"Ecumenism and Philosophy" – A book worth reading?

In the latest edition of First Things, Fr Richard John Neuhaus draws attention to a book called Ecumenism and Philosophy by Father Charles Morerod of the Angelicum in Rome (Sapientia Press). He describes it as follows:

Father Morerod persuasively argues that longstanding disagreements about nature and grace, divine initiative and human cooperation, are rooted in philosophical errors. Moderns such as Feuerbach, Marx, and Nietzsche saw themselves as completing the work of Luther and Calvin, who set up God and man as rivals, by eliminating God altogether. Morerod urges that ecumenical efforts would be enhanced if we could all agree with St. Thomas’ understanding that grace perfects nature rather than pitting grace and nature against one another.

In Tracey Rowland’s latest book “Ratzinger’s Faith” she discusses exactly this point in a number of places and at some length. It is a topic that I have yet to get my head around (I am even more of an amateur in the area of philosophy than I am in the area of history), but contrary to Fr Neuhaus, I rather agree with Fr Morerod that the issue is a crucial one.

This entry was posted in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink.

14 Responses to "Ecumenism and Philosophy" – A book worth reading?

  1. Chris Burgwald says:

    I was privileged to have Fr. Morerod as the second reader of my dissertation… he’s a sharp cookie.

    Not that it’s necessary, but I second Fr. Neuhaus’ recommendation… terrific book.

  2. Chris Burgwald says:

    BTW… as I re-read my comment, I realize it could sound like name-dropping… didn’t mean to do so… just expressing my esteem for Fr. Morerod.


  3. William Weedon says:
  4. Chris Burgwald says:

    I’m curious to hear the thoughts of David & Pastor Weedon on the story… personally, I don’t think it has anything to do with image-softening… that’s hardly B16’s m.o. I also think that — given the press’s typical misunderstanding & misrepresentation of things Catholic — we need to wait until any statement is actually made. Nonetheless, I can’t say that I’d be all that surprised if Benedict issued something along the general lines of what Owens’s story indicates. He’s certainly been more than sympathetic to the dialogue with Lutherans in particular… whatever one thinks of the JDDJ, he worked to get it back on track after the uproar over the initial CDF response in ’98. So something referring to the legitimate impulses that drove Luther seems more than plausible.

  5. William Weedon says:

    My guess (can’t be more than that) is that B16 will simply recognize the essential truth about this man: at his heart he desired to be a loyal catholic and it was AS a loyal catholic that he first brought his critiques. B16, like most Roman Catholics, appreciates his early work more than his later work (understatement of the year!). But even in his early work (1516) we find a beautiful letter like the one he wrote to Spenlein:

    “I wish to know the condition of your heart, whether you have at last come to loathe your own righteousness and desire to rejoice in the righteousness of Christ and to be of good cheer because of it. For in these days the temptation to presumptuousness is very strong, particularly in those who strive with might and main to be righteous and godly and do not know of the altogether immaculate righteousness of God which is freely given in Christ. As a result of this they are searching for something good in themselves until they feel they can pass muster before God as people who are properly adorned with virtuous and meritorious deeds – all of which is impossible. While you were with us, you held this opinion, or rather this error, just as I did. For my part, I am still wrestling with this error and am not quite rid of it yet. Therefore, my dear brother, learn Christ – Christ Crucified. Learn to sing praises to Him and to despair utterly of your own works. Say to Him: Thou, my Lord Jesus, art my righteousness; I am Thy sin. Thou hast taken from me what is mine and hast given me what is Thine. Thou didst become what Thou were not and madest me to be what I was not. Beware of your ceaseless striving after a righteousness so great that you no longer appear a sinner in your own eyes and do not want to be a sinner. For Christ dwells only in sinners. He came down from heaven where He dwelt in the righteous, for the very purpose of dwelling in sinners also. Ponder this love of His and you will realize the sweetest consolation.”

    It is to recognize in this the catholic faith that would truly hearten the soul of this Lutheran.

  6. Schütz says:

    I’m checking the story out right now and will get onto it. Big if true. Chris is right, the Times is doing the normal bad media job. If papa B. wants an official re-evaluation of Luther, he will do it because it is right, not because he wants to “soften his image”. Stupid journalist.

  7. Schütz says:

    I will also say, Pastor William, that I doubt he will be trying to say that “Luther was Catholic afterall”. What he will do, I believe, is much what I have been trying to do, ie. highlight those aspects of his thought that are supportive of and supported by the Church.

