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 Humani generis and the Holy Father's Ordinary Magisterium 
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New post Humani generis and the Holy Father's Ordinary Magisterium
(The following is an exact reproduction of the American Ecclesiastical Review, Vol. CXXV, July 1951, pgs. 53-62.)

THE HUMANI GENERIS AND THE HOLY FATHER’S
ORDINARY MAGISTERIUM


There is one section of the Holy Father’s encyclical Humani generis which has aroused a special deal of attention in our own country. It is the following paragraph, the one numbered “20” both in the NCWC translation and in the Latin text which was printed in last November’s issue of AER.

Quote:
Nor must it be thought that what is expounded in Encyclical Letters does not of itself demand consent, since in writing such letters the Popes do not exercise the supreme power of their teaching authority. For these matters are taught with the ordinary teaching authority, of which it is true to say: “He who heareth you, heareth me”; and generally what is expounded and inculcated in Encyclical Letters already for other reasons appertains to Catholic doctrine. But if the Supreme Pontiffs in their official documents purposely pass judgment on a matter up to that time under dispute, it is obvious that that matter, according to the and will of the same Pontiffs, cannot be any longer considered a question open to discussion among theologians. (1)


Each sentence of this paragraph contains an important theological truth. The first expresses a sometimes obscured fact about the Holy Father’s teaching activity. The second sentence brings out a truth which has not hitherto been set down very frequently in that section of theological writing dealing with the Holy Father’s teaching power. It constitutes a striking contribution to theological literature. The third stands as a necessary inference from the first and second sentences. It has definite and intensely practical implications for present day theologians.

The first statement of this paragraph condemns any minimizing of the authority of papal encyclicals which might be based on the subterfuge that the Holy Father does not use the fullness of his doctrinal power in such documents. The teaching of the encyclicals postulates an assensum per se, an acceptance by Catholics precisely because it is the teaching of the supreme doctrinal authority within the universal Church of Jesus Christ on earth. It demands such acceptance even when the Holy Father does not use supremam sui Magisterii potestatem. In other words, Catholics are bound to tender, not merely a courteous acknowledgment, but a genuine and sincere inward acceptance, to teachings which the Holy Father sets forth with a note or qualification less than de fide or even doctrina certa.

It is impossible to see the full meaning of this teaching without having an accurate understanding of what constitutes the suprema magisterii potestas of the Roman Pontiff. Here two distinct misconceptions must be avoided. The suprema magisterii potestas is in no way limited to the solemn teaching activity of the Holy Father, to the exclusion of the doctrinal pronouncements he makes in the ordinary manner. Neither is it in any way restricted to the primary object of the Church’s doctrinal competence, to the exclusion of those truths which lie within what is known as the secondary object of the Church’s infallible teaching power. The Holy Father actually exercises his suprema magisterii potestas whenever he issues an infallible or irrevocable doctrinal decision or pronouncement binding upon the universal Church militant. The mode or manner of such a pronouncement may be either solemn or extraordinary or ordinary. He may speak within the field of the primary object of the Church’s infallible teaching power, or within that of the secondary object. In any case, where the decision is final and is addressed to and binding upon the universal Church militant, the utterance is an exercise of the suprema magisterii potestas. This holds true, we must remember, whether the statement be one of the solemn judgment or the ordinary magisterium.

The first declaration presupposes that documents or statements in which the Holy Father uses his suprema magisterii potestas demand acceptance by all Christians, and that such acceptance is due to these pronouncements by reason of the authority or weight of the pronouncements themselves. To this presupposition it adds the declaration that the papal encyclicals (and similar writings or oral statements addressed by the Holy Father directly or indirectly to the universal Church militant) demand a genuine acceptance on the part of Christians even where the suprema magisterii potestas is not employed.

In other words, the Humani generis here renews the Church’s teaching that the Holy Father is empowered, not only to obligate the disciples of Jesus Christ to accept, on faith or as certain, statements within the sphere of the Church’s doctrinal competence, but also to impose the duty of accepting other propositions within this same sphere as opinions. The Roman Pontiff’s commission and responsibility in the doctrinal line within the true Church are such as to demand the power to command doctrinal assent from the faithful for propositions which he teaches as less than certain, or as less than de fide. It lies within the power, and sometimes within the duty of the Roman Pontiff to command his people to assent to propositions which he himself presents as statements which eventually could be abandoned.

Basically, there is nothing new in this concept. The Sovereign Pontiffs have frequently stigmatized statements with a doctrinal censure less severe than that of heresy, and less severe than that of error. It has always been recognized as a fact that Catholics are obliged in conscience to accept these condemnations, and to reject the proscribed propositions inwardly and sincerely. In the last analysis, this process involved the command to adopt an opinion, since the Church, in designating a proposition merely as something rash or ill sounding (to mention only two of these doctrinal censures inferior to those of heresy and error), has not given a definition or completely definitive judgment on the matter in question. The irrevocable decision is to be found only the definitions properly so called, the designation of some propositions as de fide or as certain. Where the declaration is not irrevocable, it is not a definition in the strict sense at all. Properly speaking, such declarations call for an assent which is at once obligatory and opinionative in nature.

The Humani generis thus reasserts the right of the Roman Pontiff to command such an opinionative assent. When, in his encyclicals, or in any other documents or utterances of his doctrinal office, he imposes a teaching upon the members of the universal Church militant with anything less than his suprema magisterii potestas, he is calling for such an opinionative judgment. The faithful must, if they are to be loyal in their following of Christ, accept this opinionative judgment as their own. The obligation imposed by the encyclicals is not satisfied when a man merely allows that the teaching set forth in a non-infallible papal pronouncement is a respectable opinion. The followers of Christ, guided by the teaching of Christ which comes to them in the declarations of His Vicar on earth, are bound to take that opinion as their own.

The day may come when that opinion will have to be modified. The Church allows for this possibility when it presents this teaching by other than an irrevocable pronouncement. When that day comes, the ecclesia docens within which Our Lord lives and teaches will realize that the holding of this opinion as it has hitherto been set forth is no longer requisite for the purity of the true faith in the actual circumstances then existent. Unquestionably the labors of the theologians and the other Catholic scholars throughout the world will have contributed to the formation of that judgment. But, when that judgment comes, it will inevitably be the work, not of separate scholars within the Church, but of the ecclesia docens itself. The voice of Christ the Teacher within His Church comes to us through the ecclesia docens, and never in opposition to it.

