IS ARCHBISHOP BLAISE CUPICH A HERETIC ??? THE ANSWER IS NO !!!

!!!!

Archbishop Blase Cupich sings from the cathedra after his installation during his Installation Mass at Holy Name Cathedral, Tuesday, Nov. 18, 2014, in Chicago. Cupich was named in September by Pope Francis to succeed the retiring Cardinal Francis George. (AP Photo/Charles Rex Arbogast, Pool)

Archbishop Blase Cupich sings from the cathedra (between Cardinal O’Malley and Cardinal Geoge) after his installation during his Installation Mass at Holy Name Cathedral, Tuesday, Nov. 18, 2014, in Chicago. Cupich was named in September by Pope Francis to succeed the retiring Cardinal Francis George. (AP Photo/Charles Rex Arbogast, Pool)

 The international renowned canonist, Dr. Edward A. Peters has published two posts on his blog dealing with the growing expressed opinion of Catholic laymen and laywomen that Archbishop Blase Cupich of Chicago is a heretic.  I post here both of his posts without comment within the texts, but I offer commentary at the end of this post.  Emphasis by me is in red type. – Abyssum 

Clergy have consciences, too

By Dr. Edward A. Peters
IN THE LIGHT OF THE LAW BLOG
12 December 15

Chicago Archbishop Blase Cupich is not a heretic. Although that adjective is being tossed his way with some frequency these days, there is no evidence that Cupich doubts or denies some doctrine that must be believed with divine and Catholic faith (1983 CIC 751) and so he is not, as far as I can see, a heretic.

But if Cupich really has, as reported here, doubled down on his earlier intimations that, among others, divorced-and-remarried Catholics and Catholics living in ‘same-sex marriages’ should, and must be allowed to, ‘follow their conscience’ even if their conscience leads them to the proverbial communion rail, then he is misrepresenting Church teaching on marriage—which holds marriage to be a permanent union between a man and a woman (1983 CIC 1055, 1056)—and is failing to urge the observance of all ecclesiastical laws (1983 CIC 392), among which laws two are especially relevant in approaching for, and being given, holy Communion, namely, Canons 915 and 916.

As has been explained many, many, many times, Canon 916 impacts the individual considering approaching for holy Communion and directs those “conscious of grave sin” to refrain from approaching for the Sacrament. Individuals must form their consciences in accord with Church teaching and, yes, Cupich alludes to “Church teaching” in underscoring the fundamentality of conscience, but he fails, I fear, to point out, among other things, that conscience is used largely to assess whether one’s concrete action in a given situation accords with Church teaching—not to determine whether one agrees with or accepts Church teaching in the first place.

Canon 915, however, in contrast with Canon 916, directs ministers of holy Communion to withhold the Sacrament, not from “sinners” per se (as if ministers could read souls!), but rather, from those who “obstinately persevere in manifest grave sin”. Now there is zero doubt but that, in Catholic tradition, attempting marriage following a civil divorce and/or entering a “same-sex marriage” is to undertake the kind of gravely wrong public action that triggers ministerial obligations under Canon 915. Thus, when Cupich (and he is not alone in talking this way) says “It’s not up to any minister who is distributing the Eucharist to make a decision about a person’s worthiness or lack of worthiness” he misses the point: a minister is not assessing personal “worthiness” when withholding holy Communion from one’s whose conduct is described in Canon 915, but rather, is acting in accord with an age-old sacramental discipline designed to protect both the Sacrament from the risk of possible sacrilege and the faith community from the harm of classical scandal caused by someone’s public contrarian conduct.

Finally, recognizing the sharp differences between Canon 916 (impacting individuals) and Canon 915 (impacting ministers) allows us to make one last point: amid all the discussion of the primacy of conscience it seems almost forgotten that clergy have consciences, too. Many clerics, Deo gratias, and other ministers of the Eucharist, recognize the significance of their sacramental office and know—as all Catholics should know—that their actions, too, are carried out before a God who sees all. These ministers understand Church doctrine and discipline on marriage, Communion, conscience, and liturgical office, and they wish to act in accord with those teachings and laws, even in the face of growing pressure to disregard these considerations and despite the lack of support some experience from Church leadership.

