A Retraction? Of sorts?

Me thinks not.

Fr Dresser’s “Letter of Apology” published on Cathnews seems just to dig the whole deeper. Of course he is sorry for the pain which he caused, but it is hard to see how to square his statements in this letter with his statements in the original document and in his radio interview.

He writes:

At the outset I want to reaffirm my belief in the Divinity of Jesus, the Virgin Birth and the Resurrection of Jesus. This affirmation is entirely unsolicited and comes from the heart of a person who has cherished his Catholic religion from childhood and has no reason to repudiate or disparage its core tenets.

That is well and good, but the problem is that we no longer trust what he means when he says he believes in these three core doctrines.

On the divinity of Jesus:

“This whole matter regarding Jesus being God … not only does violence to my own intelligence, but must be a sticking point for millions of people trying to make some kind of sense of the Christian religion … No human being can ever be God, and Jesus was a human being. It is as simple as that.” (God is Big. Real Big)

On the Virgin Birth:

“I have no problems with the, with the virgin birth, provided we understand exactly how this concept came about and why it had to come about… what happened, of course, was that in the Council of Nicea it was basically brought about because of a political situation which developed. It came about at the Council of Nicea that Jesus was defined as being a divine person with a human and a divine nature. …And, in order to explain the fact that he was a divine person, something had to be done regarding his birth. …he had to have some sort of divine intervention in his birth, so there arrived, or there, there came about this doctrine of the virgin birth.” (Livenews interview)

I think you can forgive the interviewer for translating this as “they tabloided it up”.

On the Resurrection:

“I think resurrection goes far beyond any kind of bodily resuscitation kind of idea. And I think this is born out in the New Testament. I think that Resurrection means that Jesus was alive and well in the minds and in the community, of his followers. I think that’s what resurrection means.”

(Livenews interview). And so, just to clarify, Father, could you tell us whether you believe the tomb was empty on Easter Sunday or not? Might I suggest that Fr Dresser just have a peek at the Holy Father’s most recent General Audience on the subject?

It is all very well to feel saddened about offending people’s simple faith, but what do you expect when you start publically saying things that are quite obviously not the full deal when it comes to Catholic orthodoxy? As I said in a combox below, sometimes even popular Catholicism gets it more right than the theologians.

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0 Responses to A Retraction? Of sorts?

  1. matthias says:

    it amazes me how people who are supposedly theologically savvy can be dumb!They ignore what Peter wrote ‘for we do not follow any cunningly devised fables”. This written by the one who denied Christ three times.

  2. JARay says:

    Fr. Dresser is trying to have his cake and eat it.He cannot claim to believe and not believe at the same time.

  3. Past Elder says:

    Of course it’s not a retraction. It’s a statement that he’s sorry things are such that to some it looks like there’s anything to retract.

    This approach sees small-o orthodoxy as simply an attempt to impose one stage of the believing community’s understanding and awareness of its statements on all later stages, rather than being one with the believing community’s deepening and development of its understanding.

    I don’t buy it either, but at least it ought to be rejected for what it is rather than what it isn’t.

  4. Peter says:

    David rightly points out that he can happily say “At the outset I want to reaffirm my belief in the Divinity of Jesus, the Virgin Birth and the Resurrection of Jesus.” because he has defined each of these dogmas in such a way that allows him to say the words without actually believing what the Church intended to affirm by them.

    David’s question “was the grave empty” is pertinent, but perhaps even that could be cleverly avoided.

    In my mind it comes back to the real presence of Christ in the Eucharist. Ask him if he chews (rends) Christ.

  5. matthias says:

    What Fr Dresser is saying is no different to what Francis MacNabb is saying .When they lose their faith ,they are just left with the “God words” and they seem to want to use them in ways that will convey meaning of a Christian context but really leave more confusion .They should have the intellectual and spiritual honesty of leaving their churches.

  6. Schütz says:

    Which is just what C.S. Lewis said in “God in the Dock”. See the new post.

  7. eulogos says:

    But will the bishop accept this “retraction?” Shouldn’t they write up some more explicit statement of believe, and if he can’t sign it, he is out? In fact, why isn’t he out already-isn’t he the one doing the botched baptisms-invalid baptisms- even after being called on it?

    Offer him the option of quitting and being laicized, and having to support himself, or of going to a remote monastery and spending his life in prayer. Send him somewhere where he will have to sing the whole office and hear readings in refectory….somewhere where they read the Fathers and other sound doctrine in refectory.
    Don’t let him write anything for publication or give interviews. (The alternate is, we cut you loose and you support yourself.)
    That sort of a life might eventually convert him.
    Susan Peterson

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