How can an official teaching change?

I’ve been going around saying that the Catholic Church has never and can never change a teaching on faith or morals. Individuals in the Church may deviate, but the Church never contradicts itself.

So, what is objectively sinful, according to the Church, must always be so.

Now, in another thread, I see that–no bones about it–the old Catechism stated that attending Protestant worship services was sinful. It is no longer considered so.

What does this say about the reliability of our teaching? Is it conceivable that, say, slavery or abortion, depending on the era’s cultural conditions, might be redefined as not sinful?

Peace.
John

[quote=john ennis]I’ve been going around saying that the Catholic Church has never and can never change a teaching on faith or morals. Individuals in the Church may deviate, but the Church never contradicts itself.

So, what is objectively sinful, according to the Church, must always be so.

Now, in another thread, I see that–no bones about it–the old Catechism stated that attending Protestant worship services was sinful. It is no longer considered so.

What does this say about the reliability of our teaching? Is it conceivable that, say, slavery or abortion, depending on the era’s cultural conditions, might be redefined as not sinful?

Peace.
John
[/quote]

First, you should always ask those who make such charges to back it up. Plus, Catechisms are not considered infallible, they are authoritative, but not infallible. In fact, the new “Catechism of the Catholic Church,” was written up by former Cardinal Ratzinger and a couple other officials. It was approved by the Pope, but since it wasn’t him who wrote it up and put it together, it’s not infallible.

[quote=john ennis]I’ve been going around saying that the Catholic Church has never and can never change a teaching on faith or morals. Individuals in the Church may deviate, but the Church never contradicts itself.

So, what is objectively sinful, according to the Church, must always be so.

Now, in another thread, I see that–no bones about it–the old Catechism stated that attending Protestant worship services was sinful. It is no longer considered so.

What does this say about the reliability of our teaching? Is it conceivable that, say, slavery or abortion, depending on the era’s cultural conditions, might be redefined as not sinful?

Peace.
John
[/quote]

Do you really think slavery or abortion are in any way equivalent to visiting your local Methodist church down the street?:smiley:

In this case, the prohibition against attending a Protestant service is a Church regulation, much like the prohibition against eating blood at the Council of Jerusalem, or the prohibition against eating meat on Fridays. These are pastoral norms, and thus can be changed through the binding and loosing authority of the Church.

Eating any food, or attending a Protestant service (without having Communion) are not inherently sinful. Thus, the sin committed is essentially disobeying lawful superiors (the Church) and only accidentally eating blood, meat on Fridays, etc.

In other words, the Church can rearrange the furniture, but it can never rearrange the foundation, which is Christ and the Apostles.

You’re discussing a matter of discipline, not faith or morals.

Church Disciplines:

  1. Can change according to the judgment of the Church.
  2. Can have the sin of disobedience to legitimate Church authority attached to them.

Infallible Church Teaching:

  1. Regards matters of faith and morals, not discipline.
  2. Can develop and be understood more fully, but can never mean the opposite of what they once meant.
  3. Must be clearly taught as such and apply to all the faithful.

attending/notattending a Protestant worship service is not part of the deposit of the faith–however if you violated that principle(i believe the 1917 code of canon law forbidded it) it would be a sin–possibly mortal–just like eating meat on fridays before that change was made was a sin–but the church is free to change or lessen these restrictons–abortion, contracepton, murder, the Eucharist, etc are part of the deposit of faith and are not subject to change–

[quote=john ennis]I’ve been going around saying that the Catholic Church has never and can never change a teaching on faith or morals. Individuals in the Church may deviate, but the Church never contradicts itself.

So, what is objectively sinful, according to the Church, must always be so.

Now, in another thread, I see that–no bones about it–the old Catechism stated that attending Protestant worship services was sinful. It is no longer considered so.

What does this say about the reliability of our teaching? Is it conceivable that, say, slavery or abortion, depending on the era’s cultural conditions, might be redefined as not sinful?

Peace.
John
[/quote]

The Catholic Church will never reverse itself on a Doctrine or Dogma concerning Faith or Morals.

