(see chapter 14, note 127)
In the period before 1920, it will be remembered, the history of dogma had been a major topic of interest — dogmas, as we already know, did not spring into being fully formed at the start, like Athena from the head of Zeus — and during that time the Church had had to combat two inter-related ideas or tendencies, jointly called "historicism." The first presented the history of dogmatic formulations as an evolution rather than a development; the second tended to see the formulations as entirely determined by the culture or way of thinking of the time in which they took their definitive shape. Dogmatic formulations, it was therefore argued, only have a passing value. In time they become meaningless or unintelligible. The underlying "truth" then has to be rethought and reformulated (though there is no evidence that the Church had ever before found this necessary or attempted it).
After 1920, these concerns and the attendant problems spread to theology as a whole. The demand arose for scholars to be allowed greater freedom to examine the way historical factors had to some extent affected the manner in which theological problems had been posed and answered over the course of time and for the results of their researches to be included in theological courses for students. Theology and doctrine should not be presented exclusively as a timeless whole. The historical approach would enable scholars to enter more deeply into the minds of the theologians of the past they were studying, making it easier to distinguish what was enduring from what was ephemeral in their ideas, and to bring out the connection between the deposit of faith or the "sources" and current teaching.
In itself, the demand was reasonable enough. All the more so, seeing that scholars outside the Church were examining Christian theology from an historical standpoint. It was necessary to know what they were saying, if only to correct what, from the Catholic standpoint, would be erroneous conclusions. But could the demand be satisfied without introducing the problems which had been haunting the study of the history of dogma? Would students leave their courses in historical or positive theology, as it has since come to be called, believing that one theological opinion was as good as another, and none could permanently stand the test of time? The question is particularly pertinent because the introduction of the historical approach in all branches of religious studies would be a central feature of the new theologians' reform programme. Some would even speak as though a sense of history had been discovered for the first time.
The answer to the question will, of course, depend, on the wisdom and sense of proportion of the individual scholar or teacher. As a Dominican versed in the subject has neatly put it, "instead of saying that there is an important place for historical study within theology, — will it be a case of "history becomes everything"? (Aidan Nichols OP, The Shape of Catholic Theology, p. 332)
The transition from the first frame of mind to the second is well exemplified by the course of events at the French Dominican house of studies, Le Saulchoir, between its establishment in 1904 and its closure after the Council, when the order started sending its students to ordinary universities; or between the attitudes of its first rector and, a certain sense, founder, Fr Ambrose Gardeil, and what eventually became the attitudes of its second most prominent son, Fr Marie-Dominique Chenu.
Chenu, Historical Theology and Historicism
Fr Gardeil initially set out his position in a series of lectures, later published as Le Donné révélé et la Théologie, at the Institut Catholique in Paris in 1908. It was a brave move. The first modernist crisis was at its height. Subsequently in collaboration with the medievalist Fr Mandonnet and with the support of the biblicist, Fr Lagrange, he introduced the historical approach at Le Saulchoir. Teaching and research focused on medieval theology with particular attention to the theology of St Thomas.
Authority, more sensitive at this period to dangers than possible advantages, eventually accepted Fr Gardeil's approach, but for a long time reluctantly. One could say perhaps that historical theology was something which had to be taken on board, like critical biblical scholarship, be there risks or no risks. Rejecting it would have been like refusing to use cars because there are sometimes accidents. And to begin with, all went well. But, by the late 1930s, historicist tendencies began to manifest themselves. Rome first became aware of the situation through a little book by Fr Chenu, based on a lecture celebrating the feast of St Thomas in March 1936, and printed the following year for private circulation within the Dominican order under the title Une école de théologie: Le Saulchoir. Fr Chenu was, by this time, rector of studies, and the book described the methods of research and teaching currently pursued at Le Saulchoir. In 1942 the book was condemned and Fr Chenu was forbidden to teach. Later he was reinstated and, as we have seen, became an active member of the reform party at the Council.
