Dealing with apparent contradictions in Church teaching
JayneK,

Many thanks for initiating a very important discussion and one that is fundamental to the controversy in the Church since the end of Vatican II.

In your OP you rightly point that what may appear at first glance to be a contradiction may in fact be an accidental difference, shift of emphasis, a matter of prudential teaching, or a quote taken out of context. You correctly point out that  
Quote:A difference between two Church teachings is not necessarily a contradiction between them.


However, you then go on to say
Quote:However, at times one needs a fairly strong background in theology and/or history to understand why two teachings are different.  People who do not have this background should go to the default position - Church teaching is not in error.  They should assume their lack of knowledge is the reason for their perception of a contradiction.

Now, while this may be true in certain truths that are inherently difficult to understand, however, this surely does not apply to those truths - such as the Divinity of Christ, the moral necessity of belonging to the Church of Christ for salvation, the Divine Maternity of the Blessed Virgin, and so on - that can be grasped easily by a person with an average intellect.

The idea that the truths of the faith can only be understood by those who have formally studied theology or history finds its rebuttal in the saying of Our Lord "I confess to thee, O Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because thou hast hid these things from the wise and prudent, and hast revealed them to the little ones." (Matthew 11:25) A person who is striving to live a virtuous and holy life is more apt to comprehend the truths of the Catholic faith than a theologian or historian who "[has] not the spirit of Christ" (The Imitation of Christ I, 1)

Thus, it was, as Cardinal Newman stated, that during the Arian Crisis "the Divine tradition committed to the infallible Church was proclaimed and maintained far more by the faithful than by the episcopate" (The Rambler, Vol. I, new series, Part II, July 1859, pp. 198-230). It was the simple in faith who recognised that the majority of the members of the Magisterium had defected from the orthodox Trinitarian faith and who refused to follow them into heresy even though the Pope at the time gave the appearance of subscribing to their heresy.

If we deny the ability of the faithful to recognise when the truths of the faith are under attack, as you seem to do, then we also deny the ability of the faithful to comprehend those very truths in the first place. We thus make of the Catholic faith a gnostic system divided into an inner circle of those who 'understand' (the members of the Magisterium and certain theologians) and an outer circle of those who do not 'understand' and, therefore, must give unqualified assent to what the members of the inner circle tell them. That is Gnosticism (manifested in religious cults and totalitarian regimes) but it is not the Catholic faith.

As Monsignor Bruno Gherardini has written
Quote:First of all, it must be said that the Magisterium is not a ...caste privileged over and above the people of God, a kind of higher power that must be obeyed without further ado. It is a service, a diakonia. (Church-Tradition-Magisterium)

I want to address the question of whether there are indeed contradictions in magisterial teaching but our daughter has not been sleeping so I'm going to head to bed now to catch up on as much as sleep as I can!
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(08-22-2012, 04:28 PM)TrentCath Wrote:
(08-22-2012, 12:54 PM)Scriptorium Wrote: Maybe I failed to communicate myself well. Even though I am unaware of Abp Lefebvre mocking TOTB, that would lead me to want to read it. I am not necessarily going to them initially for my "lectio divina", but to see whether said mock was appropriate. I would come to it to strengthen my argument against it, to vendicate it and discount that criticism, or sort of adopt a neutral position that it can be taken or left. I read TOTB because of Michael Matt's frequent criticisms of it. I read more into rock music, music theory and philosophy because of Michael Matt and John Vennari's anti-rock music stance. I am reading St Benedicta because some trads malign her as a "new saint". I read about New Theology because the word "modernism" is thrown in the widest possible way. I read about personalism because Bishop Tessier criticizes it. I read Benedict XVI's works because he is called a heretic and modernist. See where I am going? Some were very beneficial to me. Some interesting. I can say, though, that I am better equipped than before to come to both sets of works.

Yes, the foolish idea that one should expose ones faith to danger in order to strengthen it, books were banned ( and it was sinful to read them) and burned for a reason

I never exposed my faith to danger. I would not have read them if they did. Also there was and always has been indulgence given to those who do research or wish to refute the work. Fr Ippolito Desideri had to become immersed in the Tibetan religion and culture in order to refute their errors and formulate works which appealed to their ways of expression. And I can see nothing wrong with Catholics wanting to read works by their Popes and saints, nor wanting to test their own presupposition to see if they stand.
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(08-22-2012, 06:00 PM)Scriptorium Wrote:
(08-22-2012, 04:28 PM)TrentCath Wrote:
(08-22-2012, 12:54 PM)Scriptorium Wrote: Maybe I failed to communicate myself well. Even though I am unaware of Abp Lefebvre mocking TOTB, that would lead me to want to read it. I am not necessarily going to them initially for my "lectio divina", but to see whether said mock was appropriate. I would come to it to strengthen my argument against it, to vendicate it and discount that criticism, or sort of adopt a neutral position that it can be taken or left. I read TOTB because of Michael Matt's frequent criticisms of it. I read more into rock music, music theory and philosophy because of Michael Matt and John Vennari's anti-rock music stance. I am reading St Benedicta because some trads malign her as a "new saint". I read about New Theology because the word "modernism" is thrown in the widest possible way. I read about personalism because Bishop Tessier criticizes it. I read Benedict XVI's works because he is called a heretic and modernist. See where I am going? Some were very beneficial to me. Some interesting. I can say, though, that I am better equipped than before to come to both sets of works.

