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Hi friends,

As some of you will know if you remember me, I've struggled with the concept of the Magisterium. I have no Catholic friends, so I had to come back here. It's been a tough day.

Bits of Church History have always bugged me and caused doubts, but the events of today have tipped me over the edge. I'm really saddened, so I'd like to say something here on Fishies again, after a year-long absence.

One of the great concerns of the Church from approx. 400 to 1000 AD was how She needed to relate to society in light of pagan invasion and collapse. When Theodosius made Catholic Christianity the state religion in 380, I believe something changed in the way the Fathers viewed the relation of the Church to the World. We saw the legacy of this extending straight up to Vatican II.

Firstly, Augustine speculated that it'd be okay for a Christian Empire to persecute & even kill heretics or pagans who refused to convert. He said it was good for the whole of society. I think this tendency (among others) led to an increasingly sword-happy Church, wallowing in secular politics. The Donation of Constantine was forged and used for many centuries as proof that somehow the Papacy carried on the Roman Empire; thus, it had rights to many things, including land and armies. I've come to wonder if the use of these invented privileges didn't help with the development of infallibility, to more firmly secure the power that had been gained.

For me, this has been the single most disturbing development in Christian history. I'm a pacifistic, shy, and quiet sort of person, and I like to be patient and wait things out. But this is really bothering me in light of the last 50 years. Is it okay to question Infallibility of the Church & Pope, after so much chaos? Or am I a heretic now?

Y'see, fom 1870-1960 it all seemed to be okay. But since Vatican II... take Humani generis, asserting that only the Magisterium can develop tradition, and then compare it to Dei Verbum, which talks about how tradition develops in the hearts of believers. Whenever Pope Francis says anything, people take it as a New Direction. The problem is that a lot of Catholics seem to believe that whenever a Pope sneezes, it's infallible. Surely that's going to affect how the faith develops...

What was said that shouldn't have been said, over the ages? How do we even know what is infallible or not, given how broad the definition of infallibility is? I'm really concerned that Pastor Aeternus set a bad precedent, psychologically: although it defined under which circumstances a Pope is infallible, 90% of people just heard "The Pope is Infallible", and so assumed that almost everything (no matter how false) a pope might say must be true. Due to this, any spirit of critical thinking has been gradually suspended. This means that if (God Forbid) any pope would be heretical, no one would have the courage to challenge him anymore.

What would have happened in the days of John XXII (1300s) if theologians had not gently questioned him on his doctrine of the Beatific Vision, for example? I don't think that would happen today, or else we'd be considered unfaithful -- "more Catholic than the Pope".

I easily embrace the Catholic faith in all its propositions, but the doctrines that have grown up around Peter bug the crap out of me. As C.S. Lewis said in a letter to a Catholic,

"The real reason why I cannot be in communion with you is not my disagreement with this or that Roman doctrine, but that to accept your Church means not to accept a given body of doctrine, but to accept in advance any doctrine your Church hereafter produces. It is like being asked to agree not only to what a man has said but also to what he is going to say."

In light of the disasters of the last 50 years, right up to today, I'm starting to think Lewis had a point.

Can anyone help me here? Since the Theology subforum is gone, I dunno where to post this.  :blush:
As you probably know, the pope is infallible if and only if when he's speaking ex cathedra on faith and morals.  Doctrine represents divine truths that have been revealed to us, and it's true that new doctrine may become revealed to us in the future.  However, there is a chronological component to it, meaning that later "doctrine" cannot alter doctrine that came before it; hence the hermeneutic continuity that the Church frequently speaks of.  So, if Pope Francis or another pope tries to define new doctrine that's in conflict with doctrine that came before it, then we have a heretical pope, and he may not be the true pope.  But that shouldn't happen, because the pope is infallible, right?  So if that happens, we may be wading into uncharted territory.  But God said that hell - or heresy - shall not prevail against the Church, so we should trust Him to put things right.
Thanks AllSeasons. :) Makes sense.

Someone else said to me, when I revealed these problems: "by faith you believe that when you eat what seems to be bread, you really eat His flesh -- so what stops you from believing the Holy Spirit keeps the Church free from error?" I'd like to say that the holy Eucharist's reality is invisible; one can't tell what it is or is not, except by faith. With written statements, however, one can certainly discern continuity or contradiction from past statements by the same Office. We must Think always. As St. Thomas says, any supposed article of faith which demands suspension of our reason is not worthy of belief. Thank God for Catholicism.

Anyway, I've always thought that the Greek "the Gates of Hades shall not prevail against it" simply meant the Church would never enter the gates of death (i.e. die), not that it would have no doctrinal troubles. But then again, it would hardly matter if the Church stayed alive physically but was dead spiritually; in fact, that'd be the ultimate death.
Number one: Don't get discouraged! It seems you have a misunderstanding or lack thereof, of the Magisterium, the papacy, and ecclesiology in general.  But there is no need to get discouraged as you try to understand these things. Let me point you to some talks on Ecclesiology that might be of help. But in the meantime, don't panic. Trust in Christ's Church and keep praying.

http://www.sensustraditionis.org/multimedia.html

Scroll down to "Ecclesiology". It's under "#9". There are about five long talks. Each builds on the other, and you may not find your answers until about the third or fourth conference in, so be patient.
I have heard all of Fr. Ripperger's talks at one time or another, but thanks for the encouragement, pdubya.  :)
Heorot ! Nice hearing from you.

Firstly, responding to Lewis, the pope cannot produce any doctrines—the charism of infallibility is essentially a negative one, different from that given to the Apostles, viz., revelation. If a doctrine is genuinely new it should be viewed with suspicion. All doctrines defined by ecumenical councils or the pope are, if they belong to the extraordinary magisterium, refinement of what was already believed (and so its quite natural that they arise only by the necessity to combat error—the most obvious counter-examples are the two recent Marian dogmas, but of course, they are very ancient).

And of course, the Church has been in various conflicts with secular power. What we see today is not an extrapolation of anything St. Augustine or others taught, but its still the conflict between Philip IV and Boniface VIII, which were never resolved in practical terms—and so, what we see is the long decay of Catholic civilization.

About standing against the pope when he errs (yes, when he errs), its a real shame no Cardinal is doing that to his face (only indirectly, like recent statements from Sarah and Brandmueller). Adulation is the very last thing the Church needs today. There's not much we can do except pray and keep the faith—which even from a solely practical viewpoint is essential : we are responsible for passing it on to our children, to those who are under our care (and since the bishops are not doing it, to everyone else).

One book that I really like about all this sort of things is Christopher Ferrara's the Great Façade. Say what you will about « trads », you still have to appreciate his oratorical skills and his exact precision and clarity. And as far as one can, the typical « trad » explanation to the crisis is the one that makes the most sense to me.

But of course, with these sorts of things we're not dealing only with the intellect, are we ? These sort of questioning/temptations are like scruples : we can keep repeating over and over again what we are convinced to know what is true, and yet we are haunted by a very oppressive thought that clouds everything else. Entering into argumentation with the devil can be quite dangerous. So I suppose there's that to look out for.
(04-08-2016, 09:27 PM)Heorot Wrote: [ -> ]I have heard all of Fr. Ripperger's talks at one time or another, but thanks for the encouragement, pdubya.  :)

I think it's possible you might pick up on something you did not before. 
First off, I'm glad you're back. I remember we used to email back and forth about this sort of thing a long to ago. I'm still here for you, you know where to find me. Of course I'm not really a conventional trad by any stretch of the imagination so maybe I'm not much help ha!

I share many of your doubts, but these days I don't care so much. I prefer to stick to the Offices that I love so much. Are you still praying the Baronius Press Breviary or the Monastic Diurnal? I know I tried to help you get interested in making a habit of the breviary. It works for me, because it's doctrine, piety and theology all wrapped up into one, and you get reminders every few hours. It's not dependent upon the pope,the bishops, the local parish or whatever,mits just timeless and akways there. That sustains me always.

In some ways I don't know what I am, Catholic, home aloner breviary Christian, crypto Old Believer with some Latin sympathies? Who knows? I don't even try that much to define myself anymore. Just do your thing and pray, step out of the thinking...



Maybe you step out of thinking for awhile and go back to the Office. That's my suggestion at least. At any rate PM or email me, you know where to find me.
Heorot,

I know you are more well-read than I and you’ve probably considered all I am about to type but I’d like to toss my hat in the ring.  I’m answering your post with questions to you/myself as I’ve struggled with some of the same issues you’re having.

Caveat:  I’m a total goober, I’m pressed for time, and so please read my thoughts through a charitable lens… maybe as if Bob Ross himself were speaking to you.

Are you keeping the “sword happy” Catholics in proper context?

