Wednesday, July 24, 2013




MY COMMENTS FIRST: I have to agree with this article from FIRST THINGS. The discomfort some Catholics loyal to Pope Benedict and still mourning his resignation is more on the issues of fluff and personality, superficial data, than on the substance of the two popes. The major differences are cultural, one a German and an intellectual, the other a South American still imbued with his very deep Italian ancestry, more gregarious, outgoing and ordinary, a person of the streets rather than the ivory tower of academic classrooms.

Yet, I have been writing all along, that the substance of Pope Francis and Pope Benedict is really the same and I firmly believe Pope Francis is more determined to enforce his orthodox vision of the Church that relies upon one very important thing that wishful thinkers from the progressive wing of the Church continue to ignore because they are in denial and that is Pope Francis' insistence on obedience and fidelity to the Pope and the Bishops in union with him which is the Magisterium of the Church. He has repeatedly required this of us Catholics since day one of his papacy and has said it more often and more forcefully than Pope Benedict ever did.

He also seems to be more traditional in his very powerful Marian Devotion, more in the line of Blessed Pope John Paul II than Benedict. Benedict's Marian devotion was more academic and in the "spirit" of Vatican II.

He certainly has invoked the name of the devil more often than Pope Benedict ever did and I don't know if Pope Benedict ever did during his papacy. I've lost count on the number of times Pope Francis has referred to the devil and powerful enemy to the Church and individual Catholics since he became pope. Have you?

It really is on the issue of papal style and liturgical vestments that most traditional Catholics are discomforted. He, as he himself has said, is more emancipated in this regard and is not going to challenge some of the modern trends that traditional Catholics despise in the more progressive circles of the Church. Yet to date, the Vatican liturgies are the same except for some minor quirks of the pope, his inability to chant, his disregard for lengthy offertory processions and his simple tastes when it comes to vestments. In fact, I would say that he is unemancipated in these things compared to Benedict who was open to the variety of styles of liturgical vestments in the Latin Rite from traditional Roman to modern.

And yes, I don't think Pope Francis is a loner when it comes to leadership in the Church and is not going to be isolated by anyone in the Vatican trying to "handle" him. I think Pope Benedict was happy to be handled and had some wrong people handling him and not doing a service to him but creating the problems that Pope Francis now has to clean up in the Vatican. I think this is positive. He has sent a clear message to the former handlers in the Vatican that he would not be under their control and isolated from others in the Vatican by remaining in the Vatican Motel 6 to live.

Finally, even though Pope Francis will be more collaborative with others in the college of Cardinals and the College of Bishops and the various committees he might appoint, His Holiness will be more autocratic than Benedict in implementing his vision for the Church which is Orthodox but in a different way from Benedict.

Pope Francis has won the hearts of the Masses and the media. Hopefully this will help him to win their souls for Christ. Time will tell!


He has been called an “improv pope,” a pope of many surprises, but the biggest surprise of all is that Francis continues to elude all efforts to classify him. Since the opening days of his papacy, a flood of commentators have come forth to tell us what to expect of him, only to miss the mark. Among the numerous errors about Francis, five in particular stand out.

1. “Francis is the anti-Benedict.”

Because Pope Francis is from Latin America, and Pope Emeritus Benedict from Germany—and because Francis is a natural extrovert and Benedict more reserved—some people thought that these stylistic differences signaled a difference in their whole way of thinking. But anyone who ever believed that was not being attentive. (A similar mistake occurred when the rotund and smiling John XXIII succeeded the more regal and austere-looking Pius XII, even though the two were very close). Among Francis’s first words to the world, after succeeding Benedict on March 13th, was to pray for his predecessor, after which he immediately called him on the phone. Just ten days later, Francis traveled to Castel Gandolfo to greet Benedict in a very public and powerful way; and upon Benedict’s return to Vatican City in May, there was a similar and well-publicized embrace. Francis recently told one of his students how sublime a thinker he believes Benedict is, and how much he relies upon his predecessor’s counsel: “It would be foolish to turn down Benedict’s advice.”

If there was any lingering doubt about Francis’s fulsome support for Benedict, it’s been erased by Lumen Fidei. This extraordinary teaching document was begun (but never completed) by Benedict in the last stages of his papacy. Francis could have easily put it aside, and written his own papal message. Instead, he decided to finish the projected work, and publish it as his own inaugural encyclical—giving Benedict full credit for the draft. By doing so, Francis endorsed all of Lumen Fidei’s insights about faith and reason, the importance of truth, and the hermeneutic of continuity—all hallmarks of Benedict’s papacy. Francis is actually doing more to consolidate and elevate Benedict’s legacy than the latter’s admirers could have imagined.

2. “Francis is Not a Cultural Warrior.”

Following the first error flows a second: unlike the supposedly hard-edged Benedict, we have been told, Francis has a much softer touch. He avoids confrontation and strident denunciations, and wants no part of any culture war; nowhere is that clearer than in his treatment of the hot-button social issues. Religious reporter Allesandro Speciale recently wrote that Francis “has been less eager to engage in the culture wars over abortion or gay marriage cherished by his predecessors.” Sandro Magister added: “It cannot be an accident that after 120 days of pontificate Pope Francis has not yet spoken the words abortion, euthanasia, homosexual marriage.”

It’s hard to imagine more misleading statements than these. In addition to being an outspoken defender of the unborn and traditional marriage as the Archbishop of Buenos Aires, Francis, since becoming Pope, has not yielded one inch on Christian moral truth. Less than two weeks into his papacy, Francis explicitly promised to continue Benedict’s fight against the“dictatorship of relativism.” In May, Pope Francis not only exhorted tens of thousands at a rally to protect human life “from the moment of conception,” but personally joined Rome’s March for life himself. More recently, he sent a special pro-life message to Ireland, during the midst of pending legislation on abortion, exhorting the country to defend “even the weakest and most vulnerable, the sick, the old, the unborn…” Everyone, proclaimed Francis, “must care for life, cherish life . . . from the beginning to the end.” Is that language not clear enough?

As for gay marriage, after France legalized it, against the vigorous protests of the Church, the new pope rebuked legislators for following “fashions and ideas of the moment,” and subsequently taught in Lumen Fidei: “The first setting in which faith enlightens the human city is the family. I think first and foremost of the stable union of man and woman in marriage”—prompting the Advocate to complain, “Pope Francis, Benedict Jointly Condemn Same-Sex Marriage.”

3. “Francis is a ‘Social Justice’ Pope.”

When people say, as they often do, that Pope Francis is a “social justice pope,” what they invariably mean is that he cares about the poor above all else, and will focus his papacy on solving poverty. This is at once obvious and incomplete. Of course Francis, like his predecessors, cares about the poor, a fact demonstrated in his first pastoral visit to Lampedusa, where he spoke eloquently for abandoned migrants. But Francis is not exclusively concerned about poverty, for he knows, as Blessed John Paul II taught, that the quest for social justice is “false and illusory if the right to life, the most basic and fundamental right, and the condition for all other personal rights, is not defended with maximum determination.” He also knows, as Benedict taught, that the Church’s teachings on the economy are inextricably linked to its teachings on the family and human sexuality, so Humanae Vitae needs to be upheld with equal force.

More importantly, the Pope believes that individual conversion must precede societal improvement, and therefore rejects secular progressivism, which detaches spirituality from social justice. Francis’s teaching calls for an interior change of heart, and examination of conscience, as the key to social reform. He is thus not so much a “social justice” Pope as he is the world’s foremost retreat master— reminding people that unless we transform our souls, true social justice will never be attained, for that can only come about through humility, sacrifice and spiritual discipline—never by mere governmental decree.

4. “Francis Will Be More Charitable Toward Dissenters.”

No sooner was Francis elected than did dissenters start elevating him at the expense of his two predecessors, suggesting he would finally fulfill Vatican II’s promise. But Pope Francis does not see Vatican II as a charter for dissent any more than did Blessed John Paul II or Benedict. Francis has firmly said that to know Jesus is to be in full communion with the Church and Magisterium; one cannot be a faithful Catholic and practice an independent, free-floating spirituality. Consequently, one of the first things Pope Francis did from the Chair of St. Peter was re-affirm Benedict’s critique of dissent and disobedience within the Leadership Conference of Women Religious. And in Lumen Fidei, Francis drives the meaning of orthodoxy home, declaring that it is not a matter of picking and choosing what doctrines Catholics like, but accepting them all:

“Since faith is one, it must be professed in all its purity and integrity. Precisely because all the articles of faith are interconnected, to deny one of them, even of those that seem least important, is tantamount to distorting the whole. Each period of history can find this or that point of faith easier or harder to accept: hence the need for vigilance in ensuring that the deposit of faith is passed on in its entirety.”

5. “Francis Loves the World.”

This is the greatest misconception of all. Francis, we are told, has an ease with the world that so many other religious leaders, fearful of modernity, lack. But this is not because Francis loves the world per se. Francis loves people, and wants to lead souls to Christ—and that is why he speaks so often about the devil, and warns against worldly temptation, urging us to flee it. He loves God’s creation, but knows how damaging original sin is, and how easily free will can be abused. To confuse the Pope’s kindness and friendliness with love for this world is to misunderstand the whole nature of his pontificate: Francis, far better than most, knows that the world is sunk in sin, and is passionately trying to heal it through the new evangelization.

