1). In an earlier post you mentioned that the new English translation of the Missal had its problems. Please elaborate.
First, I must confess that my Latin is nowhere near good enough to critique the translation as a translation. I bow to the Gods of Latin on the issue of whether or not the Latin text has been accurately rendered into English. My concern is aesthetic, that is, how the English reads to the native English speaker. English is not a Romance language, not a language rooted in Latin like French, Italian, and Spanish. If you want to read what a literal English translation of a well-written Latin text sounds like, try something by St. Augustine. While working on my prayers books, I used excerpts from St Augustine in some of the meditations. Re-working the literal English translations into something usable by modern English speakers was a terror. My fear is that the long, complicated syntactical structure of Latin--when translated literally--will render long, complicated English sentences (e.g., a lot of dependent clauses, delayed or subdued verbal phrases, etc.). Looking over some of the Missal rendering, this has happened. My assumption here is that the English text should be readily understood by an audience. This doesn't mean dumbing down the language to an 8th grade reading level (cf. ICEL), but it does mean we need to pay attention to how English speakers hear and process their native tongue. No doubt Catholics will get used to the new language and grow in their appreciation for the Mass properly translated. But it ain't gonna easy.
2). Any thoughts on Cardinal Schonborn's visit and subsequent comments on Medjugorje?
I'll admit that I was a little surprised by the visit. And his comments were really very surprising. The Good Cardinal is a solid Dominican with impeccable orthodox credentials--he edited the Catechism! This is not to say that support for the Medjugorje phenomenon indicates a dodgy theology. It's just that the issue is theologically hot right now and for a cardinal of his stature to be dipping into the boiling controversy seems unusual. Of course, if the Medjugorje stuff gets Church approval, then he will come away looking rather prophetic, won't he? I've noted many times before that I have no great issue with Marian apparitions. Our Blessed Mother is perfectly capable of and free to appear when and if she so desires. But the Keys to the Kingdom were handed to Peter and it is to Peter that Catholics must turn when we need guidance on what is and is not authentic Catholic teaching. I've noticed a tendency among some Marian apparition enthusiasts to set these apparitions and their locutions up as a sort of alternative magisterium. There is no alternative magisterium.
3). You use the term "Nanny State" a lot. What does is mean?
Obviously a derogatory term, nanny state refers to the tendency of the state over time to treat free citizens as children in its charge rather than as adults that it serves. It just so happens that right now in the U.S. the nanny state movers and shakers are on the political left. But there's nothing special about this. Historically, right-wing nannies are at least as common as left-wing nannies. The basic idea is that the state situates itself into the lives of citizens in such a way that the citizens become wards of the state. The goal is to establish a permanent voting majority for the nanny state party by making it difficult if not impossible for any opposition party to oppose its policies w/o seeming to attack those dependent on the ruling party's largess. For example, in Europe, there is almost no difference btw left and right parties when it comes to the social welfare state. Both sides eagerly defend the benefits of what is essentially a socialist culture. The left promises more services and the right just promises that those same services will be delivered more efficiently. Those who call for a radical restructuring of the welfare system are marginalized as kooks. Voters simply will not vote for any politician that promises to reduce the generous benefits that flow from Nanny State.
4). Some of your homilies are good, but too many of them are way too deep for me. You should simplify them so average people can understand them.
You are echoing the most common criticism I get about my homilies. They are too dense for comfortable digestion. I've taken this criticism to heart over the years and made an effort to streamline my homilies so that the message isn't lost in the rhetoric. Looking back over my earlier homilies, I can see where this critique is spot on. Too often I got carried away in having fun with language and image and went way overboard in composing unnecessarily complex homilies. In my defense, my brain does not work in linear fashion; that is, my thought patterns are elliptical rather than syllogistic. This makes for good poetry but not good preaching. My hope is that I have managed to wrangle this temptation into some kind of submission w/o dumbing down content. One thing I refuse to do is to assume that Catholics are stupid, wanting only pablum and platitudes in their preaching. It's a fine wire to walk. . .help keep me balanced by commenting frequently!
5). You and your fans seem to loathe any kind of dissent from Church teaching. Is there no place in the Church for good faith disagreement?
Of course there is! You couldn't put Ambrose, Augustine, Aquinas, and Bonaventure in same room and not expect some disagreement. Catholic orthodoxy is incredibly generous and incredibly broad. Dissent doesn't mean disagreement. Dissent is a public declaration that the Church has incorrectly taught a significant tenet of the faith. IOW, the Church has taught an error. Dissenters often confuse the unwillingness of the Church to accept their views with an unwillingness on the part of the Church to listen to their views. The sharpest weapon of the dissenters is "process." Let's keep this question open in a dialogue until all views are heard. The thrust of this tactic sounds reasonable until you realize that its real purpose is to keep us all talking until everyone agrees with the dissenter. Imagine for a moment that the Church decided to ordain women. Do you think that supporters of women's ordination would agree to keep the question in dialogue? Of course not. They would declare the question settled and anyone who suggested that we revisit the issue would be labeled a dissenter! You already see this sort of thing happening with Church teaching on social justice issues. It's important to distinguish between doubt and dissent. There are a few Church teachings that I doubt. My assumption however is that I simply don't understand the teachings. I assent to them as conclusions by holding my doubts in suspension. Dissenters tend to do the exact opposite. They assume that b/c they have a doubt about a teaching that they are free to reject that teaching. Cardinal Newman famously noted that a thousand doubts do not make a single dissent. Basically, don't assume that b/c you are smart that you are smarter than 2,000 years of Church teaching!
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