Question about the "body of faith" accepting papal documents


#1

In reading about “Unam Santam” on wikipedia, the following statement is made:

Boniface’s reputation for always trying to increase the papal power made it difficult to accept such an extreme declaration. His assertion over the temporal was seen as hollow and misguided and **it’s said the document was not seen as authoritative because the body of faith did not accept it **(Collins 2000 & Duffy 2002).

en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Unam_Sanctam

I’ve run across the idea of the ‘body of faith’ accepting things in the past but have never seen any clear teaching about what this exactly means or encompasses. Can anybody help clear that up for me?


#2

Lumen Gentium 25 states (see here):

To these [infallible] definitions the assent of the Church can never be wanting, on account of the activity of that same Holy Spirit, by which the whole flock of Christ is preserved and progresses in unity of faith.

So by logical reasoning the converse must hold, which is that if the assent of the Church is found wanting, then the teaching is not an infallible definition.


Was Vatican II Infallible?
#3

Thank you!

So was this conceptually in place pre-Vatican 2?

And also, how is it known that the assent of the Church is found wanting? Is Unam Sanctam recognized by the church as valid or not?


#4

Laudatur Iesus Christus.

This does not seem like a logical extension or a reasonable corollary.

Could you please provide some source for your premise, “To these [infallible] definitions the assent of the Church can never be wanting, on account of the activity of that same Holy Spirit, by which the whole flock of Christ is preserved and progresses in unity of faith?”

This seems like an overly optimistic statement, which ought be considered in context to gage its meaning.

However, it would be just as “logical” to assert that the limits of the “Church” are defined by assent to infallible teachings – that is, rather than say “the teaching is fallible because some in the Church dissent,” one might as easily say, “those who reject the teaching are not in the Church.” So, the suggested argument is not sufficient.

Please cite an example of “acceptance by the ‘whole flock of Christ’” being applied as a principle in an orthodox Catholic source. On the whole, this does not seem to me likely to be a valid principle and seems more of an excuse for dissent than a principle of interpretation of doctrine.

narnia59, it would be imprudent to accept this idea based on Wikipedia or on the argument proffered in post no. 2. Would it be helpful to try and understand the meaning and application of Unam Sanctam? Perhaps it would be good to consider the pastoral considerations which affect the statements of the Church to a self-destructive and nuclear-armed world.

Pax Christi nobiscum.

John Hiner


#5

Laudatur Iesus Christus.

*Unam Sanctam *expresses the teaching of the Church.

Consider this from the *Catholic Encyclopedia *(1912):

The genuineness of the Bull is absolutely established by the entry of it in the official registers of the papal Briefs, and its incorporation in the canon law [This refers to Corpus Iuris Canonici, not to the current Codex Iuris Cononici (1983).] . . .

The Bull lays down dogmatic propositions on the unity of the Church, the necessity of belonging to it for eternal salvation, the position of the pope as supreme head of the Church, and the duty thence arising of submission to the pope in order to belong to the Church and thus to attain salvation. . .

The Bull is universal in character. . .

This definition, the meaning and importance of which are clearly evident from the connection with the first part on the necessity of the one Church for salvation, and on the pope as the one supreme head of the Church, expresses the necessity for everyone who wishes to attain salvation of belonging to the Church, and therefore of being subject to the authority of the pope in all religious matters. This has been the constant teaching of the Church, and it was declared in the same sense by the Fifth Ecumenical Council of the Lateran, in 1516: “De necessitate esse salutis omnes Christi fideles Romano Pontifici subesse” (That it is of the necessity of salvation for all Christ’s faithful to be subject to the Roman pontiff).

(See newadvent.org/cathen/15126a.htm.)

Pope Pius XII wrote in his encyclical *Mystici Corporis Christi *(1943):

That Christ and His Vicar constitute one only Head is the solemn teaching of Our predecessor of immortal memory Boniface VIII in the Apostolic Letter “Unam Sanctam;” and his successors have never ceased to repeat the same.

