Hryniewicz Abstract

Brian linked the abstract from the controversial paper by Polish theologian Waclaw Hryniewicz. I’d prefer to take a look at the whole thing, but I think what this summary reveals does not show the CDF in any more of a positive light.

First, the author frames his piece as a commentary on the particular document, not the body of Church teaching on churches, communities, and other related groups.

This article comments on the recent document of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith regarding certain aspects of the doctrine on the Church  (29 June 2007), which as an official statement of the Vatican has received a lot of attention from Catholic and non-Catholic theologians.

Additionally, the commentary is said to focus on one narrow aspect, namely a lensing of the statement through a “very specific” ecumenical and Biblical perspective:

He highlights the essential, biblical connection between the concept of truth and the notion of Christian hope. In his view, hope is related to eschatology, through which all doctrinal statements will ultimately be tested. The author stresses the particular character of truth approached from a Biblical perspective. This unique character denotes its openness and its direct relationship with eschatology. A positive, inclusive understanding of the truth is applied to ecclesiology.  In the light of this crucial connection between the Biblical concept of truth and Christian hope, the author reviews the significance of the recent document issued by the Vatican.

The conclusion, supposedly:

The author concludes by  re-affirming the value of Christian ecclesiological (denominational) diversity, which can be compared to different ‘paths’ which have been leading Christians towards God through the centuries.

The author seems careful to confine the speculation to the realm of theology, criticizing the “theological” quarrel. That is far more restrictive than the entire picture, which would include Christian religious cultures, politics, eschatology, and other aspects of Christian disunity.

Therefore, the theological quarrel about ‘the best way’ to God is pointless as the author states that Christian theology should be aware that God’s abundance in grace cannot be comprehended by theological models or channelled by just one form of Christianity. As noted by the author, God, like ‘an excellent musician uses many instruments in order to bring salvation to his people’ and this intuition of Clement of Alexandria is still a valuable signpost to all Christians.

An abstract isn’t the best place to assess whether St Clement’s metaphor is apt here.

What I glean from this summary is that the author appeals to the virtue of hope to accompany the principle of truth. That would be an interesting argument, if I read between the lines of what’s linked. I suppose it begs the question if curial documents can be questioned, criticized, or finessed. Hryniewicz concedes his approach is not intended to cover the whole spectrum of theology that touches on separated churches and communions. One approach was used, an approach not covered in the original brief document.

I’d still want to read the original piece, but I’m not prepared to either join in the CDF criticism or support a theological position I haven’t read.

About these ads

About catholicsensibility

Todd and his family live in Ames, Iowa. He serves a Catholic parish of both Iowa State students and town residents.
This entry was posted in Commentary, ecumenism. Bookmark the permalink.

13 Responses to Hryniewicz Abstract

  1. Brian says:

    Todd,
    I am having difficulty discerning where you are coming from with the article regarding the CDF censure of Fr. Hryniewicz.

    In our prior exchange (“CDF vs Theologian”), I wrote that I did not understand why you were defending Fr. Hryniewicz from censure by the CDF, and you wrote back that you were not defending Fr. Hryniewicz, as much as criticizing the CDF.

    Here you write that the summary of Fr. Hryniewicz’s article does not show the CDF in any more of a positive light. So, is the CDF in a negative light for censuring Fr. Hryniewicz? If so, on what basis are you criticizing that censure?

    In post #11, I wrote, “Fr. Hryniewicz’s criticism is not just that he document was too selective, he criticized the actual ecclesiology,” i.e., the doctrine, the theology. In post #12, you responded, “The CDF didn’t think theology was the biggest problem. They criticized most of all his criticism of them.” Then, here you wrote, “The author seems careful to confine the speculation to the realm of theology, criticizing the “theological” quarrel. That is far more restrictive than the entire picture, which would include Christian religious cultures, politics, eschatology, and other aspects of Christian disunity.”

    In post #14, you wrote, “theological problems with Fr. Hryniewicz’s writings were, by the CDF’s own admission, less serious than his criticism of them. That is a remarkable statement.” I cannot find where the CDF made that “admission;” and I am not sure what “remarkable” implication you are drawing.

