Cardinal Newman on the Immaculate Conception

Thursday, December 8, AD 2016

Memorandum On the Immaculate Conception

I

1. IT is so difficult for me to enter into the feelings of a person who understands the doctrine of the Immaculate Conception, and yet objects to it, that I am diffident about attempting to speak on the subject. I was accused of holding it, in one of the first books I wrote, twenty years ago. On the other hand, this very fact may be an argument against an objector—for why should it not have been difficult to me at that time, if there were a real difficulty in receiving it?

2. Does not the objector consider that Eve was created, or born, without original sin? Why does not this shock him? Would he have been inclined to worship Eve in that first estate of hers? Why, then, Mary?

3. Does he not believe that St. John Baptist had the grace of God—i.e., was regenerated, even before his birth? What do we believe of Mary, but that grace was given her at a still earlier period? All we say is, that grace was given her from the first moment of her existence.

4. We do not say that she did not owe her salvation to the death of her Son. Just the contrary, we say that she, of all mere children of Adam, is in the truest sense the fruit and the purchase of His Passion. He has done for her more than for anyone else. To others He gives grace and regeneration at a point in their earthly existence; to her, from the very beginning.

5. We do not make her nature different from others. Though, as St. Austin says, we do not like to name her in the same breath with mention of sin, yet, certainly she would have been a frail being, like Eve, without the grace of God. A more abundant gift of grace made her what she was from the first. It was not her nature which secured her perseverance, but the excess of grace which hindered Nature acting as Nature ever will act. There is no difference in kind between her and us, though an inconceivable difference of degree. She and we are both simply saved by the grace of Christ.

Thus, sincerely speaking, I really do not see what the difficulty is, and should like it set down distinctly in words. I will add that the above statement is no private statement of my own. I never heard of any Catholic who ever had any other view. I never heard of any other put forth by anyone.

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Cardinal Newman’s Rules for Blogging

Sunday, January 18, AD 2015

Cardinal Newman Icon Tall Pic

Blogging can be rough amusement.  I will attempt to keep the Definition of a Gentleman written by Cardinal Newman in 1852 in mind as much as I can and still keep the readers of TAC informed and amused.  It is almost as if Newman could perceive blogging over a century and a third before it began, as  his Definition of a Gentleman is, in part, almost a code of behavior for bloggers.  Here are some rules for blogging I have distilled from it:

Bloggers would do well to keep the following in mind:

1.    His great concern being to make every one at their ease and at home. He has his eyes on all his company; he is tender towards the bashful, gentle towards the distant, and merciful towards the absurd.

2.    He never defends himself by a mere retort.

3.    He has no ears for slander or gossip.

4.    He is scrupulous in imputing motives to those who interfere with him, and interprets every thing for the best.

5.    He is never mean or little in his disputes, never takes unfair advantage, never mistakes personalities or sharp sayings for arguments, or insinuates evil which he dare not say out.

6.    From a long-sighted prudence, he observes the maxim of the ancient sage, that we should ever conduct ourselves towards our enemy as if he were one day to be our friend.

7.    He has too much good sense to be affronted at insults.

8.    He is too well employed to remember injuries, and too indolent to bear malice.

9.    He is patient, forbearing, and resigned, on philosophical principles.

10.   If he engages in controversy of any kind, his disciplined intellect preserves him from the blundering discourtesy of better, perhaps, but less educated minds; who, like blunt weapons, tear and hack instead of cutting clean, who mistake the point in argument, waste their strength on trifles, misconceive their adversary, and leave the question more involved than they find it.

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Cardinal Newman’s Theory of Development of Doctrine and the Synod

Sunday, November 16, AD 2014

 

 

Back during Lent in 2010 I did a series looking at Cardinal Newman’s theory regarding the Development of Doctrine:

 

Venerable John Henry Cardinal Newman, among his many other services to the Church, clarified the concept of development of doctrine as opposed to corruptions of doctrine that occasionally fasten on the Church and are shed off by the Church over time.

Newman posited seven notes, I would call them tests, for determining whether something is a development of doctrine or a corruption.

1.  Preservation of Type

2.  Continuity of Principles

3.  Power of Assimilation

4.  Logical Sequence

5.  Anticipation of Its Future

6.  Conservative Action upon Its Past

7.  Chronic Vigour

Each of these notes are explained by Newman in detail.  The concepts aren’t simple either in theory or in application, at least to me, but Newman does a first rate job of explaining them. 

I posited that Newman’s seven tests could be used to look at various teachings of the Church to see if a particular teaching was a development of doctrine or a corruption that had crept temporarily into the Church.  Now Father Juan R. Velez has taken the seven tests and applied them to the giving of communion to people divorced and remarried whose first marriages have not been annulled by the Church:

 

Newman’s seven tests are as follows:

1. Preservation of the type or identity happens when a doctrine or belief retains its type from start to end. Newman gives as an example the external development of Christianity into the Roman Catholic Church. Throughout the ages it has maintained its identity as “a religious communion claiming divine commission,” a well organized and disciplined body” which faithful to its founder is considered as fanatical, superstitious and ignorant by its persecutors. The Church remains true to its type in the view of the world, and this unity of type serves as a guarantee of its development.

2. By continuity of principles, Newman explained: “A development, to be faithful, must retain both the doctrine and the principle with which it started.” He enumerates various Catholic principles such as: dogmas as irrevocable supernatural truths, the principle of faith, the sacramental principle derived from the doctrine of the Incarnation, the mystical interpretation of Scripture also derived from the doctrine of the Incarnation, and the principle of grace (325-326).

3. Assimilative Power refers to interpenetration of doctrines. “A living idea becomes many, yet remains one” (186). Newman referred to doctrines and rites, which were assimilated slowly and carefully and with much difficulty over time.

4. Logical Consequence does not refer to a syllogism, but to a gradual growth that, although unintentional, has a logical character, and an “evident naturalness” (191).

5. Anticipation of its future means that there are “early intimations of tendencies which afterwards are fully realized (…) in accordance with the original idea” (196).

6. Conservative Action requires new doctrines to protect earlier doctrines. In the words of St. Vincent quoted by Newman, it is profectus fidei non permutatio (progress in faith not its change into something else). He gives as an example devotion to St. Mary that, far from corrupting doctrine about Christ’s unique mediation, “subserves, illustrates, protects the doctrine of our Lord’s loving kindness and mediation” (202).

7. Lastly, chronic Vigor (or vigorous action from first to last) refers to the duration of ideas whereas something corrupt cannot be long standing.

Applying these tests, Newman came to believe that Catholic doctrine on Purgatory, original sin, devotion to the saints, prayer for the deceased is true doctrine. He was aware that there were disagreements between the hierarchy before a teaching was settled. He explained in support of the existence of doctrinal development:

I grant that there are ‘Bishops against Bishops in Church history, Fathers against Fathers, Fathers against themselves,’ for such differences in individual writers are consistent with, or rather are involved in the very idea of doctrinal development, and consequently are no real objection to it; the one essential question is whether the recognized organ of teaching, the Church herself, acting through Pope or Council as the oracle of heaven, has ever contradicted her own enunciations. If so, the hypothesis which I am advocating is at once shattered; but, till I have positive and distinct evidence of the fact, I am slow to give credence to the existence of so great an improbability. (120-121)

One example of true doctrinal development is the dogma of the Assumption of the Virgin Mary. We can verify this by applying to it the seven tests Newman described:

1. The Role of Mary is not changed; there is preservation of the type or identity.

2. Mary is honored because she is the Mother of God, which is a continuity of principle of the honor given to God.

3. Although Christians believed early on that the saints intercede in heaven for their brethren on earth, the belief in the Virgin Mary’s special intercession as the Mother of God grew among Christians.

4. It stands to reason that Christ would honor his mother. The dogma is a logical consequence of Christ’s teaching and example.

5. The Archangel announced to Mary her mission, and at the Visitation Elizabeth and Simeon praised her. In this, we see an anticipation of future honors given to her.

6. Celebrating this Marian privilege reminds us of Mary’s Role. Thus, the liturgy has a conservative action on its early beliefs and practices.

7. Chronic vigor or vitality can be observed in the celebration of Mary’s life and her union with Christ, which exerts new energy in the life of the faithful of all ages.

The question of Communion for divorced and remarried Catholics

Having examined Newman’s tests, we now examine if they apply to the doctrine that Communion for divorced and remarried persons is an authentic development. In other words, what would Cardinal Newman have said in his intervention at the Synod for Families?

First, however, we should reaffirm, as Pope John Paul II did in the Apostolic Exhortation Familiaris Consortio, that divorced and remarried Catholics remain part of the Church. As members of the Church, they should be accepted and helped to live the faith. They should be encouraged to pray and to seek a path of reconciliation with God. Those who have a just cause should be helped to obtain a declaration of nullity of the previous bond and helped to receive the sacrament of marriage. All should be understood and supported with prayer and friendship.

It should also be mentioned that in the Church’s history there have been doctrinal developments in matters regarding marriage. A notable one is the doctrine on the canonical form of marriage. The Council of Trent mandated that a sacramental marriage should have as witness a qualified representative of the Church, normally the pastor of the parish church.

Although marriage situations vary, the following is an application of Newman’s tests to the general consideration of the proposed doctrine of Communion of divorced and remarried persons.

1. Acceptance of Communion for divorced and remarried persons does not preserve the type of marriage, which entails indissolubility. The type of marriage with Christ’s permanent love for the Church, his bride, is broken.

2. This new doctrine establishes a new principle, namely that in some cases marriage is dissoluble; marriage is not permanent. There is thus a discontinuity with earlier doctrine.

3. The proposed doctrine seems to assimilate the Christian practice of mercy and forgiveness, but it contradicts others such as justice with regard to the obligations that derive from the nature of marriage. It is doubtful that it can pass the test of assimilative power.

4. Communion in these circumstances does not follow the penitential practice present since the early Church by which a person in a state of sin must leave the situation of sin and follow a path of conversion before being reconciled to the Church, thus coming into Communion.

5. Christ’s teaching about the permanence of marriage and the sin of adultery does not anticipate in any way this new doctrine of divorce and remarriage, and less of Communion for those who are sadly in this situation.

6. Admission to Communion of divorced persons who have entered a second bond does not have a protective action on the practice of marriage in the Church. Instead of having a conservative action, it weakens marriage by removing one of the consequences to divorce and remarriage.

7. Newman would also argue that the proposed doctrine would not add vitality to the Christian reality of sacramental marriage. On the contrary, the practice of divorce and remarriage, and in some places of Communion for persons divorced and remarried, have become more accepted.

Given this analysis, it is very doubtful that the doctrine on Communion for divorced and remarried persons proposed by Cardinal Walter Kasper can be considered authentic development of doctrine. Fr. Juan José Perez Soba has pointed out the doctrinal errors of Cardinal Kasper’s position on the marriage bond (Zenit.org, March 25, 2014). It is in no way the doctrinal development that St. Vincent of Lérins and Blessed Cardinal Newman envisioned. At the Synod Newman would instead argue how Sacred Scripture and Church Tradition uphold the indissolubility of the marriage bond.

Furthermore, Newman would caution against haste in questions of possible doctrinal development: “The theology of the Church is not random combination of various opinions, but a diligent, patient working out of one doctrine from many materials. The conduct of Popes, Councils, Fathers, betokens the slow, painful, anxious taking up of new truths into an existing body of belief” (366).

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9 Responses to Cardinal Newman’s Theory of Development of Doctrine and the Synod

  • “It should also be mentioned that in the Church’s history there have been doctrinal developments in matters regarding marriage. A notable one is the doctrine on the canonical form of marriage. The Council of Trent mandated that a sacramental marriage should have as witness a qualified representative of the Church, normally the pastor of the parish church.”
    That was a matter of legislation, not doctrine. The only doctrinal statement was to declare clandestine marriages valid, when not rendered invalid by Church legislation.
    The decree takes its name from its first word, Tametsi (Although): “Although it is not to be doubted, that clandestine marriages, made with the free consent of the contracting parties, are valid and true marriages, so long as the Church has not rendered them invalid; and consequently, that those persons are justly to be condemned, as the holy Synod doth condemn them with anathema, who deny that such marriages are true and valid;”
    It then goes on to provide for the future (but only in those places where the decree is promulgated) that “Those who shall attempt to contract marriage otherwise than in the presence of the parish priest, or of some other priest by permission of the said parish priest, or of the Ordinary, and in the presence of two or three witnesses; the holy Synod renders such wholly incapable of thus contracting and declares such contracts invalid and null, as by the present decree It invalidates and annuls them..”
    The requirement of canonical form could be abolished tomorrow, without involving any change of doctrine. I believe it would be a very bad idea, but that is by the by.

  • What does it matter how well prepared those who wish to preserve Biblical marriage come prepared to the 2nd part of the Synod if the final report includes paragraphs supporting those who do not want to maintain Biblical marriage–with Pope Francis’ blessing? As you can tell, I am completely disgusted with the sham process that was the first Synod. 🙁

  • I don’t anyone to think that we should simply throw in the towel because of the evil, manipulative games taking place at high levels, I am just disgusted with those games. However, my encouragement is to “never, never, never give up!”

  • First, thank you F. Baron, as always for the breath of fresh air.
    Secondly, are we not including in the option the basic development alternatives that might arise in the process of declaring nullity?

  • Genesis 2: “And the rib which the Lord took from the man, He made into a woman, and brought her to him. Then the man said, “She is now bone of my bone and flesh of my flesh: she shall be called woman, for from man she has been taken.” For this reason a man leaves his father and mother and clings to his wife and the two become one flesh.” But only through the action of God.
    There cannot be a civil marriage without the action of God.
    .
    The Catholic Church must tolerate the divorced and remarried. The divorced and remarried have excluded God. The Catholic Church cannot celebrate their condition.
    .
    The Priest in Confession acts only in the person of Christ, in persona Christi, when the priest says the Absolution. To lay the responsibility for the determination of nullity on one person, the priest, is akin to a capital one crime court with no jury. The Church in her wisdom has created a tribunal of (three) canonists to determine the validity and the application of the Pauline Privilege to married and divorced people. Pope Francis is proposing to remove the three canonists and replace them with one priest in the confessional. A judicial fact is predicated on the testimony of two or more witnesses. Jesus said to test everything.

  • Don’t worry yourselves folks. Cardinal Dolan in his interview with Raymond Arroyo doesn’t know “what happened” and is not aware of any of this. Everything is just great in the Holy Roman Church. Kind of like our president. What?

  • This is awesome, Mr. McClarey. Thank you for posting it. 😀

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  • Thank you Barbara! Cardinal Newman has been one of my mentors in looking at the history of the Church.

Pope Paul VI and the Smoke of Satan

Sunday, October 19, AD 2014

 

(The day of the beatification of Pope Paul VI seems like a good day to repost this post.)

I have long heard about Pope Paul VI having referred to the “smoke of Satan” having entered the Church.  Usually most references to it do not mention when it was said and in what context.  The quote apparently was said on June 29, 1972 by Pope Paul VI on the ninth anniversary of his coronation during a homily given at a mass for the solemnity of Saint Peter and Saint Paul.  The Italian text is here.  As far as I know there is no official translation.  On November 13, 2006 Jimmy Atkin posted at his blog  a translation done of the homily by Father Stephanos Pedrano.  Please note that the text that is translated is a summary of what the Pope said and not a word for word transcript of what the Pope said.  Father Pedrano’s translation is as follows (I have placed in red the portion of the text that refers to Satan):

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Advent and Anti-Christ, Part IV

Sunday, December 22, AD 2013

Deeds of the Antichrist

 

 

The fourth and final part of my presentation of the four sermons on the Anti-Christ delivered by John Henry Cardinal Newman before his conversion during Advent in 1835.  Part I is here, part II is here and Part III is here.

In this last sermon Newman speaks of the persecution that will attend the reign of the anti-Christ.  In Newman’s day, living memory could recall the savage persecution that the Church endured dring the initial years of the French Revolution.  In our time, we have the blood-stained last century when millions of Christians were martyred for their faith.  It is all too easy to suspect that those terrible persecutions were trial runs for the persecution of the Anti-Christ.  The last century brought to reality these words of Newman:  “Let us then apprehend and realize the idea, thus clearly brought before us, that, sheltered as the Church has been from persecution for 1500 years, yet a persecution awaits it, before the end, fierce and more perilous than any which occurred at its first rise.” Certainly all prior persecutions pale before what Christians experienced in the Terrible Twentieth.

