Is the Magesterium going to convince?


#1

I think, certainly not. On the other hand, I don’t think it is the task of the Magesterium to convice. I think that job primarily belongs to the Holy Spirit, and to the faithful, who are commanded to “go and preach”. The duty of the Magesterium is to define and hold the divine deposit of faith. It is amazing to me how many people call themselves Catholic, yet reject the authority of the Magesterium.


#2

What is the divine deposit of faith?

What, as far as the Magesterium is concerned, is the meaning of ‘divine’, and how does it ensure that the will of our ‘divine’ God is entrenched in its interpretations if there is no accurate definition of the word ‘diviine’?

If the Magisterium’s job is to deliberate and pronounce, but not to convince, then through what channels does it operate to ensure correct practice, when that task is allocated to Bishops with their priests.

Do you think that people actually reject the authority of the Magisterium if they do not know what its mandate is, and prefer to believe the One Absolute Truth perpetuated by the local priest?

It is really the concept of ‘divine’ that I am chasing here, but clearly the other matters are significant too.

Nerf

Christ work through me
Christ stand with me
Christ be in me


#3

that which was handed down from the Apostles. It includes the Word of God, both written, and oral.

I think you will find the bulk of this in the Catholic Catechism and the Canon Laws, as well as the historical documents. I recommend to you the Catechism on Divine Revelation for a fuller answer to your question. Catholics believe that the Church was founded by Jesus, and that Jesus Himself is Divine. And that He promised the Divine Holy Spirit to guide us into all truth, so that we would not be lost.

Most of the deliberations and pronouncements occur in reaction to some heresy that has risen. Bishops and priests are vowed to teach accurately. If they do not, they are subject to the disciplines of the church, among them, Canon Laws.

I think this happens all the time. I think there are plenty of poorly trained and educated priests, and some priests that seem to me downright heretical. So much more the reason that the laity be educated and active in supporting priests.

there are many good documents on the nature of divine revelation. Most of them will be centered around Christ, who is considered the epitome of Divine revelation “In whom the whole fullness of the God head dwells bodily”.


#4

OK, so I had already done an extensive search, but I went back and dragged back more stuff.

I have a lot of divine treasures, interpretations and revelations, heart, miracles, God, Christ, understanding, souls, examples, truths, etc etc etc, but am no closer to clarity on the actual meaning of divine other than ‘of God’, which is tautological.

The word seems to be used at times when an authority - like the Magisterium - wishes to assert not only its legitimacy, but beyond that, its authority. It is problematic that agencies of this Church and other religious belief systems overuse the term perhaps to their advantage. It is not clear, not only what is meant by divine, but when it is appropriately used.

But this is for after Easter, clearly. I sit in mass and ponder and ponder - authority and divinity.

I hope this is not entirely off-topic! I think not.

Blessings


#5

A “theologian” who would claim he needs to be able to ignore the Magisterium in order to find the truth is strangely perverse: the teaching of the Magisterium is the prime, God-given means of finding the truth. Nor could he claim academic freedom lets him contradict the Church. In any field of knowledge, academic freedom belongs only to a properly qualified professor teaching in his own field. But one is not properly qualified if he does not use the correct method of working in his field, e.g., a science professor who would want to go back to medieval methods would be laughed off campus, not protected. Now in Catholic theology , the correct method is to study the sources of revelation, but then give the final word to the Church. He who does not follow that method is not a qualified Catholic theologian. Vatican II taught (Dei Verbum # 10): "The task of authoritatively interpreting the word of God, whether written or handed on [Scripture or Tradition], has been entrusted exclusively to the living Magisterium of the Church, whose authority is exercised in the name of Jesus Christ."
Taken from The Basic Catholic Catechism
PART FIVE: The Apostles’ Creed IX - XII
Ninth Article: “The Holy Catholic Church; the Communion of Saints”

(1) I find the idea of one absolute and absolutely infallible authorised interpreter of the faith, and authorised by one agency alone, frightening and distinctly antithetical to being a thoughtful Christian.

(2) One might assume that the promulgations of the Magisterium (in another life) might be guidelines to true belief, but that is clearly ‘perverse’ and would be laughed to scorn.

(3) The CC clearly states that although I can think and read and contemplate, at the end of the day I am left with, and will defer to - if I am a true Catholic - the infallible truths of the Magisterium.