    I would like to respond, but I am having trouble following you. I am not sure that I am getting what you are saying; and before I respond, I would first like to make sure that I understand your meaning.

  2. Todd says:

    From the original letter:

    The French-language letter, shown to CNS, added that the congregation “deplored above all” Father Hryniewicz’s “gratuitous judgment that the Roman Curia is going back to the old ecclesiology and ecumenical theology before Vatican II” and “wishing to have a monopoly of the truth.”

    “Deplored above all” would seem to indicate that as bad as they assessed his theology, his criticism of the CDF was worse.

  3. Brian says:

    From the statement:

    . . . the congregation “deplored above all” Father Hryniewicz’s “gratuitous judgment that the Roman Curia is going back to the old ecclesiology and ecumenical theology before Vatican II” and “wishing to have a monopoly of the truth.”

    You draw the following interpretation:

    “Deplored above all” would seem to indicate that as bad as they assessed his theology, his criticism of the CDF was worse.” “The CDF didn’t think theology was the biggest problem. They criticized most of all his criticism of them.” “What we can say is that the theological problems with Fr. Hryniewicz’s writings were, by the CDF’s own admission, less serious than his criticism of them. That is a remarkable statement.”

    It seems then that you are interpreting the letter, shown to CNS as saying the CDF “deplored above all” that Fr. Hryniewicz “criticized” the CDF.

    Based on that interpretation you seem to imply that the primary reason that the CDF censured Fr. Hryniewicz was because he criticized them.

    Based on that conclusion, you judge that the CDF acted in a “remarkable” manner.

    Clearly, you do not mean “remarkable” in a positive manner. You seem to be saying that the CDF acted in an remarkably bad manner. – meaning, perhaps, that the CDF acted in a prideful, arrogant, harsh, unjust manner?

    Is that your take on this?

  4. Todd says:

    I don’t know that the CDF’s first critique wasn’t the Fr H’s theology. Why did they so strongly imply his criticism of them was the worst offense? Does that mean the theology wasn’t important? Or that criticizing the curia is a more serious offense? It’s remarkable in the sense one can remark or comment on it.

    The CDF seems a little frayed on this episode any way you look at it.

  5. Brian says:

    Todd,
    In order to draw the implication that you have drawn — “his criticism of them was the worst offense” — and the likely conclusions that you have drawn — the theology was not the important problem, and that criticizing the curia is the primary offense that drew the censure –- and the judgment you rendered –- “the CDF seems a little frayed on this episode any way you look at it” — you rely on a selective rendering of the following statement.

    That is, you interpret:

    “The congregation ‘deplored above all’ Father Hryniewicz’s ‘gratuitous judgment that the Roman Curia is going back to the old ecclesiology and ecumenical theology before Vatican II’ and ‘wishing to have a monopoly of the truth.’”

    As if it said,

    “The congregation ‘deplored above all’ Father Hryniewicz’s criticism of the Roman Curia”

    Clearly, the above two sentences do not say the same thing.

    The second sentence unfairly places the CDF in an ugly light, particularly if you interpret that second sentence as implying that the CDF reacted to a personal slight, rather than responded to a direct challenge of the teaching authority of the Church. (The CDF document was ratified and confirmed by Pope Benedict XVI).

    The second sentence also disregards the theological issues. Fr. Hryniewicz criticized the ecclesiology of the CDF document as “going back to the old ecclesiology and ecumenical theology before Vatican II” and “wishing to have a monopoly of the truth.”

  6. Jim McK says:

    The problem may be in the word “gratuitous”. I take it as meaning something added apart from the central argument, like gratuitous violence in a movie is not needed for the story.
    The Vatican has been known to use the term in its original meaning, as a reference to “grace” and what is given by God without our earning it. In that sense, would it mean that the Vatican deplores Fr H’s receiving an insight from God that they lacked?
    That seems pretty farfetched to me, which is why I think it is something not intrinsic to, or following from, the theological argument.

  7. Brian says:

    Jim,
    The letter, of course, was not in English, and thus did would not have used the word “gratuitous.” “Gratuitous” is a translation by CNS of some word, but we don’t know what that word was. I would not want to place too much emphasis no the nuances and connotations of that single word.

