Today on the Aude Sapere podcast, we will take a look at the author of the “homosexual passages” of the Synod’s mid-term report which have predictably rocked the headlines around the world.
Full Transcript: (NB: the Transcript is still a work in progress. There are a few significant portions I added in the podcast which were not included in the original). Update 24 October, 2014: In the podcast at a certain point I had an off-script obiter dictum, where, at least it seems like (honestly I can’t remember what I was getting at) I was trying to create a satire juxtaposing Pope Benedict and Cardinal Kasper as two modernists with their own ideas on how to destroy the Church. The context seems clear to me that it was satirical, but all might not take it that way, so to clarify, I do not believe Pope Benedict is an evil modernist trying (or was trying) to destroy the Church. The context in the podcast should make it clear that it was satirical, but in case anyone missed it, there it is.
Second: Welcome to all readers coming from the UK Catholic herald. I noticed a good portion of this article contributed to an article on Archbishop Forte which appeared there.
Meet Bruno Forte
In the wake of the Synod’s midterm Relatio ad disceptationem, the left rejoiced while conservatives and pro-family groups called it a “betrayal”. The matter: 3 paragraphs of the document dealing with homosexuality. These represented, not a mere omission, or an error, but a complete denial of the nature of man, the family, and the idea of sin itself. They represented a complete shirking of the teaching of John Paul II, so recently canonized by Pope Bergoglio, and so clear that a great number of the bishops rose up against the document at the synod. Finger pointing started right away, and the fingers landed on Archbishop Bruno Forte, the Bishop of Chieti-Vasto.
To many the name is unknown. Forte, however, has been a rising star on the Italian theological scene for some time. A world class theologian, he dons Sauraman’s coat of many colors, which all appear as one, and has a voice to match. Multi-lingual, he is a first rate intellectual, penetrating serious philosophical texts. Moreover, he has given sermons, and conferences in England, the United States, Australia, Belgium, and many other countries. He has written numerous books, even one with a foreword by Dr. Scott Hahn. I bet you weren’t expecting that one! Pretty busy guy. His life is full of interesting connections (as we shall see), but in the past there is nothing that clearly marks him with outright support of homosexual unions, or of supporting a gradualism which would neuter the very notion of sin. In fact, some of his writings appear very orthodox. At least those writings that appear in English.
Under surface there are the subtle principles, which ultimately lead to the passages in the Relatio authored by Forte.
Forte was born on August 1st 1949, in the reign of Pope Pius XII, in Napoli (Naples). He completed a classical education, (Latin and Greek) and then went to Seminary, being ordained in 1973 for the diocese of Naples. In 1974 he received his doctorate in theology at the theological faculty of Naples Capodimonte. He furthered his studies in Tübingen and Paris, and in 1977 he graduated in philosophy at the University of Naples. Here we see the first important connections form, for Tübingen is one of the most liberal and progressive faculties in the world. It is also one of the oldest, however, since the 60s, it has predominated with Kantian and Hegelian thought and even its theology was largely subordinated to Marxist political thought, from the testimony of none other than Josef Ratzinger. Furthermore, Tübingen celebrated such “orthodox” theologians as Karl Rahner, its own Hans Kung, and Hans Urs Von Balthasar (the one who wrote meditations on Tarot cards) and, as noted, the young Josef Ratzinger. It is impossible to know who Forte may have met while he was in Tübingen, because no biographical information is available that tells us precisely when he was there. It would appear at least two semesters between 1972 and 1974. We know that Cardinal Ratzinger left in 1968, however, in 1970 Walter Kasper became the dean of the theology faculty in Tübingen, and most certainly would have been there when Forte studied. Yes, the same Walter Kasper who today is a cardinal, and who today is pushing to alter the Church’s teaching on the divorce and re-married, the Holy Eucharist, homosexuality and other things. The same Cardinal Kasper who said “We don’t want to hear from Africans about these things”, the same Kasper that denied making such statements, until the recording came out. This early connection is important, because it would form the relationships which we see today. Moreover, Forte became a dedicated disciple of Karl Rahner, who needs no introduction to traditionalists. Rahner, who was censored in the early 1960’s for publicly questioning doctrines with a note of de fide, later had the censororial note removed by John XXIII who invited him to become a peritus at Vatican II.
For those who are unaware of the serious errors in Rahner’s thought, (which would require many volumes), I will read here a snippet from Fr. John Harden, S.J., well remembered as a faithful and orthodox Jesuit in the post Vatican II years:
“We get some idea of how deeply this error has penetrated Catholic thought, when we read what
Karl Rahner writes about the Eucharistic consecration. Rahner therefore is the first of the two master teachers of profound error on the Real Presence. I will quote now from Rahner’s language, not always so clear, I chose the clearest part that I could find. Quote Karl Rahner, “the more recent approaches suggest the following considerations, one has to remember that the words of institution indicate a change. But not give any guiding line for the interpretation of the actual process. As regarding transubstantiation it may be said, the substance, essence, meaning and purpose of the bread are identical but the meaning of a thing can be changed without changing the matter. The meaning of the bread has been changed through the consecration, something which served profane use now becomes the dwelling place and the symbol of Christ who is present and gives Himself to His own.” unquote Karl Rahner. From the Encyclopedia of Theology edited by Rahner and defining the meaning of transubstantiation. What takes place through the Eucharistic consecration the significance the meaning attached to the bread changes but the bread remains bread. Rahner’s ideas are permeating the Eucharistic theology of whole nations.” (Source) This is the man Forte took as a guide and follows absolutely as a starting principle for his theological predication, as is clear to anyone reading his works. In fact, I would dare say he is a modern day Rahner, permeating whole nations with his errors.