(4) I understand and respect the theory, but the practice is joyless, confining and constraining, and leaves me at a huge distance (and this is my greatest fear) from the Christ I wish to worship. The road from Christ to legitimate believe now is long: God - Christ - apostles - Peter - disciples - communities of the faithful - oral tradition - written reports of the words of Christ - various heresies (Albigensian etc) - New Testament/Bible - various Councils (Nicea) - Reformation - Vatican I and II - ME the Christian.

We know some Biblical oral traditions are in error or difficult to interpret; some interpretations were made in reaction to perceived heresies, others to potentially challenging movements within the Church etc.

I just want to be with Christ - my Beloved in me and I in my Beloved. I want to be with Christ’s peace and gentleness, to work through him, stand with him, and be in him. But I am set at the far end of a long and exceedingly joyless chain of prohibitive codes, creeds, doctrines and dogmas which it seems necessary to understand and know - without which one cannot worship, adore and follow.


#6

As you ponder, ponder how Jesus would leave His authority on earth, just as He left the Mass in which you sit. What might that look like? How might it function? If it were not for the Magesterium, the Mass in which we partake would no longer exist.


#7

I hear your words, but I know that Christ’s authority infuses other denominations as well: they are bound by their concept of the authority of Christ, their devotion to Him, and their search not only for salvation but for exemplary behaviour in this life.

I am not *quite *convinced that the mother church - although the mother church - is the sole repository of the correct understanding of Christian faith.

One thing that is noticeable is the absence of joy - which we see perfected in our African churches, whatever denomination - the intimate encounter with Christ by the daily worshipper, the real pleasure in His presence, and delight in knowing His grace. The deadly hand of the Magisterium falls on all.

Blessings


#8

Take into account that this is not speaking so much to private study. An individual is free to study any and all matters. The prohibition is to protect the uneducated, and is placed upon the theologian who is teaching “in the name of” the Church. Such a one has an added responsibility to avoid any error. This is not about being a thoughtful Christian, but about protecting the sheep from error.

The protected areas of infallibility are in regard to faith an morals only. This does not apply to science and other subjects.

Do you really have so many disagreements with the teachings? It does not seem to me that you do. I think this is more a matter of submission to authority. You have a very strong sense that each individual must do what he knows is right for him. You would not want not to abandon your sense of a clear conscience to an authority.

Perhaps you have not yet been able to experience the joy of yielding to a higher authority? Obedience is not joyless unless we “kick against the goads”. God would not have created you with an inquiring mind, had He not wanted you to use it. Furthomore He did not intend his relationship and communion with you to be confining and restraining. How could the road not be long, in the course of 2000 years? Yet, Christ in our hearts and minds is timeless, and He comes to meet us in Eucharist immediately in the here and now. Just BE with Him, and the rest will all fall into place.

Be not hindered by “exceedingly joyless chain of prohibitive codes, creeds, doctrines and dogmas” for these are not Christ, but our limited ways of trying to understand and follow HIm. Follow your heart, and be with your Beloved. You will find peace. Seek first His kingdom,a nd everything else will be added.


#9

St. Augustine said “The truth does not care how many it convinces” I believe that also applies to the Magisterium too.


#10

It really is sad. Recently TWO of my Catholic friends told me that abortion was okay in some circumstances. When I told them that the Catholic Church teaches that life starts at conception and all abortion is wrong, they simply told me “it’s not a rule” or “you don’t have to follow ALL of Catholic teachings.” Of course, I told them…“well yeah it kinda is a rule” and “yes you do.” I hope they understand that full obedience to God includes full obedience to His teachings which come through the Church.


#11

Carol,
I think Guanophore answered this particularly well in post #8. I would add that the prime focus of the Magisterium is teaching, not enforcement. The Catholic Church is not so much interested in enforcement as it is in teaching. Reading these forums you might get the impression that enforcement is a primary focus of the Church but that would be incorrect. If enforcement were a focus then we wouldn’t have the wide range of divergence among laity and religous that you have noted in this and other threads.

Let me put it to you this way, the Church teaches that abortion is wrong. As a Catholic you are required to know what the Church teaches, if however you (or any Catholic since many times men are a part of the decision to abort) decide on abortion then that is between you and God. This is true of all the Church teaches. There is, in fact, a great deal of tolerance in the Church (although you might not get that from these forums). The BIG difference is when you publicly deny Church teachings or try to teach something contrary to Church teachings, that is not allowed and EVENTUALLY the Church will take action. However for private individuals there is great tolerance.

