A Continuing Survey
of Religion and Public Life
Richard John Neuhaus
Copyright (c) 1996 First Things 67 (November
The Taming of the Church
(Wherein the author discerns improbable connections between two archbishops
at Oxford, centuries apart, one from Canterbury, the other from San Francisco;
exposes the noxious influence of nominalism; excoriates the curial mindset
and sundry ecclesiological follies; flays wickedness, vindicates righteousness,
and offers unsolicited advice to Her Majesty the Queen.)
Reports have it that Queen Elizabeth and her advisors are considering
major changes in what is called "the way ahead" for the monarchy,
including the law that forbids the monarch to marry a Roman Catholic. About
time, some commentators opine. Catholic writer William Oddie grumbles that
the monarch can marry a Jew, a Buddhist or Hindu, so why not a Catholic?
That has a nice tolerant ring to it, but maybe more is at stake here than
abolishing an antique law that violates contemporary sensibilities. In
the colorful (often blood-colored) history of England, religion and royalty
has not been a trivial question of "personal preference," and
that is still the case when the monarch is the official head of the national
church, an arrangement that Elizabeth, it is said, wants to retain.
Our American understandings of culture, church, and state are much
entangled with the English experience, and reactions to it. In due course,
I will get to a fascinating new book that has occasioned these reflections,
but first it is worth underscoring that questions about religion and public
order, far from being antiquated, will almost certainly become more agitated
with the progressive desecularization of world history, which is what we
may reasonably expect in the century ahead. The long and complicated effort
to eliminate the religion question in the solvent of liberal tolerance
has manifestly failed. When tolerance is understood as indifference, religion
is declared to be a totally private matter of no public consequence. But
declaring it so, even declaring it so ten thousand times over, does not
make it so.
The above point can be made on sociological and historical grounds,
noting that societies cannot be long sustained when cut off from the commanding
truths typically borne by religion. An adequate discussion, however, must
be more than sociological and historical. Christianity has a weighty tradition
of theological reflection and practical experiment in making connections
between religion and the public order, the sacred and the secular. This
is not true of Judaism, as witness the very real threat of the religious
parties in Israel that force an all-or-nothing religionizing of the public
order. And of course it is not true of Islam, in which the crusade against
modernity (understood as Christendom) dominates wherever true believers
wield power. Whether one attributes it to historical accident, divine Providence,
or the working out of its distinctive ideas (or a mix of all three factors,
and more), Christianity is unique in providing-from St. Paul to Theodosius,
from Charlemagne to Oliver Cromwell, from Roger Williams to John Paul II-a
richly diverse body of reflection and experience in the public ordering
of realms spiritual and temporal. Needless to say, all the efforts have
been gravely flawed, as is everything short of the Kingdom of God. Indeed
that "eschatological proviso"-the impossibility of our realizing
the absolute in history-is one of the great strengths of the Christian
approach to these matters.
The Church at the Center
Wherever these questions arise, and not least in the English experience,
the related contentions are about political theory and ambitions for power,
but also, and perhaps dominantly, about theology and, more precisely, ecclesiology,
the doctrine of the Church. This is again made evident in a remarkable
new biography of Thomas Cranmer by Diarmaid MacCulloch of Oxford
(Thomas Cranmer, Yale University Press, 691 pp., $35). In addition to being
a very big and fascinating read, the book plunges the reader into a history
of conflicts that are still very much with us. Although not himself a dramatic
figure, Cranmer was caught up in the high drama of the period when Henry
VIII needed a compliant ecclesiastical and court politician to help him
establish what would turn out to be royal control over a national church.
MacCulloch says that Cranmer, whom Henry made Archbishop of Canterbury
in 1533, has been depicted as both villain and hero, and he is determined
to be more evenhanded. His Cranmer, however, is very much the hero. Looking
back on his life and his death at the stake in 1556, MacCulloch writes:
"Precisely because of his agonizings in those last months, leading
up to the flames in front of Balliol College, Oxford, Cranmer deserves
to stand alongside other hesitant, reluctant martyrs who have found that
they must abandon the assumptions of a lifetime and resist apparently triumphant
worldly powers: Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Archbishop Janani Luwum of Uganda,
Archbishop Oscar Romero of San Salvador." The conclusion is the more
surprising in view of the previous six hundred pages in which Cranmer is
portrayed unsparingly as a lackey of royal power and a willing tool of
Henry's chief lackey, the vice- gerent (yes, that was his title) Thomas
Cranmer was a master of living with moral ambiguities. When installed
at Canterbury, he swore solemn allegiance both to the pope (from whom he
received the pallium in token of his authority) and to Henry as supreme
head of the Church in England. He would later collaborate in the widespread
persecution of those who refused unqualified allegiance to the throne,
including the execution of the London Carthusians and such notables as
Thomas More and John Fisher, never raising a question about what he recognized
as Henry's despoliation of the churches and monasteries for purposes of
his own aggrandizement and to secure by patronage the cooperation of those
who were only too eager to be corrupted. Cranmer did not "resist apparently
triumphant powers" but served them unstintingly until, under Queen
Mary, a different power was temporarily triumphant.
According to MacCulloch, he was even eager to accommodate Mary but
could not manage to disown all he had said and done in the service of her
father, although he tried. In the months prior to his going to the stake,
he publicly retracted his break with Rome, professed his belief in the
entirety of Catholic doctrine, went to confession, and was restored to
full communion. When it became apparent that all this would not win him
Mary's pardon, on the day of his death he recanted his recantations and
thus attained a place of prominence in Protestant martyrologies. Of these
stunning reversals, MacCulloch writes: "It is at these last and most
vital few hours of Cranmer's life that the historian retires defeated in
trying to unravel the motives of a sorely tried man facing a horrible death.
Yet some attempt at assessment is inevitable. The effect was to make maximum
use for the evangelical cause of a piece of theater which had been geared
to showing off the Catholic Church's most important prize since 1553-perhaps
the most important reconversion of the whole European Reformation so far."
Rather than retiring from "trying to unravel the motives of a
sorely tried man," MacCulloch concludes with the limp explanation
that in his last hours Cranmer had to decide between his two sisters, one
Protestant and the other Catholic, the former having visiting him the morning
of his execution. This suggestion has the merit of introducing to the story
the currently de rigueur "woman question"-a question otherwise
conspicuously missing in the life of a man who, among other things, did
his best to conceal the fact that he was married during the years that
clerical marriage was not allowed in England. MacCulloch also suggests
that at the end Cranmer wanted to make a statement "which would make
sense of his public career and rebuild his personal integrity." That
is more understandable. Cranmer's final statement did reassert, if not
rebuild, his personal integrity, after he had completely capitulated in
the disappointed hope of saving his life. The reader is hard-pressed to
decide which was more ignoble, his recantation or his recantation of his
recantation, and must in charity suspend judgment on the final acts of
a pitiably broken man who held back nothing in his determination to be
the king's good servant but not, unlike Thomas More, God's first.
Between Pope and Prince
Cranmer was not entirely without convictions. In MacCulloch's lavishly
documented account, Cranmer moved steadily over the years away from the
Catholic and Lutheran view of the Real Presence in the eucharist, ending
up with a thoroughly "spiritualized" view hardly distinguishable
from that of Zwingli. Another early and more or less stable conviction-at
least until his final flurry of conflicting capitulations-was that the
pope was the Antichrist. This belief made both possible and necessary his
fixing of the headship of the Church on the prince. Cranmer asserted that
the early Church under the apostles was not properly ordered because it
was not headed by a Christian prince, and at least on one occasion he went
so far as to make the bizarre claim that the emperor Nero was in his time
the rightful head of the Church.
In light of his own portrayal of Cranmer, one may wonder why MacCulloch
wants to propose him as a hero. The answer is simple: Despite what may
gently be called his character flaws, and despite the ruthlessness of his
methods, MacCulloch thinks it was all in a good cause. Like his subject,
this biographer is a relentless Protestant who uncritically cheers the
"progress" that Cranmer made in extirpating Catholicism root
and branch, regretting only that Queen Elizabeth would later "freeze"
that achievement at the point of the prayer book of 1552, thus leaving
an opening for later Anglicans to claim continuity with a Catholic past.
In 1992 Eamon Duffy published his much acclaimed study, The Stripping
of the Altars, in which he demonstrated in meticulous detail the pervasiveness
and vitality of Catholicism in England in the years prior to Henry's break
with Rome. Contrary to standard Protestant accounts, there was no popular
demand for "reformation" in England. There were vocal exiles
from and sympathizers with the continental Reformation, largely concentrated
in London and the universities, but Henry's church would never have come
into being but for his frustration with what he saw as Rome's unresponsiveness
to his problems with marriage and the succession to the throne. MacCulloch
certainly does not make a hero of Henry. Allowing that he was "religiously
earnest" in his way, Henry is depicted as "murderously eccentric,"
a "self-righteous, God-obsessed royal bully," and a "monstrous
egotist." And yet, while Henry declared himself "King and Sovereign
with no superior on earth but only God," he was still emotionally
attached to remnants of the old order and was at points a brake on Cranmer's
"progress" toward a more thoroughly Protestantized kingdom.
Henry brooked no opposition and was possessed of a particular fury
against Thomas Becket, the twelfth-century martyr who, as chancellor and
archbishop, resisted the will of Henry II. MacCulloch writes, "Ever
since Henry had discovered that he was Supreme Head of the Church of England,
he had detested the memory of Becket, whose cult represented the triumph
of the Western Church over a king of England." In the 1552 Book
of Common Prayer, what had been the feast of Thomas Becket is bluntly
listed, "Becket traitor." Henry had early on ordered Becket's
shrine desecrated and his bones scattered in an augury of the wholesale
desecrations, book burnings, dispossessions, imprisonments, and killings
that were to come. In all this Cranmer acquiesced and, within the limits
of not risking royal favor, tried to lead. Under Henry and then under Edward
VI, Cranmer was not found wanting. MacCulloch summarizes what would come
to be called the English Reformation. "These changes were designed
to destroy one Church and build another, in a religious revolution of ruthless
thoroughness. Thomas Cranmer was the one man who guaranteed the continuity
of the changes, and he was chiefly responsible for planning them as they
occurred." The reader is invited to agree that, while the ruthlessness
was regrettable, it was justified by the worthy end in view.
Anglo-Catholic Fool's Gold
As might be expected, MacCulloch is dismissive of later Anglo-Catholics
who depict the English breakaway as something other than a revolution.
While Cranmer was not above the politic use of vestiges of the tradition,
he and his collaborators left no doubt that the new church was constituted
not by apostolic but by royal authority. "There was no essential difference
between having distinctive ordination rites for deacons, priests, and bishops,
and having distinctive royal commissions for sheriffs, justices of the
peace, and common law judges." Cranmer, MacCulloch says, never resolved
the question, "Were the ministers of the Church the ministers of the
Crown or the ministers of Christ?" It was not a burning question for
him under Henry and Edward, but that changed with Mary. In his final floundering,
Cranmer apparently decided he was a minister of Christ, but he then served
a Christ who had no Church, for he continued to believe that the Church
was headed by the Crown.
MacCulloch shows unseemly glee in his demolition of later Anglican
arguments in support of a catholic (and Catholic) continuity in the national
church. Stephen Gardiner, bishop of Winchester, was among the first to
attempt to rescue conservative substance from the Henrician revolution.
MacCulloch writes: "However, Gardiner's use of the 1549 Book of
Common Prayer against Cranmer was the most damaging of all these devices;
it has proved of lasting importance, providing theological fools' gold
for those Anglo-Catholics who have sought to reinterpret the first Prayer
Book and Cranmer's intentions within it." The effort to pit Cranmer
against Cranmer would have a long history, but MacCulloch persuasively
demonstrates that Cranmer was a relentless Protestant. "Standing as
he did in the developing Reformed tradition of Europe in the 1550s, Cranmer's
conception of a 'middle way' or via media in religion was quite
different from that of later Anglicanism. In the nineteenth century, when
the word 'Anglicanism' first came into common use, John Henry Newman said
of the middle way (before his departure for the Church of Rome) that 'a
number of distinct notions are included in the notion of Protestantism;
and as to all these our Church has taken a Via Media between it
and Popery.' Cranmer would violently have rejected such a notion: how could
one have a middle way between truth and Antichrist? The middle ground which
he sought was the same as Bucer's: an agreement between Wittenberg and
Zurich which would provide a united vision of Christian doctrine against
the counterfeit being refurbished at the Council of Trent."
The Conciliar Alternative
Like many before and after him, Cranmer's unhappiness with the papacy
was joined to a great enthusiasm for general councils. As with Luther and
other continental reformers, Cranmer began by claiming a great respect
for the pope, lamenting only that he was misled by his aides in the curia.
