Home » Contemporary Ecclesiological Awareness of Catholic Theologians

Contemporary Ecclesiological Awareness of Catholic Theologians

Contemporary Ecclesiological Awareness of Catholic Theologians

Chapter 4 from Dissent In and For the Church

The Roman Catholic scholars who formulated their views on Pope Paul VI’s Encyclical Humanae Vitae in the Statement of July 30, 1968, and made their views public by releasing and commenting on the Statement to the news media were convinced that not to have acted in such manner would have been positively irresponsible. The Statement itself expresses their conviction “that true commitment to the mystery of Christ and the Church requires a candid statement of mind at this time by all Catholic theologians.” This conviction arises from responsible theological views on the ecclesiological and methodological imperatives under which the contemporary Roman Catholic theologian must work.

Questions of ecclesiology and methodology were intrinsically operative throughout the entire subject matter of the Inquiry. The scholars who subscribed to and publicized the Statement took “exception to the ecclesiology implied and the methodology used by Paul VI in the writing and promulgation” of Humanae Vitae; thus the Statement manifestly implied an ecclesiology and used a methodology at variance with those of Paul VI.

The subject professors contend that their views regarding the ecclesiological and methodological shortcomings of Humanae Vitae are demonstrably within the pale of responsible Catholic theological judgment. They also suggest that such views relate intrinsically and necessarily to the question of “dissent” from one specific ethical teaching of Humanae Vitae, the absolute prohibition of all means of artificial contraception, as well as to the precise mode and manner in which this “dissent” was externally manifested and communicated. Consequently, some sense of the ecclesiological context out of which the Statement and related events arose is essential to this presentation. (“Ecclesiological context” is used to refer to the state of the Roman Catholic Church’s self-awareness as a religious body looking both inward at itself and outward at all other persons, communities and events, as well as the state of that branch of scientific theology commonly designated as “theology of the Church.”)

The presentation of this material will develop through four steps:

Modern Historical Development of the Church’s Self-Awareness and of the Science of Ecclesiology;Actual

State of Ecclesiology and Ecclesial Self-Awareness: The Post-Conciliar Era;

Self-Awareness (or Ecclesiological Context) of the Catholic Scholar of the Sacred Sciences on July 29, 1968;

Ecclesiological Framework of the Exercise of the Interpretive Theological Function in the Instance of Humanae Vitae.

Modem Historical Development of the Church’s Self-Awareness and of the Science of Ecclesiology (1)

The “Counter-Reformation” Ecclesiology. Responding to sixteenth-century events in a spirit of “Counter-Reformation,” Roman Catholic theology of the Church evidenced:

a) A “hierarchology” which concentrated on the hierarchical element in the Church, concerning itself with the ruling, teaching and sanctifying power possessed by the apostles and their successors (bishops), most especially that of Peter and his successor (pope), and which practically excluded all broader-based considerations and realities, such as the notion of the laity as the basic and constitutive cause of the Church, the fellowship of believers and the presence of charismatic elements in the members of that fellowship;
b) A theology of the Roman Catholic Church over and against and to the exclusion of any other alleged “ecclesial” communities or realities outside it;
c) An articulation ot self-awareness that -was polemic and apologetic in method. The Church oi Christ was considered as a visible (“perfect”) society, its members being those who recognized the triple power (teach, rule, sanctify: magisterium, regimen, sacerdotium) and submitted themselves to it. The pneumatic or “mystical” aspect of the Church was not consciously suppressed, but was grossly neglected in the standard fare of ecclesiological treatises.

Counter-Reformation and, in the early twentieth century, anti-Modernist ecclesiology prevailed in seminary, manualistic and general catechetic and homiletic expressions until very recently. In fact, the authors commonly used in Roman Catholic seminaries until and even during Vatican II, e.g., Herve, Pesch and Tanquery, are prime examples of the counterreform and anti-Modernist presentation which had such a great impact on the general ecclesial consciousness of Roman Catholicism. Since the social and communal context in which salvation itself is mediated to man is basic to all further theological considerations, the science of ecclesiology (“What is the church?”) is of fundamental impor¬tance in Catholic theology. The typical textbook approach of the manualists, however, contained and communicated all the dominant characteristics of counterreform and anti-Modernist methodology. It had a distinctly bureaucratic cast.(2)

The manner in which the science of ecclesiology was cast both reflected and reinforced the actual life-style of the Church itself. Simple observation of the day-to-day workings of the Roman Catholic Church (worldwide, national, diocesan and parish) confirms the fact that the foregoing conception of the Church approximated the reality of Church life on all levels. Characteristically, “Church” was seen to mean the pope and his direct agents (Roman Curia, bishops and even local parish pastors). The notion, Roma locuta est, causa finita est (Rome has spoken, the issue is closed) extended to include anything and everything emanating from the “Holy See” or the local Chancery office.(3) Both the scientific concept and the actual reality of the Church of the Counter-Reformation era and spirit are perhaps suitably described in terms of a pyramidic structure. The pope stands at the top; through him all hierarchical power is transmitted since he stands as the personal vicar of Christ Himself. He alone possesses the plenitude of priesthood and jurisdiction. The episcopate is viewed atomistically: Each residential bishop is independent of the others, limited only by the pope and the papal curial officials. Below the bishops are priests, whose power of jurisdiction is limited and subject to approval and control of the local bishop. Then come the faithful, who form the solid base of the pyramid. They obey their pastors (the “Church”), and attend services where prayer is offered in their name by persons consecrated for this purpose (Mass and Sacraments). The faithful (“laity”) are also expected to assist their hierarchical pastors in whatever tasks might be assigned.(4)

Expanding Notions of the Church in the Nineteenth and Twentieth Centuries. A reaction against counterreformation ecclesiology and the correlative life-style of the Church was voiced through the writings of a small minority of Catholic theologians, beginning in the nineteenth century with the Tubingen scholar, J. A. Moehler, along with M. J. Scheeben, and evidenced in the first four or five decades of the twentieth century by persons such as K. Adam, E. Mersch, H. de Lubac, C. Journet and M. Schmaus. These men and a few others resuscitated the “mystical body” motif. It is worthy of note that the draft schema presented to, but never adopted by, the First Vatican Council (1869-1870) echoed this nineteenth-century attempt at an ecclesiological revival. However, the Vatican I definition regarding the pope, together with the nonaction of Vatican I on the necessary balancing doctrines, only served further to reinforce the “hierarchological” thrust of ecclesiology and Church life.5 In fact, the action of Vatican I regarding the role and prerogatives of the pope and the subsequent “Modernist” crisis solidified Ubi Petrus ibi Ecclesia (the Church is where Peter is) as the primary and almost exclusive motif of Catholic ecclesiology and “papo-centrism” as the dominant feature of Catholic life.

This nineteenth- and twentieth-century minority movement (co-existing with the dominant hierarchological style) planted the seed for a massive and effective ecclesiological and ecclesial renewal.

In the twentieth century, the distinct and “official” recovery of a broader-based ecclesiology under one biblical image was brought about by the encyclical Mystici Corporis of Pius XII (1943). This Encyclical marked an important stage in the development of ecclesiology—the end of one era (taking up the findings and themes of over a century of minority theological work) and the beginning of another era. Ecclesial life-style, however, was not significantly changed by the issuance of Mystici Corporis. However, almost immediately it was recognized that the doctrine and limits of the 1943 Encyclical and the use of solely the “mystical body” image were inadequate to articulate properly an authentic churchly self-awareness, both domestically in terms of the internal componency and life-dynamics of the Church, and especially in respect to other Christian communities outside the Roman com-munion. (6)

After 1943, and with increasing intensity up to the Second Vatican Council (1962-1965), ecclesiology developed many biblical and speculative motifs which began to seriously influence churchly self-awareness and set the proximate context for the accomplishments of Vatican II. A parallel and intertwining series of “movements”—especially biblical, liturgical, patristic, ecumenical and lay apostolate—dramatically influenced the Catholic theology of the Church and the Church membership at large. The seminary textbooks and the catechetic and homiletic fare within the Roman Catholic Church retained the characteristics described above as “counterreformation” and “anti-Modernist,” with at times only the mildest acknowledgment of newer dimensions and emphases. Nonetheless, the “people of God” motif, the “pilgrim church” motif, other broader-based and more flexible motifs (largely drawn from biblical imagery and paradigms), questions concerning the relationship between the Roman Catholic Church and separated Christian bodies and between the Church and modern society, and other similar strands of scholarship and even popular awareness started to make themselves heard and felt by the eve of Vatican II.

Conceptual and Practical Tensions on the Eve of Vatican II. During the first session of Vatican II (Autumn, 1962), the tension and diversity within the Council halls among the bishops them¬selves, and in evidence throughout the whole Church, could be described in a schematized form of two “fundamentally different” conceptions of the Church. This schema is helpful in developing an appreciation of the somewhat “schizophrenic” situation which prevailed at that time and which perdures even now within Catholicism. It likewise provides a convenient reference point for evaluating the final acts of Vatican II and the postconciliar status of Church life and ecclesiology. The image of the “pyramidical structure”(7) is contrasted with the “concentric circles” model which begins with the faithful.

All, including pope, bishops, priests, all clergy and laity, belong to the faithful who, by virtue of their common baptism, are members of the one people of God. Together they form the royal and priestly people whose inner coherency is assured by the grace of the indwelling Spirit. This one people of God is at the same time the Mystical Body of Christ.

Within this one people and one Body, there are certain persons who, by virtue of special Ordination, receive a further consecration and consequently deputization to the function of exercising special witness and authority, of ministering unto the sanctification of all in a special way. This consecration is ulti-mately divine; it is not communicated by the pope but by Christ Himself acting in the Sacraments. The practical and concrete exercise of these specially ordained ministries may and indeed must be ordered by jurisdictional authority in the Church for the good of the whole community. But the precise manner in which they are ordered at any given point in the Church’s historical pilgrimage is the function of circumstances, cultures and local conditions.

The consecration or ordination to the special Christian ministry does not make its recipients essentially superior to ordinary believers; they remain believers just like the others; but it does, in the name of Christ and in the power of His Spirit, give them a valid mission, a real and efficacious function in the Church, especially in the realm of the Word of God and of the Sacraments. It is within this context that the collegiate espiscopate may be understood. For these specially ordained ministers are primarily the bishops joined together as the successors of the Apostoles in a “college.” This aspect of collegiality is a vital structural element in the Church. It is not a question merely of independent atoms, indirectly bound to one another through their common bond with the pope, or through a contingent contract to collaborate pastorally in a specific area. Episcopal collegiality is simply not derived juridically from the pope; its roots run much deeper into the very nature of the Church itself. The idea of collegiality was absolutely evident in the early centuries and was expressed by the manifold forms of “communion” between the local churches in various parts of the world, and between the bishops of these churches personally. (“Priests” are collaborators or coadjutors of the bishops individually and collegiately.)

