Not wanting to be disrespectful towards my Roman Catholic readers, I couldn’t resist this title, especially after the news of the “other Pope”. This time it is an article from Perceptio, The end of infallibility?
Fr Hans Küng has apparently received a letter from Pope Francis with a request for free discussion of the dogma of papal infallibility as Pius IX got defined at Vatican I in 1870. Indeed, now that the Papal office seems more or less demythologised, it would be good to see infallibility ditched once and for all. The only source of such a claim seems to be Küng himself. Pinch of salt?
Would Pope Francis entrust something to someone who was deprived of his teaching functions by John Paul II? If Francis “infallibly” abrogates infallibility, then a future Pope could bring it back. If this never happens, at least frank discussion would become mainstream. On the other hand, could Francis the Jesuit one day take credit for ending the schism between Rome and the Orthodox?
On a flippant note, I wonder how a Pope can define that he is not infallible.
Everything I say is a lie. Illogical! Illogical! It’s good to have this famous extract from Star Trek available on Youtube:
It seems uncertain who in the Vatican is currently interpreting infallible doctrine’. Often Pope Francis makes statements with which many Catholics and others agree. His views influence my own thinking. Then up pops little Lombardi within the next 24 hours to say that nothing has changed and that his boss didn’t mean what everyone else thought he had clearly stated.
I know his everyday statements are not infallible but they do represent a desire to change certain official teachings which many including myself honestly believe to be wrong.
A further comment if I may Fr Anthony. I would offer the opinion that the Doctrine of Infallibilty should be considered alongside the ancient catholic Doctrine of Reception. The latter states that when a Teaching is rejected by the body of the faithful then it is inauthentic. A contemporary example would be regarding artificial birth control within the sacrament of marriage. Over 90% of the laity have rejected it. Of course the rejection of this teaching is by no means confined only to the laity.
Truth runs unassisted. Only lies require so much maintenance.
I combined your two comments into a single one, since the second is not really germane to the independent Palmar church.
There was so much conflict at Vatican I and bullying of the “minority” bishops by Pius IX that what came out was an attempt at damage control. An attempt was made to distinguish between ex cathedra (which would be unlikely to be wrong, because carefully researched by theologians and planned), “ordinary” papal teaching as a bishop and what His Holiness says off the cuff to the TV reporter on the plane on the way back to Rome from wherever he had been for a pastoral visit. Not being in a position of having to defend this ideology, I am free to see how absurd it all is.
The point behind infallibility is the same as for all secular rulers who used the principle right the way up to Saddam Hussein and most of our mothers-in-law (!). It is about control, power and strength over weakness. If a church is built on that basis, it can and will fail, and the Christian ideal at its origin will be discredited. The ex cathedra is a cop-out attempting to cover the extreme corruption of the Papacy at various times in history, notably during the 14th to 16th centuries.
When the Papacy is, like the bishops and priests, a ministry of service to the Church(‘s communion, then we will be on the right track.
“When the Papacy is, like the bishops and priests, a ministry of service to the Church(‘s communion, then we will be on the right track.”
True…but I’m not holding out much hope of seeing that in my lifetime. I know, sour grapes.
I agree with you. The Papacy still has a chip in the Big Game and does dance the Potomac Two-Step (I’m thinking of one of those old Harrison Ford films).
Neil Hailstone, above, commented about the so-called “theology of reception,” and that since a teaching has been rejected by a majority, it cannot thereby be accepted as authentic. This is ridiculous. The Church’s doctrine is determined by democratic vote. Such a view sees Christian Tradition as only synchronic. The Church of the Ecumenical Councils, the one, holy, catholic, and apostolick Church, views her teaching both synchronically and diachronically. Even though a teaching may be rejected in 1968 or 2016, it was not rejected in the previous twenty centuries.
Correction: “The Church’s doctrine is NOT determined by democratic vote.”
… nor is it determined by one infallible person or even by one specific council, or by any one denomination’s interpretation of what Scripture says. The Holy Spirit is not bound by bureaucracies nor by democracies nor by anything else but the will of God. He speaks to the totality of the Body of Christ, and leaves it to a church that has never got it entirely right, and will not so long as fallible human beings are its members – to strive constantly to understand what it is to be a Christian. Christian Tradition is a witness to what those strivings have been, a fallible, though generally reliable witness to what indeed is true. I’m convinced that any attempts to render all of this in a systematic and understandable fashion (of they be taken as more than tentative) are vain and pretty much guarantee a falling into error.
alienus dilectus, are you still with us? Sometimes I feared lest you had perhaps died!
