Thursday, September 18, 2008

The Magisterium of the Church is infallible, the Governance of the Church is not.

An important distinction.

I have just had an "ahah!" moment while reading a comment from Tony in a combox to the post below.

As the Holy Father said to the bishops of France just recently, the bishops of the Church are charged to "carry out with fidelity and humility the triple task towards the flock entrusted to [them] of teaching, governing, sanctifying". In return, "the Christian people must regard you with affection and respect" - not because of their own personal qualities, but because, as St Ignatius of Antioch wrote back in the very early years of the Church: "When someone is sent by the master of a house to manage his household for him, it is our duty to give him the same kind of reception as we should give to the sender" (Letter to the Ephesians, 6:1).

Now, the light bulb has finally lit up in my head (which might have something to do with me knocking it hard against the edge of the pool while doing backstroke this morning...)

Brian and Alan and Cliffy et aliter over at Catholica have a problem with obedience to the hierarchy of the Church. Brian characterised this obedience as "the Yes, Sir, no, Sir, three bags full , Sir, game". Many strings on the Catholica discussion board are about the failure in governance of the bishops. To be honest, so are many discussions on the conservative boards - just do a search on for recent blogs on the local ordinary of the archdiocese of Brisbane and you will see what I mean.

The point is that a proper distinction is not being made between the three aspects of the "triple task" which has been committed by Christ to the bishops of his Church.

While every Christian is bound to relate to his bishop with affection and respect "rendering service with a good will as to the Lord and not to men" (as St Paul might have said in this situation also, cf. Eph 6:7), he is not bound to agree that everything his bishop (let alone someone else's bishop) does is right, good or wise.

The charism of infallibility does not adhere to the person of the bishop, and still less to the governing office of the bishop, but only to the teaching office of the bishop, and even then only when he teaches in communion with his brother bishops and (most importantly) the bishop of Rome. No-one in their right minds would suggest that bishops are "infallible" in their governing office, yet that is what it seems is sometimes supposed of those of us who profess loyalty the the magisterium! We are well aware that bishops are just as capable of making big stuff ups when it comes to how they administer a diocese as anyone else.

As regards the sanctifying office of the bishop, even the most morally wicked or adminstratively inept bishop can't really fail to get that one right, in so far as that office depends on the grace promised by Christ ex opere operato through the sacraments (although certainly the wickedness or ineptness of a bishop can hinder the degree to which this aspect of his triple task is effective).

When we cite great examples of saints who opposed their bishop (eg. Bl. Mary McKillop) or even pope (eg. St Catherine), we need to be aware that - with full affection and respect for the office - their criticism was offered in order to hold to account the governing office of the bishop/pope, not the teaching office.

This is an important point - on which many who set themselves against the magisterium are confused. Loyalty to the magisterium does not mean agreeing with everything the bishops do (or any single bishop does). It means assenting to the teaching of the Church.

As Fr Z. said recently in a podcast, we are obliged to obey those in authority over us in the Church, and to give assent to their teaching, but we are not obliged to agree with everything they do. That includes the popes.

Oh, and Tony also said that "the 'church police' remark was lost on me :-( " Allow me to suggest some greater familiarity with Monty Python might lighten life up a little.

31 Comments:

At Thursday, September 18, 2008 12:16:00 pm , Anonymous Clara said...

Thank you! Thank you! Thank you! You have clarified the problem which I and so many others have struggled with for so long.

 
At Thursday, September 18, 2008 1:00:00 pm , Blogger Terra said...

Excellent post.

I'd add one more qualification though, in relation to the teaching office. Infallibility only applies to what the Pope (or bishop) actually says. He can still fail to teach on a subject that sorely needs to be taught.

At least one Pope has been retrospectively condemned for a failure to teach (and thus allowing a heresy to flourish), and I would suggest that a good many bishops should probably be!

And it is perfectly legitimate for the laity to draw attention to issues on which some teaching seems needed.

As an example, consider for example pro-abortion 'catholic' politicians in the US - the recent outbreak of spine on the part of many (but not all) bishops is good to see, but comes after years of campaigning on the part of committed catholic laypeople.

 
At Thursday, September 18, 2008 1:08:00 pm , Blogger Schütz said...