This is an interesting passage from Newman’s sermon:  Again, another anxious sign at the present time is what appears in the approaching destruction of the Mahometan power. This too may outlive our day; still it tends visibly to annihilation, and as it crumbles, perchance the sands of the world’s life are running out.” I assume that Newman was thinking of the decline of the Ottoman Empire of his day, the sick man of Europe.  Freed from this adversary, perhaps Europe would unite behind one man, reform or revive the Roman Empire, and bring about the conditions for the Anti-Christ.  Small wonder that Hitler was frequently deemed the Anti-Christ during his lifetime.  Of course Hitler was not the Anti-Christ, but perhaps merely one of myriads of anti-Christs who have arisen and fallen in the centuries since the coming of Christ, or perhaps he is a precursor of the Anti-Christ.

In our secular age, when the Faith is so weak in so many regions of traditional strength, especially in Europe, these words of Newman ring home:  “It is his policy to split us up and divide us, to dislodge us gradually from our rock of strength. And if there is to be a persecution, perhaps it will be then; then, perhaps, when we are all of us in all parts of Christendom so divided, and so reduced, so full of schism, so close upon heresy. When we have cast ourselves upon the world and depend for protection upon it, and have given up our independence and our strength, then he may burst upon us in fury as far as God allows him. “

Newman ends with the hope that the knowledge of a coming persecution may cause us to act more like Christians:  “Surely with this thought before us, we cannot bear to give ourselves up to thoughts of ease and comfort, of making money, settling well, or rising in the world. Surely with this thought before us, we cannot but feel that we are, what all Christians really are in the best estate, (nay rather would wish to be had they their will, if they be Christians in heart) pilgrims, watchers waiting for the morning, waiting for the light, eagerly straining our eyes for the first dawn of day—looking out for our SAVIOUR’S coming, His glorious advent, when He will end the reign of sin and wickedness, accomplish the number of His elect, and perfect those who at present struggle with infirmity, yet in their hearts love and obey Him.”

The fourth and final sermon of Newman on the Anti-Christ:

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2 Responses to Advent and Anti-Christ, Part IV

  • Eschatology is one area that lacks consensus at all times and everywhere–well, not exactly, but it’s pretty messy. There is no classic viewpoint to fall back on as great minds have frequently differed. What was realized at 70 AD and/or historically? What remains to be realized? Not to mention the exact nature of it all. Gladly, the creeds provide a basic outline: they tell us the important things that remain.

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Advent and Anti-Christ, Part II

Sunday, December 8, AD 2013

 

 

 

 

Part II of my presentation of the four sermons on the Anti-Christ given by Blessed John Henry Cardinal Newman during Advent in 1835 before his conversion.  Part I is here.

In this second sermon Newman concentrates on what we can glean of  the Anti-Christ  from Scripture and from the writings of the Fathers of the Church.  One thing stands out in this sermon for me.  The idea that the reign of the Anti-Christ may involve both ferocious atheism and a return to paganism.  This seems like a contradiction, but Newman points to the French Revolution:

In that great and famous nation which is near us, once great for its love of CHRIST’S Church, since memorable for deeds of blasphemy, which lead me here to mention it, and now, when it should be pitied and prayed for, made unhappily our own model in too many respects,-followed when it should be condemned, and admired when it should be excused,-in the capital of that powerful and celebrated nation, there took place, as we all well know, within the last fifty years, an open apostasy from Christianity; not from Christianity only, but from every kind of worship which might retain any semblance or pretence of the great truths of religion. Atheism was absolutely professed; -yet in spite of this, it seems a contradiction in terms to say it, a certain sort of worship, and that, as the prophet expresses it, “a strange worship,” was introduced. Observe what this was.

I say, they avowed on the one hand Atheism. They prevailed upon an unhappy man, whom their proceedings had forced upon the Church as an Archbishop, to come before them in public and declare that there was no God, and that what he had hitherto taught was a fable. They wrote up over the burial places that death was an eternal sleep. They closed the Churches, they seized and desecrated the gold and silver plate belonging to them, turning these sacred instruments, like Belshazzar, to the use of their impious revellings; they formed mock processions, clad in priestly garments, and singing profane hymns. They annulled the divine ordinance of marriage, resolving it into a mere civil contract to le made and dissolved at pleasure. These things are but a part of their enormities.”

Yet at the same time the French Revolutionaries made an idol of the State and of abstractions.  Think  of the worship of the Goddess of Liberty.

After abjuring our LORD and SAVIOUR, and blasphemously declaring Him to be an impostor, they proceeded to decree, in the public assembly of the nation, the adoration of Liberty and Equality as divinities; and they appointed festivals besides in honour of Reason, the Country, the Constitution, and the Virtues. Further, they determined that tutelary gods, even dead men, may be canonized, consecrated, and worshipped; and they enrolled in the number of these some of the most notorious infidels and profligates of the last century. The remains of the two principal of these were brought in solemn procession into one of their Churches, and placed upon the holy altar itself; incense was offered to them, and the assembled multitude bowed down in worship before one of them,-before what remained on earth of an inveterate enemy of CHRIST.

This is all fascinating when we consider what has happened since Newman’s day.  Communist regimes have brutally assaulted the Church and proclaimed the reign of atheism.  The Nazis were hostitle to Christianity, Hitler considering it to be a Jewish fable and only waiting for the end of the war to settle accounts with the Churches.  The collapse of religious faith in Europe and the rise of militant atheism are facts of life in our time.  Yet at the same time we see a growth in paganism:  Gaia worship, Wicca and all of the New Age mumbo-jumbo.  Heinrich Himmler, chicken farmer turned Reichsfuhrer SS, was ahead of his time in his attempts to revive Nordic paganism.  A regime that is both atheist and pagan seems much less unlikely in our time than in Newman’s, and Newman was quite perceptive in highlighting this as key to understanding developments which were in their infancy during his life.  As another wise Englishman C. S. Lewis put it in the Screwtape Letters:

I wonder you should ask me whether it is essential to keep the patient in ignorance of your own existence. That question, at least for the present phase of the struggle, has been answered for us by the High Command. Our policy, for the moment, is to conceal ourselves. Of course this has not always been so. We are really faced with a cruel dilemma. When the humans disbelieve in our existence we lose all he pleasing results of direct terrorism and we make no magicians. On the other hand, when they believe in us, we cannot make them materialists and sceptics. At least, not yet. I have great hopes that we shall learn in due time how to emotionalise and mythologise their science to such an extent that what is, in effect, belief in us, (though not under that name) will creep in while the human mind remains closed to belief in the Enemy. The “Life Force”, the worship of sex, and some aspects of Psychoanalysis, may here prove useful. If once we can produce our perfect work—the Materialist Magician, the man, not using, but veritably worshipping, what he vaguely calls “Forces” while denying the existence of “spirits”—then the end of the war will be in sight.

 Newman’s second sermon on the Anti-Christ is most definitely a sermon for our time when atheism and paganism often seem to walk the same path.  Here is the text of the sermon:

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5 Responses to Advent and Anti-Christ, Part II

Advent and Anti-Christ, Part I

Sunday, December 1, AD 2013

 

 

(I originally posted these sermons back in 2009 when the readership of the blog was quite smaller.  Time to do so again.  The Anti-Christ would seem at first blush to be a theme for the end of the liturgical year which focuses on the end times and not during Advent.  However, Christ came to bring us to salvation and the exact opposite goal is that of the Anti-Christ.  Thinking about the Anti-Christ during Advent reminds us that the mission of Christ is ongoing and that at Advent we celebrate the beginning of that mission, not as a mere historical event that occurred two millennia ago, but an on-going reality.}

 

 

Prior to his conversion to Catholicism, Blessed John Henry Cardinal Newman preached in 1835 a series of Advent Sermons on the Anti-Christ.  I have always found them extremely intriguing, and I am going to present them on each of the Sundays in Advent this year.

In this first sermon Newman gives us an overview of the Anti-Christ and the time of his appearance.  We see in this sermon Newman’s total command of history and how he uses this knowledge to draw out the implications of the few mentions of the Anti-Christ in Scripture.  Newman intellectually was always first and foremost a historian of the highest order and he puts this talent to good and instructive use in this sermon.  When Newman converted the Church gained one of the finest intellects of the Nineteenth Century or any century for that matter.  Much of Newman’s work concerned the working out of God’s plan for salvation through human history, and his examination of the Anti-Christ places that mysterious part of revelation into that plan.

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11 Responses to Advent and Anti-Christ, Part I

  • WOW Thank you, Donald R. MCClarey. “one man’s opinion is not better than another’s.” Dan Brown based his “truth” of The Da Vinci Code on Leonardo Da Vinci’s opinion in Da Vinci’s painting of The Last Supper. Dan Brown’s misinterpretation of Da Vinci’s Last Supper painting, superimposing Brown’s own opinion is cheating Da Vinci out of his work. In short, abuse. Brown’s distortion of Da Vinci’s opinion in his painting of The Last Supper is calumny and false witness.
    I am looking forward to reading all of this post. Thank you. Thank you.

  • Excellent… and enlightening. That gives me a lot to think about and ponder….

    May you and your family continue to have a Blessed Advent Season Donald.

  • “As to the third and last instance, which I might mention in the generation immediately before ourselves, I will but observe that in like manner, the Shadow of Antichrist arose out of an apostasy, an apostasy to infidel doctrines, perhaps the most flagitious and blasphemous which the world has ever seen.”

    Elucidation?

  • I am not sure WK, but I assume that Newman was referring to the attacks on religion in the French Revolution, certainly the most severe attack on Christianity up to Newman’s time.

  • When reading that first will come a falling away, a gentle wariness and intrigue begins in the mind. His later speaking of a falling away from God is clarity itself.
    I look forward to this series. This history helps understanding events.
    Advent beginning today is a time for reminding us to awaken to the eternal, and these posts will help with perspectives and all.

  • This Sermon of Blessed John Henry Newman on the Antichrist is powerful. I look forward to the other three Sermons. This type of Sermon certainly cuts through the sentimental and materialist versions of the meaning of Christmas.

    As to what the third instance of “apostasy, etc.” and it’s identity, I concur with Donald that Newman was referring to the French Revolution, however I would add the reign of Napoleon who swept through Europe with his forces playing/singing the Marseillaise, the hymn of the Revolution.

    The Revolution itself was the almost automatic fruit of more radical dimensions of the Enlightenment (I would differentiate, at least somewhat, between the radical Enlightenment on the Continent, and it’s milder form in Great Britain and America)

    There is an outline of Modern History ( perhaps too simple) that sums it up in three movements: 1)The Reformation in its call for Scripture alone/faith alone was the revolution against the Church (16th century)
    2) The Enlightenment with its call by Descartes for ‘ reason alone’, was a revolution against Jesus Christ and revelation (18th century). 3) Revolution against God 19th-20th century

    Newman was right on target

  • No; he offers you baits to tempt you. He promises you civil liberty; he promises you equality; he promises you trade and wealth; he promises you a remission of taxes; he promises you reform. This is the way in which he conceals from you the kind of work to which he is putting you; … Then he laughs and jokes with you, and gets intimate with you; he takes your hand, and gets his fingers between yours, and grasps them, and then you are his. –

    Who would have believed 50 years ago we would have abortion on demand, homosexual “marriages”, more than half of marriages ending in divorce, euthanasia and so on as defining our culture? Satan is laughing alright and grasping many fingers while preparing our world for the one antichrist Newman speaks of. Sobering stuff.

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  • Regarding Napoleon: the beginning of the break-up of the Catholic Spanish Empire was precipitated by Napoleon through a ruse starting the Peninsular War. By putting his brother Joseph on the throne, the Spanish monarchy was weakened and their colonies in the Western hemisphere began to seek independence. The concordat between the Holy See and the former Spanish colonies was broken and many of the governments became not only secular, but vehemently anti-Catholic. As an example, the persecution of religious in Mexico that continued into the 20th century.

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Cardinal Newman on Papal Infallibility

Saturday, October 19, AD 2013

“It in no way depends upon the caprice of the Pope, or upon his good pleasure, to make such and such a doctrine, the object of a dogmatic definition. He is tied up and limited to the divine revelation, and to the truths which that revelation contains. He is tied up and limited by the Creeds, already in existence, and by the preceding definitions of the Church. He is tied up and limited by the divine law, and by the constitution of the Church. Lastly, he is tied up and limited by that doctrine, divinely revealed, which affirms that alongside religious society there is civil society, that alongside the Ecclesiastical Hierarchy there is the power of temporal Magistrates, invested in their own domain with a full sovereignty, and to whom we owe in conscience obedience and respect in all things morally permitted, and belonging to the domain of civil society.”

Pastoral of the Swiss Bishops on Papal Infallibility cited by John Henry Cardinal Newman

 

One of the shrewdest minds ever placed at the service of the Church was that of the recently beatified John Henry Cardinal Newman.  I have benefited immensely over the years from reading his writings.  Here are his thoughts on the subject of papal infallibility, a subject misunderstood by the World at large and by too many Catholics:

NOW I am to speak of the Vatican definition, by which the doctrine of the Pope’s infallibility has become de fide, that is, a truth necessary to be believed, as being included in the original divine revelation, for those terms, revelation, depositum, dogma, and de fide, are correlatives; and I begin with a remark which suggests the drift of all I have to say about it. It is this:—that so difficult a virtue is faith, even with the special grace of God, in proportion as the reason is exercised, so difficult is it to assent inwardly to propositions, verified to us neither by reason nor experience, but depending for their reception on the word of the Church as God’s oracle, that she has ever shown the utmost care to contract, as far as possible, the range of truths and the sense of propositions, of which she demands this absolute reception. “The Church,” says Pallavicini, “as far as may be, has ever abstained from imposing upon the minds of men that commandment, the most arduous of the Christian Law—viz., to believe obscure matters without doubting.” To co-operate in this charitable duty has been one special work of her theologians, and rules are laid down by herself, by tradition, and by custom, to assist them in the task. She only speaks when it is necessary to speak; but hardly has she spoken out magisterially some great general principle, when she sets her theologians to work to explain her meaning in the concrete, by strict interpretation of its wording, by the illustration of its circumstances, and by the recognition of exceptions, in order to make it as tolerable as possible, and the least of a temptation, to self-willed, independent, or wrongly educated minds. A few years ago it was the fashion among us to call writers, who conformed to this rule of the Church, by the name of “Minimizers;” that day of tyrannous ipse-dixits, I trust, is over: Bishop Fessler, a man of high authority, for he was Secretary General of the Vatican Council, and of higher authority still in his work, for it has the approbation of the Sovereign Pontiff, clearly proves to us that a moderation of doctrine, dictated by charity, is not inconsistent with soundness in the faith. Such a sanction, I suppose, will be considered sufficient for the character of the remarks which I am about to make upon definitions in general, and upon the Vatican in particular.

The Vatican definition, which comes to us in the shape of the Pope’s Encyclical Bull called the Pastor Æternus, declares that “the Pope has that same infallibility which the Church has”: to determine therefore what is meant by the infallibility of the Pope we must turn first to consider the infallibility of the Church. And again, to determine the character of the Church’s infallibility, we must consider what is the characteristic of Christianity, considered as a revelation of God’s will.

Our Divine Master might have communicated to us heavenly truths without telling us that they came from Him, as it is commonly thought He has done in the case of heathen nations; but He willed the Gospel to be a revelation acknowledged and authenticated, to be public, fixed, and permanent; and accordingly, as Catholics hold, He framed a Society of men to be its home, its instrument, and its guarantee. The rulers of that Association are the legal trustees, so to say, of the sacred truths which He spoke to the Apostles by word of mouth. As He was leaving them, He gave them their great commission, and bade them “teach” their converts all over the earth, “to observe all things whatever He had commanded them;” and then He added, “Lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the world.”

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96 Responses to Cardinal Newman on Papal Infallibility

  • The whole of Bl John Henry Newman’s Letter to the Duke of Norfolk (of which the above is an extract) repays careful study. Chapters 6 on the Encyclical of 1864 and Chapter 7 on the notorious Syllabus of Errors (which he shows to be destitute of any dogmatic authority whatsoever) reminds one that Newman was also the author of Tract 90, in which he demonstrated, to the horror of Protestant Oxford, that the Thirty-Nine Articles could be harmonized with the teaching of Trent.

    The reference in paragraph 11 above to the great mystery of predestination should serve to remind us that on many matters, such as grace and free will, the Church has contented herself with condemning certain errors, Calvinist, Jansenist, or Pelagian, whilst leaving theologians free to hold various conflicting opinions and the faithful to adopt a reverent agnosticism towards any and all of them.

