The laity’s day, or night

Vatican II, together with the movement preceding and following it, destroyed all the laity’s major means of agency.

  1. It repudiated “integralism” the movement for the laity to demand doctrinal accountability from the clergy.  From now on, the priest may spew forth any heresy he likes from the pulpit, and parishioners can take it or leave.
  2. It inaugurated a new opaque style of discourse based on European continental philosophy whereby nobody can ever know exactly what Catholic doctrine is.  Not only are we to avoid privately interpreting the Bible; we cannot even privately interpret magisterial documents.  (Uppity laity confronting priests with creeds and encyclicals are called “Catholic fundamentalists”, and their behavior is regarded as a sign of immaturity.)  Indeed, the need for interpretive mediation never seems to end, so that doctrine never reaches the actual minds of the faithful, at least not to the extent that we could ever reason from it.  Our only virtue is docility to the post-conciliar clergy, who may proclaim any teaching or directive they like, its connection to the supposedly public deposit of revelation being forever unfathomable to us.
  3. It repudiated Catholic monarchists and conservative/reactionary political parties, the lay movements aimed at defending the Church from hostile forces and returning society to traditional Catholic prescriptions.
  4. It had nothing but scorn for lay Catholics resisting secularism even in voluntary, cultural arenas (e.g. the Legion of Decency).
  5. It undermined the authority of fathers, the spiritual heads of households.
  6. It continually works to undermine the sacrament of which the laity is the distinct custodian:  marriage.

Our opportunities to fight for God were taken away, and in exchange we were given indulgence to sin.  The pre-Vatican II Church considered all its members to be called to holiness.  The post-Vatican II Church repudiates this by calling into question whether we must obey the moral law’s demands.

Could renewal come from the laity?  Certainly not in the way liberal Catholics expect, that is not by lay persons pressuring the Church into greater and greater capitulations to secular mores.  Consider the great Catholic reforms of the past.  They always came from religious orders demanding higher standards, first for themselves and then for Christendom as a whole, never from orders demanding more laxity.

Once at a Knights of Columbus meeting I remember we were discussing the policies for admitting new members.  One requirement is that they be reliably Catholic.  The Grand Knight reminded us that its the parish priest who makes this call, so we shouldn’t worry too much about it, “because the priest is always going to be the most liberal person in the parish anyway”.

Suppose, instead of dismissing this as a joke, the KCs were to decide that the clergy are unreliable and instead took matters into its own hands.  I can imagine an internal KC vetting process, whereby a candidate must not only swear that he attends mass weekly and confession annually, but will publicly sign his name to a couple dozen points of Catholic orthodoxy.  “I affirm that Jesus Christ did physically rise from the dead.  [SIGN NAME]  I affirm that sodomy is a mortal sin. [SIGN NAME]…”

Suddenly, a Knights of Columbus meeting has an entirely different quality from a parish meeting or even a mass.  A person knows he’s surrounded entirely by people who actually believe that stuff.  Most of us have never had this experience.  (Compare to the typical college student or even professor, who is thrown into a panic at the thought that even a single person in their group might have other opinions.)

At some point, liberal bishops would complain because of “not pastoral”, “fundamentalist”, “making walls rather than bridges”, or just “bad publicity”.  Most likely, the Knights would give in.  But if they didn’t, that’s what the beginning of a lay-driven Catholic reform movement would look like.

Now, there’s a reasonable objection to this.  If a group of laity sets themselves up to judge other people’s orthodoxy, what’s to guarantee they’ll get it right?  In a few years’ time, the KC checklist might demand that applicants affirm homophobia as a mortal sin.  Even if they don’t, isn’t this usurping the role of the clergy, and hence undermining the constitution of the Church given to us by Christ Himself?

My reply is this:  we either have a Magisterium or we don’t.  The authority of the Church doesn’t mean that I can’t decide for myself whether or not someone is a heretic.  The authority of the Church means that I can make that decision, because the Church has put out into the public all the tools I need for such an evaluation.  The Church has either proclaimed her teaching or she hasn’t.  If she has, anyone in principle can determine with the tools of logic whether someone else is contradicting that teaching.  If she hasn’t, then what’s the point of speaking to us at all?  Think of how wretched we are in this case.  The Bible is opaque to us–after all, we wouldn’t want to be Lutherans.  The Church’s own teaching documents are also opaque to us–after all, only a nut would criticize his bishop for contradicting the Council of Trent, right?

