Pope Francis: Rupture of Doctrine

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Whenever Pope Francis ruptures the Church from traditional teaching he calls the about face a development of doctrine. Diane Montagna at  Lifesite News has a very good article on this:

 

The Pope then expounded on the point, invoking the ancient saint whose thought played a pivotal role in Blessed John Henry Cardinal Newman’s classic work, On the Development of Christian Doctrine. He said:

A fifth century French monk, Vincent of Lérins, coined a beautiful expression to explain how one can grow in faith, explain things better, and also grow in moral [understanding] but always being faithful to the roots. He said three words but they indicate the road: he said that growth in the explaining [esplicitazione] and awareness of faith and morals must be ut annis consolidetur, dilatetur tempore, sublimetur aetate, that is, growth must be strengthened through the years, expanded over time, but it is the same faith that is exalted over the years. 

“This is how we understand, for example, that today we have removed the death penalty from the Catechism of the Catholic Church,” the pontiff told journalists aboard the papal plane. “Three hundred years ago, heretics were burned alive. Because the Church has grown in moral understanding, and in respect for the person,” he said.

This is not the first time Pope Francis has invoked St. Vincent of Lérins. 

In an interview with the Jesuit-run La Civiltà Cattolica six months into his pontificate (September 2013), he argued on the basis of the same statement from the 5thcentury monk that “the thinking of the Church must … understand how human beings understand themselves today, in order to develop and deepen the Church’s teaching.” 

In November 2016, he cited the same passage as he questioned why young Catholics would be drawn to the traditional liturgy. 

And in his ‘God of surprises’ homily, on May 8, 2017, he again had recourse to St. Vincent’s, inviting Catholics to pray for the “grace of discernment” so as not to “fall into immobility, rigidity and a closed heart.”

Inflight press conferences have no magisterial weight. Nonetheless, LifeSite asked one of leading experts on the Catholic Church’s teaching on the death penalty, and a Dominican theologian, to weigh in on the Pope’s latest remarks and his invocation of St. Vincent of Lérins.

An expert weighs in

Renowned Catholic philosopher Edward Feser, Associate Professor of Philosophy at Pasadena City College in Pasadena, California, is one of the foremost contemporary writers in the Thomistic tradition, and a leading expert on the Church’s teaching on the death penalty. 

He is the author of numerous works, including By Man Shall His Blood Be Shed (with Joseph Bessette) and the forthcoming Aristotle’s Revenge.

By Man Shall His Blood Be Shed is a study and defense of the perennial Catholic teaching on the death penalty as legitimate in principle and often advisable in practice even in contemporary social conditions.

In comments to LifeSite, Feser said:

It is odd for the pope to cite St. Vincent of Lérins in defense of the recent change to the Catechism, because St. Vincent was the opposite of sympathetic to innovative and ambiguous theological formulations of the kind represented by the new language. Indeed, his major theme was precisely to condemn, in harsh and unmistakable terms, all ‘novelties’ in doctrine, by which he meant teachings that were not true developments but reversals of what the Church has taught in the past.

Feser then explained that development is only legitimate if it logically follows what has already been taught in the deposit of faith. It is therefore is a legitimate development if it’s a logical conclusion of what the Church has taught in the past. If a given teaching is not a logical conclusion, it cannot be legitimate. 

He said: “Suppose, to take an artificial example, that the Church had taught that ‘All men are mortal’ and ‘Socrates is a man.’ If she later explicitly taught that ‘Socrates is mortal,’ then this would not be a novelty in the sense condemned by St. Vincent, because this follows logically from what she had earlier taught.”

“Even if she had not taught it explicitly, she did teach it implicitly. Simply making this explicit would be a true development of doctrine,” he added.

The noted philosopher continued: “Suppose instead, however, that the Church later taught that ‘Socrates is not mortal,’ This would be a novelty, a corruption of doctrine and not a true development at all, because it would contradict what was implicitly taught earlier.”

Feser insisted that not only does St. Vincent of Lérins not support logical rupture but he is preoccupied with preventing such novelties. He said: 

Now, St. Vincent absolutely hammers on the theme that Catholics must avoid novelties or even reinterpretations of past doctrine, and that when some new teaching or reinterpretation seems to conflict with antiquity, we must cling to antiquity. Quite rigidly, you might say. He is very, very insistent on this and very harsh even on people who would try to use ambiguous formulations to smuggle in novelties, let alone those who brazenly propose them.

