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Radio Replies First Volume - Infallibility
| Fathers Rumble & Carty
Posted on 06/20/2009 4:20:41 AM PDT by GonzoII
403. I see the Catholic viewpoint in this matter, but a far greater difficulty arises for me concerning your Church in so far as she claims within her spiritual sphere to be infallible.
She makes that claim under certain conditions.
404. It is a most remarkable claim.
It is. But then, the Catholic Church is a very remarkable Church. She was not founded by a Martin Luther, or a Henry VIII, or a John Knox, but by Jesus Christ, who guaranteed her as His official representative in this world. Yet although the Catholic Church is a remarkable Church, it is not really remarkable that Christ should have kept His promises to her.
405. Your Church is composed of human beings like any other.
Not like any other. The Catholic Church is composed of human beings knit together by the authority of Christ, and rejoicing in His perpetual protection and assistance.
406. I find the Catholic assumption of infallibility simply appalling!
I should be appalled if a Church claiming to be established by Christ and to speak with His authority did not claim to be infallible. A fine sort of a guide to eternal destiny God would have given us, if that guide calmly admitted that she was not sure of the road herself.
407. Do you deny the claim to be arrogant, to say the least?
I do. It would be an arrogant claim if she pretended to confer the prerogative upon herself. But Christ endowed her with this gift, and she humbly admits the fact that it is not of her own ability. A duly accredited judge is not arrogant. But one who orders you to jail without a vestige of authority for doing so is certainly arrogant.
408. With their infallible Church, Catholics do not need God at all.
They do. In order to live up to their religion, Catholics need God's grace and help individually all along the line. Their infallible Church teaches them with certainty what they must believe and do, but even this infallibility of the Church would be a farce without God. She is infallible because, and only because, God preserves her from error in her official teaching. God, therefore, becomes more necessary than ever.
409. Upon what grounds does your Church claim infallibility?
Christ established His church upon a foundation as solid as a rock, and declared that the gates of hell, or forces of evil, would not prevail against it. This implies the perpetual retention of the truth taught by Christ, forbidding its corruption. He commanded her to teach all nations, "all things whatsoever I have commanded you; and behold I am with you all days even to the consummation of the world." Mt 28:20. His presence guarantees that she will ever teach a doctrine identical With His own principles. He promised that the Holy Spirit would abide with the Church forever, undoubtedly a pledge of perpetual infallibility. Jn 14:16. St. Paul clearly manifests this doctrine by his words, "Behave thyself in the house of God, which is the Church of the living God, the pillar and ground of truth." 1 Tim 3:15. The early Fathers insist upon the infallibility of the Church, and reason also tells us that the unity of the Church could not be maintained if she could fail in her teaching of the truth; her very holiness forbids heresy; her catholicity demands expansion without loss of the self-same teaching; while her apostolicity requires perpetual duration of an unchanged Apostolic doctrine. Finally, if the Catholic Church be not infallible, then there is no Church on earth which is such as Christ predicted.
410. It is all a matter of viewpoint. In my opinion your viewpoint is utterly wrong, and the foundations of your Church worm-eaten.
Worm-eaten as the foundations of the Catholic Church may seem to you, the fact remains that she keeps adding story after story to her skyscraper heights. The Arians told her that her foundations were worm-eaten in the 4th century; the Greeks in the 9th; the Protestant Reformers in the 16th; the Rationalists in the 18th, and a few still continue to do so, although mere Rationalism is rapidly going out of date. At present the Modernists are the chief people who worry about the worm-eaten foundations of the Catholic Church. The only one who is not worrying about them is the Church herself. She just keeps on her way, never dying, but ever increasing, despite the fact that in every age outsiders have been busy composing her epitaph.
411. We Protestants believe that Christian doctrine was kept pure as long as the Apostles lived, hut after their deaths, errors crept in.
You err both in fact and in doctrine. In fact, for the Apostles complained of errors, not of the Church, but of individual professing Christians even in their own days. In doctrine, because you practically assert that Christ failed to preserve His Church; that the Holy Spirit did not remain with her; and that the gates of hell did prevail against her. In other words, your doctrine is that Christ could not do what He said He would do. No. Individuals in all ages have fallen into error in so far as they departed from the teachings of the Church. And in falling into error, they have fallen out of the Church, even as the Protestant Reformers themselves.
