:: Another Assisi? Parts I-II (Apolonio Latar) [>>>]
:: Points to Ponder -Maximus the Abbott as quoted by Pope Leo XIII in Satis Cognitum §13 (I. Shawn McElhinney) [>>>]
:: Dialogue With a 'Traditionalist' (Apolonio Latar) [>>>]
:: "To Be Deep in Catholic Theology is to Cease to Be a (Pseudo) 'Traditionalist'" Dept. (I. Shawn McElhinney) [>>>]
:: Points to Ponder - From Pope Benedict XV (I. Shawn McElhinney) [>>>]
:: On Charles de Nunzio (Gregg the Obscure) [>>>]
:: For Those Interested (Apolonio Latar) [>>>]
:: Refuting Mike's Errors (Apolonio Latar) [>>>]
:: A Response to Mike Tucker (I. Shawn McElhinney) [>>>]
:: Will it Merely Be More Uncatholic "Business As Usual"??? (I. Shawn McElhinney) [>>>]
:: Points to Ponder - From St. John Bosco (I. Shawn McElhinney) [>>>]
:: Points to Ponder - From St. Irenaeus of Lyons (I. Shawn McElhinney) [>>>]
:: Dialogue/Debate on Pascendi (Apolonio Latar) [>>>]
:: Points to Ponder - From Cardinal Ratzinger on the Revised Roman Missal (I. Shawn McElhinney) [>>>]
:: Responsum ad Hibernius (I. Shawn McElhinney) [>>>]
:: Miscellaneous Material (Gregory Rossi) [>>>]
:: On Liturgical Dance (Gregory Rossi) [>>>]
:: On Humanism (Apolonio Latar) [>>>]
:: On Humanism and Vatican II (Gregory Rossi) [>>>]
:: John Paul II and Universalism (Apolonio Latar) [>>>]
:: On Scruples (Gregory Rossi) [>>>]
:: On Tony Blair and Receiving Communion (I. Shawn McElhinney) [>>>]
:: Confuting Radical Pseudo-'Traditionalist' Nonsense --Part I (Mark Bonocore) [>>>]
:: Confuting Radical Pseudo-'Traditionalist' Nonsense --Part II (Mark Bonocore/I. Shawn McElhinney) [>>>]
:: "Wast-ing A-way A-gain in Se-de-vac-ant-a-ville" Dept. (Mark Bonocore/I. Shawn McElhinney) [>>>]
:: On the McElhinney Media Dictum (I. Shawn McElhinney) [>>>]
:: Tomorrow Christendom (Pete Vere) [>>>]
:: Correcting a Common Misperception of This Weblog (I. Shawn McElhinney) [>>>]
:: Response to a Guimaraes Article (Apolonio Latar) [>>>]
:: A Response to Fr. Nitoglia (Apolonio Latar) [>>>]
:: More on "Tomorrow Christendom" (Dom Calvet/Pete Vere) [>>>]
:: Surprised by Canon Law (Pete Vere) [>>>]
:: Briefly on Michael Davies' Passing (I. Shawn McElhinney) [>>>]
:: On Redemptionis Sacramentum and Canonical Implications for Ecclesia Dei (Pete Vere) [>>>]
:: Notification of Assisi Essay, Etc. (I. Shawn McElhinney) [>>>]
:: Points to Ponder - Richard John Neuhaus on the Vatican and "Americanism"--Parts I-VI (I. Shawn McElhinney)[>>>]
:: 8 Things You Can Do to Stop the Judaizers (Pete Vere) [>>>]
:: On Circumspection in Speech and Public Writing (Gregg the Obscure) [>>>]
:: On the Revised Missal Ordination Rites and Other Tidbits (I. Shawn McElhinney) [>>>]
::Points to Ponder - John Laux on an Interesting Parallel from History on the Subject of "Preserving Tradition" (I. Shawn McElhinney) [>>>]
:: In Fairness to Michael Forrest (Pete Vere) [>>>]
:: Michael Forrest and the Jews (Pete Vere) [>>>]
::Points to Ponder - Pope Gregory XVI on the Authority of the Popes (I. Shawn McElhinney)[>>>]
:: Michael Forrest and the Jews--Part II (Pete Vere) [>>>]
[:::....Miscellaneous Dialogual Subjects...:::]
:: Real Catholic Traditionalism (Pete Vere) [>>>]
:: An Open Challenge to Catholic Traditionalists (Dom Gerard Calvet/Pete Vere) [>>>]
:: Briefly on Quo Primum (I. Shawn McElhinney) [>>>]
:: Traditionalist Debate of the Millenium: Pete Vere vs. Shawn McElhinney (Pete Vere) [>>>]
:: Dialogue on Ecclesia Dei With Mark Downey (I. Shawn McElhinney) [>>>]
:: Sister Lucia of Fatima, Ora Pro Terri Schiavo (Pete Vere) [>>>]
:: Ecclesia Dei And Respect for Traditionalists (Greg Mockeridge) [>>>]
:: On "The Vile Spectacle of Traditionalists Rooting for Bad News" --Dialogue With Kevin Tierney (I. Shawn McElhinney) [>>> [>>>]
:: On Liturgical Nonsense, Recent Restore Rants, Church Music, Etc (I. Shawn McElhinney)[>>>]
:: Briefly Revisiting an Old Subject (I. Shawn McElhinney) [>>>]
:: Examining Kevin Tierney's "Catholic Contract" (I. Shawn McElhinney) [>>>]
[:::....Guest Editorials...:::]
:: The Problems Some Have With Interfaith Outreach (Guest Editorial by Gary Gubinski) [>>>]
:: On the Liturgical Movement (Guest Editorial by the Society of St. John; Prologue by I. Shawn McElhinney) [>>>]
:: Jacinta's Vision (Guest Editorial by Fr. Thomas Carleton) [>>>]
:: Guest Editorial on Private Revelation (Kevin M. Tierney) [>>>]
Any correspondence will be presumed eligible for blogging unless the sender otherwise specifies (cf. Welborn Protocol)

*Ecumenical Jihad listing is for weblogs or websites which are either dedicated to or which to the webmaster (i) are worth reading and (ii) characteri ze in their general outlook the preservation of general Judeo-Christian morality and which are aimed at positively integrating these elements into society. (Such sites need not even be Catholic ones.)

As society has grown more estranged from its founding principles, I wish to note sites which share the same sentiments for the restoration of society even if the means advocated in this endeavour differ. The Lidless Eye Inquisition does not necessarily endorse particulars with sites under this heading.

:: Tuesday, November 30, 2004 ::

On Sungenis’ “Novelty” Part 2

This is a continuation of the thread located HERE.

I have been informed that Sungenis responded to my post. It can be read here:

Having shown that Sungenis’ quotes doesn’t prove that God has emotions, he responded:

True, we don't find the word "emotion" in these quotes, but then again, we don't find the word "emotion" in the Bible either. We also don't read the word "intellect" or "will" in the Bible, but we know that all the Bible's characters are using their intellects and wills.

I never said that the Fathers have to use the word “emotions” in their writings. All I said was that the quotes Sungenis gave does not prove that they believed that things like anger and love, etc are emotions. Sungenis then tries to criticize Augustine’s arguments. Again, I have no problem with this. Nor do I have a problem in using the Fathers’ writings as his foundation or principles he will work on. My main problem with Sungenis is that he thinks he can build on the writings of the Fathers, but Hahn can’t. Sungenis criticized Dr. Hahn for interpreting the Church Fathers’ writings on the “femininity” of the Spirit as being more than an analogy or a metaphor. Whether Dr. Hahn is actually doing that is debatable (I believe Dr. Hahn was speaking metaphorically). The main point is that Dr. Hahn can use the Fathers’ writings of the “femininity” of the Spirit and try to develop it just as Sungenis is. To simply say “The Church Fathers never believed that” is not a sound criticism.

In arguing for his position, Sungenis used Tertullian and Lactantius as his support. But, as Mr. Field has said, he must prove that the “anger” of God as an emotion must be supported by the consensus of the fathers (Sungenis’ rule). It is not.

Now on the issue of scholasticism vs. phenomenology, I do not think Sungenis understood what I was saying. I was not criticizing him on that issue. I was criticizing Rad-trads who condemn Pope John Paul II because he uses phenomenology. To people who know me or have read my writings, one can see how I have defended the use of phenomenology over and over again. Pope John Paul II, for example, uses phenomenology while having thomistic metaphysics as his foundation. This is, contrary to what the Rad-Trads think, not impossible. Dallas Willard in “Phenomenology and Metaphysics” says:

“Now of course there is a crucial point to be made here, but I think it is not that of the ABSOLUTE INDEPENDENCE OF PHENOMENOLOGY FROM ALL ONTOLOGY, FORMAL AND MATERIAL ALIKE. Rather, if one assumes such an "absolute Independence," then phenomenology—at least in the form it takes in Husserl's hands—simply becomes unintelligible; for then what is plainly being done in fundamental stretches of phenomenological analysis must be passed off as something it simply is not. This is because those analyses necessarily involve ontological analyses of consciousness, both of the act and the stream…So the basic structures to be theoretically elaborated in formal ontology (without the Kantian overtones incorporated in Kockelmans’ statement) are fully elaborated in the progress of phenomenology and are inseparable from that progress.”

Sungenis says: “First of all, apparently, Traditionalists are much more open-minded than Mr. Latar.” Oh really? That just shows his ignorance of my position and apparently, of what goes on in rad-trad circles. I do not need to remind him that there are many rad-trads oppose John Paul’s use of phenomenology, even in his book “Love and Responsibility”.

Now, although this is not really an important issue to make, I would like to defend Aquinas a bit from Sungenis’ criticism. Sungenis says:

“Thomas understood sex merely as a biological function and did not speak of it in terms of love shared between spouses.”

First of all, I do not understand how anyone can read Thomas Aquinas and think that an action can simply be a “biological function.” This is a caricature of what Aquinas taught about the human person. To Thomas, the human person is not simply a soul who uses his body. This is Plato’s view of man, not Thomas. To Thomas, the human person is a composite of soul and body. To Thomas, the soul and body are two incomplete substances. When they are united, they form a complete substance. [1] To say that an action like sex is “merely a biological function” is simply ignorant of Thomas’ view of the human person since to Thomas, a human act involves both the soul and body.

Second, since sex is the marital act, then it must be interpreted in light of marriage. To Thomas, marriage has a threefold good: birth of children, fidelity to each other, and a sacrament. [2] The reason why impurity is a sin is because it is contrary to virtue and justice. [3] To say that sex is merely a biological function is to say that lust is justifiable to Aquinas.

Sungenis also says:

Thomas did not have a good understanding of beauty and aesthetics, but phenomenology filled that gap as well.

