July 2015


In the latest homily from Ken Overberg, S.J. at Xavier University’s Bellarmine Chapel, I learned that Chapter 6 of John’s Gospel, “the Bread of Life” chapter, isn’t “first of all” about the Eucharist but about the identify of Jesus (both/and, Ken!) and that St. Paul’s Letter to the Ephesians “was not written by Paul.” Regarding his second assertion, Overberg is frequently at pains to … “de-authorize” the writers of the New Testament and project its literary origins onto the believing community or later figures. By his way of thinking, if the “believing community” of the first or second century actually wrote the Gospels and Epistles, then the believing community of the 21st century is free to interpret them. (Or at least some members of the modern believing community — progressives like himself, not those conservative nasties.) In any event, over at the website for the Catholic Commentary on Sacred Scripture, whose terrific series on the books of the New Testament is jam-packed with up-to-date scholarship and history, scholar Peter Williamson makes a solid case for St. Paul’s authorship of Ephesians. Here’s a snippet:

The “external evidence” in favor of Paul’s authorship of Ephesians—that is, the testimony of the manuscript tradition and of ancient authors—is as strong as that of any of Paul’s undisputed letters. Ephesians appears in all the ancient collections of Paul’s writings, including those that omit the Apostle’s letters to individuals (1–2 Timothy, Titus, and Philemon). It is true that the Letter to the Hebrews, an anonymous work, is often also included in these collections, but from Origen on, many ancient authorities challenged the view that Hebrews was authored by Paul, while the Pauline authorship of Ephesians was never questioned.

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Last Friday in the wake of the U.S. Supreme Court’s 5-4 decision to impose same-sex marriage on the fifty states, Archbishop Dennis M. Schnurr of the Archdiocese of Cincinnati issued a statement condemning it. Since I haven’t seen it posted elsewhere, I thought I’d post it here:

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE June 26, 2015

Most Reverend Dennis M. Schnurr, Archbishop of Cincinnati, made the following comment on today’s U.S. Supreme Court decision in the case of Obergefell v. Hodges.

Most Reverend Dennis M. Schnurr today made the following statement:

“Under the false banner of ‘marriage equality,’ the United State Supreme Court today redefined marriage by judicial fiat. In so doing, it has disregarded not only the clearly expressed will of the electorate in Ohio and other states, but also an understanding of marriage that was shared by virtually all cultures – secular as well as religious – until recently.

“Every nation has laws limiting who and under what circumstances people can be married. This is because lawmakers have always understood that marriage does not exist just for the mutual satisfaction of the two people involved but for the betterment of society. Traditional marriage is the cradle of the family, the basic building block of society. As Pope Francis has reminded us, every child has a right to be raised by two parents, a father and a mother. Both parents are important, and they are not interchangeable. The sad reality that so many children are deprived of this right because of the crisis in traditional marriage does not make it any less important. It is deeply disappointing and worrisome that our courts do not understand this.

“Although the decision is disappointing, it is undeniable that families headed by same-sex couples are growing in number and visibility. These families deserve everyone’s love, respect, compassion, sensitivity and, where appropriate, pastoral care from the Church.”

The Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Cincinnati is the 38th largest Catholic diocese in the country, with almost 500,000 Catholics, and has the sixth largest network of Catholic schools in terms of enrollment. The 19-county territory includes 212 parishes and 111 Catholic primary and secondary schools.

As with most archdiocesan things, the statement is a mixed bag. While the clear condemnation of the ruling coupled with a short catechesis on marriage is praiseworthy, it isn’t at all clear how the local church is to provide “pastoral care” to a “growing” number of “families headed by same-sex couples.” And given the still considerable number of malcontents in our presbyterate, that paragraph will likely be the source of mischief. For a less ambiguous response, see the statement from Bishop Joseph Strickland of the Diocese of Tyler (Texas), which he has instructed his priests to read at Masses this weekend.