Monday, November 10, 2008

What are they being taught at Sydney’s Archdiocesan seminary?

[Updated, November 18, 2008, approx. 0010hrs.: Correction: Rev. Fr. Anthony Percy does not, in fact, become Rector of the Good Shepherd Seminary until January 2009.]

Yesterday’s Sydney Catholic Weekly published a letter by Very Rev. Fr. Anthony Percy, Rector of Sydney’s Good Shepherd Seminary. Unfortunately, in the course of attempting to allay fears over the orthodoxy of the next generation of priests, Father gives rise to fresh suspicions as to the flavour of theological studies on offer. I reproduce the letter here in full in order to avoid any possibility of misrepresentation:

9 November, 2008
Christian doctrine

The Australian [newspaper] of October 29 – reported that Fr Peter Dresser, a Catholic priest, no longer believes that Jesus Christ is God – specifically, “This whole matter regarding Jesus being God … does violence to my own intelligence.”

This is an unfortunate state of affairs: a man entrusted with the mysteries of Christ no longer embraces the realities the mysteries make present.

Of course, in defence of the Christian doctrine that Christ is fully human and fully divine – truly man and truly God – one could go back through the entire Old Testament and see how Christ is prefigured there.

One could see the truth in the New Testament itself and then go to Church councils that were called when the truth of the matter was being called into question.

But perhaps the best way forward is to ask any ordinary Christian who believes in Christ to tell you what they know – not intellectually – but experientially.

And they will tell you, with absolute certainty, that Christ is God.

Furthermore, they will confirm, through their own deaths and resurrections, that Christ really did die, that he indeed is truly risen and that they look forward to his return. Ordinary Catholics should not be disturbed by these minor eruptions in Church life. They happen every now and then.

They can be assured that the men studying for the Catholic priesthood at Good Shepherd Seminary, Sydney, will receive what the Church has handed down through the ages. Namely, that Christ is alive and that he not only woos our hearts with his sacred heart, but also raises our minds to think with divine wisdom.

Fr Anthony Percy

Good Shepherd Seminary

Sydney, NSW
(my emphasis)
Now what the ‘ordinary Christian’ knows ‘experientially’ is neither here nor there. Given the post-Vatican II collapse of religious literacy, it would not surprise me if a majority of those who label themselves ‘Catholic’ in the census disputed the Divinity of Christ. Indeed, one wonders what the ‘experiential knowledge’ of the typical Catholic married couple tells them about the liciety of contraception.

But there is something even more worrying about this exaltation of experience. Does it not have a whiff of Modernism about it? Think of what St. Pius X had to say in section 14 of his brilliant encyclical Pascendi Dominici Gregis:

… For the Modernist .Believer, on the contrary, it is an established and certain fact that the divine reality does really exist in itself and quite independently of the person who believes in it. If you ask on what foundation this assertion of the Believer rests, they answer: In the experience of the individual. On this head the Modernists differ from the Rationalists only to fall into the opinion of the Protestants and pseudo-mystics. This is their manner of putting the question: In the religious sentiment one must recognise a kind of intuition of the heart which puts man in immediate contact with the very reality of God, and infuses such a persuasion of God's existence and His action both within and without man as to excel greatly any scientific conviction. They assert, therefore, the existence of a real experience, and one of a kind that surpasses
all rational experience. If this experience is denied by some, like the rationalists, it arises from the fact that such persons are unwilling to put themselves in the moral state which is necessary to produce it. It is this experience which, when a person acquires it, makes him properly and truly a believer.
Reginaldvs Cantvar
Feast of St. Andrew Avellino, 2008 A.D.

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