Phenomenology may have filled the gap, but it does not mean that Thomas did not have a good understanding of beauty and aesthetics. Jacques Maritain, in Art and Scholasticism, uses Thomas to build his aesthetics. Of course, there is a difference in approach with phenomenologists. Dietrich von Hildebrand disagrees with Aquinas that beauty is a transcendental. To von Hildebrand, beauty is not the splendor of form, but the splendor of value. But even if this were so, one can unite Aquinas and von Hildebrand together. One can unite in some way von Hildebrand’s notion of “value” to Aquinas’ use of the “good.” [4]

To wrap up on this philosophy-talk, let me respond to what Sungenis said:

What is needed today is a development of the philosophy about emotions, not an avoidance of emotion that was common among Romanesque and Gothic culture.

Well, I do not understand why it is “needed today.” Sungenis does, however, have the right to speculate on this matter. Nonetheless, if a philosophy of emotions is necessary, then I would also say that a philosophy on marriage, sex, love, and the human body is also needed. And John Paul II has done this in Theology of the Body and Love and Responsibility, which Rad-trads also criticize.

Back to the Dr. Hahn controversy, Sungenis says:

The point is, there is no patristic or medieval precedent for what Hahn is proposing (that is, identifying the Holy Spirit with the feminine, in distinction to the Father and Son).

Of course, this is not true. It has been pointed out that Sungenis is wrong on this issue. [5]

Now, on the issue of the theologian Matthias Scheeben, he says:

If true, then Scheeben has the Holy Spirit, in the above case, representing the masculine, and in the other case Latar quoted from Scheeben in his previous letter, representing the feminine. This type of confusion needs to stop.

There is no confusion here. Scheeben spoke of the Spirit as being maternal in some way, yet He is also masculine. It simply means that we can talk about the Spirit being maternal in some way, yet not negate His masculinity.

On analogies, Sungenis says:

Mr. Latar needs to show us where Thomas says the specific statement: "analogy has ontological significance," and just what he thinks that means in this discussion. If Mr. Latar is trying to say that analogies of the Trinity that depict them as having feminine actions can then be turned into ontological realities of the feminine nature, he is quite wrong.

I do not understand why Sungenis does not think that analogy has ontological significance. [6] An analogy by its nature is a relationship between two different beings or types of beings and how they resemble each other. The kind(s) of analogy Aquinas hold on to is the analogy of intrinsic attribution and proper proportionality. Now, how can a person use the analogy of intrinsic attribution if their characteristics are not part of being?

Sungenis says:

Earlier Mr. Latar was arguing that "analogy has ontological significance" and now he was to distance "analogy" from "ontology." He needs to make up his mind.

This was a response to the quote:

"By divine actions that are bridal and maternal, we may come to discern a divine bridal-maternity in the Holy Spirit!It is in the relations of the human family that the life of the Trinity is reflected more truly and fully than anywhere else in the natural order. In other words, the analogy of bridal-motherhood is relational and familial, not physical or sexual (much less political)." (First Come Love, pg. 138)

I am not distancing myself from ontology. As I have said, analogy does have some ontological significance. [7] The reason why I quoted Dr. Hahn was to show that he was indeed speaking of analogy. [8]


[1] The Christian Philosophy of St. Thomas Aquinas by Etienne Gilson (University of Notre Dame Press, 1994), pg. 196

[2] The Catechetical Instructions of St. Thomas Aquinas. Holy Matrimony. What is neglected in Aquinas’ view on marriage is that procreation is not simply the end of marriage. Marriage to him is the strongest of all friendship/love and procreation is not simply bringing a child to the world, but raising and educating him together (SCG III, 123).

[3] He says of intercourse: “When it is had with the intention of bringing forth offspring, it is an act of virtue. When it is had with the intent of rendering mutual comfort, it is an act of justice” (Catechetical Instructions. The Sixth Commandment).

[4] To Aquinas, beauty and goodness is the same thing. (ST, I, q. 5, a. 4, reply to obj. 1. See also a. 1). Is there really a substantial difference between value/dignity and goodness? Are they not inter-connected in some way?

[5] See Mr. Field and Michael’s refutation of Sungenis.

[6] It’s also funny how Sungenis wants me to give him a statement from Aquinas saying "analogy has ontological significance." But a while back, he said that the word “emotion” does not need to be in Scripture or the Fathers in order for his novel theory to work. Another double-standard. Sungenis would also be justified in saying that analogy has no ontological significance if he is a nominalist, but I don’t think that’s his position.

[7] If analogy does not have any kind of ontological significance, then what kind of religious language does Sungenis advocate?

[8] According to the Field/Michael article:

“Since writing this article, Mr. Field has been contacted by Dr. Hahn, who, after reading the article himself, has confirmed for Mr. Field that he was indeed speaking in a metaphorical fashion.”

This does not mean that Dr. Hahn was not using analogy. Indeed, when I say “Bobby is a chick-magnet,” I am not saying that Bobby is literally a magnet. It’s a metaphor. Yet, the word “magnet” is used in a way that can be attributed to a literal magnet and Bobby.

:: Ap 10:11 PM [+] | ::

:: Tuesday, November 23, 2004 ::
On Sungenis’ “Novelty”

A person named Paul has emailed me Sungenis’ response to my post “Sungenis/Ferrara and Double Standards.” At the first glance of his response, it was clear that Sungenis did not see how rad-trads make double-standards in dealing with Catholic apologists/theologians. My point of the post was not really to get involved with the theological dispute of this, but how rad-trads have condemned Dr. Hahn’s theology by calling it “novel,” but do not condemn Sungenis’ “novelty.” I argued that Dr. Hahn might have some case for his theology; that it is not as novel as rad-trads think. At the same time, I have exposed how Sungenis’ theology is probably even more novel than Dr. Hahn’s. Dr. Hahn at least has martyrs by his side while Sungenis does not have anyone.

Let me respond to Sungenis’ defense of his “novel” theology. First, let me remind people that Sungenis believes that God has emotions (See Not By Faith Alone, pg. 16 and Not By Bread Alone Appendix 6). Sungenis’ response to this was:

“Apparently, Mr. Latar has not read all of the Fathers on this issue. For anyone interested, there will be a full explanation on our website under the title "Mr. Field Goes Far Afield Defending Scott Hahn" in the next few days.”

Let us see Sungenis’ supposedly proofs for God’s anger being emotional:

Gregory, Epistle, Book 9, Epistle 1, To Janarius: “If therefore you know of any that are violent, if of any that are adulterers, if of any that are thieves, or bent on other wicked deeds, make haste to appease God by their correction, that He may not bring upon you the scourge due to unfaithful races, which, so far as we see, is already lifted up for the punishment of many nations.”

Nothing about God having emotions there.

Jerome, Letters, 60, To Heliodorus: “We have long felt that God is angry, yet we do not try to appease Him. It is our sins which make the barbarians strong, it is our vices which vanquish Rome's soldiers: and, as if there were here too little material for carnage, civil wars have made almost greater havoc among us than the swords of foreign foes.”

Yes, it speaks of God being angry, but it does not say that God’s anger is an emotion.

Jerome, Against Jovinius, Book 2: “So also the city of Nineveh by fasting excited compassion and turned aside the threatening wrath of the Lord. And Sodom and Gomorrha might have appeased it, had they been willing to repent, and through the aid of fasting gain for themselves tears of repentance. Ahab, the most impious of kings, by fasting and wearing sackcloth, succeeded in escaping the sentence of God, and in deferring the overthrow of his house to the days of his posterity. Hannah, the wife of Elkanah, by fasting won the gift of a son.”

Again, it does not say anything about how God’s anger is an emotion there.

Augustine, City of God, Book 22, Ch 8: “Now it was about fifteen days before Easter when they came, and they came daily to church, and specially to the relics of the most glorious Stephen, praying that God might now be appeased, and restore their former health.”

Nothing about God’s anger being an emotion there either. In fact, Augustine said:

Moreover, the anger and jealousy of God are not emotions of God; as some do charge upon the Scriptures which they do not understand: but under the name anger is to be understood the avenging iniquity; under the name of jealousy, the exaction of chastity." (On the Psalms, 79, 8)

Sungenis then quotes:

John Cassian, Twelve Books, Book 11, Ch 10: “So that all his good deeds would have been forgotten as if they had never been, and he would at once have been subject to the wrath of the Lord unless he had appeased Him by recovering his humility.”

Nothing about emotion there.

John Cassian, The Conferences, Part 2, XX, Conference on Abbot Pinufius, Chapter 4: “...so that when God is offended by our past sins, and on the point of inflicting a most just punishment for such offences, it somehow, if it is not wrong to say so, stops Him, and, if I may so say, stays the right hand of the Avenger even against His will.”

Nothing about emotion there.

Cyprian, On the Lapsed 16: “All these warnings being scorned and contemned, before their sin is expiated, before confession has been made of their crime, before their conscience has been purged by sacrifice and by the hand of the priest, before the offence of an angry and threatening Lord has been appeased, violence is done to His body and blood; and they sin now against their Lord more with their hand and mouth than when they denied their Lord.”

Nothing about emotion there. Again, just because the Fathers speak of “anger of God,” it does not necessarily mean they are speaking of His anger.

On Works and Alms, 4: “...should they be able to make atonement for their sins; nor, if they were clothed in sackcloth and ashes, be able to soften God's anger, yet in the last part showing that God can be appeased by almsgiving alone, he added, saying, "Break thy bread to the hungry, and bring the poor that are without a home into thy house.”

Again, no emotion there.

Gregory Nanzianzus, Orations, 16: “Let us anticipate His anger by confession; let us desire to see Him appeased, after He was wroth. Who knows, he says, if He will turn and repent, and leave a blessing behind Him? This I know certainly, I the sponsor of the loving-kindness of God. And when He has laid aside that which is unnatural to Him, His anger, He will betake Himself to that which is natural, His mercy.” [NB: Yet Gregory insisted that God was impassible].

No emotion there.

Gregory the Great, Epistles, Book 11, Epistle 1: (Exod. xxxiii. seq.). “When the Lord was wrath with the people, he appeased Him by the intervention of his prayer; those who rose in pride and dissented in discord he engulfed in the jaws of the gaping earth; he bore down his enemies with victories, and showed signs to his own people.”

No emotion there.

Leo The Great, Letter 156, To Leo Augustus: “...of the rights of others and reinstating the ancient Faith in the See of Alexandria, that by your reforms GOD's wrath may be appeased, and so He take not vengeance for their doings on a people hitherto religious, but forgive them.” [Obviously, Leo separates God’s anger from His vengeance]

No emotion there.

Origin, Against Celsus, Book 4, Ch 72: “For that which is called God’s ‘wrath,’ and ‘anger,’ is a means of discipline; and that such a view is agreeable to Scripture, is evident from what is said in the sixth Psalm, ‘O LORD, rebuke me not in Thine anger, neither chasten me in Thy hot displeasure;’ and also in Jeremiah. ‘O LORD, correct me, but with judgment: not in Thine anger, lest Thou bring me to nothing.’”