Actually, it is quite impossible to grasp the meaning of this first statement in the twentieth paragraph of the Humani generis unless we take direct cognizance of the fact that Our Lord remains always as the Supreme Teacher within His Church. The authoritative definitions and the declarations of the Catholic Church are not like the resolutions of some mere learned society or professional group. They are the continual doctrinal directions given by Our Lord, through the instrumentality of the ecclesia docens, within His kingdom on earth. They serve to enlighten and guide the disciples of Christ during their period of pilgrimage on this earth in such a way that they may arrive safely in the Church’s patria of heaven. Frequently it would happen that, in an existent status of science or of culture, the acceptance of some opinion or the rejection of another opinion would endanger the integrity of the faith itself among the people of God. It is in such cases that Our Lord, through the instrumentality of His servants in the ecclesia docens, commands His followers to adopt one opinion or to reject another, precisely as an opinion. The modification of these declarations, when and if such modifications ever comes, in no way violates the infallibility of the Church since the doctrine in question was never presented as irrevocable and infallible teaching.

The second sentence in this twentieth paragraph of the encyclical has great importance for modern students of sacred theology. It affirms that the encyclicals are organs of the Holy Father’s magisterium ordinarium, and that the promise Our Lord made to His apostles (and through them to their successors in the ecclesia docens) that “He who hears you, hears me,” (2) applies to the magisterium ordinarium just as truly as it applies to the solemn judgments issued by the Holy Father himself or by the ecclesia docens as a whole. This same sentence likewise adds the comment that most of the statements which the faithful are obligated to accept from the encyclicals have already been allocated within the field of Catholic doctrine on some other title. In other words, the Humani generis takes cognizance of the fact that no individual pontifical letter is composed entirely (or even in great part) of assertions which have never before been set forth authoritatively by the ecclesia docens.

In a general way, the theological literature dealing with the Church’s infallible and authoritative teaching power has tended to restrict the term “ordinary and universal magisterium” to the teachings of the residential bishops of the Catholic Church scattered throughout the world and united with the Roman Pontiff. The terminology of these volumes left little room for any study of the ordinary magisterium of the Roman Pontiff himself. Occasionally we encounter some theological writer careless enough to deny that the Holy Father can teach infallibly other than by solemn judgment or definition. (3) For the most part, however, there is very little comment at all about the Roman Pontiff’s magisterium ordinarium. Hence the declaration of the Humani generis to the effect that teaching presented authoritatively (that is, in such a way that Catholics are obliged in conscience to accept it and to adopt it as their own) in the papal encyclicals comes to us by way of the magisterium ordinarium is definitely a contribution to modern theological thought.

The Vatican Council had taught that a dogma of the faith is a truth which the Church finds contained in either of the two sources of divine revelation and which it presents as divine revelation that men must accept as such. It specified that this presentation might be made either in a solemn judgment or by the Church’s ordinary and universal magisterium. Most of the manuals took this term “universal” to mean the teaching of the apostolic college of the Catholic Church as it is scattered throughout the world. In other words, they considered the word as applying to a magisterium that was universal in the sense that it was acting over the face of the entire earth at the same time. They acknowledged that such a magisterium universale et ordinarium could be the organ by which a dogma of the Catholic faith might be presented to the people of Jesus Christ, and they pointed to the dogma of the Church’s own infallibility as a teaching that is proposed to the members of the Church militant in exactly that fashion.

Now it is a dogma of the Church, presented as such by the Vatican Council itself, that the Holy Father enjoys the same infallibility in defining doctrines about faith and morals that the universal Church (or the entire ecclesia docens) possesses. Thus, since the entire ecclesia docens (the residential bishops of the Catholic Church united with their head, St. Peter’s successor in the See of Rome) can define a dogma either in a solemn judgment (when they are gathered together in an oecumenical council) or in an ordinary manner (when they are actually resident in their own dioceses throughout the world), it follows that the Holy Father himself can speak “ex cathedra” and define a dogma either in solemn judgment (as in cases of the definitions of Our Lady’s Immaculate Conception and her glorious bodily Assumption) or by some ordinary means, as, for example, in an encyclical letter.

In such a case, the Holy Father’s teaching is universal. He exercises, according to the divine constitution of the Church itself, a true and episcopal jurisdiction over every one of the faithful and over every one of the other pastors within the Church militant. Thus there is nothing whatsoever to prevent the magisterium ordinarium of the Holy Father from being considered precisely as a magisterium universale. It is de fide that the Church’s magisterium ordinarium et universale can be the vehicle for the definition and presentation of a Catholic dogma. It is perfectly certain that this same magisterium ordinarium et universale can also be the vehicle or the organ of a definition within the field of the Church’s secondary object of infallible teaching. The encyclicals of the Holy Father can be and actually are statements of this magisterium. Hence they can be documents in which a dogma is defined or a certain truth of Catholic doctrine (which, however, is not presented precisely as revealed) is brought to the people of God on earth. This is the truth upon which the Humani generis insists at this point. And, since the power to impose authoritatively what may be called an interpretatively conditional assent (an assent which is definitely below the order of real certitude and hence belongs within the field of the opinionative) necessarily accompanies the power to pronounce an infallible judgment, this statement of the Humani generis carries with it the necessary implication that the Holy Father can and does teach authoritatively in his encyclicals when he wishes to impose upon the faithful the obligation of accepting a proposition which he presents neither as de fide nor as theologically certain.

The Humani generis likewise adverts to the fact that, when a person hearkens to the authoritative teaching of the ecclesia docens, that person is actually hearkening to the voice of Our Lord Himself. Once again, it takes this means to remind us that the Church does not teach in this world other than as the instrument and the body of Jesus Christ. The man who quibbles about the Church’s doctrinal authority is finding fault, in the last analysis, with the means by which Our Lord brings His divine truth to the children of men. There can be no intelligent appreciation about the Church’s magisterium except where and insofar as this paramount fact is taken into consideration.

The last statement of the twentieth paragraph in the Humani generis contains one of the most valuable and important lessons of the entire encyclical. It answers a vitally basic question which must be considered before any practical appreciation of the Church’s teaching can be given. The question is this: how can we tell that any statement in a papal encyclical (or in any other document of the Church’s magisterium) is one which Catholics are bound in conscience to accept by reason of the authority of the document itself?

The Humani generis does not try to offer anything like a complete answer to this query. It contents itself here with pointing out one instance in which Catholics are definitely and obviously bound in conscience to give an inward assent to the teachings of a papal document. Such an instance occurs, according to the Humani generis, when the Holy Father takes the trouble to issue a pronouncement on a subject which has, up until the issuance of this particular document in which the pronouncement is contained, been considered as open to controversy.

Clearly nothing can be considered as open to question among Catholics where there has been a definite and direct word of the authoritative ecclesiastical magisterium on this subject. Hence the res hactenus controversa to which the Humani generis refers must be a question not as yet decided by the authority of the Holy See or of the ecclesia docens as a whole. The point established in the encyclical is that when the Holy Father, data opera, issues a statement on this matter, it can no longer legitimately be considered as still open to debate among theologians. This remains true even where the sententia pronounced by the Roman Pontiff is not put forward as irrevocable, where, in other words, the contradictory of the teaching asserted is to be condemned with a theological censure less than de fide or erronea.

All that is required in this instance is that the pontifical document should put forward a judgment on a question which has hitherto been considered as undecided, that it should make a definite statement (sententiam ferre) which would be contradictory to or incompatible with some of the opinions previously expressed on this question by theologians. Nothing is said about the necessity of any particular formulae. The intention of the Roman Pontiff to settle the question (either finally and irrevocably, by a declaration that this truth is de fide or at least that it is doctrina certa, or by an interpretatively conditional and opinionative judgment, according to which the contradictory of the teaching given would be qualified as temeraria), is established by the very fact that the Pontiff, in one of his official documents or declarations, takes the trouble to make a pronouncement on the subject. Nothing more is needed.

An example of this procedure is to be found in the treatment of the question about the immediate source of episcopal jurisdiction in the Holy Father’s encyclical Mystici Corporis. Prior to the appearance of that document there had been many excellent theologians who had contended that the residential bishops of the Catholic Church receive their jurisdictional authority immediately from Our Lord. A greater number of theologians (and writers de iure publico ecclesiastico) held, on the contrary, that these men received their powers from Our Lord through the Roman Pontiff, in such a way that they came immediately from the Holy Father. In the Mystici Corporis, the Pope spoke of the residential bishops’ ordinary power of jurisdiction as something “immediate sibi ab eodem Pontifice Summo impertita.” That phrase was rightly taken as an indication that the controversy had been settled, once and for all. Where before the teaching that bishops received their power of jurisdiction immediately from the Roman Pontiff had been qualified as “communis,” it now became known as “doctrina certa.” (4) The fact that the Sovereign Pontiff had, as it were “gone out of his way,” or “taken the trouble,” to speak out on a question which had hitherto been regarded as controversial, was taken as an indication that he wished to put an end to the discussion.

In this particular case, the Holy Father expressed himself categorically. Speaking of the bishops’ ordinary power of jurisdiction, he qualified it unconditionally as something received immediately from the Sovereign Pontiff. Hence the resulting note was doctrina certa. It would also have been within his power to impose this same teaching as an opinionative judgment, and in this case the censure attached to the contradictory of this teaching would have been ad minus temeraria.

The fact that a question is thus treated by the Roman Pontiff is, according to the Humani generis, an indication that the Holy Father intends that this subject should no longer be considered as a question open to free debate among theologians. The theologians of the Catholic Church have always recognized the fact than an intention on the part of the Holy Father is requisite if the faithful are to be bound by the teaching contained in his official acta. Hitherto, however, there has been too much of a tendency to consider that such an intention would have to be manifested by some sort of formula, as, for instance, by the use of such terms as “define” or “declare.” The Humani generis has put an end to this dangerous minimism. Henceforth Catholic theologians have no excuse for not recognizing the fact that a deliberate pontifical statement on a subject which has hitherto been rightly considered as open to debate, takes the matter treated out of this category and makes it a subject on which Catholic writers are bound to accept the judgment of Christ’s Vicar on earth.

If the decision of the Holy Father be not irrevocable, the fact that the matter is no longer open to debate does not in any way prevent individual theologians from investigating the subject with a view of working towards a modification of the present Catholic position. There is always at least the absolute possibility that such investigation may eventually result in a modification of the opinion incumbent upon Catholics by reason of the authority of the Roman Pontiff. It is wrong, however, to teach or to advocate the now reproved position. If the decision is irrevocable, but only in the sense that the Holy Father has placed this teaching within the category of doctrina certa (but not doctrina de fide), then the theologian is free to argue about the possibility of a de fide or dogmatic definition of this point, but he is definitely not free to teach or to hold that the doctrine set forth by the Holy Father can be rejected or modified at all. No teaching is set forth as certain unless it has been defined as true, unless there is no possibility, no fear of danger, that the opposite may turn out to be true.

Joseph Clifford Fenton
The Catholic University of America
Washington, D.C.


1. This paragraph is found on p. 10 of the NCWC translation. The Latin original of this paragraph in printed in AER, CXXIII, 5 (Nov. 1950), 389.
2. Luke, 10: 16.
3. One writer on theological subjects who made this mistake is Antoine Chevasse, in his essay, “La véritable conception de l’infaillibilité pontificale,” in the symposium Église et unite (Lille, 1948), pp. 80ff.
4. Cf. Msgr. Alfredo Ottaviani, in his Institutiones iuris publici ecclesiastici, 3rd edition (Rome: Typis Polyglottis Vaticanis, 1947), I, 413; and also the discussion on this point in AER, CXXI, 3 (Sept. 1949), 210.

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Fri Mar 07, 2008 8:18 am
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New post Re: Humani generis and the Holy Father's Ordinary Magisterium
Dear readers,

This section of Monsignor Fenton's article expresses what he seems to admit is a novelty in systematic theology - although he takes it as a proper development put forward by Pope Pius XII in Humani generis.

Monsignor Fenton wrote:
In a general way, the theological literature dealing with the Church’s infallible and authoritative teaching power has tended to restrict the term “ordinary and universal magisterium” to the teachings of the residential bishops of the Catholic Church scattered throughout the world and united with the Roman Pontiff. The terminology of these volumes left little room for any study of the ordinary magisterium of the Roman Pontiff himself. Occasionally we encounter some theological writer careless enough to deny that the Holy Father can teach infallibly other than by solemn judgment or definition. (3) For the most part, however, there is very little comment at all about the Roman Pontiff’s magisterium ordinarium. Hence the declaration of the Humani generis to the effect that teaching presented authoritatively (that is, in such a way that Catholics are obliged in conscience to accept it and to adopt it as their own) in the papal encyclicals comes to us by way of the magisterium ordinarium is definitely a contribution to modern theological thought.

The Vatican Council had taught that a dogma of the faith is a truth which the Church finds contained in either of the two sources of divine revelation and which it presents as divine revelation that men must accept as such. It specified that this presentation might be made either in a solemn judgment or by the Church’s ordinary and universal magisterium. Most of the manuals took this term “universal” to mean the teaching of the apostolic college of the Catholic Church as it is scattered throughout the world. In other words, they considered the word as applying to a magisterium that was universal in the sense that it was acting over the face of the entire earth at the same time. They acknowledged that such a magisterium universale et ordinarium could be the organ by which a dogma of the Catholic faith might be presented to the people of Jesus Christ, and they pointed to the dogma of the Church’s own infallibility as a teaching that is proposed to the members of the Church militant in exactly that fashion.

