Monday, December 22, 2008

On an A.C.B.C. initiative to improve doctrinal literacy

I read an interesting little item in yesterday’s Sydney Catholic Weekly which is also available in much the same form at the Australian Catholic Bishops’ Conference (A.C.B.C.) website. Here it is:

Accessible new pamphlets on Catholic doctrine to be issued next year

The Bishops Commission for Doctrine and Morals is preparing to publish a series of easy-to-read pamphlets on key areas of doctrine.

It is proposed that six pamphlets will be prepared by the members of the Commission, Cardinal George Pell, Archbishop Mark Coleridge, Bishop Christopher Prowse, Bishop Anthony Fisher. Bishop Peter Elliott will also prepare one of the pamphlets.

They will be released to coincide with the feasts of Easter, Pentecost, the Assumption, Exaltation of the Cross, Christ the King and Christmas.

The pamphlets will examine the subjects of Christology, Truth in the Church, Christian understanding of the Body, Moral Truths, Eschatology and Salvation.

The Bishops Commission for Doctrine and Morals has also commissioned Dr Anne Hunt to develop a booklet on the Trinity. The booklet is directed to a general audience, including secondary students. It is expected that the booklet will be ready for publication during 2009.
Now this is a welcome initiative, and clearly a timely one given the recent ravings of a certain Australian priest (not to mention the nonsense that one can find any day of the week at websites like Mr. Coyne’s little project). And it is good to see that the prelates leading this initiative are ones who are regarded as orthodox. The thing is, they are orthodox, but none of them is Traditional, and so while I’m confident that most of the pamphlets will be doctrinally sound, I worry about what to expect from the pamphlet for the Feast of Christ the King. I blogged recently on His Eminence Cardinal Pell’s recent inadequate attempt to explain Christ’s Kingship, and unfortunately it appears that Msgr. Elliott conforms to the truncated ‘in men’s hearts’ (and therefore not truly and properly social) view of the Social Reign of Christ:

But, if I emphasise the social reign of the Lord Jesus, I need to place this in the spiritual or, let us say, the supernatural perspective. It is a simple call to faith: 'Let Jesus reign!'

Let him reign in our hearts, families, houses and apartments, schools and universities, workplaces, farms, factories, shops and offices. Let him reign among our circle of friends and family as we witness and strive to establish on earth the Kingdom of truth, life, holiness, grace, justice, love and peace.
Let Him Reign “in our hearts, families, houses and apartments, schools and universities, workplaces, farms, factories, shops and offices” by all means, but what of His Reign over the State, which is society taken at its highest natural level? Nowhere in His Lordship’s article does he affirm that Christ’s Reign must be acknowledged by the State and that it must, in justice, do Him homage. This is particularly odd given that His Lordship began this article lamenting the ‘spiritualisation’ of Christ’s Reign.

So what can we do to avert any diminution of Christ’s Social Kingship and take advantage of this opportunity to promote His Reign? I am considering writing (under my real name, of course) an e-mail to the Commission’s Executive Secretary, Sr. Elizabeth M. Delany S.G.S., with the following sentiments:

Sr. Elizabeth M. Delaney, S.G.S.
Executive Secretary,
Bishops Commission for Doctrine and Morals

My Venerable and Dear Sister in Christ,

I was pleased to read in the Sydney Catholic Weekly of December 21, 2008 that the Bishops Commission for Doctrine and Morals, of which you are Executive Secretary, is going to issue several pamphlets dealing with some fundamental Catholic teachings. I write to you regarding the pamphlet to be issued for the Feast of Christ the King. I am concerned that the pamphlet might fail to uphold explicitly the dogma of the Social Kingship of Christ, and that Christ’s Social Reign might be reduced to a mere reign ‘in men’s hearts’ taken individually, which would, therefore, not be truly and properly social. I would like to express my hope that in any pamphlet treating Christ’s Kingship there will be an affirmation that Christ’s Social Reign is not just a matter of people in a society acknowledging Christ’s Kingship, but that it demands that people as a society acknowledge Christ’s Kingship, with the implication necessarily being that the State, which is society taken at its highest natural level, must acknowledge Christ as its King and as the Source of the blessings that it enjoys, of its authority and of its very existence. His late Holiness Pius XI wrote about this in his Encyclical Quas Primas:

18. Thus the empire of our Redeemer embraces all men. To use the words of Our immortal predecessor, Pope Leo XIII: "His empire includes not only Catholic nations, not only baptized persons who, though of right belonging to the Church, have been led astray by error, or have been cut off from her by schism, but also all those who are outside the Christian faith; so that truly the whole of mankind is subject to the power of Jesus Christ."[28] Nor is there any difference in this matter between the individual and the family or the State; for all men, whether collectively or individually, are under the dominion of Christ. In him is the salvation of the individual, in him is the salvation of society. "Neither is there salvation in any other, for there is no other name under heaven given to men whereby we must be saved."[29] He is the author of happiness and true prosperity for every man and for every nation. "For a nation is happy when its citizens are happy. What else is a nation but a number of men living in concord?"[30] If, therefore, the rulers of nations wish to preserve their authority, to promote and increase the prosperity of their countries, they will not neglect the public duty of reverence and obedience to the rule of Christ. …

I look forward to hearing more about this welcome initiative to improve doctrinal literacy and, in particular, I hope to see a strong affirmation of the dogma of the Social Kingship of Christ. I would be interested to hear back from you with any information regarding the Commission’s intentions in this connection.

Yours faithfully in Christ,
So what do you think? Do you think that I have expressed myself diplomatically enough here (I want to maximise the likelihood of an endorsement of the Traditional teaching on Christ’s Kingship, so I want to avoid anything harsh or polemical)? Would you be interested in supporting my little initiative by sending an e-mail of your own to Sr. Elizabeth, using the words provided here, or a composition of your own? Would a written letter enjoy a better reception than an e-mail, do you think? Let me know in the combox if you have any suggestions for making my attempt to promote Christ’s Social Reign succeed.

Reginaldvs Cantvar
22.XII.2008 A.D.

1 comment:

Michael Webb said...

Your Eminence,

You have been more than fair and reasonable and courteous.
There seems to be an aversion, even a kind of hostility, towards any Catholic lay politics to influence the State in such a comprehensive way.
I think that one possibility is that those Catholics of a modernistic and liberal persuasion who are already involved in politics do not want to feel the heat or the embarassment or any alienation from theri colleagues; nor any demotions from key Cabinet or in the case of the Opposition, Shadow Ministries.
As far as the general population back in the pews the whole idea of the Social Reign of Christ has been privatised by the neo-conservatives and rejected by their opposite number the liberal and modernistic. Must the same thing can be said for Catholic social teaching too. Not only may it be a well kept secret through ignorance and the unwillingness of Catholic educators to hand it on to the last two generations but also because this teaching in its comprehensiveness is a worldview and as such runs contrary to the worldview of on the one hand the socialist/liberal/modernists and ont he other the laissez faire, neo-conservative Coalition voters.

Bring back the centre. It is here for all to join. The DLP.