Go here to read the rest.  PopeWatch has long treasured these lines from A Man For All Seasons:

 

“Some men think the Earth is round, others think it flat; it is a matter capable of question. But if it is flat, will the King’s command make it round? And if it is round, will the King’s command flatten it? No, I will not sign.”
The Pope can call a reversal of doctrine a development until he is blue in the face, but his saying it will not make it so.

 

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No Comment Needed

Hattip to commenter Nate Winchester.

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16 Comments

  1. Again and again and again ad nauseum…I don’t know if the Pope simply has really bad advisors or is simply ignorant of the way things are done from the Seat of Peter but changing the Catechism and changing the teaching of the justified use of the death penalty which has been taught since the beginning of the Church by the Apostolic Fathers and the Fathers of the Church down to St.JPII as legitimate is beyond me. To call the teaching of the death penalty as intrinsically evil is to say that the Church has been teaching evil since the beginning. It cannot happen nor will it ever happen otherwise Christ was and is a liar when he promised us the protection of the Holy Spirit.

    Ignorance or bad advice? I’m hoping because I will not go on record as calling him evil minded and bent on the deliberately sowing seeds of doubt and chaos in the Church. I’ll let the Spirit and our prayers handle this one.

  2. “Some men think the Earth is round, others think it flat; it is a matter capable of question. But if it is flat, will the King’s command make it round? And if it is round, will the King’s command flatten it? No, I will not sign.”
    A belief is a belief in anything. Religion is an intimate and loving relationship with “their Creator” Declaration.

  3. “To call the teaching of the death penalty as intrinsically evil is to say that the Church has been teaching evil since the beginning.”
    The death penalty is self-defense. The dignity of the condemned is acknowledged and pronounced when his own power of attorney brings him to Justice.

  4. There are certain scripture verses that come to my mind when discussing the death penalty and its accusation that it lessens the time and ability for the condemned to repent of his crime and confess to God for said crime:

    Luke 23:40-43
    40 But the other criminal rebuked him. “Don’t you fear God,” he said, “since you are under the same sentence? 41 We are punished justly, for we are getting what our deeds deserve. But this man has done nothing wrong.”
    42 Then he said, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom. d ”
    43 Jesus answered him, “Truly I tell you, today you will be with me in paradise.”

    The criminal understood his situation in toto. He realized he deserved his punishment. He had mere hours to live from his sentencing to his death. To say that those condemned to death(and make no mistake, I take no pleasure in the death of even a guilty person or otherwise)have no time to repent or see the wrong they’ve done is dispelled to a certain degree in this passage. If there are mitigating circumstances where a person are blind to the crime they committed then I’m sure God takes all into consideration upon judgment.

    I believe the criminal and his non-repentant side kick were given the same opportunity to repent and confess, if not to Christ on the cross but at least to the Father. Only one took it. He knew the gravity of his actions, but his heart was opened to Christ through grace and he asked for mercy and received it: in that short period of time!

    As for me, I hope, that if, God forbid, I ever find myself in a situation where I’m condemned to death for a crime that I committed that I walk to the scaffold and take my punishment as I should, for I would rather suffer for my sin in this world than in the next. I would rather die for my crime in this world than die eternally in the next.

    I believe in letting God settle scores but with that said I believe in the states right to the use of capital punishment. If it were possible I would rather that a person be locked away until natural death with a guarantee that there is no possibility of parole for a capital crime no matter what it costs the taxpayers for the incarceration, but there is no guarantee of that. Through loop holes and sly lawyers killers are let loose all the time and repeat crimes putting the public in danger. Unless the courts can guarantee a life sentence then let capital punishment stand.

  5. From Bishop Athanasius Schneider

    The prelate also recalls that “in dealing with the tragic case of a heretical pope, all the members of the Church, beginning with the bishops, down to the simple faithful, have to use all legitimate means, such as private and public corrections of the erring pope, constant and ardent prayers and public professions of the truth in order that the Apostolic See may again profess with clarity the Divine truths, that the Lord entrusted to Peter and to all his successors.”

    In my examination of conscience the smarmy digs I have taken against the Pope are wrong. The prayers for him are right. It bothers me deeply that under his leadership he picked upon the Franciscan’s of the Immaculate.
    St.Kolbe and St.Therese the lil’ flower help in formation of the order. Those Saints are my go to saints. Rigidity?
    Latin rite? Complaints from Rome against this order is a personal attack.

    From there he went downhill in my opinion.

