Richard McBrien's Heretical Teaching
By JAMES LIKOUDIS
Concerning The Church
In the Study Guide of the [revised?] 3rd edition (1994) of his "Catholicism" (replete with doctrinal errors affecting Catholic faith and morals), Notre Dame's "theologian" Richard P. McBrien informs his readers:
- "The Second Vatican Council broadened the notion of catholicity to include churches outside of the Catholic Church (Dogmatic Constitution on the Church, n.8) and spoke of them as possessing -various degrees of catholicity- (Decree on Ecumenism, n.3)." (page 4)
- "One can apply the term -Catholic- to the community of churches in union with Rome without precluding its wider application to Anglicans, Orthodox, Protestants and Oriental Christians." (page 8)
- "To be Catholic, therefore, is to be ... a kind of Christian belonging to a specific eucharistic faith-community within the worldwide, or ecumenical Body of Christ." (page 6)
- "Catholicism has an ecclesial dimension. But the Church is composed of many churches ... There are many churches, but one Body of Christ." (page 7)
- "Did Jesus lntend to Found a Church? The answer is 'No' if by found we mean some direct, explicit, deliberate act by which Jesus established a new religious organization." (page 577)
In the light of the clear teaching of the dogmatic decrees of Vatican I (with anathemas attached) and the clarifications of Vatican II regarding the visible and hierarchical nature of the "one and only " Church established by Jesus Christ, the above statements can only be considered as examples of theological fraud and deceit. The Second Vatican Council taught without compromise that:
- Christ indeed established "only one Church" in this world;
- that Church subsists (i.e., has concrete visible existence) in the Catholic Church in communion with the "See of Peter";
- that same Catholic Church constitutes the Mystical Body on earth;
- there is only one visible Body of Christ, and it subsists in the Catholic Church headed by the Roman Pontiff;
- the Catholic Church established by Christ to "teach all nations" does NOT subsist in other separated churches and ecclesial communities.
In a magnificent article "The Church Looks at Herself: the Ecclesiology of Vatican II" (Social Justice Review, November-December 1989) the dogmatic theologian Fr. James O'Connor observed:
"The Council chose the word 'subsistit' (subsists) precisely to make clear that there is only one subsistence of the true Church, while outside her visible framework there exist only 'elements of the Church' which - being elements of the same Church - tend and lead towards the Catholic Church."
It is important to recall here that the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith held it necessary to severely censure a book by liberation theologian Leonardo Boff which similarly distorted Vatican II's doctrine on the Church. In mangling what the 2nd Vatican Council meant by 'subsistit' (in a fashion quite reminiscentof McBrien's treatment), Boff, who later left the Franciscans and the priesthood in 1992, was rightly accused of "endangering the sound doctrine of the faith". It is no surprise to our readers that McBrien has been doing exactly that for many years in his writings, trumpeting his favorite heresies as Chairman of the Theology Department of Notre Dame University, and now as a "professional theologian" on its faculty.
As early as 1971 McBrien was pontificating:
In other publications, he declared:
"the whole Body of Christ and not the Catholic Church alone is the one true Church of Christ..."
("The Infallibility Debate", Paulist Press, 1971)
"..affirmation ... of papal infallibility...is not essential to the Catholic understanding of the Church." (Ibid.)
Other doctrines have received the same kind of McBrien treatment:
"The idea that the Catholic Church is the one and only true religion no longer exists."
(quote in "The Canadian Register", Sept. 25, 1971)
"A Catholic may doubt that Jesus of Nazareth, from the moment of His birth, knew everything there was to know about life, about history. about science, or about His own messianic mission."
("Who Is a Catholic?" Dimension Books, Denville, N.T., 1971)
"..Nowhere does the (Second Vatican) Council reject the possibility of responsible theological dissent. And yet there are Catholics today who argue as if this is, in fact, the official position of the Church. They seem to imply that once a pope has spoken, the issue is settled. Those who agree with the pope are right; those who disagree are wrong. Such an opinion, it should be clear, has no basis in the teachings of Vatican II. (Ibid.)
For many years, McBrien has been in the forefront of undermining Christ's divinity, the identity of the Catholic Church as the one true Church of Jesus Christ, and Papal Infallibility, as well as promoting Dissent against "Humanae Vitae" and other moral teachings necessary for the Christian life. His latest "revised" edition of CATHOLICISM only reinforces the view long held by many Catholics that McBrien continues to do grave harm to the Church in the United States as a "professional theologian" at odds with the truths of Divine Revelation. His work CATHOLICISM directly contradicts many truths of the Catholic Faith as set forth in THE CATECHISM OF THE CATHOLIC CHURCH.
The Bishops who have removed from their diocesan papers McBrien's syndicated columns promoting doctrinal confusion and dissent have done a welcome service to their flocks, and are to be commended. Recent Popes have insisted that the greatest concern of Vatican II was that the sacred deposit of Christian doctrine should be more effectively guarded and taught. A repudiation of McBrien's CATHOLICISM by our Bishops would be a major step in that direction.
Reprinted from SERVIAM Newsletter, issue of November, 1994