I would leave you with a final thought, it is not mine but is something I have often heard and discussed with my Spiritual Director who is a Jesuit.

“Belief is not a decision of the intellect, it is a decision of the will.”.

For many of us there has been a point in our lives when someone (parent, educator, coach…etc) has told us to do something that seems counterintuitive, or even stupid. Yet we suppressed our intellectual objections, engaged our will and did what was suggested. Sometimes what we were told to do turned out to be correct and sometimes not. This is not to denigrate our intelligence, which is a gift from God and should be used accordingly. At some point in your struggle, because you will not be able to reconcile everything that the Church teaches with your intellect (no one can live that long:) ) you will have to make a decision of the will.

God Bless.


#12

Carol,
If there is an absence of joy then find another parish. My father visited recently and he said that he was surprised by the joy and community that existed in my parish. Dad stated that he did not find this joy in many Catholic parishes including his own. My long experince with Catholicism supports that observation. There is great joy and community to be found in the Catholic Church.


#13

DallasCatholic

Your advice and insight in both previous postings has been comforting. I will think hard about what you have said - much of which is not reflected in some of the postings in response to my - perhaps sometimes intept - questions on inerrancy and transubstantiation etc.

I do think that it comes down ultimately to a question of heeding authority, in this case that of the Magisterium, but seemingly through all strata of the Church heirarchy. That is not what I experience here where there is such complexity of belief of all kinds. Yes, certainly, an Archbishop Milingo (Zambia) must be disciplined. On the other hand however, the Church’s growth here is partly because it has allowed a degree of flexibility of practice concomitant with the needs of our people and with the doctrine of the Church.

The issue of joy related to the postings on the Forum which seemed to emanate from some rather joyless people who preferred to concentrate on the laws rather than on one’s intimate experience of the divinity, love and compassion of Christ. Our own parish Church (actually four English, one French and one Afrikaaner parishes all in one church - Father preaches in all three languages, as well as in the vernacular) is bustling, busy and happy. I am at home there. And I doubt I would willingly leave it, having found much there that is quite wonderful.

I will not be received into the Church at Easter: I am committed to completing the full catechism (adult enquiry) at the end of the year, and hope to join the others (including four other Protestants) at the service held in November. I have to keep telling myself that there is a difference between those who have had only adult enquiry programmes to learn from, and must catch up quickly and intelligently in one year with what younger members do in eleven years of mandatory classes.

It is a good way of learning to be humble: I have even given up my sorrow at not taking the Eucharist although I attend mass three times each week. Waiting: thy dross to consume and thy gold to refine.

Bless you for your advice and comfort. I intend leaving the Forum now to concentrate on my reading, meditation and prayer which have taken a nosedive because of time spent on the Forum. And I must also take into account what people have taught me on the Forum, both implicitly and explicitly.

Be strong and safe in the arms of Our Lord.

Love from Carol

Christ work through me
Christ stand with me
Christ be in me


#14

The teaching Magisterium takes a pastoral approach to encouraging proper assent to the truths of the Catholic faith.

Let me put it to you this way, the Church teaches that abortion is wrong. As a Catholic you are required to know what the Church teaches, if however you (or any Catholic since many times men are a part of the decision to abort) decide on abortion then that is between you and God. This is true of all the Church teaches.

You state the obvious, but it is important to be reminded that for Catholics (and those in RCIA formation) these following paragraphs from the *Catechism of the Catholic Church * on Moral Conscience which impugn a great deal of responsibility upon the aspiring faithful to educate their conscience, and the false notion of autonomy of conscience.