But was Rome, or were the officials in Rome who were responsible at the time for the measure, entirely mistaken about him? There was no public edition of his book until 1985, when it was published by Les Editions du Cerf, Paris, with lengthy commentaries by a group of prominent theological dissenters. In what follows, the letter "S." will refer to quotations from this book, and the letters "T.L." to quotations from Un Théologien en Liberté, an interview with the journalist Jacques Duquesne (Le Centurion, Paris,1975). In both cases the translations are mine.
That Fr Chenu had much that was attractive about hirn and much to his credit is the impression left by this interview and also by the obituary in 30 Days, by his fellow Dominican, Fr Spiazzi, in spite of Fr Spiazzi's representing a quite different theological position. Fr Chenu was not an original thinker, but he was clearly an excellent historian and a first-rate teacher, with an almost boyish enthusiasm for his task and love of his subject. Had he not been, Gilson would hardly have engineered his appointment by the French government to found the new Institute of Medieval Studies in Montreal where, from 1930 on, he lectured for two months a year up to the war. Of his Toward Understanding Saint Thomas, Fr Spiazzi says "Thousands of us were formed by that book." He was also refreshingly honest (he did not try to disguise his views like Teilhard), appears to have been quite without personal ambition, and had a genuine love of the poor and desire to better their conditions. His support for the worker priests can be attributed to this love and this desire, as can, no doubt, the activities of the majority of worker priests themselves, even if they were mistaken in many of their ideas and methods.
The weakness which eventually led him astray, I would say, was another boyish trait. He was a natural partisan. Once a cause or an idea had captured his imagination he went overboard (or it. Everything thereafter was black or white, or perceived in terms of "us" and "them." He would have hotly denied it, but the interview with Duquesne bears repeated witness to it.
We see it first at the very outset of his career. Having refused Fr Garrigou-Lagrange's offer of a post as his assistant in Rome (Garrigou had a high opinion of his talents) and having repudiated neo-scholasticism in favour of historical theology and the school of Le Saulchoir, the historical approach became to all intents and purposes the only worthwhile approach. No theological proposition could be properly understood without a knowledge of its historical context. "Archaeology, ethnology, linguistics, philology, which could seem a peripheral part of sacred studies, are in reality the indispensable keys ... to an intelligent faith" (S., p. 170). This lack of a sense of proportion opened the way to a more and more radical historicism leading eventually to a full-blown modernism, where the deposit of faith takes the form of an unverbalised instinct in the faithful's collective subconscious from which it is continually bursting forth as it endeavours to express itself, though never with complete success, in ever new forms.
"The understanding of the mystery can only be had through the history in which it unrolls — a sacred history. Clearly this goes against the conception of a timeless theology, unchanging across space and time. Theology is thus relativised. That is to say it is drawn into the complex interplay of relations which continually modify, not of course the radical content of the faith, but its expressions" (S., pp. 7-8;T.L., p. 119). "The word 'deposit' is open to criticism because it creates the impression of a truth exterior to me, spread out in front of me" (T.L., p. 47). "I discover the Word of God not in a whole series of propositions taught by a magisterium. I find it, even if conditioned by that magisterium, in act, in effervescence, in a people, who, with the eyes of faith, I see as the locus of the Holy Spirit" (T.L., p. 69). Theology "is not a knowledge fallen from the sky to fix itself in propositions guarded by the magisterium," but "is immersed in the life of the people of God linked to the world" (T.L., p. 68). "The fundamental concern of the theologian ... is ... the whole life of the Christian people, including its economic activities, which are the ground of its culture" (T.L., p.119). "The Church-community in act is the immediate object of the theologian's study" (T.L., p. 119). "The collective experience of the People of God as an hierarchically organised community must be the basis of the revision of formulas" (T.L., p. 199). "The bearer of the Word of God ... is humanity in process of construction by science and human work" (S., p. 176).
