Questions on Infallibility and Non-Binding Material

Question 1. Are ALL Ecumenical Councils INFALLIBLE?

Question 2. Is EVERYTHING SAID in an Ecumenical Council INFALLIBLE?

Question 3. Was Vatican II an Ecumenical Council?

Question 4. Was Vatican II Infallible? Some say it was. Most I hear from say it was merely a Pastoral Council. I believe Paul VI and Benedict XVI said it wasn’t infallible. I dont have any quotes with me at the moment.

Question 5. If Vatican II is NOT Infallible, what level of binding does it have on the faithful?

Question 6. What other levels are there between Non-Binding and Infallible?

Question 7. If Vatican II is not binding at all, can we dismiss it altogther or do we atleast have to accept it as a valid council?

I would like to hear from people of various opinions. Please give your reasons why yes or no and please provide sources if you can. Don’t just say the Pope called for it or said it so I should accept it. Not everything the Holy Father does is mandatory.

Msgr. Fernando Ocariz, carefully follows the principals laid out by Pope Benedict in his famous talk about “the hermeneutic of reform, of renewal within continuity.” Ocariz’s analysis, “says exactly the same thing” that faithful Catholics have been saying for years about Vatican II, namely:

Since it was an ecumenical council, meeting and promulgating its acts to the whole Church under the authority of the Pope, the Second Vatican Council’s doctrinal sentences demand assent in the following ways:

  1. Whenever the Council teaches something about faith and morals, what it teaches is certainly true, either through the specific note of infallibility or from the religious submission of mind and will owed to the ordinary Magisterium.

  2. If such a teaching on faith or morals appears to anyone to conflict with earlier teachings, the problem is not with the truth of the Council’s statement but with our understanding of the Church’s full teaching of which the Council’s statement is inescapably a part.

  3. Proper method demands that an understanding of the matter in question be found that accepts the truth of all relevant statements. Later statements can be illuminated by earlier ones and earlier statements can be illuminated by later ones, until a more complete and precise understanding is formed.

  4. Where the Council was not teaching on matters of faith and morals, such as where it was describing contemporary conditions or offering recommendations for renewal, its statements are to be received with respect and gratitude but are not necessarily flawless in either their factual accuracy or their prudential judgment.

  5. It follows that any arguments which undermine this understanding, whether based upon the pastoral interests of the Council or any other factor, are specious.

rorate-caeli.blogspot.com/2011/12/nature-of-intellectual-assent-that-is.html

He speaks the truth.
For the good of your soul and in order not to continue to be misled, please listen.
The Church is led by the Holy Spirit.
Remember that.

As a theologian, I fail to see any value in asking people on the Internet for various “opinions” on what you have asked.

IF what you wish is to understand assent as it has to be given by the Faithful as well as the degrees of theological certainty, you will find this in The Fundamentals of Catholic Dogma by Ludgwig Ott…a foundational text for the field of dogmatic theology.

Father speaks with much wisdom.

amazon.com/Fundamentals-Catholic-Dogma-Ludwig-Ott/dp/0895550091

Im assuming you dont think Dignitatis Humanae contradicts the Syllabus of Errors. Can you explain why? I would like to know more on that.

On the other hand, theologians themselves can offer opinions just as spurious as random people on the internet. Sadly, the title ‘Catholic theologian’ isn’t a guarantee of valid teaching… :nope:

That being said, we can only hope that those who read this thread will realize that what you and Deacon Jeff have offered in response to lethalbean is certainly solid and trustworthy. :thumbsup:

It might be more productive if you asked a particular question, with a particular example of why you think that DH contradicts Catholic teaching… :wink:

(In fact, a new thread asking precisely those questions might be in order…)

I did not offer an opinion regarding the original topic, aside from declining to participate in the exercise of offering an “opinion”…and to refer the original poster to Ludwig Ott.

Ludwig Ott wrote the standard reference work for dogmatic theology. I have lost count, over the years, in how many languages Grundriß der Katholischen Dogmatik exists.

Father was anything but spurious. The breadth and depth of his knowledge was breathtaking. Such a remarkable person.

There is only a Seeming contradiction, not a Real contradiction. Quanta Cura, which was an encyclical issued together with the Syllabus, and the Syllabus itself, are condemnations only of specific interpretations of “freedom of conscience” that involved an assumption of religious indifference and a State-backed policy of secularism. Quanta Cura and the Syllabus of Errors both refer the reader to the specific documents in which the false interpretation of religious liberty is espoused, and both Pius IX (who issued the document) and, especially, his successor Pope Leo XIII, were clear in other contexts that the Church was not opposed to Catholic states extending religious tolerance to non-Catholics – Pope Leo XIII even said that “true” liberty in matters of religion comes from this context.

