Monday, October 30, 2017

A further reply to Fastiggi, etc.


In an article at Catholic World Report, Robert Fastiggi is critical of the position I have taken vis-à-vis Pope Francis and capital punishment in my recent articles at Catholic Herald and Catholic World Report.   I reply to Fastiggi in a new CWR article.

At Public Discourse, E. Christian Brugger has published a two-part article (here and here) responding critically to By Man Shall His Blood Be Shed.  I have written a detailed reply to Brugger which will appear at Public Discourse soon.  I also recently replied to David McClamrock’s review here at the blog.

Meanwhile, other responses to Fastiggi and/or Brugger have been given by Edward Peters at Catholic World Report, John Joy at One Peter Five, and Chris Plance and Timothy Gordon at Church Militant.  At First Things, Dan Hitchens cites the death penalty controversy as an illustration of the doctrinal crisis now facing the Church.  Further commentary from Fr. George Rutler.

19 comments:

  1. Brugger adopts Megivern’s analysis of Genesis 9:6 as a proverb rather than as a legal principle or moral instruction. This goes against not just traditional Catholic interpretation but against traditional Jewish, Protestant, and Eastern Orthodox interpretation of the passage. I also think it is faulty exegetically. There are commands in 9:1, a permission in verse 3, a restriction of a permission in verse 4, and further commands in verse 7. It seems far more likely that verse 6 is some form of directive (command or moral instruction, perhaps) rather than a proverb.
    But even if Genesis 9:6 were to be interpreted as a proverb, I don’t think that the consequences would be to Brugger’s liking. Proverbs have a normative aspect to them. The proverb “A slack hand causes poverty, but the hand of the diligent makes rich” (Prov 10:4) entails that in a well-functioning society, the slothful will tend to become poor and the diligent will tend to become rich. A society in which that does not happen is not functioning as it should. Similarly, if Genesis 9:6 is meant as a proverb, it entails that a society in which murderers do not typically die violent deaths is not functioning as it should. Unless Brugger wants to argue that a good society is one in which murderers are murdered by others, this proverb would seem to entail that a good society is one in which murderers are either killed by God or executed.

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    1. I hadn't considered that implication of the proverb before, so thanks for sharing it.

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    2. Not that I think it's a proverb.

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  2. Ed,
    First of all, it is impossible for a pope to fall into formal heresy. The First Vatican Council declared, ex cathedra:

    “This gift of truth and never-failing faith was therefore divinely conferred on Peter and his successors in this see so that they might discharge their exalted office for the salvation of all, and so that the whole flock of Christ might be kept away by them from the poisonous food of error and be nourished with the sustenance of heavenly doctrine. Thus the tendency to schism is removed and the whole church is preserved in unity, and, resting on its foundation, can stand firm against the gates of hell. [emphasis mine]”

    I don’t think that someone who falls into formal heresy could be said to have never-failing faith, do you?

    Secondly, you keep trotting out John XII’s error on the beatitude of the souls in heaven as somehow comparable to what Bergoglio has been up to. It’s true that John XII taught this, but he did so explicitly as an opinion (an opinion held by St. Bernard, by the way) on an issue that had not been yet defined; and he invited theologians to prove his position false if they could. Well, they could. He was wrong, and he ended up admitting his mistake. So in the whole history of the papacy we have one pope holding one erroneous opinion on faith and morals. Now I ask you, how can that in any way be compared with the veritable blizzard of theological errors coming from the mouth of one Jorge Bergoglio? I contend that Bergoglio’s errors are not a mistake at all, but rather a vocation, a way of life.
    To illustrate, I’ve abstracted directly from his own words the following list of some of his teachings. Ladies and Gentlemen, I present to you faith and morals according to Francis:

    - Proselytism is “solemn nonsense.”
    - Every form of proselytism among Christians is seriously sinful.
    - It is not licit for Catholics to convince non-Catholics of their faith.
    - There is no God. God does not exist; only the Persons of the Blessed Trinity exist.
    - There is no Catholic God.
    - God cannot be God without man.
    - Jews and Christians must consider themselves brothers united by the same God.
    - Jews are the elder brothers of Christians in faith.
    - Esteem for the Jewish religion should be promoted.
    - There is no intent on the part of the Church to convert Jews.
    - The Jews have kept their faith in God.
    - The Old Covenant with the Jews has never been revoked.
    - Heretics and schismatics, along with Catholics, are all brothers and sisters in Christ.
    (continued below)

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    1. George R.

