Dear brother dcointin,
[quote="dcointin, post:11, topic:212820"]
My concern is not if the Pope consults with the Church before promulgating dogmas, but that he does not require the consensus of the Church when doing so, and my arguments are based on that concern. I should have given more explanation as to why I thought those quotations were relevant.
Thank you for the response (I believe this is also brother Michael's [Hesychios] main concern). The position of the Catholic Church is that the Pope NORMATIVELY requires the consensus of the Church, but not ABSOLUTELY.
First, let me explain what "consensus" means in the Catholic understanding as far as infallibility is concerned. This requires the establishment of some basic principles:
Principle #1) You have to understand that the Catholic Church does not in any way teach that papal infallibility is a stand-alone charism or prerogative. Rather, papal infallibility is merely an EXTENSION of the infallibility of the Church. This was affirmed by the Fathers of V1 by, as one example among several, changing the title of the Decree on infallibility from "The Infallibility of the Pope" to "the Infallibility of the Magisterium of the Pope." Unfortunately, not many know that this change acutally took place, so it's relevance is lost.:( Another, much more explicit indication of the Catholic Church's position at V1 is the addition of the following important clause (highlighted in red) to the very definition on Infallibility:
"We...teach and define that it is a divinely revealed dogma that the Roman Pontiff, when he speaks ex cathedra...(faith and morals, etc.)...possesses through the divine assistance promised to him in the person of St. Peter, that infallibility with which the divine Redeemer wished His Church to be endowed in defining doctrine concerning faith or morals."
The way this decree is worded is very important (syntax was a point of debate at the Council). It shows 2 things: 1) that when the Pope exercises infallibility, he is exercising the infallibility of the Church; 2) that the act of defining doctrine concerning faith or morals is a formal act of the Church, not merely of the Pope.
So how is the Church involved in the papal decree? The Church is involved in its formulation. The problem with the non-Catholic polemic misconception of papal infallibility (a misconception I used to hold) is that it presumes the Pope can one day wake up at 7:00 A.M., get out his typewriter (there's an ancient concept!) at 8:00 A.M., formulate a decree from 8:30 A.M. to 2:00 P.M., then go out to St. Peter's at 3:00 P.M. and formally announce to the Catholic world, "THIS IS WHAT EVERYONE MUST BELIEVE FROM NOW ON." And this must be done on a Wednesday or it is invalid! (Just kidding on that one, but IIRC, his public audience is normally on Wednesday:D). Based on that caricature, the polemicists complain, "the Pope can't do that. His decree needs to be approved by the rest of the Church to be valid."
That caricature is so far from the truth I'm ashamed to admit that I once held it. The fact is, the Pope must normatively consult the Church (see explanation on "normatively" below).
Principle #2) You have to understand that "the Church" is not merely composed of those who are living, but of every member from the first century whose opinions and teachings are contained in Sacred Tradition.
Principle #3) You have to understand that the Pope cannot go outside the bounds of Sacred Tradition when defining an issue of Faith and morals. Where is this stated in the Decree on infallibility? It is contained in the Proem:
"There, the bishops of the whole world, sometimes singly, sometimes assembled in councils, following the long-standing custom of the churches and the form of the ancient rule, reported to this Apostolic See those dangers especially which came up in matters of faith, so that here where the faith can suffer no diminution, the harm suffered by the faith might be repaired. However, the Roman Pontiffs on their part, according as the condition of the times and circumstances dictated, sometimes calling together ecumenical councils or sounding out the mind of the Church throughout the world, sometimes through regional councils, or sometimes by using helps which divine Providence supplied, have, with the help of God, defined as to be held such matters *as they had found consonant with the Holy Scripture and apostolic Tradition. The reason for this is that the Holy Spirit was promised to the successors of St. Peter not that they might make known new doctrine by His revelation, but rather, that with His assistance they might religiously guard and faithfully explain the revelation or deposit of faith handed down through the apostles.*"
Keeping these three principles in mind, "consensus" according to the Church's understanding does not refer to the Church's judgment upon what a Pope decrees. Rather, "consensus" refers to the sensus fidei of the Church upon which the Pope must base his decree.
Do you have any problems with that concept?