Bacchiocchi’s response to the Gregorian debate

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For those of you who don’t know about this yet, there is an ongoing controversy surrounding the credentials of Samuele Bacchiocchi, a prominent Adventist scholar.

He got his PhD at the Pontifical Gregorian University in Rome, and was the first non-Catholic to do so.  That is where agreement ends between the two parties regarding his achievements there.

Today he published the first part of his response to their allegations in his Endtime Issues newsletter number 159, which can be found on his website.

In short, here is a series of posts on various blogs that go into the issue:

A few quibbles, and some commentary on the actual issue thereafter:

” … historically the adoption of Sunday observance in place of the seventh-day Sabbath, has been attributed to the  authority of the Catholic Church, rather than to the initiative of Christ or the Apostles.”

Actually, Catholicism has taught for centuries that Sunday was instituted by the Apostles:

“The Apostles therefore resolved to consecrate the first day of the week to the divine worship, and called it the Lord’s day. St. John in the Apocalypse makes mention of the Lord’s day; and the Apostle commands collections to be made on the first day of the week, that is, according to the interpretation of St. Chrysostom, on the Lord’s day. From all this we learn that even then the Lord’s day was kept holy in the Church. . . .

“But the Church of God has thought it well to transfer the celebration and observance of the Sabbath to Sunday.

“For, as on that day light first shone on the world, so by the Resurrection of our Redeemer on the same day, by whom was thrown open to us the gate to eternal life, we were called out of darkness into light; and hence the Apostles would have it called the Lord’s day.”

“We also learn from the Sacred Scriptures that the first day of the week was held sacred because on that day the work of creation commenced, and on that day the Holy Ghost was given to the Apostles.”

The Roman Catechism, also known as the Catechism of the Council of Trent, 1566 AD

Bacchiocchi quotes this text, but not in its entirety, missing the important sections that would not have left him so surprised.

“Some Adventists have gone as far as fabricating the rumor that I am a Jesuit spy, paid by the Vatican to do subversive activities in the Adventist.”

There are no Jesuit spies.  That’s anti-Catholic propaganda.  Bacchiocchi’s right – he’s not a Jesuit spy.

” … the official letter written by Dr. Barbara Bergami … This is a scanned copy of Dr. Bergami’s letter”

The letter has had the contact details of someone cropped from it.

Bacchiocchi mentions Bishop Murray and Barbara Bergami.

Searching on Google can find these people.

Barbara Bergami [Google search]

Bishop Murray, of the Diocese of Kalamazoo

Bishop Emeritus James Murray of Kalamazoo

Bishop Emeritus James Murray of Kalamazoo

The US Catholic Conference of Bishops lists his address as

Most Reverend James A. Murray
Diocese of Kalamazoo
215 N. Westnedge Avenue
Kalamazoo, MI 49007-3760

Bishop Murray also has an e-mail address, listed on his diocesan website. [He has since retired; link removed.]

The Catholic Heirarchy website, which lists all bishops, dioceses, etc, has pages for Bishop Murray and the Diocese of Kalamazoo.

Bacchiocchi uses the words “imprimatur—approval” a lot.

A week ago, I wrote the following to Bacchiocchi by e-mail:

Regarding the meaning – you claim that is means approval by the Catholic Church of the contents of the text.

That is simply not correct.  In a broader sense, an Imprimatur consists of 3 parts – a Nihil Obstat, an Imprimi Potest, and an Imprimatur (used in a narrower sense, as a third part of the Imprimatur in the broad sense.)  What is printed in your book is ONLY the Imprimatur used in the narrower sense – which says nothing about approval of content, but refers only to the permission to print given AFTER the Nihil Obstat and Imprimi Potest are issued.  The Nihil Obstat and Imprimi Potest are the declarations of approval, and are followed by the final approval by the bishop – the Imprimatur in the narrow sense.  Because you do not have a Nihil Obstat or Imprimi Potest, you should not be claiming approval of the contents, but merely that permission to print was granted.  With a Nihil Obstat and Imprimi Potest, the Imprimatur does signify final approval of the bishop.  But without them, it’s the equivalent of permission to print a telephone directory, but it is simply never issued in that way.  You get Nihil Obstats on their own, but not Imprimaturs.

Also important to note is that IF (and it is clearly NOT) your Imprimatur were used in the broader sense of the word, it would still not mean approval by either the Vatican or the Catholic Church – but ONLY the bishop issuing the Imprimatur.  Such texts can, and do, contain error.  They never constitute official approval by the Church.

