Thursday, April 03, 2014

Can Catholic Doctrine Change?

A friend of mine posed the following to me...
Thoughts? Change occurs in official (non-defined) Catholic doctrine like this: 
1. The doctrine is insisted on more and more sternly and vigorously. 
2. Then things go quiet. 
3. Then it is allowed that circumstances have changed, so that what may have been universally true is now only usually true. 
4. Then a few exceptions are made. 
5. Then no real attempt is made to implement the teaching. 
6. Then statements are made which indirectly contradict the teaching. 
7. Then it is stated that opposite of the original teaching is true and that in fact this is what was always taught, when the original teaching is rightly understood. 
This is certainly the case with usury, suicide, "the fate of unbaptized infants", the status of the Eastern Orthodox churches, and slavery.
My initial response was:
I am not aware of any of those being "universal teachings" to begin with. In order for me to comment I'd need to see the alleged original, universal teaching and contrast that with the alleged new teaching.
He said:
I don't think it was saying they were dogmatic definitions but were examples of "official (non-defined) Catholic doctrine."
I responded:
And I don't think I need to tell you that even "official" but "non-defined" doctrines can change. It is "official" that Latin Rite priests are not married, but this could change too - and there are already some exceptions to that "rule."
He said:
The rule that Latin Rite priests are not married (generally) is not doctrine, is it? It's discipline, right?
And continues...
I just thought the progression of such changes in what I shared was interesting.
I answered:
Well, I would prepare a better answer for you if I had a better premise to start from. I need to see the alleged original "universal" teachings first. Examine them in context and then compare. I've answered several of those already in discussion groups on ACTS - but would be willing to do so again on CathApol.
My friend was not real interested in getting into a more formal debate, but I do believe the statements made are commonly made - and thus do deserve an answer. 

I continue now:
You are correct, the matter of married priests is a matter of discipline, and one which can change and already is acceptable in some rites of the Catholic Church.  In my humble opinion, far too much emphasis is made on this subject.  It is a matter of vocation.  If one is called to the celibate priesthood, then they should heed the call.  If one is not so called, then they should pursue marriage where they can be fruitful and multiply (or at least have the potential for such).

Usury:
The matter of usury is often related to the charging of interest on any loan of cash, however this perspective has changed - especially with the dawning of the 16th century and the advent of Protestantism, where charging interest became more and more commonplace.  Today "usury" would be defined as exorbitant interest which takes advantage of the poor and desperate - which, indeed, is the scriptural root of this concept (see Ex 22:25).  I find it interesting that in the parable of the talents, the servants who returned MORE than was given to them were rewarded for it and the one who returned exactly what he was entrusted with was cast out into the place where there is weeping and gnashing of teeth, (Matt. 25:30) and was told that he should have at least invested in the bankers, where he could have earned interest on the money!  Scripture actually supports a FAIR collection and reception of interest (Matt. 25:27).  So, while challengers to the Catholic Church's position base their argument in a hyper-literal interpretation - they appear to be overlooking a broader interpretation which includes and even encourages participation in interest.  I would re-emphasize, this is not a matter of defined dogma and thus the Church can "teach" on the matter and "change" the teaching when it deems the teaching should be changed.  This is really a non-issue for apologetics for those who objectively look at it.

Suicide:
I am not aware of any change in Catholic teaching on suicide.  Thou shalt not kill includes killing of one's self.  It is a mortal sin to murder anyone, including yourself, so the conclusion could be drawn that one who successfully commits suicide has condemned themselves to Hell - but the Church condemns no one to Hell.  The teaching is clear, don't do it, but for one who does - well, only God is in the position of the Final Judge over the state of the soul at death.  What if the person after committing the act and before completely dying repents?  Again, God will judge whether that was sufficient or not.  Non-issue.

The Fate of Un-baptized Infants (aka Limbo):
Limbo was never a dogmatically defined teaching, though it was widely accepted and "taught."  Again, just because something is "taught" does not make it dogma.  If it's not dogma, it can change.  The Church does not reject the concept of Limbo - it just does not "teach" it anymore.  Again, another non-issue.

The Status of Eastern Orthodox Churches:
The "status" has not changed.  They are not in full communion with the Bishop of Rome.  The Catholic Church does not reject the legitimacy of Eastern Orthodox sacraments.  I am not sure what my friend is getting at here, this is not an apologetics issue.

Slavery:
Again, Scripture itself does not oppose all forms of slavery.  The matter is not something which is a change in dogma, but a cultural change in discipline.  Again, this is not a matter which needs "defending."

What concerns me as well is my friend is a former Catholic and really should already know these answers.  I'm a bit surprised he is throwing these rather weak and stereotypical anti-Catholic arguments.

35 comments:

  1. Hello Scott,

    The Church's teaching on Usury have not changed. Here's a good short Encyclical on the matter:
    http://www.ewtn.com/library/ENCYC/B14VIXPE.HTM

    Usury is charging any interest, not merely "excessive." The only type of way you can get a 'return on a loan' is in the sense of a 'productive loan,' where the person who borrows the money from you promises to give you a cut of any *profits* made by his endeavor. This isn't collecting interest, since the man borrowing the money doesn't owe you money on the amount loaned.