When the effort to drive a wedge between pope and curia failed, the appeal
was to a council. By the time Rome convened at Trent a reform council to
address also the issues raised by the protest, the Reformation churches,
now firmly under the control of the princes, were forbidden to take part
in the council for which their leaders had so long called. In the case
of Cranmer and others, this did not cool their conciliarist enthusiasm:
"Perhaps one might see this reverence for the authority of the General
Council as the golden thread which runs through Cranmer's theological progress:
the one constant to which he always returned, even when in later years
his appeal for a General Council was addressed to Wittenberg, Zurich, and
Geneva rather than to Rome, and was conceived as a defense against the
Council of Trent. As Cranmer's papal loyalty fell away, this deep emotional
attachment to the idea of the General Council remained with him all through
the uncertain ecclesiological waters of the years after 1533."
Support for a council was a gesture toward the irrepressible intuition
that the Church must somehow be more than national and more than a school
of theology, that it must be universal. Even an anti-council of Protestants
against the Council of Trent might help satisfy that intuition, if one
could convince oneself that the apostolic location of the Church's universality
in the Petrine ministry had in fact become the location of the anti-Church.
In that case, one avoids the onus of being schismatic by declaring that
one's schism is, in fact, the center of authentic unity. With Bucer, the
much more reluctant Melanchthon, and other continentals, Cranmer dreamed
big dreams of a General Council of the reformed churches that now constituted
the "true Church of Jesus Christ," with England at the head.
An unavoidable complication, however, was that Henry was at the head of
England. The ecclesiological confusion was intense.
Other Protestants attempted to avoid the confusion by means of a more
thoroughly spiritualized ecclesiology in which the universal and true Church
is "the invisible Church." Cranmer was not ready to take that
theological bolt-hole since it would have undermined the Royal Supremacy
he had worked so hard to put in place. Yet he could not shake off entirely
New Testament and traditional understandings of the Church by settling
for what was merely and without remainder a national religion. To his credit,
Cranmer recognized the limits of cuius regio, eius religio-he who rules
determines the religion of the ruled. Under the brutally willful Henry,
he had learned that this could end up meaning, in Hans Thieme's phrase,
cuius regio, eius opinio. Cranmer was not prepared to think of himself
as merely a servant of private opinion, especially when the opinion was
not necessarily his own.
Also to his credit, Cranmer did not appeal to sola scriptura in order
to evade the inevitability of a community of authoritative interpretation.
In building a new church, however, he had rejected Peter and required a
new Peter in his place. As Christians have discovered time and again, the
question is not whether to have a pope but which pope to have. MacCulloch
writes: "Cranmer came to hate the papacy, and therefore he needed
the Royal Supremacy to fill the chasm of authority which had opened up
in his thinking as a result. . . .What else had he got to hang on to in
order to defend the gospel faith against papists and radicals, and to lead
England towards a general council of the Church, but the authority of King
Henry?" What else indeed.
In addition to ecclesiological incoherence, and as a result of it,
the new church faced a host of disputes over authority. In 1533 the Royal
Council explicitly denied the power of the bishop of Rome outside his own
diocese. As England broke from Rome, so within England parts of the church
began to assert their independence from the primatial see of Canterbury.
Old cathedral chapters were resurrected and they, along with metropolitan
bishops, claimed the right to hold elections for filling episcopal vacancies.
The logic that shattered the internal coherence of church order took on
its own life. If Canterbury could declare its independence from Rome, what
was to prevent local churches and regional centers of power from declaring
their independence from the national church? In England of the sixteenth
century, the answer was the Royal Supremacy, and Elizabeth II may think
that is still the only answer today.
Contemporary Analogies, Whimsical and Otherwise
The intriguing tale told in Thomas Cranmer turns out to be surprisingly
pertinent to current developments within the Catholic Church itself. In
this country and elsewhere some Catholics complain about unresponsive leadership
at the top, ostensibly blaming the Roman curia to which the Pope is presumably
captive. Recognizing the probable futility of trying to drive a wedge between
pope and curia-for it is obvious that in this pontificate the curia is
held tightly accountable to the pope-the protest then takes the form of
appealing to a council. Having lost the battle of interpretation with respect
to Vatican II, and having little hope that the next pope will champion
their preferred course, critics suggest that a number of additional councils
will be required to secure the reforms that they have in mind. In fact,
some propose a general council every ten years, with synods of bishops
meeting in between, and with a greatly expanded role for national episcopal
The prospect is that of bishops, bureaucrats, and activists kept in
a state of perpetual commotion, with church life transformed even more
than it is now into the politics of meetings without end. The politics
of meetings without end is what some think Vatican II endorsed as governance
by "collegiality." It is not entirely unlike what was touted
as "participatory democracy" in the 1960s, although the dramatis
personae are savvy ecclesiastical pols rather than pot-smoking young radicals.
The advocates of this dubious course of "collegiality" and "renewal"
typically employ a language of deference toward the pope, while suggesting
that his role would be reduced to chairing church conventions in permanent
session. At least he would get to chair the meetings in Rome that do not
address the more important questions reserved to national bishops conferences,
assisted by their committees of experts and a task force for every task
that it has been discovered needs forcing.
The pope would retain the right to appoint bishops in his own archdiocese,
and maybe, with appropriate consultation, throughout the entire province
of Rome. Needless to say, in this reorganization plan for the clerical
management of Catholicism Inc., the laity would be granted a larger role
than at present, thus-or so it is said-fulfilling Vatican II's call to
recognize the dignity of the lay vocation by allowing lay people a greater
share in the managerial bustle of bishops and lesser clerics. It is similar
to the "elevation" of the laity by letting them do some of the
things in the liturgy that previously could only be done by clerics.
One wonders what Cranmer might think of such agitations. He would no
doubt find attractive the accent on nationalism that is evident, for instance,
in current talk about an American Church. And he might be intrigued by
the possibilities inherent in the American invention of denominationalism,
although the prospect of the Catholic Church as one denomination among
others would surely fall short of his idea of a national religion. Despite
his perhaps more intense animus toward the papacy, however, he might have
shared the interest in exploring the sharp attenuation of papal authority
as an alternative to the complete break that created for him such troublesome
ecclesiological incoherences. Plans being proposed today might largely
achieve the goal of independence from Rome without bringing down upon him
the charge of being a revolutionary who is starting a new church.
Of course the circumstance today is in many ways different from that
of the sixteenth century. For one thing, there is no King Henry with whom
to replace the pope as head of the Church. As many astute observers have
noted, however, this does not mean that the modern world is bereft of alternative
sovereignties. There is, for instance, the sovereignty of the technical-managerial
model that has its own powerful dynamic and dominates so much of our world
through government by experts. That is the model employed with such telling
effect when some years ago corporate management experts were called in
to structure the National Conference of Catholic Bishops and its administrative
arm, the United States Catholic Conference. It is the model that is clearly
dominant in some current proposals to reorganize the management of the
Church. The managerial revolution of our time is closely allied to what
is commonly called the "knowledge class" that is concentrated
in civil government, the universities, the media, and the foundation world.
Unlike King Henry, the managerial and knowledge classes do not burn
books or send people to the stake. They do, however, have more humane and
equally effective ways of silencing, or at least sidelining, their opposition
and assuring the ideological dominance of what is defined as the course
of progress. Today's reformers have one great asset that was not available
to Cranmer, namely, the idea of democracy and the representative principle
that attends that idea. Democracy may at first flush appear to be the very
antithesis of monarchical sovereignty, but it can be every bit as royal
in the sweep of its command.
The experience of history has convinced most of us that there is no
acceptable alternative to democracy in the civil realm. There is an alternative
in the governance of the Church, and that alternative is truth, even, if
you will, supernatural and revealed truth. When that alternative is excluded,
a community has only claimed truths in conflict, and democratic fairness
requires that all truths be equally represented in the search for a common
ground by which the community can identify itself. In some Catholic circles,
this proposal appeals to the idea of the sensus fidelium, frequently in
blithe indifference to whether the people involved adhere to or even have
an informed understanding of "the faith once delivered to the saints."
Those who invoke John Henry Newman on "consulting the faithful"
are sometimes prone to overlook his assumption that those consulted are
in fact the faithful.
Of course there may be differences of varying degrees of seriousness
among the faithful, but all who are faithful agree that there is a truth
revealed by God, entrusted to the apostles, and authoritatively interpreted
by their successors in the Church fully and rightly ordered through time.
Within that structure of inquiry toward an ever fuller and more adequate
expression of the truth, there is considerable flexibility and room for
debate. Those who challenge the structure, however, are not to be seen
as participants in the inquiry but as people who pose a great pastoral
challenge of evangelization and catechesis, with the hope that they may
be lovingly drawn back into the community of faith and reflection.
When difference becomes dissent and when dissent becomes apostasy-these
are matters of delicate pastoral discernment. For that task of discernment,
at least in the Catholic view, Christ has given the Church pastors, bishops
who are successors to the apostles. No matter how often they botch it,
that task is still theirs. Bishops can and should draw on methods that
have emerged from democratic experience, but they can never weary of pointing
out that the Church is not a democracy. Democracy as a form of governance
and as a theory of sovereignty is as alien to the Church as was the supremacy
claimed by King Henry. Contemporary efforts to redefine the Church as a
voluntary association managed by experts who claim the legitimacy of their
rule from democratic procedure may fare better than Henry's scheme, as
witness the flourishing of numerous denominations in this country. But
they all presuppose an ecclesiology very different from what the Great
Tradition intends when it speaks of the Church.
More Than a Religious Association
The hard truth that runs into such powerful resistance in our age,
and maybe in any age, is that the Church is infinitely more than a religious
association. After all, the first disciples, too, had all kinds of dandy
plans for setting up an organization and distributing among themselves
positions of honor and power. We say the Church is a mystery, an organic
reality to which all organizational questions are incidental, but that
too often meets with incomprehensibility, and, in any case, falls short
of the radically incarnational claim that Christ apostolically ordered
his Church to embody his saving presence through time. In the Catholic
view, an indispensable part of that ordering is the Petrine ministry exercised
by the successor of Peter, the bishop of Rome. Scholars can debate whether
that claim is adequately grounded in the New Testament, and nobody denies
that the exercise of that ministry has at times been sorely abused, but
to surrender that claim is simply to give up on what distinctively constitutes
the Catholic Church. Whether in the fourth, the sixteenth, or the twenty-first
century, it is also to surrender that ecclesial zone of independence and
freedom that enables the Church to resist the insatiable claims of earthly
sovereignties, whether royal, managerial, or democratic.
Proposals now being bandied about betray an underlying, perhaps unconscious,
assumption that the Church is a religious association whose primary problem
is its dysfunctional structure. Such proposals are largely, sometimes completely,
devoid of any reference to the Gospel understood as the mystery of the
world's redemption by which and for which the Church exists. While appealing
to the "spirit" of Vatican II, they reflect little of the rich
ecclesiology of, say, Lumen Gentium. Since they so clearly lack
warrant in what is the Church's teaching, their proponents call for Vatican
III, Vatican IV, Vatican V, and on and on in order to establish what they
think should be the Church's teaching. When the Church's teaching is contingent
upon which faction has the edge in preparations for next year's council,
however, one may wonder what would be recognizable as the teaching of the
Church. The media would be massively involved, cheering on those who, in
the name of progress, would finally bring to heel the world's largest institutional
dissenter from the wisdom of the age. "Who will rid me of this turbulent
priest?" asked an earlier Henry. Today, as then, there is no lack
Of course those who would undertake the taming of the Church are sincere,
but there is slight comfort in that. As the transcendent mystery and adventure
of the Church can be destroyed by royal tyranny, so it can be dissipated
by insipid and, all too often, self-serving disputes over who is disaffected
and why. Call in the dysfunctionality experts, consult the focus group
oracles, test-market the product, and let's see if we can't put this religious
club back together again as one big happy family. After all, isn't that
what our founder said he came to establish? What an awful bore, this vapid,
trite chatter about "renewal." If one must choose between tyrannies,
one would almost prefer Henry's to that of this democratic banality.
To make the Church boring is a greater treason than heresy and apostasy,
although often accompanied by both. Or maybe it is simply the more common
treason, and were the current heresies and apostasies very interesting,
it might mitigate the crime somewhat.
