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Tuesday, November 13, 2007


Nick Milne

How torturous and apt it is that the Church's candid refusal to do something that she does not have the authority to do is constantly condemned as evidence of her authoritarianism.

Carl Olson

Nicely put, Nick. Exactly.


Has there ever been a resolution to the question of whether the statement in Ordinatio Sacerdotalis fulfills the requirements of an infallible statement? The language used in that exact quote is probably the strongest I've seen and seems to imply an intent far greater than merely "Roma locuta est, causa finita est". While I doubt that would deter those intent to ignore Church law, it certainly would cast a slightly different light on what they are doing - Canon law can change, infallible statements (obviously) cannot.

Ed Peters

Peter, there is considerable discussion of that. The majority of people (whose opinions on this are worth something) say that the OS document did not meet the requirements of infallibility itself.

I think they are mistaken.

Mark Brumley

For those not up on the fine points of this discussion as EP is, then Cardinal Ratzinger issued a CDF document--a responsum ad dubium ( the effect that the pertinent content of OS has been infallibly taught from the ordinary magisterium. CDF did not endorse the view that OS presented the teaching in a form that itself was an exercise of infallibility by the papal magisterium, which it certainly would have endorsed if CDF thought such an exercise was present in OS.

(N.B.: The translation of the dubium cited above, which is the widely circulated translation, is flawed. The dubium asks whether the pertinent teaching of OS is to be understood as "belonging to the deposit of the faith". The term translated "belonging", in the dubium and in the response to it, should be rendered "pertaining". The Church can propose infallibly things that are not themselves divinely revealed ["belonging" to the deposit of faith] but which pertain to what is divinely revealed. The dubium and the response to it affirm that the pertinent teaching of OS pertains to divine revelation.)

Cardinal Ratzinger in commentary on the CDF reponse and OS stated that OS represents a papal confirmation that the teaching on the male-only priesthood is infallibly taught by the ordinary magisterium and therefore not susceptible to reversal.


Ed and Mark:

Thanks for the clarification - it is as I had expected.

Further, Mark's note brings to particular clarity what I think may be near the crux of much of the continued existence of this question in the minds of many of the faithful, however many that may be. If you read that note with the eyes of a layperson who has not taken the time to learn how to parse carefully worded theological and ecclesiological statements it fundamentally doesn't make any sense. We need to come up with a way of saying exactly what Mark said using terminology that the average layperson will understand and not have them go glassy-eyed by the fourth polysyllabic word.

To restate in slightly clearer terms - I understood Mark's note just fine. Translating that into something I can take to my RCIA candidates/catechumen when we touch on this subject that will both retain the full force of the words and be understandable by them is a wholly different issue. I'm all ears (eyes?) if someone has a great way of translating such precise terminology to people who are still working their way through exactly what "transubstantiation" is.


How 'bout "No."? With a ready response for ensuing arguments to the tune of
"When you're old enough to understand, I'll explain why not."
It works or it doesn't, but it saves teachers and parents from slipping into circular discussions with young people.

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