Thanks, Terra, you are right, of course. Failure to teach... hmm.

Re bishops showing some spine, there is an interesting story on Cooees Cloister today.

 
At Thursday, September 18, 2008 1:17:00 pm , Blogger Schütz said...

Quick reflection:

Silence is to the Teaching Office
as
Ineptness is to the Governing Office
as
Wickedness is to the Sanctifying office

None of these invalidates the office, but each brings the bishop into disrepute.

Try this one:

Faith is to the Teaching office
as
Obedience is to the Governing office
as
Holiness is to the Sanctifying office.

 
At Thursday, September 18, 2008 6:29:00 pm , Blogger Past Elder said...

Hey, now about this one:

Regarding "bad" bishops, including bishops of Rome, not even the worst of them did what Peter did, deny knowing Christ altogether; if anything their abuses stemmed from presuming too much from their authority in Christ, yet Peter remained Peter and Christ did not take back his words to him, Thou are Peter ...

I said that years and years ago to a Methodist looking into the Roman church. The person later became RC following RCIA, but without confirmation since it was determined that as we now more fully appreciate since Vatican II that baptism and confirmation are two aspects of the same sacrament, the person's Methodist baptism and confirmation stand.

I would be amazed at the extent to which the RCC will go to preserve its authority figures and innoculate them against any and all evidence to the contrary, except I once did it myself. No doubt I would have many days in Purgatory atoning for the conversions in which I have had a part, if there were such a place.

But the distinction of the office from the holder ain't all bad -- I respect the Office of Holy Ministry even though some leave it for error.

 
At Thursday, September 18, 2008 11:04:00 pm , Anonymous Christine said...

The person later became RC following RCIA, but without confirmation since it was determined that as we now more fully appreciate since Vatican II that baptism and confirmation are two aspects of the same sacrament, the person's Methodist baptism and confirmation stand.

Every time you post this, PE, I will clarify that that was an abberration to that particular parish. I was MOST CERTAINLY confirmed when I joined the RC and have yet to encounter that silliness in any parish of my diocese.

Does the LCMS mission down the street from my home, which underplays the sacraments and has an unordained "minister" preaching represent the entirety of the LCMS?

Give this one a rest, will ya and move on to something new to criticize.

 
At Thursday, September 18, 2008 11:21:00 pm , Blogger Past Elder said...

The "abberration to that particular parish" as you call it was not some renegade parish or notorious cenrre of "the spirit of Vatican II", but a normal residential parish in concert with its ordinary.

Nor is the story itself the point. The discussion is on the teaching, governing and sanctifying aspects of the episcopal office, and the possibility of error in one area not invalidiating the office per se. Hence the example, where all three seem to have been contravened: incorrect teaching in what the candidate was taught, incorrect governing in allowing the unconfirmed person to remain in fact unconfirmed upon reception, incorrect sanctifying in not administering a sacrament where idnicated.

But the person's under the Catholic god now, so who cares, huh?

I was not aware the LCMS was under this discussion, but to respond to that, no, the parish near where you live does not invalidate the LCMS as a whole, but the point would be not so much the no answer as that what we take to be the LCMS as a whole is something rather different than what an RC takes to be the RCC as a whole.

But thanks for yet another example of the lengths to which the RCC goes to defend its authority figures from any and all evidence to the contrary.

 
At Friday, September 19, 2008 1:35:00 am , Anonymous Christine said...

As was the parish I was confirmed in -- a normal residential parish.

Since you feel free to come to a Catholic blog and trash Catholicism I feel equally free to comment on the Lutheran communion to which I once belonged and now find wanting.

Goose and gander, PE.

And please don't refer to the LCMS mission I mentioned as a parish. They would have apoplexy to be described as such. They are the "Community" of Hope, dont'cha see.

 
At Friday, September 19, 2008 2:40:00 am , Blogger Past Elder said...

And so we once again avoid the topic at hand and make it about me.

Oh well.

Apparently not only my point on this immediate topic has been missed, but on coming here at all.

It is not to trash Catholicism at all. I have a great deal of respect for those who believe in and advocate for Catholicism, though I no longer believe it myself. Nor do I argue against your desire to be Catholic.

