Wednesday, October 10, 2007
Flashback: Other Liberal Theologians Pick Up Where Godfrey Cautiously Leaves Off and Challenge the Validity of the Eucharist. Humphrey Thinks He Sees a Green Light From Adlai.
[More than fifty years of politics written as a memoir for my kids and grandchildren].
Ala Godfrey OSB, Gene Evolves His Own Model.
Just as Virgil Michel OSB began a liturgical revolution in the Church and died too early at 48 in 1938, Godfrey Diekmann OSB continued his path to liberalism....with the ploy of returning to the ancients which meant challenging the authority of the Pope on faith and morals and substituting for traditional theology the concept that the entire body of the Church the faithful, the priests and the bishops in unison should decide theology since they all are after all the Church. It is a radical formulation but Godfrey does not present it as suchpresenting it instead as a conservative onegetting back to the roots as it were which were corrupted by the buildup of the autocratic hierarchy.
It is important to state that in these concepts Gene McCarthy was in fundamental agreementbut in no way was he a pliable Pillsbury doughboy, molded this way and that by Godfrey. As one with a theological intellect that rivaled Godfreys, Gene was every bit the co-protagonist in the theory. It was if anything with regard to politics, a joint venture.
But what Godfrey picked up from Virgil Michel and extended has been and still is being carried to radical denouement by his followers inside and outside St. Johnsparticularly the moral theologian Bernard Haring, a German Redemptorist but also Yves Cardinal Congar, Fr. Karl Rahner, Fr. Hans Kung, Fr. Edward Schillebeeckx and Walter Cardinal Kasperfor which Fr. Andrew Greeley has served as a popularizer. Congar introduced the theory into the documents of Vatican II with these words: Some say that only the Pope has universal jurisdiction in the Church and that the jurisdiction of the bishops proceeds from him. In my opinion, this thesis is absolutely unacceptable. It has the advantage of being simple and coherent but it turns its back on many texts and facts of early Christianity. This is the appeal to the ancients that Godfrey initiated.
Congar: In the opposite sense, there is the thesis that affirms the power in the Church even the power of the Pope would always be collegial. The Pope would always act as `head of the College. He could not act by his own power as `Vicar of Christ (I place the last words between quotation marks because I am not comfortable with this expression which I personally avoid using) I am strongly favorable to a collegial power that can be exercised by the College of Bishops as well as by the Pope himself as its head, representing the whole body.
Greeley put into popular words this doctrine: I am personally convinced of the necessity for bishops to be elected by the clergy and faithful of their dioceses and that they should be elected for limited terms. I am also convinced that great changes should be introduced in the way to elect the Pope so that the tremendous responsibility of choosing the leader of the Church is entrusted to a much more representative electoral body.
I am not less convinced that our leaders, even if elected for a determined period of time, must have strong and efficient powers, for democracy is only possible when the authority is strong and efficacious. When the authority is weak, democracy degenerates into anarchy or tyranny.
Meaning that Greeley is no mere patsy for the peoples will. In his view, bishops and Pope should be elected more democratically but also once elected have sovereign authorityto enforce what Greeley sees as their popular mandate i.e. a much more political church in line with this liberal Democrat who has never, ever, not voted for a Republican candidate for president in his entire life. Essentially it is the philosophy of the strong, liberal political leader who acts purportedly in concert with the wish of the multitude.
That this revolutionary concept is not far different from the position of Protestant reformers who claimed that all the faithful are priests and therefore the hierarchy is no more divinely authorized to teach infallibly than other baptized Christians. But Trent insisted otherwise. It teaches that the hierarchy has been divinely instituted and the bishops who succeeded the apostles belong in a special way to the hierarchical order since, in its words, they have been placed by the Holy Spirit to rule the Church of God. Trent did not teach that the Pope is infallible from the day he gets up in the morning, through the time he chooses the socks he will wear through his ordering from the breakfast menu. It teaches infallibility which resides in him in immunity from doctrinal error but also extended to the magisterium. Infallibility or immunity from doctrinal error is to Trent a negative since it keeps a person from making a teaching ex-cathedra mistake. It does not mean preservation from sin. That is impeccability. Nor is it identical with revelation or inspiration.
Finally it does not mean autonomous papal ruling by enunciation of diktat in spontaneity. It begins with the truism that God Who is absolutely infallible bestowed on His people, the Church, a certain shared infallibility within three carefully restricted limits(1) inerrancy in matters of faith and morals; (2) when the whole people of God unhesitatingly hold a point of doctrine pertaining to these matters and (3) always relying on the wise providence and grace of the Holy Spirit Who leads the Church into all truth until the Second Coming of the Lord. To that end there is a university of the faithful which cannot err in beliefdifferent in degree but certainly in political force from the views of Godfrey Diekmann, Haring, Congar, Rahner, Schillebeeckx and Kasperas popularized by Greeley.