This last passage suggests that Fr Chenu had steeped himself in Fr Teilhard as well as in Maritain's Integral Humanism which, he tells us, he had read many times.
In view of all this, how does Fr Chenu see the relationship of theologians to bishops? There are, we learn, two fundamental forces at work in the Church: pouvoir (power), exercised by the bishops, and savoir (knowledge), the province of theologians, and between them a great gulf is fixed. Bishops, it is implied, will for the most part always be theological ignoramuses, and theologians objective and disinterested. The need for some degree of pouvoir is not denied, but since savoir is infinitely superior, its superiority should be publicly admitted and the authority of the possessors of pouvoir radically restricted in the interests of savoir. This means more pouvoir for theologians, which, as it turns out, is just what Fr Chenu's theories about the nature of theology have prepared the ground for.
"The theologian ... is better suited to give a pure disinterested witness than the man of power" (T.L., p. 20). "Theologians are not merely experts at the service of power ... they have an autonomous function.: The theologian "is the conscience of the community, the critical consciousness of the world in labour under the influence of faith" (T.L., p. 21). He "watches the word of God at work in the community ... day by day he follows it as it expresses itself in history ...The theologian has to be in a certain sense a prophet, taking the pulse of a world on the march" (T.L., p. 22). "Power;" on the other hand, "is tempted to claim that it comes directly from God" (T.L., p. 19). "The Episcopal charism as such does not imply any prophetic element." (T.L., p. 23). "The Pope ... sometimes uses vocabulary adapted to the Italian Christian community ... The theologian's business is to use discernment, to take account of the fact that the people's outlook and situations are not the same in France and Germany. What the Pope says has to be adapted to them" (T.L., p. 19).
Historical theology has its place in Catholic studies. But I think it will be seen that the forebodings of those who had reservations about it were not all illusory.
(see chapter 21, note 217)
The other main advocate of" experience" as the primary source of religious knowledge, or the factor which ought to determine the way it is expressed, has, of course, been Fr Edward Schillebeeckx.
Schillebeeckx and Experience
As leader with Fr Küng of the revolt against the magisterium since the Council, and a theologian almost as widely read as Fr Rahner, he too would seem to deserve a chapter or chapters to himself. However, he resembles Fr Rahner in so many ways that this would involve going over much the same ground a second time. Although half a generation younger than Rahner, both men had been subject to the same cultural influences, had mulled over the same questions, acquired a similar aversion to scholastic philosophy and theology, and, in their Later years, as they moved further and further from the fullness of Catholic belief, adopted much the same positions about fundamental doctrines.
Fr Schillebeeckx differed from Rahner in being less original as a thinker, less systematic and ponderously philosophical as a theologian and in giving an even heavier emphasis to the role of "experience." His later theology is little more than politicised Bultmann with a strong dash of the new hermeneutics. "Christ is no longer present as the Incarnate son of God but as a prophet enjoying the highest relationship with God; the Resurrection is no longer the event in which Christ rose from the tomb...The narratives of the apparitions ... express the experience by which Jesus was recognised as God's salvation for man" a Galot SJ, reviewing Schillebeeckx's Expérience humaine et foi en Jésus in Esprit et Vie, 23 July 1981). Onto all this, with the collaboration of Fr Johann Baptist Metz, he grafted his own version of liberation theology. He also took less trouble than Rahner to disguise his departures from Catholic belief and support for dissent. One cannot imagine Fr Rahner, for instance, publicly celebrating Mass with two excommunicated priests and two womcn ("E. Schillebeeckx and the Catholic Priesthood," van der Ploeg, Homiletic and Pastoral Review, March 1982).
What is perhaps most interesting about him, as well as being revealing about the state of many of the faithful immediately after the Council, are the circumstances which brought about the final collapse of his faith.
