Pope Benedict XVI on the Magisterium: What does this mean?

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Date: 2007-04-27

Papal Greeting to a Parish Pastoral Council

“Every Person Carries Within Himself a Project of God”

VATICAN CITY, APRIL 27, 2007 (Zenit.org).- Here is a Vatican translation of Benedict XVI’s March 25 homily at the Roman parish of St. Felicity and Her Children, Martyrs.

It is not the Magisterium that imposes doctrine. It is the Magisterium that helps enable the conscience itself to hear God’s voice, to know what is good, what is the Lord’s will. It is only an aid so that personal responsibility, nourished by a lively conscience, may function well and thus contribute to ensuring that justice is truly present in our society…

The Church offers us the encounter with Christ, with the living God, with the “Logos” who is Truth and Light, who does not coerce consciences,.

So the Magisterium does not impose doctrine but only helps enable the conscience itself to hear God’s voice?

Kinda makes you wonder if the Pope read it after someone else wrote it for him. Whatever happened to the Magisterium of the Church as being one of the three teaching authorities? Why downplay everything authoritative and replace it with conscience?

It appears that the Holy Father is saying that the Magisterium does not “invent” doctrine or dogma and then impose it on the Faithful. Rather, he seems to suggest, the Magesterium seeks to study, to explore in greater depth, and to understand more fully the Truth that is Christ. Then it applies that understanding to the matters challenging our consciences in a way that will help us respond correctly to the situations we encounter each day. Because it exercises this teaching office with our Lord’s promise of freedom from error, we can rely on its guidance with the confidence a child has in the loving guidance of his mother.

The Magisterium proposes, not imposes.

But as one of the teaching authorities of the Church, the Maigisterium *does *impose doctrine and dogmas.

Date: 2007-04-27

Papal Greeting to a Parish Pastoral Council

“Every Person Carries Within Himself a Project of God”

VATICAN CITY, APRIL 27, 2007 (Zenit.org).- Here is a Vatican translation of Benedict XVI’s March 25 homily at the Roman parish of St. Felicity and Her Children, Martyrs.

It is not the Magisterium that imposes doctrine. It is the Magisterium that helps enable the conscience itself to hear God’s voice, to know what is good, what is the Lord’s will. It is only an aid so that personal responsibility, nourished by a lively conscience, may function well and thus contribute to ensuring that justice is truly present in our society…

The Church offers us the encounter with Christ, with the living God, with the “Logos” who is Truth and Light, who does not coerce consciences,.

I just don’t see how it could be put any more beautifully.

I’ve never seen the Magisterium talk about imposing doctrine and yet I have seen it over and over again discuss proposing doctrine. For example, search for the word “propose” in Vatican I.

One must understand what is meant by one’s conscience. St. Catherine of Siena in the *Dialogue *described it as a watchdog that barks to warn us of evil and to urge us to do good. But, one must feed that dog–if he isn’t fed he becomes weak and can even cease barking. The Magisterium offers us the food for our conscience by proposing doctrine.

If you can understand this, then what the Holy Father said makes perfect sense.

I believe this to be a “phenomenological” approach to Magisterium. It’s well known that both Pope Benedict and Pope John Paul II belong(ed) to a phenomenological theological movement.

What is the phenomenological theological movement?

Traditionally, the Magisterium (properly speaking) IS God’s voice and doesn’t simply enable the hearing of God’s voice.

Can formulations such as this actually do any good? I could easily see this reinforcing caffeteria Catholicism. Well, that’s nice to hear, Pope, but I don’t quite see it that way. Thanks for helping me come to my own personal understanding. You got me thinking and helped me arrive at my own conclusions.

The Magisterium hands down what God has revealed and has proposed for our belief (again, see Vatican I) and explains and expounds upon it. The Church does not impose anything just as God does not impose anything–to say otherwise would be Calvin’s error. That is the radical freedom we are given. We have the choice to take it or leave–Our Lord told the Apostles to preach and if people didn’t listen to dust off the sandals and move on.

Phenomenology, as a philosophy, holds that human beings do not come to know the essences of things through sensible phenomena but that these phenomena help lead the mind to a direct experience of / contact with that essence through some kind of auxuliary relationship – i.e., they are a catalyst for knowledge but do not directly communicate knowledge.

Catholic theologians – especially of the Rhine school – began trying to reconcile phenomenology with Thomism. Some of the more famous modern representatives of this school include Henri de Lubac and Hans Urs von Balthasar.

This to me sounds like a phenomenological view of the Magisterium.

I’ve read things that Benedict’s encyclical Deus est caritas was also grounded in this phenomenological theology.

I think there’s more to it than just free will – with the language around an “aid to an encounter”, which definitely sounds like phenomenology. Otherwise, he would have said the Magisterium is the voice of God – which we are nevertheless free to accept or reject. Instead, he says that the Magisterium is not God’s voice but an aid to hearing God’s voice and enables a direct encounter with God.

That’s kind of what the phenomenological theologians do, take Catholic terms such as “propose” and take a different view of them. In Latin, the term proponere, as used by Vatican I, means to lay out and doesn’t imply “suggest” as it does in English. “Proposition” derives from that – the Latin term means “to make statements” that logically derive from revealed truths.

You ought to write his sermons so’s we can understand them.
Re:
"… does not “invent” doctrine or dogma and then impose it on the Faithful."
Who was it that “proposed” to Fr Feeney again?

Well, anyway I always did suspect it was the imposing Boston Israelites.

ps.
I’m thinkin of going from Sede to Universalist, cause then it’s all about arguing if you get the Mercedes in Heaven or just an Audi, and the only thing that’s damned is Hell, and the papacy is more or less a “proposal”.

Well really hasn’t the Church always assumed proper doctrine is present. That simply being part of the Body of Christ and being taught by those with proper orders means that we have access to proper doctrine. The magisterium and councils and such though clarify doctrine reform incorrect belief where it exists?

When the Magisterium speaks it isn’t to invent doctrine it is to inforce or clarify what is already there.

[sign]we’d Like To Propose That He Be Anathema, His conscience permitting[/sign]

It seems to me like he’s saying that the magisterium is the facilitator of the formation of consciences as opposed to being the ruler or master of consciences.

To propose: to lead a horse to water.

To impose: to make that horse start drinking.

Jesus answered and said to her, “Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again; but whoever drinks the water I shall give will never thirst; the water I shall give will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.” The woman said to him, “Sir, give me this water, so that I may not be thirsty or have to keep coming here to draw water.” – John 4: 13-15

As I said, there’s much more hear than a description of the free will to reject teachings of the Magisterium.

When he uses language and imagery like it’s an “aid” to a “direct encounter” – that clearly implies phenomenology. And it’s widely known that both Benedict XVI and John Paul II were phenomenological in their theology. I was hoping that perhaps someone on the board had a deeper / broader knowledge of phenomenology than I do.

I would question whether that is a proper understanding of authority as it applies to the Bible, Tradition, or The Magisterium. I haven’t seen a stake and faggots in court yard at St. Peters any of the times I was there. If the Church can “impose” belief it would destroy the concept of free will leaving one with no choice in a matter. The fact that there may be consequences of not accepting certain pronouncements and interpretation is a whole nother matter. Authority has no power unless it is accepted. How many protestants scatter when the Church roars? Not many I would say. Least not anymore.

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