Wednesday 21st March 2018

Home » Featured Today » Currently Reading:

Jacques Maritain . . . On The Person Of The Church And Her Personnel

March 20, 2017 Featured Today No Comments


At a time of when strong ecclesiastical leadership is warranted as the West drifts further from its historical anchorage, the voice of Church seems to be muted or confused. With reason, Pope Francis has been accused of deliberate ambiguity, given that he has not responded to repeated calls for clarification of his teaching in Amoris Laetitia, and now as reported in the pages of this newspaper [see story by LifeSiteNews, The Wanderer, March 2, 2017, p. 1], the new head of the Jesuit Order, Fr. Arturo Sosa Abascal, seems to call into question the literal meaning of Christ’s teaching on the indissolubility of marriage (Matt. 19:3-6).
“The words of Jesus must be contextualized,” he has said in an interview. “Over the last century in the Church there has been a great blossoming of studies that seek to understand what Jesus meant to say.”
If doctrine must be replaced in favor of the “discernment” of the true meaning of the words of Sacred Scripture, what are we to make of Christ’s words at the Last Supper?
Given that the Church seems to be unsure of itself under its present leadership, Jacques Maritain’s treatise on the Church and her personnel is worth revisiting. “To speak of the ‘person’ of the Church,” Maritain says, “is to recognize a certain transcendence in time of a body that remains essentially the same. Just as a human being is not to be identified with the personality it manifests on a given day or at a given period in life, the visible Church cannot be identified with one council or one papacy.”
Maritain’s reflections on the subject are to be found in his last complete book, On the Church of Christ: The Person of the Church and Her Personnel. Published in English translation from the French in the year of his death (1973), it was ignored by the secular media and given scant attention in the Catholic press.
It followed by seven years the publication of Le Paysan de la Garonne, which had earned Maritain the enmity of the Catholic left for its critique of some of the theology developing in the wake of Vatican II. John Courtney Murray in We Hold These Truths (1960) noted happily that the Church in North America was not divided between left and right as it was with destructive consequences in Europe.
By the close of Vatican II, the European virus had spread to North America. Maritain, who had been the darling of the liberal Catholic intelligentsia because of his social philosophy, was suddenly ostracized, his later work ignored. For Maritain, a liberal social policy did not presuppose a liberal Catholic theology, certainly not one at war with the intellectual heritage of the Church. Many American scholars, otherwise cognizant of Maritain’s vast oeuvre, remain unaware of the publication of De l’Église du Christ.
In On the Church of Christ, Maritain speaks of the “profoundly troubled moment” at which he was writing. He calls himself “an old Christian philosopher who has thought about the mystery of the Church for sixty years.”
He is appalled by the appreciable number of Catholic intellectuals who in his judgment employ themselves to destroy the treasure of truth which is the Church’s responsibility to transmit. He would “have done with the tempest of widely diffused foolish ideas that have caused confusion among the faithful.” He would “have done with the demythization of doctrine and the secularization or profanization of a Christianity which our new doctors and spiritual guides would like to entrust to the hands of the sociologist, of the psychoanalysts, of the structuralists, of the Marcusists, of the phenomenologists, and of the pioneers of technocracy.”
The subtitle of On the Church of Christ is indicative of a distinction that is crucial to an understanding of the Church. “Churchmen will never be the Church,” writes Maritain. “One can take a detached view, making positive and negative assessments of the activity of Churchmen throughout the centuries while remaining confident of the holiness of the Church itself.”
This distinction runs through the work, that is, the difference between the “person of the Church” and “her personnel,” the difference between the Church visible to the intellect and the Church as visible, one can say, in the eyes of the public who know it only through the media.
“The Church visible to the intellect” is seen in the writings of Catholic scholars, laymen and laywomen, both on the Continent and throughout the English-speaking world, who have joined Raymond Cardinal Burke and other members of the hierarchy in calling for clarification from the Vatican. Many of these lay scholars, professors, for the most part, may be counted as disciples of Maritain.
Almost as if he were writing today, Maritain acknowledges that inexactness of language often leads some to attribute to the Church an act or decision of her directing personnel without distinguishing whether the act belongs properly to the perpetrator as its sole cause or as an instrument of the Church herself.
He reminds his reader that “it is only the solemn Magisterium of the Pope speaking alone (and not through a Roman Congregation) or when he speaks conjointly with the bishops assembled in General Council (the ordinary Magisterium) that it is the Church speaking and acting, the Church one, holy, and infallible.”
The person of the Church is then, before our very eyes, manifestly at work, and teaching infallibly. Maritain is convinced that even when one of its personnel uses badly his judicial or his moral authority, the person of the Church remains intact, although in a certain indirect manner, which does not render her responsible for the maverick who betrays her spirit.

