Can one be progressive, yet orthodox?


#1

Setting aside discussion of traditional versus contemporary, as associated with religious practices and worship, I want to focus on two terms often used: Progressive and orthdox.

Let’s also keep the words liberal and conservative off the table, as well since these two terms have proven consistently to be problematic.

I want to know if my views are “off” and if they can be countered. If so, provide examples. I would like to see if there are examples of progressives that are somehow orthodox. The only way this can happen is if how i view “orthodox” and “progressive” are in error. Therefore, please feel free to share your view of what progressive and orthodox mean. However, I simply want to caution that one can be orthodox and contemporary in their worship preferences, and one can probably even be traditional in worship preferences yet progressive - but less likely. That’s why I want to stick with belief systems and stay away from worship preferences in this discussion.

My view of “orthodox” is synonomous with “loyal to the Magisterium” or “assenting to the Magisterium”. Orthodox views do not conflict with magisterial teachings, nor do they conflict with magisterial explanations of scripture. An orthodox priest will encourage confession of things like masturbation, which, even though the CCC allows mitigating circumstances to reduce the level of personal gravity, remains “intrinsically disordered” and worthy of continued frequent confession in an effort to bring to an end. Orthodox-minded priests also encourage frequent confession, if only for venial sins and imperfections and will put the time in the confessional to coach the penitent through these challenges. Orthodoxy reflects something acknowledged by Fr. John Corapi using electrical current as an example: Electricity doesn’t run only on a positive. it requires a positive and a negative or you don’t have it. Therefore, you cannot eliminate talk of sin, sacrifice, mortification, and hot ethical issues of the day (abortion, cloning, etc.). This is reflected in homilies that are balanced with positive and negative.

My view of “progressive” is often synonomous with “dissent” because so many progressive issues involve: Women’s ordination (dissents against Ordinatio Sacerdotalis), or contraception (dissents against Humanae Vitae), and in some cases, even makes allowances for some abortions or dismisses all cases of masturbation as “not sinful” because the CCC allows for mitigation. Some will go so far as to say that it is not necessary to confess this. Progressive priests, in my mind (and experience), will often discourage confession of venial sins and imperfections, even calling such behavior scrupulous in some cases. Progressives subscribe to interpretations of the scripture, which may not be reflected in the magisterial teachings on the subject. Not all of these elements are required for one to be in the progressive camp. Progressives attempt to run electricity on the positive only. Homilies will avoid uncomfortable “negative” subjects in favor of positive or ones that are comforting. This leads to a type of banality in those homilies.

Subjects such as priestly celibacy may very well be one example of where one could be progressive (in wanting to allow for married priests), while remaining orthodox. This is one of those issues that the Church has the right to change, unlike ordination of males only, which is now in the deposit of faith and requires definitive assent. However, maybe it is in how a person handles this issue: If they humbly accept the Church’s position today, which is in favor of celibacy, then they are acting in an orthodox manner, respectful of her decision. If they are speaking against the Church defiantly on the subject, then I would throw them right into the progressive-exclusive camp.

All this having been said, can my views be countered? If so, how?

If there are theologians who could be considered progressive, yet orthodox, please provide supporting information. If someone beleives otherwise, please provide counter-information. I would like this discussion to focus on information that is available - writings, CCC, canon law, published works of various theologians, etc.

Please spare me the blanket statement that we should not use “labels”. This is a discussion about ideals - orthodox and progressive and what these two terms might mean. If you want to debunk the labels themselves, present a good argument that would contradict the labels in some way and that will support the cause of “no labels” without making that blanket statement.


#2

[quote=Lux_et_veritas]If they are speaking against the Church defiantly on the subject, then I would throw them right into the progressive-exclusive camp.
[/quote]

I don’t see any difference between those who defiantly speak against the Church’s refusal to generally allow married priests in the Latin Rite, and those who defiantly speak against the Church’s refusal to revoke its permission for female altar servers in the Latin Rite. But I really wouldn’t call the latter progressive. Is regressive a word?

I consider Fr. Raymond Brown to be progressive but orthodox on his approach to Scripture. His two appointments to the Pontifical Biblical Commision attest to his orthodoxy.

In general, I think that orthodox Catholicism is still a big tent.