412. If was the Catholic Church which early departed from the doctrines of Christ, and thus forfeited the claim to be the true Church.
If you think that, by departing from the truth, the Catholic Church forfeited the claim to be the true Church, then you believe that the infallible retention of the teachings of Christ must be a mark of the true Church. Is your own Church, therefore, infallible? Does it even claim to be so? I admit that if the Catholic Church has failed in witnessing to the truth she is not true, and I would at once leave her. But as this would mean that Christ was unable to keep His promise, I would also abandon belief in Christ. Certainly, wherever else I might go, I would not return to a Protestant Church based upon the doctrine that Christ has failed to keep His promise.
413. But you cannot tell me that the Catholic religion is carried out today in accordance with the quite simple teachings of Jesus!
Catholicity does not differ from what you call the simple teachings of Jesus, although they were not so simple as you suppose. However, the Catholic Church teaches all that Christ taught, whether His teaching was explicit or implicit. Essentially she exists just as He would have her exist. There may have been many secondary developments during the ages, but they were all foreseen and approved by Christ. After all, Christ established a living Church, and a living Church grows. He likened it to a seed. Even as a boy grows into a man with exactly the same personality, yet with many secondary changes in size, knowledge, and manners, so too has the Church rightly developed.
414. The constantly changing laws of the Catholic Church show that her principles are man-made.
The principles of the Catholic Church are not man-made, nor can her constitution, given her by Christ, ever be changed. But just as many small by-laws can be made and repealed in a country without any essential constitutional change, so in the Catholic Church special disciplinary laws can be enacted at special times to meet special needs without any constitutional change of the religion. At the Reformation, however, men left the Catholic Church and set up new constitutions for themselves, and their sects can be called indeed man-made religions.
415. The doctrines of the Immaculate Conception and the Infallibility of the Pope were not believed before 1854 and 1870 respectively, yet had to be believed after those dates.
Both doctrines were believed in so far as Catholics believed in the revelation given by Christ, which contained these doctrines implicitly. When the Church defined them she merely made explicit and of faith what had been up to that time implicit. She gave, not a new truth, but simply made these matters clear by defining these doctrines to be part of the revelation brought us by Christ. The Church is here for that. Indeed, of what use is a teaching Church if she does not teach? All doubts concerning the correct interpretation of the original Christian doctrine on these two subjects were cleared away by these definitions, and today the 400 million Catholics in the world know the truth and accept it without hesitation.
416. The Catholic Church is described in 1 Tim 4:1-3. In the latter times some shall depart from the faith — teaching doctrines of devils-speaking lies in hypocrisy — -forbidding to marry — commanding to abstain from meats. Where is her infallibility?
I am afraid this is a case of mistaken identity. The Catholic Church is not involved in this description. All through the ages men have departed from the faith in departing from the Catholic Church. Thus in the 16th century the Protestants departed from the original faith, and have been departing from each other ever since, going further and further into conflicting heresies. The Catholic Church does not teach doctrines of devils. No Church warns her children so earnestly against the devil as the Catholic Church. She clearly teaches that lies are never justified. The references to marriage and the eating of meats you simply do not understand. St. Paul warns the early Christians against those who would say that marriage of itself is evil, as also the eating of meat. But the Catholic Church does not forbid marriage. She certainly says to her young men, "You may marry, or if you feel that you are called to such a life, you may become a Priest. But if you become a Priest, you may not marry." That is a very different thing. Meantime, the fact that she forbids meat especially on Fridays shows that she permits it on other days.
417. Did the Church depart from the faith when she condemned Joan of Arc, a condemnation reversed 500 years later?
The Church did not condemn Joan, but was responsible for her canonization. Joan died a good Catholic, receiving Holy Communion the morning of her death. A renegade and recalcitrant French Bishop, in the pay of the English, condemned Joan, and violated the laws of the Catholic Church in doing so. Joan had appealed to the Pope as she had a right to do, but her appeal was illegally disallowed. Within 25 years of her death Pope Calixtus III declared her mock trial to have been null and void and ordered a new examination of the evidence. Joan, who had been burned to death in violation of Church law in 1431, was re-habilitated in 1456, the Pope's tribunal declaring that she was innocent of all charges. This was the only official judgment of the Church at the time. And her canonization in our days is in full accordance with that judgment.
