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Infallibility and Reception #357246 12/18/10 08:25 PM
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MichaelB Offline OP
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I'm trying to understand the doctrine of papal infallibility, and I'd like some help.

Vatican I says that a Papal definition is "irreformible of itself, and not from the consensus of the Church," but Vatican II says "The ascent of the Church can never be wanting" to definitions that result from the exercise of the supreme teaching authority.

Pope Benedict the XVI has said "Criticism of Papal pronouncements will be possible and even necessary, to the extent that they lack support in scripture and creed, that is, in the faith of the whole Church. When neither the consensus of the whole Church is had, nor clear evidence from the sources is available, an ultimate binding decision is not possible. Were one formally to take place, the conditions for such an act would be lacking, and hence the question would have to be raised concerning it's legitimacy."

This is very confussing to me.

What role (if any) does reception play in determining whether a Papal pronouncement was made "ex cathedra"?

Also, what role does it play in determining the eccumenical status of a council??

It seems it must play some role here, because both the Orthodox and the Roman Catholics reject councils on the basis of reception.

The Orthodox reject the reunion council (councils?) on the basis that they weren't received in the East, and the RC rejects what was originally ratified by the Pope as "the eighth ecumenical council," on the basis of it's lack of reception in the West (and it's lack of reception by a latter Pope, who recognized the following, "anti-Photian," council as "the eigth ecumenical council.")

So what role does reception play in the "infallibility" of Pope or Council?

I would also be interested in whether the Orthodox view the Hesychast counsils of the 14th century as "infallible"?

Did they establish any irreformible dogma?

P.S. I'm not looking to argue with anyone here (Orthodox or Catholic), I'm just trying to understand this.

Re: Infallibility and Reception [Re: MichaelB] #357254 12/19/10 03:48 AM
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sielos ilgesys Offline
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A Latin-rite bishop was visiting the parishes of his diocese and conferring Confirmation. Since this happened years ago, the bishop went through the motions of testing the children on their knowledge of the catechism. He asked one little boy, "What do we mean by the Blessed Trinity?" The child responded, in a very low voice, "The Father, the Son and the Holy Ghost: one God in three divine Persons". The bishop, being a bit hard of hearing, cupped his hand to his ear and replied, "I'm sorry - I didn't quite understand." And the little boy answered, "You're not supposed to. It's a MYSTERY."

Last edited by sielos ilgesys; 12/19/10 03:58 AM.
Re: Infallibility and Reception [Re: sielos ilgesys] #357260 12/19/10 01:24 PM
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I like it! smile
Very humorous.
Stephanos I

Re: Infallibility and Reception [Re: sielos ilgesys] #357272 12/19/10 10:30 PM
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MichaelB Offline OP
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Originally Posted by sielos ilgesys
A Latin-rite bishop was visiting the parishes of his diocese and conferring Confirmation. Since this happened years ago, the bishop went through the motions of testing the children on their knowledge of the catechism. He asked one little boy, "What do we mean by the Blessed Trinity?" The child responded, in a very low voice, "The Father, the Son and the Holy Ghost: one God in three divine Persons". The bishop, being a bit hard of hearing, cupped his hand to his ear and replied, "I'm sorry - I didn't quite understand." And the little boy answered, "You're not supposed to. It's a MYSTERY."

Wouldn't the dogma of Papal infallibility be equally binding on Latin and Eastern rite Catholics in communion with Rome?

Are you saying it's a total mystery, and there's no way to resolve the apparent contradiction between Vatican II, and Vatican I (which pronounced an anathema on anyone who willfuly rejected the dogma of Papal infallibility)?

Is reception a valuable tool in identifying an ex-cathedra pronouncement (and if so, how can they be "irreformable of themselves")?

I find this genuinely confussing (and a real stumbling block.)

Does anyone have a serious (less humerous) answer?