Close, but nothing here speaks of God’s anger being an emotion. [1]

Sungenis says:

“I have no problem, in certain senses, calling the anger of God “metaphorical,” since the usual connotation of anger in human terms is someone who is out of control and irrational. God’s anger is neither.”

That’s great and all, but Sungenis’ position is that God is not unemotional (NBFA, 16). The Fathers did not teach this nor did Aquinas. On the issue of Aquinas, Sungenis said:

“Unfortunately, Mr. Latar is too much of a reactionary to stop and think what I really said and meant. Although I am a Thomist, there is one area of Thomas' philosophy that I feel is inadequate and of which Phenomenology has a better answer.”

I don’t understand why rad-trads won’t go against Sungenis on this. Why would Sungenis prefer a philosophy which can lead to subjectivism rather than the good old scholastic tradition the Popes have taught that we should stick to? Rad-trads criticize many people like John Paul who uses Husserl and Scheler, but when Sungenis uses them, they do not care? Rad-Trads criticize Dr. Hahn for using this language of “femininity” when there the world has become very feministic. Yet, we are also living today where our emotions are used as our guide instead of reason, and Sungenis wants now to say that God Himself has emotions. Again, those are all double standards.

Sungenis then says:

“Thomas sure didn't claim to be perfect, and I'm sure if someone were to show him the weakness of this particular area of his philosophy, he would lend a grateful ear. He would also condemn Mr. Latar's pride.”

Wait a minute. How did my pride get in this? I mean, here is a person who criticizes Dr. Hahn for having no support in the Church Fathers, yet Sungenis himself, as I have shown, does not either. The quotes he gave do not speak anything at all of emotions. And to say that the Church Fathers had some kind of idea that anger is an emotion of God is an anachronistic thing to say. Sungenis has no proof of that. He may start with the Church Fathers as principles and try to develop his thesis, which is fine. But then, he cannot say that Dr. Hahn cannot do the same with the Fathers. If you are a rad-trad and reading this, why should you not condemn Sungenis for the very thing he and Ferrara are doing to Dr. Hahn?
Now, on the issue of God condemning my pride, of course He does.

Let me briefly respond to Sungenis’ criticisms of Dr. Hahn.

He said:

“Fortunately, Kolbe and Stein did not write pages and pages of material in several books about the identity of the Holy Spirit. And neither of them claimed to be theologians, nor did they teach at universities and sell thousands of books with novel ideas about Adam, covenants, the millennium, prima scriptura, and many other problems in Hahn's theology.”

So what if they did not claim to be theologians or teach at universities? There are many saints in the history of the Church who has contributed to theology who were not theologians. I don’t think I have to point them out in order for Sungenis to know that.

I also quoted the theologian Matthias Scheeben on this issue. Sungenis simply critiqued his theology, which is fine. Nonetheless, the magisterium did not condemn his writings. Scheeben also said:

“Precisely to obviate the forming of such erroneous opinions is one of the reasons why the bridal state of the Mother of God is usually referred to the Holy Ghost instead of to the Father. Through the fact that the Holy Ghost, who proceeds from the Logos, appears as bridegroom, the production of the Logos is formally presented as complete in itself.” (Mariology, Vol. I (St. Louis, MO: Herder, 1945), pg. 175)

Again, Sungenis might criticize this statement. Yet, since the theologian Scheeben and other saints have held on to it, and the magisterium has not condemned it, a person can still believe in it. All Sungenis can come up with is:

“The closest the Church has come is to say that the Holy Spirit "proceeds" from the Father and the Son, just as she has taught that the Son is "begotten" by the Father, but the Church has not explained, dogmatically, what "procession" and "begotten" means in respect of the fact that the three persons of the Trinity have always existed together.”

Well, if that’s the criteria of theological speculation, then since the Magisterium has not explained what “anger of God” means, then he shouldn’t say it is an emotion.

I also explained how in the scholastic tradition, analogy has ontological significance. Sungenis says:

“I find Mr. Latar's explanation very confusing and not germane to the point. The issue is: there is no ontological identity of the Holy Spirit with the feminine gender, zip, nada, zilch. Anyone who asserts that there is an ontology of femininity in the Holy Spirit and thus distinguishes the Spirit from the Father and Son in that regard, is preaching heresy.”

It’s funny first of all how Sungenis does not interact with my argument on analogy and simply says it confuses him. Well, I would suggest that anyone read my explanation and read any scholastic/thomistic work on analogy and see if I am accurate and if I make sense. What also struck me is how Sungenis says that a person who holds to Dr. Hahn’s theology is “preaching heresy.” I’m sorry, Sungenis is not the magisterium. Matthias Scheeben was not a heretic either. Scheeben was a well-known theologian and the magisterium would have condemned him if he taught heresy. St. Kolbe was not a heretic nor was Edith Stein. What struck me is how he was speaking of my “pride,” yet he is the one who is acting like he is the magisterium. Now, I have no problem with people who disagree with Dr. Hahn’s theology. To say one is theologically in error is different than saying one is doctrinally in error. [2]

Finally, let me quote Sungenis:

“First of all, I don't "attack" anyone, I simply challenge Catholic apologists when they make false statements. They can do the same to me, if they wish. That is how we all grow in the faith.”

Now, compare that statement to what he emailed me:

“I really don't have time for people who keep denying that there are grave problems in the church today, and who keep making excuses for every heresy they see promoted in modernism. As far as I'm concerned, Shawn McIhenny, Pete Vere, John Betts are and a few of the others in your group are working for the devil, not Catholicism…The above mentioned people are nothing but clanging cymbals."

Right, Sungenis doesn’t “attack” anyone. I want to see how Sungenis tries to spin this one.

[1] He quotes more, but they are the same kind of quotes. It speaks of nothing about God’s anger being an emotion. Also, note how Sungenis uses Augustine as a quote. Augustine’s language is very much of the same kind of language the Fathers Sungenis’ quoted, but Augustine does not believe that God’s anger is an emotion.

[2] Let me also quote Dr. Hahn to see what his theology is:

“By divine actions that are bridal and maternal, we may come to discern a divine bridal-maternity in the Holy Spirit…It is in the relations of the human family that the life of the Trinity is reflected more truly and fully than anywhere else in the natural order. In other words, the analogy of bridal-motherhood is relational and familial, not physical or sexual (much less political).” (First Come Love, pg. 138)

So it seems like Dr. Hahn is speaking of analogy there.


:: Ap 1:36 PM [+] | ::

:: Thursday, November 18, 2004 ::
To "Mr. T" on Conscience, Idolatry, the Oriental Mind, Etc...
(Part III of III)

This is a continuation of the thread located HERE. To start from the beginning of this thread, please go HERE.

SME: So the pope did evangelize at Assisi. He did this firstly with an appeal to one of the sentiments of the human heart which bears witness to man's natural yearning for God. He did this secondly with recourse to the Pauline theology of recapitulation to situate the entire gathering in Jesus Christ. All that remains now is to confute the noxious prevarication that he "call[ed] pagans together to pray to their false gods" and this objection -like the numerous ones mentioned throughout his essay which were covered in urls 1, 2, 3, and 4 of this writer's longer essay response to David- can be cast aside as unviable as well.

KMT: This we shall see. Because if Shawn cannot prove his final assertion, his entire case collapses.

I will presume from what he says above that Mr. Tierney is giving a concurrence to the first three points in the argumentation sequence. Nonetheless, we will see if I actually fail to prove my final point or not.

KMT: Any intentions the Holy Father may have had become undercut when he stresses prayer to a God that is objectively false. I want to hear it from Shawn; the Great Thumb is not a false God objectively. Don’t tell me he’s false to us yet true to them. This isn’t relativism, there is objective truth.

Yet again Mr. Tierney misses the central point. The Holy Father stresses fidelity to conscience and followed all of the pointers laid down by Pope Paul VI in Evangelii Nuntiandi on how evangelization should be carried out with respect to the “religious and spiritual situation of those being evangelized” (Evang. Nunt.). Mr. Tierney’s unwillingness to deal with this factor is troubling because I made this a very large part of my essay arguments on the subject.

This is not an issue of whether or not the Great Thumb is or is not objectively a false God. Instead, it is an issue of recognizing the good will of those who mistakingly invoke the Great Thumb and recognize that for the eastern religions, God is not proved to them in words. This is the flaw in the overly cerebral approach to God that western minds such as Mr. Tierney take: they presume that they can prove God to these people by logical argumentation. As that is not how the eastern mind functions, this is an exercise in futility ultimately. That also explains in large part why evangelization in the orient was a dismal failure for centuries and those who succeeded were the ones that took a more integral view of the manner whereby God is understood to the eastern mind. As I noted in the essay Mr. Tierney is responding to:

With regards to missionary work, Bishop Fulton J. Sheen expounded upon this theme of abstract theories in his musings about missionary work when he noted that "it might be short-sightedness on our part to impose Aristotelian philosophy on the Eastern mind; that it would have been better to have gathered up the good religious aspirations of the Eastern people in the natural religions to bring them to Revelation. God is not proven to them; He is rather 'given'" (Treasure in Clay pg. 146). This is a textbook example of the problems that crop up whenever westerners who try to approach easterns with a predominantly abstract notion of evangelization. Evangelization involves both words as well as actions. [I. Shawn McElhinney: The Assisi Interfaith Gatherings and Catholic Principles (c. 2004)]

I also read once the very apt statement that "for the Eastern mind, trying to trap God into words is like trying to lasso the wind." That is about as good a summary statement on the matter as I can find on the matter so I note it here for the readers to muse on while reading the rest of this response. Those of us who are familiar to some extent with the eastern approach to Revelation recognize these factor and utilize them in our outreach efforts. Those who do not (such as Mr. Tierney) continue to try the more cerebrally-based apologetics and then wonder why they do not get anywhere with those of an oriental mindset. The reason of course is that they do not approach the oriental understanding at all but try to impose western outlooks on easterners. Furthermore, there are factors about idolatry that are frequently overlooked by people of Mr. Tierney's outlook. A good source on this matter is the 1913 Catholic Encyclopedia and its entry on idolatry:

Considered in itself, idolatry is the greatest of mortal sins. For it is, by definition, an inroad on God's sovereignty over the world, an attempt on His Divine majesty, a rebellious setting up of a creature on the throne that belongs to Him alone. Even the simulation of idolatry, in order to escape death during persecution, is a mortal sin, because of the pernicious falsehood it involves and the scandal it causes. Of Seneca who, against his better knowledge, took part in idolatrous worship, St. Augustine says: "He was the more to be condemned for doing mendaciously what people believed him to do sincerely". The guilt of idolatry, however, is not to be estimated by its abstract nature alone; the concrete form it assumes in the conscience of the sinner is the all-important element. No sin is mortal — i. e. debars man from attaining the end for which he was created — that is not committed with clear knowledge and free determination. But how many, or how few, of the countless millions of idolaters are, or have been, able to distinguish between the one Creator of all things and His creatures? and, having made the distinction, how many have been perverse enough to worship the creature in preference to the Creator? — It is reasonable, Christian, and charitable to suppose that the "false gods" of the heathen were, in their conscience, the only true God they knew, and that their worship being right in its intention, went up to the one true God with that of Jews and Christians to whom He had revealed Himself. "In the day when God shall judge the secrets of men by Jesus Christ . . . . . the gentiles who have not the law, shall be judged by their conscience" (Rom., ii, 14-16). God, who wishes all men to be saved, and Christ, who died for all who sinned in Adam, would be frustrated in their merciful designs if the prince of this world were to carry off all idolaters.