It is to say, for those who have left Lutheranism for conciliar "Catholicism", what has been pedalled to you as and accepted by you as (meaning, btw, it's not your fault) Catholicsm simply is not, but is, since the word has come up, trash.

 
At Friday, September 19, 2008 4:19:00 am , Anonymous Christine said...

Apparently not only my point on this immediate topic has been missed, but on coming here at all.

Well, no. Really. The point is that you keep coming here to make the point and we disagree with the point you are making. That's the point.

And whether you argue against my "desire" to be Catholic is, after eleven years of being Catholic, pretty moot. It's quite irrelevant. You don't get to define it for me.

 
At Friday, September 19, 2008 1:13:00 pm , Blogger Schütz said...

Dear PE,

Your example of a bishop who was under the delusion that confirmation was no longer necessary is a surprisingly extreme case of something that we all know happens:

Some bishops--yes, even Catholic bishops--teach falsely.

But when they do so, they are not teaching in communion with their brother bishops and the bishop of Rome. They are heterodox.

Except for the particular charism granted by Christ to St Peter and his successors, the virtue of infallibility does not belong to an individual member of the episcopate, but to the teaching magisterium as a whole.

It is firmly taught by the Catholic Church that confirmation is necessary for the complete initiation of a Christian into the Catholic Church. That is why it is administered to the dying if it has not already been received.

 
At Friday, September 19, 2008 3:56:00 pm , Blogger Tony said...

I'd have to say I'm disappointed in your response David!

See http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=teMlv3ripSM

Which is my convoluted way of saying I don't have much of an argument with what you've written.

Maybe with one proviso ...

I don't accept that I have to agree with anything that a church leader says if ... and here comes the 'C' word ... in good conscience I can't.

I can't, for example, find much to agree with in terms of the church's views on homosexuality after we get past the 'we must not treat them badly' bit.

And, confound it, despite that I still call myself Catholic!

What can ya do?

Thanks for the explanation of the Church Police BTW, it was one I wasn't familiar with.

 
At Friday, September 19, 2008 4:33:00 pm , Blogger Schütz said...

I don't accept that I have to agree with anything that a church leader says if ... and here comes the 'C' word ... in good conscience I can't. I can't, for example, find much to agree with in terms of the church's views on homosexuality after we get past the 'we must not treat them badly' bit.

Which is to say, that you have decided that the Church's teaching on homosexuality is wrong, therefore, your conscience will not allow you to accept it, because to do so would be to do wrong, and this is what you conscience is there to tell you not to do.

But Tony, do be clear on this: You conscience does not tell you WHAT is right or wrong, it only tells you to DO the right and NOT DO the wrong.

Something else (eg. your reason, your knowledge, your will, your affections) is telling you that what the Church teaches is wrong. I say "something else" because the conscience is only what acts on what is actually determined in other one or several other spheres (such as those just listed).

So what is telling you that the Church's teaching on this is wrong?

Something is telling you that the Church's teaching cannot be trusted on all matters. At some point, you are elevating an authority other than the Church above the authority of the Church. Your conscience is not an authoritative source of knowledge - only an authoritative guide as to how to act upon that knowledge.

So, it is obvious that you do not accept that the voice of the Church is the voice of Christ. If you did you wouldn't have a problem with its teaching on this or any other point.

And, confound it, despite that I still call myself Catholic!

Mmm. Indeed.

What can ya do?

Me? Nothing. You? Plenty.

Can I suggest on this particular matter that you familiarise yourself with the blog of a faithful homosexual Catholic who does accept the teaching of the Church as the voice of Christ, and whose conscience therefore tells him to act accordingly?

His blog may be found here:

http://johnheard.blogspot.com/

 
At Friday, September 19, 2008 5:48:00 pm , Blogger Tony said...

So what is telling you that the Church's teaching on this is wrong?

How much time have you got? Things like my reason, my knowledge, my will, my affections, my experience ...

So, it is obvious that you do not accept that the voice of the Church is the voice of Christ. If you did you wouldn't have a problem with its teaching on this or any other point.

Mmm ... sounds like creeping infallibility to me! I really don't see it that way, no.

Thanks for the suggestion, but I've been there, done that. I don't mean that in a dismissive way, but I really have explored this issue for some time.