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  • Major problems with the papacy to begin with. There is no office of pope in the NT nor a supreme leader of the entire church for at least 500 years. Also, popes were not always considered infallible.

  • “There is no office of pope in the NT nor a supreme leader of the entire church for at least 500 years.”

    Wrong on both counts. Saint Peter is present in the New Testament and he was the first Pope. The successor Popes have a very well developed history from the time of Saint Clement circa 98 AD. From the earliest days the Church looked to the Pope for definitive rulings on all disputed questions.

  • Peter was not a “pope” i.e. supreme leader of the church. He never refers to himself in this way nor do the other apostles. There is no one in the early centuries who has the supreme power over the entire church. No on is referred to as some kind of supreme leader of the entire church for centuries. Not even I Clement makes such a claim nor does Clement himself claim to be the supreme leader of the entire. Read i Clement and you will find that he never refers to himself as such.

  • “Peter was not a “pope” i.e. supreme leader of the church. He never refers to himself in this way nor do the other apostles.”

    God refers to him in this way:

    ” 18 And I say also unto thee, That thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.

    19 And I will give unto thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt bind on earth shall be bound in heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.”

    In the Gospel of John Christ tells Peter to feed his sheep. Peter is regarded as the head of the Apostles both in the Gospels and Acts and in the writings of the Church fathers.

    Pope Saint Clement was called upon to sort out problems in the Church in Corinth. Why in the world would they do that unless the authority of Rome was already recognized?

    “we feel that we have been somewhat tardy in turning our attention to the points respecting which you consulted us; and especially to that shameful and detestable sedition, utterly abhorrent to the elect of God, which a few rash and self-confident persons have kindled to such a pitch of frenzy,”

    Saint Irenaeus, writing in 178 recognizes the authority of Rome:

    “Since, however, it would be very tedious, in such a volume as this, to reckon up the successions of all the Churches, we do put to confusion all those who, in whatever manner, whether by an evil self-pleasing, by vainglory, or by blindness and perverse opinion, assemble in unauthorized meetings; [we do this, I say, ] by indicating that tradition derived from the apostles, of the very great, the very ancient, and universally known Church founded and organized at Rome by the two most glorious apostles, Peter and Paul; as also [by pointing out] the faith preached to men, which comes down to our time by means of the successions of the bishops. For it is a matter of necessity that every Church should agree with this Church, on account of its pre- eminent authority, that is, the faithful everywhere, inasmuch as the apostolical tradition has been preserved continuously by those [faithful men] who exist everywhere.

    3. The blessed apostles, then, having founded and built up the Church, committed into the hands of Linus the office of the episcopate. Of this Linus, Paul makes mention in the Epistles to Timothy. To him succeeded Anacletus; and after him, in the third place from the apostles, Clement was allotted the bishopric. This man, as he had seen the blessed apostles, and had been conversant with them, might be said to have the preaching of the apostles still echoing [in his ears], and their traditions before his eyes. Nor was he alone [in this], for there were many still remaining who had received instructions from the apostles. In the time of this Clement, no small dissension having occurred among the brethren at Corinth, the Church in Rome despatched a most powerful letter to the Corinthians, exhorting them to peace, renewing their faith, and declaring the tradition which it had lately received from the apostles, proclaiming the one God, omnipotent, the Maker of heaven and earth, the Creator of man, who brought on the deluge, and called Abraham, who led the people from the land of Egypt, spake with Moses, set forth the law, sent the prophets, and who has prepared fire for the devil and his angels. From this document, whosoever chooses to do so, may learn that He, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, was preached by the Churches, and may also understand the apostolical tradition of the Church, since this Epistle is of older date than these men who are now propagating falsehood, and who conjure into existence another god beyond the Creator and the Maker of all existing things. To this Clement there succeeded Evaristus. Alexander followed Evaristus; then, sixth from the apostles, Sixtus was appointed; after him, Telephorus, who was gloriously martyred; then Hyginus; after him, Pius; then after him, Anicetus. Sorer having succeeded Anicetus, Eleutherius does now, in the twelfth place from the apostles, hold the inheritance of the episcopate. In this order, and by this succession, the ecclesiastical tradition from the apostles, and the preaching of the truth, have come down to us. And this is most abundant proof that there is one and the same vivifying faith, which has been preserved in the Church from the apostles until now, and handed down in truth.”

  • Those passages in the gospels do not support the idea that Jesus was making Peter the supreme leader of the church. Rather they do show he was one of the leaders and he did play an important part. However, he was not the supreme ultimate leader of the entire church. Even in Acts 15 we do not see him acting as the supreme leader that we would expect a modern pope to have. It was James, and not Peter who made the final decision in Acts 15:19. We also know by studying the NT that no apostle ever attests to Peter being the supreme leader of the entire church.

    In regards to Clement, he does not make any claim to being the supreme leader of the entire. One church helping out another church does not make a papacy. The first time a bishop appealed to Peter for authority was not until around 250 by Stephen.

    Roman Catholic historian von Dollinger on papal succession:

    “Of all the Fathers who interpret these passages (Matthew 16:18; John 21:17), not a single one applies them to the Roman bishops as Peter’s successors. How many Fathers have busied themselves with these three texts, yet not one of them who commentaries we possess–Origen, Chrysostom, Hilary, Augustine, Cyril, Theodoret, and those whose interpretations are collected in catenas–has dropped the faintest hint that the primacy of Rome is the consequence of the commission and promise to Peter!

    Not one of them has explained the rock or foundation on which Christ would build His Church as the office given to Peter to be transmitted to his successors, but they understood by it either Christ Himself, or Peter’s confession of faith in Christ; often both together (Cited in Hunt D. A Women Rides the Beast. Harvest House Publishers, Eugene (OR) p. 146).”

    “ALTHOUGH CATHOLIC TRADITION, BEGINNING IN the late second and early third centuries, regards St. Peter as the first bishop of Rome and, therefore, as the first pope, there is no evidence that Peter was involved in the initial establishment of the Christian community in Rome (indeed, what evidence there is would seem to point in the opposite direction) or that he served as Rome’s first bishop…He often shared his position of prominence with James and John…However, there is no evidence that before his death Peter actually served the church of Rome as its first bishop, even though the “fact” is regularly taken for granted by a wide spectrum of Catholics and others (McBrien, Richard P. Lives of the Popes: The Pontiffs from St. Peter to Benedict XVI. Harper, San Francisco, 2005 updated ed., pp. 25,29).

  • Those passages in the gospels do not support the idea that Jesus was making Peter the supreme leader of the church. Rather they do show he was one of the leaders and he did play an important part. However, he was not the supreme ultimate leader of the entire church. Even in Acts 15 we do not see him acting as the supreme leader that we would expect a modern pope to have.

    And why would we expect him to?

    In regards to Clement, he does not make any claim to being the supreme leader of the entire. One church helping out another church does not make a papacy.

    The church in Corinth could have sought counsel from Antioch or Alexandria. But they didn’t.

    You’ve cited Hunt citing Dollinger. Just out of curiousity, have you checked Dollinger for yourself?

    At the risk of sounding persnickity, I’m not sure I’d trust the author of a book subtitled The Roman Catholic Church and the Last Days to have presented & sourced the evidence for his argument completely and fairly. At least not without doing some verification first.

    And certainly not after glancing at Amazon’s most helpful review of the book.

  • “Roman Catholic historian von Dollinger on papal succession:”

    Von Dollinger broke with the Church over Vatican I. He was writing these words in the heat of controversy and not as a scholar. So you won’t embarrass yourself again by citing von Dollinger and claiming that he was a Catholic historian, go to the link below and read about him:

    http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/05094a.htm

    As for Mr. Hunt, you might as well be citing The Protocols of the Elders of Zion to a Jewish audience. Mr. Hunt’s book is a Catholic bashing grab bag where he mines sources he clearly does not understand for anti-Catholic factoids. His basic thesis is that the Catholic Church is the whore of Babylon, a staple of more deranged Protestants for the past five centuries. Jimmy Akin at the link below does a very good job of refuting this charge and the sloppiness and the ignorance that are the hallmarks of Mr. Hunt’s tome:

    http://jimmyakin.com/hunt-ing-the-whore-of-babylon

    In regard to Richard P. McBrien, that insult to believing and thinking Catholics everywhere, he has built his career at Notre Dame in attacking traditional Catholicism. He served as a paid consultant for Dan Brown’s Catholic bashing Da Vinci Code and his scholarship is as worthless as Dan Brown’s. McBrien ignores the testimony of Church Father after Church Father in the first centuries after Christ that Peter was the first bishop of Rome because McBrien hates the Papacy. McBrien is Dave Hunt with a scholarly veneer and a Roman collar.

    http://www.catholicculture.org/culture/library/view.cfm?recnum=6710

  • I’m working on my rant covering the post-modern cesspool they call, “scholarship.”

  • Donald,
    You claim that “Von Dollinger broke with the Church over Vatican I. He was writing these words in the heat of controversy and not as a scholar” is irrelevant to what he wrote. Either its true or not that ““Of all the Fathers who interpret these passages (Matthew 16:18; John 21:17), not a single one applies them to the Roman bishops as Peter’s successors”.

    All you need to do is to show is a church father interpreting Matthew 16:18; John 21:17 as being applied to the “Roman bishops as Peter’s successors”. If you can do that then it would appear he was lying. If not, then we have no reason to doubt him.

    Same principle applies to McBrien. Is it true or not that “there is no evidence that before his death Peter actually served the church of Rome as its first bishop”? What is the evidence that he did?

  • “He was writing these words in the heat of controversy and not as a scholar” is irrelevant to what he wrote. Either its true or not”

    It’s not true:

    http://www.philvaz.com/apologetics/num41.htm

  • “Same principle applies to McBrien. Is it true or not that “there is no evidence that before his death Peter actually served the church of Rome as its first bishop”? What is the evidence that he did?”

    The testimony of the Church Fathers as I indicated. I have already quoted Saint Ireanaeus writing in 178 AD. I could cite many others.

  • In the first three centuries, when Christian communities were widely scattered, mostly poor and sometimes persecuted, the opportunities for the exercise of papal power, be it what it may, would be necessarily limited. That Anicetus should show a measure of deference to Polycarp, a man “who had spoken with John and with others who had seen the Lord,” over the Pascal controversy is less important than that Polycarp consulted him. That Irenaeus, the pupil of Polycarp, should urge Pope Victor to conciliate the churches of Asia over the same question is an argument in favour of the bishop of Rome’s authority, rather than detracting from it.

    That the Fathers should have no developed teaching on an authority still nascent is not at all surprising.

  • There is no papal power in the first century after the apostles being exercised. No one man had supreme power over the entire church at the time. What did Linus do that showed him to be the supreme leader of the entire church? Do other churches in this period acknowledge him as the supreme leader of the church?

  • “There is no papal power in the first century after the apostles being exercised.”

    Of course there is. I’ve already quoted Saint Clement to you. Why would the Church in Corinth otherwise call upon the Church in Rome to resolve their problem?

  • I Clement does not prove the papacy. Clement never refers to himself as the supreme leader of the church. If you read the letter carefully you will find he uses phrases such as “we” and “us”. To prove a papacy you need to show at least the following:
    1) One individual claims to be the supreme leader of the entire church
    2) Other churches acknowledging this claim
    3) Some kind of letter that demands it to be obeyed by the entire church.

    We don’t see this kind of thing in the first few centuries.

  • Not at all. Saint Peter never refers to himself as the chief of the apostles and that is clearly what he was as admitted even by almost all Protestants. The reality of the authority of Saint Clement is clearly present at a time when men and women were still alive who would have seen Saint Peter in Rome. Saint Ireanaeus, who you do your best to ignore, clearly sets forth in 178 the role of the papacy:

    “2. Since, however, it would be very tedious, in such a volume as this, to reckon up the successions of all the Churches, we do put to confusion all those who, in whatever manner, whether by an evil self-pleasing, by vainglory, or by blindness and perverse opinion, assemble in unauthorized meetings; [we do this, I say,] by indicating that tradition derived from the apostles, of the very great, the very ancient, and universally known Church founded and organized at Rome by the two most glorious apostles, Peter and Paul; as also [by pointing out] the faith preached to men, which comes down to our time by means of the successions of the bishops. For it is a matter of necessity that every Church should agree with this Church, on account of its preeminent authority, that is, the faithful everywhere, inasmuch as the tradition has been preserved continuously by those [faithful men] who exist everywhere.

    3. The blessed apostles, then, having founded and built up the Church, committed into the hands of Linus the office of the episcopate. Of this Linus, Paul makes mention in the Epistles to Timothy. To him succeeded Anacletus; and after him, in the third place from the apostles, Clement was allotted the bishopric. This man, as he had seen the blessed apostles, and had been conversant with them, might be said to have the preaching of the apostles still echoing [in his ears], and their traditions before his eyes. Nor was he alone [in this], for there were many still remaining who had received instructions from the apostles. In the time of this Clement, no small dissension having occurred among the brethren at Corinth, the Church in Rome dispatched a most powerful letter to the Corinthians, exhorting them to peace, renewing their faith, and declaring the tradition which it had lately received from the apostles, proclaiming the one God, omnipotent, the Maker of heaven and earth, the Creator of man, who brought on the deluge, and called Abraham, who led the people from the land of Egypt, spoke with Moses, set forth the law, sent the prophets, and who has prepared fire for the devil and his angels. From this document, whosoever chooses to do so, may learn that He, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, was preached by the Churches, and may also understand the tradition of the Church, since this Epistle is of older date than these men who are now propagating falsehood, and who conjure into existence another god beyond the Creator and the Maker of all existing things. To this Clement there succeeded Evaristus. Alexander followed Evaristus; then, sixth from the apostles, Sixtus was appointed; after him, Telephorus, who was gloriously martyred; then Hyginus; after him, Pius; then after him, Anicetus. Soter having succeeded Anicetus, Eleutherius does now, in the twelfth place from the apostles, hold the inheritance of the episcopate. In this order, and by this succession, the ecclesiastical tradition from the apostles, and the preaching of the truth, have come down to us. And this is most abundant proof that there is one and the same vivifying faith, which has been preserved in the Church from the apostles until now, and handed down in truth.”

  • There is no way for Paul or Peter to have founded the church at Rome. Rome was 1500 miles away and they were recorded in Acts to have been close to Jerusalem.

    Where in the NT does Peter refer to himself as the “chief of the apostles”? Where do the other apostles say this?

    Talking about one person succeeding another person does not make a papacy. That kind of thing went on in many churches in the early centuries. It still goes on today. To have a papacy you must have at least the 3 requirements that I mentioned. Those principles we do not see in the early centuries.

  • “There is no way for Paul or Peter to have founded the church at Rome. Rome was 1500 miles away and they were recorded in Acts to have been close to Jerusalem.”

    And they both came to Rome and established the apostolic succession.

    “Where in the NT does Peter refer to himself as the “chief of the apostles”? Where do the other apostles say this?”
    Do you deny that the Peter was the chief of the apostles? His name is given first in all lists of the apostles, Christ gives him the keys of the kingdom of Heaven, builds his Church upon him, tells him to feed His sheep, and tells him to strengthen his brethren. In Acts he is clearly the leader. Church Fathers unhesitatingly proclaim Peter as chief of the apostles.

    “[T]he blessed Peter, the chosen, the preeminent, the first among the disciples, for whom alone with himself the Savior paid the tribute [Matt. 17:27], quickly grasped and understood their meaning. And what does he say? “Behold, we have left all and have followed you””

    Saint Clement of Alexandria 200 AD.

  • You know what else you won’t find any evidence for, either in the Bible or in the Fathers of the Early Church?

    Sola Scriptura

  • What Ireanaeus is claiming that Peter and Paul “founded and organized at Rome by the two most glorious apostles”. There is no historical support for this claim.

    Peter was one of the leaders of the ancient church but not the supreme leader. No human being was because they knew the supreme leader of the church was the Lord Christ.

    When Paul wanted to confirm his message that he received directly Christ he did not go to Peter alone but to the pillars of the church who were James, Cephas and John (Gal 2:9). This shows that Paul did not think of one man being the supreme leader of the entire church.

    Peter was given the keys of the kingdom. How did he use these keys?

  • Ernst,
    What is Sola Scriptura? How would you define it?

  • I would characterize Sola Scriptura freely as the idea that the Bible is the only authority a Christian need recognize as the source of what he believes.

