[hocna] ECUMENISM AND THE DEATH OF GOD
- The heresy of Ecumenism has but one goal - to lead people to believe
there is no God. The following article brings out the fact that many
Roman Catholic clergy do not believe that our Lord and Saviour
resurrected physically from the tomb. It is taken directly from the
Roman Catholic periodical (Weekend Australia, October 22-23, 1988). It
was taken from "The Orthodox Christian Witness" published by Fr. Neketas
Palassis of St. Nectarios Church in Seattle. Fr. Neketas appended the
following comment which I bekieve is very appropriate:
"World Orthodoxy's clergy are presently endeavoring to change the
Church's Paschalion in order to celebrate Christ's Resurrection with
people who no longer believe in Christ's physical Resurrection."
Did Christ Really Rise from the Dead?
By GREG SHERIDAN
This is a story about the Roman Catholic Church, and whether it any
longer has any beliefs which are sacred. It is a story about
allegations of heresy and counter-allegations of a witch-hunt, about the
mechanisms of Roman Catholic discipline and about the disintegration of
belief, even of coherence and identity, within the oldest and largest
Christian institution [sic].
Specifically it is about belief in the bodily resurrection of Christ,
generally regarded as the most central doctrine of the Christian faith.
It is about the widespread acceptance among Roman Catholicism's
theologians and priests in Australia of the belief that Christ's
resurrection somehow did not involve his physical body, a view radically
at odds with the official Church position, and which contradicts
traditional Catholic belief over 2000 years.
The story centers on Dr. David Coffey, head of systematic theology
at St. Patrick's Seminary at Manly in Sydney. St. Patrick's is the
oldest and most important Roman Catholic seminary in Australia.
Dr. Coffey by all accounts is a brilliant and devout man. Born in
Mildura and raised in Sydney, he studied for the priesthood at Manly and
was ordained in the late 1950s. Since the early 1960s, with a couple of
years break for further study overseas, he has been an academic at the
In 1960, he wrote an essay called "The Resurrection of Jesus and
Catholic Orthodoxy." Dr. Coffey argued that a position which held that
"the resurrection is an event not involving in any way the corpse of
Jesus... is, or should be, acceptable to Catholic orthodoxy".
In the same article he argued that the empty tomb of Christ "had nothing
to do with the resurrection as such. . . "
He speculated that there could be any number of explanations for the
empty tomb: "One would be that despite the attention of the women (which
may not be historical) the tomb was not the right one. Perhaps, as a
result of the community's faith in the resurrection, an empty tomb was
produced. and the story of the women created to authenticate it. . ."
Interestingly, Dr. Coffey himself acknowledges at the end of his
article that if or when Rome comes to accept a view of the resurrection
which does not involve Christ's physical remains, "a daunting pastoral
problem will remain. However, it must not be assumed that official
acceptance of such a position will automatically result in widespread
loss of faith. . . "
Here Dr. Coffey seems to acknowledge that his beliefs on the
resurrection run counter to those held by the great mass of Catholics
over two millennia.
The Sydney Church authorities were apparently completely relaxed
about Dr. Coffey's views. They took no action on the matter, made no
public attempt to defend Orthodox Catholic doctrine and Dr. Coffey
remained, as he does today, in good standing as a senior academic at
However, others were not so sanguine. A group of Roman Catholics in
Sydney, including lay people and clerics, and including one of Dr.
Coffey's then students at Manly, Brian Harrison, wrote to Rome
complaining about Dr. Coffey's teachings. Eventually the Roman
authorities sent Archbishop Clancy, the Archbishop of Sydney and the man
ultimately responsible for the Manly seminary, a "please explain".
Archbishop Claney twice passed on to Dr. Coffey requests that he
respond to certain questions which the official Roman body, the
Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, had about his work.
Dr. Coffey made two replies to Rome, forwarded through Archbishop
Clancy. Last year, when the process had become somewhat public, the
majority of the academic staff at Manly wrote to The Bulletin saying
they fully supported Dr.Coffey.
Finally, a couple of weeks ago, Cardinal Clancy issued a statement:
"It is widely known that some of the theological views of the Reverend
Dr. David Coffey, of the Catholic Institute of Sydney, have been subject
to study by Church authorities. . . The views in question concern the
nature of the bodily resurrection of Christ. The matter is complex.
"The issues being sufficiently clarified, I have advised Dr. Coffey
to align his teaching with that of the Magisterium of the Church, which
is that the physical remains of Jesus, placed in the tomb after his
death, were raised in His resurrection. Hence, the empty tomb. This,
Dr. Coffey has readily undertaken to do."
Dr. Coffey confirmed that from now on in any public statements he
made on the resurrection he would be obliged publicly to support the
Cardinal's line on the resurrection.
Did that line have his private assent?
"That is a question no one has the right to ask me and I certainly
won't answer," he said.
But while he hoped his public role in the matter would be at an end, he
signalled that the controversy over his views would rage on. "This
statement made by the Archbishop will itself be the subject of debate. .
Dr. Coffey alerted me to a letter from the president of the
Australian Catholic Theological Association, Dr. Michael Putney, which
will appear in The Catholic Weekly, Sydney's official Roman Catholic
newspaper, on sale in Sydney's Roman Catholic churches tomorrow. That
letter supports Dr. Coffey's position of 1960 and seems to flatly reject
the Cardinal's Statement.
These new statements of Dr. Coffey's, combined with the Catholic
Weekly letter, and the earlier letter of Dr. Coffey's colleagues to The
Bulletin supporting him, surely pose a new and profound problem for
On the basis of this evidence, many - perhaps most - Roman Catholic
priests do not believe in the physical resurrection of Christ, the
central defining doctrine of the Church.
The questions are begged: What will the cardinal do about this?
Does he care that many priests apparently do not believe in the physical
resurrection of Christ? How far is the Australian Catholic Church also
part of the Roman Catholic Church? If Dr. Coffey is required to fall
into line publicly with Rome, what about the Australian Catholic
Many Australian Roman Catholics believe that if [their denomination]
will not stand up and defend the physical resurrection of Christ, there
must be precious little it will stand up and defend.