Questioning Garry Wills

 

Pope Benedict XVI’s announcement on Feb. 11 that he will “renounce the ministry of Bishop of Rome” stunned the church and set the media scrambling. America was no exception; we were equally surprised and just as frenzied. In the 48 hours after the news broke, our editors gave more than two-dozen interviews to the secular press.

Providing commentary and assistance to the media in times such as these is an important part of America’s mission to interpret the church for the world and the world for the church. America’s editor at large, James Martin, S.J., made several media appearances, including one on “The Colbert Report,” the satirical news program on Comedy Central hosted by Stephen Colbert, the actor and comedian who plays a dangerously dimwitted, reactionary version of himself on the weekly program.

Also appearing on the show that night was Garry Wills, a onetime Jesuit and protégé of William F. Buckley Jr., who has moved steadily leftward over the course of his Pulitzer prize-winning career. Mr. Wills has just published a new book, the thesis of which is easily gleaned from its title, Why Priests? A Failed Tradition.

Mr. Colbert asked the author why the priesthood is a failed tradition. Mr. Wills responded: “Well, they continue to pretend to turn bread and wine into the body and blood of Jesus, which doesn’t happen.” When Mr. Colbert mentioned that the Eucharist is “a mystery,” Mr. Wills responded: “No, it’s a fake.” A very awkward three-second pause ensued.

Some longtime watchers of the show noticed that a shocked Mr. Colbert, a devout Catholic in real life, nearly broke character. But Mr. Wills wasn’t finished: In the remaining two minutes of the interview, he went on to say that the priesthood and the papacy should be abolished and that the sacrament of the sick is “an invented sacrament.”

Now it should be obvious to even the most casual Roman Catholic that Mr. Wills’s views are definitely heterodox and probably heretical. I don’t use that last term in a desultory fashion. In fact, the word heresy is too casually invoked in popular ecclesiastical discourse. I am personally loath to say that any person—liberal, conservative, whatever—is or is not a Christian solely because of his or her theological beliefs.

But it is not really Mr. Wills’s unorthodox views that give us cause to question his Christian commitment; it is his manifest lack of charity. What Mr. Wills said on “The Colbert Report” was insensitive; frankly, it was insulting, not just to me and not just to priests but to millions of sincere, faithful Catholics. The fact that Mr. Wills is a Catholic is not relevant here; his baptismal certificate is not a license for incivility. We would not tolerate this kind of behavior in a non-Catholic. Why do we tolerate it in Mr. Wills?

Every day, in almost every conceivable language, millions of Catholics take part in eucharistic liturgies, in prayers before the Blessed Sacrament, in processions and eucharistic devotions, all manifestations of a deeply held, millennia-old belief that in the Eucharist mere bread and wine do indeed become the body and blood of Christ. This is our faith; this is the faith for which we live and for which many of our forebears died.

Mr. Wills may disagree with how the eucharistic mystery has been traditionally expressed in philosophical or theological terminology; he may even dissent from the substance of that teaching or from any Catholic teaching, for that matter; that is his prerogative. He is not entitled, however, to wantonly insult us with claims that our sacraments are “invented,” that our priests are merely “pretending” or that our most cherished gift is somehow “a fake.” Mr. Wills does not necessarily owe us an account of his unorthodox views. He does, however, owe us an apology.

Thomas Piatak
4 years ago
An excellent piece.