Share Button

2017 The Wanderer Printing Co.

What US Catholics see as Pope Francis’ most notable action


Washington D.C., Mar 17, 2018 / 04:35 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- What has been Pope Francis’ most notable action so far in his papacy? A group of some 300 U.S. Catholics was recently asked this question in a recent study conducted by the…Continue Reading

Vatican admits doctoring photo of Benedict’s letter praising Pope Francis

VATICAN, March 14, 2018 (LifeSiteNews) — One of the world’s leading news agencies has said the Vatican breached journalistic standards by doctoring a photo of a letter from Benedict XVI praising Pope Francis. According to the Associated Press, the doctoring…Continue Reading

Cardinal Müller: The Pope has no power to change Humanae Vitae

ROME, March 8, 2017 (LifeSiteNews) — The Pope has no power to change or relax the Church’s ban on artificial contraception, just as he can never allow women to be ordained, Cardinal Gerhard Müller said on Wednesday. The former prefect…Continue Reading

Catholic bishops stand by spokesman after racism comment

New Mexico’s three Catholic bishops on Tuesday rejected a call by 33 Republican state legislators to punish the Catholic Church’s spokesman for saying racism played a part in the defeat of an initiative to expand early childhood education. In fact,…Continue Reading

Jim Caviezel tells university students to ‘stand out’ and ‘be saints’

STEUBENVILLE, Ohio, March 5, 2018 (LifeSiteNews) – Catholic actor Jim Caviezel, who famously played Jesus in The Passion of the Christ, told university students on Sunday that they must set themselves apart from this “corrupt generation” and “be saints.” “You weren’t…Continue Reading

Catholic hierarchy to be confronted over gender inequality

“Powerful vested interests” within the Catholic church are being challenged at a conference in Rome on International Women’s Day as calls grow for women to be given positions of authority and influence in the church. In a sign that a new assertive…Continue Reading

Study shows why young Catholics leave the church

They stopped believing in God. They saw a disconnect between what Catholics say and what they do. They disagreed with the church’s stance on social issues such as homosexuality and birth control. They are the growing numbers of young Catholics…Continue Reading

Number of Catholic weddings falls by two-thirds since 1990

The number of Catholic weddings in England and Wales has fallen dramatically in the last 25 years, according to new figures from the Office of National Statistics (ONS). In 2015, the most recent year for which statistics have been recorded,…Continue Reading

Georgetown honors pro-abortion Senator whose bishop just barred him from Communion

WASHINGTON, D.C., February 28, 2018 (LifeSiteNews) – Tonight, Georgetown University will present pro-abortion Senator Dick Durbin, D-IL, whose bishop recently barred him from Holy Communion, with an award for devoting “his life to the core Jesuit value of service to…Continue Reading

Dozens of Catholics arrested as they ask Congress to help ‘Dreamers’

WASHINGTON (CNS) — Dozens of Catholics, including men and women religious, were arrested near the U.S. Capitol Feb. 27 in the rotunda of a Senate building in Washington as they called on lawmakers to help young undocumented adults brought to…Continue Reading

Catholic Church frets that religion ‘slipping off agenda’ in schools

The Catholic Church has raised concerns in meetings with State education officials that religion is “slipping off the agenda” in their schools. In a record of a meeting between the Education and Training Boards Ireland(ETBI) and Catholic Church representatives it was suggested that…Continue Reading


Beyond decades, for generations the Catholic bishops of Texas, saying they are obeying the law, but hiding behind the convenient cover of saying they are fearful of losing their tax exempt status, have said they must remain silent about those…Continue Reading

Untitled 5 Untitled 2

Attention Readers:

  Welcome to our website. Readers who are familiar with The Wanderer know we have been providing Catholic news and orthodox commentary for 150 years in our weekly print edition.

