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A Little Wine, a Little Cheese, a Little Heresy

by Christopher A. Ferrara

The Boston Globe reported on May 10, 2001, that Cardinal Bernard F. Law of Boston, who is considered a leading “conservative” in the American hierarchy, is “trying to reassure Catholic theologians that he is not out to get them . . .” To show what a nice guy he is, Cardinal Law held “a conciliatory meeting with local scholars at which he pledged not to publicize any disputes with individual professors” over their departures from Catholic doctrine. The Cardinal even served wine and cheese to soothe the anxieties of this troubled group of “local scholars.”

Why all the fuss? Well, it seems the intrepid American hierarchy is preparing to vote next month on a very controversial proposition: “a plan to require Catholic theologians teaching at Catholic colleges to pledge, in writing, to teach ‘authentic Catholic doctrine.’” Yes, those courageous American bishops are finally going to consider imposing a requirement that Catholic theologians adhere to Catholic doctrine! No wonder those “local scholars” needed to be soothed at a wine and cheese party. Next, no doubt, Cardinal Law will dip into the Archdiocesan coffers to pay for psychological counseling for any “local scholar” who finds he just cannot cope with even the possibility of a transition to sound Catholic orthodoxy.

The coming vote in Atlanta is the American hierarchy’s lightning-like response to the Vatican document Ex Corde Ecclesia, issued a mere eleven years ago, which requires bishops to insure the Catholic orthodoxy of Catholic theologians. The American bishops have been fiddling around with this Vatican command for more than a decade; and, of course, the Vatican does nothing to enforce it. The Vatican has more pressing matters on its plate, such as hounding Father Gruner with absurd threats of excommunication and making sure no one ever mentions the consecration of Russia again.

It is not just Cardinal Law who is trying to soothe local dissident theologians. The Globe reports that “Catholic bishops around the country are holding similar meetings as the nation's prelates prepare to vote next month in Atlanta . . .” Now, if only the bishops would have wine and cheese parties to solicit the views and address the concerns of Catholics in the pew who have been traumatized by the 35 years of sacrilege, scandal and heterodoxy over which the American hierarchy has presided. Well, one can dream, can’t one?

It is interesting to note that according to the Globe, the great “conservative” Cardinal Law “acknowledged concerns over the proposal, as well as worries over the Vatican's rebukes of theologians . . .” So, the Cardinal is worried about the Vatican’s recent, mild rebukes of a few highly conspicuous heretical theologians — none of whom has actually suffered any serious penalty. With defenders of the Faith like Cardinal Law, who needs enemies of the Faith?

I have jokingly told Father Gruner more than once that if only he would introduce a little bit of heresy into his teaching and preaching, then the Vatican would leave him alone — just as it leaves alone the legions of heterodox theologians about which the American bishops will, in the end, do absolutely nothing of any consequence. Yes, if Father Gruner were a heretic, he’d be attending one of those wine and cheese parties: a little wine, a little cheese, a little heresy. But for Father Gruner and other priests like him, there will be no wine and cheese in the chancery. There will, more likely, be persecution and ostracization. Such is the price of uncompromising Catholic orthodoxy today.