  8. William Weedon says:

    You know, one reason I respect B16 is because he HAS taken the time to read Dr. Luther – probably more than many who go by the name “Lutheran.” Even where he disagrees with Luther, he is very good about placing him into context. His whole treatment of what it was like to just have come out of the horrors that Constance resolved when you had all those popes at the same time, and eternal salvation depended upon hooking up with the right one, and no one even knew who the right one was, and how this utterly shook the notion for all Western Christians of communion with the Bishop of Rome as the sine qua non of “church.” Luther’s work and words in the aftermath of those dark and dreadful days is indeed somewhat clarified. Bless B16’s heart for pointing that out.

  9. Schütz says:

    Ah yes, there is a doctoral dissertation there waiting to happen. Ratzinger on Luther.

    I agree with the “Luther in context” thing. I could come back that the Catholic Church AFTER “those dark and dreadful days” also needs to be seen in context. She was in the process of recovery. The return to health was slow but inevitable.

    Unfortunately what many anti-Catholics today take to be “the Roman Church” was the old dear as she was in the 16th Century while she was still recuperating from the 14th and 15th.

    Mind you, chances are she has never been nor ever will be the picture of perfect health… :-)

  10. William Weedon says:

    David writes:

    Mind you, chances are she has never been nor ever will be the picture of perfect health… :-)

    Weedon responds:

    Truth is a beautiful thing.

  11. Past Elder says:

    Ratzinger is simply voicing a view of Luther in particular and the Reformation in general that I was taught myself, before Vatican II — that the moral horrors the church had allowed, even to the point of compromising doctrinal integrity in piety, needed protesting and reform and to this end the Reformers were trying to do a good thing, and if the force of their efforts led them astray doctrinally themselves we are more to blame for it than they, to have allowed such a dismal situation to have happened in which the very efforts at reform were tainted by the very ills they addressed.

    In Luther’s case, this would principally be seen in very inadequate formation re Confession and in a Nominalist atmosphere that passed itself off as scholastic, so that the poor fellow had good intentions but bad teachers and pastors himself, the result being he saw no other way than to depart from the very church he strove to reform.

    Much of that would probably fly to-day, in fact it seems the Rat is trying to fly it. The final piece though — that Trent was the real reformation, addressing properly both the ills of the time and the doctrinal errors into which efforts at reform had fallen — not. Trent now seems to be an equally bad over-reaction to the Reformation, with Vatican II finally freeing the church from the mediaeval dark alley of defensiveness to embrace the good of the Reformation as well as things lost from earlier periods too at Trent.

    I suppose the Schuetzmeister would say the anti-Catholics and the “traditional” Catholics agree on one thing, that the real Roman church was that of the 16th century, the disagreement on whether that is/was a good or bad thing, while the Roman church as a living body has moved on and both of those parties have excluded themselves.

  12. Christine says:

    An interesting take from Mark Shea’s blog:

    Remember, remember, remember always the wisdom of Amy Welborn:

    If the news story is from the British press and involves the Pope….


    Here’s what’s really going on:

    [T]he Pope’s annual gathering with former students – the Schülerkreis – is a seminar in which papers are read and discussed. Past topics have included Islam and Creation and Evolution – the papers discussed at the 2006 gathering on that topic will soon be released in book form by Ignatius.

    This year’s topic will be Luther. Period.

    That’s it. That’s all.

    Makes sense to me.

    Mark also has an interesting post about the views of Bishop Williamson of the SSPX — seems he’s a big “Jewish conspiracy” fan and also denies the Holocaust ever happened.

    Ubertraditionalist Catholics. They’re something else.

  13. Past Elder says:

    I realise that a critical aspect of conciliar “Catholicism” is to sling mud at the Catholic Faith while also claiming to be same, so it perhaps (?) should be pointed out that Williamson does not lead the SSPX, is rather critical of those who do, and is not universally accepted within the SSPX itself.

    On a side note, he was and still may be rector of an SSPX seminary that set up shop about 40 miles from where I grew up, in a once flourishing Dominican novitiate which had to close due to no novices after the Council so wonderfully engaged the world and got relevant.

  14. Christine says:

    Well, here’s some of the snippets floating around about Williamson:

    Williamson, who was educated at Winchester and Cambridge, is a former Anglican who became a Catholic in 1971. He was ordained priest at the Lefebvrist seminary at Ecône, Switzerland, in 1976.

    He later became rector of the SSPX seminary in Winona, Minnesota. Since 2003 he has been rector of the Seminary of Our Lady Co-Redemptrix in La Reja, Argentina. In a YouTube video, Williamson is filmed arguing that the Twin Towers were not brought down by aeroplanes but by “demolition charges”.

    Williamson, 67, who was excommunicated along with Archbishop Lefebvre and now runs an SSPX seminary in Argentina, is a cult figure among ultra-Right seminarians. Some of his former students have posted video tributes to him on YouTube, in which he expounds his conspiracy theories.

    So, he endorses the Protocols of the Elders of Zion and from what I’m gathering doesn’t have too high an opinion of women either —

    and I should take him seriously because . . . .??

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *