Daily Archives: November 11, 2008

C.S. Lewis speaks to Fr Peter Dresser from beyond the grave…

In a combox to one of my posts on Fr Peter Dresser, Sharon posted this very relevant snippet from C.S. Lewis:

“It is your duty to fix the lines (of doctrine) clearly in your minds: and if you wish to go beyond them you must change your profession. This is your duty not specially as Christians or as priests but as honest men. There is a danger here of the clergy developing a special professional conscience which obscures the very plain moral issue. Men who have passed beyond these boundary lines in either direction are apt to protest that they have come by their unorthodox opinions honestly. In defense of those opinions they are prepared to suffer obloquy and to forfeit professional advancement. They thus come to feel like martyrs. But this simply misses the point which so gravely scandalizes the layman. We never doubted that the unorthodox opinions were honestly held: what we complain of is your continuing in your ministry after you have come to hold them. We always knew that a man who makes his living as a paid agent of the Conservative Party may honestly change his views and honestly become a Communist. What we deny is that he can honestly continue to be a Conservative agent and to receive money from one party while he supports the policy of the other.”

–from Christian Apologetics by C.S. Lewis, Easter 1945.
(Reprinted in God in the Dock pp. 89-90)

To think that they had the same problem already in 1945, when you think they would have had other things to keep them busy…


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Online Petition against the new Abortion Law Reform law in Victoria

Okay, so it’s law now – but that doesn’t mean we can’t tell ’em we are “not happy”. Support this online petition by passing it on to your friends via email or your blog. (Nb. you might smile at the distinction between “Christian” and “Catholic” in the petition…)

Dear friends,

Please add your voice to this online petition:

1. Opposition to Abortion Law Reform 2008 (Victoria, Australia)

Published by Dr. Jereth Kok, MBBS on Oct 25, 2008

“We want to send a message to the Victorian Parliament (the Government, Opposition and all sitting members) that tens of thousands of Christian and Catholic voters are opposed to the new Law.”

If you are Victorian, please sign the petition at:

You can also sign the following international petition (open to everyone):

2. UN Petition for the Unborn Child! (Already has 51,911 signatures)

Published by C-FAM (Catholic Family & Human Rights Institute)

“We have initiated a petition drive that calls for governments to interpret the Universal Declaration of Human Rights as protecting the unborn child from abortion.

Along with a coalition of pro-life groups from around the world, we will present our petitions at a press conference at UN headquarters.”

Please sign the petition at http://www.c-fam.org/publications/id.95/default.asp

Please also forward this email to your contacts. This is a simple way to send a message that there are heaps of people who care.

Bless you,

Kirsten Jack and Matthew Prince

P.S. If you are from Tasmania, you may also like to sign a petition for Baby Safe
Havens at http://senatorhelenpolley.com.au/


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A Good Source for Religious News: Reuters correspondent Tom Heneghan’s FaithWorld blog

I’ve just discovered Tom Heneghan’s Reuter’s blog “FaithWorld”, which appears to be a real gold mine of news and information.

Check out his complete interview with Cardinal Tauran on the dialogue with A Common Word at http://blogs.reuters.com/faithworld/2008/11/10/cardinal-sees-possible-favoured-channel-in-dialogue-with-islam/2/

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Bishop of Bathurst, Bishop Patrick Dougherty, gives Fr Dresser a Dressing Down

And you can take it as read that it is now on the official “banned” list, together with all the heretical opinions therein.

As I commented earlier on this blog, since Fr Peter Dresser is a priest of the Diocese of Bathurst, his bishop, Patrick Dougherty, is the one who is responsible for any disciplinary measures. It seems to me that he has done this admirably in the following statement:

Media Release – 10th November 2008

An unpublished book written by Father Peter Dresser, Parish Priest of Coonamble in the Diocese of Bathurst, has been receiving a certain distribution and publicity.

With regard to the Divinity of Jesus, the Virginity of Mary and the Resurrection of Jesus, Father Dresser has re-affirmed to me, and intends to endorse by a public statement, his adherence to these and to all the teaching of the Catholic Church. In the book, however, such foundational truths of our Christian Catholic Faith were not affirmed: readers could rightly conclude that some were denied and that the views expressed about them were heretical.

The watering down or emptying out of Christian teaching is not the path towards rendering Catholic doctrine more deeply known by people of faith or acceptable to sceptical people.

