Rorate Caeli

Are there degrees of unity?


How can there be degrees in the unity of faith? Either these other religions maintain their faith to be true and will maintain that it alone is true, or they admit the possibility of some other faith, and in that case are not certain of their own, and have not faith.

Whenever a religious system approaches the principle of unity, that is, when it excludes from its bosom all opinions contrary to those which it professes, it is because it is sensible of the absurdity of calling one proposition true, and yet receiving another totally opposed to it.

Every time a religious system departs from the principle of unity, it is because, not being able to find conclusive arguments to establish the certainty of its faith, it grants to others the same tolerance it requires for itself; it dares not exclude others, because they might on the same principle exclude it.


That the Catholic Church is not subject to these fluctuations, but posseses unity of faith in the highest degree, is a proof of the perpetual certainty of faith to be found in her, and of that immutability which is put forth by Catholics as a character of the truth of the faith they profess.
Alessandro Manzoni
Osservazioni sulla Morale Cattolica

55 comments:

Simon-Peter said...

Who is he talking about?

"not being able to find conclusive arguments to establish the certainty of its faith, it grants to others the same tolerance it requires for itself; it dares not exclude others, because they might on the same principle exclude it".

Hmmmm.

Anonymous said...

It´s looks like a spider calling the fly.... come to my web...

FranzJosf said...

Have I not read carefully enough? Have I misunderstood? Is he not saying that a true follower believes in the Truth of what he follows. If not, why follow?

Seems logical to me. It simply means that some are deceived. It's an argument against Modernist Ecumenism and an argument for the Ecumenism of Return.

Did I miss something?

jhughesdunphy said...

The final word on unity of faith can be found in the august words of Pope Boniface VIII in his famous papal bull that defined infallibly unity in the Catholic Church alone, and which was entitled "UNAM SANCTAM", and which cost him his life and martyrdom and helped to make him one of the few canonized popes in Catholic history:
"The most Holy Roman Church firmly believes, professes and preaches, that none of those existing outside the Catholic church, not only pagans, but also Jews and heretics(protestants etc.)and schismatics, can have a share in life eternal; but that they will go into the eternal fire, 'which was prepared for the devil and his angels,' unless before death they are joined with her; and that so important is the unity of this ecclesiastical body that only those remaining within this unity can profit by the Sacraments of the Church unto salvation, and they alone can receive an eternal recompense for their fasts, their almsgiving, their other works of Christian piety, and the duties of a Christian soldier. No one, let his almsgiving be as great as it may, no one, even if he pour out his blood for the name of Jesus Christ, can be saved, unless he remain within the bosom and the unity of the Catholic Church."
Every pope going back to the time of the apostles from Boniface VIII had taught this pristine doctrine on unity within the Catholic Chruch.

http://www.theorthodoxromancatholic.com

Simon-Peter said...

That is not the final word, because that is NOT EENS.

ioannes said...

Oh! So there are degrees of EENS?

Edgar Fernandez said...

Extra Ecclesiam (Catholic of course) Nulla Salus!!!!

tribus candelis said...

Boniface has not been canonised nor was he martyred. Indeed a posthumous trial was conducted against him.

It is difficult to see how Unam sanctam can have been directed at Protestants as they were two centuries in the future.

Atticus Britannicus said...

Oh no, not Boniface VIII again! Unam Sanctam was a political document, intended to curb Philip of France's imperial ambitions, which threatened the Papal power. After the quoted passage the Bull goes on to claim that 'it is totally necessary for salvation that every human being is subject to the Roman Pontiff' (that is, 'Back off, Philip'). Boniface was of dubious repute, and narrowly escaped posthumous condemnation at the Council of Vienne as a heretic and sodomite. Dante portrays him in hell, upside down in a furnace.

Anonymous said...

jhughesdunphy - you have misquoted. Those words do not come from the encyclical Unam Sanctam but fro Eugene IV's Cantate Domino.

Anonymous said...

Meanwhile, the liturgical wreckovators turn the sacrament of unity into an ecumenical carnival:

http://cathcon.blogspot.com/2007/02/carnival-catholicism.html

Anonymous said...

The above link seems to be broken, try this one:

http://tinyurl.com/2hlkqz

Brideshead said...

