Clear Ideas on the Ordinary Magisterium

Just thought there might be a few traditional Catholics out there that might want a good read on something so pertinent to the crisis of the last 50 years:

These are just some of what I think constitute the most important parts. The rest can be found in the link above. Please discuss.

Catechism of the Catholic Church:

85 "The task of giving an authentic interpretation of the Word of God, whether in its written form or in the form of Tradition, has been entrusted to the living teaching office of the Church alone. Its authority in this matter is exercised in the name of Jesus Christ."47 This means that the task of interpretation has been entrusted to the bishops in communion with the successor of Peter, the Bishop of Rome.

86 "Yet this Magisterium is not superior to the Word of God, but is its servant. It teaches only what has been handed on to it. At the divine command and with the help of the Holy Spirit, it listens to this devotedly, guards it with dedication and expounds it faithfully. All that it proposes for belief as being divinely revealed is drawn from this single deposit of faith."48

87 Mindful of Christ’s words to his apostles: “He who hears you, hears me”,49 the faithful receive with docility the teachings and directives that their pastors give them in different forms.

88 The Church’s Magisterium exercises the authority it holds from Christ to the fullest extent when it defines dogmas, that is, when it proposes, in a form obliging the Christian people to an irrevocable adherence of faith, truths contained in divine Revelation or also when it proposes, in a definitive way, truths having a necessary connection with these.

888 Bishops, with priests as co-workers, have as their first task “to preach the Gospel of God to all men,” in keeping with the Lord’s command.415 They are “heralds of faith, who draw new disciples to Christ; they are authentic teachers” of the apostolic faith "endowed with the authority of Christ."416

889 In order to preserve the Church in the purity of the faith handed on by the apostles, Christ who is the Truth willed to confer on her a share in his own infallibility. By a “supernatural sense of faith” the People of God, under the guidance of the Church’s living Magisterium, "unfailingly adheres to this faith."417

890 The mission of the Magisterium is linked to the definitive nature of the covenant established by God with his people in Christ. It is this Magisterium’s task to preserve God’s people from deviations and defections and to guarantee them the objective possibility of professing the true faith without error. Thus, the pastoral duty of the Magisterium is aimed at seeing to it that the People of God abides in the truth that liberates. To fulfill this service, Christ endowed the Church’s shepherds with the charism of infallibility in matters of faith and morals. The exercise of this charism takes several forms:

891 “The Roman Pontiff, head of the college of bishops, enjoys this infallibility in virtue of his office, when, as supreme pastor and teacher of all the faithful - who confirms his brethren in the faith he proclaims by a definitive act a doctrine pertaining to faith or morals. . . . The infallibility promised to the Church is also present in the body of bishops when, together with Peter’s successor, they exercise the supreme Magisterium,” above all in an Ecumenical Council.418 When the Church through its supreme Magisterium proposes a doctrine "for belief as being divinely revealed,"419 and as the teaching of Christ, the definitions "must be adhered to with the obedience of faith."420 This infallibility extends as far as the deposit of divine Revelation itself.421

892 Divine assistance is also given to the successors of the apostles, teaching in communion with the successor of Peter, and, in a particular way, to the bishop of Rome, pastor of the whole Church, when, without arriving at an infallible definition and without pronouncing in a “definitive manner,” they propose in the exercise of the ordinary Magisterium a teaching that leads to better understanding of Revelation in matters of faith and morals. To this ordinary teaching the faithful "are to adhere to it with religious assent"422 which, though distinct from the assent of faith, is nonetheless an extension of it.

2033 The Magisterium of the Pastors of the Church in moral matters is ordinarily exercised in catechesis and preaching, with the help of the works of theologians and spiritual authors. Thus from generation to generation, under the aegis and vigilance of the pastors, the “deposit” of Christian moral teaching has been handed on, a deposit composed of a characteristic body of rules, commandments, and virtues proceeding from faith in Christ and animated by charity. Alongside the Creed and the Our Father, the basis for this catechesis has traditionally been the Decalogue which sets out the principles of moral life valid for all men.

2034 The Roman Pontiff and the bishops are "authentic teachers, that is, teachers endowed with the authority of Christ, who preach the faith to the people entrusted to them, the faith to be believed and put into practice."76 The ordinary and universal Magisterium of the Pope and the bishops in communion with him teach the faithful the truth to believe, the charity to practice, the beatitude to hope for.

2035 The supreme degree of participation in the authority of Christ is ensured by the charism of infallibility. This infallibility extends as far as does the deposit of divine Revelation; it also extends to all those elements of doctrine, including morals, without which the saving truths of the faith cannot be preserved, explained, or observed.77

2036 The authority of the Magisterium extends also to the specific precepts of the natural law, because their observance, demanded by the Creator, is necessary for salvation. In recalling the prescriptions of the natural law, the Magisterium of the Church exercises an essential part of its prophetic office of proclaiming to men what they truly are and reminding them of what they should be before God.78

2051 The infallibility of the Magisterium of the Pastors extends to all the elements of doctrine, including moral doctrine, without which the saving truths of the faith cannot be preserved, expounded, or observed.

There is nothing in the new Catechism which contradicts what I posted above. What I posted just goes into more detail.

See Canon Law 747 ff

I’m not aware of any current (or recent) use of a distinct “authentic” Magisterium…do you know of any? seems like a term that was in vogue at some time or place but didn’t last.

Scroll down to the part on the third level of Magisterial teaching:

Thanks. But still, that’s some person’s opinion. I didn’t see anywhere there that the Church used the phrase “authentic Magisterium” in contrast to the Ordinary or Extraordinary Magisterium. The Magisterium (as I understand, according to Church teaching) teaches either in the Ordinary way (e.g. individual Bishops, all Bishops in union with the Pope but not gathered in Council) or in Extraordinary form (e.g. Pope teaching ex Cathedra or Ecumenical Council).