  1. They, therefore, walk in the path of dangerous error who believe that they can accept Christ as the Head of the Church, while not adhering loyally to His Vicar on earth. They have taken away the visible head, broken the visible bonds of unity and left the Mystical Body of the Redeemer so obscured and so maimed, that those who are seeking the haven of eternal salvation can neither see it nor find it.

(See vatican.va/holy_father/pius_xii/encyclicals/documents/hf_p-xii_enc_29061943_mystici-corporis-christi_en.html.)

*Unam Sanctam *was cited as recently as A.D. 2000 in Dominus Iesus, a Declaration by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith; see [vatican.va/roman_curia/congregations/cfaith/documents/rc_con_cfaith_doc_20000806_dominus-iesus_lt.html footnote 51](“http://www.vatican.va/roman_curia/congregations/cfaith/documents/rc_con_cfaith_doc_20000806_dominus-iesus_lt.html footnote 51”).

When coming to grips with the teaching of the Church the dogmatic teachings of *Unam Sanctam *are among the things one must accommodate in a comprehensive understanding of the Faith.

Spiritus Sapientiae nobiscum.

John Hiner


#6

It is from Lumen Gentium 25. I gave a link to Lumen Gentium in my previous post.

The “sensus fidei”, the supernatural sense of faith of the people of the Church, which unerringly guides the Church to accept those teachings that are truly from God even though they are conveyed by men, is discussed in more detail in Lumen Gentium 12. Here is a full paragraph quote for context:

The holy people of God shares also in Christ’s prophetic office; it spreads abroad a living witness to Him, especially by means of a life of faith and charity and by offering to God a sacrifice of praise, the tribute of lips which give praise to His name.(110) The entire body of the faithful, anointed as they are by the Holy One,(111) cannot err in matters of belief. They manifest this special property by means of the whole peoples’ supernatural discernment in matters of faith when “from the Bishops down to the last of the lay faithful” (8*) they show universal agreement in matters of faith and morals. That discernment in matters of faith is aroused and sustained by the Spirit of truth. It is exercised under the guidance of the sacred teaching authority, in faithful and respectful obedience to which the people of God accepts that which is not just the word of men but truly the word of God.(112) Through it, the people of God adheres unwaveringly to the faith given once and for all to the saints,(113) penetrates it more deeply with right thinking, and applies it more fully in its life.

Footnotes 110 to 113 are biblical, so the idea would seem to have been around for a while now.


#7

Thank you for your response.

And how do you propose it is accommodated along with those things that seem to contradict it? For example, this:

catholic.com/thisrock/2005/0512fea3.asp

And where the cathechism teaches that those outside the church may be saved?

If I understand correctly the teaching of the church, if one understands and is convicted of the truth that the Catholic Church was established by Christ and remains that church today and yet choose to remain outside of its visible boundaries – they have no salvation.

Yet for those who are ignorant of this and not convicted of this truth, they may well find salvation within the boundaries of the church that are not visible – specifically the common baptism and imperfect communion we share with other Christians.

So does Unam Santam contradict this in your view?


#8

I ran across the concept of “sensus fidei” just today in researching the Immaculate Conception dogma.

I guess I am looking for something a little older and little more dogmatic as to what it actually means and how it is applied.:confused:


#9

Laudatur Iesus Christus.

Dear Just Lurking:

Thank you for pointing out my oversight; I did not notice the citation to *Lumen Gentium *25 – or at least it did not register with me as the source of the premise in the argument in post no. 2.

I also apologize to you and to narnia59 for being a little slow in connecting the “body of faith” in the original post with the “sensus fidei.”

Though the “sensus fidei” and the “activity of [the] Holy Spirit, by which the whole flock of Christ is preserved and progresses in unity of faith,” (Ibid., 25), are not exactly the same thing, they are clearly related in some ways. The “sensus fidei,” as that term is usually understood, is a means of preserving the deposit of faith and discerning those ideas and practices which are implied in it. By essaying this sensus, the teachers of the Church are aided in discerning elements and needed elaborations of the faith at different times. For example, it was in part by consideration of the *sensus fidei *that Pope Pius XII discerned the truth of the dogma of the Assumption, (see e.g. Munificentissimus Deus, 41).

