Friday, June 27, 2014


Is this sensus fidelium? No!
In the previous post, we saw how disappointed the far left group "Call to Action" is over the working document for the Synod on the family. Call to Action and other left leaning groups, especially those born in the 1970's think that the meaning of sensus fidelium is that you take a poll and find out what Catholics believe and then that is the mark by which you define doctrine or redefine it.   Of course this is the smoke of Satan and I am sure Pope Francis would agree. 

The sensus fidelium as Pope St. John Paul II made clear: “does not consist solely or necessarily in the consensus of the faithful. Following Christ, the Church seeks the truth, which is not always the same as the majority opinion.”  “The Church values sociological and statistical research,” continues the pope, “when it proves helpful in understanding the historical context in which pastoral action has to be developed and when it leads to a better understanding of the truth.”  

And Pope Benedict reiterated the following: “It is particularly important today to clarify the criteria used to distinguish the authentic sensus fidelium from its counterfeits. In fact, it is not some kind of public opinion of the Church, and it is unthinkable to mention it in order to challenge the teachings of the Magisterium, this is because the sensus fidei cannot grow authentically in the believer except to the extent in which he or she fully participates in the life of the Church, and this requires a responsible adherence to her Magisterium.”

The authentic sensus fidelium comes into play when the Church defines certain doctrines to be dogmas. The two doctrines that sum this up the best are the Immaculate Conception and Assumption. These were believed by Catholics around the world since the early Church but never defined as dogmas until 1864 for the IC and 1950 for the Assumption. There was no poll taken when the pope defined these as dogma but he knew that the sense of the faithful along with a tradition of belief going back to the early Church was present. 

To a certain extent we can say that limbo is a doctrine in the loose sense. We can say there are a significant number of people who believe in it, especially as it regards the Old Testament figures who died before the Christ-Event. But as it regards unbaptized children, I don't think we can say it goes back to the early Church or that there is a consistent belief in it both in the east and the west by the majority of Catholics. Therefore it does not appear that any Church Council or pope acting alone would elevate it to the status of an actual doctrine and then a dogma. Could this happen? Unlikely but possible.  

The sensus fidelium has nothing to do with redefining doctrine if Catholics become unfaithful! This is what Call to Action wants the synod to do, confirm unfaithful catholics in their infidelity! No that won't happen. 

 In other words, Call to Action and other groups like them are heretics at worst or heterodox at best. They are a new breed of gnostics. They think they have a special knowledge that is only known to them and not the authentic teachers of the Faith, the Pope and Bishops in union with him, the Magisterium, which is more than just the pope(s) and bishops currently living, but the Tradition of the Magisterium!

So, just as on the left there is a new breed of gnostics, so too on the right although the right's gnosticism is different. They are more like the left in terms of being cafeteria catholics. They pick and choose what is essential for them but leave out what they don't like. This is especially true of the SSPX who some say accept 95 percent of Vatican II but leave the other 5% out, they won't tocuh it like a kid and his broccoli.

When it comes to the Mass the right sometimes make themselves a faux magisterium. They think they know better than a council or any subsequent popes. And they pontificate upon the liturgy disconnected from actual papal authority. It happens on the left too, especially with those clergy and laity (PI please take note) who refuse to acknowledge the authority of Pope Benedict to issue SP and the rights of a stable group of laity to have the EF when requested in various parishes, even if the pastor has to seek someone to celebrate it for them!

But for the right, they fail to recognize that the OF Mass is the normative Mass of the Church and the EF is the exception. I would suspect if the FSSP had a parish in a southern city and it was the only Catholic Church that they would have to take into account parishioners who petitioned for the OF Mass, if a stable group of them existed, and provide the OF Mass for them. 

But for the laity to say that they reject the normative Mass of the Catholic Church outright would be heterodox.  


rcg said...

Your example of the FSSP parish being asked, and required, to offer an OF Mass is a nightmare. Not because I do not accept the OF as a true form of Mass and I do love it when properly and respectfully done. However, that sort of petitioning is a typical weapon of the Left to infiltrate, dilute and weaken their enemies. Now I can't finish my coffee.

