Thursday, March 26, 2015

Loftus and the teaching of the Church

Although vulgar abuse of named or otherwise clearly identifiable individuals takes up a lot of Mgr Basil Loftus' column space, and his endless screeds against the 2011 translation of the Ordinary Form Missal a lot more, never let it be said that he does not address serious theological topics, for he takes the time also to deny fundamental principles of Catholic teaching too. The Editor of the Catholic Times, Kevin Flaherty, made it clear last weekend that his post-bag has been filling up with complaints about Loftus' advocacy of Communion for Catholics in irregular unions, but this is a mere detail in Loftus' deviation from the teaching of the Church. He is just as happy to advocate giving Communion to those living in sin, or in homosexual unions, as I have several times noted on this blog: see here, and here.

Loftus' denial of the teaching of the Church on homosexuality has caused particular concern. Loftus even went so far as to attack his fellow Catholic Times columnist, Fr Marsden, in the paper's correspondence column, for his temerity for reiterating the teaching of the Church. In his letter, Loftus artlessly revealed that he does not believe that the Church's teaching on morals is ever infallible: at least, that seems to be the implication of this contorted passage.

‘When Fr Marsden (Credo, The Catholic Times, March 6) lumps together as instances of “dissent” from “the faith which is believed”, the denial of Christ’s divinity, the ordination of women, and the “extolling” of what he terms “sodomistic relationships” as an alternative to matrimony, he mixes apples with pears.
‘The divinity of Christ has been revealed by God, and calls for the assent of faith.
‘The other two instances are taught by the magisterium of the Church to be wrong.

‘But that magisterium, or teaching authority, of the Church, is most decidedly not a channel of revelation, and it does not call for the assent of faith.’ (20 March 2011)

The wrongness of sodomy has, of course, been revealed by Scripture, though as a judge recently fined a street preacher for quoting the most famous passage, I won't do so: you can read it here. (It is reiterated by St Paul here.) So it is hard to know exactly what distinction Loftus is making between revelation and the Magisterium; nevertheless, his substantive views on sodomy, and indeed the ordination of women, are not difficult to infer from the passage.

Loftus ' occasional forays into the theology of the Real Presence and of the Resurrection of Our Lord have also generated a lot of disquiet. The problem in both cases is that Loftus is uncomfortable with the idea of physicality: that Our Lord is physically present in the Blessed Sacrament, or that He was physically present in the Resurrection appearanced to His disciples.

22 Jan 2012: ‘the Resurrection/Ascension event is nothing less than the Heavenly enthronement of Christ our King. Christ’s Risen Body is his Glorified Body; and Glorified Bodies belong in Heaven. Where else would Christ’s Risen Body have been in between his post-Resurrection appearances?’

8 July 2012: ‘Christ was not physically present either during his appearances on earth after the Resurrection, or in the Eucharist.’

25 July 2010: ‘If Christ were physically present in the Eucharist, then we would drown him every time that we purified the chalice with water after Holy Communion.'

Since Editor Kevin Flaherty is concerned to defend Loftus precisely on the grounds that he provides 'a loyal summary of 'counsel' coming from the Holy See, and in particular from the Holy Father.' (20 March 2015), it is relevant to note that Loftus is clearly not on the same page as the Holy See on a whole range of fundamental theological issues.

Indeed, Loftus' utter contempt of the authority of the Holy See on the subject of the liturgy is endlessly repeated. I'll say something about that next.

As a service to the public, I have put together quotations on a range of themes from Loftus' published writings, mostly his Catholic Times columns, in a dossier here, and made one of his most theologically egregious articles, on the Resurrection of Our Lord, available here.

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  1. "‘Christ was not physically present either during his appearances on earth after the Resurrection, or in the Eucharist.’"

    Basically, Loftus is a heretic but nobody does anything about it?

  2. Quite right, Ivan, but as you say no one does anything about it.

    But if 461 priests sign a letter to the Catholic Herald supporting traditional Catholic Teaching then Cardinal Nichols gets upset.

  3. After an incident, which revealed to me the Catholic Times' total lack of journalistic standards some years ago, nothing would persuade me to buy it let alone read Mgr Loftus. I can imagine however that doing so is a penance in Lent akin to wearing a hair shirt! A penance too far for me.

  4. What diocese??? There's no hint.

    1. Incardinated in Leeds, he lives in the diocese of Aberdeen.