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Hey everybody,

When the Church's bishops act in a certain way for any given time, can that count as a teaching?

For example: Imagine that for 500 years, all bishops and popes practice the handing over of heretics to the secular authority for capital punishment. They bless the executioners and approve the undertaking.

Now, even if there is no magisterial document, encyclical, or whatever, which positively defines this as a necessary action, can we assume that 500 years of constant universal practice by the bishops indicates that an exercise of infallible ordinary Magisterium has occurred? Namely, that the teaching of the Church is, that "it is morally permissible to hand over heretics for execution by the State"? Would such long, constant practice indicate infallible teaching via practice? Or does it have to be said/written, specifically?

(Naturally this is for the sake of questions related to the Church's stance on religious dialogue, the changes in the Mass in the 1950-1960s, etc. --  I feel that if I can get at least a provisional "no" to this question of practice-as-teaching, I'll be much more comfortable trusting the Church after the about-face she has done since the '60s).

PS I tried to create a thread on CAF just now, asking this question, and got permanently banned pretty much immediately. So, thank God for Fisheaters. You guys at least act like Christians and remain open to growth in others, and mercy, even when you disagree.  :)
(08-27-2016, 01:48 AM)Heorot Wrote: [ -> ]Hey everybody,

When the Church's bishops act in a certain way for any given time, can that count as a teaching?

For example: Imagine that for 500 years, all bishops and popes practice the handing over of heretics to the secular authority for capital punishment. They bless the executioners and approve the undertaking.

Now, even if there is no magisterial document, encyclical, or whatever, which positively defines this as a necessary action, can we assume that 500 years of constant universal practice by the bishops indicates that an exercise of infallible ordinary Magisterium has occurred? Namely, that the teaching of the Church is, that "it is morally permissible to hand over heretics for execution by the State"? Would such long, constant practice indicate infallible teaching via practice? Or does it have to be said/written, specifically?

(Naturally this is for the sake of questions related to the Church's stance on religious dialogue, the changes in the Mass in the 1950-1960s, etc. --  I feel that if I can get at least a provisional "no" to this question of practice-as-teaching, I'll be much more comfortable trusting the Church after the about-face she has done since the '60s).

PS I tried to create a thread on CAF just now, asking this question, and got permanently banned pretty much immediately. So, thank God for Fisheaters. You guys at least act like Christians and remain open to growth in others, and mercy, even when you disagree.  :)

Stuff like this makes me think magisterium is just a vague term thrown around that can basically mean whatever one wants it to mean. For trad types everything written by Pius IX through Pius XII is " magisterial" while practically everything from Vatican II to Amoris Laetitia is considered suspect and ultimately explained away as non magisterial, non binding or not worthy using lawyers logic and convoluted arguments. For liberal PrayTell types there's gray area everywhere but ultimately everything written or said by modern popes and Hierarchs is part of some magisterium.

Personally I find the Orthodox more realistic about this stuff. They are vague on non essentials but unlike Catholics don't try to construct convoluted arguments based on some nebulous concept of " magisterium" to justify things. Anyone who really critically and objectively thinks through this whole magisterium thing cannot fail to see that it is not as simplistic and awe inspiringly obvious  as many die hard Roman Catholics would suggest.

Good like getting any silver bullet answer on this, there isn't one!
(08-27-2016, 01:48 AM)Heorot Wrote: [ -> ]When the Church's bishops act in a certain way for any given time, can that count as a teaching?

Not usually.

There are three powers in the Church: The power of teaching (Magisterium), the power of ruling (Jurisdiction) and the power of Orders. Some theologians group teaching and ruling under one power of ruling, divided by whether it directs the Intellect (teaching) or the will (discipline). In either school, however, discipline and doctrine are separate things, and discipline flows indirectly from doctrine.

In the example you give of handing heretic over to the civil power (after an ecclesiastical trial finding them guilty of the crime of heresy), this is clearly a merely disciplinary practice. It is not a doctrine or dogma of the faith than heretics must be handed over to the state for punishment.

I guess in a hypothetical situation one could imagine where a universal practice indirectly suggests a unique doctrine which is not defined, but I can't think of any instances of such.
(08-27-2016, 01:17 PM)MagisterMusicae Wrote: [ -> ]
(08-27-2016, 01:48 AM)Heorot Wrote: [ -> ]When the Church's bishops act in a certain way for any given time, can that count as a teaching?

Not usually.

There are three powers in the Church: The power of teaching (Magisterium), the power of ruling (Jurisdiction) and the power of Orders.

This doesn't answer question; OP asks whether long-term teaching counts as the Magisterium. The answer is, it does. Vatican 1 defined Ordinary Universal Magisterium as something which is taught by bishops united with the pope across time and space. It doesn't require any special proclamations or extraordinary formulas.