That this *sensus fidei *cannot be viewed as a check or “veto” over an infallibly defined teaching of a pontiff is made clear in the very paragraph, *Lumen Gentium, *25, from which the quotation in post no. 2 was taken. Regarding papal teachings, that paragraph states:

And therefore his definitions, of themselves, and not from the consent of the Church, are justly styled irreformable, since they are pronounced with the assistance of the Holy Spirit, promised to him in blessed Peter, and therefore they need no approval of others, nor do they allow an appeal to any other judgment. (Vatican II, Lumen Gentium, 25; emphasis added.)

Further, it is also clear from *Lumen Gentium, *12, that the sensus fidei cannot operate in opposition to the pontiff, precisely because it is his discernment that allows an authoritative judgment of whether such a sunsus exists. This is one implications of the phrase, “*t [the inerrancy of the entire body of the faithful] is exercised under the guidance of the sacred teaching authority, in faithful and respectful obedience to which the people of God accepts that which is not just the word of men but truly the word of God,” (Ibid., 12). Consider the meaning of the word “fidei,” (faithful). Who are the faithful? These are clearly not all baptized persons or even all those who identify themselves as Catholics. Rather, the faithful are precisely those within the Catholic Church who hold the true faith, and do not dissent or wander from it. It is the body of these faithful believers who exercise the office described in *Lumen Gentium, *12. Who can say who is in or out of this group? As Pope Pius XII’s statements in *Munificentissimus Deus *make clear, when he speaks of the “almost unanimous” responses of the bishops regarding the proposed dogma of the Assumption, it is the Pope who determines whether a truth is believed by the faithful to the extent of establishing a sensus fidei.

Thus one is brought to the same conclusion here as in post no. 4. It is the Pope who judges the sensus fidei, not the other way around. If the Pope judges that a belief is held by all of the faithful, and a given Catholic does not share that belief, then the purity of the individual’s faith, and not the validity of the papal decree, is cast into doubt.

I hope this is helpful.

Pax Christi nobiscum.

John Hiner*


#10

Let me add my understanding to the mix. In a nutshell:
[list]
*]sensus fidei = sense of faith = If a teaching truly comes from God, then the body of God will unerringly recognize it as such.
*]sensus fidelium = sense of the faithful = If the body of God universally believes something, then it must be true.
[/list]

The sensus fidei is not a condition or requirement of infallibility, but a necessary consequence of infallibility.

An analogy can be found in science, with infallibility = acid, and sensus fidei = litmus paper. A compound is an acid or not based on the compound itself. An acid is an acid, even if it is never given a litmus test. By the same token, if a compound fails the litmus test, it is not an acid. But it is not the failure of the test that made the compound not an acid; it was already not an acid prior to the test. The test merely confirmed what was already true.

Similarly, the assent of the Church is not a requirement of infallibility, but it is an unerring test of infallibility. If something fails this test, then it is not infallible, and indeed it never was. The lack of assent of the Church did not somehow make what would otherwise be an infallible teaching fallible; the teaching was never infallible to begin with.


Was Vatican II Infallible?
#11

Laudatur Iesus Christus.

Dear narnia59:

I do not discern any contradiction between the possible salvation of some outside the visible bounds of the Church and the truths expressed in Unam Sanctam. I am not sure what the seeming contradiction might be which concerns you. It might be helpful if you could detail your thoughts on this. However, I offer the following as initial approaches to the matter.

The Kingdom of Heaven is a kingdom. It is an organization of individuals in a particular way. One way of characterizing salvation is as admission into and endurance as member of that Kingdom.

Everyone who hopes to be admitted to a Kingdom must submit to the authority of its ministers. It would be self-contradictory to say, “I seek to be a loyal member of Your Kingdom, but I decline to obey or recognize the authority of Your Chancellor or any of Your judges.”

