I can't get the gist of what he is saying in that quote from Usury in Christendom. Can someone simplify it or explain it to me, please? Is he putting in doubt the Immaculate Conception?
Please allow me, Nadir, to take a stab at explaining the passage that BTNYC cites.
First of all, getting the gist of the passage is heavy sledding because, in a real sense, there is no gist to get. The passage is a complex structure that is resistant to further reduction, if indeed it is reducible at all.
Probably the best explication is the one offered by Hoffmann himself. It is contained within a comment he made in reply to a not especially coherent review of the book found on at Amazon.
There is nothing in the preceding paragraph that terms the Immaculate Conception a heresy. The Catholic Church has witnessed a development of its own doctrine, as the Puritan Church witnessed its doctrine develop. The point I was making is that it would be wrong and hypocritical to refer to this developing doctrine in Puritanism as ipso facto an indication of an error-prone creed, without accounting for the development of Catholic doctrine, such as the Immaculate Conception.
In a later comment upon the same review, Hoffmann plainly avows his belief (1) in the doctrine of the Immaculate Conception, (2) in its Scriptural basis, and (3) in the liceity of the ex cathedra papal authority underlying the doctrine's promulgation.
As you probably know, one of the principal theses of the book is that the core Apostolic doctrinal condemnation of usury, strictly defined, has been consciously altered (that is, twisted, subverted, falsified) by theologians, bishops, and popes—including Aquinas and numerous canonized popes and prelates—for eight hundred years and more. The book's subtitle expresses this view succinctly: The Mortal Sin That Was and Now Is Not.
So much for analysis. If you or anyone else were to ask me what I think about all of this, my answer would have to be that, not having read the book in its entirety, I hardly have a view worth expressing. Nonetheless, like BTNYC and many others, I am at a loss to see how Hoffmann squares his view of Church history with such orthodox concepts as inerrancy and divine protection for the Church and the faithful from the long-standing teaching of doctrinal deformity or plain heresy.*
Hoffmann is too learned, too sophisticated a man to be written off as simply a bit confused or misinformed. Still, as to whether Hoffmann is a Catholic "of any sort," I am not prepared to go as far as BTNYC does, in part because I see no proximate danger of scandal to the innocent in what Hoffmann has written. That is to say, the number of serious Catholics with a close, scholarly interest in this topic can be comfortably counted using the usual complement of fingers and toes. I think it's pretty safe to say that those who are members of this subset can look after themselves, doctrinally speaking.
*Of course, demands for doctrinal, intellectual, or even rhetorical consistency have never lain thick on the ground here at CathInfo. Compare Hoffmann with, say, cassini: for years the latter has falsely declared a narrowly disciplinary 1616 decree of the Holy Office an infallible proclamation and charged the popes of the ensuing three and a half centuries with blasphemy and falsification of doctrine. And for so doing cassini has received vastly more approval and applause than Hoffmann has gotten or is ever likely to get.