Quick Hits: The case for rigor; the New Jansenists; Pope Benedict’s birthday strudel

By Phil Lawler (bio - articles - email) | Feb 24, 2017

  • On the theory that late is better than never, let me call attention to an excellent little essay by Father Gerald Murray, for The Catholic Thing, debunking the notion that some of God’s commands are “ideals” that we cannot be expected to meet. “God does not permit, let alone oblige, anyone to commit a mortal sin,” Father Murray insists. And he quotes Cardinal Robert Sarah to good effect: “Christ is certainly afflicted in seeing and hearing priests and bishops who should protect the integrity of the teaching of the Gospel and of doctrine multiplying words and writings that dilute the rigor of the Gospel by their deliberately ambiguous and confused affirmations.” You can probably guess the context, especially when you see the title: “When Cardinals Clash.”

  • On the same vexed topic, Jessica Murdoch offers an analysis of “The New Jansenism” for First Things. The original Jansenists despaired over the sinfulness of the human condition, and therefore questioned whether anyone was worthy to receive the sacraments. The “new Jansenists,” she argues, “is marked by a similar pessimism with respect to human nature.” But whereas the earlier version tended toward despair, today’s new Jansenists lean toward presumption:
    Whereas the Jansenism of old despaired that anyone could really be loved by God, be good enough to receive Holy Communion, or be saved, its newer version has so little faith in the power of God to change hearts that it presumes God does not care for something so insignificant as the human heart.

  • And on the Crux site, John Allen marked the 12th anniversary of the death of Msgr. Luigi Giussani, the founder of Communion and Liberation, with a profile of the man and his movement. The whole account is worth reading, but I call your attention particularly to the anecdote near the end of the story, about how Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger took a birthday strudel into the 2005 conclave that elected him.

Phil Lawler has been a Catholic journalist for more than 30 years. He has edited several Catholic magazines and written eight books. Founder of Catholic World News, he is the news director and lead analyst at CatholicCulture.org. See full bio.

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