It’s a great luxury of our time to look back upon others and question their action without truly understanding their times.  Back in the day the wellness of the soul was a priority to the well-being of the body.  A pampered, 21st Century Westerners can be easily overlook this (not saying you are).  From my reading I have gathered that pagans were given ample time to leave, convert, or at the least discontinue the spreading of their heresies.  When push came to shove and salvation was at risk, they…  well…  pushed. 

Are you forgetting the human element?

You’re probably too young to remember that Human League once sang… “I’m only human… of flesh and blood, I’m made.  Born to make mistakes.  I am just a maaaaaaann”

You know where I’m going with this, right?  People, in and out of the Church , most especially in a position of power, are going to be knuckleheads.  You must factor that in.

Think of the Israelites and the many times they were patiently corrected by Our Father.

Speaking of the Israelites… have you forgotten about the Israelites?

Far from being pacifists, they slayed their enemies when a smackdown was needed.  Remember the walls of Jericho?  God had a direct hand in that deal and when the walls came down?

“The wall collapsed, and the people attacked the city straight ahead and took it. They observed the ban by putting to the sword all living creatures in the city: men and women, young and old, as well as oxen, sheep and donkeys.”

BINGO BANGO, done. 

Are you using pacifism to excuse yourself from your responsibilities or to stroke your ego?

I was a pacifist at one time too.  It was of the “live and let live” variety and I must say I was quite proud of myself for it.  But as time passed, and on my way to becoming a Catholic, I realized that the rest of the world (most especially those who espouse “fairness” and construct so-called “safe spaces”) do not play by the same rules.  I also came to understand that it can be a coward’s way out.  I, like you, am rather introverted but sometimes, unfortunately, you just got to get all up in somebody’s grill (as the kids used to say).  Yes, it’s unpleasant and, no, I’m not very good at it but I’m beginning to see after years of denial that there are times where one has a moral obligation to charitably put someone in their place by one means or another.

Here is what I concluded about pacifism.  If it comes to MY own well-being, then pacifism can come into play as shown to us by Our Lord’s Passion.  When the baddies come after you or me, then yes, it may well be self-sacrifice time.  However, when it comes to the well-being of others then that is NOT the time to be a pacifist, i.e. Our Lord whipping the money changers with vigor out of the Temple. (From visions of Mystics that I have read, this was done with GREAT wrath)  I’ve concluded that it would be a tremendous sin to sit by while our neighbors are having their heads lopped off or their wives raped and to sit on our hands not defend them.

If you’re looking at the early Church martyrs as an example of pacifism, then I would kindly disagree.  They were far outnumbered, they were unarmed, and they resisted martyrdom as long as possible through hiding.  In other words they weren’t lining up at the executioner’s desk to declare their Christianity so as to be self-sacrificed like a Buddhist lighting himself on fire.  If they had had the man power and weaponry, I would bet they may have used it when necessary.

St. Joan of Arc helped me find the balance on this topic.  Until I read her bio I had no idea that:

1) She held a banner of our Lady/Lord while in battle and not a sword.

2)  She apparently killed no one with her own hands.

3) Before each battle she begged her enemies to surrender.

4) She fervently prayed for her enemies and wept bitterly for those who were killed in battle.

5) BUT when she went into battle, she was all in and was full tilt boogie until the last man standing.

6) When it came to herself, although it took her a while to realize this, she embraced martyrdom.

(St. Joan of Arc, pray for us!)

Where is your (my) Faith?

Look, I have seen this from time to time here and in other places where people try to take an intellectual approach to the Faith.  What happens, in my humble opinion, is that the satisfaction of intellectual pursuit is not enough and can collapse on itself.  Inevitably doubts arise and then the same mind that thought it had everything neatly tucked away becomes a labyrinth of doubt.  Be careful as intellectual pursuits, even for the best causes, can become a pit of pride.  Sure it’s great to be able recall scripture, quote Aquinas, and cool to be able speak/read Latin but none of those disciplines bring salvation.  Through the Church countless unlettered, ignorant people have found salvation through simple, unwavering Faith.  Also be careful that all that reading isn’t a form of procrastination from effective, Faith building prayer.  I don’t recall any Saint telling us that salvation comes through reading and not prayer.

Go deeper in prayer.

Regarding possible future/past errors of the Church… don’t you trust Our Lord when he said it will prevail?  If the Church is in such great error, how did she produce so many Holy people?  And doesn’t its 2000 year existence speak for anything?

Why are you hung up about the Pope when he cannot affect your salvation?

Seriously, this is another great mystery to me.  There are some people on this board and on others burning up serious time and energy on this Pope… time and energy well spent on other things that could better one’s hope for salvation.  Pray for him and move on.