Notwithstanding that, my position as a Catholic ... my personal take if you will ... is that when I do disagree with the church, I feel obligated to still keep an open mind to church's position and those who defend it. It's really one of my motivations for pursuing issues on DBs and blogs! It's a work in progress.

 
At Friday, September 19, 2008 6:18:00 pm , Blogger Schütz said...

My question is two-fold:

1) With regards to Reason: In what way do you find the Church's anthropology deficient or unreasonable? Have you taken the time to consider JPII's theology of the body, and the rational arguments contained in his theology?

2) With regards to "creeping infallibility": If you cannot trust the Church to speak rightly on this issue, how can you trust the Church to speak rightly on any issue? This becomes quite fundamental, for without the witness of the Church, how could you know that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God? From what source other than the Church, her scriptures, her tradition and her pastors, have you heard the voice of Christ in such a way that you can be absolutely sure it is the voice of Christ you are following, and not the voice of your own (or someone elses) delusions?

I would like to put up next to the word "conscience" the word "discipleship" - not that the two are in any way opposed, but discipleship comes from hearing a voice (the original meaning of "obey", by the way) from outside of ourselves - "extra nos" as the Lutherans were always eager to emphasise.

To modify St Thomas A. a little: "The Church herself speaks truly, or there's nothing true."

And don't forget to look at John Heard's blog.

 
At Friday, September 19, 2008 10:07:00 pm , Blogger Past Elder said...

Yes, David, I was taught and am well aware of the party line re the Magisterium. Along with which, on the matter of conscience, I was taught that along with the duty to follow one's conscience is the duty to form one's conscience -- as you well laid out, conscience being a source of action, but not of that being acted upon, which is extra nos, outside us.

Re the Magisterium thing, that is another of my many objections to the RCC, both the real one and the mid 20th century sect using its name and most of its real estate. These things hardly started with Vatican II, though they may be more common since. It is the all too common reaction to the all too common abuses, Oh, that's not what the church REALLY teaches, in the face of what the church really does.

It is no more than a fart in the wind to say such things. Now, God bless me and my morning bagel, of course it happens in all denoms, and certainly in our beloved synode (Whoops, almost went German there!), that things happen which are not what the denom REALLY teaches, and I equally bemoan them, but the fact remains, none of these denoms, certainly not mine, understands its nature as a church body in anything like the way the RCC understands itself in this regard.

It is little comfort to have recourse in what the church REALLY teaches, or in knowing someplace else it actually follows that, when one continually encounters something else where one is, and for the most part, where one goes, and it continues unabated, unaddressed, and uncorrected.

Thus have legions of priests been trained in heterodox seminaries, in turn practicing heterodoxy in parishes everywhere, whose people are assaulted at every turn with various conflicting ideas of What The Church REALLY Teaches, all of them claiming documentable authenticity -- here, for example, you mention for an orthodox Catholic position that acting apart from the magisterium as a whole, brother bishops and the bishop of Rome, invalidates the action, yet precisely the same argument is used against the bishop of Rome -- with the result that no different than any Protestant one makes one's own judgement as best one can as to who indeed, so zu sagen, speaks truly. And in the case I mention from time to time, a dot in the millions of them, a soul thinks itself confirmed when it is in fact not, and the church REALLY says or does nothing about it.

So, apart from my main objection that the RCC no longer teaches what it REALLY teaches anyway, it cannot be depended on to really teach what it teaches now either.

Judas with a pork sandwich, even if it were not sun-clear to report to the general public concerning the actual essence of the newest "Catholicism" (Fichte, anyone?), and even if I did not in time come to know the real Catholicism is false anyway, I should have grown so bloody weary of continually recoursing to What The Church REALLT teaches in face of What The Church REALLY does as to have quit it from sheer exhaustion!

"So look to it, you pastors and preachers. Our ministry to-day is something else than it was under the pope. It has become a serious and saving responsibility. Consequently it now involves much more trouble and labour, danger and trial, and in addition it brings you little of the world's gratitude and rewards. But Christ Himself will be our reward if we labour faithfully. The Father of all grace help us to do just that. To Him be praise and thanks forever through Christ Our Lord. Amen."