Attending a Protestant service is NOT a TEACHING on Faith or Morals but a Discipline of the Church. Even in this the Catholic Church has not reversed itself. It still says that Catholics should not except for good reason attend Protestant services. That Catholics may not assume any Liturgical role in them. May not participate in their “sacraments”. The Catholic Church recognizes as Christians those who are validly Baptized in other Christian Communities but does not recognize Protestant churches as equal with the Catholic Church. The Catholic Church simply recognizes that with more and more mixed religious marriages and families that the need to maintain family unity may require more interaction of Catholics with Protestant Communities.

[quote=Br. Rich SFO]The Catholic Church will never reverse itself on a Doctrine or Dogma concerning Faith or Morals.

Attending a Protestant service is NOT a TEACHING on Faith or Morals but a Discipline of the Church. Even in this the Catholic Church has not reversed itself. It still says that Catholics should not except for good reason attend Protestant services. That Catholics may not assume any Liturgical role in them. May not participate in their “sacraments”. The Catholic Church recognizes as Christians those who are validly Baptized in other Christian Communities but does not recognize Protestant churches as equal with the Catholic Church. The Catholic Church simply recognizes that with more and more mixed religious marriages and families that the need to maintain family unity may require more interaction of Catholics with Protestant Communities.
[/quote]

Could we say that what has not changed is that Catholics should not act in a way that identifies them with (as being) non-Catholics?

David

Taking part in a non-Catholic service is and alway will be a sin against the first commandment. Catholics are still not allowed to take active part in a non-Catholics services. There are no exceptions with regard to Protestant services (since they do not have valid sacraments), but there is an exception with regards to an Easter Orthodox service. In times of necessity, a Catholic is allowed to attend Mass and receive the sacraments at an Eastern Orthodox Church.

Regarding a Protestant service, a Catholic can never take active part in a Protestant service, but is allowed to attend a wedding, or funeral, provided they are not taking an active part in the service.

[quote=DeFide]You’re discussing a matter of discipline, not faith or morals.

Church Disciplines:

  1. Can change according to the judgment of the Church.
  2. Can have the sin of disobedience to legitimate Church authority attached to them.

Infallible Church Teaching:

  1. Regards matters of faith and morals, not discipline.
  2. Can develop and be understood more fully, but can never mean the opposite of what they once meant.
  3. Must be clearly taught as such and apply to all the faithful.
    [/quote]

Yes, I’ve always understood that distinction. Sounds like that’s where I made my mistake in this case. (Thanks to Br Rich for making the point as well.)

In answer to Ahimsa, the fact that slavery is a far worse sin wouldn’t at all guarantee that it couldn’t go the same way as the prohibition against attending Protestent worship if (as I now see I was mistaken about) both were inherently sinful, but the Church was able to change its mind. But of course it can’t.

I mean, I was worried that the Church could operate a bit like our government, changing its very moral judgments with the tide of the culture. Abortion is FAR worse than many other things which are no longer unlawful, but changes in the laws regarding more minor things were an indication of what was to come.

Thanks to the rest of you as well. Sempre Fi USMC: I think the Church does permit attendence at such services, even on a regular basis (I go with my wife), but not participation in communion nor anything which would contradict Catholic faith.
Peace.
John

But another kink: Am I hearing correctly (on another thread) that the Church used to hold it sinful to have sexual relations while the wife is menstruating?

Or was this just “generally held”? If is was declared sinful, one could hardly claim that as being a discipline, but rather a doctrine regarding moral behavior.

Peace.
John

[quote=john ennis]But another kink: Am I hearing correctly (on another thread) that the Church used to hold it sinful to have sexual relations while the wife is menstruating?

Or was this just “generally held”? If is was declared sinful, one could hardly claim that as being a discipline, but rather a doctrine regarding moral behavior.

Peace.
John
[/quote]

I’ve heard this as well, but I have yet to see anyone provide documentation that this was ever a binding Church teaching.

