Pope Francis critics continue to seek answers on ‘Amoris Laetitia’ in ‘filial correction’
A group of lay theologians and clergy opposed to Pope Francis’ “Amoris Laetitia” have released a letter “correcting” him, part of an ongoing effort directed against the pope’s attempts to focus on pastoral outreach in ministry to divorced and civilly remarried Catholics and others in irregular marital situations. The signatories, a small collection of theologians, priests and academics, have no obvious link beyond their opposition to “Amoris Laetitia,” the apostolic exhortation issued by Pope Francis following the two synods on the family.
In a 25-page letter delivered to Francis last month and provided Saturday to The Associated Press, the 62 signatories issued a public “filial correction” to the pope—a measure they said had not been employed since the 14th century.
The 62 signatories issued a public “filial correction” to the pope—a measure they said had not been employed since the 14th century.
A blog that promotes traditionalist Catholicism began tweeting about the existence of the letter about a month ago, leading to speculation that some high-level church officials, perhaps even cardinals who have already publicly questioned the pope about his efforts, including American Cardinal Raymond Burke, may be involved. In the end, the document was signed mostly by lower level theologians, another salvo in a campaign by those opposed to the pope’s efforts to broaden the church’s pastoral outreach to Catholics in irregular family situations.
The letter accused Francis of propagating seven heretical positions concerning marriage, moral life and the sacraments with “Amoris Laetitia” and subsequent “acts, words and omissions.”
The initiative follows another formal act by four cardinals who wrote to Francis last year asking him to clarify a series of questions, or dubia, they had about his 2016 text.
Francis has not responded to either initiative. The Vatican spokesman did not immediately respond to an email from the Associated Press seeking comment late Saturday.
None of the signatories of the new letter is a cardinal, and the only bishop to sign the letter is actually someone whose organization does not accept many of the teachings of Vatican II: Bishop Bernard Fellay, superior of the Society of St. Pius X, which has ordained bishops, including Fellay himself, without papal approval.
As previously reported, Pope Francis has not publicly replied to the dissenters, despite the pressure. As Louis J. Cameli noted in January in America, the questions and objections to “Amoris Laetitia” may not be answerable because they reject what they see as changes in teaching, while “the pope has affirmed that there is no new teaching and no change in the teaching.”
Material from the Associated Press was used in this report.
Shane on them seeking to further the cause of hate and division. Sundays gospel re Workers in the Vineyard highlights the misplaced self-righteous ingratitude fueling this regrettable ongoing effort.
They can object as much as they like (in canon law, we have not just a right but an obligation, to speak up when we believe our leaders are in error). However, they are simply wrong. The article points out that the signatories do not include any high-level theologians, or bishops in good standing. On the other hand, there are any number of highly respected theologians who are satisfied that it is indeed fully orthodox. (Cardinal Shonborn, for instance, speaking in Limerick earlier this month - http://queerchurch.com/?p=48395).
The text is also fully grounded in the careful deliberations of 200 or so bishops from all regions of the church. The dissenters are way out on a limb, and do not deserve too much attention.
Would that be the same Cardinal Schonborn who sat in the Sanctuary of his Cathedral Church holding a balloon on a string during a "Balloon Mass"? Orthodox is not the term I would use for His Eminence. Heterodox is much more fitting.
And by the way, the theologians who are correcting Pope Francis are not wrong, just as the four Cardinals who sent their dubia to the Pope were not wrong. The bishops of Malta and elsewhere are already admitting the divorced and remarried to Holy Communion on the basis of the understanding they have of Amoris Laetitia. The Pope knows of their interpretation and has confirmed them in their error. If you read the correction sent to the Pope it is impossible to conclude that His Holiness is free of responsibility for the moral confusion that now reigns in various countries as a result of his words and actions. The real tragedy is that he thus far refuses to acknowledge his error. That is very worrrying indeed.
If there is "moral confusion", it is of the kind that refuses to acknowledge the Gospel's balance between law and mercy to arrive at justice. "I desire mercy, not sacrifice" (Jesus).
Yours is the argument of a Protestant, not a Catholic. The Catholic Church for 2000 years has been very consistent in her moral teaching and every Catholic believed and practiced that. It's only today, especially since the advent of Pope Francis, that all is thrown into confusion with ambiguous statements which, while confirming that the doctrinal/moral front door of Catholic teaching is locked, opens "pastoral" back doors and windows that allow the robbers to enter. This, I'm afraid is not "mercy", it's madness! The divine teaching is as it always was, it cannot be changed by Pope Francis or anyone else under any pretext. True mercy consists in encouraging divorced and remarried Catholics to leave their sinful state behind and save their souls. It is a false mercy that would confirm them in a state of life that Our Lord Himself condemned as adultery. But then, maybe pride is at such a level these days that some think themselves more enlightened and merciful than the Divine Saviour. St. Paul predicted such a time when he wrote: "There will come a time when they will not endure sound doctrine but according to their own desires will heep to themselves teachers, having itching ears, and will indeed turn away their hearing from the truth, but will be turned unto fables." (Timothy 2: 4-3).
I don't know about you but that passage strikes me as perfectly fitted to our present day.
"Joseph, [y]ours is the argument of a Protestant, not a Catholic." No, my information is that of an educated and informed Catholic. Yours, not so much. While the church has tribunals, it also recognizes the supremacy of personal conscience (CCC-1776 thru 1802). There is no "ambiguity" in Francis' acknowledgement of the proper roles of both law AND mercy. Jesus gave us the law, and he gave us his *preference* for mercy. The Church of Rome strives to be faithful to both. In effectively denying the role of mercy, you are in dissent against Jesus' teaching and official church doctrine.
"True mercy consists in encouraging divorced and remarried Catholics to leave their sinful state behind and save their souls." They cannot "save their souls." Neither can you, by the way. Persons in sin are, by scriptural definition, "lost" (Luke 15). They require God to initiate searching for, and reconciling, them. Those "lost" in sin cannot find their way to divine forgiveness: They need a savior. Jesus is our Savior. God's love is unconditional, i.e., "no strings attached" (perhaps you disagree on this point?).
Your comments suggest a very real but unnecessary frustration. There is nothing heterodox in AL about eucharistic reception for some divorced and remarried Catholics. Pastors are expected to be "pastoral" as Jesus was pastoral in his earthly ministry. Law alone doesn't always suffice. Justice is rendered by appropriate application of law and mercy.
I see no application of TIMOTHY to the unfounded controversy over A.L. and its footnote.
Sorry, you're trying to set the personal opinions and dangerous advice of Pope Francis against the infallible moral teaching of 2000 years of the Magisterium. You're on a loser there and I think deep down you know it. This has nothing to do with the true exercise of mercy, it's about deviating from sound doctrine while trying to obscure the fact with Protestant talk about the supremacy of conscience. The infalible moral teaching of the Church trumps everything for those with true faith because it is divine doctrine, and the moral teaching of the Church is that no divorced and remarried Catholic can be admitted to Holy Communion until they repent of their adulterous union and regulate their situation. It really is that straight forward and has been for all those centuries, Pope Francis can't alter that through a nod and a wink to liberal clergy in AL.
And I should point out that what you say about saving the soul is exactly what Luther said. It seems to me that you're denying, like Luther, that the Commandments of God are there to be kept, but if broken grace can only be restored to the soul by the Sacrament of confession and penance. Are you denying the Church's teaching that those in mortal sin must repent, confess and do penance? It's not, as you say, a process of searching, it is a very straight forward process that all Catholics should know they have to follow if they fall from grace. We can and must save our souls, contrary to your assertion. God gives us free will as well as grace and we must use our free will to do good with His grace and avoid evil. We are not bystanders in our souls' salvation. No, we must play our part in accordance with free will or be lost. You may think yourself an informed Catholic but believe me, you're anything but informed. Your general knowledge of Magisterial teaching in these matters is very limited to Pope Francis' personal opinions and a few lines from the Catechism. But in addition to this, you seem blissfully unaware that you are promoting Protestant, not Catholic doctrine. I'm sorry, you're anything but an informed Catholic.
I disagree, on the basis of the Gospel and church teaching, with everything in your first paragraph. Your comments smack of everything contrary to Jesus' PREFERENCE for mercy over religious obligation (Mt 9:13). Jesus, according to scripture, was not a legalist. He was quite practical:
"As he was passing through a field of grain on the sabbath, his disciples began to make a path while picking the heads of grain. At this the Pharisees said to him, 'Look, why are they doing what is unlawful on the sabbath?' He said to them, 'Have you never read what David did when he was in need and he and his companions were hungry? How he went into the house of God when Abiathar was high priest and ate the bread of offering that only the priests could lawfully eat, and shared it with his companions?' Then he said to them, 'The sabbath was made for man, not man for the sabbath. That is why the Son of Man is lord even of the sabbath'" (Mark 2:23-28). God makes the law but prefers mercy and, when necessary, modification to application of the unchanged law. Your approach to divine teaching reminds me of Mt 23:23 --- "Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, you hypocrites. You pay tithes of mint and dill and cummin, and have neglected the weightier things of the law: judgment and mercy and fidelity. [But] these you should have done, without neglecting the others." As I've noted elsewhere, justice is rendered by application of law and mercy. Jesus stressed the "weightier things of the law". You obviously don't.
