The Personalist Project

Accessed on February 21, 2020 - 4:00:54

About that paradigm shift

Katie van Schaijik, Mar 11, 2018

Yesterday, while working on the post below, I found two a propos items. An address given last month by Cardinal Cupich called, "Pope Francis’ Revolution of Mercy: Amoris Laetitia as a New Paradigm of Catholicity," and a blogpost claiming:

The new paradigm Catholic Church is the old 1970's paradigm that Pope St. John Paul II and Pope Benedict tried to undo and is being resurrection [sic] again and with the same nasty results.

Feel free to google if you want to read it. As far as I'm concerned, that quote says it all.

I'm grateful to this blogger, whoever he is, for making explicit what I sense many conservatives think but seldom say so straight-forwardly. I suspect that it's basically what Archbishop Chaput thinks too. If he doesn't think it, many conservatives think he does, because his public words suggest it. And he, like Cardinal Burke, is widely seen as their hero—a hero for Truth against a dark force of liberalism that has taken over the Vatican.

It distresses and disturbs me, as I think (to the degree that they know about it) it must the Pope and his predecessors. It's not just that it's objectively bad and scandalous for popes to be pitted against each other and for there to be such ugly division in the Church, but the notion that Francis is in discontinuity with John Paul and Benedict is  not true. Conservatives think he is, because of their "excessive objectivism." They are so focussed on objectivity that they've missed the "turn toward subjectivity" that is the great and paradigmatic event of our time in salvation history. John Paul II and Benedict XVI were two of its prime authors and protagonists

Further, and really importantly, their misunderstanding of what's going on with this papacy is preventing conservatives from playing the vital role they ought to be playing at this moment in the Church. The Pope is calling for dialogue. Conservatives' values, insights, perspective and help is urgently needn't for the task we're facing. But it's as if, instead of bringing what we have to the table, we're scoffing at the idea that there's any need for dialogue at all. We're talking and acting as if the call for dialogue is tantamount to an assertion of relativism—as if our perspective is the same as Truth as such and other perspectives are a menace to Truth. 

In deepest theological and metaphysical fact, though, truth, like love, involves a communion of persons. We need each other to attain it. And the higher the truth in question, the stronger, deeper and broader the communion needs to be.

It happens that I've been re-reading a lot of JP II and Benedict in recent weeks, so I am freshly aware and in awe of how absolutely replete with subjectivity their works and witness are. Of course they were also great defenders of objectivity. That's the gift and the miracle.

Those two intellectual giants—popes, saints, Scripture scholars and mystics both—promoted subjectivity while they defended objectivity. They showed in their words and witness that there is a dialectical (not to say conjugal) relation between these two aspects of Reality, and between modernity and the perennial tradition.

It's meant to be a fruitful union. Modernists are contracepting one way; traditionalists in another. Both are "refusing to give" and "refusing to receive" the other in full. It's not okay.

I think I might need the rest of my life to explain.