Thank you that was helpful. I would ask for Fr Anthony’s patience and indulgence as I write further on this subject. People like myself find this whole question of Supremacy and Infallibility a major stumbling block to seeking admission to the RCC. There are other reasons, things like compulsory celibacy,contraception in marriage for example.
Honestly what do ordinary lay people like myself do?
I am profoundly grateful to + Roald Nikolai Flemestad of the NCC for accepting me under his personal authority and jurisdiction. It has been a joy to be welcomed to Holy Mass and communion by the RCC in Iceland and the Orkney Islands with permission of Bishops and clergy.But now what do I do?
I would love to join my friends in the RCC but cannot as a full member. I will not act against my conscience.
Those who associate themselves with the Nordic Catholic Church here in the UK are it would seem 1662 Prayer Book Catholics. I am not .I am mainstream catholic . I do not understand 1662 catholicism. It seems to me contradictory to the faith of the undivided church. I have no problem whatsoever with anyone who reads or comments here who prefers archaic language liturgy.I seriously applied to the ACC some 5 years ago. I am not a critic of that jurisdiction.
In fact I received much appreciated help from +Mead at the time both with my application and problems arising from the death of my young son The nearest priest to me I could not relate to and he has subsequently left for a catholic jurisdiction under the somewhat dubious governance of the Lord Archbishop Bell of London.
I would suppose that I would not be the type of catholic which the ACC would wish to recruit. Novus Ordo and all the rest of it.So that would not appear the way forward..I am advised that I may be acceptable to the Ordinariate with as the present word much in use has it ‘nuance’ So my heartfelt plea here is for advice. I have no hesitation in publishing my E Mail address. firstname.lastname@example.org.
I would much welcome any advice from regular commentators and readers and from Fr Anthony.
Any thoughts which could be offered to me privately would be greatly appreciated.
Fr Anthony,if my post and plea for help and advice is not published I would fully understand your editorial decision.I will carefully consider well meant advice. Trolls will be quickly booted into touch.
A little more. In anticipation that my request for advice will receive replies on my private E Mail. Would any Troll considering replying to my personal E Mail understand that anything written which is contrary to United Kingdom Law will be referred to the Police Service her in the Duchy of Cornwall.
Indeed, Patrick, I am still alive. I’ve been quiet for many months. I am still, like you, Orthodox “albeit yet to be received.” Like Fr Chadwick, I once called Gricigliano my home. Above all, I am a sinner.
You must have been at Gricigliano later than I, since I don’t recognise the name in your e-mail address (which I am not at liberty to reveal here). I think it is helpful on a blog to be frank with your identity and not convey the idea of being hidden, secretive and afraid. One thing I have discovered about blogging is that we spend our time being afraid of people who just don’t care. Most of us use real names and have links to a website or a blog, or something that shows identity. Without that, we are just speaking into the cold dark vacuum of anonymous ideas – and sometimes ideologies.
I suggest coming out of the shell and joining in the conversation.
Yes, I was in Bayerisch Gmain (where I first saw the photo from after your subdiaconate ordination, Father) and Gricigliano several years after your time. I would love to be less anonymous; however, I am a married man, a father of five, a professor at an RC university, and an employee of an RC parish. Literally, I cannot afford at this time to reveal myself. Though I doubt anyone whom I know — who only think of me as a traditionalist Catholic — would ever see these comments, I prefer the cover.
Thank you for your kind and frank introduction. One couldn’t ask for more considering your circumstances. What you have written situates you as someone with a life, a history and a perspective of opinion and conviction. I understand your discretion! 🙂
Is an infallible statement by the pope anything more than a theoretical possibility?
I think the ‘definition’ serves to highlight the uselessness and negative effect of the very concept of infallibility. The Church is made up of human beings. Human beings are very fallible, and do fail – often. If there is one thing that history shows it is the that the Church can and does fail – often. The remarkable thing is that she survives, accepts correction, and goes on. Infallible, hardly – but indefectible? Yes, praise God, yes! He does not suffer the gates of hell to prevail, and does not ever forsake her, nor allow her to leave Him utterly. She errs, and often, but she shall be a holy bride without spot, wrinkle, or blemish – when the work is done.