418. If a civil judge gave an unjust verdict because of a bribe, would you deny that the judiciary was part of the legal system?
I would deny that such a verdict had the true authority of the state behind it. And the state would disown the verdict if the facts were manifested, just as the Church disowned the verdict of the unjust ecclesiastical judges.
419. Was the Church right or wrong in condemning the theory of Galileo?
The Committee or Congregation appointed to consider his teachings declared that his theory was wrong. In doing so, the members of the Committee were mistaken. But as no infallible decision was given on the subject in the name of the Church, infallibility is not involved in this matter. Meantime Galileo had advanced no really satisfactory proofs of his theory, and the prudence of the prohibition forbidding its being taught is more than defensible, in the light of the circumstances of the times. But that is another question.
420. No one would guess from the lives of bad Catholics that their Church was infallible.
The Catholic Church is infallible in her official teaching on faith and morals. But she does not claim to be infallible in making people live up to those teachings. Her infallibility does not deprive her subjects of their freewill. After all, you yourself would admit that God is infallible, yet you would not account for people who violate the commandments by denying God's infallibility. You would account for it by the evil dispositions of the people concerned. And as the infallibility of God does not take away freewill from men, neither does the infallibility of the Catholic Church take it away from her subjects.
421. If your Church is infallible; why does she not impose peace upon earth, and banish poverty and suffering?
Because ability to do these things is not included in the gift of infallibility. The Church is infallible in teaching us what we must believe, and what we are morally obliged to do.
422. It is strange that there is so small a percentage of Catholics in Australia, if your Church alone has the accurate teachings of Christ!
It is far from strange. Australia was colonized chiefly by Protestants. And because 75 per cent, of the population happens to be derived from Protestant forbears you prove, not that the Catholic Church is wrong, but only that the majority in this country happens to be Protestant. Again, this Protestant majority has not become Catholic because the greater number of Protestants go contentedly on, taking things for granted, and not bestowing much thought at all upon the subject of religion. Or, if they start thinking, many stop abruptly when the Catholic Church looms on the horizon, because social, family, business, or personal interests stand in the way of their becoming Catholics. Many, too, labor under an almost invincible prejudice which prevents them from admitting that there can be anything good at all in the Catholic religion, and they would not dream of inquiring into the claims of the Catholic Church. Finally, if you base your position upon relative numbers, then you have but to take a broad and world-wide view to find that there is a larger percentage of Catholics in the world than all Protestants taken together, regardless of the kind of Protestantism they support. It is absurd to restrict your outlook to Australia alone.
423. It is intelligible that the whole Church would be preserved from error; but you go further, and claim that the Pope is personally infallible.
It is the Catholic doctrine that he is infallible when he speaks for the whole church in defining a question of faith or morals.
424. Do you mean that he is the mouthpiece of a General Council, or that he is infallible independently?
The Pope is not merely the mouthpiece of a Council. He may, and usually does, consult other Bishops before giving an infallible decision. But he need not do so, and in the ultimate analysis the infallibility of a definition is due to his own personal authority. The infallibility of the Pope simply means that in his official teachings or definitions, provided he speaks as supreme head of the Church in questions of faith or morals and with the intention of binding all the faithful, God would not allow him to define erroneous doctrine. The Pope, as successor of St Peter, is Vicar of Christ, and the final court of appeal in the Church. But all the conditions I have enumerated must be present. The Pope's word is not infallible whenever he speaks, though his decisions are always to be received with respect. But if he speaks merely as a private theologian, expressing his own views his opinions could be mistaken. Infallibility attaches to his decisions only when he speaks in his supreme and official capacity as supreme teacher of all the faithful.