Other faithful Catholics from that period who defended of the “true” interpretation of freedom of conscience were St. John Henry Newman and Archbishop Gibbons of Maryland. St. John Henry Newman is specially of note here because of a response he wrote to the Duke of Norfolk in reaction to his criticism of the Syllabus of Errors and Quanta Cura over their condemnation of “freedom of conscience.” St. John Henry Newman’s response proves what interpretation was being condemned and explains why the true interpretation of “freedom of conscience” should be defended. This appears in Sections 6 and 7 of his book “Letter to the Duke of Norfolk”. These sections can be read here. (Other helpful documents re: the Syllabus and modern Church doctrine are this and this.)

Archbishop Gibbons is also noteworthy on this account because he published his book “Faith of our Fathers” in this time period, which was widely translated and published in both Europe and America. In it, he devotes two chapters to the defense of the “true” understanding of religious liberty, and shows that it has been a part of the Church’s tradition since the beginning.

Here are some relevant quotes from Church History illustrating that:

Church Fathers and Medieval Doctors on Religious Liberty
historyandapologetics.com/2015/02/church-fathers-and-medieval-doctors-on.html

I hope that helps. Please let me know if it does. God bless!

Agreed. Yet, your post seemed to be an appeal to authority: “as a theologian”, you offered your input. Not all theologians offer good input. :wink:

Father was anything but spurious. The breadth and depth of his knowledge was breathtaking. Such a remarkable person.

Never said that all theologians offer bad opinions. Never offered a critique of your or Ott’s assertions. Just said that the mere claim of the title ‘theologian’ doesn’t guarantee authentic orthodox teaching. Can’t see how that statement is controversial. :shrug:

I find that statement problematic.

The Op surely wasn’t asking for range of differing “opinions” - which of course can be found both on and off the internet - in the expectation of gathering false or useless opinions.

As far as I can tell there is nothing about the Internet per se which prevents honest and truthful answers to questions. (See the “Ask An Apologist” section of this very forum.) :thumbsup:

In other words, what’s wrong with using the Internet to discuss these ideas?

It is not a matter of the forum, it is simply a matter of the topic.

There is no opinion to offer, for example, as to Vatican II being an ecumenical council. It is a resolved point, for all Catholics. Therefore there is no discussion admissible. There is no opinion to entertain. There is no need to offer thoughts and reflections about the issue.

It is like a point that comes up against Can. 333 §3.
No appeal or recourse is permitted against a sentence or decree of the Roman Pontiff.
If that is the situation one confronts, the matter is resolved simply by the law itself.

For seminarians, especially at the beginning, this could be particularly challenging until they had built up a sufficient core of courses, over time, in the various theological disciplines to allow the body of knowledge of one discipline to guide and inform their thoughts in analysing another discipline.

There would be a topic in some early lecture at hand and someone would wish to discuss a point beginning with their opinion…only for me to say that this is not a disputed question; this matter has been defined, which requires assent, and the issue is closed. Of course, a fuller explanation could be given and a different formulation could be used…but the conclusion was fixed and circumscribed by the Magisterial pronouncement and it was required that assent be given once the content had been proposed to the intellect in virtue of the lecture.

On the other hand we would come to a topic they were quite sure was theologically resolved and I would point to a specific disputed question that is unresolved in the matter at hand, albeit perhaps very obscure, and then open a discussion, much to their surprise.

Sacraments and their celebration could be especially frustrating for them as they would begin to try to reason a solution to a case I would present, using the perspective of sacramental theology, only for them to find out that the matter was actually closed by one sentence in one paragraph of one canon…there could be no discussion and no recourse by virtue of the declarative statement: “It is required for validity that …”

Assent, and its constituent components, is quite well delineated by dogmatic theology, which most Americans will have encountered if they did any study in the field of systematics.

In a comment above, the deacon makes the comment: “My opinions don’t matter a whit, and when I was ordained I forfeited the right to have a public opinion on these matters.” It actually goes further and is not limited to those of us who are ordained. There are those points, delimited by dogmatic theology, to which EVERY Catholic must give a positive assent of one specific sort or another.

Personally, with my students, they knew that, even in mid-sentence, I would stop them from completing a thought by saying, “if you complete that thought you will have articulated a conclusion in actual dissent of a Magisterial teaching.” Across all the years, I never had a student who did not stop. Of course, they always wanted to know where and how they had gone wrong…for which I was very glad.

The original poster poses seven questions. A basic handbook in dogmatic theology would definitively answer each of them…without resting upon opinion.

Not every theologian offers the best opinion, of course. Not everyone who received a doctorate in theology is solid.

But that is not what the post I made was referring to.

There are names in the theological community where one immediately and simply acknowledges that that person’s work is head and shoulders above all theologians in that field. If they wrote the definitive book that every theologian has studied and has on their shelf as their reference work in that field, there is not much place to go. Whether it is Ott or Tanqueray or Arintero.

If I am asking a colleague for a reference for something and he simply replies, “Sources Chrétiennes,” those two words alone have said everything to be said…other than asking if he happens to remember the number.