  Our daily version offers only some of what we publish weekly in print. To take advantage of everything The Wanderer publishes, we encourage you to su
bscribe to our flagship weekly print edition, which is mailed every Friday or, if you want to view it in its entirety online, you can subscribe to the E-edition, which is a replica of the print edition.
  Our daily edition includes: a selection of material from recent issues of our print edition, news stories updated daily from renowned news sources, access to archives from The Wanderer from the past 10 years, available at a minimum charge (this will be expanded as time goes on). Also: regularly updated features where we go back in time and highlight various columns and news items covered in The Wanderer over the past 150 years. And: a comments section in which your remarks are encouraged, both good and bad, including suggestions.
  We encourage you to become a daily visitor to our site. If you appreciate our site, tell your friends. As Catholics we must band together to rediscover our faith and share it with the world if we are to effectively counter a society whose moral culture seems to have no boundaries and a government whose rapidly extending reach threatens to extinguish the rights of people of faith to practice their religion (witness the HHS mandate). Now more than ever, vehicles like The Wanderer are needed for clarification and guidance on the issues of the day.

Catholic, conservative, orthodox, and loyal to the Magisterium have been this journal’s hallmarks for five generations. God willing, our message will continue well into this century and beyond.

Joseph Matt
President, The Wanderer Printing Co.

Untitled 1

Interview With Cardinal Burke . . . Discriminating Mercy: Defending Christ And His Church With True Love


  By DON FIER (Editor’s Note: His Eminence Raymond Leo Cardinal Burke, Patron of the Sovereign Military Order of Malta and Founder of the Shrine of Our Lady of Guadalupe in La Crosse, Wis., graciously took time out of his busy schedule to grant The Wanderer a wide-ranging interview during a recent visit to the Shrine. Included among the topics…Continue Reading

Developing Lives Of Peace After The Heart Of Mary

By RAYMOND LEO CARDINAL BURKE (Editor’s Note: His Eminence Raymond Leo Cardinal Burke delivered the address below at the 32nd Annual Church Teaches Forum, “The Message of Fatima: Peace for the World,” Galt House, Louisville, Ky., July 22, 2017. The address is reprinted here with the kind permission of Cardinal Burke. All rights reserved. This is part one of the…Continue Reading


Today . . .

Polish archbishop criticises priest who wished for death of Pope Francis

Former seminary rector Fr Edward Staniek questioned the direction in which Pope Francis was taking the Church A Polish archbishop has criticised a priest and theologian who wished Pope Francis a quick death if he did not open his heart to “wisdom”. Archbishop Marek Jędraszewski of Krakow said he had heard the comments with “great pain and regret” and had spoken to the priest about them. Fr Edward Staniek, a noted theologian and former rector…Continue Reading

Catholic principal defies Planned Parenthood. Her worst enemy? The local bishop.

March 16, 2018 (Rorate Caeli) – It is always local situations that show how deep the problems in the Church are at the present time. The problematic issuances from Rome, Germany and  Chicago are indeed disturbing, but to see how far things have gone, one must go to the local level of the Church:  the diocese and the parish.  Go to a typical parish Mass to see the fruit of the liturgical experiment of the…Continue Reading

Full text of Pope emeritus Benedict’s letter released

The decision to withhold parts of a letter by Pope emeritus Benedict XVI was motivated by concerns for discretion, according to a new statement from the Secretariat for Communications. By Vatican News A statement from the Secretariat for Communication, released by the Press Office of the Holy See, takes note of polemical statements in the press suggesting censorship of a letter by Pope emeritus Benedict XVI. The controversy arose over the digital alteration of a…Continue Reading

Vatican prepares to issue two documents on ‘gender theory’

ROME, March 15, 2018 (LifeSiteNews) – The Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF) and the Congregation for Catholic Education are each preparing to release documents on “gender theory,” the radical ideology behind transgenderism. The Congregation for Catholic Education’s document, expected to be released in the next two months, won’t “enter the heart of the debate,” the dicastery’s secretary Archbishop Angelo Vincenzo Zani said. Instead, it will repeat “important educational principles.” The CDF’s document…Continue Reading

Judge bans pro-lifers from going near abortion centers in unprecedented ruling

WEST BLOOMFIELD, Michigan, March 14, 2018 (LifeSiteNews) – A judge sentenced five pro-life activists today to one year of reporting probation, eight days of community service, more than $1,000 in fines each, and forbade them from going within 500 feet of any abortion facility in the United States. Several of them will likely serve jail time for refusing to pay the fines or perform community service. Some of them could end up being in jail…Continue Reading


Make A Church Post Satan’s Phone Number?