    When Paul wanted to confirm his message that he received directly Christ he did not go to Peter alone but to the pillars of the church who were James, Cephas and John (Gal 2:9). This shows that Paul did not think of one man being the supreme leader of the entire church.

    Peter was given the keys of the kingdom. How did he use these keys?

    To found Christ’s Church, of course. What happened to James and John, the churches they founded, and their apostolic successors What happened to Cephas’s?

    (Sorry for the late reply –kids and their homework. Also apologies in advance for the delayed reply to your response, if any –kids and their supper.)

  • Quickly though, since we’re playing “Let’s Define the Terms!” We might want to get back to this for a sec:

    There is no office of pope in the NT nor a supreme leader of the entire church for at least 500 years. Also, popes were not always considered infallible.

    How are you using “office” institutionally or vocationally? What is it that you think the Catholic Curch teaches about Papal Infallibility?

    I’m going to guess you think that Catholics think the Pope can never be wrong about anything, right?

  • Ernst,
    No problems with replies. Its amazing people can have discussion across the planet on this kind of format.

    Sola Scriptura rests on the fact that the Scriptures alone are the inspired-inerrant Word of God and what follows from this is the Scripture alone has the ultimate-final authority for what is to be believed and practiced. There is no higher authority for the Christian.

    Peter used the keys-authority on his preaching on Pentecost by preaching the gospel of Christ. Other apostles also preached this gospel that saves.

    There is no office of a pope like there is an office of a bishop or elder in the NT.
    Papal infalliblity means “Infallibility belongs in a special way to the pope as head of the bishops (Matt. 16:17–19; John 21:15–17). As Vatican II remarked, it is a charism the pope “enjoys in virtue of his office, when, as the supreme shepherd and teacher of all the faithful, who confirms his brethren in their faith (Luke 22:32), he proclaims by a definitive act some doctrine of faith or morals.”
    http://www.catholic.com/tracts/papal-infallibility

    There are many problems with this. Matt. 16:17–19; John 21:15–17 says nothing about being the head of bishops.

  • “But who do you say that I AM?” Simon Peter answered and said,”Thou are the Christ, the Son of the Living God.” Then Jesus answered and said, “Blessed art thou Simon Bar-Jona, for flesh and blood has not revealed this to thee, but my Father in heaven. And I say to thee, thou art Peter and upon this rock, I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. And I will give thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven; and whatever thou shalt bind on earth shall be bound in heaven and whatever thou shalt loose of earth shalt be loosed in heaven.” Matt 16: 16-20
    The Holy Spirit is God. God is infallible. The Holy Spirit calls men to the priesthood to act “in Persona Christi.” The Holy Spirit calls priests to the office of Bishops to act “in Persona Christi”. The Holy Spirit calls bishops to the office of Vicar of Christ on earth, Pope, Head of the Catholic Church to act “in Persona Christi”. The Pope, the Bishops and the priests are the Magisterial Body of Christ Who is the Truth. Truth is infallible or it is a lie.

  • Sola Scriptura rests on the fact that the Scriptures alone are the inspired-inerrant Word of God and what follows from this is the Scripture alone has the ultimate-final authority for what is to be believed and practiced. There is no higher authority for the Christian.

    And you know this because the Bible told you so?

    There is no office of a pope like there is an office of a bishop or elder in the NT

    And yet the opinion of the Bishop of Rome was something worth having when there was a disagreement within the church.

  • Mary,
    Are the popes, the Bishops and the priests infallible?

  • Ernst,
    Yes. The Scripture does claim to be the inspired Word of God (2 Tim 3:16).

    Actually the papacy has caused divisions in the church. Just look at church history.

  • I was referring more to the second half of your explaination of Sola Scriptura, the part about how “[it] alone has the ultimate-final authority for what is to be believed and practiced.”

    I see in 2 Tim 3:16 that Scripture is “useful for teaching, for correction, and for training in righteousness, so that one who belongs to God may be competent, equipped for every good work. But, to use your own words, there seems to be a problem here for the idea that scripture is “alone … the ultimate-final authority.”

    We see in 1 Tim 3:15, for example, that the church itself is “the pillar and foundation of truth[,]” not Scripture.

    We also see Paul in 2 Thes say “stand firm and hold fast to the traditions that you were taught, either by an oral statement or by a letter of ours.” (2:15)

    What we don’t see is anything in the Bible saying the Bible itelf is ultimately and finally authoriative.

    Kind of like with your argument about the office of Supreme Pontiff, don’t you think?

  • In his History of Latin Christianity, Henry Hart Milman notes what he considers the remarkably ability of the early pontiffs to “anticipate the mind of the Church.” The Church fixes the date of Easter, the Church decides that heretics need not be rebaptized, the Church decides that the Incarnate combined two Natures in one Person; but each time Rome is in the lead and often appears isolated at first.

    To take one striking example, Pope Stephen (254-257) appeals to the tradition of his predecessors in upholding the validity of heretical baptism. He appears as a lone voice: the Apostolic Canons, the Synods of Iconium and Synnada, Clement of Alexandria, Firmilian, St. Basil, Tertullian, St. Cyprian, St. Cyril, St. Athanasius, Optatus and St. Ambrose, all teach that the baptism of heretics “does not heal, does not cleanse, but defiles.” Nevertheless, the Roman view prevails and, 150 years later St Augustine and the North African bishops embrace it and the Novatians and Donatists are declared heretics for denying it.

    Now, Milman can only speak of the foresight and astuteness of the early popes, which is really no explanation at all. The simple answer is that to be orthodox and to be in communion with Rome was one and the same; the “Catholic party,” a phrase he frequently uses without defining it, is the party that includes the bishop of Rome. Any attempt to define the Church by her teaching or Christians by their tenets can only end in a vicious circle; the faithful were those in visible communion with the see of Rome and heretics were those separated from her communion.

  • “Are the popes, the Bishops and the priests infallible?”
    The Popes, the Bishops and the priests are infallible when they speak the TRUTH. The TRUTH is the Word of God, Jesus Christ. Jesus Christ is infallible. Infallibility rests when the Bishop of Rome , the Vicar of Christ on earth for “thou art Peter” speaks in concert with the Magisterium, a necessary step because of heresy. When the sola scriptura is translated or interpreted badly or when there is isogesis, a reading into the Holy Scripture some fact that is not in Holy Scripture, only somebody’s opinion, only the infallibility of the Pope speaking with the Magisterium through the Holy Spirit can ascertain the validity of the fact. We have as proof the “IMPRIMATUR”(go ahead and print) and the”NIHIL OBSTAT” ( no objection found), the working of the Holy Spirit in the Catholic Church.
    Every person who is brought into existence must submit his imperfect knowledge to some Divine Authority, because man is imperfect. Every person needs the Spiritual and Corporal works of mercy, to be counseled, to be admonished, to be nourished in the Faith. Without infallibility both shall fall into the pit.

    “Actually the papacy has caused divisions in the church. Just look at church history.”
    Error and the pride that goes with error has caused divisions in the Church, in the families and in the world. Divine Authority speaking through the Magisterium is God’s gift of WISDOM to heal and guide. Infallibility, the inability to fall into the pit, is an absolute necessity.

  • Ernst,
    You wrote-“What we don’t see is anything in the Bible saying the Bible itelf is ultimately and finally authoritative.”
    Since we agree that the Bible is inspired-inerrant and is the only thing in the world that is, then it follows it alone is “ultimately and finally authoritative”.

  • Mary,
    When you speak the truth are you infallible?

    No man or institution is infallible because men are fallen and can err. The only one who has ever lived that was infallible was the Lord Christ. He alone of all humanity was infallible.

    History shows your church has erred not just once but many times. One does not need to be infallible to teach and know the truth.

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  • Since we agree that the Bible is inspired-inerrant and is the only thing in the world that is, then it follows it alone is “ultimately and finally authoritative”.

    No it doesn’t follow. Partly because the Church and Tradition are older than the Bible.

  • Mgr Ronald Knox made a rather obvious point, when he said, “For three centuries the true issue between the two parties was obscured, owing to the preposterous action of the Protestants in admiring Biblical inspiration. The Bible, it appeared, was common ground between the combatants, the Bible, therefore, was the arena of the struggle; from it the controversialist, like David at the brook, must pick up texts to sling at hus adversary. In fact, of course, the Protestant had no conceivable right to base any arguments on the inspiration of the Bible, for the inspiration of the Bible was a doctrine which had been believed, before the Reformation, on the mere authority of the Church; it rested on exactly the same basis as the doctrine of Transubstantiation. Protestantism repudiated Transubstantiation, and in doing so repudiated the authority of the Church; and then, without a shred of logic, calmly went on believing in the inspiration of the Bible, as if nothing had happenedl Did they suppose that Biblical inspiration was a self-evident fact, like the axioms of EuclidP Or did they derive it from some words of our Lord? If so, what words? What authority have we, apart from that of the Church, to say that the Epistles of Paul are inspired, and the Epistle of Bamabas is not? It is, perhaps, the most amazing and the most tragic spectacle in the history of thought, the picture of blood flowing, fires blazing, and kingdoms changing hands for a century and a half, all in defence of a vicious circle.”

  • [T]he inspiration of the Bible was a doctrine which had been believed, before the Reformation, on the mere authority of the Church[.] … What authority have we, apart from that of the Church, to say that the Epistles of Paul are inspired, and the Epistle of Bamabas is not?

    I like that quote (the rest of too, of course).

  • Ernst,
    Is the church and its traditions inspired-inerrant?

  • You’d better hope so, Jay, or how else are you going to trust your Bible?

  • Jay
    Newman explains the notion of tradition very well, “If again it be objected that, upon the notion of an unwritten transmission of doctrine, there is nothing to show that the faith of today was the faith of yesterday, nothing to connect this age and the Apostolic, the theologians of Rome maintain, on the contrary, that over and above the corroborative though indirect testimony of ecclesiastical writers, no error could have arisen in the Church without its being protested against and put down on its first appearance; that from all parts of the Church a cry would have been raised against the novelty, and a declaration put forth, as we know in fact was the practice of the early Church, denouncing it. And thus they would account for the indeterminateness on the one hand, yet on the other the accuracy and availableness of their existing Tradition or unwritten Creed. It is latent, but it lives. It is silent, like the rapids of a river, before the rocks intercept it. It is the Church’s unconscious habit of opinion and sentiment; which she reflects upon, masters, and expresses, according to the emergency. We see then the mistake of asking for a complete collection of the Roman Traditions; as well might we ask for a full catalogue of a man’s tastes and thoughts on a given subject. Tradition in its fulness is necessarily unwritten; it is the mode in which a society has felt or acted during a certain period, and it cannot be circumscribed any more than a man’s countenance and manner can be conveyed to strangers in any set of propositions.”
    I should contend that it simply another name for the promised guidance of the Holy Spirit in the Church.

  • Ernst,
    How can your church be inspired-inerrant given all the problems it has? The fact is that Jesus never made the church inspired-inerrant nor protected it from error. Just read the 1st 3 chapters of Revelation to see the Lord Jesus rebuking churches for error.

    I trust the Bible because of the power of God.

  • Michael,
    If “Tradition in its fulness is necessarily unwritten;” then there is no way for any RC to know what it was and is. Anyone can make up something and claim its a “Tradition” since some Traditions were not written down. Anyone can also claim to be guided by the Holy Spirit and justify anything. This is what happens to a church that goes beyond Scripture.

  • How can your church be inspired-inerrant given all the problems it has?

    How can the Bible be inspired then, since it was people like the people in the Seven Churches of Asia whom Jesus rebuked who actually wrote down the gospels and the NT letters, and many other letters besides (to say nothing of other “gospels’), before yet other people like those people in the Seven Churches of Asia decided what counted as scripture and what didn’t count?

    It seems to me that you’re conflating church, a community of believers, so to speak, with Church, the body of beliefs about God, man and man’s redemption through the Covenant of the Gospel (again colloquially speaking); beliefs lived out in practice.

    I trust the Bible because of the power of God.

    I trust the Bible and the Tradition which precedes it (at least the New Testament part of the canon) for the same reason.

  • Anyone can make up something and claim its a “Tradition” since some Traditions were not written down

    Out of curiousity, how does one go about making something up, and then claim “we’ve been doing that (believing this) forever,” and not find oneself called out on account of the fact that nobody remembers doing (hearing of) it before?

  • Ernst,
    The inspiration of the Bible does not depend on men but God.
    What RC “Tradition” is inspired-inerrant? Is the “Tradition” that Mary was assumed into heaven inspired-inerrant?

    One can easily make stuff up. Take the doctrine indulgences. Its not in Scripture but something that your church came up with. There are many doctrines and practices in your church like this.

  • “The inspiration of the Bible does not depend on men but God.”

    That is incorrect. The New Testament was not in existence when Christ walked the Earth. He gave authority to the Church through the apostles and the New Testament has authority only from the Church. The New Testament is a Catholic production from start to finish. Catholics inspired by the Holy Spirit wrote it, Catholics determined what would be included in the New Testament canon, and Catholics rejected numerous competing Gospels and Epistles. Solo Scriptura is the hilarious doctrine by which some Protestants deify a book that derives its existence solely from the authority granted to the Catholic Church.

  • The church does not make the Bible inspired or inerrant. The church does have authority but not ultimate authority especially when it teaches doctrines not in Scripture.
    Catholic does not equal Roman Catholic. Roman Catholicism has unique characteristics that set it apart. Many of these features are not found in the Scripture such as the papacy, papal infallibility, office of priest, celibacy as requirement to lead, the Marian dogmas and indulgences to name a few things that separate it from what the apostles taught.

  • “The church does not make the Bible inspired or inerrant.”

    Absolutely untrue since the only authority granted by Christ was to the Church and not to a book yet to be written by members of that Church.

    The attempt to claim that the Catholic Church today is not the Catholic Church set forth in the Scriptures is ahistoric nonsense. It was argued by the so called Reformers in the Sixteenth Century but it is an argument without a shred of validity. This of course is why most Protestants reject the concept of Apostolic Succession and why the early Church Fathers championed it. The Catholic Church as an institution did not remain static over 20 centuries, but its developments are clearly part and parcel of the history of one Church.

  • As I recall, God, through his Son, gave to us, through his Apostles, a Church (though art Peter and upon this rock I will build my Church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it) and a Commission (go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing in the Name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Ghost), not a Book.

    I hope that’s not too cheeky.

  • Donald,
    Your arguing against the facts of history in regards to the RCC. The things I mentioned are not in Scripture and were not taught by the apostles. We reject apostolic succession for the mere fact the Scriptures don’t teach it. After John died, there were no more apostles. No one has the qualifications of an apostle which was one who walked with Christ and saw Him after the resurrection. Acts 1:21-22

    No wonder you got problems. You think Armstrong is someone who is an authority.

  • JErnst,
    esus founded the church and is building it. This does not mean the church is inspired or inerrant. If your church was inspired-inerrant it would not have the evil past it has.

  • The inspiration of the Bible does not depend on men but God.

    That’s also true for the rest of the Tradition.

    Again Jay, the sole, final inspired-inerrant authority of the Bible alone, is not in the Bible, any more than the Assumption of Mary is. Now, I’ll grant that it’s easier to infer that from the Bible than to infer Mary’s Assumption, but just because it’s easier doesn’t mean the one is true and the other isn’t.

    On the other hand, you know what is in the Bible? The Real Presence. Protestants (myself included) have a hard time accepting that on the Bible’s authority, don’t they?

  • The things I mentioned are not in Scripture and were not taught by the apostles. We reject apostolic succession for the mere fact the Scriptures don’t teach it. After John died, there were no more apostles. No one has the qualifications of an apostle which was one who walked with Christ and saw Him after the resurrection. Acts 1:21-22
    No wonder you got problems. You think Armstrong is someone who is an authority.

    If that’s the case, (and it’s not, you’re forgetting Paul never walked with Christ) then the Church must necessarily have died with John, and the Bible is no more inspired or inerrant than the church.

  • Ernst,
    What Traditions of your church are inspired? Please give me a list so I know exactly what these Traditions are.

    There are many problems with the Real Presence.

    Its a fact that John was the last apostle. Paul is special case since Jesus picked him directly and without any other apostles. The church is not the apostles but the apostles were used by Christ to lay the foundation for the church. What we have today are not apostles but the teachings of the apostles which are found only in the Scripture.

  • Ernst,
    The first mention of the death of Mary is not mentioned until 377. This is not an eyewitness account by any stretch.

