The Liberty of Dogma vs. the Tyranny of Taste | Carl E. Olson | Catholic World Report
Those who say that doctrines must serve the Church's pastoral mission have both inverted the proper order of things and placed sentiment above shepherding.
Years ago I wrote an article titled "Dogma is Not a Dirty Word". In it, I noted how those who criticize the Church for being "dogmatic" fail to understand that everyone is dogmatic in a very real sense, as G.K. Chesterton noted in his 1905 book Heretics: "Man can be defined as an animal that makes dogmas. . . . Trees have no dogmas." Along those same lines, in 1928, Chesterton observed, “There are two kinds of people in the world, the conscious dogmatists and the unconscious dogmatists. I have always found myself that the unconscious dogmatists were by far the most dogmatic.”
In fact, the unconscious dogmatist has a funny way of dogmatically insisting he is entirely free of dogma—or, at the very least, he has attained a special perch above and beyond the clutches of dogma and doctrine, which are sources of discord, confusion, and contention. Examples abound within the secular realm. Far more disconcerting, however, are examples and instances within the Church. As when, to draw upon my dusty article, we encounter those who declare "that real ecumenism and real Christianity are not found in dry formulas but in the 'spirit of Christ.' Much is made of 'love' or 'sincerity' but often with little or no reference to the kind of demanding, self-denying life of holiness that Jesus set before his disciples."
This came to mind upon reading a recent Crux interview with Bishop William Kenney of the Archdiocese of Birmingham, who was appointed by Pope Francis in 2013 to be, as his online bio states, "co-chair of the international conversations between the Lutheran and Catholic Churches." It's not that Bishop Kenney is unaware of various theological or doctrinal concerns, but it appears he has happily moved past them, saying:
The things that we thought caused the Reformation have been taken away- the excommunication of the Lutherans was lifted, the condemnation of the Catholics were lifted. That is the formal Churches’ position now, it is not just a theological proposition. There are those who say this has already achieved unity; it is certainly a major step forward, and it has removed most of the problems of the Reformation.
Yes, he acknowledges, the "women priests question is complicated", but he then muses that when it comes to the Eucharist, "Lutherans have more or less the same doctrine as we have." How much more, or in what way less is not clear. But does it really matter? Apparently not. "Would Martin Luther have been excommunicated today? The answer is no, he probably wouldn’t. And he did not want to split the Church - he came to that, but it’s not where he began." In truth, contra the bishop's Monday morning quarterbacking, Luther was a man of many moods and many positions, perhaps even multiple personalities. As Dr. Christopher Malloy, a theologian who has studied and written extensively on Catholic-Lutheran matters, said to me in a lengthy June 2007 Ignatius Insight interview: "We need to pay attention to the following question: 'Which Lutheranism? Whose Luther?'"
Not to worry, however, as Bishop Kenney serenely assures readers: