Pastoral vs. Doctrinal


#1

Ecumenism, Religious Liberty, Collegiality, etc. (from Vatican II), what makes these pastoral and not doctrinal? I know that a good a faithful Catholic does not need to accept Vatican II statements on these things, so it must not be a matter of doctrine. If they were a matter of doctrine Vatican II would be teaching wrong doctrine, which isn’t possible. However, if they were pastoral, they don’t need to be correct statements, since they are not guarded by infallibility.


#2

Vatican II taught no new doctrine. So therefore it did not err in doctrine. You are correct in your conclusions, however.


#3

So, Religious Liberty, Ecumenism, Collegiality, non-Christians worshiping the same God are pastoral matters not doctrinal matters. OK, I think that I’m getting it. Religious Liberty, Ecumenism, and Collegiality just seem rather doctrinal to me. I know that they are pastoral, however I don’t know why.


#4

Good question. Maybe because they could change depending on world situations? I’ll let some master theologian answer that one.


#5

This audience from Pope Paul VI explains how the Council should be treated:

lumengentleman.com/content.asp?id=161

It’s a good read.

What makes the Second Vatican Council “pastoral” is not that it doesn’t teach doctrine. It meant that it was not concerned with condemning errors or defining new dogmas (Vatican I already did this), but of addressing positively the issues that modern man was dealing with and explaining and applying certain points of doctrine that were especially relevant.

There’s never really been in the Church such thing as an exclusively non-doctrinal council. There are Ecumenical Councils, which exercise Supreme authority, that deal both with doctrine and Church discipline and policy (usually they deal more with the latter, Trent being an exception, and also Vatican I). However, the previous Council, Vatican I, was cut short due to the Franco-Prussian war so it couldn’t finish what they wanted too–as a result, it is 100% concerned with defining dogma–they never got to the rest. As Pope Paul VI said during the Council, it needs to be viewed as complementary with and as a continuation of Vatican I. Vatican I dealt with all the dogmatic issues and errors of our time.

Ecumenism is not a doctrine just like evangelism is not a doctrine. It’s an action or mission of the Church. Evangelisim is bringing the faith to non-Christians, ecumenism is sharing it with separated Christians. They are two sides to the same coin.

Religious Liberty would be a doctrine, part of Catholic social teaching.

Collegiality is also a doctrine and part of ecclesiology.


#6

Overall the Second Vatican Council is actually a plan to evangelize the modern world who had lost their foundation of faith and had brought about the most brutal century the earth had ever seen. The documents were even written for average people to read, not just clerics and theologians.

The Council first explains what the Church is (Lumen Gentium). Then it explains what the word of God is (Dei verbum). Then it provides documents on how the Church in general should spread the word of God (outlining what means can and cannot be used), bring people into the Church, and how to prepare its members to accomplish these ends (Gaudium et Spes, Dignitatis Humanae, and the decrees on social communication, ecumenism, interreligious dialogue, the Eastern Churches, the liturgy, Christian education, and the training of priests). Then it provides documents for specific members of the Church outlining how they are to spread the word of God (decrees on bishops, priests, religious, missions, and laity).

It’s very comprehensive. Sadly, very few people follow what the Council said we should do and how we should do it. :frowning:

If everyone actually obeyed the mandates the Council gives to those in their respective states of life, we’d be living in a golden age of the Church. Alas, sinful men never listen and obey–they do what their pride and carnality desires. But sadly, as history shows, Councils are only heeded by the faithful and obedient–of which there is often few. Arianism grew after Nicea, Nestorianism grew after Ephesus, and so forth. Some followed those errors, some left to do it better than the institutional Church, some just lose faith all together…nothing new under sun :frowning:


#7

As an aside, two other Ecumenical Councils without dogmatic defiitions are Lateran I and Lyons I, but they still have a mix of doctrine and disciplinary/policy oriented decrees.

Likewise, there are many papal documents that deal almost exclusively with doctrine, but which do not contain solmen dogmatic definitions–it doesn’t make them less authoritative.


#8

The only things that good and faithful Catholics are required to uphold are the infallible teachings restated in Vatican II. Vatican II did not define any new teachings. Pastoral teachings do not require assent (acceptance) they do require respect as teachings from an Ecumenical Council of the Church. However, that does not mean that on cannot disagree with them and a good and faithful Catholic need not accept them, since they are pastoral not doctrinal. Pastoral issues can change over time. Examples:

Ecumenism - The Church can choose how it is to deal with other religions.

Religious Liberty - Circumstances in our times may change the need for suppressing certain religions and controlling governmental religion.

Collegiality - How the Pope and the bishops interact and the power between them.

These issues and more took an unneeded reform at Vatican II. The new type of Ecumenism could hurt the Church and cause religious pluralism. Religious liberty can cause they false sense that people have a right to worship in non-Catholic religions. Collegiality could cause a false sense that the Pope is not the supreme pastor and he must listen to the bishops. These are pastoral not doctrinal issues. Simply - ecumenism is not the best way to convert. People do not have a right to Religious liberty. And bishops should only act as a college during an ecumenical council or when the pope thinks fit. The church has decided to change its stance. However, individual Catholics may disagree with these pastoral issues. If these were matters of doctrine the SSPX would be heretics, because they do not accept these Vatican II pastoral statements. While I fervently disagree with their separation, they are not heretics. Remember, they are in separation because they consecrated bishops w/o papal mandate, NOT because they do not accept these Vatican II pastoral statements.


#9

Sorry about this, my response turned out a little long, but I wanted to address all your points:

Catholics must accept with docility the authentic teaching of the Magisterium, of which an ecumenical Councils exercises supreme authority.

Vatican II did not define any new teachings.

