Saturday, February 25, 2012

Why is Catholic Insider Supporting Austrian Dissidents?

Edit: Catholic Insider is an internet blog started by Vaticanist Andrea Tornielli.  It seems to take a more conservative position with respect to most things and is very hostile to the FSSPX.  Now it's giving an unchallenged hearing to Austrian dissidents, chipping away at the Sacrament of Marriage.  Giving air to a dissident theologian, Father Eberhard Schockendorf, an instructor of Moral Theology in Salzburg,  who belongs to the ultra-Liberal "Austrian Catholic Action", Tornielli helps to take a few shots at the indissoluble Sacrament of marriage.

"Divorced and remarried persons are entitled to receive communion." At the seminar in Salzburg by Austrian Catholic Action, the German theologianEberhard Schockenhoff, a professor of moral theology at the University of Freiburg, has launched an appeal for a "theological re-evaluation " of divorced and remarried persons and a new way to interact with them by the Church. According to Schockenhoff, the Catholic news agency Adista reports, the Church must emphasize its readiness for reconciliation in the spirit of the biblical sources and the practice of the early Church, breaking away from an attitude of "moral condemnation" that provokes in the interested parties a "painful feeling of exclusion".

Focusing on the pain and alienation people feel is no excuse to change the nature of a Sacrament with respect to the reception of Holy Communion, but it can become a means through which to legitimate divorce.

Such rationales often form attacks on Catholic Sacraments.  These are things such as the personal shame involved, how difficult it is and that it constitutes a "pastoral" problem.

It is in fact the "pastoral" problem which has involved attacks on other Catholic doctrines, like sexual affairs, homosexuality and women priests.

Anything, including the murder of unborn babies, can be justified by such approaches, but Tornielli is more interested in pointing out that this dissident priest has written a book on the subject and he claims that Pope Benedict has even considered this to be an open question.  The question is also handled by another fallacious course of reasoning, by an appeal to archaism/  Tornielli continues:

Secondly, there is no reason that bars this step, either in the Scriptures or in the practice of the early Church. The reference to Jesus' words on the indissolubility of marriage before God, says the theologian, cannot simply be treated as a canonical norm, [How else are canonical norms developed if not out of the Fathers, Scripture and Tradition?] while in the Gospels of Matthew and Mark, and in the writings of St. Paul there would be "counter-tendencies" and "exceptional circumstances" in which divorce could be tolerated. And if the indissolubility of marriage remains "the only valid yardstick," this does not mean, Schockenhoff argues, that from a biblical point of view there cannot be "emergency situations" as an exception to this standard.

This "flexibility in rigor" [Tornielli is concerned with rigour, is he?also characterized the practice of the early centuries of the Church. Similar positions were expressed, the German theologian points out, by Joseph Ratzinger who, in a 1972 essay, wrote that underneath or within the classical magisterium "there has always been, in practical ministry, a more elastic practice that has never been regarded as entirely consistent with the true faith of the Church, but that has never been totally ruled out"; regulated admission to the sacraments of the persons concerned, Ratzinger said, "is fully in line with the tradition of the Church."

The Holy Father may have written that questionable statement before he was Pope, but that doesn't mean he still subscribes to those opinions, nor does it mean that he's going to bulldoze over two thousand years of consistent tradition with regard to the Sacrament of Marriage in order to satisfy a small group of elderly dissidents in Austria and their disobedient leaders.

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