Can catholic teachings be changed?

Some of our churches official teachings are being reinterpreted by Pope Francis with the support of Cardinals and Bishops - those regarding communion for the remarried, and communion for practicing same-sex and cohabiting couples.There are dioceses around the world that are implementing these changes.The line has been drawn.

In order for you to make an informed decision as to what you believe and support; you need to become educated in the issues and arguments on both sides. To do this we suggest you follow at least one news source that views these changes as good for our church and one source that believes that the Tradition and Deposit of Faith cannot change.


What you believe will determine your eternal salvation, for if you decide wrongly and decide against Christ you cannot enter the Kingdom of Heaven.


There are certain fundamental truths to our Catholic faith which are based on scripture - it is in the interpretation of scripture that is now being carefully looked at and being challenged.

We will help you with some foundation.This is taken from Dr. Feser’s site -

The First Vatican Council emphasized:

“For the Holy Spirit was promised to the successors of Peter not so that they might, by his revelation, make known some new doctrine, but that, by his assistance, they might religiously guard and faithfully expound the revelation or deposit of faith transmitted by the apostles.”

The Second Vatican Council taught, in Dei Verbum, that the Church cannot teach contrary to Scripture:

“The living teaching office of the Church… is not above the word of God, but serves it, teaching only what has been handed on, listening to it devoutly, guarding it scrupulously and explaining it faithfully…”

Pope Benedict XVI put the point as follows, in a homily of May 7, 2005:

“The Pope is not an absolute monarch whose thoughts and desires are law. On the contrary: the Pope’s ministry is a guarantee of obedience to Christ and to his Word. He must not proclaim his own ideas, but rather constantly bind himself and the Church to obedience to God’s Word, in the face of every attempt to adapt it or water it down, and every form of opportunism…”

Some people think that Catholic teaching is that a pope is infallible not only when making ex cathedra declarations, but in everything he does and says. That is also simply not the case. Catholic doctrine allows that popes can make grave mistakes, even mistakes that touch on doctrinal matters in certain ways.

Papal teaching, then, including exercises of the extraordinary Magisterium, cannot contradict Scripture, Tradition, or previous binding papal teaching. Nor can it introduce utter novelties. Popes have authority only to preserve and interpret what they have received. They can draw out the implications of previous teaching or clarify it where it is ambiguous. They can make formally binding what was already informally taught. But they cannot reverse past teaching and they cannot make up new doctrines out of whole cloth.

I agree. My husband came to the Catholic faith after over ten years of study, the apostalic fathers, early church fathers, scripture, Catholic dogmas and doctrine, etc. Yet what he found practiced in the local diocese was foreign to what he had studied. He almost decided to become Eastern Orthodox like his once mentor, Hank Hanegraaff did. Instead, he chose Eastern Catholicism.

Here is our education from The Deposit of Faith

¶ CCC 862: “Just as the office which the Lord confided to Peter alone, as first of the apostles, destined to be transmitted to his successors, is a permanent one, so also endures the office, which the apostles received, of shepherding the Church, a charge destined to be exercised without interruption by the sacred order of bishops.” Hence the Church teaches that “the bishops have by divine institution taken the place of the apostles as pastors of the Church, in such wise that whoever listens to them is listening to Christ and whoever despises them despises Christ and him who sent Christ.”

Lumen Gentium ¶ 25: Bishops, teaching in communion with the Roman Pontiff, are to be respected by all as witnesses to divine and Catholic truth. In matters of faith and morals, the bishops speak in the name of Christ and the faithful are to accept their teaching and adhere to it with a religious assent. This religious submission of mind and will must be shown in a special way to the authentic magisterium of the Roman Pontiff, even when he is not speaking ex cathedra; that is, it must be shown in such a way that his supreme magisterium is acknowledged with reverence, the judgments made by him are sincerely adhered to, according to his manifest mind and will. His mind and will in the matter may be known either from the character of the documents, from his frequent repetition of the same doctrine, or from his manner of speaking.

Donum Veritatis ¶ 23 § 1: When the Magisterium of the Church makes an infallible pronouncement and solemnly declares that a teaching is found in Revelation, the assent called for is that of theological faith.

§ 2 When the Magisterium proposes “in a definitive way” truths concerning faith and morals, which, even if not divinely revealed, are nevertheless strictly and intimately connected with Revelation, these must be firmly accepted and held.

