quod pro nobis traditum est

Friday, April 25, 2008

root causes and catholic application

As one who likes to skim bookstore catalogs (and bookstores) I came across the following promotion for a Catholic book in a catalog, The Faithful Departed by Philip F. Lawler, that has "catholic" application (ie, application to Christian communionss and institutions everywhere). In short, alert Lutherans can resonate quickly to what he writes here for we likewise are struggling with what he describes here as "the essential":

"'The thesis of this book,'" writes author Philip F. Lawler, "'is that the sex-abuse scandal in American Catholicism was not only aggravated but actually caused by the willingness of Church leaders to sacrifice the essential for the inessential: to build up the human institution even to the detriment of the divine mandate...This book should serve as a cautionary tale....The faith will always face resistance, and Church leaders will always be tempted to tailor their messages to suit the latest fashion. But when the quest for public affirmation takes precedence over the demand for integrity to the apostolic tradition, the results were predictable. The church that caters to public opinion may enjoy a short burst of superficial success, but in the long run it will lose both integrity and popularity.'" (Roman Catholic Books catalog)

Lutherans may not appreciate here that he mentions "the apostolic tradition" while not mentioning the Gospel. Nevertheless, scandals in the church do not always have to be about sex, they can also be about changing worship "to suit the latest fashion" or watering down doctrine in "quest for public affirmation" resulting in "superficial success." In other words, Lawler alerts the reader here to a root cause that has "catholic application" to many problems that confront the Church. Wisely, he states that "the faith will always face resistance" and then wisely warns about keeping the "essential" even when those seeking popularity promote the "inessential."

It is not of great interest to me to follow the scandals of others. Triumphalism does not always equate with discernment. (Also, I do not have the time to read every book.) Still, based on this introduction to The Faithful Departed we see that this book has application to all in the catholic tradition for it addresses a root cause to many problems that confront us.


Leila said...

You and your readers might be interested in joining the discussion on The Faithful Departed, a blog for Phil Lawler's book. I hope you do!

Fr. Timothy D. May, S.S.P. said...

Thank you for the link to the book's blog. Readers and all interested can discuss the book there.