Hence, whatever disposition and openness to God might allow a person outside the visible bounds of the Church to be admitted to Heaven – the Kingdom of God – must by implication include the willingness, either actually or in potentially, to submit to the Steward of that Kingdom on earth, that is the Pope; this is because the Church is one single entity, on earth, in Purgatory, and in Heaven. The notion that some outside the Church can be saved rises from the idea that this willingness to submit – to baptism, to the Pontiff, etc. – might be implicit, and God who judges the heart truly and not by appearances will be able to discern the truth and sincerity of this spiritual submission, even if the opportunity for a temporal act of submission is never actually presented during the person’s life. The implicit submission must be present before death. The fact of submission will be realized in Heaven, where the relationships of the Kingdom will be entirely effective.

Faith in Christ entails accepting the arrangements He has made in His Kingdom. Hence, any faith sufficient to please God implies acceptance and submission to the Roman Pontiff, the earthly Steward of God’s Kingdom.

A second image used by St. Paul is of the Church as the Body of Christ. Using this image, salvation is like being admitted and remaining a part of this body, this total Christ, risen to full stature. Any desire, implicit or explicit, to become part of this body entails a willingness to submit to the control and direction of the brainstem of the body. Whether one is a hand or a foot or a gland, being part of the body means being subject to the decisions of the brainstem to move or rest, to be stimulated or to be restrained. To say that one has a desire to join the body, but refuses to submit to its control system is nonsense. God will judge whether it is the desire to join or the refusal to submit which authentically characterizes the final disposition of each person at death – whether inside or outside the visible bounds of the Church.

It is among the many graces offered by the Church that she aids one to clarify and make firm these intentions, so that ambiguity is removed and one’s hope for salvation becomes more and more assured. Nevertheless, by a special grace of God, a person outside the visible bounds of the Church may come to a disposition which is sufficiently aligned with the Kingdom of Heaven, the Body of Christ, as to allow one’s late admission at the moment of death.

I hope this is helpful.

Pax Christi nobiscum.

John Hiner


#12

Totally incorrect, according to the dogmatic definition of the First Vatican Council:

"We teach and define that it is a dogma Divinely revealed that the Roman pontiff when he speaks ex cathedra, that is when in discharge of the office of pastor and doctor of all Christians, by virtue of his supreme Apostolic authority, he defines a doctrine regarding faith or morals to be held by the universal Church, by the Divine assistance promised to him in Blessed Peter, is possessed of that infallibility with which the Divine Redeemer willed that his Church should be endowed in defining doctrine regarding faith or morals, and that therefore such definitions of the Roman pontiff are of themselves and not from the consent of the Church irreformable."
[RIGHT]— Vatican Council, Sess. IV , Const. de Ecclesiâ Christi, Chapter iv[/RIGHT]


#13

I’ve already addressed this. The sensus fidei is not a pre-condition or requirement for the exercise of infallibility, as that would indeed contradict Vatican I. The sensus fidei is a necessary consequence of infallibility, by action of the Holy Spirit.


#14

Laudatur Iesus Christus.

Dear Just Lurking:

Thank you for clarifying. I think you are right. I was somewhat sloppy in my Latin, or at least I lumped together implications and facts in a way that did not make the distinctions you draw clear.

I largely agree with your short statements of the meaning of *sensus fidei *and sensus fidelium. However, I might emphasize that *fidei *is either dative or genitive. Hence, one might say:

· *sensus fidei *= sensing by or because of faith = A teaching which comes from God will be recognized as true (either directly or indirectly) by those who have the faith.

Of course, I make this revision, which might seem quibbling, because of the application of this idea illustrated in the “litmus test” example. That application does not seem to give sufficient weight to the teaching of the Holy Spirit and the Conciliar Fathers of Vatican II as previously quoted:

And therefore his definitions, of themselves, and not from the consent of the Church, are justly styled irreformable, since they are pronounced with the assistance of the Holy Spirit, promised to him in blessed Peter, and therefore they need no approval of others, nor do they allow an appeal to any other judgment. (Vatican II, Lumen Gentium, 25; emphasis added.)

