Daily Archives: May 20, 2009

"But the Pope hasn’t said anything!"

A teacher sees a student in the hallway. “Tuck your shirt in!” (if the student’s dressed that decently).

“The principal just passed by, and he didn’t say anything!”

“Well, I’m here now, and I’m saying tuck your shirt in, or I’ll write you up.”

Later that day, the principal sees the teacher. “I saw your student standing in the hall with his shirt not tucked in. Why didn’t you say anything?”

One of Doug Kmiec’s various defenses of his ever-leftward social theory is that, if the Pope were to tell him he’s wrong, he’d change, but he wouldn’t listen to anything less.

The disgraced Archbishop Weakland famously labelled Catholics who call ourselves “loyal to the Pope” as being “ultra-montanist or papal maximalist” Catholics.

In reality, it is liberals who are “ultra-montanist or papal maixmalist,” because they insist that they won’t listen unless the Pope says so.

They don’t care if the Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith says it. They don’t care if the Prefect of the Congregatoin for Divine Worship and the Sacraments says it. They don’t care if the Prefect of the Apostolic Signatura says it. They don’t care if the Prefect of the Apostolic Penitentiary says it.

In those cases, they say, “Well, the hierarchy is priest-bishop-Pope. The ancient church didn’t have cardinals or prefects, so I don’t have to listen to them.”

They don’t listen to their own bishops. They just call them “right wing extremists.”

Then, when the Holy Father speaks, they say, “Well, was he infallible? Otherwise, I don’t have to listen to him!”

The approach of Post-Vatican II popes has been largely one of instruction rather than punishment. Unless a situation is desperate, the Popes have not really intervened that much. Instead, they issue documents. John Paul got the point, as, later in his papacy, his encyclicals (as we saw yesterday) got more strictly worded.

But, even before Vatican II, the *Popes* still didn’t say much on disicplinary matters. The reason the above offices exist is to delegate that papal authority. Even the job of Cardinal Stafford is to forgive, by delegation, the sins that are reserved to the Holy See to forgive.

So it’s really nonsense to say that the Pope hasn’t acted against someone. The Pope hardly ever does. *If* the Pope has acted, it must be really egregious, as when Paul VI wrote his encyclical specficically to address the Eucharistic teachings of Rahner and other “Spirit of Vatican II” types.

The proper order is for a bishop or Superior General to discipline his own priests, or for the appropriate Vatican congregation to intervene if necessary.

Now, the idea that such action may not have been taken against certain theologians on certain issues does not necessarily say anything about the Church’s teachings on those issues.

Teacher A may overlook the dress code violation because, while she sees it, it’s not a high priority, and she’s busy.
Teacher B may overlook the violatoin because he doesn’t think it’s important or he doesn’t agree with the dress code as such.
Teacher C may overlook the violatoin just because she doesn’t see it.
So, if Teacher D is the only one who points it out, it doesn’t mean the Dress Code is violable or that the Dress Code doesn’t matter. It doesn’t even necessarily imply, from the other direction, that the teachers are all nefarious subverters of the Dress Code (though a few may be).

It just means that she’s the only teacher who pointed it out, period.

But when the teachers regularly let the students violate the dress code, and the students get out into work, they’re going to run into problems.

Just like the bishops who overlook disciplinary issues in the Church are just creating problems for the sheep under their care when the sheep die and try to “graduate” to the next level.

A message from Norma McCorvey


"Black Cordelias" on NFP and 1 Cor 7:3

Thank you, Anonymous! Keep ’em coming!

Challenged by my anonymous interlocutor in the “Fr. Zuhsldorf on Commencement” thread, and as you can see from previous posts, I have been thoroughly researching the questions this person raised–but not in the way this person wanted.

You see, this individual challenged me to read Karl Rahner and certain other “preeminent” Vatican II theologians to see their views on why we don’t have to obey Humanae Vitae.

What I did, instead, was to a) research why we do have to obey Humanae Vitae, coming up with some really good stuff, and b) research why Karl Rahner would have been condemned as a heretic in the “preconciliar” Church, raising the question of why he hasn’t.