Now it is a dogma of the Church, presented as such by the Vatican Council itself, that the Holy Father enjoys the same infallibility in defining doctrines about faith and morals that the universal Church (or the entire ecclesia docens) possesses. Thus, since the entire ecclesia docens (the residential bishops of the Catholic Church united with their head, St. Peter’s successor in the See of Rome) can define a dogma either in a solemn judgment (when they are gathered together in an oecumenical council) or in an ordinary manner (when they are actually resident in their own dioceses throughout the world), it follows that the Holy Father himself can speak “ex cathedra” and define a dogma either in solemn judgment (as in cases of the definitions of Our Lady’s Immaculate Conception and her glorious bodily Assumption) or by some ordinary means, as, for example, in an encyclical letter.

In such a case, the Holy Father’s teaching is universal. He exercises, according to the divine constitution of the Church itself, a true and episcopal jurisdiction over every one of the faithful and over every one of the other pastors within the Church militant. Thus there is nothing whatsoever to prevent the magisterium ordinarium of the Holy Father from being considered precisely as a magisterium universale. It is de fide that the Church’s magisterium ordinarium et universale can be the vehicle for the definition and presentation of a Catholic dogma. It is perfectly certain that this same magisterium ordinarium et universale can also be the vehicle or the organ of a definition within the field of the Church’s secondary object of infallible teaching. The encyclicals of the Holy Father can be and actually are statements of this magisterium. Hence they can be documents in which a dogma is defined or a certain truth of Catholic doctrine (which, however, is not presented precisely as revealed) is brought to the people of God on earth. This is the truth upon which the Humani generis insists at this point. And, since the power to impose authoritatively what may be called an interpretatively conditional assent (an assent which is definitely below the order of real certitude and hence belongs within the field of the opinionative) necessarily accompanies the power to pronounce an infallible judgment, this statement of the Humani generis carries with it the necessary implication that the Holy Father can and does teach authoritatively in his encyclicals when he wishes to impose upon the faithful the obligation of accepting a proposition which he presents neither as de fide nor as theologically certain.


Now, in order to see how this conflicts (or at least, adds radically to) my own prior understanding of the ordinary magisterium, which I believe is that of the earlier theologians, a quick review of this thread might be useful: viewtopic.php?p=203

Towards the bottom of the first page is a summary of the various terms used to discuss the magisterium. viewtopic.php?p=308#p308

Monsignor Fenton's novelty is his application of the term "universal" to the individual acts of a pope in teaching the faithful. He writes, "Most of the manuals took this term 'universal' to mean the teaching of the apostolic college of the Catholic Church as it is scattered throughout the world. In other words, they considered the word as applying to a magisterium that was universal in the sense that it was acting over the face of the entire earth at the same time." This is true, as far as I have seen, and it is certainly my own understanding.

Msgr. Fenton's argument for his own proposition is slightly unclear. It runs, "In such a case, the Holy Father’s teaching is universal. He exercises, according to the divine constitution of the Church itself, a true and episcopal jurisdiction over every one of the faithful and over every one of the other pastors within the Church militant. Thus there is nothing whatsoever to prevent the magisterium ordinarium of the Holy Father from being considered precisely as a magisterium universale."

Now, the introduction to his argument seems to restrict the characterisation of the Holy Father's magisterium as "universal" only to those cases in which he defines a dogma. "In such a case, the Holy Father’s teaching is universal." Yet his proof of this point, if it is a valid proof of that point, proves far more. It proves that the Holy Father's magisterium is universal every time he addresses the faithful generally - which means, every time he publishes any statement in the Acta Apostolicae Sedis.

Now, this argument seems to me to be cogent. But, and this is a big "but", was that what Vatican I meant when it defined that "all those things are to be believed by divine and Catholic faith which are contained in the word of God, written or handed down, and which the Church, either by a solemn judgement or by her ordinary and universal teaching, proposes for belief as having been divinely revealed"? And if it was what the Fathers meant in 1870, then why didn't the subsequent theologians make this clear in their manuals?

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New post Re: Humani generis and the Holy Father's Ordinary Magisterium
A very interesting subject, John, and one which, to be fully appreciated, calls, in my view, for some knowledge of the learned writings of the late Dom Paul Nau OSB and of Fr Bernard Lucien, which were written later than Mgr Fenton's article and bear on the same subject.

I think we can say that a part of Mgr Fenton's article here belongs decidedly to the field of private opinion and may be disagreed with (in fact I do disagree with it). But I also think that in the final analysis the disagreement is essentially semantic.

My reason for saying this is that what the believing Catholic really needs to know is which of the following categories a pronouncement fits into :

A) infallibly taught as divinely revealed,
B) infallibly taught but not as divinely revealed,
C) obligatory but not infallibly taught,
D) to be respected but not obligatorily held.

Now I don't think that the debatable part of Mgr Fenton's analysis makes any difference to this classification. Mgr Fenton is also commenting the question of how a pronouncement may belong to categories (a) and (b) - i.e. how it may be infallibly taught. And he effectively distinguishes four ways :

a) solemn pronouncement of pope and bishops (usually in council),
b) united teaching of pope and bishops without solemnity and not in council (which most theologians call the "ordinary and universal magisterium"),
c) solemn judgement of pope alone addressed to whole Church,
d) judgement of pope alone addressed to whole Church but without solemnity, e.g. in an encyclical.

The aspect of this which gives rise to much debate is method (d), concerning which there are three possible views :

i) (the view expounded by Mgr Fenton) : (d) is a true and distinct method by which the pope may communicate infallible teaching to the faithful;
ii) (my own view) (d) is not really distinct from (c). Even if he is writing in an encyclical, the conditions of the solemn judgment as laid down by Pastor Æternus can be verified. Hence if at any time the pope formally and irrevocably teaches the whole Church a doctrinal truth which all Catholics must believe, this constitutes the solemn judgment (c), leaving no room for the non-solemn individual papal pronouncement enjoying infallibility.
iii) (d) is non-existent : if the pope uses just an encyclical or similar to teach the faithful, his teaching will not enjoy infallibility. It will belong to categories (C) or (D), but not to (A) or (B);

Against this background, I agree with you that part of Mgr Fenton's explanation is rather surprising. He wants the infallible "ordinary and universal magisterium" to be exercisable by the pope alone. He recognises that most theologians don't use the term in that sense. Therefore, however satisfied he may be by his own reasoning, he is going to run into a problem : his explanation is just an opinion. And therefore it cannot suffice to prove that a given truth is infallibly taught.