Gillibrand's comments about Shrove Thursday seem most apt.

Brideshead said...

Correction: Shrove Tuesday.

With Peter said...

I agree that there is either unity or disunity. But among those who are not united to the Church, there are degrees of difference. Muslims, everyone will agree, have far less in common with the Catholic Church than do the Greeks. At the same time, we all remain are united "in certain respects" (e.g. "poor lost children of Eve").

Therefore while basically agreeing with the article, I respectfully acknowledge "degrees of unity" in the sense spoken about by Paul VI in Ecclesiam Suam.

God bless,

Janice said...

Any of you guys read Dominus Iesus?

Jordan Potter said...

"Unam Sanctam was a political document, intended to curb Philip of France's imperial ambitions, which threatened the Papal power."

True, but it's also a doctrinal document, a formal declaration of the infallible papal magisterium.

The fact that Popes are sinners has no bearing on papal infallibility. Magisterial declarations of a Pope cannot be so easily swept aside by claims that the declaration was purely political and insinuations that the Pope may or may not have been a homosexual. Frankly there is nothing Catholic in such an approach to Unam Sanctam. I'd expect to hear such things from a fundamentalist anti-Catholic Protestant.

Anonymous said...

'Any of you guys read Dominus Iesus?'

Yes ... and?

With Peter said...

Well spoken Jordan Potter. I add that if the Lord desired for Papal authority to hinge on the character of each successive primate, he most certainly would have chosen someone else to be the first person and perpetual symbol of the papacy.

Peter certainly died a hero, saint and martyr, but let us not forget that he once committed the most terrible act of apostasy in Catholic history.

Obedience to the pope hinges not one iota on the character of the successor but on entirely the promise of Christ to Peter. Adherence to the pope is a function of one's faith in Christ.

Simon-Peter said...

rising to the bait...Yes Janice.

New Catholic said...

I find nothing to add to Mr. Potter's remarks, and ask all to act respectfully towards the memory of deceased pontiffs.

Requiem aeternam dona eis, Domine.

Janice said...

Mr. Potter,

Hopefully, you know that papal infallibility was not formally declared untill the pontificate of Pius IX. Boniface VIII did not have any such definition. Unam Sanctam is not an infallible document. It enjoys only the acceptance accorded to any other document issued by a Pope.

New Catholic said...

Janice, the fact that the dogma, an integral doctrine of Apostolic origin, was FORMALLY defined in the 19th century does not mean that previous definitions which match its clear criteria (as Unam Sanctam certainly does) are not infallible.

Atticus Britannicus said...

New Catholic - if Unam Sanctam is infallible, then the Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople, Bartholomew, has no hope of salvation. Really???

Simon-Peter said...

xYes, but whereas it contains the truth, it does not contain (or explain) the whole truth about EENS.

That was the only point I was trying to make ionnes.

New Catholic said...

It was not granted to me to judge the soul of any man, atticus. May the Lord have mercy on my own poor soul!

Anonymous said...

Atticus Britaniccus highlights from Pope Boniface's text, "It is totally necessary for salvation that every human being is subject to the Roman Pontiff." Did not the First Vatican Council of 1870 say as much when it decreed that all must be subject to the Roman Pontiff and the Roman See?

Simon-Peter said...

That last word on EENS was Pius XII,lets move on.

There is no salvation outside the Church unless

a. a man be invincibly ignorant (i.e. through NO fault of his own) of the claims of the Catholic Church to be the sole, exclusive and ordinary means of salvation, and
b. he (still) worships God according to the law He has written on every heart, and
c. he dies without the stain of mortal sin (either through preventative grace, or restorative as moved by God to perfect contrition at the moment of death) and
d. of this possibility we may hold out a hope, BUT ***NOT*** A GOOD ONE, and
e. it is not lawful to enquire further, i.e. God is not bound by His sacraments & may save *through* the Church those who are in some way outside Her -- because everyone is saved through the action of the Church mediating the graces won by Christ Jesus, in this sense there is no salvation outide the *mediation* of the Church) etc etc. and
f. it would be insane and uncharitable NOT to preach the gospel so as to attempt to maintain(!) people in invincible ignorance, because even if such were the case viz any individual, there are still other factors, such as b & c above.