The whole thing really boils down to that fable from Aesop “The fox and the grapes.” Pius IX, who was quite clearly a demented megalomaniac, could see his political influence slipping away. What does he do? To impress the Italians with just how important he really was (or thought himself to be), he summons an “ecumenical” council to Rome at which those who dissented from his lofty view of himself and his job are bullied, intimidated, and accused of heresy. Most pack up and leave before the end, with the view that shepherding their own flocks rather than involving themselves in the pope’s feud with the Italians is more worth their while. God only knows what the result would have been had there been no opposition to the pope’s vanity. Probably the “temporal power” would have been dogmatized, as well as the pope’s “personal infallibility,” and who knows? Maybe the pope might have been exiled, to Germany, or Britain with charges of sedition hanging over his head? The internal schism would certainly have been much wider.
But to come back to the issue of “infallibility,” what possible use has the definition been? It’s been used once since 1870, and served to cast doubt on a venerable doctrine by obscuring the tradition, and opprobrium on its liturgy by inventing a new proper and office. Moreover its use, in the liturgical sense, has been certainly pernicious. A friend of mine told me once of a Greek or Russian bishop who, in 1950, was asked what he thought about the Assumption/Dormition of the Mother of God, and his reply was something like “well, I look no further than the liturgical books.” If you ask me, erroneous personal beliefs are of less importance than false worship, which the new texts of the Assumption, brought about by the use of “papal infallibility,” really are.
Papal Infallibility is also a useful tool for constant denial, revision, and explaining away errors, issues of continuity. Hence Lombardi’s job: “oh, what the pope really meant was…” If the pope hasn’t met the silly criteria for an infallible pronouncement, then he can declare the grass to be blue, the sky to be green, and the moon to be made of cheese. “Oh, but you see, he didn’t stand facing eastward, and wearing a morino cassock, so it can’t be an infallible pronouncement.” It really is just bollocks!
It is very difficult to analyse Pius IX from our own perspective. Hans Bernard Hasler attributes various mental disorders like megalomania or epilepsy. Psychoanalysing someone who has been dead for 138 years lacks credibility. He might have been a malignant narcissist, or simply someone with an unhealthy spiritual life. He started his papacy as a “liberal” (Romantic reaction from the French Revolution) and swung to the intransigent position when everyone else did. They thought they could bolster up the Church’s credibility against mounting rationalism and atheism by underlining temporal power and infallibility.
Now, the idea is a joke except to traditionalists. Most religious people don’t care and have the level of reflection of most people in Church of England parishes who would continue to go to the same church even if it became a mosque!
I go further than you. Pius IX’s way was certainly the inspiration for Spanish-speaking dictators in Spain and Latin America, and people like Franco, Pinochet and Mussolini. Classical fascism is the State (Church) over the individual person. It is the deification of authority even over truth and right. It is the Führerprinzip of absolute obedience and the primacy of will and strength over anything else.
Indeed, it has made Catholicism a “load of bollocks” for most people.
Fr Anthony, who cares what was wrong with him? The real issue is power. I see this on a much smaller scale at work, and I’ve seen it for years. When people are promoted the job tends to go to their head and they start becoming pedants, micro-managing, bullying people, &c. In Pius IX’s case, it was just on a much bigger, international scale. But is this the legacy of the holy Apostle Peter? A short, fat Italian in a white cassock pompously declaring himself to be the embodiment of the Church? Before Roman Catholics who actually believe the doctrine pounce I’ll say that this may not be “official” RC doctrine, but the man certainly thought it! As I’m sure many churchmen like Wiseman and Manning thought likewise, even if troubled Newman did not.
“…declaring himself to be the embodiment of the Church?”
Patrick, I think you’ve hit the nail on the head. While official ‘definitions’ do not put it precisely in this way, practice certainly does. One constantly hears that ‘The Catholic Church’ consists of those who are in communion with the Pope of Rome, although other Christians are willy-nilly somehow connected with that Church. And the Pope’s decision, formally infallible or not, is final and without appeal. Really, it is not infallibility as such that is the problem, but the rather arrogant centralizing culture that makes such a notion even desirable. You know, even if the Pope should declare himself fallible after all, the papal structure would still be the main thing keeping me from submitting to Rome.
Catholic apologists for at least the past 50 years have twisted themselves into so many pretzels defending the Vatican I dogmas. When traditional Catholics who despise everything about Francis, but yet remain the strongest defenders of papal infallibility start telling me a pope can be a heretic but God will strike that pope dead if he tries to bind the Church to a heresy, they have utterly lost their argument and have no credibility in my eyes
That seems to be about the general consensus: adopt sedevacantism or the Old Catholic / Eastern Orthodox / Anglican position.