The litmus test example must be expanded to see the problem. How does one tell if the paper being used is “litmus paper” or just “construction paper?” In the world of doctrine there is no test which allows this to be independently determined. No label on the box can assure us that the paper which does not react to the “acid” of the proclaimed dogma is true litmus paper returning a negative result, rather than mere construction paper, which has not the “faith” to discern the matter.

The “acid” however, has an independent test. If the Pontiff proclaims the teaching in the proper way, one can be certain that the teaching is “acid” – giving one a means of testing the tabs of paper.

Of course, in the Church beyond the bounds of this metaphor, even when a faithful member of the Church cannot personally, directly see the truth of a particular dogma, his faith allows him to trust in the Pontiff and thereby recognize the teaching as true by this indirect avenue of discernment, even when direct apprehension of the truth expressed in the teaching may take much longer for the individual believer to achieve.

One might add a further objection to the idea described in the “litmus test” scenario. If this test were supposed, could one say that there has ever been any doctrine of the Church, from the Trinity to the Crucifixion, that has been believed universally by each and every member of the visible Church? What of those members of the Church who are too young to opine? What of those who are habitual sinners – the tares sown among the wheat by the Enemy? Suppose all members up until 1963 believed something, but a member in that year did not recognize it as true, would that dissent disprove the infallibility of the teaching, which had previously passed even the most rigorous “litmus test?”

It seems clear that this view cannot be correct or the intention of the teaching in Lumen Gentium; it would render all of the teachings of Christ and His Church uncertain. As my son jestingly put it: “It is lucky that the Pope wears those clothes and that big hat to identify him as the ***one person ***whose teachings are trumped by the opinions of every other member of the Church.”

The Magisterium, the sensus fidei, the sensus fidelium, and common sense tell us that this cannot be the system of authority established by Christ in His Church.

Pax Christi nobiscum.

John Hiner


#15

You’re welcome. I’m always happy to add my two cents.

My view is that the term “appeal” here is used in the sense of overturning something that otherwise met the criteria for an infallible definition, just an appeal to the Supreme Court can overturn a lower court ruling that the appellant did not like. The litmus test does not do that. It only serves to make clear what is already the case. If the output of an acid manufacturing plant fails the litmus test, then there must have been some defect in the manufacturing process, because the litmus test cannot change whether something is already an acid or not.

Similarly, the lack of sensus fidei is not the reason that some teaching is not infallible, although it may be the reason that we know that some teaching is not infallible. There must have already been some condition for being an infallible teaching that was not met. It is a completely different situation than the Pope making an infallible definition, only to have it overturned by the Church as a whole. If the sensus fidei is lacking, then there was no infallible teaching to begin with.

This is indeed a practical concern. Nonetheless, as I argue below, I believe watering down the doctrine of the sensus fidei to the point of uselessness does a disservice to the Catholic Church.

In the case of Unam Sanctam, everyone who had first-hand knowledge of whether the teaching was proclaimed in the proper way died many hundreds of years ago, which makes checking the direct conditions for infallibility problematic. However, the sensus fidei can be checked directly, even today.

Also, checking the direct conditions isn’t as easy at it appears. When Ordinatio Sacerdotalis first came out, theologians debated whether it met the conditions for papal infallibility. And even after then-Cardinal Ratzinger’s statement that the conditions of papal infallibility were not met for Ordinatio Sacerdotalis, and the acceptance of this statement by most if not all theologians, it still seems like every other week some random Internet dude is arguing that the conditions were met, as though they were more knowledgeable to judge the matter than Ratzinger.

I believe there is the concept of a moral unaniminity that applies here. For example, the documents of Vatican II were passed with moral unaniminity, the actual vote being 99% to 1%.