Thus, the pope at Assisi in making this presumption of the participants there was acting in a manner that the article outlines as "reasonable", "Christian", and "charitable." By logical extension therefore, those who do not make this presumption can be seen as being "unreasonable", "unChristian", and "uncharitable." That is one reason why my approach on this issue is so uncompromising. Another is that I have some understanding of how the easterner looks at the world and also grasps Revelation because I have familial roots in the eastern traditions. (Ukrainian Catholic and Ukrainian Orthodox to be precise.)

There is a lot more of a holistic outlook on these matters to the easterner than there is to the westerner. I hope in the future to write an essay I have long planned to write on the distinctions of outlook between western and eastern ways of viewing various subjects. In the meantime, what is noted here can serve as a bit of clarification on this matter for the readers.

SME: The reader will note that Pope John Paul never once exhorted anyone to pray to a false god. What he did do is exhort everyone present to pray in accordance with the dictates of their conscience. Since there are five references to "conscience" and four to "conviction" -which is rooted in conscience, let us consider what the Church teaches about conscience. The Catholic Encyclopedia in its article on "conscience" notes that "[e]ven where due diligence is employed conscience will err sometimes, but its inculpable mistakes will be admitted by God to be not blameworthy."

KMT: This doesn’t rescue Shawn, but rather condemns any Catholic who participated in this I feel.

Notice though that Mr. Tierney is treating these arguments the same way certain non-Catholic controversialists do with patristic sources and their relation to Catholic dogma. (Presumably he is not aware he is doing this.)

Furthermore, I note again what I noted earlier on about the traditional concept of "double effect." If Mr. Tierney applied that principle to this issue, he would probably not have most of the problems with it he is currently having.

KMT: It is always interesting how “defenders” of the papacy (and many times they are defenders of what they think the papacy should be) end up indicting the papacy more than a Traditionalist would ever imagine.

I have not indicted the papacy in any way with what I have said.

KMT: Those pagans should very well know what the Church teaches. How Christianity is the only religion that has the fullness of truth, and that their God is the one true God. This would not be a case of those people ignorant of what the Christian faith is. No, they are well aware of the Christian faith, yet still choose to stick to their false beliefs. These are not people who have had no contact with Christian civilization in some theoretical remote island, but indeed, are in the very presence of Christianity, in the very presence of Christ’s representative on Earth, who says Jesus Christ is what gives us peace.

See my previous comments

KMT: Unless Shawn is willing to say the Holy Father meant only peace for Christians, and not all, the idea of inculpable mistakes, chances are that doesn’t cover here. To act as if it does almost makes it as if one can read souls.

Mr. Tierney is making artificial dichotomies here since obviously the Holy Father was not meaning peace for only Christians. As far as his claim that the idea of inculpable mistakes, chances are that doesn’t cover here is not in conformity with what the Church's longstanding understanding about (i) the importance of all people to follow the law inscribed on their hearts - which involves seeking God to the best of their understanding (ii) the role of double effect in moral theology, and (iii) the importance of fidelity to one's conscience at all times -even if that conscience is objectively erroneous. See the previous entry on the subject of idolatry and what I noted earlier on the subjects of double effect and fidelity to conscience respectively.

KMT: Yet let us say in theory they are ignorant. What better chance than to get rid of that ignorance. St. Paul did so, in noting that God overlooked their ignorance in the past, but now calls them unto Himself, for He is revealed to them.

That is a fine approach when one is dealing with more cerebral western approaches to theology. Longstanding experience with the oriental missions and the eastern outlook (which St. Paul did not have at the time of the Areopagus speech I might add) have shown that this approach does not work for the oriental mind.

Furthermore, St. Paul used many different missionary approaches and the ones he used earlier on were modified as he interacted more with different peoples. He became aware that missionary work was a lot more delicate than he had initially presumed and what worked with Greek philosophers was not going to work with those who were not so cerebral in their approach to matters of religion. However, Mr. Tierney much as many who are critical of Assisi interfaith endeavours goes back to the Areopagus speech as his locus of argumentation without taking into account the various approaches that St. Paul utilized.

Again, the Areopagus method failed in the orient for centuries everytime it was tried. At what point will more western-minded people recognize that it is they who need to speak in ways that their audience can comprehend rather than trying to utilize methods that are alien to the very manner whereby the easterns consider issues such as Revelation and the role of religion in society???

The St. Paul of Romans ii is a much more nuanced St. Paul than the one who preached in Acts xvii: the benefit of ten additional years of evangelization was some of the reason for this.{1} What he noted in that text is at the foundation of any notion of ignorance that cannot be removed by an ordinary use of due diligence: the premise that people who do what is required by the law who do not possess the law. One of the requirements of the law is acknowledging Him Who Is to the best that one comprehends Him. That is a first step in the process of evangelization: fidelity to conscience and actively seeking the truth at all times. As evangelization is a process and often takes years, one has to consider the particular outlook of those they are trying to reach. Again, I quote my Assisi essay on the matter where the important Apostolic Exhortation Evangelii Nuntiandi of Pope Paul VI is referenced on the proper approach to take in evangelizing others:

Pope Paul VI in his seminal Apostolic Exhortation Evangelii Nuntiandi took onto account the various forms of evangelization as previously noted in this essay. With regards to the work of evangelization in the aforementioned Exhortation he noted the following on the matter:

The work of evangelization presupposes in the evangelizer an ever increasing love for those whom he is evangelizing. That model evangelizer, the Apostle Paul, wrote these words to the Thessalonians, and they are a program for us all: "With such yearning love we chose to impart to you not only the gospel of God but our very selves, so dear had you become to us."{1 Thess 2:8; cf. Phil 1:8.} What is this love? It is much more than that of a teacher; it is the love of a father; and again, it is the love of a mother.{Cf. 1 Thess 2:7-11; 1 Cor 4:15; Gal 4:19.} It is this love that the Lord expects from every preacher of the Gospel, from every builder of the Church. A sign of love will be the concern to give the truth and to bring people into unity. Another sign of love will be a devotion to the proclamation of Jesus Christ, without reservation or turning back. Let us add some other signs of this love.

The first is respect for the religious and spiritual situation of those being evangelized. Respect for their tempo and pace; no one has the right to force them excessively. Respect for their conscience and convictions, which are not to be treated in a harsh manner.

Another sign of this love is concern not to wound the other person, especially if he or she is weak in faith,{Cf. 1 Cor 8:9-13; Rom 14:15.} with statements that may be clear for those who are already initiated but which for the faithful can be a source of bewilderment and scandal, like a wound in the soul.

Yet another sign of love will be the effort to transmit to Christians not doubts and uncertainties born of an erudition poorly assimilated but certainties that are solid because they are anchored in the Word of God. The faithful need these certainties for their Christian life; they have a right to them, as children of God who abandon themselves entirely into His arms and to the exigencies of love. [Pope Paul VI: Apostolic Exhortation Evangelii Nuntiandi §79 (December 8, 1975)]

The respect for those being evangelized was to include respect for their tempo and pace -all of which means taking careful note of their outlooks to know where they are on the spectrum. As it was noted earlier, conversion is a process and can often take many years. With those whose approach to religion in general is diametrically different than the more cerebrally focused approach common to those of a western outlook, there is a requirement to not try and impose western notions onto the eastern mind. To do this is hardly to show a proper "respect for the religious and spiritual situation of those being evangelized" (ibid.) but is instead to do violence to it. Also of paramount importance for the Assisi discussion is the emphasis on respect for the consciences and convictions of those being evangelized.

What Pope Paul VI said about the importance of respecting the conscience and conviction of others is precisely what Pope John Paul II manifested the intention of doing in his Allocution at Assisi in 1986. Neither the consciences nor the convictions of the non-Christians at Assisi were treated in a harsh matter. [I. Shawn McElhinney: The 'Tradition' is Opposed to Novelty' Canard (c. 2004)]

The same material was quoted verbatim in my essay on Assisi which Mr. Tierney responded to in the writing I am commenting on at this time. Frankly, I fail to see why this is difficult to comprehend by Mr. Tierney except (perhaps) that his approach to religion is too cerebrally focused and not sufficiently holistic: too focused on words and not enough on actions which in the oriental mind speak a lot louder than mere words.

KMT: Yet when this approach is advocated, Neo-Catholics bring out the old “fire and brimstone” canard, claiming we can’t force our religion on them.

I remind the readers of my earlier referencing of Pope Benedict XV on this kind of labelling and how it is inappropriate for Catholics to utilize.

KMT: Nobody said we could. Yet could it not be pointed out that Jesus Christ is our peace, and we hope that they experience His peace?

Pope John Paul II did exactly this at Assisi!!! He made this reference a few times -particularly after the prayers for peace. See footnote seven of my Assisi essay for details on this -a part I might note that Mr. Tierney conspicuously passed over in his review of the essay.

KMT: Why not make the case that Christianity is the most coherent means of obtaining that peace? Here we had a great opportunity, and sorry to say, we blew it. One could say the implication was left we confirmed them in their errors. (And indeed, many people after Assisi 2002 said the impression one religion was as good as another was quite prominent.)

Again, why does Mr. Tierney not seem to grasp the unavoidable fact that conversion is a process and those who cannot handle meat need to be fed milk first??? With those who do not comprehend God in verbal formularies, it is pointless to approach them in that manner and expect them to "get it" anymore than it would be for my late Ukrainian grandmother to speak to Mr. Tierney or myself in Ukrainian and expect us to "get it." As far as the "many people after Assisis 2002" who said what Mr. Tierney claims on this issue, need we point out that many people are convinced that Catholic veneration of saints is the same thing as worshipping them??? Consider this parallel which is suicidal logically speaking for the argument that Mr. Tierney is seeking to advance here.

It cannot be denied that many non-Catholics see no difference between worshipping God and venerating images however it is explained to them. (A point I raised in my essay response to David Palm and in the extraction Assisi essay.) Does that mean that we abandon that practice or do we better attempt to explain the distinctions to those who look at it this way??? If we follow Mr. Tierney's "logic" the answer would seem to be "yes." I disagree though that in either case this is necessary.