What if the most recent several councils, including Vatican I, were not councils at all, but western synods? Would that not take care of the issue?
Might I be a provocative papist… might there be some kind of vague sense in which Peter (speaking as the head of a college of which he is a member, rather than as the Head above and over the college) has been given the Holy Spirit to speak decisively for the truth? Rather like the notion of biblical inerrancy, the idea dissolves when the attempt is made to pin it down, but something like it is needed for Christian faith and the church. The rather nice word prolepsis is one I hold onto – all of these absurd dogmas are also figurative, pointing to a completeness of the church in Christ that already exists in some hidden way but that is being perfected in the here and now. I wonder if one can make a healthy use of the dogma if one remembers that one is still living in the midst of signs… but also take hope from the idea that living by such signs is a real participation in a truth that will eventually be revealed. The problems come when one confuses symbols with full waking vision, a confusion that I associate with the attempts to visit strict definitions and conditions on infallibility. Perhaps this will sound overly Platonic to some. But if one over reacts against the notions of the Petrine office because of the current silly ultramontanism, one could find oneself reading the early church fathers of East & West on the subject as an outsider… of course one could go the whole hog with Patricius and say that Rome has now become utterly apostate, that is consistent. I incline to believe, though, that there are a fair few unsophisticated RCs around whose faith is still nourished by a mild and fairly traditional form of the dogma of papal infallibility.
Timothy Graham, indeed, those “unsophisticated” Roman Catholics are the salt of the earth and I would not be without them. But you have to ask yourself whether these people actually believe most of it. I don’t believe that they do. Moreover, in my experience, the people who DO actually believe the totality of RC doctrine have almost without exception been unpleasant people; Jacobites, republicans, anyone with an axe to grind about something. As opposed to people who have frankly admitted to me their misgivings about certain points of doctrine, one even told me he was a Monophysite and rejected the Chalcedonian Definition as the root cause of most subsequent schisms (a reasonable position from my perspective). The ones who, like good little Nazis, raise their hands in salutation to such things as papal infallibility have, when confronted with an independent mind, become nasty. I told a priest (of this sort) once that I rejected Munificentissimus Deus, but believed the doctrine of the Assumption. His unthinking, immediate response was: “well then, you’re in a state of schism with the Church.” A state of schism brought about by rejection of one document, issued by one pope, who died 30 years before I was born. That I might have accepted without question the teaching of every other pope in history (even the stuff that contradicts the other stuff!) was irrelevant in his mind. It seemed to me then, as it does now years later, that I was on the side of Tradition, and he was on the side of modernism. His acceptance of a new teaching, my acceptance of the older, immortalised in the liturgical texts that preceded the new and were used by Catholics from many generations past. C.f what has been said already about the balance between holding erroneous personal beliefs and participation in false worship. That seems to be the distinction one could make between a pietist Protestant and an Orthodox Christian, than between a traditionalist Roman Catholic of one kind, and a traditionalist Roman Catholic of another!
The issue of Papal Infallibility is a schismatic one. Had there never been any schism in the history of the Church such a definition would never have taken place. And being defined, is it not a stumbling block to the reunion of the churches? For a bishop who claims to be the “supreme pontiff,” or “bridge-builder,” this seems a contradiction in terms, that he should hold sincerely to a doctrine rejected by the vast majority of Christians worldwide. These days I do not even admit the possibility of papal infallibility, or supremacy of any kind whatever, even exercised with the consent of all the bishops. It is so defiled a concept that one condition I would make, in the unlikely event that I had a voice at the negotiating table, for the reunion of the churches would be that the office of pope would be abolished completely and for ever.
From what I have been able to see, there have been two definitions of papal infallibility: the first at and after the first Vatican Council, and the second with Vatican II. The first of those definitions, to the best of my knowledge, is that when a Roman Pontiff defines a point of doctrine of faith or morals, and states that it is so from the Chair of St. Peter, it is protected by the Holy Spirit from error. The second is that when a Roman Pontiff states authoritatively a doctrine of faith or morals, it is protected by the Holy Spirit from error.
Now, I can buy the first definition. It is simple, and the number of times that it has been invoked is, fortunately, very few. I can not buy the second. For it flies in the face of history, as exampled by the condemnation of Pope Honorius for his Monotheletism. or the bone-headed liturgical reforms of Popes for the last century and a half or so.