Whatever Father Dresser’s stated good intentions and motives, stances taken in this book with regard to Jesus Christ and Mary are not acceptable: they are alien to Christian authenticity and to the fulfillment of the teaching mission of priests.

+ Patrick Dougherty

Bishop of Bathurst

The important things to note are:

1) “With regard to the Divinity of Jesus, the Virginity of Mary and the Resurrection of Jesus”, Fr Peter has “re-affirmed” to his Bishop, “and intends to endorse by a public statement his adherence to these [doctrines] and to all the teaching of the Catholic Church”.

Is this “public statement” the one issued yesterday? In which case, it is fair to say that one could hope more specific recantation of the specific errors in his published writing and radio interview.

2) “Whatever Father Dresser’s stated good intentions and motives”, the “stances taken in [his] book with regard to Jesus Christ and Mary are not acceptable: they are alien to Christian authenticity and to the fulfillment of the teaching mission of priests.”

Spot on, your Lordship. By publishing this book, Fr Dresser has specifically abused his priestly “teaching mission”.

3) “Readers could rightly conclude that [in this book] some [foundational truths of our Christian Catholic Faith] were denied and that the views expressed about them were heretical.”

That seems a fair judgement. Although I don’t know what the “could” means. “Would” would be more to the point.

4) And finally: “The watering down or emptying out of Christian teaching is not the path towards rendering Catholic doctrine more deeply known by people of faith or acceptable to sceptical people.”

Which is just what Pope Benedict said in his General Audience last Wednesday. Hint to theologians: Your task is to explicate and clarify the doctrines and dogmas of the Faith, not to “go beyond doctrine and dogma” (vis a vis the Starship Enterprise) to some point of your own fantasy.


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Too Many Christian Muslim Dialogues? Is this "Just Tauran being Tauran"?

A Reuters article earlier in the year quoted “one Vatican official” as saying ““That’s just Tauran being Tauran.”

Well, it appears that we have more “Tauran being Tauran” today, as the President of the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue made this comment:

“In my opinion, there are too many Christian-Muslim initiatives. Everybody’s doing it,” he told Reuters in an interview. “One doesn’t know where this will go. That proves there is a great interest, but it sows a bit of confusion.

“There’s a risk of overlapping… It may be the price to pay for all this interest that interreligious dialogue incites.”

Is he really suggesting that there should be LESS dialogue between Christians and Muslims? Surely not!

Perhaps the thing we need to clarify is the important difference between “too MANY” dialogues, and “too MUCH” dialogue. While there can never be “too much” dialogue – certainly not between private citizens – it is possible that if there are a lot of “semi-official” dialogues taking place at the same time, it can be unclear who is talking for who and the many “common statements” can get lost in the forest.

But here we need to understand something of the difference between structures in the Catholic Church and structures in the wider Christian and Muslim world. In general, Catholics have conducted their ecumenical dialogues through official channels. For instance, there is an official international Anglican Catholic dialogue (ARCIC) run by the Pontifical Council for the Promotion of Christian Unity and a national one (AUS-ARC) run by the Australian Catholic Bishop’s Conference. We have a local dialogue too – but even that is run between the official bodies of the Catholic Archdiocese (us) and the local Anglican Diocese.

But the Christian world as such is much more multi-form than the Catholic Church alone. No one, not even the World Council of Churches, can speak for “all Christians”. And when we move over into the Muslim world, the multiplicity of groups and authorities just increases ten fold. So, when dialogue takes place between Christians and Muslims in the world (something I am sure Cardinal Tauran does not want to see decrease), it is natural that the resulting “web of communication” is more of a cobweb than a neatly spun orb with a clear centre and lines of communication and hierarchy.

Nevertheless, it is certainly a sign for hope that there is now, at the highest level of the Catholic Church, an official dialogue opening up with Muslims. This has been enabled by the unprecedented unity of Muslim voices represented in the “A Common Word” statement. It is quite clear that in his comments, Cardinal Tauran does not want to close down this most promising development. More likely it is his hope that this “premiere” Christian-Muslim dialogue might in fact lead to some ordering of the great multiplicity of dialogues happenning elsewhere in the world – including here in the Glorious See of Melbourne, Australia.