425. Was not this doctrine invented in 1870?
No. Papal Infallibility was promulgated as a dogma in 1370, but the doctrine was not invented then. The Vatican Council under Pope Pius IX merely said definitely, "This is the Christian doctrine contained at least implicitly in the revelation originally given to mankind by Christ." This prerogative of infallibility was conferred upon St. Peter, and upon his successors, in virtue of Christ's choice of St. Peter as the rock-foundation oi the Church, His prayer for St. Peter that his faith might not fail, His commission to him to confirm his brethren and to feed the whole flock, lambs and sheep. The Church does not say in her definitions, "I now reveal this doctrine," but, "I definitely declare this to be the doctrine revealed by Christ." If she never taught with such authority, men would say, "What is the good of the Church?" If she does teach with authority they say, "She is inventing new doctrines." After all, the Catholic Church defined the "Filioque" in 1439, and you accept that without complaining that she invented a new doctrine. Why complain when she exercises the same functions in 1870? She will define other doctrines more explicitly in future times as need arises, doctrines we already believe in believing all that has been revealed by Christ, though we do not advert to the fact that these particular doctrines are certainly included. For although the definitions will be new, they will not involve new truths of religion. Now that the personal infallibility of the Pope has been defined we know that it belongs essentially to the original teaching given by Christ.
426. There is only one who is infallible — God. Satan tried to be equal to God, and the Pope who makes a similar claim will meet with a similar fate.
God alone is infallible of His very nature. But God can certainly safeguard a particular man so that he will be also infallible in certain matters on certain occasions. Thus Christ guaranteed that Peter would not fail in his teachings of the Faith. And if an infallible God says that He will make a certain man infallible, then that man will infallibly be infallible. Again the claim of the Pope is nothing like the claim of Satan. Satan claimed to be independent of God; the Pope claims to depend very much upon God. Nor does the Pope make himself equal to God. An infallible Pope is capable of sinning and losing his soul. And should a Pope do so, he would meet with a fate similar to that of Satan because of his unrepented sins. But he would not meet with that fate because of his claim to an infallibility which God insists upon giving him for the good of the Church whether he likes it or not.
427. Do you say that God makes a man infallible who has to be voted for just like politicians?
God says He does. But the Pope is not infallible because voted for. He is elected by votes, and when elected he receives infallibility from God. The Pope does not derive his infallibility from those who elect him.
428. If God makes the Pope infallible, why does he need theologians to go into questions first and arrange what he is to define?
Infallibility is not inspiration. If God inspired the Pope in his official teachings there would be no need of human research. But infallibility means that the Pope acts according to all the laws of ordinary prudence, studying and comparing the doctrines of the Church before coming to a decision. When research has concluded, the Pope may decide simply that the matter does not warrant definition. But if he does decide to define a given doctrine, the Holy Spirit will certainly preserve him from any error in doing so. And the defined dogma will owe its infallibility, not to previous human research or ability, but precisely to the assisting influence of the Holy Spirit.
429. The early Church did not admit that the Pope was infallible, nor did any Pope before Pius IX claim such a privilege.
The doctrine is contained in Christ's words to St. Peter, and the early Church was well aware of the fact. Tertullian, about the year 200 A.D. wrote concerning St. Paul's rebuke to St. Peter, "If Peter was rebuked by Paul, it was certainly for a fault in conduct, not in teaching." St. Cyprian, about 256, wrote of the See of Rome, "Would heretics dare to come to the very seat of Peter whence Apostolic faith is derived and whither no errors can come." St. Augustine in the 4th century gives us the famous expression, "Rome has spoken; the cause is finished." The early Popes had little need to insist often upon a doctrine which was denied by none of the faithful. The Council of Ephesus in 431 thus expressed its firm convictions, "No one doubts, nay it is known to all ages, that Peter, the chief and head of the Apostles, the pillar of the faith and foundation of the Catholic Church, received the keys of the kingdom from Our Lord Jesus Christ .... Peter, who even to these our own days, and always in his successors, lives and exercises his authority." In 451 Pope Leo wrote his decision to the Bishops of the Church assembled at Chalcedon, and when the letter was read all cried out, "Peter has spoken through Leo."