Last edited by MichaelB; 12/19/10 10:33 PM.
Re: Infallibility and Reception [Re: MichaelB] #357273 12/19/10 11:05 PM
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MichaelB Offline OP
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Vatican II says

Quote
this infallibility with which the Divine Redeemer willed His Church to be endowed in defining doctrine of faith and morals, extends as far as the deposit of Revelation extends, which must be religiously guarded and faithfully expounded. And this is the infallibility which the Roman Pontiff, the head of the college of bishops, enjoys...To these definitions the assent of the Church can never be wanting, on account of the activity of that same Holy Spirit, by which the whole flock of Christ is preserved and progresses in unity of faith...But when either the Roman Pontiff or the Body of Bishops together with him defines a judgment, they pronounce it in accordance with Revelation itself, which all are obliged to abide by and be in conformity with, that is, the Revelation which as written or orally handed down is transmitted in its entirety through the legitimate succession of bishops and especially in care of the Roman Pontiff himself, and which under the guiding light of the Spirit of truth is religiously preserved and faithfully expounded in the Church. The Roman Pontiff and the bishops, in view of their office and the importance of the matter, by fitting means diligently strive to inquire properly into that revelation and to give apt expression to its contents;(46*) but a new public revelation they do not accept as pertaining to the divine deposit of faith

http://www.vatican.va/archive/hist_...-ii_const_19641121_lumen-gentium_en.html

So, what part does "the ascent of the Church" play in distinguishing an authentic "ex-cathedra" pronouncement ("pertaining to the deposit of faith") from a "new public revelation"?

Fr. Francis Sullivan (in "Creative Fidelity") argues that the intent of "Unam Sanctum" was to assert the Pope's universal authority "to institute and judge temporal rulers," and concludes that it was not an ex-cathedra pronouncement precisely because it "was not universally received, even in his own day, and it cetainly has not become a permanent part of the Catholic Faith." (pg. 88.)

Is this a legetimate method of discerning an ex-cathedra pronouncement, from a non ex-cathedra pronouncement?

Last edited by MichaelB; 12/19/10 11:14 PM.
Re: Infallibility and Reception [Re: MichaelB] #357275 12/20/10 12:58 AM
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danman916 Offline
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Read Hermann Pottmeyer, Towards A Papacy in Communion

Re: Infallibility and Reception [Re: danman916] #357277 12/20/10 01:21 AM
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MichaelB Offline OP
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Originally Posted by danman916
Read Hermann Pottmeyer, Towards A Papacy in Communion

Is it available online?

Re: Infallibility and Reception [Re: MichaelB] #357278 12/20/10 01:53 AM
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The young fogey Offline
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Originally Posted by MichaelB
Wouldn't the dogma of Papal infallibility be equally binding on Latin and Eastern rite Catholics in communion with Rome?


Yes.

Re: Infallibility and Reception [Re: The young fogey] #357298 12/20/10 01:59 PM
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MichaelB Offline OP
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Originally Posted by The young fogey
Originally Posted by MichaelB
Wouldn't the dogma of Papal infallibility be equally binding on Latin and Eastern rite Catholics in communion with Rome?


Yes.

That doesn't answer the other questions.

Re: Infallibility and Reception [Re: MichaelB] #357300 12/20/10 03:44 PM
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Dear brother Michael,

Originally Posted by MichaelB
I'm trying to understand the doctrine of papal infallibility, and I'd like some help.

Vatican I says that a Papal definition is "irreformible of itself, and not from the consensus of the Church," but Vatican II says "The ascent of the Church can never be wanting" to definitions that result from the exercise of the supreme teaching authority.

Pope Benedict the XVI has said "Criticism of Papal pronouncements will be possible and even necessary, to the extent that they lack support in scripture and creed, that is, in the faith of the whole Church. When neither the consensus of the whole Church is had, nor clear evidence from the sources is available, an ultimate binding decision is not possible. Were one formally to take place, the conditions for such an act would be lacking, and hence the question would have to be raised concerning it's legitimacy."

This is very confussing to me.

What role (if any) does reception play in determining whether a Papal pronouncement was made "ex cathedra"?

The reception of the Church after the decree has no role in determining whether a papal pronouncement is made ex cathedra. In other words, the reception has no role in determining the infallibility of the decree. That is just the nature of Truth. Truth is not determined by consensus (except according to the Modernist doctrines).

The role of the Church's assent comes before the ex cathedra decree (that is what it means to say that "the assent of the Church is never wanting." This prior assent is necessary for 3 reasons (2 dogmatic, 1 practical):
(1) The Pope has no authority to make an ex cathedra decree unless the Church through her bishops call for it (a requirement contained in the Vatican 1 Decree on papal infallibility).
(2) The Pope cannot make new doctrine, but can only make dogma based on what is already the accepted teaching of the Church (also contained in the Vatican 1 Decree).
(3) The Church through her bishops can initiate the exercise of papal infallibility in two ways - (a) by requesting the dogmatization of a universal belief; (b) by asking the Pope to settle a doctrinal issue between parties. The first requires no comment as to the assent of the Church prior to the dogmatic Decree. The second situation comes about because a group of bishops in the Church has a conflict with another group of bishops. Normally, such a matter would be resolved in an Ecumenical Council, but suppose that there is a rather equal number of bishops on both sides of the issue. The Pope's decree will be based on the teachings of one side or the other. Orthodoxy belongs to the party with whom the Pope sides, and it is obvious that the decree will already have prior collegial consent.

