Wednesday, 9 February 2011

"Rebellion in the nursing home.”

The news of the recent dissenting statement by German-speaking theologians [here] took many people aback over the weekend. It was, of course, reported with great delight by the BBC on Sunday morning as it recommended essentially the adoption of the liberal protestant agenda which has been such an outstanding evangelistic success for the Anglican Communion (or rather, the secularised 'western' provinces of it.)
But lest anyone should mistake this declaration for a sign that Rome is going the same way as Canterbury, Catholic World News has reported an intervention by Peter Seewald, the journalist who interviewed Pope Benedict so fascinatingly in the book 'Light of the World.' If you haven't read it, then it comes highly recommended. I was given it as a Christmas present from my colleague in the parish, Fr Mark - an exchange of gifts, as I gave him Andrew Burnham's 'Heaven & Earth in Little Space' - more essential reading for those embarking on a journey at some point.
Seewald portrays those theologians who dissent publicly from the Magisterium as "chief priests of the Zeitgeist" and, amusingly, the whole episode as “a rebellion in the nursing home,” the point being that despite all the liberal talk about 'the next pope but one' (I wish I had £5 for every time I've heard that one from the usual Anglican sources) who will come into line with secular thinking on the whole raft of issues on the revisionists' wish-list, this is one of the last hurrahs of the 1960s, from those whose interpretation of the 'spirit of Vatican II'  differs considerably from the emerging consensus.
This is the report on   [Thanks to Thoughts from an Oasis in French Catholicism]

"The journalist whose in-depth interview with Pope Benedict XVI became the book Light of the World has dismissed a public protest by German-speaking theologians as “a rebellion in the nursing home.”
Peter Seewald told the news agency that a highly-publicized statement of dissent-- signed by one-third of the theology professors at Catholic universities in Germany, Austria, and Switzerland—should not be interpreted as a popular uprising against Church teaching. Rather, he said, it is a protest by the same people who have caused a crisis in Catholic teaching.
The dissident theologians, Seewald charged, are seeking to remodel the Church in their own image, adapting Catholic teachings to popular standards. Their approach, he said, is to measure Church doctrines by the standards of popular opinion, putting themselves in the role of “chief priests of the Zeitgeist.”
In his acerbic remarks on the theologians’ public statement, Seewald referred to St. Paul’s words (2 Tim 4:3): For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachings to suit their own likings, and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander into myths."
Here is a link to the theologians' letter: it will seem very familar to those of us who have been suffering for years under the failure of exactly the kind of approach they seek to promote.
Biretta tip to Fr Anthony Chadwick at the  English Catholic blog


  1. Thanks for the ack. That 2 Timothy reference made my day!

  2. Well, of course, as far as the English speakers are concerned, much of this is happening now because of the new English translation of the Roman Missal which has got quite a few of that generation (those of the 70s especially) very worried. It is not so much the language they object to but the authoritative presentation of the Missal which will stop a lot of the "good morning everybody" nonsense and give a signal that much of the tired old liturgical liberalism will have to stop. As for those on the continent, it is very much a "last gasp" of those who are fast becoming forgotten men. The Pope's "Summorum Pontificum" (allowing greater freedom for the Latin Mass 1962-style)really got up their noses, and the Pope's extraordinary popularity with the young - something of a nasty surprise for so many of those theologians etc - must have left them feeling a bit sick. I am part of the 70s generation and I have watched some of my contemporaries squirming about of late. To my way of thinking, the western Church is showing signs of an impressive recovery, and the Ordinariate is very much a part of that.

  3. This Seewald guy isn't bad. As a 'Class of '65' (yes, THAT class) alumni
    I take full responsibility for being one of those followers of the “chief priests of the Zeitgeist.” I saw the error of my ways early on and changed course.

    You gotta love it!

    Matthew M


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