    So as an example, if I borrow $100 from you to set up a hot dog stand, I cannot say you owe me "$100 plus 5%" at the end of the year. But I can give you $100 with the agreement that of all the hot dogs you sell that year, I get 5% of the company profits. Otherwise, if the hot dog stand fails, all you owe me is $100 at the end of the year.

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    1. Hello Nick,
      I don't believe that your conclusion is quite that simple. The document you cite is over 250 years old. Money and its place in society were quite different in the 18th century. Quite often the rich preyed on the poor and this is the type of usury that the pope was addressing. Money has a different value and a different place in our society. If banks didn't charge interest how could they stay in business, let alone pay their employees. A better example of usury today would be the recent real estate banking scandal, in which people lost their homes because the market place tanked and many, many people had exorbitant loans that subsequently went into foreclosure. We should always speak out against anyone taking advantage of anyone else--no matter what the circumstances.

      Here is an article to help explain this, one of the more recent red herrings against the authority of the Church:
      (This article includes a short discussion on the papal document you cited.)
      http://www.catholicculture.org/culture/library/view.cfm?recnum=646
      The concluding paragraph of the article: "Due to advances in transportation, communications and generally expanding economies, the nature of money itself has changed in the course of time. A loan that was usurious at one point in history, due to the unfruitfulness of money, is not usurious later, when the development of competitive markets has changed the nature of money itself. But this is not a change of the Church's teaching on usury. Today nearly all commercial transactions, including monetary loans at interest, do not qualify as usury. This constitutes a change only in the nature of the financial transaction itself, not in the teaching of the Church on usury. "Still she maintains dogmatically that there is such a sin as usury, and what it is, as defined in the Fifth Council of Lateran ""

      Usury does not equal the charging of interest.
      The Catholic encyclopedia has a well written article on the Catholic definition of usury.
      http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/15235c.htm

      A Father Coulter also addressed this issue (and its use as anti-Catholic fodder):
      http://www.catholicactionresourcecenter.com/usurybyfrcoulter.htm
      "What changed? Not the church's teaching on usury. At one time, the only cost to the lender was the loan itself, and so the Church taught in that particular time nothing above the principal could be taken on such loans. Today, the title of lost profit is a general fact of life. In economic terms, there is an "opportunity cost" of loaning one's money, which deserves just remuneration. Numerous investment opportunities have together established a "price" for money: the market rate of interest. In addition, a common interest rate automatically devalues one's money over time. In making a loan, one would justly deserves compensation under the title of loss."
      Note: Fr. Coulter also address the 1745 papal encyclical you cited.
      In conclusion: "Usury is the prohibition of gain from a loan sought directly by a lender without a just title. This is the definition of the usury prohibition as it was taught, understood and interpreted by the Church for thousands of years, just as it is today. Anything charged beyond the legitimate claim is still called usury, and taking such usury is - as it always was - a sin against justice. There has been obvious change in our economic conditions, which resulted in a necessary development of how this teaching is applied. Yet the Church's basic teaching on the subject remains unchanged, and thus usury fails to be a valid example of a reversal of Church teaching."

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    2. Hello Catholic Mom of 5,

      The first link you gave concerned me, because it seemed to basically reduce the Church’s strong words against usury to that of hypothetical situations. For example, it concludes: “Today nearly all commercial transactions, including monetary loans at interest, do not qualify as usury,” which is outrageous in my opinion. Even you rightly pointed out the real estate banking scandal as usury, and this was a *huge* part of our economy as the resulting recession proved. And how are credit cards not usury, especially when most of the transactions are by average citizens who aren’t doing anything more than paying monthly bills or buying junk? If I have to pay my utility bill with a credit card, and Visa wants to charge me interest on that, I see that as a textbook case of usury. The danger I see in that first article is that he basically provides such a huge ‘loophole’ that usury could always be dodged, even when it is taking place.

      The second link you gave, Catholic Encyclopedia, seemed a bit convoluted and long-winded compared to the clear principles laid out in Vix Pervenit. (I’ll quote some of it shortly.)

      The third link by Fr Coulter was the most balanced of the three, but I think he went completely contrary to the spirit of the Church by basically saying that we can safely assume usury isn’t taking place so we don’t need to worry about it. That’s just dangerous spiritual advice coming from a priest! The widespread use of credit cards is really the biggest proof that usury is alive and well.

      Now consider these quotes from Vix Pervenit:

      In this very brief four page Encyclical, which everyone should read, the Church teaches that usury “assumes various forms and appearances,” meaning it can easily be present even if it doesn’t appear so on the surface. The Pope says we should be on guard since “money, which has been loaned without apparent interest, may actually contain concealed usury.” Throughout the Encyclical, the Pope is clear that loopholes are not permitted: “Even though [a contract] may not fall under the precise rubric of usury (since all reciprocity, both open and hidden, is absent), restitution [for this loophole usury] is obligated.