Yes, the foolish idea that one should expose ones faith to danger in order to strengthen it, books were banned ( and it was sinful to read them) and burned for a reason

I never exposed my faith to danger. I would not have read them if they did. Also there was and always has been indulgence given to those who do research or wish to refute the work. Fr Ippolito Desideri had to become immersed in the Tibetan religion and culture in order to refute their errors and formulate works which appealed to their ways of expression. And I can see nothing wrong with Catholics wanting to read works by their Popes and saints, nor wanting to test their own presupposition to see if they stand.

If you say so Script, your attitude and justifications seem to suggest otherwise.
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(08-22-2012, 02:09 PM)Scriptorium Wrote: Can it be said that any aspects of Modernism that have been integrated into the official magisterium of the Church have been "purified" of its error?

For instance, the official magisterium of the Church does not:

- advocate complete freedom of reason from faith, the State from the Church, private conscience over papal definitions or anathemas, or science from religion;
- advocate a spirit of evolution, movement, and change in contradiction to anything remaining stable and fixed (including dogma);
- or advocate reconciliation amongst people based on feelings alone, or completely ignoring real doctrinal differences.

There are many errors besides these that are advanced by the conciliar magisterium.
Quote:There are certainly modernists operating within the Church, and modernist tendencies in every direction, but can we truly say that Modernism has affected the official magisterium of the Church thereby concluding that it contains errors?

I would demonstrate that this has happened, but you would just deny it.  :grin: Even if I were to demonstrate that the post-conciliar ordinary and universal magisterium has been corrupted, you could simply deny that the latter is infallible, since this seems to be a greatly misunderstood teaching of the Church. The conservative approach seems to be a somewhat unfalsifiable position, since the line keeps moving and words don't mean anything definitive anymore.
Quote:Can we also say that some of the "correctives" of VII, and the post VII era contain elements in common with the Modernists, but is not actually Modernism? For example, a strong desire to reconcile men, but not taken to the extreme of completely ignoring real doctrinal differences.

If it founded upon Modernistic principles, it cannot be from the Holy Ghost.
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(08-22-2012, 04:35 PM)Scotus Wrote: JayneK, [...]

Wonderful post, especially this part:
Quote:If we deny the ability of the faithful to recognise when the truths of the faith are under attack, as you seem to do, then we also deny the ability of the faithful to comprehend those very truths in the first place. We thus make of the Catholic faith a gnostic system divided into an inner circle of those who 'understand' (the members of the Magisterium and certain theologians) and an outer circle of those who do not 'understand' and, therefore, must give unqualified assent to what the members of the inner circle tell them. That is Gnosticism (manifested in religious cults and totalitarian regimes) but it is not the Catholic faith.

As Monsignor Bruno Gherardini has written
Quote:First of all, it must be said that the Magisterium is not a ...caste privileged over and above the people of God, a kind of higher power that must be obeyed without further ado. It is a service, a diakonia. (Church-Tradition-Magisterium)