Ashley Green
4 years ago
First of all, as a convert to Catholicism – I had never set foot inside a Catholic Church until the age of thirty-three – I am well aware that it is not my place to point any fellow Catholic to the exit door, no matter how much I may disagree with the way in which he practices his faith or how badly I believe that he has misunderstood certain aspects of the religion in which he professes to believe. Nevertheless, there must be some point at which it no longer makes sense for a person to refer to himself as Catholic, even if he has never formally left the Church. A denial of the Real Presence in the Eucharist – not a misunderstanding, mind you, but an outright denial – seems to me an obvious instance in which that point has been crossed. If a person is to be considered a true practitioner of a particular religion just because he continues to identify himself as such, even though he declares the most fundamental beliefs of that faith to be untrue, then membership in that religion can have no meaning, at least none that we would normally associate with adherence to a particular faith or belief system. For example, imagine that a person continued to call himself a Muslim even though he had long since repudiated the ideas that the Quran is the revealed word of God and that Muhammad is His prophet. Or that a person began referring to himself as a Mormon, even while claiming that Joseph Smith was a fraud and that the Book of Mormon was pure fantasy. Such people would not be taken seriously by anyone, whether inside or outside the community of true believers of these religions. Therefore it is reasonable to apply a similar standard to those who continue to claim a Catholic identity while rejecting the Church’s most basic teachings.
Mary Keane
4 years ago
Well stated.
Kevin McDermott
4 years ago
I saw the Colbert interview as well, Matt, and I disagree with you. Wills said what he thinks in plain but unsensational language, and made a point of remarking the priests in his life who've been valuable to him. That isn't implicitly uncharitable or insulting. How did you get all the way to "wantonly"?
Dawn Webster
4 years ago
Yes, Wills does us the great service of not patronizing us and for breaking down the walls of unseeing, heedless bureaucracy that the church leadership has erected to protect those in power. As a result, the vulnerable and the helpless have had their cries go unheeded. They-- and the women who are being hounded by the church-- need to see the only meaningful kind of apology: reform and a complete airing of the secret chambers of the church where so much sin was hidden from the scrutiny it should have received. http://freecatholic808.com/2013/02/18/catholics-time-for-a-rosa-parks-moment/
Beth Cioffoletti
4 years ago
I have generally appreciated Gary Wills' voice, perhaps especially his book, "Why I am Catholic". He has helped me to better understand my own evolving sense of what Church means to me. I half-watched the interview with Colbert (I was doing something at the time), and can't say that I was offended, but I was confused and thought that I should listen to it again before I commented. I can sort of understand what Wills is getting at -- our giving over of too much of our own God-given "powers" to "priests". He is veering into excessively provocative language in order to make a point - something that I am guilty of at times.
Vince Killoran
4 years ago
Actually Mr. Wills is "entitled" to write this book and talk about his ideas in the media. I do share Fr. Malone's view that Will's is fundamentally incorrect. It pains me to write this since I have been a big fan of his work (his WHY I AM A CATHOLIC was essential reading during the height of the news of the sexual abuse coverup last decade). But why ask him for an apology? What are the chances he will do that, and why on earth would he offer one? For the harsh manner in which he delivered his views? C'mon--we can stand to hear them and then argue against them.
Bob Baker
4 years ago
For those who seem to agree with Mr. Wills, I suggest you find another religion - to have the Supreme Sacrifice of the Mass labeled a fake is so ignorant of our belief in the Real Presence. Mr. Wills has already distanced himself from the Faith. Mr. Wills has made his money off Catholicism long enough. Unfortunately, there seems to be far too many who need to go with him.
David Nowaczewski
4 years ago
I can't get too upset about the comments as they were totally predictable. What I thought most laughable was his recourse to Augustine. Since when did St. Augustine become the touchstone for all teachings Catholic? I wonder if Wills champions Augustine's views on the number of the damned?
Vince Killoran
4 years ago
Before Bob Baker plays "bouncer" he should review the comments made thus far. I didn't read any as endorsing Wills' full argument.
STEPHANIE SIPE
4 years ago
Mr. Wills' comments to Stephen were not just disrespectful but wreaked of arrogance. I'll continue watching the Colbert Report; however, I will not purchase another book by Mr. Wills. Oh, and I won't be holding my breath waiting for an apology.
Abe Rosenzweig
4 years ago
He should try and conform more closely to the long-standing Catholic tradition of speaking respectfully of religious beliefs that he rejects.