      Your incompetence knows no bounds.

      John XXII held the error on the beatitude of the souls in heaven not John XII you silly High Church Protestant.

      >I don’t think that someone who falls into formal heresy could be said to have never-failing faith, do you?

      To be a formal heretic one has to hold to a clear doctrinal error they know has been condemned by the Church. All you have done is list some sound bites without context that are ambiguous and naturally subject to an orthodox or heterodox interpretation.
      All your examples are your own personal distortion of what the Pope says(some of which have been taught by previous Popes.) You are no better then your fellow Protestant heretics who quote the Bible and read their & your own meaning into the words.

      It is unimpressive and idiotic. It also reveals your Protestant soul.

      >Proselytism is “solemn nonsense.”
      >Every form of proselytism among Christians is seriously sinful.

      Where has the Catholic Church infallibly defined the term "proselytism" to always and exclusively mean Evangelism or legitimate conversion to the Catholic Faith? In the modern sense "Proselytism" refers to illegitimate conversion tactics which do not respect the freedom and dignity of the potential convert. Pope St Gregory the Great himself condemned that when he condemned forced Baptisms of Jews.

      https://www.catholicculture.org/commentary/articles.cfm?id=240


      >It is not licit for Catholics to convince non-Catholics of their faith.

      Pope Francis to the laity: Go out and evangelize, or buy mothballs

      https://www.catholicnewsagency.com/news/pope-francis-has-a-message-for-the-laity-go-out-and-evangelize-or-buy-mothballs-37701

      Now you are just making stuff up.

      >There is no God. God does not exist; only the Persons of the Blessed Trinity exist.

      This has no clear meaning to be a heresy. At best the Pope is being Poetic in his homily". Or he simply means God exists as a Trinity and not as a singular Unitarian Deity or as a Single Person.

      >There is no Catholic God.

      That is true in the sense God is God is God of all people not just Catholic. Also God strictly speaking has no religion anymore then the Queen of England is Her own Subject. Now if the Pope said "Catholic Doctrines of God are wrong" you would have a case.

      >God cannot be God without man.

      Well God by definition must do His Own Will out of necessity & God did Will to make man and he cannot be God without doing His Immutable Will to make man. Also without men to make up the word "God" who is going to call the Almighty that without us?

      >Jews and Christians must consider themselves brothers united by the same God.

      The God of the Jews is our God. The only difference is we understand His nature more correctly then they do at this point. But the Jews don't worship Shivah. What? Is this some Radtrad Marcionite heresy I am smelling on you George you High Church Prot boy?

      >Jews are the elder brothers of Christians in faith.
      - Esteem for the Jewish religion should be promoted.

      Your argument is with St Paul. Romans 3:1.

      > There is no intent on the part of the Church to convert Jews.

      No idiot the Pontifical Commission said “The Catholic Church neither conducts nor supports any specific institutional mission work directed towards Jews,”

      We don't need a Vatican department or commission to reach Jews. There are a host of lay Catholic Groups that share the Gospel with Jews. Which when you stop to think about is is a blessing for Jews.

      >The Old Covenant with the Jews has never been revoked.

      Again Your Argument is with St. Paul. Romans 11:11-32.


      >- Heretics and schismatics, along with Catholics, are all brothers and sisters in Christ.

      Your argument is with the Council of Trent that says the Trinitarian Baptisms of Heretics and schismatics are valid.
      If they are validly baptized they are brothers and sisters by definition.

      Buy a clue George.

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    2. George R. said: "First of all, it is impossible for a pope to fall into formal heresy."

      That opinion is possible, but given the Church's formal condemnation of Honorius I's heresy, it is acceptable to hold that a pope may fall into formal heresy. The Church holds that God will protect the Church from ever formally teaching a heresy, and that therefore the pope would be protected from teaching error in a formal, binding way. But that doesn't mean a pope might not lapse into formal heresy. Nor does Vatican I's decree that you quoted rule it out. The unfailing faith of Peter is not the pope's personal possession, but rather is a charism of the Petrine Office.