The one thing many people do get right about Pope Francis is when they say he resembles John XXIII—though even there the comparison often goes astray, especially when political terminology is introduced. Blessed John was never a “liberal” in the modern sense of that term; he was a champion of orthodox reform, as is Francis. And if Pope Francis, supported by the faithful, and properly understood, is blessed to succeed in the reform he now so desires, the suffering Church, and even more troubled world, will benefit from his courage, strength, and faith.


Marc said...

The problem isn't reconciling Francis with Benedict: the problem is reconciling Paul, John Paul, Benedict, and Francis with any of the other 260 popes.

If you're going to continue to try to support the myth that the Church hasn't or doesn't change, that is the question you're going to have to answer. Of course, a review of history indicates the Church does change, usually for political expedience. So, its not altogether remarkable that it continues to change in our time. At least the Church leaders put up a fight in times past. This time, they're causing it.

Fr. Allan J. McDonald said...

I don't know of any pope who hasn't been a agent of change. Pope Pius XII is the one who laid the ground work for V2 first of all with his 1942 encyclical Divino Spiritu... That allowed Scripture Scholars to use newer techniques to interpret the Bible. Then of course there was his liturgical renewal.
But even his predecessors fomented change and other Ecumenical Councils like V 1 and Trent. Keep inundated Eastern Orthodoxy in some ways is frozen in time after the Great Schism as they have no Pope only nationalized Chirches with local bishops, "popes" who often are manipulated by or are agents of the state, like the Russian Orthodox clergy during Communism and the current governmental Catholic Church in China. The Irthodox accept no ecumenical council that took place after the G. Schism including Trent!!

Marc said...

Well, they have had a few councils since the last one what included Rome. A recent one, in fact, condemned the heresy of ecumenism. I don't necessarily see how remaining static, frozen in time as you put it, is a bad thing when you're talking about maintaining the Apostolic faith...

I'd also point out that whole Francis is hanging with the youth, Patriarch Kiril issued a scathing warning to the Russian state about the dangers of following the tide of western countries in redefining marriage. In Greece, bishops are excommunicating politicians who are seeking to add more Sunday shopping days. So, while all bishops are susceptible to being "kept" by the state, they can also wield some influence, if they bother to speak out.

As for Trent, I guess they'd argue the very position many Traditionalist Catholics argue now - Rome keeps changing and Trent's definitions and scholasticism are an example of that...

Gene said...

I just don't get the feeling that Pope Francis has much of a vision for the Church or that he has much direction. It is an uneasy feeling that no one is minding the store...

Marc said...

On the contrary, Gene, I think you're seeing precisely what is the Pope's vision and direction for the Church.

I've got a pretty good guess who's minding the store, and he's been minding it for a while now.

Hammer of Fascists said...

Marc makes excellent points, and Fr. McD is still struggling with the flawed whig model. Take his phrase "frozen in time," a phrase with a negative connotation. But if you substitute for "frozen in time" a more neutral "unchanging," then can we not agree that some things not only _don't/cant_ change, but _shouldn't_? Not everything, of course. But take the concept of the Real Presence or the Trinity. Should these doctrines--or, rather, realities--change, or progress, or move with the times? Not our understanding of them, mind you, but the realities themselves. I would hope that all orthodox Catholics would answer "no."

So if the answer is acknowledged to be no, we can't just shrug our shoulders when something changes, or worse still, applaud reflexively in the "all change is good" fashion. We have to ask whether the change is a) in line with the eternal reality/truths of the Catholic faith and b) prudentially a good idea, calculated and likely to help the Church's mission. (For instance, if the Church methodically started burning alive everyone who didn't acknowledge the Real Presence, that action would satisfy prong a), but it would likely fail prong b).

That is the thrust of Marc's first post. As the trads constantly point out, any unbiased, objective consideration of the hierarchy since VII suggests that there are ways in which the changes of the last 50 years may have been violative of prong a) above. This conclusion is based, inter alia, in the wording of the four problem issues of the VII documents that have been discussed here ad nauseam, and strengthend by 1) the hierarchy's refusal to meet these concerns head-on and 2) as Marc points out, the hierarchy's refusal to _act_ in response to blatant heresy and dissent, thus scandalizing the faith.

Pater Ignotus said...

Anon 5 - You assert that "changes of the last 50 years may have been violative" of "the eternal reality/truths of the Catholic faith."

Two questions: 1) Can you give three examples of changes that you believe violate eternal truths; and 2) what gives you the authority to determine that does/does not violate eternal truths?

rcg said...

My feeling, while not as drastic as Gene's is maybe more along the lines of AB Chaput. There is a common mistake among leaders that if something is good shape you can leave it alone. That is my concern with Pope Francis' view of the EF and other Traditional concerns. I don't think he is a radical Leftist by any stretch. I do think he may not fully understand how people, like the woman who stood next to him during his reception in Brazil, will use his teachings to work against him for their own power. The incident in traffic the other day may indicate that he is not fully aware of the results of his actions. Maybe it was his miracle, maybe God just felt sorry for him, but the fact that no one was crushed in traffic or one of his security personnel were not injured is very fortunate.

Hammer of Fascists said...


I've given the examples time and again, and to my recollection, you've never once tried to respond to them other then pointing out over and over again the stunning fact that I'm neither a pope nor a bishop. You'll find the lead examples here:

Now, I suppose one could argue that three of those issues don't directly touch on eternal truths. (All of them, however, touch on prior authoritative statements, which puts the infallibility of the Church into play.) So I'll just pick one. Either it is an eternal truth that the Church of Christ is the institutional Catholic Church--that there is a perfect identification between the two--as pre-VII popes unambiguously stated, or it is not, as language in Lumen Gentium suggested. Either a) the earlier popes were right and LG is wrong, or b) LG is right and the earlier popes are wrong, or c) there is some way of reconciling LG with the earlier statements, but the hierarchy has consistently refused to do it when pressed.

On another point: with all the respect due to you as a priest, I'm getting tired of you incessantly asking me, in effect, who died and elected me pope. I have _never_ claimed any authority to decide these questions other than the authority of reason, logic, Magisterial documents dating from the first century to 1960, and grammar/syntax. These are authoritative tools that the hierarchy seems hell-bent on _not_ using with regard to the four issues mentioned above, and that obtuseness concerns me greatly, viz: As a good Catholic, what am I to believe about these issues when the Church appears to have contradicted herself AND she won't explain the apparent contradiction??? These are not word games I'm playing; this is a very deep concern to me. It was not I who used the word "subsistence" in LG, since (gasp!) I'm not a bishop and wasn't consulted. But I have to live with that word, to try to figure out where it fits into Catholic doctrine, and I can't, and for some reason the Church won't help me.

Your constant questioning of my authority seems to me an insinuation that you believe me to be a dissenter who is challenging the authority of the Church. But I have always, on this blog and elsewhere, either implicitly or (on occasion) explicitly submitted all of my statements to the Magisterium. But just as I'm not the pope, neither are you. And when people ask _you_ for a simple test of your orthodoxy as a sign of your good faith and authority--for instance, whether you believe in Transubstantiation or the literal Virgin Birth or literal bodily Resurrection of Christ--you get all huffy and invoke Gene's Law, giving all kinds of spurious reasons for refusing to answer. That raises in my mind the possibility, if not probablility, that you're heterodox, but that you seek to maintain your authority nevertheless by skirting the issue. Frankly, if you're heterodox, you have no authority at all in my eyes (other than the ability to celebrate valid sacraments). So, given my suspicions, which you yourself have created, until you prove to me that you're not living in a glass house, you'd do well to keep that "authority" stone in your pocket. Your statements here are no more authoritative by mine, and by the rules of logic as I understand them, considerably less so. So since you and I both believe the other to be completely lacking in authority for what we write here, let's just stipulate to that fact and quit wasting bandwidth by continually bringing it up. Are we agreed on that, if nothing else?

Fr. Allan J. McDonald said...

PI does exhibit a certain type of arrogance, what some might call clericalism, when his theology, what some have described as hertrodoxy is challenged. Rather than humbly addressing his gaffes, he changes the subject. But A5 what doctrinally or dogmatically has changed since V2? Cardinal Ratzinger clarified that the Catholic Church, meaning the Pope and bishops in union with him is the one true Church--no ambiguity in that controversial but authoritative document.

Henry said...

Fr. McDonald, if you asked what has changed doctrinally and dogmatically in typical Catholic teaching by bishops, priests, religious, liturgists, and teachers in Catholic dioceses, seminaries, colleges, schools, and parishes literally throughout the world, from coast to coast on every continent . . . Then where to start and how much time to spend in answer would boggle the mind.

This is what matters to Catholics as a whole, and why the vast majority of them, wall to wall in almost every parish, are saturated with belief in false teachings presented to them ostensibly with the authority of the Church (often by their bishop or pastor), to the extent that the vast majority of those identified as Catholics have little clue what it even means to be a Catholic.

