Friday, June 26, 2015
THE STRAWMAN OF INFALLIBLITY
Jesus is the Son of God and the Son of Mary or He isn't, one Divine Person with two natures, human and divine. He is or He isn't. Infallibly taught He is.
In terms of dogmas concerning God,the Sacraments and the Magisterium of the Church, even to the point that the Magisterium can decide what books will be in the Bible and what won't and the order of what will be in the New Testament and what won't be included, infallible it is.
But how many infallible teachings are there concerning morality which is more fluid? For example the Church has no need to declare the 10 Commandments as infallible since it is the Word of God. It is infallible the Commandment, "Thou shalt not kill" correct?
However, is this true in every case? No. Unlike Jesus being the Son of God and the Son of Mary and true in every case, not so with killing. There is the just war theory proposed by the Church and there is the theory that one may kill an unjust aggressor in self-defense. So much for "Thou shalt not kill" applying to all cases. It doesn't. Are we then free to ignore "Thou shalt not kill?" No!
And the two codicils that I mention of the "just war theory" and "self-defense" are these infallibly taught? NO! NO! NO! But these are moral principles and theories that Catholics can use in making a moral decision to go to war or to kill an unjust aggressor.
Is Humanae Vitae infallible? Is Laudato Si infallible? Yes and no for both.
Both enunciate infallible principles for morality whether it is the care of the body or of the earth. What are those infallible principles? Scripture, Tradition and Natural Law.
Is it infallible when Blessed Pope Paul VI laments this, that or the other in Humanae Vitae and predicts that men will lose respect for women if natural law is averted and the pro-creative aspect of sexual intercourse is reduced simply to the unitive aspect or reduced further simply to the pleasure principle? No this is not infallible. It turns out to be correct in the historical reality and has led to promiscuousness and more divorces not to mention deadly diseases. But the prediction of a future event can't be infallible by a pope! He has every right, though to make these predictions and we must take them into account.
Is abortion immoral in every instance? Direct abortion is! But not indirect abortion when the abortion is not what is desired but the treatment of something else. So a woman could make a decision of conscience in consultation with her Church, her doctor and family members to begin a course of chemo-therapy that will increase her chances of surviving a deadly cancer even if the chemotherapy indirectly causes a spontaneous abortion or the killing of the child in her womb.
She may also choose to forgo the chemotherapy even though she is sure to die from the cancer but she wants to help the baby live.
In Laudato Si there are many infallible principles used. We don't have to agree with Pope Francis decision to use the science of those who say man is responsible for global warming and not simply changing weather patterns that have occurred since creation. We have to respect His Holiness and the science he chooses even if we disagree based on other scientific proposals.
We don't have to agree with every example put forth that will help the planet such as not using air-conditioning. And we don't have to agree with Pope Francis' predictions for the planet in the future if we don't do what many are suggesting we do now to save the planet. But we have to be respectful of the Holy Father's positions and charitable.
But in terms of the ecology of the earth and of our bodies, the principles of natural law are in effect and natural law is infallibly one of the means by which the Church and anyone of any religion or no religion can determine morality.
So stop reducing papal teachings to those that are infallible and those that aren't. That's dangerous and disrespectful. And it isn't Catholic! When it comes to papal teachings that are formalized, we respect its content even when it isn't infallible and as Catholics we respect people, popes and otherwise, because a lack of charity is a sin and often times a very serious mortal sin that jeopardizes the salvation of a soul who commits it and fails to repent and go to confession and do penance. Is that infallible. Yes, I think so.