    In addition, even if the word correctly translates as “gratuitous,” that word has a number of meanings, (e.g., unwarranted, unjustified, unreasonable, and wanton). I am not sure what would justify the further step of taking that one word to mean “something added apart from the central argument” and therefore “not intrinsic to, or following from, the theological argument.”

    In addition, the article does not say “gratuitous criticism” of the CDF?

    But rather says: “‘gratuitous judgment that the Roman Curia is going back to the old ecclesiology and ecumenical theology before Vatican II’ and ‘wishing to have a monopoly of the truth.’”

    But even with all that, I am not sure where you were going with those comments.

    As to your earlier comment on September 21 which was:

    “I can easily understand why FrH would think this document represents a revival of pre-conciliar thinking. Look at the fifth question that the CDF attempted to answer:

    “Why do the texts of the Council and those of the Magisterium since the Council not use the title of “Church” with regard to those Christian Communities born out of the Reformation of the sixteenth century?”

    “Compare that to the heading of Unitatis Redintegratio, chapter 3, section II:
    “II. Separated Churches and Ecclesial Communities in the West”

    “This appears to be a conciliar text that contradicts the basis of Q5. Perhaps there is a technical basis for saying it does not mean the same thing as the English translation offered on the Vatican website. I have not looked at the history of the discussions of it at the Council either, so I may be completely off base.”

    Although Unitatis Redintegratio did not emphasize the distinction between the terms “Separated Churches” and “Ecclesial Communities” paragraph 22 of the Council document says:

    “Though the ecclesial Communities which are separated from us lack the fullness of unity with us flowing from Baptism, and though we believe they have not retained the proper reality of the eucharistic mystery in its fullness, especially because of the absence of the sacrament of Orders, nevertheless when they commemorate His death and resurrection in the Lord’s Supper, they profess that it signifies life in communion with Christ and look forward to His coming in glory.”

    In June of 2000, Pope John Paul II and Cardinal Ratzinger, Prefect of the CDF, referred to that paragraph in Unitatis Redintegratio and further clarified the distinction as follows:

    “17. Therefore, there exists a single Church of Christ, which subsists in the Catholic Church, governed by the Successor of Peter and by the Bishops in communion with him. The Churches which, while not existing in perfect communion with the Catholic Church, remain united to her by means of the closest bonds, that is, by apostolic succession and a valid Eucharist, are true particular Churches. Therefore, the Church of Christ is present and operative also in these Churches, even though they lack full communion with the Catholic Church, since they do not accept the Catholic doctrine of the Primacy, which, according to the will of God, the Bishop of Rome objectively has and exercises over the entire Church.

    “On the other hand, the ecclesial communities which have not preserved the valid Episcopate and the genuine and integral substance of the Eucharistic mystery,61 are not Churches in the proper sense; however, those who are baptized in these communities are, by Baptism, incorporated in Christ and thus are in a certain communion, albeit imperfect, with the Church.62 Baptism in fact tends per se toward the full development of life in Christ, through the integral profession of faith, the Eucharist, and full communion in the Church.”

    This teaching issued by Pope JPII is echoed in paragraph 4 and 5 of this CDF document, which also references the above paragraph from Unitatis Redintegratios. As you know, the CDF document was ratified, confirmed, and ordered to publication by Pope Benedict XVI.

    Two Popes, both of whom were present at VCII have referenced and clarified Unitatis Redintegratio’s terms, “Separated Churches” and “Ecclesial Communities,” in the same way. It seems to me that you are incorrect in concluding, “the SCDF is over-ruling the Council, saying it does not say what most everyone thinks it says, in favor of a preconciliar understanding of ecumenism and Church.”

  8. Jim McK says:

    On “gratuitous”, I was just pointing out a translation problem that could be part of the problem. The word has negative connotations in English, but positive in Latin. It is like JP2’s assertion “The Eucharist is adorable” — it means something to some latin speakers, but I am not going to take it as most Americans would and try to pinch its cheeks.

    On Question 5, I was raising a factual problem, not a theological one. I offered an example where a text of V2 used “the title of “Church” with regard to those Christian Communities born out of the Reformation of the sixteenth century?” That contradicts the factual premise offered for Q 5.