When something is taught across time and space, it is infallible, just as a specific Papal proclamation would be. Therefore the actions of the church, when done long enough, and by the majority of the Church, count as infallible.
(08-27-2016, 03:52 PM)1seeker Wrote: [ -> ]
(08-27-2016, 01:17 PM)MagisterMusicae Wrote: [ -> ]
(08-27-2016, 01:48 AM)Heorot Wrote: [ -> ]When the Church's bishops act in a certain way for any given time, can that count as a teaching?

Not usually.

There are three powers in the Church: The power of teaching (Magisterium), the power of ruling (Jurisdiction) and the power of Orders.

This doesn't answer question; OP asks whether long-term teaching counts as the Magisterium.

That isn't what the OP asked at all. He used this sort of language:

bishops act in a certain way

Imagine that for 500 years, all bishops and popes practice the handing over of heretics to the secular authority

can we assume that 500 years of constant universal practice

Would such long, constant practice indicate infallible teaching via practice

(08-27-2016, 03:52 PM)1seeker Wrote: [ -> ]
(08-27-2016, 01:17 PM)MagisterMusicae Wrote: [ -> ]
(08-27-2016, 01:48 AM)Heorot Wrote: [ -> ]When the Church's bishops act in a certain way for any given time, can that count as a teaching?

Not usually.

There are three powers in the Church: The power of teaching (Magisterium), the power of ruling (Jurisdiction) and the power of Orders.

This doesn't answer question; OP asks whether long-term teaching counts as the Magisterium. The answer is, it does. Vatican 1 defined Ordinary Universal Magisterium as something which is taught by bishops united with the pope across time and space. It doesn't require any special proclamations or extraordinary formulas.

When something is taught across time and space, it is infallible, just as a specific Papal proclamation would be. Therefore the actions of the church, when done long enough, and by the majority of the Church, count as infallible.

It indeed answers the question, if you read just a bit father along ... you stopped too early.

The question asks whether long-term consistency in disciplinary acts represents a long-established teaching. The short answer is no, because the two things pertain to two different powers.

If I have the power to mow my lawn and the power to drive my car, just because I drive to the gas station to get fuel every Saturday does not mean I mow my lawn every Saturday. To complate the two is to compare apples and oranges.

Universal teaching over a significant period of time is exactly what the First Vatican Council is referencing when it speaks of the Ordinary Universal Magisterium. The magisterium is the teaching power of the Church. It is not the ruling power of the Church, which is Jurisdiction.

The power of Jurisdiction is what is exercised when a bishop make a juridical decision on how to punish someone for an ecclesiastical crime. Long-term disciplinary actions (which are acts of Jurisdiction) do not create teaching, because discipline does not pertain to the teaching power.
(08-27-2016, 06:48 PM)MagisterMusicae Wrote: [ -> ]Universal teaching over a significant period of time is exactly what the First Vatican Council is referencing when it speaks of the Ordinary Universal Magisterium. The magisterium is the teaching power of the Church. It is not the ruling power of the Church, which is Jurisdiction.

The power of Jurisdiction is what is exercised when a bishop make a juridical decision on how to punish someone for an ecclesiastical crime. Long-term disciplinary actions (which are acts of Jurisdiction) do not create teaching, because discipline does not pertain to the teaching power.

This is very, very important to me. Thank you for providing food for thought.

I wonder how to apply this to the stumbling actions and attitudes of the clergy since Vatican II, then. The Liturgy is certainly something in-between jurisdiction and teaching, since it both teaches the faith (doctrine) and is able to be added to or detracted from by the bishops/pope (jurisdiction). Do long-term uses of stunted or even incomplete liturgies by bishops necessarily teach something, for example? Is the liturgy itself, and its actions and prayers, not only expressive of the faith but somehow formative of it?

For example, if we receive communion in the hand normatively for enough centuries (Lord have mercy!) -- although nothing is taught about it as a doctrine/teaching, per se -- would this practice indicate that the Church is Magisterially teaching something about, for example, the "dignity" of Christians, or perhaps a less serious view of sin, or impurity, or our unworthiness to approach God? Could it imply Pelagianism, even? Only in the minds of some, and not in the minds of others?

This is not scrupulous or anything, it's just an attempt to get what the heck the Magisterial teaching authority is and how it's actually expressed, by the Holy Spirit, in light of difficulties with the past 50 years of bishops, cardinals, and even a potentially unsound Pope.
(08-27-2016, 07:21 PM)Heorot Wrote: [ -> ]The Liturgy is certainly something in-between jurisdiction and teaching, since it both teaches the faith (doctrine) and is able to be added to or detracted from by the bishops/pope (jurisdiction).