      But the Pope raises the warning even more:
      “We exhort you not to listen to those who say that today the issue of usury is present in name only, since gain is almost always obtained from money given to another. How false is this opinion and how far removed from the truth!” and also “it is clearly invalid to suggest…that the issue of usury is irrelevant in our times.

      And almost as if speaking to the authors of the links you gave, the Pope says:
      “But you must diligently consider this, that some will falsely and rashly persuade themselves that together with loan contracts there are other legitimate titles or, excepting loan contracts, they might convince themselves that other just contracts exist, for which it is permissible to receive a moderate amount of interest. Should any one think like this, he will oppose not only the judgment of the Catholic Church on usury, but also common human sense and natural reason.
      This is basically a blanket condemnation against the claim that a given economy can safely ignore the danger of usury. The Church takes “concealed” usury very seriously, so those brushing this off as irrelevant to our modern business loans and contracts are acting very rash indeed. One MUST think with the mind of the Church here and not rush to defend modern economic transactions, much less give a blanket blessing of them.

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    3. Well, there is obviously nothing I could say that could convince you that there has been some development on this issue. I would point out that while papal encyclicals are authoritative they are not infallible. Interpretation can and does change. The document cited is was written over 250 years ago and as the articles I cited pointed out money and its value in society and personally is much different today, that fact should not be ignored. I do not believe that interest in any and all forms or situations is usury. So, I guess we'll have to agree to disagree on this one.

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    4. Nick,
      First off, cathmom5 has already answered you quite well, but since you addressed me I did not want to just go peacefully into the night. The only thing I would add is the fact that you're not dealing with the point in Scripture where Jesus tells us of the parable of the talents... the one who did not repay the Master with interest was punished and thrown out to where there is weeping and gnashing of teeth! That servant gave back to the Master precisely that which the Master entrusted him with, but no interest - and the example was even given in the text that it would have been better to deposit the talents with the bank so that at least they would have gain interest!

      In short, not all interest is usury. This is truly a non-argument which is only put forth by those who do not know Scripture and typically by those who have an anti-Catholic agenda.

      AMDG,
      Scott<<<

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  2. I suppose you can claim that it is only the "non-defined" catholic teaching that changes, but then it just changes the focus to pointing out that what is supposedly "defined" is a rather fluid and vague concept. For example, Unum Sanctum "declares and defines " using the full force of papal power that without being subject to the Roman Pontiff, there is no salvation. Eastern Orthodox are not subject to the Pontiff, ergo they have no salvation. So we get all these arguments about whether that was defined or not, or whether it means what it clearly says, etc. Pope Eugene at the council of Florence said that "the most holy Catholic Church firmly believes professes and proclaims that those not living within the Catholic Church including schismatics, cannot become participants in eternal life". EO are in schism, ego they have no eternal life.

    On infants, the councils of Lyons and Florence say that nobody unbaptised can see the beatific vision. So unless you want to say they go to hell, then you're left with limbo, except oops, that's also out of fashion.

    Maybe these things were never "defined" but they sure would have looked like it to those living at the time. Maybe the things defined now won't be looking defined in 200 years. There's certainly a ton of wiggle room on that front for something like humanae vitae to be scrapped as obsolete like these other teachings were, when the time is right. Don't know why any catholic would take that seriously. Oh yeah, hardly any do, so that makes sense.

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  3. Even IF those councils (by the way there was more than one Council held in Lyons in the 13th century) addressed baptism, that has nothing to do with Limbo or it being "out of fashion." That "teaching" (LImbo not Baptism) predates both councils and was only that, a teaching by certain men in the Church. As far as I can tell it was a way for men who see issues as black and white could explain where unbaptized babies would go. However, after years of studying Catholic teaching, I can't see that the concept of limbo was ever universal nor considered important enough to teach. The Church has always taught, and still teaches, that Baptism is necessary. In my opinion, humble as it is, I don't believe Jesus would turn His back on any children. Neither is He such a severe judge nor is His Bride, the Church. Jesus said, "Suffer the children to come unto Me." A just, and good God would not condemn innocents to a future of nothingness.

    "As regards children who have died without Baptism, the Church can only entrust them to the mercy of God, as she does in her funeral rites for them. Indeed, the great mercy of God who desires that all men should be saved, and Jesus' tenderness toward children which caused him to say: "Let the children come to me, do not hinder them,"64 allow us to hope that there is a way of salvation for children who have died without Baptism. All the more urgent is the Church's call not to prevent little children coming to Christ through the gift of holy Baptism" (CCC 1261)

    It is not so much a matter of a "change" in doctrine as it is a trust in God's love and mercy--which never goes "out of fashion."

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    1. So what are you saying, that baptism isn't necessary, or that babies go to hell?

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    2. I am saying it isn't either/or. I believe in God's mercy and I believe He brings the children to Himself. That doesn't mean baptism is unnecessary; that means God is not bound by our ideas of what is black and white--He is merciful. He creates us in His image and what He created is good. I do believe that innocent souls go to Heaven. So, the fact that limbo is no longer widely taught (it was not an official teaching of the Church) now is not a matter of fashion but one of understanding--we entrust innocent souls to the "great mercy of God who desires that all men should be saved."