The infallibility of various Church teachings is uncertain. The theologians disagree, and the Vatican has produced no complete, authoritative list of which teachings are infallible. It seems to me that the sensus fidei is one of the forces that works to reduce this uncertainty, rather than to increase it.

One must still make sense of the statement from Lumen Gentium 25, regarding the “activity of that same Holy Spirit, by which the whole flock of Christ is preserved and progresses in unity of faith.”

Suppose that this “activity of the Holy Spirit” consists solely of marking those who dissent from infallible teachings with a big red spiritual X, effectively removing them from the group of the people of God. My view is this actually encourages dissent. Consider the SSPX. They believe that the non-infallible teachings of the modern Magisterium must be rejected because they contradict prior infallible teachings. They believe that the Popes and bishops who have promulgated these contradictory teachings have thereby removed themselves from the Church, so that their organization embodies the only remaining true Church. This kind of thinking that results from watering down the doctrine of the sensus fidei.

On the other hand, imagine that the Holy Spirit is real and powerful, and can actually do what the Bible says in John 14 and especially John 16:13. So much so that it is theologically impossible for the non-infallible teachings of the modern Magisterium to contradict prior infallible teachings, because the activity of the Holy Spirit in the sensus fidei will necessarily prevent such an occurrence. Thus, the position advocated by the SSPX is utterly and completely impossible. Surely this is a better system of authority for the Catholic Church than the one that the SSPX advocates!


#16

Laudatur Iesus Christus.

Dear Just Lurking:

I can sympathize with the desire to avoid controversy and to have a united body of believers. I gather this is the point, if I have understood you aright. However, the proffered theory of interpretation is not tenable, even with so noble a goal in mind.

The structure of certainty in the Faith as established in the teachings of the Church is reflected definitely in the Scriptures:

Peter is the rock on which the Church is built, (Matt. 16:18). This in contrast to a man who built on sand and could not weather a storm, (Matt. 7:24-27).

Peter in his own right is given the keys to the Kingdom and given the power to bind and loose, (Matt. 16:19). Peter alone is told to strengthen his brothers, (Luke 22:31-32). Peter alone is told to govern and feed the sheep, (John 21:15-17).

Peter teaches that the roles of the Twelve are offices and that successors must take up the faculties assigned to the Twelve Apostles by the Lord, (Acts 1:15).

The Apostles as a group, including Peter, are given the power to teach (Matt. 28:19), to bind and loose (Matt. 18:18), and are assured that Christ will remain with them (Matt. 28:20). One Apostle does not repent and is lost, showing that individual bishops are not immune to error, (John 17:12).

Priests and deacons are given the power to teach, to cast out demons, and to resist false doctrine, in Christ’s name, (Luke 10:1-20).

The faithful are revealed as only some of the members of the Church, (Matt. 13:24-29, 47-48, 7:21-23, 25:1-12). The members of the Church are foretold to be susceptible to error and to apostasy, (Matt. 24:5, 10-11, 22; Mark 13:20; see e.g. Rev. 2:20). Teachers of false doctrine are foretold and warned against (Matt. 7:15, 24:24; Mark 13:22; 1 Tim. 1:3; 2 Tim. 4:3; 2 Peter 2:1) – making even the body of “theologians” an unreliable argument against the doctrines properly defined and understood.

This nesting hierarchy of certainty is exactly matched by the teachings of the Holy Spirit with the Conciliar Fathers of Vatican II. Infallibility rests in the teaching office of the Pope; it is also shared by the Bishops in union with the Pope; and by the body of the faithful, when in union with the Pope and Bishops. This is not contradictory, or watered down, rather it is the image of reliable teachings when the Holy Spirit succeeds at all levels of the promise, to the extent allowed by proper regard for the freedom of individual persons. This does result in a perfectly unified body of the Faithful, but it does not lead to perfect unity among the nominal members of the Church.