Sometimes, Catholic teaching on a certain point will be ambiguous or vague, and here–and only here–there is room for the sort of development of doctrine that only Rome can ratify.

A lay-driven revival would have to begin with distrust of accommodating clergy, and it would begin with the defense of our sacrament, the sacrament of marriage.

32 Responses

  1. […] The laity’s day, or night […]

  2. I don’t think this is a thing the laity can do. In your KoC example, all the priest has to do is say “This parish no longer has a KoC chapter.”

    If you want to take over the Church and bend Her to your will, you need a secret conspiracy. That’s probably why religious orders are so good at it. The fact that Opus Dei doesn’t have any albino assassin-monks is a bad thing (assuming they are the good guys, arguendo).

    I think the interpretation thing is pretty interesting. Most of the time, I agree with what you are saying here. If the Magisterium is incomprehensible, then effectively it does not exist for us hoi polloi. There is just the priest and his authority. The thing is, that is how the Church worked from the POV of the vast majority of Her adherents through the vast majority of Her history. So, I’m not so sure this doesn’t just circle back around to the laity can’t do anything.

  3. Suppose I decided to have a club, in no way affiliated with any parish or diocese, but to join my club, one must sign my twenty point enumeration of Catholic orthodoxy, attend mass weekly, and go to confession annually. Suppose my club gets big (or maybe it starts big, because I subverted a KoC council and convinced them to switch to this arrangement). The priest says that my club has no association with his parish, and I don’t disagree. What else can he or even his bishop do? Gripe about us in homilies? Who cares? Excommunicate us? On what possible grounds?

  4. “[W]e cannot even privately interpret magisterial documents”

    That was spelled out in the Letter of the Holy Office, concerning the heresiarch, Leonard Feeney, dated 8 August 1949: “However, this dogma must be understood in that sense in which the Church herself understands it. For, it was not to private judgments that Our Saviour gave for explanation those things that are contained in the deposit of faith, but to the teaching authority of the Church.”

    As Socrates said: “Writing, Phaedrus, has this strange quality, and is very like painting; for the creatures of painting stand like living beings, but if one asks them a question, they preserve a solemn silence. And so it is with written words; you might think they spoke as if they had intelligence, but if you question them, wishing to know about their sayings, they always say only one and the same thing.”

    The only alternatives are the submission of faith to a living authority, speaking now, or a reliance on private judgment. An appeal to the records of the past is always and inevitably an appeal to one’s own interpretation of them for, “ἐὰν δ᾽ ἀνέρῃ τι, σεμνῶς πάνυ σιγᾷ” – If you ask them a question, they preserve a solemn silence.

  5. MPS:

    The only alternatives are the submission of faith to a living authority, speaking now, or a reliance on private judgment.

    I think that is just the postmodern horn of the positivist-postmodern dilemma – a dilemma which must itself be rejected.

    Even interpreting what a living authority said 30 seconds ago requires private judgment, and at one and the same time none of us interpret and understand the truth about the world – any truth – without substantial reliance on various authorities.

    It is always and inevitably both-and, not either-or, when it comes to private judgment versus authority. Reject the false dichotomy.

  6. Some things don’t require too much interpretation. For example, Francis is very clearly a modernist and socialist, while some previous Popes were quite clearly anti-socialist and anti-modernist. Those previous Popes aren’t really dead either, and some are living in Heaven right now with the Father.

  7. George wrote, “Some things don’t require too much interpretation”
    So Anglicans thought of the Thirty-Nine Articles, until Bl John Henry Newman published Tract XC. He applied much the same treatment to the Syllabus of Errors in his Letter to the Duke of Norfolk, to the consternation of the Ultramontane party.

    As he once said, with his usual dry humour, “There is, I repeat, an essential difference between the act of submitting to a living oracle, and to his written words; in the former case there is no appeal from the speaker, in the latter the final decision remains with the reader. Consider how different is the confidence with which you report another’s words in his presence and in his absence. If he be absent, you boldly say that he holds so and so, or said so and so; but let him come into the room in the midst of the conversation, and your tone is immediately changed. It is then, “I think I have heard you say something like this, or what I took to be this”; or you modify considerably the statement or the fact to which you originally pledged him, dropping one-half of it for safety sake, or retrenching the most startling portions of it; and then after all you wait with some anxiety to see whether he will accept any portion of it at all. The same sort of process takes place in the case of the written document of a person now dead. I can fancy a man magisterially expounding St. Paul’s Epistle to the Galatians or to the Ephesians, who would be better content with the writer’s absence than his sudden reappearance among us; lest the Apostle should take his own meaning out of his commentator’s hands and explain it for himself.”