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    3. The councils say no one unbaptised can go to heaven. Oops, catholic doctrine just changed. I think we have our answer to the question posed.

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    4. Number one, none of "the councils" addressed unbaptized babies that I am aware of. Therefore, your black/white approach does not apply.
      Two, by your black/white approach, Christ lied to the thief on the cross, and doesn't care about mothers who've lost babies.
      Three, your anti-Catholic polemic is not truth. If your church teaches that all unbaptized babies go to hell or limbo or whatever, no exception, I'd like to talk to all the women in your church who have lost a child. I'd like to invite them to the Church where Christ's love, hope, and mercy and taught and embraced. I would ask them to come to the Catholic Church for comfort and hope.

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  4. 1. Last I checked, "no-one" includes all people. I don't see Catholics saying, oooh, maybe we'd better not baptise this baby because it isn't a person. If you're going to start excluding groups that aren't excluded in the words of the council, where does it stop? It means every single catholic doctrine can be obliterated just by proposing exception after exception until nothing is left.
    2. Your theological conundrum, not mine.
    3. Your theological conundrum, not mine. I'm not the one saying those councils are infallible unchanging truth.

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  5. 1) Now your argument is getting even sillier. Of course no one Catholic is saying "we'd better not baptize this person." I am not "excluding groups", I simply believe in God's mercy--Just like we, all Christians, see God differently than the Jews did in the Old Testament. We see Him as a loving Father rather than a harsh task master. My belief that God is merciful to unbaptized babies doesn't "obliterate" Catholic doctrine.
    2) I have no conundrum on this issue. You're the one that states that I must believe this issue as black or white--I don't. Therefore, it is no conundrum for me.
    3) Nothing I have said negate the infallibility of the Councils. Just because what I believe doesn't fit in your box doesn't mean anything in Catholic doctrine has changed.
    *Last time I checked, I was still a layman. My belief that limbo (which as I said before was not an official doctrine of the Church) is an outdated, wrong explanation of what happens to unbaptized babies, neither negates the necessity of baptism, not does it condemn babies to hell. As I said, I don't believe it is an either/or issue--that is your belief and I no longer wish to argue a point I never made.

    "In fact only He, the wondrous God-man, is the ‘one thing that is needed’ (cf. Luke 10:42) by man in all his worlds and in his every life." --St. Justin Popovich

    One last thought (you can have the last word, if you must) because this conversation is no longer productive:

    "Do not help the Devil to spread his kingdom. Hallow the name of your Heavenly Father by your actions; help Him to spread His Kingdom on earth. ‘For we are laborers together with God.’" --St. John of Kronstadt

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    1. For the sake of argument, what if the council fathers HAD wanted to say that nobody can get to heaven without being baptised? What would they have said? It seems to me they would have said EXACTLY WHAT THEY DID SAY.

      Or in other words, you are unteachable. If by happy happenstance, a catholic council says what you were inclined to believe anyway, oh joy at luck. But if they say what you don't want to hear, well doesn't matter, you will justify whatever belief takes your fancy.

      What is the point of catholic councils again? What is the point of solemn pronouncements by popes, supposedly which carry the charisma of infallibility? If they say "nobody can be saved without baptism", you just believe something else. If they say "it is ABSOLUTELY necessary for salvation that EVERY human creature be subject to the Roman Pontiff", then you believe something opposite.

      It seems to me that the next time Rome solemnly declares something, we ought not take it with too much seriousness. Humanae Vitae? Uh, it doesn't fit my reasoning as a Catholic, so doesn't matter.

      It's all very well that you can weasel out of plain statements, but it obviates most of the arguments why anyone should bother becoming Roman Catholic.

      Rome has not got a good track record on speaking the truth and sticking to it. Take the council of Constantinople in 869. In 879 there was a joint East West council that annulled the proceedings of the 869 council and instituted its own findings. From then on, everyone assumed the council of 879 represented truth, since the Pope and patriarchs had signed off on it. Then in the 12th century Roman Catholic Canonists decided that the council of 869 would be labelled as "the 8th ecumenical council", even though all Christendom for 300 years had assumed that the 869 council was rubbish, and the 879 council was authoritative.

      I suppose inconveniently, the council of 879 said that nobody was to alter or amend the Nicean creed, and anyone who did so was "condemned and thrown out of the Christian Confession". The trouble is, the western churches had been doing that for quite a while, so a quick revision of history later, and all is solved. We haven't been told what is the statute of limitations on Rome backtracking out of councils. Apparently 300 years is not a problem. 1000 years? Who knows. We'll have to wait and see. Trouble is, nobody really lives long enough to see in their own lifetime what councils will be abandoned.

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  6. The Church also has teachings on Baptism of Desire and Baptism by Blood... what do you have to say about these teachings, John?

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  7. Yet more examples of the death of the infallibility of Roman Catholic councils, by a thousand cuts?

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    1. Please, explain yourself, John. How does a broader explanation of Baptism equate to your narrow use of the term?