And Amen.

 
At Saturday, September 20, 2008 12:22:00 am , Anonymous Christine said...

I should have grown so bloody weary of continually recoursing to What The Church REALLT teaches in face of What The Church REALLY does as to have quit it from sheer exhaustion!

And that's my problem with all your discourses. I've never had to do that. Really. Since 1997 in every parish I've ever worshipped in my diocese, I've yet to hear or see anything that contradicts official church teaching. The kids at my parish are well taught at the parish school. All the sacraments are conferred, in the proper order. RCIA candidates who have been baptized in the Name of the Trinity are not, of course, rebaptized but they always receive the Sacrament of Confirmation. Since I became Catholic I've never had to jump through any of those hoops.

As you well pointed out there's a growing consensus between orthodox Christians in all communions versus those within them who are clearly heterodox in their belief and practice. God does not take away our ability to choose, even if we are in communion with the Bishop of Rome.

But then, it's been that way from New Testament times.

 
At Saturday, September 20, 2008 2:09:00 am , Anonymous Christine said...

PE, I should add a clarifier that I by no means dispute your assessments. I wasn't Catholic in the 60's, 70's and 80's but I was very involved in ecumenical matters at my Lutheran church plus I followed the events in the wider church after Vatican II pretty closely. My mom raised us to read, read, read and theology/ecclesiology were very interesting to me (plus I was attending Mass with my Catholic in-laws long before I converted). So I know what you describe did indeed happen, and in some places happens still. But not enough by 1997 to have kept me from becoming Catholic. By then I had met far too many faithful Catholic laity and clergy to have kept me away because of those who erred.

Especially some of those Benedictines (including the "famous" Archbishop Weakland) were a terrible scandal to Catholics (and other Christians).

 
At Saturday, September 20, 2008 2:54:00 am , Blogger Past Elder said...

I very much appreciate your understanding, Christine.

It is important to add, that while the excesses and abuse pushed me toward the door, that was not what convinced me to go.

That happened when, in 1972/3 academic year, I actually read the Documents of Vatican II in full and got a copy of the novus ordo Mass in Latin and read that.

Then I saw that the only thing worse than the "spirit" of Vatican II was Vatican II itself, and that while these two are quite different, neither is the Faith nor the Church I was taught as Roman Catholicism by the Roman Catholic Church.

Put another way, the only thing that on Catholic grounds would disturb me more than, say, a Call To Action "liturgy", is one in utter fidelity to the Latin novus ordo (or its new and improved translations).

 
At Saturday, September 20, 2008 3:25:00 am , Anonymous Christine said...

Put another way, the only thing that on Catholic grounds would disturb me more than, say, a Call To Action "liturgy", is one in utter fidelity to the Latin novus ordo (or its new and improved translations).

Acknowledged, PE. But it must also be said that many Catholics also raised in the preconciliar church welcomed the reforms made at Vatican II (and I am certainly not referring to the Call To Action types, whose diminishing numbers and same old grey heads show up at all their conferences. Last I heard they were lamenting that they can't seem to get their kids to go to Mass. Unmoeglich!!)

For me, I had no "pre" or "post" concilar Church to make peace with. When I became Catholic I felt I was actually gaining some of the things that the Protestant world had lost. I made what for me was a free and informed choice to become Catholic and I know you feel that I (and other converts) have been duped but we may know more than you think :)

Und so geht es.

 
At Saturday, September 20, 2008 7:41:00 am , Blogger Tony said...

... the Church's anthropology ...

It's very hard to respond in this medium without becoming trite but, yes, I regard the 'Church's anthropology' (to the extent that I understand what the term means) as alarmingly out of date (now I know that such a description can be seen by many as a good thing (aka 'tradition') but I mean it as a bad thing).

The best analogy that comes to mind is the kind of 'anthropology' that underpinned racial predjudice in many countries.

... how can you trust the Church to speak rightly on any issue? ...

By recourse to my experience, my knowlege, my engagement with discourse, my 'affections', ...

I can't be 'absolutely sure' in terms of faith -- it's an oxymoron. For me it is a constant process that I engage in. Sometimes my faith is like the rock of my life, other times it is like sand. On that basis it is very much alive.

