"You shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you odd." ~Flannery O'Connor

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Never thought I'd see the day...

Hurrah! I have now been accused of being a "radical fundamentalist." Of the Catholic variety, mind you: nobody would ever accuse me of being a biblical fundamentalist. No, I'm the sort who wants "to hold that the church has never altered its official teaching on anything." But I'm delighted that a professional Catholic theologian, Fr. Joseph O'Leary, has made that absurd charge at Pertinacious Papist under his standard moniker "Spirit of Vatican II" (no kidding, that's his chosen handle). What pleases me about it is how it points up, in its own little way, the intellectual degeneracy of the theological left (as well as the political left, which Alexandra von Maltzan and Richard Godwin do an bang-up job of diagnosing.)

Anybody who cares about the issue of how Church teaching develops can learn my real position easily by reading my essay "Development and Negation" (click the link in the left sidebar). In that essay I tackle some of the usual issues often cited, by both progressives and traditionalists, as radical reversals of previous teaching. As background, I also suggest my post The Infallibility of the Ordinary Magisterium, which focuses mainly on the question of women's ordination. My position is not that Church teaching hasn't changed—in fact some teachings have, for the better—but that those changes which have occurred do not contradict any teaching that meets the Church's own criteria for infallibility. Development of doctrine does not, and if Catholicism is true cannot, negate any teaching officially proposed as belonging to the deposit of faith. That's why the Church's teachings on, e.g., usury and heliocentrism have changed but her teachings on women's ordination and contraception have not changed—and will not.

O'Leary, needless to say, doesn't bother himself with such subtleties. He is so keen on getting the Church to negate her constant and irreformable teachings about homosex, women's ordination, and contraception that he believes any effort to uphold those teachings as having been infallibly taught by the ordinary magisterium is a brand of "radical fundamentalism." Such irresponsibility, which is widespread among progs of every church, only plays into the hands of those who defend the faith once delivered to the saints.
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