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    2. I must also add, just because a pope makes a solemn statement, that does NOT equal an infallible statement. Likewise, not EVERYTHING stated at a Church council is infallible. When an ecumenical council is defining a matter of faith or morals AND it addressing the whole Church, THEN you may have a case for infallibility.

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  8. Well Scott, words mean what they mean in context, and the context of these councils is clearly water baptism. Florence talks about not waiting 40 days to baptise babies because its their only hope. Obviously (a) that means water (b) it includes babies. Also, being babies, it can't mean baptism of blood or of desire (because they don't apply to babies, and because they are a-contextual). If words don't mean what they mean in context, then anything can later be redefined to mean the opposite of what it originally meant.

    For your latter comment, are you seriously arguing that the canons of the ecumenical councils might not be regarded as infallible in Catholic dogma?

    For example, we have this: http://www.vatican.va/roman_curia/congregations/cfaith/cti_documents/rc_con_cfaith_doc_20070419_un-baptised-infants_en.html

    So a modern vatican document refers to the Florence decree saying that that this was a "decree" of the council of Florence that was "powerfully expressed" as "The Catholic church's belief". Sounds like an official teaching of Florence defining faith or morals, addressing the church to me.

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    1. John, did you even read the section from that document which you cite? Or, are you just quoting citations without even reading them? Within that SAME PARAGRAPH the teachings of Baptism of Desire and Baptism by Blood are brought up and with direct regard to unbaptized babies there is theological speculation that they would be covered by an unconscious Baptism of Desire. The bottom line here is that the Church has NEVER, and I repeat NEVER, infallibly taught on the fate of unbaptized babies.

      The point of explicit teachings on the necessity of the Sacrament of Baptism is because THAT is the ordinary means under the "economy of salvation." The common teaching, even in the matter of the theological speculation on Limbo (also never infallibly taught) is that it is not our place to sit in God's Place of the Judgment Seat in regard to those who might be considered along with the "Holy Innocents." All we can do is trust in God's Divine Mercy. So to reiterate, all we can TEACH is that Baptism is necessary, beyond that - God is the Judge. Perhaps you should get out of His Chair and stop pronouncing your personal judgment upon us?

      AMDG,
      Scott<<<

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    2. "Within that SAME PARAGRAPH the teachings of Baptism of Desire and Baptism by Blood are brought up"

      Yes, but so what? When a modern Vatican document contradicts a church council, it only makes my point. Florence knew nothing whatsoever about baptism of desire. It was talking about water.

      " the Church has NEVER, and I repeat NEVER, infallibly taught on the fate of unbaptized babies. "

      "With regard to children, the ONLY remedy available to them is the sacrament of baptism by which they are adopted as children of God"

      Doesn't that teach that baptism is necessary for salvation? What does the Vatican say?

      "The Catholic Church's belief that Baptism is necessary for salvation was powerfully expressed in the Decree for the Jacobites at the Council of Florence"

      http://www.vatican.va/roman_curia/congregations/cfaith/cti_documents/rc_con_cfaith_doc_20070419_un-baptised-infants_en.html

      Yes that document speculates about desire and so forth, but its totally acontextual with regards Florence. It correctly points out that Florence teaches the necessity of baptism for the salvation of babies, but then it pretends that Florence might not have been talking exclusively about water baptism, which is clearly not true.

      If you disagree, then words don't mean anything. Next year, perhaps infallibility might be redefined to be things that are sometimes true, just like you're redefining today a document that discusses the absolute necessity of water baptism to mean its not necessary. Maybe next year Vatican I will be redefined to mean that when the Pope speaks to the church to define dogma on faith and morals, he sometimes gets it right!

      "The point of explicit teachings on the necessity of the Sacrament of Baptism is because THAT is the ordinary means"

      That's not what Florence teaches, that baptism is the "ordinary means". It says it is the "ONLY remedy".

      "Perhaps you should get out of His Chair and stop pronouncing your personal judgment upon us?"

      Well hang on now, you wrote a blog article about your friend suggesting that RC dogma changes. The one argument I do NOT see from you, is that "you can never challenge this or judge this, just believe it because we say so". Is that your coup de grâce? Victory by fiat? Or can we check these things?

      Nobody is saying when Rome wants to change its dogma, it doesn't apply clever minds to the problem to do it as plausibly as possible. The next time Rome wants to change something, they'll apply clever minds to the problem. The question is, is it possible to look at these efforts and see through the smoke to a contradiction, or are you saying that this question is inherently non-falsifiable, because any contradiction can be given a plausible spin?

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    3. John, the problem here with your arguments, as well as what my friend posed - is that you have not been dealing with ANY "defined dogma." THAT is the point which cathmom5 and I have been getting at. The matter of unbaptized babies has NEVER been dogmatically defined. So, the reality here is - you're out in left field somewhere.

      Even when it comes to the Council of Florence in 1442, there is nothing absolutely condemning unbaptized babies to Hell. Yes, as is proper, it only TEACHES that we MUST baptize babies at the earliest convenience, for to do so would basically assure them of Heaven - since Baptism would wipe away original sin and with no chance for actual sin - they would have no stain of sin upon them at all. Church teaching has NOT CHANGED on this matter - no matter how you try to spin it. All the Church says now (and not infallibly still) is that we can have hope in the Divine Mercy of God - and LET HIM BE THE JUDGE. Why is this such a hard concept for you to grasp?