#3

I think part of the problem comes in the way one defines “progressive” and “dissenting”, as many whom you would define to be dissenting don’t feel they are at all.

Take ordination of women and OS as an example. Then-Cardinal Ratzinger’s dubium made it clear that this was not being proclaimed *ex Cathedra * but was based on the Ordinary and Universal Magesterium. There are a couple requirements to something being infallible under the Ordinary and Universal Magesterium that are called into question by those who do not consider this infallible.

The first is that the teaching must be constant and at all times. Those who question infallibility on this basis say that “at all times” would include present times and if a large majority of the Church, including clergy, do not believe this teaching that this requirement is not met.

The second is related to the first. It holds that, while the Church is certainly not a “democracy” that the sense of the overall Church must be considered in something being infallible since the entire Church–including the faithful–cannot be wrong in its sense of Truth. Again, since a sizable percentage of the faithful have not “received” this teaching and do not believe it to be true, it is argued that the conditions of infallibility have not been met.

Finally there is the content of the teaching. Vatican 2 restricted matters of infallibility to the deposit of faith, or those things which are so intrinsic to it that the faith is called into question without their support. Those who would question the infallibility of this teaching on these grounds say that this teaching does not meet those requirements and oversteps what can be proclaimed infallibly.

Regardless of whether we agree with any of those contentions or with the conclusions of those who hold them, they do not see their disagreement as dissent but as questioning the legitimacy of the teaching on valid grounds.

The fact that they seek the change would by your definition make them progressive. At least in their estimation however, they are not at all unorthodox in challenging a teaching that they do not feel meets the requirements set out for an infallible teaching.

I personally have struggled with this particular one. I personally wouldn’t care what validly ordained person was celebrating my Mass, nor do I really care whether the Church ultimately does or does not allow women to be ordained. I do have some reservations about whether the teaching was really appropriate, as do many outstanding theologians, but I do not personally dissent from it and stand by the Church’s authority to proclaim things infallibly. I do not however consider “unorthodox” those who prayerfully and sincerely question whether it should be part of the dogma of the Church, much less write them off as “dissidents” or “heretics”.

Quite frankly, I have to admit dislikiing the derogatory connotation that the word “progressive” has taken on. Without progressives in the true sense, stagnation occurs and the Church cannot grow. It is the progressives who build on what we already know to further our understanding of God and His will for us. As great as the Thomas Aquainas and Augustine figures were, it has taken hundreds of years of study and thought building on them to come to even greater understanding.

Vatican 2 itself was, in my mind “progressive”–which of course I recognize will be considered by many as proof of the idea that being progressive is bad–in the way that it brought new understanding of the duties of the entire Body of Christ. Yes, this has been overdone in some cases and will need to be balanced as always happens after Councils, but in the whole, it has been a great benefit to the People of God.

My two cents worth (with plenty of change to spare :o )

Peace,


#4

What is important to me is the motivation, the intention of those who want to change things. Are they really interested in human rights or do they just want to push an agenda? Is it really for the good of the Church or is it just to satisfy some selfish desire? Or worse yet, a desire to destroy what they don’t understand?

G. K. Chesterton wrote that before taking down a gate, we ought to know what we are going to put in it’s place, why we want to take it down, and why it was put there in the first place.

It seems to me, that many who want drastic changes in the Church cannot answer these vital questions without personal motivations and intentions clouding the issue. And, sadly, there are those who want to destroy what they don’t understand merely for the sake of being “progressive.”


#5

Progressivism, like liberalism, is willing to change anything to suit the caprices of the moment. Nothing is unchangeable. Whereas orthodoxy, like conservativism, is subject to change… yet it refuses to change its foundation. IOW, some things are not changeable.

Conservatism (Orthodoxy) changes slowly with growth, but never compromises its foundation.

Progessivism (Liberalism) changes often, sometimes merely for the sake of changing. It is almost as if the progressive minded person feels that if something has been intact for a while, it is old-fashioned and must be changed. The end result is that the progressive person wants to change the foundation more than anything else because it is the oldest part of the structure. But Orthodoxy never changes the rock foundation that Jesus laid for His church. It doesn’t believe it has the right or authority to do so.

The answer to your question would then be yes and no. Yes, if you want to change practices; No, if you want to change the dogmas.

