Atila Sinke Guimarães
|Why Not Deal With Dominus Jesus?
Published in The Remnant, February 15, 2002
Why have I taken so long to respond to the attacks of Mr. Michael Davies (The Remnant, September 15, 2001)? Because he was chosen to make a homage to Mr. Walter Matt, founder of The Remnant, at the conference that took place at the end of October. As I also was at that conference, an immediate response published right before the event could have shifted attention and prejudiced the planned homage. After the conference, I decided to say nothing until the publication of Mr. Davies’ speech, and the newspaper’s thank you. My wait is a small tribute that I have the pleasure of paying to Walter Matt, one of the great Catholic warriors of our days. This delay, however, obliges the reader to go back some issues to reacquaint themselves with the topics Mr. Davies and I were discussing.  The inconvenience has a simple solution. All the pieces of this polemic shortly can be found on the Tradition In Action website (www.TraditionInAction.org).
The controversy initiated by Mr. Davies took a curious deviation from his initial stated aim (The Remnant, December 31, 2000). His objective was to criticize my critique of Dominus Jesus. Instead of doing this, he launched miscellaneous attacks at me and never carried out his first objective. On December 31, 2001, one year after his initial announcement, he made another saying that he would further delay the debate. If he does not want to deal with the document, what is the purpose of these attacks? To defend that the Jews are saved in their own religion? To discuss whether it can be said that there are heresies in Judaism, or that Judaism is the source of all the heresies but is not, however, heretical? To criticize me because I call the Schismatics by that name and not by “orthodox” as he desires? Frankly, there are more urgent themes to address for the defense of the Holy Church. I do not see why Mr. Davies crossed my path to pose his abstract and semantic questions.
The fact is that he turned his fire on me, and I am obliged to defend myself.
It is a disappointment for me that, in order to respond, I have to go against a man who in times past defended the Catholic cause well. The Davies who was courageous against Vatican II, against the liturgical reform, and various other aspects of the progressivist advance has become a figure of the past. Today he defends the defenders of Vatican II, and he likes to boast that he is president of Una Voce, an association whose official purposes are not very clear regarding the acceptation of Vatican II's liturgical reform. Important symptoms, however, lead one to think that the heads of the movement have compromised with the New Mass without the acknowledgement of the healthy grassroots. For example, in a recent public answer of Mr. Davies to a question at The Remnant Forum, he said that the association supports the Novus Ordo Mass.
Lack of intellectual honesty
Another disappointment was for me to realize that he did not employ intellectual honesty in the debate that he began. He uses various ruses to try to fool the reader. I will analyze here some of these tactics in his last attack.
1. Incessant request for other sources
In one of my columns I examined this phrase of Ratzinger: the Jewish faith “for us is not another religion, but the foundation of our own faith.” Davies asked me to show the context of the phrase. I transcribed the whole context from a Catholic News Service (CNS) article published in The Tidings, the Los Angeles archdiocesan newspaper. Both sources are serious and enjoy credibility in the United States. L’Osservatore Romano, in the issue I had at hand, confirmed the report. Based on these documents, I explained my position with regard to Ratzinger’s phrase.
Davies, however, returned to make the same accusations without taking into any consideration what I wrote. He said: “In his 31 May article [actually, I wrote the column March 31, and my answer to Davies was published July 31 - ASG], Mr. Guimarães assures us that Cardinal Ratzinger alleges that the Jewish creed does not differ from the tenets of Catholic doctrine. He bases this absurd allegation on part of a sentence that he read in a secular newspaper, allegedly quoting L’Osservatore Romano. If he would provide us with the entire paragraph in Italian from the Vatican paper, I would comment further, but without this I will waste no more time discussing this ridiculous and insulting allegation.”
Mr. Davies committed various errors in this curt appraisal. A. He did not read, or did not judge it convenient to admit the details I had already explained about the Cardinal’s statement. B. He ignored that I had attended to his former request to cite the context. C. He disregarded the fact that CNS and The Tidings are well-known Catholic organs, not secular. D. He once again requested that I cite a new paragraph, now from L’Osservatore Romano and in Italian…
Since Mr. Davies ignored my first attendance to his request, he cannot be taken seriously in his second. Further, he lost his good sense by asking me to copy in The Remnant a long paragraph in Italian from the L’Osservatore Romano for his exclusive benefit. If he is interested in knowing what L’Osservatore wrote, that is his problem. There are innumerable London libraries that carry the newspaper.
His repeated request that I present new sources is a dishonest ploy in order to delay a response and to avoid acknowledging his weakness in the discussion.
2. Adulterating the Opponent’s Argument
Another vice that appears in his article is his deliberate adulteration of what I wrote.
