One of the first programs I ever watched on EWTN was hosted by a Franciscan priest, and he was talking about someone named Karl Rahner, whom I’d never really heard of before that point. He explained in great detail how Rahner, often regarded as one of the “premiere” theologians of Vatican II, taught heresy regarding the Blessed Sacrament. I have sought for years to get the background materials on this.
Well, challenged by an anonymous poster, I did a quick Google search, and my first hit was an article in EWTN’s database by Fr. Regis Scanlan, OFM Cap.:
In 1966 the late Fr. Karl Rahner stated that “one can no longer maintain
today that bread is a substance, as St. Thomas and the Fathers of the Council
(of Trent) obviously thought it was”. ForRahner, the “substance” of a thing
did not include its reality, but the “meaning and
purpose” of the thing.So, according to Karl Rahner, transubstantiation meant
that, after the consecration of the Mass, the physical bread remained physical
bread but it now had a new “meaning” of spiritual food because it wasnow a
“symbol” of Jesus Christ.
So, Rahner held that the Eucharist was only a “symbol.”
Now here’s something from Fr. John Hardon, SJ:
We get some idea of how deeply this error has penetrated Catholic thought, when we read what Karl Rahner writes about the Eucharistic consecration. Rahner therefore is the first of the two master teachers of profound error on the Real Presence. I will quote now from Rahner’s language, not always so clear, I chose the clearest part that I could find. Quote Karl Rahner, “the more recent approaches suggest the following considerations, one has to remember that the words of institution indicate a change. But not give any guiding line for the interpretation of the actual process. As regarding transubstantiation it may be said, the substance, essence, meaning and purpose of the bread are identical but the meaning of a thing can be changed without changing the matter. The meaning of the bread has been changed through the consecration something which served profane use now becomes the dwelling place and the symbol of Christ who is present and gives Himself to His own.” unquote Karl Rahner. From the Encyclopedia of Theology edited by Rahner and defining the meaning of transubstantiation. What takes place through the Eucharistic consecration the significance the meaning attached to the bread changes but the bread remains bread. Rahner’s ideas are permeating the Eucharistic theology of whole nations.
In other words, the Mass is nothing more than a blessing. For example, when a priest blesses water and makes it holy water, it remains water, but its meaning has changed. There is no change in the substance of the water.
Rahner insists that “substance” is purely a term of definition, and that it is merely the definition of the Eucharistic species that has changed, not the species themselves.
To quote Flannery O’Connor, “Well, if it’s a symbol, to hell with it.”
UPDATE: Paul VI’s encyclical Mysterium Fidei was a direct response to Rahner’s blasphemies about the Blessed Sacrament. I’m sure my anonymous interlocutor will just say that that encyclical is not “ex cathedra,” and therefore Rahner trumps it.