Fr. Allan J. McDonald said...

Well of course it was for Catholics who live in a town where there is only one parish and it is a FSSP parish and no other OF parish nearby. Now this might mean that the FSSP priests would have to find a priest to celebrate the OF, that an FSSP priest can't be forced into it, but I don't think that is the case, that FSSP priests are to know and be able to celebrate the normative Mass of the Latin Rite, even if it is in Latin and ad orientem.

Gene said...

RCG, the Left badly needs a consultation with Ma Deuce, if you get my drift.

Gene said...

I think it would be an abomination for the FSSP to be required to celebrate an OF Mass and further proof of the Church's overall decline. Talk about idolatry…Vat II and the OF and the obsessional defense of them have become the biggest Baal since the OT. Let us not forget how God dealt with those Baals. We glibly run along thinking that, when it comes to the Church, whatever is, is right…that just because some council decreed it, it must be cool…"I take no pleasure in your solemn assemblies, to the noise of your harps I will not listen. But, let justice roll down like waters and righteousness like an ever-flowing stream." That's Amos. But, nobody really takes that Divine judgement business seriously anymore, so they?

Gene said...

My last post should have read "do they", not so they.

Anonymous said...

Wouldn't it do more for Church unity if every parish were required to celebrate an occasional EF Mass? Seriously, wouldn't that do more than anything else to bring us together? Not least, by the positive effect this might have on both laity and clergy who presently have little sense of Catholic identity.

Anonymous said...

The key word in sensum fidelium is "fidelium".

One doesn't take an opinion poll of the majority of UNFAITHFUL people to determine what the Holy Spirit is telling the Church.

It's always a good thing when testing whether some theory 'works' or not to try to change the terms of the debate.

So all those in favor of relaxing or changing Church teaching on divorce and remarriage, contraception and abortion etc. because "majorities are in favor of it"... would you accept as infallible the majority's opinion about gay people from 1950? No. You'd say "society was not sufficiently enlightened by agit-prop". But then that would blow the whole "we can discover what the Holy Spirit really wants by taking an opinion poll" idea right out of the water. People change, opinions change, society changes. But the truth about God's will cannot change.

On the other hand, if, despite every bit of social, political, and cultural persecution, a core group of Catholic martyrs, saints, mystics, and seers, heroic laity, hold on to monogamy despite all the head winds against them, despite dictatorships, repression, abuse, wars, famine, etc.... over the centuries so it's not a fad and across the globe so it's not an ethnic thing... I think we can conclude that monogamy and fidelity in marriage is a 'sensus fidelium' thing.

Anonymous 2 said...

Father McDonald:

“Well of course it was for Catholics who live in a town where there is only one parish and it is a FSSP parish and no other OF parish nearby. Now this might mean that the FSSP priests would have to find a priest to celebrate the OF, that an FSSP priest can't be forced into it.”

Does this mean that if a stable group of parishioners in an OF only parish want the EF celebrated, the pastor could legitimately refer them to another parish in the same town, or reasonably nearby, where the EF is celebrated? Whether the EF is offered in the first parish or in the other parish, must it be offered every Sunday under the norms of SP?


Doesn’t Amos cut both ways, indeed in several ways?

Gene said...

Amos warning was that, because Israel had a special covenant relationship with JHWH, God would judge her even more harshly for her disobedience and return to cultic practices, etc. Israel's worship had changed due to syncretistic influences, plus the nation had become divided between the rich and the poor and a sort of class warfare was going on. People were starving while the Priests and leaders were feeding high on the food chain. Wow, sound familiar?
Bishops with million dollar mansions, huge bank accounts, several homes, etc. The starvation is both physical and spiritual. Seriously, now, how can a Bishop in Atlanta even contemplate a million dollar home when he can drive 4 or 5 miles and find people eating out of dumpsters? And what about post Vat II worship and liturgy…focus upon man and not God…upon humanism instead of Christology. Amos cuts every way but only in speaking to the Church.

George said...

