Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Schutz was both a Catholic and a Calvanist


There was a great deal of speculation about the conversion from Calvinism to Catholicism of the founder of the Taize community Roger Schutz when he was given Holy Communion at Pope John Paul II Requiem, by the then Cardinal Ratzinger.

According to Cardinal Kaspar he was both!


I just can't see how one can be a Calvinist and Catholic, anymore than one can be an Anglican or a Methodist and a Catholic. I suspect it is one of those strange and ambiguous situations Pope John Paul II loved to create, a sort of personal communion with him.

I am a simple priest, bit thick at times, but I just can't understand this.

24 comments:

Ches said...

You aren't thick, Father. We have the principle of non-contradiction at stake here. Cardinal Kaspar's invocation of conscience utterly begs the question.

Tom said...

Well, in response to Schutz's profession of Catholic faith ( it seems he believed in papal primacy etc) John Paul II accepted him as a Catholic and gave him communion as one.

In which case Schutz _was_ a Catholic, since the pope has supreme jurisdiction in the Church (by Pastor Aeternus), and has the power to dispense from canon law requirements. (Not from divine law of course, but given Schutz's faith, I doubt that is an issue here. It is not as if the Pope had tried to let him function as a Catholic priest without valid ordination, for example. That would be contrary to divine law, and beyond papal power and jurisdiction.)

I am supposing that Schutz's Calvinism was no longer a matter of faith, but of social or public identity. But that seems to have been case. I am supposing too that Schutz's continued public role as a Calvinist minister would ordinarily raise obstacles to formal membership of the Catholic church just under canon law - but can any canonist confirm? In which case the Pope, but no one else, would have the jurisdiction to do this, through a dispensation.

Even if some of us do not think that this dispensation was sensible, I think we should all relax - Schutz clearly had an exceptional relation to the See of Rome from the days of Pius XII on, and it's the sort of thing that is mercifully above the pay-grade of all of us save the Supreme Pontiff. Not likely to happen frequently in the future, and does not affect canon law for others.

Henry said...

What I saw that I thought it first it was referring to Heinrich Schütz, who is always shown dressed like a Calvinist but studied in Venice under Giovanni Gabrieli.

Volpius Leonius said...

The reason you can't understand it Father is because it is sentimental nonsense.

You can't hold both the Catholic Faith and also a system of belief that contains many ideas which are the antithesis of the Catholic Faith.

Its like saying something which is black can be white at the same time, it can't an if you mix them you end up with neither but instead merely have grey.

pelerin said...

Yes this does seem very confusing and nobody seems to be able to explain it. Frere Roger was obviously a very holy man, a true Christian in every sense. Perhaps we should not be pondering on how he managed to be both a Calvinist and a Catholic but just to accept that he was a Christian?

I see from the French wikipedia (which often differs from the British version) that according to one source Frere Roger was received into the Catholic church in 1972 by the Bishop of Autun although this was kept secret and actually denied by Frere Roger's successor.

Cardinal Kaspar conducted his funeral Mass which surely would indicate the good brother's faith in the Catholic church? Or did it?
Perhaps it will always remain a mystery and perhaps that is how he wanted it to be.

Jeff Miller said...

Well Jimmy Akin in his book The Salvation Controversy shows how TULIP can be understood in a way consistent with the Catholic faith.

bernadette said...

I really don`t think you can be both. Calvinism has implicit anti-Catholicism in its veins. Either the communicant does not understand Calvinism or does not understand Catholicism. However, I guess the Holy Spirit eventually makes all things clear, and compensates for the mistakes made in good faith. I am certain JP2 acted in good faith. I am also certain that Pope Benedict would be more discerning.

Something I find quite interesting is that Gordon Brown was brought up as a Calvinist Christian. It really informs his politics; sometimes I think what IF he had been brought up as a Catholic - he could be quite dynamic...

I think it is really worthwhile praying for him and Cameron that the Holy Spirit will comvict them of the whole truth sometime soon.

Don`t mind which one. Just make it soon.

