A very interesting look at Archbishop Bruno Forte

My curiosity about Archbishop Bruno Forte has grown since he was revealed to be the author of the three paragraphs in the recent synod’s midterm relatio  regarding the gifts of the homosexual orientation.

I came across this analysis on this blog Anthanasius Contra Mundum, which seems to be a traditionalist Catholic blog with which I am not familiar.  It’s quite interesting.  Perhaps some of my readers can give a more positive perspective on +Forte?  Some people I deeply respect have a high regard for him.

An excerpt:

First, I want to quote from Archbishop Forte’s essay:

“In the field of theology, the need to express objectivity of the truth against the adventures of the emerging subjectivity leads above all the Catholic teaching to present without solution of continuity the strongly speculative reflection of Scholasticism, progressively impoverishing it from every presence of concrete Christology that could even just give the impression of an exemplaristic and subjectivistic intent. The very use of the Scriptures is ever more reduced to a collection of probing arguments or of pious sayings, up to reaching the conceptual aridity of manuals. It is not surprising then that Christological piety, separated from the theology of the Schools, would find nourishment through other ways that go from the accentuation of union with Christ, a characteristic of Pierre de Bérille (+ 1629), to the spirituality of annihilation in conformity with Him who is priest and victim, to the Janseenist rigorism of Christ Judge, to the devotion to the Sacred Heart as a way to entering in the intimacy of the mystery of Christ Love whose thoughts, affections and desires are scrutinized and imitated (St. John Eudes: + 1680).”

Right off the bat, he has poisoned the well. Scholasticism is highly speculative but lacks subjectivity. Translation: too much adherence to principles. The manuals? Conceptually arid. Translation: brilliant theology following through with scholastic principles and uncovering incredible teachings building up the deposit of faith that are inconvenient to modern churchmen. Therefore, heresies and devotions spring up on one side or the other. The purpose of this type of language, is to suggest that everyone was stupid, and that there was no real theology until the moment of the council. They can get away with this, because generally most people do not read Latin and can’t fact check. It is the same thing that they do with Ecclesiology. They act as though Vatican II invented Ecclesiology, whereas in fact the discipline goes back hundreds of years. It is not new. Its just what they taught for hundreds of years, unanimously, from sound principles following from the Fathers and Doctors, shows that what they teach now is erroneous. They can’t refute it, so they dismiss it as “conceptually arid”.

I also read a recent paper by him delivered in 2006:  “Theological foundations of Dialogue within the  Framework of Cultures Marked by Unbelief and Religious Indifference.”     http://www.webdiocesi.chiesacattolica.it/pls/cci_dioc_new/bd_edit_doc_dioc.edit_documento?p_id=908945&id_pagina=3959&rifi=&rifp=&vis=1

Some excerpts:

“The company that faith and non-belief keep one another in this way has its origins in the human condition: when human beings ask the deepest questions about their inevitable vulnerability to pain and death, they do not as people who have already arrived, but as searchers for the distant homeland, who let themselves be permanently called into question, provoked and seduced by the furthest horizon. Human beings who stop, who feel they have mastered the truth, for whom the truth is no longer Someone who possesses you more and more, but rather something to be possessed, such persons have not only rejected God, but also their own dignity as human beings.”

This reminds me of the way I was back in the days when I was fiddling around with Christian Science and other Gnostic ideas—I was a seeker, on a journey, and I had perhaps a bit of contempt for those who signed on to any written Creed.

There came a point though when I came to understand what St. Anselm meant in Credo ut intelligam,  and I realized I had things backwards, that I had been trying to understand before I believed.

I have done both the “negative way” and the “positive way” and there is value in both, especially if they are done together.  The negative way of mystics can be dangerous or open to side-tracking and error  if there is not the positive way to provide a guide for one’s entry into the Cloud of Unknowing.  I speak from experience!

It’s kind of funny to me that +Forte talks in this paper about the search for a father/mother figure.   Jesus called God “Father”  and that’s good enough for me.  Yes, I know there can be some orthodox theological justification for this “father/mother” approach, but it’s kind of teetering too close to the edge for my comfort.

There are some beautiful passages in this piece, such as   “Finally, faith is submission:  in the combat there comes the moment when you understand that the loser really wins, and so you give yourself up to Him, you submit tot eh one who attacks at night, you allow your life to be marked forever by that meeting,” he writes. “Then it is that faith becomes self-abandonment and forgetfulness of self and the joy of entrusting yourself into the arms of the Beloved.”

But then he goes on:  “If faith, then is all this, if it is struggle, scandal and submission inseparably joined, then believers will not be looking for vulgar signs which exhibit the fidelity of God in whom they believe. They will still believe in Him even when the answer to the real questions of human suffering stay hidden in His silence. Consequently, believers are, in the end, atheists who try every day to begin believing and non believers, as they suffer from the infinite pain of God’s absence, are perhaps believers who try anew everyday to begin not to believe.”      ?????   atheists who try to believe?    Is he speaking for himself?