It is hardly any consolation--when false teaching by bishops and priests and theologians and liturgists is rampant at virtually every level and quarter of the Church--that a few of us aficionados know that these false teachings do not reflect actual changes in de fide dogma and doctrine of the Church. For the ordinary Catholic in the pew, the difference between what his priest or bishop tells him and the magisterial authority of the Church is a distinction without any practical difference.

Marc said...

The church had never before taught the idea that there is an "invisible church" that is somehow connected to the subsistent Catholic Church. The prior teaching, very clearly defined, was that there is one Catholic Church from which heretics, schismatics, and apostates are excluded. This is the very basis for the credal statement that the Church is "one."

Now, the teaching is that the Church subsists in the Catholic Church but that those who are not within the visible oneness of that institution are still somehow included. This negates the ontological unity of the Church, violates its credal oneness, and makes a liar of our Lord who prayed that the Church would be one.

Fr. Allan J. McDonald said...

There has been in the past as today confusion and heresy. But the official Magisterium is not and if one wants the truth just go to your handy dandy CCC and right thre for all to see one sees the truth!

Fr. Allan J. McDonald said...

Marc, the separated brethren are still what you say except in what they believe when it is Catholic. The schismatic Orthodox are more in full communion with us than the heretical Mormons.

Marc said...

I think you've missed the point. Show me the document that says there is such thing as "full" and "partial" communion. Traditional Catholic doctrine is one of "in" or "out" not one of degree. Baptized people are in; heretics, schismatics, and apostates are out.

The idea of "full communion" is a completely spirit of Vatican II thing.

Fr. Allan J. McDonald said...

Will you go on record then to insist that the orthodox when they enter the fullness of the Church must then actually be baptized, Confirmed and receive for the first time a valid Eucharist? And their priests and bishops reordained when joining the true Church? Of course we do require laity and even priests of the Anglican Communion to be validly confirmed and reordained.

Fr. Allan J. McDonald said...

Also Marc should SSPX be made to do a valid confession and be remarried when they repent of their dissent from the pope and local bishop and return to the true Church?

Marc said...

I do not believe the "Two Lungs Theory". I don't believe there are Sacraments outside the Church, and I don't believe there is grace in simulating the sacraments. But, I also believe God can save whom He will and can give grace in whatever way he chooses, to whomever and whenever he wants.

As for baptism, the Church has long accepted the baptisms of heretics as valid under certain conditions.

I don't know what the SSPX has to do with it since they are a special legalistic case under canon law. Presumably, the proper authority would need to make a determination one way or the other about them. Since there is only in or out in catholic teaching and they aren't heretics, apostates, or schismatics, they're in. Jurisdiction, in other words, is a canon law matter, not a doctrinal one.

Pater Ignotus said...

Anon 5 - I don't think that "authoritative statements" may be "touched on" by later statements means that infallibility is in play. Authoritative statements are not necessarily infallible. And that is always the case if those authoritative statements do not directly concern faith and/or morals.

The identification of the Church of Christ with the "Institutional Church" is highly problematic. There is much that
is "institutional" that is entirely cultural and historical and, therefore, subject to change.

Asking you "by what authority" you judge a magisterial teaching to be in contradiction to another magisterial statement is really the heart of the matter. If you tire of it, then 1) answer it or 2) don't answer it. But that is the nub. Your authority rests on "reason and logic." The authority of the Magisterium, which includes teaching since the papacy of Pius XII, rests on a gift of the Holy Spirit. So you'll forgive me if I stand with the Bishops and the gift of the Holy Spirit and not on one person's reason and logic.

I don't answer Gene's inquisitorial style questions because I am not subject to his judgment. I have my bishop's authorization to act in his name and, for Catholics, and without ironclad evidence to the contrary, the presumptive position is that I am orthodox.

And you and I both know that NO answer I give to Gene's questions will suffice, due to the animus he bears me. I can live with that.

I will certainly agree that neither of us is a bishop. I will not agree that that translates into requiring either of us to be silent on the issues that concern us.

The notion of an "invisible church" might well find its origins in St. Paul's theology of the Body of Christ.

James said...

Since you brought up John XXIII(soon to be saint)

Here he is on Socialism:

JOHN XXIII (1958-1963)

“No Catholic could subscribe even to MODERATE socialism”

“Pope Pius XI further emphasized the fundamental opposition between Communism and Christianity, and made it clear that no Catholic could subscribe even to MODERATE Socialism. The reason is that Socialism is founded on a doctrine of human society which is bounded by time and takes no account of any objective other than that of material well-being. Since, therefore, it proposes a form of social organization which aims solely at production; it places too severe a restraint on human liberty, at the same time flouting the true notion of social authority.” (Encyclical Mater et Magistra, May 15, 1961, n. 34)

Other popes on Socialism

PIUS IX (1846-1878)

The Overthrow of Order

“You are aware indeed, that the goal of this most iniquitous plot is to drive people to overthrow the entire order of human affairs and to draw them over to the wicked theories of this Socialism and Communism, by confusing them with perverted teachings.”
(Encyclical Nostis et Nobiscum, December 8, 1849)

LEO XIII (1878-1903)

Overthrow is Deliberately Planned

“... For, the fear of God and reverence for divine laws being taken away, the authority of rulers despised, sedition permitted and approved, and the popular passions urged on to lawlessness, with no restraint save that of punishment, a change and overthrow of all things will necessarily follow. Yea, this change and overthrow is deliberately planned and put forward by many associations of communists and socialists.”
(Encyclical Humanum Genus, April 20, 1884, n. 27)

Debasing the Natural Union of Man and Woman

“They [socialists, communists, or nihilists] debase the natural union of man and woman, which is held sacred even among barbarous peoples; and its bond, by which the family is chiefly held together, they weaken, or even deliver up to lust.
(Encyclical Quod Apostolici Muneris, December 28, 1878, n. 1)

PIUS XI (1922-1939)

Socialism Cannot Be Reconciled with Catholic Doctrine

“We make this pronouncement: Whether considered as a doctrine, or an historical fact, or a movement, Socialism, if it remains truly Socialism, even after it has yielded to truth and justice on the points which we have mentioned, cannot be reconciled with the teachings of the Catholic Church because its concept of society itself is utterly foreign to Christian truth.”
(Encyclical Quadragesimo Anno, May 15, 1931, n. 117)

BENEDICT XVI (2005 - present)

We do not Need a State which Controls Everything

“The State which would provide everything, absorbing everything into itself, would ultimately become a mere bureaucracy incapable of guaranteeing the very thing which the suffering person - every person - needs: namely, loving personal concern. We do not need a State which regulates and controls everything, but a State which, in accordance with the principle of subsidiarity, generously acknowledges and supports initiatives arising from the different social forces and combines spontaneity with closeness to those in need. … In the end, the claim that just social structures would make works of charity superfluous masks a materialist conception of man: the mistaken notion that man can live ‘by bread alone’ (Mt 4:4; cf. Dt 8:3) - a conviction that demeans man and ultimately disregards all that is specifically human.” (Encyclical Deus Caritas Est, December 25, 2005, n. 28

Ge said...

Marc, I think you've missed the point You say "Catholic doctrine is one of "in" or "out" not one of degree. Baptized people are in; heretics, schismatics, and apostates are out." Fair enough but...

Heretics, schismatics, and apostates are those who have made a definitive choice to say
"I will not serve" when it comes to the Catholic faith.

In the truest since these are those who:

1 Know what they are doing is a grave choice;
2 Make the choice with full knowledge that of what they are doing
3 It is done with full consent of the will

Now, would you agree that this does not cover everyone outside of the Catholic church?

Sure, you could apply these terms in a objective sense, but refutation of what the Church
teaches is done subjectively by a person.

Certainly you can acknowledge that the Mercy of God would come into play here.

One way to think of it is terms of territorial sovereignty. Puerto Rico is not a
state,it is an unincorporated territory, yet it is some way part of the United States and the people
therin have some, but not all of the benefits of a full-fledge citizen.

Hammer of Fascists said...

Fr. McD,

In answer to your 1:59: Marc brings up the same point that I would (and in fact the same one I did with regard to Pater). For my answer, I will (for about the 20th time on this blog) set the board the same query I set him:

To cut to the chase, Lumen Gentium no. 8 and Unitatis redintegratio no. 3 have language that departs from the language of Satis cognitum and Mortalium animos. The latter documents clearly state that the Church of Christ _is_ the institutional Catholic Church _is_ the Church of Christ, a perfect identification, one with the other. The former documents, on their face, by the language they use, state that the Church of Christ is _not_ the Catholic Church, i.e. that there's not a perfect identification of one with the other, but instead that one subsists in the other. (A simple Venn diagram would show the two concepts to be different.) Further, that wording appears to adopt a Protestant, denominational, approach by logically suggesting that the Church of Christ cuts across several "denominations." All of this is so, the points you make in your subsequent dialogue with Marc notwithstanding.