Karl Rahner taught a doctrine called “transfinalization,” insisting that it was the meaning or purpose (telos, “final cause”) of the Eucharistic Species that are changed, not the substance of those species. Of course, he is completely confusing his Aristotelian terminology, since Aristotle’s whole game is precise definition, and substance is clearly something different from cause, of which the telos is but one.

However, Rahner is also screwing up his Eucharistic theology. And, thanks to all of this, I’ve discovered a wonderful encyclical I’ve never heard of before, Mysterium Fidei, in which Paul VI addresses several Eucharistic errors that were then arising (and are, today, in spite of this encyclical, entrenched) out of the “Spirit of Vatican II.”

In the following paragraph, Pope Paul VI takes out, among others, Karl Rahner, Roger Mahony and the recent homily I blogged about from Msgr. Lehocky at St. Peter’s:

11. To give an example of what We are talking about, it is not permissible to extol the so-called “community” Mass in such a way as to detract from Masses that are celebrated privately; or to concentrate on the notion of sacramental sign as if the symbolism—which no one will deny is certainly present in the Most Blessed Eucharist—fully expressed and exhausted the manner of Christ’s presence in this Sacrament; or to discuss the mystery of transubstantiation without mentioning what the Council of Trent had to say about the marvelous conversion of the whole substance of the bread into the Body and the whole substance of the wine into the Blood of Christ, as if they involve nothing more than “transignification,” or “transfinalization” as they call it; or, finally, to propose and act upon the opinion that Christ Our Lord is no longer present in the consecrated Hosts that remain after the celebration of the sacrifice of the Mass has been completed.
12. Everyone can see that the spread of these and similar opinions does great harm to belief in and devotion to the Eucharist.

These two paragraphs alone should have vindicated Mother Angelica 11 years ago, since this is what she was condemning in Cardinal Mahony’s pastoral letter when she called it “heretical at worst”.

On the debate of transubstantiation versus consubstantiation, C. S. Lewis observed, “Jesus said ‘Take and eat’, not ‘Take and understand.'” This has sometimes been raised as evidence of an anti-Catholic position on his part, even though Lewis, in so saying, was insisting that belief in the Real Presence was mandatory. Over-analyzing the Real Presence can be detrimental to faith. In Mysterium Fidei, Paul VI uses quotations from St. John Chrysostom, St. Thomas Aquinas, St. Bonaventure.

Hence the Christian people often follow the lead of St. Thomas and sing the words: “Sight, touch and taste in Thee are each deceived; The ear alone most safely is believed. I believe all the Son of God has spoken; Than truth’s own word, there is no truer token.”

My interlocutor claimed that Fr. Rahner is hard to quote in short snippets because he often takes pages to “get to a point”. Pope Paul VI says that orthodoxy in thesis is insufficient.

Once the integrity of the faith has been safeguarded, then it is time to guard the proper way of expressing it, lest our careless use of words give rise, God forbid, to false opinions regarding faith in the most sublime things.

Referring directly to Rahner’s contention that modern man cannot believe in the formulations of the Fathers and St. Thomas, His Holiness continues:

Who would ever tolerate that the dogmatic formulas used by the ecumenical councils for the mysteries of the Holy Trinity and the Incarnation be judged as no longer appropriate for men of our times, and let others be rashly substituted for them?

On the various “presences” of Christ:

It is His presence in the Sacrament of the Eucharist, which is, for this reason, “a more consoling source of devotion, a lovelier object of contemplation and holier in what it contains” (39) than all the other sacraments; for it contains Christ Himself and it is “a kind of consummation of the spiritual life, and in a sense the goal of all the sacraments.” (40)
39. This presence is called “real” not to exclude the idea that the others are “real” too, but rather to indicate presence par excellence, because it is substantial and through it Christ becomes present whole and entire, God and man. (41) And so it would be wrong for anyone to try to explain this manner of presence by dreaming up a so-called “pneumatic” nature of the glorious body of Christ that would be present everywhere; or for anyone to limit it to symbolism, as if this most sacred Sacrament were to consist in nothing more than an efficacious sign “of the spiritual presence of Christ and of His intimate union with the faithful, the members of His Mystical Body.” (42)

Obama takes aim at families

There are two basic strategies that the Social Engineers have used in the United States, quite successfully: HOA and zoning laws, and vehicular standards.

For example, families living in certan circumstances–townhouses, for example–are forced to keep their numbers down or fear reprisals from the HOA or the city itself.