The faithful must be able to understand the Faith and know what it teaches. It reminds me of this teaching of Pius XI:
Quote:8. This being so, it is clear that the Apostolic See cannot on any terms take part in their assemblies, nor is it anyway lawful for Catholics either to support or to work for such enterprises; for if they do so they will be giving countenance to a false Christianity, quite alien to the one Church of Christ. Shall We suffer, what would indeed be iniquitous, the truth, and a truth divinely revealed, to be made a subject for compromise? For here there is question of defending revealed truth. Jesus Christ sent His Apostles into the whole world in order that they might permeate all nations with the Gospel faith, and, lest they should err, He willed beforehand that they should be taught by the Holy Ghost:[15] has then this doctrine of the Apostles completely vanished away, or sometimes been obscured, in the Church, whose ruler and defense is God Himself? If our Redeemer plainly said that His Gospel was to continue not only during the times of the Apostles, but also till future ages, is it possible that the object of faith should in the process of time become so obscure and uncertain, that it would be necessary to-day to tolerate opinions which are even incompatible one with another? If this were true, we should have to confess that the coming of the Holy Ghost on the Apostles, and the perpetual indwelling of the same Spirit in the Church, and the very preaching of Jesus Christ, have several centuries ago, lost all their efficacy and use, to affirm which would be blasphemy. But the Only-begotten Son of God, when He commanded His representatives to teach all nations, obliged all men to give credence to whatever was made known to them by "witnesses preordained by God,"[16] and also confirmed His command with this sanction: "He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be condemned."[17] These two commands of Christ, which must be fulfilled, the one, namely, to teach, and the other to believe, cannot even be understood, unless the Church proposes a complete and easily understood teaching, and is immune when it thus teaches from all danger of erring. In this matter, those also turn aside from the right path, who think that the deposit of truth such laborious trouble, and with such lengthy study and discussion, that a man's life would hardly suffice to find and take possession of it; as if the most merciful God had spoken through the prophets and His Only-begotten Son merely in order that a few, and those stricken in years, should learn what He had revealed through them, and not that He might inculcate a doctrine of faith and morals, by which man should be guided through the whole course of his moral life.
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So reading the writings of Saint Teresa Benedicta of the Cross can put our soul in danger?  What other Saint's writing ought to go on the Index, TrentCath?  ???
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(08-22-2012, 06:41 PM)Parmandur Wrote: So reading the writings of Saint Teresa Benedicta of the Cross can put our soul in danger?  What other Saint's writing ought to go on the Index, TrentCath?  ???

???

Didn't say this, said reading unorthodox writings would do this, i.e pope john paul II and modernists.
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(08-22-2012, 04:35 PM)Scotus Wrote: However, you then go on to say
Quote:However, at times one needs a fairly strong background in theology and/or history to understand why two teachings are different.  People who do not have this background should go to the default position - Church teaching is not in error.  They should assume their lack of knowledge is the reason for their perception of a contradiction.

Now, while this may be true in certain truths that are inherently difficult to understand, however, this surely does not apply to those truths - such as the Divinity of Christ, the moral necessity of belonging to the Church of Christ for salvation, the Divine Maternity of the Blessed Virgin, and so on - that can be grasped easily by a person with an average intellect.

The idea that the truths of the faith can only be understood by those who have formally studied theology or history finds its rebuttal in the saying of Our Lord "I confess to thee, O Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because thou hast hid these things from the wise and prudent, and hast revealed them to the little ones." (Matthew 11:25) A person who is striving to live a virtuous and holy life is more apt to comprehend the truths of the Catholic faith than a theologian or historian who "[has] not the spirit of Christ" (The Imitation of Christ I, 1)

Note that I did qualify my statement by saying "at times" (I have bolded it above). I was not saying that the truths of the Faith can only be understood by those who have formally studied theology or history. However, you are right that I did not clearly deal with the situation you are describing.  A complete treatment of the question I raised would need to include this.

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(08-22-2012, 07:06 PM)JayneK Wrote:
(08-22-2012, 04:35 PM)Scotus Wrote: However, you then go on to say
Quote:However, at times one needs a fairly strong background in theology and/or history to understand why two teachings are different.  People who do not have this background should go to the default position - Church teaching is not in error.  They should assume their lack of knowledge is the reason for their perception of a contradiction.

Now, while this may be true in certain truths that are inherently difficult to understand, however, this surely does not apply to those truths - such as the Divinity of Christ, the moral necessity of belonging to the Church of Christ for salvation, the Divine Maternity of the Blessed Virgin, and so on - that can be grasped easily by a person with an average intellect.

The idea that the truths of the faith can only be understood by those who have formally studied theology or history finds its rebuttal in the saying of Our Lord "I confess to thee, O Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because thou hast hid these things from the wise and prudent, and hast revealed them to the little ones." (Matthew 11:25) A person who is striving to live a virtuous and holy life is more apt to comprehend the truths of the Catholic faith than a theologian or historian who "[has] not the spirit of Christ" (The Imitation of Christ I, 1)

Note that I did qualify my statement by saying "at times" (I have bolded it above). I was not saying that the truths of the Faith can only be understood by those who have formally studied theology or history. However, you are right that I did not clearly deal with the situation you are describing.  A complete treatment of the question I raised would need to include this.

??? Didn't you admit you were wrong to state this?
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(08-22-2012, 06:34 PM)INPEFESS Wrote: The faithful must be able to understand the Faith and know what it teaches.

You tend to support your position with quotes from works that I would guess over 99% of Catholics are not familiar with.  The vast majority of the faithful do not think that the Magisterium has abandoned the Faith.  I propose that this is precisely because they understand the the Faith and know what it teaches.  It is a small "gnostic" minority that tries to undermine Magisterial authority with obscure quotes.
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