07 June 2010

Aquinasblog Dialog III

This is part III of the Aquinasblog Dialog that was started here.

[Aquinasblog author],

Thank you for the time you put into compiling the list. I will read the documents promptly.

In the mean time, as far as woman ordination, please see Apostolic Letter Ordinatio Sacerdotalis at , section 4. This belief of the Church is also part of the reason why a whole lot of people converted to the Church from other Ecclesial Communities (see Dominus Iesus; ), esp the COE one.

I'll email back when I read and take notes on the emailed documents (in about a week).

[I replied again below]

Hello [Aquinasblog author],

I had a chance to read most of the encyclicals except the last one (Pascendi) in which I searched some terms. I am also familiar with the last encyclicals of JPII and BXVI first two. In general, when the Popes wrote about faith and morals, they were consistent and clear about the authority upon which they drew. When it came to more state related questions, it was less clear. Also, some of the ideas that you identified as changing have either not changed or not gone away completely. I’ll go through them in your order (from your last email).

In Mirari Vos, Gregory XVI condemned “liberty of conscience” and “freedom to publish”. The former was dealt in a similar fashion recently by Speaker Pelosi’s Bishop here . He wrote, “It is entirely incompatible with Catholic teaching to conclude that our freedom of will justifies choices that are radically contrary to the Gospel—racism, infidelity, abortion, theft. Freedom of will is the capacity to act with moral responsibility; it is not the ability to determine arbitrarily what constitutes moral right.” Also, paraphrasing the Bishop, “liberty of conscience” still doesn’t mean “any old liberty of conscience,” it relates to a correctly formed conscience.

For the latter, there are still Imprimaturs who review Catholic books for doctrinal accuracies. The freedom to publish issue is still around in Catholic publishing yet not so severe. There are also commissions to determine if theology teachers/professors are heretical.

Regarding the Syllabus of Errors, Pius IX was unclear about Catholicism and the state. In errors 77-79 it seems that the only religion of the state should be Catholicism, but then immediately after the error list, he goes into how the city of God and man are different entities (from Augustine’s _City of God_). However, even in today’s Church, the idea that there is an *absolute* separation of church and state (from JFK speech) is not held. See here . Regarding error 80, no Pope has fully reconciled himself with his generation in matters of faith and morals.

Regarding the last two encyclicals, like all systems of government, there are down falls to democracy (tyranny of the majority is cited). I couldn’t find what particulars about the freedom of speech or religion that were criticized. Regarding historical analysis in paragraph 9 of Pascendi, he made valid points about its problems.

Actually, most modern encyclicals I’ve read (I read most of JPII’s later ones) have had valid points with regards to many topics, but they have not all been about authoritative instructions about faith and morals.

One thing that really stuck out for me that not one of the popes’ encyclicals that you cited made a statement like JPII did in Evangelium Vitae or Ordinatio Sacerdotalis regarding faith and morals. For example, in the former JPII (in paragraph 57 and 62),

“Faced with the progressive weakening in individual consciences and in society of the sense of the absolute and grave moral illicitness of the direct taking of all innocent human life, especially at its beginning and at its end, the Church's Magisterium has spoken out with increasing frequency in defence of the sacredness and inviolability of human life. The Papal Magisterium, particularly insistent in this regard, has always been seconded by that of the Bishops, with numerous and comprehensive doctrinal and pastoral documents issued either by Episcopal Conferences or by individual Bishops. The Second Vatican Council also addressed the matter forcefully, in a brief but incisive passage.

“Therefore, by the authority which Christ conferred upon Peter and his Successors, and in communion with the Bishops of the Catholic Church, I confirm that the direct and voluntary killing of an innocent human being is always gravely immoral. This doctrine, based upon that unwritten law which man, in the light of reason, finds in his own heart (cf. Rom 2:14-15), is reaffirmed by Sacred Scripture, transmitted by the Tradition of the Church and taught by the ordinary and universal Magisterium.

