Wednesday, January 6, 2016

Game Changers

I am still trying to decide whether or not Peter Kwasniewski did me a service with an article he posted on Rorate Caeli entitled: "10th Anniversary of the Hermeneutic of Continuity Speech". The reference, of course is to one of the most important papal discourses of the last fifty years (22 December 2005), wherein Pope Benedict set forth the fundamental principle of his pontificate: reform in continuity, rather than discontinuity and rupture. This is the paragraph where Peter got me into trouble or rather tempted me to read the Ferrara book:

"At the same time, the past ten years have exposed some of the weaknesses, logical and practical, that are contained in the hermeneutic of continuity approach. The new edition of The Great Façade, with 250 new pages by Christopher Ferrara on Popes Benedict and Francis, has probed the issues with great insight, as has Henry Sire's Phoenix from the Ashes. What exactly counts as continuity or rupture? Where do we look for either of them? How do we know when we have found it? If there has been rupture, how should it be repaired -- do we discard the novelty and return to the preceding phase, or attempt to incorporate a reinterpreted novelty into the next phase? Is continuity something to be assumed or something to be demonstrated? How easy is it to postulate (as Pope Benedict did) different "levels" of continuity and discontinuity in magisterial teaching or church discipline, such that apparent contradictions or tensions can be resolved? So numerous and weighty are such questions that one may safely say the proposal generated as many questions as it resolved."

Apart from his invitation to look at the clarity or consequential character of the traditionalist position, as I now know it more fully after reading The Great Façade, this whole topic comes home with a vengeance here in Switzerland, where certain people make no secret of their having bought into the rupture scenario. I keep running into people here who not only reject the classically Catholic, but in their attempts for all practical purposes to squelch it,  go to work on Catholics, especially Catholic recusants, with a similar fury to the English "locomotive" which started off under Henry VIII and gained steam under subsequent crowned heads and their henchmen, bent on rationalizing church things and breaking completely with Rome.

Next up is a book review of The Great Façade and some thoughts on the questions Peter raises in his piece:  "10th Anniversary of the Hermeneutic of Continuity Speech"!

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