Wednesday, September 10, 2003

Dulles: power-grabber

Today Andrew Sullivan comments on Cardinal Dulles' proposal for reform in the Church. Mr. Sullivan writes, "Dulles' proposals for reform of the Church amount entirely to greater obedience to Rome, subservience to ecclesiastical authority, maintenance of the existing structures, and penance from the laity. I.e. more power for him. Funny how that happens, doesn't it?"

This is truly unfortunate. Here's the letter I wrote to Mr. Sullivan in response to his post:

Dear Mr. Sullivan,

This morning you commented on Cardinal Dulles' proposals for reform, writing that basically, his thoughts amount to "more power for him."

It's unfortunate that you state this, because Cardinal Dulles has long been recognized as a "central" figure in American theological discourse, in that he is able to mediate between the right and the left; over the course of his career, he has been attacked from *both* sides, which is usually a good sign.

As far as his comments, which you criticize, they are really unquestionable. He states nothing more than this: the "public" sins of Catholics (cleric *and* lay) are a cause for scandal. How is this indisputable?

Mr. Sullivan, I know that you believe the only thing which can save the Church is radical restructuring. Unfortunately, it's not our Church with which to do as we please. Jesus established the Church with hierarchical structure; that was His intention and His decision. We have no power or authority to change it.

We (you and I) were exchanging some emails prior to your August hiatus on the topic of the Church's infallibility. As I stated then, if the Church is wrong on one doctrine, who's to say that this not wrong on another? There has never been a reversal of doctrinal principles, Mr. Sullivan; you offered the example of slavery, but there was no reversal. In fact, such a reversal is impossible, if we believe Jesus' promise that the Holy Spirit would remain with the Church and that the gates of hell (error and falsehood) would not prevail against it, and Paul's statement that the Church is the pillar and foundation of truth.

I recognize your struggle with the Church's teachings, Mr. Sullivan. I hope and pray that you are able to reconcile your views with hers.

Chris Burgwald

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