1790 A human being must always obey the certain judgment of his conscience. If he were deliberately to act against it, he would condemn himself. Yet it can happen that moral conscience remains in ignorance and makes erroneous judgments about acts to be performed or already committed.(Catechism of the Catholic Church)

1791 This ignorance can often be imputed to personal responsibility. This is the case when a man “takes little trouble to find out what is true and good, or when conscience is by degrees almost blinded through the habit of committing sin.” In such cases, the person is culpable for the evil he commits.(CCC)

1792 Ignorance of Christ and his Gospel, bad example given by others, enslavement to one’s passions, assertion of a mistaken notion of autonomy of conscience, rejection of the Church’s authority and her teaching, lack of conversion and of charity: these can be at the source of errors of judgment in moral conduct.(CCC)

1793 If - on the contrary - the ignorance is invincible, or the moral subject is not responsible for his erroneous judgment, the evil committed by the person cannot be imputed to him. It remains no less an evil, a privation, a disorder. One must therefore work to correct the errors of moral conscience. (CCC)

There is, in fact, a great deal of tolerance in the Church (although you might not get that from these forums). The BIG difference is when you publicly deny Church teachings or try to teach something contrary to Church teachings, that is not allowed and EVENTUALLY the Church will take action. However for private individuals there is great tolerance.

This is inconsistent with Church teaching. The only difference is that one went public with their dissident beliefs and likewise is at risk of incurring the grave sin of scandal on their soul. Why do you believe that the Church has “great tolerance” for dissidence?


#15

Continued:

Originally Posted by DallasCatholic
I would leave you with a final thought, it is not mine but is something I have often heard and discussed with my Spiritual Director who is a Jesuit.

“Belief is not a decision of the intellect, it is a decision of the will.”.

For many of us there has been a point in our lives when someone (parent, educator, coach…etc) has told us to do something that seems counterintuitive, or even stupid. Yet we suppressed our intellectual objections, engaged our will and did what was suggested. Sometimes what we were told to do turned out to be correct and sometimes not. This is not to denigrate our intelligence, which is a gift from God and should be used accordingly. At some point in your struggle, because you will not be able to reconcile everything that the Church teaches with your intellect (no one can live that long:) ) you will have to make a decision of the will.

This is a misleading statement that can give the impression that one can act against what the Church teaches in matters of faith and morals in subjective moral certitude. Faith, i.e., belief, never abandons intellect, but enlightens intellect, so that one may fully know and commit themselves to God via free will.

**1814 **Faith is the theological virtue by which we believe in God and believe all that he has said and revealed to us, and that Holy Church proposes for our belief, because he is truth itself. By faith “man freely commits his entire self to God.” For this reason the believer seeks to know and do God’s will. “The righteous shall live by faith.” Living faith “work[s] through charity.” (CCC)

1783 Conscience must be informed and moral judgment enlightened. A well-formed conscience is upright and truthful. It formulates its judgments according to reason, in conformity with the true good willed by the wisdom of the Creator. The education of conscience is indispensable for human beings who are subjected to negative influences and tempted by sin to prefer their own judgment and to reject authoritative teachings. (CCC)


#16

I understood Dallas Catholic to mean two things here: (1) that *will *can help to bring us to faith; and (2) that *individual will, driven by an informed and enlightened conscience * can in certain difficult circumstances assist the individual believer make a decision which might otherwise seem compromising.

There has been a strong suggestion here and elsewhere that there are two strata of Catholics (and I may be opening a can of worms here). On one hand, there are the kids who are going through their mandatory classes, there are the Sunday Catholics who come for Eucharist, there are the Catholics who form the largest part of the flock of sheep being led by the Redeemer and for whom being part of the flock is sufficient, and there are the ‘submarines’ who lie low most of the year underwater and surface for Christmas and Easter. On the other, there are religious and lay people, and would-be converts who, as in the game of snakes and ladders, are fighting, struggling, to reach their goals, to enlighten their faith further through meditation, prayer, contemplation, research and reading (Nouwen, Vanier, Merton, the Bible, CCC inter alia). This is my impression of the Church, and always has been. When there was a list of banned books, it did not apply to everyone: selected congregants were permitted access to these materials I believe.

Faith requires a willling suspension of disbelief for us. We have, in effect, proof of nothing, but believe all. For some intellects, that is not freeing at the outset, but a massive stumbling block to conversion, along with the insistent authority of the Magisterium and the CCC.

1783 Conscience must be informed and moral judgment enlightened. A well-formed conscience is upright and truthful. It formulates its judgments according to reason, in conformity with the true good willed by the wisdom of the Creator. The education of conscience is indispensable for human beings who are subjected to negative influences and tempted by sin to prefer their own judgment and to reject authoritative teachings. (CCC)

You know, I sometimes think that the CCC, authoritative and comprehensive as it is, was written primarily for young believers, for ‘submarines’ who might just surface, for the flock of sheep. I know this sounds horribly arrogant, and I do not intend to take on the CCC!

