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Sensus Fidelium (04/01/2012)

From: Finbar McMullen, FSC (Not Arnold)

In spite of Karl Weissing calling Hans Kung “infamous,” he is still one of the most highly respected theologians in the Catholic Church. Because of a concordat signed between the Holy See and Germany in 1933 (think Nazi, think Hitler) Rome has been able to block his ability to teach Catholic theology in any German university.

The general tenor of Mr. Weissing’s letter is that everyone must agree with official Catholic teaching because it is always correct. Up until Vatican II the official teaching was “Outside the Church there is no salvation.” Do you remember that? Theologians went through all kinds of maneuvering to soften it, but it was still there. Sometime in the fifties, John Courtney Murray, SJ, a most highly respected theologian in the United States, began challenging that position. He was formally censured and silenced by Rome. In spite of this he was invited by some bishops to be an adviser at the council. He was instrumental in getting the bishops to formally renounce that position. Dissent is not necessarily bad.

Dissent has always been a part of the Catholic Church. In the first chapter of the Epistle of St. James there is a clear contradiction of something that Jesus gave us in the Our Father -- “…lead us not into temptation.” I could list a dozen official teachings that have been changed, but would this do any good? As Jesus said: “They have eyes but do not see; they have ears but do not hear.”

As to Obama being “un-Christian,” could Mr. Weissing have been more explicit in what he meant by “un-Christian”? During the campaign of 2008, here is what a professor at a Catholic university who teaches a course in Catholic social teaching said: “If Obama were in my class, he would have gotten an A.”

As far as my credibility is concerned, Mr. Weissing clearly shows that he is not aware of what is going on in the Catholic Church at large. Because of my reading, I know that I am certainly no theologian. But I do a lot of reading. The Church is much more than just Rome. Authority is always the weakest support for any position, whether in politics, sociology, science, religion, or anything else. God didn’t give us reason so we could be obedient, but so that we could think. In any contentious situation, I always say a lot less than I could say. Many people do not like what I write, but I make it a point to be accurate. I write not to please people, but with the hope of prodding people to think about topics that I think are important.

(p.s. I have enough self confidence to not be disturbed by a case of mistaken identity. Perhaps this is a fitting time to mention something about my name. I have never signed any of my letters with the prefix “Brother”. This was done once by the editors without my permission. I would never refer to myself as Brother McMullen. At St. Mary’s University, we always use just our first name. On official occasions we tack on our family name.)



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