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  #1  
Old 2nd December 2009, 01:35 PM
Ron Conte Ron Conte is offline
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Default assent to teachings of the Magisterium

The Magisterium teaches either infallible or non-infallibly.

1. Papal Infallibility - a solemn definition of a doctrine on faith or morals by the Pope.
This definition is called a defining act.

2. Ecumenical Council - a solemn definition of a doctrine on faith or morals by the body of Bishops led by the Pope gathered together in a Council.
This definition is also called a defining act.

3. Universal Magisterium - when the Pope and the Bishops dispersed through the world teach one doctrine of faith or morals definitively to be held.
This occurs by a series of non-defining acts. Individual Bishops, and the Pope, at various times and in various ways, witness to one and the same teaching. Each individual act of teaching is non-defining and is by itself ordinary and non-infallible. But when these non-defining acts reach a point where the Pope and the Bishops have universally taught the same doctrine definitively to be held, the teaching is ordinary and universal, and therefore infallible.

All infallible teachings require the full assent of faith, also called divine and catholic faith, also called theological assent. Infallible teachings are certainly true, and are therefore irreformable. Rejection of infallible teachings is heresy.

All other teachings are non-infallible, subject to a limited possibility of error, and require only the religious submission of will and intellect, not the full assent of faith. Rejection of a non-infallible teaching is usually doctrinal error. Rejection of all non-infallible teachings, or of so many non-infallible teachings that the Faith as a whole and salvation is endangered is a heresy.

The personal opinion of the Pope, or of the Bishops, is not an act of the Magisterium and does not require assent. The prudential judgment of the Pope, or of the Bishops, is not an act of the Magisterium and does not require assent.
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Old 2nd December 2009, 02:00 PM
sammy sammy is offline
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Ron, can you further define prudential judgement or give an example.
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Old 2nd December 2009, 02:36 PM
Ron Conte Ron Conte is offline
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Prudence is applied wisdom. Prudential judgment uses reason, enlightened and guided by love and faith and hope, to evaluate the available information about the circumstances, as this applies to morality. Reason applies the teachings of the Faith to the particulars of the situation.

Colorado Catholic Conference: "In some moral matters the use of reason allows for a legitimate diversity in our prudential judgments. Catholic voters may differ, for example, on what constitutes the best immigration policy, how to provide universal health care, or affordable housing. Catholics may even have differing judgments on the state's use of the death penalty or the decision to wage a just war. The morality of such questions lies not in what is done (the moral object), but in the motive and circumstances. Therefore, because these prudential judgments do not involve a direct choice of something evil, and take into consideration various goods, it is possible for Catholic voters to arrive at different, even opposing judgments."

Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger: "Not all moral issues have the same moral weight as abortion and euthanasia. For example, if a Catholic were to be at odds with the Holy Father on the application of capital punishment or on the decision to wage war, he would not for that reason be considered unworthy to present himself to receive Holy Communion. While the Church exhorts civil authorities to seek peace, not war, and to exercise discretion and mercy in imposing punishment on criminals, it may still be permissible to take up arms to repel an aggressor or to have recourse to capital punishment. There may be a legitimate diversity of opinion even among Catholics about waging war and applying the death penalty, but not however with regard to abortion and euthanasia."

This legitimate diversity of opinion occurs because a judgment of the prudential order is needed to weigh the complex circumstances and their consequences.
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Old 2nd December 2009, 03:03 PM
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Excellent. Thank You.
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Old 3rd December 2009, 06:51 PM
Ron Conte Ron Conte is offline
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Examples of infallible teachings:

1. under papal infallibility

the Immaculate Conception (Ineffabilis Deus)
the Assumption (Munificentissimus Deus)
the inerrancy of Scripture (Providentissimus Deus)
submission to the Roman Pontiff (Unam Sanctam)

These last two are a matter of some dispute as to whether they fall under papal infallibility or under the UM for inerrancy, and under an Ecumenical Council for submission to the Pope (since a later Council also defined the same doctrine)

2. under the infallibility of an Ecumenical Council

not every teaching of an EC is infallible, but there are many examples of Councils that taught infallibly (just as we have studed in the Teaching Series). Some examples:

Trent: the teaching that polygamy is gravely immoral is an example of the use of EC infallibility to teach on morals.
Trent: on transubstantiation
First Vatican Council: on papal infallibility
Second Vatican Council: on the infallibility of Councils, and of the UM
(opinions vary as to whether or not Vatican II exercised infallibility)

3. Universal Magisterium

the teaching against contraception was probably infallible under the UM before Humanae Vitae (as Grisez asserts), but is certainly infallible under the UM at this point in time

many definitive teachings of the Church on morals fall under the UM, as well as many teaching on matters of faith

it is not always clear whether a teaching falls under the UM, or is ordinary but non-infallible

-----------
Interesting point on infallibility:

Evangelium Vitae has three infallible statements, against murder, abortion, and euthanasia. Each statement asserts that this is the teaching of Scripture, of Tradition, and of the UM. However, the wording of each statement is in the form of a solemn definition, which would stand on its own as infallible, as a defining act, apart from the many non-defining acts that cause these teachings to also fall under the UM. Therefore, some theologians have concluded that these three statements also fall under papal infallibility.

However, my opinion is that these three solemn definitions fall under the infallibility of the body of Bishops led by the Pope, not only under the UM, but also under the type of infallibility usually exercised by an EC. For the Pope states in the encyclical that he met with the Cardinals and he consulted with the body of Bishops, and that he is teaching these three statements with them. But since it is a defining act, a solemn definition, it cannot fall, by itself, under the UM.

