Sex and the Catholic Church (3)

Were Prof Akinwale my student, I will repeatedly fail him woefully until he kicks out that incorrigibly dogged self. His rejoinders are increasingly being governed by Juno’s vow in Virgil’s Aeneid(29-19BC): If I cannot move heaven, I’ll raise hell. (Flectere si nequeo superos, Acheronta movebo.) I have no problem with Akinwale disagreeing with my ideas but to go ahead and challenge the basis of my knowledge transcends the boundaries of scholarly decency. Awoyokun is ignorant…arrogant…he has passing acquaintance, not real knowledge…just quotes venerable texts with pathetic ignorance… lacks hermeneutic competence… consults only encyclopaedias… on and on like that he goes like the plagues of Egypt. But what Akinwale is obstinately but subtly doing is self-almightyfication. Regnans in excelsis! He is appropriating for himself the power to determine what is knowledge and what is not. Who should have it and who should not. And yet his own contributions keep on winding up with another new Akinwalean absurdity.

His latest rejoinder On the Persistence of Awoyokun’s Fury (Independent, March 6, 2011) attests to this. First, the term “Supreme Theological Tribunal of 1277” in Paris is not mine; it is Prof Chenu’s. I didn’t elaborate on the fact that it was apart from the Apostolic See because I had assumed I was discoursing with a knowledgeable colleague. There were three investigations that year. The first one concerned the arts faculty and it ended on 7th of March 1277 with publication of Tampier’s 219 syllabus. The second was that of Giles of Rome which ended on 28th of March 1277 with the censure of 51 propositions in his book. Inquiry into Aquinas was next but was soon halted after Tempier received orders from Rome. There was no Pope that time of the year.

Akinwale owe us explanation on how he concluded Pope Honorius IV put the matter to rest by, “refer[ing] the matter to the theology faculty of Paris.” Pope Honorius IV reigned from 2 April 1285 – 3 April 1287 and Tempier died on 3 September 1279. Even after Giles’s censure, there were still two popes before Akinwale’s Honorius from 1277 to 1285. So Prof Akinwale how come? I recommend you study Prof J.M.M Thjissen’s Censure and Heresy at University of Paris, 1200-1400. After the censure, Giles had his missio canonica (licence to teach) withdrawn and kicked out of the university. In 1285, Akinwale’s Honorius too asked him to recant. He defied the Pope and stood by the innovative product of his thought. 500 years later Pope Benedict XIV(1740-1758) crowned Giles “Doctor Fundatissimus” (the best grounded teacher). Yet with all these challenging orthodoxy examples I have been mentioning in this debate, our current status quo professors, the self-styled lumen sub quo, the quam singulari will never learn! Finally, the magisterium is the teaching authority of the church. If it is Rome’s, it is the universal magisterium. It also exists anywhere there is a bishop. It is then called ordinary magisterium. Thjissen documents that Archbishop Tampier was in consort with his priests and theologians. He was functioning as head of an ordinary magisterium. Also when Archbishop Job appointed you as Chair of Ibadan Synod some years ago and you submitted some fine recommendations, he was functioning as the head of a magisterium. Again I recommend to you Code of Canon Law, Book three, 747 – 792. I can assure you there has been no motu proprio issued to override these provisions. However way you look at it I was neither wrong nor “simplistic” in concluded that “centuries later the magisterium accept Giles of Rome too.”

A reason why 12th and 13th centuries were important to history of scholarship was that, it was not only because theology and philosophy, the mother of all subjects, left the exclusivity of monasteries for the universities forever, but that there was an enthusiastic and irrevocable acceptance of Greek rationalism that St Paul was fond of scorning in the New Testament. Popes after popes, councils after councils were busy denouncing the influence of Platonic dialectics and Aristotelian logic, accusing the scholastics of distorting the sacra doctrina and for preferring Abelard’s influential Sic et Non and other sophisticated interpretations to the est est, non non character of the scriptures. But no amount of armies can defeat an idea whose time has come.

Today, Akinwale is accusing me of practicing “eisegesis” not exegesis, conveniently ignoring that the accusations against the 12th/13th century reformers were analogous to his. He has forgotten that the “venerable texts” on which he is performing “exegesis” were actually works of “eisegesis” in their own times. And to keep these classics relevant we need to be reassessing them with the latest methods in the world of thought. How do you think we are now able to know Mathew is no longer the first book of the synoptic gospels? Or how would the catechism on the origins of man’s freedom and responsibly revolved vis-à-vis the myth of Garden of Eden without Sartre’s existentialism which the magisterium initially condemned rigorously.

To discredit me further, Akinwale accused me of never reading Pope John Paul’s encyclical Fides et Ratio (1998). Proof: I cited only the first sentence. But what if that sentence is the most relevant to this my argument? The British in 1856 measured Mount Everest and arrived at 29000 feet. They anticipated likes of Akinwale so they quickly added 61 centimetres so it would seem as if they had actually done rigorous work not just merely approximated. I had read the encyclical thoroughly. I do not quote from what I had not read. By equality I was explaining that the encyclical meant in a nutshell, accepting as valid for considerations both the findings of reason and truth of revelation which is merely another angle to Augustine’s credere est cum assensione cogitare in Predestination of the Blessed(429AD) that the encyclical took support from. Akinwale says the encyclical says the opposite. A serious charge but he never elaborated. He owes us one.

Akinwale goofed again when he argued: God “does not contradict himself.” Look around Nature for evidence to the contrary. The whole Dei Verbum is replete with contradictions. Even Jesus Christ at his presentation in the temple was called “sign of contradiction” by Simeon (Luke 2: 34). Contradiction is not negative rather it is a neuter and objective estimation of the physics of life and human interactions; including divine realities. In Exodus 32: 27, ‘Thus said the Lord God of Israel, buckle on your sword, each of you, and go up and down the camp from gate to gate, every man of you slaughtering brother, friend, and neighbour.’ The Levites did as Moses said. And about three thousand of the people were killed that day. ‘Today,’ Moses said, ‘you have consecrated yourself to God, at the cost of your sons and brothers. And so He bestows a blessing on you.’ Yet in Exodus 20:13, God says ‘thou shalt not kill’. Indeed, God doesn’t contradict himself. But philosophically, would scholasticism or Hegelian dialectic be possible had contradiction being dismissed so negatively?

And when Akinwale timidly took on contraception and sex, his argument confirmed my suspicions. I have been querying him about his evasion of this eponymous subject ever since but feels I want to entrap him and disqualify him. But I reject Jesus’s argument that you cannot give what you don’t have. Rather I subscribe to the paradox of the life of Rousseau who could not get on with anyone, loathe his wife, hated his children yet he wrote the best books on education of children, best ideas on human relations, best ideas in political economy, moral simplicity of humanity of his day. But Akinwale is no Rouss

eau, his argument on loves, sex and contraception is fundamentally unsound, yet he is accusing me of “erroneous presumption” and generating historically discredited syllogism to bear litany of false witnesses against me. I have already addressed the origins of the church’s prohibition of contraception. It didn’t start with Humanae Vitae(1968) as you were insinuating. Reread my Sex and Catholic Church (The Guardian, December 23, 2010).

Granted Prof Akinwale became a professor at a relatively young age. Granted he became the Dean of studies at a young age but with these lapses of thought so far, I am still waiting for justifications of such precocity.

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