Godfrey Diekmann stopped at denial of papal infallibility and moved no farther leftin public at least. Later when the radicals demeaned the validity of the Eucharist, Godfrey remained prudently silent, theto all practical observations, the obedient monk. Meantime they have continued with subtly nuanced challenge of the consecration of bread and wine into the body and blood of Christ as the Eucharist. Radicals who began at Godfreys time and continue to this day proceed with the mythology that they are returning to the dogma of the ancients and twist and turn ancient writings into pretzel form to declare a unique concept citing bits and pieces (a snatch of a phrase from Augustine here, a snip from a Pauline epistle there) which is the essence of deconstructionismat which no one excels better than the grievously heretical Catholic writer Garry Wills:
Haring maintains it is not the priest who by his power consecrates the Eucharist but the power of the Holy Spiriti.e. Haring: It is not we priests who consecrate, such that what was bread becomes the presence of Christ. This mystery takes place on the occasion of `epiklesis by the power of the Holy Spirit. In other words as radicalsinheritors of Godfrey say all those stories of priests changing bread and wine with a magic formula, even in a bakery or bar, are nonsense. Since the Spirit consecrates within the community, if one person presides at the Eucharist, it is simply as the communitys representative not as Christs.
The conclusion of the new Church formulated into a radically populist one, shorn of hierarchy, depending on the cross-currents of the populace: the Christian leader does what is consonant with the community. Haring says he dreamt of the Church without a hierarchy. Also: all laws evolve. There are precious few absolutes, if any. It is a platform for the Supreme Ego of the Christian in politics to act, leading the people gently but toughly, if required to the truth as he sees it. It resembles very strongly the cult that now exists on the Catholic far-left: the America and to some extent Commonweal magazine crowd the faction of We are Church, Womanchurch, Call to Action and Fr. Greeley, to whom there are two absolutes: the longstanding rightness of the Democratic party and the sanctimony of the Irish ethnic derivative. But Godfrey stopped at the waters edge. The radicals in the Church now link their revolution first to Virgil Michel (but he has been dead for 69 years), then to Godfrey who after a certain advance prudently shut up. Haring and others continued.
Essentially, the liberal Haring -remade Church was tailor-made for Gene McCarthy because while it prates the church as the people, it elevates the Leader to the topmost hierarchal role of the Self. That philosophy wold lead Gene to undertake a revolution within the Democratic party that continues to this day.
All the while Hubert non-Catholic and totally uninterested and wholly unknowing of Haring, Rahner, Kung, Schillebeeckx, Kasper (and not much of Godfrey Diekmann for that matter) was involved in his own very secular political advancement. He courted the right by trying to abolish the Communist party, getting zinged by the political Left for it. He then switched direction almost overnight and tried to abolish Ezra Taft Benson. If he prayed at all and I am sure he did it was this prayer: Dear God, how can I get to become president? Would You give me the insight to know how to do itto overcome my enemies in the Democratic party and then, once nominated, in the Republican?.
Humphrey Gets the Green Light from Adlai.
All began with his fixation of getting the vice presidential nomination with Stevenson in 1956despite the fact that he and the DFL hierarchy screwed up the Minnesota presidential primary to an insurgent group that carried the day for Estes Kefauver of Tennessee over Adlai with concerted, behind-the-scenes Republican crossover help for Kefauver. He began by trying to land the job of keynoter at the Chicago convention. He asked Adlai Stevenson to help him but help wasnt forthcoming. He lobbied, lobbied and lobbied and was turned down.
Depressed by this rejection, Hubert went to a reception honoring Georgias Walter George at the Mayflower hotel in Washington on July 20, 1956, six weeks before the Democratic convention in Chicago. To his exhilaration it turned out Stevenson was on hand! And Adlai privately asked Humphrey to come to his room following the George tribute!
Hubert raced to the elevator. When he puffed, out of breath, to Stevensons door, Adlai greeted him with a drink: good omen. Then Adlai asked Humphrey to suggest possible running-mates. Hubert feigned neutrality and ticked off a listHenry Jackson, Estes Kefauver, of course and a few others. Then Adlai asked: what about you, Hubert? Wow! It was like Priscilla Mullins saying to John Alden: Why dont you speak for yourself, John?
Hubert began gingerly talking about himself not wanting to overdo it. Then Stevenson interrupted him. Stevenson said: Listen, Hubert, if you can get support for yourself for vice president, Ill pick you. The words that stayed with Hubert that night were: If I had my choice, Id pick you.
