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Old 18th June 2010, 11:41 AM
Ron Conte Ron Conte is offline
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Default Authority of Bishops

http://www.lifesitenews.com/ldn/2010/jun/10061710.html

Cardinal George: “If the bishops have a right and a duty to teach that killing the unborn is immoral, they also have to teach that laws which permit and fund abortion are immoral. It seems that what some people are saying is that the bishops can't, or shouldn't, speak to the moral content of the law, that we should remain on the level of abstract principles."

St. Petersburg's Bishop Robert Lynch [said] he has "never before this year heard the theory that we enjoy the same primacy of respect for legislative interpretation as we do for interpretation of the moral law."

Which Bishop is correct?

Certainly, all Bishops have a right and duty to teach on all questions of faith and morals. And this would include teaching on general moral principles, as well as teaching that laws must be just, that certain types of laws are intrinsically evil, and whether or not particular laws (or provisions within laws) are immoral. So Cardinal George is correct.

However, Bishop Lynch presents an additional correct point, that when the Bishops are exercising a judgment of the prudential order, their opinions are not teachings. This would fall under the temporal authority, or in the realm of theological opinion, not the Magisterium. The teaching authority is greater than the temporal authority, and so there is not the same primacy for judgments as for teachings.

An example would be when a law is complex, and does not directly increase or decrease abortion, but a judgment is needed as to what indirect effects it might have. One side says that the law will decrease abortions, and the other side says that it will increase them. The Bishops can exercise a judgment of the prudential order, but they cannot teach as required belief, since the answer to the question of the effect of the Bill is not found in the Deposit of Faith, but is the result of judging temporal circumstances.

The same applies to the Pope. When he teaches even under the non-infallible ordinary Magisterium, the faithful are required to give ordinary assent. When he teaches under the infallible sacred Magisterium, the faithful are required to give sacred assent (the full assent of faith). But when he judges a matter of the temporal order, such as whether the circumstances make a war unjust, or whether society is able to defend itself against grave crimes without the death penalty, the faithful are free to disagree.
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Old 18th June 2010, 11:58 AM
Jeanne D'Arc
 
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Does this apply to end of life policies, such as "pulling the plug" on a TRULY brain-dead person?
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Old 18th June 2010, 02:03 PM
Ron Conte Ron Conte is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jeanne D'Arc View Post
Does this apply to end of life policies, such as "pulling the plug" on a TRULY brain-dead person?

The Magisterium can and does teach that euthanasia is intrinsically evil, but that the refusal or withdrawal of extraordinary measures which offer no benefit (such as keeping a brain dead person alive) is not inherently immoral.

But the judgment as to whether or not a particular person is 'brain dead' is of the prudential order.
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