I don't deny the decalogue. I think it's time, once again, for the church to revamp the sacrament of reconciliation by doing away with private/auricular confession. Replace it with a communal reconciliation service (no private confession). Modify the sacrament with an emphasis on God's mercy and unconditional love. Stress the spirit, not the letter, of the law without, at the same time, denying the letter of the law, as Jesus does in the Gospel. Focus on the "weightier things" including justice derived from application of law and mercy.
You contend, "It's not, as you say, a process of searching, it is a very straight forward process that all Catholics should know they have to follow if they fall from grace." Your assertion is a clear rejection of Jesus' teaching in Luke 15, but I'll attribute your thinking to willful ignorance, not heresy. The Gospel, not a human-derived understanding of repentance, takes priority: "The Gospels are the heart of all the Scriptures 'because they are our principal source for the life and teaching of the Incarnate Word, our Savior" (CCC-125). It's quite evident you refuse this understanding of the priority of Gospel teaching.
"God gives us free will...and we must use our free will..." How did the Prodigal Son, the "lost" coin, and the "lost" sheep use *their* so-called "free will"? (ANSWER: They didn't because they didn't have it!) All three metaphors, representing you and me and everyone else, demonstrate that the traditional notion of "free will" is wrong. One who is "lost" in sin is not "free". A person lost in the woods is not trying to become lost. Becoming geographically or spiritually "lost" simply happens despite any efforts otherwise. Why God permits evil (sin, sickness, disaster) is a mystery that not even the Church of Rome has been able to *explain*. There is no universally accepted understanding of why evil occurs. With respect to sin, we have Jesus, i.e., Our Savior.
I "am denying" the idea that one in mortal sin can save himself as you seem to believe (never mind this belief is contrary to Luke 15). Your belief that "[w]e can and must save our souls" denies Catholic doctrine that salvation comes from God alone, not through human effort: Jesus' disciples asked, "Who then can be saved?” Jesus looked at them and said, “For human beings this is impossible, but for God all things are possible" (Mt 19:25-26). "Salvation is from the Lord" (Ps 3:9).
At best, my fellow Catholic, you are regurgitating what I learned in parochial school before Vatican II. I've studied much more about faith and church in the intervening years, especially since my retirement eighteen years ago. You? Obviously not so much.
You seem determined to set mercy against religious obligation, demanding the former with presumption while linking any insistence on the latter with the Pharisees. This is classic liberalism, not Catholicism. The Church, like Our Lord, imposes duties upon all souls who would seek and receive the divine mercy. We are not free to live however we please, making the rules as we go along to suit our sinful inclinations, presuming that the mercy of God is there for us regardless. No, St. Paul tells us that we must fight the good fight and run the race if we are to obtain salvation. In other words, we must correspond with God's grace to avoid sin and practice virtue. That has been the Catholic teaching for 2000 years, which you now clearly reject. That's fine, you have free will to oppose the Church and its teaching with Protestant argument if you so choose, it's between you and God. I will not rebel, however. My position is the Church's position, the same that sanctified the saints and martyrs throughout history, for which the latter sacrificed their lives. But as one Archbishop observed in relation to this Modernist liberalism, which is just Protestantism by any other name, "the martyrs sacrificed their lives for the truth. Now they sacrifice the truth"!
It is really pointless continuing this debate with you as it is clear that you do not possess the Catholic Faith. You may think you do but I can assure you to the contrary. No true Catholic would ever contradict Christ by advocating reception of Holy Communion for those in adulterous unions. No true Catholic would seek to abuse the divine mercy in so presumptuous a manner. The teaching of the Church is clear and remains in tact, despite all the Modernist double-speak.
Jesus set mercy in priority over religious obligation (Mt. 9:13 and 12:7; see also Hosea 6:6). Jesus' teaching trumps Paul et al. Your arrogance re: who is a "true Catholic" is unbelievable. When one rejects ecclesial history, one is burying his head in the sand: Ain't purty.
"Jesus' teaching trumps Paul et al." So now you set Our Lord Jesus Christ against His chosen Apostle to the Gentiles. It wasn't so long ago that you accused Jesus Himself of having sinned by advocating slavery. You are indeed a very confused individual, Joseph. This is what comes of abandoning authoritative teaching in favour of your own imaginings. I don't think anyone reading your comments throughout this debate will seriously consider you a Catholic.
Jesus' teaching takes priority (CCC-125). I have not "accused Jesus Himself of having sinned by advocating slavery." You betray a very limited knowledge of Catholic doctrine.
"...I have not "accused Jesus Himself of having sinned by advocating slavery.""
Here's what you wrote 3 days ago.
"Is the moral law's content subject to "changing fashions"? Yes, if slavery --- approved by Jesus --- is any indication..."
As I vaguely recall, I was quoting *your* mention of "changing fashions", and I suggested that "changing understanding" might be better phraseology.
"At best, my fellow Catholic, you are regurgitating what I learned in parochial school before Vatican II. I've studied much more about faith and church in the intervening years, especially since my retirement eighteen years ago. You? Obviously not so much."
"Regurgatating", Joseph? Is that what you think the handing down of the Faith through the generations amounted to until Vatican II. If your learning since that Council has brought you to despise the Deposit of Faith to such an extent then I fear you have been reading some rather poisonous materials. Well, once the Faith has gone it is unlikely to be restored, so precious and fragile a gift it is. I feel rather sorry for you, that you actually believe that you are the enlightened Catholic. Such is the blindness of the apostate. You're not the first, nor will you be the last, to declare 'non serviam'!
"despise the deposit of faith"
"I feel rather sorry for you"
"Such is the blindness of the apostate"
Stop blathering and labeling. It doesn't help what is already your feeble attempt at argumentation.
I agree with your comments save for some minor differences.
As you probably noticed, Martin often fails to listen to your argument. Equally important, his so-called knowledge of moral theology, scripture, et al, is seriously waning. He implicitly claimed that slavery, usury and the (lack of) freedom of religion were 'not' taught as truth for centuries by popes and councils but were eventually reformed. Unfortunately, his underlying argumentation and style of argument is not the least convincing.
While there is nothing wrong with adhering to every moral teaching of the Magisterium, it is not the absolute moral truth, full stop, period, end of discussion. I object with Martin's implicit argument that if your informed conscience is in tension with any magisterium teaching, then your conscience is not formed or informed properly. In other words, I object to the belief that your informed conscience has no right to disagree with a moral teaching of the Magisterium. St. Thomas Aquinas and the Church teaches that an informed conscience, even its it is erroneous, is binding because the agent does not know it is erroneous. To the agent, he/she believes their informed conscience is right. However, the agent may be morally culpable if he/she does not properly and reasonably informed their conscience when they could have. This is why it is helpful to be guided by a priest as Pope Francis called for in Amoris Laetitia.
Martin adheres to the theology of conscience of Germain Grizez and Pope JP II. Unfortunately, this is not the theology of conscience of Vatican II, Aquinas, Bernard Haring nor Joseph Ratzinger among others.
As you said, if I may paraphrase: the moral truth never changes but our understanding of moral truth continues to evolve toward truth with our growing knowledge of Scripture, Science, Human Experience, Human Sexuality, and the context and beliefs of ancient times which has shaped, in part, our Tradition and its moral teachings.
According to Martin, if every 'moral' teaching of the Magistereium is the "absolute" moral truth, then there is no place for an informed conscience that is in tension with it. In this case, you are compelled to "conform" your informed conscience to every moral teaching of the Magisterium. If it does not, you are unfaithful, misguided or sowing doubt and Protestantism. Unfortunately, this is not true.
I had to end my exchanges with Martin, not because I could not answer his questions but because our exchanges became unproductive. Further information and argumentation would only have led to a protracted argument. I will engage with him on other occasions.
Thanks again for your comments.
There is a difference between unchanging Church teaching and changeable practices recommended (or ordered) by the Vatican.
In the present context, Church teachings are about the permanence of marriage, Christ's real presence in the Eucharist and our obligation to approach the sacrament with due reverence and respect.
There has been a church practice to forbid remarried divorcees from receiving communion. The practice was aimed at discouraging divorce. The practice is similar to ST JPII's attempt to limit abortion by introducing a practice of automatically excommunicating those who procure an abortion. Practices such as these can be withdrawn or modified if they are found to be ineffective or inappropriate, without affecting teaching whatsoever.
