Articles of Faith
The South Bend Tribune publishes a Faith section every Thursday. I always open the Thursday paper with trepidation, knowing that most every article about the Catholic Faith will paint the Church in a negative light. Last Thursday's paper was no exception. The front page article was about author Garry Wills' latest book called Why I am Catholic, a follow-up to his previous book, Papal Sin.
According to the article, Wills is a "noted historian and adjunct professor at Northwestern University". To be fair, I have not read either book nor do I intend to. When asked by an interviewer why he is Catholic, Wills responded, "To be part of the mystical body of Christ." Good enough answer, but then Wills goes on to point out his many perceived flaws in the Church. If the article is an accurate reflection of his book, I get the impression he believes all Church traditions have human origins, and are rooted in a desire to ensure power. How can he carry this cynical attitude into the Eucharistic Celebration each Sunday?
He talks about the development of certain traditions and names four, including eating fish on Fridays, the Latin Mass, the celibate priesthood, and the all-male priesthood. In Catholic theology, we make a distinction between tradition with a small "t", meaning a discipline or practice which is changeable, and Tradition with a capital "T", referring to Apostolic Tradition which has been handed down and is immutable. While the first three listed fall into the small "t" category, the all-male priesthood does not. I am not a theologian, but I understand the Church has formally declared that she does not have the authority to change the all-male priesthood. I believe this to be part of Church doctrine, putting it on a par with Apostolic Tradition which can never be changed. It would appear that Wills does not understand the difference.
I also find it difficult to understand why distorted Catholic authors such as Wills are given a forum at Catholic institutions. This particular article was written while he was a guest at Notre Dame. Here in the Gary Diocese, we are in the midst of an intense campaign by our Bishop to bring awareness of Cultural Diversity. Does this quest for diversity include promoting unbridled theological diversity within the Catholic Faith?
I just finished watching Steve Ray's wonderful video called Peter, Keeper of the Keys in which he points out that Christ chose Peter, an uneducated man, to lead His Church when he could have chosen a scholar. When I read authors like Wills, I understand why.