Forte was appointed as an ordinary member of the Pontifical Academy of Theology, the International Theological Commission and the Pontifical International Marian Academy; member of the Pontifical Council for Culture and consultant to the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity ; chaired the Preparatory Commission document “Memory and Reconciliation,” which accompanied the request for forgiveness of John Paul II in the Jubilee of 2000. Anyone remember the famous pleas of John Paul II for the world to forgive the “church’s sins”? Some of the things in the Church’s history are pretty bad, but not everything on that list is something that requires forgiveness. Nevertheless for that, Forte was the author.
Protege of Kasper and Martini
In the hey day of his academic appointments in the 70s, Forte began to run in various other circles, where he met the rector of the Pontifical Biblical Commission, the future Cardinal Archbishop of Milan, Carlo Maria Martini.
A lot of conservatives have forgotten about him, since he has passed on to his reward, and we’re pretty glad of it. Nevertheless we should not forget him, because his influence lives on, right on through this most recent synod. Martini distinguished himself in the post-conciliar years as a strong opponent of religious orthodoxy and a champion of liberals in the curia. He formally denied Humanae Vitae, and strongly opposed it long after it was issued, he believed in religious indifferentism, recognition of same-sex civil unions, basked in the praise of the world, and when exiled to Milan by John Paul II, became even more of a media star by regularly attacking the Church. Martini, as the champion of the liberals, also pushed for changes in the Church’s teaching on divorce and remarriage, and it has been said correctly that the recent synod, while short on the Holy Ghost, is not short on Martini’s ghost. The then Monsignor Bruno Forte was very impressed by Martini’s stardom and became a part of his circle. Whether out of ideological conviction or to ride the Cardinal’s coat tails to fame we don’t know, though Forte would make a name for himself on his own. In 1985, at an Ecclesial conference in Loreto, which was about questions on the Church and government and the Church’s voice in public, Martini declared that the old model of an authoritative Church had to give way to a synodal Church, with no more timeless dogmas but instead, where the Church would adjust her teachings based on the subjective experience of the world. It is this which caused the major break between Martini and John Paul II, who opposed Martini’s vision. The keynote address at this conference, in ’85, was given by none other than Monsignor Bruno Forte, in full support of Martini’s program. Little wonder we see him today actively doing this same thing at the synod.
His relationship and proximity to Martini blossomed into a lifelong friendship, for, when Martini was dying, Forte frequently visited him. Forte has just recently written a book commemorating Martini for the second anniversary of his death, loaded with glowing praise for him, titled Cardinale Carlo Maria Martini, fedele alla storia, fedele alla eterna, “Cardinal Martini, faithful to history, faithful to the Lord. He he said “I speak of him with a heavy heart adding that the effort of objectivity affection, gratitude and deep admiration.”iMoreover, Forte tells us in his own words about his relationship with Martini: [Audio from Australian lecture].
This glowing book and these gracious words of course, are not disturbed by the novissima verba of the late Cardinal Martini, who in his last interview, said: “The church is tired, in the Europe of well-being and in America. Our culture has become old, our churches and our religious houses are big and empty, the bureaucratic apparatus of the church grows, our rites and our dress are pompous. Do these things, however, express what we are today? … Well-being weighs on us. We find ourselves like the rich young man who went away sad when Jesus called him to be his disciple. I know that we can’t let everything go easily. At least, however, we can seek people who are free and closest to their neighbor, like Archbishop Romero and the Jesuit martyrs of El Salvador. Where are the heroes among us who can inspire us? By no means do we have to limit them by the boundaries of the institution….The question of whether the divorced can receive communion ought to be turned around. How can the church reach people who have complicated family situations, bringing them help with the power of the sacraments?…The church is 200 years behind the times. Why doesn’t it stir? Are we afraid? Is it fear rather than courage?” (Source) In other words, everything in the Church is wrong, unless we discard dogma and surrender to the world. This is the man, whom Forte himself tells us, he calls every week and looks to as a father.
Interestingly, in 2004, Forte preached a lenten retreat for then Pope John Paul II, and the late pope reportedly said “God will reward you.” According to Vaticanista Marco Palmo, that actually means God will make you a Bishop. Whatever the truth or falsity of that analysis, 3 months later it did happen, although God did not do it, but a Cardinal, none other than then Cardinal Josef Ratzinger, later Pope Benedict XVI. According to Alessandro Zigrando, in the Winter 2005 edition of Latin Mass Magazine (quoted in the Remnant), Forte’s name was on no official list submitted by the Italian Bishops for the vacant see of Chieti-Vasto, and moreover, his own Bishop, of Naples, was against it. Yet it went through, consecrated by the head of the CDF himself.
Though Forte was a disciple of Martini, who set himself up as opposition to both John Paul II and Benedict XVI, Forte ran in many of the same Tübingen circles as Ratzinger. Forte, as a major intellectual, found it easy to have common rapport with Ratzinger. Because ultimately, as surprising as this particular connection appears, we must remember that Pope Benedict was a very modern Pope, he was not a traditionlaist reactionary, the way the media attempted to represent it. Ratzinger was a modern Tübingen theologian, who viewed tradition and the beauty of holiness as necessary antithesis to the thesis of modernity, which would produce the synthesis, the next stage of the Church’s existence. He did not have a commitment to these in themselves except in as much as they appeal to Benedict’s personal tastes. Forte is very much of the same mode, and while he formally rejects Hegelian monism of the spirit, he has fully embraced hegelian dialectic.
Like Pope Francis, while raised before the council, he was ordained after, and can properly be considered a Vatican II Bishop, as his whole priestly experience is characterized by Vatican II. We can even go further, as a disciple of Martini, Forte was ready to see the most radical and far reaching changes to the Church’s doctrine by whatever means.
The Pontificate of Benedict XVI
There were many liberals who went underground when Benedict became Pope. Many softened and moderated positions, later going in an opposite direction when Francis became Pope. Forte is no exception to this.