      As for John XXII's error, it certainly may be compared to Francis' errors, in that John did not bind his erroneous opinion on the Church, nor has Francis bound his erroneous opinions on the Church. But John did take measures to advance his opinion and against those who disagreed with him, as has Francis. But you are correct that Francis' erroneous opinions and scandalous statements (his recent capital punishment utterances being but one example), unmagisterial though they are, are far more numerous than John XXII's -- and are far more serious in that they deal with on matters of settled dogma and doctrine.

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  3. (continued from above)

    - All Christian religions together, i.e., Catholics along with all heretical and schismatic sects, are “truly a holy people of God.”
    - Baptism creates an indissoluble bond between Catholics and heretics.
    - Baptism makes all heretics and schismatics, along with Catholics, members of the Body of Christ.
    - Catholics, Orthodox and Protestants, form one royal priesthood and one holy nation.
    - Catholics, heretics, and schismatics should work together to proclaim the Gospel.
    - Episcopal Sees in the hands of heretics and schismatics are validly held by the same.
    - We should be profoundly thankful for the spiritual and theological gifts received through the Reformation.
    - The Holy Ghost is the cause of all the differences between heretical sects and the Catholic Church, and also the cause of the unity that binds them one to another.
    - All religions are messengers of peace.
    - Catholics should pray with non-Catholics.
    - There were non-Catholic Christian martyrs.
    - There are non-Catholic Saints.
    - All foreigners in every country must be accorded freedom of religious belief and practice.
    - There should be religious freedom and expression, without any distinction.
    - Religion does not have the right to enforce anything on private life.
    - A minister who imposes directives that infringe upon personal freedom is practicing “spiritual harassment.”
    - Religion has the right to express its opinion in the service of the people, but God in creation has set us free: it is not possible to interfere spiritually in the life of a person
    - The Blessed Virgin Mary believed herself to have been deceived by God during the Passion of Christ.
    - John the Baptist doubted Jesus was the Messiah after he proclaimed Him to be.
    - Contraception may be allowed to prevent a greater evil.
    - The Church should apologize for the way she has treated homosexuals in the past.
    - Adulterers are not necessarily in a state of mortal sin.
    - Cohabitation of an unmarried couple can be considered a true marriage.
    - Sex education is good, and should be provided for all ages throughout childhood.
    - In confession, the penitent in effect says to Jesus, “This is your sin, and I will sin again.”
    - True charity is unconditional.
    - Jesus had authority because He was a servant to all.
    - The death penalty is contrary to the Gospel.
    - No war is just. Only peace is just.

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    1. - All Christian religions together, i.e., Catholics along with all heretical and schismatic sects, are “truly a holy people of God.”

      This is potentially true and it is literally true in regards to non-believers by negation who follow the light God gives them to be saved (as taught by Pius IX).

      > Baptism creates an indissoluble bond between Catholics and heretics.
      >Baptism makes all heretics and schismatics, along with Catholics, members of the Body of Christ.

      Again your argument is with Trent which condemns those who deny the validity of the Trinitarian Baptisms of heretics and schismatics.

      - Catholics, Orthodox and Protestants, form one royal priesthood and one holy nation.

      Since they have valid Baptism the conclusion is obvious.

      > Catholics, heretics, and schismatics should work together to proclaim the Gospel.

      There are some issues we can agree one and we can proclaim them together. Such as the divinity of Christ, the Trinity and the Resurrection. It doesn't mean we won't part company with them when we get to particulars.

      > Episcopal Sees in the hands of heretics and schismatics are validly held by the same.

      Well if they are not the schismatic Sede Bishops you follow are up shit creek.
      >We should be profoundly thankful for the spiritual and theological gifts received through the Reformation.

      Well we believe Scott Hahn it did re-awaken Catholic devotion to covenant theology which was neglected at the time.

      > The Holy Ghost is the cause of all the differences between heretical sects and the Catholic Church, and also the cause of the unity that binds them one to another.

