Friday, June 26, 2015


Is Humane Vitae infallible? Is Laudato Si infallible. What a bunch of hooey! How much of the teachings of the Catholic Church are infallible? I think we start with the Apostles' Creed and the other approved Creeds of the Church. God is Holy Trinity or He isn't. Infallibly taught He is!

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.


Angry Augustinian said...

Hey, that's better spin than a CNN journalist could put on it.

GenXBen said...

Well written!

Fr. Allan J. McDonald said...

I don't expect a CNN journalist to have the seminary training I have as well as the ability to communicate the truth about encyclicals and papal infallibility. And certainly we don't expect CNN to accept infallibility in any area of the Church's teaching, the few that have been declared infallible.

Anonymous said...

"........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."

You really just can't handle faithful Catholics speaking bluntly and truthfully about what Francis and the majority of today's bishops are doing can you.

You want everyone to speak in a fake Jackie Onassis whispery voice like Cardinal Wuerl so everything comes across as dignified and educated and polite no matter what is being said or how the Faith is being betrayed.

Was Christ committing a mortal sin and not being nice when he referred to people as open graves, white tombs, foxes? Was He committing sin when He took the time to make a whip and stike people with it and kick over their tables. Was He not being charitable. Was He not being charitable when He said of those in authority, "wow to you that cause scandal. It would be better if a millstone was tied around your neck and you were cast into the sea". Was He not being nice or was He speaking absolute truth. Admonishing the sinner IS a work of mercy. Letting people have the impression that living an immoral life is in any way acceptable is evil. Letting people commit mortal sins that will cause them to go to Hell and not telling them to stop is evil. Trying to find loopholes in doctrine so as to allow sin is evil. To try and justify sin by using "polite language" that doesn't offend anybody is evil and yes stupid.

Cardinal Kasper said we can't call divorced Catholics who remarry adulterers. He even smiled when he said it. Go on YouTube and find the clip. That kind of behavior from a bishop is evil. God Himself declared "thou shalt not commit adultrey". Christ Himself said "any man who divorces his wife and marries another commits adultrey". Was St. John the Baptist not being nice when he publicly confronted Herod and told him that his adultrey was an abomination? Did St. Thomas More and St. John Fisher die for nothing. The Church has not been wrong for the last 2000 years. No one in the Church can change revealed and defined truth. Was Saint Paul being uncharitable when he wrote that he publicly challenged Peter to his face because he was wrong. Even even seemed to boost of it because he was standing up for the truth. Peter couldn't change truth and couldn't allow a practice to be done that would give that impression and neither can Francis. You Father can't change revealed and defined Truth and neither can Francis.

Anonymous said...

Father, Humanae Vitae reiterated the Church's constant and traditional teaching on birth control. Naturally the 10 Commandments are the Church's constant teaching, as are abortion, murder etc. Since when has global warming, which isn't even accepted by a large number of scientists ever been taught as such by the Church? And nor has the Pope said it has to be accepted by all the faithful. This is probably the Pope's Galilleo moment. Certainly one has a duty not to be wasteful or littering etc but as for having to accept a wacky idea when evidence points to the fact that the earth is going through normal climatic changes and that there has been rigging of temperatures all around the world, the Pope is free to believe such things but I am not bound to.


Fr. Michael J. Kavanaugh said...

"Reductio ad absurdum"

If it's not infallible, I can ignore it.

If it's not the Extraordinary form, it is not the Traditional mass.

If it's not Gregorian chant, it is not fit for use in the mass.

If it's not "Roman" Catholic, it's not Catholic.

If it's not a declaration that Baptized non-Catholics are not members of the Church, it's not Catholic doctrine.


Anonymous said...

Father, yes, I agree that people should be respectful of the Pope, but do you think the photo of Benedict, with shirt open at the front is respectful of him?


Rood Screen said...


When you say "you really just can't handle faithful Catholics speaking bluntly and truthfully about what Francis and the majority of today's bishops are doing can you", you intend that to be a question don't you.

Rood Screen said...

Perhaps we could consider going back to window units, cooling only the rooms we're actually working or resting in.

rcg said...