I’ve learned that Our Father works through the knuckleheadedness of man, constantly (again recall the Israelites).  As Rev. F.J. Remler wrote in his book “Why Must I Suffer?”:

“Many abuse this noble faculty by doing what they know is forbidden and sinful, and thereby they become the authors of suffering for themselves and their fellowmen.  God does not will this but he permits it.  In the meantime, His infinite wisdom and Fatherly providence direct even the sinful actions of men to the furtherance of the welfare and salvation of His elect, even as he turned the malice and enmity of the Jews against Our Lord to the accomplishment of the redemption of man from sin and Hell.”

In short, Our Father can work through the gaffes, blunders, and outright sins of the Pope(s).  Please listen to this interview with a very collected Charles Coulombe who speaks about how God has worked through the errors of past popes and then gives a good backdrop to why/how our Holy Father ticks.




Why are you contemplating the words of a Protestant? (Sorry, this will be harsh)

No offence to Mr. Lewis.  Yes, he was an excellent writer and yes, there was a time when I thought the Screwtape Letters was very clever but that is what I consider Protter 101.  So let’s get down to brass tacks:

1)  Lewis was not Catholic so why would you take his word over Our Lord’s regarding His Church? Why would you consider the flawed thoughts of a man who didn’t believe in the Real Presence of the Holy Eucharist?  And furthermore align yourself with a critic that never once partook in Our Lord’s body and blood?  It sounds like he fell on the sword of his own intellect, with all due respect.

2)  Why would you also take the advice of C.S. Lewis over that of the multitude of Saints our Church has produced?  Why would you overlook the words of those who offer can Holy Intercession for a man who wavered on the Truth (again, all due respect to Mr. Lewis)

If not the Catholic Faith, then where?

Not to be a smartie pants. but could it be that you are making excuses to not go fully into the Faith?

If you can point out a “path” that man has not botched from time to time, please feel free to fill me in as I could not find one myself.  You can leave the Faith over this but I’m betting you’ll end up right back here.  Stop circling, man.  Come out of that holding pattern.  Not everything can be explained away neatly in this life.  Cut those ties and fall fully headlong and Trust in Our Lord (yes, I’m working on this too).

I love you, Heorot and I’m sorry you’re struggling.  Drop this stuff for a while and just spend time with Our Lord and love, love, love him.  It really is that simple (easy for me to say, I know)

Apologies if I come across as a know-it-all.  May God forgive me if this is the case (pray for me).

Full Steam Ahead and Keep Your Powder Dry, Partner.

Bless Ya,

R&H
Quote:Why are you contemplating the words of a Protestant? (Sorry, this will be harsh)

No offence to Mr. Lewis.  Yes, he was an excellent writer and yes, there was a time when I thought the Screwtape Letters was very clever but that is what I consider Protter 101.  So let’s get down to brass tacks:

Lewis was not Catholic so why would you take his word over Our Lord’s regarding His Church? Why would you consider the flawed thoughts of a man who didn’t believe in the Real Presence of the Holy Eucharist?  And furthermore align yourself with a critic that never once partook in Our Lord’s body and blood?  It sounds like he fell on the sword of his own intellect, with all due respect.

Why would you also take the advice of C.S. Lewis over that of the multitude of Saints our Church has produced?  Why would you overlook the words of those who offer can Holy Intercession for a man who wavered on the Truth (again, all due respect to Mr. Lewis)

If not the Catholic Faith, then where?

Not to be a smartie pants. but could it be that you are making excuses to not go fully into the Faith?

If you can point out a “path” that man has not botched from time to time, please feel free to fill me in as I could not find one myself.  You can leave the Faith over this but I’m betting you’ll end up right back here.  Stop circling, man.  Come out of that holding pattern.  Not everything can be explained away neatly in this life.  Cut those ties and fall fully headlong and Trust in Our Lord (yes, I’m working on this too).

I love you, Heorot and I’m sorry you’re struggling.  Drop this stuff for a while and just spend time with Our Lord and love, love, love him.  It really is that simple (easy for me to say, I know)

Apologies if I come across as a know-it-all.  May God forgive me if this is the case (pray for me).

Full Steam Ahead and Keep Your Powder Dry, Partner.

Bless Ya,

R&H




[Image: loaded-questions.jpg]


That's a favorite tactic of Protestant online apologetics. "Oh you disagree with my interpretation of the Bible? Why don't you believe what God says? Apparently you don't believe in God"
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