But does this present a problem in practice ? Take the teaching of Quanta Cura condemning Religious Liberty or the teaching of Casti Connubii condemning contraception. Mgr Fenton would say that these are examples of infallible teaching presented by individual acts of the papal ordinary magisterium. I would say rather that the they are quite simply solemn judgments, i.e. acts of the papal extraordinary magisterium and that their presence inside an encyclical does not in any way prevent that. But what we would both agree on is that it is wrong to say that these two individual pronouncements do not in themselves enjoy infallibility and do not in themselves command the faithful to submit to them as certainly true.

In any event, the greater part of Mgr Fenton’s article is unquestionable : the doctrinal content of encyclicals normally belongs to category (C), not (D) as specified at the beginning of this post. And the obligation of adhering to the teaching of encyclicals with interior assent is particularly clear when the pope passes a judgment in an encyclical on a matter which up to that point has been open to theological debate.


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New post Re: Humani generis and the Holy Father's Ordinary Magisterium
Dear John,

This discussion is like swimming in very deep water. :) I have read and re-read Msgr. Fenton on these points, and hopefully with more of the texts online, readers will be able to grasp this issue better. I have also just read several times, the statments by yourself and John Daly, and I think this discussion is fascinating, and very important to comprehending this very complex isssue.

John Lane wrote:

Quote:
Now, the introduction to his argument seems to restrict the characterisation of the Holy Father's magisterium as "universal" only to those cases in which he defines a dogma. "In such a case, the Holy Father’s teaching is universal." Yet his proof of this point, if it is a valid proof of that point, proves far more. It proves that the Holy Father's magisterium is universal every time he addresses the faithful generally - which means, every time he publishes any statement in the Acta Apostolicae Sedis.


I believe that Msgr. Fenton addressed this issue the doctrinal authority of private speeches of the Holy Father, which were then published in the Acta Apostolicae Sedis, in the article, the "Doctrinal Authority of Papal Allocutions." viewtopic.php?f=2&t=667

The relevent portion is:

Quote:
Can a speech addressed by the Roman Pontiff to a private group, a group which cannot in any sense be taken as representing either the Roman Church or the Universal Church, contain doctrinal teaching authoritative for the universal Church?

The clear and unequivocal answer to this question is contained in the Holy Father’s encyclical letter Humani generis, issued Aug. 12, 1950. According to this document: “if, in their Acta, the Supreme Pontiffs take care to render a decision on a point that has hitherto been controverted, it is obvious to all that this point, according to the mind and will of these same Pontiffs, can no longer be regarded as a question theologians may freely debate among themselves.” (6)

Thus, in the teaching of the Humani generis, any doctrinal decision made by the Pope and included in his Acta are authoritative. Now many of the allocutions made by the Sovereign Pontiff to private groups are included in the Acta of the Sovereign Pontiff himself, as a section of the Acta apostolicae sedis. Hence, any doctrinal decision made in one of these allocutions that is published in the Holy Father’s Acta, is authoritative and binding on all the members of the universal Church.

There is, according to the words of the Humani generis, an authoritative doctrinal decision whenever the Roman Pontiffs, in their Acta, “de re hactenus controversa data opera sententiam ferunt.” When this condition is fulfilled, even in an allocution originally delivered to a private group, but subsequently published as a part of the Holy Father’s Acta, an authoritative doctrinal judgment has been proposed to the universal Church. All of those within the Church are obliged, under penalty of serous sin, to accept this decision.

Occasionally we encounter some utterly misleading comment on the meaning of the expression “data opera” in this section of the text of the Humani generis. In the excellent Harper’s Latin Dictionary the expression “operam dare” is explained as meaning “to bestow care or pains on, to give attention to” something. It should be quite clear that this does not add any new note to a pontifical doctrinal judgment or decision. According to the terms of the tremendous responsibility he has received he has received from Our Lord Himself, the Sovereign Pontiff is definitely expected to give special and outstanding attention to any doctrinal decision he gives at any time and in any way, when he speaks as Pope and uses either his solemn or his ordinary magisterium. Hence, there is and there can be no such thing as a decision in the field of Catholic doctrine, given by the Pope acting in his public capacity, precisely as the pastor and teacher of all Christians, which is not set down “data opera.”

There is an authoritative papal statement, according to the text of the Humani generis, whenever the Sovereign Pontiff takes the trouble to issue a decision on a point which has hitherto been controverted, and inserts that decision in his own Acta. Basically, such a decision is made in one of two ways. When there is a real controversy, two contradictory and hence mutually exclusive resolutions of an individual question are being urged, one by one group, another by that groups opponents. The Roman Pontiff issues an authoritative decision in that controversy in a positive way when he accepts and presents one of these opposing solutions as doctrina catholica, or, in some cases, as de fide or as doctrina certa. There is a negative pontifical judgment when the Sovereign Pontiff repudiates one of the two opposing theses as teaching which it is sinful or rash to hold, or, in the case of an infallible definition, as heretical or erroneous.


I am not sure if this specifically addresses the issue you raise, but it does at least offer a detailed explanation of Msgr. Fenton in regards to statements published in the Acta, and their authoritiative value.

Yours in JMJ,

Mike

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New post Re: Humani generis and the Holy Father's Ordinary Magisterium
Gentlemen,

This is a very interesting discussion, indeed. What I am left with in reading Msgr. Fenton's works is that the limits placed at Vatican I on papal infallibility have now vastly expanded to include most every vehicle and every instance by which the pope speaks to the whole Church. Perhaps, Fr. LeFloch was touching on a central point when he saw this whole issue of papal infallibility as the prime issue facing the Church in the coming decades.

A couple of questions: what actually is the Ordinary, Universal Magisterium? I mean by this question what body of beliefs are contained in it? I get a strange feeling that when others speak of the OUM, no one has truly defined it specific to a certain belief. It is a very nebulous area.

Several examples to suffice: Geocentrism (John Daly's expertise) was held by the Church for literally centuries upon centuries. (Editorial comment: most people ignore this issue thinking it's unimportant when, in fact, it's very important as it concerned the issue of inerrancy of Sacred Scripture). Some say that Geocentrism had been defined ex cathedra. It had to at the very least been part of the OUM to have been taught and believed by the bishops for centuries. When the Church permitted reading and holding the contrary belief of Heliocentrism, what happened?

Pope John XXII's sermons on when one enjoys the beatific vision: if we follow Fr. Fenton's view, the case should have been closed to debate by the Church because this was a public papal statement (sermon, no less) that the Faithful should have assented to. The common opinion of the theologians was opposed to John XXII's view, but according to Fr. Fenton, whenever the pope speaks or writes, issue closed. What happened here?