But to say to an older person who has lived a life of a moral non-Christian, of service, of commitment to international and community upliftment that conscience must be developed and moral judgement enlightened seems unnecessary, redundant. It is possible the individual is already there, upright and truthful, for the most part at least, formulating judgements not just by *reason *but by *lovingkindness *and *compassion *for the wretched of the earth.

The education of the conscience is necessary of course - for people whose conscience is not already sensitive and informed by experience, service, and often by the example set by Christ during his mission to us ie kids and submarines. As CCC says, it is essential also for those who are subjected to negative influences, tempted by sin, prefer their own judgement, and reject authoritative teaching. If one has a sensitive conscience, is already on the path to conversion and progressive enlightenment of the faith, and as an older person is not subject to negative influences, then were does one stand? Certainly - further education of conscience, enlightment of faith. But in the same boat as the kids and submarines?

Jabulani


#17

Proof please. Show me where this is inconsistant with Church teaching. If the Church did not have “great tolerance” for dissidence then how come several Bishops and Cardinals who dissent from Church teaching are still in place? They have not been censured or disciplined. Again, since you are challenging I would like to see the proof.

I have posted nothing that is contrary to Church teaching.


#18

Is not every action ultimately between us and God? I mean yes our actions affect others, but rejecting a truth from Christ is never something consistent with good.

My point is a subjective conscience never justifies us. Our culpability may be greater or lesser depending on certain factors, but objectively to reject the teaching of the magisterium is to reject the authority of Christ.

I offer this for discussion and thought:

“Does a Catholic have the right to dissent in relation to the Church?” means “Can a Catholic refuse, in conscience, to accept or obey some *major *aspect of church law or teaching *without thereby affecting his position as a Catholic?”

  • It is again evident that quite a few Catholics claim this very right nowadays. They dissent from some fundamental aspect of church teaching - regarding papal infallibility, for instance, or the true bodily Resurrection of Jesus, or contraception - and still insist on regarding themselves as faithful Catholics, entitled to share in the ecclesial communion, to participate in the Eucharist, etc. Do they have the *right *to do this? A proper answer to this question can only be given in the light of the basic principle that rights derive from nature[1].

A Catholic, as a human being, has the rights of any other human being. But, *as a Catholic, *he has the rights that derive from the nature of being a Catholic. He does not have rights that go against that nature. He has the right to everything that makes him more a Catholic, but not to what makes him less. To claim rights incompatible with the nature of being a Catholic means to denaturalize oneself as a Catholic; one thereby begins to de-catholicize oneself; to “ex-communicate” oneself in the literal if not in the juridical sense.
Authority and Freedom in the Church


#19

I have never found anywhere that the Church claims one can dissent and still be in full communion with The Church.

Even here the last Pope never states if a theologian cannot accept some teaching he is justified:

***INSTRUCTION
ON THE ECCLESIAL VOCATION
OF THE THEOLOGIAN ***

You know, I sometimes think that the CCC, authoritative and comprehensive as it is, was written primarily for young believers, for ‘submarines’ who might just surface, for the flock of sheep. I know this sounds horribly arrogant, and I do not intend to take on the CCC!

It is a type of reference and starting point. The problem I see is that some want to contradict what is there. Where is that justification found?

But to say to an older person who has lived a life of a moral non-Christian, of service, of commitment to international and community upliftment that conscience must be developed and moral judgement enlightened seems unnecessary, redundant. It is possible the individual is already there, upright and truthful, for the most part at least, formulating judgements not just by *reason *but by *lovingkindness *and *compassion *for the wretched of the earth.

It is a life long proces. If one contradicts the Church then that would mean there are two Christs. One who is the authority that speaks through the Church and other Christs who dissent against themselves. Seems impossible, no?


#20

I think that people who regect the Magesterium don’t see it as the teaching of Christ.

I think there is a place for conscience, but it is supposed to be a “well formed” conscience, and if such a conscience is not educated in the truth, following it will lead to error.

Rom 2:15-16
conscience also bears witness and their conflicting thoughts accuse or perhaps excuse them 16 on that day when, according to my gospel, God judges the secrets of men by Christ Jesus. "

James 4:17
17 Whoever knows what is right to do and fails to do it, for him it is sin."


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