Oh, that subtle Fr. McBrien! Going all Jazz Odyssey in a riff on why there haven't been any Popes named Joseph. Of course, he could have ruminated on why there haven't been any Popes named for the Twelve (save Peter and John), but that wouldn't allow him to get all subtle on us:
Because of the biographical gaps [in the life of Joseph], a number of apocryphal writings attempted to fill in the blanks. The Protoevangelium, or Infancy Gospel, of James claimed that Joseph was already an aged widower with children when he married Mary. How else to explain the many references to Jesus' brothers and sisters in Mark 3:31; 6:3; Matthew 12:46; 13:55; Luke 8:19; John 7:3-5; 1 Corinthians 9:5; and Galatians 1:19?
New Testament scholar Jerome Neyrey, S.J., however, discounts the various traditional explanations. The evidence for "stepbrother," he writes, is "merely legendary" (referring again to the Infancy Gospel of James 9:2 and 17:1).
On the other hand, the linguistic evidence for "brother" meaning "cousin" is "very thin." We have but one example in the whole Old Testament where a cousin might be called a "brother" (1 Chronicles 23:22). [See Father Neyrey's "brothers of Jesus," The HarperCollins Encyclopedia of Catholicism, pp. 198-99.]
Gosh, what could he be trying to say here? Surely it is critical to the central point of the essay--No Popes Joe--in some way? I wonder, I wonder...
Yes, he's trying to cut the props out from under the dogma of the perpetual virginity. Nothing new, though--he did the same in the imprimatur-impaired "Catholicism." It goes hand-in-glove with his open disdain toward the notion of celibacy.
The problem is, of course, that he's farting before a much larger audience, one that wouldn't know where to find his lugubrious sofa-propper, much less buy it and crack the covers. No, what's he says does not make him a heretic. But a heretic-enabler, to be sure, especially in the complete absence of a defense of the dogma.
Heresy-enabling: the fine art of dumping a loo bucket on the faithful and convincing them that it's raining.
Oh, and the slightly funny thing about this is that anyone who starts to doubt the PV won't become a McBrienist Catholic (being a dwindling sect increasingly confined to Reporter subscribers and other mid-level chancery employees), but will much more likely end up in one of those conservative evangelical churches who offer a morality and political worldview uncongenial to his faculty lounge liberalism.
Hope the gander enjoys the marinade.
[H/t to Jeff.]