The only time that the prior assent of the Church was not necessary for an ex cathedra decree occurred during the first exercise of papal infallibility as recorded in Acts 10. St. Peter had received a revelation from God that the Gentiles should be received into the Church, and he made an infallible pronouncement to the Church on the matter. As with all infallible decrees, the Truth - i.e., the infallibility - of this decree was by no means dependent on the consensus of the Church after the fact.

I hope that helps.

Quote
Also, what role does it play in determining the eccumenical status of a council??

It seems it must play some role here, because both the Orthodox and the Roman Catholics reject councils on the basis of reception.

So what role does reception play in the "infallibility" of Pope or Council?

Yes, reception does play some role in the ecumenicity of a Council. But, as with papal infallibility (which is nothing more than the infallibility of the Church, and is not a separate infallibility), reception plays no role in the infallibility of a Council. In other words, we need to distinguish the character of a Council's infallibility from its charcter of ecumenicity. As mentioned, infallibility refers to the nature of Truth, which is not determined by consensus. On the other hand, ecumenicity, which refers to the nature of authority, is partly determined by reception.

Quote
I would also be interested in whether the Orthodox view the Hesychast counsils of the 14th century as "infallible"? Did they establish any irreformible dogma?

That's an interesting question.

Blessings,
Marduk

Re: Infallibility and Reception [Re: MichaelB] #357301 12/20/10 03:55 PM
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Originally Posted by MichaelB
Originally Posted by danman916
Read Hermann Pottmeyer, Towards A Papacy in Communion

Is it available online?

it's available at Amazon or most any online bookstore for purchase.
It is well worth the investment, IMO. the book is not expensive, it is not terribly long, and it goes through a very comprehensive study of the history and ecclesiology of the subject.

Last edited by danman916; 12/20/10 03:57 PM.
Re: Infallibility and Reception [Re: MichaelB] #357302 12/20/10 04:22 PM
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Quote
Wouldn't the dogma of Papal infallibility be equally binding on Latin and Eastern rite Catholics in communion with Rome?

Are you saying it's a total mystery, and there's no way to resolve the apparent contradiction between Vatican II, and Vatican I (which pronounced an anathema on anyone who willfuly rejected the dogma of Papal infallibility)?


People worry too much about things which are utterly irrelevant in the daily life of the Church.

Re: Infallibility and Reception [Re: MichaelB] #357303 12/20/10 04:25 PM
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Quote
The reception of the Church after the decree has no role in determining whether a papal pronouncement is made ex cathedra. In other words, the reception has no role in determining the infallibility of the decree.


A Pope would be an idiot to make a decree without having first ensured its reception. Of course, given the ecclesiology of the Catholic Church since Vatican II, such reception would never be forthcoming, so it is most unlikely we will every see another ex Cathedra declaration of doctrine. If anything, the principle of reception is becoming even more important due to the discussions of the Joint International Theological Commission, which tends to render the entire idea of Papal infallibility moot.

Re: Infallibility and Reception [Re: StuartK] #357304 12/20/10 05:45 PM
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Originally Posted by StuartK
People worry too much about things which are utterly irrelevant in the daily life of the Church.

i agree completely.

Last edited by danman916; 12/20/10 05:45 PM.
Re: Infallibility and Reception [Re: MichaelB] #357305 12/20/10 06:02 PM
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What interests me is how one defines the "Church", especially in light of StuartK's point.

If the worldwide Church in this sense can be seen as the sum of the Orthodox and Catholic churches (which regretfully and to our shame do not share regular communion) then the ecumenicity of the Vatican councils and, more importantly, the reception of the "Church" is questionable at best.

As a (soon-to-be) Byzantine Catholic, I believe that this is a question that requires further exploration and clarification, which, thankfully, is exactly what is happening as part of the Joint International Theological Commission that StuartK mentioned.

While these things don't affect the daily life of the Church, it is something that one has to reconcile if one is considering joining or even understanding on a theoretical level, so I understand MichaelB's questioning.

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