Monday, April 21, 2008

Nice way to send off the Pope, Catholic News Service

  • Theology students extol pope's pastoral gifts but say change unlikely, by Chris Herlinger:
    NEW YORK (CNS) -- Catholic students at one of New York City's most prominent schools of theology said Pope Benedict XVI's visit did not soften some of their concerns about his papacy and the future of the U.S. Catholic Church.

    The students at Union Theological Seminary, a nondenominational graduate school of theology with Protestant roots and a home for Catholic academics who have run afoul of the Vatican, praised Pope Benedict's pastoral gifts and his ability to energize the Catholic faithful.

    But they also said the visit will not lead to what they feel are much-needed reforms within the church and expressed concern that the U.S. church's current and future needs are not likely to be addressed any time soon.


    Of the current five full-time Catholic faculty members at Union, three are women. Union's current Catholic faculty includes Jesuit Father Roger Haight, whose book, "Jesus Symbol of God," was sharply criticized by the Vatican Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith when it was headed by then-Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, now Pope Benedict. The Vatican has banned Father Haight from teaching at a Catholic institution.

    Another Roman Catholic theologian who has had trouble with the Vatican is Paul F. Knitter, currently Union's Paul Tillich professor of theology, world religions and culture.

    Kirk told Catholic News Service April 20 that Union was lucky to have scholars like Father Haight and Knitter on the faculty, adding that the student view of Pope Benedict at Union is colored in large part by the pope's relationship with them, with figures like Father Sobrino and by Pope Benedict's past criticism of liberation theology.

    For her part, [Union doctoral student Kim] Harris -- a Catholic who used to be Presbyterian -- said her concern about church reform, specifically the need to expand the eligibility for clergy to include noncelibate men and women, is coming out of real and "lived experience."

    It seems to me that "lived experience" is a pretty thin basis for promoting a categorical change in Church teaching.

    For example, it is the "lived experience" of the unwed mother that bringing a child into the world can be a burden (should one then be "pro-choice"?)

    It is also the "lived experience" that I may feel inclined to sleep in on Sundays or shirk the obligation to confess my sins -- even so, buck as I might, the Church teaches othewise: not only duty-bound to the instructions of its founder, but no doubt with my spiritual health and well being in mind.

    Of course celibacy may sometimes perceived more of an imposition by some priests and less a reflection of Christ's sacrifice, or it may be that some women may feel slighted because the Church, bound to the sacred scriptures and the example of its founder believes itself unable to ordain them to the priesthood.

    Does this subjective feeling of resentment invalidate the argued position of the Church?

    Catholic News Service identifies itself as "the primary source of national and world news that appears in the U.S. Catholic press," however with the disclaimer that "while created in 1920 by the bishops of the United States, is editorially independent and a financially self-sustaining division of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops."

    I wonder if "editorially and financially independent" is to the USCCB what "plausible deniability" is for the President, when the CIA does a black operation? Honestly, I would have normally expected this backstabbing tripe from the likes of the National Catholic Reporter.

    (Bill Cork @ Oak Leaves noticed this as well:

    "There remains a serious disconnect between Pope Benedict XVI and the US Bishops, especially their bureaucracies, despite the smiles and ring-kissing of the past week. . . .

    Where did the reporter go to discover what theology students are thinking? Catholic University of America? Fordham? Boston College? Notre Dame? University of St. Thomas?

    No, they didn’t go to any of those, or to any other Catholic university.

    They went to Union Theological Seminary, one of the most liberal Protestant schools of theology in the country.