More questions on Catholic Doctrine Sources and "cafeteria Catholicism"


#1

Hello Everyone-

I wanted to thank those of you who responded to my initial post about Catholic doctrine! It was definitely some much appreciated information. I am unsure if I was clear in the question I was asking. What I am really wondering about is how certain dogma or aspects of our faith got established. I am wondering if there is a good source (be it the internet, or a reputable book) that explains what steps were involved to a certain belief being established. This is more an investigation for me to INCREASE my faith, to get the “where are they coming” from in this piece of dogma.

As an example, I am going to use the example of the Immaculate Conception. My questions would be pretty simple. Where in the Bible does it talk about Mary being conceived without sin (direct or indirect evidence)? What made the Pope decide in the 1850s(forgive me for forgetting) that this should be an infallible statement? What are the other pieces of evidence, including visions from Saints? Now I found a good website about this: newadvent.org/cathen/07674d.htm) What I am wondering is where else could I find general information (that describes how aspects of our faith came into existence) about Catholicism like this?

The second big point I am wondering about is what some might call Cafeteria Catholicism. What are we as Catholics absolutely suppose to believe? Now I would imagine that anything in the Apostles or Niece Creed are those fundamental statements about our faith. Those are the “absolutes.” What about other topics and what other topics? I am a little bit more curious about issues that seem to come and go with time. One now might be the issue of stem cell research. Say, hypothetically, I did not agree with what the Church had to say on that. Does that mean I am sinning or what? I may sound somewhat antagonistic about this, but I am trying to understand where my beliefs and those of the church seem to agree and not agree. (By the way, I do believe everything in the Apostle’s creed). I am just wondering what sort of stuff makes you go “out of line” to the things that it is OK not to agree with.

I hope this line of logic all makes sense. I am just trying to grasp some of this.

Thanks again everyone!


#2

www.catholic.com is most likely the best source available to defend the Catholic Faith. I found the following for you there:

catholic.com/library/Immaculate_Conception_and_Assum.asp

Secondly, the Church Christ established existed before any one book of the Bible was written, so you had better line up any Bible with what the Church teaches in order to determine authenticity of such text.

Third, as Catholics we MUST believe everything decreed by an Ecumenical Council or Roman Pontiff which concerns a definition of the Catholic Faith to be held by all the faithful. We are not allowed to “pick and choose” certain doctrines to believe or not to believe in. Not to believe a doctrine or dogma defined by an Ecumenical Council or Pope is to be excommunicated ipso-facto.

Ken


#3

You must believe/accept all teachings of the Church in matters of faith and morals. Everything can be found in the Catechism of the Catholic Church which also has footnotes referencing Scripture, Church fathers and other Church documents.


#4

Get a copy of “Fundamentals of Catholic Dogma” by Ludwig Ott. You’ll never be sorry. It states the doctrine in a concise sentence and then gives the background - Scriptural, early church fathers, development in Church, and heresies that led to its being defined.
I don’t know of another book that compares to it.

Nita


#5

Papal encyclicals and letters are very helpful in understanding the Church’s teachings. They give the Scriptural and historical backgrounds. Most are easy to read and to follow. They are intended for all the faithful, not just theologians.

For example, on the doctrine of the IC, read Ineffabilis Deus, Apostolic Constitution of Pope Pius IX on the Immaculate Conception (December 8, 1854).
newadvent.org/library/docs_pi09id.htm

As far as the Church’s moral teachings, read JPII’s Evangelium Vitae:
vatican.va/holy_father/john_paul_ii/encyclicals/documents/hf_jp-ii_enc_25031995_evangelium-vitae_en.html

and Veritatis Splendor:
vatican.va/holy_father/john_paul_ii/encyclicals/documents/hf_jp-ii_enc_06081993_veritatis-splendor_en.html

None of us comes into the Church knowing all the teachings. The important thing when we first become committed to the Catholic faith is to accept that the Church is what she says she is–the oracle of Christ. The teachings will unfold with time, as we become more enlightened by truth and as we pray and meditate on the truths presented to us.

Avoid the mistake of thinking you must follow only some of the Church’s teachings; others are optional. No one becomes a saint this way. All the Church’s teachings are important to make us holy; to make us saints.

Those Catholics who say we must follow only the “infallible” *ex cathedra *teachings but we can ignore “non-infallible” ones are foolish, and are only deceiving themselves. Can you imagine someone saying to Jesus during His Sermon on the Mount “which of these teachings do I have to follow; which ones can I ignore.” No, we are called to perfection and holiness. There are no cafeteria Catholic saints.


#6

The second big point I am wondering about is what some might call Cafeteria Catholicism. What are we as Catholics absolutely suppose to believe? Now I would imagine that anything in the Apostles or Niece Creed are those fundamental statements about our faith. Those are the “absolutes.” What about other topics and what other topics? I am a little bit more curious about issues that seem to come and go with time. One now might be the issue of stem cell research. Say, hypothetically, I did not agree with what the Church had to say on that. Does that mean I am sinning or what? I may sound somewhat antagonistic about this, but I am trying to understand where my beliefs and those of the church seem to agree and not agree. (By the way, I do believe everything in the Apostle’s creed). I am just wondering what sort of stuff makes you go “out of line” to the things that it is OK not to agree with.

If you are unaware of the Church’s teachings on embryonic stem cell research, that it is evil, then you are not culpable if you support and promote it.

Once you are aware of this, that embryonic stem cell research is evil, you have a duty to avoid any kind of activity that would support or encourage it. Once you are aware that it is evil, it would be a sin to support embryonic stem cell research in any way.

If you have trouble understanding why the Church teaches it is evil, read up on the reasons behind this teaching. When the Church explains her teachings, she usually includes all the best arguments used against her. This is in keeping with the format of St Thomas’ Summa Theologica. The Church wants you to know and understand both sides of the issue.


#7

The second big point I am wondering about is what some might call Cafeteria Catholicism. What are we as Catholics absolutely suppose to believe?

Vatican II taught this in *Lumen Gentium *25:
vatican.va/archive/hist_councils/ii_vatican_council/documents/vat-ii_const_19641121_lumen-gentium_en.html

Bishops, teaching in communion with the Roman Pontiff, are to be respected by all as witnesses to divine and Catholic truth. In matters of faith and morals, the bishops speak in the name of Christ and the faithful are to accept their teaching and adhere to it with a religious assent. This religious submission of mind and will must be shown in a special way to the authentic magisterium of the Roman Pontiff, even when he is not speaking ex cathedra; that is, it must be shown in such a way that his supreme magisterium is acknowledged with reverence, the judgments made by him are sincerely adhered to, according to his manifest mind and will. His mind and will in the matter may be known either from the character of the documents, from his frequent repetition of the same doctrine, or from his manner of speaking.


#8

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