  • “We reject apostolic succession for the mere fact the Scriptures don’t teach it.”
    The Scriptures Jay were written by men who taught it as even a cursory knowledge of history would indicate. The apostolic succession is well established in the writings of the early Church from the earliest times. Individual branches of the Catholic Church traced their bishops back to the apostles and thus established their legitimacy.

    “Through Our Lord Jesus Christ our Apostles knew that there would be strife over the office of episcopacy. Accordingly, since they had obtained a perfect foreknowledge of this, they appointed those men already mentioned. And they afterwards gave instructions that when those men would fall asleep, other approved men should succeed them in their ministry. Therefore, we are of the opinion that those appointed by the Apostles, or afterwards by other acclaimed men, with the consent of the whole church, and who have blamelessly served the flock of Christ in a humble, peaceable, and disinterested spirit, and have for a long time possessed the good opinion of all, cannot be justly dismissed from the ministry.”

    Saint Clement, letter to the Corinthians, 96 AD

  • Donald,
    Clement was not a pope i.e. supreme leader of the entire church. If anything, early church history shows the various bishops being against one man being the supreme leader-bishop. It took a number of centuries before we see some of the bishops of Rome claiming primacy. Stephen in about 250 is the first to claim to be a successor of Peter.

    Consider this: “Before the beginning of the second millennium and the pontificate of Gregory VII in particular (1073-85), popes functioned largely in the role of mediator. They did not claim for themselves the title of “Vicar of Christ”. They did not appoint bishops. They did not govern the universal Church through the Roman Curia. They did not impose of enforce clerical celibacy. They did not write encyclicals or authorize catechisms for the whole Church. They did not retain for themselves alone the power of canonization. They did not even convene ecumenical councils as a rule–and certainly not the major doctrinal councils of Nicea (325), Constantinople (381), Ephesus (431), and Chalcedon (451) (McBrien, Richard P. Lives of the Popes: The Pontiffs from St. Peter to Benedict XVI. Harper, San Francisco, 2005 updated ed., p.19).”

  • You are obviously unfamiliar with the early Church Fathers Jay, because you quote bad contemporary sources like McBrien, rather than sources from the early Church. For the third time in this thread I quote Saint Iranaeus writing in 178:

    “2. Since, however, it would be very tedious, in such a volume as this, to reckon up the successions of all the Churches, we do put to confusion all those who, in whatever manner, whether by an evil self-pleasing, by vainglory, or by blindness and perverse opinion, assemble in unauthorized meetings; [we do this, I say,] by indicating that tradition derived from the apostles, of the very great, the very ancient, and universally known Church founded and organized at Rome by the two most glorious apostles, Peter and Paul; as also [by pointing out] the faith preached to men, which comes down to our time by means of the successions of the bishops. For it is a matter of necessity that every Church should agree with this Church, on account of its preeminent authority, that is, the faithful everywhere, inasmuch as the tradition has been preserved continuously by those [faithful men] who exist everywhere.

    3. The blessed apostles, then, having founded and built up the Church, committed into the hands of Linus the office of the episcopate. Of this Linus, Paul makes mention in the Epistles to Timothy. To him succeeded Anacletus; and after him, in the third place from the apostles, Clement was allotted the bishopric. This man, as he had seen the blessed apostles, and had been conversant with them, might be said to have the preaching of the apostles still echoing [in his ears], and their traditions before his eyes. Nor was he alone [in this], for there were many still remaining who had received instructions from the apostles. In the time of this Clement, no small dissension having occurred among the brethren at Corinth, the Church in Rome dispatched a most powerful letter to the Corinthians, exhorting them to peace, renewing their faith, and declaring the tradition which it had lately received from the apostles, proclaiming the one God, omnipotent, the Maker of heaven and earth, the Creator of man, who brought on the deluge, and called Abraham, who led the people from the land of Egypt, spoke with Moses, set forth the law, sent the prophets, and who has prepared fire for the devil and his angels. From this document, whosoever chooses to do so, may learn that He, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, was preached by the Churches, and may also understand the tradition of the Church, since this Epistle is of older date than these men who are now propagating falsehood, and who conjure into existence another god beyond the Creator and the Maker of all existing things. To this Clement there succeeded Evaristus. Alexander followed Evaristus; then, sixth from the apostles, Sixtus was appointed; after him, Telephorus, who was gloriously martyred; then Hyginus; after him, Pius; then after him, Anicetus. Soter having succeeded Anicetus, Eleutherius does now, in the twelfth place from the apostles, hold the inheritance of the episcopate. In this order, and by this succession, the ecclesiastical tradition from the apostles, and the preaching of the truth, have come down to us. And this is most abundant proof that there is one and the same vivifying faith, which has been preserved in the Church from the apostles until now, and handed down in truth.”

    You will of course once again ignore Saint Iranaeus because you are not interested in historical truth but doing your best, against the evidence, to preserve the twisted view of Church history that Protestants have been hobbled with since the “Reformers” of the 16th century decided to do away with all Christian history that differed from them, and pretend that there was a Great Apostacy until Martin Luther came on the scene. As Cardinal Newman said “To be deep in history is to cease to be Protestant.” and that is why advocates of Protestantism have to twist themselves into pretzels when looking at the early Church because if they were intellectually honest they would confess that it is the Catholic Church that they see.

  • If anything, early church history shows the various bishops being against one man being the supreme leader-bishop.

    Huh? Where do you get this? And as for what McBrien says (and I’m not sure why you chose to cite him instead of other equally objective and reputable scholars of early church history like, say, Dan Brown or Richard Dawkins, but whatever), you might also recall that membership in the early church was a crime punishable by death. And so yes, the ability of pre-Constantinian popes to exercise authority was severely curtailed. I mean, duh. But so what? Why is a pope who finds it too onerous to convene councils (what with the death sentences and all) any more a hallmark of authentic Christianity than having members regularly getting fed to lions for public spectacle?

  • Donald,
    When did the Peter and Paul found the church in Rome? What year did this supposedly happen?

    BTW- here are the credentials for Richard P. McBrien: “is Crowley-O’Brien Professor of Theology at the University of Notre Dame. Educated at the Pontifical Gregorian University in Rome, he has also served as president of the Catholic Theological Society of America. A leading authority on Catholicism, he is the bestselling author of Catholicism, Lives of the Popes, and Lives of the Saints, as well as the general editor of The HarperCollins Encyclopedia of Catholicism.”

    This guy is a top notch scholar and well regard in the RCC. He certainly carries more weight than Dave Armstrong don’t you think?

  • Roman Catholicism has unique characteristics that set it apart. Many of these features are not found in the Scripture such as the papacy, papal infallibility, office of priest, celibacy as requirement to lead, the Marian dogmas and indulgences to name a few things that separate it from what the apostles taught.

    The greek word for priest is presbyteros. See, Acts 15:2-6, 21:18,1 Tm 5:17, 1 Pt 5:1

    indulgences are implied in the power to forgive sin found in Mt 18:18 and Jn 20:23

    Paul laid out the advantages of celibacy in 1 Cor 7, which is the basis for the custom,but I’ll grant you that’s not the same thing as a requirement.

    The Papacy and Papal infallibility have already been addressed. But if you care to look again, it’s Matt. 16:17-19. You might want to look at Is 22:21-22 as well.

    The Marian dogmas are harder to discern, and I’m not remotely in the position to make the case for them, since that’s my personal Jacob’s ladder. But that’s my problem, not the church’s.

  • And if you’re going to resort to credentialism, I’m going to start banging the table with Bart Ehreman.

  • Jay

    Once admit that the unity of the Church through time is the unity of a living organism, then growth, change, adaptability can be admitted, without compromising its identity and the continuity of the the church in communion with the bishop of Rome can be demonstrated as an historical fact, without entering into questions of doctrine or discipline at all, just as the continuity of the city of Rome itself can be demonstrated, from Romulus’s hut on the Palatine to the modern city, Italian from Latin, its civil code from the Digest and so on.

  • Ernst Schreiber

    The development of the Marian doctrines can be traced back to the earliest times.

    Thus, St. Justin Martyr (A.D. 120-165) – “We know that He, before all creatures, proceeded from the Father by His power and will, … and by means of the Virgin became man, that by what way the disobedience arising from the serpent had its beginning, by that way also it might have an undoing. For Eve, being a Virgin and undefiled, conceiving the word that was from the serpent, brought forth disobedience and death; but the Virgin Mary, taking faith and joy, when the Angel told her the good tidings, that the Spirit of the Lord should come upon her and the power of the Highest overshadow her, and therefore the Holy One that was born of her was Son of God, answered, ‘Be it to me according to thy word.'” —Tryph. 100

    And St. Irenæus (120-200) – “As Eve by the speech of an Angel was seduced, so as to flee God, transgressing His word, so also Mary received the good tidings by means of the Angel’s speech, so as to bear God within her, being obedient to His word. And, though the one had disobeyed God, yet the other was drawn to obey God; that of the virgin Eve the Virgin Mary might become the advocate. And, as by a virgin the human race had been bound to death, by a virgin it is saved, the balance being preserved, a virgin’s disobedience by a Virgin’s obedience.”— Adv. Hær. v. 19

    And Tertullian (160-240) – “God recovered His image and likeness, which the devil had seized, by a rival operation. For into Eve, as yet a virgin, had crept the word which was the framer of death. Equally into a virgin was to be introduced the Word of God which was the builder-up of life; that, what by that sex had gone into perdition by the same sex might be brought back to salvation. Eve had believed the serpent; Mary believed Gabriel; the fault which the one committed by believing, the other by believing has blotted out.”— De Carn. Christ. 17.

    The similarity between the teaching of these three early writers, representing the traditions of the churches of Palestine, Africa and Rome and Asia Minor and Gaul, suggest a common source. What can this be other than the original apostolic teaching. Later ages simply drew out its implications.

  • This guy is a top notch scholar and well regard in the RCC.

    How does he compare with Bl. Cardinal Newman? If pontifical credentials mattered, we wouldn’t have to deal with Kung (or Luther, for that matter)? But even if we grant your McBrien quote as factually accurate, the more relevant question is ‘so what’? What exactly is your point? Why is the inability of the early popes to act in the manner of, say, Gregory the Great (during a time of a) Jewish persecution followed by b) Roman persecution followed by c) Constantine’s heavy-handedness followed by d) the dissolution of the Western Roman empire, etc….) — indicate a holier church, as opposed to a seething mish-mash of factionalism that weak leadership often begets, whether that be of the “Paul vs. Apollos” variety, or else gnostic vs Marcionite vs. Montanist vs. Arian vs. Monophysite…?

  • This guy is a top notch scholar and well regard in the RCC.

    How does he compare with Bl. Cardinal Newman? If pontifical credentials mattered, we wouldn’t have to deal with Kung (or Luther, for that matter)? But even if we grant your McBrien quote as factually accurate, the more relevant question is ‘so what’? What exactly is your point? Why is the inability of the early popes to act in the manner of, say, Gregory the Great (during a time of a) Jewish persecution followed by b) Roman persecution followed by c) Constantine’s heavy-handedness followed by d) the dissolution of the Western Roman empire, etc….) — indicate a holier church, as opposed to a seething mish-mash of factionalism that weak leadership often begets, whether that be of the “Paul vs. Apollos” variety, or else gnostic vs Marcionite vs. Montanist vs. Arian vs. Monophysite…?

  • Ha,
    What McBrien is showing us is that the history of the papacy as its described by most RC’s is not in sync with the facts of history. In other words, the papacy does not go back to the NT.

  • Michael,
    Do you believe that “And, though the one had disobeyed God, yet the other was drawn to obey God; that of the virgin Eve the Virgin Mary might become the advocate. And, as by a virgin the human race had been bound to death, by a virgin it is saved, the balance being preserved, a virgin’s disobedience by a Virgin’s obedience.”?

    Is the human race saved by Mary?

  • In other words, the papacy does not go back to the NT

    I assume by that you mean New Testament times, since we’re talking about “the facts of history” as either McBrien understands them or you understand McBrien.

    By the same logic, no protestant church goes back to New Testament times. But don’t let that bother you.

    Is the human race saved by Mary?

    Since that was directed at Michael, I’ll limit myself to suggesting you look into the idea of Recapitulation.

    A new Adam requires a new Eve, after all.

  • Protestant churches are more in line with the NT church than the RCC is.

    Scripture never refers to Mary as the new Eve.

  • McBrien is a “top-notch scholar”?!?

    No, no he is not. He is a wholly-derivative summarizer of other people’s works. Like Joe Biden, he’s been around for a long time, accruing seniority, but not really doing anything of significance.

    Oh, and he argued that Jesus Christ was capable of sinning in his “masterwork,” “Catholicism.”

    But if he’s the guy you want to cozy up to so you can beat up the Catholic Church, knock yourself out.

    http://www.catholicculture.org/culture/library/view.cfm?id=5286&CFID=17911142&CFTOKEN=62677456

  • No, no he is not. He is a wholly-derivative summarizer of other people’s works. Like Joe Biden, he’s been around for a long time, accruing seniority, but not really doing anything of significance.

    Yeah, but when he appears on the tube, he always has cool neckties.

  • What McBrien is showing us is that the history of the papacy as its described by most RC’s is not in sync with the facts of history.

    How so? Rather than simply changing the subject (and seriously, is “new Eve” really the best you can do?), it would be better if you would actually tell us how that McBrien quote contradicts Church history, as you seem to believe. For example, how does the fact that the Pope was unable to convene a council during the early years of the Church — a time of intense persecution and chaos — undermine RC claims? Does St. Iranaeus or some other Father of the Church cite lists of nonexistent councils allegedly convened by the early popes as evidence of papal authority? Come to think of it, I don’t recall any major councils or any other Papal activity when French troops took Pope Pius VI prisoner in 1798 and kept him confined until he died a year and a half later. Does that, too, upturn RC claims regarding the papacy?

    Given that you’re already off on another tangent (I guess when it comes to the Jack Chick’s of the world, it almost always eventually comes down to Mary or some other mommy issues at some point) I suspect you’re just a troll who gets off on riling the papists, but if you’re not, can you at least make an effort to say something relevant to the points you’re trying to make? Simply pasting a non sequitur by McBrien or anyone else, and hoping that no one will point out that it doesn’t say what you apparently think it says, is hardly the way to make your case (though it goes a long way towards explaining what you believe). Maybe if you actually bothered to fill in the holes in your logic, you wouldn’t be taking the position you are, so it’s quite possible I’m asking for too much, but I still think you should make an effort.

  • Good point, about how natty he is. Except during conclaves. Then he goes up to the attic to find his collar.

    Thanks also for the tip about “The Latin Mass.” I’ve subscribed, and am eagerly awaiting the first issue.

  • Jay? Still there?

    Any thoughts about the scholarship of a guy who thinks it’s okey-doke to say Jesus could have sinned?

    Let us know.

  • In fairness, was the guy who introduced “new Eve,” in response to the misreading of what Irenaeus had to say about Mary’s role in salvation history, (e.g. “Is the human race saved by Mary?”).

  • If anyone is interested in reading some real scholarship in regard to the Papacy and the first two ecumenical councils:

    http://www.rtforum.org/lt/lt29.html

  • Dale,
    It seems to me that if Jesus could not have sinned then the temptation with Satan was a sham.

    How could McBrien be a “wholly-derivative summarizer of other people’s works” when he is the “Professor of Theology at the University of Notre Dame. Educated at the Pontifical Gregorian University in Rome, he has also served as president of the Catholic Theological Society of America. A leading authority on Catholicism, he is the bestselling author of Catholicism, Lives of the Popes, and Lives of the Saints, as well as the general editor of The HarperCollins Encyclopedia of Catholicism”?

    You don’t get to this position at a major RC institution by being a “wholly-derivative summarizer of other people’s works” .

  • HA,
    RC’s that I know believe that the papacy has been since the NT times. McBrien shows that it was not. He is not the RC scholar that says this either.

    If you are going to have a pope then you have to demonstrate such an individual existed in the first 5 centuries of the church at Rome. The evidence is not there.

    I didn’t bring the new Eve idea. Someone else did.

  • In fairness, [I] was the guy who introduced “new Eve,” in response to the misreading of what Irenaeus had to say about Mary’s role in salvation history, (e.g. “Is the human race saved by Mary?”).

    Fair enough. And if that’s where Jay wants to take the discussion next, fine. But he might at least finish the points he has already tried to make. I suppose the concept of the Trinity is next on his hit list, given that that never receives mention in the NT either. Regardless, given that he cannot or will not address the very simple questions put to him, and he displays considerable difficulty in wrapping his head around the fact that academic credentials are no guarantee against slipshod scholarship or heresy, I would guess that Jay is either unwilling to argue in good faith, and therefore dishonest, or else unable to follow through with his own cut-and-paste debate tactics, and therefore incompetent. For his sake, I rather hope it is the latter, but in either case, I am not sure that anything is served by continuing the discussion.

