Monday, August 11, 2008

Bending the Rules?

This is a curious article:

"Pope Benedict XVI said the church should be generous when it comes to administering the sacraments to young people, recognizing that Jesus would have done the same.

The pope made the remarks in a closed-door meeting Aug. 6 with about 400 priests and religious in the northern Italian city of Bressanone, where the 81-year-old pontiff was vacationing.

...One of six questions posed by priests touched on the pastoral care of children, Father Lombardi said. In his response, the pope spoke about the need to take a broad approach to the administration of sacraments, reflecting the merciful attitude shown by Christ.

"The pope said, 'I used to be more strict about this, but the example of Christ led me to become more welcoming in cases in which, perhaps, there is not a mature and solid faith, but there is a glimmer, a desire of communion with the church,'" the spokesman said.

...The spokesman said the pope answered questions with a combination of clarity and humility, underlining at times that what he was imparting was his own best advice, not an infallible response." Catholic News

I have to wonder what exactly could be less strict in adminstration of the sacraments? Is the Pope asking priests to overlook sinful behavior and not withhold the sacraments in such cases?

Considering how critical the sacramental system is to the Roman economy of salvation, this seems like an odd time for the Pope to be giving "his own best advice, not an infallible response". Why does someone need a Pope for simply good advice?

22 comments:

Matthew Bellisario said...

I think it is clear that the Pope here was talking about the reception of the Sacraments in regard to people's understanding. For example he talks about children specifically here. In the West an emphasis was put on the person's understanding before they received confirmation and first communion. This began in the 1200s or so when the scholastics had a great influence on the West and the sacraments of confirmation were given later rather than immediately after baptism. The West then implemented the age of reason as the time to receive the sacraments of confirmation and then the Eucharist. We can see this mentality in the thinking of the Angelic Doctor St. Thomas. This however is not a universal practice of the Church since all of the Eastern Catholic Churches administer those sacraments to infants as the early Church did. It seems that the Pope here is looking at this particularly from a western perspective in regards to the praxis of administering these sacraments. The Pope is not referring to anything new here at all. You just need some basic understanding of Church history and Catholicism to understand what he is talking about.

Dozie said...

"Why does someone need a Pope for simply good advice?"

The question you ask is your own headache alone. Here's an odd question from someone who says she does not need a pope to begin with. Perhaps, you are agitating on behalf of Catholics.

Carrie said...

The question you ask is your own headache alone. Here's an odd question from someone who says she does not need a pope to begin with.

You are missing the point.

Catholics argue that a magisterium is needed for certainty. Here is an example where no certainty is admitted, simply an opinion.

Carrie said...

I think it is clear that the Pope here was talking about the reception of the Sacraments in regard to people's understanding. For example he talks about children specifically here.

You are probably correct, the emphasis of the Pope's answer was on children. But I am still surprised that a consensus of certainty still hasn't been obtained after 2000 years. Especially, as I said, since the sacramental economy is the cornerstone of RC salvation.

Dozie said...

"Catholics argue that a magisterium is needed for certainty. Here is an example where no certainty is admitted, simply an opinion"

You should let Catholics judge for themselves the implications of whatever you are reading. You do not see Catholics jumping up and down as you do here about every thing Catholic. Hold some of your thoughts captive.

You are a hostile observer and your role as you see it is to catch the Catholic Church doing something wrong, and with your kind of imagination, I guarantee you will come up with plenty.

There is an African expression that says that a hired crier (as when a loved one dies) does not cry, "My live is finished, I am dead". No, that kind of crying belongs to family members, if ever there is a need to cry that way.

You are not Catholic, but you cry and bemoan the Catholic Church as though your life depends on her. Get a life. Say something about your Christian life if it is worth something.

GeneMBridges said...

You should let Catholics judge for themselves the implications of whatever you are reading.

In other words, use their private judgment.

You do not see Catholics jumping up and down as you do here about every thing Catholic.

So what? Mormons don't do this when we post on Mormonism. People in the thrall of false teachers often don't do this - because they don't want to do it.

Matthew Bellisario said...