Another method is attacks on vehicles driven by large families. Sometimes, itt’s safety paranoia, as used in stopping the production of large passenger vans.

Today, it’s environmental standards. I have no problem with conservation. I’d be happy if every car in America were a hybrid, and it were done affordably. But they’re also putting restrictions on the size of vehicles, as well as the kinds of materials that can be used (reducing safety by using more lightweight structure).

They’re saying that manufacturers will even be forced to stop making minivans. They’ll try to squeeze three bench seats into a smaller frame (that’s gotta be real safe!).

And what about cripples? I can barely fit my electric wheelchair in my 15 passenger, ADA outfitted Chevy Express. I’d have to have a full-fledged lowered floor or raised roof to get in it if I were actually confined to my chair.

How are disabled people supposed to get vehicles? It’s hard enough finding a handicapped accessible vehicle as it is.

The standards of Papal Infallibility

How do we know whether a Pope is speaking ex cathedra?

First, the definition. From an EWTN article:

There are, clearly, four tests of infallibility: The Pope must be (1) intending
to teach (2) by virtue of his supreme apostolic authority (3) a matter of Faith
or morals (4) to be held by the universal Church.

From Vatican I, on the Holy Father as Supreme Judge in the Church:

8. Since the Roman Pontiff, by the divine right of the apostolic primacy, governs the whole Church, we likewise teach and declare that he is the supreme judge of the faithful [52], and that in all cases which fall under ecclesiastical jurisdiction recourse may be had to his judgment [53]. The sentence of the Apostolic See (than which there is no higher authority) is not subject to revision by anyone, nor may anyone lawfully pass judgment thereupon [54]. And so they stray from the genuine path of truth who maintain that it is lawful to appeal from the judgments of the Roman pontiffs to an ecumenical council as if this were an authority superior to the Roman Pontiff.

Now, the definition of Infallibility:

9. Therefore, faithfully adhering to the tradition received from the beginning of the Christian faith, to the glory of God our savior, for the exaltation of the Catholic religion and for the salvation of the Christian people, with the approval of the Sacred Council, we teach and define as a divinely revealed dogma that when the Roman Pontiff speaks EX CATHEDRA, that is, when, in the exercise of his office as shepherd and teacher of all Christians, in virtue of his supreme apostolic authority, he defines a doctrine concerning faith or morals to be held by the whole Church, he possesses, by the divine assistance promised to him in blessed Peter, that infallibility which the divine Redeemer willed his Church to enjoy in defining doctrine concerning faith or morals. Therefore, such definitions of the Roman Pontiff are of themselves, and not by the consent of the Church, irreformable.

So then, should anyone, which God forbid, have the temerity to reject this definition of ours: let him be anathema. .

Now, here’s what the Catechism says about infallibility anad obedience:

891 “The Roman Pontiff, head of the college of bishops, enjoys this infallibility in virtue of his office, when, as supreme pastor and teacher of all the faithful – who confirms his brethren in the faith he proclaims by a definitive act a doctrine pertaining to faith or morals. . . . The infallibility promised to the Church is also present in the body of bishops when, together with Peter’s successor, they exercise the supreme Magisterium,” above all in an Ecumenical Council.418 When the Church through its supreme Magisterium proposes a doctrine “for belief as being divinely revealed,”419 and as the teaching of Christ, the definitions “must be adhered to with the obedience of faith.”420 This infallibility extends as far as the deposit of divine Revelation itself.421

Now, this is rather important: speaking ex cathedra technically applies to matters of divinely revealed truth in theology. This is different from moral theology, which is known through the Natural Law (as well as through divine revelation). Technically, there cannot be an ex cathedra pronouncement on the wrongness of contraception, because that is a moral truth, which pertains to the natural law and can be argued with appeal to natural reason alone. This brings us to the next paragraph:

892 Divine assistance is also given to the successors of the apostles, teaching in communion with the successor of Peter, and, in a particular way, to the bishop of Rome, pastor of the whole Church, when, without arriving at an infallible definition and without pronouncing in a “definitive manner,” they propose in the exercise of the ordinary Magisterium a teaching that leads to better understanding of Revelation in matters of faith and morals. To this ordinary teaching the faithful “are to adhere to it with religious assent“422 which, though distinct from the assent of faith, is nonetheless an extension of it.