In the past, you've criticized those who would ignore VII. But if authoritative document A says "A" and authoritative document B says "not A", then the authority is in error according to the law of the excluded middle, one of the three classic laws of thought. The only way to resolve the problem is to hold that at least one of the authoritative statements is not binding (i.e. doesn't rise to the level of a doctrinal statement) (or to hold that it doesn't mean what it appears to state).

This, in turn, leads many people to say what popes have said: that VII was a _pastoral_ council and that its documents aren't doctrinal in nature. You don't like that one. But the fact is the only alternative is to downgrade the _other_ documents, and this is not only what the Spirit of VII folks do--it's what, in practice, the whole Church now does. It's what you do yourself in your dialogue with Marc. And I can't speak to the Orthodox, but I do know that if I, an Anglican, had come into the Church 100 or even 50 years before I did, I likely _would_ have been conditionally baptized.

to be contnued . . .

Hammer of Fascists said...

Continued . . .

If we looked only at your arguments here, it would be very easy to conclude that you're 100% right, that the Spirit blows where the Spirit will, and that there is such a thing as partial communion, or if you will a valid "little c" catholic church and that membership in it is more important than the membership in the institutional Catholic Church (again, a classic Protestant point of view). But the Church, in many respects, acted in contravention of that idea before VII, and, more troubling, it authoritatively _said_ things in contravention of that. It said them not only in Satis cognitum and Mortalium animos, which _still_ haven't been addressed by _anyone_ I've posed my challenge to (except possibly A2, but in the words of PI, he isn't pope), but also in Unam Sanctam, which has been conveniently contextualized so as to make it more ecumenically palatable. So we return to the fact that the Church has claimed to authoritatively say A in some documents and not A in others. And when pressed to reconcile the discrepancy, the Church, rather than addressing this grave problem, either ignores the request or responds by telling her critics to shut up.

So why is it wrong to ignore Lumen Gentium, but it isn't wrong to ignore Satis cognitum and Mortalium animos? Or should we just ignore _all_ magisterial ponouncements, including VII and all of the troublesome VII documents, since that, too, would solve the problem? Of course, when you do that, you get Baptists. But it would at least be ecumenical. Or should we ignore Satis cognitum and Mortalium animos because they're "merely" papal documents, whereas LG is a conciliar document? But isn't that the case of a council overruling a pope?

Again, I'm not the one who painted the Church into this corner. I just want to know what to believe and the Church won't tell me.

Marc said...

Ge, here is the response according to Roman Catholic teaching:

All heretics, formal and material, are outside the Catholic Church: yes, even the child baptized as a Lutheran infant finds himself a material heretic upon reading the age of reason. So at that point, he is outside the Catholic Church.

Does this mean he cannot be saved? Not necessarily since he may well be invincibly ignorant of his heresy. But, that doesn't make him any more a member of the Church, which is a visible institution. This is why evangelization is necessary. This is why heresy is condemned: to prevent people from being born into these unfortunate situations. And woe unto us if we do nothing to correct the darkness of heresy in our midst.

The formal heretic is, of course, in a different situation since, as you point out, he willfully chooses heresy over truth.

Hammer of Fascists said...

Pater: My responses threaded below. Your statements are italicized. two=part reply.

[i]Authoritative statements are not necessarily infallible. And that is always the case if those authoritative statements do not directly concern faith and/or morals.[/i]

Good. Then we can say that the four problems of VII are fallible statements. I win. We can all go home now. :-)))

[i]The identification of the Church of Christ with the "Institutional Church" is highly problematic.[/i]

Then why did Leo XIII and Pius XI write as if it isn't? For my further comments on this, see my recent two-parter in reply to Fr. McD. It will show that I'm aware of the problems, but that awareness doesn't mean we can ignore papal pronouncements, does it?

[i]There is much that
is "institutional" that is entirely cultural and historical and, therefore, subject to change.[/i]

Can you find any evidence to the effect that I've ever denied that or asserted the contrary?

[i]Asking you "by what authority" you judge a magisterial teaching to be in contradiction to another magisterial statement is really the heart of the matter. If you tire of it, then 1) answer it or 2) don't answer it.[/i]

There you go again . . . [b]I answered it.[/b] Please don't insinuate that I dodged it. In your discussion of reason and logic below, you even acknowledged that I answered it.

[i]But that is the nub. Your authority rests on "reason and logic." The authority of the Magisterium, which includes teaching since the papacy of Pius XII, rests on a gift of the Holy Spirit. So you'll forgive me if I stand with the Bishops and the gift of the Holy Spirit and not on one person's reason and logic.[/i]

I like your subtle-but-fallacious "You have reason and logic, I have the authority of the Church behind me" argument. In fact that isn't a given; instead it's what's at issue, viz, which of us is more in line with the Church? The clericalist fallacy you've brought up is nothing more than a clever way to elevate yourself to de facto bishop in regard to the content of your posts. Too bad for you that it doesn't work.

I'm not the one who chose, thousands of years ago, to appeal to to reason and logic as a way of explaining the Faith. Ours isn't primarily a religion of mysticism but of revelation, a massive amount of which has been conveyed by reason. (See BXVI's Regensburg Lecture; careful, or you'll find yourself playing the role of the outraged Muslims who have no use for reason.) If you're going to castigate me for appealing to logic and reason, then castigate generations of bishops for all of the emphasis they have placed on language over the centuries. I wasn't the one who made such a stink over the iota in Homoiousian or made such a big deal out of the use of theotokos or filioque.

To be continued . . .

Pater Ignotus said...

Marc - Ontological unity is not negated by the teaching that there is "imperfect communion" among all baptized Christians.

It is most certainly understood in a different way, but there is nothing in the teaching of "imperfect communion" that negates ontological unity.

Also, you cannot state, "I don't believe there are Sacraments outside the Church" and then, in the next paragraph, state, "...the Church has long accepted the baptisms of heretics as valid under certain conditions."

Either there are NO Sacraments outside the Church or there ARE sacraments outside the Church. You can't have it both ways.

Ge said...

In Mortalium animos Pius XI uses the words
"knowingly,willingly and deliberately". in referring to those who reject Catholic teaching.

He also states at one point:
"This is a certainty: No man of really good will is ever rejected by his Maker". Throughout his Encyclical he refers to those outside the Church with reference
in some way or another to the Mercy of God in how they are to be judged.

I get something out of this Encylical that others don't or it would seem that way.

And I consider myself to be a Traditionalist.

Pater Ignotus said...

Anon 5 - When I quote an authoritative text, "I" am not speaking, the Church is. When that text is the product of the papal or episcopal magisterial office, it carries logic, reason, AND the charism to teach given to the Church in the pope and bishops.

When you state "I don't agree with the magisterial text" you are basing that, as you have stated, on logic and reason without the charism given to bishops.

I am not castigating you for relying on logic and reason, but for assuming that they trump the charism given to teach that bishops, not you nor I, possess.

And you complain that no one teaches you. Have you read Card. Kasper's texts or Card. Cassidy's texts on Ecumenism? Or are they dismissed out of hand as being too "Spirit of Vatican Two?" They actually write quite compellingly. But if you have already concluded that Mortalium Animos is THE last word on the subject - and it most certainly is not - then I can understand your not seeking the assistance of two of the most learned bishops on the subject.

I don't know what aspects of the Church you include when you use the phrase "institutional Church." Could you help me understand your meaning?

Marc said...

Pater, just saying something doesn't make it true... Not even if you close your eyes real tight and wish real hard. Of course, I guess we could just call it "imperfect unity" and that negates the ontological problem. For my part, semantics games don't suffice to replace truth.

As for why baptism of heretics are valid and other Sacraments aren't, that is more than I wish to type on an ipad. And, frankly, my efforts today at trying to get Alabama not to kill my clients have drained me of the resolve to debate it further. So, I'll just go with - I dunno.

Maybe you can stick to addressing A5's comments today, I'm just not up for it.

Hammer of Fascists said...

Continued . . .

[i]I don't answer Gene's inquisitorial style questions because I am not subject to his judgment. I have my bishop's authorization to act in his name and, for Catholics, and without ironclad evidence to the contrary, the presumptive position is that I am orthodox.[/i]

You rest a very great deal of weight on that word "presumptive." You've often criticized me for talking like a lawyer in theological matters, but you don't hesitate to do so yourself when it suits your interests; that's as legalistic a statement as I've ever made on this blog. I'm not being "inquisitorial" in the sense that you mean it (and if you really knew anything about the law, then as opposed to gratuitously connoting the horrible evil bad bad Catholic Inquisition, you would know that there's nothing inherently wrong with the inquisitorial method, which many judicial systems use to this day). I want to know where you're coming from, and you won't tell me, other to speak in terms of legalistic presumptions.

But those presumptions are of absolutely zero value on this board. There's no Fifth Amendment here (since that would be too lawyerly). Speaking of the evil bad bad Catholic Inquisition, your refusals to answer are very reminiscent of how the Albigensians were coached to avoid incriminating themselves before the Inquisitors. Theologically I simply don't trust you.

