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The CDF swings on sensus fidei and misses

Monday's "Distinctly Catholic" column by Michael Sean Winters in National Catholic Reporter tackles the latest document out of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith on Sensus Fidei - the Sense of the Faithful. Michael Sean likes it and you can read his analysis at As you can tell by the title, I do not. I did not read the entire document, but MSW gets the gist of it and the mindset. Here are my comments. I start with the closing notion that no headhunter would have picked Peter and Paul to lead the early Church (yesterday was their feast - base on the myth they died in Rome the same day - and it is just a myth).

Actually, a head hunter would have chosen St. Paul to be Archbishop of the Gentiles (or bishop, there were not many parishes). He knew the law and brought some of it into a young Church that could easily have become an out of control cult. He also ignored some of it. The prohets of old did condemn the current power structures and were killed for it. The Lord condemned the religious authorities of his day and was killed for it. In the early Church, the Spirit of Prophesy was quite active in condemning leaders who were going astray, but few were killed. Indeed, dissenters to the Counil of Caladon were mobbed in Alexandria - in what it turns out was a difference based on translation. Note who the bad guy is in each of these situations and if you are defending the hierarcy, be very afraid,.

Paragraph 60, by the way, is about what I would expect from the CDF. Nowhere do they admit that there is a possibility that they are wrong. They also keep referring to natural law matters as matters of faith. They are. Natural law matters are matters of reason - especially in sex (which CDF has shown time and again to be simply incompetent in dealing with). Everyone has as much right to use reason as the CDF and if their argument wins the day then the CDF needs to have the humility to admit error. Something it is loathe to do but is repsonsible for a very interesting process on birth control being turned into an absolute disaster. If only that had been admitted in 1968.

Faith is about belief in those things which reason cannot reach, but only hint at. In such matters, unity is key because there simply is no way of looking at the facts - since there are none save the collective revelaton of the Gospels. Even here, there are facts constantly emerging now that more people read the Gospels and find new meaning - and as importantly as archeology yields evidence of what really happened. We know there was no Adam and Eve or a conveniently forgotten pair of first parents and that until Babylon, there was no universal Jewish faith in Israel with a common ancestry myth of the Exodus. Imagine what more we can learn and how that might affect how we treat moral questions like homosexualty (scallops wrapped in bacon, anyone?).

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