Skip to comments.Infallibility has its limits
Posted on 04/28/2005 2:00:04 PM PDT by franky
Infallibility has its limits
By MARIO CUOMO
Many of us who cling desperately to our Catholic Church for instruction, inspiration and support prayed that a new Pope would help heal the church's serious wounds and reconnect it more surely to modern realities.
Instead, the cardinals have chosen a good and holy man who, we are told, rather than reform the status quo will reaffirm it more insistently than before. The current challenge of the church is twofold. First, it must continue proclaiming the unalterable and unchallengeable truths of Christ, instructing us to love one another as we love ourselves and to collaborate in improving the world that God created but did not complete. That includes the obligation to be generous to those in need, and to avoid unjust and unnecessary wars that kill innocent people.
To deny these eternal and unchangeable truths of Christ is to renounce the Catholic Church. The second challenge is to reassess the alterable rules made for us by the male descendants of Peter who were and are humanly frail, as he was, and to readjust those rules to better serve the purpose of helping modern Catholics to live fuller and holier lives in this ever-changing world.
This would include, among other things, reconsidering celibacy, women's role in the church and other contentious man-made church policies. The church can do this without abandoning its fundamental commitment to the Gospel of Jesus, and has in fact done it in the past in changing its position on slavery, usury, salvation outside the church and divorce. The church is extremely hesitant about using or even defining the idea that it is "infallible" in its teaching. None of the currently contentious issues has been so designated. In fact, the church asserts its infallibility only under strictly defined limits, and it has happened very few times in church history. The only formal exercise of papal infallibility in modern times was by Pope Pius XII and dealt with Mary, the mother of Christ.
Despite this history, our new Pope's record and the opinion among Vatican watchers offer little hope for meaningful changes or even for a clear admission that its man-made rules are indeed alterable by the church that made and enforces them. But then, ours is a church that continues to entertain the possibility of miracles, big and small and is capable of startling and invigorating changes of course like the ascendance of John XXIII, who gave us the Second Vatican Council that brought Catholicism a bright new enlightenment in the 1960s. Hope springs eternal.
Cuomo, former governor of New York,practices law with Willkie Farr & Gallagher LLP.
April 27, 2005
New York Daily News
Where he learned this stuff is beyond me. It is these views that has the Church realing. "...bright new enlightenment in the 1960s." To him, maybe?
Oh brother. Big Fat phony!
Huh?!...Is Mario articulating his own theology?
And how about avoiding abortions that kill innocent and "unnecessary" people?
I don't trust anything that man says. I haven't for a long long time.
Mario Cuomo is as Catholic as an eggplant is!
Yes and his reference to the Blessed Mother comes off very flat. "Mary, the mother of Christ" as if she was someone selected from a contest.
I noticed he avoided abortion and gays.
And another thing... sorry this struck a nerve. American Catholics think it's all about THEM. But the Church has many many more adherents, in Latin America, and Asia, and Africa. And the Church must remain faihtful to those followers as well as to the teachings of the past. Mario Cuomo and his ilk must realize the Catholic Church is bigger than their concerns for gays and abortion and women priests.
Looks like you answered your own question.
Mario "the Mouth", you have identified exactly why you are NOT a Catholic. The Church IS instructing you and you have rejected it. You should be ashamed. Time for you and your kind to either submit to the authority of the Church or leave and join the rest of the Protestants. You have a gazillion different denominations to pick and choose from if you decide to do that. Don't let the door hit ya in the a$$ on the way out!
If Cafeteria Catholics could choose their own Pope, Mario I would be a contender.
Sorry, abortion-boy, but the Church has never altered its teaching on slavery, usury, salvation outside the Church or divorce.
Keep dreaming, Mario.
Evidently these are somebody's (or some group's) talking points because I have heard the same stuff--in the same order--from the "progressive" crowd at various Catholic gatherings. Is this McBrien's work?
They are indeed talking points, and they all come from a single book: Rome Has Spoken - an anti-Catholic book by Maureen Fiedler and Linda Rabben.
Fiedler is a lesbian nun who is a longtime activist for the Women's Ordination Conference.
Linda Rabben is a non-Catholic lesbian Marxist sociologist who writes porn on the side.
They are both involved with an ongoing "Bible project" to provide a gay-friendly dynamic "translation" of the Bible.
The book is crammed with fabrications and embarrassing errors.
I'm sure Governor Cuomo, who owes his governorship to his own campaign workers' electioneering on Edward Koch's supposed homosexuality, has a signed copy of this farcical book in his personal library.