Against your precious presumption I'll set the fact that the fact is that most heresies were begun by clergy, and all of them were subscribed to by some clergy. This is not to charge you with heresy, but to show that in at least some circumstances, the presumption, even insofar as it went, was misplaced. I'll also set the fact that I have personally known priests who have professed many of the same theological ideas that you have who also said undeniably heterodox things in my hearing.

The Church's pronouncements on Donatism mean that I accept you as a priest, and I always endeavor to show you the respect due a a priest and the dignity deserved by all persons, but that says nothing about whether your statements here are orthodox. Your statements are supported by exactly as much, or as little, of the gifts of the Holy Spirit as mine. It's thus fallacious of you to plead your bishop's authority--and that only by presumption--to show that your authority is better than mine. That's the worst kind of clericalism, as well as a fallacious argument from authority. Unlike in my case, where my authority can be undercut by a critique of my reason or use of sources, your appeal to authority a) overreaches (since priests have no charism of theological orthodoxy) and b) reeks of unimpeachable potestas. Clericalism--heh.

[i]And you and I both know that NO answer I give to Gene's questions will suffice, due to the animus he bears me. I can live with that.[/i]

I don't contest that. But I'm not Gene.

[i]I will certainly agree that neither of us is a bishop. I will not agree that that translates into requiring either of us to be silent on the issues that concern us.[/i]

Whatever. I'm sorry that the fact that I'm not a bishop concerns you so much. But whenever you pontificate as I do, take it as read that your authority, lacking even a pretended charism of infallibility, rests on the same bases as mine--at best. So please, keep those stones in your pockets. What exactly do you hope to gain by repeating your questions about my authority _so often_?

[i]The notion of an "invisible church" might well find its origins in St. Paul's theology of the Body of Christ.[/i]

Perhaps. But that notion has now been illuminated by 2000 years of magisterial documents. LG is a departure. Which brings us back to where we started. Is LG wrong, or is the prior stuff apparently in conflict with it wrong, or is there no conflict? And i there is no conflict, how do we reconcile the documents and what are we to believe? For further info, see my 2-parter to Fr. McD above.

Fr. Allan J. McDonald said...

Marc if you sent me a post on your experience with the desth penalty in Ala., I will print it as a post.

Marc said...

Ge, I think you've got the point right, but you're collapsing the concepts of heresy with one's ultimate salvation. Right?

Father, thank you. I'll see if I can come up with something. I appreciate that!

Ge said...

Speaking for myself I can say with humilty that my faith, for what it is, illuminates
that which is dim for others,or so it seems.
When one loves the Church (even as inadequatley as I do), and ones faith is sufficient,
then nothing of the Church's teaching is irreconcilable and there are no contradictions
both between what is taught in the present and what was taught in the past. This is how
it is for me and I don't thank God enough for it..

With Faith

"one bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things."

Hammer of Fascists said...


You now rank with A2 as the only persons to attempt to address one of the issues in my challenge. Good job. I'm not sure how far your point actually goes towards reconciling LG with Mortalium animos, and you say nothing about Satis cognitum, and I don't have the brain power or time left to devote to the issue this evening after all of my earlier posts. I would need to go back and do an in-depth analysis of the pertinent passages, and I just don't have that much steam left tonight. I think the formal/material distinction to be definitely important, and it might go a long way, if not all the way, towards solving the problem. At the very least you've earned an A for a good-faith effort at reconciling the authorities.

That leads us, of course, to the question of why the hierarchy just won't do it, especially if it's that easy.

Gene said...

Anon 5, Be reminded that it was not me who asked Ignotus the question whether he believed in the Real Presence and the bodily resurrection of Jesus of Nazareth. I never asked him that question inquisitorially or otherwise. It was asked by another blogger out of frustration with Ignotus' prevarication and dishonesty. I did not ask the question because I already know the answer.
Now, here is a fine example of Ignotus' dishonesty and prevarication...he continues to insist, despite my correcting him on several occasions, that I asked the question so he can use this as an excuse for not answering the most fundamental and simplest question of belief. Ignotus is fundamentally dishonest and unprincipled, traits he has exhibited over and over again on this blog.

Hammer of Fascists said...


I stand corrected. My apologies.

Anonymous 2 said...

Anon 5, Marc, Ge, Pater, Father McDonald, and Anyone Else Who Is Interested:

In this comment I do not want to get in the middle of this recurrent debate about whether or not it is possible to reconcile certain pre-Vatican II documents with Vatican II documents. I have little expertise and no authority.

However, I would like to make a practical suggestion to help move those of us who are interested beyond the current impasse. I make this suggestion with diffidence, knowing full well that even though it may improve knowledge and understanding, it will not add one jot to the total lack of authority possessed by the laity among us. But I just don’t see the point in beating around the same old bush of (1) Can the documents be reconciled? (2) Even if they can, why doesn’t the magisterium do that for us then?

My suggestion is that those of us who can form a study group to read the relevant documents ourselves and to meet and talk about them, but that we do this in conjunction with developing an understanding about the proper techniques for interpreting magisterial documents. Father McDonald and/or Pater, are you in a position to help us gain that understanding? If not, I came across the following two books by the Jesuit Francis Sullivan while researching relevant matters this evening:

 The Magisterium: Teaching Authority in the Catholic Church (1983) (

 Creative Fidelity: Weighing and Interpreting Documents of the Magisterium (1996)

Is anyone familiar with either of these books or with the author? If these books are any good, perhaps we could begin by studying them before trying to apply their learning to the documents themselves.

As I said, I offer this suggestion simply to find a way out of the impasse. Anon. 5 and others are clearly troubled by the apparent difficulties in reconciling various magisterial documents and are not as comfortable as some of us are in simply taking the later magisterial pronouncements “on faith” as it were. My thought is that being proactive in this way may help them and indeed all of us to have a better sense of where the problems might lie and their possible solutions. The purpose, then, would not be to “prove” one position or the other (after all, we all end up deferring to the magisterium anyway) but to learn more about certain “constitutional” and other pertinent issues in our Faith. My hunch, however, is that part of what we are likely to learn is just how complex the process of proper interpretation really is and that this may be why the magisterium has not yet provided the clarity Anon. 5 and others seek.

Finally, I would not propose doing this in any kind of “intensive” way. The process could take as long as we wanted it to. Of course, perhaps we should be spending our time studying other matters to do with the Faith instead of this. On the other hand, this seems to be such a thorn in the side, or even a real stumbling block, for some, that perhaps there is merit to the idea.

Gene said...

I just finished a book, kindly sent to me by Marc, entitled, "The Council in Question," by Doorly and Nichols (Tan Books). It is a lively dialogue between a Catholic journalist and a Dominican Priest regarding Vat II and the issues associated with it. It is good background and can be read in a few hours. It could very well be a dialogue between Marc or Anon 5 and Fr. MacDonald. Worth a read...

Gene said...

Traditionally, in theology and dogmatics, precision of language is a primary consideration. Vatican II is a departure from that tradition in that the language is deliberately imprecise, suggestive, and ambiguous. I do not see how it is possible to have a study group given to examining and comparing imprecise, and ill-defined statements. Also, including a greased pig such as Ignotus in the conversation makes for a sort of Monty Python atmosphere.

Marc said...

Here's an article I'm hoping to spend some time with soon. Maybe others will find it and the site it is on profitable.

The book Gene mentioned is pretty helpful too for a couple reasons. Maybe he can pass it around to you guys in Macon before it makes its way back to me.

Hammer of Fascists said...


I genuinely appreciate your efforts as peacemaker and facilitator of dialogue. With respect, I must qualify that in one degree: your self-effacing statement about not being an expert or an authority regarding the magisterium doesn’t ring right. You are, to my knowledge, no judge, yet your career consists largely of critiquing the authoritative opinions of judges and, on occasion, stating flatly that judges got it wrong. I imagine you do this not to call the legal system into question, or to advocate disobedience to the law--civil or otherwise--but to encourage your students and readers to think about how to apply the law and to encourage the profession, in the long run, to serve the client as well as possible and to move the law in a way that seems to you to be better.

As to expertise; once again, we are operating at the level of logic, reason, and basic understanding of the rules of language. You and I have both been trained in those matters. While this may not be the whole of knowledge required to understand the Magisterium fully, it can take us far.

This is precisely my position with regard to my commentary here. I have never claimed more knowledge than that, along with some professional training (not amounting to specialization) in theology, patristics, and Church history. VII called for more lay participation. It is ironic that when I take this call seriously, but without claiming either expertise or magisterial authority, I am greeted by modernists, almost as a refrain, that--in essence--I should quit participating, that I should shut up because I’m not an authority. I find such statements to be both rude and hostile, since all over the world, theologians--both lay and clergy, and on both sides of the issues--are speculating on, and genuinely troubled by, these same questions. And some of these commentators--among them bishops and priests--take the same view as I. Indeed, they didn’t get it from me; I got it from them. I do find it highly ironic, as I’ve noted before, that the Church spills all this ink in lengthy documents like those of VII to show how reasonable its prescriptions are, practically inviting the world to study and think about those documents, and then when we do precisely that, we are greeted with injunctions to shut up and obey--and, more than that, to obey mandates that may well not be supported by the authority of the Magisterium.