How can I be sure that my faith isn't delusional? Firstly I listen to the church. On some core issues however, what the church says does not make sense to me. I then listen to others and engage with the issues using all those attributes mentioned. My respect for the church means that I can never 'close off' those issues that I disagree with, I have to always be open to what the church says, always be open to my own chance of being wrong.

I have seen John Heard's blog. I respect his POV.

Can I ask if you have ever taken the time to really understand the impact of church teaching on homosexuals who struggle with it? I'm not talking theory here. Theory's easy.

The church's view of homosexuality started to become really unravelled for me when I met and got to know homosexuals struggling with faith.

Injustice and predjudice is often like that. We can theorise all we like, but when we engage with people who actually struggle to live with the consequences of that kind of framework, it becomes real. Sometimes -- not always by any means -- we find that the emporer has no clothes.

 
At Saturday, September 20, 2008 8:43:00 am , Blogger Past Elder said...

I quite understand that. There are many, as old or older than I, to whom Vatican II (the real deal, not the spirit of) represents in fact the Roman Catholic Church becoming more Roman Catholic than ever in centuries, most especially in finally after centuries for the storm to subside to incorporate what was valid in the claims of the Reformers, principally Luther instead of rejecting it all for fear of accepting it all.

To use the vernacular as an example, Trent's catechism said there is no objective reason not to use the vernacular, but as that change is so firmly associated with those calling for changes that are heretical, it would be nearly impossible to use the vernacular now without seeming to approve the rest too. So then, Vatican II would simply say, that time has passed. Now, I might say I could accept that if we indeed had the same Mass in the vernacular, but we don't; they wrote a new Mass, in Latin, and put THAT in the vernacular, so for those like me the vernacular itself is not the issue, it's the new ordo in any language. But the contention to the contrary is the new Mass is like the language change itself, incorporating what is valid of the Reformer's concerns without incorporating what was false.

Continuing with the Mass as an example of the whole thing, I would say duped is not really the right word. Duped, at least to me, implies a conscious attempt to decieve on the part of the duper, and a you-fell-for it on the part of the dupee. I do not think the Vatican II church intends to deceive about the catholic church any more than our Lutheran fathers meant to decieve about it -- both did what they thought was right. And though I myself have used the word duped in this regard, that is a bad choice -- you haven't fallen for a scam, you've accepted something that is wrong about what it says it is. Just as you might say, in fact I did say at one time, Lutheranism is a mistaken attempt to be catholic without being Catholic, I might say conciliar Catholicism is a mistaken attempt to be Catholic without being Catholic. How about that as a way to put it?

As to the Church's anthropology, truth cannot be judged by the pain it may cause upon hearing it for those living in opposition to it. Any human parent experiences that, and certainly God the Father, and the church, the mother of all believers.

 
At Saturday, September 20, 2008 11:43:00 pm , Blogger Schütz said...

Can I ask if you have ever taken the time to really understand the impact of church teaching on homosexuals who struggle with it? I'm not talking theory here. Theory's easy.

I don't have to be homosexually inclined to understand this one. I am a sinner. The impact of the church's teaching upon my desire to sin is pretty devastating. It can really make my life a misery sometimes, as I try to struggle with the impossible ideals it holds out before me - ideals like holiness and repentance and conversion and discipleship.

But thank God for that. This business of struggle in the practicalities of living a life of faith and holiness is what leads us to salvation.

Thank God too that he has given us the living voice of the Church to act as a watchman and warn us when the enemy is at the gates. Woe to the watchman who does not warn the city, etc.

Thus PE is quite right when he says:

"As to the Church's anthropology, truth cannot be judged by the pain it may cause upon hearing it for those living in opposition to it. Any human parent experiences that, and certainly God the Father, and the church, the mother of all believers."

 
At Sunday, September 21, 2008 10:36:00 pm , Blogger Tony said...

I don't have to be homosexually inclined to understand this one. I am a sinner.

I think you miss my point. I'm asking you to consider the issue from the POV of someone at the coalface, in the same way you suggested I read JH's blog.

I still think you speak in theoretical terms unless you have
an opportunity to understand the everyday life of someone who is gay and Catholic.

