Rorate Caeli

"The supreme rule of her faith and power of life"

For the record, here is the latest news on the Holy See's preparation of a response to a request for clarification of the doctrine of biblical inerrancy that had been made by the October 2008 Synod of Bishops on the Word of God in the life and mission of the Church:

The Pontifical Biblical Commission held its annual plenary session last week, from 16 to 21 April, in the Domus Sanctae Marthae in Vatican City, under the presidency of William Joseph Cardinal Levada, prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. As at last year's plenary session, Fr. Klemens Stock, SJ, secretary general, chaired the session.

The PBC is still in the first stage of its study, in which it is focusing on the way in which inspiration and truth appear in Holy Scripture. Each participant in the session presented a report that was discussed by the whole assembly.

The Holy Father's message to the plenary session of the PBC reiterates the themes expressed in his message to last year's plenary session:

To the Venerable Brother
William Cardinal Levada
President of the Pontifical Biblical Commission

I am pleased to send you, Venerable Brother, to Prosper Cardinal Grech, O.S.A., to the Secretary and to all the Members of the Pontifical Biblical Commission my cordial greeting on the occasion of the annual Plenary Assembly which is being held to address the important topic “Inspiration and Truth of the Bible.”

As we know, such a topic is essential for a correct hermeneutic of the biblical message. Precisely inspiration, as action of God, makes it possible to express the Word of God in human words. Consequently, the topic of inspiration is decisive for the appropriate approach to the Sacred Scriptures. In fact, an interpretation of the sacred texts that neglects or forgets their inspiration does not take into account their most important and precious characteristic, that is, their provenance from God. Moreover, in my Post-Synodal Apostolic Exhortation Verbum Domini, I recalled that “The Synod Fathers also stressed the link between the theme of inspiration and that of the truth of the Scriptures. A deeper study of the process of inspiration will doubtless lead to a greater understanding of the truth contained in the sacred books.” (n. 19).

Because of the charism of inspiration, the books of Sacred Scripture have a direct and concrete force of appeal. However, the Word of God is not confined to what is written. If, in fact, the act of Revelation ended with the death of the last Apostle, the revealed Word has continued to be proclaimed and interpreted by the living Tradition of the Church. For this reason the Word of God fixed in the sacred texts is not an inert deposit inside the Church but becomes the supreme rule of her faith and power of life. The Tradition that draws its origin from the Apostles progresses with the assistance of the Holy Spirit and grows with the reflection and study of believers, with personal experience of the spiritual life and the preaching of Bishops (cf. Dei Verbum, 8, 21).

In studying the topic “Inspiration and Truth of the Bible,” the Pontifical Biblical Commission is called to offer its specific and qualified contribution to this necessary further reflection. In fact, it is essential and fundamental for the life and mission of the Church that the sacred texts are interpreted in keeping with their nature: Inspiration and Truth are constitutive characteristics of this nature. That is why your endeavor will be of real usefulness for the life and mission of the Church.

With good wishes to each one of you for the fruitful development of your works, I would like, finally, to express my heartfelt appreciation for the activity carried out by the Biblical Commission , committed to promoting knowledge, study and reception of the Word of God in the world. With such sentiments I entrust each one of you to the maternal protection of the Virgin Mary, who with the whole Church we invoke as Sedes Sapientiae, and I impart from my heart to you, Venerable Brother, and to all the members of the Pontifical Biblical Commission a special Apostolic Blessing.

From the Vatican, 18 April 2012
BENEDICTUS PP. XVI


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8 comments:

Miles Dei said...

How is the grow and progressiveness of that Tradition?

Is that of Saint Vicent of Lerins?

That is a Key point.

Read Gherrardini about the term "Live Tradition".

Roger C. said...

It is tempting to read this in terms of "living tradition" vs. "perennial tradition" and the debates about what "tradition" means between SSPX and Ocariz. I think that what is much more on the table here is the issue of the spiritual and allegorical senses of Scripture. Dei Verbum says that the literal sense is the foundation, but says that Scripture must be read in light of the "Spirit in which it was written," giving the authority of the Holy Spirit for the existence of senses that might not have been apparent to the original audiences of the sacred books. Many theologians and some bishops today are uncomfortable with teh idea, for instance, that in Genesis 1 the "let us make" is a reference to the trinitarian persons--despite the near-unanimous patristic and medieval interpretation of that passage. The claim that the meaning of the Scripture exceeds the raw words is a claim in support of the inexhaustible allegorical and tropological exegesis practiced by the greats such as St. Thomas, St. Gregory the Great, St. Augustine, St. Basil, etc.