      Nobody is saying when Rome wants to change its dogma, it doesn't apply clever minds to the problem to do it as plausibly as possible. The next time Rome wants to change something, they'll apply clever minds to the problem.

      Your snarkiness here merely demonstrates your lack of good will in this discussion. As I (and cathmom5) have said is that NO dogma has been changed and neither you, nor my friend, has produced a single example of dogma changing. Rome doesn't want to "change dogma" - in fact, just the opposite. Rome preserves the unchangeability of dogma. That does not mean that there cannot be theological speculation on how to explain different aspects of dogmatic teaching - but theological speculation, even if done by a pope or council, does not equate to dogma and/or dogma changing.

      AMDG,
      Scott<<<

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    4. You say that the Church hasn't said anything about the fate of unbaptised babies. But the Vatican says that Florence says that the sacrament of baptism is "necessary for salvation", and the topic at hand is babies.

      Now I know that this document then proceeds to weasel its way out of that proclamation, but I can agree with the Vatican that this is in fact what Florence is saying. On what basis does this document try to weasel out? Well, no real basis on the basis of the text of Florence. The document agrees that Florence teaches the necessity of water baptism for salvation for babies, but then proceeds to say, hey maybe it isn't really true.

      If something is "necessary for salvation", then you aren't saved without it. That's what I mean that words have meaning. You seem to be saying, well you can be saved without something that is necessary for salvation.

      Of course if words are that malleable, then who knows what catholic dogma is up for grabs next?

      What did Florence or Lyons think they were defining? Should we believe what Florence said about it, or what you say or what the Vatican now says? Lyons said ""The souls of those who die in mortal sin or with original sin only, however, immediately descend to hell, to be punished however with disparate punishments.". Florence said "We define also that…the souls of those who depart this life in actual mortal sin, or in original sin alone, go straightaway to hell, but to undergo punishments of different kinds.".

      Do unbaptised babies have original sin, yes or no? The councils say that those with original sin go straight to hell. How are you going to weasel out and say the unbaptised don't have original sin? If you manage that feat, you'd end up demolishing the dogma of original sin.

      Florence and Lyons COULD have said that those with original sin are in danger of hell, or something a bit toned down. But they chose not to, they chose to say that they "go straightaway to hell". No mercy of God, or "let God pass judgement on them" or "leave it to the mercy of God". Nope, "straightaway to hell". Nobody forced them to state the position like that. They chose to, and what gives anyone the right to weasel out? What gives you the right here in this blog to go on about the mercy of God on this issue, when they weren't prepared to?

      Delete
    5. > J: You say that the Church hasn't said anything about the
      > fate of unbaptised babies. But the Vatican says that
      > Florence says that the sacrament of baptism is "necessary
      > for salvation", and the topic at hand is babies.

      sw: Yes, all we can "teach" is that baptism is necessary.


      > J: Now I know that this document then proceeds to weasel
      > its way out of that proclamation, but I can agree with
      > the Vatican that this is in fact what Florence is saying.
      > On what basis does this document try to weasel out?

      sw: The point is, we "teach" baptism is necessary for to do otherwise might give some an excuse or some sort of false sense of security. There can be (and is) theological speculation on the Mercy of God, but the Catholic Church cannot "teach" that baptism is unnecessary. This is why the matter of unbaptized babies is NOT a matter of "changing dogma" for that particular subject is not dogmatic.

      > J: Well, no real basis on the basis of the text of
      > Florence. The document agrees that Florence teaches
      > the necessity of water baptism for salvation for babies,
      > but then proceeds to say, hey maybe it isn't really true.

      sw: Why ask a question that you're going to answer yourself? The problem here is you draw a conclusion based upon a faulty premise. The matter of unbaptized babies is dealt with purely in theological speculation, it is not "dogma." All we can "teach" is that baptism is necessary.

      > J: If something is "necessary for salvation", then you
      > aren't saved without it. That's what I mean that words
      > have meaning. You seem to be saying, well you can be
      > saved without something that is necessary for salvation.

      sw: All I would be saying is that baptism is necessary, period. If God, in His Divine Mercy, decides otherwise - who am I to judge Him?

      (end of part 1)

      Delete
    6. (continued...)
      > J: Of course if words are that malleable, then who
      > knows what catholic dogma is up for grabs next?

      sw: And this is where your argument fails. You have not been discussing a defined dogma, rather you're challenging those who have made theological speculations related to defined dogma. There's a difference here, I hope you are open to seeing that.

      > J: What did Florence or Lyons think they were defining?

      sw: That baptism is necessary for salvation.

      > J: Should we believe what Florence said about it, or
      > what you say or what the Vatican now says?

      sw: "The Vatican" has not changed the "teaching" on baptism.

