Wednesday, September 3, 2008

U.S. Catechism for Adults Revised

The positive change on page 131 of the USCCA affirms the efforts of many good, knowledgeable, orthodox Catholics who have been in touch with their bishops for some time about this particular issue. We're especially appreciative of those who did so without opting to make a public spectacle of themselves or positioning themselves as judges, juries, and enemies of the U.S. Catholic bishops. Such people deserve credit for following the letter and spirit of canon law:

Can. 212 §1. Conscious of their own responsibility, the Christian faithful are bound to follow with Christian obedience those things which the sacred pastors, inasmuch as they represent Christ, declare as teachers of the faith or establish as rulers of the Church.

§2. The Christian faithful are free to make known to the pastors of the Church their needs, especially spiritual ones, and their desires.

§3. According to the knowledge, competence, and prestige which they possess, they have the right and even at times the duty to manifest to the sacred pastors their opinion on matters which pertain to the good of the Church and to make their opinion known to the rest of the Christian faithful, without prejudice to the integrity of faith and morals, with reverence toward their pastors, and attentive to common advantage and the dignity of persons.

Unfortunately, a few Catholics grossly distort the plain meaning of this passage by exaggerating the references to “rights” while simultaneously glossing over the references to “responsibilities.” It seems that such individuals can conceive of only one manner in which to express concern or disagreement: public condemnation and outrage. And for such individuals, anything short of condemnation and outrage apparently makes others guilty of “complicity,” “heresy,” or whatever other charge seems most provocative. (Click here for a related discussion.) For instance, some months ago (Feb 2008), in a fury over this sentence in the USCCA, Robert Sungenis wrote:

…Catholic universities may be following the lead of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops who recently published these provocative words in its United States Catholic Catechism for Adults: ‘Thus the covenant that God made with the Jewish people through Moses remains eternally valid for them.’… This is an unprecedented move, but it is not surprising. More and more the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops has shown itself to be a predominately liberal institution…Where there should be absolute outrage from the USCCB…there is little more than complacency…the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops is fast becoming a mouthpiece for modern dissidence and liberalism in American Catholicism. (The Old Covenant, pp. 6-7)


“I later found out that Rhoades was in league with the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops on this issue…I knew…the erroneous theology…Rhoades and the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops were attempting to propagate to unsuspecting Catholics” (ibid, p. 11).

Interestingly, this supposed “mouthpiece” that Sungenis “knew” was so determined to spread “judaizing” errors to “unsuspecting Catholics” moved - by a nearly unanimous vote - to make this positive, helpful change in the service of orthodoxy.

One wonders if Sungenis still considers Bishop Rhoades to be “in league with the USCCB”, now that the U.S. bishops have taken this positive step (and we have reliable information confirming that Bishop Rhoades voted for the change as well). Sadly, in his newest article, Sungenis has chosen to continue propagating falsehoods about Bishop Rhoades. For example, Sungenis is still peddling the baseless, defamatory accusation that he was denied an imprimatur on CASB2 because Bishop Rhoades believes the dual covenant error. He continues to base his case in part on the fact that Bishop Rhoades referred to page 131 of U.S. Catechism for Adults in the denial. We have already documented in detail why Sungenis’ claims are baseless: here and here.

We hope and pray that individuals who have been particularly condemnatory of the U.S. bishops as a whole (and even their own bishop) on this specific issue - such as publicly accusing them of intentionally spreading error to their “unsuspecting” flock - will apologize for and retract the calumny and perhaps even send along a note of appreciation. Sadly, while Sungenis has at least expressed appreciation for the change, he has refused to apologize for and retract his calumnies, opting instead to float another baseless (and erroneous) theory about the bishops’ possible fear of voting openly for it (More Confusion on Page 131, p. 5).

Last, it bears repeating that the reasons Sungenis has been criticized by his bishop and so many others in regard to “Jewish issues” have been laid out in detail many times. These reasons have nothing to do with the need to address this one sentence in the USCCA. It is erroneous to claim otherwise. Rather, the controversy is about Sungenis’ numerous prejudiced and inflammatory statements against the Jewish people, extending over a period of more than six years:

Deo gratias, the U.S. bishops have resolved this issue. Let’s all pray for them as they continue to grapple with so many other serious issues that demand their attention.