Cardinal Wuerl to seminarians: “You will need to be a voice of invitation”

The Cardinal Archbishop of Washington has published a letter to men preparing for the priesthood that touches on a wide range of topics but stresses, first and foremost, fidelity.

From the Archdiocesan vocation website, DC Priests:

Your need to be well grounded in authentic Catholic teaching is important, first for your own participation in the great living, teaching tradition of the Church. One reason why you are required to take so many courses in Catholic teaching, history and philosophy is so that you are not only aware of the immense gift of the great Catholic tradition, but that you are also well prepared to access it, understand it, appropriate it and share it. Your formation should introduce you to the thought of the Fathers of the Church, the saints over centuries, the wisdom of Church Councils and the constant teaching found particularly in the Papal Magisterium.

There is also a pastoral reason for your initiation into and appreciation of the received teaching of the Church. You will, God willing your ordination, be ministering to many who have, unfortunately, been instructed in their college/university experience to accept what can be described as Catholic teaching/theology done within the “hermeneutic of discontinuity.” For reference to this term, we can turn to the address of Pope Benedict XVI to the Roman Curia December 22, 2005.

Essentially the hermeneutic of discontinuity is a defective lens through which Catholic teaching is seen. This perspective tends to accept as a starting point a rupture between the Church’s teaching prior to the Second Vatican Council and anything that follows on the Council. Our Holy Father pointed out the disruptive and harmful qualities of the acceptance of discontinuity in the life of the Church. Teachings that were never accepted as a part of Christ’s Gospel are announced now as new teaching in the “spirit” of the Council. He also noted that the hermeneutic of discontinuity and rupture has “frequently availed itself of the sympathies of the mass media, and also one trend of modern theology.”

This mentality that evaluates Church teaching through the perspective of discontinuity permeated the teaching faculties of a number of Catholic schools. Thus, there are many who do not know well the Church’s intellectual tradition and the reasons for her teaching, especially her moral and social justice teaching. To them you will need to be a voice of invitation, re-proposing Christ, his Church and his teaching.

Read it all.


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