Friday, January 11, 2008

Fr Ronald Rolheiser: make it up as you go along

Briefing: the latest edition of the Catholic Truth Scotland Newsletter (here) has two pieces on Fr Ronald Rolheiser, the Texan priest who writes the same column for dozens of Catholic newspapers around the world each week. Although this is usually presented not as controversial theological speculation, but spiritual advice, Fr Rolheiser seems to think he can make up his theology as he goes along. His column appears in both the Catholic Herald and the Scottish Catholic Observer; a recent one also made an appearance on the website of the Catholic Bishops of England and Wales (although it has now gone). This really must stop.

CTS focused on a column he wrote on praying for the dead, which can be seen on his own website here. Here's an indicative extract:
By praying for the dead, we share with them the pain of adjusting to a new life. Part of that pain of adjustment (which classically Roman Catholics have called “purgatory”) is the pain of letting go of this life. In our prayers for the dead, we offer them our presence and love, as they adjust to a new life. Purgatory is not a geography, a place distinct from heaven, but the pain that
comes from being in heaven, without having fully let go of earth.
It seems almost beside the point to say that this contradicts the infallible teaching of Trent several times over. The fact is that Fr Rolheiser doesn't seem to make contact with Catholic theology at all. It is a scandal that this is being presented as authentic Catholic theology.

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Pope Leo XIII's Prayer to St Michael

Holy Michael, Archangel, defend us in the day of battle. Be our safeguard against the wickedness and snares of the devil. May God rebuke him, we humbly pray, and do thou, Prince of the Heavenly Host, by the power of God, thrust down to Hell Satan, and all wicked spirits who wander through the world for the ruin of souls. Amen