Within the episcopal college the Bishop of Rome, successor of St. Peter, holds a special place. He has received from this historical succession a special mission and function of unification and authentication of the Christian community.

The “concentric circles” image provided a fresh framework within which to approach the science of ecclesiology; it likewise has had profound impact on the broad-based ecclesial self-awareness of the Roman Catholic Church. By the eve of Vatican II, it seems, the pyramid image was about to be superseded. (8)

The Eccesiology of Vatican II. Vatican II (1962-1965) constituted a highly significant, if not revolutionary, state in the continuing development in ecclesial self-awareness and self-expression and contributed many substantially new data to the science of ecclesiology. The ecclesiological accomplishment of Vatican II is so enormous that it cannot be adequately summarized herein. (9)  Certain particular developments in the Council, however, are specifically relevant to the issues in the Inquiry.

By characterizing the Church principally as “mystery” (i.e., although it is a community of men on earth and a structured society, nonetheless the Church is the special locus of God’s ineffable merciful action among men, and, in and behind and through the visible community, is the encounter with the transcendent God Himself), the Council set a context not reflected theretofore in standard ecclesiological reflections.(10) By abundant use of biblical imagery, the Council broadened, diversified and recognized as flexible the pilgrim itinerary which the Church must wend. The “people of God” motif found its place as the dominant characterization of Church—fellowship, familial service and witness are the chief attributes of the salvation community; full churchly status is accorded all the faithful, quite antecedent to any consideration of special offices or ministries, such as those of bishops and priests. (11)

Vatican II certified, beyond further question, in explicit terms (with reference to bishops vis-a-vis the Bishop of Rome and equivalently with respect to the entire Church community), the collegial (rather than pryramidic or monarchical) nature of the Church.(12) The nonidentification of “Church” and “hierarchical office” is abundantly clear and consistently emphasized in the Council documents.13 Vatican II recognized the “laity” as con¬stitutive of the Church; recognized their prophetic, regal and priestly identity and roles; and affirmed the facts that all are the Church and that all are concerned with and responsible for the totality of the Church’s life. (14)

Vatican II affirmed the true (although in some sense defective) ecclesiality or churchliness of the Christian communities from whom the Roman Catholic Church is presently separated. This is an extremely significant assertion, which McNamara calls “a truly major development and clarification in Catholic theology of the church.” (15) Developing the meaning of this recognition in terms of worship, witness and magisterium of separated Christian communities is one of the major tasks of postconciliar theology. (16)

The Council expressed its consciousness that the Church is essentially dialogic: with separated Christian communities, with Judaism, with other non-Christian religions, with unbelievers, with society and the world at large, with technology and contemporary culture and with all men of good will. (17) The full implications of the Church’s self-awareness as an essentially dialogic community must be developed in the postconciliar era. Pope Paul VI, in his Encyclical Ecclesiam Suam, signalled a distinctly new era for the “relational” or “dialogical” Church. (18)

Vatican II adopted the theoretical and working principle of renewal and reform as the touchstone of every act in and of the Catholic Church today: the way we say things (doctrinal renewal and reform), the way we do things (structural renewal and reform) and the way we live (personal and communitarian renewal and reform).(19) This principle is succinctly enunciated in the Council documents and papal statements themselves: e.g.,

All (Catholics) are led to examine their own faithfulness to Christ’s will for the Church and, wherever necessary, undertake with vigor the task of renewal and reform. . . . But their primary duty is to make an honest and careful appraisal of whatever needs to be renewed in the Catholic household itself, in order that its life may bear witness more loyally and luminously to the teachings and ordinances which have been handed down from Christ through the Apostles. . . . Christ summons the church, as she goes her pilgrim way, to that continual reformation of which she always has need, insofar as she is an institution of men on earth. . . , (20)

If the influence of events or of times has led to deficiencies in moral conduct or in church discipline, or even in the way that church teaching has been formulated—to be carefully distinguished from the deposit of faith itself—these should be set right at the opportune moment in the proper way. (21)

The words of Pope John at the opening of the first session of Vatican II evidence the same perspective: “The deposit of faith is one thing, the way that it is presented is another; for the truth preserved in our sacred doctrine can retain the same substance and meaning under different forms of expression. . . ,” (22)

The concentric conception of Church generally prevails throughout the total acts of Vatican II; the pyramidic conception has been transcended in principle. This is not to imply that Vatican Il’s ecclesiology is completely homogeneous or consistent. Certainly, some, even many, residual elements from past formulations and positions are in evidence; but sufficient new dimensions and em¬phases are in evidence to justify the claim that Vatican II was truly a “revolutionary” accomplishment.

The Place of Vatican II Documents in Catholic Church Life and Theology. The achievements of Vatican II have been sufficiently extolled to be taken for granted in this presentation. Truly, revolution was wrought in Roman Catholic conciliar history; truly, the official acts, and the by-products of these acts, as well as the unofficial surrounding events of the total Vatican II period have made a significant impact on the Church. The basic conciliar teachings and commitments concerning the collegiality of bishops, the position of laymen in the Church, the nature of divine revelation and the imperative of full religious liberty have provided strong support for the sincerity and conviction that underlie the Council’s explicit mandate for the future. The ecclesiological development supporting, surrounding and resulting from the Council is overpowering. However, simply to analyse and assimilate the Church’s self-awareness expressed in the Dogmatic Constitution on the Church and the fifteen satellite documents is a consuming task. Nor would that be sufficient. The Roman Church’s self-awareness expressed in Vatican II marks the end of an ecclesiological era and the inauguration of a new one. With all reverence, theologians recognize that the documents of Vatican II were “dated” on the first day after solemn promulgation. The mandate given to Catholic theologians extends beyond conciliar exegesis, just as the mandate given to all the Catholic faithful far exceeds a rote memorization of, and literalist conformity to, the conciliar teachings and directives.

Catholic ecclesiology presently runs the risk of a pejorative “post-Vatican II” mentality, just as the Council of Trent led to a rigid “post-Tridentine” Roman Catholicism. The spirit of Vatican II might be ignored in favour of the letter and limitations of officially promulgated formulations. Reference in the future to the letter of the pronouncements of Vatican II as the final norm for evaluating theological data would effectively bring Roman Catholic ecclesiological progress to a halt. This is not because the Vatican II formulations are unsuitable; rather, it is because they are in-trinsically limited to what the Council Fathers intended them to be—formulations which express, for the most part, the maximum capacity of that time but which do not preclude future, ongoing developments beyond the categories of Vatican II itself.

The Vatican II documents, especially the Dogmatic Constitution on the Church, require a dynamic interpretation. “One must not ask himself solely what exactly this or that single phrase says or means; rather, at the same time, he must ask what constructive possibilities from now on are offered by this doctrinal decision of the church.” (23)

As Paul VI reminds us: “The conciliar decrees are not so much a destination as a point of departure toward new goals. The renewing power and spirit of the council must continue to penetrate to the very depths of the church’s life. The seeds of life planted by the council in the soil of the church must grow and achieve full maturity.” (24)

Actual State of Ecclesiology and Ecclesial Self- Awareness: The Postconciliar Era

Since the closing session of Vatican II, theologians have been occupied with the task of properly discerning and assimilating the conciliar teachings; (25)  of locating and articulating the deficiencies as well as the strengths and acquisitions of the conciliar teachings and setting them in proper and total theological and historical context; (26) of making initial attempts at formulating a completely new ecclesiology which would incorporate all the acquisitions of Vatican II in proper perspective, supply its deficiencies, develop themes contained in or suggested and implied by the Vatican II accomplishment, build upon Vatican II and go beyond it to achieve contemporaneity and meet furture needs; (27) and of striving to translate speculative postconciliar ecclesiology into new structures and ways-of-being-church. (28)

The developments of the postconciliar era implicate the whole Church. The science of ecclesiology and the broad ecclesial self-awareness of all Catholics are being affected by the postconciliar theological themes. The theologian must take the measure of this developing churchly self-awareness; in the process, his awareness of his own role will assume new dimensions.

The Self-Awareness (or Ecclesiological Context) of the Catholic Scholar of the Sacred Sciences on July 29,1968

Awareness of General Theological Development. First of all, the Catholic scholar of the sacred sciences was aware of all the foregoing developments discussed. He was intensely aware of his own proper role and function in the Church fellowship. He was rightly preoccupied with the dominant new acquisition and dimensions of emphasis emerging from the Vatican II period. Particuarly, he was concerned with the themes of collegiality and co-responsibility in the Church; with due recognition in theory and practice of the proper Christian witness of laity in spheres of their competence, both scientific and experiential; with due recognition in theory and practice of the authentic ecclesial witness of separated Christian communities; with giving full import to modern scientific and technological advances; and with a proper understanding and exercise of “authority,” both administrative and doctrinal, in the Church.

He was intensely conscious of the implications of the work of his colleagues. For example, he knew that the post-conciliar Church was, or should have been, in the process of renewal and reform. He was aware of the thematic principles of reform in contemporary ecclesiology: the divine-human principle; the principle of historicity; the pneumatic-charismatic principle; the principle of the fundamental equality and co-responsibility of all Christians; the principle of fellowship; the principle of diakonia (service); the principle of dialogue; and the principle of sub-sidiarity.

He was aware of the biblical paradigm as duly normative for Christian church life, and familiar with the questions arising from contemporary biblical studies on “church order”: e.g., he was aware that church structures appear in a variety of forms and have undergone periods of development (seeing this variety enables one to avoid absolutizing present forms and arguing only from present structures); that authority, though expressed in individuals, has a special relationship to the community; that human weakness of the officeholder is a conscious biblical theme; that the officeholder exercises his authority in virtue of a special relationship to the teaching of tradition (29)

He was conscious of the contemporary recovery of the sense and recognition of charismata in the Church and the diversities of functions or roles within the community-—all, each in its own way, serving the whole. (30) He was conversant with the present dis¬cussion of authority, magisterium and obedience in the Church. (31) He was in “dialogue” with the persons, institutions, currents of thought and “movements” of the world (ecclesial and otherwise) in which he lived.

Awareness of the Need to Reinterpret the Relationship be¬tween the Hierarchical Magisterium and the Theologian, and the Need to Develop This Reinterpretation through Co-responsive Dialogue. The Roman Catholic theologian was aware that a new view of the magisterium had quite inevitably followed upon the advances in ecclesiology which occurred in Vatican II and which were continuing in the post-conciliar period. Many scholars are in full agreement with Robert Murray, S.J., who writes: “The magisterium is not above or outside of the community of believers.”(32) Vatican II includes the ingredients of an advanced ecclesiology. Since the notion of magisterium is intimately related to the notion of Church, it may be expected that the theology of the magisterium will also show important changes in this period of development. The new images of the Church, such as “people of God” and “the pilgrim Church,” and the recognition of the ecclesial reality of non-Catholic Christian bodies have signifi-cant implications for any treatment of the magisterium today.