Carrie said, "You are probably correct, the emphasis of the Pope's answer was on children. But I am still surprised that a consensus of certainty still hasn't been obtained after 2000 years. Especially, as I said, since the sacramental economy is the cornerstone of RC salvation."

There doesn't have to be a universal consensus in every aspect of the Church's praxis. There have been many different methods of praxis in different Rites of the Church. The liturgies although they profess the same beliefs and give us the same result of communion with Christ do not operate the same liturgical practices within the liturgies. This is the beauty of the universal church. This is why the Catholic church is not "Roman" but Catholic.

The Church allows a certain autonomy in the different cultures, yet retaining the same doctrines and beliefs. It is nice to know that this Pope is not bound to a Western mentality, and realizes the valuable perspective of the East in regards to Church praxis.

Rhology said...

Given that no one can tell us which Bible verses have been infallibly defined, nor which Roman teachings are infallible, I don't get why the Pope wastes time giving out advice like this. There's quite a lot of work to do, after all.

ree said...

And yet, when Protestants voice different beliefs on anything, including the propriety of paedocommunion, we're "hopelessely divided." I get it--heads you win, tails we lose.

Dozie said...

"I don't get why the Pope wastes time giving out advice like this."

Thank God, this pope wastes no time on Protestantism. Why a protestant should care about what the pope does with his time, is very beyond me.

"There's quite a lot of work to do, after all."

Lots of work to do, after all, such as...? Why is work important; thougth all you had to do was have faith.

Dozie said...

"In other words, use their private judgment."

It is never private judgment that escapes correction. A Catholic has to judge according to Catholic principles. I am sure you have heard of Catholics speak of a "formed conscience". A true Catholic is one whose conscience, world views,and personal opinions have been shaped by the Catholic faith. This individual therefore "thinks with the Church" (another phrase you must have heard before).

Because all true Catholics must have a "sense of the faith", we can, using Catholic standards, determine when one is speaking rubbish.

The standards are however values received and not ones created by the individual; get it?

Rhology said...

Why is work important; thougth all you had to do was have faith.

Why anyone would take you seriously after a ridiculous comment like this is beyond me.
I certainly don't.

we can, using Catholic standards, determine when one is speaking rubbish.

By using private interpretation.
Reading and being familiar with and submitted to the Bible is insufficient to form one's mind to that degree and end, but reading and being familiar with magisterial documents is. OK.

Dozie said...

"By using private interpretation.
Reading and being familiar with and submitted to the Bible is insufficient to form one's mind to that degree and end, but reading and being familiar with magisterial documents is. OK."

For the 10th time, you do not have to read Catholic documents to be Catholic or to gain eternal life. Salvation is by faith "alone" in Christ and faith comes by hearing.

Rhology said...

You're not even remotely answering the question. Forget reading.


1) Preaching the Bible
2) Preaching the Church teaching

What is the difference between the 2?

Alexander Greco said...

Rhology:
1) Preaching the Bible
2) Preaching the Church teaching

What is the difference between the 2?

Me: If you can't tell the difference between a Holy Book which can't actively correct you when you are wrong from a Spirit guided Church which can, then I don't think that any discussion with you about would make any difference.

Rhology said...

I thought you'd say that, but I was hoping you'd refrain.

OK, what is the difference between:

1) Being corrected by the Bible
2) Being corrected by the Church verbally
3) Being corrected by the Church in written form?

In which of these cases does fallible, individual, private interpretation NOT apply? What if any difference does that make?

Four* Pointer said...

Rhology,

The difference is this: the Pope's private interpretation is more important than anybody else's private interpretation because...um...good question!

Rhology said...

Even if we granted that the Pope/Magisterium
1) is capable of making infallible statements, and
2) does do so at least sometimes,

the problem still remains. The Romanist is supposed to believe that the Scr are infallible and DO communicate to people. But in both cases, in every case, the message is not grasped but by fallible humans exercising private, fallible interpretation and judgment.

So even if Rome is right about its charism of infallibility, it matters not at all in this question.

Dozie said...

"The Romanist is supposed to believe that the Scr are infallible and DO communicate to people."

Ever reading but never learning: well informed people do not use infallibility with regard to a book, even if it is the bible. It is oxymoronic. You pride yourself as a researcher; stop throwing words together and go do your research.

