The problem of the modern papal encyclical June 24, 2015Posted by Tantumblogo in catachesis, episcopate, error, foolishness, General Catholic, Holy suffering, Papa, sadness, scandals, secularism, self-serving, Society, the return, the struggle for the Church.
Great piece by Boniface at Unam Sanctam Catholicam, as usual. I have to heartily second his sentiments……problematic papal encyclicals did not start with Laudato Si. Encyclicals have grown increasingly long-winded and off-topic for decades. The problem really exploded after the Second Vatican Council, when the clarity of the prior Magisterium was replaced by a nebulous hopefulness and a subliminal sense of doubt. Encyclicals no longer simply declare the Faith as they used to, they seem to beg the world permission to be Catholic while hoping to possibly convince a few to come along.
That’s the gist of Boniface’s point, and I think it’s a very important one (my emphasis and comments):
“Nowadays however, the Spouse of Christ prefers to make use of the medicine of mercy rather than that of severity. She consider that she meets the needs of the present day by demonstrating the validity of her teaching rather than by condemnations.”
This principle has effected the manner in which the post-1965 ecclesia docens functions. Essentially, the post-Conciliar encyclical doesn’t know what it wants to be when it grows up. The popes have still utilized them as a means of teaching, but rather than teaching what Catholic doctrine consists of, they have increasingly become occasions for popes to explain why Catholic doctrine is what it is. [In a sort of desperate, if I make this clear enough won’t you accept it kind of way, instead of just laying down the law]
(b) Even when its has opted for explaining rather than declaring the Church’s teaching, the Church has done a poor job of it because it has chosen to explain its teachings in terms of humanist phenomenology rather than having recourse to the Church’s traditional pedagogy. [Another great point. And more and more true, with rare exceptions, as time has gone on. Now we have two whole generations of priests who have been formed thoroughly in this humanist phenomenology, and it has affected their thinking to a great degree. Not just these priests, but almost all of us have to be very nearly de-programmed from the toxic modernist/humanist filth in which we stew in order to come to an appreciation for the Faith That Was (and shall be again).]
(c) By focusing so much on the explanation and presentation over the declaration, the Church has unwittingly given the false impression that the validity of its teachings are bound up with the force of her argumentation, a kind of false intellectualism. [That is a HUGE point. I think it plays a very large role in much of the progressive attempts to subvert doctrine. They think if they can come up with a better argument, the Doctrine must fall by the wayside. We’ve seen that in so many respects when they attack the accuracy of Scripture, when they try to insinuate that the early Church somehow believed differently, etc. Great, great point] She feels shaky and inadequate simply saying, “Such is the voice of the Church; such is the teaching of our Faith”; she feels she must offer a humanistic centered explanation for everything – an explanation that will “suit” the needs of “contemporary man” – with the effect that her message has become completely man-centered. [and watered down] “He taught as one who had authority” (Matt. 7:29) said the people of old about Christ; but when the Church forgets the supernatural force that stands behind her teaching and opts instead for an anthropomorphized message, she no longer “speaks with authority”, in the sense that her words lose their force. Hence people shrug at the latest papal document and move on. [Which is only exacerbated by their length and the numerous segues into side topics, like so-called climate change]
(d) Finally, because the popes have sought for novel means to propose their teachings, encyclicals lose their strenght as teaching documents and become instead opportunities for the popes to foist their own theological or literary tastes on the Catholic people. [Ahem, Laudato Si, but also others]
I’ll conclude with this: some of my best posts have been my shortest ones. Brevity is the soul of wit, and all that. Who besides a few specialists and hardcore believers is really going to struggle through 187 pages (nearly 100,000 words) of carping text? I think it utterly brilliant that Unam Sanctam was one page long. That’s the stuff of Catholic greatness, and Boniface VIII was a great pope.
Here’s a question – how many post-conciliar encyclicals aside from Humanae Vitae, have you read cover to cover? I’ve read a number of the pre-conciliar encyclicals but I have to admit I have never made it through one post-conciliar encyclical all the way (I may have finished Caritas in Veritate, but I’m not sure). I just get too exhausted by the effort. Mind, I’m a guy who reads the Bible cover to cover over and over and is typically reading at least a dozen books on Saints and catechisms and general Catholicism simultaneously. I have fought through a lot of so-so and more than a few bad books, but I simply cannot muster the strength to fight through many of these encyclicals, and I doubt I am much alone.