All we can do is tell the truth and if others choose to put an unfavourable interpretation on our words or actions, that is their problem not ours. I see reaching these people implicitly and cultivating their religious impulse in accordance with the dictates of their consciences and convictions as the first step in evangelization. This is what I noted in my Assisi essay in one of the sections that Mr. Tierney passed conspicuously passed over in his review. Those who are interested can review the paragraph after the fifth source reference, the sixth source reference, and the paragraph following the sixth source reference.{2} It bears noting again though that the essay intended to build on several points in a systematical fashion and therefore any critique that hopes to interact with the arguments advanced needs to take this into consideration if they want to see the forest for the trees.

KMT: So even if we grant the pagans making “inculpable mistakes” one could say we Catholics made a very “culpable mistake.”

Perhaps so. But what is worse, trying to reach these people in ways that history shows us has failed miserably time and again (so that we feel better about it) or reaching them in ways that they can comprehend -even if doing this means we have to move out of our comfort zone in doing it??? I submit it is the former and indeed noted it almost four years ago in my essay Confusing Culture With 'Tradition' -in an excerpt referenced in url 4 of my response to David Palm (prior to the material on Assisi which made up part of url 5 of that essay):

It is disgraceful that so many souls were probably lost centuries ago all over stupid symbols such as European customs and the dead Latin language rammed down the throats of people to whom Latin language and European customs were as alien to them as their customs were (and are) to those of us of European ancestry and culture. This is the biggest danger of the 'traditionalist' movement and they are too stubbornly ignorant to wise up to these matters and deal with the mission of the Church. That mission is preaching the Gospel and helping people achieve salvation, not promulgating as symbols of a 'tradition' elements that are in no way fundamental to the faith. [I. Shawn McElhinney: Confusing Culture With 'Tradition' (c. 2001)]

I stand by that position and note that my essay response to David Palm (and the Assisi essay which was excerpted in large part from the former essay) likewise reiterates that principle unambiguously.

KMT: Give me one good reason why the approach outlined explicitly would be so horrible? Are we that afraid of religions that want our power diminished that we won’t speak the truth? We seem to be more concerned with man’s views than with God.

One good reason he says. Okay, how about this: God is not proven to the oriental mind in words or on logical arguments. So to speak to them in language that they can understand we westerners have to move out of our comfort zone on these matters -or as I noted in footnote twelve of the Assisi essay (in referencing a Rerum Novarum commentary on interfaith outreach from September of 2002:

Interfaith outreach is "meatball surgery" compared to the nice clean (by comparison) religious debates the west has conducted with the Orthodox and Protestants over the centuries. It is not "clean and neat", it is not in any sense "ideal". But it is necessary and long overdue because what is important is reaching souls with the saving power of Christ - even if implicit initially - and cultivating the religious impulse. This means reaching them in a manner that *they* can comprehend not simply what makes US feel "more comfortable" or "less scandalized". [I. Shawn McElhinney: Weblog Commentary on Interfaith Outreach as taken from Rerum Novarum (c. 2002) as quoted in The 'Tradition is Opposed to Novelty' Canard (c. 2004) and The Assisi Interfaith Gatherings and Catholic Principles (c. 2004)]

Until this concept (and other core Catholic principles outlined in this response) are grasped by Mr. Tierney and his allies who are critical of interfaith endeavours, they will continue to tilt at windmills on these issues.

SME: To summarize these points briefly, if (i) conscience is the application of knowledge to some action and (ii) the will is evil when at variance with erring reason then logically, (iii) an erring judgment is to be followed if the person believes it is true. Therefore, (iv) "when erring reason proposes something as being commanded by God, then to scorn the dictate of reason is to scorn the commandment of God." Those present at Assisi who prayed in accordance with their consciences were following what they believed was the dictates of God. Therefore, barring the possibility of their unbelief being one of opposition -which in charity one should never as a rule presume- their unbelief is by negation and thus they are not guilty of the sin of unbelief.

KMT: All one could argue.

Which I have.

KMT: Yet that still doesn’t justify Catholics promoting prayer to something they know to be false.

Sigh...I have already gone over this. Encouraging people to pray in accordance with the dictates of their consciences -even if that conscience is erroneous- falls under an application of the principle of "double-effect." Prayer is a natural good and we are impelled by the natural law to pray. Therefore, promotion of prayer among others in fidelity to their consciences is a natural good.

Not only are such people not considered blameworthy for erring in good faith but their actions are not directly intended towards an evil -even if the latter occurs- in the promotion of the greatest possible good (charity), the principle of double effect is involved. This is such a fundamenal principle of Catholic moral theology that it does not behoove self-styled "traditionalists" to ignore it in their arguments on these kinds of subjects.

KMT: Because what if the shoe had been on the other foot? Would Islam welcome Catholics into their mosques to celebrate the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass?

This is a non-sequitur. One cannot compare an interfaith prayer gathering with the Sacrifice of the Mass. The two are diametrically different...unless Mr. Tierney is now claiming that the Sacrifice of the Mass is no different than any other prayer!!! This would show a serious problem with proportion if he was to assert this -which for the record I doubt he would. But his argument has a presupposition to it that there is a parallel involved: a presupposition that I explicitly reject I might add.

KMT: If I were in person, I would challenge Shawn to look me in the eyes when he answers yes, if he were to do so.

I would not give an answer of "yes" to this question.

KMT: This in itself blows the charade Assisi furthering “inter-religious dialogue’ out of the water.

Only if all prayer is equal in the eyes of Mr. Tierney would this be the case.

KMT: It involves concessions from Catholics left and right, but they don’t move closer.

And how does Mr. Tierney know that they "move no closer"??? Can he read hearts??? If it can take years for even other Christians to make visible moves towards Catholicism -as the 1913 Catholic Encyclopedia plainly admits, why does he think that it would involve less time for outlooks far more diametrically distant from basic Christian paradigms to make visible "moves" closer??? This premise he seems to have here is fundamentally irrational.

KMT: Islam and the other religions still know of the sacred, and would not let religions teaching error pray and worship in their holy sites. Nor would we want to I would add.

Well now, I would not exactly say that.

KMT:To sum up so far, Shawn has to do several things...

Shawn has to do nothing. Mr. Tierney has failed at every step to interact with the systematical arguments that I have set forth in outlining the congruency of interfaith gatherings with Catholic timeless principles and magisterial teaching. My theory on interfaith is built on a foundation of logic, the application of certain important Catholic moral principles, magisterial teaching, a decent understanding of the oriental mind and how it comprehends religious issues, and a careful utilization of Ven. John H. Newman's theory of development. As all of these points are systematically ignored by Mr. Tierney, it is out of place for him to claim that I have to "prove" anything when my theory remains untouched by any of his arguments.

Until those elements are interacted with, it is the prosecution (Mr. Tierney) who must prove his case, not the defense (Shawn McElhinney). Or to reiterate what I said earlier in this response:

[I]t bears noting that the one who defends the positions taken by the Church's teaching authority does not have the burden of proof on them but instead it is the converse: those who would presume to challenge the judgments or directives of the Church's teaching authority (whether they do this explicitly or by logical inference) who have the burden of proof on them. The "attorney for the defense" if you will is the one who defends the position of the Church's teaching authority, not the one who challenges it.

The reader of this thread needs to keep that distinction in mind as they read the rest of this text: that it is Shawn McElhinney who is the "defense attorney" here and David Palm (and now Kevin Tierney by coming to the defense of David Palm) who are the "prosecuting attorneys" in this endeavour. The burden of proof is always on them and any benefit of the doubt must go to the defense.

I stand by that position and request that before any claims of "proof" being required that Mr. Tierney remember that he is the prosecutor here and the burden of proof is on him, not on the one who merely accepts and seeks to apply the teachings and directives of the ecclesial magisterium.

SME: Therefore, those who would go for the "quick sale" conversion at Assisi would do about as well as the salesman who tries to sell someone a car when they are at best only looking at it. The most successful salesmen know that a rapport must be established first and that people will only buy what they believe they need. The salesperson who tries to sell what someone does not perceive a need for will always fail to make a sale. This principle applies to every subject imaginable including religion. Those who fail to recognize this are naive at best and fools at worst. And if they are in a position to be spokesmen for the faith in any capacity, they can seriously damage the chances to make a good impression on their potential audience. Therefore, the best approach is to find the need and seek to fill it. That leads logically into the next point.

KMT: Allow me to get a little personal here. In my work with apologetics, ever since I took up apologetics almost 5 years ago upon conversion, I’ve been in dialogue with a gentleman named Nick, who at this day, is very close to joining the Church.

That is good news.

KMT: A staunch Evangelical, yet one I would consider a good friend. We have built out rapport, and we both respect each other. Yet at the end of the day, I would not worship alongside Nick at the Evangelical service, nor would Nick worship alongside me at the Catholic Mass. Why? Because we know that differences matter, and we can’t just overlook them.

Again Mr. Tierney is involved in non-sequitural argumentation here. He is attempting to see in interfaith gatherings for particular purposes a parallel or equal footing with liturgical worship in the various religious traditions. There is no reason whatsoever for making such an a priori assumption but he has done this a few times now.

KMT: I don’t presume bad faith on him, but I also don’t presume he is in the right position either. Does this approach have to change when dealing with those who don’t believe in Jesus Christ? If it must change, why must it change to advocating, and even facilitating, prayer to something we know to be false? Why not make the demand of those religions that they host the day for peace next year, and allow us to offer the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass right in Mecca’s most important mosque for example? Again, if we had this discussion face to face, I would ask anyone to look me dead in the eyes, that in their heart of hearts, they honestly believe for a second such would happen, or that it would even be wise such happened. This is not to say they must all convert overnight. Yet it also says that whether or not they convert, we stand our ground firm.

I dealt with this same argument earlier in the response you are reading. It does not become a more credible argument simply because Mr. Tierney finds a slightly different way of recasting it :D

SME: Three examples of note are (i) that the Church always tolerated the existence of false religions (ii) the Church has always taught that people should not be coerced into accepting the faith and (iii) the Church as a result of the second point has never taught that children of unbelievers should be baptized without the consent of their parents. It is true that these principles were not always honoured in all places but they have always been taught at least tacitly so -even in an age when society was not pluralistic the way it is today.

KMT: And almost all of these have to do with the individual will of the person, which the Church cannot override. Traditionalists are not saying that they cannot pray as they see fit. What we are saying is that Church should not encourage them to pray to something we know to be false. That people still fail to understand this very simple distinction is mind-boggling.

As we have already seen, Mr. Tierney is the one failing to comprehend very important principles in this subject matter. That is not "mind-boggling" but it does speak volumes about what happens when someone tries to argue against a particular position and they do not well grasp the underlying principles involved.

KMT: A parent will surely not let a kid smoke crack; just because the kid’s conscience says God is telling him to do it.