§ 3 When the Magisterium, not intending to act “definitively”, teaches a doctrine to aid a better understanding of Revelation and make explicit its contents, or to recall how some teaching is in conformity with the truths of faith, or finally to guard against ideas that are incompatible with these truths, the response called for is that of the religious submission of will and intellect. This kind of response cannot be simply exterior or disciplinary but must be understood within the logic of faith and under the impulse of obedience to the faith.

And lastly, the direction for those who dissent:

¶ 2478 CCC: Every good Christian ought to be more ready to give a favorable interpretation to another’s statement than to condemn it. But if he cannot do so, let him ask how the other understands it. and if the latter understands it badly, let the former correct him with love. If that does not suffice, let the Christian try all suitable ways to bring the other to a correct interpretation so that he may be saved.

Pope Francis’ Apostolic Exhortation is exactly that. It is an “exhortation” issued after the Synods on the Family.

As to the original poster’s, “as to what you believe and support . . .”, as Catholics, two choices: assent or dissent to the doctrines and dogmas of our Church. I assent.

It depends on what you mean by “teachings”.

Karl Keating wrote an outstanding book:

All this is fine and I certainly agree with it - however it doesn’t say anything about whether or not a Pope can change a teaching - what you posted just assumes that this isn’t the case.

The question is whether or not a teaching can be changed. The answer is it cannot be changed - however, that being said, is this what is being done? It seems to me we are not sure. If he is not then there is no problem but if he is, as the dubia cardinals seem to think, then there is a big problem.

The Catholic Church believes that it is guided by the Holy Spirit, and that it is protected from definitively teaching error on matters of faith and morals. According to the Church, the Holy Spirit reveals God’s truth through sacred scripture and sacred tradition. This is the definition of “Catholic teaching” from wikipedia.

The amount of disrespect shown to our holy father, on this forum and in this post is staggering. You don’t have to agree with any pope when it comes to his personal thoughts and ideas, but you do have to respect him. He was chosen by the Holy Spirit, not anyone else.

I shall not only pray for our holy father today, but you as well…

I posted what I am bound to being Catholic. The “what about’s” that set tongues wagging are none of my affair. What matters is to be docile in the face of doctrine and dogma, so moral conscience can be formed rightly.

To approach action by the Princes of the Church in the same manner as I might when evaluating the decisions of a city council or any temporal power, for example, would place me on equal footing as the Holy Spirit who has guided and continues to guide our Church. I cannot conceive of so doing. To do so would be a grave sin against faith.

Our Catechism lists 6 ways faith can be sinned against:

¶ 2088-89: There are various ways of sinning against faith: Voluntary doubt about the faith disregards or refuses to hold as true what God has revealed and the Church proposes for belief. Involuntary doubt refers to hesitation in believing, difficulty in overcoming objections connected with the faith, or also anxiety aroused by its obscurity. If deliberately cultivated doubt can lead to spiritual blindness. Incredulity is the neglect of revealed truth or the willful refusal to assent to it. “Heresy is the obstinate post-baptismal denial of some truth which must be believed with divine and catholic faith, or it is likewise an obstinate doubt concerning the same; apostasy is the total repudiation of the Christian faith; schism is the refusal of submission to the Roman Pontiff or of communion with the members of the Church subject to him.”

:thumbsup: Agree.

When I see stuff like this

In order for you to make an informed decision as to what you believe and support; you need to become educated in the issues and arguments on both sides.

my first thought is, “Man, this poster must think I am stupid or something that I can’t read and learn and pray and consult my conscience and read what the Pope and Bishops say and make up my own mind without his guidance on this matter.”

There are probably some people who are uncatechized, never thought about the issue before, or are easily swayed. I pray that threads like this do not sway them away from the Church and the sacraments.

I am not showing any disrespect at all - you make it sound like to discuss this situation is automatically disrespectful to our Pope. I believe that our allegiance is to Christ and his church and not to any human. All healthy and constructive conversation should be welcome and we need to give respect and weight to those who have gone before us. This teaching has been challenged no less than 4 time previously and has been upheld every time. You call it his personal thoughts and ideas - perhaps they were to begin with but others have taken these thoughts and ideas and implemented them - which seems to be contrary to official Catholic teaching. It seems to me what our Pope needs to do is to call all Cardinals, Bishops, and Priests in obedience back to official teaching on this point and put an end to it’s implementation.