Thal59


#6

[quote=ncjohn]I think part of the problem comes in the way one defines “progressive” and “dissenting”, as many whom you would define to be dissenting don’t feel they are at all.

Take ordination of women and OS as an example. Then-Cardinal Ratzinger’s dubium made it clear that this was not being proclaimed *ex Cathedra *but was based on the Ordinary and Universal Magesterium. There are a couple requirements to something being infallible under the Ordinary and Universal Magesterium that are called into question by those who do not consider this infallible.

The first is that the teaching must be constant and at all times. Those who question infallibility on this basis say that “at all times” would include present times and if a large majority of the Church, including clergy, do not believe this teaching that this requirement is not met.
[/quote]

This is an error. If the majority of the Church, including clergy, do not believe in the Real Presence, does that mean it is not the Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity of Jesus Christ? If more than half the clergy and faithful ever believed that single people should be able to enjoy sex would that make it right?

Teachings like this are not based on democratic principles. It is either a truth or not. People who believe there is room to dissent on this particular teaching are merely involved in a form of self-deception brought about by trickery on the part of progressive theologians.

The second is related to the first. It holds that, while the Church is certainly not a “democracy” that the sense of the overall Church must be considered in something being infallible since the entire Church–including the faithful–cannot be wrong in its sense of Truth. Again, since a sizable percentage of the faithful have not “received” this teaching and do not believe it to be true, it is argued that the conditions of infallibility have not been met.

Very scary line of thought. So, the Real Presence is not truly Jesus Christ because a sizable percentage of the world has not “received” this teaching?

This smacks of relativism. Truth is like North, where the compass needle points. Because one bends the compass needle to another direction, either by ignorance or in an attempt to suit one’s own desires, does not change where north resides. North does not change even if one has a broken compass.

I personally have struggled with this particular one. I personally wouldn’t care what validly ordained person was celebrating my Mass, nor do I really care whether the Church ultimately does or does not allow women to be ordained. I do have some reservations about whether the teaching was really appropriate, as do many outstanding theologians, but I do not personally dissent from it and stand by the Church’s authority to proclaim things infallibly. I do not however consider “unorthodox” those who prayerfully and sincerely question whether it should be part of the dogma of the Church, much less write them off as “dissidents” or “heretics”.

My two cents worth (with plenty of change to spare :o )

Peace,

Maybe you have not had an opportunity to see the question raised, which prompted the Responsum ad Dubium on the issue. If there is latitude given by Holy Mother Church to dissent, then why does the Responsum ad Dubium state that the teaching requires assent? You cannot have it both ways. Either you accept the Church’s teaching, which is to be held “always, everywhere, and by all, as belonging to the deposit of the faith.” Or, you dissent from it. Anything else is “spin”, especially when it starts dragging in relativism and other “ism’s”. I’d rather meet my Maker having accepted all that was in the Deposit of Faith, regardless of hwo inconvenient, than to have to explain how I knew better than the Church. That’s simply playing with fire.

From the Responsum ad Dubium on Ordinatio Sacerdotalis:

This teaching requires definitive assent, since, founded on the written Word of God, and from the beginning constantly preserved and applied in the Tradition of the Church, it has been set forth **infallibly **by the ordinary and universal Magisterium (cf. Second Vatican Council, Dogmatic Constitution on the Church Lumen Gentium 25, 2). Thus, in the present circumstances, the Roman Pontiff, exercising his proper office of confirming the brethren (cf. Lk 22:32), has handed on this same teaching by a formal declaration, explicitly stating what is to be held always, everywhere, and by all, as belonging to the deposit of the faith.

I would like to have addressed more, but short lunch hour today. I hope we can keep talking on this issue.


#7

Depends on what your progressing towards.


#8

[quote=jman507]Depends on what your progressing towards.
[/quote]

Huh? Can you elaborate a little? :slight_smile:


#9

[quote=jman507]Depends on what your progressing towards.
[/quote]

Progressiong towards one’s Supernatural end is certainly permissible :wink:


#10

First of all, let’s review the requirements listed in Lumen Gentium 25

First of all, LG tells us that it is the CHURCH, not individuals who must consistently teach the doctrine.

Large majorities mean nothing. A large majority of the 4th Century Church were Arians who denied the divintiy of the Church.

