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Development, Dissent, and Infallible Teaching, Part I

December 1, AD2017 18 Comments

Many Catholic Christians believe that what the Church teaches on one or more subjects regarding faith and morals is wrong. Such Catholics try to legitimize their dissent from those teachings by appealing to cases where a teaching has apparently “changed”, or they note that such a teaching has “never been taught infallibly”.

Since the Church has supposedly flip-flopped on her teaching in the first case, they argue, it can happen again in another case. In the second case, believing the teaching hasn’t been taught infallibly, they appeal to the primacy of the individual conscience, which promotes “the right to act in conscience and in freedom so as personally to make moral decisions” (Catechism of the Catholic Church 1782).

In either case, such people don’t feel it necessary to assent to the teaching that they would like to see changed. We will see why such notions are completely erroneous and show that Catholic Christians are bound to assent to such teachings even if they haven’t been formally revealed (e.g., the doctrine that priestly ordination is reserved only to men). Since the Church’s teachings on sexual morality are constantly attacked, the majority of this essay uses examples concerning sexual morality.

Infallibility of the Ordinary Magisterium

First, a doctrine does not need to be infallibly defined by the Pope through his extraordinary Magisterium (that is, when he speaks ex cathedra) to be infallible. The Pope, as well as the bishops in communion with him, can infallibly teach by the ordinary and universal Magisterium. The ordinary Magisterium is defined as follows by Frs. John Trigilio, Jr. and Kenneth Brighenti:

The second way that an infallible teaching is taught to Catholics is through the Ordinary Magisterium, which is the more common and typical manner, hence the reason why it’s called ordinary. …

It’s never a new doctrine but rather one that has been taught ubique, semper et ab omnibus (Latin for everywhere, always and by all). In other words, when the pope reinforces, reiterates, or restates the consistent teaching of his predecessors and of the bishops united with him around the world, that’s considered the Ordinary Magisterium and should be treated as infallible doctrine. …

So-called dissent from papal teaching in encyclicals isn’t part of Catholic belief. The Catholic faithful willfully conform to papal teaching and don’t dispute it. (“What Are Extraordinary Magisterium and Ordinary Magisterium?”)

Theologians Fr. John C. Ford, S.J. and Germain Grisez give one such example of this from Church history:

… [T]he ordinary and universal magisterium determines an object of faith when it proposes something to be believed even without defining it. [Bishop Konrad] Martin’s example was this: All Catholic bishops believed in the divinity of Christ before the Council of Nicaea, but this doctrine was not openly defined and openly declared until that Council; therefore, in the time before the Council of Nicaea, this dogma was taught by the ordinary magisterium.

Three Categories of Belief

In 1998, Pope St. John Paul II promulgated Ad Tuendam Fidem, which added to the Code of Canon Law “new norms which expressly impose the obligation of upholding truths proposed in a definitive way by the Magisterium of the Church …” (Op. cit., Preface). The Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF) also issued a doctrinal commentary along with the motu proprio in order to explain more clearly what teachings Catholics are bound to accept. You can find a summary of that commentary here. Let’s unpack it.

There are three categories of belief as described in the above summary:

  1. Teachings that are divinely revealed,
  2. Teachings that are definitively proposed, and
  3. Teachings that are of the authentic ordinary Magisterium.

The teachings in the first category are either revealed in Scripture, Tradition, or “defined with a solemn judgment of the Church as divinely revealed truth.” The teachings in the second category are “definitively proposed by the Church on faith and morals which are necessary for faithfully keeping and expounding the deposit of faith, even if they have not been proposed by the Magisterium of the Church as formally revealed.” The teachings of the first two categories are always and everywhere to be given “full and irrevocable consent” by the faithful; they are to be “held definitively”.

The third category of belief contains “all those teachings on faith and morals—presented as true, or at least as sure, even if they have not been defined with a solemn judgment or proposed as definitive by the ordinary and universal Magisterium,” whether of the Pope or of the College of Bishops. According to the CDF, “They are set forth in order to arrive at a deeper understanding of revelation, or to recall the conformity of a teaching with the truths of faith, or lastly to warn against ideas incompatible with these truths or against dangerous opinions that can lead to error”. But even these teachings require the “religious submission of will and intellect” (Doctrinal Commentary on the Concluding Formula of the Professio Fidei 10).