Amoris Laetitia recommends a slight modification in practice. One may question the wisdom of such a modification, but to pretend that it changes teaching is to falsely conflate teaching and practice.
Can. 2350. par. 1. Procurantes abortum, matre non excepta, incurrunt, effectu secuto, in excommumcationem latae sententiae Ordinario reservatam; et si sint clerici, praeterea deponantur.
– 1917 Code of Canon Law.
St. JPII did not introduce that penalty for procuring an abortion. It carried over from the previous canon law. That's all.
Ahhh! Ok. Thanks!
What you appear to be suggesting is that the moral law is relative to changing fashions and is not therefore divine in origin but rather human. The condemnation of divorce and remarriage as adultery came straight from the lips of Jesus Christ Himself, yet you appear to believe that any Pope can alter the seriousness of that sin to accord with the times. Well you're wrong about that, the Pope is not given the power to alter divine revelation and the teaching of the Church. Rather, his remit is to defend and uphold these and pass them on unsullied to the Church. The Pope is not God, he is a man capable of error, yes even heresy.
Is the moral law's content subject to "changing fashions"? Yes, if slavery --- approved by Jesus --- is any indication (I don't like your use of "fashions"; perhaps a better word choice is "understanding"). On the other hand, the moral law also includes the Lord's *preference* for mercy (Mt 9:13). To rephrase, while the law doesn't change, our understanding of it can most certainly change in response to new information and insights. Thomas J. Noonan, Jr examines this ecclesial phenomenon in his A CHURCH THAT CAN AND CANNOT CHANGE: THE DEVELOPMENT OF CATHOLIC MORAL TEACHING.
Francis is not engaged in "heresy", but if you deny the importance or relevance of Jesus' preference for mercy, I think you are on doctrinally shaky ground.
"while the law doesn't change, our understanding of it can most certainly change in response to new information and insights."
You do realise that this statement is heretical and is already condemned by the pre-Vatican II Popes as Modernist and evolutionary. Besides that, it's a contradictory statement. How can the doctrine remain the same if the understanding of the doctrine changes? Please explain that little conundrum if you can! And would you please stop quoting mercy inappropriately in relation to the divine and moral law, as well as Church teaching. I know it gets the emotions of the ignorant going but the abuse of mercy in this way leads only to heresy and immorality, both of which are already on public display since AL.
I don't know what authority Thomas J Noonan speaks with but if he is saying that divine doctrine is evolutionary, as I suspect he is, then he immediately falls foul of the condemnations of Popes Pius IX and St. Pius X. Read their respective Syllabi of condemned and proscribed heretical propositions, as well as Pius X's Pascendi Dominici Gregis, on the errors of Modernism, and then tell me you still believe that Church doctrine should alter with the fashions of the time, which is really what you advocate. If you do read and reject this authoritative Papal teaching while insisting on Pope Francis' less authoritative musings simply because he says things that suit you and a hedonistic modern world, then I'm afraid we having nothing further to discuss. I remain attached to eternal Church teaching which cannot change and you do not, it's fundamentally as black and white as that. And remember the words of Our Saviour about those who divorce and remarry. He called it adultery. Not very merciful, eh??
"You do realise that this statement is heretical and is already condemned by the pre-Vatican II Popes as Modernist and evolutionary." My statement is not "heretical". You demonstrate ignorance of the word's meaning. CCC-2089 defines 'heresy' as "the obstinate post-baptismal denial of some truth which must be believed with divine and catholic faith, or it is likewise an obstinate doubt concerning the same." No one, least of all me, is denying the Gospel. On the other hand, with more information and insights (and, in the case of slavery, empathy), we learn more and more what God truly desires. We've concluded, for instance, that God --- Jesus' acceptance notwithstanding --- would not sanction ownership of one human being by another human being. In other words, Mr. Blackshaw, WE LEARN.
"How can the doctrine remain the same if the understanding of the doctrine changes?" Slavery is an example. Eating grains of wheat on the Sabbath is another one. Issuing declarations of sacramental nullity is still another example. Learning enables us to appreciate the spirit of the law, not its rigid application. Dichotomous thinking is rejected. We reject FEAR, which stands in the way of God's unconditional love.
"And would you please stop quoting mercy inappropriately in relation to the divine and moral law, as well as Church teaching." Aha! So you attach conditions to God's mercy. Shame on you.
" I'm afraid we having nothing further to discuss."
OK, but please be assured that, when an online article catches my interest, I will correct your comments when necessary.
Faith AND Reason. Not blind faith.
"Faith AND Reason. Not blind faith."
So you're a rationalist! That explains everything.
Faith is not blind, it is a divine and supernatural gift from God that enlightens the soul and elicits complete obedience to what has been divinely revealed by God in Scripture and through the teaching of His Holy Church. The rationalist rejects divine faith, arguing that the human mind is the sole arbiter of what is true and false in religion. He therefore insists that the faith is open to constant re-appraisal and alteration in accordance with man's increasing knowledge and the changing fashions. In other words, the Catholic has divine faith which is supernatural and eternal, and the rationalist human faith which is superficial and evolutionary. No need to point out the gulf between the two.
Now, you say in your opening paragraph that you are not, in fact, heretical but rather that I have no real grasp of what the term means. Ok, I was responding to this claim in your previous comments:
"while the law doesn't change, our understanding of it can most certainly change in response to new information and insights."
So now let's put your claim to the test. In the Syllabi of Popes Pius IX and X, we find the following propositions condemned and proscribed as heresy:
Pius IX Syllabus:
#4 "All the truths of religion proceed from the innate strength of human reason; hence reason is the ultimate standard by which man can and ought to arrive at the knowledge of all truths of every kind."
#5 "Divine Revelation is imperfect, and therefore subject to a continual and indefinite progress, corresponding with the advancement of human reason"
From the Syllabus of St. Pius X (Lamentabili Sane):
#2 "While the Church's interpretation of the Sacred Books is by no means to be rejected; nevertheless, it is subject to the more accurate judgment and correction of the exegetes".
#6 "The "Church learning" and the "Church teaching" collaborate in such a way in defining truths that it only remains for the "Church teaching" to sanction the opinions of the "Church learning".
#26 "The dogmas of the faith are to be held only according to their practical sense; that is to say, as preceptive norms of conduct and not as norms of believing".
#41 "The Sacraments are intended merely to recall to man's mind the ever-benificent presence of the Creator".
#54 "Dogmas, Sacraments and hierarchy, both their notion and reality, are only interpretations and evolutions of the Christian intelligence which have increased and perfected by an external series of additions the little germ latent in the Gospel."
#59 "Christ did not teach a determined body of doctrine applicable to all times and all men, but rather inaugurated a religious movement adapted or to be adapted to different times and places".
From Leo XIII's Encyclical Libertas Praestantissimum, the following quote:
"...The fundamental doctrine of rationalism is the supremacy of human reason, which, refusing submission to the divine and eternal reason, proclaims its own independence, and constitutes itself the supreme principle and source and judge of truth. Hence, these followers of Liberalism deny the existence of any divine authority to which obedience is due, and proclaim that every man is a law unto himself; from which arises that ethical system which they style independent morality, and which, under the guise of liberty, exonerates man from any obedience to the commands of God, and substitutes a boundless license..."
From St. Pius X's Pascendi:
"...Of those who study more closely the ideas of the Modernists, evolution is described as a resultant from the conflict of two forces, one of them tending towards progress ,the other towards conservation. The conserving force exists in the Church and is found in Tradition; Tradition is represented by religious authority, and this both by right and in fact. By right, for it is in the very nature of authority to protect Tradition: and in fact, since authority, raised as it is above the contingencies of life, feels hardly, or not at all, the spurs of progress. The progressive force, on the contrary, which responds to the inner needs, lies in the individual consciences and works in them - especially in such of them as are in more close and intimate contact with life. Already we observe, Venerable Brethren, the introduction of that most pernicious doctrine which would make the laity the factor of progress in the Church. Now it is by a species of covenant and compromise between these two forces of conservation and progress, that is to say, between authority and individual consciences, that advances take place. The individual consciences, or some of them, act on the collective conscience, which brings pressure to bear on the depositories of authority to make terms and keep to them."
This rather destroys Pope Francis' suggestion in AL, as well as your own assertion, that individual conscience is superior to the teaching authority of the Church, especially in moral issues. So much for a discernment of conscience for the divorced and remarried that they may decide whether or not to approach for Holy Communion while still in an adulterous union.
I hadn't noticed until now that in your previous comment you state that Jesus approved slavery. This is not only false, it is blasphemous for it asserts that the Son of God countenanced and encouraged a sinful practice.