The theology of the magisterium does not exist in isolation; it is representative of recent developments in this area. Today’s theologians are familiar with the contemporary theological literature which has deepened his understanding of magisterium under the influence of recent advances in ecclesiology stemming from Vatican II. For example, Gregory Baum has developed the idea of the magisterium as a ministry with inevitable limitations and has made several suggestions as to how the magisterium might function in the modern world.(33) He also discussed the magisterium in the light of history and the development of thought, stressing the “negative potential” in the Church, that it might obscure the light of the gospel due to the presence of sin. (34)

Ernest Kaesemann and Raymond E. Brown have discussed the development of New Testament ecclesiology and offer corrections for the usually oversimplified review of this phenomenon. (35)  John T. Noonan, Jr., has expanded upon his familiarity with the usury and contraception questions and shows from history how these issues have served to illustrate the nature of authority in the Church. (36) Piet Fransen has treated the authority of the Councils as illustrative of the teaching authority of the Church.(37) Quentin Quade and James Rhodes have examined the question of teaching authority with a view to how that authority affects the experts in various fields. These authors contend that a Catholic should consult the Church’s teachings on all matters of morals and indeed follow it when he sees no other principles in conflict. They insist, however, that the concept of Church authority does not make a priori decisions possible, nor does it substitute for moral prudence. (38)

George Dejaifve has taken a position on the relationship of the believing Church to the hierarchical magisterium as this problem appeared in the Acts of Vatican I. He illustrates that Vatican I, in spite of its strong hierarchical emphasis, was not unaware of the positive role of nonhierarchical Christians in matters of teaching and belief. (39) John C. Bennett has written lucidly on the Protestant view of authority in the Church. (40) Yves Congar has contributed monumental work on the development and historical con¬ditioning of authority in the Church. (41)

Vatican II also instigated a rethinking and reinterpretation of the working relationship between the theologian and the hierar¬chical magisterium. That rethinking is of course prerequisite to a renewed interpretation of the “right of dissent.” The model for the relationship of hierarchical magisterium and theologians must presuppose certain distinctions which have become the accepted assumptions of hierarchies and scholars alike since Vatican II.

It is agreed that theologians and the hierarchical magisterium (bishops, including the pope) have related but distinct and differ¬ent functions in the Church. As the American Bishops noted in their 1968 Pastoral Letter: “These (bishops and theologians) have their diverse ministries in the Church, their distinct responsibilities to the faith and their respective charisms.” (42) Bishops and theolo¬gians exercise distinct but related and mutually helpful roles.

The truth which is the object of proper theological inquiry is not synonymous with the faith by which the theologian’s intellect is illumined to begin with, nor is it synonymous with the “revelation” or the doctrina de fide vel moribus which the bishop (or priest) as pastoral minister must proclaim and celebrate. Whereas theologians “respectfully acknowledge a distinct role of hierarchical magisterium (teaching authority) in the Church of Christ,” they are also aware that “Christian tradition assigns theologians the special responsibility of evaluating and interpreting pronouncements of the magisterium in the light of the total theological data operative in each question or statement.” (43)  The teachings of the hierarchical magisterium are part of the total data which the Catholic theologian must integrate into his work; he must be aware of these teachings, evaluate their weight, give them their proper significance and interpret them.

The hierarchical magisterium as such and per se (and a fortiori an individual bishop or a regional or national group of bishops as such and per se) is incompetent in theology as such and per se. The magisterium is not to be viewed as a refuge from the discipline of theology. Rather, the propounding and explanation of the faith involves a theological task, and is subject to the interpretations and evaluations of theological science. As the theologian is dependent on the magisterium as the touchstone of faith, the hierarchical magisterium depends on theology for the full articulation of Christian meanings. This position does not imply that one must be a scientific theologian to teach in the Christian Church, or that one must be a theologian to be a bishop. However, it must be acknowledged that when one seeks to explain the faith, he employs specific theological forms and patterns of thought and language (Scripture itself contains varying theologies). Any use of such forms or patterns should be subject to the scrutiny of theological science, just as theological science influences the presentation and explanation of faith itself. (44)

Pope Paul VI’s talk in 1966 to the International Congress on the Theology of Vatican II (45) suggests an understanding of the pertinent distinctions. Theology and the magisterium, he states, have different functions (officia), are endowed with different gifts. The office of bishop and the office of theologian are distinct but related functions in the Church. (Immediately the charismata discussed at length by St. Paul in I Corinthians 12-14 should be recalled: special gifts and ministries which are to serve the whole community.) Theologians occupy a mediating position between the faith of the Church and the teaching office of bishops, as they seek to discover how the Christian community might translate its faith into practice and try to grasp the truths, opinions, questions and trends which the Holy Spirit stirs up in the people of God (“. . . what the Spirit says to the Churches,” Rev. 2:7). Using the method and principles proper to their specialty, theologians must evaluate the faith of God’s people as actually lived, and their aims, in order to bring them into harmony with the Word of God and the doctrinal heritage faithfully handed down by the Church, and in order to propose solutions to questions which arise when this faith is compared with actual life, with history and with hu¬man inquiry. Without the help of theology, Pope Paul VI notes that the teaching office of bishops could certainly guard and teach the faith, but that it would have great difficulty in reaching the deep and full understanding of faith which it needs for the adequate fulfillment of its own function. The teaching office of bishops knows that it does not have the charism of revelation or of inspiration, only that of the assistance of the Holy Spirit. Deprived of the efforts of theologians, the teaching office of bishops would lack one of the “tools” whereby to achieve the purpose of its existence—which is directly pastoral, not academic. Theology is unquestionably recognized as an essential science in and for the Church.

Theology and the hierarchical magisterium, therefore, stand in a healthy, ongoing, dialectical and dialogical relationship. As evidenced in the history of the theology-magisterium relationship, an interplay of the two adequately manifests the totality of the Christian quest for fuller expression of the truth.

Awareness of the Latitude and Limits of the Roman Catholic Faith-Commitment. It has already been noted, in a preliminary manner, that Catholic theologians must “respectfully acknowledge a distinct role of hierarchical magisterium (teaching authority) in the Church of Christ,” and that theologians hold “the special responsibility of evaluating and interpreting pronouncements of the magisterium in the light of the total theological data operative in each question or Statement.”(40) Furthermore, it has been noted immediately above that the relationship between theologians and hierarchical magisterium must be one of co-responsive dialogue, each according to a proper and distinct role in and for the Church. Since, however, both hierarchical magisterium and theologians must always function within the context and according to the claims of the Roman Catholic faith-commitment, it is appropriate here to delineate the precise nature of the faith-commitment to which all are equally bound: what is it and how is it determined in terms of human discourse?

This question, beyond its obvious theoretic importance, assumes a specific practical importance for the investigation of the responsibility of public dissent from Humanae Vitae. Some persons, including hierarchical members of the Board of Trustees of Catholic University, have suggested that the subject professors, by their actions and declarations in regard to Humanae Vitae, violated the Catholic Profession of Faith which is a statutory requirement of all Catholic faculty members at the University. (47)

The subject professors have made it quite clear in chapter two of this presentation that, with the First Vatican Council (48)  they affirm the essential role of faith in the proper functioning of the Roman Catholic theologian. In fact, their description of the theologian is simply unintelligible in the “no-faith” hypothesis, since the fundamental note of theology is precisely “ratio fide illustrata” (“reason enlightened by faith”). (49)  Obviously, the description herein insisted upon is of a Catholic theologian in the fullest, and therefore narrowest, sense of the term. Perhaps in the face of the present complexities of the task, no one person alone actually verifies the fullest sense of the term, since he usually cannot enjoy in his own right the enormous scope of required expertise. Except in the most extraordinary instance, the full description of Catholic theologian is more often verified of a collaborating group rather than of any single individual. By its very nature, theology in the Church is a collegial enterprise; today it is collegial also by sheer force of human necessity. The subject professors are prescinding, therefore, from the necessity of faith in the proper functioning of a “theologian” in any of the broader or auxiliary senses not accounted for by the descriptions of Catholic theology and the Catholic theologian contained in chapter two of the present work.

In the received classical idiom of Vatican I, the faith which is essential to the proper functioning of the Roman Catholic theologian is the assent to or belief in divinely revealed truth because of, and solely because of, the authority of God revealing.(50) In a contemporary idiom, faith is the intimate and abiding relationship, in the very depths of a person’s being, to God communicating Himself to man through Christ in His Holy Spirit— which relationship is accepted by a man’s personal, free and fundamental option of response to God calling him. In either idiom, faith as such is “invisible,” “inaudible,” and cannot be gauged by any human instrument. Faith, however, is ordered to be expressed and professed and to have a transforming impact on persons, human society and the course of history. It is at the same time an ecclesial commitment for the Roman Catholic. The expression and reinforcement of faith is usually through sharing in the sacramental life of the Church; the profession (or “confession”) of faith usually takes the form of symbols or creeds or other formulae constructed and guaranteed as authentic by the very life and tradition of the Church itself, especially by the hierarchical magisterium; the transforming impact of faith is something for which Catholics must account to the judgment of both mankind and God Himself. It is the profession (“confession”) of faith that has particular pertinence here, since by it the criteria for judging the faith-commitment are set in intelligible human discourse.

 

 

**********

The profession of faith usually takes the normative form of expressed adherence to articles of faith properly so-called. Articles (or dogmas) of faith are described by the First Vatican Council51 and by the present Code of Canon Law52 in the following way: Truths which are contained in the Word of God, whether written or handed down (“in verbo Dei scripto vel tradito“), and are proposed by the Church to be believed as divinely revealed, either in solemn judgment (papal or conciliar definition) or through the ordinary and universal magisterium. In regard to articles (dogmas) of faith strictly so-called, whether they are proposed in solemn form or in everyday ordinary and universal form, the believer enjoys the guarantee of infallibility inherent in the Church’s proposal of them as divinely revealed.

The scope of Divine and Catholic Faith, therefore, is an extremely well delimited and readily discernible category for the Roman Catholic, whether he be theologian or non-academic. In a final analysis, and granting that all “hermeneutical” problems have been accounted for and equalized, to deny or reject an article of Divine and Catholic Faith is heresy in the classical sense of the term and cuts one off from the community of believers which is the Church. However, the total faith-commitment of the Roman Catholic goes beyond the narrow scope of assenting to articles of divine faith strictly so-called. It includes a further commitment to at least two other distinct levels of normative Church teaching.

Some truths, although not of Divine and Catholic Faith strictly so-called, are so intimately connected (by presupposition or by consequence) with a dogma of the faith that to deny them would be necessarily reducible to denying the dogma of faith itself. Should such a truth be the object of a solemn definition by either the papal or the universal episcopal magisterium, the believer is provided with an infallible certitude in his assent to the truth. His overall faith-commitment absolutely does not permit him to deny or equivocate on such an infallibly defined truth in any way. We prescind here from the very necessary contemporary debate about infallibility as such.

