John Derbyshire on Catholic Doctrine


#1

The National Review writer had the following to say in a discussion of Church doctrine:

"Several readers assure me that not only did Vatican II not change Church teaching, but nothing else ever has either. The core teachings of the Church, they tell me, have been utterly unchanged for 2,000 years.

Come off it! Did the Church never have teachings on the sale of indulgences? The treatment of witches? Or of heretics? Didn’t Limbo get overhauled just a couple of years ago? And again, if (say) the doctrine on indulgences was not a teaching, I’d be willing to bet that the average 15th-century European peasant thought it was, and that his parish priest did nothing to disabuse him. Oh, these weren’t core teachings? Did our 15th-century priest know that? You sure?
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Sorry, but to this outsider, it looks as thought the Church moves with the times. When items of doctrine become politically inconvenient, or unpopular with the laity, they are dropped. Terms like “teachings” or “core beliefs” are then redefined to mean “stuff we haven’t dropped yet.” Convenient! To see how far this can go, I refer you to the poor old Anglo-Catholic Church."

Does anyone know the history of Church teaching on LImbo? What was supposed to have happened a couple of years ago? I would also be interested in any comment on the other points.


#2

Yes, it did. The sale of indulgences has always been forbidden by Church doctrine.

These are matters of law, not doctrine. Laws change; doctrine doesn’t.

Limbo was never doctrine. It was theological speculation, the belief in which was never binding on any Catholic.

To an outsider – meaning one who doesn’t understand what the Church means when she speaks of doctrine – yes, it can look that way. Of course, looks can also be deceiving, especially when one’s view of the matter is skewed by a lack of knowledge.

– Mark L. Chance.


#3

Did the Church never have teachings on the sale of indulgences?

The Church always had a prohibition on the sale of Spiritual things, it’s called the sin of simony.

The treatment of witches? Or of heretics?

No change there.

Didn’t Limbo get overhauled just a couple of years ago?

No.

And again, if (say) the doctrine on indulgences was not a teaching, I’d be willing to bet that the average 15th-century European peasant thought it was, and that his parish priest did nothing to disabuse him. Oh, these weren’t core teachings? Did our 15th-century priest know that? You sure?

I have no idea what you are asking here?

Does anyone know the history of Church teaching on LImbo?

Limbo was one possibility of what happened to infants and children who died without Sacramental Baptism, because the Scriptures say no Unbaptized person can enter the Kingdom. And they say that no one is condemned to Hell unless they have intentionally rejected Christ.
SO if they can’t be in Heaven and they can’t be in Hell? Um?

Limbo = We don’t know what happens to them.

What was supposed to have happened a couple of years ago?

We added something to that last line:

Limbo = We don’t know what happens to them, but we can have hope!


#4

Frank, I can certainly understand your perspective if one has been outside the church and getting all this info from people who hate the Catholic church or can’t compete with the depth of its theological and spiritual insights. We have a heritage that no one on the planet can emulate and its just normal human nature for some to resent the obvious advantage the Church has over the Johnny Come Lately religious faiths that keep popping up. But the above replies are all correct. The doctrine evolves and adjusts to modernize it to the times but the core dogma and teaching has never changed. The Church can change its liturgy to take advantage of more recent translations in texts etc. without changing its basic teaching. If anything we get an expansion or a deeper teaching but never a retraction of core dogma or teaching.

I think if you come into the church and look around you will be just stunned about the level of scholarship, spirituality, history, tradition and worship that the church has.

James


#5

In regards to the teaching on Limbo, the Baltimore Catechism explains the pre-Vatican II teaching on this.

Emphasize mine:

Q. 632. Where will persons go who – such as infants – have not committed actual sin and who, through no fault of theirs, die without baptism?

A. Persons, such as infants, who have not committed actual sin and who, through no fault of theirs, die without baptism, cannot enter heaven; but it is the common belief they will go to some place similar to Limbo, where they will be free from suffering, though deprived of the happiness of heaven.

It was a common belief, not a teaching of the Church. In other words, since it did not contradict the teachings of the Church people were free to believe in it. Also note, it says “common belief”, that implies that while most people did believe it some did not.


#6

Very interesting. Thank you for quoting from the Baltimore Catechism. Although, JP2 said that the new catechism was a “sure norm” for teaching the faith. Was the same not true of the Baltimore catechism? If so, the phrase “cannot enter heaven” is a bit enlightening. Because now the teaching is, “we don’t know” and/or baptism by desire etc. Seems to me the original quote has a point which can’t be easily dismissed.


#7

I don’t know about the rest of the world but it’s my understanding that the Baltimore was the norm for the US.

If you will scroll down that page on the Baltimore Catechism you will find this section on the different Baptisms.

Q. 644. How many kinds of Baptism are there?

A. There are three kinds of Baptism: 1.Baptism of water, of desire, and of blood.

and farther down

Q. 650. What is Baptism of desire?

A. Baptism of desire is an ardent wish to receive Baptism, and to do all that God has ordained for our salvation.

Q. 651. What is Baptism of blood?

A. Baptism of blood is the shedding of one’s blood for the faith of Christ.

Q. 652. What is the baptism of blood most commonly called?

A. The baptism of blood is most commonly called martyrdom, and those who receive it are called martyrs. It is the death one patiently suffers from the enemies of our religion, rather than give up Catholic faith or virtue. We must not seek martyrdom, though we must endure it when it comes.

Q. 653. Is Baptism of desire or of blood sufficient to produce the effects of Baptism of water?

A. Baptism of desire or of blood is sufficient to produce the effects of the Baptism of water, if it is impossible to receive the Baptism of water.

Q. 654. How do we know that the baptism of desire or of blood will save us when it is impossible to receive the baptism of water?

A. We know that baptism of desire or of blood will save us when it is impossible to receive the baptism of water, from Holy Scripture, which teaches that love of God and perfect contrition can secure the remission of sins ; and also that Our Lord promises salvation to those who lay down their life for His sake or for His teaching.


#8

Here is a good tracing of the history of teaching limbo:

vatican.va/roman_curia/congregations/cfaith/cti_documents/rc_con_cfaith_doc_20070419_un-baptised-infants_en.html


#9

It would help if we could see what teachings the author has in mind. Either he mistakes discipline for “Church teaching” or he mistakenly thinks Vatican II actually did change some doctrine.


#10

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