    There are theological explanations for this, like the one you provided. But that does not reverse the gratuitous factual inaccuracy: Conciliar texts DID use Church with regard to Christian Communities ‘reformed’ in the 16th century. They did not apply Church to any particular community, which is probably what they meant to say.

    BTW, your theological argument on this is essentially the same as Fr H’s argument. Popes have “clarified” is not different from Popes have “interpreted”, given that you agree that it is in terms of a preconciliar ubderstanding of Church. I do not think there is anything wrong with Popes doing that, but it is not always as authoritative as the documents themselves. Just my opinion, and not particularly relevant to the factual issue I raised.

  9. Brian says:

    Jim,
    “Unitatis Redintegratio” referred to “Separated Churches AND Ecclesial Communities in the West.” The document used two distinct terms. If the terms both mean the same thing, it would be redundant to use two distinct terms in the same phrase.

    Please allow a simple illustration: If my son’s teacher refers to the “boys and girls” in her class, she is not calling my son a girl. Boys and girls are not the same — the teacher uses two distinct terms. “Ecclesial Communities” and “Separated Churches” are not the same — “Unitatis Redintegratio” uses two distinct terms. If “Ecclesial Communities” are “Churches,” using both terms in the same phrase would be like the teacher absurdly referring to the “boys and eleven-year-old males” in her class.

    “Unitatis Redintegratio” does not say that “Ecclesial Communities” are “Churches.” Although the document did not emphasize the distinct definitions of those terms, the document does tell us what it means by “Churches” and by “Ecclesial Communities.”

    With regard to “Churches,” in paragraph 15, the document, referring to Eastern Orthodox Churches states, “These Churches, although separated from us, yet possess true sacraments and above all, by apostolic succession, the priesthood and the Eucharist, whereby they are linked with us in closest intimacy.”

    With regard to “Ecclesial Communities ,” in paragraph 22, the document uses the term “Ecclesial Communities” alone, without the term “Church.” I quoted the full paragraph in my prior post. For the sake of clarity (not interpretation) I will do so here in edited form, without changing the meaning. The document states, “ecclesial Communities . . . have not retained the proper reality of the Eucharistic mystery in its fullness, especially because of the absence of the sacrament of Orders.”

    “Unitatis Redintegratio” distinguishes separated “Churches” and “Ecclesial Communities” on the basis of whether or not these separated Christians have the Eucharist and Holy Orders. This is an important theological issue.

    The distinction that “Unitatis Redintegratio” makes between “Ecclesial Communities” and “Churches” was confirmed and clarified (not interpreted and certainly not contradicted) by “Dominus Iesus” and the by the current CDF document, both of which were ratified, confirmed, and published by Popes.

    Using almost identical language as that used in Unitatis Redintegratio, “Dominus Iesus” with regard to “Churches,” states “Churches which, while not existing in perfect communion with the Catholic Church, remain united to her by means of the closest bonds, that is, by apostolic succession and a valid Eucharist, are true particular Churches.”

    With regard to “Ecclesial Communities,” “Dominus Iesus” states, “ecclesial communities . . . have not preserved the valid Episcopate and the genuine and integral substance of the Eucharistic mystery,” therefore, they “ are not Churches in the proper sense.”

    There is no Church document, before, during, or after the Council that would identify “Ecclesial Communities,” which lack the Eucharist and Holy Orders, as “Churches” in the proper sense.

    The inseparable relationship between “Church” and Eucharist was not severed by VC2. The Catechism of the Catholic Church (CCC 752) teaches:

    “In Christian usage, the word “church” designates the liturgical assembly but also the local community or the whole universal community of believers. These three meanings are inseparable. “The Church” is the People that God gathers in the whole world. She exists in local communities and is made real as a liturgical, above all a Eucharistic, assembly. She draws her life from the word and the Body of Christ and so herself becomes Christ’s Body.”

    If the Eucharist is inseparable from “church,” so is Holy Orders

    Indeed, the inseparable relationship between “Church,” Holy Orders, and the Eucharist was strongly proclaimed by VC2 itself.

    According to Lumen Gentium:

    Paragraph 11: “Unity, or communion, between the particular Churches in the universal Church, is rooted not only in the same faith and in the common Baptism, but above all in the Eucharist and in the Episcopate.”