Many Catholics of all stripes, finding point d. not to their liking for reasons known only to themselves, have proceeded to waste a lot of ink and perform astounding feats of mental gymnastics arguing about point e. when the how, the why, and the where in these circumstances He has reserved to Himself.

If this is wrong, PLEASE someone correct me.

thanks.

JordanPotter said...

"Hopefully, you know that papal infallibility was not formally declared untill the pontificate of Pius IX."

Of course I know that. But as New Catholic said, papal infallibility existed from the moment our Lord said, "You are Peter," "Strengthen the brethren," and "Feed my sheep." A papal declaration can be infallible without it being ex cathedra, and it can be infallible even prior to Vatican I's formal definition of the dogma.

I would also like to add that the Council of Vienne once and for all exonerated Pope Boniface VIII of the slanders and calumnies that his enemies invented about him. No Catholic has any right to dredge them up again and suggest they might be true.

With Peter said...

Simon-Peter, with great respect, point “e” seems to infringe on the Magisterium’s right/duty to interpret Revelation and clarify Catholic doctrine. Later popes and councils are free to settle controversies, explain earlier teaching and deepen the Church’s understanding of sacred truths. They are not free to reverse dogmas or anything like that. But the last word per se belongs to Christ when he comes in glory.

As a simple rule, I think it’s good to remember that rejecting the sacraments is NOT the same as having no access to them. This lack of access can be because of objective reasons (e.g. no priests, living before the time of Christ, living in unevangelized lands) or it can be because of invincible ignorance. This too represents a lack of access to the sacraments.

“Hence they cannot be saved who, knowing that the Catholic Church was founded as necessary by God through Christ, would refuse to enter it or to remain in it” (Lumen Gentium 14).

This is a sound traditional interpretation of EENS. By extending the same logic, the same can be said for Unam Sanctam and Papal Primacy:

“Hence they cannot be saved who, knowing that the Roman Pontiff is set by Christ over the Church as its visible head on earth, would refuse to make themselves entirely subject to him.”

By the same token, God’s unmerited sanctifying grace and a virtuous response can effect salvation in those who are invincibly ignorant of the necessity to belong to the Catholic Church under the Successor of Peter.

PS. I humbly submit that Vatican II and post-conciliar popes have said nothing other than this. They merely posited that elements of similarity to Catholicism (intrinsically non-salvific in themselves) can become salvific for the invincibly ignorant. They are different aspects of the very same doctrine that is taught by Boniface VIII, Pius IX, Vatican I, Pius XII and the Holy Office in its letter of Feeneyism.

With Peter said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
With Peter said...

Janice- Surely you don't believe that the Blessed Virgin was immaculately conceived on December 8, 1854.

Likewise, popes were not enabled to speak infallibly on July 18, 1870. I think if you take the criteria of Pastor Aeternus to Unam Sanctam, you will find that it is an exemplar of infallible teaching.

The only argument I can conceive against this is that Unam Sanctam did not define but only reiterated previously defined dogma.

Simon-Peter said...

with Peter:

You're right I think and I didn't mean anything in point e. other than what Pius XII meant and what you made clear with "the Magisterium’s right/duty to interpret Revelation and clarify Catholic doctrine. Later popes and councils are free to settle controversies, explain earlier teaching and deepen the Church’s understanding of sacred truths. They are not free to reverse dogmas or anything like that."

thanks.

With Peter said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Anonymous said...

"Sic non est voluntas ante Patrem vestrum, qui in caelis est, ut pereat unus de pusillis istis".

This is a point obvious to us but often forgotten when we consider the salvation of non-Catholics (this is taken from the parabole of the lost sheep). God does not want anyone to be in hell! God really wants us to be in heaven with him, that is why He made us! Therefore, we cannot hold a mechanistic view of salvation (which the Church has never taught! We afterall are not saved by fulfilling rules but by the grace of God). When we face the onslaught of our pagan world, which perceives God of Catholics as a ruthless judge - it is this with which we must confront them.