One can argue on the basis of the minor not having sufficient competency to make such judgments. One can also complement that approach by pointing to the objective truth about the harmful effects of crack on the human organism. And of course there is nothing pertaining to the natural law as built into us by God which in any way pertains to the consumption of crack. However, we have it built into us to seek out God through prayer and follow our conscience in the process -even if the latter is in error. Again, this is non-sequiturial argumentation on Mr. Tierney's part -does he now deny St. Paul's teaching on these matters in Romans ii:

(W)hen the Gentiles, who have not the law, do by nature those things that are of the law; these, having not the law, are a law to themselves. Who shew the work of the law written in their hearts, their conscience bearing witness to them: and their thoughts between themselves accusing or also defending one another, In the day when God shall judge the secrets of men by Jesus Christ, according to my gospel.[Romans ii,14-16]

Find for me a similar injunction -either in Scripture, in Catholic teaching, or in natural law theology- for defending someone's right to smoke crack and then your attempt to advance this line of argumentation can be seen to have some viability (however scant). Until then, I need not entertain it for a moment.

KMT: Nor if a teacher saw this going on. No, she would be quite right to warn the parents. As a matter of fact, if nothing was done, all parties would be derelict in their duties. Yet somehow this rule in the temporal realm which is quite logical is somehow incorrect in the spiritual realm.

See my previous comments.

KMT: I think it would be wise for Shawn to prove this point. Telling Non-Christians, and facilitating, and promoting them to pray something we know to be false is not the same as inhibiting their will. The cases Shawn lists above are cases of inhibiting the will. The case of children, as the parent is their primary custodian who watches over the child, they make that decision for him until he reaches reason, whenever that may be.

The distinction between non-minors and minors aside for a moment, Mr. Tierney is again recycling an argument I have confuted more than once in this response. I need not take up space to do so again so I will not.

SME: Now whether or not David recognizes himself still in those words may explain whether or not he can come to grips with the Assisi interfaith meetings initiated by the Holy See. For the principles behind the two are the same: changing variables results in an adjustment in the application of a teaching. David in other words has the intellectual tools to understand alterations in teachings or policies that are the result of changing variables in the equation.

KMT: Now Shawn has indicated this is a manner of prudence, so I will call the same bluff that I called on Apolonio Latar almost 2 years ago. Prove Assisi was a positive aspect from a prudential state, and that it is truly achieving what it set out to achieve.

I remind the readers that it is the prosecution that has to prove their case, not the defense. I would also note that it is asking a lot to call in the jury on twenty years of interfaith approaches when Mr. Tierney and company have no apparent desire to do the same viz. the CENTURES of non-fruitful boneheaded attempts to Latinize the oriental mind.

KMT: As Shawn continues, he runs into the same problem before, he confuses inter-faith dialogue with inter-faith promotion of prayer.

Shawn has no such confusion whatsoever. And if Mr. Tierney was familiar with my commentary on the intricacies of dialogue, he would know this.

KMT: Again, we as Catholics promoting and facilitating them to pray to and worship something they know to be false.

I have already gone over this more than once.

SME: It has been demonstrated throughout the essay from which this work is excerpted from -as well as in other writings by this author- that assertions such as the one above are ridiculous.

KMT: As always, Shawn likes to think so, and I will respect the dictates of his conscience, and perhaps God will forgive such an “incalculable mistake.”

Well, at the very least he ends on a witty note :) But as far as attempting to prove that I in any way misrepresented any Catholic principles: Mr. Tierney's argument have been easily found to be "weighed in the scales and found lacking" (Dan. v,27). o: I trust though that this response will direct him towards a more holistic approach to my essay and considering the merits of my arguments both individually as well as collectively rather than responding in dialogual format to a writing that was not written to be interacted with in that manner. However, as most of our responses on various subjects have lent themselves to that approach being used, I cannot fault Mr. Tierney for following his conscience in that endeavour.


{1} This is demonstrated in the greater introspection that St. Paul had on the matter in his later epistles compared to his earlier work and the actions of him recorded in Acts of the Apostles. That is not to say that the latter is wrong per se, only that different circumstances call for different approaches and what works well in one place or with one particular outlook will not necessarily work for others of a more diametrically different operative viewpoint in the same manner.

{2} Which I might note contained a corroborating text from Pope Paul VI's Apostolic Exhortation Evangelii Nuntandi. Unlike Mr. Tierney, I am arguing from a base of magisterial teaching in advancing this theory.

:: Shawn 9:14 PM [+] | ::

To "Mr. T" on Authority, Newman, Development Premises, Etc...
(Part II of III)

This is a continuation of the thread located HERE.

KMT: If there is one thing the Church has seen almost nothing of in 40 years, it has been wielding that authority (except against traditionalists of course, some good cases such as the wrong of the SSPX, or some bad, in the senseless gutting of the FSSP in many respects, watching them more carefully, while of course never watching perverts in seminaries and those who teach heresy.)

If anything Pope John Paul II was too slow in dealing with Archbishop Lefebvre. It bears noting that unlike the so-called "progressivist" movements, the SSPX situation involved the consecration of bishops and thus perpetuation of the apostolic succession. The so-called "progressivists" do not tend to try and surround themselves with episcopal authorities so the same concern about forming a parallel church structure is not prevalent with them. However, with the SSPX that was the danger and (as history shows) the concern of the Holy See on this matter was not without valid foundation. But enough on the first point.

With regards to the second point, there was nothing "senseless" about the changing of leadership within the FSSP. As far as the third point, we remind Mr. Tierney that the protocol for handling the perverts was issued in the days of the Ottaviani Holy Office and only after it became clear that a protocol for dealing with an escalading number of these situations was needed.

The reader should not look to the date the protocol was issued (1962) but instead consider that these kinds of directives are usually only issued after a fair number of appeals are made on an issue. As the Vatican machinery is traditionally pretty slow, that means that these things tend to take years. Indeed the pedophilia problem has always existed in some form or another even in the best of times. I am sure that Mr. Tierney would agree with me that the twentieth century did not (from a spiritual standpoint) represent "the best of times."

SME: As far as "calling pagans together to pray to their false gods", this is part of the garden variety self-styled "traditionalist" scattershot approach whereby if enough offhand assertions of dubious appearance are thrown together, then at least one of them may slip through the radar. This happens often with Assisi and interfaith subject matter because it is not a subject easily discussed. Because the concepts of these subjects are intricate ones and take time to adequately deal with, the short attention span of the average rebellious so-called "traditionalist" tries to deal with the matter in quick and superficial ways. This explains why those who can discuss the subject in detail seldom do -or at least not very often anyway.

KMT: Translation, we traditionalists who find Assisi problematic are just not intelligent enough to handle the situation.

More like these issues are more intricate and do not as a rule lend themselves well to the kind of simplistic approach to complex issues that are commonly pro-offered by those who call themselves "traditionalists."

KMT: The reasoning I just enunciated is about as absurd as Shawn’s view. There are also many traditionalists of varying persuasion who no longer discuss the Assisi issue (myself and Jacob Michael being two of them) because the responses our opponents give are straw men.

The reader can consider how many strawmen already line Mr. Tierney's rhetorical cornfield in what he has said thus far in his response. From there, they can use that as a barometer for assessing his ability to identify true strawmen from merely preceived ones.

KMT: Issues such as the fact that it seems nowadays we are more apt to place Buddha on our altars and incense him before allowing a Traditional Mass supported and promoted publicly, the fact that with all this “talk of peace” we now have Al-Zarqawi’s greatest hits of slicing Christian’s heads off to the chant of “ALLAH AHKBAR!” and all these religions who prayed with us for peace are now those who persecute Christians the most.

Surely I need not point out the gross generalities[ that Mr. Tierney involves himself in above. To start with of course is the idea that the former liturgy of the city of Rome is "traditional" and other forms of the liturgy are not is one unhelpful generalization. Moving onto more noxious ones, I concur with Mr. Tierney about the abominable nature of the Muslim terrorists -indeed I doubt very many people have penned stronger words in the blogosphere against these subhumans than I have.{1}

KMT: Then there is the question of why not has the entire college of bishops gather together to pray for peace? Are our bishops that bad that we must have those who pray to the Great Thumb promoted ahead of our own Bishops? Such questions aren’t even really considered.

Such questions are not "really considered" because one of the intended aims of the Second Vatican Council was to set aside this kind of insular thinking and recognize that in order to re-evangelize the world the Barque of Peter had to (i) set forth into the deep and not remain at the dock any longer (ii) speak to the world in language it could more readily comprehend and (iii) recognize areas where evangelization had failed in the past and formulate a newer more flexible method based on the increased knowledge of other cultures gained in recent centuries (particularly since the start of the twentieth century).

In true ressourcement fashion, Pope Paul VI saw a model for this in the ancient discipline of the dialogue.{2} This was therefore the pastoral methodology adopted by the Fathers of the Second Vatican Council for both building bridges with other Christian Churches and Ecclesial communities (read: ecumenism) and also with non-Christians of various stripes (read: interfaith). Each sphere if you will involves a slight adjustment in how one goes about it but the same foundational principles remain.

The Church...exhorts her sons, that through dialogue and collaboration with the followers of other religions, carried out with prudence and love and in witness to the Christian faith and life, they recognize, preserve and promote the good things, spiritual and moral, as well as the socio-cultural values found among these men. [Second Vatican Council: Declaration Nostra Aetate §2 (c. 1965)]

These are not words spoken into a vacuum or without purpose. It is not at all difficult to see that peace is a spiritual, moral, and sociological cultural value. Promotion of it can take place in many different ways but one is the promotion of prayer by theists each in accordance with the dictates of their conscience. Those who properly understand the Church's long-enunciated views on fidelity to conscience can understand the application of traditional double effect methodology here.

To argue from "lessor to greater", if (i) the natural is inferior to the supernatural and if (ii) we can dialogue with and collaborate to some extent in the more inferior sphere of existence with non-Catholics, then (iii) certainly the supernatural (which transcends the natural) can be a field for respectful dialogue and collaboration between Catholics and non-Catholics (within certain parameters) also. With regards to the methodology of dialogue, Pope Paul VI set this principle into play in his Encyclical Letter Ecclesiam Suam when he noted the following:

[W]e do not wish to turn a blind eye to the spiritual and moral values of the various non-Christian religions, for we desire to join with them in promoting and defending common ideals in the spheres of religious liberty, human brotherhood, education, culture, social welfare, and civic order. Dialogue is possible in all these great projects, which are our concern as much as theirs, and we will not fail to offer opportunities for discussion in the event of such an offer being favorably received in genuine, mutual respect. [Pope Paul VI: Encyclical Letter Ecclesiam Suam §107-108 (c. 1964) as quoted in I. Shawn McElhinney's essay On the Intricacies of Dialogue - A Commentary(c. 2003)]

Again, it is illogical to presume that such dialogue and collaboration has to be entirely confined to the inferior natural sphere and cannot in any way involve the superior supernatural sphere.

KMT: No, those who thought Assisi to be a bad idea are in reality those who advocate forced conversion, the fire and brimstone approach of the Protestant revivalists. Far from Assisi leading to more peace, things have only intensified.