Whether because of a connection in Tübingen, or of a common interest in higher theology, Palmo floated a rumor, then very prevalent, that Forte was the next CDF chair, until Levada filled the seat. Nevertheless this shows Forte’s prominence under Benedict XVI, in spite of his allegiance to Martini Kasper and Rahner. Forte was entirely opposed to Summorum Pontificum, and limited its application as much as possible in his own diocese. Why? Forte himself tells us, in his commentary on Benedict’s letter to the Bishops of the world, after lifting the “excommunication” of the four SSPX Bishops:
“I deeply regret,” remains the authority of the witness, which confirms the choice of the primacy of love in spite of everything and above all. A love offered to those who had separated from the Church haughtily. A love that asks truth and faithfulness, because from Vatican II there is no going back, and the Lefebvrians will be in full communion and lawfully exercise their ministry only when they have explicitly stated trust and obedience to the Council and to the Magisterium of Popes John XXIII in and then-on.”
Thus, the Traditional Mass is seen by Forte, just as it is by Martini his spiritual father, as going back. Your turning back before that great event by the Holy Spirit, by which the Church realized it had been wrong for 1930 years and had at last its new Pentecost to replace the wrong-headed old one.
Interestingly, when Pope Benedict confirmed the demand for episcopal conferences to change the language of the institution narrative of the New Rite from “For all” back to “For many”, Forte shockingly supported it. This is interesting, because liberals everywhere widely opposed this, and many Italian publications, such as Sandro Magister’s blog, Messa in Latino, and it was even noted by Fr. Z, all under the title of “The Conversion of Bruno Forte”. Forte’s conversion was shocking to many, and caused many to say, how progressive is he? Is he turning around? We know now that he has not, or if it was a conversion it was short-lived. The question is why go against the consensus of liberals? The answer is because Forte was going along to get along. You see this in another venue, which we’ll discuss at the end.
Let us try and uncover a little bit of what Archbishop Forte thinks.
First, I want to quote from Archbishop Forte’s essay:
“In the field of theology, the need to express objectivity of the truth against the adventures of the emerging subjectivity leads above all the Catholic teaching to present without solution of continuity the strongly speculative reflection of Scholasticism, progressively impoverishing it from every presence of concrete Christology that could even just give the impression of an exemplaristic and subjectivistic intent. The very use of the Scriptures is ever more reduced to a collection of probing arguments or of pious sayings, up to reaching the conceptual aridity of manuals. It is not surprising then that Christological piety, separated from the theology of the Schools, would find nourishment through other ways that go from the accentuation of union with Christ, a characteristic of Pierre de Bérille (+ 1629), to the spirituality of annihilation in conformity with Him who is priest and victim, to the Janseenist rigorism of Christ Judge, to the devotion to the Sacred Heart as a way to entering in the intimacy of the mystery of Christ Love whose thoughts, affections and desires are scrutinized and imitated (St. John Eudes: + 1680).”
Right off the bat, he has poisoned the well. Scholasticism is highly speculative but lacks subjectivity. Translation: too much adherence to principles. The manuals? Conceptually arid. Translation: brilliant theology following through with scholastic principles and uncovering incredible teachings building up the deposit of faith that are inconvenient to modern churchmen. Therefore, heresies and devotions spring up on one side or the other. The purpose of this type of language, is to suggest that everyone was stupid, and that there was no real theology until the moment of the council. They can get away with this, because generally most people do not read Latin and can’t fact check. It is the same thing that they do with Ecclesiology. They act as though Vatican II invented Ecclesiology, whereas in fact the discipline goes back hundreds of years. It is not new. Its just what they taught for hundreds of years, unanimously, from sound principles following from the Fathers and Doctors, shows that what they teach now is erroneous. They can’t refute it, so they dismiss it as “conceptually arid”.
That is just for starters. Now, we will turn to this from an 18 October, 2008 conference, on John XXIII and Vatican II, where Forte gave a speech.
I must note, that I am indebted to the Italian blog Messa in Latino, for providing so much of Forte’s thought and saving me from buying his books. The translation that follows is mine from the Italian, although, I must posit that these are ad hoc translations and not my best. I am linking up the Italian original in the endnotes, so anyone who wants can produce a better translation.
“[..] The Vatican II council is a turning point in history, in the first place as it has promoted a renewed awareness of the primacy of the Word of God and the Church of the crucial importance of its alive and life-giving transmission for the existence of the believer: the inspired Scripture is cultured as force acting in a living mediation of history, to be combined with all due respect for its sovereignty, but also with the whole truth of our questions because it is actualized in today.
[but that the Scripture should be “updated in today”, or is it not rather the Christian of all ages, yesterday, today and tomorrow, to have to deal with a Scripture that speaks for all time? And in that sense our questions are necessarily true? And ‘This is a form of Catholic existentialism].
“The process of reception of the Word of God in the life and history of the council has given a new, extraordinary impulse, which has made perhaps the Catholic Church – between all Christian denominations – one in which today the Bible is the most widely read and proclaimed: yes think of the enormous effort of translation and dissemination of the text of the Holy Scriptures in the post-conciliar Church and the large field of exegesis and biblical theology in the service of God’s people. That which is born as a result of this process is a community of adult Christians formed listening to the Word of revelation, a community rich in an ever new impulse of evangelization.
[alas, these Christians are so “adults”, so “created by the word,” so helped by this “post-conciliar Church” (expressions of His Excellence) that (survey de La Croix, the French Avvenire) 67% of the practitioners no longer believe in the Real Presence of Jesus Christ in the Eucharist (curiously, the percentage of the unbelievers is slightly lower than among non-practitioners, perhaps because, deserting the churches, adults are less and less listening to the Word formats). Note also this term “adult” Christians, as though now we’ve grown up, while earlier generations were “childish” who have gone before us].”