      God in His Providence allows evil so as to bring good out of it and of course God is the formal cause of Evil which no rational Thomist can dispute.

      >All religions are messengers of peace.

      Well God wrote His law into the hearts of all those religious people. So they might start first seeing their religions threw that lens till God guides them too the fullness of Truth.

      >Catholics should pray with non-Catholics.

      We can & there is nothing wrong with it. Early Catholics prayed with Jews in the Temple.
      >There were non-Catholic Christian martyrs.
      There are non-Catholic Saints.

      So you are oblivious to the historical fact we share some Saints in common with the Orthodox even after the break? Like St Isaac of Niviah?

      You Sedes are not Catholic.

      >All foreigners in every country must be accorded freedom of religious belief and practice.

      Your argument is with Pope St Gregory the Great. He forbade Catholics from molesting Jews during their worship.

      >There should be religious freedom and expression, without any distinction.

      Where has the Pope taught this?

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    2. (continue)
      >Religion does not have the right to enforce anything on private life.

      Same question.

      >A minister who imposes directives that infringe upon personal freedom is practicing “spiritual harassment.”

      If the minister makes up his own rules that would be true.

      > Religion has the right to express its opinion in the service of the people, but God in creation has set us free: it is not possible to interfere spiritually in the life of a person.

      Well that is just a matter of fact. You can't force belief or interfer. You can only invite.

      >The Blessed Virgin Mary believed herself to have been deceived by God during the Passion of Christ.

      The Pope was being Rhetorical not literal in that sermon.

      > John the Baptist doubted Jesus was the Messiah after he proclaimed Him to be.

      That is not a heresy. That is a speculation.

      > Contraception may be allowed to prevent a greater evil.

      Well Nuns who are at risk of being raped can use Birth control. Since they don't intend to have sex and the man who takes her by force has no right to father a child on a Bride of Christ.

      > The Church should apologize for the way she has treated homosexuals in the past.

      How is that heresy?

      >Adulterers are not necessarily in a state of mortal sin.

      Well there are three conditions for mortal sin. Grave matter, sufficient reflection and full conscent of the will. So it is possible.

      >Cohabitation of an unmarried couple can be considered a true marriage.

      Pope Francis never said that.

      > Sex education is good, and should be provided for all ages throughout childhood.

      Not a doctrine so not a heresy.
      > In confession, the penitent in effect says to Jesus, “This is your sin, and I will sin again.”

      Making more stuff up.

      >True charity is unconditional.

      Obviously or have you never heard if Grace? Also your argument here is with Our Lord Luke 6:33

      > Jesus had authority because He was a servant to all.

      Among other things.

      >The death penalty is contrary to the Gospel.

      Exaggerated Rhetoric like "Call no man Father" or "If thy right hand offend thee cut it off". Not meant literally.


      > No war is just. Only peace is just.

      Well even Just Wars contain injustices. See the Fire Bombing of Dresdin.

      This is the best you got George R you silly heretic?

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    3. Ya'kov (and others),

      Many of the quotes from which I compiled my list can be found on this page:

      http://francisquotes.com/

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    4. So what? A Text without a context is a pre-text. How many Protestants quote "Call no Man Father" to attack Catholics for the tiles of our clergy?

      Or Jehovah's Witnesses quoting "The Father is Greater than I" to deny the deity of Christ?

      You are a theological illiterate George R and a heretic yourself.

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    5. George R.

      Does it not bother you that you are not even an orthodox Catholic by Pre-Vatican II standards? I mean you confess Marcionism and you deny Trent's teaching on the validity of Protestant and dissident eastern Church's baptisms so how are you Catholic by St Pius V's or St Pius X's standards?

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    6. Well, people. Today marks the 500th anniversary of the Arch-Heresiarch Luther's treason against the Church of Christ. Let's please try and do our best to bring about the unity of all Christians.

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    7. Of course I note people who complain over Pope Francis praising Luther are often the same people who look forward to a future Pope praising Archbishop Lefebvre.

      The Irony...........

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  4. Dr. Feser,

    Great reply. I think this is a clear and correct answer to Fastiggi's points.

