Faith Is Key to Interpreting Scripture, Says Pope [EWTN]

VATICAN CITY, OCT. 26, 2009 ( The historical-critical method of interpreting biblical texts is legitimate and necessary, but it must not be forgotten that the key to the interpretation of Scripture is the faith of the Church, says Benedict XVI.

“If exegesis also wishes to be theology,” he told the Pontifical Biblical Institute today, “it must acknowledge that the faith of the Church is that form of ‘sim-patia’ without which the Bible remains as a sealed book.”

The Pope received in audience the professors and students of the Pontifical Biblical Institute on the occasion of the institute’s 100th anniversary. Pius X founded the institute in 1909, and entrusted its direction to the Society of Jesus.

Full article…

It is painful to admit, but B16 does not deserve to be mentioned in the same sentence as Pius X unless we are calling B16 to repentance. The historical-critical method of interpreting biblical texts is a blasphemous cancer in diametrical opposition to the encyclicals promulgated by Leo XIII, Pius X, and Pius XII. Our current Holy Father is a neo-modernist, however he may succeed at straddling the position between orthodoxy and doctrinare modernism in order to placate the faithful.

The historical-critical method of expounding documentary theory has never edified a single Christian, completely wrecked all confidence in the Bible defended by the saintly Pontiffs at the turn of the century, and joined hands with the radical protestant deconstructionism that killed the mainline protestant denominations.

Pius X is a great hero of the Catholic Church and worthy of veneration and emulation. Pius X would denounce B16 to his face were he here on earth and does so from heaven - just read his denunciation of modernism for yourself.

May God preserve the faithful remnant loyal to the Lord, the Magisterium, and the Holy Scriptures. Truth does not change. Modern so-called ‘theologians’ are fleas and ticks parasitically sucking life from the Church nourished so well by 19 centuries of orthodoxy vouchsafed by the Holy Spirit and the blood of countless holy martyrs.

I’m taking a bible course now and its basis for study is the historical critical method. It has strengthened my faith. The thrust is on looking at what the author meant to say and then seeing meaning in today’s world. This has really made the bible more important to me.

I can’t see what you find wrong with what the Holy Father said. I read and reread the statement. Where is the error?

He says what we have always known. It is important to study the history of the scriptures from a scientific perspective, but the meaning and message of the scripture is always given by the Church.

This is not news. This is old. The Church put together the scriptures to reflect her faith. She selected the writings that were inspired and put aside those that were not and she did it based on two disciplines: her faith (first) and the historical background of each book (second). In order to apply the second criteria, the Fathers of the Church used historical critical judgment.

I fail to see what is wrong with what Pope Benedict has said. I think that your attack of the Holy Father is way over the top. It’s disrespectful too. I don’t believe that any saint, St. Pius X or any other would accept the way that you have expressed yourself toward the Pontiff of the Church. What made saints was their humility and their heroic obedience to the Church and her leadership during their lives. You must keep in mind that St. Pius X was not born a pope. And he did not become a saint because he was a pope. He became a saint because of his love for God and the Church. He was an obedient and humble son of St. Francis. Yes, he was a Secular Franciscan and in his order and in his rule there is a promise of obedience to the pope in all things. He lived by that all of his life. I doubt very much that he would agree with the way that you have assaulted the Holy Father in your post.


Br. JR, OSF :slight_smile:

Yes, isn’t it inspiring that now 35 centuries after the fact we smart people now know what the writers of Sacred Scripture ‘meant’? Your faith has indeed been strengthened; I admonish you in the Lord Jesus Christ to examine what exactly your faith happens to be fixed upon; if historical critical methods have strengthened your faith, your faith is definitely not in the Lord Jesus Christ proclaimed for 2000 years by the Catholic Church. St. Paul’s words here should awaken you if you have real faith:

“But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed.” Galatians 1:8

“Benedict XVI says youth will find meaning in their lives if they acknowledge the existence of their Creator. And, he affirms, the theory of evolution does not require denying God.”

By this logic, evolution is the fact, and the Gospel the theory added on after the fact. B16 is clearly surrendering to evolutionism in these remarks.

"He explained: “The major problem is that if God is not there and the Creator of my life is not there, in reality life is a simple part of evolution, nothing more, it does not have meaning in itself. But I must try to give meaning to this life.”

