ARCHBISHOP JOHN MURPHY of Cardiff speaks of the growing division between the two schools of Catholic thought in a pastoral letter to be read in the archdiocese on Sunday.
It is difficult to describe the two schools without using emotive words, he says.
But one could speak of a confrontation between the old theology and the new, between the traditional and revolutionary, the sacralist and secularist. Both emphases are required for the healthy development of the Church, but any exaggeration given to either side could result in a distorted growth.
He continues : "If one or the other school comes off slightly better in this swopping of dirty names, it is simply because the age in which we live is slightly biased towards one side. I can well imagine a man standing up and openly saying that he is more concerned with love than with law, but I cannot imagine a man standing up and saying he was a legalist and not much concerned about love".
Examining the two emphases as they affect Catholic teaching accept. That he offers a principle which both sides can ept teaThchiantgis. that in all Catholic aatholic there fundamental truth or purpose which remains constant in spite of all contemporary wrappings. The fact that, in the Consecration, bread and wine changes into the Body and Blood of Christ, remains true whether it is called 'transubstantiation" or any other name in vogue.
INTELLIGIBLE FAITH Putting both sides of the argument, the Archbishop quotes Chesterton as saying that if a thing means nothing to you, leave it alone. Only when it means something has anyone the right to judge that it should be removed. Nevertheless, it is important for Catholic theologians to translate the Faith into terms intelligible to modern man, and important that they be given freedom to do so without the accusation of "heresy" being flung at them. They must remember, however, that there is a kernel of truth in every formulation, classical or modern, and that preserving it is a delicate operation.
The Archbishop also makes a plea for theological timing. "Theologians", he writes, "have been known to have been stoned in one age and canonised in another, and rightly so. To advocate a certain doctrine or discipline at one particular time may put back its acceptance for many a year".
As a case in point he quotes recent agitation for reconsideration of the law of clerical celibacy. What was being sought might eventually come, but the Pope was wise in deciding that it should not come now. The least opportune moment for such a move would be in this increasingly permissive age.
IMPORTANT QUESTIONS The Archbishop says that there should be in our spiritual lives a delicate mixture of the old devotions whereby they can still function without flickering until truly hitched to the new liturgical prayer of the Church. In any case, liturgical prayer could never be without private prayer, for they rest on each other.
"Rosary, sermon and benediction, Friday abstinence and penny cathechism have all gone, and we will not lament their passing, but there are questions we must ask ourselves. Has the private Rosary taken the place of public recitation? Have private visits to the Blessed Sacrament replaced public Benediction? What has taken the place of Friday abstinence and, now that we have got rid of the cold legalism of the penny catechism, do our children in school love God more?"
Personalism must take over from paternalism but, he urges, do not let us think it heresy to have a bit of both.