Of course, there’s also the fact that decisions of an ecumenical council are supposed to be infallible as well. It is a source of no little cognitive dissonance for me that the one dogmatic utterance of Vatican II that I have been able to find, on papal infallibility, appears to be in blatant error.
But, unlike the androids depicted in that delicious clip from Star Trek, my brains to date have not exploded. But that is because, as I have said in the brief autobiographical note of my weblog, all of my lies are true. Cheers!
I suspect Fr. Anthony is correct and it is only the ‘Traddies’ who today still really believe in the Pio Nono style of infallibility. Indeed at the right of the Traddieland spectrum sedevacantism has taken the concept of infallibility so seriously that the modern popes fail to even be popes as a consequence of their apparent heresies etc. However, I have never understood why the exacting criteria applied to modern popes has not been applied in the same way men like Dr. Littledale applied it to first millennium bishops of Rome.
The Council of Constance has really vexed me for some time now. So correct me if I’m wrong but, Rome considers everything about it an Ecumenical Council except for the inconvienent part of it that puts a Council above the Pope? That just seems crazy to me, like the ancient version of a bloated government or corporation that gets to cherry pick which laws and rules and things apply to it just because it has the power to do whatever it wants.
I confess I’ve always struggled with remaining Roman Catholic, I mean I have ALWAYS struggled with it. I have never, ever seen the logic of the papacy or just why it’s ever been necessary. These days I’m drifting back towards Orthodoxy. Heck I pretty much pray entirely in an Orthodox manner, using the Julian calendar anyway, and my heart has always been Eastern.
Like others here, I am basically Orthodox but still havent made it formal. For the record I’ve got no danger of turning into one of those hyperdox Konvertsi types, as this has been a slow, agonizing journey that’s taken years. I’m more a Prayerbook/ Horologion quiet type of guy anyway. I just have come to realize over these long years that I really do not belong as a Roman Catholic. I just cannot really in good conscience buy into some of it, especially the papal claims. I haven’t made it formal yet but it’s very tempting.
I’m ill at ease in Rome, be it in a leave it to beaver era trad chapel or the modern Novus Ordo. The only thing I really love is the Benedictine Office, the early Cistercians and some of the other pre 13th century stuff.
The Council of Constance is considered as a false council because it was called by an Emperor, Sigismund as I remember, but it also disposed a siting Pope and replaced him with a new one. And, you are correct, it also stated emphatically that a council is the final arbitrator in the Church and not the person of the Pope. All position now emphatically rejected by modernist Roman Catholicism.
Personally, I have found it virtually a waste of time debating Papal infallibility. One of the issues is that Roman Catholics are not honest about this issue at all. They lie. Nowadays they mention some strange invention called the Magisterium in a bid to make the whole mess sound councilar, but where is this defined in any document or council? It is bogus, and once again it appears that the Magisterium is only composed of the clergy, not the whole Church.
Another song-and-dance is to pay lip service that is almost identical to a more traditional Orthodox ecclesiology, that infallibility of the Church is found within the complete Body of Christ, both clergy and lay, and expressed through the Tradition, but this is NOT what modern Papal infallibility entails.
The actual documents of Vatican I, which should be an embarrassment to any true Catholic, are very direct in defining this new dogma as a personal charisma of the Pope himself, not shared with the Church and that his definitions do not depend upon the “consent of the Church” in any way.
I especially like those who then play the ex cathedra game, we have all heard it before, “Well the Pope is only infallible when he speaks ex cathedra,” (which one supposes makes it all all right); yet this has never been defined, when does he speak ex cathedra? When one agrees with him? And it is not ex cathedra, when one disagrees? And when this one does not work, the response is that the Pope has almost never used his infallibility, so it does not matter. It is all too strange for words.
The truly viable position is that found in traditional Old Catholics, Anglo-Catholic continuing churches or either amongst the Byzantine and Oriental Orthodox, but whose problems tend to be ethnic and theologically. And with the Byzantines, they have attempted to limit salvation to a single cultural expression, which is problematic in and of itself.
It is, of course, nice to know that the president of the Mormons is also considered infallible.
A couple of days ago I started to prepare a comment about the contradictions and absurdities involved with doctrines of infallibility but gave up because it’s like a bowl of jelly – hard to pin down! However, you have expressed everything I could have intended to say, Dale, and quite simply nailed it. Bravo.