Anyone looking for a direction deserving the name of renewal can readily
find it in that alleged reactionary, John Paul II. His urgent proposals
for world evangelization, Christian unity, and battling for the culture
of life against the culture of death are an invitation to "cross the
threshold of hope" into the Third Millennium with a spiritual dignity
and daring worthy of disciples of the crucified and risen Christ. Compared,
for instance, with the November 1994 apostolic letter, Tertio Millenio
Adveniente (As the Third Millennium Nears), the media-acclaimed proposals
for renewal by restructuring are little more than plans for interior redecoration
and the rearrangement of ecclesiastical furniture. John Paul dares us to
live in, and possibly die for, Veritatis Splendor (The Splendor
of Truth), in response to which bishops and editorialists call for a committee
which in due course reports its finding that timid souls do not much care
for martyrdom and the Church should tailor its message accordingly. This
might be called demand-side Christianity, and it perfectly fits the managerial
The Nominalist Connections
Consultation. Collegiality. Participation. Inclusiveness. These are
among the words put to dubious use in the current round of conciliarism
aimed at taming the Church and limiting the influence of this prophetic
pontificate. Conciliarism has had a peculiar history. An earlier conciliar
movement (Pisa 1409, Constance 1414-18, Basle 1431-38) was, inter alia,
an effort to restore a measure of universality to the Church after a dismal
century that witnessed "the Babylonian captivity" of a papal
office that was virtually bought and sold by earthly powers. That conciliar
movement was ended by the Council of Trent, which, among its achievements,
went a long way toward restoring the integrity of the papacy. Today the
papacy enjoys an independent moral stature and influence unrivaled by any
other office in the world. It is a fine irony that at this historical moment
a new conciliar movement arises that seems determined to plunge the leadership
of the Church back into the perpetual commotion of national and ideological
Yet another factor can help in understanding the irony. Historians
suggest a connection between the fourteenth-century expansion of national
and royal power, on the one hand, and the ascendancy of nominalism in philosophy
and theology, on the other. Nominalism-which denied the reality of universals
and declared it an "error to believe that there is something in reality
besides the singular entity"- accompanied and explained the new order
in which universal spiritual claims were displaced by the singular entity
of the nation and by the exigencies of politics. The nominalist doctrine
found expression, mutatis mutandis, in Cranmer and in the formula of the
diet of Augsburg, cuius regio, eius religio.
Today we are culturally awash in an ideological solvent more acidic
than nominalism, or perhaps it should be described as nominalism taken
to the nth power. Variously called radical pluralism, multiculturalism,
culture criticism, and deconstructionism-and sometimes self-declared as
nihilism-it is a pervasive intellectual impulse that is at war with the
idea of universal truth, whether that truth be human nature or Christ's
will for the ordering of his Church. I do not for a minute suggest that
bishops, theologians, and activists who are agitating the new conciliar
movement are disciples of Foucault or Rorty, or have even read them. Radical
nominalism is simply in the cultural air that this generation breathes.
How else to explain the response of knowing disbelief to claims of
universal truth and of teaching authority in the service of that truth?
The only universal truth, it is said, is that there is no universal truth;
there are only interests, felt needs, and ambitions, and the quest to satisfy
them all. We should not be surprised that the nominalist air of the university
and popular discourse has seeped into the churches. Almost everywhere the
doctrine is advanced that the putative battle over truth is in fact a contest
of power to impose "truths" that serve singular interests-whether
of race, class, and gender or of ecclesiastics wanting a bigger say in
the business of Catholicism Inc. Throughout there is an appeal to a sovereignty
more powerful than that of the divine right of kings-the sovereignty of
democracy understood as the will of that most singular of all singular
entities, the autonomous self.
Archbishop Quinn Speaks Up
To be sure, these assumptions usually remain precisely that, assumptions.
They are in the background, forming, as it were, the ideational ambiance
of proposals presented in other terms. They are certainly not explicit
in the June 29 address of John Quinn, retired archbishop of San Francisco,
given in Oxford, not far from where Cranmer died 440 years ago. The very
long lecture, "Considering the Papacy," has quickly become a
centerpiece of the new conciliarism.
In a carefully coordinated campaign of publicity, the address has been
celebrated, along with other initiatives, as a bold call for Catholic reform.
In the usual quarters, Archbishop Quinn was hailed for his "courage,"
although it is not clear what he risked. He took early retirement from
the office he held, had no other office either in hand or in prospect,
and burning at the stake is simply out of the question these days. He did
manfully accept the explosion of approbation from people of like mind who
view Rome as oppressive and think (or at least hope) that this pontificate
is drawing to its close, making it an opportune moment to press their preferred
Archbishop Quinn had been for many years a major influence in the activities
of the U.S. episcopal conference, and it is perhaps understandable that
his Oxford address was treated as a major event, even if Origins,
the documentary service of the conference, may have gone a bit far by printing
not only the entirety of the address but a long interview about what Archbishop
Quinn had said. The interview was unusual in that the Archbishop interviewed
himself, both asking and answering all the questions. As might be expected,
the interview was decidedly favorable to the Quinn initiative.
Among the Archbishop's complaints is that, while the Pope consults
with the bishops, the power to initiate new directions always lies with
Rome. Although Quinn says he is speaking from his own experience, he does
not specify how restraints imposed by Rome prevent a bishop from taking
energetic initiatives in teaching, sanctifying, and governing (the classic
responsibilities of a bishop) in a way that nurtures a vibrant, faithful,
and growing local Church in places such as San Francisco. It might have
been helpful if he had specified how Rome was responsible, if it was responsible,
for that not happening during his many years as archbishop there. But a
man can't do everything, and over those years the Archbishop was giving
himself unstintingly to the efficient management of the national episcopal
conference and, as is now evident, to "considering the papacy."
One hastens to say that John Quinn is certainly not Thomas Cranmer.
There is no reason to doubt that the Archbishop intends to be a loyal son
of the Church and sincerely wants to improve its governance. Yet the similarities
between the tale told by MacCulloch and the Quinn initiative are not limited
to the coincidence of their sharing the locale of Oxford. Quinn appealed
to an allegedly widespread popular discontent with the current governance
of the Church. As with Cranmer and Henry, the "woman question"
enters the dispute, this time in the form of women's ordination. Once again,
we are told that the problem is not really with the pope but with the curia.
Everybody would be better served, it is suggested, if decisions were made
by general councils convened every ten years, reinforced by synods of bishops
and national episcopal conferences with real power.
While bishops would be elected (by other bishops, with undefined participation
by priests and laity), the Archbishop insists that he is opposed to such
elections being "political." Election results would be courteously
submitted to the pope for his affirmation. Such proposals are cautiously
and somewhat ambiguously presented, but the point of limiting the exercise
of papal authority, if not papal authority itself, is unmistakable. The
address is devoid of reference to universal truths touching on the divine
constitution of the Church, devoted as it is to the singular entity of
managerial imperatives. Theology gives way to the modern monarchs of efficiency,
participation, and responsive management, all in the name of "collegiality."
Preoccupied with the regio of the Church and reflecting the regio of the
culture, the address fails to attend to the ways in which, still today,
regio may determine religio.
A Curious Continuum
Of course, reflecting on the similarities and dissimilarities between
Cranmer and Quinn is largely a whimsical exercise, for the latter surely
does not intend to establish a new national church. It is not so clear
that he is averse to a federation of national churches with the pope as
international president. In any event, the Oxford address reminds us of
the curious continuum of history in which, as they say, what goes around
comes around. Those with a firm grasp of the past may greet the Quinn proposal
with a yawn. Been there, done that. Others express alarm that he and his
collaborators are launching another Protestant schism. Both reactions are
unwarranted, I believe.
While the divinely constituted structure is permanent, the particulars
of the governance of the Church have changed many times in the past and
will no doubt change in the future. With specific reference to the Petrine
ministry, John Paul said as much in last year's ecumenical encyclical,
Ut Unum Sint (That They May Be One). In that document he asked non-Catholics
for help in reflecting on how the papacy might better serve the cause of
Christian unity. The Pope was perhaps somewhat surprised that the first
person to jump at the invitation would be a Catholic archbishop who, with
only nominal attention to Christian unity, took the occasion to press the
familiar progressive agenda that has dominated so much of the discussion
in the thirty years since Vatican II. The fact that the gist of the Quinn
proposal is not new does not mean it is not important. It can be useful
to have these organizational concerns raised again, although they are more
helpfully raised in the context of a developed ecclesiology that recognizes
that the Church is ever so much more than a religious association. Absent
that ecclesiology, as MacCulloch's story reminds us, reorganization schemes
can give rise to all kinds of unhappy incoherences and lead to transfers
of sovereignty in ways that were not intended.
An Intra-Curial Dispute
In any case, nobody should be panicked by the crisis-mongering of highly
coordinated press campaigns. In a little-remarked passage in his book of
reflections, Crossing the Threshold of Hope, John Paul expresses
his gratitude that, for the first time in a very long time, the Catholic
Church does not face any evident prospect of schism. That is one reason
why this pontificate-which, far from winding down, goes on from strength
to strength-can devote itself so energetically to setting out a comprehensive,
coherent, and compelling vision for the future of the Church and the world.
It is a sadness, but it is not surprising, that this bracing vision makes
slight impression on ecclesiastics who live by organization charts and
confuse renewal with deciding who chairs what committee with what powers
to appoint whom to what. That the Pope seems to be relatively indifferent
to such questions offends those trained to the curial mindset, whether
in Rome or in national episcopal conferences. The controversy sparked by
the Quinn initiative is essentially an intra-curial dispute.
The curialists also serve, no doubt, even if their anxieties and excitements
seem far removed from the "new Pentecost" for which John Paul
asks all Christians to pray. Somebody has to do the institutional grunt
work with its inevitable, and often unseemly, contests for influence and
power, and its stifling vision of corporate efficiency. Catholicism Inc.
is not the Church, yet, in God's mysterious devising, it is inextricably
part of the mission for which and by which the Church is sustained through
time. In these institutional struggles other sovereignties-royal, managerial,
democratic-seem to triumph from time to time, but the Spirit keeps erupting
and we have the promise that the sovereignty of Christ will out.
Thomas Cranmer, too, no doubt had some legitimate concerns. He lived
too early to see the world-transforming resurgence of the Catholic Church
in subsequent centuries and so decided it was necessary to switch sovereignties.
In the maddening ways of history, not unrelated to the ways of God, his
decision may have contributed to the resurgence. We must in charity assume
that he did not intend to displace the sovereignty of Christ and the truth
by which the Church is ordered. On the contrary, it seems probable that
he sincerely believed he was liberating the Church from the oppressive
yoke of Rome. But switch sovereignties he did, building a church not on
the rock of Peter but on the sand of national identity, and the gates of
history, if not of hell, have not been kind to it. There would seem to
be no good reason why, four and a half centuries later, Catholics should
be similarly flirting with the sovereigns-or, as St. Paul might say, the
principalities and powers-of the present age.
To come back to where we began: For all the institutional risks it
might entail, I hope Queen Elizabeth will decide to relinquish the pretension
to being the supreme head of the Church of England. It has caused a great
deal of mischief, and England deserves something better than a royally
established denomination that no longer has even the dubious distinction
of being the national religion. And I do recommend the reading of Thomas
Cranmer, even if Mr. MacCulloch does draw the wrong lessons from his
sad but intriguing tale.
And Now For Something Not So Completely Different
. . .
We are told that this has no relationship to the initiative of Archbishop
Quinn at Oxford, and I am prepared to believe that. The appearance of coordination,
however, will tempt the more conspiratorially minded. Be that as it may,
people with long institutional memories say they do not recall anything
quite like it in the history of Catholicism in this country. The very public
conflict between cardinals was triggered by an August 12 press conference
at which Joseph Cardinal Bernardin of Chicago announced that he was launching
a "Catholic Common Ground Project" aimed at reconciling differences
among Catholic Americans.
The rationale of the project was set out in a three-thousand-word statement,
"Called to be Catholic: Church in a Time of Peril," which Monsignor
Philip J. Murnion said had been in preparation for several years. Murnion,
who heads the staff of the project, directs the National Pastoral Life
Center in New York and has a long association with Cardinal Bernardin.
Through dialogues, conferences, and publications, the project hopes to
establish the common ground that will help mediate what its sponsors view
as the "extremes" dividing the Church. The project will draw
on the suggestions of an advisory committee of twenty- five persons, clergy
The response to the Bernardin initiative was swift and, in many cases,
sharply critical. Although he had included Roger Cardinal Mahony of Los
Angeles on the advisory group and had notified some bishops and the Holy
See of his intentions, there was no advance consultation with, among others,
the cardinal archbishops of New York, Boston, Philadelphia, Washington,
and Detroit. The day following Bernardin's press conference, James Cardinal
Hickey of Washington issued a statement affirming the need to seek fuller
unity but asserting that the project's declared purpose "obscures
the true 'common ground' for any effort to bring about unity within the
Church. That true 'common ground' is found in Scripture and Tradition as
handed on through the teaching office of the Holy Father and the bishops.
Indeed, we are fortunate to have a reliable and complete expression of
our 'common ground' in the Catechism of the Catholic Church. We
cannot achieve Church unity by accommodating those who dissent from Church
teaching-whether on the left or on the right. To compromise the faith of
the Church is to forfeit our 'common ground' and to risk deeper polarization."
