I don't understand your view of the hierachy. You are missing the point of doctrine in our daily lives. Everytime a child reads the catechism, this is the Church teaching. Everytime one learns the Creed, they are learning the faith. Everytime one reads the missal at mass, they are experiencing the mysteries of the Church. You imply that if the pope or bishops are not constantly cranking out newsletters, encyclicals or vatican articles, then the Church has "stopped working" or is "taking a break". I don't understand where this idea comes from. ??
Has there been an absense of official teaching by the ordinary magisterium in the last 50 years? Of course not. I'm not going to provide a long list, but here's a few examples which come to mind:
1. Paul VI in Humanae Vitae where he affirmed the natural law on marriage and children.
2. JPII when he affirmed the Church's stance on only men being priests.
3. JPII when he affirmed the natural law regarding 'food and water' in the case of the dying Terri Shiavo.
4. Benedict XVI when he affirmed that Tradition is equal to Scripture in understanding our Faith.
I know you don't believe the above were popes, but for the sake of argument, these were examples of them teaching "what the Church has always taught". Therefore, these were examples of non-solemn, infallible teachings by the magisterium.
The hierarchy is composed of the the pope and world's bishops with jurisdiction, and to a lesser extent and degree, those whom they depute to act in their name and exercise their authority.
The pope alone is "personally" infallible (that is, the pope, when teaching as pope, is himself protected from erring). The "infallibility of the Church" (i.e., her infallibility in promulgating laws and liturgies which are free from error) exists inasmuch as there is
a pope who, infallible, approves of teachings, liturgies, laws, etc. The infallibility of the ordinary magisterium is likewise a diffusal of the pope's infallibility; without a pope there is no infallibility extended to the world's bishops even if
they agree on something. The pope's teaching (which obviously depends on there being
a pope) is what holds all this together. "Tu est Petrus..."
Quote from: Pax Vobis on Wed Sep 13 2017 13:19:18 GMT-0500 (Central Standard Time)
Great discussion so far. However, I don't think you've answered my point about the role of Tradition/Scripture as the foundation for our Faith. You haven't answered the philosophical question, which is: Is the Faith which Christ taught the Apostles different from the Faith of the 21st century, or any century in between? Does the Faith ever change?
Tradition and Scripture can certainly be thought of as the foundation
of faith; in chronological order, these existed before certain implied teachings in the deposit of faith were explicated: e.g., guardian angels, the Immaculate Conception, the Assumption, and so on.
But, like any foundation, it is a foundation
, not the proximate rule of the activity it supports. If you have a house, you have a foundation (the basement). But you wouldn't confuse the foundation with the whole house; you certainly wouldn't move your kitchen, bathrooms, bedrooms, and living rooms all to the basement. And likewise, Tradition and Scripture are the remote
rules of faith; they "hold up" that which we believe day in and day out; we might even
have a discursive day in and day out interaction with them like we would the foundation of a house (a lot of people put their laundry machines down there, maybe a workshop). But they are not the living rule; that's the ordinary magisterium, i.e., the living, teaching, and infallible authority of the Church.
Carrying the analogy further, the foundation never changes. It can, though, imply certain things that have not yet come to fruition. When we think of the deposit of faith, there are loads
of implied truths that were only explicated later. Canonizations are the perfect example of this; the Church certainly did not
always teach that St. Peter was, in fact, a Saint. But the fact that there was a time in Church history where he wasn't
so regarded does not forbid there being a point later where he is
so regarded. He is now explicitly so regarded, as are many other saints, most
without ever having been solemnly defined so, by the way. In our basement analogy consider that the foundation of a home implies certain possibilities that are not yet realized-- additions (to the house), but also limits. I'm not a contractor or a builder, so I'll leave the analogy there. But I think the point is clear enough.
If, however, you answer that 'yes' the Faith has changed since Apostolic times, or that it can change, be added to, or modified, then I don't know what to tell you, other than get on the V2 bus and ride it to salvific destruction. I don't think you would say 'yes', and I don't see a middle road at all, so you must say 'no' it does not change.
I've explained above why it's not circular. You seem to think that Tradition must be studied and understood, or else we wouldn't know what it is. Tradition is simply the oral and written writings of the Church Fathers, who learned directly from the Apostles.
Organic developments-- i.e., explications of teachings already implied-- do occur. That is not a change, but a clarification, or an illumination of what was once obscure. Objectively, the deposit of faith is complete. Subjectively, certain things must be and are
explicated from it.