  • When you speak the truth are you infallible?

    “No man or institution is infallible because men are fallen and can err. The only one who has ever lived that was infallible was the Lord Christ. He alone of all humanity was infallible.

    History shows your church has erred not just once but many times. One does not need to be infallible to teach and know the truth.”
    Only the perfect TRUTH, who is Jesus Christ, the Lord, is infallible, because Jesus Christ is God. Other men are fallible. The Pope, speaking as the Vicar of Christ, in concert with the Magisterium, speaking ex-cathedra is infallible, by the Holy Spirit who is God, who cans’t deceive nor be deceived.
    If a person does not believe in the Real Presence of Jesus Christ in the Blessed Sacrament, that person has already lost the TRUTH. Infallibility becomes a word without meaning.

  • Ha,
    Why don’t you refute me with some counter facts such as there was a papacy in the first 5 centuries that shows one man as claiming to be the head of the entire church and other churches supporting this claim? Or, show me where Mary is referred to as the “new Eve” in Scripture?

  • Mary,
    Where did Jesus or His apostles teach that “If a person does not believe in the Real Presence of Jesus Christ in the Blessed Sacrament, that person has already lost the TRUTH”?

  • St. Paul’s battle with Peter over the circumcising of the gentiles to make their bodies as were the Israelites is proof positive that Peter was revered as the head of the Catholic Church. This decree was handed down by Peter and rejected by Paul. Paul did not appeal to any other apostle. Finally, after many years, Peter accepted Paul’s uncircumcised gentiles as members of the Body of Christ. Paul never claimed to be the head of the church, but submitted himself to Peter, even while dissenting from the practice.

  • “Where did Jesus or His apostles teach that “If a person does not believe in the Real Presence of Jesus Christ in the Blessed Sacrament, that person has already lost the TRUTH”? “Do this in memory of me”

  • RC’s that I know believe that the papacy has been since the NT times. McBrien shows that it was not…

     

    How does he show that? You keep making that assertion, but what portion of your 6:44 rehash of McBrien is evidence that papacy did not exist?

     

    Yes, as I and others have noted, it is true that the straited popes of the first few centuries, between dodging lions, centurions and maybe the occasional Pharisee or temple enforcer, found it difficult to convene councils or write encyclicals or do much of anything beyond merely surviving (sometimes, as in the case of the first pope, with very limited success). Big deal. Which of McBrien’s sentences disprove anything Iraneus or the early Church Fathers wrote? I do see you are expanding your argument by authority to include not just McBrien, but also “RC’s that [you] know”, but given your inability to comprehend the McBrien quotes that you yourself cited, I think we’re entitled to a few suspicions about whether you are making similarly tendentious assertions regarding what other RC’s have told you, but that’s just a guess.

     

    Again, no serious Catholic claims that the popes of the early church had a role identical to the role they would possess in later centuries. And neither did Pius VI, some 1800 years later, slowly dying in his lavish prison. So what? The Bible took a few centuries to be standardized into its canonical form, and while that might be a cause for worry among the sola scriptura crowd, would anyone other than one of those Jesus-never-existed loons go so far as to claim that also means the NT does not exist?

  • Ha,
    Claiming that “popes of the first few centuries, between dodging lions, centurions and maybe the occasional Pharisee or temple enforcer, found it difficult to convene councils or write encyclicals or do much of anything beyond merely surviving (sometimes, as in the case of the first pope, with very limited success)” actually makes my case even stronger. There was no time to develop a top heavy institution like the papacy. That took centuries.

    If you doubt me on McBrien then get his book and see if he does say these things.

    Here is what another RC scholar says on this:
    “We must conclude that the New Testament provides no basis for the notion that before the apostles died, they ordained one man for each of the churches they founded…”Was there a Bishop of Rome in the First Century?”…the available evidence indicates that the church in Rome was led by a college of presbyters, rather than by a single bishop, for at least several decades of the second century (Sullivan F.A. From Apostles to Bishops: the development of the episcopacy in the early church. Newman Press, Mahwah (NJ), 2001, p. 80,221-222).”

  • Why don’t you refute me with some counter facts such as there was a papacy in the first 5 centuries that shows one man as claiming to be the head of the entire church and other churches supporting this claim? Or, show me where Mary is referred to as the “new Eve” in Scripture?

     

    OK, the argument by authority obviously has not worked out well for you, so I guess we’re going to move on to straw man tactics now? I do not reduce the papacy to “one man as claiming to be the head of the entire church and other churches supporting this claim” as you so tendentiously put it. That’s not a pope, that’s some Protestant bogeyman.

     

    As for counter-arguments, Donald has already kindly taken the trouble to post numerous citations that are relevant into showing what Catholics actually do believe regarding the founding of the Papacy. It makes no sense to repost all that, especially since you’re still bent on McBrien, regardless of the fact that even you find it difficult to point out which of his arguments support your claim.

     

    As for “new Eve”, why should the fact that the term does not appear in the New Testament bother you so? Does the Trinity appear in the NT? Moreover, provide some context as to what new Eve actually means and why it should disturb me. If the term refers to someone who submitted to the will of God (“let it be done to me according to your word”) as opposed to someone who was tricked into disobeying it, then ‘new Eve’ sounds like a pretty swell description to me, but I’m guessing you have something far more nefarious in mind, so you’ll have to elaborate. Hopefully, it’s not some other straw man. In any case, in the interest of simple fairness, I’m not answering anything else from you until you answer my questions, and while you’re at it, Dale’s and Ernst’s, given that you find McBrien such a rock of authority.

  • We must conclude that the New Testament provides no basis for the notion that before the apostles died, they ordained one man for each of the churches they founded…

    More non sequiturs. As I’ve already indicated, this is completely irrelevant to whether the papacy exists. I’ve already stipulated that the pope did not have the means or the logistics to exercise the same power that he had in later centuries. That does not disprove anything that Iraneus or any other Church Father wrote of Peter and his successors. Even if it turns out that Sullivan F.A. is true, and I’m not saying it is, the only thing it would prove is that it took ‘several decades into the second century’ for the successor of Peter, as Iraneus defines it, to be additionally proclaimed a bishop of Rome, as opposed to simply being the head of the community there – which should come as a big shock to pretty much no one. It no doubt took at least some time for the notion of bishops and diocese and so forth to take hold. So what? It took several centuries after that for the pope to be declared the ruler of Bologna, Romagna and Benevento – a status he has since lost. Is that also supposed to be a shocker?

     

    What the NT says about Peter, the Rock, is plenty clear enough, and the writings of Church Fathers like Iraneus, presumably informed by a desire to end the factionalism and lack of unity that they saw around them (something the NT clearly implies is a contravention of Christ’s wishes, but then, Protestants tend to forget about that one) and that they might well have attributed to a lack of leadership, shows that they took the matter seriously enough to make a big deal of it. If you have anything that refutes what they wrote, produce it. If, on the other hand, you or anyone can’t deal with that, and have to grasp at straws about when popes started writing catechisms or whatnot (give me a break), don’t pretend to be arguing in good faith.

     
    Now, I went ahead and answered you given that we apparently cross-posted. I’m done, until you provide everyone else the same courtesy.

  • Ah, Jay, it is pointless to continue with you after this post:

    “It seems to me that if Jesus could not have sinned then the temptation with Satan was a sham.”

    For a guy who thumps the New Testament a lot, you seem to be woefully unacquainted with it.

    “Since, then, we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus, the Son of God, let us hold fast to our confession. For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who in every respect has been tested as we are, yet without sin.”

    So, no. Temptation does not always mean concupiscence–it also means “testing.” As, well, the New Testament says. Which, again, you seem to have a furtive relationship with.

    “How could McBrien be a “wholly-derivative summarizer of other people’s works” when he is the “Professor of Theology at the University of Notre Dame. Educated at the Pontifical Gregorian University in Rome, he has also served as president of the Catholic Theological Society of America. A leading authority on Catholicism, he is the bestselling author of Catholicism, Lives of the Popes, and Lives of the Saints, as well as the general editor of The HarperCollins Encyclopedia of Catholicism”?
    You don’t get to this position at a major RC institution by being a “wholly-derivative summarizer of other people’s works” .

    Because I’ve actually read McBrien and have some of his stuff? Familiarity and ownership are good starts, as opposed to your…well, derivative proof-texting. You really need to free yourself from the shackles of credential worship. Call no man “Doctor,” as Jesus said.

    And really, such a babe in the woods you are, thinking tenure has a direct correlation to scholarly ability. All tenure and chairs mean is that you have managed not to tick off the wrong people. Having reviewed tenure and academic hiring decisions with some frequency, I can tell you such decisions have much more to do showmanship and politics than quality.

    Keep in mind that Notre Dame also houses Tariq Ramadan, the notorious apologist for the Muslim Brotherhood, and a man of rather dubious academic achievement, as has been noted by his biographer, Caroline Fourest.

  • I concur with Dale. Jay has been placed on moderation as he seems immune to evidence and arguments and further dialogue appears pointless.

  • Jay

    Two of the earliest Fathers, Ignatius and Polycarp, both men who “conversed with John and with others who had seen the Lord,” insist over and over on the the rôle of the bishop as the centre of unity in the local church. So does Irenaeus (130-202), who, as a boy, knew Polycarp in his native Smyrna and went on to become third bishop of Lyon (one can see a complete list of the bishops of that see in the cathedral there)

    Irenaeus says, “The true knowledge is the doctrine of the apostles, and the ancient organization of the Church throughout the whole world, and the manifestation of the body of Christ according to the succession of bishops, by which succession the bishops have handed down the Church which is found everywhere.”

    If this was innovation, why do we hear not a word of protest from the defenders of the sufficiency and pre-eminence of scripture? The historical record is clear for the continuity of this church, this institution to which Irenaeus points, from his day to ours and it has no rival, for the sects against which he wrote have all disappeared without trace. Now, if this church’s witness is not to be trusted, why accept its witness to the canon of scripture?

  • Last word[?] to Chesterton:

    [L]ooking back on older religious crises, I seem to see a certain coincidence, or rather, a set of things too coincident to be called a coincidence After all, when I come to think of it, all the other revolts against the Church, before the Revolution and especially since the Reformation, had told the same strange story. Every great heretic had always exhibit three remarkable characteristics in combination. First, he picked out some mystical idea from the Church’s bundle or balance of mystical ideas. Second, he used that one mystical idea against all the other mystical ideas. Third (and most singular), he seems generally to have had no notion that his own favourite mystical idea was a mystical idea, at least in the sense of a mysterious or dubious or dogmatic idea. With a queer uncanny innocence, he seems always to have taken this one thing for granted. He assumed it to be unassailable, even when he was using it to assail all sorts of similar things. The most popular and obvious example is the Bible. To an impartial pagan or sceptical observer, it must always seem the strangest story in the world; that men rushing in to wreck a temple, overturning the altar and driving out the priest, found there certain sacred volumes inscribed “Psalms” or “Gospels”; and (instead of throwing them on the fire with the rest) began to use them as infallible oracles rebuking all the other arrangements. If the sacred high altar was all wrong, why were the secondary sacred documents necessarily all right? If the priest had faked his Sacraments, why could he not have faked his Scriptures? Yet it was long before it even occurred to those who brandished this one piece of Church furniture to break up all the other Church furniture that anybody could be so profane as to examine this one fragment of furniture itself. People were quite surprised, and in some parts of the world are still surprised, that anybody should dare to do so.

You Never Know When Something Will Come in Handy

Friday, October 4, AD 2013

 

 

John-Henry-Newman

 

 

 

In the coming turbulent days of the pontificate of Pope Francis, and rest assured that such turbulent days are rapidly approaching if not quite here, I rather suspect I will be accused by some of adopting an attitude towards him contrary to the way I analyzed the actions of his predecessor.  Such is not the case.  From a comment that I made on a thread relating to papal infallibility in 2010:

At Vatican I Eric, there was a conflict between those who wanted virtually every thing written or said by a Pope to be considered infallible and those who wanted a restrictive definition.  By and large those who wanted a restrictive definition prevailed.  The problem with a broad view of infallibility is that popes often contradict each other.  Consider Pio Nono’s view of religious liberty as compared to that of Pope John XXIII.

This is a complex area filled with minefields for faithful Catholics, and my thoughts in this area have been aided greatly by the writings of Blessed John Henry Cardinal Newman, especially the essay linked below:

http://www.catholicapologetics.info/modernproblems/vatican2/newman.html

“It in no way depends upon the caprice of the Pope, or upon his good pleasure, to make such and such a doctrine, the object of a dogmatic definition. He is tied up and limited to the divine revelation, and to the truths which that revelation contains. He is tied up and limited by the Creeds, already in existence, and by the preceding definitions of the Church. He is tied up and limited by the divine law, and by the constitution of the Church. Lastly, he is tied up and limited by that doctrine, divinely revealed, which affirms that alongside religious society there is civil society, that alongside the Ecclesiastical Hierarchy there is the power of temporal Magistrates, invested in their own domain with a full sovereignty, and to whom we owe in conscience obedience and respect in all things morally permitted, and belonging to the domain of civil society.”

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24 Responses to You Never Know When Something Will Come in Handy

  • Daily mass last Wednesday, Feast of the Guardian Angels, the celebrant coul not contain himself. When there is typically no homily, we got a long reflection about the wonderful and timely changes that were coming from our new pope. You are more right than you know. I pray the Church’s guardian angel has his eyes open.

  • Uh… sorry to be offtopic, but if someone wants to send tips or links to one of you guys, how do we do it?

  • Ditto. In my diocesan paper this week, the editorial headline blares “Francis’s Tells Us Not Get Caught Up In Morality, But the Gospel Message.” I thought the Gospel message included what one must do to others as well as to attain eternal life.

  • When the Holy Spirit speaks through the Pope, then the Holy Spirit is infallible. Indeed, when the Holy Spirit speaks, the Holy Spirit is infallible regardless of the one through whom He chooses to speak. That said, not everything that the Pope says is from the prompting of the Holy Spirit. It would do well for us to get away from the cult of personality. That old AA saying – principles before personalities – comes to mind. Sacred Scripture and Sacred Tradition should guide our thoughts, words and actions in these matters. In these coming turbulent times it behooves me to keep up with my daily Rosary, my daily Scripture reading and frequent attendance at Confession. Without doing those things how can I differentiate between the True and the False?

  • Reminds me of the saying “I believe in the priesthood in spite of priests.” Same with the Papacy.

  • Thanks Don…I struggled through reading Essay on the Development of Christian Doctrine (struggled because ‘we just don’t speak good English no more’…) and was excited when Pope Benedict XVI beatified now-Blessed John Henry Cardinal Newman…these comments are good to find.

    Dave Armstrong, a Catholic apologist, has a book called The Quotable Newman: A Definitive Guide to His Central Thoughts and Ideas…it’s in my lengthy queue for must-reads. I’d wager there are a lot more gems in that.

    I also have to echo Nate’s query…occasionally I run across something that has me say “Someone at TAC needs to hear about this”…without opening you guys up to spam, is there some way to give you guys news or story tips?

  • I think the most shocking thing for me has been the level of anger elicited if you even dare to suggest that we might have to wait and see to determine if Francis is going to be a great pope. If you do not immediately understand how awesome he is, and how really profound everything he says is, then you are either: (1) stupid; (2) a heretic; or (3) maybe you were never actually Catholic in the first place.

  • “(1) stupid; (2) a heretic; or (3) maybe you were never actually Catholic in the first place.”

    Here is a make-believe word for that: adhominemize.

    As in, “Don’t adhominemize me, Bro!”

  • In this world, when anyone presents someone in an all or nothing manner, such as ‘everything he says’, followed by a brickbat for those just considering the same; then there’s a case for further consideration. It’s as if the singer is the song to that someone without regard to the Composer.

    This world is a place where inconsistency causes trouble, dangerous trouble.

  • “It in no way depends upon the caprice of the Pope, or upon his good pleasure, to make such and such a doctrine, the object of a dogmatic definition. He is tied up and limited to the divine revelation, and to the truths which that revelation contains. He is tied up and limited by the Creeds, already in existence, and by the preceding definitions of the Church. He is tied up and limited by the divine law, and by the constitution of the Church. Lastly, he is tied up and limited by that doctrine, divinely revealed, which affirms that alongside religious society there is civil society, that alongside the Ecclesiastical Hierarchy there is the power of temporal Magistrates, invested in their own domain with a full sovereignty, and to whom we owe in conscience obedience and respect in all things morally permitted, and belonging to the domain of civil society.”
    This is the finest definition of the principle of separation of church and state. Thank you.