Tim O'Leary
4 years ago
Gary Wills is a perfect example of the futility of using religious self-identification as a means for determining in opinion polls what Catholics believe. A Harris Poll in 2003 found that only 79% of Catholics believed in God and a Pew poll had it at 18%! So, it is no wonder that many still self-identifying “Catholics” have long ago taken themselves out of the faithful. To think they are still Catholic while denying such a central tenet as the Real Presence is perverse - either an irrational stupidity or a duplicitous knavery. I fear with Mr. Wills that it is the more damning knave, since he not only used the old pagan slur of cannibalism (“take a chunk out of my arm”) on the show, but he also tried to defame St. Augustine as a non-believer in the Real Presence. Here is just one quote from that Doctor of the Church (Sermons 227): “That Bread which you see on the altar, having been sanctified by the word of God, is the Body of Christ. That chalice, or rather, what is in that chalice, having been sanctified by the word of God, is the Blood of Christ. Through that bread and wine the Lord Christ willed to commend His Body and Blood, which He poured out for us unto the forgiveness of sins. If you receive worthily, you are what you have received."
Thomas Rooney OFS
4 years ago
There are many doctrines that can be argued and discussed by Catholics in good faith. In my opinion, the Real Presence of Christ in the Eucharist ain't one of them. most of you who've seen me post know that I usually find myself on the "left side" of most of said discussions, but that's neither here nor there. I don't get to decide who calls themselves "Catholic". But when you think the sacraments, the priesthood, and the papacy are all a sham, really...why bother? Perhaps "I was brought up Catholic" or to use my non-practicing wife's quote "I am a retired Catholic." would be a better qualifier? I just don't understand why someone would want to remain identified with a Church whose central teaching...the Real Presence of Christ...one believes to be fake. I'm honestly foozled.
Rick Fueyo
4 years ago
I thought he was intemperate and insensitive, and never appreciate that approach. But he is an intellectual are accustomed to making written arguments, and this book stands up rather better. His syllogism, which I don't agree with him, is that a miracle transubstantiation of causes us to revere priests too greatly and get away from the social form in the early church. He supports his arguments fairly well in the book, at least as a textual exegesis. I loved "Lincoln at Gettysburg", still one of the great short historical works. He also has some illuminating things to save his religious writings, so long as you accept that he gets rather extreme in his conclusions as to what flows from his scholarship. He responds too much in anger
Tom Schneck
4 years ago
Gary has an editor for his books, some of which I have enjoyed. It looks like he needs an editor for his interviews, or he will lose his fan base, including me.
Colleen Spiro
4 years ago
Amen. I saw the show and I totally agree with you. Thank you.
Beth Cioffoletti
4 years ago
I hope that I do not come across as heretical, and I do believe the Real Presence to be central to the Catholic Faith -- but I understand that to mean that Christ is with us (Real!) in what we eat and drink - our bread and wine - and in our very cells. Our liturgical celebration of this mystery does, indeed, bring this mystery into focus, but like Wills, I'm not inclined to believe that the act of consecration is the be-all of the Real Presence Mystery. That would be merely a "magic trick". The Body of Christ and our bodies interpenetrate during our earthly existence (maybe forever) - mystery and truth that extends beyond the liturgy (though contained in the liturgy). I think that Wills writing is meant to move us beyond superstitions that can stagnate spiritual growth. He might have overdone it this time, though.