430. A later infallible Pope condemned Pope Honorius for having taught heresy.
Firstly, Honorius did not give an infallible decision concerning the matter in question. Secondly, his personal opinion was not heretical. Within a few years of the death of Honorius, Pope John IV wrote, "Some men have distorted the meaning of Honorius to their own purposes and contrary to the truth." Thirdly, no later Pope condemned Honorius as a heretic, but for imprudence and neglecting to settle die controversy of the time and thus prevent the growth of further heresy. He was blamed rather for not using his infallibility than for misusing it.
431. If the Popes are infallible, the laws of earlier Popes must be those of later Popes — yet the laws of the Catholic Church have varied.
It is not necessary that all the laws of earlier Popes must be those of later Popes. Infallibility concerns doctrine, and morals, not necessarily discipline. Disciplinary laws adapted to particular times change with the times.
432. Did not bad Popes do acts which their successors thought wrong?
Yes. The conduct of some Popes in their personal lives it is impossible to justify. They ought to have been thoroughly ashamed of themselves.
433. Then where was the protection of Christ?
With His Church, preserving her as a Church, in spite of the personal iniquity of these men. I have never claimed that the Pope can do no wrong. As a man he will have temptations like other men, and he will be free to resist those temptations, or consent to them. After all, he must save his soul like anyone else. He is not going to be preserved from sin in spite of himself. Why should he be compelled to be good? Goodness results in Heaven, and Heaven must be earned. Every man, infallible or not, must have his own struggle to be good and to save his soul. The Pope is not, and has never claimed to be impeccable. But for our sake, not for his own, God endows him with infallibility that he may tell us with certainty what we must believe and do in order to save ourselves; whether he lives up to it himself is quite another matter and his own business. It is quite possible to give splendid advice and not live up to it oneself.
434. What an elastic system! The Pope can be evil, and your doctrine from a sink of iniquity will be good!
The Pope cannot be evil in the sense that he is free to be wicked. He is not morally free to do as he pleases. But if some rare and individual Pope did happen unfortunately to be wicked, then we say that God would infallibly preserve him from error in such ex cathedra definitions as he might be called upon to make for the good of the whole Church. After all, under God's providence, the false prophet Balaam and Caiphas the Jewish Priest, both men of evil dispositions, predicted and taught the truth in spite of themselves.
435. Have you to believe the Pope whether what he says is true or not?
If a thing be not true, it is not to be accepted as true, no matter who says it. But when the Pope defines infallibly, he cannot say what is not true, and Catholics accept his official teaching precisely because it is infallibly true. If, prior to a definition, a Catholic was of a diverse opinion, then once the Pope has given the definition, such a Catholic becomes aware that his conjecture was erroneous, and abandons it in order to have the truth.
436. If you are not obliged to believe all that the Pope says, how say that he is infallible?
Because he is not infallible in everything. He is infallible only when he speaks in virtue of his supreme office as head of the Church on matters of faith and morals. He notifies us when he intends to define in accordance with all the conditions required for infallibility. This restriction to set occasions is as reasonable as the restriction of the jurisdiction of a civil judge to his official decisions in court.
437. Why does not the Pope define the facts about evolution?
That is a question of science, not of faith or morals. The Pope is not infallible on every possible question, nor has the Church ever maintained him to be so. If you have difficulties because the Pope is not infallible when he is not supposed to be infallible you have only yourself to blame.
438. Many things show the utter futility of your infallible Pope's blessings. Sixtus V blessed the Armada, yet it was destroyed as much by the wrath of Heaven as by the English leaders.
You mean by a storm. There is a great difference between the wrath of Heaven and the wrath of the heavens. On your principles every man who has ever suffered shipwreck or been drowned or struck by lightning is a wicked wretch and the victim of God's anger. I am as happy as you are that the Armada failed, but I do not admit that God gave no graces to the poor men on that ill-fated fleet in virtue of the Pope's blessing. Nor will I admit that God's curse was on the fleet as a whole any more than that God's curse rested on Englishmen when they lost the American war of Independence. We are too ready to distribute God's curses and blessings according to our own prejudices, regarding ourselves as the fitting object of the blessings only. In any case, blessings bestowed upon various enterprises by the Pope have no connection whatever with the prerogative of infallibility.
