Saturday, December 18, 2010

Clarification re: Rhonheimer and Gormally

Upon reflection, one notes that Dr. Gormally refers in his remarks published by Sandro Magister only to an "apparent" and not to a "real" endorsement by the CDF. And who is responsible for this "appearance" of endorsement? Not, principally, Dr. Gormally, but rather chiefly Fr. Rhonheimer, who claims publicly that the CDF has made clear it had "no problem" with his teaching: whereas the CDF has not publicly vindicated or endorsed this teaching, and its judgment is veiled from sight by pontifical confidentiality. Fr. Rhonheimer's claim is one for which there is no evidence. The claim that the CDF has "no problem" whatsoever with his analysis in the 2004 Tablet article is a private judgment of Fr. Rhonheimer, and seemingly no more reliable than Fr. Rhonheimer's opinion about whether prophylactic intentions necessarily make condom use in heterosexual intercourse to be non-contraceptive. In any case, no one can in reason be constrained to hold that the CDF has vindicated Fr. Rhonheimer's teaching, since the CDF has not made clear its mind. The private views of any consultor to the CDF--for one must assume that Fr. Rhonheimer speaks truthfully in saying that he was contacted--cannot be equated with a public holding of the CDF. In any case, the insinuation that Fr. Rhonheimer is the favored moral counselor of the Holy Father, and prophet of a new magisterial teaching, is one toward which critics of Fr. Rhonheimer's teachings should be skeptical. But Gormally is right both to press the reasoned objections to Rhonheimer's argument, and to oppose the "apparent" endorsement of the CDF for which appearance the unsubstantiated public claims of Fr. Rhonheimer appear to be responsible. And, as Gormally and Weigel and many others have stated, authoritative clarification of the doctrinal issues is desirable.

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