Again, B16 here uses evolution as the start point, and urges young people to adapt Christianity to it. Here he capitulates to Darwin and throws Pius X, Leo XIII and Pius XII under the bus:

“Because on one hand,” he explained, "there is a great deal of scientific proof in favor of evolution, which appears as a reality that we must see and that enriches our knowledge of life and of being as such. "

THAT is disturbing - evolution enriches our knowledge of life and being??? I thought that is what Christ the Word of God does. He uses “scientific proof” (words no doubt crafted very carefully) in clear opposition to Pius XII in Humani Generis:

Some imprudently and indiscreetly hold that evolution, which has not been fully proved even in the domain of natural sciences, explains the origin of all things, and audaciously support the monistic and pantheistic opinion that the world is in continual evolution. Communists gladly subscribe to this opinion so that, when the souls of men have been deprived of every idea of a personal God, they may the more efficaciously defend and propagate their dialectical materialism."

Pius the X warned that evolutionism would find its way into theology and change dogmas if accepted:

“Consequently, the formulae too, which we call dogmas, must be subject to these vicissitudes, and are, therefore, liable to change. Thus the way is open to the intrinsic evolution of dogma. An immense collection of sophisms this, that ruins and destroys all religion. Dogma is not only able, but ought to evolve and to be changed. This is strongly affirmed by the Modernists, and as clearly flows from their principles.”

So you see where this all leads - to ‘evolution of Christian dogmas’ and the dismantling of the Magisterium of the Catholic Church and ultimately substitutes rationalism and paganism for Catholic truth.

The study of the scriptures by the historical-critical method is what brought me back to the church. Thank God for Dei Verbum and Raymond Brown.

One may be brought back to the Church and still not be saved:

“Not everyone who says to Me, “Lord, Lord,” shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven.” Mt 7:21

The Church itself cannot garauntee salvation to apostates such as those who deconstruct the Sacred Scriptures:

**"**This is what the Lord Almighty, the God of Israel, says: Reform your ways and your actions, and I will let you live in this place. 4Do not trust in deceptive words and say, “This is the temple of the Lord, the temple of the Lord, the temple of the Lord!” 5If you really change your ways and your actions and deal with each other justly, 6if you do not oppress the alien, the fatherless or the widow and do not shed innocent blood in this place, and if you do not follow other gods to your own harm, 7then I will let you live in this place, in the land I gave your forefathers for ever and ever. 8But look, you are trusting in deceptive words that are worthless. 9“‘Will you steal and murder, commit adultery and perjury,a burn incense to Baal and follow other gods you have not known, 10and then come and stand before me in this house, which bears my Name, and say, “We are safe”—safe to do all these detestable things? 11Has this house, which bears my Name, become a den of robbers to you? But I have been watching! declares the Lord.

Jeremiah 7

I’m not sure where you are going with this but the chuch uses dogmatic documents to endorse historical-critical methods and the analysis of literary forms. It also gives approval to those who teach based on these methods through the imprimatur and nihil *obstat *and by accepting such teachings from the Pontifical Biblical Commission.

I believe that you’re takikng what the Holy Father is saying completely out of context. From the beginning of his pontificate he has said that reason must be enlightened by faith and that faith and reason are necessary together. That’s all he’s saying regarding evolution. He’s saying look at it and learn the scientific truths as they come out. He’s not endorsing any theory of evolution, because he knows that none of them have been proven, except for the one that is proven by human existence. All things are in a constant state of change. But who doesn’t know that? This does not mean that truth is in a state of change. The physical world is.


Br. JR :slight_smile:

On evolution: let’s not forget that God moves in ineffible ways, and it is the height of hubris to assume that we know exactly what God has done, is doing, and will do in the future. Nonetheless, there is evidence to suggest an evolution of species, but it does not rule out the activity of an active God…which, if we are will to posit that miracle (which by definition are acts of God in the world which cannot be reasonably explained), we should believe in.

You seem to be missing the concept of “both/and” the fact that the Word of God enriches our faith does not mean that science doesn’t as well. The two terms are not mutually exclusive.

Let us not forget that the Holy Spirit is at work in the hearts of the faithful, and that the sensus fidelium allows for the evolution of our understanding of God’s work, enriching the Magistarium of the Catholic Church. Faith and reason are wonderful gifts of God, and we should not be denying one in favor of the other.