Never, however, should this allow us to relax our apostolic zeal. Always we must be conscious of the fact that Hell is real and never give in to the modernistic Catholic theology that denies its existence. We can never rest upon the presumption that we will all end up in heaven, because, especially for those who are not Catholics, we simply do not know. In any case, we cannot settle for getting to heaven through millenia of purgatory - we owe to God to be the most perfect saints we can be. For this reason, even if in the end everyone is saved (and by no means do I hold that this is necessarily the case) this should not reduce the integrity of the Catholic faith or the need to live holy lives, because our desire to be saints must be a self-less act

I lend my support to everything that simon-peter said on this matter.

Juan Manuel Soria said...

Janice:

Papal infallibility was definend on Pastro Aeternus, but papal in infallibility existis from the institution of Peter primate by Christ himself.

Papal infallibility is the same Church infallibility.

Regards,

With Peter said...

Jordan Potter- what do you mean when you say that a papal pronouncement can be infallible without being ex cathedra?

It seems like the pronouncement must be explicitly “from the chair” of Peter in order to have such an irreversible, unreformable character. I’d strongly argue that Unam Sanctam was ex cathedra. The argument and language of the bull unequivocally expresses the everlasting nature of his decree. It speaks directly to the order of God that is ordained for the duration of time between the two comings of Christ.

My understanding of the difference between the dogmatic and non-dogmatic teaching of the Church isn’t that one is certainly true and the other is potentially false, but rather that the formulation itself is sacred and unchangeable. A non-dogmatic teaching while not being false per se can lend itself easily to false interpretation and therefore be altogether dismissed or dramatically reformulated. A dogma, however, cannot be abandoned (much less reversed) simply because it is frequently interpreted falsely. The true meaning of the dogma, its language and formulation must be integrally preserved; they cannot become casualties in the battle to combat false interpretations. This is why, for example, the Church began allowing moderate interest to be licitly collected even while maintaining its prohibition on usury. Do you agree with this? I’m not asking whether you agree with my usury example, but do you with the aforementioned principle?

Janice- Isn’t your understanding of the dogmas contained in Unam Sanctam and elsewhere is directly relevant to why you are critical of SSPX’s approach to the documents of the Magisterium? It seems strange that YOU of all people would question the supreme authority of the proclamation: “We declare, say, define and proclaim to every human creature that they by necessity for salvation are entirely subject to the Roman Pontiff.”

JordanPotter said...

"what do you mean when you say that a papal pronouncement can be infallible without being ex cathedra?"

I was referring to the infallibility of the ordinary magisterium. Most of the formal declarations of the Popes are a function of the ordinary magisterium, reiterating something that has been believed always, everywhere and by all. Ex cathedra declarations are extraordinary, and yes, I don't see how Unam Sanctam could be anything less than an ex cathedra statement.

transfinitum said...

withpeter, you advance a usefully unfortunate example to illustrate your understanding of infallibility:

"The true meaning of the dogma, its language and formulation must be integrally preserved; they cannot become casualties in the battle to combat false interpretations. This is why, for example, the Church began allowing moderate interest to be licitly collected even while maintaining its prohibition on usury."

The above example is false, and calls to attention the only extant case of which I am aware, of the Church abandoning in practice, a dogma which has in fact been infallibly defined.

Canon 749 of the current Code of Canon Law:

§1. The Supreme Pontiff, in virtue of his office, possesses infallible teaching authority when, as supreme pastor and teacher of all the faithful... he proclaims with a definitive act that a doctrine of faith or morals is to be held as such.
§2. The college of bishops also possesses infallible teaching authority when the bishops exercise their teaching office gathered together in an ecumenical council when... they declare that for the universal Church a doctrine of faith or morals must be definitively held; they also exercise it scattered throughout the world but united in a bond of communion among themselves and with the successor of Peter when together with that same Roman Pontiff... they agree on an opinion to be held as definitive.

§3. No doctrine is understood to be infallibly defined unless it is clearly established as such.2


Since the prohibition of the taking of any interest whatsoever on a loan, for any reason, without any exception whatsoever, has been taught authoritatively by at least three Councils, and since one of those Councils (Vienne, 1314) defines those who contradict these teachings as heretics ("If indeed someone has fallen into the error of presuming to affirm pertinaciously that the practice of usury is not sinful, we decree that he is to be punished as a heretic"), then we have a clear case of infallible teaching.

