Mirror of Justice

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Sunday, July 31, 2011

Notre Dame, Our Mother: An Interview with Rev. Bill Miscamble, C.S.C.

For anyone interested in the University of Notre Dame, her Catholic mission and identity, her current capacity and her future potential for contributing to the intellectual life of the nation and the Church, I would strongly encourage you to read the lengthy interview with Father Bill Miscamble, C.S.C., available here.

http://mirrorofjustice.blogs.com/mirrorofjustice/2011/07/notre-dame-our-mother-an-interview-with-rev-bill-miscamble-csc.html

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If only it were just Notre Dame that needed to be more clear about her Catholic mission and identity:

"The sins of the flesh are bad, but they are the least bad of all sins."

This statement, which can be found in the margin of page 224 of the YOUCAT, is just another example of the doublespeak that serves to distort and dismiss the truth of our Catholic Faith creating a grave disorientation in His Church. Pray for our Holy Father. Mirror of Justice, Notre Dame, Our Mother, Pray for us.

Posted by: Nancy D. | Jul 31, 2011 6:34:38 PM

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Posted by: cerave | Aug 1, 2011 5:34:06 AM

I don't question Father Miscamble's sincerity on this issue nor the need to raise it. However, I would point out that the interviewer, Ms. Lopez, has been an unapologietic supporter of our government right to torture (and she has used that word and not enhanced interrogation techniques)terror suspects and was also an unapolgetic supporter of our mistaken and immoral invasion of Iraq, which basically shredded the Cathoilc Just War tradition and which is still showing it's deathly consequences. On the torture issue, she is a much in contradiction to the Communuion as any abortion supporter. It thus makes it difficult to digest the interview when one considers the source.

Posted by: Edward Dougherty | Aug 1, 2011 9:27:55 AM

Heaven help us! YOUCAT quoted a PROTESTANT.

Finally, though I have had to speak at some length about sex, I want to make it as clear as I possibly can that the centre of Christian morality is not here. If anyone thinks that Christians regard unchastity as the supreme vice, he is quite wrong. ***The sins of the flesh are bad, but they are the least bad of all sins.*** All the worst pleasures are purely spiritual: the pleasure of putting other people in the wrong, of bossing and patronizing and spoiling sport, and back-biting, the pleasures of power, of hatred. For there are two things inside me competing with the human self which I must try to become. They are the Animal self, and the Diabolical self. The Diabolical self is the worst of the two. That is why a cold, self-righteous prig who goes regularly to church may be far nearer to hell than a prostitute. But, of course, it is better to be neither. — From Mere Christianity, by C. S. Lewis

Posted by: David Nickol | Aug 1, 2011 11:10:16 AM

The sins of the flesh destroy the spirit.

Posted by: Nancy D. | Aug 1, 2011 2:57:58 PM

Nancy D.

You say: "This statement, which can be found in the margin of page 224 of the YOUCAT, is just another example of the doublespeak that serves to distort and dismiss the truth of our Catholic Faith creating a grave disorientation in His Church. Pray for our Holy Father."

Apologies to John Breen and Rev. Bill Miscamble for cluttering up the thread, but it is one thing to criticize the University of Notre Dame for not being Catholic enough, but it is quite another thing to make that charge against Pope Benedict XVI, Christoph Cardinal Schönborn, and YOUCAT.

Criticisms of Notre Dame are credible, whether one sides for or against Notre Dame or not. Criticisms of Notre Dame coupled with criticism of the Pope, Cardinal Schönborn, and YOUCAT are ludicrous. The Pope and Cardinal Schönborn have not been led astray, and they are not attempting to lead anyone else astray. If they are not good enough Catholics, who is?