There are, however, other teachings of the hierarchical magisterium, whether papal or universal episcopal, which are neither dogmas of the faith nor infallibly defined but are authoritatively proposed. It is to this category of hierarchical teaching that the Church requires a “religious assent” which is neither the absolute assent of Divine and Catholic Faith nor the absolute theological assent due to other infallibly taught truths but is the conditional assent to the teaching as only presumptively true, as described in the manualists’ tradition above.

The total faith-commitment of the Roman Catholic is accounted for in the official formula for the Profession of Faith currently pre¬scribed by the Vatican Congregation for the Teaching of the Faith. On May 31, 1967, that Congregation issued a new formula to be used according to law, in place of the Tridentine for¬mula and the Oath against Modernism, whenever a Profession is prescribed. The new formula reads as follows:

I (name) with firm faith believe and profess each and everything contained in the symbol of faith, namely: (There follows the Nicene- Constantinopolitan Creed, called the “Nicene Creed,” familiar from liturgical use.) That is followed by this additional statement:

I also embrace and retain each and everything regarding the doctrine of faith and morals, whether defined by solemn judgment or asserted and declared by the ordinary magisterium, as they are proposed by the Church, especially those things which concern the mystery of the holy Church of Christ, its Sacraments, the Sacrifice of the Mass, and the Primacy of the Roman Pontiff.53

This formula analytically is composed of two parts. The first part, whose object is the Nicene-Constantinopolitan symbol, is to be believed and professed by firm faith (firma fide credo et profiteor). The second part, whose object is an all-inclusive category of teachings, is to be firmly embraced and retained (firmiter . . . amplector et retineo), as they are proposed by the Church (prout ab ipsa proponuntur). Thus, the second part of the Profession of Faith formula itself implicitly acknowledges the several levels of teaching and diverse binding force of each. The phrase, “as they are proposed by the Church,” makes it clear that the hierarchical magisterium intends a binding force proportionate to the level and quality of each particular teach¬ing. Some teachings are to be believed by divine faith since they are proposed by the Church, whether through an infallible definition or by the ordinary universal magisterium, as divinely revealed’, some teachings are to be held under an absolute bind¬ing force since they are infallibly proposed, although not of divine faith strictly so-called; other teachings are to be held by that “religious assent” which is due to authoritative non-infallible pronouncements. (The Encyclical Humanae Vitae was promul¬gated and universally received as an authoritative, fallible pro¬nouncement of the papal magisterium.)

The sincere and full adherence to the Profession of Faith by no means excludes the right of responsible dissent from authorita¬tive, non-infallible teachings by competent persons under certain qualifications. The confessional commitment, or “faith-commit¬ment,” attested to by the Profession of Faith, may be preserved intact even in the instance of responsible dissent from non-infallible teachings of the papal or episcopal ordinary magisterium. The relevant question is whether, under the circumstances, public dis-

 

sent from a particular authoritative, non-infallible pronounce¬ment of the papal magisterium is within the pale of supportable Roman Catholic theological options. The Profession of Faith attests that a person intends to remain within the pale of responsi¬ble Roman Catholic theological options and implies nothing by way of further limitation on his theological views. (It is the position of the subject professors that a determination of whether a theologian is or is not within the faith-commitment is clearly within the capacity, competence and province of his peer group of Roman Catholic theologians.) It is clear, therefore, that the sub¬ject professors retain the integrity of their total faith-commitment and Profession of Faith in the same way that the fathers of Vatican II could retain the same integrity in approving the final text of Lumen Gentium, n. 25, which, according to the Modi, ante¬cedently provides for the “right to dissent” from authoritative, noninfallible pronouncements of the papal magisterium as de¬scribed by “auctores probati.”54

Awareness of the Response Requested by Paul VI in Humanae Vitae, and of the Need to Reinterpret the Reference Points of His Request. Theologians accept as part of the relevant theo¬logical data Paul VI’s exhortation in paragraph 28 of Humanae Vitae that priests should observe “loyal internal and external obe¬dience to the teaching authority of the Church.” “That obedience, as you well know,” Paul VI continues, “obliges not only because of the reasons adduced, but rather because of the light of the Holy Spirit, which is given in a particular way to the pastors of the Church in order that they may illustrate the truth.” A footnote at this point refers to paragraph 25 of the Dogmatic Constitution on the Church (Lumen Gentium), where the Second Vatican Coun¬cil teaches:

Religious allegiance of the will and intellect should be given in an entirely special way to the authentic teaching authority of the Roman pontiff, even when he is not speaking ex cathedra; this should be done in such a way that his supreme teaching authority is respectfully acknowledged, while the judgments given by him are sincerely ad-hered to according to his manifest intention and desire, as this is made known by the nature of his documents, or by his frequent repetition of the same judgment, or by his way of speaking/’5

Thus, Lumen Gentium calls for a “religious allegiance of the will and intellect” to be given to pronouncements of the papal magisterium which are authentically authoritative but noninfalli¬ble. Paul VI, in Humanae Vitae, refers to this passage in Lumen Gentium to specify the response he expects to the teachings con¬tained in the Encyclical.5B That it is to this statement about religi- osum voluntatis et intellectus obsequium that Paul VI is referring in Humanae Vitae (and not to other statements of the same para¬graph 25 of Lumen Gentium) is clear from Paul VI’s own manner of speaking in the Encyclical and from the remarks of Professor Ferdinando Lambruschini in presenting and interpreting the En¬cyclical to the mass media of communications on July 29, 1968.

The dissenting professors were aware that the official support¬ing acts of Vatican II itself note that paragraph 25 of Lumen Gent¬ium should be read in the light of the presentations of the ordinary magisterium in “approved [theological] authors,” both with respect to the possibility in which an educated person (eruditus quidam) cannot, for solid reasons, give the type of assent normally ex¬pected, and with regard to the quality of the adherence of mind and intellect required, viz., non-absolute in respect of non-irre- formable teachings. These same official, supporting acts of Vatican II acknowledge that freedom for further investigation and for doctrinal progress are by no means excluded by paragraph 25 of Lumen Gentium.

Since paragraph 25 of the Dogmatic Constitution on the Church states what response Paul VI himself was seeking to the teaching contained in Humanae Vitae, and since this same paragraph 25 has been widely used by others to identify the response sought, e.g., in the American Bishops’ Pastoral Letter, Human Life in Our Day, issued November 15, 1968, and in many diocesan pastoral letters of initial comment on Humanae Vitae, it would be useful to examine the background or “legislative history” of this text from the official acts of the Second Vatican Council.57

The original Schema De Ecclesia et de B. Maria Virgine (Draft on the Church and The Blessed Virgin Mary), presented to the Council at the first session in 1962, contained the following section dealing with the ordinary teaching authority of the pope:

To the authentic teaching authority of the Roman pontiff, even when he is not speaking ex cathedra, religious allegiance of will and intellect should be given; this should be done in such a way that his supreme teaching authority is respectfully acknowledged, while the judgment given by him is sincerely adhered to according to his manifest inten¬tion and desire, as this is made known by the nature of the documents, by his frequent repetition of the same judgment, or by his way of speaking. The intention and desire of the Roman pontiffs is made manifest especially through those doctrinal acts that they address to the whole Church, such as certain Apostolic Constitutions or Encyclical Letters or their more solemn addresses; for these are the principal documents of the ordinary teaching authority of the Church; they are the principal ways in which it is declared and formed, and what is taught and inculcated in them often already belongs, for other reasons, to Catholic doctrine. And when the Roman pontiffs go out of their way to pronounce on some subject which has hitherto been controverted, it must be clear to everyone that, in the mind and intention of those pontiffs, this subject can no longer be regarded as a matter for free debate among theologians.58

In support of the general obligation of assent, the text referred to the First Vatican Council, Pius XI’s Casti Connubii, the Code of Canon Law and Leo XIII’s Sapientiae Christianae,59 A second footnote identified the last lines of the passage as a direct citation from Pius XII’s Humani Generis,60

The first schema on the Church was rejected by the Council at the first session. Between the first and second sessions a second schema was elaborated which was presented to the second session and accepted as a basis for discussion. In the second schema, the paragraph on the teaching office of the Church (no. 19) was entitled, “De Episcoporum munere docendi” (On the Teaching Role of Bishops), and formed part of the new chapter III, “De Constitutione Hierarchica Ecclesiae et in specie de Episco- patu” (On the Hierarchical Constitution of the Church and on the Episcopate in Particular). The section on the ordinary magi¬sterium of the people is the last part of paragraph 19 and is, except for very minor differences, the same text cited above from Lumen GentiumIn the second schema the explanation of the concrete mode of exercise of the magisterium and the warning against continued public theological discussion are both omitted. Apparently the warning was not dropped without opposition, for among the suggested emendationes distributed along with the second schema was that of five bishops who ask that the statement from Humani Generis be replaced in the text.1′” This suggestion was not accepted, nor was that of Bishop Cleary, who proposed that the text include a statement about freedom of investigation.

The concluding stage in the history of paragraph 25 of Lumen Gentium was the presentation and acceptance of the revised second schema at the third session. Very slight changes were made in the text of the section on the ordinary magisterium of the pope (paragraph 25); but its position in the paragraph was changed, so that, as it was explained, “it might be clearer that the discussion of the teaching office of the Roman Pontiff was being carried on in the context of the teaching office of the entire college of bishops, which is the subject of this paragraph.” (4)

These modi (proposed emendations) for paragraph 25 were presented to the Doctrinal Commission. The modi and the answers they received are important for our purpose:

Modus 159 was the suggestion of three bishops who “invoke the particular case, at least theoretically possible, in which an educated person (eruditus quidam), confronted with a teaching proposed non-infallibly, cannot, for solid reasons, give his inter¬nal assent.” The response of the Commission was: “For this case approved theological explanations should be consulted.””5

Modus 160 was the proposal of three bishops that the text read, in respect of the pope: “and that the judgments given by him are sincerely adhered to, although not with an absolute and irreformable assent.” The reason for the addition was to make clear the distinction between the response owed to the infallible magisterium and that owed to the authoritative but non-infallible magisterium.’1″ The reply of the Commission was: “The ordinary teaching office often proposes doctrines which already belong to the Catholic faith itself; so that the proposed addition would itself have to be completed. Therefore, it is better to refer to the approved authors.'”1”

Finally, modus 161 was the proposal of one bishop that an ad¬dition be made indicating the freedom to be permitted for further investigation and for doctrinal progress. The reply of the Com¬mission was: “The observation is true, but does not need to be brought in at this point.”08

These three modi and the reasons given by the doctrinal commission for their rejection indicate that paragraph 25 of the Dogmatic Constitution on the Church should be read in the light of the presentation of the ordinary magisterium given by the auctores probati (approved authors). An examination and reinterpretation of the “approved authors,” especially the standard manualists, will show the scope of the ”right to dissent * which is affirmed in the “legislative history” of paragraph 25 of The Dog¬matic Constitution on the Church.