Br. JR,
No beloved, not all things are in a constant state of change - not evolutionary change - that view has been condemned in Papal Encyclicals since the 1860s as monism. Saint Pius X also strongly warns of the consequences of synchretizing evolutionism and the Word of God in [size=2]PASCENDI DOMINICI GREGIS [/size]:

“Consequently, the formulae too, which we call dogmas, must be subject to these vicissitudes, and are, therefore, liable to change. Thus the way is open to the intrinsic evolution of dogma. An immense collection of sophisms this, that ruins and destroys all religion. Dogma is not only able, but ought to evolve and to be changed. This is strongly affirmed by the Modernists, and as clearly flows from their principles.”

So you see where this all leads - to ‘evolution of Christian dogmas’ and the dismantling of the Magisterium of the Catholic Church and ultimately substitutes rationalism and paganism for Catholic truth.

BXVI actually referred to the condemned writings of the evolutionist heretic Pierre Teilhard this summer in a homily:

Benedict’s comment came during a July 24 vespers service in the Cathedral of Aosta in northern Italy, where the pope took his annual summer vacation July 13-29.

Toward the end of a reflection upon the Letter to the Romans, in which St. Paul writes that the world itself will one day become a form of living worship, the pope said, "It’s the great vision that later Teilhard de Chardin also had: At the end we will have a true cosmic liturgy, where the cosmos becomes a living host.

Lest we forget, Teilhard gave us this antiChristian declaration:

It is a general condition to which all theories, all hypotheses, all systems must bow and which they must henceforward satisfy if t hey are to be thinkable and true.
Evolution is a light illuminating all facts, a curve that all lines must follow (P, 219) . …
evolution has finally invaded everything … all nuclear physics, all astral physics, all
chemistry are in their manner `evolutionary.’ And the whole history of civilization and
ideas is at least as much so (V, 246).

Let me ask you this. Do you believe that Pope John Paul II and Pope Benedict are heretics because they have invited the different schools on evolution to dialogue with the Vatican and have encouraged them to continue their research?


Br. JR, OSF :slight_smile:

I do not know for sure whether they themselves are heretics (I hope not) but I do know that the modernistic bent of their theologies does not conform to the Tradition established by the Magisterial Teaching Office of the Church. They oppose Pius X, Leo XIII and Pius XII on many points - and almost always in pastoral (not encyclical) utterances. Whether that constitutes heresy or not is for the Canons to decide. It is a disturbing pastoral emphasis on heterodox teaching rejected vehemently by previous pontiffs that alarms the heart of the Faithful.

Referring to Teilhard is very, very disturbing.

Pope Benedict is an enthusiastic admirer of Fr. de Chardin. You may want ot check your sources. I have always known that many of Fr. de Chardin’s writings were contraversial and that he was asked to stop some of the, but not all. But I have never heard that he was ever officiallly condemned or even suspended. If I’m not mistaken, he died in good standing with the Church. I believe that our Holy Father very clearly aligns himself with those part of Fr. de Chardin’s writings that are not in conflict with Church teaching, while avoiding those that are.


Br. JR, OSF :slight_smile:

God has never since the foundation of the world referred to evolution. The Fathers and Doctors all subscribed to the Mosaic authorship of Genesis and the 6-day creation. Evolutionism makes the Sabbath concept null and void - a massive act of violence against divine revelation. “The LORD God rested on the seventh Day from ***all ***His works.” No more creating, evolving, etc…

You seem to be accepting what Pius XII called unproven theories as truth - very dangerous. True science can only support revelation. Theories that oppose Divine revelation are to rejected by the faithful and never, ever synchretized with Magisterial Teaching - the error of the Israelites at the end of the first temple period which brough the wrath of God(586 BC).

No, dear brother, it cannot allow for the “evolution of our understanding of God’s work” - we may grow, mature, develop our understanding, but there is no evolution. Evolution = change from one kind into another. We are not free to ‘evolve’ in our understanding of divine revelation as Pius X in Pascendi teaches the Roman Catholic Church.

“Jesus Christ the same yesterday, today and forever.” Hebrews 3:8

Reason indeed is a great gift from God. Christ is the divine Logos (John 1:1), from which we get our word ‘logic.’ Jesus is the logic of God, or God’s reasoning made flesh. “My ways are not your ways, says the LORD.” (Isaiah 55)

The fruits of theistic evolution are evident: apostasy, loss of belief, empty churches and militant utopianism. The 20th century is littered with the carnage of evolutionism and the idea that Catholics, who have been on the receiving end of the apostles of evolutionism (Hitler, Mao, Stalin, Pol Pot, Kim Il Sung, Castro, etc…) would try to synchretize the Word of God with it is shocking. This is the road Israel took when they synchretized Yahwism with the Canaanite nature gods and godesses. Jeremiah’s prophecies during the end of the first temple period tell you that this is not the will of God.