I was unaware that twenty years is a long enough time to assess the merits (or demerits thereof) of the Assisi events. Need Mr. Tierney be reminded that the Arian heresy intensified in the decades after Nicaea, the Monophysites stepped up their menacing in the decades after Chalcedon, and countless other examples from history can be shown where the fruits of the greatest ecumenical synods often took time to assilimate: often decades and sometimes centuries. If this is the case for ecumenical councils as a rule then why does Mr. Tierney expect more (and in a shorter time frame) from an interfaith gathering than history shows us was achieved by ecumenical councils of the Church???

KMT: While the arms of mercy are nice and noble, at times the sword of Christendom is just as noble.

At times sure. Has Mr. Tierney not read what I have written about how to handle the Islamofascist terrorist types???

KMT: I will touch upon this throughout the essay when we examine the foundations Shawn puts forth for why Assisi was such a great thing.

SME: David is committing a common error of the so-called "traditionalists" and this writer calls him out on it. To start with, David is challenged to point to one single statement where the pope called any pagans "to pray to their false gods." And though he sloughs off the idea that Assisi has any connection to the thought of St. Thomas, this will be touched on briefly. However, the idea that Assisi is really perfectly in line with the teachings of St. Thomas Aquinas is not something that this writer needs to demonstrate nor can it be demonstrated. To those who recognize the Vincentian-Newman principle of development of doctrine (with the accompanying increase of knowledge and understanding), this admission is not problematical. For those who believe the oft-parrotted prevarication of the "unchanging Church", this admission can cause no small amount of consternation. But for the latter, that is their problem since they are the ones who need to adjust their understanding to what the Church teaches -not those who for the most part accept Assisi. (Even if at times with a degree of confusion.)

KMT: I submit this paragraph is rather useless.

I disagree. Before one can discuss the subject, they have to set down parameters. I needed to note that it was not necessary to demonstrate a perfect thread from Aquinas to the Assisi gatherings if one understands properly the principle of development properly. I also noted that (i) those who recognize (and by logical extension understand) the principle of development properly do not find the lack of a perfect thread (as Mr. Palm says in a tone of obvious sarcasm) problematical.

Furthermore, I noted that (ii) those who call themselves "traditionalists" and who believe in the prevarication of "semper edem" tend to not understand the principle of development well at all and (as a result) tend to find situations such as Assisi to be problematical. I noted that it was the latter who need to adjust their frames of reference, not those who accept Assisi (even if they find parts of the rationale to be confusing or troubling to varying degrees). Contrary to Mr. Tierney's assertion, thius entire paragraph has value in setting the table for what follows it in sequence. :D

KMT: First, is Buddha a false God? Is the great Thumb a false God?

Yes on both counts.

KMT: When the Pope called them to pray, are we really positing that he all figured they would pray to the God of Abraham?

Of course not.

KMT: Chances are the Holy Father knew that even though they were following their conscience, they were still following their conscience into praying to an objectively false God.

I can agree with this. However, the Holy Father being informed of the Church's traditional understanding of how conscience was to be respected would know that God would not fault them for this. Furthermore, the most important distinction to make in fighting secular influences is not "Catholics vs. Everyone Else" but "Believers vs. Non-Believers." The former more insular approach is a large part of what got the world into the mess it is in now, more of the same approach would hardly cure it. Obviously with a more inclusive approach, there are certain boundaries that must be respected. But it is beyong the scope of this response (or this theme in general) to note these if we are to avoid getting off track and positing yet more volume to this response than will be needed already.

KMT: Knowing this fact, and rather than trying to prevent it, instead promoting it, is just the same as him telling them to pray to their false Gods in reality.

No it is not. The problem Mr. Tierney has here is his overly-cerebral notion of "God" and his attempts to impose western notions on the eastern mind. One of the reasons I have been planning an essay on the differences between western and eastern approaches to various subjects is precisely because those who are more dichotomistic in their understanding rather than being more all-encompassing.

To the eastern mind you do not "prove" God exists as you do with the western mind. Instead. God is intuitively realized in a diversity of integral activities whereas the religious functions often have a binding in cultural or societal structures. This is not easy for the western mind to properly comprehend.

KMT: His insertion of the development teaching of Cardinal Newman is just as irrelevant.

No, it is important to point out that the notion David raised about there having to be a perfect thread from Aquinas to Assisi is a false premise. Those who are familiar with Newman's principles are aware of this, those who are not are not.

KMT: Hee’s not going to focus on how the development aspect, but just throwing it in there, in another invocation of Newman to cover his bases.

It is obvious that Mr. Tierney is commenting on the essay as he reads it rather than writing on the subject after he has read the essay in full.{3} If he had read the piece before commenting, he would notice that I have started my inquiry the same way Newman started his forays in his magnum opus An Essay on the Development of Christian Doctrine. Indeed I quote from Newman a bit of the outline of precisely how I approached the Assisi subject. Observe:

We conceive by means of definition or description; whole objects do not create in the intellect whole ideas, but are, to use a mathematical phrase, thrown into series, into a number of statements, strengthening, interpreting, correcting each other, and with more or less exactness approximating, as they accumulate, to a perfect image. There is no other way of learning or of teaching. We cannot teach except by aspects or views, which are not identical with the thing itself which we are teaching. Two persons may each convey the same truth to a third, yet by methods and through representations altogether different. The same person will treat the same argument differently in an essay or speech, according to the accident of the day of writing, or of the audience, yet it will be substantially the same.

And the more claim an idea has to be considered living, the more various will be its aspects; and the more social and political is its nature, the more complicated and subtle will be its issues, and the longer and more eventful will be its course. And in the number of these special ideas, which from their very depth and richness cannot be fully understood at once, but are more and more clearly expressed and taught the longer they last,—having aspects many and bearings many, mutually connected and growing one out of another, and all parts of a whole, with a sympathy and correspondence keeping pace with the ever-changing necessities of the world, multiform, prolific, and ever resourceful,—among these great doctrines surely we Christians shall not refuse a foremost place to Christianity. Such previously to the determination of the fact, must be our anticipation concerning it from a contemplation of its initial achievements. [John H. Newman: An Essay on the Development of Christian Doctrine Chapter II (c. 1845)]

I did not set out at the start to have a perfect picture of Assisi in the essay Mr. Tierney is commenting on. Instead, I worked from points which start with less exactness and then become more definite as I build the accompanying synthesis and reveal the underlying convergence of the various points. That is how one is supposed to make an argument for a doctrine or concept developing legitimately. Furthermore, I recognize that the interfaith concept has a lot of presuppositional points to it that cannot be understood at once but instead will only acquire clarity when each one is sketched out in the stream of Catholic principles to a point of definiteness whereby it can be shown to cohere within the larger framework of the concept.

In other words, far from my references to Newman's work as being irrelevant, my pattern follows his on how one should expect developments to manifest themselves. Furthermore, I recognize as Newman did that if Christianity be an universal religion, suited not simply to one locality or period, but to all times and places, it cannot but vary in its relations and dealings towards the world around it, that is, it will develop. Principles require a very various application according as persons and circumstances vary, and must be thrown into new shapes according to the form of society which they are to influence.[ibid.]This is precisely what I am noting with regards to the principle of interfaith endeavours.

So again, far from my references to Newman being "irrelevant", they are indeed very relevant to this discussion.{4} But of course Mr. Tierney if he has actually read this essay before commenting on it may have realized this and avoided my having to spill a fair amount of type in debunking this misunderstanding on his part.

KMT:So what if every point I’ve raised in this article gets shot down, I’m still right, I have Newmanian development on my side!

Apparently we have touched a nerve here my friends!!! :o I have already dealt with this misrepresentation of Mr. Tierney so I need not repeat myself here. Further still, I am not even concerned about the points I build my arguments on being shot down because they are based on classical Catholic presuppositions on key elements such as the importance of remaining faithful to one's conscience, on the understanding that the Church has always had with regards to issues such as how to approach idolatry and infidels, and also is rooted firmly in the stream of the Church developed understanding of mission and its application. (Particularly in the past eighty-five years.)

Furthermore, it is grounded in the magisterial teaching of Pope John Paull II prior to 1986 as well as the teachings of Pope Paul VI on the proper approaches of evangelization in the modern world{5} and also on the methodology of the dialogue - another concept David showed a poor conception of in his essay.{6} If these principles are not well understood a priori, then the any reasonable chance to understand the interfaith principles goes up in smoke like a Sancho Panza Double Maduro from my humidor. But I digress.

KMT: you’re not going to deal with Newman, don’t bring it up.

See my previous comments.

SME: First of all, there is the question of whether believers should communicate with non-believers.

KMT: Notice the distortion.

There is no "distortion" here. Instead, what has been set out is the first step in the process. If Mr. Tierney was familiar with Newman's theory, he would know this. Alas though, we appear to have to provide a bit of education along with this response so that his criticisms can be plainly seen by the readers to be well wide of the mark.

It bears noting up front though that if the need for a kind of continuing education was not in order (viz. many aspects of Catholic understanding which are not well grasped by many if not most who call themselves "traditionalists"), then the volume of such responses on my part could be significantly reduced ;-)

Having noted that, it is time to move on into a brief snapshot of Newman's methodology and my proper utilization of it thereof:

[W]hen some great enunciation, whether true or false, about human nature, or present good, or government, or duty, or religion, is carried forward into the public throng of men and draws attention, then it is not merely received passively in this or that form into many minds, but it becomes an active principle within them, leading them to an ever-new contemplation of itself, to an application of it in various directions, and a propagation of it on every side...

Let one such idea get possession of the popular mind, or the mind of any portion of the community, and it is not difficult to understand what will be the result. At first men will not fully realise what it is that moves them, and will express and explain themselves inadequately. There will be a general agitation of thought, and an action of mind upon mind. There will be a time of confusion, when conceptions and misconceptions are in conflict, and it is uncertain whether anything is to come of the idea at all, or which view of it is to get the start of the others. New lights will be brought to bear upon the original statements of the doctrine put forward; judgments and aspects will accumulate. After a while some definite teaching emerges; and, as time proceeds, one view will be modified or expanded by another, and then combined with a third; till the idea to which these various aspects belong, will be to each mind separately what at first it was only to all together.

It will be surveyed too in its relation to other doctrines or facts, to other natural laws or established customs, to the varying circumstances of times and places, to other religions, polities, philosophies, as the case may be. How it stands affected towards other systems, how it affects them, how far it may be made to combine with them, how far it tolerates them, when it interferes with them, will be gradually wrought out. It will be interrogated and criticized by enemies, and defended by well-wishers. The multitude of opinions formed concerning it in these respects and many others will be collected, compared, sorted, sifted, selected, rejected, gradually attached to it, separated from it, in the minds of individuals and of the community. It will, in proportion to its native vigour and subtlety, introduce itself into the framework and details of social life, changing public opinion, and strengthening or undermining the foundations of established order.