Awareness of the Developing Theological Reinterpretation of the Exercise of Right to Dissent

Emanations from Vatican II and Post-Vatican II Ecclesiology. The ecclesial self-understanding of Vatican II and the post-conciliar Church requires, as has been noted, a reinterpretation of the “right of dissent” taught by the older “manualist” authors. The “manual” tradition, which taught the possibility of “dissent” from teachings of the authoritative, non-infallible hierarchical magis¬terium, was operating in an ecclesiological framework that was heavily hierarchical and markedly juridical in tone and content. Nevertheless, in spite of these ecclesiological weaknesses which have since been largely corrected, these respected and tested works arrived at an appreciation of the possibility and, in some circumstances, necessity of responsible and proper dissent. The

Catholic scholar in July of 1968 would recognize that this tradi¬tionally recognized interpretive possibility known as dissent, if it were to be exercised contemporarily, must be exercised according to the demands of the contemporary ecclesiological context, not limited by specifications laid down within an ecclesiological era long since surpassed. The American Bishops, in their Pastoral Let¬ter of November 15, 1968, clearly recognized that we are in a new era. After noting that there exist norms of licit dissent, they affirm that: “Since our age is characterized by popular interest in theo¬logical debate and given the realities of modern mass media, the ways in which theological dissent may be effectively expressed in a manner consistent with pastoral solicitude should become the object of fruitful dialogue between bishops and theologians.'””‘

Even before the issuance of Humane Vitae Catholic theologians were aware of developing reinterpretations of the “right to dis¬sent” as proposed in the manuals, which was obviously based on the newly developing theological contexts. Thus, the possibility of public dissent was accepted by some of the more contemporary Catholic theologians writing explicitly on the question. For ex-ample, S. E. Donlon maintained that where “there is still room for modification of the Church’s position, voiced dissent would not involve a denial of the Church’s right; nevertheless, the one invok¬ing freedom should realize that the Church will generally re¬gard the traditional viewpoint as enjoying a strong presumption of truth, and that a personal concern for the faithful will urge the Church to exact from the one claiming freedom patience, sobriety in expression of a newer viewpoint, and circumspection in pro¬pounding his views.” (70)

Bruno Schueller, S.J., clearly perceived the needed contem¬porary reinterpretation:

An interesting example of emphasis is found in a monograph called When the Popes Speak by F. Gallati (F. Gallati, Wenn die Paepste Sprechen, Vienna: 1960). He talks of when one is “allowed” to with¬draw one’s submission to a judgment of the authentic magisterium, thereby inferring that one need not! Yet the conditions he gives in¬volve “clear and convincing” grounds for thinking that the magisterium is in error. Such grounds should make withdrawal of submission strictly obligatory! Further on, Gallati takes as self-evident that, even in such a case, one may not publicly dispute the judgment. Actually, there would seem to be an obligation to correct the error, unless a greater evil would ensue. Hitherto the faithful’s loss of confidence in the authentic magisterium would have seemed to most a greater evil—but What of the case where a mistaken decision causes widespread and agonizing conflict of conscience, and puts on many burdens beyond their strength to bear? Would not a delay in retracting such a decision work against the credibility of the magisterium in the long run? And so against the Church of which the magisterium is part?

Finally, if the faithful were educated as to the significance of the distinction between infallible and merely authentic magisterium, then the danger of their losing confidence in the Church’s teaching would be greatly reduced.7′

Karl Rahner discussed public dissent in the context of an article on demoncracy in the Church:

This does not mean, however, that there can be no serious theological differences of opinion in the Church, nor that the case would, from the outset and in principle, be excluded, in which a Christian appealing to his conscience, refuses obedience to a -—well-intended to be sure— particular command of one who holds an office in the Church, the reason being that this Christian despite the “good faith” of the office¬holder, has to judge this command to be incompatible with justice or love. We must become accustomed to such dissonances in the Church. We must learn to understand that tensions do not have to destroy the unity of confession, the will to obedience and love. Both sides must become accustomed to this: The official leadership, which must not think that in the Church calm or silence is the first and last “civic duty”; the laity, who must not think that, because of the fundamental possibility of theological differences of opinion and because of the possibility of withholding obedience in a particular case, an arbitrary stance in theological matters and a fundamental revolutionary hostility toward the official leadership are the ideal attitudes.(72)

Within the last decade there has also been a somewhat pub¬licized debate even in the more popular press about the obedience required of Catholics to the pronouncements of the noninfallible hierarchical magisterium, particularly in the form of encyclicals. The occasion for the debate was the Encyclical of Pope John XXIII, Mater et Magistra, issued in 1961. This controversy be¬gan with a number of editorials in the National Review (begin¬ning in the July 29, 1961 issue) and with the inclusion of the now famous “Mater, si; Magistra, no” in the collection of mis¬cellaneous items under the heading “For the Record” in the July 29, 1961 issue of the same publication. The controversy continued for more than a year in such other popular Catholic publications as America and Ave Maria.

In 1964, Professor Gary Wills published Politics and Catholic Freedom, which reviewed the controversy over Mater et Magistra and considered in a popular manner the question of individual conscience and the assent due to the noninfallible papal teach¬ing, especially in the form of encyclicals.™ The very first words in this volume, from the Foreword by Professor Will Herberg, are most interesting in light of subsequent events:

The encyclical Mater et Magistra, issued by Pope John XXIII in 1961, captivated world opinion by the breadth and generosity of its appeal. It also raised some questions, and initiated a controversy, that, in the long run, may prove as significant as the substantive content of the message. The questions raised related to the nature and extent of the assent required of believing Catholics to a Papal encyclical and its various parts. The controversy over these questions flared up for a brief moment, and then appears to have subsided. But the appearance is surely deceptive. . . ,74

Post-Vatican II ecclesiology contemporizes the classic “right to dissent” in a dialogic context. There is, first of all, the very experience of the Council. The conciliar documents did not descend full-grown from above but were arrived at only after long and sometimes bitter debate. If we believe the Spirit to have presided over Vatican II, it remains true that the Spirit guided its course precisely through the human dialectic of disagreement, discus¬sion and compromise. Nor was this dialectic a closed debate among members of “the teaching Church”; it involved consultation with theologians, with the non-Catholic observers present, and even, through the press, with the non-Christian world. Whatever prog¬ress was made at the Council was in varying measures due to all these factors; it would be presumptuous to restrict the working of the Spirit to any single one of them.

Secondly, there is the perspective in which Vatican II discussed the infallibility of the Church. The Dogmatic Constitution on the Church deliberately refrained from speaking of the infallibility of the Church in credendo (in believing) as a “passive” thing, deriv¬ing from the “active” infallibility of the magisterium as an ef¬fect from a cause.75 The Council Fathers did indeed speak of the Church’s “faithful obedience” to “the guidance of the sacred teaching authority,” but they did so in a context in which it had also been explained to them that respected post-Tridentine theolo¬gians saw no danger to the hierarchy in arguing “from the faithful to the hierarchy,” or from infallibility in credendo to infallibility in docendo (in teaching).76

Along the same lines, the Council insisted (in the Dogmatic Constitution on the Church) on the freedom and responsibility of the laity to make known to Church authorities their needs, desires and opinions.77 In the Pastoral Constitution on the Church in the Modern World, the Council referred to that assertion in the Dogmatic Constitution on the Church to indicate that “all the faithful, clerical and lay, possess a lawful freedom of inquiry and of thought, and the freedom to express their minds humbly and courageously about those matters in which they enjoy com-petence.”79 Such comments are not without connection with conci- liar statements on charisms in the Church.80

In such statements the Council may be considered to be thema- tizing its own experience. Another indication to the same effect can be found in the Council’s acknowledgment that the forces leading towards the growth of the Church’s understanding of itself and of its mission and message proceed not only from within the Roman Catholic Church. God’s grace and truth also exist outside the Roman Catholic community in non-Catholic Christians and their communities,81 in non-Christian religions82 and in the world.81 From dialogue with non-Catholics, the Church grows in its self- knowledge and self-criticism.84 With the world and aided by it, the Church, which does not have solutions to all men’s problems, commits itself to search for them.S5 From the world which she helps, the Church has, in her turn, derived abundant and various helps in preparing the way for the Gospel80 and even in her presenta¬tion of the knowledge of God.87

The Second Vatican Council, while restating the place and role of the teaching office in the Church, at the same time recog¬nized and emphasized the activity of the Spirit in many and differ¬ing ways in the Church and in the world. It is from all these workings of the Spirit that the Church grows in its understanding and accomplishment of its mission, and it may be suggested that by all these workings the Spirit might operate for the correc¬tion of mistaken teachings.

Dissent as Interpretation in the Contemporary Theological Context. When transposed to the contemporary theological con¬text, therefore, the traditional “right to dissent” is but an aspect of the wider and deeper question of theological interpretation or hermeneutic. It is merely one way to assure the genuine develop¬ment of doctrine and to assure that doctrinal vocabulary does not lose its underlying truth-value (as involved with mystery). Such would happen whenever doctinal formulae become overly clear and distinct and overly literalized or are frozen in an older thought pattern and language structure (the constant temptation of an age with little or no historical sense).

The theologian’s task of interpretation and his responsibility to assure genuine development, at times, in the history of theology, have put him in a very uncomfortable position. It is re¬grettable but understandable that the major theologians who are recognized as the most fruitful reinterpreters of Catholic tradition were often distrusted in their own age by those entrapped in an-other conceptual framework and thereby unable to appreciate the possibilites of development within their own tradition. The experi¬ences of such now revered figures as Lagrange, Congar, de Lubac and Teilhard de Chardin are recent examples of this problem. In former ages the episcopal condemnations of St. Thomas

Aquinas and the persisting suspicion surrounding the theological career of Cardinal Newman are ample indications of this dif¬ficulty.