I'm pretty sure Jesus said, 'Go ye and conform yourselves to an ever-changing world.' It's in there somewhere, isn't it? Live according to the wisdom of the world. Yeah, I'm pretty sure I remember that one. The Gospel according to Mario.
Mario Cuomo and his ilk must realize the Catholic Church is bigger than their concerns for gays and abortion and women priests.
Yes. It's even bigger than they themselves!
Mario spent that whole two days of the conclave
waiting by the phone and is still miffed.
Yes. The theology of me. (btw, love your screen name :)
I love the way some people just make up their theology as they go. They deny the traditional teachings of the church, and then have the audacity to stand in judgment of what the church does.
Mario Cuomo just has no idea what he is talking about when it comes to infallibiilty. He is just repeating a total myth about only two cases of formal acts of infallibilty int the last centery.
Jimmy Akin's of Catholic Answers lays to rest this idea
the position on salvation outside the Church and divorce has not changed.
Anyone that thinks that "women's role in the church" is a man-made policy that is changable doesn't understand the role of the priest in the Church, period.
It is just so pathetically sad that even some that attend Mass weekly don't understand what they are witnessing.
These people haven't a clue that the Catholic Mass is of a fundamentally different character than any other religious ritual (with the possible exception of the Orthodox liturgy)
Its bizarre, it would be akin to holding season tickets for a football team and not knowing what a touchdown was, it boggles the mind, but of course orders of magnitude more important.
Well, the pope's teaching against the death peanalty is not infallible, but that did not keep Cuomo from treating it as such, as something to be imposed politically. There was and is no consensus against the death-penalty, Indeed, all the polls should there is more opposition to abortion than there is to the death penalty. So why did Cuomo feel called to take action against the dealth peanalty but not against abortion? Was it not simply because the rich and powerful, the people he had to meet face to face, were in favor of abortion on demand? Is it not true that he lies about his personal oppistion top abortion?
Cuomo either doesn't know or doesn't care that Protestants reject the whole idea of the priesthood as we and the Orthodox understand it. So it doesn't matter to them who administers the Sacrament. They reject the mass as we understand it and, really, so does Cuomo. Theologically liberal "Catholics" like Cuomo are really liberal Protestants.
Cuomo's own infallibility, however, is apparently limitless.
While this is true, the lack of condemnations from Rome and the ecumenical discussions has led people to think that things have "changed."
The short answer is yes, not ex cathedra but by unbroken practice that began in Dominical institution; if the Church continued, on Christ's own authority, the practice in unbroken tradition and _if_ the Church enjoys indefectibility via Holy Spirit guidance, as promised in Mt 16, then to change now because of 1900 years of injustice against women would mean the Church was not preserved from defectibility in this practice but fell under cultural captivity to unjust partriarchy.
Or, if the reason for change is not that past practice was unjust but that given cultural changes in recent decades, it would become unjust today, that too makes the Church captive to culture and violates the Mt. 16 promise. (Arguing that past practice was not unjust but in today's context is unjust also raises serious logical questions about the justice of present cultural trends.)
If the reason Jesus chose only 12 men as his apostles was that he was afraid to buck unjust patriarchal culture of his day, then he wasn't God Incarnate and we can all forget not just about Catholicism but Christianity.
What makes this doctrinal, not disciplinary, is that ordination is a sacrament, based on direct Dominical institution in Jn 20, the Last Supper etc.: he gives to his apostles and only to them the binding/loosing power and the sacramental power for the Eucharist. This is doctrine and was severely tested by Protestant doctrinal challenges in the 1500s, reaffirmed as Catholic doctrine at Trent. If the institution of the (apostle's) bishop's office were a later, Church-created phenomenon (as Protestants affirmed it was), then the Church could readily go from no women in the office to including women in the office. But if the office was a sacrament established by Christ himself, who knew what he was doing, was not subservient to surrounding culture, then the Church can't change it willy nilly.
Besides, if the Church got this point so horribly wrong all these centuries, then it has not been indefectibly guided by the Holy Spirit all these centuries. But, gasp, there are other things for which the Church is the sole source over all these centuries: namely, the claim that Jesus of Nazareth was God incarnate. If the Church messed up so badly on the question of bishops and no women bishops/priests, if she is merely floating along on culture, changing for the bad when culture is bad (patriarchal), changing for the good when culture is good (today's enlightened Matriarchal culture), then the claim that Jesus of Nazareth was God incarnate is merely a cultural claim advanced by a bunch of powerhungry elites who grabbed the control of the Church away from the real leaders, the Gnostics.