    That also applies to Zippy’s argument.

  8. Let us take a very instructive historical example of how a living authority is able to combat misinterpretations of its teaching.
    On 31 May 1653, Pope Innocent X promulgated the famous bull, Cum Occasione condemning the Five Propositions of Jansenism, contained in the Augustinus.

    The Jansenist party promptly submitted to the bull, condemned the Five Propositions, anathematized those who maintained them, insisted that those propositions were not to be found in the Augustinus, or were not meant by the author in the sense in which they were condemned.

    Because the Magisterium is its own interpreter, on 16 October 1656, Pope Alexander VII retorted in Ad Sanctam Beati Petri Sedem that they are contained in the Augustinus, and have been condemned according to the sense of the author. On 15 February 1664,in Regiminis Apostolici he imposed on the clergy a formula: “with a sincere heart, I reject and condemn the five propositions taken from the book of Cornelius Jansen entitled Augustinus and in the sense understood by that same author, just as the Apostolic See has condemned them by the two above-mentioned constitutions”

    Such was the resistance that in 1669 came the “Peace of Clement IX” with both parties agreeing to silence, at least from the pulpit.
    Meanwhile, the Jansenists resorted to the famous distinction of law and fact: the condemnation of the Five Propositions was a matter of faith and infallible; whether they were contained in the Augustinus was a mere question of fact and the most the pope could require was “respectful silence.”

    Because there was a living authority, in the form of Clement XI, he was able to issue two Constitutions, Cum Nuper on 12 February 1703, condemning the distinction of Law and Fact and Vineam Domini Sabaoth of 16 July 1705, condemning “respectful silence and requiring a “religious submission of intellect and will.”

    In this way, three popes, over fifty years and in four Apostolic Constitutions, were able to correct misunderstandings, real or feigned, of Cum Occasione (and five, from Clement XI to Innocent XII were content to let matters rest for the present)

  9. Your point is valid in some circumstances, but you’re just being ridiculous if trying to establish some philosophical point that we can’t trust our own lying eyes in all circumstances. It don’t require much of them brains to see some of the most obvious contradictions. Popes and leadership have been contradicted by the laity before (e.g. St Francis of Assisi).

  10. Zippy:

    I daresay it wouldn’t be half so destructive for people to be completely stuck on one horn or the other. But what we have is unprincipled straddling of the horns when it is desirable: certain pronouncements of an authority are opaque as regards the intended communcation whereas others are perfectly transparent to everyone. Such choices of how to straddle are rationalised on grounds of power, eg. this selection of the horns would make it more effective to ‘combat misinterpretation’ or accomplish other aims.

    And this is precisely the toxic positivist-postmodern legacy: concerns about truth become secondary to concerns about power — not that prioritising power is an recent approach, but that positivism-postmodernism has made it the default and natural approach, and made it seem good.

  11. George wrote, “It don’t require much of them brains to see some of the most obvious contradictions…”

    Feeney the Heresiarch thought the meaning of “Extra ecclesiam, nullus salus” was “obvious.” A century earlier, Bl John Henry Newman had put forward a quite different interpretation and it was Newman’s interpretation that was adopted (without acknowledgement) by the Holy Office in its letter of 8 August 1949.

    Again, Μία φυσις του θεου λογου σεσαρκωμενε (One phusis of God the Word incarnate) was the very watchword of the Monophysites, but the Fifth Ecumenical Council acknowledged that it could bear an orthodox sense: in ite 8th canon, those are anathematized who say “one Nature incarnate of God the Word”, unless they “accept it as the Fathers taught, that by a hypostatic union of the Divine nature and the human, one Christ was effected.”
    Again, of Lametabili, Joseph Ratzinger (as he then was) suggests that the individual articles of this document should not be “over-valued”. The value of the text lies simply in its condemnation of a “radically evolutionist and historicist direction” for the interpretation of doctrine – in a word, and for want of a better word, “Modernism.” The more particular assertions condemned axe may have, taken in themselves, an acceptable sense. (Storia e dogma(1971))
    The apparently obvious often stands in need of a lot of explaining.

  12. “The authority of the Church doesn’t mean that I can’t decide for myself whether or not someone is a heretic. The authority of the Church means that I can make that decision, because the Church has put out into the public all the tools I need for such an evaluation. The Church has either proclaimed her teaching or she hasn’t. If she has, anyone in principle can determine with the tools of logic whether someone else is contradicting that teaching.”