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Pope on Paul on Christ’s Resurrection

Fr Dresser could probably do no better than to read the Holy Father’s latest Catechesis on St Paul at last week’s General Audience. His topic: The Resurrection in St Paul.

Here are some relevant tit-bits:

The tradition to which he unites is the fount from which to draw. The originality of his Christology is never in detriment to fidelity to tradition. The kerygma of the apostles always prevails over the personal re-elaboration of Paul; each one of his arguments flows from the common tradition, in which the faith shared by all the Churches, which are just one Church, is expressed.

At this point, he goes on to follow through the line in his intervention at the Synod of the Word, regarding the necessity for the work of scripture scholarship and theology to be united in the tradition of the Church:

And in this way, Paul offers a model for all times of how to do theology and how to preach. The theologian and the preacher do not create new visions of the world and of life, but rather are at the service of the truth transmitted, at the service of the real fact of Christ, of the cross, of the resurrection. Their duty is to help to understand today, behind the ancient words, the reality of “God with us,” and therefore, the reality of true life.

Here it is opportune to say precisely: St. Paul, in announcing the Resurrection, does not concern himself with presenting an organic doctrinal exposition — he does not want to practically write a theology manual — but rather to take up the theme, responding to uncertainties and concrete questions that are posed him by the faithful.

Take note, Fr Dresser, and all avant-garde theologians of similar ilk who wish to make the Resurrection “relevant” to the modern world.

In fact, it is hard to think of why you would need to do anything other than proclaim the resurrection in order to make it relevant. Surely it is relevant to every single human being if just one human being at one point in history – even 2000 years ago – rose from the dead. Not as a “resuscitated corpse” to be sure, but as an entirely new, immortal bodily life in full continuity with the bodily life that existed before.

Standing at the side of the grave, conducting a burial, I have often had first person experience of just how “relevant” the proclamation of the resurrection is: this body, this one we are laying to rest in the ground today, this body will be raised up with Christ on the last day. It is as the Holy Father says:

The fact of the Resurrection emerges above all else, without which Christian life would simply be absurd.

It is astounding that Dresser could say, of his idea that Christ’s resurrection was not bodily but only “in the minds and in the community, of his followers”, that “this is born out in the New Testament”, for, as Pope Benedict goes on to point out, the Gospels consistently point to two particular signs of the Resurrection: the witness of those who saw his resurrected body and the witness of those who saw the empty grave:

On that Easter morning something extraordinary and new happened, but at the same time, something very concrete, verified by very precise signs, attested by numerous witnesses.

Also for Paul, as for the other authors of the New Testament, the Resurrection is united to the testimony of those who have had a direct experience of the Risen One… Paul therefore gives — as do the four Evangelists — fundamental relevance to the theme of the apparitions, which are a fundamental condition for faith in the Risen One who has left the tomb empty.

These two facts are important: The tomb is empty and Jesus really appeared. Thus is built this chain of tradition that, by way of the testimony of the apostles and the first disciples, would reach successive generations, up to us.

How can the resurrection possibly be made “more relevant” by denying what it actually was: a miracle of earth-shattering order which cleaved history in two – into a “before” and “after” – and which has fundamentally changed everything we know about our universe, our God and our life.


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Help A Catholic Blogger Pay of His Student Loan: Vote Now!

Andrew Rabel writes:

Dear friends,

A very deserving young Catholic man, who has a blog which I heartily recommend (American Papist), has entered a competition for student bloggers. The winner will be a awarded a college scholarship, enabling Tom to be able to pay off his student loans.

Please go to this site http://www.collegescholarships.org/blog/2008/11/06/vote-for-the-winner-of-the-2008-blogging-scholarship/, and click the circle for Thomas Peters.

As you can see from the blog, Tom has even interviewed the likes of Archbishop Chaput, which can be played on YouTube. I feel it is so important that we encourage our young people particularly if they show a desire to spread the faith, and are smart at doing this.

God bless

PS Once you have voted, you can’t do this again. They obviously can detect a computer that has done this once.

Thomas is currently running in second place way behind some US Marine guy or something. You can help him cross the line! Let’s make this a sort of “blog-chain-letter” – post it on your Catholic blog and encourage others to do so too! Fr Z. et aliter are all on side. I don’t know when the voting closes, so do it now!

P.S. Thomas has some great photo caption competitions on his blog.

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