Rorate Caeli

Saint Pius X: Feeding the flock only with the true doctrine that was handed down

"If you love . . . feed." These words which are a command of our Divine Redeemer to the Apostle Peter are the commencement of the Mass in honor of one or more Supreme Pontiffs. They show clearly the meaning of apostolic labor, its exalted virtue, and the reason for its merit.

Jesus Christ is the eternal High Priest and Shepherd of souls, Who taught, labored, and suffered greatly for our sakes. Pius X, Bishop of Rome, whom it has been Our great joy to enroll in the list of the Saints, following closely in the footsteps of his Divine Master, took that command from the lips of Christ and strenuously fulfilled it: he loved and fed. He loved Christ and fed His flock. He drew abundantly on the heavenly treasures which our merciful Redeemer brought to the earth, and distributed them bountifully to the flock: namely, the nourishment of truth. heavenly mysteries, the munificent grace of the Eucharistic sacrament and sacrifice, charity, earnestness in governing, fortitude in defense. He gave fully of himself and of those things which the Author and Giver of all good things had bestowed on him.
Care of all the Church, and the daily vigilance which Our supreme office demands of Us, compel Us to consider and weigh certain ideas, sentiments, and ways of acting. We draw your attention to them, and ask you to unite your vigilant care with Ours, in order thus to provide more quickly and effectively for the needs of Christ's flock. There are evident the symptoms and effects of a certain spiritual contagion, which require your pastoral care, in order that they may not spread, but may be remedied in time and extirpated.

Our purpose will be best effected by explaining the triple office and privilege, which by divine institution belongs to you, the successors of the Apostles, under the authority of the Roman Pontiff (cf. can. 329): namely, of teacher, priest, and ruler. But since time will not permit today, We will limit Ourselves to the first point, putting the others off to another occasion, if God so permits.

Christ Our Lord entrusted the truth which He had brought from heaven to the Apostles, and through them to their successors. He sent His Apostles, as He had been sent by the Father (Jn. 20:21), to teach all nations everything they had heard from Him (cf. Matt. 28:19 f.). The Apostles are, therefore, by divine right the true doctors and teachers in the Church. Besides the lawful successors of the Apostles, namely the Roman Pontiff for the universal Church and Bishops for the faithful entrusted to their care (cf. can. 1326), there are no other teachers divinely constituted in the Church of Christ. But both the Bishops and, first of all, the Supreme Teacher and Vicar of Christ on earth, may associate others with themselves in their work of teacher, and use their advice; they delegate to them the faculty to teach, either by special grant, or by conferring an office to which the faculty is attached (cf. can. 1328). Those who are so called teach not in their own name, nor by reason of their theological knowledge, but by reason of the mandate which they have received from the lawful Teaching Authority. Their faculty always remains subject to that Authority, nor is it ever exercised in its own right or independently. Bishops, for their part, by conferring this faculty are not deprived of the right to teach; they retain the very grave obligation of supervising the doctrine, which others propose, in order to help them, and of seeing to its integrity and security. Therefore the legitimate Teaching Authority of the Church is guilty of no injury or no offense to any of those to whom it has given a canonical mission, if it desires to ascertain what they, to whom it has entrusted the mission of teaching, are proposing and defending in their lectures, in books, notes and reviews intended for the use of their students, as well as in books and other publications intended for the general public. In order to accomplish this, We do not contemplate extending the prescriptions of canon law on previous censorship of books to include all these kinds of teaching; for there are many ways and means at hand for investigating and acquiring accurate information on what professors are teaching. And this care and prudence of the legitimate Teaching Authority does not at all imply distrust or suspicion—(nor does the profession of faith which the Church requires of professors and many others; cf. can. 1406, nn. 7 f.)—on the contrary, the fact that the office of teacher has been bestowed implies confidence, high regard, and honor shown the person to whom the office has been entrusted. Indeed the Holy See, whenever it inquires and wishes to be informed about what is being taught in various seminaries, colleges, universities, and institutions of higher learning, in those fields which pertain to its jurisdiction, is led by no other motive than the consciousness of Christ's mandate and the obligation by which She is bound before God to safeguard and preserve without corruption or adulteration sound doctrine. Moreover the exercise of this vigilance aims also at protecting and upholding your right and office of feeding with the genuine teaching of Christ and with His truth the flock entrusted to your pastoral care.