  • In his Letter to the Dukeof Norfolk, Bl John Henry Newman also reminds us that “Billuart speaking of the Pope says, “Neither in conversation, nor in discussion, nor in interpreting Scripture or the Fathers, nor in consulting, nor in giving his reasons for the point which he has defined, nor in answering letters, nor in private deliberations, supposing he is setting forth his own opinion, is the Pope infallible,” t. ii. p. 110 And for this simple reason, because on these various occasions of speaking his mind, he is not in the chair of the universal doctor.
    Nor is this all; the greater part of Billuart’s negatives refer to the Pope’s utterances when he is out of the Cathedra Petri, but even, when he is in it, his words do not necessarily proceed from his infallibility. He has no wider prerogative than a Council, and of a Council Perrone says, “Councils are not infallible in the reasons by which they are led, or on which they rely, in making their definition, nor in matters which relate to persons, nor to physical matters which have no necessary connexion with dogma.” Præl. Theol. t. 2, p. 492. Thus, if a Council has condemned a work of Origen or Theodoret, it did not in so condemning go beyond the work itself; it did not touch the persons of either. Since this holds of a Council, it also holds in the case of the Pope; therefore, supposing a Pope has quoted the so-called works of the Areopagite as if really genuine, there is no call on us to believe him; nor again, if he condemned Galileo’s Copernicanism, unless the earth’s immobility has a “necessary connexion with some dogmatic truth,” which the present bearing of the Holy See towards that philosophy virtually denies.”

  • Pio Nono and John XXIII did not contradict each other on religious freedom: they were addressing two different matters, viz., whether conscience is the final arbiter of truth on the one hand (no) and whether everyone has a right to seek the truth about God and act according to the truth he discovers (absolutely). Both popes would agree on both points.

    Catholics need to distinguish between what Pope Francis actually says, in the context of what he says, and what the media report him as saying or meaning. Pope Francis knows Catholic moral doctrine and fully agrees with it. He is proposing alternative ways to evangelize, not alternative ways to believe.

  • Is anyone familiar with the writings of an Irish priest Fr. Denis Fahey? He wrote in the 30’s- 40’s his main book being The Mystical Body of Christ in the Modern World. He laid out the forces that were against the Church and society. The book is still so relevant today.

  • Vatican I wisely limited the infallibility doctrine of the Pope to Ex Cathedral solemn prnouncements. This solemn dogma states that when a pope makes an ex cathedral statement, that statement is equal to dogmas proclaimed by Ecumenical Councils. Both (papal and conciliar) are forms of extraordinary actions of the Magisterium of the Church.

    However, there is the ordinary form of the Magisterium’s ( pope and bishops) infallible teaching in matters of faith and morals. This is one of the great clarifications made during the ministry of Blessed John Paul and worked out by Cardinal Ratzinger and the Congregation of the Faith. However, even this does not make every utterance from a pope “infallible”, etc.

    In a post above Brian makes a great point. He complains about those who go bonkers when one suggests it might take some time to see if Pope Francis ( or any pope for that matter) will be seen to be a good or even great pope. However the same applies when someone suggests it might take time to see if all the fears and criticisms pan out and Francis (or any pope) is a ” problematic”, ” not so good” or even a ” bad” pope.

    While we have been blessed with some very good and even great popes in the recent past, and it is important to recognize that some popes in our two thousand year history have sadly been ” bad”, history reveals that a vast majority were somewhere in the middle. They were neither great or terrible. They simply were the successors of Peter preserving both the teaching and unity of the Church as best they could in the historical context within they ministered

  • “Pio Nono and John XXIII did not contradict each other on religious freedom:”

    Wrong.

    ” 15. Every man is free to embrace and profess that religion which, guided by the light of reason, he shall consider true. — Allocution “Maxima quidem,” June 9, 1862; Damnatio “Multiplices inter,” June 10, 1851.”

    One of the propositions condemned by Pio Nono in his Syllabus of Errors.

    “14. Also among man’s rights is that of being able to worship God in accordance with the right dictates of his own conscience, and to profess his religion both in private and in public.”

    Pope John XXIII, Pacem in Terris

    Religious liberty as such did not exist during the reign of Pius IX in the Papal States, as it had not existed under his predecessors. He was somewhat more liberal on the question at the start of his reign. He freed Jews from the Roman ghetto at the start of his reign, and also freed them from the necessity of hearing Christian sermons periodically. These salutary reforms were reversed by Pius after he lost control of the papal states in 1849 and was returned to power by a French army that same year. Pius, although personally affable to people of all faiths, did not believe in religious liberty in any shape or fashion, except the traditional grudging tolerance that the Church extended to Jews.

  • Do I understand your statement/ position correctly Donald-that there is a real (versus perceived) rupture in the Magisterium of the Church(in this case between Pius IX and John XXIII?

  • I think it is an extremely troubling question Botolph, and far keener minds than mine have wrestled with it.

    The best face that can be put on it was done by Cardinal Dulles:

    http://www.firstthings.com/article/2008/08/003-religious-freedom-innovation-and-development-41

    I of course as an American am all in favor of religious liberty and celebrate that it is now the policy of the Church. However, I am enough of an historian to recognize that the development in doctrine in this area is an extreme one and is almost a 180 degree development.

  • Fair enough Donald. The answer is by no means simple, as Cardinal Dulles well shows. Overall, though, Cardinal Dulles would interpret such a question concerning. The relation between the Magesterium of the 19th century and the 20th/21st centurity as one of continuity and not rupture.

    The declarations of the Church in the 19th century were made in light of and in the context of the principles of the more radical French Revolution and the power of Masonry in Europe and more specifically in Italy. When Pius IX was speaking America was not even a blip on his radar screen. It was the much milder and far from radical American form of Freedom of Religion that became the context within the Church at Vatican II’s teaching on religious freedom to offset at that time the lack of rel.igious freedom behind the Iron and Bamboo curtains.

    Now, in the first quarter of the Twentieth century, we have a new historical context. The Iron Curtain is gone; the bamboo curtain is not what it was, although still a problem. The new context is a widespread “war on Christianity” in many countries, most especially by Islamicist forces (not all Moslems by any means). In the West however we are facing new forces, even here in America-that seem to be attempting to limit freedom of religion merely into freedom of worship. However, this weekend we are witnessing even our Govt’s intervention in our worship ( troubling issue of not allowing priests to celebrate Mass or baptize etc because the Govt is shut down) While I do not doubt that this will be straightened out, the fact that priests who would be volunteering would be arrested if the celebrate Mass or baptize should be recognized by all as new ground, a line that has been crossed.. We all need to become more aware.

    It therefore.becomes imperative that we Catholics work through our genuine questions on the subject of religious freedom-as the Church really understands this teaching

  • lol that should read ” in the first quarter of the twenty-first century”. Sorry lol

  • Actually, Donald, regarding religious liberty and whether or not Pius IX and John XXIII contradicted each other, let’s let the Catechism of the Catholic Church speak:

    2108 The right to religious liberty is neither a moral license to adhere to error, nor a supposed right to error, ( 37 Cf. Leo XIII, Libertas praestantissimum 18; Pius XII AAS 1953,799) but rather a natural right of the human person to civil liberty, i.e., immunity, within just limits, from external constraint in religious matters by political authorities. This natural right ought to be acknowledged in the juridical order of society in such a way that it constitutes a civil right (Pius XII, 6 December 1953).

    2109 The right to religious liberty can of itself be neither unlimited nor limited only by a “public order” conceived in a positivist or naturalist manner (Cf. Pius VI, Quod aliquantum (1791) 10; Pius IX, Quanta cura 3). The “due limits” which are inherent in it must be determined for each social situation by political prudence, according to the requirements of the common good, and ratified by the civil authority in accordance with “legal principles which are in conformity with the objective moral order” (cf Pío IX, enc. “Quanta cura”).

  • I often feel that some theologians are inclined to treat past magisterial pronouncements in the same way that Bl John Henry Newman, in a memorable piece of biting satire, accused his erstwhile colleagues of treating the Fathers: “I read the Fathers, and I have determined what works are genuine, and what are not; which of them apply to all times, which are occasional; which historical, and which doctrinal; what opinions are private, what authoritative; what they only seem to hold, what they ought to hold; what are fundamental, what ornamental. Having thus measured and cut and put together my creed by my own proper intellect, by my own lucubrations, and differing from the whole world in my results, I distinctly bid you, I solemnly warn you, not to do as I have done, but to accept what I have found, to revere that, to use that, to believe that, for it is the teaching of the old Fathers, and of your Mother the Church of England. Take my word for it, that this is the very truth of Christ; deny your own reason, for I know better than you, and it is as clear as day that some moral fault in you is the cause of your differing from me. It is pride, or vanity, or self-reliance, or fullness of bread. You require some medicine for your soul; you must fast; you must make a general confession; and look very sharp to yourself, for you are already next door to a rationalist or an infidel.”

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Cardinal Newman on the Assumption

Wednesday, August 15, AD 2012

AS soon as we apprehend by faith the great fundamental truth that Mary is the Mother of God, other wonderful truths follow in its train; and one of these is that she was exempt from the ordinary lot of mortals, which is not only to die, but to become earth to earth, ashes to ashes, dust to dust. Die she must, and die she did, as her Divine Son died, for He was man; but various reasons have approved themselves to holy writers, why, although her body was for a while separated from her soul and consigned to the tomb, yet it did not remain there, but was speedily united to her soul again, and raised by our Lord to a new and eternal life of heavenly glory.

And the most obvious reason for so concluding is this—that other servants of God have been raised from the grave by the power of God, and it is not to  be supposed that our Lord would have granted any such privilege to anyone else without also granting it to His own Mother.

We are told by St. Matthew, that after our Lord’s death upon the Cross “the graves were opened, and many bodies of the saints that had slept”—that is, slept the sleep of death, “arose, and coming out of the tombs after His Resurrection, came into the Holy City, and appeared to many.” St. Matthew says, “many bodies of the Saints”—that is, the holy Prophets, Priests, and Kings of former times—rose again in anticipation of the last day.

Can we suppose that Abraham, or David, or Isaias, or Ezechias, should have been thus favoured, and not God’s own Mother? Had she not a claim on the love of her Son to have what any others had? Was she not nearer to Him than the greatest of the Saints before her? And is it conceivable that the law of the grave should admit of relaxation in their case, and not in hers? Therefore we confidently say that our Lord, having preserved her from sin and the consequences of sin by His Passion, lost no time in pouring out the full merits of that Passion upon her body as well as her soul.

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Cardinal Newman on Lent

Wednesday, February 22, AD 2012

 

Is it not, I say, quite a common case for men and for women to neglect religion in their best days? They have been baptized, they have been taught their duty, they have been taught to pray, they know their Creed, their conscience has been enlightened, they have opportunity to come to Church. This is their birthright, the privileges of their birth of water and of the Spirit; but they sell it, as Esau did. They are tempted by Satan with some bribe of this world, and they give up their birthright in exchange for what is sure to perish, and to make them perish with it. Esau was tempted by the mess of pottage which he saw in Jacob’s hands. Satan arrested the eyes of his lust, and he gazed on the pottage, as Eve gazed on the fruit of the tree of knowledge  of good and evil. Adam and Eve sold their birthright for the fruit of a tree—that was their bargain. Esau sold his for a mess of lentils—that was his. And men now-a-days often sell theirs, not indeed for any thing so simple as fruit or herbs, but for some evil gain or other, which at the time they think worth purchasing at any price; perhaps for the enjoyment of some particular sin, or more commonly for the indulgence of general carelessness and spiritual sloth, because they do not like a strict life, and have no heart for God’s service. And thus they are profane persons, for they despise the great gift of God.

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8 Responses to Cardinal Newman on Lent

  • Amen.

    I desire true repentance for my sins. I think of Our Lord in the Garden if Gethsemani suffering a bitter agony for my sins.

  • I recommend them to look on all pain and sorrow which comes on them as a punishment for what they once were; and to take it patiently on that account, nay, joyfully, as giving them a hope that God is punishing them here instead of hereafter.

    Is he saying with certainty all bad things which happen to us is punishment for sin? It sounds very deuteronomistic, the idea of “Do good, get good. Do bad, get bad.” That’s early Old Testament philosophy.

    Some bad events can be punishment for sin or a wake up call to turn away from sin. But, all of them? Hmm… Job had a lot of bad things happen to him, but he was a good, faithful man.

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  • Donald McClarey, it amazes me how you find good and timely words.

    ” These are thoughts, I need hardly say, especially suited to this season. ”
    ” Now it is that, God being your helper, you are to attempt to throw off from you the heavy burden of past transgression, to reconcile yourselves to Him who has once already imparted to you His atoning merits, and you have profaned them. ”

    ” Depend upon it, they will wail over them in the next world, if they wail not here. Which is better, to utter a bitter cry now or then?—then, when the blessing of eternal life is refused them by the just Judge at the last day, or now, in order that they may gain it? Let us be wise enough to have our agony in this world, not in the next. If we humble ourselves now, God will pardon us then. We cannot escape punishment, here or hereafter; we must take our choice, whether to suffer and mourn a little now, or much then. ”

    ” This is their birthright, the privileges of their birth of water and of the Spirit; but they sell it, as Esau did. They are tempted by Satan with some bribe of this world, and they give up their birthright in exchange for what is sure to perish, and to make them perish with it. Esau was tempted by the mess of pottage which he saw in Jacob’s hands. Satan arrested the eyes of his lust, and he gazed on the pottage, as Eve gazed on the fruit of the tree of knowledge of good and evil. Adam and Eve sold their birthright for the fruit of a tree—that was their bargain. Esau sold his for a mess of lentils—that was his. And men now-a-days often sell theirs, not indeed for any thing so simple as fruit or herbs, but for some evil gain or other, which at the time they think worth purchasing at any price; perhaps for the enjoyment of some particular sin, or more commonly for the indulgence of general carelessness and spiritual sloth, because they do not like a strict life, and have no heart for God’s service. And thus they are profane persons, for they despise the great gift of God. ”

    God being our Helper … wailing and agony now or then? … being profane persons with no heart for God’s service and despising His gift … let’s hope to be among the chosen

    T. Shaw, also thinking about that night in the Garden of Gethsemane when Jesus asked them to watch while he prayed but they fell asleep. Fearful of how easy it is to doze off, and how important it is to try not to for 38 days left, then for the next eight months, and then always like it’s a matter of life and death. We can balance it with Easter – sort of like the mystery of faith words in the Memorial Acclamation, so God is our helper.

    ” And be sure of this: that if He has any love for you, if He sees aught of good in your soul, He will afflict you, if you will not afflict yourselves. He will not let you escape. He has ten thousand ways of purging those whom He has chosen, “

  • the church teaches that all temporal suffering is the result of sin, but not necessarily the sin of the sufferer. this is the philosophy not only of the old but also of the new testament.

  • @PM, you’re right. Donald picked very relevant and wise words.

    @Edward, Is all temporal suffering punishment? As I understand, all temporal punishment is temporal suffering, but not all temporal suffering is temporal punishment.

  • Why split hairs? Accept temporal suffering as a gift of purification. Thank God in all things and especially the sufferings that befall us because they can burnish the dross of sin.

  • It’s an important distinction into the understanding of suffering and sin. If I twist my ankle leaving a confessional, is that because I sinned as I left? Is a baby suffering from a birth complication suffering because of sin? I think we’re getting close to the gospel of karma, which I don’t subscribe to.

    One can become over attentive to sin and suffering to the point of asking at every challenge, “What did I do to deserve this?”