Up to the Council his writings are generally considered to be capable of bearing a properly Catholic meaning and even to have positive merit. This includes his widely read Christ the Sacrament of the Encounter with God (1959). It is true that in 1962 he began collaborating in the production of the new Dutch catechism. But as late as 1964, it is still possible to say that his teaching about Christ "in no way ... betrays any withdrawal from the dogma of the Church" (Leo Scheffczyk, Christology and Experience: Schillebeeckx on Christ,' The Thomist, July 1984). However, by 1969,"withdrawals" were becoming increasingly pronounced and the rest of Scheffczyk's article follows them step by step. What it does not mention (it was not the article's purpose) is the dramatic nature of the events which precipitated the change.
The year 1966, we are told by Schillebeeckx's admirer and fellow Dominican Philip Kennedy OP (Schillebeeckx, London, Chapman, 1993, p. 43), marked a turning-point to be "highlighted at all costs in the consideration of Schillebeeckx's history," and initiated "a time of intellectual ferment" lasting until the mid-1970s. Impelled by what Schillebeeck himself calls an "almost feverish sense of urgency," he began "a frenetic search to reformulate the meaning of faith in God and Christ and the function of faith in secularised societies" (Kennedy, p. 37). From now to the end of the 1960s, his writings would be punctuated by the words "crisis," "newness," "change?' Fr Kennedy lists eighteen subjects in all, which, during this period of ravenous reading and rethinking helped to transform his beliefs, with the "new hermeneutics," language philosophy and the "critical" Marxism of the Frankfurt school inflicting the deepest wounds.
What had happened? Why in 1966 did he suddenly decide that Catholic doctrine was no longer intelligible unless it conformed to human experience — which, Scheffczyk astutely remarks, is like saying that the recipient of a letter will only be able to understand and accept it if he has first decided on the contents and written it himself (op. cit., p. 407).
A contributory factor seems to have been his appointment to teach a course in hermeneutics' at Nijmegen, which exposed him to radical biblical scholarship in a way he had not experienced before. Another was an article by a Dutch Augustinian, Fr Ansfried Hulsbosch, maintaining that the teaching of the Council of Chalcedon about Christ's human and divine natures was "dualistic" and must therefore be abandoned because in conflict with modern anthropology. But the really crucial event, it seems, was his first visit to the United States in 1966, followed by a second in 1967.
To understand the effect of these visits, we need, I think, to take into account the tightly knit Catholic world in which the majority of practising Dutch and Belgian Catholics before the Council mainly lived — more tightly knit, it seems, than that of their counterparts in France and Germany, and certainly far more so than in the Anglo-Saxon world.
In the U.S., by contrast, he met a society which was not only dazzlingly successful and expansive, but was characterised by a wide diversity of religious and philosophical views, which its members were not embarrassed to discuss and publicly express. It is as though in the U.S. he met, for the first time, the modern world he had spent so much time writing and thinking about, and it knocked him sideways.
He also found the rapturous audiences of priests, religious and laity to whom he lectured not only conversant with topics he had scarcely dipped into but in a more advanced state of religious uncertainty than he had reached himself— he records, for instance, having been frequently asked "Is Christ really God?" This is a point worth noting, I think, when assessing the post-conciliar collapse. By 1966, the sheep were undermining the faith of the shepherds. In certain cases, the faithful had been quicker to see the implications of some of the new theological trends than the men promoting them.
By 1968 the results of his transatlantic visits and "frenzied" reading had begun to show in his writings. In that year, Rome informed him that it was investigating his theology, particularly his views about revelation, since they appeared to imply a continuing revelation through religious experience. There was further investigation in the 1970s, this time into his two widely read volumes, Jesus: An Experiment in Christology (1974) and Christ: The Christian Experience in the Modern World (1977). In the 1980s he was asked to explain passages in his book on the priesthood, Ministry: a Case for Change (1980), which argued that the sacrament of holy orders is not absolutely necessary: in exceptional cases, election by the congregation would be sufficient to make a validly ordained priest. Rome eventually announced that some corrections had been made, but that ambiguities remained (see letters from the CDF, L'Osservatore Romano, English-language weekly issues for 13th July 1981 and 28th January 1985). However, there have been no disciplinary measures or formal censures.
