Saturday, September 27, 2008

Waclaw Hryniewicz on Catholic's 'Dechurchism' Attitude

About 10 days ago, Waclaw Hryniewicz, a prominent Catholic theologian who was the head of Ecumenical Institute of the Catholic University of Lublin, has been demanded by Archbishop Angelo Amato to retract and rewrite an article which he publicly criticizes the Roman Catholic's certain aspects of the Doctrine on the Church like:

Why do the texts of the Council and those of the Magisterium since the Council not use the title of “Church” with regard to those Christian Communities born out of the Reformation of the sixteenth century?


According to Catholic doctrine, these Communities do not enjoy apostolic succession in the sacrament of Orders, and are, therefore, deprived of a constitutive element of the Church. These ecclesial Communities which, specifically because of the absence of the sacramental priesthood, have not preserved the genuine and integral substance of the Eucharistic Mystery cannot, according to Catholic doctrine, be called “Churches” in the proper sense.

In the article, Waclaw deems that the Vatican document had "disappointed many theologians engaged in ecumenical dialogue" and had been a "serious regression".

In response, some Catholics like Jimmy Akin thinks that Waclaw fell into the heresy of indifferentism. For me, whether is Waclaw right or wrong, I have no say, but I think that he is being outright and consistently ecumenical.

Ecumenical movement has to fundamentally affirm other non-Catholic Christian communities as "Churches". I don't see any reason not to affirm other denominations as "Churches" in ecumenical efforts, just as I don't see any reason not to affirm other races as "Humans" in the fight against racism.

"Churches" just as "Humans" have rights and wrongs. While there are still many things that we can right one another, nonetheless, we must affirm the differing churches as nothing lesser a church, just as another human is nothing lesser a human.

If taking another person as lesser human is an act of "dehumanism", then we can safely say that taking another Christian community as lesser church is an act of "dechurchism".

About Waclaw Hryniewicz

During his years as a professor at the University in Lublin, Fr. Hryniewicz published 822 books and articles (of which 164 are in languages other than Polish). Some of his best known books are: The Paschal Trilogy: Vol. 1 – Christ, Our Passover: An Outline of Christian Paschal Theology (1982); Vol. 2 – Our Passover in Christ, An Outline of Christian Paschal Theology (1987); Vol. 3 – The Passover of Christ in the History of Man and the Cosmos, An Outline of Christian Paschal Theology (1991). Others include books on Christianity and the Hope of Universal Salvation: Hope of Salvation for All: From an Eschatology of Fear to an Eschatology of Hope (1989); Drama of the Hope of Salvation (1996), and many others in the fields of early Russian studies, Catholic–Orthodox dialogue, and ecumenical studies.

Born on July 23, 1936 in Lomazy (Eastern Poland), he was ordained a priest in 1960. He achieved a doctorate degree in dogmatic theology at the Catholic University of Lublin (KUL) in 1966, with the dissertation: The Soteriological Significance of the Resurrection of Christ in the Teaching of Contemporary Catholic Theologians.

His curriculum vitae is impressive. He is one of the founders of the Ecumenical Institute at KUL, and since 1983, he has been the head of the Department of Orthodox Theology at this Institute. From 1980-2005, he was a member of the Joint International Commission for Theological Dialogue between the Roman Catholic Church and the Orthodox Church. Since 1988, he has been a member of the European Society for Ecumenical Research "Societas Oecumenica;" from 1997-2005, director of the Ecumenical Institute at KUL; a member of the advisory board of "Eastern Churches Journal" (Fairfax, Virginia, USA). He was, from 1998-2000, a member of the drafting committee preparing the text of the Charta Oecumenica: Guidelines for the Growing Cooperation among the Churches in Europe, officially signed by the Presidents of the Conference of European Churches and of the Council of European Bishops' Conferences in Strasbourg on April 22, 2001.

He has lectured abroad, in Switzerland, Germany, France, Austria, the United States and Belgium. He participated in and organized many international symposiums and ecumenical conferences. His main re­search has been dedicated to Christian paschal theology, the theology of hope, the universality of salvation, Old-Russian theology and ecumenical issues. Inspired by the tradition of Eastern Christianity, he has been developing an ecumenical theology open to other Christian denominations and other religions – a theology looking for ways of reconciliation for Churches, nations and cultures.


Ted Lundquist said...

Thank you for the thoughtful analysis. Mary told a visionary at Medjugorge that a woman in their village was approaching sainthood. The visionary was surprised because the woman Mary named was a Muslim. Even with all the Marian dialogs and appearances that are meant to lead the Holy Father toward ecumenical leadership, it appears the current administration in the Holy See is striving to maintain a very parochial horizon line at this time. Contemplating what might make them embrace this political position is bracing and should stimulate us to reach out to our neighbors in solidarity as Hryniewicz has done.

Ted Lundquist

Sze Zeng said...

Hi Ted,

Thank you for your comment. I share your point that we should reach out to our neighbors, both Christians and non-Christians, in solidarity.