Not without serious reason, Venerable Brothers, have We wished to recall these things in your presence. For unfortunately it has happened that certain teachers care little for conformity with the living Teaching Authority of the Church, pay little heed to her commonly received doctrine clearly proposed in various ways; and at the same time they follow their own bent too much, and regard too highly the intellectual temper of more recent writers, and the standards of other branches of learning, which they declare and hold to be the only ones which conform to sound ideas and standards of scholarship. Of course the Church is very keen for and fosters the study of human branches of learning and their progress; she honors with special favor and regard learned men who spend their lives in the cultivation of learning. However matters of religion and morals, because they completely transcend truths of the senses and the plane of the material, pertain solely to the office and authority of the Church. In Our encyclical letter, Humani generis, We described the attitude of mind, the spirit, of those whom We have referred to above; We also recalled to mind that some of the aberrations from the truth which We repudiated in that Encyclical had their direct origin in a neglect of conformity with the living Teaching Authority of the Church. Time and again St. Pius X, in writings whose importance is known to all of you, urgently stressed the need for this union with the mind and teaching of the Church. His successor in the Supreme Pontificate, Benedict XV, did the same; in his first Encyclical, after solemnly repeating Pius' condemnation of Modernism, he thus describes the attitude of mind of followers of that doctrine: "He who is influenced by its principles disdainfully spurns whatever appears old, and eagerly pursues the new: in his manner of speaking of divine things, in performance of divine worship, in Catholic usages, even in private devotions" (AAS VI [1914], 578). And if there are any present-day teachers making every effort to produce and develop new ideas, but not to repeat "that which has been handed down," and if this is their whole aim, they should reflect calmly on those words which Benedict XV, in the Encyclical just referred to, proposes for their consideration: "We wish this maxim of our elders held in reverence: Nihil innovetur nisi quod traditum (Let nothing new be introduced but only what has been handed down); it must be held as an inviolable law in matters of faith, and should also control those points which allow of change, though in these latter for the most part the rule holds: non nova sed noviter (Not new things but in a new way)."
Pius XII 
Allocution Si Diligis to Cardinals, Archbishops and Bishops following the canonization of Saint Pius X 
May 31, 1954


LeonG said...

Pope St Pius X's truly Roman Catholic papacy and its admonitions against the emerging liberal modernism within The Church of his time, stands in stark contrast to the post-conciliar papacies of today's church which have embraced what he unreservedly condemned. We now have not only new ways but we have the novelties that fund them.
We only have to point to the NO liturgy to demonstrate this which clearly breaks with the traditional liturgical praxis. The resultant modernist sequel has automatically ensued in liberal pastoral approaches and the new ecumenism that has undermined the unique position of The Church entrusted to it by Our Blessed Lord.

Josemaria Paulo Jeromino Martin Carvalho-Von Verster said...

Might be A good time to put another post on his Cardinal Secretary of State:Rafael Merry de Val.

Francis said...

Unfortunately, the modernists at Vatican II, including the post-conciliar Popes rejected the clear and concise
teachings of the Catholic Church as upheld by Pope St. Pius X and the pre-conciliar Church and instead promoted modernist and relativist novelties to appease the world, false religions and heretics. Maybe some of them had good intentions, but we all know where the road leads which is paved with good intentions.

NIANTIC said...

I second what LeonG wrote. Excellent. What a stark contrast between the pre and post Conciliar Popes. Then we had clarity, clear guidelines and authority. Now we get whimpish suggestions and no authority whatsoever. (Except of course when it comes to you know what and who). Very sad and very disgusting. Lord have mercy.

Dave K said...

This allocution by Pius XII is actually quite a slam on the attitude of the SSPX. Notice how the Pontiff condemns those who follow their own bent rather than accepting and conforming to the “living Teaching Authority of the Church”. The SSPX behaves as if there is no living teaching authority anymore and that it is for the individual, separated from Church authority, to decide for himself which doctrines are in conformity with divine Tradition. This private interpretation of Tradition is every bit as divisive as the private interpretation of Scripture of Protestantism. Neither Pope Pius X or Pius XII would have put up with

LeonG said...

What a wonderful and saintly man this pope was. He really was Christ-like in his humility and the example he set us.

David of Glasgow said...

The Accusation of "Protestantism" Part I

DaveK's insinuation of the SSPX's "Protestantism" is as tiresome as it as it is false. As an observer who does not attend one of their chapels it is clear to me that the SSPX possesses a far more Catholic understanding of the teaching authority of the Church than most neoconservative Catholics. A Catholic has never been required to give unconditional submission of the intellect and will to each and every utterance of the teaching authority of the Church, that is, the Pope and the Bishops in communion with him.

Again, we see what the confusion about the word "Magisterium" has wrought. The term "Magisterium" is an equivocal term since it used to refer to two distinct things: (1) those teachings that have been infallibly taught by the Church and (2) the members of the episcopacy and the Roman Pontiff who have the authority to teach (termed the "authentic magisterium" or "authorised magisterium" from the 1950's onwards including in Lumen Gentium*). It doesn't require much thought to see that infallibility and authority are two quite distinct things. Indeed, even a very cursory glance at history shows that at times the teaching of the authority of the Church has failed to uphold or even contradicted infallible teaching of the Church. We can see this in the Arian Crisis, the heretical sermons of John XXII on the Beatific Vision, and the inclusion of the 1967 document Ad totam ecclesiam in the Acta Apostolicae Sedis (and thus is part of 'magisterial teaching') a document that on the subject of communicatio in sacris formally contradicts Mortalium Animos.

In fact, unconditional assent to each and every utterance of the teaching authority is a species of idolatory since such unconditional submission of intellect and will is only due to God and His Revelation of Himself. God has the supreme right to unqualified obedience, his creatures - including the Roman Pontiff and the Bishops in communion with him - do not.