For Rome the problem was the same as with Rahner. To stigmatise any of Schillebeeckx's views as heterodox could seem to compromise the Council, and, with the majority of the higher intelligentsia still in a state of at least partial revolt, make the current situation even worse. As a result, since the mid-eighties, Fr Schillebeeckx has been left more or less to his own devices, in spite of his remaining at the centre of organised opposition to Rome internationally and, within Holland, to the Dutch hierarchy.
A few quotations from the little book I Am a Happy Theologian (SCM Press, 1994), an interview with the Italian journalist Francesco Strazzari, will perhaps convey the flavour of his later writings.
"I personally am somewhat reticent about the Trinity" (p. 51). The three persons "are forms of existence of God in history" (p. 50). "There is certainly a relationship between God and Jesus Christ ... but is this relation between God and Jesus a third person?" (ibid.) "It is not a dogma that we have to accept persons" (ibid.).
"Human beings are the image of God, and Christ is the pure image of God ...but there is a difference. In Jesus Christ the image of God is concentrated; in other words, Christ is the image of God with an exclusive uniqueness" (pp. 54-55). "The creature Jesus is a concentrated condensed creation whose whole participation with God is realised in a unique way, not realised in other human beings" (p. 50). "Human beings are intelligible even without reference to God ... but this is impossible for Christ as such. His humanity as such is related to God" (p. 55).
"Even if Jesus did not directly institute the Church, because he believed that the end of the world was near and did not believe in a long history in time, in fact after his death the proclamation of the universal and definitive significance of the message and lifestyle of Jesus continued" (p. 73). "Jesus simply handed down a movement, a living community of believers aware of being the new people of God" (p. 73). "It cannot be said that bishops, priests and deacons were instituted by Christ..." (p. 72). "How can the Petrine ministry be exercised? Can it, for example, be a triumvirate? Or a college? Or a Synod? That is a historical question subject to changes" (p.72).
"The Word of God is the word of human beings who speak to God. To say just like that that the Bible is the word of God is simply not true. It is only indirectly the word of God...When the Bible says 'God has said it' or 'Christ has said it,' it is not God or Christ who has said it in the strict sense, but human beings who have told of their experience of God" (p. 42).
"There is no revelation in ethical matters; ethics is a human process. It is not God who says 'this is ethically permitted or forbidden: It is human beings who with reflection and experience must say this and establish it." (p. 70). "For Christians, neither revelation nor faith impose ethical norms, even if there are sometimes inspirations and orientations." "I am against certain ethical positions in the official Church which pass themselves off as Christian ... one thinks in exasperation of the very rigid attitude to sexuality and marriage" (ibid.).
"Your kingdom come ... this is a policy and action in which both God and human beings can realise themselves and finally achieve happiness — each confirming the other so that both are happy" (p. 104).
About Christ and the Church, the general standpoint seems to differ little from Loisy's a hundred years earlier. In this respect it is amusing to find the authors of thc 1992 Catechism younger, and so presumably more "modern" by a decade or two, than Fr Schillebeeckx, and having no difficulty in understanding the teaching of Chalcedon about Christ or proposing it for the belief of the still more modern men and women of the 21" century (CCC, arts. 464-478). Being a happy theologian does not guarantee being an accurate or a faithful one.
The new theologians' dispute with the neo-scholastics about the most appropriate way of presenting the faith, and their call for a "return to the sources" (ressourament), is best understood if we see it as the latest episode in a debate which has resurfaced from time to time throughout the Church's history.