Ever heard of this?
In 1962, a Monitum decree issued by the Holy Office on Teilhard’s works went as far as to warn bishops and heads of seminaries of the doctrinal errors said to be inherent in the Jesuit scientist’s interpretation of humankind within nature.

Sacred Congregation of the Holy Office

On June 30, 1962, the Holy Office issued a monitum (warning) regarding
the writings of Father Teilhard de Chardin. In 1981 the Holy See
reiterated this warning against rumors that it no longer
***applied. ***Following is the text of both the monitum and the 1981


"Several works of Fr. Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, some of which were
posthumously published, are being edited and are gaining a good deal
of success.

"Prescinding from a judgement about those points that concern the
positive sciences, it is sufficiently clear that the above-mentioned
works abound in such ambiguities and indeed even serious errors, as to
offend Catholic doctrine.

"For this reason, the most eminent and most revered Fathers of the
Holy Office exhort all Ordinaries as well as the superiors of
Religious institutes, rectors of seminaries and presidents of
universities, effectively to protect the minds, particularly of the
youth, against the dangers presented by the works of Fr. Teilhard de
Chardin and of his followers.

"Given at Rome, from the palace of the Holy Office, on the thirtieth
day of June, 1962.

Sebastianus Masala, Notarius"

Your belief about the Holy Father subscribing to the “parts of Teilhard’s writing that is not in conflict with Church teaching” is meaningless in light of the monitum.


My belief is not meaningless. The Holy Father does subscribe. The monitum specifically refers to specific works of Fr. de Chardin, not all. I said that the Holy Father likes certain works of Fr. de Chardin. Therefore, he’s on safe ground as long as the works that he likes and cites are not the ones in question.

Second, you said that he was a condemned heretic. The monitum refers to him as Father, not as heretic. So I was right. He did die within the Church.

I’m not a heretic or other. Nor do I tolerate nonsense. But we have to be honest in our statements. It is one thing to say that certain works by an author were condemned and to say that every work was condemned. It is one thng to say that some works were doubtful and it is another to say that they were heretical. No where does it say the word heretical. But they do say that they are dangerous.

We must say what the Church says, not what we want her to say. The same applies to the decrees of the Pious X, XII and Leo. They never said that their statements were vested with infallibility. Therefore, their statements were not dogmatic. They were disciplinary. That is why Pope Paul VI had the authority to stop using the Oath Against Modernism. The Oath was never a dogma. The Syllabus of Errors was never a dogma. It was an authoritative statement that had to be obeyed. But one pope does not owe obedience to his predecessors.

We have stop this business of telling other people that this pope is in conflict with that pope. That only creates division. We can say that Pope X said this and Pope Y said that. We can say that they do not agree. All of that would be truth. We can even say that we agree with Pope X or Pope Y. But when we start to pit one pope against another, we do harm, not to the popes, but to the laity. Most people are going to take what they read on these threads and run with it, without checking out exactly how things are worded and how the Church interprets them.

How many people are going to take the time to find out how Pope Benedict interprets the writings of Pope Pius X? Less than 1%. Most are going to read here that Pope Benedict contradicts Pius X and run with that. You know how people are. The read tabloids at the supermarket and believe what they read.

We have a moral duty to say things very precisely and let them stand at that. If the word heretic or infallible was never used, let us not impose it on said writings. Fidelity has to be honest and avoid sensationalizing.

Have you read Pope Benedict’s christologcial work, Jesus of Nazreth? He uses historical criticism to frame his work. It’s an excellent piece of theology. He does in his book exactly what he speaks of in the OP. He takes hisotrical criticism and literary examination of scripture and he drapes faith over it. Basically he says, “This is why it was written.” and “we believe this because” and “literary exegesis helps us understand our faith this way”. He even uses many non Catholic sources, mostly Jewish ones to explain the history behind certain practices in Jesus life. You can read scripture with a scientific eye and still explain it with faith. He does an excellent job at it. If you have a chance to read it, it’s an awesome book. I don’t know if you can get that kind of book in Korea.



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