A – Omission of two Popes and two Councils that oppose his thesis
He accused me of error when I affirmed that there are heresies in Judaism. The reasoning of Davies is elementary: Only one who is baptized can be a heretic; now, the Jews are not baptized, therefore, there are not heresies in Judaism. This legitimate reasoning is nuanced in its application, as I showed in my last answer. St. Pius V taught that Judaism “has been the cause and the fomenter of all the heresies;” Pope Gregory XIII affirmed that the Jewish practices were guilty of “blasphemies that in themselves are considered heretical.” I cited one other important nuance in application, the infiltration of the Jews into the Catholic Church – which was condemned by two Councils. The falsely converted Jews can be considered heretics. Therefore, his initial reasoning suffers important alterations in its application, and two Popes consider that there are heresies in Judaism. Thus, by holding the same position, I am in good company.
In his attack, Mr. Davies left out these statements of the two Popes and these condemnations of the two Councils. He wrote:
“I explained to Mr. Guimarães that he was wrong in referring to the multiple heresies of the Jewish creed (whatever that might be), since only baptized Christians can be heretics. He responded that I am right – hardly a refutation – but then brought up the topic of alleged Jewish infiltration into the Church …. This has nothing whatsoever to do with the point I raised. I stated that Jews cannot be heretics, a fact that he accepts, and so I am right and he is wrong – end of discussion.”
Mr. Davies deliberately left out what would have gone against his argument in order to reach his vibrant conclusion. Yet another dishonest way of acting with the aim of hiding his weakness.
B – The omission of two CDF documents and my two premises on the topic of homosexuality
Mr. Davies defied me to point to one single document from the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF) that had any error, because he thinks that the present day CDF is almost infallible: “When the CDF issues a document …. we can be morally certain that it contains no doctrinal error.”
I understand his psychological need. As a convert from Anglicanism, he needs a point of support in some serious authority, because Anglicanism is just another club for the English and inspires no security. Especially for converted Anglicans, the Papal Infallibility and stability in the Catholic Church is a powerful psychological support. I am sure that all cradle Catholics admire this need that leads toward such a noble end. What I cannot understand, however, is his deliberate ignorance of the progressivist infiltration that has touched all the Roman Congregations and the Papacy itself. Therefore, we cannot apply these principles so quickly and easily to the present-day religious authorities.
I attended to Mr. Davies’ request and I cited not one, but four CDF documents – the Augsburg Accord (see 4A), and three documents about homosexuality that I analyzed in my book In the Murky Waters of Vatican II.
Regarding the latter three documents, Mr. Davies leaped over two of the three and commented on the other, because it was the only one that he “has in his files.” This reason for avoiding the other documents is laughable. The documents that he jumped over are accessible at any good Catholic library. The first one, dated December 29, 1975, is what opened the doors of the Church to the homosexual avalanche that we are witnessing today. The other two documents can only be understood if considered in the wake of the first. Therefore, the omission of the first document is suspicious of being another fraudulent subterfuge.
In the analysis that Davies made of my critique on the only document that he mentioned, he omitted the two premises of the question.
The first premise is the invasion of homosexuality within the Church. No Catholic can be unaware of the shame of pedophilia in the clergy, or not realize that homosexuality has contaminated the seminarians and ecclesiastics to the point that the priesthood is being identified by many with this vice. This avalanche of homosexuality was only possible with the negligence or complicity of the responsible ecclesiastical authority. Unjust? I don’t think so. I am only applying the criteria taught by Pius IX: “The unleashing of every vice and corruption that, alas!, very easily penetrated into the Church …. must be attributed to the Pastors.” (Encyclical Qui pluribus, in Recueil des allocutions et encycliques, Paris, 1865, p. 189). What institution is responsible for maintaining Faith and Morals in the Church? The Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.
Mr. Davies left out the first and immense premise of my critique: the avalanche of homosexuality in the Church. He hooded the suspicion that weighs over the CDF and again dishonestly tried to cover the weakness of his position.
My second premise for the analysis of the CDF documents was the following. I affirmed: “We know that more often than not there is a possible conservative interpretation for other excerpts of the documents [of the CDF]. We leave this aside, for it seems to us more consonant with the spirit of Catholic vigilance to pay more attention to evil, which invades with its characteristic force of impact, rather than to good, which is often content to survive this invasion, impassive and silent” (Murky Waters, p. 370).
Mr. Davies read this premise, since he stated: “Having read what he has to say in his book concerning the document I cited ….” Notwithstanding, by citing positive excerpts from that document, he tried to present me as being partial. He is not fair, because I did not deny that the document has good parts. What I said is that it also has bad parts, and these parts favor homosexuality. Why did Mr. Davies pretend to ignore the weaker points of the CDF document? Doesn’t he know that the strength of a chain is that of its weakest link, and this applies to the CDF document? Why did he ignore this premise that I adopted? Once again, Mr. Davies put himself in the position of a dishonest debater who adulterates the position of his opponent.