By your own words above,, infallible teaching cannot "be altogether dismissed or dramatically reformulated", but instead "cannot be abandoned (much less reversed) simply because it is frequently interpreted falsely. The true meaning of the dogma, its language and formulation must be integrally preserved; they cannot become casualties in the battle to combat false interpretations."

Alas for your example. The true meaning of the term "usury", as employed by Scripture, Popes, Doctors, and Councils, is and has always been, the taking of increase over principal on a loan.

Period.

The fact that this has been reversed IN PRACTICE (never, of course, by so much as a syllable in magisterial teaching) ought to caution us never to advance this very strange and troubling anomaly as an example of ANY SORT, when considering the question of magisterial infallibility.

Or so it appears to me, at least.

In passing may I be allowed to assert that the day will come when the ruination of the globalization usury cult will cause the Catholic Church to repent of her failure to enforce her own teaching in dust and ashes.

Juan Manuel Soria said...

Dear Bloggers:

Your doubst are clearly resolved in this key document of the CDF:

http://www.catholicculture.org/
usertools/print.cfm?id=439&itemtype=Library%20Document

Regards,

With Peter said...

Transfinitum- It seems that you agree with my principle, but disagree with my example. This is fine. We'd be getting rather off topic to discuss the issue of usury and interest. I only point out that Magisterial ambivalence toward moderate interest rates has remained unchanged since the pontificates of Pius VIII (1829-1830) and Gregory XVI (1831-1846). Check out Denzinger 1609-1612.

I only note that without this change, there would be a lot fewer people living in houses and a lot more people suffering financial woes in their elder years. The fact of the matter is that a 2007 egg is the same amount of egg as a 1957 egg, but a 2007 dollar is NOT the same amount of money as a 1957 dollar.

Simon-Peter said...

Then someone needs to explain to me why the NAB with footnotes, guides and introductions is still in print and being sold and touted by the USCCB:

"To the truths of the first paragraph belong...the absence of error in the inspired sacred texts"

re: "The first paragraph states: "With firm faith, I also believe everything contained in the Word of God, whether written or handed down in Tradition, which the Church, either by a solemn judgement or by the ordinary and universal Magisterium, sets forth to be believed as divinely revealed". The object taught in this paragraph is constituted by all those doctrines of divine and catholic faith which the Church proposes as divinely and formally revealed and, as such, as irreformable.[11]

These doctrines are contained in the Word of God, written or handed down, and defined with a solemn judgement as divinely revealed truths either by the Roman Pontiff when he speaks "ex cathedra", or by the College of Bishops gathered in council, or infallibly proposed for belief by the ordinary and universal Magisterium.

These doctrines require the assent of theological faith by all members of the faithful. Thus, ****whoever obstinately places them in doubt or denies them falls under the censure of heresy****, as indicated by the respective canons of the Codes of Canon Law."

transfinitum said...

withpeter:

If we are going to get off topic, at least we are doing so at the bottom of a forty post thread three items old in an agonizingly slow news week, eh? :-)

There is no magisterial ambivalence about interest. Interest is usury. Usury is sinful. This is an infallible teaching of the Catholic magisterium.

As for your assertion that the abandonment of this teaching made it possible for people to live in houses, I invite you to explain how it is that usury makes possible a good unattainable in any other way.

I submit that there is no good answer to that question.

I also invite you to contrast the number of homeless in Europe circa 1316 to the number of homeless in America circa 2007, and reflect upon the resultant paradox.

Your observation about the relative values of nest eggs speaks to inflation, not to usury. although it is true that a particularly vile form of usury is that employed when, for example, privately owned Central Banks create fictitious capital out of thin air by a few computer keystrokes, and then proceed to multiply their iniquitous greed by lending the resultant fiction out- you guessed it- at interest......

With Peter said...

Transfinitum- It is neither possible to accurately number the homeless in 2007 or in 1307 – for some reason, they never seem to get the surveys we mail them – but clearly people today live much longer and with far greater wealth. My formal education is in theology, history, politics, economics and French. Through disuse I sadly have lost nearly all my command of French.