Agreed, but now you’ve moved the goalposts. You made a claim of ‘theologian’ as authority, and now your claim is ‘reference book’. I agree that pointing to a book that’s generally held as a standard in a particular field is valid; that’s not what you claimed, though: you said, “as a theologian, I…” and thus held your assertion up as valid, purely by virtue of your title as theologian. (The reference you gave – Ott – was valid, and met the request of the OP: answer, reason, citation. Your answer wasn’t right because you’re a theologian, but only because it was a good answer.)

If I am asking a colleague for a reference for something and he simply replies, “Sources Chrétiennes,” those two words alone have said everything to be said

‘Apples and oranges’, I’m afraid. Two specialists, with a common frame of reference, referencing a commonly-accepted reference text? That’s different than a person standing up and saying, “I’m a theologian, and therefore…” :shrug:

Anyway, we’re just quibbling over semantics now, it seems. Have a nice day… :wink:

It is not a matter of the forum, it is simply a matter of the topic.

There is no opinion to offer, for example, as to Vatican II being an ecumenical council. It is a resolved point, for all Catholics. Therefore there is no discussion admissible. There is no opinion to entertain. There is no need to offer thoughts and reflections about the issue.

It is like a point that comes up against Can. 333 §3.
No appeal or recourse is permitted against a sentence or decree of the Roman Pontiff.
If that is the situation one confronts, the matter is resolved simply by the law itself.

This^^^^.
Needs to be a sticky,

How would a sticky help pianistclare?

Surely we already have a clear statement of forum rules listing which topics are off limits for discussion.

Yes, of course I agree that many/most/all obedient Roman Catholics will hold that certain dogmatic issues are beyond question and that there is no latitude for ‘opinion’.

But you surely you can agree that doesn’t prevent others from questioning our views and the reasons why we hold those views.

The Op says*;
I would like to hear from people of various opinions* and asks for reasons *why yes or no. *

How does a textbook on theology conclusively and irrefutably answer the question are all Ecumenical Councils infallible?

You claim that a basic handbook in dogmatic theology would definitively answer each of lethalbean95’s questions without resting upon opinion. But isn’t that in itself, an opinion about the worthiness of theology text books - books which in turn give opinions on the topic?

I should very much like to see the coercive logic (theology) which compels the non-catholic to accept that all “Ecumenical Councils” are infallible.

In all my years in the academy, I would never identify theology with coercive logic.

You seem moreover to misunderstand a reference text in dogmatic theology. It is not a textbook of an author writing his opinion. A manual of dogmatic theology is essentially parallel to our manuals of French orthography. It is rule based and it is a delineation of dogma and the various gradations of authority regarding a table of theological certitude, essentially.

A Catholic response to the questions posed can largely be in only one way…that is if they are faithfully and exactly expressing Catholic teaching with the precision of clarity of formulation.

Using that paradigm, asking if Vatican II is an ecumenical council is the equivalent of “what is two times two”…you run the multiplication table and you have the answer with no place for opinion. That is simple…the table becomes more helpful when it is 36x58. The same applies for question 1 and 2.

Question 6 is dealt with in §9 of the manual I spoke of and covers two pages.

The methodology of dogmatic theology is distinct from the methodology of moral theology, for example.

If someone is non-Catholic, of course they will have a variant conclusion derived from the confession they belong to…and their theological background in that tradition as well as a Catholic tradition theological background when it comes to ecumenical councils – which they likely won’t even recognise as being valid.

Since I have worked on theological dialogue for a long time, I am acquainted with the issues they have with the matter of ecumenical councils and of magisterial teaching. The problem on their side is, if they are not acquainted with Denzinger, for example, they are not in a position to meaningfully critique Catholic teaching because they do not know in what it actually consists in so far as it is made up of structured gradations, which is an essential premise in the questions posed. And the critique from their confession is not a meaningful paradigm for Catholic analysis – unless, of course, you doesn’t want to be Catholic.

You end up with inchoate musings.

(On the one hand, with dialogue partners, each side immerses ourselves in the partner’s theology so that we can speak from its tradition as well as our own – although we may not be as profoundly conversant with it at the profundity that the partner is (nor they in ours) and so we help each other. As with carrying on a conversation in two different languages by two parties, each may have a maternal tongue and know the other. So long as you know enough of the base, you can speak in the non-maternal tongue and still really communicate even if you need the help of the maternal tongue speaker to achieve full communication. On the other hand, when both sides only speak their maternal tongue and have no significant ability to communicate in the other’s language, the prospect of true and effective dialogue is dim, at best. On yet another’s hand, when both dialogue partners well prepared and know what we’re about and how to do it, we can each run the tables well…when examining issues from, say, the time of the Reformation…at least well enough that we have plenty to work with and through in the actual dialogue emerging from the results of the running of the tables.)

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