Defining and Non-Defining Acts

The teachings in the first two categories of belief can be either a defining act or a non-defining act. As the CDF’s commentary made clear:

In the case of a defining act, a truth is solemnly defined by an “ex cathedra” pronouncement by the Roman Pontiff or by the action of an ecumenical council. In the case of a non-defining act, a doctrine is taught infallibly by the ordinary and universal Magisterium of the Bishops dispersed throughout the world who are in communion with the Successor of Peter. Such doctrine can be confirmed or reaffirmed by the Roman Pontiff, even without recourse to a solemn definition …. Consequently, when there has not been a judgment on a doctrine in the solemn form of a definition, but this doctrine, belonging to the inheritance of the depositum fidei [deposit of faith], is taught by the ordinary and universal Magisterium, which necessarily includes the Pope, such a doctrine is to be understood as having been set forth infallibly. (CDF 9; italics in original)

The CDF’s commentary further elaborates: “With regard to the nature of the assent owed to the truths set forth by the Church as divinely revealed (those of the first [category]) or to be held definitively (those of the second), it is important to emphasize that there is no difference with respect to the full and irrevocable character of the assent which is owed to these teachings” (CDF 8; italics added).

In other words, if a teaching of the Church belongs to one of the first two categories, then that teaching is infallible and true. Earlier in the document, the CDF makes it clear:

Every believer, therefore, is required to give firm and definitive assent to these truths, based on faith in the Holy Spirit’s assistance to the Church’s Magisterium, and on the Catholic doctrine of the infallibility of the Magisterium in these matters. Whoever denies these truths would be in a position of rejecting a truth of Catholic doctrine and would therefore no longer be in full communion with the Catholic Church. (Ibid. 6.2; italics in original)

Humanae Vitae is Infallible

Let’s look at one aspect of the Church’s teaching that is contested by many Catholics: the prohibition of contraception, particularly in Bl. Pope Paul VI’s encyclical Humanae Vitae (On the Regulation of Human Births). Many theologians and clergy immediately, openly dissented from Bl. Paul’s reaffirmation of the grave sinfulness of artificial contraception. But since he had not defined this teaching ex cathedra, some dissented by asserting that the pronouncement was not infallible, and therefore this teaching could be ignored in good conscience. This notion couldn’t be further from the truth.

In fact, the Church teaching on contraception falls into either the first or second category; it is to be “held definitively” by the faithful. Russell Shaw, author and former secretary for public affairs of the National Conference of Catholic Bishops, explains it thus:

If the teaching [on contraception] was universal, however, was it also proposed to Catholics as something to be held definitively? Several considerations show that it was. The first consideration is a negative one. No evidence has come to light that anyone proposed this teaching as a private opinion, a probable judgement, or a lofty ideal which there was no blame in failing to achieve. It was proposed instead as an obligatory moral teaching … .

Neither Pius XI, Pius XII, nor Paul VI says the teaching on contraception has been proposed infallibly by the ordinary magisterium; but that is not the point.  …a review of the data establishes that the teaching on contraception has been proposed in a manner which meets Vatican II’s criteria for an infallible exercise of the ordinary magisterium. The controversy of the last [fifty] years does nothing to change this fact, nor, if one accepts the criteria, does it call into question the objectively certain truth of the teaching. It is not the teaching which needs to be rethought but the widely held supposition that the teaching is or could be false. (“Contraception, Infallibility and the Ordinary Magisterium” 293, 294)

Shaw anticipates that questions and objections will be made in response. In order to more fully understand the three “categories of belief”, his answer to the following question is especially pertinent:

This discussion does not consider the question of whether the Church’s teaching on contraception is divinely revealed [the first category]. Many of those who have handed on the teaching have said explicitly that it is, and this fact cannot lightly be set aside. At the same time, for purposes of this discussion, it is conceded that the teaching might not be divinely revealed. [Theologian John T.] Noonan, for example, argues that, in condemning contraception, the Fathers of the Church were not restating primitive teaching but were making a fresh initiative. Supposing for the sake of argument that this is so, this should be viewed as a case of an authentic development of earlier Christian moral doctrine rooted in revelation. Such a view is entirely compatible with the view that the teaching on contraception has been infallibly proposed [the second category] by the ordinary magisterium. (Shaw 294-295)

To Be Continued …

We are sure that this teaching on contraception is really something that belongs to the deposit of faith because we know that popes, bishops, saints, and theologians throughout the centuries have condemned the act of frustrating the conjugal act to render procreation impossible, calling it gravely sinful. As the Catholic Answers tract points out, “The apostolic tradition’s condemnation of contraception is so great that it was followed by Protestants until 1930 and was upheld by all key Protestant Reformers.” As such, it falls within at least the second category if not the first, and thus requires “full and irrevocable consent” by the faithful.