    Paragraph 14: “The unity of the Eucharist and the unity of the Episcopate with Peter and under Peter are not independent roots of the unity of the Church, since Christ instituted the Eucharist and the Episcopate as essentially interlinked realities.”

    Paragraph 17: “This communion exists especially with the Eastern orthodox Churches, which, though separated from the See of Peter, remain united to the Catholic Church by means of very close bonds, such as the apostolic succession and a valid Eucharist, and THEREFORE MERIT THE TITLE of particular CHURCHES.” ( emphasis added)

    The CDF document is not saying anything different from what was said at the Council and what has been consistently taught by the Church since the Council. Chapters 4 and 5 of the CDF document are entirely consistent with the Council’s teaching on the Church and with official post-conciliar ecclesiology.

    You state that “Conciliar texts DID use Church with regard to Christian Communities ‘reformed’ in the 16th century.”

    At the time of the Reformation, the Lutherans, Calvinists, Anabaptists, etc were not the only separated Christian Communities. At that time, the Church of England also separated from the Catholic Church, and, at that time, initially maintained Apostolic Succession and the Eucharist. They were a separated “Church” of the West.

    At the time of the Council, there was hope among some fathers of a reconciliation with the Anglicans. Unfortunately, subsequent decisions by many provinces of the Anglican Communion to “ordain” women as “priests” ended the prospect that the Roman Catholic Church could recognize the validity of Anglican priesthood.

  10. Todd says:

    The Roman Church has not been entirely consistent in the use of the term “church” or “Church.”

    Brian, while you accurately bring Lumen Gentium to the table, there is a widespread deficiency of understanding among Roman Catholics as to the standing of separated Eastern Churches. Praying for the so-called conversion of Russia is one example of a grave lack of proper theology on the part of the laity.

    For some believers, the separation factor is perceived as union with Rome. That seems to be why Catholics lump Eastern Orthodox, Anglicans, and Reformation Protestants into the same category.

    It might be said that those questions were more vital to the understanding of Roman Catholics than what the CDF covered in their letter, hence my query: who asked these questions, and why was it decided a limited number of them would be “answered.”

    There is also a reality of “c”hurch as opposed to “C”hurch in play here. If we can accurately say the local Lutheran faith community is a “church,” as they call themselves, and if in turn, we can say that an association of such churches cooperates with one another under the umbrella of some greater religious culture, is a collection of churches a church, a Church, or something else that doesn’t begin with the letter “c” and have six letters.

    Then we have Catholic expressions of Church or church that do not possess the Eucharist or orders. I’m thinking primarily of mission churches, women’s religious communities (and a few men’s) as well as every Catholic household, often regardeed as the “domestic church.”

    If communities that lack holy orders at the head of the administrative chain, or communities that lack the Eucharist as part of their unique communal expression are linked in some mysterious way because of union with Rome, then the CDF needs to come right out and say that it’s not the sacraments that matter, but union with Rome.

    I don’t have a problem with the CDF letter as a restatement of Church teaching. I do have a problem with the Q&A format if there’s an unwillingness to engage the questions or an ignorance of them.

    And that musing is not necessarily connected to any content in Fr H’s original piece … which I’d still be interested to read someday.

  11. Jim McK says:

    Todd,

    I have good news and bad news. The original text is available at http://www.opentheology.org/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=42&Itemid=42

    It is in Polish.

  12. Jim McK says:

    Brian,

    Thank you for clarifying the difference between a church and an ecclesial community.

    Your reply suggests that the Church of England was “a separated “Church” of the West” at the time of the Reformation. Does this mean that Q.5 does not refer to them? (Ditto for the Churches of Sweden and Norway, perhaps others) In this reading, it is appropriate to use “Church” of the component members of the Anglican Communion?

    If that is what Q.5 means, I withdraw any objection to it and ask your pardon for my misinterpretation. The Vatican does not use Church of non-churches because non-churches are not churches. Seems pretty obvious, so that I wonder why they said it.

  13. Brian says:

    Todd and Jim,
    I am enjoying this exchange and would like to continue. Today, however, I am busily making arrangements to go out of town to my daughter’s wedding. I will be away for a week. So, I’ll leave the discussion for now and pick it up next week.
    Take care,
    Brian

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s