Apostolic Letter Ad Tuendam Fidem


#1

I am reading the Apostolic letter ‘Ad Tuendam Fidem’ which outlines penalties for those who dissent from the magesterium on a range of matters. In RCIA I didn’t come across this, and I believe I cannot hold two teachings mentioned in the letter in good conscience. The two teachings in particular I am having trouble with come in the paragraphs which follow:

“A similar process can be observed in the more recent teaching regarding the doctrine that priestly ordination is reserved only to men. The Supreme Pontiff, while not wishing to proceed to a dogmatic definition, intended to reaffirm that this doctrine is to be held definitively, since, founded on the written Word of God, constantly preserved and applied in the Tradition of the Church, it has been set forth infallibly by the ordinary and universal Magisterium. As the prior example illustrates, this does not foreclose the possibility that, in the future, the consciousness of the Church might progress to the point where this teaching could be defined as a doctrine to be believed as divinely revealed.”

“With regard to those truths connected to revelation by historical necessity and which are to be held definitively, but are not able to be declared as divinely revealed, the following examples can be given: the legitimacy of the election of the Supreme Pontiff or of the celebration of an ecumenical council, the canonizations of saints (dogmatic facts), the declaration of Pope Leo XIII in the apostolic letter Apostolicae Curae on the invalidity of Anglican ordinations…”

I don’t believe I can hold these teachings in good conscience. I am wondering what Catholics who have faced similar situations themselves have done. Did you ask a priest for clarification?


#2

Why not?


#3

you object to the teaching that women are not called and cannot be ordained to the sacrificial priesthood. What is the other teaching you object to? The last paragraph gives several examples. Or is it the teaching authority of the Church itself which you call into question.


#4

I don’t find those two paragraphs in Ad Tuendam Fidem. Where did they come from?


#5

I like your post :slight_smile: I used to be a bit like that, then I found out that without exception, if I didn’t like a teaching or document, it was because I failed to understand it as a part of the organic synthesis of faith (ie as a part of the big picture).

In the CCC there are little numbers next to every paragraph that refer to other paragraphs. Initially I would recommend looking up the bits you don’t get and everything you can think of that is related to them and then following the cycle of paragraphs as noted in the CCC to see if you can gain a clearer understanding.


#6

From what I can see in the document, Ad Tuendam Fidem is a rather technical correction to one provision of canon law. It doesn’t have anything to do with women’s ordination. That’s why I was curious as to where the quoted paragraphs come from.


#7

I obtained the extracts from here, where Pope Benedict comments on its contents: crossroadsinitiative.com/library_article/552/Doctrinal_Commentary_on_Ad_Tuendam_Fidem_Joseph_Cardinal_Ratzinger.html

I found it when I was reading about Cardinal Walter Kasper on wikipedia after I read one of his books, ‘The God of Jesus Christ.’ I did not know about this letter or its contents in RCIA, which were why I said I was having one or two questions, but clearly I need to consider them in light of the church as a whole, and I think then I can make a proper judgement according to conscience.


#8

Conscience is a pupil, not a teacher. Truth is always superior to conscience. The Church teaches as Christ. So, to claim your conscience does not allow you to assent in these matters would actually mean you do not accept Christ is the authority behind the Church, right?


#9

Remember we are temped in many ways, and if your tendency is to follow your human conscience and not a WELL FORMED CONSCIENCE of moral and faith teachings, you could go astray.:eek:


#10

Greg - why can’t you hold these teachings in good conscience. Since the time of Jesus the Church has only had male priests, and he has only called men to the priesthood (unless you want to believe that the Church hindered vocations for illigitamate reasons). Women priests is just another shoot off of radical feminism.

Catholig


#11

OK, thanks for the link. Ratzinger in this 1989 commentary, puts doctrinal statements and revealed truths into 3 categories as examples of truths which would fit into three paragraphs of the statement of faith which is referred to in Ad Tuendam Fidem.

As an example, he puts the teaching on ordination being reserved to men into the second category.

The teaching on reserving ordination to men is pretty ancient, going back in practice at least, the full history of the Church. Actually it seems to me to be a pretty good example of how some doctrines get formally stated only when challenged.

Throughout most of the history of the Church, there was never a need to state this formally, as it had always been believed and done this way. In modern times, some people began to propose that the Church could eventually ordain women, and I think that is the reason the Pope felt the necessity to reaffirm the teaching in a more formal way.


#12

From Fix: Conscience is a pupil, not a teacher.

What a wonderfully concise and powerful statement. If I may, I might use the word “chalkboard” vs pupil to emphasize my point.

Conscience is a vehicle where the Holy Spirit talks to us and guides us. Everything written there by the Holy Spirit is as truthful as what is taught by the Magisterium. Unfortunately, for some reason which only God understands, we are able to also “write” on the “chalkboard” and it is hard (but not impossible) for us to sometimes discern what was written by the Holy Spirit and what was written by us (and may have been influenced by Satan).

It is this reality which “necessitated” the Word becoming Incarnate.

From Fix: Truth is always superior to conscience. The Church teaches as Christ.

Truth is superior to untruth. There is no distinction between Truth revealed via Christ through the Church or via the Holy Spirit through the concience (chalkboard).

The problem arises and the Church acknowledges that we imperfect people can have problems distinquishing whether what is written on the chalkboard is from teh Holy Spirit.

To aid us in this, the Church gives us the wise direction that we can have absolute confidence on those matters determined to be infallible and reasonable confidence on other matters that they are from Christ.

When confronted with a conflict between that from the Church (Christ) and what we percieve to be from the Holy Spirit, we are to know that there can be no conflict (Truth is Truth) and to rely in submission to that from Christ.

