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stifling debate

By Diogenes (articles ) | Jul 27, 2008

In case you missed it, this weekend marks an important anniversary: Forty years ago, Richard McBrien dissented from Humanae Vitae.

Oh sure, sure; it's the 40th anniversary of the encyclical, too. But the important thing is not what the Pope says; it's what Richard McBrien thinks of what the Pope says.

This attitude comes through clearly in McBrien's latest column, syndicated in diocesan newspapers. McBrien quotes extensively from his own previous columns on Humanae Vitae (on the 15th anniversary, the 25th, etc.), devoting 7 paragraphs to the exegesis of his own prose. From the encyclical itself he quotes two sentence fragments totaling 6 words.

Not that McBrien relies entirely on his own judgment. He manages to squeeze in citations of four other people: all critics of Humanae Vitae.

The central thrust of the column is that we should have more public debate about Humanae Vitae. McBrien helpfully reminds us that he said as much on the 25th anniversary. "Unfortunately, that debate was never allowed to mature in the next pontificate..."

And things just got worse...

In an article in America magazine (July 17, 1993), Jesuit Richard McCormick wrote that the prohibition of any serious discussion of the encyclical had led to "a debilitating malaise that has undermined the credibility of the magisterium in other areas."

Great idea: a serious discussion, a real debate. Just one thing: It won't be easy to have a real debate until there's room in the newspaper columns for someone other than Father McBrien and his allies.

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  • Posted by: - Jul. 31, 2008 5:09 PM ET USA

    McBrien says "Unfortunately, that debate was never allowed to mature in the next pontificate, notwithstanding an unsuccessful attempt at the 1980 Synod of Bishops on the family". The Church did better! John Pau II developed the Theology of the Body and made the "debate" unnecessary! The dignity of the human person renderes the basis of Humanae Vitae self proving. The prophetic nature of the encyclical has also been proven, in fact. Many will celebrate when McBride is no longer at Notre Dame!!

  • Posted by: - Jul. 28, 2008 9:43 AM ET USA

    I find it Ironic that the progressives in the Catholic Church find the "mass " of Paul VI's so acceptable (Cardinal Ratzenger now Pope Benedict XVI, called it a "fabricated liturgy"), and yet Paul VI's Encyclical "Humane Vitae" so very unacceptable.

  • Posted by: - Jul. 28, 2008 8:10 AM ET USA

    Fr. McBrien's bishop is about to retire. And for the record, he is a good bishop. We are one of the only dioceses in the U.S. who didn't have an "abuse scandal." D'Arcy was Cardinal Law's whistle blower when Boston was sweeping it all under the rug. One could say that the only thing wanting in Bishop D'Arcy's time as bishop was that he took a soft line with Notre Dame. Everyone wanted McBrien's head on a platter, and he wouldn't give it to us.

  • Posted by: - Jul. 27, 2008 9:47 PM ET USA

    Serious discussion, debate? All McBrien and company need for proof of their wisdom is to look at the results of 40 years of contraception by the majority of Catholics to see its wonderful effects--diminished Mass attendance, more divorces, more infidelity, more abortions, more disregard for the sanctity of matrimony in the form of cohabitation. That should convince any pope to revise Humanae Vitae!

  • Posted by: - Jul. 27, 2008 6:04 PM ET USA

    "Jesuit Richard McCormick wrote that the prohibition of any serious discussion of the encyclical had led to 'a debilitating malaise that has undermined the credibility of the magisterium in other areas.' Is the situation any different today, on the fortieth anniversary? " Er, not for you guys.

  • Posted by: - Jul. 27, 2008 2:17 PM ET USA

    Lucius, Fr. McBrien's bishop is exactly where all the bishops who reacted to complaints that their priests had molested boys were when they transferred them to other parishes.

  • Posted by: - Jul. 27, 2008 11:44 AM ET USA

    Why is this type of undermining Catholic teaching allowed to continue? Leaving clerical dissenters in place apparently in good standing encourages the attitude that everybody can just pick and chooses whatever doctrine suits them. Why is the Cardinal-archbishop allowing this undermining of Catholic teaching in his own newspaper? Shouldn't he be called to task as well? Where is Fr. McBrien's bishop?

  • Posted by: - Jul. 27, 2008 11:17 AM ET USA

    Old egocentric liberals don't die; they just fade away. In some cases, they fade much too slowly, however. Do diocesan newspapers actually pay for this column? No? Perhaps McBrien promises them a legacy in his will; to that end we pray for the happy & speedy repose of his soul, trusting that the good Father will be able to adequately explain his rejection of the Magisterium to his Creator.