A few days ago, Terry Mattingly, of gotcha journalism fame, mocked the Washington Post for inserting a hyphen into Marco Rubio’s comments about Jesus. Here’s the quotation:
For the next few minutes, Rubio sounded more like a Sunday school teacher than a presidential candidate holding an early January town hall. He talked about John the Baptist, he referred to Jesus as “God-made man,” and he explained his yearning to share “eternity with my creator.”
Mattingly thinks that hyphen shows how little the Washington Post’s reporters know about Nicene Christianity (even though without the hyphen it the phrase “God made man” sounds strange when applied to the eternal son of God):
…for Trinitarian Christians, Jesus is not a “man,” “God-made” but, rather, “God made man” (or perhaps “God, made man”).
This may seem like rather picky stuff, and it is. However, it’s hard to name a more central doctrine in the Christian faith than the Holy Trinity. Wasn’t there someone on the Post copy desk who has taken Christianity 101, or was this simply a bad day when it came time to handle this particular piece of copy?
Now, it’s possible that the original copy for this story actually stated that Rubio “referred to Jesus as ‘God – made man’ ” and that turned into you know what?
So, will the heretical hyphen simply vanish in the online version of this story? Here is hoping that the Post editors actually do the right thing and, perhaps with the help of someone at the Catholic University of America, produce a correction. I cannot wait to read it.
Applying that logic to the church instead of newspapers, what does Mr. Mattingly think about Pope Francis’ decision to celebrate the Protestant Reformation (posted by Rod Dreher)?
Nearly 500 years ago, Martin Luther nailed his 95 theses to the door of a German church, beginning the Protestant Reformation that led millions to break with the Roman Catholic Church and ushered in more than a century of conflict and war.
On Monday, the Vatican announced that Pope Francis will participate in a joint Lutheran-Catholic worship service in Sweden this October, kicking off a series of events planned for 2017 to commemorate the 500th anniversary of the Reformation.
The effort to mend relations with Protestants has been on the agenda of many popes before Francis, but it is a delicate endeavor. The worship service in Sweden was billed by its sponsors, the Vatican and the Lutheran World Federation, as a “commemoration,” not as a “celebration,” in order to avoid any inappropriate note of triumphalism. Some Catholics have criticized the notion of a pope celebrating the anniversary of a schism.
Some of those Roman Catholics who object to Lutheranism almost as much as the Obedience Boys do say this about the pope’s recent warming up to Lutherans:
According to Edward Pentin, a group of Lutheran pilgrims were given communion in St. Peter’s Basilica itself this week. What is significant here is that communion was offered to them unilaterally by the celebrants of the Mass — the Lutherans themselves were expecting to receive only a blessing, and the celebrants knew they were not Catholics.
It is scarcely possible that this happened without the knowledge of the Basilica authorities. Are we now seeing the practical effects of Francis’ ambivalent words on holy communion for Lutherans?
You would also think that if you knew your Canons of Trent the way Mattingly expects the Post’s reporters to know the Nicene Creed or the way we might expect the pope to know conciliar teaching, you wouldn’t be all that ready to celebrate Martin Luther. After all, Luther not only disobeyed the magisterium, but was inhuman:
Before the bar of every rational and decent person, does Luther not convict himself of utter inhumanity?
Before the bar of all that is reasonable in moral exhortation – from parental to educational to civil and criminal, does he not convict himself of a crime against all law? Is he, therefore, anarchical?
Before the bar of Catholic Dogma, supreme criterion on earth of what we know is and is not part of and/or in harmony with the Deposit of Faith, does he not convict himself of heresy?
Before the God whom we ought to honor, to whom we ought to ascribe only what is good and true and fitting, does he not convict himself of great blasphemies, greater even than the Gnostics who first attempted to ruin the Church? For the Gnostics distinguished two gods, one good and one evil. Does not Luther add to the evil by subtracting from the number of Gods, folding that Evil, which all right reason and right faith and common decency vomit out as execrable, into the one God?
So why would a Roman Catholic pontiff make amends with a church (a liberal one at that) started by such a person as Luther? And why wouldn’t Mattingly apply the same standards to Rome as he does to Washington?