    Isn’t this what the sedevacantists are saying?

  13. Bruce:

    The statement about lay individuals being able to decide for themselves about heretics does sound rather Protestant, but that certain groups also declare a statement does not falsify it.

  14. The problem with sedes, it seems to me, is their imagining that their ability to discern a hierarch’s heresy releases them from their obligation to obey that hierarch’s legitimate commands.

  15. MPS,

    You must qualify this somehow, or it would follow that communication is impossible. What’s the point in quoting Cardinal Newman to me when I can never know what he meant by his own words. I don’t even see how having him standing next to me would be any help, because he could only give clarifications that themselves require clarifications without end.

  16. GJ, I mention sedevacantism not so much to discredit the quoted passage but to ask why sedevacantism is self-evidently wrong (given that the quoted passage is true).

    Proph, the additional step that they take that you don’t mention is that of discerning that his heresy proves he isn’t Pope.

  17. Bonald, wrt. your hypothetical club, I think the Ancient Order of the Hibernians worked more or less that way for many decades (I’m pretty sure they’ve dropped the requirement for membership in a parish by now though) and nobody gave them too much guff about it.

  18. “The authority of the Church means that I can make that decision, because the Church has put out into the public all the tools I need for such an evaluation…”

    But that is manifestly false.

    Pascal gives an example: “I may refer to the conflicting sentiments of St. Basil and St. Athanasius, regarding the writings of St. Denis of Alexandria, which St. Basil, conceiving that he found in them the sense of Arius against the equality of the Father and the Son, condemned as heretical, but which St. Athanasius, on the other hand, judging them to contain the genuine sense of the Church, maintained to be perfectly orthodox.”

    These two great fathers and doctors of the Church certainly agreed on the point of doctrine; where they differed was in the sense they ascribed to the writings of St Denis.

    Only the ecclesiastical judge has authority to pronounce on the true construction of a writing allegedly heretical and that is why some books have been condemned according to their literal sense and others in the sense of the author. The original condemnation of Rosmini’s writings and their subsequent exoneration furnish a modern example.

  19. But now you’re saying that readers can’t even pronounce on the true construction of the writings of the ecclesiastic judge. The authority of the Church thus devours itself.

  20. It may simply be my own obtuseness, but nothing MPS makes any sense to me at all. “Only the ecclesiastical judge has authority to pronounce on the true construction of a writing alleged heretical” but it’s “manifestly false” that the Church has put into the public the tools I need for such an evaluation. How is the pronouncement of the ecclesiastical judge not making public the tools to evaluate whether a work is heretical?

    The entire argument seems to rest on “people have been wrong about judging a work heretical.” Does anyone deny this? Does the position contrary to MPS’s require that the Anglicans (are we allowed to say that Anglicans are heretics?) were correct about their understanding of the 39 articles?

    Was every author in the history of the Church who ever pronounced something heretical independent of the ecclesiastical judge acting in error? Can we only say that works which have been explicitly condemned are heretical?

    I genuinely don’t know the answer to many of these questions, simply dropping a load of quotes with minimal explanation is not an effective way to communicate (or particularly convincing, considering that the thrust of many of these quotes is that theologians are often in error. If St. Basil and St. Athanasius erred on major points, why should we trust Pascal and Newman, certainly lesser authors and neither an “ecclesiastical judge”, instead?)

  21. Bruce:

    I am not informed about the controversy there, but I would doubt that it is self-evident; few things are. In fact, I am rather cautious about using ‘self-evident’ – it so often is a result of being impaled on the positivist horn (c.f. cogito ergo sum).

  22. “[R]eaders can’t even pronounce on the true construction of the writings of the ecclesiastic judge…”

    Do they need to?

    Wittgenstein asks, “Suppose you came as an explorer into an unknown country with a language quite strange to you. In what circumstances would you say that the people there gave orders, understood them, obeyed them, rebelled against them, and so on?”

    All I need to know is that the Church has separated such a one from her communion and that his teachings are to be shunned. That is a fact easy to recognise and it is sufficient.

    As Bl john Henry Newman explains, “As to the condemnation of propositions all she tells us is, that the thesis condemned when taken as a whole, or, again, when viewed in its context, is heretical, or blasphemous, or impious, or whatever like epithet she affixes to it. We have only to trust her so far as to allow ourselves to be warned against the thesis, or the work containing it. Theologians employ themselves in determining what precisely it is that is condemned in that thesis or treatise; and doubtless in most cases they do so with success; but that determination is not de fide; all that is of faith is that there is in that thesis itself, which is noted, heresy or error, or other like peccant matter, as the case may be, such, that the censure is a peremptory command to theologians, preachers, students, and all other whom it concerns, to keep clear of it. But so light is this obligation, that instances frequently occur, when it is successfully maintained by some new writer, that the Pope’s act does not imply what it has seemed to imply, and questions which seemed to be closed, are after a course of years re-opened.”