At the core of what the teaching of the council has developed in this field, you can capture the experience of the Pope who proclaimed it: refer to the revelation contained in the Bible, meditated continuously, and the history of its reception in the faith of the Church, Roncalli was never for an act of nostalgia or retreat into the past, but always intensely on the present as a source of light and hope. [..]
Of course there have been, or could not miss in the years of the post-conciliar, critical steps such as that concerning the dialectic between the development of biblical exegesis in its historical-critical aspect and the use of the Church of the Bible, including the spread of the Word of God among the faithful and the recurring resistance against scientific exegesis of sacred texts. The reception of the Council has been and is in this sense a construction site still open: the challenge to rediscover and live the mystery of the Church as a “creature of the Word”, continuously generated by the Word of God and called to be its voice for the salvation of the world, is still largely open.
[the idea that the application of the Council is a construction site still open we can agree with the Archbishop. But we humbly think, and this he certainly has other ideas, that the application of the Council soon took a road with no exits, which led to iconoclastic destruction so as to build a future without the past. They are always talking about the Bible, the Word, but then when the Word has something inconvenient in it, like Christ’s clear words on divorce and remarriage, or homosexuality, ala Romans 1:25, the Bible has to be updated. What this “Word” is can only exist in the mind of the progressives, and it is precisely that which they want to ram-rod into the Church before they’re all dead, because the younger generation wants nothing to do with it.
However, the intuition of Vatican II, which has sprung from the mind and heart of the good Pope, remains a point of no return [!], As a starting always with renewed zeal for the service of the Gospel and the good of the Church and of ‘whole human family, to which nothing higher can give believers that the springs of living water of the Holy Scripture and its transmission witnessing the faith of God’s people
Vatican II is offered as the council of the story for the vigorous attention to the present, that “Meanwhile,” which is between the “already” the first coming of Christ and the “not yet” of his return: the consciousness of today inspired by the pastoral instance which is the foundation of everything that the council he said. This is demonstrated by the very genesis lively and sometimes painful of the conciliar texts, often in a tension evident between mentality linked to the past and to its preservation and open feeling to the present of God in time and to the future of His promise
[Present of the sixties, which in many ways looks dated compared to our present, the twenty-first century. Note the phrasing: conservation the past is a “mindset” that is a kind of whim, as opposed to ductile “sensitivity”, that is “open to the present of God” (whatever that means, if it means anything really) and could even hinder the future of the divine promise: severe faults, the Conservatives].
[..] Measure all about God and His will, in a horizon of faith and hope, gives birth in Angelo Giuseppe Roncalli also an assessment of urgent ecclesial free and open as ever, starting with the attitude convinced in favor of the search for unity among divided Christians. [..]. The insistence that results is to consider “not what divides the soul, but what they can unite in mutual understanding and mutual respect” (Ad Petri Cathedram, 465). In light of this confident look – well rooted in fidelity to God’s gift – you delineate the necessary renewal of the Church, the Pope’s intuition that goes in the texts of the council: “Another is the substance of the ancient doctrine of the deposit of faith and the other is the formulation of his jacket. Nowadays, the Spouse of Christ prefers to make use of the medicine of mercy rather than that of severity: it considers to meet the needs of today showing the validity of his doctrine rather than condemnation “(Address at the Opening of the council, 569). From this vision came in the post-conciliar experience and critical reflections of faith, as well as options theological and pastoral born in different cultural situations, that they intended to act as a development – more or less coherent – the legacy of Vatican II. Of course, this process has not been without difficulties: in the time of “renewal”, linked to a new spring, was followed by a state of “crowding out” the result of the new awareness of the diversity of cultures, historical and political urgencies, needs and expressions of spiritual and religious. The “crowding out” was outlined in detail in the emergence of new geographic locations of theological development (Latin America, Africa, Asia) alongside the traditional European monopoly of new players (primarily that of lay men and women), new methods , especially in relation to the emergence of the importance of practice for the thought of the faith.
[Perbacco: His Excellency can still use this expression which, like that of a “new Pentecost”, has become almost a caricature fanaticism pseudo springtime, given the undeniable winter chill that is under the eyes of all and that Paul VI denounced in his famous speech on the “smoke of Satan” and the spring-time has changed into winter],
[It, moreover, seems that a discourse on the reception of the Council is defective if it does not act with honesty of the collapse of all the indicators of the faith (vocations, religious practices, access to sacraments) following the “spring reconcile.” Instead we read just a hint at some “difficulties” and to a “crowding out” (count the convents closed in recent decades, in your diocese, consider the silent apostasy of entire continents, denounced by Pope John Paul II, and tell us if this expression is not an understatement). And not only in the words of the Archbishop, this seems little more than a moment of adjustment, intended to be passed as soon as it is accepted the new role of the laity and women or the emergence of new theological schools in Africa, which honestly we know nothing, in South America, where the only voice is that of liberation theology; in Asia, the cradle of syncretistic “theology of religions”.]
On the whole, however, remains as a motive inspiring the intuition of Pope John XXIII on the primacy of the dialogue of charity and mercy for the resolution of the tensions and possible conflicts. (source: http://blog.messainlatino.it/2009/01/ermeneutica-della-discontinuit-in.html)
Now let’s look at Forte’s book, Gesù di Nazaret, Storia di Dio, Dio della Storia (Jesus of Nazareth, history of God, God of history).