Within the pluralism of interpretive possibilities within the Roman Catholic theological tradition, the only positions which may be considered theologically responsible are those which, whether they seem “conservative” or “liberal,” reject any extrinsicist in¬terpretation of the relationship of the theologian to his tradition by recalling always both the reality of tradition and its need for theological interpretation and by developing adequate theological interpretive tools for that task. What was classically understood as “dissent” may properly be understood only in the wider context of the interpretation task of the theologian, as it was affirmed in the “approved authors” and in Vatican II, and as it has achieved a yet deeper recognition and expression in the developmental con¬text of genuinely Catholic theology.88

The nature of contemporary theology is intimately related to the pastoral concern of the Church and cannot be scientifically separated from it. The classical distinction between speculative and practical intellect is no longer adequate to the study of the con¬stitutive meaning-possibilities of the contemporary context. Part of the significant data which the contemporary theologian must investigate is the contemporary situation itself. He must become more familiar than his classical counterpart with the seemingly external cultural factors, especially those transforming-meaning factors, concerning his discipline. Moreover, the theologian must himself be involved in the attempt to thematize those transform¬ing possibilities; he cannot ignore the “existential” (practical, pastoral) consequences of his work without violating his co- responsibility to the community-church which sustains him, gives him his meaning and rightfully expects him to find ways to medi¬ate the meaning he has discovered for critical evaluation and “existential” aid. Indeed, the theologian’s relationship to his faith-community and the demands put upon him to dramatize the constitutive meanings of the Christian vis-a-vis contemporary cul¬ture in turn require of him responsible speech to those concrete

Catholic scholar in July of 1968 would recognize that this tradi¬tionally recognized interpretive possibility known as dissent, if it were to be exercised contemporarily, must be exercised according to the demands of the contemporary ecclesiological context, not limited by specifications laid down within an ecclesiological era long since surpassed. The American Bishops, in their Pastoral Let¬ter of November 15, 1968, clearly recognized that we are in a new era. After noting that there exist norms of licit dissent, they affirm that: “Since our age is characterized by popular interest in theo¬logical debate and given the realities of modern mass media, the ways in which theological dissent may be effectively expressed in a manner consistent with pastoral solicitude should become the object of fruitful dialogue between bishops and theologians.’  (1)

Even before the issuance of Humane Vitae Catholic theologians were aware of developing reinterpretations of the “right to dis¬sent” as proposed in the manuals, which was obviously based on the newly developing theological contexts. Thus, the possibility of public dissent was accepted by some of the more contemporary Catholic theologians writing explicitly on the question. For ex-ample, S. E. Donlon maintained that where “there is still room for modification of the Church’s position, voiced dissent would not involve a denial of the Church’s right; nevertheless, the one invok¬ing freedom should realize that the Church will generally re¬gard the traditional viewpoint as enjoying a strong presumption of truth, and that a personal concern for the faithful will urge the Church to exact from the one claiming freedom patience, sobriety in expression of a newer viewpoint, and circumspection in pro¬pounding his views.”70

Bruno Schueller, S.J., clearly perceived the needed contem¬porary reinterpretation:

An interesting example of emphasis is found in a monograph called When the Popes Speak by F. Gallati (F. Gallati, Wenn die Paepste Sprechen, Vienna: 1960). He talks of when one is “allowed” to with¬draw one’s submission to a judgment of the authentic magisterium, thereby inferring that one need not! Yet the conditions he gives in¬volve “clear and convincing” grounds for thinking that the magisterium is in error. Such grounds should make withdrawal of submission strictly obligatory! Further on, Gallati takes as self-evident that, even in such a case, one may not publicly dispute the judgment. Actually, there would seem to be an obligation to correct the error, unless a greater evil would ensue. Hitherto the faithful’s loss of confidence in the authentic magisterium would have seemed to most a greater evil—but what of the case where a mistaken decision causes widespread and agonizing conflict of conscience, and puts on many burdens beyond their strength to bear? Would not a delay in retracting such a decision work against the credibility of the magisterium in the long run? And so against the Church of which the magisterium is part?

Finally, if the faithful were educated as to the significance of the distinction between infallible and merely authentic magisterium, then the danger of their losing confidence in the Church’s teaching would be greatly reduced.7′

Karl Rahner discussed public dissent in the context of an article on demoncracy in the Church:

This does not mean, however, that there can be no serious theological differences of opinion in the Church, nor that the case would, from the outset and in principle, be excluded, in which a Christian appealing to his conscience, refuses obedience to a —well-intended to be sure— particular command of one who holds an office in the Church, the reason being that this Christian despite the “good faith” of the office¬holder, has to judge this command to be incompatible with justice or love. We must become accustomed to such dissonances in the Church. We must learn to understand that tensions do not have to destroy the unity of confession, the will to obedience and love. Both sides must become accustomed to this: The official leadership, which must not think that in the Church calm or silence is the first and last “civic duty”; the laity, who must not think that, because of the fundamental possibility of theological differences of opinion and because of the possibility of withholding obedience in a particular case, an arbitrary stance in theological matters and a fundamental revolutionary hostility toward the official leadership are the ideal attitudes.72

Within the last decade there has also been a somewhat pub¬licized debate even in the more popular press about the obedience required of Catholics to the pronouncements of the noninfallible hierarchical magisterium, particularly in the form of encyclicals. The occasion for the debate was the Encyclical of Pope John XXIII, Mater et Magistra, issued in 1961. This controversy be¬gan with a number of editorials in the National Review (begin¬ning in the July 29, 1961 issue) and with the inclusion of the now famous “Mater, si; Magistra, no” in the collection of mis¬cellaneous items under the heading “For the Record” in the July 29, 1961 issue of the same publication. The controversy continued for more than a year in such other popular Catholic publications as America and Ave Maria.

In 1964, Professor Gary Wills published Politics and Catholic Freedom, which reviewed the controversy over Mater et Magistra and considered in a popular manner the question of individual conscience and the assent due to the noninfallible papal teach¬ing, especially in the form of encyclicals.T3 The very first words in this volume, from the Foreword by Professor Will Herberg, are most interesting in light of subsequent events:

The encyclical Mater et Magistra, issued by Pope John XXIII in 1961, captivated world opinion by the breadth and generosity of its appeal. It also raised some questions, and initiated a controversy, that, in the long run, may prove as significant as the substantive content of the message. The questions raised related to the nature and extent of the assent required of believing Catholics to a Papal encyclical and its various parts. The controversy over these questions flared up for a brief moment, and then appears to have subsided. But the appearance is surely deceptive. . . , (74)

Post-Vatican II ecclesiology contemporizes the classic “right to dissent” in a dialogic context. There is, first of all, the very experience of the Council. The conciliar documents did not descend full-grown from above but were arrived at only after long and sometimes bitter debate. If we believe the Spirit to have presided over Vatican II, it remains true that the Spirit guided its course precisely through the human dialectic of disagreement, discus¬sion and compromise. Nor was this dialectic a closed debate among members of “the teaching Church”; it involved consultation with theologians, with the non-Catholic observers present, and even, through the press, with the non-Christian world. Whatever prog¬ress was made at the Council was in varying measures due to all these factors; it would be presumptuous to restrict the working of the Spirit to any single one of them.

Secondly, there is the perspective in which Vatican II discussed the infallibility of the Church. The Dogmatic Constitution on the Church deliberately refrained from speaking of the infallibility of the Church in credendo (in believing) as a “passive” thing, deriv¬ing from the “active” infallibility of the magisterium as an ef¬fect from a cause.75 The Council Fathers did indeed speak of the Church’s “faithful obedience” to “the guidance of the sacred teaching authority,” but they did so in a context in which it had also been explained to them that respected post-Tridentine theolo¬gians saw no danger to the hierarchy in arguing “from the faithful to the hierarchy,” or from infallibility in credendo to infallibility in docendo (in teaching). (76)

Along the same lines, the Council insisted (in the Dogmatic Constitution on the Church) on the freedom and responsibility of the laity to make known to Church authorities their needs, desires and opinions.77 In the Pastoral Constitution on the Church in the Modern World, the Council referred to that assertion in the Dogmatic Constitution on the Church to indicate that “all the faithful, clerical and lay, possess a lawful freedom of inquiry and of thought, and the freedom to express their minds humbly and courageously about those matters in which they enjoy com-petence.”79 Such comments are not without connection with conci- liar statements on charisms in the Church.80

In such statements the Council may be considered to be thema- tizing its own experience. Another indication to the same effect can be found in the Council’s acknowledgment that the forces leading towards the growth of the Church’s understanding of itself and of its mission and message proceed not only from within the Roman Catholic Church. God’s grace and truth also exist outside the Roman Catholic community in non-Catholic Christians and their communities,81 in non-Christian religions82 and in the world. (83)  From dialogue with non-Catholics, the Church grows in its self- knowledge and self-criticism.S4 With the world and aided by it, the Church, which does not have solutions to all men’s problems, commits itself to search for them.85 From the world which she helps, the Church has, in her turn, derived abundant and various helps in preparing the way for the Gospel80 and even in her presenta¬tion of the knowledge of God.87

The Second Vatican Council, while restating the place and role of the teaching office in the Church, at the same time recog¬nized and emphasized the activity of the Spirit in many and differ¬ing ways in the Church and in the world. It is from all these workings of the Spirit that the Church grows in its understanding and accomplishment of its mission, and it may be suggested that by all these workings the Spirit might operate for the correc¬tion of mistaken teachings.

Dissent as Interpretation in the Contemporary Theological Context. When transposed to the contemporary theological con¬text, therefore, the traditional “right to dissent” is but an aspect of the wider and deeper question of theological interpretation or hermeneutic. It is merely one way to assure the genuine develop¬ment of doctrine and to assure that doctrinal vocabulary does not lose its underlying truth-value (as involved with mystery). Such would happen whenever doctinal formulae become overly clear and distinct and overly literalized or are frozen in an older thought pattern and language structure (the constant temptation of an age with little or no historical sense).

The theologian’s task of interpretation and his responsibility to assure genuine development, at times, in the history of theology, have put him in a very uncomfortable position. It is re¬grettable but understandable that the major theologians who are recognized as the most fruitful reinterpreters of Catholic tradition were often distrusted in their own age by those entrapped in an¬other conceptual framework and thereby unable to appreciate the possibilites of development within their own tradition. The experi¬ences of such now revered figures as Lagrange, Congar, de Lubac and Teilhard de Chardin are recent examples of this problem. In former ages the episcopal condemnations of St. Thomas

Aquinas and the persisting suspicion surrounding the theological career of Cardinal Newman are ample indications of this dif-ficulty.

Within the pluralism of interpretive possibilities within the Roman Catholic theological tradition, the only positions which may be considered theologically responsible are those which, whether they seem “conservative” or “liberal,” reject any extrinsicist in¬terpretation of the relationship of the theologian to his tradition by recalling always both the reality of tradition and its need for theological interpretation and by developing adequate theological interpretive tools for that task. What was classically understood as “dissent” may properly be understood only in the wider context of the interpretation task of the theologian, as it was affirmed in the “approved authors” and in Vatican II, and as it has achieved a yet deeper recognition and expression in the developmental con¬text of genuinely Catholic theology.88

The nature of contemporary theology is intimately related to the pastoral concern of the Church and cannot be scientifically separated from it. The classical distinction between speculative and practical intellect is no longer adequate to the study of the con¬stitutive meaning-possibilities of the contemporary context. Part of the significant data which the contemporary theologian must investigate is the contemporary situation itself. He must become more familiar than his classical counterpart with the seemingly external cultural factors, especially those transforming-meaning factors, concerning his discipline. Moreover, the theologian must himself be involved in the attempt to thematize those transform¬ing possibilities; he cannot ignore the “existential” (practical, pastoral) consequences of his work without violating his co- responsibility to the community-church which sustains him, gives him his meaning and rightfully expects him to find ways to medi¬ate the meaning he has discovered for critical evaluation and “existential” aid. Indeed, the theologian’s relationship to his faith-community and the demands put upon him to dramatize the constitutive meanings of the Christian vis-a-vis contemporary cul¬ture in turn require of him responsible speech to those concrete (“pastoral,” “existential,” “practical”) situations wherein his competence lies; the gravity of a particular situation may im¬pel him to speak.