The Catechism is mostly quoting Lumen Gentium 25.

Now, let’s look at when it has been unquestionably exercised.

From Bl. Pius X, Ineffabilis Deus, 1854:

Wherefore, in humility and fasting, we unceasingly offered our private prayers as well as the public prayers of the Church to God the Father through his Son, that he would deign to direct and strengthen our mind by the power of the Holy Spirit. In like manner did we implore the help of the entire heavenly host as we ardently invoked the Paraclete. Accordingly, by the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, for the honor of the Holy and undivided Trinity, for the glory and adornment of the Virgin Mother of God, for the exaltation of the Catholic Faith, and for the furtherance of the Catholic religion, by the authority of Jesus Christ our Lord, of the Blessed Apostles Peter and Paul, and by our own: “We declare, pronounce, and define that the doctrine which holds that the most Blessed Virgin Mary, in the first instance of her conception, by a singular grace and privilege granted by Almighty God, in view of the merits of Jesus Christ, the Savior of the human race, was preserved free from all stain of original sin, is a doctrine revealed by God and therefore to be believed firmly and constantly by all the faithful.”[29]

Like any good Catholic dogma, this is followed with an anathema:

Hence, if anyone shall dare — which God forbid! — to think otherwise than as has been defined by us, let him know and understand that he is condemned by his own judgment; that he has suffered shipwreck in the faith; that he has separated from the unity of the Church; and that, furthermore, by his own action he incurs the penalties established by law if he should dare to express in words or writing or by any other outward means the errors he think in his heart.

Ven. Pius XII uses similar language in Munificentissimus Deus (1950):

44. For which reason, after we have poured forth prayers of supplication again and again to God, and have invoked the light of the Spirit of Truth, for the glory of Almighty God who has lavished his special affection upon the Virgin Mary, for the honor of her Son, the immortal King of the Ages and the Victor over sin and death, for the increase of the glory of that same august Mother, and for the joy and exultation of the entire Church; by the authority of our Lord Jesus Christ, of the Blessed Apostles Peter and Paul, and by our own authority, we pronounce, declare, and define it to be a divinely revealed
: that the Immaculate Mother of God, the ever Virgin Mary, having
completed the course of her earthly life, was assumed body and soul into
heavenly glory.

Again, with the anathema:

45. Hence if anyone, which God forbid, should dare willfully to deny or to call into doubt that which we have defined, let him know that he has fallen away completely from the divine and Catholic Faith.

Let’s look at three more recent cases which may or may not have constituted infallible pronouncements either according to assent of faith or assent of religion.

My recent mysterious interlocutor acknowledged the following paragraph of Evangelium Vitae to be “infallible”

Given such unanimity in the doctrinal and disciplinary tradition of the Church, Paul VI was able to declare that this tradition is unchanged and unchangeable. 72 Therefore, by the authority which Christ conferred upon Peter and his Successors, in communion with the Bishops-who on various occasions have condemned abortion and who in the aforementioned consultation, albeit dispersed throughout the world, have shown unanimous agreement concerning this doctrine-I declare that direct abortion, that is, abortion willed as an end or as a means, always constitutes a grave moral disorder, since it is the deliberate killing of an innocent human being. This doctrine is based upon the natural law and upon the written Word of God, is transmitted by the Church’s Tradition and taught by the ordinary and universal Magisterium. 73

This is an interesting question. John Paul II is defining abortion as a “grave moral evil” That would seem to fall under CCC 892, not 891. However, it clearly uses the language of speaking ex cathedra, and it is contingent upon the ontological proclamation that life begins at conception.

It is also interesting that John Paul’s proclamation, to which my interlocutor has stipulated, is itself based upon what Paul VI says in Humanae Vitae (see the footnote, which refers to Humanae Vitae).

There is another passage in Evangelium Vitae which seems to carry the same weight:

Therefore, by the authority which Christ conferred upon Peter and his Successors, and in communion with the Bishops of the Catholic Church, I confirm that the direct and voluntary killing of an innocent human being is always gravely immoral. This doctrine, based upon that unwritten law which man, in the light of reason, finds in his own heart (cf. Rom 2:14-15), is reaffirmed by Sacred Scripture, transmitted by the Tradition of the Church and taught by the ordinary and universal Magisterium. 51

Here, however, His Holiness confirms. He does not declare, because he is simply restating the content of the Fifth Commandment. He exerts his Petrine authority, but he does not “declare,” because he is dealing with something that has already been defined clearly by the Magisterium.