      > J: Lyons said ""The souls of those who die in mortal
      > sin or with original sin only, however, immediately
      > descend to hell, to be punished however with disparate
      > punishments.". Florence said "We define also that…the
      > souls of those who depart this life in actual mortal
      > sin, or in original sin alone, go straightaway to hell,
      > but to undergo punishments of different kinds."

      sw: I would "teach" nothing different, though I might speculate theologically in God's mercy. My speculations, however, do not "change" dogmatic teaching - and nor does theological speculation even from "the Vatican" (whatever that is supposed to specifically mean).

      > J: Do unbaptised babies have original sin, yes or no?

      sw: Yes.

      > J: The councils say that those with original sin go
      > straight to hell. How are you going to weasel out and
      > say the unbaptised don't have original sin? If you
      > manage that feat, you'd end up demolishing the dogma
      > of original sin.

      sw: This has nothing to do with the dogma of Original Sin, it has to do with theological speculation on the necessity of baptism. No dogmas are in question here.

      > J: Florence and Lyons COULD have said that those with
      > original sin are in danger of hell, or something a bit
      > toned down. But they chose not to, they chose to say
      > that they "go straightaway to hell". No mercy of God,
      > or "let God pass judgement on them" or "leave it to
      > the mercy of God". Nope, "straightaway to hell".
      > Nobody forced them to state the position like that.
      > They chose to, and what gives anyone the right to
      > weasel out? What gives you the right here in this
      > blog to go on about the mercy of God on this issue,
      > when they weren't prepared to?

      sw: John, theological speculation happens over a number of different dogmas. That doesn't change the dogma. Men, even those in "the Vatican," can make speculations until the cows come home - that doesn't change what is defined. The speculation may provide clarity or even a different way of understanding the dogma - but fundamentally speaking, the dogma is not changed.

      AMDG,
      Scott<<<

      Delete
    7. "> J: What did Florence or Lyons think they were defining?

      sw: That baptism is necessary for salvation."

      I'm glad we settled that. And I'd like to point out that the context of Florence wasn't just any baptism, it was baptism of new born babies in water.

      "Men, even those in "the Vatican," can make speculations until the cows come home - that doesn't change what is defined."

      OK, but that raises the question of why Catholics, from multiple popes on down continue to "speculate" that baptism isn't necessary for salvation.

      I mean, what if I'm a Catholic in church continually "speculating" that the pope isn't infallible, that the elements aren't really body and blood of Christ, that the resurrection might have been an illusion. This is all fine with you because hey, it's only speculation right?

      I mean there comes a point when everyone is doing it, including popes that you have to say, hey this isn't really dogma anymore.

      Delete
    8. >> sw: "Men, even those in "the Vatican," can make speculations until
      >> the cows come home - that doesn't change what is defined."
      >
      > J: OK, but that raises the question of why Catholics, from multiple
      > popes on down continue to "speculate" that baptism isn't necessary
      > for salvation.

      sw: Speculation does not change dogma. God remains the final arbitrator in whether one is saved or not.

      > J: I mean, what if I'm a Catholic in church continually "speculating"
      > that the pope isn't infallible, that the elements aren't really body and
      > blood of Christ, that the resurrection might have been an illusion.
      > This is all fine with you because hey, it's only speculation right?

      sw: Fine with me? Those topics? No.

      > J: I mean there comes a point when everyone is doing it,
      > including popes that you have to say, hey this isn't really
      > dogma anymore.

      sw: Well John, it just doesn't work that way. If you're looking for excuses to reject the Church which Jesus Christ Himself founded, I'm sure you can find plenty. The bottom line is, dogmas don't change and haven't changed, period.

      AMDG,
      Scott<<<

      Delete
    9. How do you know, even in theory that dogmas don't change? Because some pope said so? Some council said so? Some people in the church said so? But who is to to say such statements weren't mere speculation?

      Who is to say what is dogma anyway? Ecumenical councils? Maybe the thought that ecumenical councils are infallible was just a speculation, and not actually dogma.

      See here's the problem. When every man and his dog, from pope on down is "speculating" apparently in contradiction to what an ecumenical council has defined, and you say, oh well, it's just speculation, then I have to ask the question, why isn't it also speculation that this council, or indeed all councils aren't merely speculatively dogmatic, or alternatively, that their content wasn't speculative to begin with.

      You've got a real epistemological problem here. From whence ultimately do you derive the information that anything whatsoever is dogmatic and not speculative? Whatever answer you give, I will respond saying either (a) how do you know they weren't speculating or alternatively (b) isn't the notion that you should trust this source of authority in itself speculation, and what is your dogmatic source for trusting? When you answer that question, rinse and repeat.

      Delete
    10. > John writes: How do you know, even in theory that dogmas don't change?
      > Because some pope said so? Some council said so? Some people in
      > the church said so? But who is to to say such statements weren't mere
      > speculation?

      sw: Call it what you wish, John, I have made the statement that no dogmas have changed and I'm still waiting for evidence to the contrary.

      > Who is to say what is dogma anyway? Ecumenical councils? Maybe
      > the thought that ecumenical councils are infallible was just a
      > speculation, and not actually dogma.

      sw: Not EVERYTHING said at an ecumenical council is dogma. Popes can define dogma too (and have, a couple of times). That which constitutes dogma and/or infallibility is only the definition of the dogma itself, not the entire council records or the entire encyclical or bull from a pope.

