Scott P. Richert (“Returning to Reality,” Views, December) says he’s a Catholic.  He doesn’t write like one.

What distinguishes Catholics is possession of a Deposit of Faith given 2,000 years ago.  No, saith Richert.  What’s important is a “lived relationship with the Risen Christ from which those doctrines flow . . . ”  Lived relationship?  Just what does that mean?  “Risen” Christ?  You mean like those elongated Resurrectiofixes the postconciliar Church presents instead of the suffering and mortification communicated by the Crucified Christ?  How modern.  How ecumenical.  How Protestant.

Later he writes, dismissively, that “Doctrine has become a substitute for the substance of the Faith, rather than a catechetical tool that is meant to help us understand what we, as Christians, experience.”  How does he know that?   And when did “experience” become the central issue for anyone but charismatics?  The earliest Christians were told to believe and be saved, not experience and be saved.

Still later, he notes the eroding moral consensus on abortion and attributes it to the loss not only of the “Christian understanding of the sacredness of life but, more importantly, of the experience that gave life to that understanding.”  Piling on the treacle, he recommends that we lead mothers and fathers “to the salvific relationship with Christ that underlies and gives life to that moral tradition.”  As if conforming to what the Church has taught semper ubique isn’t part of any relationship with Christ.

Even later, he warns of the danger of “turning the traditions of Christianity—the rituals and doctrines, the moral teachings and institutions—into ends in themselves, rather than means to the true end . . . ”  Which is?  (Richert will insist that he answered that question.  More treacle.)

I have a recommendation, too.  Less Harold O.J. Brown.  More papal encyclicals.  No, not the Richertian fog of post­conciliar popes, but the writings of popes solid in, yes, doctrine and tradition.  The Syllabus of Pio Nono, for example, or Leo XIII’s Aeterni Patris.

—Daniel Amon

Parma, OH


Mr. Richert Replies:

More treacle: “Now this is eternal life: That they may know thee, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent” (John 17:3).  The Deposit of the Faith is the historical distillation of that experience.  It is no surprise that anyone who dismisses that reality as mere “treacle” would fail to understand the significance of Leo XIII’s statement in Aeterni Patris: “We do not, indeed, attribute such force and authority to philosophy as to esteem it equal to the task of combating and rooting out all errors; for, when the Christian religion was first constituted, it came upon earth to restore it to its primeval dignity by the admirable light of faith, diffused ‘not by persuasive words of human wisdom, but in the manifestation of spirit and of power,’ so also at the present time we look above all things to the powerful help of Almighty God to bring back to a right understanding the minds of man and dispel the darkness of error.”  Christians properly place reason, philosophy, and doctrine in the service of the Faith; they must not make the mistake of thinking of any of them as synonymous with the Faith itself.


Our Big Tent

In the December issue, Chronicles certainly delivered on its theme “Returning to Reality.”  Every conservative minded person would benefit greatly from reading Aaron D. Wolf’s article “Conservatism at Midwinter Spring” (Views).  This article should be reread periodically as it is something we need always to keep in mind.

Another dose of reality is found in R. Cort Kirkwood’s review (“The God With Feet of Clay”) of Christopher Ferrara’s book Liberty: The God That Failed.  In this book, Mr. Ferrara takes a bludgeon to the popular misconceptions that Americans cherish by stating the undeniable historical realities.  As this is comparable to telling the pre-war Japanese populace that their emperor was not a direct descendant of the Sun Goddess, Mr. Kirkwood concludes his review by observing, “Neither liberals nor conservatives will like this book.  But it is still a book they need to read.”  Amen.

—Robert Charron

Raleigh, NC