The Remnant- 16 May 1980
Paul II's recent order that priests must not hold public office
reflects the Pope's strong convictions that political position
and the priesthood are not compatible, according to reports from
has told associates that social or political activism is not a
priest’s proper role, these sources said.
the Pope told priests in Kinshasa, Zaire, "to leave political
responsibilities to those whose concern they are. You have another
role, a magnificent role, you are leaders in another sector."
domain of action, and it is vast, is that of faith and morals,
" he added.
Robert Drinan, an avowed pro-abortionist, who represents Massachusetts
as a democrat in the House of Representatives, announced that
he will not seek reelection after he received a directive from
his superiors reflecting the Pope’s wish. Other American
Catholic clergy have also been informed of the directive, and
one of them, Fr. Robert J. Cornell, O.Praem, of DePere, Wisconsin,
also dropped his candidancy after receiving the directive from
opposition to social activism among priests also emerged recently
in what the Washington Post of May 6th describes as "his
lukewarm reactions to the murder of Salvador’s crusading
Archbishop Oscar Arnulfo Romero. The Pontiff’s initial response
to the March 24th assassination criticized the violence but was
short on praises for the slain archbishop. His strongest words
of appreciation for Romero came ten days after the assassination
at a Vatican general audience.
Code of Canon Law, currently in process of revision, dates back
to 1918 and rules out elective office without approval by the
local bishop. The 1971 Bishops' Synod in Rome dealing with the
priesthood also left it up to the local bishop to determine if
secular activity in general served the mission of the Church and
other Christians and was thus compatible with the priestly ministry.
also decided that "leadership or active militancy on behalf
of any political party is to be excluded by every priest unless
in concrete and exceptional circumstances this is truly required
by the good of the community and has received the consent of the
years a number of priests have engaged in various sorts of political
activity, with or without the approval of their bishops.
election in October 1978, John Paul II has made it clear that
he favors social reform but does not believe that in most cases
priests should be leading or organising it.
words, the Pope's idea of activism is one that focuses on moral
issues and rejects or avoids partisan entanglements.
first made his restrictive view of priests’ roles clear
at Puebla, Mexico, in January 1979, when he told the members of
religious orders "you are not social political leaders, or
functionaries of a temporal power."
time he asked priests to remember that "temporal leadership
can easily become a source of division while the priest should
be a sign and factor of unity and brotherhood."
however, there are priests and bishops all over Latin America
who continue to be involved in partisan political questions, and
whose activities have nowhere been curbed by the Vatican.
another instance where Pope John Paul II has made a correct decision,
and in this case he achieved at least a limited degree of success
in implementing it. It should be noted that the increasing political
preoccupation of some clergy is the direct result of one of the
most deplorable phenomena of the post-conciliar Church, a change
of emphasis from the sacred to the profane, and from eternal life
to life on earth. Thus, it is not surprising that when, eventually,
a number of Nicaraguan priests were told to choose between exercising
their priestly office or continuing with their political carers,
that they opted for the latter. These poor men have clearly lost
their sense of priority .They need our pity and our prayers, but,
in a sense, they were doing no more than follow the logic of conciliar
Scholar faults Exegetes, Including Father Raymond Brown
The Remnant – 16 May 1980
exegesis today seem to be in tension, if not in conflict, with
established Christian teaching about Christ and His message, "
writes Fr. Manuel Miguens in the Spring issue of Communio,
International Catholic Review. Manuel Miguens ,O.F.M., is
on the staff of the Institute for Advance Catholic Doctrine, St.
John's University, New York.
to Miguens, "Positions which once were considered doctrinally
sound and supported by scholarly evidence now seem shaken or demolished
by biblical criticism. Indeed there are so many new 'theories'
making the rounds in biblical circles that no one seems sure anymore
of anything, not even what has been newly built on the ruins of
the past. It is fair to say that there are so many new biblical
theories about things scriptural as there are new-comers on the
stage of exegetical debate. The same thing is true of several
American and English commentators have made this observation .
Indeed. German authors, who in many ways are the 'fathers' of
biblical criticism, are the ones seemingly among the first to
be skeptical about contemporary biblical methodology. Recently,
for example, Peter Stuhlmacher, while acknowledging the historical
knowledge gained from criticism, confesses that the critical method
fathers a ‘really frightening insecurity and narrowness
continues: A good hard look at the exegetical process as it is
being conducted today is especially necessary because biblical
hypotheses are oftentimes presented as serious conclusions of
scientific study, when in fact they are at best speculative theories.
More ominous perhaps, is that unproved biblical hypotheses sometimes
are accepted uncritically by systematic or moral theologians to
raise doubts about the validity of the received faith of the Church.
are many ways in which a scripturist might approach a controlled
study of contemporary exegesis. Many authors are practitioners
of the exegetical method in the form it is being applied today,
but none have achieved as much popularity and widespread acceptance
as Fr.Raymond Brown."
singles out Fr. Brown for using the modem method of biblical criticism
"in his own way," and cites chapter and verse wherein
the method used by Fr.Brown, among others, is seriously open to
criticism and may be in fact misleading people.
however, Fr. Brown has been openly defended by none other than
Cardinal Timothy Manning of Los Angeles (Tidings, 4 April
1980), who characterized local critics of Fr. Brown as "venomous,"
whilst Msgr. John F .Barry , Archdiocesan Director of Religious
Education, urged Catholics "not to be misguided or disturbed
by attacks on Fr. Brown, who has "long been recognized by
the Church" as a " good and holy priest loyal to the
when, if ever, Rome will step in and bring order out of chaos!