And.. a lesson for we Catholic parents to keep bringing our children up in the faith, however difficult. We could be forming a future MP, Prime Minister, teacher, priest, ...... who knows. The formative years are vital.

I think as it is the feast of St Monica tomorrow, it might be worth praying for the total conversion of all our political leaders.... and secondly for any lost sons and daughters, who for whatever reason - poor catechesis, bad experiences, bad leadership, poor parenting, disobedience/rebellion have lost their way.

The Holy Spirit can work miracles through St Monica.

PeterHWright said...

I thought that a non Catholic Christian, for one reason or another, doesn't accept the authority of the Pope, and therefore is not in communion with him.

A Catholic does recognise the authority of, and is in communion with, the Pope.

No, I'm afraid I can't understand how someone can be Catholic and non Catholic at the same time.

David Deavel said...

I agree with you, Fr. Blake, both about the incoherence and its cause in Pope John Paul's particular modus operandi, which was both a strength and a weakness.

Fr Ray Blake said...

Thank you N,
Very interesting.

Victoria said...

When I saw the then Cardinal Ratzinger giving Schultz Holy Communion the first thing I thought of was the scandal that this would cause. In my own parish it was discovered that a member of the choir, a non Catholic, had been receiving Holy Communion and it caused quite a bit of fuss. In the light of what happened at JPII's funeral we really should have just keep on giving her Communion.

george the greater said...

The problem is no one is questioning JPII's authority to do this. The issue is the scandal or what it teaches the rest of us (bishops and priests especially) who do not have the power (but act like it anyway) to willy-nilly ignore Church law when it's convenient for them.

Another example is the scandal of Assisi. Certainly JPII had the right to pray with heathens, pagans, and heretics. But it would have been useful to the rest of us if he also told us does the prohibition against comunicatio in sacri still apply and still binding on the rest of us?

Thomas Pink said...

Victoria raises an important question about the pastoral implications of this whole affair. Does the communion given to Brother Roger mean that Catholic communion for Anglicans, Lutherans and Calvinists and other Christians not yet formally received as Catholics is now generally legally permissible, just at their request?

I do not think this implication holds at all. It is arguable that what Pope John Paul II did for Roger Schutz has no implications whatsoever for the treatment of non-Catholics in parishes.

What determines membership of the visible Catholic Church? What makes someone a genuine Catholic? Partly the issue depends on divine law - the necessity of baptism, for example. The Pope cannot change that. But partly it involves procedures determined not by divine law, but by man-made Church law, of which the supreme legislator is the Pope. This will ordinarily involve in the case of adults baptised outside full communion with the visible Church a process of formal reception, the legal specification of which is subject to papal determination and also to papal revision, and from which - in so far as these are not matters of divine law - the Pope as possessing supreme canonical jurisdiction (Pastor aeternus, Vatican I) can perfectly well dispense, but from which an ordinary bishop or priest cannot ordinarily dispense.

One interpretation of the case of Brother Roger is this. Given Brother Roger's private expression to Pope John Paul II of faith in the teaching of the Catholic Church - some such expression of such a faith seems to be plainly implied by Kasper's report, so let's assume it, as such an expression would arguably seem a requirement of divine law in his case - the Pope, maybe imprudently, but arguably acting within his peculiar authority as supreme legislator, dispensed Brother Roger from the ordinary canonical requirements of formal reception into the Church and formal withdrawal from his public role as a Calvinist minister. The Pope just accepted Brother Roger as a Catholic and gave him the sacraments as such. If this is what happened, then Brother Schutz just was a Catholic, and giving him communion at the funeral of John Paul II was not a case of laxness or wrong-doing or any breach of divine or canonical law. The person giving communion was Cardinal Ratzinger, deviser and defender of Dominus Iesus and other uncompromising statements of Catholic teaching in this area. I doubt the Cardinal would have so acted if he thought he would have been in violation either of divine or human law.