Since you regularly admit that this was not easy to get, and was done as a favour to you by your mentors, we are left with two undeniable facts:

First, the Imprimatur obtained was merely permission to print, not approval of content; and second, it was done as a favour and certainly never implied approval of the contents by the Vatican or the Church.  It seems rather unbelievable that the Catholic Church would give approval to a book that was not thought to be in agreement with Catholic teaching.  Granting it as a favour organised by your mentors explains that.  But few people with insight into the matter would believe that any real approval was given.

You may claim I do not understand what an Imprimatur is, as you did 2 years ago, but I assure you that you are mistaken.  This is easily verified by a detailed look at what the three steps are about.

On to his images.

“This is the picture of the Baccalaureatus diploma”

The middle signature reads “Herve Carrier.”  He was rector of Gregorian University at the time Bacchiocchi graduated.

“Since we were five students who earned the magna cum laude distinction in the Baccalaureatus program, a lot was cast to decide who would receive the one silver medal donated by the Pope. Only one medal is donated for the students who earn academic distinctions. The assignment of the medal is determined by casting a lot. I was the lucky one. The lot fell upon me.”

Who were the other five?  They’re listed in the image Bacchiocchi presents – see the full page with images. [PDF here: 6.8MB]

Googling them brings up nothing I can find significant … perhaps readers of other languages can locate them online.  If they amounted to anything.

But the booklet he scanned must be in public record somewhere.  Therefore it can be verified far more easily than waiting for Gregorian to respond.

“An asterick precedes my name “*Bacchiocchi Samuele, laicus,” to indicate that I received the gold medal from Pope Paul VI. This time no lot was cast, because I was the only student among the Licentiati who qualified for the gold medal. This is the picture of the Academic Report dated October 16, 1972″

This is another document that should be easily verifiable.  At least relatively so … one would need access to somewhere that kept such things.

“I did not feel comfortable attending a Mass which for Catholic is a re-enactment of Christ’s sacrifice. The Bible clearly teaches that we have no right or need to sacrifice Christ afresh.”

The Catholic Church agrees with Bacchiocchi on what the Bible says.  He would probably have felt a lot more comfortable had he understood what Catholicism teaches.

“P. S. I plan to submit again to the Pontifical Gregorian University and to Bishop James Murray of Kalamazoo, this latest and more comprehensive response, as soon as the response is completed.  PLEASE PRAY FOR ME. May the Lord help us to resolve this controversy in a peaceful way without resorting to the legal process.”

On this we agree.  I find the extra evidence quite interesting, and quite compelling.  Of course, a lot of it needs to be verified.  But he has provided documentation that should be verifiable without Gregorian providing it from their archives of student records.

I await Bacchiocchi’s follow-up.  He’s off to Australia now, and when he gets back, there should be more.  I hope to see his explanation of a) the imprimatur, b) the continued use of the imprimatur on an edition for which it was not obtained, c) the use of the name of Gregorian University Press on newer editions in a way that looks official, and d) evidence of the initial publication by them.

On this evidence alone, however, I think it’s a very good time for Gregorian University to either recant or to provide their own documentation.  Their argument is strong.  But now Bacchiocchi’s argument is also strong – nearly as strong.  If the images Bacchiocchi has scanned in and put on his website can be verified, they will certainly need to provide an explanation to back up their claims, if that is their intent.  If his images cannot be verified, it’s still a case of his word against theirs.  But on both sides, the words are strong.

The Gregorian Controversy series is listed in full here.  Click here to go to the next post in the series.  And here for the previous post.

Comments imported from the old blog:

Posted by stephen on November 14, 2006, 10:39 pm
Comments welcome and wanted on this development.

Posted by Jared Olar on November 14, 2006, 11:49 pm
Yes, the documentation that Dr. Bacchiocchi has provided is very compelling. If the Gregorian can back up their public statements, they had better do so, or else, as you said, publicly recant.

As for the imprimatur question, I eagerly await Dr. Bacchiocchi’s response to that, because so far everything we know agrees with what the Gregorian has said about the imprimatur and the publication of his dissertation.

Posted by stephen on November 21, 2006, 7:26 pm

If, you are a doctor, MD?, as you say, then stick to what you went to school for and stop trying to play professor of theology.

Your lenthy post sounds like you don’t have a life, i.e. you have nothing better to do than sit on the computer all day.

What kind of a doctor is that?

I suppose he’s a professional pontificator. If not, perhaps he should stop trying to dictate other people’s interests.

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