Since what is unhelpfully termed 'magisterial teaching' can contradict itself (since two non-infallible propositions can contradict each other and an infallible and a non-infallible proposition can obviously also contradict each other) the question is to what teaching should we cleave when we discern that there is such a contradiction. For neconservative Catholics such a situation can of necessity never arise since they do not distinguish between the infallibility of the Church and the authority of the Bishops and Pope to teach. But this is theologically, historically, and logically untenable. It is not only an assault upon faith, it is an assault upon reason.

The voices that crow about "Protestantism" and "private judgement" are denying man's obligation to give only conditional assent to the teaching authority - to the persons - of the Church.

*"Papal Magisterium that is mere authenticum, that is, only "authentic" or "authorized" as regards the person himself, not as regards his infallibility." (no.659ff). Fr. Joachim Salaverri, Sacrae Theologiae Summa (vol. I, 5th ed., Madrid, B.A.C.)

David of Glasgow said...

The Accusation of 'Protestantism' Part II

Here follows five excerpts from pre-Vatican II theologians on the assent that is due to the authorised magisterium of the Church. Please note the emphasis in bold.

Fr. Hurter, S. J.: “If grave and solid reasons, above all theological ones, present themselves to the mind of the faithful against decisions of the authentic Magisterium, either Episcopal or Pontifical, it will be licit for him to fear error, assent conditionally or even suspend assent.” - Theol. Dogm. Compl. Vol. 1. Pg. 

Fr. B. Merkelbach OP: “Where the Church does not teach with infallible authority, the proposed doctrine is not of itself irreformable; that is why, if per accidens in an hypothesis (albeit very rarely); after the most careful examination, there seems to be very grace reasons against the proposed teaching, it would be licit without temerity to suspend internal assent.” Summa Theologiae Moralis, Vol. 1, p. 601.

Fr. Joseph C. Fenton: The fact of the matter is that every doctrine taught by the Holy Father in his capacity as the Vicar of Christ must, by the very constitution of the Church militant of the New Testament, be accepted by the faithful for what it is. If it is an infallible declaration, it is to be accepted with an absolutely firm and irrevocable assent. If it is a non-infallible statement, it must be accepted with a firm but conditional mental assent.
Infallibility in the Encyclicals, AER, 1953

Fr. Nicolas Jung:"This is why we owe the "authentic" Magisterium not a blind and unconditional assent but a prudent and conditional one: Since not everything taught by the Ordinary Magisterium is infallible, we must ask what kind of assent we should give to its various decisions. The Christian is required to give the assent of faith to all the doctrinal and moral truths defined by the Church's Magisterium. He is not required to give the same assent to teaching imparted by the sovereign pontiff that is not imposed on the whole Christian body as a dogma of faith. In this case it suffices to give that inner and religious assent which we give to legitimate ecclesiastical authority. This is not an absolute assent, because such decrees are not infallible, but only a prudential and conditional assent, since in questions of faith and morals there is a presumption in favour of one's superior....Such prudential assent does not eliminate the possibility of submitting the doctrine to a further examination, if that seems required by the gravity of the question. Le Magistère de L’Èglise, 1935, pp.153,154

Dom Paul Nau: "If we are not to be drawn into error, we urgently need to remember that the assent due to the non-infallible Magisterium is... that of inward assent, not as of faith, but as of prudence, the refusal of which could not escape the mark of temerity, unless the doctrine rejected was an actual novelty or involved a manifest discordance between the pontifical affirmation and the doctrine which had hitherto been taught."
Dom Paul Nau, Pope or Church?, p.29, 1956

All of these theologians are in good standing and their works formed part of the theological education of religious and priests up until the 1960's. They demonstrate that the neoconservative idolatory of ecclesiastical authority has simply no basis in Catholic tradition. Instead they hold to the error of magisterial positivism. Therefore to demand assent to "the living magisterium" or "the magisterium of the post-conciliar Popes" begs the question which meaning of "magisterium" is meant thereby.

David of Glasgow said...

The Accusation of "Protestantism" Part III

I should just like to add that the equation of authority and infallibility, i.e. magisterial positivism, has more in common with religious cults or totalitarian regimes than it does with perennial Catholic teaching. The Catholic jurist Heinrich Rommen once wrote that totalitarianism is the reductio ad absurdam of positivism. Since the Second Vatican Council there has emerged a kind of papal and episcopal absolutism which is the reductio ad absurdam of magisterial positivism. Instead of calm examinations of the dubia submitted by Archbishop Lefebvre and Abbe George de Nantes (both of which were simply ignored, contrary to the Second Council of Lyons, Denz. 466 and the First Vatican Council, Denz. 1830) we see facile arguments to authority, which St Thomas Aquinas calls the weakest form of argument, and demands for unqualified obedience.