You also stated previously that the Church had wrongly outlawed religious liberty. I asked for evidence and you produced none, so here is my evidence to prove that your assertion in this is also heretical.
From Pius IX's Syllabus of Errors, the following two propositions are condemned and proscribed:
“Good hope at least is to be entertained of the eternal salvation of all those who are not at all in the true Church of Christ.” (Encyclical Quanto Conficiamur, August 10, 1863.)
“Protestantism is nothing more than another form of the same true Christian religion, in which form it is given to please God equally as in the Catholic Church.” (Encyclical Noscitis, December 8, 1849.)
From the August, 1832 Encyclical Mirari Vos of Pope Gregory XVI: “…With the admonition of the Apostle that there is “one Lord, one faith, one baptism” (Eph. 4:5), may those fear who contrive the notion that the safe harbor of salvation is open to persons of any religion whatever. They should consider the testimony of Christ Himself who said “He that is not with me, is against me” (Luke 11:23), and that they disperse unhappily who do not gather with Him. Therefore “without a doubt, they will perish forever, unless they hold the Catholic faith whole and entire…”
I can present many more proofs from the teachings of the Popes, and the Councils should you wish. Now I await any kind of evidence from Church teaching that supports your claims that the Church has erred, individual conscience is supreme and the Church learning imposes change on the Church teaching.
"I can present many more proofs from the teachings of the Popes, and the Councils should you wish." How about paying attention to Jesus' teaching for a change? The church at Vatican II did not err re: supremacy of conscience.
Supremacy of conscience presupposes a properly formed conscience, and we know that not all consciences are properly formed (or informed). Since conscience is thus fallible and not infallible like the Church's divine teaching , it folllows that Church teaching is superior in truth to conscience. Arguments to the contrary simply contradict reason and deny the divine mission of the Church to teach and to sanctify.
The CCC does not define a "properly formed conscience". Indeed, CCC-1776 affirms: ""Deep within his conscience man discovers a law which he has not laid upon himself but which he must obey. Its voice, ever calling him to love and to do what is good and to avoid evil, sounds in his heart at the right moment.... For man has in his heart a law inscribed by God.... His conscience is man's most secret core and his sanctuary. There he is alone with God whose voice echoes in his depths." NOTE: No mention of any catechism, or any clergy, or any other outside influence. "[A]lone with God."
The church has the duty to teach; the people have a responsibility to listen. That said (as one writer put it), an informed conscience is not necessarily a conformed conscience. If official church teaching mandates all behavior, there is no reason for CCC-1776 thru -1802, no need for conscience.
Now you're just waffling!
If the conscience is not subject to the voice of the Church instituted by God and endowed with the mandate to teach and sanctify in His name, especially when dogma is infallibly decreed, then it is a malformed and ill-informed conscience. It's pretty straight forward stuff, Joseph, not rocket science.
No "waffling", Mr. Blackshaw. Please clarify your use of "conscience...subject to the voice of the Church..." We are not discussing "dogma"; we are discussing morality of behavior. We are not challenging the church's right and duty to teach. You fail to understand the logic: If Catholics must obey every single moral teaching without fail, there is no need for conscience. This is not "rocket science".
Paul VI abolished the "Oath Against Modernism" in 1967. The "Syllabus of Errors", an appendix to an encyclical, is not an infallible pronouncement (encyclicals are not used to convey infallible doctrine). No pope is bound by the non-infallible pronouncements of earlier popes.
"You do realize that [your] statement ["while the law doesn't change, our understanding of it can most certainly change in response to new information and insights."] is heretical..." No, it is not. You betray an ignorance of the meaning of the term.
You ask, "How can the doctrine remain the same if the understanding of the doctrine changes?" Example: "Thou shall not kill." See https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thou_shalt_not_kill. Doctrine evolves. This is fact.
"And would you please stop quoting mercy inappropriately in relation to the divine and moral law..." How is mercy "inappropriate"? Genuine mercy imposes no pre-conditions. It is pure gift. In your fevered ignorance, you are contradicting Jesus' very teaching!!! May God have mercy on you (God will, btw, your rigidity notwithstanding). What do you *NOT* understand about Jesus' *PREFERENCE* for mercy over religious obligation? If Jesus puts divine teaching on mercy *above* other obligations to God, why are you so "hard-hearted"??? If God is willing, so to speak, to "play second fiddle" to human need, who are YOU to question Jesus' prioritizing mercy??? You have no right.
"John said to him, 'Teacher, we saw someone driving out demons in your name, and we tried to prevent him because he does not follow us.'
Jesus replied, 'Do not prevent him. There is no one who performs a mighty deed in my name who can at the same time speak ill of me. For whoever is not against us is for us. Anyone who gives you a cup of water to drink because you belong to Christ, amen, I say to you, will surely not lose his reward'" (Mark 9:38-41).
Your belief system is ultimately rooted in FEAR. I challenge you, purportedly an adult, to move beyond it.
Too bad seeking clarificating from unclear teaching is seen as negative. It's good that people that see as unwise the watering down of centuries of Catholic teaching on marriage (and explicit teaching of Jesus Christ in the Gospel on the subject) are not willing to silence their conscience.
Jesus also taught about mercy. IN FACT, HE PREFERRED IT (cf. Mt 9:13 and 12:7).
But tell THAT to these closed-minded, self-righteous types!
Tell that to an abandoned wife with kids, whose husband remarried his younger secretary, and then found a priest (not very hard to find) that "allows" him to have Communion every Sunday. Is that mercy?
I cannot fathom a presbyter giving the "green light" for eucharistic reception to a man who has not met obligations from a prior marriage. Contrary to your assertion, I think it would be "very hard" to find such a cleric.
You can even find priests that congratulate people for their same-sex "marriage" and give them Communion. The Pope cannot decide not to give testimony of truth, otherwise he should resign. John Paul II (just to put an example) would not remain silent.
If I were a presbyter (the correct term, by the way, since the term "priest" is a doctrinal fiction), I, too, would wish God's blessings on a same-sex married couple. As for your suggestion that Francis cannot decide to testify to the truth, I remind you of his emphasis lately on mercy, a practice preferred by the Son of God over rigid application of the law. A pastor like Francis recognizes that canon law cannot always bring about justice, i.e., that which a person --- or a couple --- is due. Genuine justice in church matters involves the proper application of both LAW and MERCY in some matters. For you to suggest that this pope, when circumstances might otherwise warrant, would knowingly and deliberately ignore a person's legal obligations to a spouse and/or children from a prior marriage, is outrageous and does your argument no good.
You assert, "John Paul II (just to put an example) would not remain silent." I remind you RIGHT THIS MINUTE that this so-called "Saint" deliberately ignored repeated complaints about clerical sexual abuse perpetrated by his friend, the prevert cleric Maciel. One account years ago mentioned that JPII even allowed this Roman-collared guy to join him on stage at least three times!!! At least Benedict put Maciel on ice, so to speak. I doubt his three children from relationships with two women in Mexico and Spain miss their dear "Father". JPII "remain[ed] silent."
As some folks might say where I live, your arguments "don't warsh".
1. ("If I were a presbyter... I, too, would wish God's blessings on a same-sex married couple")
I am all for mercy as I am well aware of being a sinner and constantly in need of God's forgiveness. But no service in done in favor of truth and charity when we start accepting sin and overriding the words of Mercy Itself, Jesus Christ. When we do that, we must stop talking about mercy and humility, because we have fallen into pride and self-deception.
In times when the family model God has blessed from the beggining (man and woman) is under assault and such attacks are justified following disposable postmodern superstitions, such as gender theory, let us not lie to ourselves and to the faithful stating that God blesses sinful unions of any kind.
2. I take Francis on his word that he wants to spread mercy within the Church, I just believe that his approach is unwise and contradicts Scripture, Tradition and centuries of teaching by saints and popes. The Pope does not shy away from speaking on climate change (and that is his right), although the Petrine ministery does not extend its infalibility on matters of scientific debate. However, what is of his complete competance are CLEAR guidelanes on reception of the sacraments, which he refuses to address.
The theological framework Cardinal Walter Kasper formulated in order to justify remarried Catholics receiving Communion seems quite weak and unable to withstand any debate. Maybe that is why the Pope dodges qustions of the Dubia.
My previous hypotetical situation of an adulterous remarried husband receiving Communion was borrowed from a question posed by EWTN's Raymond Arroyo to Cardinal Kasper himself, during an interview some two years ago. It was amazing and telling for me to see Kasper struggle with an apparently simple question and being completely unable to give assurances that such abuses would not happen. So Law can protect from false mercy and abuses.