Does this mean, as some (it seems to me) rather overheated and unreflective commentators have speculated on another blog, that the identity of the Church of Christ with the Catholic Church, so clearly defended by Cardinal Ratzinger/Pope Benedict XVI, is being compromised by the treatment of Brother Roger? No, not at least on this interpretation. Roger's Calvinism was simply an institutional identity, not a matter of his faith. It involved lack of formal withdrawal from his Calvinist institution and lack of formal reception as a Catholic. But this is precisely an area where we are arguably dealing with canonical requirements for membership of the visible Church from which the Pope, and only the Pope, can dispense. That is how, without contradiction or compromising Catholic teaching on the Church, Roger can be both Calvinist (in terms of criteria that under canon law ordinarily determine ecclesial membership) and Catholic (through the Pope's dispensing Brother Roger from being governed by these criteria).

Does this mean that any passing Anglican or Lutheran or indeed Calvinist might on the basis of Brother Roger's case acquire ipso facto the status of being a genuine Catholic and the consequent right regularly to request Catholic communion? No, because dispensations are by their very nature one-offs - they precisely do not change the law for others - and because ordinary priests and bishops do not have the same juridical authority as the Pope to grant such dispensations in other cases. Simple as that. So to become a Catholic others will still be legally obliged to go through the ordinary canonical procedures of formal profession and reception that Brother Roger was relieved from.

This is not Kasper's presentation of the situation, I know. But it is very much consistent with it. Notice again how Kasper describes the situation:

>[Brother Roger said] “I have found my own Christian identity by reconciling within myself the faith of my origins with the Mystery of the Catholic faith, without breaking fellowship with anyone.” In fact, [Kasper continues] Brother Roger never wanted to break “with anyone,” for reasons which were essentially linked to his own desire for unity and to the ecumenical vocation of the Taizé Community. For that reason, he preferred not to use certain expressions like “conversion” or “formal” membership to describe his communion with the Catholic Church. In his conscience, he had entered into the mystery of the Catholic faith like someone who grows into it, without having to “abandon” or “break” with what he had received and lived beforehand. The meaning of some theological or canonical terms could be discussed endlessly. Out of respect for the faith-journey of Brother Roger, however, it would be preferable not to apply to him categories which he himself considered inappropriate for his experience and which, moreover, the Catholic Church never wanted to impose upon him. Here too, the words of Brother Roger himself should suffice for us. <

Kasper wants to avoids the legal point of view on this one because Brother Roger wanted to go beyond issues of formal membership. But law, divine and human, always applies, even if we choose not to speak in legal terms. It is the legality of what has happened in Brother Roger's case that is fundamental to answering your worries, Father Ray, and those of Victoria and other commentators. And it is arguable that the Pope's treating Brother Roger as a Catholic was perfectly legal. As someone presently working on an edition of Francisco Suarez's De Legibus ac Deo Legislatore, which gives a highly interesting account of the dispensing powers of legislators, and of the vital differences between divine law (both natural and positive) and human positive law, including both civil and canon law, this interpretation of the situation's legality occurred to me pretty immediately.

It seems to me that fundamental to understanding this case really is the crucial distinction between what divine law requires for membership of the visible church, and what is merely a requirement of canon law. I'm not saying the distinction is easy. But it is this distinction that is at issue, and it is this distinction which we all need to address and get clear about.

Volpius Leonius said...

"What determines membership of the visible Catholic Church?"

"The members of the Church are those who have validly received the sacrament of Baptism and who are not separated from the unity of the confession of the Faith, and from the unity of the lawful communion of the Church" (Sent. certa.)

So profession of the true Faith is necessary to be a member of the Church. And that means all the faith not just some parts of it and some parts of Calvinism.

The Pope does not have the authority to allow people who deny parts of Divine Revelation as made known by the Catholic Faith to become part of the Church because it is against the Divine Law.

So the question is did he accept all of the teachings of the Catholic Faith or not?

Angelo said...

Saint Francis de Sales of Geneva
pray for us and clear the cobwebs of our thinking in this matter.

Thomas Pink said...

Volpius Leonius - I very much agree, of course. I would also suppose that Catholic faith and Baptism are needed by divine law. I rather implied as much in my post, mentioning both along the way as plausible requirements on Brother Roger for his acquiring full membership of the Church under divine law. But you're right - that should perhaps have been put even more clearly from the very outset.

