Denzinger's Systematic Index

Kind of a question for those a bit more steeped in academia:

**Is the Systematic Index doctrine lists in Denzinger’s The Sources of Catholic Dogma without error?

Certainly the book has been cited in very important Church teachings as of late. Anyhow, I tend to think they might have minor error even if the source they cite is infallible. It seems to me that they are only infallible insofar as they properly note what the infallible document they cite is actually saying and deviate if they do not. I also have little reason to think that the doctrine summaries found in the index would be infallible (given their author was only a great priest theologian) save for the fact of the constant use of his work by the Holy Magisterium. Finally, I have very good reason to think that there is error in at least one line in the Index, if not simply a bad way of wording something perhaps due to translation. (As you might be able to guess, a particular line in the Index has given me a great amount of pause, and I am wondering if my pause is justified or not).

I’m not really steeped in academia, but - :o

Denzinger is a primary - perhaps the primary - reference work for systematic theologians, but just as is the case for the Catechism, it is not an infallible document. Indeed, since it is ‘merely’ a superlative compendium and not a formal instrument of church teaching (unlike the Catechism) it has no real authority other than that which theologians have decided to give it. The same would be true, for instance, of the much-respected ‘Fundamentals of Catholic Dogma’ by Ott: the work is a brilliant tool for theologians and would-be theologians, but it is not an ‘official’ statement on dogmatic theology by the magisterium.

That doesn’t mean it should be taken lightly, however. The status of the work is, as I say and as I’m sure you know, pretty much unparalleled as a collection of primary source material, and it isn’t usual for parts of it to be discounted or questioned. So the obvious next step would be to ask, what is the statement with which you’re having trouble?

Ya that’s my take on it as well.

[quote=Ocarm]So the obvious next step would be to ask, what is the statement with which you’re having trouble?

The line that gives me trouble is under the Index on Good Works in the English translation (by Roy Deferrari) under the sub category “The Nature of Works”. It says that “The goodness of works is not realized, if the natural appetite enjoys its acts 1158 f.; it does not depend on an accordance with reason alone with reference to God 1289.” Now I am primarily concerned with the first cite (the one mentioning 1158), as the second (citing 1289), though poorly worded, I can make sense of in context of the condemned provision it cites, and it is too broad to be of too much interest except in refuting a very specific heresy. I put it in there in case I am missing something and perhaps it provides some relevant meaning to the former cite. Now 1158 cites a condemnation of various errors on moral subjects in a decree by the Holy Office in 1679. 1158 states (and some of the later numbers such as 1159 give a similar statement):
“8. Eating and drinking even to satiety for pleasure only, are not sinful, provided it does not stand in the way of health, since any natural appetite can licitly enjoy its own actions.”
Now since this is a condemnation and not a positive claim, the truth behind it is hard to discern because its unclear of the degree of condemnation (I think), and the thing condemned makes more than one truth claim. I take it to mean that an action that is deliberately and consciously done must be done for the reason that it is good to do, and since pleasure alone is not the Good, no act (including eating and drinking) can be done for it alone even if one possibly might be able to do it pleasurably (and maybe even for pleasure incidentally) when it is also good to do. I certainly don’t see it as meaning that “if the natural appetite enjoys its acts” then we are never doing a good work. Simply because my appetite enjoys some food I am eating does not mean my eating is not good. In fact, it seems like the perfection of eating is first nutrition (the action against it would be gluttony) but then also pleasure in it. If both elements are there it seems a better act than if only nutrition were there. It is possible it could mean that we do not do good when our appetites enjoy its act, but that interpretation seems too counter to what seems reasonable and too much like an error of the Stoics.

Therefore, it seems to me that either I am misinterpreting something (very likely) or the Index (or translation of it) is in error. I would add that I can see possible ways around my interpretation of what the Index is saying, they just don’t seem very probable to me.

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