Thus in time it will have grown into an ethical code, or into a system of government, or into a theology, or into a ritual, according to its capabilities: and this body of thought, thus laboriously gained, will after all be little more than the proper representative of one idea, being in substance what that idea meant from the first, its complete image as seen in a combination of diversified aspects, with the suggestions and corrections of many minds, and the illustration of many experiences.

This process, whether it be longer or shorter in point of time, by which the aspects of an idea are brought into consistency and form, I call its development, being the germination and maturation of some truth or apparent truth on a large mental field. On the other hand this process will not be a development, unless the assemblage of aspects, which constitute its ultimate shape, really belongs to the idea from which they start. [John H. Newman: An Essay on the Development of Christian Doctrine Chapter I (c. 1845)]

KMT: He phrases this in something that nobody would disagree with.

Well, in dealing with the phenomenon of development methodologically speaking, one has to show that the later structure has its roots in the earlier principles -that the giant oak sprung forth from the smaller seedling which came forth from the acorn. Furthermore, the principle that go into understanding interfaith are often (if taken together) ones that so-called "traditionalists" would not object to. The problem is, they do not draw the various points involved out to their logical extensions and thus see the wider forest for the trees.

KMT: What Traditionalist is going to say we should have no communication with non-believers? The problem is, is prayer, and promoting prayer to something we know to be false, the same as simple communication.

Again, if Mr. Tierney has actually followed the logical sequence I set out in my essay -and was properly informed in certain key subjects that are required for grasping if this concept is to be properly understood- he may not continue to stumble over this. The promotion of prayer is a natural good and those who do not pray are violating the natural law -because the religious impulse is stamped on our very nature by God. Mr. Tierney and company remain focused on the abstract dogma of the divine law (which forbids prayers to anyone but the true God) while ignoring the natural law whereby man is compelled within his being to acknowledge his maker to the best of his understanding.{7} By their logic a non-Christian is damned if they do pray and damned if they do not. The classical Catholic understanding is not so ridiculously contradictory.

Part of evangelization is the cultivation of the religious impulse. This is where encouraging people to pray comes into the equation. However, at the same time, the conscience of those involved must be respected.

KMT: Unless the Great Thumb is just another manifestation of the True God, it is objectively false. Now can we stop someone from praying to the Great Thumb through force? Of course not. Yet are we to invite him into our sanctuaries and say pray to the Great Thumb, or better yet, place him on our altar and incense him while we hide any vestiges of Christianity in this room from you? That’s the real crux of the issue, not just if we should communicate with non-believers.

Of course we should point out that the part about communication with non-believers is merely the first step in the process of sketching out a paradigm of development as per Newman's theory. It is about as anachronistic for Mr. Tierney to presume that this particular element by itself proves the more developed interfaith approach the Catholic Church now takes as it would be to claim that a full doctrine of papal supremacy is found in Pope Clement I's Epistle to the Corinthians.

KMT: I will challenge Shawn to show that promoting prayer to an objectively false God in Catholic sanctuaries or other areas of Catholicism is an acceptable practice in the eyes of the Angelic Doctor.

The readers may recall the earlier paragraph which Mr. Tierney claimed was "irrelevant" which I demomstrated was anything but. It was also intended as a kind of "pre-emptory strike" against this kind of challenge being offered. In my article on Assisi, I reference the Angelic Doctor with regards to his view on the importance of adhering to conscience in the matter of "does an erring conscience bind." As the answer of the Angelic Doctor on that matter is in the affirmative, a serious building block for displaying a development in doctrine is in place because that is at the heart of this entire subject: are non-Christians bound to obey their conscience even if their conscience is in error. The answer is yes and that is not insignificant.

The Assisi interfaith gathering involves additional development of Catholic understanding in the area of conscience as the unimpeachable authority of the individual. And it is worth noting that Newman had a significant role in the Church's maturation of the understanding of conscience –his reflections influenced the text which found magisterial expression in the Declaration Dignitatis Humanae of the Second Vatican Council. I chose to not reference the latter in the essay response to David because there were enough subjects being dealt with and the subject of religious liberty is not an easy one for people to grasp. Furthermore, as it was not strictly speaking necessary to have recourse to DH in the subject of interfaith, I chose to go about it in another way altogether.

SME: Obviously in a more pluralistic age, this restriction is not as expedient as it once was -though obviously a person of weak faith should exercise prudence in their contacts with those who could weaken their faith. But of those who are firm in the faith, did the Angelic Doctor envision circumstances for communicating with unbelievers??? Yes he did:

KMT: And of course, as leaders of the Church, those men must also take into account what they are doing, and the potential of scandalizing the faithful. St. Peter understood the distinctions at Antioch, yet his actions certainly didn’t give that implication to those present, resulting in a huge scandal, to where his acts were betraying the gospel. Obviously, just because Peter understood the distinction made little difference. So this factor must also be taken into account.

I will not go into (with all due respect to St. Paul) why he was out of line at Antioch. (St. Peter acted correctly and St. Paul even admitted to this later on.) That is a subject for another time though as this response is getting lengthy already.

KMT: And these are all prudential aspects.

There are principles to the interfaith subject, which are bound up in Catholic dogmatic principles. That is not something that can be discounted if one wants to weigh all aspects of this situation equitably.

KMT: So for Shawn to shut out a debate on what is obviously something that can be debated (as what underlies Assisi, from his perspective has everything to do with approach) is curious.

There is more to this than mere approaches. Instead, it is a realization of underlying factors in the equation that Mr. Tierney apparently does not well comprehend. I will try to note in brief some of these factors and hopefully the reader will see why this issue is not as simplistic as Mr. Tierney and his allies try to make it out to be.

KMT: Shawn then outlines a bunch of issues that of course completely miss the point.

The reader can judge if (based on what has been covered thus far) Mr. Tierney’s pronouncements of what “misses the point” (or is “irrelevant”) are really as solid as he thinks they are. (Not to mention his grasp or lack thereof viz. some of the a priori principles that guide a properly informed Catholic weltanschauung on this subject.)

KMT: He has yet to posit on why encouraging the Buddhist to pray to Buddha should be included as part of the outreach to non-believers.

Mr. Tierney is again confusing the issue here. All people should be encouraged to pray in accordance with the dictates of their conscience. This is in accordance with the natural law stamped on all of us by God: the religious impulse that all men have which impels them to seek God. This is a form of pre-evangelization as I noted in my essay referencing Evangelii Nuntiandi a magisterial text of no small amount of importance for understanding the teaching of the Second Vatican Council on the subject of missionary activity.{8} And it factors heavily into the subject of interfaith which is also missionary in its intentions..

KMT: Now while he will bring up the “invincible ignorance” issue that will be dealt with, in that at best its wild speculation, at worse one could say these people were not invincibly ignorant. While citing Paul VI, Paul VI of course does not encourage prayer to Buddha as a way to spread evangelization. Since this is the crux of the manner, Shawn should’ve dealt with this. Sadly he does not.

Actually, Pope Paul VI in Evangelii Nuntiandi outlined a number of pointers in the work of the evangelizer that cohere quite well without any straining whatsoever with the Assisi interfaith scenarios. I outlined them in my essay but it seems that Mr. Tierney is responding to this as he reads rather than reading the entire essay as a unit first before responding. This is not a piece that is done justice in that format of response as informally as our regular dialogues are. Instead, with my essays everything builds up to a greater synthesis and therefore they need to be approached in this manner.

The result of the approach to argumentation taken in my essays is a collection of pointers and arguments which –taken individually- do not have the same force that they have when taken in sequence. There is also a very clear lacuna in Mr. Tierney’s weltanschauung with regard to how the Oriental mind perceives matters of religion. That point will be touched on later in this response.

To be Continued...


{1} To note three examples from this undeniable pattern, see the threads located HERE, HERE, and HERE from Rerum Novarum postings circa May, June, and July of 2004 respectively.

{2} On the Intricacies of Dialogue - A Commentary (c. 2003)

{3} Unless of course the problem is Mr. Tierney having a scant familiarity with Newman. I note this here because in all honesty it is possible that Mr. Tierney read the essay before writing his critique but got tripped up on a lack of familiarity with Newman's work.

{4} See footnote three.

{5} I refer here here to Pope Paul VI's seminal Apostolic Exhortation Evangelii Nuntiandi. The current pontiff's views on the importance of this work was noted in his interview with Vittori Messori from 1994:

Ten years after the Council, the Synod of Bishops on the theme of evangelization was convened. It bore fruit in the apostolic exhortation of Paul VI, Evangelii Nuntiandi. It is not an encyclical, but in its great importance it perhaps surpasses many encyclicals. It can be considered the interpretation of the Council's teaching on the essential duty of the Church: "Woe to me if I do not preach the Gospel!" [Pope John Paul II: What is the 'New Evangelization'" from the book Crossing the Threshold of Hope[ (c. 1994)]

{6} See footnote two.

{7} Do we presume that simply *telling* someone about Jesus is adequate to qualify as "preaching" to them. I suppose some people might say yes but need I remind them that faith without works is as the body without the soul (James ii, 26)???

So the Gospel must be preached in a tangible manner. And further, it must be done in a manner which the audience can comprehend it. Walking up to someone and simply telling them about Jesus is not the kind of preaching that cuts the mustard here. No we must show them our faith by our works or else they have no reason to believe that what we tell them is the truth (cf. James ii,18). And what is the lynchpin of showing the charity that St. James exhorts us is necessary and that St. Paul notes is what makes faith to any avail (1 Corinthians xiii)??? By putting their journey in motion if you will through fostering the religious impulse.

Praying for peace for our fellow man is an act of charity if it is done from the heart. What reason do we have for presuming any bad faith amongst those who gathered at Assisi??? But those who insist on trashing the pope, trashing the "heathens", and the like, time for you to put up. Here is the apparent paradox you have to solve.

According to the Divine law, God orders man to be religious. Therefore, the natural law would involve a searching for God as the Divine Law commands. The problem of controversion arises when we ask how God -knowing that humankind, many of whom are unbelievers by negation - would charge such people with sin for following the natural law whereby they are drawn to seek Him out, simply because they err in where they are seeking.

The paradigm of those who are critical of interfaith outreach would charge an unbeliever with sin if he failed to pray (for he would violate the religious impulse built into him by God). But then if he *does* pray and obeys the natural law inscribed on his heart, he is charged with sin against the divine law because He does not pray to the proper conception of "God". Notice the trap that is set here.

By this "logic" failing to pray damns them by the natural law (which St. Paul in Romans 2 says is indespensible) and praying damns them by the divine law. If God is not contradictory in his laws then which is it critics??? Do they violate the natural law if they do *not* pray and then (if they *do* pray) proceed to violate the divine law??? If you are one of those who froth at the mouth about Assisi and interfaith gatherings, you need to reconcile this paradox or stop your ranting and start listening. [Excerpt from Rerum Novarum (circa August 23, 2002)]

{8} See footnote five.

:: Shawn 9:07 PM [+] | ::


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