In Fr Herman Kramer's commentary on the Apocalypse of St John, The Book of Destiny, he makes this comment regarding Apoc 12:3-4:

“The apostolic democracy founded by Our Lord may have given way to an absolute monarchy, in which the episcopate rules with oriental despotism. The priests may be reduced to a state of servility and fawning sycophancy. The rule by reason, justice and love may have been supplanted by the absolute will of the bishop, whose every act and word are to be accepted without question, without recourse to fact, truth or justice. Conscience may have lost its right to guide the actions of the priests and may stand ignored or condemned. Diplomacy, expediency and other trickery may be upheld as the greatest virtues”.

One might be tempted to suggest that this passage is an frighteningly accurate description of the last 40 years in which the inerrant truths of the Deposit of Faith have been eclipsed at the same time as judicial power has been exercised against those Catholics who hold to that which has been taught infallibly by the Church.

Jan said...

David of Glasgow, Vatican I defined the authority of the Pope and it is much more than when he preaches ex cathedra:

Chapter 3.
On the power and character of the primacy of the Roman Pontiff ...

To him, in blessed Peter, full power has been given by our lord Jesus Christ to tend, rule and govern the universal Church.

2. Wherefore we teach and declare that, by divine ordinance, the Roman Church possesses a pre-eminence of ordinary power over every other Church, and that this jurisdictional power of the Roman Pontiff is both episcopal and immediate. Both clergy and faithful, of whatever rite and dignity, both singly and collectively, are bound to submit to this power by the duty of hierarchical subordination and true obedience, and this not only in matters concerning faith and morals, but also in those which regard the discipline and government of the Church throughout the world.

3. In this way, by unity with the Roman Pontiff in communion and in profession of the same faith , the Church of Christ becomes one flock under one Supreme Shepherd [50].

4. This is the teaching of the Catholic truth, and no one can depart from it without endangering his faith and salvation.


6. Furthermore, it follows from that supreme power which the Roman Pontiff has in governing the whole Church, that he has the right, in the performance of this office of his, to communicate freely with the pastors and flocks of the entire Church, so that they may be taught and guided by him in the way of salvation.


9. So, then, if anyone says that the Roman Pontiff has merely an office of supervision and guidance, and not the full and supreme power of jurisdiction over the whole Church, and this not only in matters of faith and morals, but also in those which concern the discipline and government of the Church dispersed throughout the whole world; or that he has only the principal part, but not the absolute fullness, of this supreme power; or that this power of his is not ordinary and immediate both over all and each of the Churches and over all and each of the pastors and faithful: let him be anathema.

Jan said...

David of Glasgow, what you say here is against the teachings of the Church, particularly that set out in Vatican 1 in fallibly, and I have only heard similar said by Protestants or Liberals, all bucking the authority of the Pope: "In fact, unconditional assent to each and every utterance of the teaching authority is a species of idolatory since such unconditional submission of intellect and will is only due to God and His Revelation of Himself. God has the supreme right to unqualified obedience, his creatures - including the Roman Pontiff and the Bishops in communion with him - do not. "

Dave K said...

David of Glasgow,
I’m familiar with the distinctions you present with regard to the various degrees of assent due to teachings of the Magisterium. Even though Vat2 did not define any dogma it did set forth its teaching via the supreme ordinary magisterium of the Church. All the Popes since the Council have insisted that its teaching be accepted with docility and sincerity by all the faithful according to the nature and aims of the individual documents. This is where the SSPX gets into trouble. They do not accept the teachings of the Council according to mind of the Church. They have set their own judgment above that of the living magisterium. This is where the parallel to Protestantism comes into play.

David of Glasgow said...


It appears that both you and Dave K fall into that category of Catholic who cannot - or will not - see the difference between infallibility and authority.

Nowhere in Catholic theology is unconditional submission of intellect and will to non-infallible teachings demanded. Please back up your assertion with evidence. I have provided five quotes from notable Catholic theologians in good standing which state that the assent due to reformable teachings of the authentic magisterium is at best "conditional" or "prudential" - never unconditional. Or did you skip over these?

Ludwig Ott states quite clearly in Fundamentals of Catholic Dogma that the authority of the Roman Pontiff is circumscribed by limits. Our obedience to the Pope can never be unconditional. This, as I said, would be idolatary of the creature. Good luck with trying to find quotes from Catholic theologians that assert the contrary. The quote from Pastor Aeternus must be read according to Tradition and the mind of the Church. Or do you think the five theologians whom I quoted - all who wrote after the close Vatican I - completely missed this demand for unconditional submission to each and every utterance of the authentic (non-infallible) magisterium?

Fom Cum ex apostolatus officio by Paul IV:

In assessing Our duty and the situation now prevailing, We have been weighed upon by the thought that a matter of this kind [i.e. error in respect of the Faith] is so grave and so dangerous that the Roman Pontiff,who is the representative upon earth of God and our God and Lord Jesus Christ, who holds the fulness of power over peoples and kingdoms, who may judge all and be judged by none in this world, may nonetheless be contradicted if he be found to have deviated from the Faith.

It is precisely the sloppy (and rather sinister) theological thinking that you and Dave K have demonstrated that is helping to perpetuate the crisis in the Church.

