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Friday, October 25, 2002

I didn't know the New Testament had an expiration date.

Or, "So that's the problem with the Reflections document."

From Leon Podles' contribution to today's Touchstone blog: [Savor the section in bold, why don't you?]

----Begin Quote------------

"In August 2002 a committee of US Conference of Catholic Bishops, co-chaired by William Cardinal Keeler of Baltimore, issued a report, Reflections on Covenant and Mission. It contained some odd statements about the relationship of Judaism and Christianity, and was attacked by some Catholics. The chief offending sentence stated that “targeting Jews for conversion to Christianity” is “no longer theologically acceptable in the Catholic Church.”

Cardinal Avery Dulles in America (10-21-2002) doesn’t like this sentence either. He does not see how it is consistent with statements in Paul and Hebrews.

Although Cardinal Keeler pointed out that Reflections document was unofficial, such unofficial documents have a way of being presented as official teaching. A draft of a report of a bishops’ committee, All Our Children, is always trotted out as the official teaching of the Catholic Church on homosexuality.

Three members of the Advisory Committee on Catholic-Jewish Relations for the Secretariat for Ecumenical and Interreligious Affairs (the committee that wrote the controversial report) responded in America to Dulles: Mary Boys, Philip Cunningham, and John Pawlikowski.

Boys, Cunningham, and Pawlikowski claim that “The magisterium can explicitly contradict an idea of an individual New Testament author because the Catholic tradition is one of commentary, not of sola scriptura (Scripture alone).”

The scriptures are a part of the tradition of the church, and must be understood within that tradition. But the doctrines propounded in the New Testament hold a special normative position within it and the tradition is not self-contradictory. Paul and the author of Hebrews are teaching doctrines closely related to the meaning of Christ; to say that the current magisterium can contradict them is to make Christianity an infinitely malleable religion. The opinion or idea in the New Testament that all salvation comes through Christ could also be contradicted by the magisterium; indeed, what idea in the New Testament could not be contradicted and an opposing idea substituted? The magisterium of the Catholic Church does not function like Mormon authority which receives fresh revelations that contradict previous ones.

The basis for the Reflections document is even more disturbing than any of the conclusions that it reaches about the evangelization of the Jews, and that a Roman Cardinal should seemingly accept the fallibility of New Testament doctrines about Christ is alarming."

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There's a word for the mentality of Boys, et al., and that word is "heresy." Some wag said the Reflections document isn't heretical--it's just a reflection on heresy. Now we know that the propounders have gone completely over the line into it. Podles' last sentence is dead on, and speaks horrible volumes about the present leadership of the Church (none of whom, it should be noted, publicly criticized the document).

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