Are there encyclicals that contradicts each other?

My parish priest says there are encyclicals (or a teaching in the encyclical) that contradicts another. Is this true?

I don’t think the question can be answered sufficiently without knowing specifically what the parish priest had in mind. I can only say no dogmatic teaching in an encyclical is contradicted by any other dogmatic teaching in an encyclical.

Well first we’ll have to be clear on what he actually said. You just produced two different possibilities. Which is it?

No. Many who are hostile to the Catholic faith have tried to “prove” such contradictions, but none have succeeded. Anti-Catholics ignore context as well as context of belief.

Anytime that you hear such a claim, ask for specific examples.

:thumbsup:

Otherwise, what are you supposed to do? Recite the full text of every encyclical from the past 2000 years and say, “See, there are no contradictions.”?

You can’t disprove a generality. Generally speaking, of course. :wink:

Most encyclicals are not considered dogmatic (infallible), so it would not really be a problem if one contradicted another. In fact, it ought to be expected.

But folk here have been doing Catholic apologetics for a long time and we don’t know of any actual examples. If your priest has an actual example (just one) to share, many of us here would be VERY interested and grateful.

How about a “Papal Letter” Cum Sicut.
I can see condemned item8 looks to have gone Zanini’s way!.
I don’t think anyone accepts there cannot be aliens anymore either …

**
Denzinger EN 1375
Errors of Zanini de Solcia [Condemned in the letter “Cum sicut,” Nov. 14, 1459]**

*1361 717a (1) That the world should be naturally destroyed and ended by the heat of the sun consuming the humidity of the land and the air in such a way that the elements are set on fire.

1362 717b (2) That all Christians are to be saved.

1363 717c (3) That God created another world than this one, and that in its time many other men and women existed and that consequently Adam was not the first man.
1364 717d (4) Likewise, that Jesus Christ suffered and died not for the redemption because of His love of the human race, but by the law of the stars.

1365 717e (5) Likewise, that Jesus Christ, Moses, and Mohammed ruled the world by the pleasure of their wills.

1366 717f (6) And that the same Lord our Jesus is illegitimate, and that He exists in the consecrated hosts not with respect to His humanity but with respect to His divinity only.

1367 717g (7) That wantonness outside of matrimony is not a sin, unless by the prohibition of positive laws, and that these have not disposed of the matter well, and are checked by ecclesiastical prohibition only from following the opinion of Epicurus as true.

1368 717h (8) Moreover that the taking away of another’s property is not a mortal sin, even though against the will of the master.

1369 717i (a) Finally that the Christian law through the succession of another law is about to have an end, just as the law of Moses has been terminated by the law of Christ.*

Hmm, this is interesting, I’ve never seen this document before. I wonder about 1361 717a (1) and 1363 717c (3).

1361 appears, at least in one possible interpretation, to condemn the view that the earth will eventually be consumed by the sun. What about if the sun becomes a red giant?

Three possibilities come to mind.

First, perhaps this document is simply denying that this is how the world will end because we believe that the world will end when Jesus comes back.

Second, maybe the word “world” in that sentence refers to the whole cosmos, not simply the earth by itself. In that case, the document would not be incorrect, because the whole cosmos could not be destroyed by our little sun, even though our solar system could be affected.

Third, I wonder: suppose the sun eventually goes through a phase change and gets enormous and red. As it gets closer and closer to the earth, one would think the humidity would be consumed as the condemned idea says. But the condemned idea ALSO seems to say that the elements would catch fire. Perhaps that is the part that is false, but it is false for another reason: supposing the term “elements” refers to air, earth, fire, and water, do those things catch fire when superheated? Don’t they instead liquefy and then evaporate? If so, then 1361 wouldn’t appear to be incorrect.

1363 appears, at least in one possible interpretation, to condemn the view that there are ancient alien worlds with intelligent life on them. But hasn’t the Vatican implied that there could be several times? I think I remember some priest at the Vatican observatory saying that aliens, if they exist, might need to be evangelized.

Three possibilities come to mind.

First, perhaps the phrase “other men and women” refers to human beings specifically, not simply intelligent creatures. Then the document would almost certainly be correct, because it seems impossible that an alien race, if it exists, would be human beings.

Second, perhaps the phrase “another world than this one” does not refer to other planets. I think the astronomers all the way back to ancient Greece knew about other planets such as Jupiter and Mars, and I think their movements were widely known and studied not just in universities but by anyone who can look at the stars and identify the planets. It would be surprising if the pope was condemning something observable by everyone. Perhaps therefore the phrase “another world” refers to something more like the theory that there is a parallel universe where parallel human beings exist and a more ancient civilization than exists here.

Third, I don’t think the Vatican has actually declared that intelligent aliens might exist. Perhaps the examples that I vaguely remember don’t imply that intelligent alien life is possible, and even if they do they are almost certainly not doctrinal declarations. Perhaps part of the answer to the Fermi paradox is that intelligent alien life is impossible?

Very sci-fi stuff! Seemingly unlikely to have popped up in the middle ages, but who knows? They had their dreamers too.

As a general hermeneutic principle, when the Church condemns a proposition of a person, it condemns it in the sense that person put it forth and in doing so only affirms that there is a contradictory, not necessary the converse.

I’m not sure what the problem with 8 is, stealing is a sin. Zanini de Solcia was not talking about taxation or legitimate takings by the extreme needy that fall under the principle of the universal destination of goods.

As for 3, this does not deny that there is life on other planets, just that that life cannot be human beings. The unity of the human race is a dogma of the faith. Therefore, men cannot exist where men cannot have traveled to from humanity’s place of origin.