Picard said...


Nothing of what you quoted contradicts David of Glasgow.

D of Glasg does not deny 9.

He only claims - very rigthly so - that in this cases the Pope does not act infallibly and therefore the submission of intellect is only conditional.

(Btw. re disciplinary things there is no submission of intellect at all. It´s a question of obedience - and again, because there is no infallibility, so only conditional obedience. We should not mix up all things!)

Picard said...

Dave K:

Your objection is a good one - but an old one, and also answered many times before (and so David of Gl. still stands justified in his assertion).

Yes, there is (theoretically, principially) the possibility that the Vat.II teachings are not infallible teachings of the sollemn and extraordinary magisterium but of the universal ordinary one.

But - and that is often overlooked: not all utterances of all the bishops, although if unanimously, are infallible ordinary magisterium teachings.

There needs to be a real intent to bind absolutely and infallibly - and this intent must be clear from text and/or context.

We have to consider the mode of expression, the expressed will and intent of the bishops as it is in the texts (and context).

And here it becomes clear that at least the doctrines of the mere declerations of Vat.II are not intended to be absolutely, infallibly binding.
(And I would also argue that all the other doctrines in the other documents are also not intended to be an absolut and infallibly binding Church-teaching.)

The wording is not strong enough. And far more, the context makes it even clearer that there was no intention to bind infallibly.

And then there is also the fundamental-theological principle that if there is any doubt if some teaching is infallibly binding or not is is not.
So even if it were only doubtful if the teachings are infallibly binding or not they are to be seen as not infallibly-binding!!

So there are neither infallible teachings of the extraordinary nor of the ordinary magisterium in Vat.II.

Dave K said...

Picard and David of Glasgow ,
You seem to be confusing infallibility with authority. Not all Church teaching is defined in a solemn and extraordinary manner which carries with it the note of infallibility. The Church only resorts to these kind of statements when such is necessary to end disputes which are dividing the Church. The ordinary Magisterium is the normal means of passing on the faith. Even though such statements may be reformable and more precisely defined in the future they are nevertheless still authoritative. This is because they come from the supreme teaching authority in the Church in the case of Papal teaching, or of that of a Council where Pope and Bishops together pass on the Faith. It is not idolatry to accept the teaching of the supreme authority in matters which fall short defined dogma. To put the judgment of others above that of the Pope and Council would be to invert the teaching structure of the Church. Who really cares what some individuals have to say about the Faith when they contradict the living Magisterium? They have NO authority.

Picard said...

Dear Dave,

I am wondering - because, as David said yet: You are confusing authority and infallibility - and we made excatly this distinction between authority and infallibility.
So I can not get your point.

I myselfe and David made this distinction:
There are many utterances of the magisterium that are authoritative but not infallible.
Only few of them are authoritative and infallible.
So there is a clear distinction between the both.

But you (and others) seem to hold that all authoritative utterances are also infallible, because you are never ever allowed to criticize them (according to you).

So that´s a confusion.

Yes, authoritave teachings are normally to be followed and you must submit your will and intellect to it - as neither me nor David denied.

But, because they are not automatically infallible, this submission is only conditional, as David proofed by quoting the theological sources.

So there is the possibility of criticizing and also rejecting non-infallible authoritative teachings.
The claiming of this possibility is not "protestant", but totally Catholic (as David proofed).

Jim Paton said...

@ David K,

you create quite the quandary.

Explain how it is that we should give assent to authority if that authority contradicts prior infallaible teachings?

You haven't answered that question.

David of Glasgow said...

Dave K,

I am not questioning that the teachings of the ordinary (non-infallible) magisterium are authoritative. I am pointing that our assent to these teachings can never be unconditional since it is possible that they (1) can contradict infallible teachings of the Magisterium or (2) previously taught non-infallible propositions.

To choose, in the case of such contradictions, to give assent to the latest statement of the authentic magisterium on a particular subject is highly problematic. The 1967 document Ad totam ecclesiam which was inserted in the Acta Apostolicae Sedis formally contradicts Mortalium Animos and the perennial teaching of the Church on the participation of Catholics in non-Catholic rites.

To what teaching should we then give assent?

Well, the fact is that it is clear that the illicitness of participating in non-Catholic rites is infallible, having been taught by the Ordinary and Universal Magisterium. Therefore, a Catholic is justifed in withholding assent to the teaching of Ad totam ecclesiam since the magisterial teaching of this document contradicts infallible teaching of the Magisterium on this subject.

Dave K said...