Suppose that someone wanted to take this development of doctrine even further to say that artificial contraception is licit in certain circumstances. Would they have a case? The same question could apply to specific cases of euthanasia, or specific cases of adultery. How do we practically apply everything put forth here? In Part II, we’ll explore all this and articulate why, even if we have doubts, we should always submit to the Church’s teaching in matters of faith and morals.

[Editor’s Note: The dogma of the Assumption has been defined as divinely revealed. The article has been revised to correct an earlier error.]

Photography: See our Photographers page.

About the Author:

Nicholas is 20-something cradle Catholic who wears many hats, (husband, father, tradesman, religious education catechist, liberal arts college graduate, et al.) and hopes to give a unique perspective on life in the Church as a millennial. His favorite saints include his patron St. Nicholas, St. Ignatius of Loyola, St. Thomas Aquinas, St. John Mary Vianney and St. Athanasius of Alexandria. He currently writes for the Diocese of Joliet’s monthly magazine, “Christ Is Our Hope”.

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  • Vatican II, in Lumen Gentium 12, expanded the infallibility of the Ordinary Magisterium to include all of those who have the Spirit of truth: “The entire body of the faithful, anointed as they are by the Holy One,(111) [cf. 1 Jn 2:20, 27] cannot err in matters of belief. They manifest this special property by means of the whole peoples’ supernatural discernment in matters of faith when “from the Bishops down to the last of the lay faithful” (8*) [Cf. 1 Cor. 10: 17] they show universal agreement in matters of faith and morals. That discernment in matters of faith is aroused and sustained by the Spirit of truth.”

    • Peter, it appears you are describing the “sensus fidelium” (the sense of the faithful). Indeed, all baptized Christians, and in a special way, those that have received the sacrament of Confirmation, have the Holy Spirit with them. However, you’re proposition that “the infallibility of the Ordinary Magisterium [includes] all of those who have the Spirit of truth” is much too broad. LG 12 goes onto clarify, and narrows what the Magisterium of the Church actually is; precisely at the point that you stopped quoting the document. LG 12 continues:

      “It [the discernment in matters of faith] is EXERCISED under the guidance of the SACRED TEACHING AUTHORITY, in faithful and respectful obedience to which the people of God accepts that which is not just the word of men but truly the word of God. Through it, the people of God adheres unwaveringly to the faith given once and for all to the saints, penetrates it more deeply with right thinking, and applies it more fully in its life.”

      Furthermore, in 2014, the International Theological Commission released a document studying the nature of the sensus fidelium entitled, “Sensus fidei in the Life of the Church”. From the document:

      “The sensus fidei fidelis [the personal aptitude of the believer to make an accurate discernment in matters of faith] is infallible in itself with regard to its object: the true faith. However, in the actual mental universe of the believer, the correct intuitions of the sensus fidei can be mixed up with various purely human opinions, or even with errors linked to the narrow confines of a particular cultural context.‘Although theological faith as such cannot err, the believer can still have erroneous opinions since all his thoughts do not spring from faith. Not all the ideas which circulate among the People of God are compatible with the faith.’” (SFLC 55)

      The teaching authority of the Church, a thoroughly Biblical notion, is not exercised by every single person in the Body of Christ, but by the successors of the Apostles. Fr. John Trigilio notes in his “A Discussion on Infallibility” on EWTN’s website:

      “While it is true that as a whole, the body of believers is infallible in that SENSUS FIDEI is that the Church as the Mystical Body cannot be in error on matters of faith and morals, the TEACHING AUTHORITY (Magisterium) resides solely with the Roman Pontiff and the College of Bishops in union with him.”

      Some as, I mentioned in this first part of my essay, define infallibility much too narrowly. Others, though, open it up much too broadly.