It occurs to me that the difference between traditionalists in the modern sense and progressives is that traditionalists desire certainty and progressives reject it.

Lefebvrian said...

Father, you're u have lamented here many times that your seminary education was deficient and liberal. To fall back on it now to support your "authority" lacks credulity. Furthermore, if your seminary education was adequate, then you know well that there are different levels of doctrinal authority in church teachings. To deny that, as you are advising, is not wise for a Catholic to do.

Perhaps a study of those historical popes who fell into error in some ways illustrates the point best, and it shows why Vatican I was necessary to limit the pope's power to bind (contra the ultramontanists).

What you are advocating is dangerous to the faith.

Anonymous said...

One has to ask the question: What about bishops who deliberately question even doctrine that Jesus clearly stated? Even nuanced interpretations of inconvenient truths floated by church leaders close to the Holy Father are destructive to the faith of the Catholic population not terribly well catechized already. Without a doubt thousands of souls will be lost by such careless, (deliberate?) public musings on moral themes (same sex issues) that the secular culture has been hell bent on exploiting.

We must respect the Pope when he teaches consistent with scriptures as the Church has taught for 2000+ years. But when Cd Kasper et al claims to speak against Catholic doctrine in the name of the Holy Father without being corrected what is one to think?

Let us remember, the highest law of our religion is to do that which leads to the salvation of souls. Bad catechesis, no matter its origin, does not serve this law.


Rood Screen said...

The EF Mass can do much to renew the traditional nature of the OF Mass. However, the greatest threat to this preservation is militant traditionalism, which now seeks to co-opt for its own purposes parochial celebrations of the Roman Mass in its extraordinary form. For example, although the saintly Pius X ordered that the the faithful be "once again made to sing Gregorian Chant as a congregation" so that they "may more actively participate in the sacred liturgy", the militant traditionalists oppose this and other reforms of Twentieth Century popes.

Infallibility is a minor concern; Tradition is a major concern. But the so-called "Traditionalist" are really no more traditional than those priests and laymen who oppose liturgical Latin, the ad orientem posture, Gregorian Chant, and distribution of Holy Communion on the tongue of kneeling communicants. In fact, they're worse, because they hide their poisons under the cloak of "tradition".

Rood Screen said...


Who made you Judge Judy and executioner? (Homero de los Simpson)

Anonymous said...

Dialogue, what traditionalists are against Gregorian Chant? The only point that has been raised is that Low Mass is normally not a dialogue Mass. No one opposes at all the beautiful Gregorian Chant - the Missa Cantata - the only thing holding it back is the lack of people who can now chant the Mass. for example, I have been told that there is a missa cantata every Sunday at the SSPX in my country. Most of the Masses I attend are Low Mass, simply because some of the priests who also celebrate the Novus Ordo Mass can't yet chant the Mass. But all the traditional orders have the Missa Cantanta on Sundays where possible.

Given the comments you have made, I don't believe that you truly support the Tridentine Mass at all. I suspect you are probably a liberal out to forment trouble. The only similar comments I have heard to yours have come from either liberals or the Opus Dei who are very disparaging of Traditionalists. I suspect you are one of those. The majority of the Opus Dei do not support the Extraordinary Form of the Mass and have implemented Summorum Pontificum in very rare instances despite their professed loyalty to Benedict XVI.


Rood Screen said...


I accept that the missal of Paul VI, even with its various problems, is rightly the ordinary form of the Roman Mass.
I believe that regular celebration of the EF Mass in parishes helps overcome the deficiencies of the OF Mass.
I do not believe that the EF missal should be promoted as a replacement for the OF missal.
I do not believe that Traditionalists should be allowed to dominate use of the older form of the Roman Mass, or that Accomodationists (neo-Modernists) should be allowed to dominate use of the newer form.

I am definitely a liberal, because I believe we should protect and promote the length and breadth, antiquity and novelty, of the Roman liturgical tradition. I have suffered at the hands of the Accommodationists, on one extreme, and of the Traditionalists, on the other. As for me, in medio stat virtus.

Anonymous said...

Fr. Kavanagh,

Your examples are alleged non-sequiturs, not reductios.