This is where Forte really lays out the basic principles of his thought, and undeniably he has proceeded according to them throughout his career, culminating in his work in producing the now infamous Relatio of the Synod report. Let us look at some key passages:
“The allegorical assumption and typological interpretation: It is in believing that the historical development can not touch the “timeless” truth contained in revelation: this assumption is untenable, however, for anyone who is serious about becoming a man of the Word and not to confuse the truth- faithfulness of the God of the Bible with timeless and unchanging truth of the greek god.” (P.69)ii
Let us recall here what Cardinal Martini said in his last interview. This language of internalizing the word and letting that guide the Church. This basically is another predication of Luther’s early principle, singuli docti intus a Deo solo, or, Each man is taught inwardly by God alone. The same is the case for Forte here. There is no truth outside of ourselves to which we must conform, rather, it would appear that we must conform to the inner conscience, formed by reading the “Word”. Moreover, the course of history, he argues, forms truths, it does not progress around a “timeless” truth, e.g. Catholic dogma. What Forte is working us to is nothing more than a continuance of the 19th century liberal theologian Adolf Harnack. For Harnack, religion was a subjective experience, realized culturally in a given time-period, and progressively accumulating ideas and doctrines. For him, the idea that there were eternal truths came from the Hellenic heritage, not necessarily from the Gospel. Forte is continuing this. So let’s uncloak his meanings. The idea that there is timeless truth [i.e. dogma, or revelation to be believed always, everywhere and by all] is untenable, because thanks to Vatican II we are now people of the word, and we live by our subjective experience.
“The preparation of the Old Testament for the New Testament is to be found … not in the sense of allegory (as does the dominant trend in the Christian tradition), but in that of history; of a becoming that is the revelation of a history of the Word, which can not be separated from the concrete and contradictory progressiveness of the journey of Israel, but is accomplished in and through it, no according to harmonious advances of the future, but in the harsh laws of ‘daily exodus towards the future […] The Scriptures are not symbols or allegories of what will happen later in the work and destiny of Jesus [they] do not contain “timeless” truth.” (69-70).iii
With a few lines, Forte completely dismisses the tradition as irrelevant. This is necessary because Forte’s modernism, like that of his predecessors, Harnack and Rahner, or his “spiritual Father” Martini, requires a new start, a tabula rasa on which to write a new church, a new doctrine, and a new humanity, but cloaked and clothed in the vestige of the older language and tradition. The Tradition, on the other hand, that is every Catholic thinker from the beginning until 1965, is that the scriptures present us with the unfolding of God’s revelation in the old testament, which prepared the way for and was fulfilled by the new. It is also a denial of Christ’s own words at the Last Supper, the “New and everlasting covenant”. It is necessary for the modernists to reduce Christ’s work to a mere social gospel that is instructional for us. I wonder if Forte realizes that this is against Vatican II itself?
“What sense is the event of the Cross for the suffering in the world? What happened on that Friday for the history of the world? The Gospel of Mark, which probably refers to the tradition more faithful to the chronicle of events, shows how Jesus’ dying words the cry of Psalm 22: “My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me.” It is the “dereliction of Jesus” … which was always a bone of contention in the Christian interpretation of the “Mysterium Crucis”, and is now at the center of “Theologies of the suffering of God,” who seek a deeper understanding of the ultimate meaning of the Crucifix the passion of the world. […] The question is charge of torment through the pain, the anguish of not understand its meaning. The question of the Son echoes the anguish of all the suffering of the story: even the crucifix suffering is a mystery! The question stems from the experience of a real abandonment, absence and silence of Him, whom the Nazarene would have expected more presence in the hour of the Cross, a guarantee of its certification messianic … painful abandonment, however, he responds by offering; is abandoned, not desperate. […] In fact, the Son was sent by the Father: there is already sending in this pain of separation from the Father … If the Son suffers is because the Father suffers, preceding him on the Via Dolorosa … At the suffering of the Son … is therefore matched by the suffering of the Father: God as Father who is suffering on the Cross provides, as the Son who offers himself as the Spirit, which is love emanating from their suffering love. (Pp.28-30.).iv
Where do you even start? The first thing I want to look at is the point about the Gospel of Mark. There is a consensus in historico-critical biblical scholarship, which divides the gospels and questions their authority. The first part is shirking the tradition that Matthew wrote first, then Mark, and so on. Instead, this theory (first popularized at Tübingen) holds that there was an original source, a Q-source (for in German Quell means source) and that source contains the original narrative, then Mark wrote first and adapted his narrative, then Matthew adapted Mark’s narrative, then Luke adopted Matthew’s. This is inseparable from the claims that Matthew and John did not write their gospels, but were products of a Matthean and Johanine “community”, where as Mark and Luke are affirmed to have written. It should be clear, of course, that Forte subscribes to this wholesale, especially in declaring Mark’s account “more faithful” and trustworthy. This theory is none sense on a scientific level without a shred of any proof. Firstly there has never been a “q-source” discovered, or any fragment of it, nor is there any testimony of it amongst the fathers. Someone would remember this on the most important source for Our Lord’s life. The Q-source theory is simply an argument from silence. Second, why say Matthew and John did not write, but Mark and Luke did? Modernists have argued this for years, because the first thing you do in any courtroom is breakdown the witnesses. Matthew and John are witnesses, Mark and Luke are not. It is an easy way to question elements of the biblical narrative. (on the other hand, it would put those in Forte’s position in a bind on divorce and remarriage, since the so-called “exception clause” appears in Matthew, not the supposedly more faithful Mark, so what then? But the modernists aren’t worried about their inconsistencies, they just move on to a new meta-narrative). Nevertheless it is a segue, but a larger point contained in the Archbishop’s obiter dicta, which goes again that they are not interested in the Bible as a way to better understand God’s revelation, but, in good modernist fashion, how to adapt the bible to understand us better.
Frankly, the commentary on this passage at Messa in Latino is perhaps better than anything I could come up with, so I have translated it, and augmented it as needed.