Jugulum said...

Rhology said,
"By using private interpretation.
Reading and being familiar with and submitted to the Bible is insufficient to form one's mind to that degree and end, but reading and being familiar with magisterial documents is. OK."

Dozie said,
"For the 10th time, you do not have to read Catholic documents to be Catholic or to gain eternal life. Salvation is by faith "alone" in Christ and faith comes by hearing."

Dozie,

When Rhology said "insufficient to form one's mind to that degree and end", was "that end" referring to salvation, or to determining when one is speaking rubbish?

When you said that "we can, using Catholic standards, determine when one is speaking rubbish," did you mean that reading Catholic sources will enable you to determine when one is speaking rubbish? Or do we need non-written sources, too? If so, which non-written sources?

Augustinian Successor said...

"Ever reading but never learning: well informed people do not use infallibility with regard to a book, even if it is the bible. It is oxymoronic. You pride yourself as a researcher; stop throwing words together and go do your research."

If the Bible is not infallible, how can it claims to be divine revelation in the first place?

Alexander Greco said...

Rhology: I thought you'd say that, but I was hoping you'd refrain.

OK, what is the difference between:

1) Being corrected by the Bible
2) Being corrected by the Church verbally
3) Being corrected by the Church in written form?

In which of these cases does fallible, individual, private interpretation NOT apply? What if any difference does that make?

Me: Let's put it this way with a simple illustration...
Say that I wrote a philosophical book which a couple of thousand people purchased. After reading my book people began to develop philosophical principles, taken from what they understood to be my system of philosophy. Being aware that their understanding of my philosophy was flawed, I began to clarify my philosophy by both narrowly defining certain principles and outright condemning others on an ad hoc basis. Notice that I am not redeveloping my philosophy, but only correcting the flawed conceptions in a direct manner. Let's just call these further works "Greco's Philosophy for Dummies."

Now it is at this point where we find a flaw in your reasoning. Surely after I have "Greco's Philosophy for Dummies" published there will still be people who just do not get it; however, there are those who would. By objective standards, my clarification is valuable. Therefore, objectively my "Greco's Philosophy for Dummies" is of great benefit to those who follow my philosophy, as well as necessary due to the fallacious principles people can and do draw from my philosophy.

Would I totally eradicate misunderstanding? Of course not! Human beings are complex animals who contain the rational faculty, but due to other factors they do not always make the best use of this faculty (even as God supplies us with his Grace, he never deprives us of our will; otherwise, he would be forcing His gift upon us...if he were to do that, then why would he have allowed us to become sinners to begin with?).

You emphasis the erroneous straw man idea that the individual must know infallibly, or have infallible knowledge in order to have certainty regardless of the amount of clarification given to them. Any amount of clarification would be lost to the individual’s abilities and for this reason an infallible Church leaves people in no better position. Have you not considered that certainty can be a gradual process? Besides, how does this take away from the objective value in an infallible Magisterium?

Can the Bible actively tell you when you have erroneously derived false doctrines? Well you might claim that it could, by reading Scripture within context and exegetically. Could the Holy Spirit guided Church actively tell you when you have erroneously derived false doctrines? Yes as evidenced in history. So we are left with the individual who cannot have infallible knowledge and therefore know with the level of certainty which you have demanded in your straw man that he is truly reading Scripture within context and exegetically. Mind you that the Bible is only acting passively, dependent upon you to find the correct meaning. It cannot stop you and say, “Hey, you are not reading me correctly.” You might claim that another believer could stop and correct you. However, you are still left with their possible erroneous beliefs which influence their reading of the text. On the other hand, when the Holy Spirit Magisterium steps in to correct you, their corrections are infallible (when proclaimed to be). So the Protestant has his fallible teacher and fallible self, and the Catholic has his infallible teacher and fallible self. To say that these two are equivalent is to entirely miss the objective value of the later.

Unfortunately, it is your position that my "Greco's Philosophy for Dummies" is really useless and has no value because people cannot understand it infallibly; therefore, people who read my philosophy book have no need for my "Greco's Philosophy for Dummies."