Picard and others,
I do not hold all teachings of the Magisterium to be infallible even though they are authoritative. Some teaching is conditional and reformable. I’m only saying that we have to give assent to authoritative doctrine to the extent the Church demands it. So, some teaching is accepted unconditionally and some conditionally. This is where the SSPX and other Traditionalists get it wrong. They seem to think only infallible pronouncements are binding on the faithful while all teaching which falls short of this is just human opinion and can be rejected if THEY think it contradicts past teaching. Their problem is reconciling past statements of the Magisterium with present day statements. Needless to say, reconciling these statements is not their job since they have no authority to pass judgment on Church teaching. Their confusion often results from attributing to statements of the past an irreformable or unconditional character the teachings never had or conflating changes in discipline with a change in doctrine. Sometimes with present day teaching an aspect of the Faith that has not been fully developed in the past is emphasized or expanded upon leading some to believe it is a novelty inconsistent with the past. What surprises me the most about so many Traditionalists who read documents of the past is how they miss the injunctions of the Popes to adhere to the living Magisterium in order to avoid falling into error. This advice of the Popes of the past only makes sense if the living Magisterium is free from error. That means the Church of today just as it was in the past. Past Popes also make clear that it is their job as the supreme judge of Christian orthodoxy to judge these matters and that no other opinions matter. This again, is just as true today. The sad fact is that too many Catholics have lost faith in the Church , rejected its authority, and have set themselves up as the final authority. This is not Catholic.

Picard said...

David K.:

What you said here (that nobody except the magisterium itselfe can judge some non-infallible teaching wrong) is contradicting Catholic doctrine as taught by the theologians and Popes as David quoted.

Pleas see there again:
All the theologians hold that also a person that not belong to the magisterium can in some circumstances judge that an authoritative teaching is wrong and can withhold his assent and submission.

So also Ott teaches.

If you can not quote some other theologians that expressely deny that some persons can judge a non-infallible teaching wrong then it is perfectly proofed by David that your assertion is contrary to the Catholic faith.

You are at the moment exactly doing what you accuse others like the sspx of (but what they do not do): you put your private opinion above the teaching of the Church via her theologians and Popes quoted by David.

If you can not proof that David quoted incorrectly the matter is settled.

Picard said...

And David K., you state:
"I do not hold all teachings of the Magisterium to be infallible even though they are authoritative."

But then you say - what contradicts this first assertion - :
"This advice of the Popes of the past only makes sense if the living Magisterium is free from error."

So you really exclude any possibility of the living authoritative magisterium erring - so you make it infallible.

q.e.d. (you declare all authoritative magisterial teaching infallible! - but that is WRONG!!!! - That was my and Davids point.)

David of Glasgow said...

This advice of the Popes of the past only makes sense if the living Magisterium is free from error.

So, I ask you: to what meaning of the term "Magisterium" are you referring? If you mean the infallible teachings of the Church then you are of course right since there can be no admixture of error in God's Revelation. If you are referring to the teaching authority of the Church then you are saying something that no Pope or competent theologian has ever stated. But to be free from error is per se to be infallible and yet you say that you "do not hold all teachings of the Magisterium to be infallible even though they are authoritative". So what is it to be then?

John XXII had the authority of his ordinary pontifical magisterium to preach on the Beatific Vision; but what he said on the subject was materially heretical. We could multiply instances. In fact, it was precisely to take into account of the susceptibility of what we now call the "authentic (or authorised) magisterium" to error that the framers of Pastor Aeternus took great pains to clearly define the limits of infallibility. Limits that you seem to want to greatly expand by your assertion that the "living magisterium is free from error".

Can you see the irony in light of what you have been trying to assert?

Needless to say, reconciling these statements is not their job since they have no authority to pass judgment on Church teaching.

Can you not see the role that equivocation is playing in your theological confusion? There is all the difference in the world between giving a definitive judgement on a certain teaching, which is the prerogative of the teaching authority of the Church, and choosing to withhold assent to a teaching that quite clearly contradicts previous magisterial teaching. It is this withholding of assent that is discussed in the five quotes from Catholic theologians that I have provided. You are labelling the latter action "judgement" in the attempt to smear the prudential and conditional assent to teachings of the authentic magisterium, which is the right of every Catholic, as "private judgement". I must assume that you are merely confused on this issue rather than malicious.

The problem is that the prohibition by the Church against communicatio in sacris is not merely of ecclesiastical law but, rather, of Divine law. The Church has always taught that for a Catholic to actively participate in the rites of non-Catholics is gravely sinful since it violates the First Commandment. This is why you will not find any magisterial teaching prior to the Second Vatican Council that permits communicatio in sacris. Following the rather ambiguous and confusing text of Unitatis Redintegratio, the 1967 document Ad totam ecclesiam actually encourages Catholics to take part in non-Catholic rites (see this article by Fr Thomas Crean OP on this). The document was entered into the Acta Apostolicae Sedis and, thus, constitutes part of the "living magisterium" of the Church.

But you seem to say two things: (1) that ordinary Catholics are not able to see the difference between a prohibition and an encouragement of a certain act and (2) that even if they do think they see such a difference they have no right to withhold assent from the most recent teaching of the authentic magisterium.

But, since, as we saw, the traditional teaching on communicatio in sacris is a matter of Divine law and not merely of reformable Church discipline a Catholic is faced with the decision to obey or violate the most solemn of the Commandments. To protest the priority of obedience over prudence didn't work during Nuremberg trials and it will not wash at our own Particular Judgement.

David of Glasgow said...