40 Martyrs of England and Wales and Cardinal Newman

Tuesday, October 25, AD 2011

In so many ways we moderns are pygmies who stand on the shoulders of giants.  One group of giants for all English-speaking Catholics is the 40 martyrs of England and Wales who were canonized by Pope Paul VI on October 25, 1970.   They deserve to be remembered for their heroic deaths for Christ, and here are their names:

3 Carthusians:

  • Augustine Webster  d.1535
  • John Houghton  1486-1535
  • Robert Lawrence   d.1535

1 Augustinian friar:

  • John Stone  d. 1538

1 Brigittine:

  • Richard Reynolds  d. 1535

2 Franciscans:

  • John Jones   d. 1598 (Friar Observant – also known as John Buckley, John Griffith, or Godfrey Maurice)
  • John Wall   d. 1679 (Franciscan  – known at Douai and Rome as John Marsh, and by other aliases while on the mission in England)

3 Benedictines:

  • John Roberts   d. 1610
  • Ambrose Barlow  d. 1641
  • Alban Roe   d. 1642

10 Jesuits:

  • Alexander Briant   1556-81
  • Edmund Campion   1540-81
  • Robert Southwell   1561-95
  • Henry Walpole    1558-95
  • Nicholas Owen   1540-1606
  • Thomas Garnet    1575-1608
  • Edmund Arrowsmith  1585–1628
  • Henry Morse   1595-1644
  • Philip Evans   1645-79
  • David Lewis   1616-79

13 Priests of the Secular Clergy:

  • Cuthbert Mayne   1543–77
  • Ralph Sherwin    1558-81
  • Luke Kirby    1549-82
  • John Paine    d. 1582
  • John Almond    d. 1585
  • Polydore Plasden    d. 1591
  • Eustace White   1560-91
  • Edmund G(J)ennings   1567-91
  • John Boste    1544-94
  • John Southworth   1592-1654
  • John Kemble    1599-1679
  • John Lloyd     d. 1679
  • John Plessington   d. 1679

7 members of the laity

4 lay men:

  • Richard Gwyn  1537-84
  • Swithun Wells  1536-91
  • Philip Howard  1557-95
  • John Rigby  1570-1600   and

3 lay women, all of them mothers:

  • Margaret Clitherow  1586
  • Margaret Ward  1588
  • Anne Line  1601

They were torches that God sent to us to light our way in a frequently dark world.  They were representatives of hundreds of martyrs who died for the Faith in England and Wales in the Sixteenth and Seventeenth Centuries.  With the Anglican Ordinariate established by Pope Benedict perhaps what Blessed John Henry Cardinal Newman said in the Nineteenth Century will come true in the Twenty-First:

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5 Responses to 40 Martyrs of England and Wales and Cardinal Newman

  • Donald,

    I do not know much about history, but both sides – Protestant and Catholic – had shed more than its fair share of blood. Didn’t Mary I of England (a Catholic) burn at the stake 280 religious dissenters in what are called “The Marian Persecutions?”

    Every time I read little about this time in history, I shudder to think of the atrocities that both sides – Catholic and Protestant – committed against each other.

    🙁

  • 284. An excellent recent study of the Marian Persecution was written by Eamon Duffy:

    http://www.amazon.com/Fires-Faith-Catholic-England-under/dp/0300152167

    The Tudors were all persecutors. Under Bad Queen Bess some 312 Irish and Catholic martyrs died, although, strangely enough, she has a reputation in history for tolerance, which would have been regarded as a bad joke by almost all of her Catholic subjects, probably the majority of her subjects until well into her reign.

    Saint Peter Canisius, who helped reverse the Reformation in Austria and southern Germany in the Sixteenth Century, regarded the persecutions of his day as against the example of Christ:

    “It is plainly wrong to meet non-Catholics with bitterness or to treat them with discourtesy. For this is nothing else than the reverse of Christ’s example because it breaks the bruised reed and quenches the smoking flax. We ought to instruct with meekness those whom heresy has made bitter and suspicious, and has estranged from orthodox Catholics, especially from our fellow Jesuits. Thus, by whole-hearted charity and good will we may win them over to us in the Lord.

    Again, it is a mistaken policy to behave in a contentious fashion and to start disputes about matters of belief with argumentative people who are disposed by their very natures to wrangling. Indeed, the fact of their being so constituted is a reason the more why such people should be attracted and won to the simplicity of the faith as much by example as by argument.”

    It was an intolerant age, although what strikes me is how quickly it ended, when viewed through the prism of 2000 years of Christian history. By 1700 the bloodiest of religious persecutions were largely ended, only to be reawakend by the birth of totalitarianism with the French Revolution and the persecution of both Catholics and Protestants by worshipers of the power of the State. Fascism and Communism, when viewed by future historians, may be regarded as variants of the Emperor worship that confronted the earliest Christians.

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  • As an American of partial English descent (and last name Bryant, although no relation to the martyr Briant that I am aware of) I would like to know why this feast day doesn’t seem to be a priority on the U.S. calendar. We take a lot of our culture and obviously language from Britain, plus we are still living here the effects of the Reformation there. Obviously had Henry VIII not acted as he had the U.S. would be a predominantly Cathlic nation. Are we afraid of offending Protestants (or Latinos) ?

  • I doubt if it is concern for offending anyone since we sing Faith of Our Fathers regularly at Mass and that song, although doubtless most singers are unaware of it, directly refers to the persecution of Catholics by the English government. Additionally Irish Catholics, which make up a large proportion of the Church in America, are always ready to point out English persecutions. In England the feast day has been moved to May 4 and now includes an additional 85 martyrs:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Eighty-five_martyrs_of_England_and_Wales

Cardinal Newman on Lying and Equivocation

Sunday, February 27, AD 2011

The Catholic blogosphere has been ablaze recently with discussions revolving around the actions of Lila Rose and Live Action and their sting operation against Worse Than Murder, Inc, with some bloggers like our own Joe Hargrave condemning these tactics since they involved lying, and other bloggers such as myself holding that there is nothing morally wrong with the tactics used in the sting.  I certainly do not wish to raise from the dead this well flogged horse, but I thought our readers might find interesting a fascinating overview of lying, equivocation and morality in Note G of Blessed John Henry Cardinal Newman’s Apologia Pro Vita Sua.  It is a typical tour de force by Newman where he demonstrates his knowledge of the history, reasoning and practical application of a Church teaching on morality.  Here is the note:

ALMOST all authors, Catholic and Protestant, admit, that when a just cause is present, there is some kind or other of verbal misleading, which is not sin. Even silence is in certain cases virtually such a misleading, according to the Proverb, “Silence gives consent.” Again, silence is absolutely forbidden to a Catholic, as a mortal sin, under certain circumstances, e.g. to keep silence, when it is a duty to make a profession of faith.

Another mode of verbal misleading, and the most direct, is actually saying the thing that is not; and it is defended on the principle that such words are not a lie, when there is a “justa causa,” as killing is not murder in the case of an executioner.

Another ground of certain authors for saying that an untruth is not a lie where there is a just cause, is, that veracity is a kind of justice, and therefore, when we have no duty of justice to tell truth to another, it is no sin not to do so. Hence we may say the thing that is not, to children, to madmen, to men who ask impertinent questions, to those whom we hope to benefit by misleading.

Another ground, taken in defending certain untruths, ex justâ causâ, as if not lies, is, that veracity is for the sake of society, and that, if in no case whatever we might lawfully mislead others, we should actually be doing society great harm.

Another mode of verbal misleading is equivocation or a play upon words; and it is defended on the theory that to lie is to use words in a sense which they will not bear. But an equivocator uses them in a received sense, though there is another received sense, and therefore, according to this definition, he does not lie.

Others say that all equivocations are, after all, a kind of lying,—faint lies or awkward lies, but still lies; and some of these disputants infer, that therefore we must not equivocate, and others that equivocation is but a half-measure, and that it is better to say at once that in certain cases untruths are not lies.

Others will try to distinguish between evasions and equivocations; but though there are evasions which are clearly not equivocations, yet it is very difficult scientifically to draw the line between the one and the other.

To these must be added the unscientific way of dealing with lies,—viz. that on a great or cruel occasion a man cannot help telling a lie, and he would not be a man, did he not tell it, but still it is very wrong, and he ought not to do it, and he must trust that the sin will be forgiven him, though he goes about to commit it ever so deliberately, and is sure to commit it again under similar circumstances. It is a necessary frailty, and had better not be thought about before it is incurred, and not thought of again, after it is well over. This view cannot for a moment be defended, but, I suppose, it is very common.
I think the historical course of thought upon the matter has been this: the Greek Fathers thought that, when there was a justa causa, an untruth need not be a lie. St. Augustine took another view, though with great misgiving; and, whether he is rightly interpreted or not, is the doctor of the great and common view that all untruths are lies, and that there can be no just cause of untruth. In these later times, this doctrine has been found difficult to work, and it has been largely taught that, though all untruths are lies, yet that certain equivocations, when there is a just cause, are not untruths.

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15 Responses to Cardinal Newman on Lying and Equivocation

  • Or cite the canonized Saint who translated the Bible…St. Jerome as cited by Aquinas in the Summa T :
    “Jerome, in his commentary on Galatians 2:11, “The example of Jehu, king of Israel, who slew the priests of Baal, pretending that he desired to worship idols, should teach us that dissimulation is useful and sometimes to be employed”.
    2nd of the 2nd/ question 111/ art. one/ obj. 2

    Jehu told actual falsehoods to set up an ambush against the Baal adherents of the house of Ahab:

    2 kings 10:19-20. 
    19 Now summon for me all Baal’s prophets, all his worshipers, and all his priests. See that no one is absent, for I have a great sacrifice for Baal. Whoever is absent shall not live.” This Jehu did as a ruse, so that he might destroy the worshipers of Baal.
    20
    Jehu said further, “Proclaim a solemn assembly in honor of Baal.” They did so…”

    Jehu’s men kill them once assembled and fulfill Elijah’s prediction of the house of Ahab. Ten verses late in verse 30 God commends Jehu with not a bit of the outrage that Catholic internet posters would heap on Jehu:

    30 The LORD said to Jehu, “Because you have done well what I deem right, and have treated the house of Ahab as I desire, your sons to the fourth generation shall sit upon the throne of Israel.”

  • And You, Bill Bannon, have also done well!
    When this all began the first thing which went through my mind was the fabulous job Nathan did on David to bring him (and his outrage at the man Nathan described) around to having to admit that “….That man is YOU!”
    The French priest Louis Evely, known for his good work as a retreat master, used this for the title of a really awesome book if his (Newman Press 1966). I only wish they would bring it out in print again today, It was a real soul searching experience for the reader and brought the humanity of Christ into your living room as well as your heart.

  • Bill Sr.
    Ha…I never thought of the Nathan incident….excellent. Reminiscent of the leading to repentance of his brothers done by Jacob’s Joseph in Egypt when they came to him during famine and he pretended to be a stern Egyptian ruler who might never return Benjamin to their father, Jacob. Makes one wonder how many of these ruses are in the lesser read books of the Bible also.

  • On two occasions in Genesis Abraham denied that Sarah was his wife to avoid having local rulers kill him and marry his widow. King David had frequent recourse to deception in his career. Of course, just because someone in the Bible does something doesn’t make the act virtuous. It does mean that this is a fairly complex area.

  • I appreciate the treatment here on the topic of lying. However it occurred to me while reading St. John Henry Neuman’s essay, how hand-wringing and splitting of hairs it appears on the surface. It is almost obsessive. Now I most respectfully submit to St. John’s holy writing and thinking on the subject, but it occurs to me that there is a wonderful contrast here between the Catholic treatment and thinking and discussion of lying and the World’s. What I am thinking of is the monumental harm done to society through the acceptance of lying in the course of public civil discourse. We have in our society an occasion of at least half of the body politic engaged in lying on such a monumental scale, as to be mind-boggling. One of our two political parties is completely and wholly given over to communicating exclusively in terms of deception and prevarication and outright lying. Yet, there is barely a whisper of comment in any forum anywhere about it. Much less is there any discussion about the harm and desolation caused to our republic by such a state of affairs. Would that our Bishops and other teachers in the Holy Church be speaking out on such a grave state of affairs. Instead we have our own “tempest in a teapot” over the obsessively fine details of lying to secure the harm of a diabolical organization such as planned parenthood.
    Just my two cents.

  • Sawman
    The receiver of the ruse and/or lies in Scripture is key and is either someone:

    A. Possibly dangerous ( Don’s examples of Abraham’s protective fibs).

    B. Clearly evil (Judith’s lies to Holofernes; Jehu’s lies to the Baal devotees).

    C. Or generally good people in need of repentance ( Bill Sr.’s example of David fooled therapeutically by Nathan/ and my example of Joseph’s brothers fooled therapeutically by Joseph).

    A and B reflect on the situation of hiding Jews from the Nazi’s and doing anti narcotics undercover work. No Pope would call either a sin but to read the Catholic net debate last week, you could imagine Catholic posters turning in hidden Anne Franks as soon as a Nazi asked them….” are you hiding a Jewess?”…..” yes,
    second floor, 3rd door on your right, I cannot lie per Aquinas and Augustine.”
    C is used by most Catholic parents prior to Christmas as to Santa only bringing toys to good children.

  • bill bannon,
    Well said. I read Dr. Peter Kreeft’s opinion on this issue and although I agree with his point I could barely follow him through his reasoning, or intuitive process. You however, are making the same point in an easier way for me to understand. Thanks. My hat is off to you sir.

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  • Here is a question: would it be permissible for a Catholic, say a member of the FBI, to go under cover to get evidence against an established mafia crime family? Would that person be in sin?

  • Jacob
    Can you find any Pope who even criticized undercover work? Can you find one Catholic magisterial document against it? There’s your answer. It is a serious form of acting as done by Judith and Jehu in the Bible to save lives and souls in their respective cases…and both are then praised in scripture with not one adverse commentary on their methods. In the Jehu case, scripture seems to even be affirming the whole process used by Jehu ( see text in my first post).
    Within the Mafia, the agent could not fornicate or murder for the sake of fostering their cover….even if the victim of the murder was evil. I would think they could have remote material cooperation with some bad acts….just as an heating oil delivery truck driver has remote material cooperation when he delivers oil to an abortion facility or delivers oil to a porn studio….ie he is furthering nothing to a reasonable mind… and without him the oil would be delivered by the oil company without skipping a beat by another driver. Were the abortion mill in the artic, and only this particular trucker could handle those roads, the cooperation deepens and one needs a discerning priest…likewise if new complex questions arise in undercover work. Cooperation questions are so varying, that an FBI agent should study the area in moral theology tomes usually read by priests in seminaries…but obtainable.

  • Looks like Bannon’s cannons has blown this discussion clear out of the polluted waters many Catholics have been and are still sailing.

  • Lila Rose was playing a role before a camera to teach a moral lesson. It was drama.

  • Well, so far I’ve been accused, by five separate people, of being disingenuous, lacking in docility, rebellious, quasi-Protestant, and consequentialist for claiming that the Magisterium has yet to officially pronounce on the matter of justified falsehoods.

    It’s readily acknowledged that lying is wrong; the Catechism is clear on that.

    What’s not so clear is when falsehoods are justified. And the Magisterium has simply not spoken on the matter.

    We do have the papal bull of Innocent XI condemning strict mental reservation under oath.

    But that hardly clarifies situations like Judith, Rahab, Jehu, and the Egyptian midwives–in each instance, the deceivers were roundly praised and blessed by God. James the Apostle even holds up Rahab as a shining example of faith. Would he do that if her deception were intrinsically evil? Would the early Church Fathers include the Book of Judith in the canon of sacred Scripture if her repeated deceptions were inherently evil–as so many dogmatists today claim?

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Newman: Reflections at the Beginning of Advent

Monday, November 29, AD 2010

 

“Thine eyes shall see the King in his beauty: they shall behold the land that is very far off.” Isaiah xxxiii. 17.

 YEAR after year, as it passes, brings us the same warnings again and again, and none perhaps more impressive than those with which it comes to us at this season. The very frost and cold, rain and gloom, which now befall us, forebode the last dreary days of the world, and in religious hearts raise the thought of them. The year is worn out: spring, summer, autumn, each in turn, have brought their gifts and done their utmost; but they are over, and the end is come. All is past and gone, all has failed, all has sated; we are tired of the past; we would not have the seasons longer; and the austere weather which succeeds, though ungrateful to the body, is in tone with our feelings, and acceptable. Such is the frame of mind which befits the end of the year; and such the frame of mind which comes alike on good and bad at the end of life. The days have come in which they have no pleasure; yet they would hardly be young again, could they be so by wishing it. Life is well enough in its way; but it does not satisfy. Thus the soul is cast forward upon the future, and in proportion as its conscience is clear and its perception keen and true, does it rejoice solemnly that “the night is far spent, the day is at hand,” that there are “new heavens and a new earth” to come, though the former are failing; nay, rather that, because they are failing, it will “soon see the King in His beauty,” and “behold the land which is very far off.” These are feelings for holy men in winter and in age, waiting, in some dejection perhaps, but with comfort on the whole, and calmly though earnestly, for the Advent of Christ.

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