    • Peter, it appears you are describing the “sensus fidelium” (the sense of the faithful). Indeed, all baptized Christians, and in a special way, those that have received the sacrament of Confirmation, have the Holy Spirit with them. However, you’re proposition that “the infallibility of the Ordinary Magisterium [includes] all of those who have the Spirit of truth” is much too broad. LG 12 goes onto clarify, and narrows what the Magisterium of the Church actually is; precisely at the point that you stopped quoting the document. LG 12 continues:
      “It [the discernment in matters of faith] is exercised under the guidance of the sacred teaching authority, in faithful and respectful obedience to which the people of God accepts that which is not just the word of men but truly the word of God. Through it, the people of God adheres unwaveringly to the faith given once and for all to the saints, penetrates it more deeply with right thinking, and applies it more fully in its life.”

      Furthermore, in 2014, the International Theological Commission released a document studying the nature of the sensus fidelium entitled, “Sensus fidei in the Life of the Church”. From the document:

      “The sensus fidei fidelis [the personal aptitude of the believer to make an accurate discernment in matters of faith] is infallible in itself with regard to its object: the true faith. However, in the actual mental universe of the believer, the correct intuitions of the sensus fidei can be mixed up with various purely human opinions, or even with errors linked to the narrow confines of a particular cultural context.‘Although theological faith as such cannot err, the believer can still have erroneous opinions since all his thoughts do not spring from faith. Not all the ideas which circulate among the People of God are compatible with the faith.’” (SFLC 55)

      The teaching authority of the Church, a thoroughly Biblical notion, is not exercised by every single person in the Body of Christ, but by the successors of the Apostles.

    • Teaching is a gift, and is not exercised by every single person; but why is the teaching authority only vested in the successors of the apostles? The gift ministries in Ephesians 4:11, which includes teachers, are given by Christ. I don’t see anywhere in Scripture that teaching is confined only to the hierarchy. The hierarchy is also subject to human frailty. Even where LG12 continues, it does not say that only the hierarchy can have the gift of teaching. In fact it says that “He [God] distributes special graces among the faithful of every rank.”

    • I agree, teaching others about the Gospel is a gift from our Lord; and indeed, as St. Paul points out in that Scripture passage from Ephesians, we are all called to do different things. And I also agree with what you’ve quoted from LG 12; God gives special graces to all the faithful, whether they are sacramentally ordained or laymen. However, LG 12 does, in fact, say that the hierarchy alone has been entrusted with this teaching authority. Where does it say this? In the section I quoted in my last post; and to see that the text of LG 12 does, indeed, say this, we need to ask what does the Church itself mean when it says that “[discernment in matters of faith] is exercised under the guidance of the sacred teaching authority”.

      The Church, in harmony with both Sacred Scripture and Sacred Tradition, defines “the sacred teaching authority” thusly:

      “Therefore Christ the Lord in whom the full revelation of the supreme God is brought to completion (cf. 2 Cor. 1:20; 3:13; 4:6), commissioned the Apostles to preach to all men that Gospel which is the source of all saving truth and moral teaching, and to impart to them heavenly gifts. This Gospel had been promised in former times through the prophets, and Christ Himself had fulfilled it and promulgated it with His lips. This commission was faithfully fulfilled by the Apostles who, by their oral preaching, by example, and by observances handed on what they had received from the lips of Christ, from living with Him, and from what He did, or what they had learned through the prompting of the Holy Spirit. The commission was fulfilled, too, by those Apostles and apostolic men who under the inspiration of the same Holy Spirit committed the message of salvation to writing.

      “But in order to keep the Gospel forever whole and alive within the Church, the Apostles left bishops as their successors, ‘handing over’ to them ‘the authority to teach in their own place.’…

      “[I]t is not from Sacred Scripture alone that the Church draws her certainty about everything which has been revealed. Therefore both sacred Tradition and Sacred Scripture are to be accepted and venerated with the same sense of loyalty and reverence.

      “Sacred Tradition and Sacred Scripture form one sacred deposit of the word of God, committed to the Church” (Dei Verbum: 7, 9-10)

      Now of course the hierarchy is subject to human frailty, but so were the Apostles. Did this invalidate their teachings when they exercised their sacred office? Of course not, and such short comings to do not invalidate the teachings infallibly put forth by their frail successors in the present day. You also say you don’t see this truth anywhere in Scripture. I reject your implied premise that we can only know doctrine and truth from Scripture. Bl. Pope Paul VI says just as much in DV 9 above. Did you also notice the quote at the end of the second paragraph? That citation comes from St. Irenaeus around the year 180. The notion that the Apostles and their successors possessed a unique teaching authority is, well… an apostolic notion. St. Irenaeus was a disciple of the disciple of St. John the Apostle. St. Ignatius of Antioch, writing 70-80 years earlier, also stressed the unique authority that could only be exercised by the bishop:

      “It is well to reverence both God and the bishop. He who honours the bishop has been honoured by God; he who does anything without the knowledge of the bishop, does [in reality] serve the devil (Letter to the Smyrnaeans, 9)”

      So if we are to reject these beliefs of both the early Christians and the Church today, then how do we know someone possesses the authority to exercise the “gift” of teaching? A Ph. D.? What visible signs would such a person have? Only the Church has that answer, and it’s found in the physical signs of God’s grace; that is, the Sacraments. The Sacrament in particular to consider here, for bishops, is that of Holy Orders. The physical sign is the laying on of hands at consecration. Jesus laid hands on the Apostles, the Apostles on their successors, and so on and so on until the present day.

      While every single baptized person in the Church receives special graces from God, the Apostles were instituted by Christ as the New Israel. Of course, the entire Church is the new Israel, but the Apostles in a very specific sense, and in a typological sense embody the New Israel. Just look at the words of Jesus in the Gospel:

      “Then Peter said in reply, ‘Lo, we have left everything and followed you. What then shall we have?’ Jesus said to them, ‘Truly, I say to you, in the new world, when the Son of man shall sit on his glorious throne, you who have followed me will also sit on twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel.'” (Matt. 19:27-28)

      In the old Israel, each tribe had a judge; Christ says the Apostles will judge. Peter, being the head of the Apostles, represents the tribe of Judah. Why? Jesus was descended from the royal line of Judah. And who is Christ’s vicar on earth? Peter and his successors. And even in this day the bishops (as the successors of the Apostles) carry on that office.

    • My replies keep getting detected as spam. I’m going to try posting this in two parts…

      I agree, teaching others about the Gospel is a gift from our Lord; and indeed, as St. Paul points out in that Scripture passage from Ephesians, we are all called to do different things. And I also agree with what you’ve quoted from LG12; God gives special graces to all the faithful, whether they are sacramentally ordained or laymen. However, LG12 does, in fact, say that the hierarchy alone has been entrusted with this teaching authority. Where does it say this? In the section I quoted in my last post; and to see that the text of LG12 does, indeed, say this, we need to ask what does the Church itself mean when it says that “[discernment in matters of faith] is exercised under the guidance of the sacred teaching authority”.

      The Church, in harmony with both Sacred Scripture and Sacred Tradition, defines “the sacred teaching authority” thusly:

      “Therefore Christ the Lord in whom the full revelation of the supreme God is brought to completion (cf. 2 Cor. 1:20; 3:13; 4:6), commissioned the Apostles to preach to all men that Gospel which is the source of all saving truth and moral teaching, and to impart to them heavenly gifts. This Gospel had been promised in former times through the prophets, and Christ Himself had fulfilled it and promulgated it with His lips. This commission was faithfully fulfilled by the Apostles who, by their oral preaching, by example, and by observances handed on what they had received from the lips of Christ, from living with Him, and from what He did, or what they had learned through the prompting of the Holy Spirit. The commission was fulfilled, too, by those Apostles and apostolic men who under the inspiration of the same Holy Spirit committed the message of salvation to writing.

      “But in order to keep the Gospel forever whole and alive within the Church, the Apostles left bishops as their successors, ‘handing over’ to them ‘the authority to teach in their own place.’…

      “[I]t is not from Sacred Scripture alone that the Church draws her certainty about everything which has been revealed. Therefore both sacred Tradition and Sacred Scripture are to be accepted and venerated with the same sense of loyalty and reverence.

      “Sacred Tradition and Sacred Scripture form one sacred deposit of the word of God, committed to the Church” (Dei Verbum: 7, 9-10)

      Now of course the hierarchy is subject to human frailty, but so were the Apostles. Did this invalidate their teachings when they exercised their sacred office? Of course not, and such short comings to do not invalidate the teachings infallibly put forth by their frail successors in the present day.