From Messa in Latino:
1 Ignorance of Christ in relation to the ultimate meaning of suffering.
This statement assumes that human ignorance of Christ and excludes that He had on earth the “knowledge of the blessed”; a similar hypostasis, though it may appear attractive, in fact conceals an inadequate understanding of the hypostatic union. Forte argues that the traditional doctrine of the perfect human knowledge of Christ is a “parody of humanity,” a “psychological Monophysitism” (pp. 200-201). He argues that “it would be possible to implement the” immediate vision of God “in the man Jesus but interpreting it in terms of pre-conceptual unreflective consciousness: in this way the” vision of God “in the first place would be stripped of the Nazarene’s nature of bliss, which contrasts prominently with his true humanity “(pp.204-207). As a result Forte admits that Christ had the theological virtues of faith and hope (p.209), which we know from the tradition is in fact heretical.
The strange notion of a “vision of God non-beatific and unreflective” proposed by Forte generates serious drawbacks. How is it possible that the vision of God is not in itself blessed? In that way a natural faculty, that is, the human subconscious (home of all unreflective knowledge) could have in itself an object of supernatural knowledge (which is the Incarnation of the Word) without being elevated by grace? In that way, the knowledge of vision might thwart the true humanity of Christ. The origin of these paradoxes is essentially an incorrect understanding of the relationship between the natural order and the natural order.
On the other hand, the Magisterium of the Church, in relation to human knowledge of Christ, has always taught differently from Forte (Decree Lamentabili, July 3, 1907, DH 3432-3434; Decree of the Holy Office, June 5, 1918, DH 3645-3647).
2 The actual abandonment of man (Nazarene) by God on the Cross.
Assumes the separability of the two natures of Christ. It is contrary to the definition of Chalcedon (DZ 302).
3 The separation took place in God following the mission of the Son.
This shatters the unity of the divine Essence and blows away the concept of mission as taught by the unanimous theological tradition. It admits a separation between the divine hypostasis and consequently means not accepting the consubstantiality and renews the error of Arius.
4 Suffering in God.
“[The council] excludes those who dare to assert clerical order subject to the divinity of suffering”: so teaches Chalcedon (DZ 300). No one will deny that their magisterial in this sense are abundant and unanimous.
This last point deserves some consideration, because today it was generally inclined to believe too harsh judgments of those who exclude the possibility of suffering of God. Doctrine of the suffering of God has its roots in German idealism; but not in the pan-logistical system of Hegel, but in the last Schelling’s philosophy (philosophy of Revelation). Let’s try to summarize the content. In the world there is evil and suffering; they are essentially incompatible with the goodness of God who is love and therefore appear to be justified; the only way to be able to admit the possibility is to say that the pain and suffering are “originally” in God; man suffers because God himself suffers. This doctrine denies the divine immutability and impassibility and thereby rejects the concept of God as it was revealed to him and proposed infallibly by the Church (Vatican Council I, Dei Filius, DZ 3001: “God is a spiritual substance only and singular, absolutely simple and immutable “).
We note, incidentally, that according to Catholic theology suffering entered the world as a result of human sin. Admit the possibility of suffering in God, it means changing its origin in God and establish the possibility and the actuality of evil, which is obviously absurd.
The doctrine of the mutability of God is precisely the heart of the theology of Forte: God is not the ‘Ipsum esse subsistens, but the Fieri. God is becoming. The immutability of God is to be understood “historically” as God’s faithfulness to his promises and not “metaphysically” as an ontological perfection.
Worst of all, is on page 103 and after, where Forte denies the resurrection itself. He argues that if the resurrection had occurred historically, faith would be superfluous. In addition, referring to Mc 16.1 to 8, Forte considers “unlikely” that women have gone to the tomb to “anoint a corpse at such a distance from death” (Ibid., pg 103, n 31). The empty tomb is the origin of a mythical suggestion of the disciples, inherited by the Christians (cf. Ibid., P 103, n 35). Therefore, the empty tomb, as other details about the gospel resurrection, it would be a ‘test’ manufactured by the community.”
This is nothing new in the way of modernist theology. Maybe this is how Forte intends to breath a deeper Christology into theology to keep from being arid. Either way, in his mind, this is a perfectly consistent position, which is part of the great error. To him, this is a further predication of an authentic dogmatic teaching, even though to the clear thinking, it is an obvious departure (to put it nicely). This is curious, since In 2011, Forte gave a resounding defense of the historicity of the resurrection. One would wonder about this, given his earlier argument in Gesu di Nazaret, where he took the line of Harnack and Rahner, as we have seen. Why would Forte do this? Did he have an actual conversion on this point? One would think, if this was the case, that he would repudiate his earlier point in his book on Our Lord from 1994, especially given that book is still for sale, though not in English translation. Curiously, Forte’s English language wikipedia page, which is very sparse on details of his life and his teaching, nevertheless devotes a third of its time to Forte’s condemnation of the attempt to find Jesus’ tomb. Of all the many writings and books of Forte, it is curious that the English language wikipedia page, the first place that the 2nd most widely spoken language in the world will see first, is all about Forte defending Christ’s resurrection, which he formally had denied (while making no remark on the prior fact).
I don’t think it is a mere oversight. We know wikipedia pages can be manipulated very easily. I think it is done purposefully, to re-invent Forte as a center-right theologian for the Benedict Pontificate, to confuse us as to what he actually thinks. Moreover, should Forte be appointed to a higher position, immediately, and he knows it, his earlier denial of the resurrection will come out and scandalize the faithful. So this needs to be there, so the facile defenders of everything that a Pope does will point to his wikipedia and say no, don’t worry, he believes in the resurrection, look at this. Absent any specific disavowal of his earlier thesis, I don’t believe it.
There is much more we could go into, and this analysis merely scratches the surface. It should be clear, however, that the so-called “homosexual paragraphs” of the Relatio which Forte is the clear author are simply a function of history shaping the Church, and for him, completely consistent with who the Catholic Church is. For, we have shown, Forte does not believe in a Church wherein Christ gave revelation to his apostles with the command to guard it, explicate it and pass it on to all nations, substituting others for them to continue to the end of the age, under the guidance of the Holy Ghost, rather, a Church that is inherently changeable, whose doctrines are not “timeless”, but revolve around individuals and cultures, therefore it is no surprise that Forte assisted in writing the famous Juiblee apologies of John Paul II, for, in that reading the Church should apologize for binding men to a teaching that is not timeless.