Actually, I think that we wouldn't know what Tradition is if the Church's ordinary magisterium didn't propose it to us. St. Augustine says that he wouldn't even believe scripture if the Church did not propose it for belief. How much more, then, would we dismiss the Fathers, whose work is not divinely inspired?
It is Tradition that Protestants reject, which is why they don't believe in many of the doctrines related to Our Lady, who is almost absent from Scripture, which is why they say we don't have to focus on Her.
The Protestants do not reject the Fathers; in fact, they (informally) use them as a remote rule of faith, the proximate rule of faith being scripture. If you look at the counter-reformationists (e.g. Bellarmine) you'll find that a signficant amount of their material is directed toward overcoming Protestant appeals to the Fathers. The Protestants leverage the fathers to illumine scripture. Serious protestants today still do this; I'm not sure about you, but I happen to live a very "seriously Lutheran" area (with "seriously Lutheran" in-laws, to boot) and you'll find that they have reverence for the Fathers.
The protestants rejected the Church as an extraordinary and ordinary authority of what Scripture means
, and of how to understand
the Fathers. That was their principle error. They said the individual is competent, and designed, to understand these sources without the Church's intervention.
That's why I say that this idea of the Fathers/Tradition as proximate rule of faith is just a repackaged Protestant methodology. The living, teaching Church has nothing to do with that learning process. In fact, in this view, the living, teaching, Church is the principal obstacle
to true Christian learning and understanding.
Further, protestants like to say that when the Church declares some new dogma, that Catholics are "adding" to their Faith, therefore our claim to be "apostolic" is a lie and we are not the True Church of Christ. The easy answer is:
'Yes, the pope just proclaimed the dogma of the Assumption of Our Lady into heaven, but this is not a new belief. It has always been held throughout the centuries, as handed down from apostolic times, that Our Lady assumed into heaven. This is a constant belief. The reason the Church has proclaimed it a dogma is to counter-act those who deny such a doctrine, and to protect the faithful from being led into error."
If your position is that Vatican II is infallible precisely because it attempts to add something to the deposit of faith which doesn't belong, doesn't the Protestant have a point? If a Protestant were to say to you "The Catholic Church cannot be the true Church of Christ because at both a solemn and ordinary level it is teaching error regarding the necessity of the Christian faith for salvation", do you just tell them that not to worry because infallibility doesn't "cover" that? To whatever extent that their is a formal "Lutheran Church," why not just belong to that instead? You can go ahead and believe what it teaches when it coincides with Tradition (you can find conservative Lutherans who do a decent job in that regard), and just reject it when it doesn't. No different from what you'll be doing with the Catholic Church. At least if you belong to the Lutheran Church you don't have to explain away universal error, since they don't claim to ever
be infallible anyways.
This is how we are to understand the role of infallibility (either papal or magisterial). It is to defend, guard and protect the truths handed down by Christ. V1 clearly explains the role of the magisterium. What problem do you have with this quote? I don't get it. "For the holy Spirit was promised to the successors of Peter, not so that they might, by his revelation, make known some new doctrine, but that, by his assistance, they might religiously guard and faithfully expound the revelation or deposit of faith transmitted by the apostles. (i.e. Scripture/Tradition)"
Sure Pax, that's the role
infallibility plays, and its purpose
is to ensure that the Catholic faith is retained from one generation to another. Or, to put it another way, the effect
of infallibility (its final cause, really) is the faithful retention and genuine illumination of the deposit of faith.
But a thing's effect is distinct from its cause.
There's some criteria for infallibility to "occur" for a teaching activity-- that is to say, infallibility requires a cause
. The effect
of that cause will be the teaching's fidelity to Tradition: that might mean the revelation of some dogmatic fact, it might be the clarification of some doctrine, it might simply be the restatement of something we already knew, but whatever the case, the effect
of infallible teaching is a proposition that harmonizes with the deposit of faith. Right?
Now, the cause of infallibility (proximate cause, at any rate-- obviously God's promised assistance is the remote cause) is the pope. That's what I said at the very beginning of my reply. Without him, there's no infallibility; not ordinary, not extraordinary. There is no
living, infallible teaching authority with no pope. The requisite cause for infallibility is absent, ergo, its effect (fidelity to Tradition) is absent.
You are proposing that infallibility only occurs when the teaching is faithful to Tradition, and if
that cause is satisfied, it will produce the effect of the teaching being faithful to Tradition. It's a perfect circle, Pax. It's fallacious.