Miles Dei said...

Just as the great theologians of all ages said: All the senses are contained in the literal sense, because God is really author. (S.Th. I q.1, a.10) That is the sense of Dei Verbum but without the clearity of Saint Thomas.

The problem of modernist assumption is here: They reject this truth of spiritual senses in the literal and act just if the author were only human. Ok. But assume that and you have the other problem beside: What is the difference between inspiration and magisterium assistance? That is the big problem for the people that assumes that God is author of the Scripture. Does speak the Holy Spirit through the Pope? How and when?

You Know there is a gripu of theologians next to Ocariz in brotherhood and thinking that believes the Magisterium texts and documents are just like the continuation in time of the Scripture. They don't say just as that, but it sounds like that. The problem of living tradidtion runs whit this, I think.

Neil Obstat said...

Miles Dei said... [as it were]

You know there is a [group] of theologians next to Ocariz in
brotherhood and thinking, that believes the Magisterium texts and documents are just like the continuation in time of [Scripture itself].

They don't say [it just that way], but it sounds like that. The problem of living [tradition] runs [along with] this, I think.

It seems to me that you're onto something, Miles Dei.

-- The Word of God is not confined to what is written, but becomes the supreme rule of the Church's faith and power of life. --

"Supreme rule of faith?" "Supreme power of life?" Pretty strong words for a pope. "Power of life" in regards to exegesis sounds a lot like "living tradition." To a Vatican II peritus, tradition is alive to the extent that it changes, instead of remaining "an inert deposit inside the Church."

"It is essential and fundamental for the life and mission of the Church that the sacred texts are interpreted in keeping with their nature: Inspiration and Truth are constitutive characteristics of this nature."

Therefore, whatever new insights can be read into Scripture are the fundamental essence of the very nature of the sacred texts. In other words, it was always the hope and expectation of the sacred authors that someone in the future would finally figure out what they were trying to say centuries or millenia previously. But they couldn't just say it outright, lest it would be abused, so they said it cryptically, such that it would take hundreds of years for exegetes to unravel the code.

Sounds to me like gnosticism.

MKT said...

What will be done to correct the public and manifest material heresy of Cardinal George Pell who as the RemnantNewspaper reported denied the literal sense of Genesis I and calling into question publicly the doctrine of Original Sin?

In this writer's view, the attack on the literal sense of the Scriptures is the root cause of the global apostasy. The supplanting of the Ancient Mass only a symptom.

Jordanes551 said...

You Know there is a group of theologians next to Ocariz in brotherhood and thinking that believes the Magisterium texts and documents are just like the continuation in time of the Scripture.

"Magisterium texts and documents are just like the continuation in time of the Scripture" is a pretty fair description of the Catholic doctrine that the revealed Word of God includes both the Holy Scriptures and the immortal Apostolic Tradition. The key words here are "just like." Magisterial documents are not the continuation in time of the Scriptures, but they are something like that. They are not divinely inspired as the Scriptures were and are, but they do teach with divine authority, and they extend and apply the content of the deposit of faith throughout time and space.

"The Word of God is not confined to what is written, but becomes the supreme rule of the Church's faith and power of life."

"Supreme rule of faith?" "Supreme power of life?" Pretty strong words for a pope.


However, he did not say "supreme power of life." He said "power of life." "Supreme" modifies "rule of the Church's faith."

"Power of life" in regards to exegesis sounds a lot like "living tradition."

Yes, there is probably a connection between his reference to the power of the Church's life and the fact that Holy Tradition is a living, spiritual thing, not something inert or incapable of development and growth.

To a Vatican II peritus, tradition is alive to the extent that it changes, instead of remaining "an inert deposit inside the Church."

And not only to a Vatican II peritus, but to all orthodox Catholics -- with the caveat that "change" refers to divinely-guided development of the Church's doctrine, change that is consistent with infallible, irreformable teaching.

"It is essential and fundamental for the life and mission of the Church that the sacred texts are interpreted in keeping with their nature: Inspiration and Truth are constitutive characteristics of this nature."

Therefore, whatever new insights can be read into Scripture are the fundamental essence of the very nature of the sacred texts.


Massive, colossal non sequitur. It is simply impossible logically to get from what the Pope said to your "therefore."

In other words, it was always the hope and expectation of the sacred authors that someone in the future would finally figure out what they were trying to say centuries or millenia previously. But they couldn't just say it outright, lest it would be abused, so they said it cryptically, such that it would take hundreds of years for exegetes to unravel the code.