The OP asked about Papal teachings that contradict other Papal teachings, not about Papal teachings that contradict some nutjob.

I can see condemned item8 looks to have gone Zanini’s way!

I’m not sure how. I believe the Church has been pretty consistent about stealing (it’s a no-no).

I don’t think anyone accepts there cannot be aliens anymore either …

I don’t believe in alien life (because I see it as mathematically improbable). But, if it exists, it would not be human, and I don’t think that anyone who believes in alien life thinks that it would be.

Sounds good but I wish I knew what you are saying :blush:.

I’m not sure what the problem with 8 is, stealing is a sin.

Taking another’s property against his will, even valuable property, is not in fact always grave matter as the latest CCC makes clear.

As for 3, this does not deny that there is life on other planets, just that that life cannot be human beings. The unity of the human race is a dogma of the faith. Therefore, men cannot exist where men cannot have traveled to from humanity’s place of origin.

I do not believe that the Garden of Eden must be literally interpreted as being on planet earth? Perhaps I am wrong.

I believe the “nutjob” got it right wrt point7 which was debated since then and eventually his view seems to have become standard teaching now. Perhaps I misunderstand the CCC on this point but I don’t think so.

I’m not sure how. I believe the Church has been pretty consistent about stealing (it’s a no-no).

The issue I believe is whether taking another’s valuable property against their will is always a mortal sin (ie grave matter). It isn’t.

I don’t believe in alien life (because I see it as mathematically improbable). But, if it exists, it would not be human, and I don’t think that anyone who believes in alien life thinks that it would be.

It may be debatable exactly how we define human according to Church philosophy.
Traditionally I believe humans are defined as creatures in God’s creation composed of body and a spiritual soul (unlike angels and animals).

Therefore, by this definition, if an alien was found to be intelligent (hence the “spiritual” in spiritual soul) then it is of the same genus “human”.

The problem with this definition is that the scholastics always thought there was only one species in this genus (us). So if “human” refers to the genus then we need a different word to separate us from the alien species (possibly many different ones).
On the other hand if “human” does refer only to a species (us on planet earth) what do we call the genus of the spiritual-soul/body creatures made in God’s image and likeness?

Haha, sorry:o. The list you provide are propositions made by Zanini de Solcia. Some may be able to be interpreted in different ways. When the Church lists propositions by an author this way, it intends them to be interpreted the way the writer did. Also when the Church condemns an error, it doesn’t mean to necessarily affirm the opposite, just merely that there exists something that contradicts the error. For example, take #2 “That all Christians are to be saved.” By condemning this, the Church does not affirm that all Christians are to be damned. Rather, it merely affirms that a contradictory–that all Christians might not be saved–exists. I hope that helps!

Taking another’s property against his will, even valuable property, is not in fact always grave matter as the latest CCC makes clear.

By condemning #8, the Church is not affirming the opposite–that it is always a mortal sin–but only a contradictory: the Church merely affirms that it can be.

I do not believe that the Garden of Eden must be literally interpreted as being on planet earth? Perhaps I am wrong.

I think the Church and humanity in general has been consistent in its belief that man originated on earth–we have no record of space travel until recent times.

As for error 7 which you mentioned in your next post, I don’t see the contradiction you do. The error says that fornication is not contrary to the natural law, just positive law. The CCC says the contradictory in 2353, saying fornication is contrary to human dignity and how human sexuality is naturally ordered. It does not mention positive law.

Point 7 is so obtusely written that it’s hard to really tell what it is trying to say. But the first part seems clear enough: Zanini thought that extra-marital lust was not sinful. This view has never gained acceptance by the Magesterium.

The issue I believe is whether taking another’s valuable property against their will is always a mortal sin (ie grave matter). It isn’t.

But the Pope did not say that theft was always mortally sinful. He condemned a statement by Zanini which (apparently) said theft was not mortally sinful. Such a statement is, of course, wrong, which is exactly what the Pope said. You are reading an inference that the text does not support.

It may be debatable exactly how we define human according to Church philosophy.

When the Pope says “men and women” I don’t think he intends to introduce some new philosophical construct exploring what it “means” to be human. I think he intends the plain meaning that everyone understands - which is biological humanity. In scientific terms it would be a species sharing a common genetic base.

There are people (who are usually not too hot at math) who think that intelligent life exists elsewhere, but I’ve never heard any of them (other than, apparently, Zanini) suggest that biological humans exist elsewhere.

Good point. But if we are going to get picky and allow generous interpretations here then lets apply that generosity all around. Must we conclude “theft is not a mortal sin” is exactly the same as “theft is never a mortal sin.”

I agree it is ambiguous, but prob better to interrogate the Latin first, which I unfortunately do not have.

When the Pope says “men and women” I don’t think he intends to introduce some new philosophical construct exploring what it “means” to be human. I think he intends the plain meaning that everyone understands - which is biological humanity. In scientific terms it would be a species sharing a common genetic base.

I think you have missed my point. My point is because the medievals did not have the concept “alien” we have today it is hard to know what “Adam was not the first man” means here.
If aliens are not like us in form then (which Zanini may well have meant) then clearly Adam was the first “man” still and Pope and Zanini were actually just talking past each other.
However if “man” is taken to mean “an intelligent being of an indeterminate body and intelligent soul” then clearly Adam was not the first such being.

It is also hard to know if the “consequently” clause in this condemnation is from the Pope or from Zanini.
Likewise I am not sure if the Pope is not condemning the notion of other worlds outright, regardless of the following clauses. History suggests he was, but that may not be certain from this sentence alone, though it fits the Church’s geocentric view of creation at the time.

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.