Anne Chapman
4 years ago
Your assessment seems on target. I haven't read the book yet (I plan to order it), but it seems possible that his "quarrel" is not with the concept of Real Presence but with transubstantiation. Studies done by the team at Catholic University show that while most Catholics believe that Christ is present in communion (and in our very cells as you note), that presence is a mystery - the majority do not necessarily accept transubstantiation as the explanation for the mystery. In the early church, there did not seem to be a priesthood of the type we have now. Leadership was called from among the members of the community not "ordained" from above. Perhaps Wills is challenging what some priests believe of themselves and that the official church has often taught - that somehow the ordained clergy are superior to all other members of the church. John Paul II was a big promoter of ontological superiority of the priesthood and unfortunately it seems that some priests buy into this notion as well. Priests who believe that they are in some way superior to all others would naturally be offended by Wills' comments. In the interview he comes across as somewhat self-effacing and unfortunately Colbert did not ask intelligent follow up questions that might clarify what Wills is saying. It is unfortunate that some priests might be offended by this interview. It seems a hasty reaction given that the interview lasted about 2 minutes and the book surely gives a much more complete explanation of Wills' views. I have found Wills' to be very clear in his explanations, and his work is extremely well-documented, as one would expect from an historian and college professor. They DO know about citations and documentation! Perhaps everyone should first read the book before making judgments and demanding apologies?
Bill Mazzella
4 years ago
The preoccuppation with the apology is an unfortunate distraction from the theology involved. Will's theology is sound and Vatican II began to straighten that out until Ottaviani and Co. started to modify the documents. So this is nothing new. This is why Vatican II talked about "presider" rather than priest. TheBody of Christ is really the church which is what Jesus meant when he said that the second commandment, Love your neighbor, is equal to the first, Love God with all your being. The harmful sacralization of presiders is a principal reason why there is so much error surround this office. At one time there were priests solely for the purpose of saying Mass, nothing else, so they can monetize the stipends. The fallacy that each Mass saves a thousand worlds is related to this. Nowadays a terrible practice of sending Nigerian and Indian priests here is an apt example. Worst of all because these men are needed to minister to their own people so many of whom are living in squalor. The idea for sending the priests here is to continue the Eucharist. The fact is that the community makes the Eucharist, not the priest. That terrible error is allows millions in the missions to go without the Eucharist. It is not celibacy that prevents the Eucharist from happening. It is the fallacy of a regal priesthood. The priesthood and bishops are the creation of an Empire church. The hierarchy always got away with this faulty theology because of an uneducated and intimidated laity. Now that the guillotine cannot be used by the church as a weapon we see more clearly. The cover-up of sex abuse should have given us the definitive answer. The bishops and pope were more concerned about their reputation than the welfare of children. We do need officials in the church. But we need to center on the life, death and resurrection of Jesus which th Eucharist is. Not the symbol of power and domination. So stop calling the pope , bishops and priests "Father" because you have one Father in heaven as Jesus admonishes. Keep church officials responsible and remind them that they are servants not rulers. Then your scandals will be minimized.
Marie Rehbein
4 years ago
OK, so does Mr. Wills go to church and, if so, does he take bread and/or wine? I get the Stephen Colbert was probably too shocked to ask this, but has anyone asked or observed this?
Bill Mazzella
4 years ago
Marie, Wills does go to church and receives the Eucharist. http://www.amazon.com/Why-Am-Catholic-Garry-Wills/dp/B003L1ZYSI
Tim O'Leary
4 years ago
Bill - I hope for his sake he doesn't still do that. Surely, he has more fear of God than that? Or has he lost that too?
Kevin McDermott
4 years ago
Could be he doesn't live in fear, TIm.
Tim O'Leary
4 years ago
Kevin. You are mixing up two meanings of fear. "Fear of the Lord is the beginning of Wisdom" (Proverbs 9:10, Psalm 111:10), meaning wonder and awe. Fear of the Lord is one of the Seven gifts of the Holy Spirit.
Tom Schneck
4 years ago
You can only say that his theology is sound if it is viewed from the Protestant perspective. Wills has evolved from his Why I Am a Catholic book to a new position that could be entitled Why I Am a Protestant. The Colbert interview was provocative and unfortunate. I have not read the subject book but a book review in the NY Times Book Review of 2/17/13, p. 11, indicates the biblical bases for Wills positions. As always, Wills positions are interesting, but not acceptable to Catholics. Thus, the evolutionary result is the same.
