WARNING: IF YOU ARE STRUGGLING IN FAITH, DO NOT READ WHAT FOLLOWS.
Before jumping more deeply into the reason I ask this question, here’s what I already understand: 1) whenever the Pope pronounces an interpretation or conclusion in regards to a matter of Faith or morals, while speaking ex-cathedra to the whole Church, while using clear language that his interpretation is binding on the faithful, then his interpretation/conclusion is infallible; 2) whenever it is possible that all the Catholic bishops of the world agree on an interpretation/conclusion to a particular matter, then this is infallible; 3) whenever decisions are made by an ecumenical council, and these are ratified by the Pope, then this is infallible; 4) whenever fallible teachings are proposed by certain bishops, but, through time, these are embraced by a majority of them, then such interpretations/conclusions become infallible; 5) whatever interpretations/conclusions the Pope makes that do not fall within the criteria of the first point above are not infallible, but do still require respect and an assent of the will and mind; 6) whatever interpretations/conclusions your particular bishop makes that do not fall within the criteria of the fourth point above, are not infallible, but do still require respect and an assent of the will and mind.
According to everything I learned, for the purpose of our present discussion, I conclude that Christianity, both within the East and the West, is founded upon the Information that is the Tradition. This Tradition is composed of two primary sources of information (the Baptism-Chrismation/Laying of Hands-Eucharist source and the Scriptural-Second Temple Hopes source) that obviously intersect. These two primary sources, in turn, permeate a fuller list of sources that clearly must follow a hierarchy of importance (1a. Baptism-Chrismation/Laying of Hands-Eucharist, 1b. Scripture [which contains references to the other four Sacraments] and Second Temple Hopes, 2. Trinitarian and Christological teachings of ecumenical councils, 3. Creeds, 4. what the Fathers taught concerning, and the development of understanding of, the other four sacraments, 5. the various liturgies throughout history, and 6. other dogmatic aspects of Ecumenical Councils and infallible papal pronouncements, 7. what all Fathers held in common, 8. the embracing, over time, of fallible teachings to become infallible, 9. particularly debated interpretations of various Fathers, 10. the teachings of an ordinary bishop). In my opinion, Canons would be somewhere between sources 8 through 10, and are a lower source because most are just “fences” erected to protect the faithful from violating something more important, may change, and are merely pedagogical (a fence, for example, would be like saying that it’s a sin to go to the mall…because Catholics are stealing at an alarming rate, it makes sense to say this, even though the mall is not really sinful in any way). The latter lower sources of the list, I believe, should confirm the former higher sources within the list, but I have found that, sometimes, they do not, and either contradict or are more “fences.” Also, all sources need to be understood according to their proper literal sense, and not literalistically, together with a familiarity of the cultural understanding of the times within which some of them were, and others are still being, established (the Mass and the Bible, obviously, would have not only the literal senses but also other more deeper senses).
Thanks for sticking with me. SO HERE GOES. When Authorities in the Church are making interpretations/conclusions in regards to Faith and Morals, as custodians of the Tradition, they, most certainly, must be doing an inventory of the Sources of the Tradition, according to a certain hierarchy, to thereby arrive at the answer. BUT, MY QUESTION IS: are they ALSO empowered with a certain power or gift that enables them to go beyond these sources of the Tradition in ways that may seem contradictory to me only because I don’t possess a charism within their authority, also given to them by God? Perhaps this would be a certain type of inspiration of the Holy Spirit, which, in itself, would not at all be a condemned “novel” source (as per St. Vincent of Lerins) but, rather, a hidden source of Tradition? I reject Gnosticism, but is it possible that there is a secret, although faithful and orthodox, Source of Tradition, unavailable to anyone but the highest Authorities? DOES SUCH A THING EXIST? Or, can Authorities, possibly, present a “fenced” version of the Faith that they feel is currently necessary, but, which, is not fully the Truth, and, which, later on, becomes enshrined, by accident, with later Authorities believing it to be the full Truth? I doubt this second option. I ask these questions because, for reasons that I will not discuss, by using the same sources of the Tradition, I reached some opposite conclusions regarding certain things taught within certain Ecumenical Councils that have followed the East-West split, as well as disagree concerning the immorality and condemnation of condom-use, and condom-use alone. But I’m very Traditional and not at all a modernist. I hate modernism! I know most Catholics will probably tell me that the power and gift mentioned above that enable Authorities to either go beyond or make fences, if it were true that they actually do this, would also be a part of “infallibility.” But my question is, do I, having a reasonable argument, according to Tradition and not my own whims, have the right to disagree on certain things, or should I just submit and believe that Church Authorities possess a further ability that I do not possess?