3. Small fraudulent ruses
Mr. Davies showed himself a master of small fraudulent ruses to disguise his weakness.
A. “I don’t have it in my files”
– When it’s not convenient for him to analyze some document, one of his recourses is to affirm that he doesn’t have it in his files (see 2B). I respect one who uses this argument in the private ambit. When someone, however, launches himself in the public arena, he has the obligation to arm himself with the necessary documents for the fight. Should he not do so, his action lacks seriousness. Mr. Davies punctuates his polemic with affirmations of this nature.
B. “As far as my memory serves me”
– Another artifice that he uses to sidestep issues is to use his memory as an argument of authority (see 4A). It is necessary to be either juvenile or very presumptuous to imagine that, in a public doctrinal dispute, one should accept the memory of Mr. Davies as a trustworthy source of documentation. What would be justifiable for Davies the secondary school teacher is not admissible for Davies the public polemicist.
C. “The alleged affirmations…”
– Frequently he pretends “to forget” the appropriate documentation that was presented to him. When referring to it, he tries to avoid the authority of the cited source. He employs this stratagem in this phrase “Mr. Guimarães cites statements allegedly made by Cardinal Lustiger ….” Now, I did not use any “alleged” statements, I offered objective evidence for what I said. I quoted two interviews of Lustiger, one transcribed by La Documentation Catholique, which is the most serious French source of documentation, and another transcribed by the Parisian daily Le Monde, perhaps the most important French newspaper. I cited both sources with dates for confirmation. Mr. Davies is once again dishonest in his pretended forgetfulness. (See also 1).
Another frequent ploy is that of fleeing from the topic at hand because of his uncomfortable situation.
A - The Augsburg Accord – Davies defied me to cite one CDF document that contained error. I cited, among others, the Augsburg Accord, which was a tacit negation of the doctrine of justification of the Council of Trent. The CDF gave its formal approval to the final text, guaranteeing the faithful that it did not contain doctrinal error. On the contrary the document has doctrinal error. The practical negation of the doctrine of justification is a doctrinal error. It constitutes what habitually is called a text with the “flavor of heresy.” Furthermore, it counted on the co-authorship of Cardinal Ratzinger for the final draft. Therefore, it can be considered a text that issued from the two Roman Dicasteries. To document this, I cited, with the proper sources and dates, the words of Cardinal Edward Cassidy, at the time head of the Council. I also cited the words of important Protestants describing Ratzinger’s co-authorship.
Ignoring this documentation, Mr. Davies wrote: “I am sure that Mr. Guimarães cannot cite a single doctrinal error in any pronouncement by the CDF. He refers to the Accord of Augsburg. To the best of my knowledge, this is not a CDF document, and the approval of the CDF merely guarantees that it contains no heresy, no denial of ‘de fide’ teachings. Is there such a denial in the Augsburg accord? If my memory serves me rightly, it was denounced by one Lutheran Synod as a surrender to Catholicism.”
Mr. Davies is dishonest in not taking into consideration the sources I cited that proved the co-authorship of Ratzinger in the document. Above all, his escape is notorious in his two last sentences, when he skirts away from the important question of whether there is doctrinal error in the document, which had the approval of the CDF, by recalling an imprecise fact from memory – and then he quickly closes the topic. He flees.
B – Further discussion on homosexuality - Mr. Davies says that he wants evidence showing that the CDF approved documents with errors (see 2B). However, he is not disposed to accept any proof that deals with homosexuality, since he affirms: “Under no circumstances will I get into a debate on homosexuality with him [me].” Why such a fear to deal with the matter? I don’t know. I only record another escape.
C – With regard to Dominus Jesus - The most flagrant flight of Mr. Davies, however, regards his promised debate on Dominus Jesus. We have already celebrated the first anniversary of his decision to combat my position on this document. Up until now, there have only been delays and deviations. Allow me to take advantage of the occasion to tell him that I am at his disposal for a serious polemic on Dominus Jesus.
1. For the reader who is not familiar with computers, here is the list of The Remnant’s articles of my polemic with Davies: September 30, 2000, A Conversion? by ASG – analysis on Dominus Jesus; December 31, 2000, A Christmas Letter from London by MD; January 31, 2001, Mr. Davies’ Challenge Accepted by ASG; March 31, 2001, Bird’s Eye View of the News by ASG; May 31, 2001, A Letter from London by MD; July 31, 2001, A Letter to London by ASG; September 15, 2001, A Letter from London by MD.
Other Articles in the Polemic
by Atila Sinke Guimarães
Dominus Jesus: Something Borrowed, Nothing New
by Dr. Marian T. Horvat
A Letter from London
by Mr. Michael Davies
A Letter to London
by Atila S. Guimarães
A Letter from London
by Mr. Michael Davies
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