Richard McBrien on the Eucharist

Fr. Richard McBrien is one of the best known Catholic scholars. And he’s often getting himself publicity by articles taking issue with Catholic teaching. Take this, for example: Perpetual Eucharistic Adoration.

After clearing the air about an article that was in the Boston Globe (a good job), he then throws out some gratuitous swipes at the theology and practice of his church:

Notwithstanding Pope Benedict XVI’s personal endorsement of eucharistic adoration and the sporadic restoration of the practice in the archdiocese of Boston and elsewhere, it is difficult to speak favorably about the devotion today.

Now that most Catholics are literate and even well-educated, the Mass is in the language of the people (i.e, the vernacular), and its rituals are relatively easy to understand and follow, there is little or no need for extraneous eucharistic devotions. The Mass itself provides all that a Catholic needs sacramentally and spiritually.

Eucharistic adoration, perpetual or not, is a doctrinal, theological, and spiritual step backward, not forward.

Eucharistic adoration is inseparable from Catholic Eucharistic theology.  The Catholic church believes that the substance of the bread and wine of the Eucharist are, when consecrated by the priest in the mass, transformed into the substance of the body and blood of Christ, and that this presence perdures beyond the celebration of the mass. If you believe that, you will engage in Eucharistic adoration.

I think the reality here is that McBrien doesn’t really believe Catholic teaching. And yet he is a priest in good standing with a very public platform as a professor of Catholic theology.

Funny thing–some Catholics say the reason you have heresy in liberal Protestant churches like the ELCA is because there is no magisterium. Well, Catholicism has a magisterium, but it still can’t keep its own house in order.

7 thoughts on “Richard McBrien on the Eucharist

  1. “Funny thing–some Catholics say the reason you have heresy in liberal Protestant churches like the ELCA is because there is no magisterium. Well, Catholicism has a magisterium, but it still can’t keep its own house in order.”

    True, but at least there is a known organ of Catholic teaching that represents the party line. I’m not sure I know what the ELCA believes it believes anymore.

  2. I don’t think its ever been the case that the Magisterium considers its main task to be silencing every known dissenter in the global Church.

    The Magisterium’s main role, as said above, is to clarify the the lines of Catholic orthodoxy so that the Catholic faithful have a sure standard to turn to.

    Personally, I would prefer it that way. Let Mcbrien speak. With each day he is becoming more irrelevant anyways.

    • McBrien isn’t simply a dissenter — he’s a professor of theology, commentator on national news, writer for multiple diocesan papers. He is a priest.

  3. It is ironic that Mc Brien wants to tell people what they should and shouldn’t need sacramentally and spiritually. And how they should think about adoration and the Eucharist.

    as far as I’m concerned. Mc Brien is a pompous liberal- some of his reflections may be interesting, but they are not doctrine.

  4. When you say heresy do you mean like Pope Honorius condemned by the 3rd Council Of Constantinople for heresy ? Or Pope Liberius signing the Arian confession,one of the biggest heresies in Christianity. How about Pope Gregory teaching sex in marriage is a necessary evil tainted with sin or Pope Pius IX condemning democracy.
    The church is the People Og God as Vatican II reminds us.Infallibility also belongs to the people in the Sensus Fideii when they reject certain non sensical teachings.Father Mcbrien does not commit heresy by questioning a particulair devotion.He claims that true Eucharistic Devotion resides at mass where Vatican II teaches is the centre of Catholic worship

  5. Eh, human intellect as well as the flesh is weak and so you will always have priests who disagree with Church teaching. It happens in all denominatons. No news here:)

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