    • You also say you don’t see this truth anywhere in Scripture. I reject your implied premise that we can only know doctrine and truth from Scripture. Bl. Pope Paul VI says just as much in DV9 above. Did you also notice the quote at the end of the second paragraph? That citation comes from St. Irenaeus around the year 180. The notion that the Apostles and their successors possessed a unique teaching authority is, well… an apostolic notion. St. Irenaeus was a disciple of the disciple of St. John the Apostle. St. Ignatius of Antioch, writing 70-80 years earlier, also stressed the unique authority that could only be exercised by the bishop:

      “It is well to reverence both God and the bishop. He who honours the bishop has been honoured by God; he who does anything without the knowledge of the bishop, does [in reality] serve the devil (Letter to the Smyrnaeans, 9)”

      So if we are to reject these beliefs of both the early Christians and the Church today, then how do we know someone possesses the authority to exercise the “gift” of teaching? A doctorate in theology? What visible signs would such a person have? Only the Church has that answer, and it’s found in the physical signs of God’s grace; that is, the Sacraments. The Sacrament in particular to consider here, for bishops, is that of Holy Orders. The physical sign is the laying on of hands at consecration. Jesus laid hands on the Apostles, the Apostles on their successors, and so on and so on until the present day.

      While every single baptized person in the Church receives special graces from God, the Apostles were instituted by Christ as the New Israel. Of course, the entire Church is the new Israel, but the Apostles in a very specific sense, and in a typological sense embody the New Israel. Just look at the words of Jesus in the Gospel:

      “Then Peter said in reply, ‘Lo, we have left everything and followed you. What then shall we have?’ Jesus said to them, ‘Truly, I say to you, in the new world, when the Son of man shall sit on his glorious throne, you who have followed me will also sit on twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel.'” (Matt. 19:27-28)

      In the old Israel, each tribe had a judge; Christ says the Apostles will judge. Peter, being the head of the Apostles, represents the tribe of Judah. Why? Jesus was descended from the royal line of Judah. And who is Christ’s vicar on earth? Peter and his successors. And even in this day the bishops (as the successors of the Apostles) carry on that office.

    • I notice that LG12 does not set limits on “sacred teaching authority”. If all levels of the Church are included in infallibility, all levels are included in the sacred teaching authority. Apostles do have a special function of widely spreading the Word. Most of us who are so inclined, do it locally or on the internet.

      The letter to the Gentiles from the council of Jerusalem was sent by the “The apostles and elders and brethren” (Acts 15:23), and said that “it seemed good to the Holy Ghost and to us” (Acts 15:28). LG12 appears to be on solid Scriptural footing.

      Saint Paul, in 2Corinthians 1:24 says: “Not for that we have dominion
      over your faith, but are helpers of your joy: for by faith ye stand”. I
      think that the hierarchy needs to take a closer look at the New
      Testament and to Vatican II.

      Apostles and apostolic men wrote the New Testament, but I don’t think that Mark and Luke were apostles.

      Dei Verbum 21 does say: “Therefore, like the Christian religion itself, all the preaching of the Church must be nourished and regulated by Sacred Scripture.”

      I don’t believe that the Church has replaced Israel. Israel still exists and it still has ongoing covenants by God towards it continued existence. The existence of the state of Israel and today’s speech by Trump give ample evidence of that.

    • I apologize Peter. I addressed most of your points before, but Disqus keeps marking my posts as spam. I had two comments. The first is not showing up, so the comment you just replied to probably didn’t make sense. I don’t know what’s setting it off. I’ll try posting my original first comment next.

    • I agree, teaching others about the Gospel is a gift from our Lord; and indeed, as St. Paul points out in that Scripture passage from Ephesians, we are all called to do different things. And I also agree with what you’ve quoted from Lumen Gentium 12; God gives special graces to all the faithful, whether they are sacramentally ordained or laymen. However, Lumen Gentium 12 does, in fact, say that the hierarchy alone has been entrusted with this teaching authority. Where does it say this? In the section I quoted in my last post; and to see that the text of Lumen Gentium 12 does, indeed, say this, we need to ask what does the Church itself mean when it says that “[discernment in matters of faith] is exercised under the guidance of the sacred teaching authority”.

      The Church, in harmony with both Sacred Scripture and Sacred Tradition, defines “the sacred teaching authority” thusly:

      “Therefore Christ the Lord in whom the full revelation of the supreme God is brought to completion (cf. 2 Cor. 1:20; 3:13; 4:6), commissioned the Apostles to preach to all men that Gospel which is the source of all saving truth and moral teaching, and to impart to them heavenly gifts. This Gospel had been promised in former times through the prophets, and Christ Himself had fulfilled it and promulgated it with His lips. This commission was faithfully fulfilled by the Apostles who, by their oral preaching, by example, and by observances handed on what they had received from the lips of Christ, from living with Him, and from what He did, or what they had learned through the prompting of the Holy Spirit. The commission was fulfilled, too, by those Apostles and apostolic men who under the inspiration of the same Holy Spirit committed the message of salvation to writing.