You may be educated on this matter but there are those that are not - remember there are many visitors to the forum. When it comes to a persons eternal salvation I would think we all would want to do what we can to make sure all Catholics are educated so they can make an informed decision - and that means along the way people who are educated will see this post as useless or whatever - and I say - so be it - there is obviously a much more important goal I have in mind.

I think you’re doing it wrong. And it seems like you and people like you are way more interested in pushing your own personal opinion of what’s happening in the Church, than in making sure people understand Church teaching. Just my opinion.

This is the entire matter.

To that end, this portion of our Catechism points us in the right direction which is the right formation of a moral conscience.

¶ 2037 The law of God entrusted to the Church is taught to the faithful as the way of life and truth. the faithful therefore have the right to be instructed in the divine saving precepts that purify judgment and, with grace, heal wounded human reason. They have the duty of observing the constitutions and decrees conveyed by the legitimate authority of the Church. Even if they concern disciplinary matters, these determinations call for docility in charity.

There are numerous parts of the CCC that touch directly on conscience. The above goes to heart of the matter. It answers the questions, “Hey! What the heck is wrong with my judgment or my reason Mr. Blowhard???”

I would guess few would count it all joy to discover that their judgment be impure and their reason wounded. But that is precisely where the fall of man landed us.

And this sinner is over the moon ecstatic that the Holy Spirit guides the Church infallibly into all truth. Otherwise, I’d be left with my impure judgment and wounded reason. Forming a right moral conscience will last my lifetime. Can’t be done without the Church.

This sheep will not bite the shepherds.

In my lifetime, I have seen teachings of the Church, doctrines, dogmas, traditions, held by the Church, changed. It happens often. I don’t see how anyone can say categorically, a teaching cannot be changed. The words of Christ, no, infallibly proclaimed dogma/doctrine, no. But teachings, yes, definitely.

Case in point. In my youth it was a teaching of the church that suicide was a mortal sin. That a person who committed suicide could not be given a burial mass service, no be interred in sacred ground. That has been changed.

Earlier, the teaching that slavery was permissible. And this was found in Scripture, no less. That teaching was changed as it should have been.

New and better understandings, be they physical, psychological, etc demand that teachings that are rooted in obsolete understandings must be changed.

And one other thing. You cite the debate over communion for people in irregular marriages as is currently being discussed in Amoris Laetitia. Consider this, nowhere in the four Gospels does Christ say anything about who can and cannot “eat his body, and drink his blood”. In fact, a strict reading leads one to believe that Jesus wants all to do so. He makes no reference to who is worthy or unworthy. The interpretation of the Lord’s words have been left up to the apostles and their successors. Like other teachings, throughout history as times have progressed, teachings have been modified, amplified, and improved upon in the life of the Church. I think this just might be the action of the Holy Spirit???

here is the answer from Catholic Answers - Also if you reread what Dr. Feser says he makes it clear that they cannot. The examples you give could not have been official teachings ie doctrine

Nothing is being reinterpreted by our Holy Father, Pope Francis.

Absolutely nothing.

If you are correct then and catholic teaching remains the same then he need to call all of the clergy back to obedience to official catholic doctrine. The fact is that he has not done this and this is the basis for the dubia.


…are you asking what should Catholics do or are you asking what should the Pope do?

No amount of explanation can counter Jesus’s Teachings; no amount of garnish can make unrighteousness palatable to Yahweh God.

Christians who believe that the Demands of God’s Justice (Commandments) change with time are not truly practicing Christians… at best they are ignorant and plastic (superficial) and at worst they are not in Fellowship with Christ (St. Matthew 7:21-23).

Maran atha!


Hi, Casilda!

What is being practiced in that local diocese?

Maran atha!


Hi, Richard!

…but what are the Doctrines and Dogmas of the Church… that is what is being set on their heads (literally on the heads of the Bishops and Priest who present, uphold or circumvent the Church’s Teaching).

So while the average Catholic may be subscribing to what the CCC and other Catholic Documents uphold as True Faith, what if the Bishops (which includes the Pope) depart from such Teaching?

…and, according to what is being claimed in the media, are they not?

Maran atha!


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