The Liturgy does have aspects Catholic teaching, and we do even use historical liturgies in theology as evidence of particular beliefs. For instance St. Thomas will talk of the Eucharist representing three things, the Passion, Grace and Heavenly Glory based on three-fold division in "O Sacrum Convivium".

Still, the Liturgy itself is a vehicle for teaching, but it's elements are more regulated by liturgical law, which is, properly, part of the jurisdictional power of the Church. This explains, for instance, it's historic variability, the diversity of rites and customs.

(08-27-2016, 07:21 PM)Heorot Wrote: [ -> ]Do long-term uses of stunted or even incomplete liturgies by bishops necessarily teach something, for example? Is the liturgy itself, and its actions and prayers, not only expressive of the faith but somehow formative of it?

Generally, no, and especially not in the modern era (since 1400) since the Church has be very careful to be clear about her teaching in more explicit ways.

Clearly, there is a relation, and even in Mediator Dei, Pius XII makes clear that orthodoxy and liturgical orthopraxis are intimately tied together, but it's not a direct enough link that liturgical praxis defines magisterial teachings.

(08-27-2016, 07:21 PM)Heorot Wrote: [ -> ]For example, if we receive communion in the hand normatively for enough centuries (Lord have mercy!) -- although nothing is taught about it as a doctrine/teaching, per se -- would this practice indicate that the Church is Magisterially teaching something about, for example, the "dignity" of Christians, or perhaps a less serious view of sin, or impurity, or our unworthiness to approach God? Could it imply Pelagianism, even? Only in the minds of some, and not in the minds of others?

This is not scrupulous or anything, it's just an attempt to get what the heck the Magisterial teaching authority is and how it's actually expressed, by the Holy Spirit, in light of difficulties with the past 50 years of bishops, cardinals, and even a potentially unsound Pope.

Communion in the hand is an abuse of the long-standing discipline of the Church, but nothing novel. The short answer is, no, this abuse is not a source for some magisterial teaching.

It certainly, however, may indirectly lead many to errors.
(08-27-2016, 08:45 PM)MagisterMusicae Wrote: [ -> ]It certainly, however, may indirectly lead many to errors.

All of what you said above makes sense to me, except this. Do a Magisterial/jurisdictional set of actions of the Church which lead "indirectly" to errors at all jeopardize the Magisterium as teacher? I mean, how exactly does the Holy Spirit guide or protect the Magisterium? Especially when things leading to indirect errors become widespread throughout the Church. Is this simply a matter of using the willpower to engage in better Catechesis?
(08-27-2016, 06:48 PM)MagisterMusicae Wrote: [ -> ]
(08-27-2016, 03:52 PM)1seeker Wrote: [ -> ]
(08-27-2016, 01:17 PM)MagisterMusicae Wrote: [ -> ]
(08-27-2016, 01:48 AM)Heorot Wrote: [ -> ]When the Church's bishops act in a certain way for any given time, can that count as a teaching?

Not usually.

There are three powers in the Church: The power of teaching (Magisterium), the power of ruling (Jurisdiction) and the power of Orders.

This doesn't answer question; OP asks whether long-term teaching counts as the Magisterium. The answer is, it does. Vatican 1 defined Ordinary Universal Magisterium as something which is taught by bishops united with the pope across time and space. It doesn't require any special proclamations or extraordinary formulas.

When something is taught across time and space, it is infallible, just as a specific Papal proclamation would be. Therefore the actions of the church, when done long enough, and by the majority of the Church, count as infallible.

It indeed answers the question, if you read just a bit father along ... you stopped too early.

The question asks whether long-term consistency in disciplinary acts represents a long-established teaching. The short answer is no, because the two things pertain to two different powers.

If I have the power to mow my lawn and the power to drive my car, just because I drive to the gas station to get fuel every Saturday does not mean I mow my lawn every Saturday. To complate the two is to compare apples and oranges.

Universal teaching over a significant period of time is exactly what the First Vatican Council is referencing when it speaks of the Ordinary Universal Magisterium. The magisterium is the teaching power of the Church. It is not the ruling power of the Church, which is Jurisdiction.

The power of Jurisdiction is what is exercised when a bishop make a juridical decision on how to punish someone for an ecclesiastical crime. Long-term disciplinary actions (which are acts of Jurisdiction) do not create teaching, because discipline does not pertain to the teaching power.

Okay, fair enough about the "letter of the question." I've addressed "the spirit of the question" instead.

Is it possible to act without there being any supporting teachings, implicit or explicit? In the case of OP's scenario there are countless letters, proclamations and edicts which advocate handing heretics over for burning, defend it as moral practice, and explain why indeed it is a moral obligation.

Unless you posit that the actions happened randomly, or haphazardly, or without any explicit teachings concerning them, you must concede that there were and always are teachings which coincide with [i]acts.
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