Given the recognized “right to dissent,” reinterpreted more ac¬curately to signify the right to interpret the traditional data in a different manner with respect to authoritative non-infallible pro-nouncements of the Roman Catholic tradition, the demands put upon the theologian to speak as theologian (“conscious of his duties and his limitations”) with respect to a concrete situation where his competence is clear will fall under the general rubric of his duties as an academician committed to interpreting the Roman Catholic tradition by the best scientific methods of his day. He cannot responsibly withdraw himself from the life of the very church-community which he serves.

Ecclesiological Framework of the Exercise of the Interpretive Theological Function in the Instance of Humanae Vitae

Ecclesiology Implied and Methodology Used by Paul VI in the Writing and Promulgation of Humanae Vitae. The Catholic schol¬ars of the sacred sciences who subscribed to the statement had a duty to interpret the Encyclical.89 An examination and evaluation of the “ecclesiology implied and methodology used by Paul VI in the writing and promulgation of the document”90 was undertaken, with constant reference to the presently developed state of ecclesiologi¬cal science and ecclesial self-awareness. Sufficient serious reasons appeared to these scholars to “take exception” to the ecclesiology implied and the methodology used by the Pope in this act of magisterium.

From an ecclesiological viewpoint alone, the issuance of Hu¬manae Vitae suggested a preconciliar style of exercise of papal authority. The ecclesiological presuppositions of the Encylical are a controlling influence on the theological methodology and argu¬mentation employed. The ecclesiology of Humanae Vitae tends to be decisively hierarchical and does not evidence warranted appreciation of the magisterial significance of separated ecclesial communities and of the many Catholic spouses whose experience has led them to other conscientious conclusions. The Encyclical’s rejection of solutions to the contraception question “which departed from the moral teaching on marriage proposed with constant firmness by the teaching authority of the Church,”91 seems to re¬flect on the witness of spouses, theologians, scientists, doctors and members of the papal birth control commission, particularly in its assertion that “men of good will” must come to accept the con¬clusions of the Encyclical. It appeared that Pope Paul treated the witness of previous popes as exclusively decisive. This is par¬ticularly indicated by the footnote citations. Aside from the quota¬tions from Scripture (none of which are apposite to the con-traception issue), there are 33 references to popes, 14 to Vatican Council II, 3 to the Catechism of the Council of Trent and one to the Code of Canon Law. Only one reference is made to only one theologian, St. Thomas Aquinas. Lumen Gentium, Gaudium et Spes and the Decree on Ecumenism of Vatican II articulate an ecclesiological atmosphere that differs basically from the rather hierarchological character of Humanae Vitae.

The Encyclical’s usage of the term “the Church” suggests that the Church is considered equivalent to the hierarchy and, oc¬casionally, to the pope.92 There is also a tendency to equate the magisterium with the papal office: “That commission . . . had as its scope the gathering of opinions on the new questions regard¬ing conjugal life … so that the magisterium could give an adequate reply to the expectation not only of the faithful, but also of world opinion.”93 Near the end of the Encyclical, the Pope asks for acceptance of his teaching because the Spirit of God “assists the magisterium in proposing doctrine. . . ,” (94)

Vatican II urged that Christian morality be in greater dialogue with the findings of “the secular sciences.”95 The mood of this exhortation was one of dialogue and openness to the moral signifi¬cance of the sciences. Humanae Vitae approaches scientists less in a framework of dialogue than in a directive and instructive mood. (96)

Such ecclesiological considerations and their methodological im¬plications alone would engender caution and reserve in evaluating any specific ethical teaching issuing therefrom. Ecclesiology and theological methodology are necessary and intrinsic to the proper understanding and evaluation of the question of “dissent” from the specific ethical teaching of Humanae Vitae on the absolute pro¬hibition of the use of artificial contraception.

Some Ecclesiological Implications of a Critical Interpretation of Humanae Vitae. If Humanae Vitae does not require assent, is there any teaching of the ordinary papal magisterium which must be considered as requiring assent? A serious equivocation and a dangerously simplistic mentality may be implied by such a ques¬tion. The “required” assent to an authoritative, noninfallible papal teaching is not taught in the Church to be unconditional or un¬qualified; it should never be equated with the assent of divine faith properly so-called, nor even with the assent given to solemn and infallible definitions of other matters not directly of divine faith. In fact, the assent “required” by the very nature of Humanae Vitae was, or should have been, known as a matter of condition or qualification regarding a teaching that is presumptively, but only presumptively, true. In the final analysis the presumption can be weakened or effectively rebutted by serious reasons to the contrary.

Assent to Humanae Vitae can be suspended only because serious, personally convincing reasons lead a person to believe that the general presumption is not verified in the instance. Further¬more, depending on the weight of authority operative in each case, any other authoritative teaching of the magisterium also re¬quires assent and can be dissented from only for reasons that are similarly sound and convincing. This analysis asserts nothing that is not implicit in the recognition that such teaching is fallible. If it is fallible, it may be mistaken. If it may be mistaken, ab¬solute unqualified assent need not be given. If it is mistaken, it has no claim on assent. If a person is convinced that it is mis¬taken, then he may, indeed he must, suspend assent to it. This is the teaching of the manuals and the teaching presupposed by

 

Lumen Gentium and implicitly referred to in Humanae Vitae it¬self.07 It does not undermine papal teaching authority to maintain that in one or another, even in one very serious case, it has been wrong. The authors of the manuals considered that very pos¬sibility without suspecting that they were thereby undermining the papal teaching office.

If the Encyclical is possibly wrong about contraception, then it is possible that for many centuries the Church has been giving incorrect moral guidance. Some theologians will believe it impos¬sible for the Spirit to let the Church fall that seriously into error. It is risky, however, to try to predict how much of evil (whether the evil of sin or the evil of error) God might permit to creep into the Church.98 There are cases in which the hierarchical magis¬terium has been wrong in the past (some indicated in the State¬ment), and there are no a priori grounds on which it can be demonstrated that it could not be wrong again. The reformable teaching of Humanae Vitae requires assent only to the extent that it is objectively true; thus, although one may be required to obey a law that one may believe to be incorrect, no one can be required to assent to a teaching he believes to be incorrect. The possibility cannot be excluded a priori that the Spirit may make his will known independently of the pope; it cannot be demonstrated a priori that it is not the Spirit who is leading individuals to dissent in this case; and therefore it cannot be excluded a priori that the Spirit may be using such dissent to correct more quickly than would otherwise be possible a teaching that is, as all agree, at least reformable and possibly incorrect.

These ecclesiological implications of a critical interpretation of Humanae Vitae are consistent with the self-understanding of a “pilgrim” church which is in constant process of renewal and reform, and just as they are consistent with the implications of the teaching of Vatican II itself, they are antecedently provided for by long-term and conventional ecclesiological science.

Clearly, the ecclesiological context out of which the Statement of Theologians of July 30, 1968 and related events arose is an

 

essential and intrinsic consideration in any judgment of respon-sible theological activity. A sense of the modern historical develop¬ment of the Church’s self-awareness and of the silence of ecclesi¬ology, from the counter-reform era to the present post-Vatican II period, sets a general context within which the contemporary Catholic theologian views his task of interpretation and reinter- pretation. Specifically, he knows that “dissent” from non- infallible teachings of the hierarchical magisterium is, and has always been, nothing more than one of many interpretive options open to him when sufficient reasons exist to exercise this right. Finally, the contemporary Catholic theologian is intensely aware of the veritable ecclesiological imperatives operative today whenever he is called upon by his very role in the Church to function in a particular instance.

Notes

 

  1. Cf. K. McNamara, “From Moehler to Vatican II: The Modern Move¬

ment of Ecclesiology,” in K. McNamara, ed., Vatican II: The Constitution on the Church, a Theological and Pastoral Commentary (Chicago: Franciscan Herald, 1968), pp. 9-35.

  1. Cf. P. Fannon, S.M.M., “The Council and The Bible: The Church,”

The Clergy Review, New Series, 48 (1963), pp. 696-708.

  1. Cf. Ibid.
  2. Cf. P. Fransen, “The Theological Implication of the Discussions of

the Liturgy at The Second Vatican Council,” The Scottish Journal of Theology, 16 (1963), pp. 5-6.

  1. Cf. J. Hamer, “The Meaning and Implications of the Encyclical

‘Mystici Corporis,'” in The Church is a Communion (New York: Sheed & Ward, 1964), pp. 13-25.

  1. For brief expansions of this matter, see K. McNamara, art. cit.; J.

Hamer, op. cit.; and J. O. McGovern, The Church in the Churches (Washington: Corpus Books, 1967), pp. 19-38.

  1. P. Fransen, op. cit., pp. 5-6.
  2. Cf. Ibid., pp. 6-9.
  3. For a precis on the new acquisitions of Vatican II, see E. Schillebeeckx,

The Real Achievement of Vatican II (New York: Herder, 1967), pp. 27-43; 46-52. Schillebeeckx has noted that the “new” achieve¬ments of Vatican II possibly represent “how much has been officially

accepted of what may well have been alive among the faithful— theologians and others—long before the Council but could, at that time at least, neither appeal to the Church’s teaching authority nor look to the hierarchy for support,” p. 27.

  1. G. Baum, “The Constitution on the Church,” Journal of Ecumenical

Studies, 2 (1965), pp. 1-19.

  1. Ibid., pp. 8-9.
  2. See chapter two of the Constitution on the Church; Cf. G. Baum, op.

cit.; E. Van Antwerp, “Collegiality in the Constitution on the Church,” Guide, 199 (1965), pp. 7-14; L. Cardinal Seunens, Co- responsibility in the Church (New York: Herder, 1968), chap. one.

  1. Cf. Constitution on the Church and apposite commentaries.
  2. D. Worlock, “The Layman in the Church,” The Clergy Review, 50

(1965), pp. 836-843.

  1. K. McNamara, art. cit., p. 35.
  2. Cf. P. Chirico, “One Church: What Does It Mean?” Theological

Studies, 28 (1967), pp. 659-682; C. Hay, “The Ecclesiological Significance of the Decree on Ecumenism,” Journal of Ecumenical Studies, 3 (1966), pp. 343-353-

  1. Cf. Vatican II documents and commentaries: Decree on Ecumenism;

Declaration on the Relationship of the Church to Non-Christian Religions; Pastoral Constitution on the Church in the Modern World.