My post rather worked from the assumption that Brother Roger did have both of these - and that really does seem to be the implication of Kasper's description of him, and of what else one hears of him - and that his Calvinist identity was 'institutional' or 'folk' and not one of faith.

The question is what else is involved, besides faith and baptism, in a lack of separation from 'the unity of the lawful communion of the Church' - something which your quotation actually and very importantly mentions as a _further_ factor in church membership beyond faith and baptism? And how far does this extra factor contain canonical elements subject to human dispensation in particular cases?

The issue specifically is to do with the nature of the necessity for formal reception, which the Church ordinarily imposes on already baptised adults becoming Catholic, but which _appears_ in some way to have been bypassed in Brother Roger's case (but do we even really know that?).

Actually, in the case of baptised non-Catholics, it it is not obvious that _divine_ law might not actually require some form of formal reception, leaving only the precise determination of the form of that reception to ecclesiastical jurisdiction. For we are talking of membership of the _visible_ church. And that might be thought to involve in adults being received some visible mark of that reception - such as a formal declaration of Catholic faith and some formal acknowledgement of that declaration . But I can only speculate here and the matter is clearly highly debatable - does anyone know of a treatment of it? The issue is very interesting. Resolution of it might, for example, require a view to be taken of the nature of Christ's revealed will concerning what is implied by the visibility of the visible Church.

I should add that I have a basic trust in Pope Benedict XVI and his predecessor Pope John Paul II. They are after all legitimate Popes. If they do something, such as giving Brother Roger communion on a regular basis, and let Cardinal Kasper talk about it in the way that he has in the official Vatican publication, my (defeasible but default) presumption is going to be that they had a good reason and right so to act, and then try to think about what that good reason and right might involve. Maybe the truth will turn out to be otherwise, and this initial presumption of legitimacy and right turn out to be defeated, but it's not my job as a Catholic to apply a hermeneutic of suspicion to the doings of these two Vicars of Christ and their curial officials - not even when the curial official is the not notably pellucid Cardinal Kasper!

I do know that the precise demarcation between what are requirements of natural law, what are requirements of divine law under the New Covenant, and what are requirements of merely ecclesiastical positive law, has never been utterly straightforward in every case. A classic example, not without continuing relevance for Church-state relations, was the long debate among theologians on whether the indissolubility of marriage was already a feature of marriage as a natural law institution, or only of sacramental marriage under the law of the New Covenant. But that's a whole other debate.

PeterHWright said...

The old rhyme seems appropriate :

"I'd never cross the Rubicon
Though I'm a True Believer
For while all roads lead on to Rome
They first pass through Geneva."
.

chiara said...

The following paragraph appears in Chapter 10 (Ecumenism)of Archbishop Lefebvre's book "Open Letter Ti Confused catholics"

I am assured and know for certain that before the Council the Taizé community wanted to abjure their errors and become Catholics. The authorities said to them, “No, wait. After the Council you will be the bridge between Catholics and Protestants.” Those who gave this reply took on a great responsibility before God, because grace comes often only at a given moment; it may perhaps not come again. At the present time the brethren of Taizé are still outside the Church, sowing confusion in the minds of the young people who visit them.

How sad they were not welcomed into the Holy Catholic Church.

chiara said...