3. I see your false preaching of charity and humility in the attack of Saint John Paul II. Yes, he made a grave mistake judging Marcial Maciel. But let's have a little exercise of historic memory: Maciel had been under investigation since the papacy of Pius XII, but when many of the papal investigations reached the critical point, many of the victims that were abused by Maciel did not have the strength to repeat the accusations under oath. By the time Karol Wojtyla was Pope he considered accusations against Maciel repetitous and unfounded, which proved to be a major blunder. It is telling that many of the same men (PC alert: Maciel's victims were always male) that decades back lacked the spine to confirm their testimony against Maciel during the formal investigations, later viciously attacked the Pope, as if he had been responsible for their shortcomings. Wow... Gentlemen, JPII was not perfect, but he never lacked guts.
1. Contrary to your opinion, Francis is not " accepting sin and overriding the words of Mercy." Genuine mercy requires no preconditions. It is pure gift to one in need of it. Jesus prefers mercy to religious obligation (Mt 9:13). Francis is seeking a re-balance between law and mercy to provide justice to couples seeking readmission to holy communion. Part of our problem today is that the previous two popes preferred to promote canon lawyers --- and apparently rather rigid ones, at that --- to the bishopric. It would seem that canonists with a balanced view of law and mercy were generally in the minority. After 35+ years of "the law", it's understandable but regrettable that self-described "orthodox" Catholics would holler and stomp their feet at the current pope's effort to restore needed (and Gospel-based) balance in Jesus' teaching. With respect to your next paragraph, I invite you to substitute "slavery" for references to straight marriage. I mean, How dare Catholics seek to change God's approval of slavery!!!
2. This pope's efforts to restore balance between Jesus' preference for mercy and his teaching on marriage do not at all "contradict" scripture and Tradition. If you don't like Matthew 9:13, you will have to complain to Jesus who started all this mess. The pope has given his informed opinion on climate change but, contrary to your suggestion, has never taught infallibly about it. Most informed Catholics see the Dubia from Burke et al as nothing more than what it clearly is, namely, a "gotcha" attempt. The four cardinals (two of them now dead, rest their souls) wanted "Yes" or "No" answers. One of the characteristics of the Authoritarian Personality is dichotomous thinking, i.e., seeing everything in terms of polar opposites, black-and-white. No grey, no nuance, no critical thinking. Such an approach to life is FEAR-based. This is not Christlike behavior. I cannot comment on the EWTN interview since I've not seen it. On the other hand, would it have been reasonable for Kasper "to give assurances that such abuses would not happen"? I don't think so. You assert, "So Law can protect from false mercy and abuses." In fact, "false mercy" is abuse, and no law can guarantee that abuse won't happen. That said, there's no reason for the church to put law over mercy simply because some pastors may abuse the process. If a divorced and remarried couple seeks in good faith to resume eucharistic reception, there is no sin involved if they are unaware they've been given "bum advice".
3. Your attempt to "soft-peddle" JPII's behavior is unpersuasive. Please see the following links:
I agree JPII was not perfect, but the written record portrays a man who surely knew about Maciel's sexual misconduct. (If JPII did not know, he must still be judged blameworthy for maintaining a Vatican culture that damned any bearer of bad news concerning his friend, Maciel.)
"Sugarcoating" the behavior of this "Saint" will get one nowhere. Guts, by the way, are not used in "lording over" subordinates. If "push came to shove", JPII was a bully.
Jesus clearly demonstrated that His mercy is for the repentant, not the presumptuous. St. Paul also admonishes us that we should not use our freedom as a cloak for malice. It is impossible to receive God's mercy while unwilling to break from sin and serious sinful situations. Isn't it really a case today that Catholics want heaven without the Cross? The martyrs, for example, sacrificed their lives for the truth. Sadly today they appear more willing to sacrifice the truth.
A sinner's repentance is made possible in the first place by God, not the sinner. When a sinner expresses repentance, it is an acknowledgement that God initiated divine forgiveness and resultant healing. By definition, a sinner is "lost" in sin (Luke 15's three parables). One who is "lost" cannot find his or her way back home; a savior is necessary. It is God who initiates searching for, finding, and reconciling sinners. When a presbyter says the words of absolution, he (or she) is doing so on behalf of the church, especially the local community. The parish, led by the presbyter, is challenged by God to initiate forgiveness without limit.
You write, "Isn't it really a case today that Catholics want heaven without the Cross?" In fact, all believers and not just Catholics have wanted salvation without effort on their part. In response, Jesus says, "Come to me, all you who labor and are burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am meek and humble of heart; and you will find rest for yourselves. For my yoke is easy, and my burden light" (Mt 11:28-30). Jesus also says, "I desire mercy, not sacrifice" (Mt 9:13 and 12:7, drawing from Hosea 6:6). And still elsewhere, he tells Peter --- and, by extension, all of us: "[You must forgive] not seven times but seventy-seven times" (Mt 18:22). I suspect it's generally easy to be forgiven, but to forgive??? Repeatedly???
First of all, I do wish you would stop using the word "presbyter", it's not how we Catholics refer to our clergy, never has been. Our Lord Himself told the lepers in the Gospel to "go, show yourselves to the priest". And by the way, the lepers were an allegory for souls in mortal sin who need to confess in order to receive forgiveness.
Now we all know that God inspires repentance in mortally sinful souls, since they are lost to all grace in their falllen state. However, He does not dispense mercy and forgiveness unless it is embraced by the sinner and followed through with confession to an ordained priest together with firm determination to sin no more. The priest then absolves with the authority of Christ who works through him in Confession as dispenser of mercy and justice (absolution and penance). I have no idea what you mean by "or she" when speaking of absolution by a priest since there never has been or ever will be priestesses in the Catholic Church. The false pagan religions have always had priestesses, but not the true Church of Jesus Christ. Nor indeed was there such a thing in the Jewish religion of the Old Testament. But the fact that you countenance such an aberration suggest to me again that you are not actually a Catholic.
One last correction. The priest is not, as you claim, challenged by God to initiate forgiveness without limit. Rather, he is empowered by God through holy orders to forgive the sins of those who repent and ask pardon. Priests can, and have, refused absolution to people who demonstrate a bad disposition of soul, meaning they refuse to abandon their sinful habits. The Church not only permits refusal to absolve in such cases but insists on it. The Sacrament is not there to be abused by the presumptuous.
"I do wish you would stop using the word 'presbyter', it's not how we Catholics refer to our clergy, never has been." Wrong on the second point. The term 'presbyter', retrieved by Vatican II, was used by the church for decades if not longer. I recommend that my fellow Catholics use this term because it does not elevate the ordained at the expense of the laity (including professed brothers and sisters). I also recommend that Catholics address their clergy as "Pastor" rather than "Father" for the same reason. The former term is gender-neutral and scripturally based. Regarding lepers, I'm aware that the Gospel employs metaphor (your comment relates to metaphor, not allegory), but, so far as I know, most scholars regard Jesus' curing lepers as actual episodes to demonstrate his power and authority from God. Is your comment wrong? Probably not if one relates actual physical healing to spiritual healing.
"[God] does not dispense mercy and forgiveness unless it is embraced by the sinner and followed through with confession to an ordained priest together with firm determination to sin no more." Can a sinner reject God's mercy and forgiveness? No, at least not freely. When the presbyter gives absolution, he or she is acting on the church's behalf, and the church is doing so in obedience to Jesus' instructions to his followers (and not just religious leaders) to forgive without limit. Just as the ordained minister presides at the eucharistic liturgy, i.e., the people's act of thanksgiving to God, so the presbyter presides at reconciliation. When I write "or she", I am referring to female presbyters=presiders, not to phantom "priestesses". Christianity does not have "priestesses". It has "priests", i.e., all the baptized, male and female, and it has "presbyters", i.e., elders/presiders. I agree with you that "there never has been or ever will be priestesses in the Catholic Church", but our discussion here deals with presbyters, not baptismal priests or non-Christian "priestesses". Jesus, of course, never claimed any kind of priesthood; he said he was a prophet. His followers apparently regarded him as a prophet, never any kind of priest (forget HEBREWS: the reference to "High Priest" is the application of typology which proves nothing in terms of the Gospel). I've been a Catholic since my baptism more than 69 years ago. I've informed and educated myself on Catholic issues for more than a decade (retirement is good :-)
Regarding your "last correction": Every presbyter *outside the confessional* is challenged by God to initiate unlimited forgiveness. This challenge applies to everyone, regardless of his or her ecclesial status. On the other hand, if a confessor concludes that a "penitent" is not truly sorry for his or her sins, then I agree the minister may withhold absolution. Keep in mind, however, that the burden is on the confessor to reach such a conclusion. The church's presumption, absent clear evidence to the contrary, is that a penitent is truly sorry and intends to amend his or her life. That said, in light of Jesus' instruction to Peter and others in scripture, we know that most people will sin again, and, therefore, there remains our challenge to forgive again and again, whether in the confessional or not. When a penitent seeks reconciliation in good faith, it means that he or she has already been forgiven and thus healed by God. The confessor's absolution on behalf of the church acknowledges this truth. For a confessor to conclude, without justification, that a penitent is not acting in good faith would be presumptuous.