Their consciences, too, I suggest, deserve respect.

 

It’s not impossible, just very difficult, to glean ‘heresy’ from conduct

by Dr. Edward A. Peters
IN THE LIGHT OF THE LAW BLOG
15 December 15

My observation that Archbishop Blase Cupich of Chicago is not a “heretic” exposed considerable misunderstanding about the notion of “heresy”. Confusion on this matter should surprise no one, for antinomian times, such as those obtaining now, discourage wider familiarity with certain basic terms of ecclesiastical discourse. Among the comments I have received, some run along these lines: “Just look at everything Abp. Cupich does! If he’s not heretic, no one is!”

Oh dear. Shall we examine this claim in light of what the law actually says?

Three points: (1) “Heretic” is not a term used to describe, say, a prelate who one thinks is doing a bad job, but rather, denotes someone given to “the obstinate denial or obstinate doubt after the reception of baptism of some truth which is to be believed by divine and Catholic faith” (Canon 751). (2) “Heresy” is not a ‘bad attitude’ but a crime punishable by a latae sententiae excommunication (and yes, automatic sanctions should be abolished from Roman canon law as they have been from Eastern, but the sanction itself—as opposed to the non-process by which it is supposedly incurred—reflects the gravity of the crime). And (3) a variety of canons (e.g., 18, 221 § 3, and several besides) protect the faithful against the unjust infliction of sanctions in the Church. In short, “heresy” means something very specific in canon law and there are criteria for using the word correctly.

Now, setting aside the what “is to be believed” (we’ll take an easy example below), the vast majority of heresy cases with which I am familiar took as their occasion a speech or writing, that is, a verbal proposition or assertion: “Jesus was not God” or “Mary had other children by Joseph” and so on. These assertions directly present, or logically and unequivocally amount to, the ‘doubt or denial’ of a protected truth that, if uttered under the circumstances outlined in Canon 751, constitute heresy—but only such assertions and only if uttered under such circumstances.

Our question here is: can physical actions or a manner of conduct amount to a verbal assertion of the sort qualifying as heresy? Possibly. Let’s take a case wherein there is no question about what is to be believed with divine and Catholic faith.

Suppose a Catholic, contrary to CCC 1374, does not accept that Jesus is present Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity, in the Eucharist. He never expresses this opinion in words but steadfastly refuses to make a sign of reverence when passing before a tabernacle. In such a case, his action/omission accurately reflects his heretical views, yes—but, is it not obvious that the evidentiary problems (of trying to parlay someone’s failure to genuflect when passing before a tabernacle into proof of the crime of heresy) are almost insurmountable? In this case, the action or omission might well be evidence of heresy but it is not remotely proof of the crime.

Let’s take a more graphic case: the same man, disgusted by what he regards as idolatry of a piece of bread, breaks open the tabernacle and scatters the hosts on the ground. Some might say, “If that is not proof of a Eucharistic heresy, what would be?” In one sense, they are correct, for scattering hosts on the ground as if they were nothing but bits of bread would be strong evidence of a certain Eucharistic heresy. But here’s the problem: the exact same action—stealing hosts and scattering them on the ground—could be committed by someone who thoroughly believes in the presence of Christ in the Eucharist but does the evil act as a gesture of contempt for Jesus! We see, thus, that without words, or without a very wide and sustained pattern of activity/omission, it is very difficult (not impossible, but very difficult), to glean heresy from someone’s conduct. The burden is on the accuser to prove charges, especially serious charges, and proving heresy by words is, as it should be, difficult; but proving heresy solely by actions or omissions, even repeated ones, is very difficult.