If there is no 'outside' so-to-speak on papal infallibility, then every address, allocution, encyclical, message, etc. is infallible. Why then did Vatican I feel it necessary to define exactly when a papal teaching is protected from error? Why didn't Vatican I just say every time the pope says or writes anything, he enjoys the preservation from teaching error, papal infallibility?

A last question in this rather disjointed post: if I must accept everything that comes from the Vatican (papal, Curial offices) with full interior assent (religious, or otherwise), this pretty much means to the average lay person that everything that comes from Rome is infallible. How am I to determine if something stated in an encyclical can later be modifed or changed because it was not de fide or not de certa? A layman doesn't know the difference in all this. :?

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Sat Mar 08, 2008 6:44 pm
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New post Re: Humani generis and the Holy Father's Ordinary Magisterium
Quote:
What I am left with in reading Msgr. Fenton's works is that the limits placed at Vatican I on papal infallibility have now vastly expanded to include most every vehicle and every instance by which the pope speaks to the whole Church.


Dear Teresa,

You surprise me.

First, did Vatican I really "limit" the "vehicles" to be used by the pope for teaching infallibly?

Secondly, I can see no "expansion" at all. When the pope defines doctrine on faith and morals for the entire Church, his teaching is infallibly true. That is the Vatican I dogma of papal infallibility. When the pope and the bishops agree in transmitting doctrine to the faithful outside solemn definitions, their teaching is infallibly true. That is the Vatican I dogma of the infallibility of the ordinary and universal magisterium. The pope's other doctrinal teaching adressed to the whole Church is at least infallibly safe and obligatory to be held. Vatican I did not discuss this point - it was not contested - but Vatican I certainly didn't express any "limit" excluding this truth.

Quote:
Perhaps, Fr. LeFloch was touching on a central point when he saw this whole issue of papal infallibility as the prime issue facing the Church in the coming decades.


The quotation attributed to Fr Le Floch to which you refer is a falsification. I had the opportunity of consulting a scholar who had done a doctoral thesis on Fr Le Floch about it and he confirmed my suspicions by assuring me that (a) he could find no trace of its authenticity, and (b) it was utterly contrary to all that Fr Le Floch stood for.

Quote:
If there is no 'outside' so-to-speak on papal infallibility, then every address, allocution, encyclical, message, etc. is infallible. Why then did Vatican I feel it necessary to define exactly when a papal teaching is protected from error? Why didn't Vatican I just say every time the pope says or writes anything, he enjoys the preservation from teaching error, papal infallibility?


There most certainly is an "outside" to papal infallibility and Mgr Fenton does not deny this. He simply distinguishes :

(i) what is infallibly true (the category taught by Vatican I) by virtue of a solemn definition
(ii) what is obligatory and infallibly safe, but not infallibly true.

He further refers to to the infallibility of the Church's ordinary day-to-day universal teaching. The infallibility of the OUM is just as much a dogma as the infallibility of solemn papal pronouncements, and it is defined by the same council.

Mgr Fenton argues that in attributing to the pope the same infallibility as the Church possesses, Vatican I recognises that the pope - like the Church - can exercise an infallible ordinary magisterium, distinct from his solemn pronouncements. He is not here increasing the scope of papal infallibility, he is merely arguing for one method of classifying it. For there can be no doubt, on any admissible theory, that Quanta Cura and Casti Connubii contain infallible teaching on religious liberty and contraception respectively.

It is true that the phraseology of Vatican I's definition of the infallibility of the pope's solemn pronouncements does not fit in well with his being able to make other individually infallible pronouncements also. That is one reason why, unlike Mgr Fenton, I think acts like the emphatic doctrinal parts of Quanta Cura and Casti Connubii are in fact solemn judgments. But this makes little practical difference. Mgr Fenton is essentially opposing those who argue that the teaching of these documents is not infallibly true at all. That is not tenable.

BTW nowhere does Mgr Fenton or anyone else suggest that each individual sermon of a pope is protected by infallibility.

On the OUM, it would be very demanding to compile a list of all that is infallibly taught in this way. Your sources include the liturgy the catechism, the encyclicals, the pastoral letters of bishops, Canon Law, and general Church practice, and when there is a pope these sources are being added to every day. Most of the individual acts of such sources are not infallible in themselves but they coalesce so as to be protected by infalliblity when it is clear, by virtue of them, that the Church herself is committing herself on a matter of faith and morals.

Yes, there are cases that can give rise to doubt or appear mysterious : but there are also many others that are in no way doubtful.

John


Sat Mar 08, 2008 8:58 pm
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New post Re: Humani generis and the Holy Father's Ordinary Magisterium
Mike wrote:
I am not sure if this specifically addresses the issue you raise, but it does at least offer a detailed explanation of Msgr. Fenton in regards to statements published in the Acta, and their authoritiative value.

Dear Mike,

No, it doesn't address my point, although it very nicely illustrates it. Thank you for posting it.

I agree with this doctrine, by the way. The bit I'm doubtful about (and I see that I agree with JS Daly in this) is the rectitude of referring to the Holy Father's ability to define a doctrine as an instance of the "ordinary universal magisterium." I've held that when he defines something his act is extraordinary, even if found in an ordinary instrument, such as an encyclical, and I agree with JSD's examples.

I would think that where the minimalising tendency got some oxygen was that from reading the Vatican Council one gets the impression that "extraordinary" = "solemn". JSD: "It is true that the phraseology of Vatican I's definition of the infallibility of the pope's solemn pronouncements does not fit in well with his being able to make other individually infallible pronouncements also. That is one reason why, unlike Mgr Fenton, I think acts like the emphatic doctrinal parts of Quanta Cura and Casti Connubii are in fact solemn judgments. But this makes little practical difference."

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Sat Mar 08, 2008 10:11 pm
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New post Re: Humani generis and the Holy Father's Ordinary Magisterium
John Daly wrote:
Mgr Fenton argues that in attributing to the pope the same infallibility as the Church possesses, Vatican I recognises that the pope - like the Church - can exercise an infallible ordinary magisterium, distinct from his solemn pronouncements.

Dear John,

Thank you very much for your interventions. Very greatly appreciated indeed.

The argument from the parallel between the pope's infallibility and that of the Church (which is certainly stated as a truth in the text of Vatican I) is a "key" that Dom Paul Nau uses to explore the infallibility of the ordinary universal magisterium, at least in the 1956 Revue Thomiste article re-published by Angelus Press in their booklet, "Pope or Church?"

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Sat Mar 08, 2008 10:18 pm
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New post Re: Humani generis and the Holy Father's Ordinary Magisterium
Dear Teresa,

John's answer should suffice, but may I add a few comments?

