Monday, February 27, 2006

Catholic priests and Catholic Doctrine

I watched A&E's Mysteries of the Bible on the topic of "Hell" yesterday, and it struck me how unreliable some Catholic priests can be when it comes to representing Catholic doctrine.

For example, the A&E video on hell examined various and conflicting opinions about hell, to include an interview with a Jewish Rabbi, a Southern Baptist minister, and Catholic priest Fr. Thomas Rausch, S.J., from Loyola Marymount University. What was disappointing was Fr. Rausch's explanation, which described his personal view that the souls in hell simply cease to exist. Why do some priests have such difficulty submitting to Catholic doctrine??? Furthermore, why do many priests have NO difficulty publically sharing their contrary views even though they are visible and public representatives of the Catholic Church???? Arrrrrrrrrrrggggh!!!!

For the record, the Catholic Church teaches that hell is everlasting. Souls that descend to hell do not cease to exist, but are immortal so that they may receive eternal retribution.

Contary to Fr. Rausch's view, the Catechism of the Catholic Church teaches that human beings are "endowed with 'a spiritual and immortal' soul" (CCC 1022). "Each man receives his eternal retribution in his immortal soul at the very moment of his death...either entrance into the blessedness of heaven-through a purification or immediately, -- or immediate and everlasting damnation." (CCC 1703).

It gets rather tiresome watching priests on TV and in other public forums when they give their personal views which are contrary to Catholic doctrine.

As an Air Force officer, I'm prohibited by law from "conduct prejudicial to good order and discipline or service discrediting" (cf. Article 134, UCMJ). I think there ought to be a similar law for Catholic priests and theologians.

Hmmmm... wait a minute... the Code of Canon law, is binding upon Fr. Thomas Rausch as well as all Catholics, and it states...

Can. 750 §1. A person must believe with divine and Catholic faith all those things contained in the word of God, written or handed on, that is, in the one deposit of faith entrusted to the Church, and at the same time proposed as divinely revealed either by the solemn magisterium of the Church or by its ordinary and universal magisterium which is manifested by the common adherence of the Christian faithful under the leadership of the sacred magisterium; therefore all are bound to avoid any doctrines whatsoever contrary to them.

§2. Each and every thing which is proposed definitively by the magisterium of the Church concerning the doctrine of faith and morals, that is, each and every thing which is required to safeguard reverently and to expound faithfully the same deposit of faith, is also to be firmly embraced and retained; therefore, one who rejects those propositions which are to be held definitively is opposed to the doctrine of the Catholic Church....

Can. 752 Although not an assent of faith, a religious submission of the intellect and will must be given to a doctrine which the Supreme Pontiff or the college of bishops declares concerning faith or morals when they exercise the authentic magisterium, even if they do not intend to proclaim it by definitive act; therefore, the Christian faithful are to take care to avoid those things which do not agree with it....

Ref.: Code of Canon Law

Additionally, the Holy See's Instruction on the Ecclesial Vocation of the Theologian states,
The freedom of the act of faith cannot justify a right to dissent.... the theologian who is not disposed to think with the Church ("sentire cum Ecclesia") contradicts the commitment he freely and knowingly accepted to teach in the name of the Church. (37) ... the theologian, like every believer, must follow his conscience, he is also obliged to form it. Conscience is not an independent and infallible faculty.... Setting up a supreme magisterium of conscience in opposition to the magisterium of the Church means adopting a principle of free examination incompatible with the economy of Revelation and its transmission in the Church and thus also with a correct understanding of theology and the role of the theologian. The propositions of faith are not the product of mere individual research and free criticism of the Word of God but constitute an ecclesial heritage. If there occur a separation from the Bishops who watch over and keep the apostolic tradition alive, it is the bond with Christ which is irreparably compromised(38).

(37) Cf. John Paul II, Apost. Const. Sapientia Christiana, April 15, 1979, n. 27, 1: AAS 71 (1979) 483; Code of Canon Law, can. 812.

(38) Cf. Paul VI, Apost. Exhort. Paterna cum benevolentia, n. 4: AAS 67 (1975)15.

Ref.: Instruction on the ecclesial vocation of theologian

St. Ignatius Loyola, the founder of the Society of Jesus to which Fr. Thomas Rausch, S.J. belongs, taught "Sentire cum Ecclesia" (Think with the Church). What is disappointing is when priests fail to do precisely that, especially when they present their contrary opinion as visible representatives of the Catholic Church in public forums.

God bless,