It has been rumored, no surprise frankly, that Muller is on his way out as head of the CDF. No formal speculation has appeared in the Italian press as yet as to who will take up Muller’s spot, instead they seem to argue that the CDF will be deconstructed to remove its authority. I would argue, that rather than do that, Papa Bergoglio will make sure its apparatus is at his service rather than to those nasty conservatives that he enjoys condescending to entertain from time to time. The best placed man to take up that post is none other than Forte. That is my prediction, look for that to appear in the coming months.
In the aftermath of Bergoglio’s failure to control the synod, Forte has been revealed like a Sauraman without his power, but he still has his persuasive voice. Bergoglio is the type of man who forgets nothing and learns nothing, so he will try the same game again next year, but with his people in the right places, and the Burkes, Mullers, and Pells of the ecclesiastical world out of the way, and the Africans as the liberal intelligentsia have always wanted them: silent and submissive.
iParlo di lui con ‘cuore pensante’, unendo cioè allo sforzo dell’oggettività l’affetto, la gratitudine e l’ammirazione profonda.
ii(Il presupposto dell’interpretazione allegorico-tipologica) Sta nel ritenere che lo sviluppo storico non possa toccare le verità “intemporali” contenute nella rivelazione: questo presupposto però è insostenibile per chi prenda sul serio il divenire uomo del Verbo e non confonda la verità-fedeltà del Dio biblico con la verità immutabile ed intemporale del dio greco.
iiiLa preparazione veterotestamentaria al Nuovo Testamento va cercata…non nel senso dell’allegoria ( come ritiene la tendenza dominante nella tradizione cristiana ), ma in quello della storia; di un divenire cioè della rivelazione , di una storia della Parola, che non prescinde dalla concreta e contraddittoria progressività del cammino d’Israele, ma si compie in e attraverso di essa, non secondo armoniche anticipazioni del futuro, ma secondo le dure leggi dell’esodo quotidiano verso l’avvenire […] Le Scritture non sono simboli o allegorie di ciò che poi avverrà nell’opera e nel destino di Gesù […] non contengono verità “intemporali”.
ivChe senso ha l’evento della Croce per la sofferenza del mondo? Che cosa è avvenuto in quel Venerdì Santo per la storia del mondo? Il Vangelo di Marco, che riferisce probabilmente la tradizione più fedele alla cronaca dei fatti, riporta come parole di Gesù morente il grido del Salmo 22: «Mio Dio, mio Dio, perché mi hai abbandonato?». È la “derelictio Jesu ”…che ha costituito sempre una pietra di scandalo nella interpretazione cristiana del “Mysterium Crucis ”, ed oggi è al centro delle “ Teologie della sofferenza di Dio ”, che cercano in una più profonda intelligenza del Crocifisso il senso ultimo della passione del mondo. […] La domanda è carica del tormento che attraversa la sofferenza, il travaglio di non comprenderne il senso. Nell’interrogativo del Figlio risuona l’angoscia di tutti i sofferenti della storia: anche per il Crocefisso la sofferenza è un mistero ! L’interrogativo nasce dall’esperienza di un reale abbandono , dall’assenza e dal silenzio di Colui, del quale il Nazareno più avrebbe atteso la presenza nell’ora della Croce, a garanzia della sua attestazione messianica…All’abbandono doloroso, però, egli risponde con l’offerta; è l’abbandonato, non il disperato. …] In realtà, il Figlio è stato mandato dal Padre: già in questo invio c’è un distacco doloroso per il Padre…Se il Figlio soffre è perché il Padre soffre , precedendolo sulla via dolorosa…Alla sofferenza del Figlio…fa dunque riscontro una sofferenza del Padre: Dio soffre sulla Croce come Padre che offre, come Figlio che si offre, come Spirito, che è amore promanante dal loro amore sofferente.
Bruno Forte’s Italian Wikipedia page: http://it.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bruno_Forte
Hello! I have had a short argument with some Balthasar fans on a facebook page called “Fathers of the Church”. I am really the amateur when it comes to this kind of stuff, but I took a shot at it. My comments are below. I was wondering if you would like to turn your far cleverer mind to the task of analyzing Balthasar…. [Athanasius Contra Mundum: I don’t really have the time just now, and von Balthasar is not a source I want to muddle in. If any reader wants to pick that up I’ll publish this comment and leave that open]
Balthasar was an innovator in a time when innovation, ANY innovation, was warmly embraced. “The most disconcerting feature of Balthasar’s hope for universal salvation is that its logic appears to require an assumption of Christ’s ignorance and fallibility.” The Church was emasculated by such innovation, and now we are left with pews full of old ladies much like the Protestant denominations. The Church Militant must awaken from the dreams woven by imaginative innovators like Balthasar. Saint Thomas More also indulged in innovative ideas, but he recognized them as fictional musings and never confused them with reality. Balthasar’s speculations are simply being inflated beyond their true measure by acolytes of innovation.
Balthasar’s “Descent into Hell” resurrects Calvin’s “second death” with his “suspension of the incarnation” on Holy Saturday. Perhaps your idea of Fathers of the Church includes Calvin?
Balthasar’s “Razing the Bastions” re-imagines novelty as “the obligation of beginning everything from the beginning each time” because “people are content to understand tradition as the handing-on of ready made results.” Balthasar is bored with the traditions handed down to us from the Fathers of the Church.
Instead, he prefers “thousands of truths” that simply explode past the intellectual and moral certainty that created Christendom. He considers the traditions handed down by the Fathers of the Church to be an “empty shell”.