Distinguish clearly:
1. Person
2. Means or instrument
3. Object or scope

1. Person: Either the pope or the bishops together with the pope may teach infallibly.
2. Means or instrument: Either the pope or the bishops together with the pope may employ any of the means of communication typically employed by them to perform this teaching. See Zapalena below for examples.
3. Object or scope: The scope of infallibility includes all revealed truth as well as all those truths which the security of revealed truth requires to be maintained. Canon Smith mentions in a footnote, "The word tenendam was used instead of credendam in order not to restrict infallibility to the definition of dogmas." See http://www.strobertbellarmine.net/believe.html

Quote:
Timotheus Zapalena, S.J. (De Ecclesia Christi, pars altera, Rome, 1940, p. 67) :

"The episcopal college, the successor to the Apostolic College, is infallible in proposing revealed doctrine or things connected with revealed teachings, as we saw in the preceding thesis [on ecumenical councils]. But this College is not less present in the ordinary and scattered teaching of the bishops, than in the extraordinary and conciliar. Therefore the bishops are no less infallible when they teach in unison by their ordinary magisterium, than when they exercise the solemn or extraordinary magisterium...

"3. The agreement of the scattered episcopate, since it is by no means as solemn as that of a council, is not so easily perceived; the same is true of the intention to teach from the fullness of the magisterial power. Hence, since in accordance with the norm of Canon Law, 'No matter is to be understood as dogmatically defined unless this fact is manifestly evident', this makes it difficult to discern with certainty in regard to a particular dogma from the Ordinary Magisterium alone. Nevertheless, suitable means are not lacking by which it can be known sufficiently: for example, from catechisms published for the use of the people and approved by the bishops, from encyclicals and pastoral letters, from the decrees of particular councils; or from the fact that the doctrine, everywhere in the world, in sermons to the people, is habitually preached as Catholic, or condemned as heretical ... [sic] Finally, even disciplinary laws and liturgical usages contribute in their manner in showing this agreement."



Teresa Ginardi wrote:
A last question in this rather disjointed post: if I must accept everything that comes from the Vatican (papal, Curial offices) with full interior assent (religious, or otherwise), this pretty much means to the average lay person that everything that comes from Rome is infallible. How am I to determine if something stated in an encyclical can later be modifed or changed because it was not de fide or not de certa? A layman doesn't know the difference in all this. :?

You're not supposed to be distinguishing those doctrines which are de fide from those doctrines which are certa, unless you've some level of knowledge above that of the typical layman - in which case there is no problem with the kind and degree of assent. Canon Smith's essay is really very good on this.

What it comes down to in the present circumstances is that it impossible to treat "rome" as one ought to treat Rome. Ergo.

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Sat Mar 08, 2008 10:45 pm
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New post Re: Humani generis and the Holy Father's Ordinary Magisterium
John Lane wrote:

What it comes down to in the present circumstances is that it impossible to treat "rome" as one ought to treat Rome. Ergo.



John,

That's it in a nutshell for us average laymen. For you, Mr. Daly, and others on this forum schooled in these matters; theological study, readings, investigation, debate, or writings may be part of your daily duty: it's certainly not part of the daily duty for the average pew-sitting layman. For our part, we have been trained to assent whole-heartedly to any type of document coming from Rome, knowing it could do nothing but assist our salvation ... Our Lord working in His Person through the Church giving us the substantial bread of true doctrine necessary for our salvation.

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New post Re: Humani generis and the Holy Father's Ordinary Magisterium
Dear Teresa,

There is no way that it is a duty upon me or any other layman to debate or write about these matters. But I agree we all have a duty to study in proportion to our capacity.

Here is a summary of the point we are discussing from Dom Paul Nau, in the booklet, Pope or Church? (Angelus Press, 1998). Note, this is a 1956 article, republished. The following text is the closing section of his essay. Emphasis added.
Dom Paul Nau wrote:
One might even ask oneself, and we may well be allowed to do so as the conclusion of this over long study: is there really any need for so many precautions when embarking on the reading of pontifical documents? The most serious danger is not that of “overestimating the teachings of the Magisterium” but rather that of disturbing the confidence and adhesion of the faithful. It would be particularly dangerous to contrast the solemn Magisterium with the ordinary one, according to the too indiscriminating categories of fallible and infallible; so forgetting the wise warning which the Faculty of Paris gave in 1682:
Whatever opinion one may profess on the infallibility of the pope, it is just as disrespectful to proclaim publicly that he can be wrong, as to say to children: your parents may be lying to you.

What more reliable teacher could one put forward to those who wish to possess the exact doctrine of Christ than the one to whom the Master has affirmed: He who hears to you, listens to Me; on whom also He has built His Church so that it may remain unshaken till the end of time?

Would it not be, not only more sagacious, but also more correct to say that whatever the way by which the doctrine reaches us, it is always infallibly true if it is taught to us for certain by the Church as a whole or by its head alone? However, while the guarantee can be given to us by one single judgment, taken by itself, coming from the solemn Magisterium, it can only be expected from a continuity or a totality in the case of ordinary teaching. Outside of solemn judgments, the authority of the various expressions of pontifical teaching comprises various degrees and shades of difference: but all of these are authentically integrated in that continuous and ever-living tradition whose content cannot be subject to error without challenging both the promises of Christ and the whole background of the institution of the Church.

Presented in this way, in its essential aspects, this doctrine may be understood even by the humblest of the faithful. As our experience has shown us many times, it is spontaneously grasped by Christian intellects, which find therein the expression of the very logic of their faith together with an authentically traditional doctrine.

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Sun Mar 09, 2008 11:48 am
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New post Re: Humani generis and the Holy Father's Ordinary Magisterium
Theresa wrote:

Quote:
That's it in a nutshell for us average laymen. For you, Mr. Daly, and others on this forum schooled in these matters; theological study, readings, investigation, debate, or writings may be part of your daily duty: it's certainly not part of the daily duty for the average pew-sitting layman. For our part, we have been trained to assent whole-heartedly to any type of document coming from Rome, knowing it could do nothing but assist our salvation ... Our Lord working in His Person through the Church giving us the substantial bread of true doctrine necessary for our salvation.


Dear Theresa,

Your position is admirable and should be the position of every Catholic. I think if we were living in the 1950's every good and faithful Catholic would have just simply said, "the pope said it, I believe it." For myself, I have the same position, following the teaching of Pope Pius XII in the Humani generis, and the great and orthodox theologians who beatifully explained the duty of Catholics in assenting to both the infallible and non-infallible decisions of the Holy See.

I think in our times, though, that this teaching of the Church is not fully understood or appreciated as it should be. This confusion on the extraordinary magisterium and ordinary magisterium, in my view has caused Catholics to form inaccurate ideas on the current state of the Church, and more importantly on the nature of the Church Itself.

