View the H-Catholic Discussion Logs by month
View the Prior Message in H-Catholic's July 2008 logs by: [date] [author] [thread]
View the Next Message in H-Catholic's July 2008 logs by: [date] [author] [thread]
Visit the H-Catholic home page.
Colleague, The theory of non-reception has long intrigued me when it is invoked to justify withholding unpopular Christian teaching. If non-reception inevitably leads to "ecclesial irrelevance," then what are we to make of-- * "Love your enemies, forgive those who hurt you, bless those who persecute you. . . " * "Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth. . . " * "Unless you eat the flesh and drink the blood of the Son of Man, you shall have no life in you. . . " * "He who divorces his wife and marries another commits adultery. . . " * And the one that Peter initially "non-received," which earned him the "Get behind me, Satan" comment from Christ: "The Son of Man must suffer greatly and be rejected by the elders, the chief priests, and the scribes, and be killed, and rise after three days. . . " Each of these teachings has had a long history of non-reception among Christians and non-Christians alike. Does that make them "ecclesially irrelevant"? And if not, what is the difference between these controversial teachings above, and other controversial Church teachings? As Garry Wills noted in his 1978 book _Inventing America_, the US Bill of Rights, when parsed into survey questions, is often rejected on key points by large percentages the US population. In light of this, I struggle to understand what makes the theological theory of non-reception a persuasive idea. I have observed over the years arguments similar to Prof. Lakeland's as transmitted to H-Catholic on 28 Jun 2008 07:59:48, "Better to let them [non-received teachings] die the death and make it easier for a future pope to unsay the damaging parts of them." To argue in such a manner seems to counsel a norm of silence on unpopular Church teaching. I submit that there has been indeed a norm of silence among certain Catholic leaders on Humanae Vitae for more than a generation. I have observed this silence especially among the cohort recently passed of leading "labor priests," who prior to their deaths became much more outspoken on the abortion question, while expressing some degree of regret for their roughly two to three decades of silence on it. They were, to a degree, conforming to a norm of silence, and to a degree for a time shared agreement with Prof. Lakeland's apparent proposed norm of silence on un-received teaching. This phenomenon I began to describe as "The Stealth Church," which through systematic patterns of silence attempted to nullify unpopular Church teaching. Two recent popes have now made Humanae Vitae a centerpiece of their teaching. It is being taught worldwide to tens of millions of persons through the new Catholic media. It will certainly remain a centerpiece of Catholic teaching beyond Prof. Lakeland's generation. When I began teaching again in Catholic schools twenty-eight years ago, I re-read and accepted Humanae Vitae's teaching, reflecting that if I were to teach in a Catholic school, I should teach the faith completely as it is officially taught, or not teach in a Catholic school. I stand by this teaching today. Forthright rejection of certain teachings in Humanae Vitae, such as those rejections as direct as those of Garry Wills, are rare among Catholic scholars. The stealthy answers, standing behind surveys and theories of non-reception as proxies, seem to me much more likely. . . . . I'm actually tempted to submit a paper on community life and urban development to the Notre Dame conference. But alas, administrative duties will probably stand in the way. . . Cordially, with All Rights Reserved, Albert J. Schorsch, III Chicago, IL