Did I miss something in that reference you cited where the Church (Magisterium) uses the phrase “authentic Magisterium”?

Could you explain why you don’t think the use of the term “authentic magisterium” in canons 752 and 753 of the current canon law meets your criterion.

Dear brother JustLurking,

I don’t think brother Diggerdommer is claiming that “authentic magisterium” is not used. What he is contending is this supposed definition that “authentic magisterium” is somehow distinct from the Ordinary or Extraordinary Magisterium of the Church.

I agree with brother Diggerdommer. I think this distinction is used by certain Catholics to find a rationale for disobeying the Magisterium of the Church (“authentic” or otherwise). If that’s not the reason, then forgive the presumption, but it certainly can be the case.


The authentic magisterium is just the ordinary, non-infallible magisterium. The term “authentic” is used to put a positive spin on the concept, as in authentic = authoritative and binding, as opposite to the term “non-infallible” (or worse yet, “fallible”), which has a negative sort of connotation. But they are just different terms for the same type of magisterium.

I guess I still don’t understand the question Diggerdommer is asking.

Dear brother Just Lurking,

For my view on the “non-infallible magisterium” see this thread: , beginning with post #20.

[quote=]The term “authentic” is used to put a positive spin on the concept, as in authentic = authoritative and binding, as opposite to the term “non-infallible” (or worse yet, “fallible”), which has a negative sort of connotation. But they are just different terms for the same type of magisterium.

I guess I still don’t understand the question Diggerdommer is asking.

I think the three of us are actually in agreement on the matter.


I interpret that “authentic” magisterium to mean, really, the magisterium. It’s not a third category of magisterium, it’s an adjective describing the magisterium that is like an “umbrella” term. It’s not distinguising between infallible or non-infallible teachings, it’s not distinguishing between the Ordinary or Extraordinary means of exercising the magisterium, it’s not distinguishing between definitive or non-definitive teachings…it’s embracing all those subsets of “magisterium.”

I disagree that the authentic magisterium (as used by the Church) is only the non-infallbile exercise of the Ordinary Magisterium. That’s my question. The authentic magisterium means all exercises of the magisterium (as I read it) not only the Ordinary non-infallible exercise of it.

Thanks for the explanation. Is it the term or the concept itself that you are having problems with? That is, do you agree that there are four distinct levels of magisterial teaching as described in canon law: (1) canon 750 §1, (2) canon 750 §2, (3) canon 752, and (4) canon 753; with (1) and (2) being infallible, and with (3) and (4) being non-infallible but nonetheless authoritative and binding?

Maybe I am getting hung up on terms. Anyway, at the risk of hurting my brain more…here goes…

I read c. 750 as describing two distinct levels of magisterial teaching not in terms of how the magisterium teaches, but rather in the distinction of matters that must be believe/held (regardless of the precise way the magisterium chooses to teach them). We must believe everything in 750.1 because it’s considered divinely revealed (along with the other descriptive statements attendant to considering those matters as such). We must “accept and hold” (or embrace and retain) everything in 750.2 as well. The Church does not use “believe” there because 750.2 is talking about truths that are not themselves divinely revealed. Both 750.1 and 750.2 describe what Catholics must believe/hold/etc. i.e. rejecting those matters could lead to heresy, apostasy, or schism. In that sense, i.e. how we are to receive these matters, there’s no practical difference between them (again, in that sense). These matters may be taught by the Church with or without exercising the charism of infallibility.

I agree that 752 refers to matters that are not taught infallibly. But, again, such matters may be taught by an ecumenical council, or by the Pope, or by the Pope and bishops in union while dispersed throughout the world. SO, as I understand it, again this could be via the extraordinary magisterium (e.g. ecumenical council) or ordinary magisterium (e.g. Papal encyclical). Yes, these teachings are binding, but not in the same way as those in 750 are (that’s why, I think, 751 about heresy, apostasy, and schism follows 750). They are binding but do not require the “assent of faith” that matters in 750 do.

753, too, refers to matters that are not taught infallibly. It refers to matters that are not taught the way those in 750 and 752 are, i.e. not taught by the Pope and college of Bishops. Teachings of individual bishops, bishops’ conferences, local or regional synods of bishops, etc., fall here. All of this would, again as I understand it, be an exercise of the ordinary magisterium.

All teaching of the magisterium (Bishops) is “authentic” because of their office as pastors of the Church (e.g. because they represent Christ, they are teachers of the faith and rulers of the Church cf. canon 212.1, also canons 386 and 756.2).

Does this clarify or just muddy the waters more?

A little of each! :slight_smile:

I’ve also heard the teachings covered by canons 752 and 753 described as the “merely authentic magisterium” to address the fact that the teachings covered by canon 750 §1 and §2 could hardly be called “inauthentic”.

It’s a little like calling a Senator a Congressman (or Congresswoman). It’s not so much incorrect as it is inapt, because the Senate is the upper body of Congress, so using the less prestigious term just isn’t done.

My understanding is that the teachings covered by canon 750 §1 in particular, but also canon 750 §2, must necessarily be taught infallibly. But I think this is a side issue to the main purpose of this thread.

I’ve never heard that. I would question what someone presenting it that way means. Have you heard this from some authoritative teaching of the Magisterium, or some other opinion? Meaning, the word “merely.” As I said, my understanding is that all teaching of the Magisterium (the teachings described by 750, 752, and 753) are authentic. I don’t see where the Church says otherwise. As I read 752 and 753, they too are matters that the Magisterium teaches authentically.

Nope, does not need to be taught infallibly.

Just random people. Here is a Google search for “merely authentic magisterium”.

I guess we’ll just have to agree to disagree.

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