"To be sure," said Hickey, "[the project's statement
of purpose] recognizes the Magisterium as authoritative and deserving of
respect. But it also seems to regard magisterial teaching as only one element
of a consensus that is to be forged out of contrasting opinions."
In fact, says Hickey, "the Magisterium guarantees that the Lord's
message will not be corrupted or manipulated by those who have a message
of their own to offer. . . . Church doctrine on faith and morals is deeply
rooted in what the Lord has said and done to save us. It is His message
we must preach, even when it is distinctly unpopular."
Bernard Cardinal Law of Boston was scarcely less critical. The project
statement, he said, "breathes an ideological bias which it decries
in others. The fundamental flaw . . . is its appeal for 'dialogue' as a
path to 'common ground.'" Law recognizes that there is often a "disconnect"
between Church teaching and the views and practices of "some Catholics,"
and he describes this circumstance as "alarming." But he adds:
"Dissent from revealed truth or the authoritative teaching of the
Church cannot be 'dialogued' away. Truth and dissent from truth are not
equal partners in ecclesial dialogue. Dialogue as a pastoral effort to
assist in a fuller appropriation of the truth is laudable. Dialogue as
a way to mediate between the truth and dissent is mutual deception."
On the claim (at least implied in the project statement) that the authenticity
of Church teaching depends upon its popular reception, Cardinal Law says,
"Reception by the faithful cannot be measured by polls which are subject
to all the pressures of contemporary culture . . . any more than the schism
of all the bishops save one in Henry VIII's England can be ascribed to
an exercise of collegiality." With respect to the truth revealed by
God, Law concludes, "Dissent either yields to assent, or the conflict
Public statements by Anthony Cardinal Bevilacqua of Philadelphia and
Adam Cardinal Maida of Detroit were similarly critical. Maida's statement
went very nicely to the theological heart of the matter. "Church unity
will be achieved by recognizing the fact that we are members of one same
body, sharing the life of the Lord Jesus. We do not 'dialogue' about membership
in the Church any more than we would discuss our status in our family.
. . . Unity in the Catholic Church will not be brought about by some kind
of human consensus, but by the gift of the Holy Spirit as we consecrate
all that we are and all that we have to the Lord Jesus and to His body,
Many joined also in questioning what they viewed as the tendentious
reading of the Catholic situation as "Church in a time of peril,"
contending that a large, growing, and committed Catholic community is excitingly
challenged by the teaching of the Magisterium and the call of John Paul
II to prepare Church and world for the Third Millennium. The Common Ground
Project, they say, defines the Catholic reality by divisions, discouragements,
discontents, and dissent rather than by the equally evident virtues of
faith, hope, and love. "It is essentially a negative document,"
says one bishop who does not want to be publicly critical of Bernardin,
"and can only exacerbate the divisions it says it wants to heal."
In a letter sent to some prominent Catholics a few days before the
Chicago announcement, Msgr. Murnion wrote that Cardinal Bernardin "will
be assisted in this effort by an advisory committee who themselves find
the statement an acceptable framework for initiating the project, even
if one or another might see aspects of the present situation a bit differently
from the viewpoint of the statement." As it happens, a number of those
who had at first agreed to serve on the committee have indicated that they
take strong exception to the statement. Cardinal Bernardin seems to have
been taken aback by the sharpness of the criticism, especially from his
fellow cardinals. In subsequent comments he has tried to clarify the purpose
of the project, although saying at the same time, "In no way do I
wish to be distanced from the statement."
Also central to this unprecedented public conflict between American
cardinals is the question referred to by Cardinal Law, "the exercise
of collegiality." For many years now, what some observers call the
Bernardin party has been adamant that bishops should speak and act collectively.
Bernardin, a chief architect of the National Conference of Catholic Bishops,
has until now been loath to act even in concert with other cardinals, insisting
on collective action through the conference. The puzzlement was considerable,
therefore, when he unilaterally launched a project to resolve major disputes
that have been around for years, completely bypassing the conference that
is largely of his own making and, with the exception of Los Angeles, taking
the other cardinals by surprise.
Sympathy and Admiration
Nobody doubts Cardinal Bernardin's deep devotion to reconciliation.
His admirers have long dubbed him "the great reconciler," while
those less enamored of his leadership say that he believes almost everything
is negotiable, and acknowledge his record of making improbable accommodations
that, he is convinced, serve the Church. Across the board there is enormous
personal sympathy for Bernardin. He has recently gone through the hellish
ordeal of being falsely accused of sexual abuse, and the grace with which
he bore himself both under attack and in unqualified vindication met with
universal praise. In addition, since the announcement of the project he
has made it known that the cancer with which he has been struggling is
now inoperable and he likely has less than a year to live. His indomitable
determination to carry on with his duties as long as he can, joined to
his compelling public witness of hope in Christ's eternal promise, have
further increased his spiritual stature among both Catholics and the general
Personal sympathy, plus sympathy for the aims of the project itself,
help explain why seven bishops agreed to be on the advisory committee.
"This may be the last hurrah at the end of a remarkable career, putting
the capstone on his legend as a reconciler," said one bishop who asks
to be unnamed. "How could I say no?" Personal sympathy, reinforced
by a sense of collegiality, also explains why the criticism of the Common
Ground Project has generally avoided any personal criticism of Cardinal
Although one can be sure it was not his intention, the project and
the way it was launched gave the appearance that Cardinal Bernardin was
elevating himself to the de facto leadership of the American hierarchy.
More troubling, "Called to be Catholic" could fairly be read
as a statement that the Common Ground Project was taking over from the
hierarchy the pastoral responsibility that the bishops had failed to exercise
effectively. This consideration weighed heavily in the criticisms, reinforcing
Cardinal Law's observation that the project statement "breathes an
ideological bias." In fact, the statement is carefully crafted and
clearly strives to be evenhanded, as evenhandedness is perceived from the
left of the Catholic spectrum.
In the statement, traditional ecclesiology gives way to a dominantly
sociological view of the Catholic reality. "Unless we examine our
situation with fresh eyes, open minds, and changed hearts," it is
said, "within a few decades a vital Catholic legacy may be squandered,
to the loss of both the Church and the nation." Among the signs of
"peril," the Number One issue is "the changing roles of
women," followed by the usual concerns about sexual ethics, the decline
in priestly vocations (which it is implied will continue), and the inclusion
of the cultural heritages of racial and ethnic minorities. The project
also intends to take on "the responsibility of theology to authoritative
church teaching," and, in striking similarity to Archbishop Quinn's
Oxford initiative, "the place of collegiality and subsidiarity in
the relations between Rome and the American episcopacy."
What Might Be Learned
As mentioned, many observers deny the premise that the Church is in
peril. ("Church in Time of Peril" employs the locution of "Church"
without the definite article, which for some reason has become a liberal
fetish recently-as in "We Are Church," the activist coalition
currently trying to collect a million signatures protesting the allegedly
reactionary ways of this pontificate.) At the same time, numerous Catholics
who describe themselves as conservative or traditionalist would agree that
Catholicism is in crisis, but they would draw up a very different list
of reasons for the crisis, possibly beginning with the widespread assumption
that authoritative teaching can be negotiated with those who oppose it.
The future of the Common Ground Project is very much in question. Msgr.
Murnion says it had been in the works for several years. It was a wagon
ready to go and was temporarily hitched to Chicago's ecclesiastical star,
but now that star is disappearing. Without Cardinal Bernardin, and with
the possible withdrawal of the few advisors who gave the committee a nonpartisan
cover, the project could go on as yet another moderately liberal discussion
group. The proposed conferences that were to "model" the dialogue
that might bring Catholics together would turn out to be something like
a traveling Commonweal symposium. That is not necessarily a bad
thing, of course, but it is a far, far way from the project's initial ambitions
to assume pastoral responsibility for ecclesial reconciliation. The unhappy
and undeniable fact is that what started out to be a program for unity
quickly became a cause of disunity at many levels of leadership in the
There is a sadness in it all. Cardinal Bernardin deserves a worthier
conclusion to his years of devoted service, and he should not be remembered
for this initiative. In addition, one hopes that the bungling of this enterprise
will not make dialogue a dirty word. As Cardinal Law observed, "Dialogue
as a pastoral effort to assist in a fuller appropriation of the truth is
laudable." Dialogue is a way of teaching, and teaching is the duty
of bishops-a duty that, few bishops will disagree, has often been neglected.
The Catholic Common Ground Project may make the exercise of that duty more
difficult in the years ahead, or it may spur other bishops to take up what
was right and promising in this failed initiative.
While We're At It
- What to talk about on the first date? How to break the ice? Richard
B. of Seattle solved the problem by putting her on the list of people to
whom we should send a sample issue of FT. She was touchingly grateful.
Even if you're not looking for a long-term relationship, send us the names
of family members, friends, and associates. If they subscribe, they will
surely be better people for it. Richard B. is going with someone else now,
but she is still grateful.
- To think of Africa is to weep. Back in the seventies I did a great
deal of traveling in Africa, and even wrote a book about one aspect of
all that was going on there (Dispensations: The Future of South Africa
as South Africans See It). Today Africa is the continent that almost
everybody would just as soon forget. Which is no doubt one reason why Pope
John Paul II has been so persistent in calling the world's attention to
Africa, visiting it many times over. At the same time, as George Weigel
points out in his column that appears in diocesan papers, the Pope speaks
plainly to the responsibility that Africans share for their circumstance.
This, for example, from a recent address to the diplomatic corps at the
Vatican: "Today, I would like to direct my comments most particularly
to the consciences of Africa's political leaders: If you do not commit
yourselves more resolutely to national democratic dialogue, if you do not
more clearly respect human rights, if you do not strictly administer public
funds and external credits, if you do not condemn ethnic ideology, the
African continent will ever remain on the margin of the community of nations.
In order to be helped, African governments must be politically credible."
Stretching diplomatic protocol a bit, the Pope specifically cited Muslim
countries that "continue to practice discrimination against Jews,
Christians, and other religious groups, going even as far as to refuse
them the right to meet in private prayer. It cannot be said too often:
This is an intolerable and unjustifiable violation not only of all the
norms of current international law, but of the most fundamental human freedom,
that of practicing one's faith openly, which for human beings is their
reason for living." Having mentioned George Weigel, this is the occasion
to congratulate him on being asked by the Pope to write the authoritative
(but not authorized) biography and story of this pontificate. It is a very
big honor and a very big job. Weigel has resigned as president of the Ethics
and Public Policy Center in Washington, D.C., and is devoting his full
energies to the book that, it is hoped, will be out in the several world
languages in time for the Third Millennium.
- I don't know when it happened that putatively ecumenical organizations
first got into the excommunication business. Maybe it was when, in the
early 1980s, the National Council of Churches excommunicated a majority
of American voters by declaring that Ronald Reagan's vision of America
was heretical. Then there was the case of the Lutheran World Federation
and the World Alliance of Reformed Churches (WARC) kicking out South African
churches that refused to declare apartheid a heresy. Now Milan Opocensky,
general secretary of WARC, has another little list of items that are status
confessionis-meaning that those who disagree are beyond the Christian pale.
His list includes racism, gender equality, weapons of mass destruction,
worldwide economic justice, and responsibility for the environment. WARC
is a small organization and can't do much about those really big problems,
but under the rubric of "gender equality" it can force the ordination
of women. Of its 198 member denominations, 25 percent do not ordain women,
and Opocensky wants the minority position challenged without delay as a
matter of faith, not just as a question of justice or equity. Ordaining
women, he says, is a "question of whether we are ultimately obedient
to the gospel or whether in practice we are led by an obsolete church order,
tradition, and the convenience of surrounding cultures." In view of
the position of Roman Catholic, Orthodox, and most evangelical Protestant
churches on this question, it would appear that WARC is declaring that
80 percent or more of the Christians in the world are disobedient to the
gospel and beyond the bounds of Christian communion. Those of us who are
of a certain age remember when ecumenism was about dialogue.
- Things people may wish they had never said. In 1992 when Mrs. William
Jefferson Clinton (then Hillary Rodham Clinton) argued that children should
be viewed as autonomous rights-bearers in charge of their own destinies,
it elicited sharp criticism. Scholar-journalist Garry Wills, however, came
to her defense in the New York Review of Books, calling Mrs. Clinton
"one of the more important scholar- activists of the last two decades."
Knowing Mr. Wills as we do, it is possible, nay probable, that he does
not understand why he should wish that he had never said that.
- And now for a really big book. The Rise and Fall of the Communist
Revolution by Warren H. Carroll. All 832 pages of it. (Christendom
Press, Fort Royal, VA, $24.95 paper.) Dr. Carroll is chairman of the history
department at Christendom College and spent many years as a U.S. intelligence
officer studying every aspect of the Communist revolution. While expert
on the ideological, political, military, and economic dimensions of the
rise and fall of communism, Carroll is also a Christian and his concluding
assessment is not of the kind to be found in most texts on the subject.