When I visited Taize in 1993, Mass was offered in the Crypt Chapel each morning, early enough so that one could still attend the Common Prayer. Catholic who attended the Common Prayer and wanted to receive Holy communion were directed to receive Holy Communion at the left side of the Church as the Hosts had been consecrated at a Catholic Mass.
The situation was very different in 2004. I checked to see what time Mass was at the Crypt Church but it was now held in one of the rooms adjoining the big Church. However there was nothing scheduled for Sunday. I was quite shocked on the Sunday as it was a exactly like the Catholic Mass but at Holy Communion the Brothers went down the isle with pottery dishes and 'cups' and nearly everyone received Holy Communion 'by self-intinction'. Later, plates of blessed bread were passed to those who didn't receive ( I learned later that this was for Catholics e.g. divorced and remarried, those who didn't believe etc)
I had an appointment to see one of the Brothers, who was catholic and spoke to him of my concerns. He said that the Pope had agreed for them to have 3 of the Brothers ordained as priests because often there were buses arriving on a Sunday (the day they change over pilgrims) and many, particularly ones from places like Poland, were very upset if there was no Mass because there was no visiting priest there when they arrived late in the day.
So it definitely was a Catholic Mass by 3 young Taize Brothers who were ordained.
When I questioned him about nearly everyone receiving Holy Communion when at least half of them would not be Catholic. He said that in 1986 the Pope had given permission for anyone who believed that Communion was the Body and Blood of Christ was able to receive Commuion while at Taize. I replied that Anglicans would just regard it as a 'symbol', Lutherans that Our Lord was present 'with' the bread and wine etc etc. He said that the Pope met Brother Roger every year and he was sure that the Pope would know. I then said that they had surely read "Redemptionis Sacramentum" and that if it was a Catholic Mass they should also obey the rules concerning self-intinction and not having breakable vessels...he looked a bit embarrassed. I explained that I promoted the beautiful music and their beautiful traditional Prayer Around the Cross in my home town and that the sacredness and silence was a great benefit to me as I missed that in the Novus Ordo.
The next morning at Mass there was definitely a purificator but most still just self-intincted.
I explained that I had to be honest as i was encouraging young ones to visit Taize, which is a truly wonderful experience, but that it was very bad that they would come up against these things as our Bishop is trying to do everything according to the GIRM and obeying documents like Redemptionis Sacramentum etc.
Has anyone else had similar experiences or know what is happening there now?

chiara said...

In Chapter 10, in his book "Open Letter to Confused Catholics", Archbishop Lefebvre states:
'I am assured and know for certain that before the Council the Taizé community wanted to abjure their errors and become Catholics. The authorities said to them, “No, wait. After the Council you will be the bridge between Catholics and Protestants.” Those who gave this reply took on a great responsibility before God, because grace comes often only at a given moment; it may perhaps not come again. At the present time the brethren of Taizé are still outside the Church, sowing confusion in the minds of the young people who visit them.'
How very sad that they were not welcomed into the Holy Catholic Church at that time.

Volpius Leonius said...

"My post rather worked from the assumption that Brother Roger did have both of these - and that really does seem to be the implication of Kasper's description of him"

I disagree I read Cardinal Kaspers description the other way, it seemed to suggest Brother Roger did not hold the Faith in its entirely.

""According to his own testimony, referring precisely to the mystery of the Catholic faith, he understood certain elements of the faith"

Note only certain elements not the faith in its entirety, which if the case means he did not hold the Faith and was not a Catholic no matter what anyone on earth says.

"It is a denial of the faith not to confess even in the smallest matter. For we ought not, even in the slightest particular, deviate from the way of truth." (St. Epiphanius)

Ottaviani said...

Diabolical disorientation was the term used by Sr. Luica of Fatima to describe our times.

I think this incident will fit that description perfectly.

Pastor in Valle said...

We have plenty of heretical Catholics in open Communion with the Church; if the Pope knowingly gives Holy Communion to somebody formerly outside the Communion of the Catholic Church, then surely by that act they are 'in communion' with the Holy Father, and therefore Catholic, albeit perhaps a heretical Catholic. I thought the same when Pope John Paul (almost certainly) gave Communion to Tony Blair. The man was a loose cannon (you can work out for yourselves which man I mean!).

pelerin said...

On the 20th June 2008 KTO (the French TV Catholic channel which is on the internet) broadcast an interview with the present Bishop of Autun. Having just watched this I was interested to see how he answered the question on inter-communion at Taize which along with Cluny and Paray-le-Monial is in his diocese.
He mentions that he actually has eight active monasteries in his diocese.

He was indeed questioned on inter-communion at Taize but I am going to have to watch this part again in order to understand it better. It sounded complicated but convincing and it is a bit late to take it all in first time.