[Update May 17, 2005 - Oops! They removed it again. Here's the cached copy via Google -- CB].
Responding to his critics in First Things, George Weigel had observed that the Pope and the Holy See "speak in a number of different registers: magisterial, doctrinal and theological, pastoral and prophetic. To conflate those several papal voices into equivalent acts of papal magisterium with equal binding authority on the consciences of Catholics is to make an elementary mistake in ecclesiology." Fr. Orsi turns to "A Doctrinal Commentary on Ad Tuendam Fidem" (1998) for further clarification, identifying the following levels and categories of Catholic teaching:
(Regarding the third category, Fr. Orsi adds the following qualification:)
It must be noted, however, that eternal salvation does not depend on one's adherence to the modified form of capitalism that the Pope suggests in Centesimus Annus (1991) [n. 35], or one's approval of the mandatum requirement (license to teach as a Catholic theologian) for teachers of theology in Catholic higher education in the Apostolic Constitution Ex Corde Ecclesiae. Similarly, no one is required to embrace "The Mysteries of Light" as an integral part of the recitation of the rosary as recommended by Rosarium Virginis Mariae.
On the question of whether Catholic disagreement with the Pope on matters of capital punishment and war constituted dissent (in the same manner as, say, Senator Kerry's assertion that he could be a "pro-choice Catholic" and remain in communion with the Church), or whether they were considered, quoting Cardinal Ratzinger, areas of "legitimate diversity of opinion", here is Fr. Orsi's explanation:
Fr. Orsi concludes:
My last post had provoked a flurry of comments and (somewhat heated) discussion with respect to Cardinal Ratzinger's statement "Worthiness to Recieve Commmunion: General Principles":
To which Jerry, displaying his affection for quotation marks, offered the following:
Why is Fr. Reese, SJ's opinion "not legitimate?" Why is Novak's opinion on Iraq considered by some to be "legitimate?" What constitutes "legitimacy?"
Was Fr. Reese, SJ's decision to publish opposing views in America a "moral judgment" on the "legitimacy" of "dialogue" between diverse opinions or a "moral judgment" about the "legitimacy" of the diverse opinions themselves? Is dialogue "legitimate?" What is "legitimate dialogue?"
Back to the question of a "legitimate diversity of opinion." Outside the context of doctrine, how would you distinguish between a "legitimate diversity of opinion" -- about moral matters, let's say -- and moral pluralism? Is one reducible to the other? If not reducible, which I suspect is the case, on the basis of what would they be distinguished.
Good questions, and here I would expect -- humbly request, rather -- my readers to jump in on this as well (as they are likely more educated and qualified than I). As far as Fr. Reese and America is concerned, the CDF's concern was that the very action of publishing pro/con positions editorials on issues on which the Church has already spoken lends the impression to readers that "the jury is still out." Mark Brumley @ InsightScoop comments:
The last approach has the added benefit to AMERICA of putting the orthodox folks in a bind. They can forego contributing to AMERICA because of its dissenting stance and miss the opportunity to have articulate people defend orthodoxy. Or they can contribute and get their message out but risk adding to AMERICA's perception of legitimacy or balance.
But Catholics shouldn't be forced by a Catholic publication into the position of having to choose either to participate in a debate that can mislead people into thinking the subject matter at hand is legitimately a matter of debate among Catholics or to say nothing, thereby missing the opportunity to defend the truth.
Fr Orsi's article is helpful in discerning those areas where "legitimate diversity of opinion" is possible between Catholics, and why moral debate is permitted on some issues, but not others. However, to say that "diversity of opinion" is permitted shouldn't be reduced to an "anything goes" approach. Moral debate should occur with due attention to the teachings of the Holy Father and the bishops, referencing the breadth of Catholic tradition.
I think that one reason why contemporary perspectives on capital punishment and armed warfare are met with resistance by some Catholic scholars is that they appear to be at variance with Catholic tradition over its 2,000 year history -- for example, the erroneous interpretation that capital punishment itself is a violation of the right to life, equatable to abortion and euthanasia (see Avery Dulle's "Capitalism & Catholic Punishment" First Things 112 April 2001). Or, the claim by Archbishop Martino in March 2003 that "there is no such thing as a just war"; and the elevation of John Paul II's expression "War never again!" -- what should, of course, be the desire by every Catholic -- into a formal proclamation concerning the legitimacy of the use of force itself (see "No Just War Possible?", by George Weigel. The Catholic Difference April 2003), thus contributing to the criticism that some in the Vatican had adopted what amounts to a "functional pacifism" contrary to traditional Church teaching on war.