And it won't do to say that belief that Jesus was God incarnate rests solidly on Scripture whereas belief that he founded the Church's sacramental and governing structure on 12 men and 12 men alone is a later human-church invention, because the Scriptures that assert he was God incarnate (claiming to forgive sins, rising from the dead) were established, in great controversy with the Gnostics and others, by those mean old Apostles and their bishop successors. If we can't trust the apostolic-bishop-led Church to have gotten it right about bishops/women, then we can't be sure Jesus ever claimed to forgive sins or that people saw him after he rose from the dead. And those same mean old powerhungry bishops also wrote the Nicene creed and . . . . Our source for all of these beliefs are contained within Church sources and Church sources alone. The question was formally put in a Dubium addressed to the CDF in 1995 and answered "Yes, OS is infallible" in 1996.
Here are the URLS
http://www.ewtn.com/library/CURIA/CDFINSIG.HTM -- text of Inter Insigniores(1976)
http://www.ewtn.com/library/CURIA/CDFREPLY.HTM -- Reflections on response to Dubium about whether Ordinatio Sacerdotalis was infallible
http://www.ewtn.com/library/CURIA/CDFRESPO.HTM -- Ratzinger CDF response to the Dubium, and cover letter
http://www.ewtn.com/library/CURIA/VPOORDIN.HTM -- presentation summary of Ordinatio Sacerdotalis
http://www.ewtn.com/library/PAPALDOC/JP2ORDIN.HTM -- text of Ordinatio Saacerdotalis
http://www.ewtn.com/library/PRIESTS/RATORDSA.TXT -- summary of Ratzinger 1996 _Civilta Cattolica_ article on infallibility of Ordinatio Sacerdotalis
http://www.ewtn.com/library/ISSUES/ORDIN.TXT -- commentary by Jeff Mirus on infallibility issue
http://www.ewtn.com/library/ISSUES/PILSORD.TXT -- commentary by Peter Pilsner on infallibility issue
http://www.ewtn.com/library/ISSUES/WEAK.TXT -- text of Rembert Weakland weasel statement on Ordinatio sacerdotalis
The easy answer would be "no, because it isn't ex cathedra."
The correct one would be it is de facto.
The correct one would be it is de facto.
Infallibility does not depend on an ex cathedra pronouncement. This is an urban legend spread by the dissenters to cover their dissent on everything except the most formal pronouncements. What makes a statement irreformable or infallible is the definiteness and clarity and invocation of authority with which it is proclaimed. The pope has to make clear that he intends to settle controversy once and for all, has to make a clear, definite statement of the doctrine or dogma he wishes to define infallibly etc. You'll see that explained in the commentaries on Ordinatio Sacerdotalis whose URLs I posted in # 30.
Moreover, as the case of Ordinatio Sacerdotalis shows, even absent a formal pronouncement of the above sort, unbroken tradition combined with clear dominical institution already de facto makes something irreformable. So JPII in OS was simply affirming that the non-ordination of women was already an irreformable, infallibly taught doctrine and he could not change it (irreformable, get it?) even if he wanted to. Even doctrines taught in this way, in an overwhelming, ancient, unbroken tradition by the "ordinary magisterium" can be irreformable and infallible. Only when someone challenges them (no one challenged the non-ordination of women until 1976, when the Anglicans, who supposedly have valid sacraments--in their eyes--started ordaining what they claimed were true priestesses) does a formal statement with requisite definiteness, clarity, invocation of authority get made ("extraordinary magisterium"). That doesn't mean the doctrine wasn't infallibly/irreformably taught before the the extraordinary statement is made. And JPII insisted that OS was not an exercise of the extraordinary magisterium, rather, a confirmation of an existing ordinary magisterium infallible and irreformable teaching.
Personally, I think he chose not to use the extraordinary, ex cathedra statement in this instance because there was no need for it and using it is one of the things that Eastern Orthodox object to on the part of post-Vatican I popes. By confirming an existing infallible teaching, he confirmed what the Orthodox already believe, and did so on the same basis as they hold it to be irreformable. Had he employed ex cathedra extraordinary magisterium language it still would not have silenced the die-hard dissenters in the West and it would have unnecessarily alienated the Orthodox. To me it looked like he was trying hard to exercise his jurisdiction in a way acceptable to the Orthodox, which is what he called for in Ut unum sint in 1995.