"The defeat of the Communist Revolution was, above all, an act of
God and an answer to prayer-the millionfold prayers of its victims rising
to Heaven when almost no one but God would listen to them. When Lenin and
his Communists took over Russia in 1917, many of the intellectuals of the
West applauded, and most refused to listen to the evidence of the enormous
evil of Communist rule, or blackened the reputation of those bold enough
to tell the truth about it. When Stalin and his Communists took over Eastern
Europe after World War II, and Mao and his Communists took over China,
a significant proportion of intellectuals (especially in Europe) still
defended Stalin, and most intellectuals throughout the West defended Mao.
The United States developed a policy of containment of communism only over
the vehement objections of intellectuals, who were able to gain enough
support to prevent the adoption of a policy of liberation. The hundreds
of millions conquered or victimized by communism were thus abandoned to
an eternity of slavery. Only to God could they now cry; and to God they
did cry. God heard them-and raised up as rescuers humble men who still
believed in Him: Pope John Paul II, Lech Walesa, Father Gleb Yakunin and
his like, and the holy warriors of Afghanistan." Then this in a footnote:
"After these, Mikhail Gorbachev- though clearly not a man of God-must
be given his due. By breaking the political chains of the Communist system
he made its ultimate destruction possible. We are still not sure why he
did it. We may never know. But the Christian may well believe that, through
the mystery of grace and the power of the omnipotent, God also had a hand
in this, as part of His answer to the prayers." Warren Carroll has
no doubt about communism being an ersatz religion, and he ends his massive
work with this passage from Whittaker Chambers' classic memoir, Witness:
"[Communism] is not new. It is, in fact, man's second oldest faith.
Its promise was whispered in the first days of the Creation under the Tree
of the Knowledge of Good and Evil: 'Ye shall be as gods.' It is the great
alternative faith of mankind. Like all great faiths, its force derives
from a simple vision. Other ages have had great visions. They have always
been different versions of the same vision: the vision of God and man's
relationship to God. The Communist vision is the vision of man without
God. It is the vision of man's mind displacing God as the creative intelligence
of the world." Most intellectuals will be unhappy with Carroll's unblinking
recognition of the evil of communism, but that is their problem. The book
is dedicated "to the memory of the martyrs under communism, especially
those whose names are known only to God." Attention must be paid.
We owe it to them, and to ourselves.
- Affable fellows who appreciate a good cigar and bourbon are usually
on my list of good guys, but Michael Horton is so very obdurate in attacking
the alleged heresies of Rome that he makes it difficult. Horton, who has
a California-based organization called Christians United for Reformation
(CURE), is in the forefront of those opposing "Evangelicals and Catholics
Together" as a Protestant sell-out to the Whore of Babylon. Writing
in the interesting new journal, Regeneration Quarterly, he ponders
why so many evangelical Protestants are becoming Catholics. One reason,
he says, is the state of evangelicalism. "Reared in fundamentalist
and evangelical churches myself, I am deeply sensitive to the frustration
over the naive individualism and subjectivism that many in the evangelical
community have sensed. Corresponding to Troeltsch's 'sect-type' of Protestantism,
many of these churches are really not Protestant at all, but owe their
view of the church more to American democratic (especially populist) sentiments.
Many of us really believed that the history of the church began at Pentecost
and picked up again with the ministry of Billy Graham. Other things happened
in between, but we were not particularly linked to that history. At its
worst, our consciousness began with our own spiritual autobiography, our
own 'testimony' of conversion." Then there are strong attractions
on the other side of the Tiber: "In addition to seeming doctrinal
certainty, Rome offers a sense of moral conviction, especially on ethical
issues that affect public policy, such as abortion. Even marriage and the
family are 'sacramental' in Roman Catholic teaching, an idea that no doubt
appeals to many 'family values' evangelicals who cannot find a theology
of the family in popular evangelicalism." The answer, says Horton,
is not to go to Rome but to rediscover the theology of such as Luther and
Calvin. "The best way to stem the tide of young evangelicals moving
over to Roman Catholicism, therefore, is not merely to attack Rome, but
to offer a Protestant alternative that answers these questions." Not,
mind you, that Michael Horton is going soft on the importance of attacking
- Max Thurian died on August 15, a day before his seventy-sixth birthday.
A founder of the Taize ecumenical community in France, he was a Reformed
Church pastor who played a key role in the Faith and Order Commission of
the World Council of Churches. Over more than forty years he was largely
responsible for some of the most solid of ecumenical advances, including
the Baptism, Eucharist, and Ministry document of 1982. His little
book Marriage and Celibacy, which I read and reread in my first
year of seminary, was formative of my life and ministry. In 1987 he was
ordained a Roman Catholic priest. Along with innumerable others, I owe
him. Rest in peace, Father Max.
- In this business, it's try, try, and try again. In Lingua Franca,
which styles itself "The Review of Academic Life," Alan Wolfe
of Boston University takes up the question of religion and higher education,
with specific reference to a number of arguments published in FT. Wolfe
says he likes to have religious students in his classes because "at
least they have something in their backgrounds to which I can appeal that
was not the subject of last night's prime-time programming. Teaching classes
on abortion or AIDS to students who simply cannot understand that there
really are people who think about such issues in other than utilitarian
ways is incredibly frustrating." He thinks students should "develop
an appreciation of and respect for religion." "The question is
how. Efforts to reintroduce faith into public universities-and into large
private research universities-are not the way to go." Referring to
my exchange with Stanley Fish and my recent piece on the Christian university,
Wolfe contends that the crucial question is that of tolerance. "One
cannot stand outside a liberal institution and ask for admission without
being prepared to extend to others the tolerance which one demands for
oneself. If you believe, as Father Richard John Neuhaus does, that 'a Christian
university has as its premise the knowledge that all truth is one and all
ways to truth are one because the Author and the End of truth is One,'
you will probably be uncomfortable in a secular university, and the university
will probably be uncomfortable with you." With that, Wolfe concludes
that religion belongs in the private sphere while the public, including
the public university, remains thoroughly secular, since we can be "certain
only that the university is not the place for certainties." Wolfe's
long essay would require a book for adequate response, but allow me a brief
point or two. First, the statement he cites applies to a Christian university.
It may not be his intention, but Wolfe's argument would exclude any believing
Christian, Jew, or Muslim from the secular university. His claim is that,
if you believe what I said about the unity of truth, "you will probably
be uncomfortable in a secular university, and the university will probably
be uncomfortable with you." Only atheists or, preferably, agnostics
may apply. I will assume that Mr. Wolfe misspoke himself. More frustrating
is his missing the entire point that belief in the unity of truth is at
the very foundation of tolerance. One tolerates-the better word is respects-all
honest quests for truth precisely because one is confident that all truth
is ultimately in the service of the Author and End of truth. This, I would
suggest, is a much firmer foundation for mutual respect, in the university
and elsewhere, than Mr. Wolfe's proposed agreement on the certainty that
there are no certainties. Both logically and in the dismal experience of
the contemporary academy, his proposed agreement replaces the question
of truth with power games between conflicting prejudices and interests.
That Alan Wolfe and so many others fail to understand that will no doubt
keep some of us busy, trying and trying again.
- Continuum Books has just published the paperback of Jewish Perspectives
on Christianity (367 pp., $24.95), edited by Fritz Rothschild. It features
selections from the writings of five twentieth- century Jewish writers
who were early participants in, or precursors of, the current interfaith
dialogue: Leo Baeck, Martin Buber, Franz Rosenzweig, Will Herberg, and
Abraham Joshua Heschel. Our full-length review of the book (May 1991) pointed
out that, in addition to the excellent editor's introduction, "the
collection as a whole has something of the feel of dialogue in that each
of these Jewish thinkers is introduced in an essay written by a Christian
theologian." It also "has the virtue of bringing together in
one volume some of the essential writings on the Jewish-Christian dialogue
from an earlier era, without which current and future dialogue might easily
become shallow and uninformed." Five years later, that is even more
- About the Dow Jones Industrial Average you know, but you may not be
familiar with the Religion Index kept by George Gallup and his colleagues
at the Princeton Religion Research Center. Measured by a range of factors
including church attendance, confidence in organized religion and clergy,
church membership figures, and the such, the Center's Emerging Trends
headlines "Religion Index Hits Ten- Year High." If everyone loved
God and neighbor, went to church, and rated the clergy as heroes, the index
would be at 1,000. As it is, the index stands at 665, compared with last
year's 658 and 1993's rating of 649. But the current level is still a long
way from 1955's all time high of 750. One may be permitted to wonder whether
God follows the polls. "Your negatives are down today, Lord."
That improbability aside, the Princeton Center does provide a useful take
on what is happening in American society.
- Walsingham in eastern England has long been a bastion of Anglo- Catholicism,
with more than 100,000 people per year visiting the shrine of the Blessed
Virgin there. It is administered by a College of Guardians, and several
members of the college, including its chairman, have announced that they
are becoming Roman Catholics. According to news reports, business will
continue as usual since "the shrine's original constitution, dating
from 1931, apparently did not specify that guardians had to belong to the
Church of England." In fact, its original constitution, going back
to the medieval Augustinian priory at Walsingham, assumed that they would
be Roman Catholic.
- If you believe that the idea of state-sanctioned religion is dangerous,
read on . . . and then act without delay." That is a money- raising
letter from B'nai B'rith International in Washington, D.C. I read on, although
I was not sure which meaning of "sanctioned"-to put up with,
to bless, to control, to coerce-was intended. It turns out that B'nai B'rith
is alarmed that Congressman Henry Hyde's proposed Religious Equality Amendment
will "fundamentally destroy the First Amendment and the separation
of church and state." I've always been of the view that fundamentalist
destructions are the very worst kind. Some comfort might be taken from
the fact that the enemies of the restoration of religious freedom are being
reduced to incoherence.
- "I come not to serve but to be served. Power is the name of the
game." As Jesus didn't say. From Menomie, Wisconsin, Lucy Rudenborg
sends a recent excitement of Clark Morphew, religion columnist for the
Saint Paul Pioneer Press. He has come across a book by Catherine Kroeger,
Study Bible for Women, put out by the very conservative Baker Books. Kroeger
is the founder of Christians for Biblical Equality, and her book is chock
full of all kinds of good stuff about inclusive language, goddesses, and
gender empowerment. Morphew writes: "Over all of U.S. Christianity,
women are claiming power as never before and entering into the all-boys
clubs at the top of the ecclesiastical ladder. Some theological seminaries
have a population of 50 percent women, and a few are closing in on 75 percent.
When women form a critical mass in the more liberal denominations, men
will be forced to relinquish some of the power." And when women close
in on 100 percent, and all the non-ordained men and women have left, women
get to be completely in charge-of turning out the lights.
- Please note that David Elkind, professor of child studies at Tufts
University, approves of what he is describing. "School and Family
in the Postmodern World" (Phi Delta Kappan) notes that "Modernity
celebrated reason and paid homage to the ideal of liberty and freedom for
all individuals. Postmodernism venerates language, rather than thought,
and honors human diversity as much as it does human individuality."
Progress marches on. "The family can be defined as a social system
characterized by a kinship system and by certain sentiments, values, and
perceptions." (They talk funny in education schools.) He continues:
"These components of the modern nuclear family reflected the fundamental
beliefs of modernity. The postmodern family reflects the basic assumptions
of postmodernity and thus can be described as 'permeable.'" If I follow
the argument, it seems that modern families are modern and postmodern families
are postmodern. According to Mr. Elkind, the modern, pre- permeable family
carried with it all kinds of baggage about what is "normal"-a
man, a woman, childhood innocence, the need for rules, and so forth. The
craziest thing about the modern family is that it assumed that children
were incompetent, that they needed to be cared for. With the postmodern
family, all that has changed. "Children, in turn, are now seen as
competent: ready and able to deal with all of life's vicissitudes. This
new perception of children, however, did not appear because of some new
and revolutionary finding about children. It emerged because postmodern
parents need competent children. We need children who can deal with out-of-home
child care from an early age, who can cope with divorce, and who will be
left unfazed by seeing people murdered in the streets or behaving wildly
on drugs. The media reflect this new image of child competence. The title
of the movie Home Alone is a nice metaphor for the postmodern competent
child who not only is able to manage quite well on his own but can even
outwit some stupid adult skullduggery." Obviously, the postmodern
family needs the postmodern school. "Very simply, the schools in postmodern
times have continued the historical trend of gradually assuming parental
functions. In the modern era, when families moved from farm to city, schools
took over vocational training and some health responsibilities, such as
vaccinations and screening for hearing and visual defects. In addition,
our schools today are providing much more in the way of child care, education
for children with special needs, child support services, sex education,
drug education, values education, and parent education than they did in
the modern era." Mr. Elkind is worried about today's education "reformers."