Thus, your reminder, although more indirect and subtle, and certainly more respectful, than those of others, that none of us here is a bishop, is unnecessary.

Thanks again for your input. I shall respond to the rest of your proposal in a separate post.

Hammer of Fascists said...

A2 (continued)

As to your proposal: I am, in theory, open to the idea, but with several actual reservations.

The root problem is that I believe that Pater and I both regard the other to be acting in bad faith. It seems clear to me that, if our comments accurately reflect our beliefs, we each believe the other to be dissenting from teachings of the Church. He apparently believes all of my comments to be arrogant and completely unauthoritative (and without merit regardless of authority), and I believe him to be guilty of clericalism as well as suspecting him of modernism and an unwillingness to engage in honest dialogue. I have repeatedly attempted to engage him in a dialogue of mutual give-and-take, only to find that he is unwilling to make (with a few minor technical exceptions) any concessions at all. (I obviously don’t believe that this is descriptive of me, but if you ask him you’d probably get a different opinion.) Given this dynamic, I doubt that your proposal would work, since, for this type of thing to be productive, each party must begin with the admission that it may be wrong in some respects to begin with questions and not answers, or at least some questions and not all answers.

I also wonder about the books you have recommended, without knowing much about them. One of the more unfortunate results of the last fifty years is that a great many writings purporting to be Catholic adopt views that are actively hostile to doctrine and Sacred Tradition. Gene’s recommendation I tend to accept, merely on the strength of the publisher; your recommendations I tend to be wary of, merely because they are both written by Jesuits. My reaction, I suppose, shows that I too am prejudiced, but I have seen too many books with the thesis (and on one occasion the actual title) along the lines of “How You Can Dissent from the Doctrines of the Church and Still be a Good Catholic.” Most heretical movements, I suspect, claimed thatthey were “really” Catholic. (I except my own views from this criticism because at one time at least, they were undoubtedly and formally accepted as the real thing by the Church, unlike, say, Pelagianism or Modernism.) I would rather err on the side of caution and have too pre-VII a theology--which, presumably, was unquestionably solid, at least in the past (more on that later)--than buy into a questionable theology that is Catholic only in name.

to be continued . . .

Hammer of Fascists said...

Continued . . .

I guess that my premise is that the history and doctrine of the Church from the beginning until 1950 was and is correct; was and is authoritative; and has a timeless value. Old conciliar documents and papal pronouncements on matters of doctrine may--at best--be read in a different light as time passes, but they may _not_ be overruled, even sub silentio. Everything that has happened since 1950, then--every one of the massive, epochal changes _must_ be a) recognized as changes, as rupture at some level, and b) _must_ be squared with that prior history if it is to share that prior history’s authority. That involves, at the very least, referencing the old documents, talking about their language and context, and accepting that they still apply to us authoritatively today. This is what I have found that modernists, in general, are completely unwilling to do, even going so far as refusing to mention the older documents, as if they never existed.

This latter approach--any approach that impliedly or explicitly declares VII and what came after to overrule what came before, in practice and theory, is one that I will have no truck with. This includes assertions--which have been made by posters here--that because VII is the most recent, it encapsulates and restates all previous documents to such a degree that reference to those prior documents is not only unnecessary but pointless, and charges that the old documents have in fact been “overruled.”

If the participants can explicitly agree to the two previous paragraphs, and then actually follow them in practice as opposed to merely paying lip service to them during our discussions, and we can agree on a representative selection of books with which--if you will--nobody is entirely happy, then I would be willing to adopt your proposal as long as it doesn’t devolve into the sort of attacks that have taken place recently on this board. But frankly, I’m not sanguine about the chances for success.

Pater Ignotus said...

Pin/Gene said "I did not ask the question because I already know the answer." Another perfectly good reason for not responding to the "Self-Important Southern Orders Inquisition Squad."

Marc - Not even if you close your eyes real tight and wish real hard AND hold your breath and stamp your feet can you make your assertion regarding the negation of ontological unity true.

Pater Ignotus said...

Anon 5- Are Mortalium Animos and Unitatis Redintegratio Contradictory?

Doctrine – the way in which we express the Truths of our faith – develops and changes. It always has and it always will. To expect otherwise is an error that will, necessarily, lead to wailing and the gnashing of teeth.

The developments and changes can come from:

New ways of thinking about Truth. The idea of transubstantiation was new in its day, being used to express the eternal Truth of the presence of Christ under the forms of bread and wine. The term transubstantiation seems to have been first used by Hildebert of Tours (ca. 1079).

New words/phrases being used to express Truth. “Homoouisos” was new in its day, being used to express an eternal Truth regarding the relationship of The Son to The Father. “Homoousios” was adopted by the Church to describe the Father/Son relationship ca. 325.

New or Revived pedagogical methods for teaching Truth. St. Patrick used the shamrock to teach the eternal Truth of the Trinity. The words he used to connect the shamrock’s “three in oneness” to the “three in oneness” of the Trinity were a new formulation. St. Patrick taught in Ireland in the 400’s.

There may be other reasons why doctrine develops. I do not suggest this list is exhaustive.

In all of these examples, the Truth remains the same while the doctrine – the way in which we express the Truths of our faith – develops and changes.

Developments and changes do not negate the Truth, but are intended to enhance our understanding of the Truth and assist us in proclaiming Truth to others. Some developments and changes prove to be helpful and survive, some are found to be unhelpful and pass from usage.

MORE is coming – I wanted to get this posted as it was coming to me.

Anonymous said...

Pater: your 1049, while I do have a few issues with it, is on the whole rational, thoughtful, civil, and on point. I wish you had posted it earlier.

Accepting arguendo your concept of development, I'm very familiar with the concept. It happens all the time in jurisprudence, even to the degree that Case A decrees truth a and a later Case B overrules it by decreeing not a.

My contention here is that while the truths of the faith may be expressed in new, different, and perhaps deeper ways, that process cannot extend to the point that a new statement is the express or implied _negation_ of a prior statement, at least in circumstances in which infallibility is calimed, since in that situation the law of the excused middle would dictate that the church has taught error with one of it's statements. I further contend that the definition of church is within this category in that "subsists" is the implicit negation, according to a venn diagram, of "is." can you give me evidence to the effect that one of the contradictory statements, or more than one, makes no claim to infallibility? --A5

Gene said...

Ignotus, There is nothing for you to respond to..I never asked the question. You just can't get it right, can you?
You did not answer the question because you cannot and retain any credibility (not that you have much now).

Marc said...

I'll confess, I do not really understand the "development of doctrine" doctrine. I do, however, wish that I understood it. So, let me see if I can get Pater to elucidate his point by way of a more concrete example relating back to our previous discussion here.

The way I'm going to go about this is not through document citations, but just laying out my understanding in hopes Pater will correct as he sees fit.

The Church from time immemorial has taught that Christ founded a Church and that that Church consisted of bishops, priests, and laity (I'm deliberately setting aside the papal claims here). This Church, comprised of both clerics and laity, is the Catholic Church, a visible institution comprised of all the baptized who held to the Catholic and Apostolic Faith. Various peoples and groups have, from time to time, left the visible Church because of heresy, schism, and apostasy. Those people were then, ipso facto, not within the Catholic Church and hence, not in Christ's Church (because the two are synonymous).

The Church taught for 1,960 years that the Christ's Church is synonymous with the Catholic Church. Giving the benefit of the doubt to Vatican II documents, it seems the Church now teaches that the Catholic Church is Christ's Church, but there are elements of that Church that are not part of the visible Church on earth. Those members of the invisible Church are the various baptized people who are, for the most part, material heretics or schismatics.

So, where before heretics, including material heretics, and schismatics were not part of the visible Church and therefore, not part of the Catholic Church regardless of their having been baptized. Now, certain heretics and schismatics are not part of the visible Church, but are part of the Catholic Church by virtue of baptism.

Have I accurately recounted the teaching, and how can these definitions be reconciled?

Pater Ignotus said...

Marc - In my 10:49 post, what do you not understand? What do you take issue with? What do you think is in error?

Pater Ignotus said...

Marc - And for a pithy little explanation from Catholic Answers, go here:

Pater Ignotus said...

And for further reading:

Marc said...

I think what I'm struggling to understand is this how what you've said applies to a particular situation. So, is it that we now understand the nature of the Church in a different (fuller?) way? Is the subsistence definition like the clarifications you give? Is this more like the clarification when transubstantiation was defined or is it different? Or is this something completely new?

For example, now that transubstantiation is the doctrine, if there is a purported later council that says something different, is that development or change?

I guess my main problem is that the development idea just seems like it is always dependent on the eye of the beholder. I don't doubt this has always been the case, where people argued transubstantiation, for example, isn't a development, but something completely new.

I can't really explain the trouble I'm having understanding this in a better way, but I wish I could.

Anonymous 2 said...

Anon. 5,

Thank you for your detailed and gracious reply. I am glad you are open to the idea in principle. I certainly have no problem subscribing to the two paragraphs in question, except for one point. I believe that to say that every change since 1950 must be “recognized as . . . rupture at some level” begs the question and seems in tension with your concession that the old documents “may be read in a different light as time passes” and that it is important to attend to their “context” when seeking to understand how they apply to us today. Presumably “context” also includes the type of document and its ranking in the hierarchy of infallible/non-infallible documents.