439. The Archbishop of Peru was blessed by the Pope, and died of poison forty-three days later.
You do not say which Archbishop; but even so, infallibility does not come into the question. Meantime, the blessing of the Pope, or even if you wish, of God, is not intended to ward off every possible temporal evil, including death. God blessed Job, yet it did not preserve him from temporal trials. If the Pope blessed me. and a few days afterwards you put arsenic in my tea, I fully expect that I should die. Nor would death within 43 days prove the futility of the Pope's blessing any more than death within 43 years. The Pope did not bless the Archbishop, if your facts be true, in order that poison would have no effect upon him. There are much more important things than that. But all such difficulties as these are beside the point where infallibility is concerned. First find out exactly what the Catholic Church teaches concerning infallibility, noting the limits within which her claims are confined, and then restrict your examination of the question to those limits.
Encoding copyright 2009 by Frederick Manligas Nacino. Some rights reserved.
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TOPICS: Apologetics; Catholic; History; Theology
KEYWORDS: catholic; cult; radiorepliesvolone
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I read a couple of prayers to Mary on another thread and believe me, they were pretty worshipful.
Like what? The Hail Mary? Do you know that prayer is lifted directly out of Scripture? Gospel of Luke.
posted on 06/21/2009 6:35:30 PM PDT
(The bread which we break, is it not a participation in the body of Christ? (1 Cor. 10:16))
"I read a couple of prayers to Mary on another thread and believe me, they were pretty worshipful."
To set the record strait on the definition used by Catholics on the word "worship" regarding the Blessed Virgin Mary.
Main Entry: worship
2 : to regard with respect, honor, or devotion : ADORE (in the Renaissance men worshiped antiquity Stephen Spender) (admire the poetry and worship the memory of the poet William Du Bois) (whom I... worshiped as only a young lover can J.A.Rice) (in his calm, unexcited way, he worships success Rose Macaulay) (he had the wildness we all worshiped Eudora Welty)
synonyms see REVERE
posted on 06/22/2009 1:01:10 AM PDT
("That they may be one...Father")
No, it wasn’t the Hail Mary.
posted on 06/22/2009 6:05:15 AM PDT
(GOD IS STILL IN CONTROL!)
So you're saying that, with the Fourth Commandment, by telling us to Honor Thy Mother and Father, the Lord was commanding us to WORSHIP our parents?
Of course not, because there is a difference between HONOR/VENERATION and WORSHIP.
The distinction was clarified by St. Augustine, one of the early Church Fathers -- and was later officially adopted by the Church to distinguish between honoring parents, Saints, and Mary, as opposed to worshipping the Lord. DULIA is the word for "the homage of veneration," and LATRIA, is the term which signifies "the worship of adoration." DULIA is the honor paid to our parents and to saints, and HYPERDULIA, a special honor among humans, is identified as belonging to Mary, because she is the Mother of Our Lord, Jesus Christ, and in imitation of Christ, we Honor His Mother in accordance with the Fourth Commandment.
To give LATRIA, or worshipful adoration, to any human being, other than the Jesus Chirst, the Incarnation, is heretical within the Catholic Church. It certainly happpens, but those who fall out of line with the Church teachings are in heresy and need to be corrected and put back on the right track.
Note, if you do not agree with the above analysis, you are in a bit of a pickle, because if you totally exclude the honoring of any human being without idolatry, then this would mean the Fourth Commandment is in conflict with the First Commandment. And, if you believe Scripture is the inerrant Word of God, as I do, that makes your conflation of "honor" and "worship" to be outside the possibility of a valid scriptural interpretation.
posted on 06/22/2009 8:25:17 AM PDT
(The bread which we break, is it not a participation in the body of Christ? (1 Cor. 10:16))
No, it wasnt the Hail Mary.
Well, if it was as you say, then the prayer is a prayer said in heresy. No prayer sanctioned by the Church would allow adoration of Mary. But, then, if you are like a lot of other Protestants, and even a lot of Catholics, you may have difficulty understanding the difference between the two.
posted on 06/22/2009 8:27:47 AM PDT
(The bread which we break, is it not a participation in the body of Christ? (1 Cor. 10:16))
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