In fact, let me be very daring and make a suggestion that will probably make Past Elder’s and Brian Coyne’s blood boil…
Part of “Sentire Cum Ecclesia” is that “readiness to believe” of which Trollope wrote (see quotation in side bar). One thing that distinguishes the Catholic “readiness to believe” from that of all other religions is the absolute confidence that history will bear out the dogma of the Church. This confidence includes everything from the historicity of the Resurrection to the vindication of Pius XII.
We are confident–“ready to believe”–that whatever “facts” honest historical investigation might throw in our face, it will, ultimately, bear out our Christian faith. We therefore never have anything to fear from historical investigation into the origins and basis of our belief, and are able to make the audacious claim that “to be deep in history” is to be Catholic (Newman: “to be deep in history is to cease to be Protestant”).
But how does this square with Cardinal Manning’s comment that we must “overcome history with dogma”? Isn’t that precisely what the pseudo-historians Pagels and Carroll do? Ie. fabricate or omit historical evidence to fit their ideological pre-conceptions? Assuming that Newman was being serious and Manning was being frivolous (Catholics are capable of both at times) we can understand them both to be saying the same thing, namely that if we are faced with an historical account unfavourable to the teaching of the Church, our task is to delve deeper into the historical evidence, in the complete confidence that when properly investigated, history will bear out our dogma.
Thus, when historical accounts arise that purport to disprove the historical basis of the Church’s dogma, we may be confident that at some level:
1) They may be shown to have omitted evidence favourable to the dogmatic tradition
2) They may be shown to have fabricated evidence unfavourable to the dogmatic tradition
3) In situations where the evidence is inconclusive or ambiguous they may be shown to have made a choice to interpret the evidence in opposition to the dogmatic tradition.
Now, I find it no small coincidence that, in the middle of formulating these ideas, I stumbled upon some historical evidence which supports this intuition. You may not believe this, dear Reader, but I have, in fact, never before read Pius X’s 1910 Oath against Modernism. Yet there I find exactly what I have been trying to express:
I also reject the error of those who say that the faith held by the Church can contradict history, and that Catholic dogmas, in the sense in which they are now understood, are irreconcilable with a more realistic view of the origins of the Christian religion. I also condemn and reject the opinion of those who say that a well-educated Christian assumes a dual personality-that of a believer and at the same time of a historian, as if it were permissible for a historian to hold things that contradict the faith of the believer, or to establish premises which, provided there be no direct denial of dogmas, would lead to the conclusion that dogmas are either false or doubtful.
I so swear!