" So all those in favor of relaxing or changing Church teaching on divorce and remarriage, contraception and abortion etc. because 'majorities are in favor of it'... "

There are those who believe that a Catholic can vote for a pro-abortion candidate and try to mislead and obfuscate the issue.

Case in Point

Catholic Bob Casey mislabeled as Pro-Life.

Traditional Catholic vs modern Catholic:

Pennsylvania Senator Bob Casey, Jr., a Catholic, spoke at the Democratic National Convention in 2008. The senator’s father, former Pennsylvania Governor Bob Casey Sr., was barred from speaking at the 1992 Democratic National Convention because of his pro-life views.

Bob Casey 2008 had a NARAL (National Abortion Rights Action League) voting record of 65 percent but considered himself pro-life. In 2011 he had a NARAL rating of 100%.

The Democratic Party platform:

The Democratic Party strongly and unequivocally supports Roe v Wade and a woman's right to choose a safe and legal abortion, regardless of ability to pay, and we oppose any and all efforts to weaken or undermine that right.
They "offset" this in the platform with this:
The Democratic Party also strongly supports access to affordable family planning services and comprehensive age-appropriate sex education which empower people to make informed choices and live healthy lives.
This is not a "zero-sum" claculation.

As Pope St John Paul II said : abortion is pre-eminent above all other rights.

Gene said...

Case in point: Anon 2.

Anonymous 2 said...


In our discussion several threads and pages ago, when you referred to “Bob Casey, the pro-life Democrat” I honestly thought you were referring to Bob Casey, Jr. and did not realize you were reaching back over twenty years to his father. At that time I had only just become a U.S. citizen and had not yet voted, so I was not following politics the way I do today. I know you did not intend to do so, but I feel somewhat a victim of “Gotcha” when I then bought into the resulting assumption that Bob Casey, Jr. was “pro-life.” He has certainly been characterized that way and indeed was characterized as such in relation to his speaking at the 2008 Democratic National Convention. And you did not specify that you meant the father.


Case in point: Not so for being “in favor of relaxing or changing Church teaching on divorce and remarriage, contraception and abortion etc. because 'majorities are in favor of it.’” I have never challenged Catholic teaching on these matters, and I certainly would never do so because “majorities are in favor of it.” Case in point: I did not dissent from Catholic teaching because majorities in America were in favor of invading Iraq. The invasion of Iraq was contrary to Catholic teaching on just war. Pope John Paul II was adamantly opposed to it. So was I. Were you? Or was that item in the cafeteria line just too tempting? In case you need a reminder, here it is:

Yes that “a Catholic can vote for a pro-abortion candidate” if certain conditions are satisfied but no for “try[ing] to mislead and obfuscate the issue” unless, of course, trying faithfully and conscientiously to follow the Bishops’ Guidelines for voting in “Faithful Citizenship” counts. But, of course, the Bishops’ Guidelines is an item in the cafeteria line that you find unpalatable.

Anonymous 2 said...


On a point of information, I believe you have misstated, or incompletely stated, the 2012 Democratic Party Platform section on abortion. I have just looked it up. Here is the actual text:

“The Democratic Party strongly and unequivocally supports Roe v. Wade and a woman's right to make decisions regarding her pregnancy, including a safe and legal abortion, regardless of ability to pay. We oppose any and all efforts to weaken or undermine that right. Abortion is an intensely personal decision between a woman, her family, her doctor, and her clergy; there is no place for politicians or government to get in the way. We also recognize that health care and education help reduce the number of unintended pregnancies and thereby also reduce the need for abortions. We strongly and unequivocally support a woman's decision to have a child by providing affordable health care and ensuring the availability of and access to programs that help women during pregnancy and after the birth of a child, including caring adoption programs.”

Regrettably, the Party dropped the previous language that abortion should be “safe, affordable and rare.”

George said...

Anonymous 2 said...