That must seem wildly out of place on this thread but whenever I see a piece by/about Mario Cuomo or Fr. Charles Curran, I am reminded why I canceled my National Review subscription. I cancelled it because Buckley promoted these heretics and provided them space in Nat Rev to promote their "nuanced" (girlie-man-speak for heresy) ideas on abortion, homosexuality, masturbation blah, blah, damnable blah.
And I will never forget the "Mater, Si. Magistra, No" abomination.
Heretics like these never tire of demanding the Christian Church imitate the hedonism, worldliness and materialism of secularism.
All their "advice" to Holy Mother Church can be distilled to Choose death.. The "culture" from which they draw their ideas to reform the Christian Church IS dead. And I say let's leave the dead to be buried with the dead.
Although the teaching that priestly ordination is to be reserved to men alone has been preserved by the constant and universal Tradition of the Church and firmly taught by the Magisterium in its more recent documents, at the present time in some places it is nonetheless considered still open to debate, or the Church's judgment that women are not to be admitted to ordination is considered to have a merely disciplinary force.
Wherefore, in order that all doubt may be removed regarding a matter of great importance, a matter which pertains to the Church's divine constitution itself, in virtue of my ministry of confirming the brethren (cf. Lk 22:32) I declare that the Church has no authority whatsoever to confer priestly ordination on women and that this judgment is to be definitively held by all the Church's faithful.
As for why it's ex cathedra, I point you to Fr. Harrison's excellent article on Humanae Vitae and infallibility, particularly this quote from the Acts of Vatican I:
Now I [Bp. Vincent Gasser, Relator for the Deputation de fide] shall explain in a very few words how this word 'defines' is to be understood according to the Deputation de fide. Indeed, the Deputation de fide is not of the mind that this word should be understood in a juridical sense (Lat. in sensu forensi) so that it only signifies putting an end to controversy which has arisen in respect to heresy and doctrine which is properly speaking de fide. Rather, the word 'defines' signifies that the Pope directly and conclusively pronounces his sentence about a doctrine which concerns matters of faith or morals and does so in such a way that each one of the faithful can be certain of the mind of the Apostolic See, of the mind of the Roman Pontiff; in such a way, indeed, that he or she knows for certain that such and such a doctrine is held to be heretical, proximate to heresy, certain or erroneous, etc., by the Roman Pontiff. Such, therefore, is the meaning of the word defines.
Clearly then, OS fulfills the requirements.
Surely you aren't attributing "Mater, Si. Magistra, No" to Buckley? Here's what he actually said about the encyclical (he didn't say that):
William F. Buckley, Jr. National Review (26 August 1961) 114. "Actually, National Review has made no substantive criticism of Mater et Magistra. Simplistic interpretations in secular terms are notoriously unwise. It merely pointed out that 'coming at this particular time in history,' parts of it may be considered as trivial."
William F. Buckley, Jr. National Review (23 September 1961) 188. "The editorial in question spoke not one word of criticism of the intrinsic merit of Mater et Magistra. Our disappointment was confined to the matter of emphasis, and timing, and by implication, to the document's exploitability by the enemies of Christendom, a premonition rapidly confirmed by the Encyclical's obscene cooption by such declared enemies of the spiritual order as the New Statesman and the Manchester Guardian, which hailed the conversion of the Pope to Socialism!"
He's a bitter fool who should be allowed to rant and rave to his heart's content, and then firmly corrected with the truth.
He's an embarrassment to all true, Catholic Italians.
I hope his next espresso in unpalatable despite copious sugar, and may his cannolli shells be very dark and taste greasy.
I will have to go google for the Mater, si, Magister, no nonsense.
Just one more illustration if you're interested: Another case in point is when Peggy Noonan, in her WSJ column during the height of the scandals, predicted that JPII would clean house and get rid of all the bishops. Anyone who knew anything about the Church knew that wasn't going to happen. Good people can disagree about the remedy for the scandal, but her comments revealed a libertarian-Conservative, anti-institutional biase. It shows up in the deep, ecclesial differences between Conservatives (Noonan, Dreher, Buckley, Hannity, etc.) and Orthodox Catholics who happen to be conservative (Neuhaus, Weigel, McCloskey). It's not a coincidence that Garry Wills was the one who coined the phrase "Mater, Si, Magister, No, for William Buckley, back when Buckley came out against Pope John XXIII's social justice-oriented encyclical Pacem et Terris. Wills, in his recent book, still talks about this fondly. Liberals like Wills and Andrew Sullivan have more in common with Conservatives such as Dreher and Buckley than with more ecclesial minded orthodox Catholics.