Both of you have expressed it all very well. Mysteries may be above reason, but are never absurd or treat us like idiots. Some parents tell their children absurd things to keep them under control. When they find out the stories are not true, they don’t believe them any more – nor do they trust their parents anymore. See cognitive dissonance
When I read the exchanges above I thank God I never went to “uni”. And at least one of the commenters above has effectively discontinued the practice of his religion. If he is going to post polemical anti-Catholic comments I think he should state this as a disclaimer before he opens up his laptop. As for Timothy, your comments about papal authority are absolutely exquisite but over-thought. You propose some kind of synthetic papal authority that somehow is there to hold everything together. No. It’s not that complicated and faith isn’t an equilateral equation to be solved by clever people. I met you once – you’re a really nice guy, softly-spoken and gentlemanly – I think you’re ex-Presbyterian and ex-Anglican? There’s a lot of people here with shifting allegiances. But being faithful to the Barque of Peter isn’t rocket science. The Church is always wise, logical and common-sensical, and speaks to our human condition and that’s what happened at Vatican I. And II. Look at what has ultimately transpired in Amoris Laetitia about divorce, a subject the Orthodox Church long ago gave up on.
Wow! Mr. Munday, I wish you well, but you leave no room whatever for discussion or even thinking. I’m astounded by the utter blindness of the faith you display. “The Church is always wise, logical, and common-sensical.” Indeed? If it be the Roman Church of which you speak, well, I’ve read history and can only laugh at such a sentence. Such an unquestioning attitude is highly dangerous: I see it manifest in cults like the Jehovah’s witnesses. Jim Jones’ disastrous enterprise, and very many others, yes, even including ISIS. It’s not rocket science to recognize what this kind of thinking has done. Unthinking “followism” is never a healthy approach to anything, nor does the Roman Catholic Church demand it. Your Church is and always has been full of thinkers, of highly questioning minds and deserves enormous respect for that reason, and, more importantly for its unswerving devotion to our blessed Saviour. However, when it claims, against all evidence, to be the One True church, many of us, though reluctantly, find ourselves unable to embark upon the barque of those who claim what we cannot see Peter claiming for himself, let alone for his successors.
ed pacht, such “faith” in a worldly institution is not faith at all, it’s superstition.
Ed, this last summer I had the very unfortunately experience of having to spend much of it with novus ordo papolatrists, no culture, no tradition, only the pope and his infallibility. Mr Munday is unfortunately, quite normal.
Thank you Ed, Patrick and Dale, for your comments.
As Christians, we must put our faith in something. It might be the Magisterium of the Catholic Church. It might be the Bible. It might be the Pillars of Orthodoxy. It might be the back catalogue of The Artist Formerly Known As Prince.
I took a decision, years ago, an intellectual decision, after careful consideration, that the authority to proclaim the gospel of Christ lies with the successors of the Apostles, and resides in the Catholic Church. You have decided otherwise. Good for you. But please don’t call my faith a cult.
Read me carefully. I didn’t. I have very high respect for the RCC, but I am pointing out that there is one area of teaching that I would find to be very dangerous, as manifest in groups like those I mentioned (and also in a less cultish group to which I once belonged, which has since abandoned such notions), the centralizing of everything around a single leader. Your reference to Prince could easily be taken as the kind of slight you seem to have taken from me. We are far more similar than different, but this matter of authority is a major cause of separation between us. Here’s where it stands: each of us believes the other to be sadly mistaken in this area, but each of us believes firmly in Jesus Christ and Him crucified.
This is a fair rebuff, sir.
To be a bit more blunt, I am all with Newman (another ex-Anglican!) on the most caveat-strewn interpretation of the Vatican I declaration, & this seems to me to be the most Catholic reception of the doctrine. Before I was received, I raised my objections fairly and squarely & was given Cardinal Avery Dulles’ book to read on the papacy, which wasn’t exactly a ringing endorsement of infallibility (and very down on Vatican II’s contribution, cf. Bernard Brandt above). More theological work to be done, was the verdict, particularly on how the dogma of papal infallibility fits in with the important idea of reception of doctrine by the whole Church. What bothers me so much isn’t the doctrine itself, but the feeling that it is left standing all on its own-ee-oh at the top of the hill, when it should really be hedged in by a lot of other ancient principles about the Church as pillar and ground of the truth – like the Vincentian Canon. These are all difficult to define though, and are circular as arguments, but engines of the life of faith (infallibility included).
Trying to recall where and how we met…
If I’m who you mean. I live in New Hampshire, USA. Decades ago I was Episcopalian, then a Pentecostal pastor for a quarter-century, and now a Continuing Anglican layman.
I rather doubt that we have crossed paths, but I have had something of an internet presence — perhaps you’ve seen me in some of the group emails with which Dr. Bill Tighe is involved. At any rate, I was once very active in a much smaller “one-true-church” with a single might-as-well-be-infallible leader, the Church of God of Prophecy, which, since my leaving, has abandoned its strange distinctives. The RCC looks too much like a larger version of what I left for me to be anything but leery.
I should hope that we place our hope in Our Lord and Saviour, and not in men.
Amen! I do not place my faith in “something”, but in Someone. All the rest, important though it may be, is secondary to that.
Apologies to Ed Pacht, my original reply was meant for Anthony Munday whom I have met sometime, but it popped up out of sequence. In reply to your point, the RC church can look like that from the outside because the papacy is one of the things that sets it apart, but from what I have seen it isn’t so much the papal dogmas that are the problem as the sense that it is a bureaucracy. Interesting pedigree, by the way. I have been in and around the same ecclesiastical circles as you, but in a different order, in Ireland & England. I still enjoy revivalist hymns & like to imagine To God be the Glory sung in procession with copes & billowing incense..
“[I]t isn’t so much the papal dogmas that are the problem”; but, as hard as this may be to understand, for many of us, the papal dogmas are indeed the problem. Modern Rome has indeed become not too much more than a personality cult; simply watching the papolatry now evident is almost sickening.
Profound, intelligent, and fair comments. Thanks for letting me have my little dig without taking it too much to heart. The anti-intellectual in me will leave there, for now.
Where did we meet, Timothy? Ah, that would be telling! Anthony M is a blogname. But I do like your sports jacket and beard – it’s a really cool look and one I’m modelling myself (sans beard). Best wishes to all.
If one wishes to comment anonymously in this kind of forum, a direct personal comment to or about open contributors isn’t quite on a level playing field. I think this is a fair general comment.
Apologies, Timothy, just ignore me, I was just having a bit of fun. I had no wish to cause any unpleasantness. I’m on your Ordinariate mailing-list and you’ll probably see me next time Fr Maunder’s in town. Though I’m firmly committed to the Pauline Mass these days. Best wishes, David.
David, in reply to the message below, pax. The teacup got stormy for a few minutes, that’s all. I’ll be in touch as and when there’s news! Timothy.
I have been away for a few days. I’m glad that things seem to have settled down. Otherwise I might have needed to reef my sail to navigate from one side of the teacup to the other! 🙂
Indeed I have spent a few days with priests in France who still think in the same way as in the late 19th century (protecting the pure Church from all the sinister Judeo-Masonic ogres to caricature the position). I was with them to do an organ moving job for them. It is quite surreal. That kind of thought went well when there was Pius IX, Leo XIII, Pius X, etc. – but now they have Francis. I am happy to be Anglican again, but sad to see the rotting away of so many parishes and lovely country churches.
We live in interesting times…
Timothy, here are the two extra verses that turned “To God be the glory” into just such a processional hymn at a June 1992 Festival of Faith in the Wembly Arena with around 50 (Anglican) bishops from around the world, and 600 priests concelebrating. It was a preparation of the faithful in the lead-up to the November vote on women priests – a fore-runner of “Forward in Faith” which grew out of the network that organised it. (I guess the following is not great poetry, but it works with the music!)
The Church is surrounded by storm-clouds today,
And many have wandered down heresy’s way;
But firmly we hold to the Faith we received
And know it’s in Jesus that we have believed.
Praise the Lord, praise the Lord etc
And so we acclaim him our King and our Lord
Who here, on the throne of his altar adored,
Has shared his new life so that we all might live
And go out to others his love now to give.
Praise the Lord, praise the Lord etc
Fr Chislett: I wasn’t aware of the history of the use of this hymn. I prefer the first extra verse which is very much in that tradition: cheerful, direct & unpretentious. Maybe too much good taste shrivels the soul.
You know, there’s nothing that sounds more like a revivalist Gospel song than “Ye Who Own the Faith of Jesus” to the tune of “Daily, Daily”. I loved the song well before I was open to any sort of Marian devotion. It seems to want handclapping in time with the clanking of the thurible.