I think if you did that you'd find that the notion that a homosexual expressions of sexuality, like hetersexual, range from sinful to loving. I think that you'd find the notion that homosexual expressions of sexuality are always sinful, quite unjust and unreasonable and very damaging.

It's like that blue eyed/brown eyed thing that Jane Elliott did in the 80s (see http://www.business-marketing.com/store/jane-elliot.html) where she challenged kids and adults to the bootstraps by forcing them to experience prejudice on a very personal level.

When that happens, the veil is lifted and you can see how a whole lot of formal and informal cultural attitudes contribute to injustice.

 
At Monday, September 22, 2008 6:58:00 am , Blogger Tony said...

PE, I find that 'waiting for the storm to subside' argument sits in complete contradiction to 'truth cannot be judged by the pain it may cause' argument. It seems to me that the truth often causes 'storms' and that you don't withold it or delay it (especially for centuries) because of some storm, especially a storm of perception.

I also think it quite extraordinary that you can use the language you use in terms of the mass changes. My understanding of a reasonably conservative (orthodox?) position on church authority is that we must obey in areas of 'faith and morals'. Surely David's words -- 'If you cannot trust the Church to speak rightly on this issue, how can you trust the Church to speak rightly on any issue?' -- apply here? If the church is wrong about something as fundamental as the mass, then it can be wrong about anything.

Finally, my argument about the rightness or wrongness of the church's position on homosexuality does not rest on the experience of pain. What I'm suggesting is that experience of pain can be a 'veil lifter' on how homosexuality is constructed by our culture and how the church contributes to that.

 
At Monday, September 22, 2008 2:04:00 pm , Blogger Past Elder said...

Well Tony, you'll have to take your first paragraph up with the RCC, because it's their argument. The official catechism coming out of Trent said just that: while there is no doctrinal reason against the vernacular, its use at this time, being so firmly bound up with the Reformers, would seem to imply accepting the Reformation as a whole. There are other reasons for retaining Latin, but that is the one they themselves cited for not going with the vernacular at that time. It was not a matter of truth either, whereas the teaching on homosexuality is.

On the second paragraph, Vatican II called itself a pastoral rather than doctrinal council -- which is to say, they claim throughout that nothing doctrinal was changed at all, but rather that new and more applicable pastoral approaches for our times will be implemented. Too, the lack of anathemas on any of the documents provides the possibility for faithful dissent.

Personally, I would say that the novus ordo is so clearly a junking of the Roman mass that one could only deny it by saying it must be OK because the church says it's OK.

Love the sinner, hate the sin, is the traditional maxim. If the church's teachings on the sin have been abused by those seeking to hate the sinner, the fault is in the abusers, not the church.

 
At Monday, September 22, 2008 2:58:00 pm , Blogger Tony said...

It was not a matter of truth either, whereas the teaching on homosexuality is.

Not sure what you mean here.

It seems to me that the way the church 'governs' (for want of a better word) the mass is a very fundamental part of its 'truth'. It also seems that you are suggesting the church, whether by ommission or commission, is not upholding the 'truth' of the mass.

Personally, I would say that the novus ordo is so clearly a junking of the Roman mass that one could only deny it by saying it must be OK because the church says it's OK.

(Phew! What a construction! Are you channeling Joseph Heller?)

I can't help but think that if I were you I'd be faced with two stark choices:

1) If a council -- albeit a pastoral one -- is capable of 'junking' something as fundamental as the Mass, then it's capable of getting anything wrong (aka, back to David's words).

2) If I'm confident enough in my own views such that I can accuse the church of 'junking' the mass, then I'm hardly in a position to dismiss those who question other church decisions -- fundamental ('big T' truth) or otherwise.

3) The, albeit pastoral, council is right and I'm wrong. I don't draw some legalistic division between what church leadership says. Vat II was about as authoritative as has got in recent history and to say that such a body has presided over the 'junking' of the mass 'smacks my gob'.

Your last para is a little like how the church may have encouraged slave owners to treat their 'property' with justice while not really challenging people to ask is slavery justified.

Again, in the spirit of David asking me to understand the POV of a pro-church's position homosexual, I'd ask other's to walk a mile in the shoes of those who cannot agree with the church's position.

 
At Monday, September 22, 2008 4:09:00 pm , Blogger Past Elder said...

