Headlines and blogs are full of the story about the Rev. Thomas J. Resse resigning as editor of the the Jesuit magazine America. I find it interesting that this story is getting the amount of national publicity that it is. That a magazine that the large amount of people have never even heard of is a headline on Drudge. It is obvious of course that the reason this is is that the story is really framed about the hidden hand of Pope Benedict XVI forcing him to resign. That the inquisition has started and that this is the first head to roll. This view is rather silly to infer that the Pope looked at the world and then saw the editor of a magazine with a circulation of 48,538 needed special attention. What actually appears to have happened is that some American Bishops had written complaints to the Vatican’s Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith over the tenor of many of the articles that had appeared in the magazine. Maybe the most surprising aspect of the story is that come bishops actually complained. This is always a fairly slow process and it might appear that in this case after many years that these complaints were sent to Jesuit superior general in Rome and that Fr. Reese was asked to resign. What actually happened is difficult to know since the reporting of this has been in the NYT and National Catholic Reporter – unreliable sources to say the least. We do know that the Church through the CDF has been very deliberate in its investigations allowing adequate time for responses by anybody being investigated for going outside Church’s teaching. Looking at the list provided by the National Catholic Reporter of then-Cardinal Ratzingers tenure at the CDF we see a very short list of Catholic theologian who had in fact been disciplined. You would think by the tone of the NYT article that the Pope has transferred his personal Iron Maiden and rack to the papal apartments.
The story is also framed that it is about the elimination of healthy intellectual debate and will have a chilling effect on "critical questions." The problem is actually that the editorials in America magazine did not confine themselves to unsettled theological questions, but also presented debates on settled questions in Catholic theology. Dissenters often want to cover themselves with the words, debate, dialogue, presenting both sides, etc. Though of course the articles never debated racism or caring for the poor. Rightly they would see that presenting both sides of racism as ridiculous and out of the range of true debate within Church teaching. Yet they do not understand this when it comes to settled questions such as women’s ordination, same-sex marriage, and stem-cell research that involves the destruction of embryos.
There are so many mysteries of the faith and we can never intellectually exhaust them Yet our human intellects can advance further into these deep mysteries and that should be the task of all of us and especially the Church’s theologians. To further map out the depth of mysteries instead of coming up with contrary opinions to Church teaching. There are many unsettled theological questions that need to further explored and to waste time being apologists for homosexual marriage is a waste of intellectual abilities.
I have often wondered why a Jesuit Magazine choose the name America? Their site only mentions that it was suggested by Thomas J. Gannon, S.J. in 1909. Whatever the initial rationale was it is now indicative of what the magazine became. That they narrowed the universatility of Catholic truth to a very regional understanding and AmChurch view of what the Catholic Church should teach.
Diogenes at CWN said:
The point is that America’s notion of what counts as a hot topic is selective and ideologically slanted against the Holy See. The true contrast is not between openness and dogma, but between rival systems of dogma: a public one (Catholic), versus a clandestine one (behind or beneath America). And remember that America is not a secular journal of ideas but is trading on the ecclesial prestige accorded its Jesuit sponsorship. That means, when it’s Catholic doctrine that’s under assault, it’s not really even-handed — as would be the case for The New Republic — to give space to a professor to attack the doctrine and equal space to a Vatican official to defend it. Simply by presenting the disputants as representatives of different opinions the doctrine is viewed as up for grabs, i.e., as something less than doctrine. The net result is almost always erosion of Catholic belief.
Amy Welborn also posts mentioning a variety of information on the coverage and also want to know what really happened.
The Anchoress also sees the faintly veiled attempt at the story being about the Pope forcing the editor out of the job.
But this story is trying very hard to suggest that the editor of America Magazine, Rev. Reese, is being forced out of his job by the new pope. They can’t quite pull it off, as they are bound to report that the impetus for his resignation has less to do with Rome and more to do with the fact that Bishops right here in America had expressed concerns about the content of the journal. And they are also bound to mention that Reese left Rome, after the election of the new pope, “with the idea that he would be resigning…”
The assistant editor Fr. Christiansen is going to take over as the editor of the magazine and as Patrick Madrid said:
Let’s pray for Fr. Christiansen. He has a big challenge handed to him. I hope he’s up to it.