“The deliberate decision to deprive an innocent human being of his life is always morally evil and can never be licit either as an end in itself or as a means to a good end. It is in fact a grave act of disobedience to the moral law, and indeed to God himself, the author and guarantor of that law; it contradicts the fundamental virtues of justice and charity. ‘Nothing and no one can in any way permit the killing of an innocent human being, whether a fetus or an embryo, an infant or an adult, an old person, or one suffering from an incurable disease, or a person who is dying. Furthermore, no one is permitted to ask for this act of killing, either for himself or herself or for another person entrusted to his or her care, nor can he or she consent to it, either explicitly or implicitly. Nor can any authority legitimately recommend or permit such an action’” -Paragraph 57

In the later, (paragraph 4),

“Although the teaching that priestly ordination is to be reserved to men alone has been preserved by the constant and universal Tradition of the Church and firmly taught by the Magisterium in its more recent documents, at the present time in some places it is nonetheless considered still open to debate, or the Church's judgment that women are not to be admitted to ordination is considered to have a merely disciplinary force.

“Wherefore, in order that all doubt may be removed regarding a matter of great importance, a matter which pertains to the Church's divine constitution itself, in virtue of my ministry of confirming the brethren (cf. Lk 22:32) I declare that the Church has no authority whatsoever to confer priestly ordination on women and that this judgment is to be definitively held by all the Church's faithful.” - paragraph 4

The Syllabus of Errors and the other encyclicals did not have a statement like those above. Lamentabili comes close with its preamble.

However, while the ideas in the encyclicals have been reduced in severity, the ideas are still within the Church. For instance, while individual members of the Church may read and talk about the Catholic Bible, no one has the authority to undermine the Church’s official teaching regarding it. For instance, the canon of the Bible was determined in the fourth century, however Martin Luther declared that some books were not to be included. He did not have the authority to decide what the canon of scripture included. A second example: regarding interpretation of John 6, the Church teaches authoritatively that bread and wine actually is transubstantiated into (not consubstantiated into or symbolizes) the body and blood of Jesus.

In the encyclicals I cited above from JPII, it’s almost as if there were ordinary ex cathedra statements, whereas the encyclicals you cited don’t have such clearly authoritative statements regarding faith and morals.

The wo/man ordination question would fall under a faith declaration since Jesus chose only men by His authority to be Apostles (Bishops/Presbyters). In a similar way, He declared that bread and wine would become his body and blood by His authority.

I found the discussion here ( ) very relevant to our discussion. The question is whether limbo exists or not. It seems that the only authoritative declaration is that unbaptized babies enter hell. However, it was also authoritatively decided that water baptism is not needed to “count” as a baptism: there are baptisms by desire, Spirit, and fire. However, young babies and preborn babies can’t consciously desire baptism, so they most likely end up in hell. Yet, no council or Pope has authoritatively taught about limbo (for vs. against). Therefore, faithful Catholics are free to decide what they think about limbo and leave it up to God’s Wisdom and Will.

Well, thanks for hanging in there. I might have missed something. If I did, especially if it’s a specific passage in an encyclical, please bring my attention to it.

I look forward to hearing from you,

You might want to read here ( ) about the women religious visitation. It’s an interview with a sister who heads an order that will be visited. I still don’t think the visitations are mean in nature just as my reviews at work are not mean, just necessary for the company and myself.

Hi [gbm3],

[ ]

I think the real question comes down to what's called development of doctrine. In his book What Happened at Vatican II, John O’Malley S.J. states that the three underlying issues of the council were:

1. When change in the church is appropriate and how that change is justified.
2. Who gets to authorize that change.
3. What is the style or model according to which such authorization is exercised.

This is a difficult question and hinges on the understanding of authority that people share and what of the history of the Church they choose to remember (e.g., when we think of celibacy, do we choose to remember the traditions of the first millennium or the traditions of the second; do we remember when bishops were elected, etc.).

On this, we may need to agree to disagree.

[Aquinasblog author]

PS besides the O'Malley book, another really good book is Receiving the Council, by canon lawyer Ladislas Orsy, SJ. He grapples well with the questions of tradition, authority and change.

[BTW, the dialog is not over.]

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