Encyclicals not binding?


#1

Can somebody please explain the difference between Dogma, doctrine and those things taught through encyclicals? I have always understood magisterial documents; catechism, encyclicals council declaration ie second Vatican Council are all authoritative documents requiring obedience by Catholics (and all humanity since it is now divine law). We were talking about the assumption and immaculate conception being the two dogmatic proclimations made by the Pope (I forget the term used). I asked about the encyclicals (thinking about humana vitea (spl) and was told bya priest (canon lawyer) that encyclicals are merely discussion points the Pope uses with the rest of the bishops…to give them guidance, that sat very bad in my stomach and thought it to be wrong… can somebody please help?:shrug:


#2

Hi bcullum,

Christ gave the Church the mission to teach and gave us the obligation to be taught. Bishops in their own diocese and the pope worldwide have a right and a duty to guide us. We should receive their teaching with respect and obey it to the best of our ability.

Infallibly proclaimed teaching has a canonical, or legal, consequence : if we do not accept it, we put ourselves out of the Church. Thus, the day before the proclamation of the Assumption, one would have sinned against faith, if they denied it. The day after the proclamation, they would have put themselves out of the Church, had they denied it.

An encyclical is authentic teaching, but not necessarily infallible. Theologians argue on what is or is not infallible. But, generally speaking, if the pope bases his teaching on the universal and constant teaching of the Church, it is considered infallible.

But, as I intimated above, a good Catholic is not concerned about infallibility. He/she are concerned about how best to obey the Church.

Verbum


#3

“I asked about the encyclicals (thinking about humana vitea (spl) and was told bya priest (canon lawyer) that encyclicals are merely discussion points the Pope uses with the rest of the bishops…to give them guidance, that sat very bad in my stomach and thought it to be wrong… can somebody please help?”

Here ya’ go! From Pope Pius XII’s encyclical Humani Generis.

[LEFT]19. Although these things seem well said, still they are not free form error. It is true that Popes generally leave theologians free in those matters which are disputed in various ways by men of very high authority in this field; but history teaches that many matters that formerly were open to discussion, no longer now admit of discussion.[/LEFT]

[LEFT]20. Nor must it be thought that what is expounded in Encyclical Letters does not of itself demand consent, since in writing such Letters the Popes do not exercise the supreme power of their Teaching Authority. For these matters are taught with the ordinary teaching authority, of which it is true to say: “He who heareth you, heareth me”;[3] and generally what is expounded and inculcated in Encyclical Letters already for other reasons appertains to Catholic doctrine. But if the Supreme Pontiffs in their official documents purposely pass judgment on a matter up to that time under dispute, it is obvious that that matter, according to the mind and will of the Pontiffs, cannot be any longer considered a question open to discussion among theologians.[/LEFT]


#4

My understanding is …[LIST]
*]**Dogma - **teachings left to us by the Apostles. Dogmas includes both Scripture and Sacred Tradition. It is infallible, and it cannot be altered, changed, added to, or subtracted from.[/LIST][LIST]
*]**Doctrine - **This is a formally defined teaching which has been promulgated by an ecumenical council (like Nicaea or Trent) or declared an infallible teaching by a reigning Pontiff. Doctrine is also infallible, and also cannot be changed—but it likewise cannot contradict Scripture, Tradition, any previous infallible statement, or another doctrine. Examples include the Immaculate Conception and the Holy Trinity.[/LIST][LIST]
*]**Discipline - **This is an explanation of some aspect of the Faith. It is not infallible, and can be changed, evolved, condemned, or abandoned. Examples of this are limbo and Mary as Co-Redemptrix.[/LIST][LIST]
*]**Practice - **This is a rule established by the Church to help the believer walk the straight and narrow path; examples include clerical celibacy, not eating meat on Fridays during Lent, and fasting on Ash Wednesday and Good Friday.[/LIST][LIST]
*]**Devotion - **The lowest level of Catholic belief; devotions are usually more or less up to the individual believer to practice or not. This category includes such things as the Rosary, First Friday devotions, first Saturday devotions, etc.[/LIST]


#5

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