He writes, "Education reform geared toward improving academic performance
simply ignores the many new functions the schools have assumed over the
past half century. If our students are doing less well academically, perhaps
it is at least partly because our schools are devoting more of their resources
to meeting the nonacademic needs of students." Academic failure, we
are invited to believe, is a small price to pay for all the other good
things schools are doing. Mr. Elkind concludes, "In keeping with our
families and our society, our schools are already postmodern. It is the
reformers who need to be reformed." It appears that Phi Delta Kappan
is a magazine for people who have excelled in postmodern education.
- You probably did not know that Snapple is produced by the Ku Klux Klan,
that Church's Chicken franchise is part of a program to sterilize black
men, and that doctors prescribe AZT to kill blacks with AIDS. None of these
things are true, of course, but some blacks believe them, and John Stossel
of 20/20 recently did a program on that. The reason such nonsense tales
are believed, he suggested, is that blacks, because of their history of
oppression, find it hard to distinguish between fiction and reality. The
indomitable Dorothy Rabinowitz of the Wall Street Journal takes the program
to task: "A more blatant piece of condescension would be hard to imagine.
In the eyes of Mr. Stossel's producers, evidently, such condescension is
infinitely preferable to other dangers: the danger, say, that the piece
might seem to suggest certain shortcomings-in the common sense and reasoning
department-on the part of believers who continue to argue that the K [for
Kosher] on Snapple stands for the Ku Klux Klan. The report, of course,
suggests exactly such shortcomings, and cannot avoid doing so. Here is
a story whose entire reason for being is to reveal the outrageousness of
what all these black people believe against all reason and logic-people
who are shown up, again and again, as beyond reason." Mr. Stossel,
no doubt, would say he is simply doing his job as a journalist, but Rabinowitz
isn't buying: "It is dramatic television, all right-the kind, as is
usually the case with the delicate issue of race, that has everyone involved
in a tizzy of tip-toeing. Less of this would have been required, of course,
if the 20/20 crew had expended a few minutes interviewing one or two of
the vast numbers of blacks to be found everywhere who can in fact distinguish
between fiction and reality, who would have no trouble dismissing the Snapple
stories, chicken poisoning, and such as rubbish. But they, of course, would
have undermined the big story advertised here-that these fictions are all
the rage in black America."
- "Everything goes better with Jesus." I'm ambivalent about
that echo of the Coca-Cola hype, even though there is impressive survey
research evidence that committed Christians have better marriages, happier
children, more vibrant sex lives, and much else. But there is that troubling
business about taking up the cross, and so forth. So I almost welcomed
the Washington Post story reporting that alcoholics in treatment centers
who said that someone was praying for them had a lower recovery rate than
others. Psychiatrist Scott Walker opined that that may be because family
members were doing the praying and the alcoholics resented family members
trying to "control their lives through prayer." That resentment,
he suggested, could have "blocked" the positive power of prayer.
I'm thinking about it.
- The decline of oldline Protestantism continues apace. This from Religion
Watch: "The largest decline in mainline Protestant membership last
year was in the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), according to the 1996 Yearbook
of American & Canadian Churches. The church lost 98,630 members, a
2.6 percent decline. The Christian Church (Disciples of Christ), lost 20,373
members (2.13 percent), while the United Church of Christ lost 28,868 members
(1.89 percent). The Assemblies of God grew by 2.3 percent, the Southern
Baptist Convention was up 1.4 percent, the Mormons up 2.1 percent, and
the Jehovah's Witnesses grew by 2.1 percent. But even denominations with
declining members showed a growth in contributions. The Presbyterians had
a 4.8 percent increase, to a total of $2.1 billion, while the Disciples
of Christ showed a 3.3 percent rise, to $385.5 million." It's worth
noting that the increase in giving is overwhelmingly at the local level,
as support for national offices and programs continues to decline. As for
the growth of the Jehovah's Witnesses, they've been claiming rapid growth
since their beginning early in the century but always remain under one
million. Similarly, the percentage of Mormon growth starts from a relatively
small base of 4.5 million. It is frequently reported that the Jehovah's
Witnesses, Mormonism, or even Islam "is the fastest growing religious
group in the country." That is far from being the case. Now with 60
million members in the U.S., the Roman Catholic Church grows most rapidly
through population increase, immigration (mainly Hispanic), and more than
200,000 adult converts received each year. We are cautioned that numbers
are not what matters and there's truth in that, but numbers represent people
and people matter mightily. The striking thing about statistics on religion
in the U.S. is the continuity, and the most striking continuity of the
last quarter century is the steady decline of oldline Protestantism joined
to the steady increase of Catholicism and evangelical Protestantism. So
the gist of this year's report is, once again, that nothing has changed.
You may well wonder whether you really needed to know that.
- The building of a giant ferris wheel on London's South Bank has been
proposed to mark the millennium. The Daily Telegraph and many others are
underwhelmed. The editors opine, "The millennium, after all, will
not be just an excuse for a huge party. It will mark the 2,000th anniversary
of Christianity." Why not, they ask, "a millennial object of
wonder" such as a huge statue of Christ, similar to the statues in
Lisbon and Rio de Janeiro. "That, rather than a wheel, is the right
way to mark the start of Anno Domini 2000." Have those people never
heard of the separation of church and state?
- There was a time when Southern Baptists would have been scandalized
by one of their number raising a toast to the Pope. (With soda pop, of
course.) And for some Baptists that time is not yet past. Writing in the
Southern Baptist publication, Light, Dr. R. Albert Mohler, however, offers
an appreciative account of the encyclical on the Gospel of Life (Evangelium
Vitae). Mohler is president of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary
in Louisville, Kentucky, and one of the most influential voices in the
Southern Baptist Convention, the country's largest Protestant association.
"In decades past," says Mohler, "evangelicals would have
taken scant notice of a papal encyclical. Now, the crisis of our culture
has produced an altered environment. Evangelicals-holding to the sanctity
to life-find the Pope making many arguments heard in evangelical circles,
even as liberal Protestantism shouts the chorus of moral relativism."
He continues: "Evangelium Vitae is, by any measure, a brave and breathtakingly
honest statement of moral conviction. In passages confronting the culture
of death, the Pope is brilliant, and yet restrained. He is not given to
rhetorical excess. His words are carefully measured and well-aimed."
Evangelicals, says Mohler, have much to learn about "the powerful
character of a sustained moral argument" and also about how Christians
should position themselves in our kind of culture. "Furthermore, evangelicals
should pay close heed to the Pope's condemnation of the culture of death.
American evangelicals are too easily seduced by culture, and our ranks
are deeply infected with a radical individualism which is foreign to the
New Testament and hostile to the genuine gospel." Even many who are
strongly pro-life do not see the connection with contraception, says Mohler.
He suggests it is time for some careful second thoughts on that question,
too. "Without question, many evangelicals will quickly reject the
Pope's customary rejection of contraception. The Pope's argument is, once
again, based upon natural law and Catholic tradition. Evangelicals quickly,
and correctly, assert that contraception is not addressed as such in Scripture.
But this assertion is not sufficient. Evangelicals should be concerned
with the 'contraceptive mentality' which is so intricately linked to radical
individualism and so hostile to the very existence of children." Dr.
Mohler emphasizes that there is much on which evangelicals and Catholics
disagree. "We should be candid in understanding that we find ourselves
engaged as awkward allies in this culture." Awkward allies indeed,
but as a rapidly growing number of evangelicals and Catholics are coming
to realize, the new and promising thing is that the accent is on "allies."
- There was this bill in Congress to end U.S. funding for the parallel
(read puppet) churches of the Chinese regime. Why we were funding them
to begin with is a bit of a puzzle. Apparently the separation of church
and state is suspended in the case of Communist- sponsored religion. In
any event, the Justice and Peace curia of the U.S. Catholic Conference
opposed the bill. Nina Shea of Freedom House, an organization that takes
a different view on questions of religious freedom, summarizes the Congressional
testimony of the USCC's Tom Quigley: "Quigley argues that (1) the
Communist-controlled-and-created Patriotic Catholic Association does not
have the purpose of supplanting the Roman Catholic Church because it hasn't
succeeded; (2) the government does not refuse to permit ordination of bishops
and priests, since some 'quietly and secretly' get ordained anyhow; and
(3) the USCC favors funding the Communist Catholic association because
the Pope seeks reconciliation and harmony among all Chinese Catholics."
Her summary is, we regret to say, accurate. The last point in Mr. Quigley's
testimony is also accurate. The Pope does seek reconciliation and harmony
among all Catholics in China, as he certainly should. We are confident
he would agree, however, that that goal is hardly advanced by U.S. support
for those who are repressing, persecuting, and jailing Catholics.
- I don't know what's happening over there, but the last couple of months
the New Yorker has been running some rather impressive articles, including
Clive James' critique of Daniel Goldhagen's revisionist history of the
Holocaust and, of all things, a generally sympathetic piece by Jeffrey
Rosen on Justice Clarence Thomas. As Glenn Loury has argued in these pages,
the choice for black thinkers is between W. E. B. Du Bois and Booker T.
Washington, and a small but growing number of blacks are deciding that
Washington was right after all. Rosen describes a speech-a-down-home black
preachment, to be more precise-Justice Thomas delivered at Tuskegee University.
"The real reason I'm here," said Thomas, "is the dream that
Booker T. had for all of us." Then he got to business: "Many
of you are the first in your family to go to college. I was there. Some
of you have grown up in rural areas. I was there. Some of you were raised
by one or neither parent. I was there. Some of you have barely or never
seen your fathers. I was there. Some of you only have one pair of shoes.
I was there. Some of you will be heavily in debt when you leave college.
(The students cheer.) I finished paying my student loans two years ago.
So I was there. Some of you may be frustrated. Some of you may be angry.
Some of you may be confused. I was there. . . . I'm coming back today on
a mission of love. I am no better than you-all. I'm no smarter than you-all.
I'm no more talented than you-all. I've never been Number 1 in my class.
I'm scared to death of aerospace, engineering, and physics. . . . I'm no
brighter than you-all, and, except for being older, I'm no different."
Justice Thomas' passion is against self-pity and playing the victim card.
Rosen continues: "Blaming other people for your own troubles is disempowering,
Thomas exhorted. 'Yes, it is!' a student called out. You have power when
you can wake up and say 'I am in control of what I do today.' Thomas declared.
'Uh-huh!' the students responded. 'A fellow black student once complained
to me when I was in college that the Man wasn't letting him get good grades.
You know, this Man is all over the place. I've never seen him. He's like
the bogeyman or something. But the Man wasn't standing between him and
that book; laziness was standing between him and that book.' Swaying and
preaching, Thomas worked up to his conclusion. 'Do you want your success
as badly as Booker T. Washington wanted his? . . . Do you want your success
as bad as Booker T. Washington wanted your success? Did he care more for
you than you care for yourself? . . . I am proof positive. You think for
yourself, some people will be upset. Some people resent free thought among
blacks. It's free for everybody else, but not for blacks. But I tell you-all
you are not truly free until you . . . can say, I'll make up my own mind
on that, thank you.'"
- Gore Vidal is in high form as he unloads a lifetime of suppressed resentment
in a five-page rant against John Updike. Writing in the Times Literary
Supplement, Vidal "reviews" Updike's most recent novel (In the
Beauty of the Lilies), complaining that Updike "has taken to heart
every far-out far-right piety currently being fed us." Vidal is most
particularly upset that Updike did not join the herd of independent minds
in protesting the war in Vietnam. His current obsession, however, is with
America's police state, which, at the behest of its corporate masters,
is waging "an ever more brutal and malign" war of the few against
the many. If one did not know about Vidal's Italian villa, one might think
this screed issued from an armed holdout in Montana. In the far-out far-right
populist mode that is his new leftism, Vidal tones down his usual tirades
against the "Sky-god religion" that he has in the past blamed
for America's innumerable crimes against humanity. This most self-consciously
elitist of revolutionary rabblers may yet throw in his lot with the rabble,
religion and all. When revolution is afoot, you can't be choosy about your
- We have carried a number of forceful articles on euthanasia and physician-assisted
suicide (PAS), and will be doing more as the arguments pro and con take
new twists and turns. Students of the subject will not want to miss a eighty-three-page
discussion of the subject, which includes a survey of almost all the pertinent
literature to date, by Daniel Callahan and Margot White in the University
of Richmond Law Review (January 1996). "The Legalization of Physician-Assisted
Suicide: Creating a Regulatory Potemkin Village" criticizes, inter
alia, the familiar claim that doctors are already helping people to kill
themselves and legalizing the practice would bring it under protective
safeguards. Callahan and White write, "We liken the effort to devise
suitable legal standards to that of erecting Potemkin villages, an elaborate
regulatory facade concealing a poverty of potential for actual enforcement.
