Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Even MORE from B-16

This Pope knows how to Pope:

In the inaugural catechesis, Benedict XVI defended the true essence of the Church from two “distortions.” The first is the individualistic distortion of liberal theology, which found its most famous representation in the Protestant scholar Adolf von Harnack, but has also influenced Catholic culture to a great extent. The second “distortion” is the one the pope summarized in “the slogan that was fashionable a few years ago, ‘Christ yes, the Church no’.”

Relevant text from ZENIT:

For this reason, the individualistic interpretation of Christ's proclamation of the Kingdom as proposed by liberal theology is unilateral and unfounded. Here is how the great liberal theologian Adolf von Harnack summarized this interpretation, in a series of lectures in 1900 entitled "What is Christianity?": "The Kingdom of God comes in the degree in which it comes to specific men, finds an opening into the soul and is accepted by them. The Kingdom of God is the 'lordship' of God, that is to say, the dominion of the Holy God in each different heart" (Third Lecture, 100ff).

Actually, this individualism of liberal theology is accentuated particularly in modern times. In the perspective of biblical tradition and in the realm of Judaism in which Jesus' work is classified despite all of its novelty, it remains evident that the entire mission of the Son made flesh has a communitarian finality: He came precisely to gather together a scattered humanity, he came precisely to gather together the people of God.

The twelve apostles are in this way the most evident sign of Jesus' will over the existence and mission of his Church, the guarantee that between Christ and the Church there is no opposition: They are inseparable, despite the sins of the people who make up the Church. Therefore, there is no way to reconcile Christ's intentions with the slogan that was fashionable a few years ago, "Christ yes, the Church no." The individualist Jesus is a fantasy. We cannot find Jesus without the reality that he created and through which he communicates himself. Between the Son of God, made man and his Church, there is a profound, inseparable continuity, in virtue of which Christ is present today in his people.

Back to Chiesa:

But the strongest passages of the catechesis were those in which the pope explained the relationship between the institution of the apostles – twelve in number, like the twelve Jewish tribes – and the people of Israel. The pope recalled Jesus’ intention “of founding the holy people again.” And then: “By their mere existence, the twelve – called from different backgrounds – have become a summons to all Israel to conversion and to allow themselves to be reunited in a new covenant, full and perfect accomplishment of the old.”

This appeal from the pope for the conversion of the Jews – stated as still valid today – will certainly provoke discussion. In any case, it is perfectly consistent with the view expressed by Benedict XVI when meeting the Jews in the synagogue of Cologne, on August 19, 2005. Jews and Christians – Ratzinger said on that occasion – remain joined by the one, eternal covenant established by God. And also therefore “in those areas in which, due to our profound convictions in faith, we diverge, and indeed precisely in those areas, we need to show respect and love for one another.”

This begins with the chief distinction: belief or lack of belief in Jesus as the Messiah and the son of God.

This will keep a few late lights burning in the offices of the membership of Catholic Theological Society of America...

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