Correct, it simply explains and applies various points of the deposit of faith.

Pastoral teachings do not require assent (acceptance) they do require respect as teachings from an Ecumenical Council of the Church. However, that does not mean that on cannot disagree with them and a good and faithful Catholic need not accept them, since they are pastoral not doctrinal.

Yes and no. If the Council commands someone in your state of life to do something, you must do it. If it tells you to refrain from certain behavior, you should likewise refrain from doing that. But yes, you do not have to agree that certain policy actions are best, as long as you always do so respectfully. It’s also good to keep this in mind: the Pope and the Bishops of the world, are far more qualified than you and I. Likewise, unlike us, they are authorized by God to make these decisions. So, unless in good conscience you can’t agree with a certain policy, to me, proper humility would say give them the benefit of the doubt.

Ecumenism - The Church can choose how it is to deal with other religions.

Ecumenism (dealing with Christians), like evangelism (dealing with non-Christians), has always been a mission of the Church (even if the term wasn’t used necessarily). But, just with evangelism, there are many ways to share the truth and foster true Catholic unity with separated Christians. Just like St. Paul said, we should be all things to all men. Different approaches should be used for different individuals and groups.

Religious Liberty - Circumstances in our times may change the need for suppressing certain religions and controlling governmental religion.

Religious Liberty is a little deeper than that. It is not a time-specific issue. It is a truth and a norm for the Church’s actions–the assent to faith must be free from coercion–this is limited, however, when it comes to state action (as the Council taught). As prvious popes forcefully explained in light of radical Liberalism, the state can intervene if necessary to preserve a just ordering of society–the catechism explains well referencing past popes:

**2108 **The right to religious liberty is neither a moral license to adhere to error, nor a supposed right to error,37 but rather a natural right of the human person to civil liberty, i.e., immunity, within just limits, from external constraint in religious matters by political authorities. This natural right ought to be acknowledged in the juridical order of society in such a way that it constitutes a civil right.38

**2109 **The right to religious liberty can of itself be neither unlimited nor limited only by a “public order” conceived in a positivist or naturalist manner.39 The “due limits” which are inherent in it must be determined for each social situation by political prudence, according to the requirements of the common good, and ratified by the civil authority in accordance with "legal principles which are in conformity with the objective moral order."40

37 Cf. Leo XIII, Libertas praestantissimum 18; Pius XII AAS 1953, 799.
38 Cf. Dignitatis Humanae 2.
39 Cf. Pius VI, Quod aliquantum (1791) 10; Pius IX, Quanta cura 3.
40 DH 7 # 3.


#10

Collegiality - How the Pope and the bishops interact and the power between them.

Collegiality is also not some time-specific issue, but truly describes the relationship between the bishops, including the special role of the Bishop of Rome. But, collegiality must be properly understood–it does not mean that the Pope cannot act independently of the consent of the bishops, but rather he, as head of the college, has the authority to direct them at will–he does not need to expressly involve them in decision making. Confusion over this issue arose because Vatican I got cut short due to the Franco-Prussian war, leaving the document on the papacy without the intended document on bishops.

These issues and more took an unneeded reform at Vatican II. The new type of Ecumenism could hurt the Church and cause religious pluralism. Religious liberty can cause they false sense that people have a right to worship in non-Catholic religions. Collegiality could cause a false sense that the Pope is not the supreme pastor and he must listen to the bishops. These are pastoral not doctrinal issues.

The kind of ecumenism that does lead to that–called irenicism–was specifically condemned by the Council. Religious Libery has nothing to do with that–in fact the Council specifically states all men are bound by conscience to search for the true faith and accept it. Again, as with collegiality, the Council’s teaching is clear that the Supreme Pontiff is just that–Supreme. As for not needed, the teaching on bishops was needed to finish the work of Vatican I. The teaching on Religious Liberty was necessary to counteract the totalitarian states that arose in the 20th century (most notably communism). Likewise, ecumenism is necessary because it is part of the Church’s missionary mandate from Christ.

Simply - ecumenism is not the best way to convert.

Ecumenism is not a method, just like evangelization is not a method. It is a broad concept. You seem to disagree with the current approach to ecumenism. Do you think people are more likely to convert if you ignore them and simply declare their beliefs to be anathema as some traditionalists would favor? Of course not–that won’t help anything. You have to be able to sit down with them and explain the truth in a friendly manner–understanding their beliers, affirming what is good, and showing them charitably how Catholicism is the fulfillment of their love for Christ–in fact, this is the traditional and modern approach–despite certain individuals who practice the condemned irenicism.

People do not have a right to Religious liberty.

Properly understood, yes they do. What they do not have, as has been pointed out above, is religious license–that is, they are not morally free to choose whatever religion they want—but, the state cannot coerce them in religious matters unless conditions warrant it (not unlike the prohibition to kill is lifted for the state when necessary to achieve a just order of society–but of course that doesn’t mean that individuals don’t have a right to life).

And bishops should only act as a college during an ecumenical council or when the pope thinks fit.

Essentially yes, which is exactly what Vatican II taught.

The church has decided to change its stance. However, individual Catholics may disagree with these pastoral issues. If these were matters of doctrine the SSPX would be heretics, because they do not accept these Vatican II pastoral statements.

The SSPX misunderstand traditional policy and the teachings of Vatican II–they are fighting a strawman.

While I fervently disagree with their separation, they are not heretics. Remember, they are in separation because they consecrated bishops w/o papal mandate, NOT because they do not accept these Vatican II pastoral statements.

Right, their situation more resembles schism, because they act independent from any lawful authorities of the Church, while not rejecting any authentic doctrine–likewise, consecrating bishops without consent of the Apostolic See is a de facto act of schism.


#11

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