Posted by: David Nickol | Aug 1, 2011 4:42:10 PM

Mr. Nickol:

You write that "The Pope and Cardinal Schönborn have not been led astray, and they are not attempting to lead anyone else astray. If they are not good enough Catholics, who is?" This cluster of theses demonstrates a remarkable and, to my mind, indefensible absolutism about papal and (as it is frequently called) "Vatican" authority. Surely it is possible that the Pope and other members of the episcopate *can* lead others astray. Nor is the test of the authority of the Church whether particular bishops -- even the Bishop of Rome -- are (in your phrase) "good enough Catholics." I express no view on the particular dispute to which you are speaking in the exchange from which I quote. I only wish to caution against false and inappropriately absolutist tests of the sort you're using here. To quote someone I admire: "Fallible Catholics, however, are not themselves the Catholic Church. They have been tempted either enthusiastically to accept fraudulent and manipulative changes as unquestionable goods or to deny the reality of the twists and turns of history, confuse the Tradition with merely familiar custom, and thereby hinder the advance of the Faith." As no one needs reminding, some things even popes and bishops do or say are grievous and mistaken. It won't do to suggest, as I think you, Mr. Nickol, do, that "Benedict and Schornborn are 'conservative,' therefore they couldn't lead souls astray. They, surely," your implicit contention continues, "are 'good enough' Catholics." I do not say whether the Holy Father and Card. Schornborn have or haven't erred on the issue on question -- only that it is possible. I suspect there will be future times when we'll here from you that the Holy Father and other members of the episcopate are NOT "good enough Catholics," though I suspect you'll then prefer to make essentially the same point in other words.

Posted by: Patrick Brennan | Aug 1, 2011 9:15:59 PM

Patrick Brennan,

I am not advancing a theory of the absolute authority of a pope. I am addressing a very specific accusation that somehow a quote from C. S. Lewis in the margin of YOUCAT "is just another example of the doublespeak that serves to distort and dismiss the truth of our Catholic Faith creating a grave disorientation in His Church." I really don't think something recommended by the pope, prepared by Cardinal Schönborn, and approved by the Austrian, German, and Swiss Bishops Conferences, and also approved by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, the Congregation for the Clergy, and the Pontifical Council for the Laity includes "doublespeak" (according to Merriam-Webster, "language used to deceive usually through concealment or misrepresentation of truth"). And if this is just another example of doublespeak, what are all the other examples? Are we beset by doublespeak from the Church?

In the "Instructions for Use" at the front of the book, we find the following: "Furthermore, the Youth Catechism offers in the margin a continuous series of supplementary elements, such as pictures, summary definitions, citations from Sacred Scripture, quotations from saints and reliable teachers of the faith, but also from non-religious authors." I hardly think anyone would maintain that the marginal quotes are all infallible truths, or carry the same weight as the text of the catechism itself, and one might raise the question as to whether the Catholic Church really does agree with what C. S. Lewis said about sins of the flesh. But to say the quote is "another example of the doublespeak that serves to distort and dismiss the truth of our Catholic Faith creating a grave disorientation in His Church" implies to me that there's something about YOUCAT that is not merely in error, but a deliberate distortion of the Catholic faith. There may be any number of things in the Catechism of the Catholic Church and YOUCAT that I personally disagree with, but I simply don't believe Cardinal Ratzinger/Pope Benedict XVI, Cardinal Schönborn, and the CDF would engage in "doublespeak" to mislead people regarding the Catholic faith.

I reserve the right to criticize the pope (or anyone else in the Church), but I don't think you will ever catch me claiming to be more Catholic than he is.

Posted by: David Nickol | Aug 1, 2011 11:18:44 PM

Or, to put it more succinctly, Catholics need not fear being led astray by deliberate distortions of Catholic teaching in The Catechism of the Catholic Church and YOUCAT. This is not a theological or ecclesiological statement on my part. It is a statement based on reasonable assumptions about what those involved in preparing the Catechism and YOUCAT intended to do, and the intentions and abilities of those who approved the final product. They may not be (and do not claim to be) infallible works, but I am more than confident that they are not subversive.

Posted by: David Nickol | Aug 2, 2011 10:29:54 AM

Perhaps what was approved was not actually the final product.

Posted by: Nancy D. | Aug 2, 2011 1:13:57 PM

Not to mention that being Catholic is not a matter of degree.

Posted by: Nancy D. | Aug 2, 2011 1:30:30 PM

Nancy,

Don't you think you better alert the Vatican and the publisher? If YOUCAT was given an Imprimatur and Nihil Obstat and then changed before it was printed, those responsible for slipping in unauthorized doublespeak must be caught and disciplined, and Ignatius Press must correct and reprint the book.

There was an error in the Italian translation regarding contraception, and that had to be fixed.