1. papal infallibility -- the Pope teaches by himself in a solemn definition
But in this case, he states he is teaching with the body of Bishops

2. Ecumenical Council -- the Pope and the body of Bishops teaching together in a solemn definition

3. Universal Magisterium -- the Pope and the body of Bishops teaching together by non-defining acts.

These three statements in EV are solemn definitions, but the Pope is teaching these statements with the Bishops, so they fall under #2, not #1 or #3.
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Old 3rd December 2009, 08:10 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ron Conte View Post

3. Universal Magisterium

the teaching against contraception was probably infallible under the UM before Humanae Vitae (as Grisez asserts), but is certainly infallible under the UM at this point in time

I have read that when the Encyclical Letter Humanae Vitae from Pope Paul VI came out, it had opposition from several Bishops and priests; sadly, and even up to this point, there are still numerous priests who follow the secular world opinion and are contrary to the infallible teaching against contraception and even promote or allow it in particular circumstances.
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Old 3rd December 2009, 09:16 PM
Ron Conte Ron Conte is offline
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Quote:
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I have read that when the Encyclical Letter Humanae Vitae from Pope Paul VI came out, it had opposition from several Bishops and priests; sadly, and even up to this point, there are still numerous priests who follow the secular world opinion and are contrary to the infallible teaching against contraception and even promote or allow it in particular circumstances.

Grisez on HV: "True, the majority of the theologians, who were then among the periti [experts] advising the cardinals and bishops, had argued that contraception was morally acceptable, and nine of the 16 cardinals and bishops agreed with their position."

The Canadian Bishops issued a document rejecting the definitive nature of this teaching, claiming that persons could follow their consciences. And they made various statements undermining the teaching of HV.
http://catholic-legate.com/articles/winnipeg.html
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Old 22nd February 2010, 09:21 AM
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Ron,

Someone in my Lenten small faith group this evening made the comment that she read somewhere that the Pope can be in error about dogma. I believe this is wrong, but, I did not see it to be productive to correct her, so I said nothing.

My group is made up of older retired people who are life-long Catholics. They all spoke of how the distinction about mortal vs. venial sins that was drilled into them as children is useless. Rules and regulations, they said, are not what it is about. Having a checklist about the Catholic faith does not help our relationship with God, they said. Yet, they spoke as people who are actively discerning God's call in their lives.

I am so grateful for your writings and forum, Ron. My soul hungers for clear teaching about our Faith, and you have provided a bountiful feast. God bless you and your work. I am looking forward to your new book.
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Old 22nd February 2010, 11:27 AM
Ron Conte Ron Conte is offline
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They learned the faith when they were younger. But now that they are older, they have been re-taught the faith by a number of false teachers in the Church. And they have accepted some of those erroneous teachings.

This is part of a very serious problem in the Church today on morality. Not only do many Catholics ignore Church teaching on ethics, but also many teachers in the Church are teaching falsehoods on morality. Pope John Paul II described this problem in Veritatis Splendor (the Splendor of Truth).

"In fact, a new situation has come about within the Christian community itself, which has experienced the spread of numerous doubts and objections of a human and psychological, social and cultural, religious and even properly theological nature, with regard to the Church's moral teachings. It is no longer a matter of limited and occasional dissent, but of an overall and systematic calling into question of traditional moral doctrine, on the basis of certain anthropological and ethical presuppositions. At the root of these presuppositions is the more or less obvious influence of currents of thought which end by detaching human freedom from its essential and constitutive relationship to truth. Thus the traditional doctrine regarding the natural law, and the universality and the permanent validity of its precepts, is rejected; certain of the Church's moral teachings are found simply unacceptable.... In particular, note should be taken of the lack of harmony between the traditional response of the Church and certain theological positions, encountered even in Seminaries and in Faculties of Theology, with regard to questions of the greatest importance for the Church and for the life of faith of Christians, as well as for the life of society itself."
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Old 22nd February 2010, 06:42 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ron Conte View Post
They learned the faith when they were younger. But now that they are older, they have been re-taught the faith by a number of false teachers in the Church. And they have accepted some of those erroneous teachings.

This is part of a very serious problem in the Church today on morality. Not only do many Catholics ignore Church teaching on ethics, but also many teachers in the Church are teaching falsehoods on morality. Pope John Paul II described this problem in Veritatis Splendor (the Splendor of Truth).

"In fact, a new situation has come about within the Christian community itself, which has experienced the spread of numerous doubts and objections of a human and psychological, social and cultural, religious and even properly theological nature, with regard to the Church's moral teachings. It is no longer a matter of limited and occasional dissent, but of an overall and systematic calling into question of traditional moral doctrine, on the basis of certain anthropological and ethical presuppositions. At the root of these presuppositions is the more or less obvious influence of currents of thought which end by detaching human freedom from its essential and constitutive relationship to truth. Thus the traditional doctrine regarding the natural law, and the universality and the permanent validity of its precepts, is rejected; certain of the Church's moral teachings are found simply unacceptable.... In particular, note should be taken of the lack of harmony between the traditional response of the Church and certain theological positions, encountered even in Seminaries and in Faculties of Theology, with regard to questions of the greatest importance for the Church and for the life of faith of Christians, as well as for the life of society itself."

Thank you for this quotation from Veritatis Splendor. One person in my faith group said that he feels that every person knows right from wrong. Perhaps that is true, in the sense that we all can understand the natural law. However, I said that the mind and heart can become darkened by false teaching from the secular world.
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