Dissenter Richard McBrien's
By JAMES LIKOUDIS
Encyclopedia of "Catholicism"
Notre Dame University's leading dissenter, Richard P. McBrien, has edited an interesting Encyclopedia of Catholicism. It is prominently displayed in bookstores (including Catholic ones), and despite its lacking an Imprimatur, is heralded in "progressive" periodicals as:
"the only comprehensive and authoritative guide to the people, objectives, history, art, literature, theological developments, and changes that have shaped Catholicism over nearly two Millennia". (advertising blurb)
Containing 1345 pages with more than 4,500 entries written by 279 "leading experts" from around the world (many of whom have some connection with Notre Dame), McBrien's tome has been praised (not surprisingly) by Fr. Theodore M. Hesburgh, past president of the University of Notre Dame, as:
"a must for every Catholic home. The most assiduous student of Catholicism, inside and outside the Church, will be hard-pressed to name a relevant topic, large or small, that hasn't been included in this book."
The same Fr. Hesburgh who has worked diligently to divorce Catholic Universities from doctrinal obedience to the Magisterium of Holy Mother Church, is the same enthusiast who similarly gushed over McBrien's other massive tome "Catholicism" (which was twice severely censured by the U.S. Bishops' Committee on Doctrine for its doctrinal deviations). Fr. Hesburgh's claim that McBrien's Encyclopedia represented "reliable ... good scholarship" received an appropriate response from Catholic writer Russell Shaw: ** Bullfeathers! **
This Encyclopedia is as free of bias as the well-known tower in Pisa and as reliable as a broken compass. Rather than an objective source of information, this volume is a vademecum of 'progressive' Catholicism tricked out to resemble a reference work ... This is not a book to trust ... If the Harper-Collins Encyclopedia of Catholicism is representative of Catholic scholarship at Notre Dame these days, I can only say: God help Notre Dame. (CRISIS, January 1996)
Writing in the Australian Catholic periodical "AD 2000", European journalist Christopher Quinn noted the prominence of leading dissenters from Catholic teaching in McBrien's volume, such as Hans Kung and Charles E. Curran. The leading dissenter in the U.S. against Humanae Vitae, Charles E. Curran, was given the task by McBrien to write the article on birth control! Of course, Curran proceeds to justify dissent against Magisterial teaching on contraception. Another leading dissenter in the area of moral theology, the Jesuit Richard McCormick, writes the article on dissent! Of course, he justifies dissent against the infallible and definitive teaching of the Church on matters of sexual morality. As Quinn observes:
Even George Tavard, a dissenter himself, writing in "America" (2/24/96) complained that:
"Curran's article illustrates a subtle undermining of the Church's teaching with which we have become all too familiar .. McBrien's work is not an authentic encyclopedia of Catholicism because it includes material which is at variance with the Catholic Church's teaching and particular view of history."
"Several articles (including one of his own) had been altered or added to by the editor without the author's consent or knowledge ... The editorial work must have been done too fast or very carelessly ... Errors and inaccuracies of all sorts, understandable in quick writing, are unforgivable here, and they are so numerous that they make the volume unreliable ... One can learn many things from this encyclopedia, but it should be read with caution."
It certainly should be read with caution, given the inclusion of other dissenters from Catholic doctrine as ex-priest Thomas K. Groome, ex-priest Adrien Hastings, ex-priest Peter Hebblethwaite (now deceased), ex-priest Eugene C. Kennedy, Pheme Perkins, Carolyn Osiek, Michael D. Place, Sandra M. Schneiders, Francis A. Sullivan S.J., and yet others who have spread confusion and doubt concerning Catholic faith and morals. Francis A. Sullivan's tendentious article on the Magisterium (teaching authority) of Pope and bishops clearly rejects the infallibility of the Ordinary Magisterium in teaching matters of the natural moral law (p. 806). Sullivan's article is even accompanied by a Rembrandt illustration bearing the caption:
"...The teaching authority, or Magisterium of the Church is but a limited, error-prone participation in the teaching authority of Jesus Christ Himself "(!)
In an adjoining article Richard McCormick reinforces the volume's advocacy of dissent by pontificating that the Catholic Church can not teach infallibly "on the level of concrete morals." (p. 808)
The poison of dissent is even accompanied by blasphemy in Jesuit Jerome Neyrey's entry on the "brothers of Jesus". For this Jesuit:
"No linguistic evidence warrants our interpreting Gospel passages about Jesus' brothers and sisters as his cousins ... New Testament authors apparently understood Jesus' brothers as 'blood brothers', not as 'cousins' or 'step-brothers'."
Dissenter Sr. Elizabeth Johnson adds her voice to help subvert the Catholic dogma of Mary's perpetual virginity by rashly asserting:
"Critical New Testament study questions whether the infancy narratives reflect history or legend; available evidence makes a definitive answer unlikely." (p. 1316)
On another page of this issue, readers will find an excerpt from a beautiful address by Pope John Paul II re-affirming the Church's immemorial teaching on the perpetual virginity of the Mother of God. In the same address, he proceeds to refute the false arguments relied on by McBrien and his fellow dissenters. For the Pope and indeed for all faithful Catholics there can be no question of the truth that Mary was ever-virgin, and that this is the meaning of the Holy Scripture.
McBrien's Encyclopedia of Catholicism can only be considered a fitting companion to his other heretical work, "Catholicism".
Reprinted from SERVIAM newsletter, issue of Oct./Nov. 1996