Posted by: David Nickol | Aug 2, 2011 3:22:34 PM

Notre Dame's Catholic heritage is fading fast. But that is true in most Catholic universities. When orthodoxy becomes optional it soon becomes proscribed.

Posted by: Fr. J | Aug 2, 2011 7:33:53 PM

David, I did post something at Ignatius Press but I don't know for certain if they got either of my posts.

Posted by: Nancy D. | Aug 2, 2011 7:40:23 PM

Mr. Nickol:

As you doubtless know, the imprimatur and nihil obstat are not infallible acts. Even the recent Catechism of the Catholic Church is hardly infallible per se. Is it possible that formulations in the Catechism have been made, even intentionally, in ways that obscure or detract from the Tradition? Of course it is. The text was composed by men with agendas, including the agenda of the Council. There are other agendas. For example, the teaching on the morality of capital punishment was apparently changed between the original draft of the Catechism in French and the eventual Latin editio typica. Time will tell the authoritativeness of the revised teaching, including through possible future magisterial intervention. None of my realism is to detract in the least from the possibility of authoritative or infallible teaching by the Church. It only increases the burden on faithful Catholics to attend to the whole of the Tradition, including the conditions of authoritative teaching.

Posted by: Patrick Brennan | Aug 2, 2011 8:33:34 PM

Patrick Brennan,

I can't quite figure out what's going on here. Prior to this exchange, if anyone had predicted I would be arguing *for* the reliability of the Catechism of the Catholic Church and YOUCAT, and that a MOJ contributor would be arguing *against* it, nobody (including me) would have believed it.

I am aware that it happens occasionally that the imprimatur and nihil obstat are withdrawn (for example, Jose Antonio Pagola's book Jesus: An Historical Approximation), and that obviously they are not given infallibly. I am also aware that teachings included in the Catechism have no more weight by reason of their inclusion than they would otherwise have. I am not arguing for the infallibility of the Catechism or YOUCAT. I am arguing for their reasonable reliability.

In a statement in the Catechism itself, Pope John Paul II says, "I declare it [the Catechism) to be a sure norm for teaching the faith and thus a valid and legitimate instrument for ecclesial communion."

I would just ask what are the odds that the two issues Nancy D. concerns herself with in at least half her messages (homosexuality and the complementarity of the sexes) have been deliberately distorted in YOUCAT? (She has made this charge here and on at least ten other web sites.) I think the odds are about the same as the odds that someone (Father Lombardi and Cardinal Bertone are two of Nancy D.'s suspects) fiddled with Pope Benedict's manuscript of Jesus of Nazareth and inserted a quote from the Gospel of Thomas, because it is obvious that Benedict himself would not quote from a false gospel.

I have worked in the publishing industry all my life, and I can tell you what is *theoretically possible* if someone wants to tinker with a book. But when you see something in the Catechism and YOUCAT (or Jesus of Nazareth) that you don't like, I have to ask say that the odds are very slim indeed that whatever you object to was deliberately planted by someone out to distort the Catholic faith. Somewhat similarly, I would say if you look up a word in the Merriam-Webster Unabridged Dictionary, and you think the definition is wrong, odds are very, very strong that you are mistaken and the dictionary is right.

I think any Catholic, or anyone who seriously wants to know about Catholic thought, must have a basic presumption that the Catechism and YOUCAT are reliable, and there must be absolutely clear evidence (as in the mistranslation in the Italian edition) that something you object to was wrongly put there and "is just another example of the doublespeak that serves to distort and dismiss the truth of our Catholic Faith creating a grave disorientation in His Church."

