Friday, July 23, 2010

Dr. Alice von Hildebrand Responds

I was happy to see the discussion by Dr. Alice von Hildebrand on maintaining the "golden chain of tradition" as opposed to embracing the Revolution.
On her first contention, Von Hildebrand wrote that “my husband would not refer to the Theology of the Body as 'a revolution'” in the way that West does,  adding that West often criticizes the Catholic Church for having had what he describes as a "puritanical approach" to its teachings on human sexuality.

The philosopher noted, however, that each “age in the Church sheds particular light on some facets of the divine message,” and the Theology of the Body, properly understood, “can be seen as an example of that.”
When the Theology of the Body is presented as a radical revolution, it is twisted into something John Paul II never intended, she explained.

Contrasting the difference between West's “loose” language in discussing human sexuality and the approach of her late husband, the philosopher said that “Dietrich Von Hildebrand carefully chose the words he used when referring to the mysteries of our faith or to things that are intimate and sacred.”

“With his many talents, Christopher West has much to offer the Church,” Von Hildebrand affirmed in her concluding remarks. Yet, “I believe he will only fulfill his potential if he presents the Theology of the Body according to the traditions of the Church – reverently and with humility – and liberate himself from the wayward 'enthusiasms' of our time,” she said.
Fr. Angelo Mary's comments, HERE.

Read Dr. Hildebrand's entire essay, HERE. To quote:
It is a joy to praise a great book or author; it is a grief and duty to criticize a bad one. But it is especially difficult to criticize someone who has many talents, whose work has positive sides, but which also suffers from certain faults, calling for correction. Such is the case with Christopher West, with his popular presentation of John Paul II’s “Theology of the Body.”

As gifted as he is—and as much as I appreciate all the good he has done for the Church—West’s work continues to fall short in many respects. He has sometimes misunderstood the authentic Catholic tradition; overlooked or disregarded essential aspects of it; and promoted a new form of religious “enthusiasm” which can best be described as wayward. Monsignor Ronald Knox, who critiqued this attitude so well in his book Enthusiasm, was a prophet, recognizing such outbursts as recurring phenomena in the history of the Church, characteristic of easily misguided movements for which we should always be on the watch.

Key to my concerns is West’s hyper-sexualized approach to the Theology of the Body. The French have a wonderful word to capture the veiling of one’s intimate feelings, out of a proper sense of shame—pudeur, a “holy bashfulness,” so to speak. Seized as he is by what he regards as his calling to evangelize a new generation with this theology in “modern” ways they can supposedly better understand, West practically ignores the importance of pudeur, and, by his imprudence, winds up undermining his own message.


Anonymous said...

Alice von Hildebrand is a tremendous blessing! It took courage for her to critique such a popular and well-intended author/speaker, but it needed to be done. The corrections she gives are full of wisdom; may we ALL have ears to hear! And as always, she instructs with her usual elegance and graciousness.

elena maria vidal said...

Yes, Kathy, I love her gracious manner, especially beautiful considering that she was labeled a"puritan" by some ridiculous people.

Julygirl said...

The term 'Puritan' has been misused over the years. Just because someone is gracious and well bred they are thought of as a prig by a society where anything goes and good breeding has gone out the window.

May said...

She is a lady of great refinement and insight.

Colleen Hammond said...

Very charitably done. She is a great and wonderful lady!

elena maria vidal said...

I agree, my friends. I hope people have the common sense to accept what she has to say.

R J said...

Alice von Hildebrand does it again.

Further confirmation of her dignified honesty comes from the fact that in Australia, the Melbourne Archdiocese is (a) the very worst in the country as far as incidence of clerical sex abuse is concerned, and (b) the archdiocese which (along with that of Perth) has been the most heavily committed to promotion of Christopher West's blathering. Both episcopates show that it only needs one really bad archbishop - and the relevant Melbourne and Perth office-holders are walking catastrophes - for the local scum to rise to the surface.

elena maria vidal said...

The way Dr. von Hildebrand continues to be attacked by West's followers convinces me that amid the blathering there is genuine evil at work.