But is was the, to quote LG “the body of Bishops, when that body exercises the supreme magisterium with the successor of Peter.” The bishops in communion with The Pope who consistantly taught the truth of the Divintiy of Christ.

Individuals might teach or hold error, even great numbers of bishops might. But all the bishops who teach what the Pope teaches never incur error.

To discover what the Church has always taught on this matter, one only needs to examine what was taught with the Authority of Rome since 33 AD.

Namely, the Church has never Ordained a woman to the priesthood and has taught that it does not have the Authority to do so.

The second is related to the first. It holds that, while the Church is certainly not a “democracy” that the sense of the overall Church must be considered in something being infallible since the entire Church–including the faithful–cannot be wrong in its sense of Truth. Again, since a sizable percentage of the faithful have not “received” this teaching and do not believe it to be true, it is argued that the conditions of infallibility have not been met.

Finally there is the content of the teaching. Vatican 2 restricted matters of infallibility to the deposit of faith, or those things which are so intrinsic to it that the faith is called into question without their support. Those who would question the infallibility of this teaching on these grounds say that this teaching does not meet those requirements and oversteps what can be proclaimed infallibly.

The Form and Matter of the Sacraments are certainly intrinsic to our Faith. We are a Church of Sacraments. They were given to us, along with Divine Revelation to safeguard and hold and pass on intact.

The Church has no authority to allow priests to consecrate milk instead of wine, or baptize with sand instead of water. Any attempt to do so would be doubtful at best, and most likely invalid.

The same holds true for the matter of Holy Orders. It is a baptized male. The Authority to change that is not something the Church possesses.

And if you check, the Church has always denied it has the Authorty the change the matter of a Sacrament.

Regardless of whether we agree with any of those contentions or with the conclusions of those who hold them, they do not see their disagreement as dissent but as questioning the legitimacy of the teaching on valid grounds.

Which is why we have a Magisterium. So people who have questions have a place to go and ask. :wink:

And one thing you are forgetting. The very defintion of the word ‘Orthodox’. It means ‘right belief’ ortho - correct\right + doxos - belief.

If one person believes that the Church has no Authority to ordain women, and the other person believes the opposite, that women can be Ordained. As they are mutually exclusive, only one of those beliefs can be right.

And therefore only one of those people, by definition of the word itself, can be orthodox.


#11

Here are some issues that orthodox Catholics can and do disagree on:[list]
*]Whether females should be installed as permanent lectors and acolytes.
*]Whether females could (and if so, should) be ordained to the permanent diaconate.
*]Whether the laity, including women, should be involved in the selection/election of Bishops and the Pope.
*]Whether the laity should have a greater role in the administration of the Church.
*]Whether the laity should have a greater role in the liturgy.
*]Whether the Church’s teaching on contraception is infallible.
*]Whether a modern Pope can proclaim an ex cathedra teaching without knowing it.[/list]
On each of these issues, it seems clear that there is a progressive side and a non-progressive side.


#12

[quote=Lux_et_veritas]Very scary line of thought. So, the Real Presence is not truly Jesus Christ because a sizable percentage of the world has not “received” this teaching?

This smacks of relativism. Truth is like North, where the compass needle points. Because one bends the compass needle to another direction, either by ignorance or in an attempt to suit one’s own desires, does not change where north resides. North does not change even if one has a broken compass.
[/quote]

Maybe you’re not aware of the history and teaching of the requirements for infallibility. To the best of my knowledge it has always been a teaching of the Church that the “sense of the faithful” must be in line with the Church’s teachings since God would not permit the faithful as a whole to come to a different conclusion than the hierarchy. The teaching doesn’t come from the faithful, but the “sense of the faithful” must be in line with it or it would indicate that some step in determining whether it had “always and constantly” been held had not properly been considered.

This is why a teaching like the Immaculate Conception had no problems. It was immediately understood and accepted by both the clergy and the faithful and to this day has no meaningful opposition from the faithful. OS on the other had has been questioned consistently before and after both OS and the dubium.

Again, as I indicated, I accept the Church’s teaching and don’t really care one way or another, but find no problem with someone who honestly and prayerfully disagrees. This does not affect my belief in the core dogmas of the Church.

Maybe you have not had an opportunity to see the question raised, which prompted the Responsum ad Dubium on the issue. If there is latitude given by Holy Mother Church to dissent, then why does the Responsum ad Dubium state that the teaching requires assent? You cannot have it both ways.

