Neither writer understands faith’s mystery

Reprinted from The Providence Journal (May 2, 2005), pg. A.09

I found it interesting that both David Carlin (“Breaking liberal Catholic hearts,” Commentary, April 22) and the Rev. Raymond Suriani (April 22, “Innovator’s curse,” letter, April 22) base their conclusions on a similar premise.

In Mr. Carlin’s case, “Catholicism is a backward-looking religion, not a forward-looking one, since its legitimacy rests on its claim to be the custodian of the teachings of Jesus Christ and his Apostles.”

For Father Suriani, “He [the pope] is commissioned by Jesus Christ to guard the rich deposit of Faith that has been faithfully handed down to him from the Apostles themselves.”

The implied assumption is that the teachings of Jesus and the Apostles and the rich deposit of faith have been handed down to the church as a block of truth unchanged since the apostolic age. But change has been intrinsic to understanding the truths of the faith from the beginning. The words and actions of Jesus were the basis of an oral tradition that led to the written word that led to reflection by the church that continues today.

According to a scripture scholar, the Rev. Raymond Brown, the truth of the Gospels is a living message constantly shaped by the community. This the paradigm for understanding the truth revealed in the Gospels. What do we make of the words spoken by Bishop Angelo Roncalli, later known as Pope John XXIII, upon learning of the death of Pope Pius XII: “We are not on earth to guard a museum but to cultivate a flourishing garden of life”?

Is there any truth in the claim of scholar Elizabeth Schuzler Fiorenza when she writes, “Tradition is not a block of content to be carefully guarded by authorized hierarchies but a dynamic action of God’s love which is to be passed on to others of all sexes and races”?
The church is not made up of conservatives and liberals so much as it is made up of ordinary people seeking to live the will of God as best they can, and trying to understand the Mysteries of the Faith, as taught by the church. In this human and humble action the hungry are fed, the imprisoned visited and the poor have the Good News revealed to them. The living message continues to be shaped by the community.


Why does justice wear a mask?

The recent floor speech of Senator John Cornyn (R-TX) sympathizing with the criminals who murder judges and their families qualifies as ‘conduct unbecoming a United States Senator’ and can only serve to inflame the passions of would-be copycats. Senator Cornyn’s speech and Texas Congressman DeLay’s threats against judges have helped me to understand why people like the Lone Ranger, who “led the fight for law and order” in Texas, felt it was necessary to wear a mask.

Golfing with Murderers

Thank you to the Providence Journal for the article on the Religion page, April 2, about the 25th anniversary of the shooting of Archbishop Romero of El Salvador. What the article didn’t mention was that the bullets and gun that killed Romero were paid for by the U.S. tax dollars, that the assasin had been trained, at U.S. taxpayers’ expense, in the School of the Americas, Ft. Benning, Georgia, and that the man who had ordered the assasination, Roberto D’Aubison, later became the golfing buddy of Vice PresidentDan Quayle. As Jesus said, “One generation murders the prophets and the next generation builds their monuments.”

House Unathletic Activities Committee

The Republicans have turned the House Committee on Governments Reform into the House Unathletic Activities Committee. They wasted nine billable hours on St. Patrick’s Day trying to find out whether steroid-using baseball players would be fined or suspended. That time and money could much better have been spent on government reform of the policies that enabled the Bush administration to kidnap an innocent Canadian citizen at Kennedy Airport and fly him at taxpayer expense to Syria, where he was handed over to Syrian operatives who tortured him for nearly a year. And that is just one of hundreds of cases of similar violations of human rights by our government. Congressional injection inspection is just a distration from real government reform.

Destroying Social Security

The spectacle of raucous Republicans at a Bush rally chanting, “Hey-hey, Ho-ho! Social Security’s Gotta Go!” makes clear that it is the aim of the Republican Party to destroy Social Security. Honorable Republicans ought to be ashamed.