------------ If you're interested, this is part of the battle within the Church over the genuine reading of Vatican II. Even ecclesial-minded Catholics like Neuhaus, Weigel and Novak are criticized from more communitarian Catholics like "Communio" theologian David Schindler, who reflects the sort of theology embodied by Catholic lay movements such as Opus Dei and the Legion of Christ (on the right) and Communion & Liberation, Focolare, St. Egidio, etc (sort of the left). He has laid the Catholic critique of "conservative" individualism out here http://ressourcement.aquaetignis.org/articles/schindler.html ..where he quotes Alisdair McIntyre about how:
"...all debates in America are finally among radical liberals, liberal liberals and conservative liberals. That's how I would sum up. If we don't come to terms with liberalism --
Question: But liberalism in what sense? Quite a few people who would describe themselves as conservative or neoconservative are, in fact, liberal...
Schindler: That's the point: They're the conservative wing of liberalism. And in a sense, they wouldn't even deny that, insofar as their project is to show that a benign reading of American liberal tradition is harmonious with Catholicism. That's what I'm challenging. Their approach doesn't go to the roots of our [cultural and spiritual] problem, as identified in this pontificate and in the work of theologians like De Lubac and Balthasar.
John Allen also laid out this battle in the context of Karl Rahner vs. Hans Urs Van Balthasar here, as part of his own interview with Schindler. http://www.nationalcatholicreporter.org/word/word112803.htm
Posted by: Angelo Matera (posted by The Revealer) at 1:49 PM, April 4, 2004
Of course, after Sobran published a response that made Buckley appear an idiot, they parted ways.
Mr. Buckley has memory problems.
Uncommented upon by you was the public forum Buckley granted for heresy to be deseminated. Any thoughts on that practice?
I don't agree with spreading heresy, but you are simply wrong about him saying "mater si, magistra no". See the link I gave for the story on that: It's a quote from Wills, not Buckley, and it isn't referring to Buckley but to Frank Meyer. The two quotes I gave you from Buckley on the encyclical are written 3-4 months after it was published - that's awfully fast for a memory problem.
I'll bet I have a copy of that kicking around. I'll check.
On July 29, 1961, a short notice in an NR weekly events column observed: "whatever the final effect (of the encyclical), it must strike many as a venture in triviality coming at this time in history" when communism was rising with its dehumanizing usurpation of the economy, and free market economies in the US, Japan, and Europe were booming. Two weeks later, a single line in NR's gossip column quipped: "Going the rounds in Catholic conservative circles: Mater si , Magistra, no." (Contrary to Fr. Collins' assertion, Buckley wrote no essay with this title, seminal or otherwise). America subsequently condemned NR for these remarks, on grounds that it was presumptuous and disrespectful to even appear to criticize an encyclical. However, as Buckley noted in the August 26 NR, "National Review has made no substantive criticism of Mater et Magistra'. It merely pointed out that "coming at this particular time in history, parts of it may be considered as trivial." He also noted correctly that the encyclical, like other social encyclicals, lays out broad principles and does not prescribe specific votes on US federal entitlement or welfare programs. "There is room for disagreement as to whether a particular social measure is dehumanizing in its tendency; Catholics can disagree on this matter."
On September 23, Buckley published in NR a letter he had written to America editor Fr. Thurston Davis, SJ, which Davis had refused to publish. The Mater si quote, Buckley explained, spoken "by a Catholic scholar in Virginia, was flippancy pure and simple. I take no objection to your denouncing the flippancy as having been in imperfect taste: I am quite prepared to subject myself to the criticism of my elders on such matters."
Heck, Buckley was willing to throw anyone under the bus (including his Dad) if it meant currying favor with a certain clique of N. Y. intellectuals.
Thanks...it just seemed to me that more than just the usual dissenters were kicking around girl priests. One of them: The high profile Bill Bennett, Washington power-lawyer, ...looks like his conversion was a half-baked one in the Deal Hudson mode.
At least he makes no claim of his theology being 'systematic'.
**the cardinals have chosen a good and holy man who, we are told, rather than reform the status quo will reaffirm it more insistently than before**
Thanks be to God!
Coumo only needs to take the word "instead" out of his sentence. (And go to the Sacrament of Reconciliation!)