    One of the main Brugger points you will need to answer is this: Capital punishment is only ever legitimate as a species of self defense and in all other cases (non-self defense) it is intrinsically immoral.

    So, he will probably say, your trotting out a consensus of the fathers on the legitimacy of capital punishment is not enough. Rather, you will need to show they supported (and Popes, etc.) the legitimacy of capital punishment not merely for self-defense , but rather as a way to secure retributive justice and uphold the common good by deterring others.

    This narrower claim will be harder to show consensus on, and hence, they will argue that they reject the narrower claim and only allow for capital punishment as a species of self-defense.

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  5. John, as Ed and Joe show in their book, there is a pretty explicit and pretty strong showing of the Church teaching DP is licit for retribution, not just that it is licit.

    There is a pretty decent debate on whether it is even possible to claim "self-defense" as a justification for the DP, without retribution sitting in the wings making it licit anyway. After all, the justification for using lethal means for self-defense has ALWAYS depended on the heat-of-the-moment inability to subdue the attacker by any lesser means, it depended on the fact that without the lethal defense, the attacker would kill (or rape) right now, before I can go get "the authorities" to stop it. When we put a criminal to death, we are in no danger from him right now because he is in chains or tied up or whatever. It would be a mockery of the standards of self-defense to claim that we "have to" put him to death right now because of a danger that he might be at some later time - especially when that very notion is discarded as false argument when an individual tries to claim it to justify his killing someone whom he fears.

    The "self-defense only" theory has problems.

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  6. I love these two fine, cutting quotes. First, Fr. Rutler:

    Without that perspective, the death penalty seems an arrogant violation of life, and that is why today opposition to the death penalty increases as religious faith decreases. That dangerous alchemy substitutes emotion for truth and platitudes for reason. Such lax use of the brain is to theology what Barney the Dinosaur is to paleontology.

    I'll keep that analogy around for use: Barney and paleontology.

    The second is from Chris Plance and Timothy Gordon:

    Recurring to — gasp — all of "50 years of magisterial teaching" — a venerable magisterium almost as old as Scientology or the Chrysler Corporation — Fr. Patella asserts that "Church teaching has always been more than logic," a turn of phrase by which, one gathers, he really intends to say "less than." That's what folks always mean by that.

    They might have said, rather "half as old as the Chrysler Corporation." But you gotta love the "scientology" reference.

    The notion that the new model of DP teaching is a "development" would hold a lot more weight to it if the people claiming it would at least TRY to show for the developing. But they don't make much effort to do so, and indeed they usually eschew ANY effort to do so, relying instead on the mere claim. It would be hard indeed to show such "developing" in any sense worthy of the name, but particularly because most allusions to "developing" start all the way back in the mists of antiquity, the 1960's.

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  7. Somewhat off topic, but relevant to Ed's work on the death penalty, this article summarizes some of the recent debate:

    http://catholicphilly.com/2017/10/news/world-news/popes-pro-life-challenge-respect-all-life-oppose-death-penalty/

    And Father Gahl, who is mentioned in the article as an opponent of the death penalty, was recently on Sheila Liaugminas' show talking about this issue (has Ed been on yet talking about the death penalty? I think he's been on in the past!)

    https://www.facebook.com/ACloserLookShow/

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  8. this article summarizes some of the recent debate:

    Well, it does summarize some of it. But it does so pretty much in the way of a completely secular, completely worldly liberal reporter would: get in your "both sides" by quoting relatively random bits and pieces, but make sure that nobody could even come close to understanding why there continues to be a debate - no meat, no real substance, no developed train of thought, just scattershot comments. And then, of course, overwhelm the reader with an excess of one side, so that he "gets" which way the elites are telling him to think.

    Cindy Wooden is (and has long been) a wooden-headed and tin-eared reporter for CNS. She spouts the current line by whomever happens to be in an official position, whether it's a committee head at the USCCB, or a functionary at the Vatican, or the chair of the theology department at one of those formerly Catholic universities that are now "in the Jesuit tradition" which is code for "deeply, shockingly heretical but we pretend we aren't so we keep getting the donors' and alumni dollars". From her reporting you could never discover that there are people's souls being lost because of heresy in the Church.

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