It may be that one difficulty with the analysis which you propose is that it proceeds on lines appropriate to the political systems establishing checks and balances to control fallible men. However, the structure described in the Scripture and in Vatican II is the result of the guidance of the Holy Spirit who is unified in His person and mission, and not dependent on “checks and balances” to correct possible errors. Because the same unerring Spirit is the cause of each level of certainty, there is no opposition among them; this is the meaning of the phrase, “activity of the same Holy Spirit, by which the whole flock of Christ is preserved and progresses in unity of faith,” in Lumen Gentium 25. (We know that this does not mean unanimity among “believers,” because, “not everyone who says ‘Lord, Lord,” will be saved, (Matt. 7:21).)

Further, the understanding of “appeal” which you propose is inconsistent with the practice of the judiciary in the United States. The jurisdiction on appeal is a jurisdiction of error, where the appellate court determines if an error has been made in the lower court. Exactly as you describe the supposed “pre-existing error” in teaching, the appeal determines whether there is a “pre-existing” error in the proceeding below; the appellate court does not make “wrong” what had been “correct,” but declares the pre-existing errors. This is precisely the meaning of an “appeal” in civil law (see, FindLaw legal dictionary, “appeal”). Thus it is untenable to assert a completely novel reading for the phrase, “nor do they allow an appeal to any other judgment,” as used in Lumen Gentium, 25. It is precisely the possibility of “pre-existing error” in the properly declared teachings which this phrase excludes. Thus, no appeal to any other “litmus test” is allowed or needed.

Finally, one must object to the claim that “[t]he infallibility of various Church teachings is uncertain,” if by this is meant a denial of my previous statement: “*t seems clear that this view cannot be correct or the intention of the teaching in Lumen Gentium; it would render all of the teachings of Christ and His Church uncertain,” (post no. 14). It is one thing to assert that a particular idea or supposed teaching may be uncertain until it is clarified by appeal to the Pontiff; it is quite another to deny the stability and infallibility of the body of teachings as a whole.

I do not agree with the apparent meaning of the phrase, “the *sensus fidei *can be checked directly, even today,” when it is opposed to the historical nature of the certainty about the teachings of *Unam Sanctam *and its reiteration in the documents of the Fifth Lateran Council (1516). Does the quoted assertion imply that the “current” *sensus fidei *could disagree with the Faith as understood by those members of the faithful who have died? It is precisely insistence that the Faith be understood in the same sense as it has always been understood which eliminates any transient “spirit of the age” as a threat to the content of the Faith. Consider: if a proposed understanding of a given dogma were to differ substantively from that held by the faithful in previous generations, the *sensus fidelium *would be at odds with the current shared opinion, which might otherwise be mistaken as a part of the sensus fidei. Hence, historical information is needed in both the case of *Unam Sanctam *and of the sensus fidei; both are unchanging through time; both require historical verification.

The Faith is clear and well known, confidently taught by the Pope, the Bishops in union with the Pope, the priests and other teachers in union with them, and by the faithful, lay members of the Church. Disputes over details of phrasing or formula do not amount to substantial doubt about the content of the Faith itself.

The success of the Holy Spirit in His guardianship of the Church and the Faith need not be imagined. The Society of Saint Pius X is in schism; this has been clearly declared. This state of affairs makes certain their error in the matters disputed, while allowing the schematics to learn more clearly the meanings of the teachings they mistake. Turning the evil results of human weakness to good, the Holy Spirit also allows this schism to serve as a foil for more clearly articulating the teachings which confuse or mislead some people, thus correcting the members of the Society ***and ***those members of the Church who oppose them too extremely and thus fall into error in the opposite direction. Far from requiring speculative imagination, this is a manifestation of the Holy Spirit’s “real and powerful” working for the protection of the content of the Faith.

I hope these comments are helpful in some way.

Spiritus Sapientiae nobiscum.

John Hiner*


#17

Thanks for taking the time to make your comments. I have read them with interest.

Having exhausted my knowledge of this subject, I have nothing further to add.

Thank you for an interesting discussion!


#18

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