    That is why we need a living authority, teaching now..

  23. Rob wrote, “If St. Basil and St. Athanasius erred on major points..”

    What major points? One thought the writings of St Denis were tainted with the Arian heresy and the other did not.

    The nature of the Divine Sonship (on which they agreed) is a matter of faith. No one’s salvation depends on correctly interpreting the writings of a private theologian.

  24. Let me state my positive case.

    In my submission, any attempt to define “Catholics” by their tenets inevitably ends up in a vicious circle – “Catholics are those who hold the Catholic faith” and “The Catholic faith is what Catholics believe.”

    Fortunately, there is a much simpler test: “The fideles,” said Mgr Ronald Knox, “be they many or few, be their doctrine apparently traditional or apparently innovatory, be their champions honest or unscrupulous, are simply those who are in visible communion with the see of Rome. No doubt, in the long run this means the people who are so orthodox that Rome has seen no reason to excommunicate them, so that unity and orthodoxy still react upon one another. But the fact remains that the Roman theory does give a test for defining the fideles without the question-begging preliminary of ascertaining who the fideles are, from an examination of their tenets. And in fact there can be little doubt that, in the West, our labelling of this party as orthodox and that as heterodox in early Church history comes down to us from authors who were applying this test of orthodoxy and no other.” The “orthodox party” was simply the party that had the bishop of Rome in it and the “heterodox party” did not.

    It is a true test and one remarkably easy of application; just what one would expect of the criterion of a divine message, intended for all, regardless of learning, capacity or circumstances.

  25. Bonald:

    I say this not to stir up conflict, but as a Protestant I feel bound to point out the following:

    When you lament that the priest is not doctrinally accountable to the laity, that private interpretation is ruled out, and that moral license is given through indulg- I mean, ‘who am I to judge’ and the ‘Year of Mercy’-, I can only note that there is nothing new under the sun.

    And when you propose carving out some space for personal interpretation to have some significance – well, what can I say but that history rhymes.

  26. MPS

    If a bishop starts openly preaching Arianism, not in an obscure manner but explicitly using the terminology and arguments of the 4th century Arians, but has not been excommunicated, is it licit for anyone to call him a heretic?

    When St. Athanasius and St. Basil weighed in on the heterodoxy of Denis was it wrong for them to do so? Or is it just that their judgments were not final and absolute?

  27. You’re quite right. All through history, when some heresy would arise, the laity were the first to denounce heretical clergy and break away from them. Long before the fathers assembled at Ephesus had condemned Nestorius, the people had repudiated him and ceased attending his Masses. The Catholic historians and authors always spoke of this as a good and virtuous action on the part of the laity. Well-intentioned disobedience, even assuming the clergy were good and orthodox, has always been considered a lesser sin than remaining in communion with a manifest heretic.

    St. Robert Bellarmine, in discussing what to do about heretical popes, makes it clear that the Church has no authority to depose a pope… but, nevertheless, the manifest heretic is deposed by the very fact of being a manifest heretic, and the Church, if this occurs, has the right and obligation to separate herself from his impiety and communion. The same doctrine was affirmed by the Relator at Vatican I, answer the concern of American Catholics who would have to defend the Dogma of Infallibility from Protestant attacks. You are quite right, to say that this is the point of the Church’s definitions and condemnations – it is by these things that heresies, and right doctrines, and the adherents of both, are made manifest to all the faithful. Nobody should break with a bishop because he opines, possibly incorrectly, on a difficult point of still-developing doctrine. But when they break with the things already clearly defined by the Church, no one should hesitate to prefer the unstained integrity of the Catholic Faith to communion with heretics. Neither is heresy restricted merely to “official” documents. An heretic is an heretic because he breaks with the definitions of Faith already proposed by the Magisterium; the venue is unimportant, whether it be the balcony of St. Peter’s, or a published interview in Rolling Stone Magazine.