Scott

[quote=USMC]Taking part in a non-Catholic service is and alway will be a sin against the first commandment. Catholics are still not allowed to take active part in a non-Catholics services. There are no exceptions with regard to Protestant services (since they do not have valid sacraments)…
[/quote]

Let’s not overstate, please. Protestant baptism is valid: “Baptism by immersion, or by pouring, together with the Trinitarian formula is, of itself, valid. Therefore, if the rituals, liturgical books or established customs of a Church or ecclesial Community prescribe either of these ways of baptism, the sacrament is to be considered valid unless there are serious reasons for doubting that the minister has observed the regulations of his/her own Community or Church.”

Therefore, “Catholics may, in common celebration with other Christians, commemorate the baptism which unites them, by renewing the engagement to undertake a full Christian life which they have assumed in the promises of their baptism, and by pledging to cooperate with the grace of the Holy Spirit in striving to heal the divisions which exist among Christians.”

[quote=USMC]Regarding a Protestant service, a Catholic can never take active part in a Protestant service, but is allowed to attend a wedding, or funeral, provided they are not taking an active part in the service.
[/quote]

Again, let’s not overstate. I, as a Catholic, for example, can be a godparent to my Lutheran nephew.

Furthermore, “Christians may be encouraged to share in spiritual activities and resources, i.e., to share that spiritual heritage they have in common in a manner and to a degree appropriate to their present divided state.”

“The term ‘sharing in spiritual activities and resources’ covers such things as prayer offered in common, sharing in liturgical worship in the strict sense,…as well as common use of sacred places and of all necessary objects.”

Catholics are generally forbidden to participate in non-Catholic sacramental worship, but not liturgical worship. “By liturgical worship is meant worship carried out according to books, prescriptions and customs of a Church or ecclesial Community, presided over by a minister or delegate of that Church or Community. This liturgical worship may be of a non-sacramental kind, or may be the celebration of one or more of the Christian sacraments. The concern here is non-sacramental worship.”

For further reading, visit here please.

– Mark L. Chance.

[quote=Roman_Army]** In fact, the new “Catechism of the Catholic Church,” was written up by former Cardinal Ratzinger and a couple other officials…**
[/quote]

A bit more than ratzinger and a couple of other officials!

1. The Process and Spirit of Drafting the Text

The Catechism of the Catholic Church is the result of very extensive collaboration; it was prepared over six years of intense work done in a spirit of complete openness and fervent zeal.
In 1986, I entrusted a commission of twelve Cardinals and Bishops, chaired by Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, with the task of preparing a draft of the catechism requested by the Synod Fathers. An editorial committee of seven diocesan Bishops, experts in theology and catechesis, assisted the commission in its work.
The commission, charged with giving directives and with overseeing the course of the work, attentively followed all the stages in editing the nine subsequent drafts. The editorial committee, for its part, assumed responsibility for writing the text, making the emendations requested by the commission and examining the observations of numerous theologians, exegetes and catechists, and above all, of the Bishops of the whole world, in order to produce a better text. In the committee various opinions were compared with great profit, and thus a richer text has resulted whose unity and coherence are assured.
The project was the object of extensive consultation among all Catholic Bishops, their Episcopal Conferences or Synods, and theological and catechetical institutes. As a whole, it received a broadly favorable acceptance on the part of the Episcopate. It can be said that this Catechism is the result of the collaboration of the whole Episcopate of the Catholic Church, who generously accepted my invitation to share responsibility for an enterprise which directly concerns the life of the Church. This response elicits in me a deep feeling of joy, because the harmony of so many voices truly expresses what could be called the “symphony” of the faith. The achievement of this Catechism thus reflects the collegial nature of the Episcopate; it testifies to the Church’s catholicity.
scborromeo.org/ccc/aposcons.htm

An intersting example

On Salvation Outside the Catholic Church Fr. John A. Hardon, S.J.