De Lubac and the Return to the Sources
For Catholics, the "sources" are the Bible and the Church Fathers — those who first explained how Scripture was to be understood and recorded the oral traditions and practices that are not explicitly mentioned in Scripture. The idea of "returning to the sources," therefore, does not mean that the Church has not been employing them. It means basically two things: making greater use of them so that the faithful will have a richer and deeper appreciation of the mysteries of the faith, an appreciation which the formulas and necessarily brief quotations of catechisms and popular theological texts cannot of their nature convey; and reassessing current teaching in the light of them — not to discover whether the Church has been teaching error, but to ensure that all aspects of the faith are getting due attention.
About this there was no debate. All truly Catholic theologians were in agreement. The controversy I am referring to has been about the degree to which in expounding "the sources," the Church should organise her teachings systematically and make use of philosophy and logic to explain, define or defend them. To some extent it has been a disagreement between men of two fundamentally different temperamental types: those with a liking for and those with an aversion to abstract ideas. and thought. This in turn has given rise in recent times to disputes of a much deeper kind about the relationship of the sources or the "deposit of faith" to the Church's doctrines and dogmas. Is doctrine to be considered in some way inferior to the sources, and how far is it capable of giving adequate expression to them?
Although, according to present usage, the word "deposit" tends to suggest something small, divine revelation is in fact — as we saw earlier when speaking about the history of dogma (chapter 19 of Turmoil and Truth) — an unprecedented outpouring of divinely inspired knowledge, which it was left to the Church to organise and interpret. We can therefore see the "deposit of faith" and its explanation by the Fathers as the flesh and blood of divine revelation with doctrine and dogma as its bone structure. The development and organisation of the bone structure, which, with the help of philosophy, reached a first high point in the scholasticism of the Middle Ages, is like the gradual concretion of a baby's bone structure as it forms inside its body in the womb.
Revelation and doctrine are therefore not rivals, as many in recent years have tried to make them, but part and parcel of the same thing. The only difference is the way in which the one message is expressed. It is a difference of language, style and purpose rather than of content. Scripture, the Fathers, and the Church in her everyday teaching mostly employ the language of metaphor, simile, symbol and image to explain supernatural things. But to protect the meaning of the mysteries from distortion, the Church often has to use more precise and abstract terminology. There is a world of difference in the style and tone of the average bishop's pastoral, or a Sunday sermon, and a conciliar definition or "scientific" theological treatise.
As far as the Church is concerned, it is not a matter of either/or, but of the right blend of styles and methods at the right time and place. In a properly balanced presentation of the faith for general use, the bone structure should be detectable beneath the flesh but not sticking out in an unsightly way.
Or using two different metaphors: we can see doctrine and dogma as a protective fence around the deposit of faith, keeping out alien interpretations; or a map of the paths and other salient features of the terrain. Only those standing within the protective fence or using the map can speculate about the meaning of "the deposit" without danger of misinterpreting it.
Such, more or less, is the background to the periodically recurring debate I mentioned. For most of the time, the two styles or methods, "scientific" theology and the everyday teaching of the faith, have lived side by side or intertwined comfortably enough. A doctrinal or spiritual crisis of some kind, however, can generate strong differences of opinion about which style should preponderate.
The opponents of too much philosophy, reason and logic will maintain that its over-use obscures the essentially mysterious nature of the realities it endeavours to explain, thereby distorting them. Its supporters will argue that the language of metaphor and imagery, being more fluid, more easily lets through ideas and interpretations not intended by the author being interpreted. Religious freelancers have never had any difficulty in making the Bible mean whatever they wish. Without a strong doctrinal component, the faith dissolves into a protoplasmic heap of private opinions.
Maybe, the opposite side then retorts; but a skeleton is not meant for public view, except in schools of anatomy (which is what a theological school is, to a great extent). To the average man and woman, doctrine insufficiently clothed in the flesh of God's word, the teaching of the Fathers, and the works of the Church's great spiritual writers, can seem dry and uninspiring.