Mind, one’s deleterious actions or omissions might be evidence of other canonical crimes (e.g., as above, sacrilege, per c. 1367) or, as suggested in my earlier post, pastoral negligence (e.g., failure to urge the observance of ecclesiastical discipline per c. 392), but heresy?

I don’t think so. In most heresy cases, words speak louder than actions.

*********

COMMENTARY BELOW BY ABYSSUM

Dr. Peters wrote the posts above as the eminent canonist that he is.  However, his description of heresy is too brief and his posts are incomplete in that he does not suggest what Archbishop Supich is after stating that he is not a heretic.  I suggest that Archbishop Supich is a heterodox.

Let me begin by quoting Father John A. Hardon from his Modern Catholic Dictionary:

HERESY commonly refers to a doctrinal belief held in opposition to the recognized standards of an established system of thought.  Theologically it means an opinion at variance with the authorized teachings of any church, notably the Christian, and especially when this promotes separation from the main body of faithful believers {this would certainly seem to apply to Archbishop Cupich since his stated beliefs separate him from the main body of Catholics}.

In the Roman Catholic Church, heresy has a very specific meaning.  Anyone who, after receiving baptism, while remaining nominally a Christian, pertinaciously denies or doubts any of the truths that must be believed with divine and Catholic faith is considered a heretic.  Accordingly four elements must be verified to constitute formal heresy; previous baptism, which need not have been in the Catholic Church; external profession of still being a Christian, otherwise a person becomes an apostate; outright denial or positive doubt regarding a truth that the Catholic Church has actually proposed as revealed by God; and the disbelief must be morally culpable, where a nominal Christian refuses to accept what he knows is a doctrinal imperative.

Objectively, therefore, to become a heretic in the strict canonical sense and be excommunicated from the faithful, one must deny or question a truth that is taught not merely on the authority of the Church but on the word of God revealed in the Scriptures or sacred tradition.  Subjectively a person must recognize his obligation to believe.  If he acts in good faith, as with most persons brought in non-Catholic surroundings, the heresy is only material and implies neither guilt nor sin against faith.

Ecclesiastical law distinguishes between a formal heretic, as one who is sinfully culpable, and a material heretic, who is not morally guilty for professing what may be objectively heretical doctrine.

If Archbishop Cupich is not a heretic then what is he since his stated beliefs certainly separate him from the main body of Catholics.  He is a heterodox.  Here is Wikipedia’s definition of heterodoxy:

Heterodoxy in a religious sense means “any opinions or doctrines at variance with an official or orthodox position”.[1] Under this definition, heterodoxy is similar to unorthodoxy, while the adjective “heterodox” could be applied to a dissident.

Heterodoxy is also an ecclesiastical term of art, defined in various ways by different religions and churches. For example, in the Apostolic Churches (the Orthodox Church, the Roman Catholic Church, the Church of the East, and the Non-Chalcedonian or Oriental Churches), heterodoxy may describe beliefs that differ from strictly orthodox views, but that fall short either of formal or of material heresy.

Heterodoxy in the Roman Catholic Church refers to views that differ from strictly orthodox views, but retain sufficient faithfulness to the original doctrine to avoid heresy. Many Roman Catholics profess some heterodox views, either on doctrinal or social issues.[3] For example, the orthodox Catholic position on unbaptized infants is that their fate is uncertain, and “the Church can only entrust them to the mercy of God” (Catechism of the Catholic Church 1261). A heterodox Catholic might profess the belief that unbaptized infants are allotted to purgatory and then offered the option to accept or deny salvation by God at their judgment. The belief is not orthodox, as the Church does not profess a belief as to what happens to unbaptized infants; however, it is also not heresy, as the Church accepts that such a scenario might be possible.

So is Archbishop Cupich a heterodox rather than a heretic?  It would seem so.

About abyssum

I am a retired Roman Catholic Bishop, Bishop Emeritus of Corpus Christi, Texas
This entry was posted in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink.