[Excerpt from an article featured in the current issue of Le Sel de la Terre (the quarterly journal of the Avrille Dominicans). English Word doc and French originals attached at bottom]
Is the conciliar magisterium an authentic magisterium?
Brother Pierre-Marie, O.P.
[Translated by Sean Johnson]
At a time when theological discussions are to resume between the Priestly Fraternity of St. Pius X and Conciliar Rome, it is important to have clear ideas about the authority of the conciliar magisterium. It is why we are taking advantage of an opportunity presented by an article from a priest of the Society of St. Pius X to come back to this subject already discussed several times in our review 1.
-Le Sel de la Terre
Meaning of the question
By the word "magisterium" we mean the teaching charge which was entrusted by Our Lord Jesus Christ to the Apostles and transmitted by them to the bishops.
By the expression "conciliar magisterium", we mean all that the Pope and bishops taught at the Second Vatican Council and what they later taught in connection with it.
The expression "authentic magisterium" has a precise theological meaning. By the adjective "authentic", we mean a magisterium that teaches with authority. The word "authentic" is here derived from the Greek aujqentia
), which means "authority" 2.
Our Lord Jesus Christ said to His Apostles: "Whoever listens to you, listens to me" (Lk 20:16). He therefore gave them the responsibility of teaching with authority, and this office was passed on to the successors of the Apostles, the bishops, who form the Teaching Church.
This authority can have two degrees: that of the infallible magisterium and that of the not infallible magisterium (also called simply authentic
The magisterium is exercised in an infallible way when it is expressed through solemn judgments or by the universal ordinary magisterium 1. teaching, which every Catholic has a strict duty to assent if he wants to keep the faith.
But the magisterium is not always infallible. However, the faithful have a duty to submit to the teaching Church who speaks in the name of Christ, but since infallibility is not engaged, he cannot give an assent of faith: he must give an internal and religious assent
. This is what theologians commonly assert (for example, Salaverri 2, Franzelin 3, Billot 4).
A disputed issue
On December 25, 2017, Father Angelo Citati (FSSPX) published on the website of the Fraternity of Saint Pius X in Italy, an article entitled "Punti fermi sul Magistero
" which was immediately translated into French and relayed by the website of the Society of Saint Pius X in Belgium (fsspx.be
) and by the website of Father Paul Aulagnier (revue-item.com
). This article defends the idea that certain texts of the Magisterium would enjoy the authority of the authentic magisterium of the Church 5.
On the contrary, the January 2018 Courrier de Rome
published an article of Father Jean-Michel Gleize entitled "Are the conciliar teachings properly magisterial? ", relayed by the site La Porte latine
, on January 31. After recalling that in June 2017 the Vatican Secretariat of State had claimed the status of "authentic magisterium" for Francis' letter to the Argentine bishops, Father Gleize stated that "the position of the Society of St. Pius X holds that at Vatican II and since then, there has been and is still raging in the Holy Church "a new type of magisterium, imbued with modernist principles, vitiating the nature, content, role and exercise of the ecclesiastical magisterium.""
What then to think of this question of the authority of the conciliar magisterium, "a crucial question" because it is a "question of principle" such as Father Gleize recalls?
We would like to recall here some conclusions of studies already published, which have not been reported by the two articles mentioned above, and then respond to some arguments given by Abbé Citati in in favor of his thesis.
An article by Bishop Tissier de Mallerais
In Le Sel de la terre
#80 (spring 2012), Bishop Tissier de Mallerais published an article entitled: "What is a pastoral council?” (p. 42-99). In this article, Bishop Tissier showed that the Council was deprived of magisterial authority. We quote here some excerpts (underlining some expressions), referring our readers to the article itself for further information and more detailed explanations.
A counter-intention that deprives the Council of magisterial authority29.
It is therefore established that the Second Vatican Council declared the intention to want "above all" to assimilate liberal "values", an intention predicted twelve years earlier in 1950, outlined by John XXIII in his opening speech at the Council in 1962, confirmed by Paul VI in his closing address on December 7, 1965, confirmed by the future Benoît XVI seventeen years after the Council in 1982.
It is also established by several documents of the ordinary magisterium of the popes or the solemn magisterium of the Church that such an intention is contrary to the nature of the Church's magisterium, and that it constitutes resistance to the Holy Spirit.
Therefore, and this is the conclusion to be drawn, this declared intention of the Council's desire above all to adopt the "liberal values", condemned by the previous magisterium with remarkable continuity, constituted a counter-intention that diverted the assembly from its…
[Here the excerpt stops]
1 - See in particular: "The authority of the Council" by Brother PIERRE-MARIE in Le Sel de la Terre
#35, p. 32. The review of the Proceedings of the 2005 Paris Symposium in Le Sel de la terre
#60, p. 165. “Does the conciliar magisterium have any degree of authority?" by Father CALDERÓN in Le Sel de la Terre
#60, p. 45, "Infallibility of canonizations and universal laws" by the Fr. CALDERÓN in Le Sel de la Terre
#72, p. 36.
2 - In the ordinary sense, the word "authentic" means, according to Larousse: "Of which accuracy, truth cannot be contested [authentic history]; whose origin is unquestionable [an authentic Rubens]; of a total sincerity [an authentic passion]. "It comes from the Latin "authenticus
" which itself comes from the ancient Greek "authentikós
" which corresponds to: is determined by its own authority.
1 - Vatican Council I teaches: "All that must be believed of divine and Catholic faith which is contained in the Word of God, written or transmitted by Tradition, and that the Church proposes to believe as divinely revealed, either by a solemn judgment or by its ordinary and universal magisterium" (DS 3011).
2 - SALAVERRI, Sacræ Theologiæ Summa, volume I: Theologia Fundamentalis, 5th ed., Madrid, B.A.C., 1962, p. 705.
3 - Jean-Baptiste FRANZELIN S.J., De Divina Traditione, Rome, Polyglot, 1896 (4th ed.), th. 12, schol. 1, principium 7, p. 118-141.
4 - Louis BILLOT S.J., De Ecclesia Christi, Rome, Polyglot, 1927 (5th ed.; 1st ed. 1897), th. 19, pp. 443-449.
5 - In the same vein, Fideliter magazine of January-February 2018 reported the following note: "The exhortation Amoris Lætitia and Francis' letter to the Argentine bishops, confirming its lax interpretation (5 September 2016), are part of the Magisterium simply authentic (La Croix, December 4, 2017).”