Marie Rehbein
4 years ago
I have to say that as a person who goes to Catholic Church regularly but is forbidden from partaking of the Eucharist because I prefer to continue with the belief I was taught as a Lutheran that the bread and wine convey the body and blood of Christ but are not transformed into them, I would be offended that Garry Wills is permitted to partake.
Tim O'Leary
4 years ago
Marie - You have taken the more honorable way.
Tim O'Leary
4 years ago
It should not be hard to accept that the God who has the power to create out of nothing the whole universe with a single thought, or a human soul ex nihilo at conception, could use priests to transform bread and wine into flesh and blood. Or with a word, raise Lazarus from the dead. His own self-resurrection is a far greater feat, which Wills doesn’t seem to challenge (for now). It is worth re-reading the sixth chapter of John, where Jesus unequivocally and repeatedly emphasizes the reality of eating and drinking his flesh (5 times) and blood, and connects this central action of our faith with amazing promises: “he who eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day. For my flesh is food indeed, and my blood is drink indeed.” And then, in Mt 26, Mk 14 & Lk 22, Jesus establishes both the consecration and the priesthood. The Church’s philosophical term transubstantiation is only secondary, but captures the realism of our Lord’s words, and protects the radical teaching of Jesus from those who find the teaching “a hard saying.” It is the words of Jesus that Gary Wills is rejecting. And yet, Wills calls this “a fake”, a word that implies some willful deception by the priests of the Church (as opposed to an error, etc.). Luther and Calvin were far more orthodox than Wills is now, although they all share a hateful anticlericalism. As regards the episcopacy and the presbyters (priests), they are both described in chapter 44 of the first letter by St. Clement (88-97 AD), the 3rd successor of St. Peter, as he uses his authority to admonish the Church in Corinth. Not exactly a recent institution. Interestingly, chapter 44 begins with the following: “Our apostles also knew, through our Lord Jesus Christ, that there would be strife on account of the office of the episcopate." Envy is a powerful motivator.
Anne Chapman
4 years ago
Mr. O'Leary, it may not be an issue of questioning the words of Jesus, but rather questioning the interpretation of those words.
Bob Baker
4 years ago
Let’s see...Augustine, Ambrose, Origen, Irenaeus, Justin Martyr, Ignatius of Antioch, etc, and a few Church Councils (have all written about the Real Presence) versus Gary Wills. Wonder which group most people might choose?
Michael Bazemore
4 years ago
On Wills' side we have Ratramnus of Corbie and Berengar of Tours. Kind of hard to muster an all-star list on Wills' team when the view had been suppressed in the main since Berengar's condemnation in 1059.
Tammy Gottschling
4 years ago
Every Catholic is baptized, prophet, priest, and king. I'll have to read Wills book. I'm curious what he states about prophet and king regarding the second person of the Trinity, Hellenistic culture, and historical context. Regarding the Eucharist – the words sarx and soma could be why he refers to Augustine regarding the body, which I think is dualistic theology. That said, Fr. Jim might be spot on regarding how the rest of the world perceive Catholic Americans.
Tim O'Leary
4 years ago
Tammy. I didn't know every Catholic was a king. If so, where would my kingdom be, and who are my subjects? And does my wife get to be queen or does she have her own kingdom? This all sounds very lonely, more like the Mormon idea of everyone having to manage their own planet.
Molly Roach
4 years ago
Mr. O'Leary, in the second anointing at an infant baptism, the person is anointed "priest, prophet and king" with Christ. This is the sacramental configuring of the baptized person with Christ, uniting the newly baptized with Christ as well as indicating their ministry. The kingship of Christ is a kingship of service not one of being a head of state or possessing an earthly kingdom.
Tim O'Leary
4 years ago
Molly - the exact wording in the CCC (1241): "The anointing with sacred chrism, perfumed oil consecrated by the bishop, signifies the gift of the Holy Spirit to the newly baptized, who has become a Christian, that is, one "anointed" by the Holy Spirit, incorporated into Christ who is anointed priest, prophet, and king." I still think being incorporated into Christ is not equivalent to becoming a king. Christ, after all has a kingdom "my kingdom is not of this world..."), and it is sufficient for me to be incorporated into his kingdom.