. . . If it is truly the case that the present statutes forbidding euthanasia
and PAS are widely ignored by physicians, why should we expect new statutes
to be taken with greater moral and legal seriousness? There is no available
survey or other evidence to indicate that new laws will bring any increased
commitment to following the law." The allegedly common practice of
PAS is difficult to detect and prosecute, even if authorities were inclined
to do so. "The perfect formulation for combining legal obfuscation
and patient seduction is when a doctor says something like the following
to a patient: 'I perfectly understand how much you would like to be relieved
of your terrible pain and suffering, which seems so meaningless. Like other
patients of mine, you may have considered suicide as a peaceful way out.
I am sorry I cannot help you if you have had such thoughts. But I want
to warn you that if you take more than twenty of the pills I have been
prescribing to help you with your pain, you are going to die quietly and
quickly in your sleep. So please be careful, doing what you know is best.'"
Callahan and White are up-front in saying that they are morally opposed
to PAS, even if it could be effectively regulated. But their point, very
convincingly argued, is that it cannot be effectively regulated. As in
the Netherlands, once PAS is immune from criminal sanction, it will necessarily
bring with it euthanasia, including the killing of those who have not indicated
a desire to die. It seems so obvious that it should not be necessary to
point out that there are an awful lot of people who would like an awful
lot of people out of the way. They should not be accommodated by the erection
of Potemkin villages of regulation that regulate nothing.
- In Cambridge, Massachusetts, this past April a number of Protestant
leaders, mainly from conservative Presbyterian churches, drew up "The
Cambridge Declaration." It is a searing indictment of the theological
vacuity of contemporary evangelicalism and a ringing reaffirmation of the
four "solas" of the Reformation: sola scriptura, solus Christus,
sola gratia, and sola fide-with soli deo gloria thrown in for good measure.
(Some Catholics might claim an Ignatian copyright on the last.) The conveners
of the Cambridge meeting are vocal critics of the initiative known as "Evangelicals
and Catholics Together" (ECT), and, although that initiative is not
mentioned explicitly, the critics declare, "We also earnestly call
back erring professing evangelicals who have deviated from God's Word,"
including those "who claim that evangelicals and Roman Catholics are
one in Jesus Christ even where the biblical doctrine of justification is
not believed." Timothy George, Dean of Beeson Divinity School in Alabama,
was not part of the Cambridge project but offers a generally sympathetic
comment on it in Christianity Today. With respect to the theological engagement
urged by ECT, George gently but clearly distances himself: "A reaffirmation
of all five Reformation solae is also a good basis for continuing serious
conversation between evangelicals and Roman Catholics. For all the brouhaha
over the Evangelicals and Catholics initiative of 1994, the fact remains
that evangelicals have more in common with Catholic Christians who affirm
the Trinitarian and Christological dogmas of the early church than they
do with certain liberal Protestants who aren't sure whether Jesus was born
of a virgin, walked on the water, or rose from the dead. True enough, the
doctrinal chasm that separates confessing evangelicals and believing Catholics
is deep and wide. No easy-going ecumenism should be allowed to sweep aside
these differences including the nonnegotiable doctrine of justification
by faith alone. But in the sixteenth century, Calvin, Cranmer, and Bucer,
among others, engaged Roman Catholic theologians on this and other important
doctrinal issues. Evangelicals need not fear the same kind of honest exchange
- On this side of the pond, no major paper would dare to say it. Worse,
none would be tempted to say it. "The Seed of the Church" is
an editorial in the Daily Telegraph that reflects the less inhibited journalistic
world of our British cousins. We publish it in the interest of multicultural
understanding. "Lock up your sons, Zimbabwe. The World Council of
Churches is coming to town. Its officials have secured agreement that homosexuals
attending its assembly in Harare in 1998 will be allowed to indulge their
desires without fear of prosecution. Homosexual acts are banned in the
African nation, and punishable by twelve months in prison. President Mugabe
regards homosexuals as 'worse than dogs and pigs.' Few issues could be
better calculated to enrage council delegates for whom sodomy, which in
traditional Christian teaching is a sin 'which cries to Heaven for vengeance,'
is seen as a God-given right. Fearing that the assembly might take itself
and its hard currency elsewhere, Zimbabwe has agreed to a memorandum of
understanding relaxing the ban. Several thoughts arise, not the least of
which is that the council would almost certainly, in other circumstances,
disapprove of the 'cultural imperialism' of a demand that a third-world
country change its laws to suit outsiders. Couldn't these licentious clergymen
manage to sleep alone for a week, if only in deference to local customs?
After a hard day's debate on poverty, couldn't they practice a bit of chastity
in the evenings? In the Acts of the Apostles and other records of the Early
Church, one reads of the many trials and tribulations which the first Christians
underwent as they traveled to preach the faith. St. Stephen was stoned
to death. St. Peter was crucified upside-down. Paul and Silas were imprisoned.
It seems unlikely that they died so that left-wing clergymen could bed
one another in African hotels. But if these people insist on doing so,
we feel that Mr. Mugabe should stick to his beliefs as they propose to
stick to theirs, and may the best man win."
- Lively discussions continue over Ex Corde Ecclesiae, the Vatican document
urging that Catholic institutions of higher education should be, well,
more Catholic. Brother Dietrich Reinhart, president of St. John's University,
Collegeville, Minnesota, joins the discussion with this contribution: "These
are colleges in the Catholic tradition, not Catholic universities or colleges."
Speaking of his own school, he says, "There is a greater feeling of
calmness here because we are not measuring each other orthodoxically."
The calmness of some alumni was ruffled by the distribution of The Indifferent,
a newspaper of attempted parody and financed by mandatory student fees.
The paper features photos of naked students in erotic gambol, along with
classifieds offering and soliciting sexual excitements straight and gay
and whatever may be in between. Never mind about measuring "orthodoxically."
If The Indifferent is the measure of what it means to be "in the Catholic
tradition," look for a big increase in the juvenile ranks of Catholic
traditionalists. Be it noted that, in response to interest expressed in
goings on at St. Johns, Brother Dietrich has said, "I was disgusted
by the 'humor issue' of our student newspaper." Also, his remarks
on the difference between being a Catholic university and being a university
in the Catholic tradition, he says, were "wrenched out of context."
- So here's this discussion of a new recording of a Mass composed by
Louis Spohr. The reviewer, writing in Crisis, likes it very much. "The
highly original Angus Dei could come from 1921 rather than 1821. Despite
its intricacy, it has great clarity and transparency of texture."
After so much aging, one can imagine the clarity and transparency, but
wouldn't it be awfully tough? But Angus Dei is without doubt highly original.
- Cistercian monks live in enclosed communities and their reading matter
is limited. But, being the prior of the community, this reader allows himself
to indulge a worldly taste for FT. He writes in response to our little
comment on Father Richard P. McBrien ("Butts Not to be Rebutted,"
June/July), who had said that he holds himself answerable only to "real
theologians": "Has it occurred to you to apply Father McBrien's
criteria for 'real theologians' to the Holy Father? The Pope has a Roman
'theological doctorate,' like Father McBrien himself. As Bishop of Rome
and Supreme Pastor his 'teaching position' extends to the Universal Church,
and is by any standard more impressive even than the theological faculty
of Notre Dame. His 'publications record,' what with his encyclicals, apostolic
letters and exhortations, and I know not what else, is ahead of anyone
else I can think of. Even ahead of Father McBrien with his Catholicism
and his little syndicated column. Father McBrien's criteria clearly make
Pope John Paul II the most real of all real theologians. Perhaps you will
enjoy looking at the matter from this point of view." Thanks to you,
Father Prior, I already have.
- I expect that few of our readers subscribe to Mother Jones, but one
who does sends along this issue with a big puff piece on the Interfaith
Alliance. The plug reads: "Meet some religious leaders, like Bill
Clinton's pastor [J. Philip Wogaman], who are working to restore mercy,
compassion, and justice to our national vocabulary. And getting smeared
by the Christian right for doing so." More particularly, they are
smeared by that infamous Institute on Religion and Democracy (IRD) which,
Mother Jones notes, was started by those notorious right-wingers, Father
Richard John Neuhaus and Michael Novak. The Rev. Wogaman, who is a nice
if desperately wrongheaded fellow, has become the object of fearful persecution.
The expose asserts, "After J. Philip Wogaman became Clinton's pastor,
his work was pored over by a former CIA agent." Why "former"?
One could make the case that intelligence and security types have a legitimate
interest in a person who might exercise influence on the President of the
United States, although whether the interest is compelling enough to compel
someone to pore over the writings of Philip Wogaman seems doubtful. It
was probably just a retired agent with time on his hands, but Mother Jones
has a sharp eye for the sinister. One is always amused when also the more
reputable leftist press, such as the New York Times, reports that a government
agency "kept a file" on this person or that. It adds the panache
of persecution. After my youthful days on the left, I requested my FBI
file under the Freedom of Information Act and got a big thick packet of
materials, including news clippings, reports on my travels, and transcripts
of speeches given. Since I didn't keep clippings or a diary at the time,
I was grateful for the FBI help. It might come in useful if I ever get
around to writing memoirs. To the best of my knowledge, however, no agent
was assigned the onerous task of poring over all I have written. One would
think that J. Philip Wogaman, who has mainly published rather dry disquisitions
on the ethical superiority of socialism, would be grateful for a reader.
There is no pleasing some people. Pay attention or don't pay attention,
either way those who strive "to restore mercy, compassion, and justice
to our national vocabulary" are prepared to pay the price for their
heroic devotion. Being lionized by Mother Jones is small compensation for
having to bear up under the disapproval of IRD and a retired CIA agent.
Theirs is not an easy lot. But they can take comfort in the knowledge that,
to paraphrase Tertullian, the ink about their martyrs is the lifeblood
of the Interfaith Alliance.
- "This is the two hundredth commencement of the nation's oldest
Presbyterian seminary, and a goal was to show how far it had moved from
its white, male, Scottish heritage, he said. The graduating class of sixty-three
includes eight black students, double the number of any previous commencement."
The "he" alluded to by the Pittsburgh Post- Gazette is Samuel
Calian, president of the Pittsburgh Theological Seminary. The seminary
has indeed come a long way, and having eight black graduates is the least
of it. The commencement speaker was Delores Williams, Paul Tillich Professor
of Theology and Culture at Union Theological Seminary in New York. Mainly
culture, it seems. She resoundingly endorsed the ordination of sexually
active gays and lesbians. "If God has called gay and lesbian women,
God has called them." It's hard to argue with that, but the question
is who discerns the call to ministry. Williams' answer: "No church
body has the authority to counteract God's authority." So along come
folk who say God has called them to ministry but they don't want to go
to seminary. No church body has the authority to counteract God's authority?
It might improve the quality of the ministry, but we expect seminaries
would protest vigorously. They may have abandoned their white, male, Scottish
heritage, but they do have some standards left.
- Hilary Rosen, president of the Recording Industry Association of America,
complains, "I resent the fact they are going to play these records
at the press conference and give the impression the record companies believe
this music is appropriate for all audiences and all environments."
She is talking about Bill Bennett, Senators Joseph Lieberman and Sam Nunn,
and C. DeLores Tucker of the National Political Congress of Black Women,
who have joined in launching a new protest against gangsta rap and related
degradations. The recordings that Ms. Rosen thinks are appropriate for
only some audiences and some environments include a Sony label by the group
Cannibal Corpse: "She was so beautiful I had to kill her. Tied her
up, taped her mouth shut. Couldn't scream, raped violently. Rope tight,
around her throat. Her body twitches as she chokes." Another song
by the same group: "My mouth drools as I slice your perineum, my body
smeared with the guts I've extracted." Actually, that's tame stuff
compared with a big packet of lyrics sent over by Bennett's organization,
Empower America. There is page after page of songs peddled by Time Warner,
Sony, PolyGram, Thorn EMI, and other corporations. One is a more graphic
than you can imagine musical celebration of having sex with the corpses
of dead children; dozens of others employ the f-word as verb, noun, adjective,
and adverb, while enjoining "niggahs" to kill whoever gets in
their way. Especially prominent are the joys of rape and beating up women
in general. As Ms. Rosen, that model of corporate responsibility, says,
such things are not "appropriate for all audiences and all environments."
They are very carefully designed for children. As for Mr. Bennett and his
friends, she says they are "self-appointed guardians imposing their
taste on all Americans. If they don't like it, don't buy it." Freedom
of filth. It's the American Way.