  1. E. Schillebeeckx, “The Church as a Sacrament of Dialogue,” in God,

the Future of Man (New York: Sheed & Ward, 1968), pp. 117-40.

  1. Cf. especially Vatican II, Decree on Ecumenism, paras. 4 and 6.
  2. J bid.
  3. Ibid., para. 6.
  4. 54 AAS (1962), 792.
  5. Cf. H. Ott, “The Reformed Theologian of Basel,” in G. Barauna, ed., La

Chiesa del Vaticano II (Florence: Vallechi, 1966), p. 1227.

  1. Letter to International Theological Congress at Rome, September 21,

1966, cf. L’Osservatore Romano, s.d.

  1. Cf. E. Schillebeeckx, op. cit.; L. Suenens, op. cit., pp. 15 ff.
  2. Suenens, loc. cit.
  3. Cf. e.g., H. Kiing, The Church (New York: Sheed & Ward, 1968),

as an example of a fresh postconciliar ecclesiology; also, R. Reuther, The Church Against Itself (New York: Herder, 1967).

  1. J. C. Murray, “Freedom, Authority, Community,” IDO-C, 67-1

(January 15, 1967); F. Klosterman, “Principles of a Structural Reform,” IDO-C, 67-23 (July 16, 1967).

  1. Cf., E. Kaesemann, “Unity and Diversity in New Testament Ecclesi¬

ology,” Novum Testamentum, 6 (1963), 290-97; J. Ratzinger, “Office and Unity of the Church,” Journal of Ecumenical Studies,

I (1964), pp. 42-57; H. Kiing, op cit., pp. 388-413, 428-29, 456-65; M. Bourke, “Reflections on Church Order in the New Testament,” Catholic Biblical Quarterly, 30 (1968), pp. 493-511; R. Schnackenburg, Church in the New Testament (New York: Herder, 1965), pp. 22-35, 74-77. 94-102, 126-132.

  1. H. Kiing, “The Charismatic Structure of the Church,” Guide, 227

(1968), pp. 7—11; K. Rahner, “Dynamic Element in the Church,” Quaestiones Disputatae, 12 (New York: Herder, 1964); W. Koupal, “Charism: a Relational Concept,” Worship, 42 (1968), pp. 539-45.

  1. Cf. J. L. McKenzie, “Reflections on the Church’s Teaching Authority,”

Catholic World, 203 (1966), pp. 86-90; Ibid., Authority in the Church (New York: Sheed & Ward, 1966); J. C. Murray, “Freedom, Authority, Community,” 1DO-C, 67-1 (January 15, 1967).

  1. R. Murray, “Collegiality, Infallibility and Sobernost,” One in Christ,

I (1965), p. 21.

  1. G. Baum, “The Magisterium in a Changing Church,” in Concilium,

vol. I, n. 3 (January 1967), (London: Burns and Oates), pp. 34-42.

  1. G. Baum, “The Christian Adventure—Risk and Renewal,” The Critic,

23 (April-May 1965), PP- 41-53-

  1. E. Kaesemann and R. Brown, “New Testament Ecclesiology,” Theology

Digest, 13 (1965), pp. 228-233.

  1. J. T. Noonan, Jr., “Authority, Usury, and Contraception,” Cross

Currents, 16 (1966), pp. 55-79.

  1. P. Fransen, “The Authority of the Councils,” in Problems of Authority,

ed., John M. Todd (Baltimore: Helicon, 1963), pp. 43-78.

  1. Q. Quade and J. Rhodes, “What Can the Church Demand?” The

Catholic World (December 1966), pp. 162-169.

  1. G. Dejaifve, “Infallibility and Consent of the Church,” Theology Digest,

12 (1964), PP. 8-13.

  1. J. C. Bennett, “A Protestant View of Authority in the Church,”

Theology Digest, II (1963), pp. 209-219.

  1. Y. Congar, “The Historical Development of Authority in the Church:

Points for Christian Reflection,” in J. M. Todd ed., Problems of Authority (Baltimore: Helicon, 1962), pp. 119-156.

  1. American Bishops’ Pastoral Statement, Human Life in Our Day

(November, 1968), Washington: U.S.C.C.

  1. Statement by Catholic Theologians of July 30, 1968, para. I.
  2. R. A. MacKenzie, “The Function of Scholars in Forming the Judgment

of the Church,” in L. K. Shook, ed., Theology of Renewal, Vol. II (New York: Herder, 1968), pp. 118-132.

  1. Paul VI, Address to the International Congress on the Theology of

Vatican II, The Pope Speaks, 11 (1966), pp. 351-352.

  1. Statement, para. 1. Cf. supra, chapter 3, passim.

 

  1. Cf. e.g., Trustee (Cardinal) Mclntyre’s motion in the special session

of the Board, September 5, 1968, and the curious post-Inquiry writings of Trustee (Archbishop) Dwyer writing in Twin Circle, May 18 and May 25, 1969.

  1. Denz., 3016 ff.
  2. The words of the First Vatican Council, ibid.
  3. Cf. Denz., 3008.
  4. Cf. Denz. 3011.
  5. Codex luris Canonici, n. 1323.
  6. AAS, Vol. LIX, p. 1058; emphasis added.
  7. Cf. immediately infra. Note that in this section the exposition of the

faith and especially of infallibility follows the teaching generally proposed in the manuals. The subject professors are aware of the contemporary discussion about infallibility, but that discussion stands beyond the scope of this section which merely intends to show that neither the Roman Catholic faith-commitment itself, nor the juridic formula of the Profession of Faith is violated from authoritative, noninfallible papal teaching.

  1. Vatican II, Constitution on the Church, para. 25.
  2. Humanae Vitae, para. 28.
  3. Here the subject professors again acknowledge their indebtedness to

Professors Joseph Komonchak and Harry McSoley for their valu¬able research into the Acts of Vatican II. Cf. J. A. Komonchak, “Ordinary Papal Magisterium and Religious Assent,” in C. E. Curran, ed., Contraception: Authority and Dissent (New York: Herder, 1969), pp. 101-126.

  1. Schemata Constitutionum et Decretorum de quibus disceptabitur in

Concilii sessionibus: Series Secunda, De Ecclesia et de B. Maria Virgine (Vatican Press, 1962), pp. 48-49. 59- Ibid., p. 57.

  1. Ibid.
  2. Schema Constitutionis Dogmaticae De Ecclesia: Pars I (Vatican Press,

1963), p. 30.

  1. Emendationes a Concilii Patribus scripto exhibitae Constitutionis

Dogmaticae De Ecclesia, Pars I (Vatican Press, 1963), pp. 43-44.

  1. Ibid.
  2. Schema Constitutionis De Ecclesia (Vatican Press, 1964), p. 96;

(italics in the original text here and elsewhere unless otherwise indicated).

  1. Schema Constitutionis Dogmaticae De Ecclesia: Modi a Patribus

conciliaribus propositi a commissione doctrinali examinati, III: De constitutione hierarchica Ecclesiae et in specie de Episcopatu (Vatican Press, 1964), p. 42.

 

  1. Ibid., p. 42.
  2. Ibid.
  3. Ibid.
  4. Human Life in Our Day (November, 1968), Washington: U.S.C.C.,
  5. 18.
  6. S. Donlon, S.J., “Freedom of Speech,” The New Catholic Encyclopedia,

Vol. 6, p. 123.

  1. B. Schueller, S.J., “Remarks on the Authentic Pronouncements of the

Magisterium,” 16 Theology Digest 330-31 (Winter 1968). This article is a precis of “Bemerkunger zut authentischen Verkundigung des kirchlichen Lehramtes,” 42 Theologie und Philosophie 534 (1967).

  1. K. Rahner, “Demokratie in der Kirche,” 182 Stimmen der Zeit (July

1968), pp. 1—15.

  1. G. Wills, Politics and Catholic Freedom (Chicago: Henry Regnery

Co., 1964).

  1. Ibid., p. ix.
  2. Schema Constitutionis De Ecclesia (Vatican Press, 1964), p. 46.
  3. Ibid.
  4. Vatican II, Constitution on the Church, para. 37.
  5. Vatican II, Pastoral Constitution on the Church in the Modern World,

para. 62.

  1. Cf. the use of this text in the first draft of the doctrinal report of the

Synod of Bishops: “As far as doctrine is concerned, we must dis¬tinguish between truths infallibly defined by the magisterium of the Church and those which are authentically proposed but without the intention of defining. While preserving that (sic) obedience to the magisterium, ‘the just freedom of research for faithful aid clerics, as also freedom of thought and of expressing their opinion with courage and humility in those matters in which they are com¬petent.’ . . .” P. Hebblewaithe, Inside the Synod: Rome, 1967 (New York: Paulist Press, 1968), pp. 132-33.

  1. Vatican II, Constitution on the Church, para. 12.
  2. Vatican II, Decree on Ecumenism, paras. 3, 20, 21; Constitution on the

Church, paras. 8, 15, 16; Pastoral Constitution on the Church in the Modern World, para. 40.

  1. Vatican II, Declaration on the Relations of the Church to Non-Christian

Religions, paras. 1-2.

  1. Vatican II, Pastoral Constitution on the Church in the Modern World,

paras. 22, 26, 34, 36, 38.

  1. Vatican II, Decree on Ecumenism, paras. 4, 9.
  2. Vatican II, Pastoral Constitution on the Church in the Modern World,

paras. 10, 11, 33.

  1. Ibid., nn. 40, 44, 57.

 

 

  1. Ibid., n. 62.
  2. Especially as expressed by E. Schillebeeckx, “Toward a Catholic Use

of Hermeneutic,” in God, the Future of Man (New York: Sheed & Ward, 1968), pp. 1-49.

  1. Cf. supra, Chapter 2, on the nature and function of theology and

theologians.

  1. Statement, para. 3.
  2. Humanae Vitae, para. 6.
  3. Cf. Humanae Vitae, para. 4 with note 4; para. 6; para. 11 with note 12;

para. 14 with note 15; para. 15 with note 19; paras. 16, 17, 18, 20, 25 and 28.

  1. Humanae Vitae, para. 5; cf. note 5 which refers to the papal allocution

of June 23, 1964 in which Paul VI promised a decision on the birth control question.

  1. Humanae Vitae, para. 29.
  2. Vatican II, Pastoral Constitution on the Church in the Modern World,

para. 62.

  1. Humanae Vitae, para. 24.
  2. It should be recalled that a prohibition of further public discussion

after a papal pronouncement included in the first draft of the Schema de Ecclesia at Vatican II, was dropped in the second Schema; cf. supra, pp. II-34 and III-27 to 30.

  1. Cf. J. Cameron’s criticism of Charles Davis for failing to place

ecclesiastical failure and sin against the larger background of the enormous evils that exist in the world but do not shake our belief in God’s existence or providence, New Black friars, 49 (1968), P- 333-