Judas H Priest with an eggroll.

In order:

Neither the Mass being in Latin nor the Mass being in a particular rite is a matter of doctrine, the teaching that homosexual activity is sinful is.

I'm not suggesting the RCC does not uphold the truth of the Mass, I'm bloody well saying it. Twice over in fact: as a Catholic I say the novus ordo does not at all uphold the truth of the Mass, and now as a Lutheran I say neither the Tridentine Rite nor the novus ordo upholds the truth of the mass. None of which, here, was the point, that being, that the RCC in creating the novus ordo thought it was restoring the Mass to a greater fidelity to both the Gospel and the RCCs two millennia history of proclaiming it.

You say I would seem to have two choices, then list three. But we continue:

"My own views" on what Catholicism is and does are not my own views. It is one of many signs to me that the RCC is no longer the RCC that I find what was taught to me as normative Catholicism is routinely handed back to me as my own views. And again, here in this thread, my own views were not the point, which is, that the RCC does not think it has turned its back on normative Catholicism at all and I understand that. Pastoral and doctrinal are real distinctions, not legalisms imposed on church matters, and that the church considered the last council pastoral is part of its consideration that it changed nothing doctrinal and part of the consideration of those who oppose it that opposition to it is still faithful. Take it up with the RCC, it's their distinction, not mine.

Slavery is a condition imposed by some on others, homosexuality is not. The two are not comparable.

Finally, the plural of "other" is "others".

Free falling Judas, I'm the last one to come down on someone for not agreeing with the RCC's positions. I don't agree with a whole bunch of them. But I'm not going to call myself RC at the same time.

 
At Monday, September 22, 2008 4:45:00 pm , Blogger Tony said...

The first part of your response has left me totally confused. I'll leave it for now lest I incur more 'bloodys'. Maybe my lack of history in this place is showing.

Slavery is a condition imposed by some on others, homosexuality is not. The two are not comparable.

I wasn't making a general assertion of 'comparablity', I was being specific about how a state of being is experienced.

Finally, the plural of "other" is "others".

Thanks. I'm not so good at proof reading my own stuff! On that basis I rarely correct others.

Free falling Judas, I'm the last one to come down on someone for not agreeing with the RCC's positions. I don't agree with a whole bunch of them. But I'm not going to call myself RC at the same time.

I guess for me it's more like a family relationship. I may find that I disagree strongly with the views and actions of family members, but I'm still family.

 
At Tuesday, September 23, 2008 1:52:00 pm , Blogger Past Elder said...

God bless me sideways.

It is not a doctrine of the RCC that the Mass be in Latin, nor that it not be in the vernacular. That's all. The Church can, and has, changed these things, and in so doing does not change anything whatever about its doctrine. At the time of Trent, it was decided that the conditions of the age did not warrant going to vernacular languages, though such a move could be made. Later, Vatican II made it.

Maybe the confusion is the same as the confusion in the general public. We speak of the Mass in the vernacular as if the Mass had stayed the same, and now it is said in the local language rather than Latin. Nothing like that happened. A new Mass was written, in Latin, and THAT, not the Mass prior, was translated into the vernacular. And that is the point of concern. The junking of the Mass is not about the language, it's about the new Mass, whether in the Latin original or in translation.

The experience of a state of being that is innate is one thing, and that of a state of being that is imposed is another. One can take action against the imposition of the state of being in the latter, but this is not relevant to the former.

I rarely correct typos except my own, which are many, either. This was a grammatical error, though, and since I was on a bloody roll -- whoops, there's a bloody! Judas H wirh a latte. One must learn to dance when writing; find your local Arthur Murray, or better yet, dive into Nietzsche, the only philosopher worth reading.

And how does one come into this family? By birth? Not as we do in our natural families. Scripture likens the church not to a family, but to a body -- so we may understand one Creation of God in terms of another. Sociology is not ecclesiology.

 
At Friday, October 24, 2008 1:53:00 pm , Anonymous Anonymous said...

No human institution is infallible. The Magisterium's contradicting itself thoughout history is well documented.

 

Post a Comment

Subscribe to Post Comments [Atom]

Links to this post:

Create a Link

<< Home