Obedience to the Catholic Church? Yes. Blind obedience to the Catholic Church? No.

“What was it in the culture of the Catholic Church in Boston that made such tragically incorrect reading of the evidence possible?” In other words, why for certain bishops of the Archdiocese did “the good name and reputation of the institutional church and its representatives [outrank] all other considerations, even the safety of children”?

While the staunch pro-Catholic might argue that centuries of American anti-Catholicism forced bishops into a self-protective bunker, it turns out that, according to Mass, you really need to know the difference between analogical and dialectical.

This distinction was made over fifty years ago in a classic work by David Tracy, which I have not read but which is the foundation for Massa’s argument. The book The Analogical Imagination explains Catholicism as analogical, meaning that the divine is seen by Catholics as being actually present in the material. This means that God is present concretely, as in the sacraments. Creation, therefore, is good, “revelatory of the Holy.” The Church being “the body of Christ” means that community is key to salvation in the Catholic world view. We Catholics have a “fundamental trust in the goodness of persons and institutions.”

The Protestant—and I was one, and so in a way still am too—is dialectical. Luther, Kierkegaard, Barth, Niebuhr, Tillich—all Protestant thinkers—“insist on the radical difference separating” God and me. This implies that we humans are estranged from God, and must be individually saved. For our salvation, we depend not on a Church but on our individual reading of the Word, the Book, the Scriptures.

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Editor’s note: Be sure to read the first reader comment.