The Church feeds us, the pope is our Holy Father, Catholics must trust him, his teachings and law, and not doubt or question him. Our Lord works in His Church through the hierarchy which are sent and authorized by Him, but most especially, the Pope, who is the Head of the Church.

Now, I realize that it is impossible to have such an attitude towards Paul VI and his successors, but the problem is not with the correct Catholic trust and love for the Holy Father which should be present, including assenting to the pope's teaching and obeying his laws. I think that Catholics need to educate themselves on the correct Catholic teaching on points such as the ordinary magisterium of the Church, the necessity of giving an internal religious assent to all non-infallible official papal teaching published in the Acta, believing that all universal disciplinary laws are good and cannot lead to evil or impiety, believing that the sacraments authorized by the Church and the rites to be used in those sacraments can only be good and pleasing to God, and cannot lead to impiety or in any way be evil or sacriligious, and lastly, to believe, as Catholic always have believed that canonization of saints are infallibly protected by the Church.

In an effort to try to re-educate Catholics on their faith, I think that this forum has offered a tremendous amount of solid and unquestionably Catholic documents and analysis to help Catholics think as Catholics again. The crisis in the Church in my view has caused many Catholics, who have not been fed by the legitmate hierarchy for almost five decades to adopt positons which are dangerous to the Faith, on many of the issues described in the preceding paragraph. Now, the motives of these Catholics is that they are trying to presevere their faith, but, the faith must be preserved by using correct Catholic teaching and principles.

As John Lane said in a recent post, by realizing that the papal claimants of Paul VI through Benedict XVI are not lawful popes, all of these serious and otherwise unresolvable issues go away. It is not possible to consistently apply Catholic priniciples to the magisterium and jurisdictional authority of Paul VI and his successors, without in the end denying these same Catholic principles.

For many years, I have learned a great deal from Mr. Lane and Mr. Daly. I know that their primary obligation is to their family obligations, but I am very thankful to both of them for taking the time to study and to teach the faith. For myself, as another married man and father, I do what I can as well, in the extra time that I have try to help Catholics in this crisis. Providentially, I have numerous articles and essays from the 1950's from many Catholic publications, and it is my view that many of these approved and authorized writings of the Church may help Catholics in our time.

I think all of us need to do what we can to help our brother Catholics, always according to the duties of our state in life. Hopefully, and I am hoping soon, the legitimate hierarchy will once again return, with a true pope, and his loyal bishops under him, to teach, govern and sanctify the faithful, and these issues that we currently face will just be matter for Catholic historians.

For myself, I just want to be fed and noursished by the Pope and the bishop of my diocese. I am not a theologian, I am just a simple layman, who would be perfectly happy living an insignificant life in a small country parish, going to Mass, praying my rosary, trusting in my local pastor, my local bishop, and the pope, in what they teach me and never again having to think about issues like sacramental validity, etc.

Yours in JMJ,

Mike

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New post Re: Humani generis and the Holy Father's Ordinary Magisterium
Magnificent, Mike. Wish I had written it.

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New post Re: Humani generis and the Holy Father's Ordinary Magisterium
Thank you, Mike, for taking the time to post so many wonderful essays by Msgr. Fenton, who was a priest with an ardent love for Holy Mother Church. With John Lane's, John Daly's, and your helpful insights on these writings, we have a small arsenal of wonderful writings to encourage us during these delusional times.

I agree, Mike, wouldn't it be wonderful to just rest comfortably in our Mother's arms, knowing She would tend to our every need. Well, all will be well in God's loving time ... we need be but patient, prayerful, and watchful: the Bridegroom cometh!

Perhaps, all these writings of Msgr. Fenton, et. al., could be arranged in their own 'folder', so-to-speak, for easier access and study?

Thanks, again.

Edited: delete "keep our lamps trimmed".

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New post Re: Humani generis and the Holy Father's Ordinary Magisterium
Quote:
Perhaps, all these writings of Msgr. Fenton, et. al., could be arranged in their own 'folder', so-to-speak, for easier access and study?


Good idea, Theresa! :D

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New post Re: Humani generis and the Holy Father's Ordinary Magisteriu
John Lane wrote:
Now, the introduction to his argument seems to restrict the characterisation of the Holy Father's magisterium as "universal" only to those cases in which he defines a dogma. "In such a case, the Holy Father’s teaching is universal." Yet his proof of this point, if it is a valid proof of that point, proves far more. It proves that the Holy Father's magisterium is universal every time he addresses the faithful generally - which means, every time he publishes any statement in the Acta Apostolicae Sedis.

Now, this argument seems to me to be cogent. But, and this is a big "but", was that what Vatican I meant when it defined that "all those things are to be believed by divine and Catholic faith which are contained in the word of God, written or handed down, and which the Church, either by a solemn judgement or by her ordinary and universal teaching, proposes for belief as having been divinely revealed"? And if it was what the Fathers meant in 1870, then why didn't the subsequent theologians make this clear in their manuals?
The First Vatican Council's definition of papal infallibility says the Pope is infallible when he speaks ex cathedra, i.e., "when in discharge of the office of pastor and doctor of all Christians, by virtue of his supreme Apostolic authority, he defines a doctrine regarding faith or morals to be held by the universal Church, by the divine assistance promised to him in blessed Peter"; but it doesn't say he's possibly fallible when not speaking ex cathedra. The same goes for what it says about the Magisteria in what you quote above.

Now, Pope Pius XII's Munificentissimus put to rest the question of the infallibility of the Ordinary Magisterium, even when it doesn't explicitly bind the faithful (which it didn't, before 1 Nov. 1950, regarding the Assumption):
Munificentissimus wrote:
Thus, from the universal agreement of the Church's ordinary teaching authority (ex ordinarii Ecclesiae Magisterii universali consensu) we have a certain and firm proof, demonstrating that the Blessed Virgin Mary's bodily Assumption into heaven—which surely no faculty of the human mind could know by its own natural powers, as far as the heavenly glorification of the virginal body of the loving Mother of God is concerned—is a truth that has been revealed by God and consequently something that must be firmly and faithfully believed by all children of the Church.
If the Ordinary Magisterium could be fallible, the Extraordinary Magisterium couldn't be infallible, and Pope Pius could not say "we have a certain and firm proof, demonstrating…the Blessed Virgin Mary's bodily Assumption into heaven".

It seems many people think infallible necessarily implies ex cathedra, but truths don't have to be defined dogma to be true (e.g., truths de fide divina)! The Ordinary Magisterium cannot lead Catholics into error; She can only teach pure truth!


Also, whence arises the distinction between a particular pope's Ordinary Magisterium and the Universal Ordinary Magisterium? What prominent theologians make this distinction?

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