Anti-ultramontanist quote of the week

14 12 2010

Found via Vox Nova:

I have long maintained that the heart of the crisis of contemporary Catholicism lies in just such subordination of education to governance, the effect of which has too often been to substitute for teaching proclamation construed as command. As Yves Congar said, it is impossible to make the function of teaching an integral element of jurisdiction because it is one thing to accept a teaching, quite another to obey an order: “Autre chose est agréer une doctrine, autre chose obéir à un ordre”…

According to the church historian Eamon Duffy, John Paul II, like Pius XII before him, “saw the pope as first and foremost a teacher, an oracle.” However accurate the image of particular popes as “oracles” may be as a description, it remains the case that any pope who behaves within the church as an oracle misunderstands his office. The image of the oracle is of one who brings fresh messages from God. This no pope can do, for the church he serves as its chief bishop has already heard the Word and lives by that faith, which is its God-given response. It is the duty of those who hold teaching office in the church to articulate, to express, to clarify the faith by which we live.

I particularly like the note on the word, “dissent”. I don’t know how, but the institutional “Counter-Reformed” notion of truth as institutional obedience somehow seeped into the minds of Catholic talking heads. The purpose of all discourse is to bring about ideological homogeneity within the ranks. People who have a hard time with a certain idea necessarily do so out of malice, and so on. First of all, one must perceive distinctions in degrees of obedience. Even parish priests are not under vows of obedience, and a layperson cannot be excluded from the Church without a canonical procedure. Even the measure of not giving Communion because of a latae sententiae penalty does not per se judge a person to be objectively out of the Church in the sense that it cannot read the subjective circumstances behind the supposed act of disobedience. In other words, the institutional church has never reserved for itself the idea that it has a direct pipeline to the Holy Ghost. The existence of the law is the best indication of this. To try to overcome the law with charisma is not only untraditional, but foolish.