Dave K,

I should also like to add that your insistence that a Catholic unconditionally assent to every teaching of the authentic magisterium (aka the teaching authority of the Church without reference to the charism infallibility that can be engaged by this authority under certain, clearly defined conditions) denies in practice the Catholic teaching that a person cannot violate his own sincerely-formed conscience without sin.

It is clear that the reason many Catholics withhold assent from a number of teachings promulgated by the post-conciliar authentic magisterium is that they believe that to do otherwise would be to violate their consciences.

Certainly, this is why I withhold assent from the (magisterial) teaching of Ad totam ecclesiam on prayer with non-Catholics: I sincerely believe that, for example, to participate in a non-Catholic prayer meeting would be sinful since it would not be consonant with the First Commandment. Further, that it would promote the cause of religious indifferentism.

Yet, for you, the mere ipse dixit of the persons of the magisterium where they do not engage the Church's charism of infalibility shoud be sufficient to volate the rights of my own sincerely-formed conscience. Thank God the Church disagrees with you and that is precisely to prevent my falling into sin by violating my conscience that the Church requires only a conditional or prudential assent to those teachings of the "living magistreium" which She has not guaranteed to be inerrant and which, for that very reason, may be false.

Dave K said...

David of Glasgow,
This discussion of infallibility is getting confusing because it can be understood in different ways. It can mean the ordinary Magisterium by which the faith is handed down from age to age by the Pope and bishops in union with him in their everyday teaching, or it can mean the solemn judgments of the extraordinary Magisterium defining a particular point of dogma at a fixed time in history. This latter meaning of infallibility is the usual sense in which it is used. As you know these solemn judgments are rare and the doctrine defined already belongs to the ordinary Magisterium of the Church. So, in a sense the teaching is already infallible before the Church makes it clear in a definitive way by a solemn definition (which stands by itself as an act of the Magisterium) that such teaching belongs to the deposit of Faith. So, the infallibility of the Church is a much broader concept than most think. The real question is what belongs to the ordinary Magisterium? This is decided by the Pope and bishops who are in union with him since they are the authentic teachers of the Faith or the living Magisterium. The teachings of Vat2 have been declared by the Pope as belonging to the supreme ordinary Magisterium of the Church. The content of its teaching cannot be called into question because it was approved by same authority as that of any of the other ecumenical councils of the Church, namely, the living Magisterium. So, there is no need to judge the documents for ourselves to see if they conform to divine Tradition. The Church has already guaranteed that they do conform. If accepting the teaching of the living Magisterium causes a conscience conflict with a prior understanding of the Faith then one should adjust their erroneous opinions of the Faith to that of the living Magisterium or become a Lutheran.

Jan said...

Picard and Dave of Glasgow, I agree with Dave K that you are confusing infallibility with the teaching authority of the Pope. My evidence is Vatican I, and you will see there that infallibility is defined quite separately from the teaching authority and governance of the Pope and Vatican I is an infallible teaching of the Church, whereas the theologians that Dave of Glasgow quotes are offering merely their own opinions that aren't binding on anyone.

Picard said...


But neither me nor Davied denied the teaching authority of the Pope defined in Vat. I.
So what´s your point????

Picard said...


Not only the solemn definitions are infallible but also the universal oridinary magisterium - taken in the strict sense of the word.

But the problem is that "ordinary magisterium" is not used unequivocally by the theologians or better: they make some distinction:

So not every teaching of all of the bishops is "ordinary magisterium" in the strict sense.

There is a kind of "ordinary magisterium" that is better called "authentic magisterium" (or "authoritative") that is not infallible.

And then there is on the other hand the infallible "universal ordinary magisterium" (that is not only authoritative/authentic but also infallible).

And no, the Pope did NOT declare that Vat.II is infallible oridnary magisterium. Never. (Please provide where and when a Pope should have declared it!!!)

So now I see your problem and your mistake:

"The teachings of Vat2 have been declared by the Pope as belonging to the supreme ordinary Magisterium of the Church. The content of its teaching cannot be called into question because it was approved by same authority as that of any of the other ecumenical councils of the Church, namely, the living Magisterium."

The problem is that this is plain wrong. I do not know of any decleration of any Pope that Vat.II is belonging to the "supreme oridinary magisterium" (in the strict sense of the word, that would mean infallible magisterium).

But vice versa, Vat. II and Paul VI expressely said that there can be different levels of authority of the documents that must be detected by normal theological investigation (expression of the text itselfe, the context,... - as I explained above).

So you got something wrong. The Popes only said that Vat. II is part of the authentic magisterium (authoritative magisterium) but NEVER EVER said that it is "supreme, universal ordinary magisterium", i.t.s. of "infallible magisterium".

Hope it is getting clear now.

So as David and me stressed:
It is very important to distinguish between a) the infallible universal ordinary magisterium and b) the fallible ordinary (or better: only authentic and authoritative) magisterium.

You (and others) thought incorrectly that Vat. II would fall under a) but it only falls under b) [and no Pope did ever teach something different].

Hope this helps.
Best greetings (and I think I will end the debate now) and God bless!

Picard said...


