Monday 18th November 2019

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A Book Review . . . The Power Of Truth And Religious Wars

November 8, 2019 Featured Today No Comments

By JEFF MINICK

The Power of Truth: The Challenges to Catholic Doctrine and Morals Today, Gerhard Cardinal Mueller (Ignatius Press, 2019, 174 pages). Order at www.ignatius.com.

The Roman Catholic Church is in schism — not by official fiat, but in spirit.
Consider first the remarks of Fr. Paulo Suess, the 81-year-old liberation theologian and the principal writer behind the Amazon Synod’s working document, the Instrumentum Laboris.
In her article “If ‘Pagan’ Rites Are Part of the Amazon Synod, They’re Still ‘Worship of God’,” LifeSiteNews writer Maike Hickson analyzes an interview Fr. Suess gave to Vatican News, in which he defends pagan symbols and rites being used in the Vatican, calls for married and female priests, declares capitalism a “killing system,” and in an utterly bizarre statement, says: “Whatever the synod decides regarding the presence of the Eucharist is dependent upon what the presence of the Eucharist means to us.”
Contrast Fr. Suess’ views with those of the faithful like Gerhard Cardinal Mueller, former prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of Faith. In another LifeSiteNews article, “Cardinal Mueller: They Have Driven Jesus Out of the Amazon Synod,” October 8, journalist Sandro Magister examines an interview the cardinal gave to the newspaper Il Foglio, which included this paragraph:
“‘In Germany,’ Mueller now says — he (is) a German as well, although he does not govern a diocese and therefore is not part of the episcopal conference — ‘they almost want to refound the Catholic Church. They think that Christ is just a man who lived two thousand years ago, they maintain that He was not a modern man, they are convinced that He had none of their education. They therefore think that it is necessary to fill in these gaps and that it is up to them to act.
“‘In a homily Cardinal Marx asked rhetorically: If Christ were here today, would He say what He said two thousand years ago? But Christ is not a historical figure like Caesar. Jesus Christ is risen and present, He celebrates the Mass through His representative, the ordained priest. He is the subject of the Church, and His Word remains and stands true forever. Christ is the fullness of Revelation, because of which there will be no other revelation. It is we who must seek to know it more and better, but we certainly cannot change it. Christ is unsurpassable and irreversible, and today this does not seem to be very clear at certain latitudes’.”
Here is the canyon of doctrinal and spiritual schism, Fr. Suess on one side, Cardinal Mueller on the other.
In the Introduction to The Power of Truth: The Challenges to Catholic Doctrine and Morals Today, Cardinal Mueller shows his acute awareness of this gulf of separation when he writes “that we might find support of the faith and overcome the present temptation to apostasy, schism, and resignation, but at the same time not succumb to the danger of overestimating ourselves and relying on our own activity instead of on grace — that is the goal of the present book.”
The Power of Truth tackles these various temptations through an examination of the crucial issues within the Church today: the meaning of the Magisterium, the significance of the sacraments, the debate concerning the civilly married and the sacraments, the balance between justice and love, the Church in “dialogue,” the struggle between faith and political witness.
In his discussion of these areas of discord, Cardinal Mueller comes down compassionately but firmly on the side of Tradition. Some of the cardinal’s thoughts require close reading and a pen or pencil to mark significant passages, but he derives his arguments from faith, logic, and reason, and as Timothy Cardinal Dolan of New York writes, “a laser-like focus on Jesus Christ the way, the truth, and the light.”
Cardinal Mueller, for example, addresses the Magisterium and its role as teacher, the sacramental nature of a marriage between a man and woman, and the saving Truth of Christ.
Nor does the cardinal shy away from troubles beyond Church-related matters. Throughout The Power of Truth, he reminds us of the other catastrophes of our time. He opens his Introduction with this sentence: “The political, cultural, and moral crisis of the West is immense and affects all mankind.” On the same page, he brings into his argument then-Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger’s idea of the “dictatorship of relativism.” In the chapter “Who May Receive Communion?” Cardinal Mueller writes a passage vital for all of us to remember, a method of attack that occurs almost daily in our mainstream media:
“Today, theology is often subordinated to ideology and ecclesiastical politics. Instead of exchanging arguments in open debate, one discredits people. Every problem is made to center on persons, and thus it is neutralized. Even if someone knows Holy Scripture by heart, has studied the Fathers of the Church, and proves to be an expert in modern philosophy and science, to discredit him it is enough for some backwater journalist or amateur theologian to call him a ‘conservative,’ and all his knowledge will be neutralized, just as the best wine becomes undrinkable when a drop of poison is mixed into it.”
Finally, The Power of Truth offers subtle criticism of the Church hierarchy and its “paradigm shifts” in the last several years. How, Cardinal Mueller asks, can the Catholic Church “perform her service to God’s truth…if the credibility of many shepherds and teachers of the faith is shaken by seriously immoral conduct?”
What are the consequences, he wonders, if we reject the teaching of Christ regarding marriage and divorce, as some advocate? What happens when we, both the Church and the secular world, treat “the basic human goods of life and marriage…as idiosyncratic myths, like the Greek myths of old?”
At the end of The Power of Truth, Cardinal Mueller writes “in the face of growing confusion about the doctrine of the faith, many bishops, priests, religious, and laypeople of the Catholic Church have requested that I make a public testimony about the truth of Revelation.”
Cardinal Mueller has given these faithful and the rest of us a navigational chart to the “truth of Revelation.” In the storms, tempests, and roiling seas in which we sail, The Power of Truth provides a compass and sextant for surviving those troubled waters.
Two thumbs up on The Power of Truth.

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