Posted by: David Nickol | Aug 3, 2011 11:58:44 AM

Mr. Nickol:

I'm not going to weigh in on Nancy D.'s particular concerns, but I do want to underscore and stand by my own position that you find so unexpected. Sure, Bl. John Paul II said at the time the French edition of the Catechism was issued that it was a "sure norm," but within a decade a material portion of that "sure norm" had been altered. There's another level to this, though. Take, for example, the Second Vatican Council's Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy. Any reasonable study of liturgical reform from the 1930s through the early 1970s would have to acknowledge that Vatican II's Constitution on the Liturgy was loaded up in its drafting with little time-bombs to be detonated after the Council was over and it fell functionaries to implement the texts of the Council. Those time-bombs reflect the deconstructive liturgical aspirations of, above all, the Freemason Hannibal Bugnini. The Council Fathers simply would not have voted for Holy Communion being distributed in the hand by women in mini-skirts, but that's what we had within a decade of the Council -- and, to come to the point, with quasi-textual warrant. What makes Bugnini's baneful influence through the Council especially troubling and confusing is that it was Pius XII (sic) that, in 1948, appointed Bugnini General Secretary to the Commission for the Reform of the Liturgy. My point is that texts even of Councils cannot just be taken at face value, and again, this does not suggest the impossibility of authoritative or infallible teaching.

Posted by: Patrick Brennan | Aug 3, 2011 3:57:54 PM

Mr. Nickol:

I'm not going to weigh in on Nancy D.'s particular concerns, but I do want to underscore and stand by my own position that you find so unexpected. Sure, Bl. John Paul II said at the time the French edition of the Catechism was issued that it was a "sure norm," but within a decade a material portion of that "sure norm" had been altered. There's another level to this, though. Take, for example, the Second Vatican Council's Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy. Any reasonable study of liturgical reform from the 1930s through the early 1970s would have to acknowledge that Vatican II's Constitution on the Liturgy was loaded up in its drafting with little time-bombs to be detonated after the Council was over and it fell functionaries to implement the texts of the Council. Those time-bombs reflect the deconstructive liturgical aspirations of, above all, the Freemason Hannibal Bugnini. The Council Fathers simply would not have voted for Holy Communion being distributed in the hand by women in mini-skirts, but that's what we had within a decade of the Council -- and, to come to the point, with quasi-textual warrant. What makes Bugnini's baneful influence through the Council especially troubling and confusing is that it was Pius XII (sic) that, in 1948, appointed Bugnini General Secretary to the Commission for the Reform of the Liturgy. My point is that texts even of Councils cannot just be taken at face value, and again, this does not suggest the impossibility of authoritative or infallible teaching.

Posted by: Patrick Brennan | Aug 3, 2011 3:58:29 PM

David, are you denying that the quote in the margin of page 224 of the YOUCAT is an example of doublespeak that serves to distort and dismiss the grave nature of the sin against Chastity?

Posted by: Nancy D. | Aug 4, 2011 12:34:58 AM

Nancy,

Yes, I am denying that. I can see why the quote might raise some eyebrows, especially where it is placed, but I definitely do not think it is "an example of doublespeak that serves to distort and dismiss the grave nature of the sin against Chastity?"

Would you say that Christians regard unchastity as the supreme vice?

Would you say that young Catholics should not read Mere Christianity, the book in which the quote appears?

Posted by: David Nickol | Aug 4, 2011 1:16:18 AM

Patrick Brennan,

Thanks for taking the time to answer at length. I am still a bit puzzled, but there are several clues to follow. It does not seem to me that the Catechism of the Catholic Church, and especially YOUCAT, are dated enough to be seriously misleading. But I do think the various catechisms (e.g., the Baltimore Catechism) that were "orthodox" in my grade school days are not in perfect harmony with the Catechism of the Catholic Church, and also the old Catholic Encyclopedia (the one available online) has many articles that are instantly recognizable as from bygone eras.

As for "Freemason Hannibal Bugnini," based on a modest amount of research, I haven't a clue as to what to think.

Thanks again.

Posted by: David Nickol | Aug 4, 2011 9:12:42 AM

David, I would say that the sins of the flesh, the grave sin against Chastity, stem from the supreme vice, pride, and that C.S. Lewis, who had recently converted from atheist to Christian, was mistaken when he stated, "the sins of the flesh are bad, but they are the least bad of all sins".

F.Y.I.: http://insightscoop.typepad.com/2004/2011/07/the-anchoress-youcat-a-terrific-resource.html

Posted by: Nancy D. | Aug 4, 2011 11:42:20 AM

Nancy,

C. S. Lewis converted to Christianity in 1931, and Mere Christianity was published in 1952. That's 21 years. The Case for Christianity was published in 1942, as was The Screwtape Letters, the latter being probably second in popularity to Mere Christianity. C. S. Lewis was not a novice Christian in 1952.