Inflation is not created by a bunch of guys sitting in an office of a bank. It is created by Religious Education Directors who decide they need to charge 15 more dollars this year for tuition. Those guys in the bank have a vested interested in low inflation because it increases cash flow and makes loans become more affordable for ordinary people. If I’m a loan officer, I want to keep my interest rates low. I’ll get more customers and make more money. If you can show me that you’re a low risk (e.g. big down payment, high income, good credit score), I’ll lower my rate even further. It’s a competitive business. To make money, I’ve got to attract business.

This is how the American economy works. There aren’t a bunch of Mafioso shylocks making people offers they can’t refuse. There are pre-approval letters, loan officers, real estate agents, appraisers, equity programs, tax breaks and 401 k retirement plans. If you’re the least bit intelligent and motivated, you can easily make 40-50 thousand dollars in the United States. And a pair of pants will cost you 10 bucks on the clearance rack. Two double cheeseburgers and medium French fries will cost you 3.23 with tax. The greatest health risk to the poorest 10 percent of Americans is OBESITY. We abort our unborn and starve those in comas, but our economy is the most successful, most popularly beneficial in the history of the world. Anyone who complains about economic injustice in the United States stands in grave need of a history lesson. I’m not saying America is perfect in this regard, but do you know how easy it is to get the US government to give you public housing, Medicaid, and 350 dollars a month in food stamps? If you really want to live that kind of life, knock yourself out. Why don’t you just flip burgers until McDonalds makes you a store manager? 60 grand. How did this wealth creation become possible: Interest.

Take it away and I guarantee you a global economic collapse begins in less than 10 minutes, the advent of a depression that would make the Black Plague (speaking of those golden 1300s…) look like flu season.

Jorda Potter said...

"There is no magisterial ambivalence about interest. Interest is usury. Usury is sinful. This is an infallible teaching of the Catholic magisterium."

It is an infallible teaching of the Catholic magisterium that usury is sinful. It is not and never has been an infallible teaching that interest is usury. Even St. Thomas Aquinas allowed that in at least some cases interest is not usury.

With Peter said...

No magisterial ambivalence? On August 18, 1830, Pius VIII gave permission to the Bishop of Rheims to encourage rigid confessors to dissuade penitents from confessing gain from interest on a loan! If a penitent persevered in his plan of giving money as a loan to business men, confessors are not to deny them absolution (provided he promised to obey future magisterial pronouncements on the subject)!

With Peter said...

Gregory XVI said that giving restitution on legal loans - even if taken "in doubtful or bad faith" - was unnecessary.

As usual, I find myself fully agreeing with you, Jordan Potter.

Simon-Peter said...

transfinitum said...
withpeter:

If we are going to get off topic, at least we are doing so at the bottom of a forty post thread three items old in an agonizingly slow news week, eh? :-)

Now, I will be very cautious in disagreeing :-) but I find the last week or so quite heartening...I am at this moment trying to put together a digest on my blog...this is one of those occasions when I wish I could post an animated gif here about threads just to get a smile.

transfinitum said...

withpeter:

Please excuse me, but you are in error on a couple of points.

First, it was the Holy Office, not Pope, which issued the August 18, 1830 decree.

This is not a magisterial act.

The three infallible teachings of the earlier Councils are magisterial acts.

This is merely a rather remarkable decision to abandon the enforcement of the teaching in practice.

Second, Holy Office directives to confessors do not, and cannot, reverse infallible pronouncements of ecumenical Councils.

Hence, as I earlier indicated, there is no magisterial ambiguity whatsoever about usury. It is infallibly condemned, and to dispute its sinfulness is heretical. So says the infallible magisterium, and should ninety nine point nine nine nine nine per cent of the world's human beings decide to reject this teaching, they would, each and every last man jack of them, be in objective material heresy.

The subjective mitigating factors are rather significant, given the shocking (and as far as I can determine, utterly unique) abandonment of the doctrine by the Church in practice.

transfinitum said...

jordanpotter:

While often a source of confusion among modern Catholics, who have grown up in a world where the word "usury" has been redefined by the victors, the patristic sources are unanimous and unambiguous.