The Church of the Middle Ages is forever closed to us by a “shift in Christian awareness” that denies the existence of Hell: “What a Christian of that era could justify, cannot be accepted today”. Balthasar’s “double truth” claims that there is one truth for God and another for Man. He clearly feels that Theology and Reason are at odds (Averroism).
“It is important to know that this feeling of a ‘double truth’, which usually comes on precisely the best and most enthusiastic students, is not the sign of something improper. The two perspectives that split apart here can no more be made to coincide with one another than can divine and human truth, Church and world, or the divine and the human natures in Christ and the manner of knowledge proper to each of these natures in him. The Christian is charged absolutely to bear this tension and extension, but also increasingly to bring it under control and to clear a path for himself through it.” (p. 76)
For a true Christian, of course, such a thing is impossible. There can be no contradiction between divine and human truth. Any idea, system of ideas, religion, or intellectual discipline which runs contrary to the revealed Gospel of Christ is simply false.
Perhaps you (unlike the Fathers of the Church) have been hypnotized by Balthasar’s gratuitous use of poetic imagery and dense metaphors. I have noticed that many people when they can’t understand someone,simply cheer (when they are an approved source) or jeer (when the current winds are against). I have also noticed that dilettantes are the most aggressive when it comes to enforcing the status quo. With Pope Francis, the winds are certainly coming from the Left, and they are breathing new life into old heresies (de Lubac).
I would expect someone who runs a Fathers of the Church page to understand the importance of tradition. In fact, I assume it. I can only conclude that it is you who do not understand Balthasar and his thoroughly Modernistic writings.
“But now that the world has become spherical, there is no longer any place from which one’s gaze can take in everything; one must set oneself in motion: the only way to explore the land of truth is by changing one’s standpoint.”
Furthermore, I doubt that most people who champion Balthasar understand him in the slightest way. I think that is the greatest gift of the traditions passed down by the Fathers of the Church. We don’t all have to be geniuses to appreciate and understand the Faith. We don’t all have to reinvent the wheel every time we get down on our knees. First, because it’s largely a waste of time (this includes the writings of Balthasar) and second, because some of us are simply smarter than others. Dimwits get to see God’s face too.
Have you ever considered Googling “Balthasar double truth”? That’s the most efficient way of locating sources. That way you can peruse the literature at your convenience. Will I write a term paper for you on Balthasar? No. If I give you a quote, you say it’s out of context. If I give you analysis, you say where’s the quote. I see your game. If you are at all confused by my position (supported by Balthasar quotes) then perhaps you are swimming in a very confined pool of self-supportive self-styled theologians.
I think I made it clear that Balthasar’s “Razing the Bastions” contains perhaps his most clearly stated heresies, so I suggest you begin your research there. I am forced to point out that if you have no understanding of Balthasar and little familiarity with his writings, then perhaps you might temper your enthusiasm at bit.
“The Fathers, the Scholastics, and Ourselves” is an essay in which Balthasar begins by damning the Fathers of the Church with faint praise, then he deconstructs the historical basis behind their writings, and finally he throws them under the bus. He tells us that while we can use the Fathers of the Church as a useful icon, their writings are “distorted by any rationalization” that “covered up” the “unadulterated fountain”. Why read ancient texts (maybe in Latin!) when you can sit back with a cool glass of Balthasar and enjoy the “primitive tradition” (echoes of Calvin?) from the “unadulterated fountain” (certainly Protestant).
Balthasar is a Humanist who attracts Modernists. His writings are Modernistic. Your own attraction to Humanism I will leave it to yourself to confront. I am here to tell you that you do not understand Balthasar and yet you champion him because authorities have told you he is a holy man. That’s Modernism.
Well, that is the Modernist method of determining the truth of a matter: take a poll. Don’t under any circumstances think for yourself. There’s no need for you to defend your position, the weight of proof is all upon me, right? How convenient for you! It’s a great place to be. So warm and comfy. Is this your method of proving Balthasar’s arguments, by personifying the “empty shell” of orthodoxy? If so, you are making a compelling argument. However, I have more faith in you than that. I just think you are mislead by the Humanists and Modernists in your circle of admirers. That’s why I’m taking this time with you, to shock you out of your comfortable rut.
Judging from your comment you seem more than capable of analyzing Balthazar on your own.
Pick up yourself a copy of his book “Razing the Bastions,” read it, understand his arguments, and attempt to offer a defense of tradition from that. Base yourself by listening to Fr. Ripperger’s sermons on tradition, his books The Binding Force of Tradition, Topics on Tradition, and Magisterial Authority.
Fr. Ripperger’s work on this subject is in itself a refutation of Balthazar. Fr. Ripperger is all about raising the bastions, where Balthazar is all about razing the bastions.
Kudos, Reubens7. M.J. is sending this to everyone he knows. The information is a bit like seeing a missile headed in one’s direction, isn’t it?
M.J. thinks that Our Pope and Our Cross was humiliated at the Synod and his speech was but a retreat to the rear from where he will regroup, rearm, and try to win this revolutionary war but there is no way Christ will let His Vicar defeat him; that is, if the Bishop of Rome doesn’t repent and reform, God will withdraw His province from him and he will die in office before the Synod can promulgate heresy.
Francis does not seem to understand he is not changing the Church but opposing Jesus Himself; good luck with all of that, Francis.
We must continue to pray for Francis but he gives no impression he even begins to understand the nature of the war he has chosen
I just found your blog and will continue to read your very interesting stuff. I really like your use of direct quotes, laced with personal comments. And your personal comments, while to the point do not descend into personal attack and insult or mockery. Thanks for all your work.
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If Forte and co are pretty trippy. I’m going back to shrooms. A changeable God of my imagination wont mind – my old mainline pastors did not seem to think it mattered. Tjey could not give a reason that I should stop.
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