Of course, until I know more about the proper way to interpret and apply such documents I do not know if any of this is actually the case. You may be correct that every change since 1950 is rupture at some level, or you may not. At this point I cannot know, although as I have repeatedly said my own approach is to defer to the magisterium and to have faith that there is indeed a way of reconciling these documents. I would have thought that this would be an appropriate approach for any Catholic to take – to presume that the documents can in fact be made consistent, rather than to presume that they are inconsistent, always subject, of course, to the vital caveat that there can be no compromise with Truth.

As to the books, you may be correct about them too. However, again I do not know. That is why I asked if anyone was familiar with them or the author. Even if the proper way to interpret magisterial documents were controversial, one would hope that any treatise on the topic would fairly present the differing approaches.

As I mentioned, my suggestion is intended to help us enhance our knowledge and understanding, not to “prove” something one way or the other or to “persuade” to a point of view. One must be open to the guidance of the Holy Spirit and leave ego outside the door. And as to authority, then, I don’t see any tension between what I said and what I (and you) do professionally. Yes, my career “consists largely of critiquing the authoritative opinions of judges and, on occasion, stating flatly that judges got it wrong” (well, given the type of courses I teach, my own career consist of some of this but a lot of other things as well, including especially trying to get students to see law in a “broader perspective”).

However, despite significant similarities, the Catholic religious conversation and the legal conversation, and the rhetorical communities that carry those conversations, are very different form one another. The purposes of those conversations are different (salvation versus justice) and hence the qualities required to be a good participant in them are different, and this includes the question of “authority.” I have no hesitation in critiquing the Supreme Court, for example. I have much greater hesitation in critiquing the teaching authority of the Pope and other members of the magisterium – rightfully so I believe.

And a final word: Have you or Gene actually met and talked with Pater Ignotus (I believe Marc said one time that he had)? It is my experience in 60 years of life that actually getting to know someone in person can change one’s opinions and impressions of that person considerably. In fact, if we did more of it, our world might be a much more peaceful place. But then, I am related to Don Quixote.

Anonymous 2 said...


Many thanks for those references. They are interesting and helpful. I have read the “pithy” one but need more time to read and digest the longer one from Newman.

Marc said...

A2, I have indeed met Fr. Kavanugh in person. I found him to be very nice and enjoyable to converse with. In fact, I was privy to a conversation about conversion between him and Fr. McDonald in which I agreed more with Fr. K than Fr. M.

The internet can at times bring out the worst in me. Most of the time, my questions are in good faith. Often my statements are a result of my own confusion and lack of faith. I am genuinely struggling to not leave the Catholic Church right now. Seriously. That's why this particular discussion about development of doctrine is so important to me.

Anyway, I think Fr. K and I could have a much more productive conversation in person than we have ever had here...

Anonymous 2 said...


Thank you, too, for your own gracious reply. I am sorry to learn of your struggles about the Faith. If it’s any consolation, many of us have been there at one time or another. I hesitate to say more without knowing more. I will keep you in my prayers.

Pater Ignotus said...

Marc - What the 10:49 post indicates is that we have always had development in our doctrine while the Truth being described remains unchanged. We can't alter the Truth, but we can change how we understand or teach about the Truth.

Our understanding of ecclesiology, eschatology, sacramental theology, etc., has always developed over time. Theologians develop the doctrines of earlier theologians, proposing "new" ways to talk about the Church, the Eucharist, the action of the Holy Spirit, the nature of relationships between the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.

Christological teaching may give an example.

96 - Clement of Rome wrote that Jesus was the mirror of God's transcendent face.

Tertullian (160-220) developed the notion of Three Persons, one substance.

Irenaeus (180) writes of Christ as the New Adam.

Origen (185-254) wrote of the "ransom theory" of atonement.

Eusebius (263-339) was not sure that Jesus and the Father were consubstantial.

Arias at the Council of Nicea (325) believed wrongly that Jesus was created by the Father.

Constantinople (381) expanded the discussion to include the Spirit.
Ephesus (431) declared Jesus to be one person, contrary to Nestorianism.

Anselm of Canterbury (1033-1109) affirmed that Jesus was one divine person.

Constantinople rejected Eustratius' notions about the "servitude" of the humanity of Jesus to his divinity.

Duns Scotus (1265-1308) taught that the human nature of Jesus was not changed by the Divine nature.

And so on.

The understanding of Christ and the doctrine that expressed that understanding has evolved over time while the Truth remains the same.

Marc said...

Thanks, A2.

Pater, thank you for your patient reply. So, a key ingredient to something being a development is that it doesn't supersede the prior teaching, but is compatible with the prior teaching. I can see that clearly in the Christogical doctrines you've listed - none of the subsequent developments negate the existing doctrines. That is, they are mutually enriching instead of mutually exclusive. To me, this is clear in this case as they seem to "focus the Truth," if you will.

So, Christ "is" and then He is described and understood better upon reflection. With regard to ecclesiology, the Church "is" and is described and then better understood. For me, for some reason, it is harder to understand this when it comes to ecclesiology... I'm going to think about this and see if I can figure out why that is...

Anonymous 2 said...


Your last post on Christology is very illuminating. However, unless I am mistaken, Marc and Anon. 5 are troubled by such statements as the following and how to reconcile them with later magisterial statements, in particular those of Vatican II:

“Furthermore, we declare, we proclaim, we define that it is absolutely necessary for salvation that every human creature be subject to the Roman Pontiff.” (from Pope Boniface VIII Papal Bull Unam Sanctam 1302).

“The most Holy Roman Church firmly believes, professes, and preaches, that none of those existing outside the Catholic Church, not only pagans, but also Jews arid heretics and schismatics, can have a share in life eternal; but that they will go into the eternal fire which was prepared for the devil and his angels, unless before death they are joined with her; and that so important is the unity of this ecclesiastical body that only those remaining within this unity can profit by the sacraments of the Church unto salvation, and they alone can receive an eternal recompense for their fasts, their almsgiving, their other works of Christian piety and the duties of a Christian soldier. No one, let his almsgiving be as great as it may, no one, even if he pour out his blood for the Name of Christ, can be saved, unless he remain within the bosom and unity of the Catholic Church.” (from Pope Eugene IV Papal Bull Cantate Domino 1441).

Hammer of Fascists said...


Don't worry about my "rupture" comment. I'm perfectly willing to concede that I employed some hyperbole in my statement on that point as originally formulated. My more considered revised statement is that the trend of theological and liturgical development since the convening of VII has been, at least to a degree hitherto unknown, towards rupture. Does that adequately address your concerns, or do you still consider it question-begging?

I may or may not be right about the books; my hunch is that I am. It's a sad commentary on our time that such litmus tests as I use a) are necessary and b) have proven in my experience to be accurate more often than not. By way of digression, it's interesting that publishing houses with undeniably Catholic names (Ligouri, Ave Maria, St. Ignatius) tend to be more orthodox while those with more generic Christian names despite their protestations of Catholicism (Twenty-Third) are more likely to be heterodox.

I will grant that most of these authors genuinely believe that they are right and that they are trying to do good and even that they are orthodox. As I've noted, most heresies at some point or another strongly claim to be Catholic, but that doesn't make them objectively so.

I actually don't think that there's as much difference between salvation and justice as you suggest. At any rate, my basic point is that the opinion of the non-officeholder can have merit in either context even if it isn't binding. (Incidentally, do you know this quotation from Grant Gilmore? " In heaven there will be no law, and the lion shall lie down with the lamb. The values of an unjust society will reflect themselves in an unjust law. The worse the society, the more law there will be. In hell there will be nothing but law, and due process will be meticulously observed.")

I have not had discussions with Pater in person. You are entirely correct about the problems with conversing on the net. As I have noted before, people dislike me in person, but generally not for the reasons that they would give here, viz., arrogance, intolerance, and inflexibility. But perhaps our true selves are best reflected here rather than in person (an unsettling thought), shorn clean of such distractions as superficial charm, charisma, appearance, or manners. Based on Pater's comments to me, I doubt that he would care to meet me in person or like me very much if he did, so I think it's best if I respect that and not come forward.

Hammer of Fascists said...

Marc: The first paragraph of your 5:58 is a far more elegant and complete expression of the point that I have tried to make regarding the limitations on doctrinal change. Well done.

It puts me in the mind of my Civil procedure professor (one of the best teachers I had in my many, many years of higher education). When it comes to in personam jurisdiction, you utter "International Shoe" as a grave, respectful mantra and then do whatever you want. That's how flexible it's become due to subsequent interpretation, and yet it's still authoritative (or it was the last time I studied it, anyway, but that's an increasingly long time ago.) That's an approach that, in my non-authoritative opinion, doctrinal development should seek to avoid.

Pater Ignotus said...

Anon 5 - What part(s) of my 10:49 post do you have issues with? I'd like to know so we can try to clear them up and carry on.

Gene said...

Christ as the Second Adam and the "ransom" theory of the atonement are NT concepts...

