Monday, April 23, 2007

Fr Richard McBrien vs. the Catechism of the Church

Apparently Fr. Richard McBrien, notorious columnist has stepped into it again, as reported by The Commonplace Book of Zadok the Roman.

Fr McBrien comments on the recent Vatican document regarding Limbo:

"If there's no limbo and we're not going to revert to St. Augustine's teaching that unbaptized infants go to hell, we're left with only one option, namely, that everyone is born in the state of grace," said the Rev. Richard McBrien, professor of theology at the University of Notre Dame

That does not follow. Note the fact that this document gives various theological theories which give a motive for prayerful hope:

The document outlined several ways by which unbaptized babies might be united to Christ:

-- A "saving conformity to Christ in his own death" by infants who themselves suffer and die.
-- A solidarity with Christ among infant victims of violence, born and unborn, who like the holy innocents killed by King Herod are endangered by the "fear or selfishness of others."
-- God may simply give the gift of salvation to unbaptized infants, corresponding to his sacramental gift of salvation to the baptized.

McBrien allegedly adds:

"Baptism does not exist to wipe away the "stain" of original sin, but to initiate one into the Church," he said in an e-mailed response

Obviously, the key word in the above is "allegedly."

Again, that is at best misleading, and at worst outright Pelagianism.

Quoting the CCC, Zadok shows us:

1262 The different effects of Baptism are signified by the perceptible elements of the sacramental rite. Immersion in water symbolizes not only death and purification, but also regeneration and renewal. Thus the two principal effects are purification from sins and new birth in the Holy Spirit.64

1263 By Baptism all sins are forgiven, original sin and all personal sins, as well as all punishment for sin.65 In those who have been reborn nothing remains that would impede their entry into the Kingdom of God, neither Adam's sin, nor personal sin, nor the consequences of sin, the gravest of which is separation from God.

One hopes that Fr. McBrien was mis-quoted.


Billiam said...

Now there's a question we need to talk about the next time we get together. I've never read anything in the Bible about "Limbo" or, for that matter, Pergatory. A little help here? If the answer is too involved, feel free to email or call sometime. If I'm sleeping the cell will be off.

Dad29 said...

Here's the short course:

"1030 All who die in God's grace and friendship, but still imperfectly purified, are indeed assured of their eternal salvation; but after death they undergo purification, so as to achieve the holiness necessary to enter the joy of heaven.

"1031 The Church gives the name Purgatory to this final purification of the elect, which is entirely different from the punishment of the damned.606 The Church formulated her doctrine of faith on Purgatory especially at the Councils of Florence and Trent. The tradition of the Church, by reference to certain texts of Scripture, speaks of a cleansing fire:607

"As for certain lesser faults, we must believe that, before the Final Judgment, there is a purifying fire. He who is truth says that whoever utters blasphemy against the Holy Spirit will be pardoned neither in this age nor in the age to come. From this sentence we understand that certain offenses can be forgiven in this age, but certain others in the age to come.608

"1032 This teaching is also based on the practice of prayer for the dead, already mentioned in Sacred Scripture: "Therefore [Judas Maccabeus] made atonement for the dead, that they might be delivered from their sin."609 From the beginning the Church has honored the memory of the dead and offered prayers in suffrage for them, above all the Eucharistic sacrifice, so that, thus purified, they may attain the beatific vision of God.610 The Church also commends almsgiving, indulgences, and works of penance undertaken on behalf of the dead:

"Let us help and commemorate them. If Job's sons were purified by their father's sacrifice, why would we doubt that our offerings for the dead bring them some consolation? Let us not hesitate to help those who have died and to offer our prayers for them.611"

...which you can find here:

Even before Luther, the Church taught about Purgatory--but it was not defined until Florence (1431 AD) and Trent (just after Luther.)

It is likely that Luther believed in Purgatory--thus, most Protestants also share that belief.

I did not post the footnoted Biblical passages which you can find by going to the link above...

On the blogpost, I linked to Zadok's explanation of Limbo. You will find it extremely easy to read and will understand the controversy. It will also help fill in the blanks about Purgatory.

Billiam said...

Thanx! This I'll do.

Al said...

Can we sue Fr. McBrien S.T.D. (Doctor of Sacred Theology) for theological malpractice?

Given his track record, I highly doubt that he was misquoted.