" On a point of information, I believe you have misstated, or incompletely stated, the 2012 Democratic Party Platform section on abortion. I have just looked it up. Here is the actual text:"

I took what I did off of the CatholicDemocrat(if I recall the exact name) web site. It didn't say what year or convention it was from. It could have been from a year other than 2012. We know that party platform language does change. As far as Bob Casey, I did not intend that to be a gotcha (I should appended Sr.). As far as the 2003 war,it was wrong headed but it was a prudential decision supported by political leaders of both parties and the intelligence assessment at the time. Pope St John Paul was against the Iraq war and turned out to be prescient. He also said that abortion was pre-eminent above all other issues.

I try to convince people of the pro-life position. I know that arguments, no matter how convincing won't always change someone's opinion or position. One has to be humble on something like this and not succumb to pride. It does take prayer to change some who are set in their ways.There are those who claim to be pro-life but from my understanding and knowledge of the issue, to me they are not. I've had an easier time with women I've met who had an abortion than with someone such as Anon2. Like any sin abortion is forgivable if there is repentance. Those who have had abortions need not be condemned to eternal punishment. In the Catholic Church the person can avail themselves of the Sacranment of Reconciliation-confession. There are extenuating and mitigating circumstances in some cases. Some were young and were pressured into it, in some cases even by the parents.Even without these circumstances, like any sin, it can be forgiven. There are those cases that are difficult because the woman did not think what she did was wrong and still holds to that position. One reason that I argue abortion from the political/legal aspect is because when you make something legal and permissible (no matter what it is) more people will do it. One result of this is (as we see in what has happened in many European countries) you have a negative birth rate( below the population replacement rate). Abortion on a large scale such as it has been is going to have consequences and they are not good.

George said...


'Regrettably, the Party dropped the previous language that abortion should be “safe, affordable and rare.” '

Regrettably? I should say so. Had I been pre-disposed to vote for Mr Obama in 2012, that in itself would have changed my mind. Pro-lifers know that abortion is not going to be outlawed,at least anytime soon. A Personhood amendment would be nice, but how realistic is the prospect for that? We are winning battles at the state and local level. It is not an "all or nothing " approach. If in state X we can reduce the number of abortions from 1200 to a 1000 we count that as meaningful progress. Heck, if we can reduce it by one, that is not insignificant to us since we are talking about human life. What I can't understand is that when you have the Church's position on the pro-life issues and also on traditional marriage on one side of the scale, what on the other side of the scale could tip in in that direction? Since it turns out that the Republicans have spent about as much on welfare programs as the Democrats, it can't be that.

Anonymous 2 said...


I suggest that we stop talking about this topic of the presidential election. I am not going to persuade you that voting for Obama was permissible under the relevant standards set out in the USCCB document “Faithful Citizenship” and you are not going to persuade me that it was not. I believe we have sufficiently developed the arguments on both sides in the earlier thread “Archbishop Has to Defend Himself etc.” originated on June 17. Interested readers can read our exchange in that thread as well as the Bishops’ “Faithful Citizenship” document and other relevant documents referenced in our exchange and reach their own conclusions.

As for having such a hard time with me, let us not forget that our disagreement concerns conscientious voting and not the nature of abortion as an intrinsic evil, the factors that mitigate culpability in specific cases, or the importance of the sacrament of reconciliation. Like you, I recognize the existential issues surrounding abortion. Like you, however, I would also like to reduce the number of abortions to zero.

Anonymous 2 said...

Correction – the previous language in the Democratic Party platform was “safe, legal, and rare” not “safe, affordable, and rare.” Sorry.

George said...

"I suggest that we stop talking about this topic of the presidential election."

Right. Enough has been said. I was trying to get all the relevant issues out there for people to consider. Also, I was using the presidential election as an example which would also apply to congressional and state candidates. I was surprised one night to hear Fr Mitch Pacwa on one of his shows on EWTN say that he asks even candidates for LOCAL political office where they stand pro-life wise. I 've always been pro-life and I know I can get passionate and carried away sometimes. Interestingly I've never gotten angry over the issue (and I've never known any other pro-life person I've met be that way). Even though it is a very serious matter and offense against God, the people I have known who are involved in the movement in some way or another, I have found to be pretty calm and collected. I am speaking from my own experience and I know there are exceptions out there . The one thing we can agree on is that prayer and fasting are the instruments and means to bring things to where God desires them too be.