Your "in other words" doesn't have anything at all to do with the Holy Father's comments. If you can get all of this other stuff out of what he said, then you do not have enough understanding of this subject to be commenting on it.

Sounds to me like gnosticism.

Evidently you don't know what gnosticism is.

What will be done to correct the public and manifest material heresy of Cardinal George Pell who as the RemnantNewspaper reported denied the literal sense of Genesis I and calling into question publicly the doctrine of Original Sin?

I am aware of Cardinal Pell's erroneous comments on the literal sense of Genesis, which is bad enough, but have not found him calling the doctrine of Original Sin into question. I am pretty confident he has never gone that far.

Adam Michael said...

The quote from Dei Verbum, 8 has often been abused to support a non-Catholic view of the "development of doctrine." Bl. Pius IX clarified the true nature of "living Tradition" and the "development of doctrine" when he said:

"But for religious truths, there is progress only in their development, their penetration, their practice: in themselves they remain essentially immutable . . . All the truths divinely revealed have always been believed; they have always been a part of the deposit confided to the Church. But some of them must from time to time, according to circumstances and necessity, be placed in a stronger light and more firmly established. This is the sense in which the Church draws from her treasure new things, “Who bringeth forth out of his treasure new things and old” (a); the old, vetera, always continuing to teach the doctrines which are now beyond all controversy; the new, nova, by new declarations giving a firm and incontestable basis to those doctrines which, although they have always been professed by her, have nonetheless been the object of recent attacks" – Allocution to the Religious Art Exposition, May 16, 1870.

In other words, all the Faith has always been believed by the faithful. Development only consists in greater love for and application of the Faith and its expression in more precise dogmatic and practical forms. Those who affirm that the Church may, over time, discover hitherto unknown (not believed) truths are contradicting Bl. Pius IX and the perennial Catholic Tradition he represented.

MKT said...

Dear Jordanes

I did not mean to imply that Cardinal Pell himself explicitly called the doctrine of Original Sin into doubt.

He apparently denied both the Genesis account of God's creation of Adam and Eve - opting for that so-called "evolutionary Catholic" thesis of God creating Adam and Eve through an intermediate creation ... but also seemed to deny the creation of a *first* man and woman. This is truly an heretical view as without a FIRST man and woman, one believes in mutliple humans popping up on the scene simulatenously.

This prompted Stephen Dawkins to ask the obvious - if you believe that, your doctrine of original sin falls apart since it is predicated on the sin of mankind's first parents.

Rather than address that ligitimate retort, Cardinal Pell avoided the topic of original sin altogether. The scandal caused is that effectively the Cardinal holds views that undermine and deny the foundation of the doctrine of original sin.

My question was: What to do with a cleric like this? For he has declared material heresy. A loving pastor and loving brethren should set out to explain his errors to him to give him an opportunity to recant. Such recant would need to be public given that millions viewed him making such utterances.

Moreover, he should issue an apology to the Holy Father and to all the Faithful for such manifest declaration of error; and lastly he should apologize to Stephen Dawkins for engaging in a debate on Catholicism versus Scientism without being adequately prepared to represent the side of the debate he was meant to.

It is not lost on me that Cardinal Pell is actually one of the more conservative Cardinals in the College so one might imagine that if the Holy Father were to demand a correction, Cardinal Pell would submit to Holy Church.

This would be both to his eternal salvation and to the millions who viewed him make these heretical utterances, and would also be an opportunity to remind the Church and the world that it is fundamental Catholic dogma that the Word of God is literally and historically truthful and does not communicate "un-truth" in any measure.

Even good NO Catholic priests I know - priests who are just and fearlessly tough in the confessional and on the pulpit on moral issues for example - priests who though NO hold very pious NO Masses, faithful to the texts provided them and who work to avoid many liturgical abuses - often preach about the "contradictions" in the Gospel accounts. It is the way they have been formed in seminary. They do not see anything immoral in making statements like that.

ANd herein lies the root of the current crisis and apostasy. If we have lost faith in the literal sense of the Word of God, how do we determine which parts of it we will take literally and which parts we do not? We become our own interpretive magesterium.

It would be very helpful if our friend Father Brian Harrison - himself an Aussie I believe - initiated a public petition to Cardinal Pell for a formal retraction of the statements made and raised this issue of the literal truth of Sacred Scripture to the CDF and the Pope. Another formal declaration on the literal sense of the Scriptures would be most timely indeed.