Hesburgh on women's "ordination"
People have this idea that "heresy" (boo! hiss! hate-speech alert!) must consist of some sort of denial of a Catholic truth, as in "Jesus is not divine" or "Mary was not assumed into Heaven" and so on. That's understandable. Most heretical assertions do consist of denials of Catholic truth.
But the Code of Canon Law describes heresy more broadly: "Heresy is the obstinate denial or obstinate doubt . . . about some truth which is to be believed by divine and Catholic faith." 1983 CIC 751. Notice? Obstinate doubt about matters requiring assent is also heresy.
Now, what would we make of a prominent priest who says "I have no problem with Jesus being just a man, but I realize that the majority of the leadership in the Church would" or "I have no problem with Mary's bones resting comfortably in the dirt of Asia Minor, but I realize that the majority of the leadership in the Church would"? Granted, neither assertion actually denies a Catholic truth, but do not both plainly express a doubt about a Catholic truth? Would not both comments thus savor of heresy?
In 1994, Pope John Paul II wrote: "Although the teaching that priestly ordination is to be reserved to men alone has been preserved by the constant and universal Tradition of the Church and firmly taught by the Magisterium in its more recent documents, at the present time in some places it is nonetheless considered still open to debate, or the Church's judgment that women are not to be admitted to ordination is considered to have a merely disciplinary force. Wherefore, in order that all doubt may be removed regarding a matter of great importance, a matter which pertains to the Church's divine constitution itself, in virtue of my ministry of confirming the brethren (cf. Lk 22:32) I declare that the Church has no authority whatsoever to confer priestly ordination on women and that this judgment is to be definitively held by all the Church's faithful." Ordinatio sacerdotalis 4.
This is the Church teaching that Hesburgh "has no problem" chucking.
I think that to dismiss, with evident contempt, any part of Catholic truth is wrong, but for a famous priest to do so in regard to the very point that has metastasized into more formal excommunications than any other modern misdeed is disgraceful.
And sad. +++
Update, October 12: Enough people have asked a question that I see can be fairly raised about my comments to make me think a short follow-up is in order. In the interest of time, I only post below a brief reply I made to pseudonimic comboxer over at Jimmy Akin's blog:
X wrote: "Peters erred in assuming everything to which we must give assent is also of 'divine and Catholic faith.'"
Dear X, as a lawyer I certainly don't mind my words being closely parsed, :), but please parse what I wrote in its immediate context, not what you think I wrote, or what you think I should have written. What I said was: "But the Code of Canon Law describes heresy more broadly: 'Heresy is the obstinate denial or obstinate doubt . . . about some truth which is to be believed by divine and Catholic faith.' 1983 CIC 751. Notice? Obstinate doubt about matters requiring assent is also heresy."
My statements, in the paragraph in question, make the exact point you think I should have made, albeit only once, and not (redundantly) twice. Maybe next time I will say it twice. Pedagogically, that might have been sounder, I admit.
Anyway, though it was not the occasion or point of my post, fwiw, I do think JP2 avoided deciding (w/o deciding against) publishing OS to be 'credenda definitive', and settled for 'tenenda definitive', which [insert numerous points here] makes one denying the teaching contained in OS liable to "a just penalty", as opposed to excommunication for heresy. For now. Okay? Kindest regards, edp.