    To Michael Paterson-Seymour: it certainly is true, that the Magisterium has affirmed, that one of the marks of a Catholic, is his subjection to the Roman Pontiff. The others are: baptism, profession of the Faith, and not having been excluded from the Church by legitimate authority. A Catholic must be all of these things, not merely one of them – and hence, Msgr. Knox is quite wrong to say that anyone who appears to be with the pope, is not an heretic. Think of the many Arians in the orbit of pope Liberius. Or, was Hans Kung not a manifest heretic until an official decree came? Finally, think of the Great Western Schism; many Catholics, including some Saints, were with anti-popes. Or, more obvious still, how do we know a Catholic during the routine vacancies of the Holy See? It is not quite so simple, as to say “Catholics are with the pope.” Finally, what of the pontiff himself? “Subjection to the Roman Pontiff” is obviously not something that pertains to the Roman Pontiff – but even he must still profess the Catholic Faith, be baptized, etc. And you should know from the history of the Church, that the validity or orthodoxy of various supposed pontiffs was doubted. How do Catholics know a true, Roman Pontiff? The white cassock?

    It is the clear teaching of the Fathers and Magisterium, that any man who lacks any of these qualities, including a man who holds himself forth as pope, can be neither a member nor the head of the Church.

    Apart from this being the universal teaching of the Fathers and Doctors, it was, in the wake of St. Robert Bellarmine’s clear teaching, reiterated more than once by the pontiffs in their magisterial documents. “Actually only those are to be included as members of the Church who have been baptized and profess the true faith, and who have not been so unfortunate as to separate themselves from the unity of the Body, or been excluded by legitimate authority for grave faults committed” (Mystici Corporis 22). I think it was a “counsel of divine providence,” that led Pius XII to say “separate themselves from the unity of the Body,” rather than “refuse subjection to the Roman Pontiff.” The Church does exist even when there is no Pontiff, after all. Pope Leo XIII made it clear that this was not a newly-developed doctrine, but the universal and ancient rule of the Catholic Faith: “The practice of the Church has always been the same, as is shown by the unanimous teaching of the Fathers, who were wont to hold as outside Catholic communion, and alien to the Church, whomever would recede in the least degree from any point of doctrine proposed by her authoritative Magisterium” (Satis Cognitum 9). And we are all familiar with Pius XII’s magisterial declaration that the faithful should believe the things said in papal encyclicals, precisely because they do not set out new teaching there, but mostly reiterate what is already clear from the Church’s infallible, Universal and Ordinary Magisterium.

    So: I don’t doubt that when there is a pope, subjection to him, or at least the intent to be subject to the pontifical office when there is some doubt about the person, is the mark of a Catholic; when there is doubt about the validity of the man himself, the situation is obviously different. Popes themselves are bound by the other marks of a Catholic.

    In my opinion, this is the crucible God has given to our times: will the laity stand up for the faith and show that they are Christ’s? Or will human respect and false humility, or even fear of error, lead them to remain silent in the face of obvious apostasy and heresy across the vast majority of the purported “hierarchy?” When we do right by God, maybe He can do right by us, and bring this crisis to an end. We keep looking to our oppressors and persecutors for sound doctrine and good morals, when we should be acknowledging their defection from the Faith, and getting on with it.

  28. @GJ

    The priest is not doctrinally accountable to the laity; but all are accountable to the Rule of Faith. This is very clear, Catholic teaching.

    There is a vast difference between the admittedly personal and fallible interpretation of the rather doctrinally incomplete and primitive Holy Scriptures (a la Protestantism), and Catholic faithful reading, comprehending and conforming their opinions to numerous perfectly lucid, amply contextualized, carefully and completely worded definitions of faith, and condemnations of error. Catholics should conform their opinions to Scripture, too, not as they privately interpret it, but as they are properly understood by the propositions of ecclesiastical authority.

  29. “How do Catholics know a true, Roman Pontiff?”

    The moral unanimity of the College of Bishops in recognising him and acknowledging him as their head would be conclusive.

    There have been times when this was lacking and the Holy See was in competition, for example, during the Great Western Schism, but every pope who had been so recognised is accounted a true pope in the necrologies.

    During a vacancy, the College of Cardinals are the guardians of the spiritualities of the Roman See.

  30. […] Vatican II, together with the movement preceding and following it, destroyed all the laity’s major means of agency. […]

  31. I have recently started a website, the information you provide on this website has helped me tremendously. Thanks for all of your time & work. “So full of artless jealousy is guilt, It spills itself in fearing to be spilt.” by William Shakespeare.

  32. […] but the implications are a sort of esotericism wherein the content of revelation is something entirely beyond the reach of public scrutiny and logical […]

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