      “But in order to keep the Gospel forever whole and alive within the Church, the Apostles left bishops as their successors, ‘handing over’ to them ‘the authority to teach in their own place.’…

      “[I]t is not from Sacred Scripture alone that the Church draws her certainty about everything which has been revealed. Therefore both sacred Tradition and Sacred Scripture are to be accepted and venerated with the same sense of loyalty and reverence.

      “Sacred Tradition and Sacred Scripture form one sacred deposit of the word of God, committed to the Church” (Dei Verbum: 7, 9-10).

      Now of course the hierarchy is subject to human frailty, but so were the Apostles. Did this invalidate their teachings when they exercised their sacred office? Of course not, and such short comings to do not invalidate the teachings infallibly put forth by their frail successors in the present day.

    • As to your other points in your most recent comment, I certainly agree with what Dei Verbum 21 says. I don’t see how it reinforces you position that every baptized person ordained or not, can exercise the teaching authority of the Church.

      As for Mark and Luke, it doesn’t matter if they weren’t Apostles. They are sacred writers, just as the writers of the Old Testament were. Scripture is God-breathed, and the Magisterium is the servant of the Word of God, and protects what is handed down to it (cf. Catechism of the Catholic Church 86). This also doesn’t prove your position regarding the Church’s teaching authority.

      As for the Church being the New Israel, it would appear that you might need to take your own advice and also take a closer look at the documents of Vatican II. Section 5 of the decree Ad Genetes states:

      “From the very beginning, the Lord Jesus “called to Himself those whom He wished; and He caused twelve of them to be with Him, and to be sent out preaching (Mark 3:13; cf. Matt. 10:1-42). Thus the Apostles were the first budding-forth of the New Israel, and at the same time the beginning of the sacred hierarchy.”

      The Catechism in paragraph 877 further explains:

      “Chosen together, they [the Apostles] were also sent out together, and their fraternal unity would be at the service of the fraternal communion of all the faithful: they would reflect and witness to the communion of the divine persons. For this reason every bishop exercises his ministry from within the episcopal college, in communion with the bishop of Rome, the successor of St. Peter and head of the college. So also priests exercise their ministry from within the presbyterium of the diocese, under the direction of their bishop.”

      Of course God’s covenant with Israel through Abraham has never been revoked, but it has been fulfilled in Christ Jesus and in His Bride, the Church.

    • I am saying that the teaching authority is not restricted only to the hierarchy. It involves the entire church from top to bottom; but not everyone is a teacher, not even in the hierarchy.

    • This is the last time I’m gong to try posting this because these spam filters have really hampered the flow of our conversation. The point I want to address, and it was a point I had tried to make three days ago, is that the teaching authority of the Church is restricted only to bishops in union with the pope. But of course, that authority is not always exercised or invoked. This will be my last post here. My original comment I’ve bee trying to post the last several days is below:

      I agree with you when you say that teaching others about the Gospel is a gift from our Lord; and indeed, as St. Paul points out in that Scripture passage from Ephesians, we are all called to do different things. And I also agree with what you’ve quoted from LG12; God gives special graces to all the faithful, whether they are sacramentally ordained or laymen. However, LG12 does, in fact, say that the hierarchy alone has been entrusted with this teaching authority. Where does it say this? In the section I quoted in my last post. So to see that the text of LG12 does, indeed, say this, we need to ask what does the Church itself mean when it says that “[discernment in matters of faith] is exercised under the guidance of the sacred teaching authority”.

      The Church, in harmony with both Sacred Scripture and Sacred Tradition, defines “the sacred teaching authority” thusly:

      “Therefore Christ the Lord in whom the full revelation of the supreme God is brought to completion, commissioned the Apostles to preach to all men that Gospel which is the source of all saving truth and moral teaching, and to impart to them heavenly gifts. This Gospel had been promised in former times through the prophets, and Christ Himself had fulfilled it and promulgated it with His lips. This commission was faithfully fulfilled by the Apostles who, by their oral preaching, by example, and by observances handed on what they had received from the lips of Christ, from living with Him, and from what He did, or what they had learned through the prompting of the Holy Spirit. The commission was fulfilled, too, by those Apostles and apostolic men who under the inspiration of the same Holy Spirit committed the message of salvation to writing.

