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Jesuit theologian sees 'relativism' on the right

Catholic World News - July 27, 2010

Speaking to Vatican Radio after an international theological convention in Trent, an American Jesuit said that the Church needs to “find the tradition as it needs to be now, in light of what it once was and what it will be.”

Father James Keenan, a Boston College professor, made that comment in the context of a discussion of Pope Benedict’s warnings against relativism. He argued that relativism can be found among traditionalists as well as liberals. “We can have a relativism in which we simply say; ‘what the church once taught in 1548 has never changed and always remains the same,’” he said.

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Show 8 Comments? (Hidden)Hide Comments
  • Posted by: Defender - Jul. 28, 2010 1:18 PM ET USA

    And Keenan was a co-chair of the convention and this took place at Trent? The participants of the Council in 1564 must really be turning around in their graves...

  • Posted by: unum - Jul. 28, 2010 9:22 AM ET USA

    Interesting. I always thought of unchanging truths as dogmas, but at BC they are the "relativism of the right". I guess at BC there are no unchanging truths. There are only opinions of the moment.

  • Posted by: kmbold - Jul. 28, 2010 7:48 AM ET USA

    Relativism is the new tradition.

  • Posted by: ColmCille - Jul. 27, 2010 7:46 PM ET USA

    Belief in absolute and unchanging truth is relativism? Now he's just making stuff up.

  • Posted by: Gregory108 - Jul. 27, 2010 7:42 PM ET USA

    Well silly me! And here I thought this was true when one discusses the important teachings on morals and doctrine! And here I thought truth was one! The way we understand it can change and hopefully deepen so we can know and love the Lord all the better and be ever more faithfully in his will, but I thought the teachings never changed! I guess I'm just not a theologian.

  • Posted by: mjmallinger3379 - Jul. 27, 2010 6:35 PM ET USA

    I'd be interested in some specific examples of the application of Fr. Keenan's concept of relativism. Fr. Hardon, in the Modern Catholic Dictionary, defines relativism as "...the view that there is no absolute truth or certainty. ...that truth depends entirely on variable factors such as person, place, time, and circumstances." Sounds an awful lot to me like Fr. Keenan's concept of relativism without further clarification. r

  • Posted by: Steve214 - Jul. 27, 2010 6:09 PM ET USA

    Standing the term "relativism" on its head! Given that all public revelation ended with the death of the last apostle, we should not be surprised that what the Church taught in 1548 is what was taught at 70 AD, and will be taught in 3000 AD. "Development of doctrine" does not mean contradiction of doctrine.

  • Posted by: Defender - Jul. 27, 2010 6:01 PM ET USA

    But the rest of the Vatican Radio quote is: "which Fr Keenan notes, is not possible." The implications of what this Jesuit priest stated has other implications (a la, "what it (tradition) needs to be..." Ah, the Jesuits....

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