“If believers did not try every day to begin believing, their faith would be nothing more than worldly reassurance, one of the many ideologies that have fooled the world and alienated human beings. Against every ideology, faith is to be understood and lived as continual conversion to God, a continual handing over of the heart, beginning every day afresh the effort to believe, hope and love: in consequence, faith is prayer, and those who pray will not live by faith.”     I don’t “try” to believe; I choose to believe. It’s called taking thoughts captive to Christ, no?   Yet, he seems to advise entertaining doubts.  Been there, done that.  There is also a relationship between one’s willingness to obey or submit to Truth and one’s ability to understand.

Well, there is enough good in what he is saying here to seem quite wonderful.   But in this paragraph he seems to be taking a slam at people like me, who have decided to believe and who use tradition honored habits of the faith to cultivate, deepen and protect our faith from doubt.    It doesn’t mean I think I have all the answers, but that I believe Jesus is the Answer and that if I trust and obey Him, with the help of his Blessed Mother, those answers will come.

“In the first place, we must say ‘no’ to a slovenly, lazy, static, habit-worn faith, made of comfortable intolerance, which defends itself by condemning others because it does not know how to live the suffering of love.”   Seems like the straw man has been stuffed and erected.  Who, really, is he talking about?  “To this ‘no’ we must add a ‘yes’ to a questioning, even doubting, faith, capable of beginning anew every day to entrust itself to others, to live the exodus with no return towards His Silence, disclosed and hidden in His Word.”  ??????

 I’m obviously no theologian, just a badly-educated woman who has suffered from the throwing out of the canon my generation effected in the 1960s and 70s, but this sounds off to me.

Could +Forte be entrusting himself too much to others, to the Zeitgeist, to dialog with the age, so that gender theory crept in to the mid term relatio, to trump Revelation?

The other thing that annoyed me or bothered me about this analysis of the postmodern world and how the Enlightenment  (I am more of the EnDarkenment school) brought about the death of the Father, and the creation of a horizontal society, equality, blah blah is that it tries too hard to think of how to reach the people of today in their search to the extent the supernatural power of the unvarnished living Word as expressed in Scripture is dismissed as a viable way of communicating to the age.  It reminds me of what a woman said at a Baptist meeting I attended back in the 1990s when the Baptists were gently purging me of my Gnosticism:  it doesn’t matter if the world thinks the Bible is authoritative.  It still is the authority.”   We in the Church should be more like Cardinal Burke and just assert the authority of the Church’s timeless teachings and yes, the world will be upset, and that’s as it should be.   We are meant to be signs of contradiction.  We are meant to proclaim these truths because they are timeless and transcend all ages and will speak to today’s men and woman precisely because they are true.  We are meant to embody the Truth and woe is us if we do not proclaim the Gospel.

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8 Responses to A very interesting look at Archbishop Bruno Forte

  1. Macy says:

    Did Forte run his essay through Google Translate to get that mess??
    “Without solution of contuinity” indeed!

  2. Kathleen says:

    Quote +Forte: “Human beings who stop, who feel they have mastered the truth, for whom the truth is no longer Someone who possesses you more and more, but rather something to be possessed, such persons have not only rejected God, but also their own dignity as human beings.”

    Sooo…if you actually think you are starting to understand the inner coherence of the Church’s teachings, then you must have “rejected God”?? This is nutty–the “gee, we must be perpetually questioning, never actually getting anywhere, just questioning” strikes me as the talk of someone who is actually an atheist at heart but hasn’t the courage to admit it.

    I have great sympathy for +Forte as an individual human being, but I know his ilk from growing up in the 70s and 80s and they have done great damage to many people’s faith.

    • Foolishness says:

      Too many people who have a real faith and who are possessed by God, and can expound on the inner coherence of the Church’s teachings have been condemned as rigorists, or integristes.

      • Stephen K says:

        Too many people who have a real faith and who are possessed by God, and can expound on the inner coherence of the Church’s teachings have been condemned as rigorists, or integristes

        How do you know this, Deborah? You might know that certain people who explain and defend Church teaching have been condemned (by whom?) etc……but…how do you know that these people ‘have a real faith and are possessed by God’ enough so as to make such an assertion?

        Surely, what you are limited to saying is that people who express their faith in terms you would and who explain the Church’s teachings the way you would, or respond to, have been condemned…etc.

        In the interests of accuracy, which serves The Truth.

  3. richardchonak says:

    Perhaps it was the writer at Athanasius who used a mechanical translator.

    Forte’s approach seems to forget that, as GKC observed, an open mind, like an open mouth, is made to close upon something. God is able to reveal Himself to humanity in ways that man can receive, accept, and (to some degree) comprehend. There can be genuine dogmas, and man is not left alone in the universe to find God over and over again from the beginning as though God were to befriend us every day and abandon us every night.

  4. Macy says:

    The excerpt is as it appears in “English” on a web-site of the Italian bishops’ conference.
    http://www.webdiocesi.chiesacattolica.it/cci_new/documenti_diocesi/55/2006-02/15-195/Theological%20Foundations%20of%20Dialogue.doc

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