Hubert raced home and woke up Muriel (it was 4 in the morning) and kept her awake talking about his destiny until she turned off the light. Then as she slept he lay in bed sleepless until dawn, planning. He was walking on air until he arrived in Chicago for the start of the convention on August 15, 1956. The paper he picked up at the newsstand conveyed the terrible news. Incredibly, Stevenson had turned the matter of running mate over to the convention itself without indicating a choice! Now since Adlais nomination was in the bag, the only action at the convention would be jockeying for veep. And for this he was unpreparedcounting all the while on Adlai to choose him.
He was trapped flatfooted. He had made no plans to fight for the nomination, just to get Stevenson to approve him. He cursed his lack of insight. He would have to switch gears immediately and launch a floor fight for the job. But it was very late.
What led Stevenson to change his mind about Humphrey? Easy. He didnt need to rub salt into the wounds of the south. Adlai wasnt any great shakes as a civil rights advocate anyhow. Not in the slightest. The south was still smarting from the 1948 civil rights fight and the 1952 attempt by Humphrey to impose a loyalty oath. Also Kefauver had too much support to be dismissed and ruled out by executive fiat. . Stevenson didnt feel he could arbitrarily hand off the veep nomination to his favorite so long as Kefauver was such a popular figure. But he hated Kefauver like poisonso hed let the convention pick his running-mate.
With Hubert unprepared for a floor fight, the balloting started. Hubert placed a lousy fifth on the first ballot. On the second ballot since he knew he couldnt win, he had to consider throwing his support to either John F. Kennedy or Kefauver. Hubert recognized in JFK a popular figure: too popular. If JFK got to be vice president, somehow, the 1960 battle for the nomination would be all over. Not so with Kefauver who was hated by the old guard south. So he held his nose and tossed his votes to Kefauverremembering that a majority of his party voted for Kefauver in the Minnesota presidential primary (which he had caused to be snuffed out in pique).
Then, watching as the rollcall fight between JFK and Kefauver at the convention, he was so bereft that he wasnt in the running that he stood on the floor, tears rolling down his cheeks mingling with the snot running out of his nose as Kefauver very narrowly defeated Kennedy for the nomination. Crying all the while, he was silently moving his lips to say that sonuvabitch Stevenson. He lied to me!
But he realized he couldnt afford to be mad at Adlai. So he did what Hubert was always good at: picked a middle way between being mad and a punching bag for Adlai. He immediately went to Adlai (drying his eyes and nose) and gushed all over him. He told his friends whom he had gotten excited by his reproduction of Adlais words of encouragement: I may have over-interpreted what Adlai said but inside saying the hell I did!
He announced he would enthusiastically campaign for the Stevenson-Kefauver ticketbut inside he vowed campaign for them to lose. Running against Eisenhower there was every expectation they would lose. Humphrey hoped so. Rather than hoping on a plane and campaigning cross-country for the ticket as he had in 1952, he decided to make a few big speeches and thats all.
In addition, he would take the statesmanship approach. Not being the lap dog, yapping eternally in support. Be friendly but be distant and subtly embrace the liberalism that Adlai was a bit reluctant to enthuse overrecognizing that the party base was liberal. He wanted to delineate himself from Adlai for the future.
When I visited the Democratic convention in Chicago while home on vacation from the Minnesota GOP, I ran into Hubert him briefly. He was noncommittal. But his old campaign manager told me what was in his own heart if not in Huberts. Screw him he said. He [Stevenson] wont get elected anyhow. Stevenson is too much a corporate attorney to bleed for Negro rights and labor as Hubert does. Harry Byrd and Walter George have got him scared [scatological description]. [Epithet referring to the damnation of God] namby-pamby, dont-rock-the-boat and too afraid of liberals. He can go [perform an impossible act upon himself]. Outside of that, of course, Hubert was working for the whole Democratic ticket.
Not so Gene McCarthy who was at the convention (having like Humphrey wangled himself a delegates seat although he had been defeated for one in the primary). He was genuinely a Stevenson booster. Stevensons coldness on civil rights didnt appall him; it intrigued him. Godfrey liked Adlai as well. Gene frankly didnt care how Hubert was taking it. Oh, he said to me, there is such a thing as a man wanting the presidency too much. This whole game he sighed. To be successful in this game is like being a good football coach. Smart enough to call the plays and dumb enough to think it really matters.
His aide Jerry Eller (an ex-classmate) said to me: Hubert has time. Maybe if he didnt chase it so much it could come to him.
Hubert was putting on a glad face but it was clear he was plotting for 1960. But how would he get it? He could romance the party liberals but what about the Harry Byrds? He was still anathema with the old guard.
I left Chicago wondering: is Hubert going to return to being the old liberal, bomb-throwing Hubert now that he has been screwed by the Democratic establishment?
As always with Hubert, the answer was yes and no.