In my opinion, this is serious error. All infallible objects of faith have God as their source of revelation without exception. If not, it would be impossible to claim infallibility. ... Fr. Fenton published an excellent article, The Question of Ecclesiastical Faith, AER, April 1953 ...
I am very familiar with Fenton’s opinion on this matter. The opinion Fenton adheres to is the minority opinion.
"Minority Opinion"? You mean, Ecclesiastical Faith (EF) as a Majority Opinion is very popular, in vogue, the most modern theological trend of the day. You are talking about a term and theological concept that no Church Father and very few Church Doctors ever heard.
(Ecclesiastical Faith) is manifest from even a superficial study of the history of Catholic theology that the notion of a certain and absolutely firm acceptance of Catholic teachings, motivated by the authority of the Church and not by the authority of God as the Revealer, became accepted during the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries.
The purpose of Msgr. Fenton's article is to bury the term which he clearly thinks is unsupportable. Msgr. Fenton accepting the authoritative opinion of others says that EF is "the firm and certain acceptance of a teaching on the authority of the Church which proposes that teaching and not on the authority of God Himself."
What Msgr. Fenton rejects on principle is the very idea that it is possible for human authority to declare anything "infallible." He is absolutely correct. That should be evident. Consider this, the objects of EF are supposed to be infallible truths. Only a truth of God can claim infallibility because infallibility is an attribute of God alone.
It is an attribute of the Church only because it is God’s Church which is both a divine and human institution. The human pope is only accidentally infallible when he engages the Church’s attribute of infallibility under specific conditions as stipulated in the dogma on papal infallibility from Vatican I Council.
The “Minority Opinion” defended by Fr. Fenton and referenced in my citation is the correct one. The minority opinion Fr. Fenton defends is derived from deductive reasoning from dogma, that is, the argument is deduced from the most certain knowledge that man can have - divine and Catholic faith. The “Majority Opinion” is not.
The former is a reasoned truth from infallible premises. The latter is human inductive theological speculation beginning from the particular and arguing to the general principle. Why would anyone favor a reasoned necessary conclusion from divine truths over a human theological speculation that is only a few hundred years old? What necessarily follows is that the objects of EF become contingent truths that can be done away with by the same authority that called them into being.
In fact, in the very article you cited, he himself admits that “a great number of the manuals of sacred theology currently in use” defend the notion that “the assent due to these [non formally- revealed] teachings is that of a strictly ecclesiastical faith.” The question has not been resolved, and therefore one I free to hold to either opinion. But to claim that the common opinion "is a serious error", is itself extremely rash. Have you studied this in any depth? I could cite plenty of the manuals Fr. Fenton alludes to which teach that only ecclesiastical faith is owed to non formally revealed truths, which have been definitively proposed by the Church.
Like I said, it is a very popular modern opinion. What I will explain later is why this very popular modern opinion has a great responsibility for the success of Vatican II and the conciliarist revolution.
But what is important is that object of faith in question, are not truths that has been formally contained in the revealed deposit (Scripture or Tradition), which was closed with the death of the last apostle.
You said: “All infallible objects of faith have God as their source of revelation without exception.” If that is your position, do you believe that the “final approval of a religious order” is a truth revealed by God? Is it a revealed truth that Pope Alexander VI and John XXII were true Popes? Neither of these truths are contained in scripture and Tradition. And public revelation ended with the death of the last apostle. Yet the Church’s infallibility is commonly believed to embrace these “secondary objects” of infallibility, which are not revealed in Scripture and Tradition.
It is commonly believed that the Church’s infallibility extends to these non formally revealed truths, but since they are clearly in a different category than truths contained within the revealed deposit, they are assented to with a different kind of faith. That is the common opinion. But again, the question of ecclesiastical faith has not been resolved by the Church.
Fr. Fenton and the theological experts he references deny that mere EF even exists. Bishop Fidel Martinez' article is entitled: EF - A Modern Misconception
. Be that as it may, even those who hold to the idea of mere EF do not agree on its exact meaning. The reason for this is that they do not agree on the formal objects of EF. Even such claims as human infallibility in the “final approval of a religious order” is not agreed upon.
Here is the section of the article you cited in which Fenton acknowledges that ecclesiastical faith is taught in a “great number of manuals of sacred theology” in his day.
Fenton: “Thus the supporters of the fides ecclesiastica represent it precisely as the assent which must be given to an infallible declaration or definition of the Church about one of these truths not revealed in itself but still intimately connected with the content of divine public revelation. Within this category they list theological conclusions in the strict sense of the term (truths which are only virtually revealed, as distinct from those revealed formally, even though in an implicit manner), dogmatic facts, pertinent teachings within the field of philosophy, final approval of religious orders, and the canonization of Saints. Unquestionably the magisterium of the Church can issue and does issue absolutely irrevocable and infallible declarations and decisions on these subjects. These authoritative statements unquestionably demand from the faithful completely certain and irrevocable assent. A great number of the manuals of sacred theology current in our time assert that, in such a case, the assent due to these teachings is that of a strictly ecclesiastical faith.”
Msgr. Fenton freely admits that EF is a common opinion and his article is intended to give a balanced critical analysis by examining the strength of the arguments on both sides. When he is done, it is evident that mere EF cannot stand the light of day. A bad idea always has bad consequences. So let's examine the consequences of belief in a mere EF which is a more popular belief today than it was in 1953.
The immemorial traditions of our Church have been repudiated by the conciliarist Church, our neo-Iconoclasts. How were they overthrown? They were reduced to objects of merely human EF and categorize as a matters subject to the disciplinary discretion of the Church. If objects of EF are "the firm and certain acceptance of a teaching on the authority of the Church which proposes that teaching and not on the authority of God Himself,"
then they are necessarily contingent human truths. If the Church thinks the objects of EF are historical, contingent truths which have become outdated and no longer speak to the modern mind, then she can change them into other more relevant contemporary truths. These truths then can be regulated as merely Church disciplinary matters. Of course, there will be those who reject these innovation so the conciliarist Church constructed the novel 1989 Profession of Faith with an oath of faith in the submission to the authentic (ordinary) magisterium of the pope in a Catholic Credo. It becomes the one and only unconditional non-negotiable condition for holding any authority in the conciliarist Church and the means to force compliance with the innovations. It is now the rule of faith to restore "heretics" to the conciliarist Church. It is not a dogma but in the conciliarist mind.
Msgr. Fenton presents the arguments against the very idea of EF by three (who he considers) eminent theologians: Bishop Garcia Martinez, Fr. Blaise Beraza, S.J. and Fr. Francisco Marin-Sola. The arguments are grounded in the dogmas from Vatican I On Faith
and Pope Pius IV's Tridentine Profession of Faith.
In combatting the objective validity of this notion, Fr Marin-Sola made use of some interesting arguments. He employed eleven distinct demonstrations to support his conclusion that all the truths accepted as completely certain by reason of the Church's teaching are believed with an act of genuine divine faith. Several of these demonstrations are taken from the teaching of St. Thomas Aquinas. Some of them apply directly to theological conclusions, while others have reference to all the truths classified as within the secondary object of the Church's infallible magisterium.
Outstanding among these proofs are those based upon the following contentions:
1) There is no such thing as an infallibly certain and true faith other than that which is based on the authority of God.
2) What is revealed mediately or virtually is truly something spoken by God It is an explanation of His teaching.
3) The man who denies (obstinately) a truth proposed infallibly by the Church is a heretic, and the sin of heresy necessarily involves a contradiction of the divine message itself.
4) The infallible teaching of the Church cannot propose any new doctrine, but only an explanation of the deposit of public divine revelation. [.......]
Thus, the argument of Fr . Marin-Sola is quite apposite. If he can show (as I believe that he has shown), that it is impossible to have the sin of heresy apart from an obdurate contradiction of divinely revealed truth proposed as such by the Catholic Church, he has won his point.
The argument based on the first of the four reasons I have cited as used by Fr. Marin-Sola is obviously powerful, and, it would seem, ineluctable. That based on the fourth of these reasons is likewise convincing. Actually, it is substantially the argument based on an appeal to the text of the Vatican Council and of the Profession of Faith of Pope Pius IV.
The second of these contentions, however, seems to form the basis not only for a proof, but also for a highly acceptable statement or exposition of Fr. Marin-Sola's teaching. In the last analysis, if statements set forth in an authoritative and infallible manner by the magisterium of the Catholic Church are to be accepted on divine faith, it can only be by reason of the fact that God Himself has taught these truths. And, in order to see how a teaching like a dogmatic fact can really enter and has really entered into the fabric of divine public revelation, we must carefully examine the very nature of the revealed message itself.
They did not quote St. Pius X which is most pertinent.
“They (the modernists) exercise all their ingenuity in an effort to weaken the force and falsify the character of Tradition, so as to rob it of all its weight and authority. But for Catholics nothing will remove the authority of the second Council of Nicea, where it condemns those ‘who dare, after the impious fashion of heretics, to deride the ecclesiastical traditions, to invent novelties of some kind.... or endeavor by malice or craft to overthrow any one of the legitimate traditions of the Catholic Church’; nor that of the declaration of the fourth Council of Constantinople: ‘We therefore profess to preserve and guard the rules bequeathed to the Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church, by the Holy and most illustrious Apostles, by the orthodox Councils, both general and local, and by every one of those divine interpreters, the Fathers and Doctors of the Church.’ Wherefore the Roman Pontiffs, Pius IV and Pius IX, ordered the insertion in the profession of faith of the following declaration: ‘I most firmly admit and embrace the apostolic and ecclesiastical traditions and other observances and constitutions of the Church.’” St. Pius X, Pascendi Dominid Gregis
Msgr. Fenton goes into some detail what the "ecclesiastical traditions and other observances and constitutions of the Church" refers which the EF people reduce to a mere human authority. Take, for example, the most important of the immemorial ecclesiastical traditions, the Roman rite of Mass. It is not and never has been a mere object of Church discipline but that is where the idea of EF has taken us.
“If anyone shall say that the received and approved rites of the Catholic Church accustomed to be used in the solemn administration of the sacraments may be..... changed to other new rites by any pastor of the churches whomsoever : let him be anathema” Council of Trent, Den. 856
This is a dogma. It is a formal object of divine and Catholic faith.
Fr. Waters and Ss. Peter & Paul Roman Catholic Mission have made a public profession of divine and Catholic faith
in our immemorial ecclesiastical traditions. We have refused to consider them as mere objects of human EF but hold them as necessary attributes of the faith which make it known and communicable to others. Since God commands the faithful to make public professions of faith and to worship Him in the public forum, every Catholic possesses a right to these immemorial ecclesiastical traditions that perfectly manifest the faith we hold in the internal forum.
The 1989 Profession of Faith is the means to overturn divine and Catholic Faith. It is impossible to take this Profession without offending God. Fr. Waters and the Mission have said this to the CDF. The reply, "study" the 1989 Profession of Faith.