    Here’s some comments regarding Our Blessed Virgin that creeped me out;

    https://www.tfp.org/pope-francis-denies-the-churchs-sanctity-surprised-in-flagrant-adultery/

    Take the good…leave the rest?
    I’m trying.

  6. Everything supports the pontiff’s chasing of novelties and process-starting. Especially when it contradicts it.

    It helps if you remember that gaslighting about continuity is an essential feature of his approach. He gives word service to “conservatives” by citing the Fathers, Aquinas or even JPII and BXVI–but only to paralyze them while he keeps the rudder hard aport.

    Lather, rinse, repeat.

    But it’s working. He’s the least-opposed pontiff of the last 100 years. Dissent within the hierarchy or amongst the academy is almost nowhere to be found. Why shouldn’t he keep doing it?

  7. That ” Suprised in” or “Taken in” “flagrant adultery” quote is a biblical way of saying that the Church has been caught with it’s pants down; that the new Israel, like the old, has gone whoring after strange gods. You push that “without spot or wrinkle” thing too far and you get McCarrick and all the rest because nothing anyone in the Church does can be wrong. I don’t know what heresy or heresies that is, but I know it’s heretical.

    The anti-Francis media is in danger of becoming as unhinged as the anti-Trump media. That should concern all the faithful.

  8. “He’s the least-opposed pontiff of the last 100 years.”

    To oppose Francis’ predecessors (from the left) was to be in concord with the World. To oppose Francis (from a position of orthodoxy) is to oppose the World. It’s no wonder that so few have the courage to make the attempt.

  9. “But it’s working.”

    I don’t think so long term. I think his type of Leftism Catholicism will be very popular with ex-Catholics but not very popular with Catholics who actually attend Mass. As to opposition within the Clergy, I recall nothing like a Vigano under John Paul II or Pope Benedict. If I were a betting man I would not bet on Pope Francis and his acolytes long term.

  10. But it’s working. He’s the least-opposed pontiff of the last 100 years. Dissent within the hierarchy or amongst the academy is almost nowhere to be found. Why shouldn’t he keep doing it?

    Good point. In truth, I don’t think you find many serious Catholics on the faculty of historically Catholic colleges and the ones you do find are at small and obscure institutions and don’t attract much attention outside perhaps subcultural publications like The Latin Mass. Some of the remainder may be inhibited about speaking out of area.

    Observing the clergy I’m acquainted with in meatspace, I get the impression that the strategy is to proceed as if Francis did not exist.

    Cannot help but note that in 2013, a man shy of 86 had a life expectancy of about 5.6 years in this country. Benedict is still with us, as is his older brother.

  11. “… I get the impression that the strategy is to proceed as if Francis did not exist.”

    As I’ve done for the last several years because other than pray for the Pope and Church, I cannot control Rome. It’s above my pay grade.

  12. It’s evidence of shallow, sentimental thinking and condescension, not heresy. “Just an ordinary girl (like you and I are ordinary people)! Isn’t she wonderful (like you and I are wonderful)?”

  13. Ernst Schreiber.
    It’s as if he’s speaking from the church of Nice…Not the Holy Catholic Church.

    If mercy is meted out as it is given I wonder if gratitude is as well.

    If so, I can only wonder how the Greatest woman who ever was or will be will show her appreciation for Pope Frank’s life in service. Because she is who she is, she probably will be extremely gracious. More so than a bouncer who knows more than past theologians and scholars regarding the Church’s position on the death penalty.

    …….the Pearly Gates;

    “Oh it’s Pope Francis.” Saint Peter …Saint Peter….Pope Francis has arrived…..Peter?
    Peter!….it’s Pope Francis….. ”

    “Oh. Just let him in. The welcoming committee had another arrival. They are busy with that shoe repairman from Cincinnati Ohio. They’ll be over in a few minutes. Tell Frank to wait a moment.”

  14. “I don’t think so long term. I think his type of Leftism Catholicism will be very popular with ex-Catholics but not very popular with Catholics who actually attend Mass. As to opposition within the Clergy, I recall nothing like a Vigano under John Paul II or Pope Benedict. If I were a betting man I would not bet on Pope Francis and his acolytes long term.”

    I suppose it matters how one defines “long term.”
    God is in control and will have the last word. But He has also shown a willingness to let those human leaders with spiritual authority wander far afield before reining them in.

    I think we are closer to the beginning than the end of this destructive ride.

Comments are closed.