RE: Meeting with Ignotus. See Second John, verses 8-11.

Anonymous 2 said...

Fair enough, Anon. 5. Let’s take this one step at a time. Would you be willing to talk with just me then? I would be delighted to meet you. We could do lunch if you like and chat about our mutual interest in teaching as well – not next week but the following week perhaps. No pressure – it is entirely up to you. If you would like to do this, please email me at the Law School. I suspect you know who I am. If not, I am pretty sure Marc or Gene will know.

Thanks for the Gilmore reference. I think I may have heard it before but am glad to be reminded of it. There are many visions of Hell. That could certainly be one of them I suppose.

I have another little quip that I display in my office and that I picked up at the monastery gift shop in Conyers many years ago: “God so loved the world that He did not send a committee.”

Marc said...

A2, I think I know who you are. Honestly, I wish you'd have come up with this idea before my move to Alabama. I'd have loved to strike up a "human friendship" with you!

Hammer of Fascists said...


I'll let Marc speak for me. He's putting it more eloquently than I. Re his 5:58, I see a world of difference between compatibility of development (OK) with development's negation of prior understandings (impermissable).

Anonymous 2 said...


Let's get together on one of your trips back to Macon. BTW where are you exactly in Alabama?

Marc said...

Sounds good.

I'm in Montgomery.

Pater Ignotus said...

Anon 5 - Marc did not address what I said in my 10:49 post, so I can't respond to the issues you have with that post through his comments. Could you describe the issues you have with the post?

I'll add this to the 10:49 ideas - The formulation of doctrine is also shaped by the purpose the formulators have AND by the audience they want to reach. A current example would be the difference between the Catechism of the Catholic Church and the YouCat. The same Truths are presented, but because the purpose of the two texts differs, and because the audiences of the two texts differ, a different approach is used in the wording, arrangement, and physical appearance of the two.

Pin/Gene - Yes, the concepts of Christ as the Second Adam and of the ransom theory of atonement are certainly biblical. But the doctrinal formulations of those I cited present the concepts in a significantly different way than is found in the Sacred Scripture.

The Truth of Christ's presence under the forms of bread and wine is also biblical, but no one, I suspect, would suggest that "transubstantiation" is, itself, a biblical idea. It is a later - much later - reformulation of the idea, using the insights of 1000 years of Christian reason and mystical appreciation, not to mention a healthy dose of Greek philosophy, to present the biblical concept in doctrinal terms.

Anonymous 2 said...

Anon 5, Marc, and Pater,

Please take a look at my post from 6:14 p.m. yesterday. If I have understood correctly – and perhaps I have not – this should squarely focus the issue. Those earlier pre-Vatican II magisterial pronouncements (i.e., papal bulls) on the impossibility of salvation outside the Church seem to be inconsistent with the Vatican II pronouncements and perhaps even with certain possible implications of much later pre-Vatican II pronouncements. So, it is a question of apparently clear inconsistency between the relevant texts rather than a “development” that is not apparently clearly inconsistent.

Now, of course, this does not necessarily mean that the pronouncements cannot be reconciled – it was a purpose behind my study group proposal to try to understand whether and how this is possible, and indeed I personally trust that they can – but, as I said, unless I am mistaken, this is where the real problem seems to be for many (including, I assume, for the SSPX). I have seen these papal bulls, among others, cited on various websites as demonstrating the inconsistency.

Marc said...

A2, it is a fine example. I hope someone tries to answer it.

Pater Ignotus said...

Anon 2 - By examining the ways in which doctrine - the changing words we use to describe or explain unchanging Truth - has changed, we can come to an understanding of the so-called contradictions between Vatican Two and previously stated doctrines.

It is not an easy thing to do; otherwise Good Father McDonald would have given the answer ages ago and we'd have move on to estimating the dangers of changing the number of buttons on the papal soutane.

"Decoding" is needed. Or maybe the development of an ecclesiastical analogy to chromatography. One would simply place a sample of a magisterial text into a crucible, place it in the machine, turn it on, and VOILA!, we'd have the answer.

I await Anon 5's response to my request for more information regarding my 10:49 post (with the addendum at 9:37). Once we have that, we can continue.

Anonymous 2 said...


These are, of course, fascinating issues that go to the heart of what it means to belong to a rhetorical community that carries on a “conversation” through the use of language and through time. Specifically, they go the heart of what it means to “reason” within that conversation and within that community. I chose the texts I did as a “test case” to help focus the issue sharply, much as I might have chosen two apparently inconsistent judicial decisions in the law.

Of course, the texts I chose are part of the “magisterial conversation,” which practices “magisterial reasoning.” whereas the judicial decisions would be part of the “judicial conversation” or, more broadly, the “legal conversation,” which practices judicial/legal reasoning.

There are certain “structural” similarities between the two types of conversations. One major similarity, surely, is that the required reasoning is an art as much as a skill and, moreover, requires much training and experience to practice well. As you say, “it is not an easy thing to do.” That is why I have consistently emphasized my own lack of qualifications to evaluate magisterial reasoning. It takes a lot of time and effort, under expert guidance, to learn how to “reason” in the law or “think like a lawyer.” I imagine it is no different with respect to magisterial reasoning in the Church.

You mention an analogy to chromatography. Anon 5 and Marc will know that there have been analogs in the history of judicial/legal reasoning – the so-called “slot machine” approach of “mechanical” legal reasoning. While formalism in the law has an important value, however, such hyper-formalism is misplaced. This does not mean that there is one agreed approach to the proper way to reason in the law. How to reason well in the law is itself controversial and part of the legal conversation. Perhaps it is similar in the case of magisterial reasoning. And perhaps there are indeed analogs to “slot machine” reasoning there too.

Whether or not there are such analogs, one suspects that the disagreement between the SSPX and Rome, for example, at least partly turns on what is the “proper” or “legitimate” way to reason about and from relevant texts.

All that said, however, there are also important “structural” differences between the two types of conversations. I can think of at least two. First, magisterial reasoning occurs under the “guidance of the Holy Spirit” in a way that judicial/legal reasoning does not. Second, lawyers (and to some extent others too) are a legitimate part of the legal conversation. I am unsure who, other than the hierarchy and possibly theologians, are a legitimate part of the magisterial conversation – hence my consistent attitude of deference to the magisterium.

Despite this deference, it may be helpful to develop at least some understanding of how magisterial reasoning might go and of the possible different approaches to it. That is why I made the study group suggestion and asked about the two books by Francis Sullivan, which seem very much on point (but the reliability of which also needs to be evaluated, as Anon 5 points out) (see my post of 1:46 a.m. on July 25). This is also how I understand your own comments in this thread. Indeed, if I understand your last comment properly, you are suggesting that if we have a better understanding of how doctrine develops over time, we will have at least part of the “scaffolding” we need within which to situate magisterial reasoning about the two documents I quoted as a test case. So, thank you for clarifying the relevance of your comments about doctrinal development to issues such as those raised by the test case.

Hammer of Fascists said...

Pater: As far as I can tell, I think I have replied to your 10:49. I can see only one point I need to add, regarding your statement that the truth never changes, while the doctrine that expresses that truth develops and changes.

I've already repeated my belief that this change can't go so far as to express the negation of prior doctrine, or doctrine is pointless. The point I wish to add is that the truth/doctrine distinction must be approached with caution. Yes, we are finite beings, and as such we can never understand the infinite. Yes, our point of view tends to the subjective. But if a) doctrine is the only way of knowing revealed truth and b) that doctrine can change, even to the point of self-negation, then Truth runs the risk of being relegated to the same role as the "ether" was in the decades preceding special relativity; i.e., the ether was merely a construct, not an actuality, thet the Newtonian formulas needed in order to work. Einstein showed that with peoper understanding, since "doctrine" was where the action was, the ether/truth was completely irrelevant even if it really existed, and so could be dispensed with.

So, if we go that route, we end up with a completely subjective doctrine that changes with time, place, and circumstance even to the point of self-negation, and no discernible Truth behind it. The test for me, once again, is the self-negation. If there's no objective truth behind doctrine--and _only_ if there's no objective truth--then, only then, can doctrine say A at one moment and not-A at another and still be valid.

Pater Ignotus said...

Anon 5 - Neither Card Kasper nor Card Cassidy is a Jesuit. Kasper was ordained a priest of the diocese of Rottenburg, Germany, and Cassidy a priest of the Diocese of Wagga Wagga ("Corvopolitana" in Latin, go figure...), Australia.

Neither you nor Marc stated what "issues" you have with my 10:49 post. You have expressed concerns regarding HOW this line of thinking might apply to ecclesiologhy and/or ecumenism. But you have not said what troubles you about what I posted.

You ask how Vatican Two's ecclesiology can be understood in continuity with the Church's previous teaching. Yet you refuse to read the works of two men who, given their involvement and expertise in the area of ecumenical and interreligious dialogue, would be in a superior position to help you understand.

I don't think you want to know how the two are congruent. From what you have stated, I think you are quite convinced that they are not.

What you want is for others to agree with your "magisterial" conclusion. I, obviously, do not.