Thursday, August 28, 2008

Schütz (David) still confused on Schütz (Roger)

Sandro Magister is very helpful in giving us the complete interview with Cardinal Walter Kasper on the "Riddle of Brother Roger". Does Magister have his tongue firmly planted in his cheek when he says that through this interview Cardinal Kasper "solved" the riddle of Brother Roger's confessional belonging? For me, it raises so many questions. Such as "If Brother Roger could be Catholic without breaking communion with his protestant roots, why did I have to?" or "Does such an ecumencal solution only apply to people who have access to a personal friendship with the pope?" or "Can we expect a cause for Brother Roger's sainthood to be opened in two years time (ie. five years after his death)?"

Don't get me wrong. I truly believe Br Roger was a saint, and I also believe that he was, to all extents and purposes, a Catholic, even if not "formally" so. But no matter how sincere he was in his attachment to the Catholic faith, how come the canons did not apply to him, but apply to the rest of us?

And a couple more questions: If Br Roger daily received communion at the Catholic liturgy in Taize, did he still receive communion from Protestant altars? (although, I understand that protestant eucharists are not celebrated at Taize). And did he continue, as an ordained Reformed minister, to celebrate the Eucharist himself?

I only ask.


At Thursday, August 28, 2008 5:36:00 pm , Anonymous Peregrinus said...

You can’t avoid the feeling that Brother Roger was treated as a special case.

Not that I would begrudge him that, but I do see how it can lead to puzzlement, and to questions of the kind you raise; what are the implications for those of us who are not so special?

I think there’s two ways of trying to make sense of this.

The first is a variation of something I read in another context, when someone was complaining – OK, fulminating - about some fairly unconventional aspect of a papal liturgy. I forget the precise details, or even who the Pope concerned was. The response was “When the Pope does it, it’s not a liturgical abuse”. Maybe, when the Pope does it, it’s not a canonical abuse either, and that’s the only answer we’re going to get.

But there may also be a slightly deeper, if fuzzier, answer. What we may see here is a tension between Anglo-Saxon (i.e. Protestant, but in a cultural sense) and Latin (i.e. Catholic, but again in a cultural sense) attitudes to law. It has been remarked upon before, and not just in the ecclesiastical context, that Latins are altogether more comfortable living with an apparent inconsistency between what the law says and what people do than are Anglo-Saxons. The law is, for Latins, the servant of society (in this instance, of the church) and the health and well-being of society should not be equated simply with how consistently it observes its own laws. Yes, the rule of law is important, but it is not the only important thing, or the most important thing.

What it comes down to is that maybe the reason why David Schütz is treated differently from Roger Schütz-Marsauche is that David is dealing with the Archbishop of Melbourne, and Roger is dealing with the Bishop of Rome and, the catholicity of the church notwithstanding, the cultures of Melbourne and Rome are not quite the same with respect to the value of scrupulous adherence to canon law. Brother Roger doesn’t really fit easily into any of the categories the drafters of the Code of Canon Law had in mind, so this is seen as an instance where pastoral practice moves ahead of the Code. And maybe Latins reach that conclusion a bit more readily than Anglo-Saxons.

At Thursday, August 28, 2008 8:42:00 pm , Anonymous The Welsh Jacobite said...


Does your second point make Anglicans (and the Eastern Churches) "Latin" and Gratian "Anglo-Saxon"?

At Friday, August 29, 2008 1:24:00 am , Blogger Mike L said...


I started out as confused as you about this matter. See this post. See also,however, this comment on that post. The comment pretty much cleared things up for me.


At Friday, August 29, 2008 11:03:00 am , Anonymous Peregrinus said...

Does your second point make Anglicans (and the Eastern Churches) "Latin" and Gratian "Anglo-Saxon"?

More to the point, does it mean that the (Bavarian) Joseph Ratzinger and the (Württemberger) Walter Kasper are Latin rather than Anglo-Saxon? Not to mention the (Polish) Karol Wotyla?

I said that the labels weren’t really religious. They’re not really geographical either . They’re just labels, useful only in so far as they invoke certain stereotypes, for two contrasting attitudes to the role and significance of law. Rome can be quite Anglo-Saxon in its attitude to canon law, and infringements thereof, when it wants to be, but the fact that it doesn’t always want to be is itself distinctively Latin!

Mike L, your own post and the discussion which follows are very enlightening (though I confess the much of the discussion of Augustine’s theology is beyond me). But I bristled slightly when I got to this statement:

“First, it abandons the idea that the Eucharist is for those who can reasonably be presumed to be in full communion with the Church.”

And the reason I bristled is that it immediately struck me that no-one is in “full communion” if it isn’t already the case that their primary eucharistic community is the Catholic church. In other words, it ignores the reflexive element; participation in the eucharist isn’t a consequence of being in full communion; it’s an intrinsic part of it. I’m sure you didn’t intend to suggest otherwise, but that’s how it struck me.

And shortly afterwards I came to this:

“Schutz's overall corpus of belief was internally inconsistent. And if so, then he couldn't be said to be in full communion with anybody. He was just confused.".

Hey, hands up anybody whose overall corpus of belief isn’t internally inconsistent in some respect. The capacity – and tendency - to believe in inconsistent things is pretty much part of the human condition. I don’t think we can see that as necessarily a bar to communion

Communion is a real relationship and, like all real relationships it has many layers and many dimensions, and it’s rarely perfect. The flaw of a law-based approach to communion (“Has he been formally received? Did he make the canonically-required profession of faith?”) is that it takes some dimensions of that relationship, and treats them as the entirety of that relationship. I am not denying the importance of RCIA, but the binary formally-received-and-in-communion/not-received-and-not-in-communion is an inadequate statement of reality. We may not like the fact that reality is a bit fuzzy, but if we retreat into the appealing certainties of canonical categorisation we haven’t actually changed reality.

Was the treatment of Br. Roger canonically irregular? Probably, unless you make your stand on the principle that the actions of the Pope, and not the terms of the CCC, are the ultimate standard of canonicity. But how much does it matter that his treatment was canonically irregular? Well, in a church that embraced a gritty, fuzzy, real world, intermittent canonical irregularity is inevitable and necessary.


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