By TERENCE P. JEFFREY (Editor’s Note: Terence P. Jeffrey is the editor-in-chief of Creators Syndicate,, distributes his column.) + + + Jerry Brown once said he saw “the killing of the unborn as crazy.” This was just after the once-and-future pro-abortion governor of California returned to the United States in 1988 after spending…Continue Reading

A Decision From Outer Space

By DONALD DeMARCO A number of science-fiction movies, especially those from the 1950s when the threat of an atomic attack loomed, revolved around a decision made by highly intelligent beings from outer space to destroy all human life on planet Earth. The usual reasons put forth for the destruction were that human beings were violent,…Continue Reading

Globalists & Nationalists: Who Owns The Future?

By PATRICK J. BUCHANAN Robert Bartley, the late editorial page editor of The Wall Street Journal, was a free trade zealot who for decades championed a five-word amendment to the Constitution: “There shall be open borders.” Bartley accepted what the erasure of America’s borders and an endless influx of foreign peoples and goods would mean…Continue Reading

The Stoneman Douglas Shootings And Divine Providence

By C.F. MONTESANO (Editor’s Note: C.F. Montesano is vice president with a maritime trade association in Virginia. He serves as a lector at the Cathedral of St. Matthew in Washington, D.C. Last summer, he was selected by Signum University to be a presenter at its annual “Mythmoot” conference for enthusiasts of J.R.R. Tolkien.) + +…Continue Reading

Key Abuse Charge Against Cardinal Pell Withdrawn

By HANNAH BROCKHAUS MELBOURNE, Australia (CNA/EWTN News) — An Australian prosecutor on March 2 withdrew a charge of abuse against George Cardinal Pell, who is currently undergoing a trial in Australia for accusations of past sexual abuse. The charge was dropped by Prosecutor Mark Gibson March 2 after its key complainant died in January. It…Continue Reading


Our Catholic Faith (Section B of print edition)

The Horror Of The Passion

By FR. ROBERT ALTIER Palm Sunday (YR B) Readings: Mark 11:1-10 Isaiah 50:4-7 Phil. 2:6-11 Mark 14:1-15:47   As we celebrate Palm Sunday, we begin with a Gospel reading recounting our Lord’s entrance into Jerusalem to the joyful shouts of the people proclaiming Him to be the Son of David, that is, the Messiah. Our Lord had preached and worked…Continue Reading

A Leaven In The World… “Fear Is Useless”

By FR. KEVIN M. CUSICK Lent is about death. The Lord’s death, of course: “Unless the grain of wheat falls into the ground and dies it remains just a grain of wheat.” He Himself in His human nature must be the seed of future glory for all of mankind. Fear is mankind’s most instinctive response before the vast and uncharted…Continue Reading

The Sacraments Instituted By Christ . . . Can We Receive Communion In An Eastern Orthodox Church?

By RAYMOND DE SOUZA, KM Part 20 Here we enter a delicate matter, which requires much prudential judgment from the Church. The matter is normally titled Communicatio in sacris, which refers to receiving Holy Communion in separated Eastern Churches. Here the situation is totally different from receiving “communion” in a Protestant church of whatever denomination, because Protestants do not have…Continue Reading

Sacramentals In The Life Of The Church

By DON FIER For almost two years we have been examining the Church’s teaching, as articulated in the Catechism of the Catholic Church (CCC), on the seven sacraments. As has been emphasized repeatedly, it is an infallibly taught dogma of our faith that Christ Himself instituted each of the seven sacraments during His visible stay on Earth. Moreover, it has…Continue Reading

Catholic Replies

Q. In discussing the Arian heresy, which denied the divinity of Christ, a friend wondered why Christ, who is omniscient, would say that only the Father knows the end of the world. Please clarify this. — L.S., via e-mail. A. In Mark 13:32, Jesus said of the day that the world will end, “no one knows, neither the angels in…Continue Reading

Catholic Heroes… St. Clement Mary Hofbauer

By CAROLE BRESLIN It has been said that the four characteristics of good prayer are that it must be sincere, it must be humble, it must be confident, and it must be persevering. This can also be said of the Christian life and a person’s approach to seeking to do the will of God: humble, sincere, confident, and persevering. St.…Continue Reading

Catholic Heroes… Blessed Luigi Orione

By CAROLE BRESLIN Suffering, great persecutions, humiliations, obstacles to entering the religious life — all of these seem to be the lot of those destined to become saints. In fact, without these pains present in their lives, chances are that their causes for canonization would not proceed. Why would someone want to become a saint if that is the path?…Continue Reading