Critiquing Diarmuid O'Murchu's 'New World Order'
Doctrinal Note on the Book "Reframing Religious Life"
ROME, APRIL 16, 2006 (Zenit) - The following statement is a translation of a document from the Doctrinal Commission of the Spanish bishops' conference. It was translated and published by the English edition of L'Osservatore Romano last month.
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Summary: The Doctrinal Commission of the Bishops' Conference of Spain presents this Doctrinal Note in order to bring to public attention the seriously erroneous affirmations found in the book "Reframing Religious Life. An Expanded Vision for the Future," by Father Diarmuid O'Murchu, M.S.C. According to Father O'Murchu, religious men and women "should leave the Church and take on a non-canonical status" since "the values of the Religious life belong to a more ancient pre-religious tradition."
He therefore marginalizes Christian revelation and its ecclesial transmission, abolishes the need for redemption and proposes a non-Christian vision where the "Kingdom" or the "Reign" is a substitute for Jesus Christ and his Church.
Father O'Murchu also disfigures the sense and significance of the religious vows of poverty, obedience and chastity. In the final analysis, the proposals made in his book, far from promoting a renewal of religious life, will rather bring about its destruction.
1. One of the duties of the doctrinal commission is to safeguard Christian doctrine in matters of faith, a duty which is undertaken as a service to the Church and the teaching ministry of her shepherds. In fulfillment of this mission, therefore, and having at heart the common good of the People of God we wish to manifest our concern at the publication by "Publicaciones Claretianas" of the book entitled "Reframing Religious Life. An Expanded Vision for the Future" by Father Diarmuid O'Murchu, an Irish priest of the Missionaries of the Sacred Heart.
In the underlying presuppositions of his book and in some of his explicit affirmations, Father O'Murchu is in open conflict with the teaching of the Church, and for this reason we consider it necessary to issue a doctrinal clarification.
2. The book calls for an urgent reform of religious life. However, notwithstanding its claims to scientific impartiality, it offers an unsubstantiated critique of the very foundations of religious life which will contribute far more to its destruction than to its renewal.
I. An old proposal with the claim of novelty
3. Father O'Murchu's thesis and the language he uses are certainly ambitious; however, beyond all his promises of "planetary" or "holistic" implications, the true content of what he proposes is actually quite simple and primitive. The essence of his thesis can be summarized in the following six points:
a. It is striking that the author explicitly and repeatedly (with slight variations) proposes to religious that "a process of disengagement from the institutional Church is both desirable and necessary" (p. 73); "there seems to be only one authentic response: leave the Church and adopt a non-canonical status" (p. 120).
b. Less explicit, but nonetheless present, is Father O'Murchu's call to abandon the Catholic faith in Jesus Christ as the only full Revelation of God and as the Lord and Savior of all mankind. This is but one of the elements of the thesis that not only systematically obfuscates the true theological significance of Jesus Christ, but which in fact contradicts all that he stands for, thus denigrating and ridiculing him.
c. Father O'Murchu does not speak of the Triune God revealed in Jesus Christ but rather rejects this revelation and suggests a conception of God that fluctuates between pantheism and animism: God can at the most be considered as a "capacity for relatedness." This "capacity for relatedness" is naturally not a God that freely creates the world. The author speaks much of "creation," but the meaning of this concept in the book is not that proper to the Christian faith, since the Creator God in question is identified, in one way or another, with the world. God is envisioned as the internal energy of the cosmos, and the world as the "incarnation" of God.
d. Father O'Murchu places religious life "far beyond" the Church, Jesus Christ and the God revealed in him. Religious life should come back to itself, that is to say, "reincarnate the ever-old in a world that is ever new" (p. 140). The "ever-old" is paganism, or better put, the pre-Christian and pre-religious culture that supposedly existed at the very origins of humanity.
e. According to the author, the "values of the religious life" are anterior to Christianity or any other "formal religion." However, it is difficult to ascertain from Father O'Murchu exactly what these values are. After having gone through the "painful and dislocating" (p. 73) process of ...
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