Tammy Gottschling
4 years ago
It was a bit of irony in my original post, Mr O’Leary. There is one priest and that is Jesus the Christ. All ordained priests act in persona of the Christ at the Catholic Mass (ex opera operato [by the work of the work]). My point is what does Wills' state about Jesus the Christ as prophet and king investigating ecclesiology since Catholicism frames on and/both not either/or? I very much enjoy the study of Catholic history and cultural historical context—two thousand years of history. A wonderful text required in a Christology course was Christ and Empire: From Paul to Postcolonial Times by Joerg Rieger. Excellent source re the Roman economic system that I am persuaded the early Jewish movement was refuting before Christianity became a religion. The Romans had no problem with “our lord” because there were lots of lords running around. They did have a problem with Paul and others proclaiming “the Lord Jesus Christ.” Why? They were challenging the authority of Caesar and the economic structure of Rome (social stratification [see: paterfamilias])! It’s great to engage with thinking Catholics and thanks for your comment!
Melanie Statom
4 years ago
Transubstantiation, Incarnation, Resurrection... stumbling stones of fiction for the faithful or substantive, mysterious truth of the One Cornerstone?
Bill Mazzella
4 years ago
Perhaps some of the Roman apologists here will gain some perspective if they consider or learn that Jesus was anti-clerical and continually upbraided the officials in religion---"Beware the leaven of the Pharisees" and "The harlots and publicans will enter the kingdom of heaven before the scribes and Pharisees." Keep adoring the priestly caste which has and continually covers up the abuse of children.
Tim O'Leary
4 years ago
Bill. It is Wills who is the fake Catholic, not the consecration. Jesus was harsh to those Pharisees who were hypocrites, and gentle to those who were not (Nicodemus, etc.). There indeed are some in clerical garb today, as well as as many more laity, who claim they are Catholic but who are openly unfaithful, as Gary Wills is. Anyway, dragging in the argumentum ad pedophilium is a sure sign of running out of arguments on the communion question.
Abe Rosenzweig
4 years ago
Bill, you always proceed as though the structure of the Church parallels the religious structure of 1st century Judaism. The Pharisees and scribes were not "clerics," and the bishops and priests of your church are not scribes and Pharisees. They are just nothing alike.
Eric Styles
4 years ago
Nicely put. But "transubstantiation" does not belong in the same category as Incarnation and Resurrection. The latter two are mysteries of the first order, events claimed to have occured in the life of Jesus. You could speak of the Real Presence in that way. Transubstantiation, as laudable as it has become over the centuries, is a Thomistic explanation and elucidation of the Real Presence. Real Presence is the real doctrine and dogma. Transubstantiation is still prevailing explanation. Sometimes I do believe Catholic theology has depended on it far too much.
D M
4 years ago
Dont know if last comment posted. Does Mr Wills abstain from the Eucharist? Does not his parish priest, if he know Mr. Wills views, have a responsiblity to withhold communion from him?