"Wrong on the second point. The term 'presbyter', retrieved by Vatican II, was used by the church for decades if not longer. I recommend that my fellow Catholics use this term because it does not elevate the ordained at the expense of the laity (including professed brothers and sisters)."
Now I know for sure that you do not possess the Catholic Faith. No faithful son of the Church would utter such a Protestant heresy as a denial of the unique supernatural nature of the ordained priesthood. I'm afraid I can no longer debate with you as you seem set on using this platform to spread Protestant doctrine harmful to Catholic souls. I'm very surprised that the moderators of this forum are allowing such a perversion of Catholic belief by one who calls himself Catholic. Their duty as religious is to correct and/or censure your comments. But such is the nature of the crisis of faith in the Church today that few are now zealous for divine truth and the salvation of souls.
So you have concluded that "[I] do not possess the Catholic Faith." Laughable, if not for your limited knowledge of the Christian faith and Catholic tradition. I actually feel sorry for you. Seriously. I trust you are not a fundamentalist convert to Catholicism, and I hope you will not let FEAR get in the way of learning more about your church and faith. Regarding the correct historical term 'presbyter', Robert Egan, SJ offers the following note about terminology:
"A 'priest' is a type of religious specialist, a person associated primarily with cultic functions, having the authority or power to perform and administer religious rites, especially rites of sacrifice to a deity or deities. As such, priests are viewed as intermediaries between human beings and their god or gods. Their office may be called 'the priesthood,' a term which may also apply to such persons collectively. Such priests existed in ancient Israel and in ancient Egyptian, Greek, and Roman religions. There are analogous roles and functions in many other religious traditions. In Greek the word for 'priest' is hiereus; in Latin, sacerdos.
"In early Christianity, many types of religious specialization and leadership were recognized by the communities, including prophets, teachers, deacons, and apostles, as well as elders and overseers. In Greek the word for 'elder' is presbuteros, from which Latin gets presbyter. In Greek the word for “overseer” was episkopos, from which Latin gets episcopus and English gets 'bishop.' Eventually the episcopus, the presbyter, and the deacon emerged as the principal offices of leadership in the Christian church.
"None of these words or roles has any particular connection with cult or sacrifice, but in the second century, as the episcopus became the ordinary presider at the community’s Eucharistic liturgy, he began to be likened to a sacerdos. Later, in the third century, as the presbyter became the delegate of the episcopus to preside at some Eucharistic liturgies, he too began to be likened to a sacerdos. Eventually the terms presbyter and sacerdos came to be used interchangeably to refer to an ordained Christian minister of a rank above deacon but below bishop. Ironically, the word 'priest,' which is the only word we have to translate sacerdos or hiereus, is derived historically from presbyter" ("Why Not? Scripture, History & Women's Ordination", COMMONWEAL MAGAZINE. April 3, 2008, available free online).
"No faithful son of the Church would utter such a Protestant heresy as a denial of the unique supernatural nature of the ordained priesthood." Were you aware, Mr. Blackshaw, that Rome has never explained the meaning of the "indelible character imprinted in the soul" at ordination? As one retired theologian once noted, the soul is immaterial and, as such, cannot be imprinted upon. The key question here? What does this metaphor mean? Perhaps you can suggest an answer to the CDF???
In the meantime, I offer much of the following information from Kenan Osborne’s PRIESTHOOD: A HISTORY OF THE ORDAINED MINISTRY IN THE ROMAN CATHOLIC CHURCH:
a. Only around 200 AD do we have an ordination ritual (Apostolic Tradition of Hippolytus customarily dated about 215) that can be verified. Installation from 90 to ca. 200 AD remains a matter of hypothesis, with no historical data for verification. The episkopos in this ritual is ordained for pastoral leadership and exemplarity of Christian life. Liturgical leadership — definitely mentioned — is not the primary focus of the ordination rite. In the ordination of presbyter, providing pastoral advice to the episkopos is the central focus. No mention is made of liturgical leadership.
b. From roughly 350 to 500 AD, the Latin term ‘sacerdos’ (i.e., ‘priest’ — one who mediates between God and man and offers sacrifice to God) normally refers to the episkopos. The diversification process in which the presbyter assumes some of the liturgical functions begins in earnest between 400 and 500 AD. In the Carolingian period (751 – 987), the term ‘sacerdos’ refers as much to priest as to bishop, but most often to priest. By the 11th century, the term refers normally to priest. The presbyter, i.e., the liturgical presider in the primitive church, has become the priest.
c. In his commentary on 1 Clement, theologian Louis Bouyer engages in the act of “foreshadowing” when he compares the Christian bishop with the Jewish high priest, the Christian laity with lower-ranking priests, and the Christian deacon with the Levites in the Old Testament. Even if one accepts this approach/interpretation, it ultimately proves nothing in terms of historical development of the Christian priesthood.
As both Robert Egan (“Why Not? Scripture, History & Women’s Ordination” at https://www.commonwealmagazine.org/why-not and Kenan Osborne have noted, Jesus and his disciples knew only the Jewish priesthood, which disappeared after the Roman destruction of the Second Temple in 70 AD. Available evidence describes the Twelve as healers, preachers, teachers. Osborne states, “Every study of Church ministry must begin with a study of the ministry of Jesus himself; this is the source, the model and the dynamics of all Church ministry.” Various writers have said that the ministry of the Twelve was unique and, as such, could not have been passed down in its totality to other apostles and disciples. The passing of the Twelve marked the end of a unique Christian ministry.
According to Richard McBrien (LIVES OF THE POPES, 1997), Clement wrote his letter to the Corinthians ca. 96 AD. “In Clement’s view (one not grounded in the New Testament, however), the apostles themselves had established bishops (a term he uses interchangeably with presbyters) and deacons in all places…” According to Osborne, “The naming of Christian ministers at this time was still in flux. Clement emphasizes that the ministry is one of preaching [although] mention is indeed made of a liturgical ministry….It would, however, stretch the evidence to say apodictically that in Clement the episkopoi/presbyteroi are ‘sacerdotal’ figures….[S]ome comparison is made with…Old Testament priestly figures. It is also true that Clement uses the Greek term ‘hierus’ [priest] for the Christian minister. This seems to be the first extant occurrence of the usage.” Osborne quotes R.M. Grant: “[I]t seems hard to deny that for Clement the episcopate is analogous to the office of the high priest. But if this is so, we should expect to find presbyters the equivalent of priests, and deacons the equivalent of Levites.” Writes Osborne, “These analogies are not to be found. Moreover, presbyters and episkopoi, Grant notes, are interchangeable. The emphasis is not on the sacerdotality of the ministers, but on order.” Osborne concludes, “It is not a special ordination to ‘priesthood’ which is the root for presiding over the community; rather, it is the commission to preside over the community which allows for presiding over the eucharist.”
d. About ten years later, Ignatius of Antioch, en route to Rome to face martyrdom, sends letters to various Christian communities in western Asia Minor. He describes a clearly monarchical episcopacy under which are presbyters and deacons. According to Osborne, “Because [the episkopos] is the leader over the community, he is also the leader over the liturgical worship. In other words, his leadership is not attributed to an ‘ordination.’” Presbyters function in an advisory role to the bishop. In his THE CHURCH IN ANCIENT SOCIETY (2001), the late Henry Chadwick writes, “Ignatius uses sacrificial language for the eucharist but, for the minister, he never uses the term ‘hiereus,’ priest….The priesthood of the whole Church ‘as one person’ would be stressed by Justin in the ‘Dialogue with Trypho’ (116.3): they are the ‘high-priestly race’ offering pure sacrifices as prophesied by Malachi. ‘And God accepts sacrifices from no one other than his priests.’”
In contrast to the Ignatian letters, Osborne notes that the gospel of Matthew (ca. 95 AD), “seemingly of Antiochene origin, [has] no mention of a Church leader beyond the Twelve and the apostles.” Likewise, the seven churches mentioned in Revelation (ca. 95 AD?) do “not seem to [have] an established Church structure as we find in the Ignatian letters.” Yet these communities are, at most, perhaps 200 or so miles west of Antioch.
e. In Matthew 9:13 and again at 12:7, Jesus tells his followers, “I want mercy, not sacrifice.” Given their Jewish background that seems (to me) to have stressed ritual worship and other formalities, Jesus appears to be expressing a radical wish: Get down to basics, i.e., reach out in God’s name to others in need and give them the Good News.
f. Osborne suggests that when we discuss church ministry, it helps to be mindful of the timing of the church’s beginning, i.e., what he calls the “ecclesiological presupposition.” According to him, “A view of a Church, instituted by Jesus during his lifetime, with the eucharist in a central position of such a Church, cannot avoid making the eucharist central to an interpretation of ministry. A view of a Church, coming into being after the resurrection, with leadership, not eucharistic presidency, as the dominant ministerial activity, will shade the interpretation of ministry quite differently.”