Yes, the teaching authority and governance-authority is distinct from the infallibility - that was exactly my and Davids point!!!!!

If the Pope uses his teaching authority or governing authority he is not automatically infallible. That was again my and Davids point. Vat.I does not teach something different.

No, the quoted theologians have imprimatur, they teach in the name of the Church -- if the theologians teach something unanimously it is exactly an infallible universal ordinary magisterium teaching!!
It is not just their private opinion.
They teach in the name of the bishops of the Church (with missio canonica and imprimatur) and so their teaching is not private opinion!

Dave K said...

Here is what Pope PaulVI had to say about the teachings of Vat 2 on Jan 12, 1966, “In view of the pastoral nature of the Council, it avoided any extraordinary statement of dogmas that would be endowed with the note of infallibility, but it still provided its teaching with the authority of the supreme ordinary magisterium. This ordinary magisterium , which is so obviously official, has to be accepted with docility and sincerity by all the faithful, in accordance with the mind of the Council on the nature and aims of the individual documents.” So, there you have it. Vat 2 belongs to the ordinary magisterium of the Church and must be accepted as such by the faithful. This has been the position of every Pope who followed Paul VI.

Picard said...

But as I said the word "ordinary mag." (even "supreme ordinary magisterium") is not unequivocal - it is ambiguouse. It is not used in the strict sense of infallible ord. magisterium here (normally then you call it "universal [and] ordinary magisterium"), but in the sense of mere authentic/authoritative ordinary magisterium.

That is proofed by the very words that you thankfully quoted: " ...with docility and sincerity by all the faithful, in accordance with the mind of the Council on the nature and aims of the individual documents."
That is no expression used for the absolute assent of faith to infallible teachings but only to fallible authoritative ones. If the Pope meant infallible ordinary magisterium he would have had to use the words "assent of faith" or some expression like that, but not only "docilitiy and sinceritiy".
"docility and sincerity" are even weaker than the normal expression for assent to non-infallible teachings ("obsequium religiosum" or "submission of will and intellect")!

And also the following "in accordance with the mind of the Council on the nature and aims of the individual documents." (- and I pointed to such expressions of the Pope or Council above - and you can find more than you quoted here! - ) indicates that there are different levels of authoritiveness and so of assent of/to the different documents (and so at least not all necessarily belong to the highest level of infallible de fide doctrines, that earn absolute assent).

So we have been there in our discussion yet, I pointed to this fact above, SEE THERE! (So that we not go in circles - what we begin to do!).

If all the documents would be seen as belonging to the highest level, i.e. of infallible ordinary magisterium, then this words used by Paul VI would be nonsense, then all documents would have the same infallible authority and they would be de fide and all Catholics had not only to accept them with "docilitiy and sincerity" but with an absolute "assent of faith".

So the wording of Paul VI (as also of the Vat. II itselfe and of the subsequent Popes) is exactly expressing the documents of Vat.II (and at least some, that was my point above, see there) beeing only authoritative/authentic ordinary magisterium, not infallible universal ordinary magisterium.

That was exactly what David and me were pointing to again and again.

If you would find one instance of any Pope using the words "infallible", "de fide" or "assent of faith" you would be right - but there is no such expression.

For contrary, there are only expressions that indicate that they see the documents as mere authentic ordinary magisterium teachings and not as infallible ord. mag. teachings (as the quoted words of Paul VI are only one example of many)!

Jan said...

Picard, Vatican 1 (chapter 3, 2) states: “Wherefore we teach and declare that, by divine ordinance, the Roman Church possesses a pre-eminence of ordinary power over every other Church, and that this jurisdictional power of the Roman Pontiff is both episcopal and immediate. Both clergy and faithful, of whatever rite and dignity, both singly and collectively, are bound to submit to this power by the duty of hierarchical subordination and true obedience, and this not only in matters concerning faith and morals, but also in those which regard the discipline and government of the Church throughout the world”.

In short, you and every faithful Catholic owe obedience to the Holy Father full stop.

An imprimateur certainly does not give authority of universal ordinary magistarium teaching: “The imprimatur is not an endorsement by the bishop of the contents of a book, not even of the religious opinions expressed in it, being merely a declaration about what is not in the book.[4] In the published work, the imprimatur is sometimes accompanied by a declaration of the following tenor:
The nihil obstat and imprimatur are declarations that a book or pamphlet is free of doctrinal or moral error. No implication is contained therein that those who have granted the nihil obstat or imprimatur agree with the contents, opinions or statements expressed.”

And, in any event, you are saying that the ordinary magisterium doesn't have to be followed unless it is an ex cathedra promulgation. So a case of wanting your cake and eat it too.

Jan said...

Also in paragraph 20 of Humani Generis Pope Pius XII said that it is not necessary for a doctrine to be defined by the Extraordinary Magisterium in order to be infallible. He said the words of Jesus in Luke 10:16 applied to the Ordinary Magisterium: Luke 10:16 "He who hears you hears me, and he who rejects you rejects me, and he who rejects me rejects him who sent me."

New Catholic said...