The Catholic Church makes claims about herself that are easily misunderstood, especially in the modern atmosphere of pluralism and ecumenism. Among these claims, the most fundamental is the doctrine of the Church’s necessity for salvation. Not unlike other dogmas of the faith, this one has seen some remarkable development, and the dogmatic progress has been especially marked since the definition of papal infallibility. It seems that as the Church further clarified her own identity as regards the papacy and collegiality, she also deepened (without changing) her self-understanding as the mediator of salvation to mankind.

contd at ic.net/~erasmus/RAZ315.HTM

I think dismissing the former Church teaching against attendance at a non-Catholic worship service as a “discipline” is taking the easy way out. At the time, it was not taught as merely a disciplinary rule to be followed. Violation of this teaching was taught to be sinful not because it constituted disobedience to Church discipline, but because it violated the first Commandment itself. A quick Google search turned up the following example:

In dealing those who claim they have been given ecclesiastical permission to participate in the ceremonial rites of non Catholics Fr. Michael Muller in his well known work, “God the Teacher of Man Kind” aptly answers the question by stating “Neither any priest nor bishop, nay, not even the Pope, can give you permission to violate any of the commandments.” (God the teacher of Mankind, New York, 1881, Pg. 331)

[quote=DeFide]You’re discussing a matter of discipline, not faith or morals.

Church Disciplines:

  1. Can change according to the judgment of the Church.
  2. Can have the sin of disobedience to legitimate Church authority attached to them.

Infallible Church Teaching:

  1. Regards matters of faith and morals, not discipline.
  2. Can develop and be understood more fully, but can never mean the opposite of what they once meant.
  3. Must be clearly taught as such and apply to all the faithful.
    [/quote]

You seem to be missing a category, that of non-infallible Church teaching on matters of faith and morals. This is the category of Church teaching covered by canon 752 of the 1983 Latin Rite Code of Canon Law.

An example of such a teaching is the recent development of doctrine regarding the death penalty from Pope John Paul II’s Encyclical Evangelium Vitae:

In any event, the principle set forth in the new Catechism of the Catholic Church remains valid: “If bloodless means are sufficient to defend human lives against an aggressor and to protect public order and the safety of persons, public authority must limit itself to such means, because they better correspond to the concrete conditions of the common good and are more in conformity to the dignity of the human person”.

[quote=Br. Rich SFO]Attending a Protestant service is NOT a TEACHING on Faith or Morals but a Discipline of the Church. Even in this the Catholic Church has not reversed itself. It still says that Catholics should not except for good reason attend Protestant services. That Catholics may not assume any Liturgical role in them. May not participate in their “sacraments”. The Catholic Church recognizes as Christians those who are validly Baptized in other Christian Communities but does not recognize Protestant churches as equal with the Catholic Church. The Catholic Church simply recognizes that with more and more mixed religious marriages and families that the need to maintain family unity may require more interaction of Catholics with Protestant Communities.
[/quote]

From the Directory on Ecumenism:

  1. In liturgical celebrations taking place in other Churches and ecclesial Communities, Catholics are encouraged to take part in the psalms, responses, hymns and common actions of the Church in which they are guests. If invited by their hosts, they may read a lesson or preach.

[quote=Catholic2003]From the Directory on Ecumenism:
[/quote]

This must be understood that some participation in Ecumenical services especially Liturgical services requires the approval of the Bishop. A lay person could not “preach” in an ecumenical service because they do not have the privilege of doing so in the Catholic Church. Now a priest or deacon if invited to preach could. A lay reader could read a Scripture passage at an special ecumenical service. However I believe that it would be improper for a lay reader to read at a regular Sunday Protestant worship service, that is not specifically an ecumenical service promoting the hope of Christian unity.

[quote=Br. Rich SFO]This must be understood that some participation in Ecumenical services especially Liturgical services requires the approval of the Bishop. A lay person could not “preach” in an ecumenical service because they do not have the privilege of doing so in the Catholic Church. Now a priest or deacon if invited to preach could. A lay reader could read a Scripture passage at an special ecumenical service. However I believe that it would be improper for a lay reader to read at a regular Sunday Protestant worship service, that is not specifically an ecumenical service promoting the hope of Christian unity.
[/quote]

Laypersons can preach in the Catholic Church, just not at Mass. From the Archdiocese of Dubuque, Iowa’s Policies and Procedures for Sunday Celebration in the Absence of a Priest:

Lay leaders of Prayer and Preaching

Lay leaders of prayer having the requisite training and skill may be granted a mandate to preach at Sunday Celebrations in the Absence of a Priest by the bishop or his delegate.

DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in these forums do not necessarily reflect those of Catholic Answers. For official apologetics resources please visit www.catholic.com.