In this regard, the words of Paul are apropos: “Now, since our message is that Christ has been raised from death, how can some of you say that the dead will not be raised to life? If that is true, it means that Christ was not raised, and if Christ has not been raised from death, then we have nothing to preach and you have nothing to believe…..[I]f Christ has not been raised, then your faith is a delusion and you are still lost in your sins. It would also mean that the believers in Christ who have died are lost. If our hope in Christ is good for this life only and no more, then we deserve more pity than anyone else in all the world” (1 Co 15:12-14, 17-19).
If Jesus had founded the church during his lifetime but had not been raised from the dead, his disciples’ faith would have been in vain. There would have been no reason for them not to disperse and resume their previous labors. Given the resurrection, however, and the consequent credibility of Jesus’ message, the disciples would need to exercise leadership to spread this news and get nascent Christian communities off and running. As Osborne has noted, liturgical leadership was predicated on this organizing and community leadership.
g. In his FROM APOSTLES TO BISHOPS: THE DEVELOPMENT OF THE EPISCOPACY IN THE EARLY CHURCH (2001), Francis Sullivan writes: “We must conclude that the New Testament provides no basis for the notion that before the apostles died, they ordained one man as bishop for each of the churches they had founded. The only person in the New Testament whose role resembles that of a bishop is James the ‘brother of the Lord,’ who was most likely designated for his position of leadership in the Jerusalem church by his relationship with Jesus and the special appearance with which he was favored by the risen Jesus. It seems extremely unlikely that he was ‘ordained’ as bishop of Jerusalem by St. Peter. Nor does the New Testament evidence support the idea that Peter, Paul or any other apostle became bishop of any one local church or ordained one man as bishop of any local church. One looks in vain to the New Testament for a basis for the idea of ‘an unbroken line of episcopal ordination from Christ through the apostles down through the centuries to the bishops of today.”
h. Some folks contend that while there is no Christian minister identified as a priest in the New Testament, there is still an ordination ritual as the Pastoral Epistles make clear (laying-on of hands).
Osborne devotes some attention to this issue. Inter alia, he offers the following for consideration:
+ “In all of the passages on New Testament ministries, we have no clear indication of any ordination rite. There are, of course, instances of a laying on of hands in the early Church, particularly in Acts and in 1 Tim 4, 14; 2 Tim 1, 6 (cf. also 2 Cor 8, 19 which speaks of an election). What this laying on of hands in each case of these New Testament passages might clearly indicate is arguable. Ordination, as we understand this term, does not seem to be the intent of these situations, and to read an ‘ordination’ ritual, such as one finds from the time of Hippolytus onward, would be clearly an ‘eisegesis.’”
+ “Very little Old Testament data for a laying on of hands as an installation ritual is available, and this dearth of evidence does not bolster the view that a true ‘ordination’ ritual can be found in the New Testament passages. When one realizes that between the few New Testament indications mentioned above and the ritual of Hippolytus at the beginning of the third century there is absolutely no documentary evidence for ordination, then the conjectural status of any statement on ordination prior to Hippolytus becomes even more apparent, cautioning us to avoid any apodictic approach.”
+ “In themselves, phrases which include the words ‘laying on of hands’ do not essentially include an appointment to office or ministry. A laying on of hands, in both Old and New Testaments, can be found for blessings, healings, receiving the Spirit, reconciling. In other words, ‘laying on of hands’ in itself is not a technical term for an ‘ordination.’”
i. In THE APOSTOLIC TRADITION: A COMMENTARY (2002), Paul Bradshaw, Maxwell Johnson, and Edward Phillips state, “The oldest explicit reference to presbyters sharing in the priesthood of the bishop occurs in Tertullian [ca. 155 – 225], who says that they belong to the ‘ordo sacerdotalis’ (De ex cast. 7). Cyprian [b. 200, bishop of Carthage 248 – 258 AD] similarly understood them to participate in the episcopal ‘sacerdotium’ (see, e.g., Ep. 1.1.1; 61.3.1).”
As mentioned earlier, the oldest known ordination ritual is “The Apostolic Tradition,” customarily dated ca. 215 AD. Only the ordination for episkopos includes priestly/sacerdotal language. (The ordination ritual for deacon includes some rather odd phraseology, to wit, “…because he is not ordained to the priesthood but to the service of the bishop…” Osborne surmises that this language was “placed in the text to preclude diaconal encroachment into presbyteral tasks, as also to clarify the distinctive rites.”) The ordination for presbyter, per Osborne, “has no mention of offering a sacrifice.”
In their commentary, Bradshaw et al write, “[Marcel] Metzger has argued that [The Apostolic Tradition’s] lack of unity or logical progression, its frequent incoherences, doublets, and contradictions, all point away from the existence of a single editorial hand. Instead, it has all the characteristics of a composite work, a collection of community rules from quite disparate traditions…” Bradshaw et al also suggest that the contents of the Apostolic Tradition date from perhaps as early as 150 to as late as 350 AD.
They continue, “We believe that Metzger’s general approach is correct, and would take it even further. Because of the features to which he has drawn attention and others that we have observed, we judge the work to be an aggregation of material from different sources, quite possibly arising from different geographical regions and probably from different historical periods, from perhaps as early as the mid-second century to as late as the mid-fourth, since none of the textual witnesses to it can be dated with any certainty before the last quarter of that century. We thus think it unlikely that it represents the practice of any single Christian community, and that it is best understood by attempting to discern the various individual elements and layers that constitute it.”
j. Several New Testament passages reveal the earliest understanding of Christian priesthood and sacrifice:
+ Ro 12:1
Offer yourselves as a living sacrifice to God dedicated to his service and pleasing to him. This is the true worship that you should offer.
+ 1 Pt 2:9
But you are the chosen race, the King’s priests, the holy nation, God’s own people, chosen to proclaim the wonderful acts of God.
+ 1 Pt 2:5
Come as living stones, and let yourselves be used in building the spiritual temple, where you will serve as holy priests to offer spiritual and acceptable sacrifices to God through Jesus Christ.
+ He 13: 15-16
Let us, then, always offer praise to God as our sacrifice through Jesus, which is the offering presented by lips that confess him as Lord. Do not forget to do good and to help one another, because these are the sacrifices that please God.
+ Phil 2: 17-18
Perhaps my life’s blood is to be poured out like an offering on the sacrifice that your faith offers to God; if that is so, I am glad and share my joy with you all. In the same way, you too must be glad and share your joy with me.
+ Rev 1: 5-6
He loves us, and by his sacrificial death he has freed us from our sins and made us a kingdom of priests to serve his God and Father.
+ He 7: 26-27
Jesus, then, is the High Priest that meets our needs….He is not like other high priests; he does not need to offer sacrifices every day for his own sins first and then for the sins of the people. He offered one sacrifice, once and for all, when he offered himself.”
k. In his FROM SYNAGOGUE TO CHURCH: PUBLIC SERVICES AND OFFICES IN THE EARLIEST CHRISTIAN COMMUNITIES (1992), James Burtchaell writes that “well before” the destruction of the Second Temple in 70 AD, “[t]he local synagogues had already chosen to deny priests any special privileges or position….The priesthood had anciently been associated, not simply with sacrificial worship, but with the interpretation of the Torah and with judicial discipline….[I]n the villages and towns and cities, where priests in plenty dwelt and were available, a totally lay synagogue organization had long since decided it needed no legitimacy which the priests could give….[As a result], priests were not officiants at any synagogue activity. There were still some rituals explicitly assigned to them by the Law, and these they presumably retained: receiving the five-shekel redemption money for each first-born son, reciting certain blessings at worship services, receiving tithes on produce, and performing certain purification rituals. The ‘kohanim = hiereis’ = priests would form a cadre of identifiable members in any synagogue, to whom biblical imperatives reserved certain ritual actions, but to whom no further deference on the part of the community is in evidence. They had minor hereditary prerogatives but cannot be considered officers of the community. Jerusalem, as it turned out…, was not merely the only place where priests might preside at sacrifices; it was the only place where they presided at anything.”
Burtchaell adds that “[t]he New Testament analogizes many Jewish institutions which in their literal reality were being left behind: sacrifice, kingship, nationhood, race, temple. The title of ‘hiereus = levitical priest is not applied to officers of the church, but it is applied to Christ and to the church itself. It is the language of oblation which, when applied to the eucharist especially, will leave open the possibility of a later analogical understanding of ministry as a priestly role.