Another case where John Paul II reportedly used infallibility was in Ordinatio Sacerdotalis (1994):

Wherefore, in order that all doubt may be removed regarding a matter of great importance, a matter which pertains to the Church’s divine constitution itself, in virtue of my ministry of confirming the brethren (cf. Lk 22:32) I declare that the Church has no authority whatsoever to confer priestly ordination on women and that this judgment is to be definitively held by all the Church’s faithful.

The language is much simpler, but His Holiness still uses the Petrine authority (Lk 22:32), and uses the word “declare,” and says, “this judgment is to be definitively held by all the Church’s faithful”. However, in some sense, we might argue that he should have used “confirm,” since, in the previous paragraph, he states that “the teaching that priestly ordination is to be reserved to men alone has been preserved by the constant and universal Tradition of the Church and firmly taught by the Magisterium in its more recent documents.”

Now, let’s look at the encyclical which theologians have spent great sophistry trying to reject over the past 40 years, teaching their students in “Catholic” schools and universities to do the same, Humanae Vitae.

First, on the commission itself:

However, the conclusions arrived at by the commission could not be considered by Us as definitive and absolutely certain, dispensing Us from the duty of examining personally this serious question. This was all the more necessary because, within the commission itself, there was not complete agreement concerning the moral norms to be proposed, and especially because certain approaches and criteria for a solution to this question had emerged which were at variance with the moral doctrine on marriage constantly taught by the magisterium of the Church.

So, basically, he’s admitting that the commission was corrupt.

The sexual activity, in which husband and wife are intimately and chastely united with one another, through which human life is transmitted, is, as the recent Council recalled, “noble and worthy.” (11) It does not, moreover, cease to be legitimate even when, for reasons independent of their will, it is foreseen to be infertile. For its natural adaptation to the expression and strengthening of the union of husband and wife is not thereby suppressed. The fact is, as experience shows, that new life is not the result of each and every act of sexual intercourse. God has wisely ordered laws of nature and the incidence of fertility in such a way that successive births are already naturally spaced through the inherent operation of these laws. The Church, nevertheless, in urging men to the observance of the precepts of the natural law, which it interprets by its constant doctrine, teaches that each and every marital act must of necessity retain its intrinsic relationship to the procreation of human life.
. . .
Therefore We base Our words on the first principles of a human and Christian doctrine of marriage when We are obliged once more to declare that the direct interruption of the generative process already begun and, above all, all direct abortion, even for therapeutic reasons, are to be absolutely excluded as lawful means of regulating the number of children. (14)

Equally to be condemned, as the magisterium of the Church has affirmed on many occasions, is direct sterilization, whether of the man or of the woman, whether permanent or temporary. (15)

Similarly excluded is any action which either before, at the moment of, or after sexual intercourse, is specifically intended to prevent procreation—whether as an end or as a means. (16)

Now, he does not invoke the authority of Peter. He does, as John Paul does in Ordinatio Sacerdotalis and in the passage of Evangelium Vitae the killing of innocents, invoke the established doctrine of the Church, saying that he is merely reiterating what the Church has already defined (it would be nice if the term John Paul uses–confirm–were adopted by the Church for all such proclamations.

Evangelium Vitae on the Natural Law

We often hear that “we don’t have the right to force our morals on others,” or “abortion is a religious issue,” or “the Catholic Church’s teaching on abortion”. . . . No. Abortion violates the Natural Law itself, and it is possible even for a pagan or an atheist to know that abortion is wrong:

Even in the midst of difficulties and uncertainties, every person sincerely open to truth and goodness can, by the light of reason and the hidden action of grace, come to recognize in the natural law written in the heart (cf. Rom 2:14-15) the sacred value of human life from its very beginning until its end, and can affirm the right of every human being to have this primary good respected to the highest degree. Upon the recognition of this right, every human community and the political community itself are founded. (Pope John Paul II, Evangelium Vitae, Ch. 1, pt. 2)