I don't accept your theory that the sins of the flesh stem from pride. Why would lust (or gluttony) be listed among the Seven Deadly Sins when pride is already there?

I think you are failing to appreciate C. S. Lewis's point, and I think you are also failing to note that in Christian thought, all sins are very grave matters indeed. The "least bad" of all sins are still very bad, and no one can say, "Oh, this is one of the least bad sins, so it is not a problem if I commit it." You might have a better case if you argued that the point C. S. Lewis was perhaps too sophisticated for young people, or that Lewis was being deliberately provocative, and the quote was inappropriate for a youth catechism. But to argue that C. S. Lewis was a novice Christian who hadn't come to an understanding of Christianity just won't wash.

In many people's minds, the word "immorality" instantly brings to mind sex. I think C. S. Lewis's comments on sins of the flesh are a good antidote to that. I saw someone paraphrasing Lewis's comments about the Animal nature and the Diabolical nature slightly by saying if you indulge in the sins of the flesh, you become an animal, but if you indulge in the diabolical sins, you become a devil.

I do think the quote would have been at least as appropriate, if not more so, *outside* the section on sexual sins, since the point is not really that sexual sins are not the worst, but that *other* sins are the worst.

Posted by: David Nickol | Aug 4, 2011 1:51:56 PM

David, the quote is not appropriate because it is not consistent with Catholic teaching on the grave nature of the sin against Chastity and for this reason including it in a section about the sin against Charity, or for that matter, in any section in a book that is suppose to be a Catholic Catechism, is a clear example of doublespeak which serves to distort and dismiss the truth of our Catholic Faith. The purpose of a Catholic Catechism, including a Catholic Catechism for youth, is to educate us so that we become grounded in the fullness of the truth of our Catholic Faith.

P.S., my research shows that C.S.Lewis "was invited to give a series of lectures addressing the central issues of Christianity" in 1943, and that these lectures were then published as three books which were combined to become "Mere Christianity".

Posted by: Nancy D. | Aug 4, 2011 3:47:31 PM

Nancy,

You are partly correct about the publication dates, except that when the three earlier separate books were combined into one volume as Mere Christianity, C. S. Lewis reviewed all the material again. In his preface to Mere Christianity he says: "I have also added and deleted where I thought I understood any part of the subject better now than ten years ago or where I knew that the original version had been misunderstood by others." So Mere Christianity reflects Lewis's thinking in the early 1950, more than 20 years after he converted.

I don't think we will ever see eye to eye on the meaning of the quote, it's not worth arguing about. But I am surprised that you believe (or so it seems to me) that there must have been people involved in creating YOUCAT who were *deliberately* trying to undermine Catholic teaching. Yours are the first and only criticisms I have heard about the English edition.

Posted by: David Nickol | Aug 4, 2011 5:23:24 PM

David, whether I am the only one to recognize the error or I am one of many, that does not change the fact that the quote is not consistent with our Catholic Faith and thus should not be in the youth Catechism, to begin with. The question is, who placed this quote in the YOUCAT?

Posted by: Nancy D. | Aug 4, 2011 7:05:23 PM

Nancy,

I think the first step is to get a look at the German version of YOUCAT and see if the marginal quotes in the English version are unique to the English version or translations from the German. My first assumption was that the basic text was translated for all versions, but the photos and the quotes for each edition were chosen by the publisher for that edition. But then I noticed that all the photos in the English edition are from German sources. So I now assume each version is an exact replication/translation of the German edition, with the same photos and the same quotes. If so, that would rule out Ignatius Press as responsible for the marginal quotes, and the responsibility would be with those who prepared the German version.

Posted by: David Nickol | Aug 5, 2011 7:43:57 AM

Thanks, David.

Posted by: Nancy D. | Aug 5, 2011 8:37:48 AM

Simplest is often best. I'm reminded of this quote by the mayor of Newark, Cory Booker: "Don’t speak to me about your religion; first show it to me in how you treat other people. Don't tell me how much you love your god; show me in how much you love all his children. Don't preach to me your passion for your faith; teach me through your compassion for your neighbors. In the end, I'm not as interested in what you have to tell or sell as I am in how you choose to live and give."

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