These, then, have been the poles of the debate which we first hear about at the time of the Council of Nicaea, when a number of the Fathers objected to the use of the word "substance" to define the divine unity because it was a philosophical term not found in the Bible. But the debate only begins to recur at regular intervals with the rediscovery of ancient philosophy in the cathedral schools and universities of Western Europe in the 11th century. St Bernard in the 12th century protested against Abélard's over-use of logic and dialectic. St Bonaventure, though himself a scholastic, uttered similar cries of distress in the next century. Thomas à Kempis, representing a whole school of religious writers of the 14th and 15th century (the devotio moderna) responded in the same way to a scholasticism in temporary decadence. A hundred years later, leading figures at the Council of Trent tended to divide along similar lines over the best way to deal with Protestantism. The spirituali, as they were referred to, called for a return ad fontes (to the sources), that is for discussions with Protestants based mainly on the Bible, and for postponing clear-cut doctrinal definitions until a more favourable or friendly climate prevailed. Others, who could be called the teologici, judged as early as 1541 before the Council opened that confusion about belief was already so widespread and the slide into Protestantism proceeding so rapidly that doctrinal definitions could be delayed no longer. 281
In Newman's day these two approaches or psychological tendencies reasserted themselves in the debates about papal infallibility prior to the First Vatican Council, in which Newman showed himself a natural spirituale. He did not see the need to define doctrines about which Catholics were agreed. Definitions, in his view, were more a painful necessity than a luxury.
And this, I think, fairly neatly summarises the way Fr de Lubac looked at the matter in the 20th century. The new theologians' dispute with the neo scholastics was in part a revival of the dispute between the spirituali and zelanti at Trent. Their call for ressourament was partly dictated, as we saw earlier, by what they regarded as the imprint of Cartesian rationalism on Catholic theology. In their view there was not enough flesh and blood on the doctrinal bones of contemporary Catholic theology, and this is what their movement for ressourmnent was to restore. By the "sources;' incidentally, they meant more than the Bible and Church Fathers. It could include the writings of saints and mystics, and even the works of painters and sculptors or any authentic artistic or literary expression of the faith down the ages. These too were seen as able to give greater depth to the understanding of doctrine and dogma.
The first fruit of their labours was the multi-volume edition of early Christian writers, inspired by Frs. de Lubac and Daniélou, Sources chrétiennes. The second, even though they had no direct hand in it, was the 1992 Catechism. It may not have the clarity and concision of the Catechism of Trent and its offspring (which were written for a partly different audience and purpose). But with its wealth of citations from sources as diverse as the Epistle to Diognetus. St Joan of Arc, and St Thérèse of the Child Jesus, it is fuller, richer, even deeper. The Trent catechism was written for a world which took most of the fundamentals of Christianity for granted. The authors of the 1992 Catechism had a world which knows less and less about Christianity in view. For this very different audience it was necessary to show in much greater detail how the doctrines which had been developed over two thousand years were connected with the sources. That is ressourcement as it should be.
Modernism, however, looked at it differently. In the sources, as I have said, belief exists in a looser form. Not until the late 4th century, for instance, was the divinity of the Holy Spirit, though continuously taught and believed, formally asserted. A teacher, therefore, who relies only on the sources has far more scope for interpreting particular beliefs in new ways. This explains modernist opposition to the writing of a new catechism after the Council and to the controversy in the 1980s over the French catechetical series Pierres Vivantes (living Stones) which was officially abandoned only after the Holy See intervened. The "living stones" were source texts without a doctrinal substructure or framework, which left the pupil or teacher to make what he liked of them.
281. See D. Fenlon, Heresy and Obedience in Tridentine Italy: Cardinal Pole and the Counter-Reformation, Cambridge. I972.To the "right" of the teologici was what would now be considered as a "hard-line" group called the zelanti, typified by Cardinal Caraffa (later Paul IV) whose primary concern was the introduction of practical measures for stamping out heresy as quickly and effectively as possible. But they are not relevant to the point I am making here.
Copyright © Philip Trower 2006, 2011, 2018