Yes I have had ample opportunity to see the question and believe I understand it pretty well. And again, I have come to my conclusion to accept it.

I also understand though the bases on which others can come honestly to a different conclusion–the language of the dubium notwithstanding–and can’t agree with your characterization that they are trying to have it both ways. The assertion, on the multiple grounds I noted, is that regardless of whether it claims to be infallible, that it does not meet the requirements. I am not a trained theologian, but I am aware than many accomplished theologians, including orthodox theologians, have been scratching their head over this one. The very fact that it is that controversial has to make one wonder. Maybe it’s just a bad job of education, which will over time resolve itself. :confused:

I understand that your stated purpose in the thread was to determine whether one can be progressive and orthodox. As has been stated here a couple times, it depends an awful lot on motivation. There is a whole continuum within the term progressive that includes someone who prayerfully and honestly believes that an individual question needs further clarification, all the way to someone who just rejects Church teachings our of hand without thought or justification. If the question is whether one can be a progressive and still orthodox, I believe the answer is a definite yes. Of course I won’t speculate what proportion that might be, but *if there is one * then the labeling of progressive with an inherently negative context is not appropriate.

Thanks for the questions Diane! You always give me much to ponder. :slight_smile:


#13

Humane Vitae is also a restatement of what is an infallible teaching of the Ordinary Magisterium.

Like Ordinatio Sacerdotalis, it is a statement on what is already infallible teaching.

The use of contraception in the marital act is intrinsically evil.


#14

[quote=Brendan]Humane Vitae is also a restatement of what is an infallible teaching of the Ordinary Magisterium.
[/quote]

This is your personal opinion, not the teaching of the Church. Many orthodox Catholics believe that the teaching on contraception is authoritative, but not infallible.


#15

[quote=Catholic2003]This is your personal opinion, not the teaching of the Church. Many orthodox Catholics believe that the teaching on contraception is authoritative, but not infallible.
[/quote]

They may believe it, but that is not objectively correct.


#16

[quote=fix]They may believe it, but that is not objectively correct.
[/quote]

This is also a personal opinion, and not a teaching of the Magisterium.


#17

[quote=ncjohn]Maybe you’re not aware of the history and teaching of the requirements for infallibility. To the best of my knowledge it has always been a teaching of the Church that the “sense of the faithful” must be in line with the Church’s teachings since God would not permit the faithful as a whole to come to a different conclusion than the hierarchy.
[/quote]

Did you get a chance to read Lumen Gentium, specifically #25

It clearly articulaes that the Sensum Fidei is another, seperate chrism of infalliblity given to the Church, not a requirement for an infallible declaration.

Again, if the complete agreement by all the faithful were required, the decrees of Nicea on the Divintiy of Christ could not be considered infallible, because so many remained Arian. And Nestorius continued to believe that Mary was NOT the Mother of God after Ephesus, would that make the decrees on the Nature of Christ not infallible teachings as well?


#18

[quote=Catholic2003]This is your personal opinion, not the teaching of the Church. Many orthodox Catholics believe that the teaching on contraception is authoritative, but not infallible.
[/quote]

I’ll rephrase what I said about exactly what ‘Orthodox’ means

And one thing you are forgetting. The very defintion of the word ‘Orthodox’. It means ‘right belief’ ortho - correct\right + doxos - belief.

If one person believes that the doctrines of Humanae Vitae are restatements of the infallible Ordinary Magisterium and the other person believes the opposite, such teaching are NOT part of the Ordinary Magisterium, only one of those beliefs can be right.

And therefore only one of those people, by definition of the word itself , can be orthodox.


#19

[quote=Catholic2003]This is also a personal opinion, and not a teaching of the Magisterium.
[/quote]

So, I seem to gather that you infallibly hold that the teaching is not infallible?

Is that correct?


#20

[quote=Brendan]So, I seem to gather that you infallibly hold that the teaching is not infallible?

Is that correct?
[/quote]

I’m not infallible in anything, but I hold that the infallibility of the Church’s teaching on contraception is a legitimate matter for debate among the Church’s theologians.

The main reason I hold this belief is that orthodox Catholic theologians are currently debating this very issue.


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