But it doesn’t require us to just dismiss what is on the chalkboard as not being from the Holy Spirit. We are to struggle and try to reconcile the conflict by discerning what are writings from the Holy Spirit and what is from our own scribblings.

From Fix: So, to claim your conscience does not allow you to assent in these matters would actually mean you do not accept Christ is the authority behind the Church, right?

Not necessarily. While fully accepting Christ as the guide of the Church, he can just be saying that his chalkboard is a little messy.

However, there may be something on the chalkboard that the Holy Spirit wants him to discern (when discerned will be consistent w/ the Truth) via a conscious effort to clean up his chalkboard through prayer and using the “study guide” provided by the Magisterium. The fact that this issue is raised to an issue of “conflict” while for others it is a non-issue makes it at least concievable that the Holy Spirit wants to use this issue as a vehicle to erase the errant scribblings on his conscience.

After this long dissertation, it takes me back to the OP’s original question (“I am wondering what Catholics who have faced similar situations themselves have done. Did you ask a priest for clarification?”). In addition to the prayer effort below, I would go to a Priest for information (theological and historical ) that will appeal to our reason. Like St. Pascal said during the counter reformation, obstacles to knowing God built on “unreason” can best be torn down by “right reason.”

First, I would take to prayer and thank God for this struggle. I would be grateful that it isn’t one that is more personal in nature (i.e. a struggle with lust, etc.) and in my mind more likely to be damning. (Please don’t make this a debate about which is more damning. I’m just talking about how I would approach this through prayer)

Second, I would pray for wisdom to discern what is the “obstacle” that is causing me to struggle with this particular teaching. Is it ego that is imposing his personal sense of fairness on the issue? Or is it something else? If the obstacle is one I built, I may be called to tear it down.

Third, I would thank God in gratitude that He is there to aid my discernment.

Fourth, I would pray for humility to subjugate my will and reason for that of God. I need to acknowledge that my will and reason is inferior to His.

Fifth, I would thank God in gratitude that He is the source of Truth and not myself.

Finally, I would thank God for this opportunity to come to Him in prayer and discernment as I aspire to do His will and experience His Love.

OP, this may not work for you. But you asked for how I would deal w/ it. Trust me, I’ve been there many times on other issues. And, for me, I’m always amazed by the Eureka moment that results. God never fails us.


#13

I have no comments,

I just wanted to subscribe to this post.

Blessings,

E.C.


#14

My quote was taken from a former Pope.

It is this reality which “necessitated” the Word becoming Incarnate.

Truth is superior to untruth. There is no distinction between Truth revealed via Christ through the Church or via the Holy Spirit through the concience (chalkboard).

There is a reason the Church refers to conscience as: “the proximate norm of personal morality.” Veritatis Splendor .

It is proximate because the ultimate rule of right and wrong is Christ’s law. Conscience is not infallible.

But it doesn’t require us to just dismiss what is on the chalkboard as not being from the Holy Spirit. We are to struggle and try to reconcile the conflict by discerning what are writings from the Holy Spirit and what is from our own scribblings.

Catholics accept Christ is the authority behind His Church. True law is always higher than conscience.

Not necessarily. While fully accepting Christ as the guide of the Church, he can just be saying that his chalkboard is a little messy.

No, that is like saying one’s conscience is superior to God’s law.

However, there may be something on the chalkboard that the Holy Spirit wants him to discern (when discerned will be consistent w/ the Truth) via a conscious effort to clean up his chalkboard through prayer and using the “study guide” provided by the Magisterium. The fact that this issue is raised to an issue of “conflict” while for others it is a non-issue makes it at least concievable that the Holy Spirit wants to use this issue as a vehicle to erase the errant scribblings on his conscience.

The Holy Spirit leads people away from the Church?


#15

From Fix: There is a reason the Church refers to conscience as: “the proximate norm of personal morality.” Veritatis Splendor .

It is proximate because the ultimate rule of right and wrong is Christ’s law. Conscience is not infallible.

What the Holy Spirit writes on our conscience (chalkboard) is infallible. Our interpretation is not infallible. This is why I said in my previous post: "To aid us in this, the Church gives us the wise direction that we can have absolute confidence on those matters determined to be infallible and reasonable confidence on other matters that they are from Christ.

When confronted with a conflict between that from the Church (Christ) and what we percieve to be from the Holy Spirit, we are to know that there can be no conflict (Truth is Truth) and to rely in submission to that from Christ."

From Fix: Catholics accept Christ is the authority behind His Church.

And Catholics accept that the whisperings of the Holy Spirit in our conscience is also of God. To acknowledge that the Holy Spirit is at work in us doesn’t diminish the authority of the Church. The Church is the temporal, physical work of God to lead us to Salvation and the Holy Spirit is working toward the same end only it is inside out vs. outside in. Thank God He doesn’t give us one or the other! See what I previously posted up above.

From Fix: True law is always higher than conscience.

Truth is Truth period whether it is communicated from Christ or the Holy Spirit.

From Fix: No, that is like saying one’s conscience is superior to God’s law.

I never intended to infer that our imperfect interpretation of our conscience is superior to the Truth from Christ via His Church. In fact, I had attempted to state the opposite. I had hoped that the following in my previous post was clear enough:

“When confronted with a conflict between that from the Church (Christ) and what we percieve to be from the Holy Spirit, we are to know that there can be no conflict (Truth is Truth) and to rely in submission to that from Christ.”

From Fix: The Holy Spirit leads people away from the Church?

Absolutely not ever. If we take these “conflicts” to prayer combined with right application of reason, it will lead to illumination that will enhance our understanding and revelation of the Truth. Such action in prayer will build the bond stronger. It is when we allow our ego to “resolve” the “conflict” without the work of Grace that we fall away.


#16

DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in these forums do not necessarily reflect those of Catholic Answers. For official apologetics resources please visit www.catholic.com.