Angry Augustinian said...

Kavanaugh…you left out one: "If I don't want to confess I believe in the Real Presence and the bodily resurrection of Christ, I don't have to…."

Fr. MKichael J. Kavanaugh said...

AA - I have confessed my belief in the Real Presence and the Bodily Resurrection of Christ many times, including on this blog.

Fr. Michael J. Kavanaugh said...

Anon - I stand corrected - thank you.

Anonymous 2 said...

Hear, hear to Father McDonald’s post for this thread!

George said...

In my view, one simply cannot draw an equivalence between the encyclicals Humanae Vitae and Laudato Si.

Laudato Si may well be prophetic as far as climate change and its effect on the earth and mankind's culpability. It does speak of things that are timeless, most conjuctively man's relation to and obligation to care for the environment. On the other hand, climate change and man's contribution to it not being settled, and the expectation that man, given his capacity in technological innovation and development, will eventually solve the problem of ecological degradation and environmental destruction, it may well (one day) be relegated to the back rows of the Vatican archives as a document pertinent only to a particular temporal period in history.
Given the dire predictions by some of what may(will?) transpire if man does not change his behavior, to those who believe we are doomed otherwise, is there any other acceptable outcome?
There are those who will conjecture that the same fate may possibly await Humanae Vitae and one may well posit that man, once again at some future time, having become civilized and his actions conforming to God's will, will no longer sanction legally the artificial prevention of conception and the killing of the unborn. I don't subscribe to the view that it will meet the same fate, because it speaks to Eternal truth whose source is Divine, and that truth is that some transgressions, because of their nature are always and everywhere objectively grave matters. The principle of double effect, while eliminating the imputation of sin, still does not obviate that with abortion and the use of abortifacient contrceptives, that these are dealing with grave matter.
The scope of the environment being of such magnitude and challenges associated with its care being what they are, it is proper to speak of any substantial and effective efforts to address any environmental problems as having to be collective since individual initiatives would not suffice for any comprehensive resolution or remediation. Rarely can one point to a sinful action involving the environment that is due to individual action and is of such a grave nature, that it would be mortal. It would be sinful(and seriously so) for a person who has responsibility over a concern which is polluting the environment with harmful substances, and who does nothing to end it and remediate the effects.
Humanae Vitae, Even though it while acknowledging and stressing the effects and impact that sinful transgressions can have on society at large, in the end deals with individual sin. Individual sin which under the right conditions is mortal for an individuals relationship to God, and that collectively has negative effects for societal environment.

Finally, it is my belief, that while faithful Catholics may differ on certain issues and subjects which are exposited and discussed in a Papal document, and which do not comprise infallible teaching, they should not dismiss any Encyclical in its entirety. Catholics are bound by any moral obligations contained in a Papal document.

Anonymous said...

Dialogue, when you say "I do not believe that Traditionalists should be allowed to dominate use of the older form of the Roman Mass". That is simply the case because many priests who offer the Novus Ordo Mass are not interested in offering the Tridentine Mass, pure and simple. It is being left to the traditional orders, by and large, to do that. If priests don't wish to offer the Tridentine Mass then they can't forced to do so and shouldn't be either. On the other hand, priests who have a preference for the Tridentine Mass shouldn't be forced to offer the Novus Ordo if that is not their preference. I think you just need to accept that there are two forms of the same Mass and that people should be able to choose whatever form they wish to attend, in which case there will be harmony once more.


Rood Screen said...


In my diocese, my state, and even throughout my ecclesiastical province, there are no specialty institutes or societies (e.g. FSSP) offering the EF Mass. Instead, it's being offered by a growing number of secular priests. The only challenge is the typical parish horarium, which does not permit an additional Mass at a "family-friendly" hour.

Anonymous said...

Well then, Dialogue, I don't understand why you say Traditionalists are owning the Tridentine Mass. I regard anyone who attends the Tridentine Mass as traditional. I do not think that any liberals would attend the Tridentine Mass and, in my experience, nor do the neo-cons. I don't know where you fit in but it is obviously the cosmetics of the Mass you like?