      “But in order to keep the Gospel forever whole and alive within the Church, the Apostles left bishops as their successors, ‘handing over’ to them ‘the authority to teach in their own place.’…

      “[I]t is not from Sacred Scripture alone that the Church draws her certainty about everything which has been revealed. Therefore both sacred Tradition and Sacred Scripture are to be accepted and venerated with the same sense of loyalty and reverence. Sacred Tradition and Sacred Scripture form one sacred deposit of the word of God, committed to the Church” (Dei Verbum: 7, 9-10)

      Now of course the hierarchy is subject to human frailty, but so were the Apostles. Did this invalidate their teachings when they exercised their sacred office? Of course not, and such short comings to do not invalidate the teachings infallibly put forth by their frail successors in the present day.

    • In Scripture, I believe we are the new Israel insofar as we are inward Jews (Romans 2:28-29). This includes both Jews and Gentiles who are circumcised in heart.

    • Ordinary believers also have a place in contributing to the development of tradition; and not just the hierarchy. Vatican II states in Dei Verbum 8: “This tradition which comes from the Apostles develop in the Church with the help of the Holy Spirit. (5) For there is a growth in the understanding of the realities and the words which have been handed down. This happens through the contemplation and study made by believers, who treasure these things in their hearts (see Luke, 2:19, 51) through a penetrating understanding of the spiritual realities which they experience, and through the preaching of those who have received through episcopal succession the sure gift of truth”.

    • No one is saying that they don’t have a place in developing tradition. But you’re contention that the teaching authority (the Magisterium) of the Church can be exercised by lay people who have not be ordained to the ministerial priesthood (and are truly the successors of the Apostles) is false. Unfortunately, my posts keep getting deleted as spam. I will try one more time to post my original reply to you from 5 days ago. Regardless if it goes through or not, this will be my last post. Perhaps we can discuss this further in another venue

    • I agree with you, teaching others about the Gospel is a gift from our Lord; and indeed, as St. Paul points out in that Scripture passage from Ephesians, we are all called to do different things. And I also agree with what you’ve quoted from Lumen Gentium 12; God gives special graces to all the faithful, whether they are sacramentally ordained or laymen. However, Lumen Gentium does, in fact, say that the hierarchy alone has been entrusted with this teaching authority. Where does it say this? In the section I quoted in my last post. To see that the text of the document does, indeed, say this, we need to ask what does the Church itself mean when it says that “[discernment in matters of faith] is exercised under the guidance of the sacred teaching authority”.

      The Church, in harmony with both Sacred Scripture and Sacred Tradition, defines “the sacred teaching authority” thusly:
      “Therefore Christ the Lord in whom the full revelation of the supreme God is brought to completion, commissioned the Apostles to preach to all men that Gospel which is the source of all saving truth and moral teaching, and to impart to them heavenly gifts. This Gospel had been promised in former times through the prophets, and Christ Himself had fulfilled it and promulgated it with His lips. This commission was faithfully fulfilled by the Apostles who, by their oral preaching, by example, and by observances handed on what they had received from the lips of Christ, from living with Him, and from what He did, or what they had learned through the prompting of the Holy Spirit. The commission was fulfilled, too, by those Apostles and apostolic men who under the inspiration of the same Holy Spirit committed the message of salvation to writing.

      “But in order to keep the Gospel forever whole and alive within the Church, the Apostles left bishops as their successors, ‘handing over’ to them ‘the authority to teach in their own place.’…
      “[I]t is not from Sacred Scripture alone that the Church draws her certainty about everything which has been revealed. Therefore both sacred Tradition and Sacred Scripture are to be accepted and venerated with the same sense of loyalty and reverence. “Sacred Tradition and Sacred Scripture form one sacred deposit of the word of God, committed to the Church” (Dei Verbum: 7, 9-10)

      Now of course the hierarchy is subject to human frailty, but so were the Apostles. Did this invalidate their teachings when they exercised their sacred office? Of course not, and such short comings to do not invalidate the teachings infallibly put forth by their frail successors in the present day.

  • Pueblo Southwest

    I would note that some of the worst Popes, Borgia etc., primarily stayed away from doctrinal proclamations, probably knowing their limitations and being preoccupied with other matters. Unfortunately, today we have the specter of proclamations on all manner of things, neither clearly moral issues nor within the competence of the speaker. Little wonder we have confusion in the pews.