- "Legal observers have called the Wilentz court one of the best
state high courts in the country." That's from the New York Times'
obituary on Robert Nathan Wilentz, former Chief Justice of the New Jersey
Supreme Court. The laudation notes that Wilentz "tried to streamline
the state courts, make them more accessible, and use them to promote his
vision of social progress and equality" (emphasis added). Among many
other things, Wilentz successfully led the fight to compel wealthy suburbs
to abandon zoning laws that got in the way of their accepting their "fair
share" of poor people in New Jersey. Then this: "Two years after
becoming Chief Justice, Justice Wilentz decreed that nonlawyers should
have places on most court-related committees. He thought that many people
felt isolated from the courts." So he really believed in democracy
after all, making sure that at least some of the people felt that they
had a part in the judicial governance of the state.
- There has been a flurry of news stories about a revival of the old
alliance between labor unions and liberal churches, and the National Council
of Churches (NCC) is at the heart of the effort. Not at all helpful is
the NCC's problem with its own little union, the Association of Ecumenical
Employees. The NCC, which in the last decade has become an institutional
shadow of its former self, is still downsizing and "outsourcing"
(contracting with outsiders for work formerly done by employees), and rather
abruptly fired a number of union members. Diane Bratcher works with the
NCC "corporate responsibility" unit, which has the portfolio
of flaying wicked capitalists. But she is also a union member. She protests
that the dismissed NCC employees were forced to leave the day they were
notified, given no time to say good-bye to their friends, and blocked from
reentering the building. "This is not only not Christian," she
declares, "it wasn't even good standard corporate behavior. Big corporations
don't treat their people this way. It was really shabby." It seems
the office of corporate responsibility has some work closer to home.
- The Santa Clara Lectures, sponsored by Santa Clara University in- wouldn't
you know it?-Santa Clara, California, is an institution celebrating notable
Catholic dissidents. This year's lecturer was Mary Jo Weaver, who collaborated
with Scott Appleby in producing Being Right, a book on Catholic conservatives
(see FT review, June/July). During that project, Weaver, who is professor
of religious studies at Indiana University, presented herself as the dispassionate
scholar. She is obviously relieved to have that pretense behind her. She
begins her lecture by imagining an international portrait gallery of "fundamentalists"
that includes Bob Jones, Jerry Falwell, Middle Eastern terrorists, Theravada
Buddhists in Sri Lanka, and John Paul II. So you can see where Ms. Weaver
is going. During the book project, funded by the Lilly Endowment, she had
to fake a measure of respect for those awful conservatives. But now: "Who
are these 'Catholics in good standing,' or, as I prefer to call them, right-wing
Catholics?" Well, it turns out that they're right-wingers and not
really Catholics at all. "I speak as a liberal feminist," says
Weaver, "but I was not reared to be one." It seems she grew up
in a home that was recognizably Catholic, but then went off to a university
filled with secular humanists. In the language of her benighted past, she
says she might have described that as, heh, heh, "a near occasion
of sin." But she didn't lose her faith or stop going to church. "I
did learn to keep my religion to myself, which was an implicit recognition
that religious belief was a private matter, usually not interesting to
others." Right- and left-wing Catholics, she says, live in parallel
universes that will never meet. "A traveler can get from one to the
other, but only once in his or her lifetime." Meaning, as her lecture
makes clear, that she has made her change and is no longer open to alternative
views. She has changed her mind about one thing, though. "Even though
I knew that the Catholic Church was the most entrenched antifeminist institution
in the Western world, I thought it could be different. I did not change
my mind on this until Being Right." The Church is beyond hope. Dialogue
with those who disagree with her is impossible "because scholars begin
with skepticism and ideologues start from first principles." The scholarly
Professor Weaver adds, "And, finally, that's what's wrong with being
right. It avoids dialogue with outsiders in order to protect itself from
contamination." She is obviously well protected. She concludes with
the thought that the big questions facing American Catholicism will have
to be answered by a generation that "never had the luxury, or the
burden, of being right." One would like to think that neither Dr.
Appleby nor the Lilly Endowment knew that, in Mary Jo Weaver, they were
taking on a collaborator who was convinced of the futility of the project
that produced Being Right. One would like to think that.
- "One of the most reprehensible organizations within the law."
That's how Bill Bennett described the National Educational Association
in a Jim Lehrer News Hour interview where the former and present secretary
of education, Richard Riley, debated parental choice. President Clinton,
who Bennett says is entirely "captive" to the NEA, is adamantly
opposed to school choice except within the existing government school system.
The interview also included this: "BENNETT: States can very well provide
for this free education by providing an opportunity for parents through
scholarships, to let parents get the money directly and choose whatever
school they want. Again, the difficulty here is that the Clintons come
to Washington D.C., they are given the choice of any public school in Washington,
D.C., public school choice, which we've just heard lauded, but not one
school, public school in Washington, D.C., was good enough for their daughter.
That was their judgment, so they enrolled her in a private school, but
that same choice is denied to the thousands, hundreds of thousands of parents
in Washington, D.C. RILEY: Well, of course, when the Clintons were in Arkansas,
Chelsea went to the public school and got along there and loved it. When
she came here, it's a whole different deal with the President of the United
States and their daughter. They've got a perfect right and an obligation
to send her where they think that they ought to send her. The President's
daughter is totally different from all other children. BENNETT: Most people
think their daughters are pretty special and in terms-I understand the
security considerations-but these have been dealt with before with other
Presidents' children. The question is, the issue is, do we get real educational
opportunity in this country or not, do we say to the children of Washington,
D.C., and their parents, you just go to these schools whether they're good
- Why do they keep doing it and then deny that they do it? The "it"
in question is the suggestion that there is a moral equivalence between
abortion and a host of other justice issues. This is Mr. John Carr, secretary
of the U.S. Catholic Bishops Department of Social Development and World
Peace, addressing a political responsibility workshop at College of St.
Elizabeth in New Jersey. He allows that voting on the basis of a single
issue is a legitimate option but "not the only legitimate option."
He notes that in the past people have voted on the single issue of civil
rights, the Vietnam war, or support for labor unions. Abortion is a "fundamental
human rights issue," he said, but "we have a culture that is
not only antagonistic to the unborn child but to the poor child."
Well yes, but four thousand children are not being legally killed each
day in the U.S. because they are poor. The report in Catholic Trends, a
publication of the bishops conference, continues: "What the church
tries to do, Carr said, 'is educate people so that they may take an informed
conscience to the poll.'" What the Catholic Church, although apparently
not Mr. Carr's office, actually does is inform consciences with the authoritative
teaching that abortion is an unspeakable crime and that it is morally impermissible
to support or vote for the specious "right" to kill unborn children.
It seems that Evangelium Vitae is not required reading in some bureaus
of the bishops conference.
- Former Surgeon General C. Everett Koop in an interview with American
Medical News: "I believe that Mr. Clinton was misled by his medical
advisors on what is fact and what is fiction in reference to late-term
abortions. Because in no way can I twist my mind to see that the late-term
abortions as described-you know, partial birth, and then destruction of
the unborn child before the head is born-is a medical necessity for the
mother. It certainly can't be a necessity for the baby." Dr. Koop
is charitable in saying President Clinton was misled. Much more likely
in our view is that he knows the medical facts very well, but is the complete
captive of pro-abortion extremists who won't give an inch on the dogma
that abortion should be permissible for any reason at any time for nine
months of pregnancy, even while the baby is in the process of being born.
Dr. Koop's testimony on the medical facts, and the near unanimous testimony
of other authorities, is welcome, but nothing should be permitted to obscure
the fact of moral and political responsibility for Clinton's veto of the
ban on partial-birth abortion.
- The Welsh wing of Anglicanism will soon be voting on ordaining women.
During a service in Bangor Cathedral, Gwynedd, Bishop Richard Holloway
declared that opponents of the change are "miserable buggers"
and the "meanest-minded sods you can imagine," giving further
indication that this question is unraveling that famous Anglican reserve.
- So it started out with that little comment on plagiarism, called "He
Who Steals My Words . . .". This prompted a rash of letters, including
one complaining that I didn't attribute the title to Shakespeare. In an
unwonted moment of pique I retorted in this space that anyone who didn't
immediately recognize Shakespeare as the source shouldn't be reading FT.
Well, that did it. It seems a whole lot of people didn't recognize it,
and asked-with varying degrees of politeness-whether I was telling them
to cancel their subscriptions. No, no, no. I have checked with some bright
folk who think it eminently understandable that equally bright folk might
not immediately recognize the allusion. So I withdraw my smart aleck retort-unequivocally
and abjectly. And solemnly resolve, for the thousandth time at least, never
to be out of sorts again.
- All our local newspapers and magazines carry classified ads. I have
to confess I don't spend a lot of time reading them. In fact-not having
had to look for an apartment and being happy with my current job- I haven't
read them in years, and they seem to have developed a set of conventional
abbreviations I can't easily decipher. My friends tell me that "SF
needs RM, SF, N/S, N/P, 2bed" obviously means that a single female
wants to split the rent on a two-bedroom apartment with another single
female who doesn't smoke and has no pets. But most of the time, I have
the feeling I really don't want to know what the abbreviations stand for.
The idea of classified ads, however, is something we've been reflecting
on here at FT. With their display of the entrepreneurial spirit of capitalism
on a very human scale and their ability to let local residents communicate
with one another, classified ads may be the last thing left in most of
our local papers that still shows the reach of community. Or it may be
even be the other way around: what we read in common is one of the ways
in which community gets defined. When I meet readers of FT I'm often impressed
by the closeness they tell me they feel for other readers and their sense
of belonging to a distinctive world of discourse. Thinking about these
things has lead us to decide to carry classifieds in FT. There are services,
jobs, books, and announcements that our readers may wish each other to
hear about, and we've decided to give some space in the magazine for that,
beginning in the January issue. If you're interested in placing an ad,
please call our advertising department at (815) 398-8569. One note: we
reserve the right to refuse advertisements and, if we can't understand
the abbreviations, we probably will.
- Chris Slattery is an indefatigable champion of the pro-life cause in
the New York region and a benefit dinner is planned for his Expectant Mother
Care program which has over the years helped innumerable women and their
children. Judith Brown of the American Life League is the featured speaker,
and I will have a few words as well. The date is Nov. 21 at the Union League
Club in New York, and tickets are $250. For reservations or information,
contact Chris at (212) 635-3664 or 210 East 23rd Street, New York, NY 10010.
If you can't make the dinner, contributions are welcomed-and needed.
- Even grandchildren of a certain age and interest might be included
on your list of people to whom we will send a sample issue of FT.
Sources: Pope John Paul II on Africa,
cited by George Weigel, Pilot, April 5, 1996. On Lutheran World Federation
and the World Alliance of Reformed Churches (WARC), Touchstone, Winter
1996. Garry Wills on Hillary Clinton, originally in New York Review of
Books, quoted in New Republic, February 5, 1996. Michael Horton criticisms
of RC Church, Regeneration Quarterly, Winter 1996. Alan Wolfe on religion
and higher education, Lingua Franca, April 1996. Religion index in Emerging
Trends, March 1996. On shrine at Walsingham, England, Ecumenical News International,
April 12, 1996. Clark Morphew on women and religion, Saint Paul Pioneer
Press, April 20, 1996. David Elkind on modern and postmodern families,
Phi Delta Kappan, September 1995. Dorothy Rabinowitz on TV news magazine
20/20 in Wall Street Journal, April 29, 1996. Dr. Scott Walker quoted in
Religion Watch, May 1996. On oldline Protestant decline, Religion Watch,
May 1996. On millennial ferris wheel, Daily Telegraph, April 18, 1996.
Dr. R. Albert Mohler on Pope John Paul II, Light, March-April 1996. Nina
Shea on Chinese churches, Freedom House memo to various Catholic writers,
May 14, 1996. New Yorker article on Justice Clarence Thomas, April 29 and
May 6, 1996. Gore Vidal on John Updike, Times Literary Supplement, April
26, 1996. Brother Dietrich Reinhart on "colleges in the Catholic tradition,"
The Record, May 2, 1996. Review of Louis Spohr's Mass, Crisis, June 1996.
On the Rev. Philip Wogaman, Mother Jones, May/June 1996. Dolores Williams
quoted in Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, May 22, 1996. Gangsta rap lyrics and
Recording Industry Association president quoted in press release from Empower
America, June 6, 1996. Obituary of former New Jersey Chief Justice Robert
N. Wilentz, New York Times, July 24, 1996. On downsizing at the National
Council of Churches, Ecumenical News International, August 21, 1996. Mary
Jo Weaver lecture, copy of text available from Santa Clara University.
On moral equivalence between abortion and other justice issues, Catholic
Trends, August 24, 1996. C. Everett Koop interview in American Medical
News, August 1996. Bishop Richard Holloway on opponents of women's ordination,
Christian Challenge, May 1996.