“The Christians are, as a whole, a priestly people. Their faith is a sacrifice; so is the self-discipline of their bodies, and so too are their financial contributions to the widows and orphans or to preachers of the gospel. Paul looks on his missionary work as an act of sacrifice. Ignatius understands his impending death as a desired sacrifice…
“Nowhere, however, despite the range of freedom early Christians felt to draw on the traditions of the temple, priesthood and sacrifice by way of illustration, precedent and analogy, is there a willingness to accord Jewish priests any community prerogative, or to suggest any real continuity with their present officers and rites. The word ‘hieron’ = temple never once appears, for instance, in this period after the New Testament. It is not that there are no longer any priests; there are no longer any who are not priests. Priesthood is no longer the identity of a clan or a tribe, but the name of an entire people” (Burtchaell, pp. 322-323).
l. In his THE CHRISTIAN TRADITION: A HISTORY OF THE DEVELOPMENT OF DOCTRINE, Vol. 1: THE EMERGENCE OF THE CATHOLIC TRADITION (100 - 600), historical theologian Jaroslave Pelikan writes: "Justin [d. ca. 165 AD] argued that one of the differences between the old covenant and the new was that the priesthood had been superseded and 'we [the church as a whole] are the true high-priestly race of God.' In the New Testament itself the concept of 'priest' referred either to the Levites of the Old Testament, now made obsolete, or to Christ or to the entire church --- not to the ordained ministry of the church. But Clement [96 AD], who was also the first to use the term 'layman'...already spoke of 'priests' and of 'the high priest' and significantly related these terms to the Levitical priesthood; a similar parallel occurred in the DIDACHE [ca. 100 AD?] and in Hippolytus [d. 236 AD]. For Tertullian [d. ca. 225 AD], the bishop was already the 'high priest', and for his disciple, Cyprian, it was completely natural to speak of a Christian 'priesthood'. And so by the time of Chrysostom's treatise ON THE PRIESTHOOD it seems to have become accepted practice to refer to Aaron and Eli as examples and warnings for the priesthood of the Christian church. Chrysostom [d. 406 AD] also spoke of 'the Lord being sacrificed and laid upon the altar and the priest standing and praying over the victim', summarizing the sacrificial language about the Eucharist which had also become accepted practice. Therefore the apostles, too, were represented as priests [p. 25].
"There is considerable support in the teaching of the second- and third-century fathers: the distinction between the hierarchical priesthood and the priesthood of all believers. Already in Clement of Rome and in the DIDACHE the attributes of the Levitical priesthood of the Old Testament were being applied to the ministers of the church. Yet the conception of the priesthood of believers remained alongside this development, as is evident from quite divergent lines of tradition. Irenaeus [d. ca. 200 AD] was the most articulate defender of the thesis that the continuity of the church was guaranteed by the apostolic office of the men who held the apostolic sees; yet it was also Irenaeus who, perhaps more explicitly than any of his contemporaries, affirmed that 'all the righteous have a priestly order' and that therefore 'all the disciples of the Lord are Levites and priests' [p. 160; brackets added except for "[the church as a whole]", which is original to the text]."
m. In his EUCHARISTIC ORIGINS (Oxford University Press, 2004), Paul Bradshaw offers some interesting background on the earliest understanding of Christian sacrifice:
"The early Christians were often accused of athiesm by their pagan contemporaries because they appeared to lack the customary apparatus of a religion --- temples, sacrifices and priests. As part of their response to the charge, Christian apologists insisted that they did still have sacrifices --- but of a quite different kind...
"What then was the sacrifice that Christians understood themselves to be offering? The New Testament concept that the primary oblation desired by God was a LIFE OF HOLINESS is continued by second-century writers, but alongside that can be seen the idea that acts of worship too may be described in this way. Thus Justin Martyr held that 'prayers and thanksgivings that are made by the worthy are the only perfect and pleasing sacrifices to God'. [Other apologists also] were upholding the idea...that words of worship, the 'fruit of of the lips' (Hos. 6.2), could constitute the sacrifice of praise acceptable to God ["life of holiness" in caps for emphasis; brackets added].
"...[T]he Eucharist was described as being a sacrifice as early as Didache 14. Nevertheless, a link was still maintained there to the New Testament understanding that it was the OFFERING OF THE BELIEVER'S LIFE that constituted the primary Christian sacrifice through the application of Malachi 1.11, where the adjective 'pure' in that quotation was used to stress the moral integrity required of those who offered the sacrificial worship. The same quotation continued to be employed by later Christian writers, but with a polemical purpose, as part of their argument against Jews that it was Christian worship that was superior, because Scripture itself testified that it was the worship in every place by the Gentiles that was regarded as pure by God and not the worship offered in one place, the Temple, by Jews..." (caps for emphasis).
n. In light of the close relationship between sacred orders and worship in the Catholic Church, it helps to acknowledge the fundamental changes in, and popular understanding of, the liturgy that occurred in the first millenium. Liturgical change would be accompanied by changes in popular understanding of the role and identity of presider/priest. Nathan Mitchell, in his CULT AND CONTROVERSY: THE WORSHIP OF THE EUCHARIST OUTSIDE MASS (1982, 1990), summarizes this development: “Worship changes because people do, [but] the fundamental shape of the eucharist has survived: we still take, bless, break, and give bread and cup.” Gradually, these “ritual verbs” would be “inserted into a new liturgical genre (drama instead of meal, allegory instead of symbol) [and] absorb different meanings and inspire different interpretations [that would] come into conflict with one another. This happened, surely, when the ancient symbols of dining together, obviously intended as invitations, to ‘eat’ and ‘drink’ at the eucharist, gave way to ‘ocular communion’ — the desire to ‘see’ the host. The bodily symbolism of ingestion and nourishment was all but overpowered by the visual symbolism of ‘gazing at the Beloved.’”
o. In his COMMONWEAL article, Robert Egan suggests that “[i]f evidence of ‘Jesus’ way of acting’ were to be consistently normative, it’s hard to see how we could justify having a priesthood at all.”
p. Osborne has a brief section in his book on “Leo XIII and the Question of Anglican Orders” (beginning at p. 294). One cannot do justice to his observations in this thread. Suffice it to say that perhaps the old expression “People in glass houses should not throw stones” might be appropriate in our considering the Catholic Church’s official condemnation of Anglican orders.
q. Felix Just, SJ, PhD provides a nice outline of ancient church ministry on his website. In particular, you may wish to visit the following:
+ “Ministry and Leadership in Early Christianity”
+ “Disciples and Apostles in the New Testament”
You provide long-winded argument filled with quotes from Modernists who interpret Scripture and Patristics in opposition to the Traditional Magisterial of the Church.
Nowhere in any Papal or Conciliar statement will you find "presbyter" as a description of the priest or priesthood. This means you are not arguing from the point of view of what the Church teaches, but rather against what the Church teaches in respect to the sacred priesthood. To emphasise the point, you quote a Jesuit who advocates the lunacy of ordaining women to the priesthood, a practice historically associated with paganism.
Here's just one of Robert Egan S.J.'s interpretations that we find condemned by St. Pius X in his Syllabus of Modernist errors.
Egan writes: ""None of these words or roles has any particular connection with cult or sacrifice, but in the second century, as the episcopus became the ordinary presider at the community’s Eucharistic liturgy, he began to be likened to a sacerdos. Later, in the third century, as the presbyter became the delegate of the episcopus to preside at some Eucharistic liturgies, he too began to be likened to a sacerdos. Eventually the terms presbyter and sacerdos came to be used interchangeably to refer to an ordained Christian minister of a rank above deacon but below bishop. Ironically, the word 'priest,' which is the only word we have to translate sacerdos or hiereus, is derived historically from presbyter".
Now, here are two condemned propostions from the Syllabus that match Egan's assertion:
#49 "When the Christian supper gradually assumed the nature of a liturgical action, those who customarily presided over over the supper acquired the sacerdotal character."
#50 "The elders who fulfilled the office of watching over the gatherings of the faithful were instituted by the Apostles as priests or bishops to provide for the necessary ordering of the increasing communities and not properly for the perpetuation of the Apostolic mission and power."
From these Traditional authoritative Magisterial condemnations it is clear to see why every quote you provide in support of your radical views is from a Modernist dissenter. I will let those observing this exchange decide, then, which of the two of us is Catholic and which is not.
I get the impression you belong to SSPX or a similar schismatic Catholic group or perhaps even to a sedevacantist Catholic group.
The sedevacantist position is as mad as your rationalist one, Joseph, and ends in the same Protestant rejection of Papal authority.