Eric Styles
4 years ago
I may have been too harsh, but here is what I wrote to author Anne Rice on amazon.com reviews of Gary Wills new book: Ms. Rice, I have not and will not read Gary Wills' newest book. Here's why: I have found him, over the years to become more and more intransigent, more and more reactionary in his liberalism, more and more convinced that his is THE way. I am surely, left of center politically, a member of GenX, having greatly benefited from Civil Rights Generation. But Dr. Wills represents to me a kind blind faith in liberalism that renders all that is good about it useless. He got on television and quite frankly insulted sooo many Catholics by summarily dismissing -with his superior intellect- that which we hold to be central to our way of life. The only way he could get away with it is claiming that he himself is a Catholic. It's like me a black person getting on television and insulting the most cherished ideas of my community, without sound qualification, and claiming that because I'm black, I am allowed. Wills is only useful to those who are, like him, intransigient liberals who look for legitmizing scholarship like his to say, "yes, yes of course what we believe its correct." Further, and with all due respect, after having fallen away from regular practice for many years, you made a very public "comeback" to Catholicism, only to make an equally public repudiation of the same tradition. What makes you think you are in a position to weigh in on its central tenets? You have declared yourself no longer a member of the family. I wish you hadn't, but you did. I wish Gary Wills would leave Catholicism and just leave us all alone. I wish he would find something else to beat up on. Instead, he uses his publishing power to inundate unsuspecting, well-meaning readers with ideologically corrupt so-called scholarship. I'd be among the first to say that the Church is in constant need of reform, that it's humanity often obscures the divinity that gives it meaning. But I also know there could be no other way. Our job as Catholics is to have faith in Christ and love the Church because it is the Body of Christ, not because it changes and grows to meet our expectations. Lastly, I believe the priesthood, the real presence in the Eucharist are absolutely central to Catholic Christianity. Central to Orthodox Christianity as well, even with a different way of explaining it. Both Eastern and Western Christians of the highest intellect, even today among the most prominent Vatican II minded theologians, have maintained and encouraged this central teaching. Gary Wills should take his marbles (the few that he as left) and find a more appropriate playground to play in.
Beth Cioffoletti
4 years ago
"I'd be among the first to say that the Church is in constant need of reform, that it's humanity often obscures the divinity that gives it meaning. " Isn't that dualism, though, Eric? Heaven/spirit (God) above is good; Earth/bodies (humanity) below is bad.
Eric Styles
4 years ago
My statement is not meant to be a definitive treatise on the nature of God, humanity and the church. Please seek the larger point here. The church WILL never meet all our expectations and it (or she, whatever your preference) will always be plagued by the realities of sin and grace. The church is a human institution. Dualistic? maybe. True? Without doubt.
Beth Cioffoletti
4 years ago
Well said, Eric. Your letter to Anne Rice on Amazon intrigued me so I looked it up. She is really holding forth on her defense of Wills over there. I appreciated her gracious responses.
Bill Mazzella
4 years ago
" But I also know there could be no other way. Our job as Catholics is to have faith in Christ and love the Church because it is the Body of Christ, not because it changes and grows to meet our expectations" Eric, what you say above is true. The Body of Christ is what the Eucharist is about, with the people of God present. Not positing magic priests who alone can do it. The people are the church, the Body of Christ, not the presider. The Eucharist is the offering of all that we are and do, together, in unison with the life, death and resurrection of Jesus. The hierarchy has made the Eucharist about them and not the Church, the Body of Christ, the People of God. That is the issue. So Wills is right here. Jesus is truly present in the Eucharist in his whole life with us.
Eric Styles
4 years ago
Bill, let me clarify that I believe the ministerial priesthood is an essential aspect of the priesthood of all believers and the historicity of the Eucharist. I do not believe that the ordained priest's role is a magic one. And I do believe it will and should be maintained. As much as I might, at times, lament something the "hierachy" has done or is doing, I see it as also essential to the unity and governance of the Church. Surely our understanding of how that is lived in the day to day is subject to serious growth. One must hope! But Bishops, priests, and deacons are subject to all the delusions that you and I are, especially about the importance of our ideas, lol! They are should be subject to the forgiveness that you and I are; like with us, God gives it often before they even know they need it. Like I said, I have not and will not read Wills' book. Of all the books I want to read, why would I waist my time. If I wanted a critique of Catholic doctrine on priesthood there are plenty of others who I rather read. Like Martin Luther, for example. Wills' agenda is, in my opinion, is about his ego and about staying in the media limelight. Why should I help him persist with that?
Abe Rosenzweig
4 years ago
People on the internet be straight up cray-cray. I don't know what else to say about it.

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