Sunday, June 29, 2008

Breathing with two lungs

John Paul II once described the Church as breathing with two lungs, through the Eastern Rite and Western Churches. For too long have East and West lungs not breathed together. Certainly the Eastern Rite Churches contribute greatly to the function of the body of the Church, but still a great number of our Orthodox breatheren are separated from us, by ancient divisions in theological points.
Today two hopeful occurrences have happened to make it more hopeful that in the future East and West may breath together more powerfully, something which, considering the state of the world, can only be for the good.
The first is discussion by the Ukrainian Catholic Church with the Orthodox Patriarch of Constantinople for a system of "dual-unity" by which they would be both in union with Rome and with the Orthodox Churches. This would be a big deal, effectively turning back the clock one thousand years. This is a good thing.
The next is the Mass for the Solemnity of Sts. Peter and Paul at which Bartholomew I, Ecumenical Patriarch of the Orthodox Churches joined the Holy Father. The Holy Father and the Patriarch together recited the creed, in Greek (without the troublesome Filioque clause), Bartholomew and Benedict gave the blessing with the Book of the Gospel, after which the Gospel was sang by an Orthodox deacon. Both the Holy Father and the Patriarch gave addresses at the homily.
This is too a big thing.
The Orthodox bishops are real bishops, with apostalic succession going back the the apostles. As is says in the Guidelines for the reception of Communion:
"Members of the Orthodox Churches...are urged to respect the discipile of their own Churches. According to Roman Catholic Discipline, the Code of Canon Law does not object the the reception of Communion by Chrisitians of these Churches."
It is also permissible for a Roman Catholic to receive Communion in an Orthodox Church, at least according to the Code of Canon Law, provided a valid Catholic (Roman or Eastern Rite) Mass is not available. In both case the disciplines of the Orthodox Church may not permit this.
There have certainly been cases of even Orthodox bishops recieving Communion in a Roman Catholic Mass, though it is hardly routine. Perhaps someday it will become so. Considering the very close theological beliefs of East and West it can only be for the good.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008


The teaching authority of the Church, its magisterium, is exercised through her bishops in union with the supreme bishop, the Roman Pontiff. All Church teachings held through the magisterium are true, but not all teachings are held to be infallibly true. Those teachings which are not held to be infallibly true are said to authoritatively true.
Church teachings whether infallibly true or authoritatively true are proposed to be held as true by the faithful.
So what does this mean?
Some Catholic teachings are dogma. That means they are held to be irreformally true, that is infallibly true. They are divinely revealed and are defined by an ecumenical council or the Pope speaking
ex cathedra. This the Extraordinary and Solemn path of magisterial action. Dogma can also be revealed in the ordinary and non-solemn action of the bishops in union with the Pope. As Lumen Gentium says:
Although the bishops individually do not enjoy the prerogative of infallibility, they nevertheless proclaim the teaching of Christ infallibly, even when they are dispersed throughout the world, provided that they remain in communion with each other and with the successor of Peter and that in authoritatively teaching on a matter of faith and morals they agree in one judgment as that to be held definitively.Doctrine which is not divinely reveal may also be Extraordinary and Solemn. Such truths are revealed by the Holy Spirit and are typically inimately linked with revealed truths. Such truths make up Definitive Doctrine.

The rest may be said to reside under the heading of Authentic Doctrine. These truths are reformable in the light of the formation of faith, but are still authoritative, that is they must be adhered to by the faithful.

None of this was controversial at all until the post Vatican II period, specifically after July 25, 1986. What happen then? Pope Paul VI promalgated Humanae Vitae which did nothing but confirm traditional Catholic teaching on abortion and contraception.
100 theologians, among them Fr. Charles E. Curran, who was then a professor at Catholic University of America, issued a statement claiming that Catholic's individual consciences can prevail over non-dogmatic teaching, effectively rendering Authentic Doctrine meaningless. At the same time the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops issued the infamous Winnipeg Statement, which effectively said that Catholics were free to dissent from the teachings of the Church based on their own consciences.
This is not the teaching of the Catholic Church, though some theologians continue to support it. This has been addressed by the Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faith. The CDF holds that while theologians may question the content of proposed authoritative teachings in the pursuit of their vocation, such views are publish only so that they may be may be reviewed by their peers for submission to those within the Church who have the authority and responsibility under the magisterium to discern such doctrine. At no time are the faithful free to accept such proposed positions if they conflict with the present Authentic Doctrine as taught by the Church. Holding any
other position is contrary to the Obsequium, that is the submission of will and intellect required for Authentic Doctrine.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

That Catholic Show

That Catholic Show. I can't believe that I haven't blogged on it before. One of the best podcast on the Web on fundamental core Catholic concepts.
Buy the first season on DVD. Support Greg & Jennifer Willits in their efforts to
respond to the Church’s call to use the media for religious information, for evangelization and catechesis and for formation and education.


Stuff Catholics Like expounds usefully on Catechisms.
Catholics can’t remember anything, God bless us. With great effort and much discipline we can sometimes remember the Gospel until the homily starts, but most couldn’t guess the number of readings done on Sunday let alone the subject matter. We enjoy Palm Sunday when the Gospel is written out like a play and we have our own part. Because of our bad memories and the importance of tradition in Catholicism, it is imperative that we write down everything. Everything (and in every language). Catholics have Sacred Scripture. Catholics have Canon Law. Catholics have Lectionaries and Sacramentaries. Catholics have encyclopedias and dictionaries. And Catholics have catechisms. Boy do we have catechisms.