According to St. Ambrose:
"whatever is added to the principal is usury"

According to St. Jerome:

"One calls anything whatsoever usury and surplus if one has collected more than one has given."

According to St.Augustine:
"O LORD, who shall sojourn in thy tent?... He who does not put out his money at interest."

Also, according to Gratian's summary of ancient Church law written circa 1140:

"To demand or receive or even to lend expecting to receive something above the capital is to be guilty of usury; usury may exist on money or something else; one who receives usury is guilty of rapine and is just as culpable as a thief; the prohibition against usury holds for laymen as well as clerics but, when guilty, the latter will be more severely punished."

So your claim that "it is not and never has been an infallible teaching that interest is usury" contradicts patristic and medieval sources, and is in fact erroneous.

It might come as a surprise to St. Thomas to hear that he approved interest in some cases. In fact he did not.

Here is Thomas on the matter:

"Hence it is by its very nature unlawful to take payment for the use of money lent, which payment is known as usury: and just as a man is bound to restore other ill-gotten goods, so is he bound to restore the money which he has taken in usury."

It is remarkable how wide a divergence exists between the opinions of moderns and of the Fathers and Medievals on this question of the definition of "usury", but the dictionary, like history, is written by the victors.

New Catholic said...

Please, let us not begin this discussion on usury here... It is usually endless...

With Peter said...

I will not comment on usury: I entered tentatively and agree with New Catholic that it is good to move on. I think, however, that you are mistaken on two points only loosely related to usury.

1. The decrees of the Holy Office are made in the name of the Pope and with his consent. They are a true act of the ordinary and universal Magisterium and cannot be dismissed hastily. (It is therefore proper to refer to pope as author - auctoritas - of these decrees; after all, most encyclicals are not personally penned by the pope).

2. The Holy Spirit, not the "victors," is the principle of the Church's teaching, government and sanctification in each and every era. This notion of "victors writing the history books" seems like a very liberal post-enlightenment notion that has divorced God and faith from the processes of history.

God bless,

Jordan Potter said...

With New Catholic's admonition in mind, I will merely post these final remarks and then desist:

"Formerly (see USURY) the Church rigorously condemned the exacting of anything over and above capital, EXCEPT (my emphasis) when, by reason of some special circumstance, the lender was in danger of losing his capital or could not advance his loan of money without exposing himself to a loss or to deprivation of a gain. These special reasons, which authorise the charging of interest, are called extrinsic titles."

http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/08077a.htm

Note, even when most forms of interest were forbidden, the Church still allowed it in certain cases.

As I said, even St. Thomas Aquinas admitted that in some cases it is not a sin to charge interest:

"A lender may without sin enter an agreement with the borrower for compensation for the loss he incurs of something he ought to have, for this is not to sell the use of money but to avoid a loss. It may also happen that the borrower avoids a greater loss than the lender incurs, wherefore the borrower may repay the lender with what he has gained. But the lender cannot enter an agreement for compensation, through the fact that he makes no profit out of his money: because he must not sell that which he has not yet and may be prevented in many ways from having.... It is lawful to borrow for usury from a man who is ready to do so and is a usurer by profession; provided the borrower have a good end in view, such as the relief of his own or another's need."

http://www.fordham.edu/halsall/source/aquinas-usury.html

As we see from the above Aquinas quote, Transfinitum has proof-texted Aquinas to make it appear that the Church used to teach that charging interest is never under any circumstances acceptable. Of course it is difficult to see how Transfinitum's personal opinion that the Church has not merely developed her doctrine but has changed it altogether can be reconciled with the Catholic doctrines of infallibility and indefectibility.

Another helpful resource:

http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/15235c.htm

Somerset '76 said...

This sort of discussion only highlights for me the inherent difficulties in comprehending just what does really belong to the doctrinal continuity of the Church and what is just a personal or time-bound interpretation, in the absence of an authority that earnestly tries to clarify these things and answer objectors in language the latter will understand.

With Peter said...

Somerset, I believe that such obscurities have existed in every era. Every era has seen the rise of those who accuse the Magisterium's teaching of being obscure or irrelevant. I think the biggest problem today is that nobody listens to the Magisterium. How can the Church be understood when people are running around with their hands over their ears?