Infallibility redux

VATICAN CITY — In a letter informing Australian Bishop William Morris of Toowoomba of his dismissal, Pope Benedict is said to have described the church’s teaching against women’s ordination as “infallibly” taught by his predecessor, Pope John Paul II.

That the present pope would use such language is not surprising. As Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, he said the same thing in a 1995 written statement of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith — a statement which was itself approved by Pope John Paul.

The year before, in 1994, Pope John Paul had issued his apostolic letter “Ordinatio Sacerdotalis” (“On Reserving Priestly Ordination to Men Alone”), declaring that “the church has no authority whatsoever to confer priestly ordination on women and that this judgment is to be definitively held by all the church’s faithful.'”

The 1995 doctrinal congregation statement, as well as later Vatican documents, said the teaching against women’s ordination had been “set forth infallibly by the ordinary and universal magisterium.” We wrote about the significance of that statement here. The point being made was that such teachings are infallibly taught and must be accepted as definitive by Catholics, even if they have not been defined as infallible by a solemn act of the pope.

In 1998, in a commentary on Pope John Paul’s apostolic letter “Ad Tuendam Fidem” (“To Defend the Faith”), the doctrinal congregation made two related points: It said there was no difference in the “full and irrevocable character of the assent”‘ owed to church teachings that are set forth as divinely revealed or that are taught definitively. And it said that when a pope confirms or reaffirms a doctrine, declaring that it belongs to the ordinary and universal magisterium as a truth that is divinely revealed or a truth of Catholic doctrine, “such a doctrine is to be understood as having been set forth infallibly.”

The Vatican documents of the mid-1990s prompted discussion among some theologians and canon lawyers, some of whom questioned the Vatican’s assertion that the teaching on ordaining only men had been “infallibly taught.” We covered it extensively at the time. That debate has now resurfaced with the removal of Bishop Morris.

According to the Australian public broadcasting network ABC, Bishop Morris said that in his letter, Pope Benedict asserted that “Pope John Paul II had said irrevocably and infallibly that women cannot be ordained.”

The Vatican spokesman, Jesuit Father Federico Lombardi, declined to comment on Pope Benedict’s letter to Bishop Morris or confirm its contents. However, on the infallibility issue, he pointed to the 1995 doctrinal congregation document and to the Second Vatican Council’s document on the church, “Lumen Gentium” (Dogmatic Constitution on the Church), which in section 25 spoke of infallibility and how it is understood.

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5 Responses to Infallibility redux

  1. Shelly D'Amour says:

    Geez, some of you guys remind me of the boys in my childhood neighborhood that built a tree house and put up a big “NO GIRLS” sign.

    After years of trying to be accepted into your little club house I decided I just didn’t care anymore. Enjoy having it all to yourself. BTW, your male priests made a real mess of it and I hope you enjoy cleaning it up.

  2. Andre Fortin says:

    Why women cannot be preists.
    Jesus christ was a radical in his day.
    If God wanted women priests Jsusu has the most perfect candidate in his mother Mary.
    He did not pick her as one of His Apostles.
    For this reason women can never be preists.

  3. Jean says:

    Im sorry women take a worldly view of the fact that women cant be priests. It is so sad that one doesnt understand this in such deep terms.

    It is quite beautiful that men are called to be In Personae Christi. Its understandable where women do not fit into this mold.

    I accept it and I consider myself to be a very modern woman and have considered this point very closely and have studied it as far as I can.

    One thing I can tell you that modern feminism is not in step with the Priesthood.

    The Lord did liberate women though when He first talked to the Samaritan women at the well and it continued into His ministry.

    I do not wish to be a Priest and I do believe it belongs to the males. The Lord never said His Bride was perfect and she isnt. Neither are his priests but neither are His ladies who serve as Nuns and Sisters. I love our church I embrace and obey our Lord in all He has given us.

    I do not envy, lust or covet the Priesthood as the Modern world wants us to.

    Its Satan in the background egging this wordly feminist agenda on to bring the Priesthood to its knees in every way “it”, Satan can.

    I dont consider it a boys club either because in true teaching our Priests, Religious and Layfaithful will tell you the Christian Catholic Church is based in One True Priest—Jesus Christ. Therefore it remains that it should be a male and not a female.

    That said I can be anything I want in the world and in the Church but the Priesthood does not belong to me or to anyone not even the world—it belongs to God who instituted in the name of His Son Jesus Christ as High Priest in the form of Melkizadek.

    We, Catholics are not of this world but in the world and radical feminism doesnt have any ownership over the Priesthood at all. I stand by this and defend it and the my brothers in the Priesthood and all the layfaithful who accept our teaching.

    God Bless all of us and Pray, Pray and Pray for your Priests and all in the church who serve everyday for our eventual end—-THE KINGDOM OF GOD ETERNAL SOMEDAY.

    Somethings must be protected and preserved in the Tradition and Magiserium of the Catholic Church. Let us live and work up to the challenge to hold these truths into a dark world which seeks to destroy the Lord’s Bride.

  4. Jean says:

    Secondly I stand in agreement that the Catholic Church has no authority to appoint women as Priests. Our Lord never set down the provisions. Most assuredly we would have had some documentation of this and there is none in the fact of ordination of women.

    This tells me some wisdom here that our Lord is asking something very mysterious of us which is really not hard to follow—-Obey my commands.

    One of His commands was to appoint the Priesthood early in the church. He did—He started with 12 men. If He had wanted Mary Magdalen and His Most beautiful Mother Mary and the other women He would have had 12 female apostles and there is no written record of this which again tells me there is some mysterious reason our Lord has given us to follow—Obey me in all my commands.

    I do not use Obey as a form of abuse. I use it in the right way to obey our Lord Jesus Christ in all He has taught us.

  5. teijung75 says:

    The New Testament says that we are all made in the image and likeness of God.No distinction in regard to sexual orientation,social status,etc.In fact, St.Paul talks of a woman minister, a woman deacon in his letter to the Romans.Bishop Morris just talked about what many,many Catholics are thinking and talking about.The Holy Spirit inspires and reveals to all the faithful and Bishop Morris was trying his best to listen .After all. the Church is the people.The Cardinals in the Vatican donot have the monopoly of the truth.Both the clergy and the laity share in understanding the truth.

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