      > See here's the problem. When every man and his dog, from pope on
      > down is "speculating" apparently in contradiction to what an
      > ecumenical council has defined, and you say, oh well, it's just
      > speculation, then I have to ask the question, why isn't it also
      > speculation that this council, or indeed all councils aren't merely
      > speculatively dogmatic, or alternatively, that their content wasn't
      > speculative to begin with.

      sw: No faithful Catholic speculates on that which is defined, period. There may be speculation on what is meant by the definition, but that which is defined is not questionable - by faithful Christians.

      > You've got a real epistemological problem here.

      sw: No, I don't.

      AMDG,
      Scott<<<

      Delete
    11. "that which is defined is not questionable - by faithful Christians."

      So... the recent popes are not "faithful Christians" since they question what was defined at Florence? Interesting.

      The problem you've got is you can say that faithful Christians don't question what is defined, but nobody really knows what is defined. Because there is nothing to define what has been defined. (Even if there was, we'd have to ask what defined that definition).

      Rome now says that the Pope can speak dogma ex-cathedra. But how do you know if he did or not? Scott Hahn believes that there have been only 2 ex-cathedra pronouncements by popes which are infallible, Tim Staples believes that there are 4, Adam S. Miller 11, Fr. Leslie Rumble 18. In Catholic discussion forums you will find people who think that most papal encyclicals contain teachings on faith and morals, and therefore most papal encyclicals contain infallible statements. Who can (and will!) say definitively who is right?

      Now when you've got Popes seemingly questioning what might reasonably be thought of as dogma at Florence, we're in a real conundrum. Maybe the idea that Florence is a dogmatic council is "mere speculation". Oh, some Pope said Florence is authoritative and infallible? Great, but some other Pope seems to think Florence is dead wrong. So who wins that battle?

      This is not mere academia. Roman Popes approved the Council or Constantinople IV (879-880) at the time. But 3 centuries later they backtracked and wiped it off the map and reinstated the Council Constantinople in 869/870, which had previously been annulled.

      So who's to say Florence's authoritative nature isn't mere speculation at this point? Apparently councils can be wiped out after hundreds of years, and recent popes seem to be agitating towards it in practice, even if not openly. I guess when Florence is openly annulled you can say oh well, it was never dogma, it was just speculation.

      Or in summary, the way you phrase the problem, it is non-falsifiable. Because you state the problem like loose jelly, as soon as you try and grab it it squeezes through your fingers.


      Delete
    12. >> sw: "that which is defined is not questionable - by faithful Christians."
      >
      > John: So... the recent popes are not "faithful Christians" since they
      > question what was defined at Florence? Interesting.

      sw: John, if you're going to make such statements, please document yourself. Please document where any "recent popes" have "questioned what was defined at Florence." Name the popes and name the documents, preferably with links to the documents.

      > John: Or in summary, the way you phrase the problem, it is
      > non-falsifiable. Because you state the problem like loose jelly,
      > as soon as you try and grab it it squeezes through your fingers.

      sw: Because you cannot come up with a solid argument you accuse me of "loose jelly?"

      Scott<<<

      Delete
    13. You already agreed that Florence defines that baptism is necessary for salvation. The context of Florence is infants baptised in water, and not any other kind or subject of baptism.

      Recent popes who question this? How about Vatican II which says that God does not deny “the assistance necessary for salvation” to those who, without any fault of their own, have not yet arrived at an explicit knowledge of God." I think the pope signed off on that, right?

      Or what about the CCC 1261 which says "As regards children who have died without Baptism, the Church can only entrust them to the mercy of God, as she does in her funeral rites for them. Indeed, the great mercy of God who desires that all men should be saved". Did no Pope read the CCC? Is this not surely questioning if the unbaptised infants might not be saved?

      How is this not jelly? When the CCC and recent "ecumenical" church councils throw up the hope that Florence screwed up, how is that not a denial of previous dogma?


      Delete
    14. The matter is not really that anyone is hopeful that Florence "screwed up," but rather that the Church does not send anyone to Hell and those who may die with, as Trent put it "the desire thereof" (of the laver of regeneration/water baptism), we entrust to the mercy of God. His ways are not our ways.

      AMDG,
      Scott<<<

      Delete
  9. The document you cite also says exactly what I said: "The Catechism teaches that infants who die without baptism are entrusted by the Church to the mercy of God, as is shown in the specific funeral rite for such children. The principle that God desires the salvation of all people gives rise to the hope that there is a path to salvation for infants who die without baptism (cf. CCC, 1261),"

    "The conclusion of this study is that THERE ARE THEOLOGICAL AND LITURGICAL REASONS TO HOPE that infants who die without baptism may be saved and brought into eternal happiness, even if there is not an explicit teaching on this question found in Revelation. However,NONE OF THE CONSIDERATIONS PROPOSED IN THIS TEXT to motivate a new approach to the question MAY BE USED TO USED TO NEGATE THE NECESSITY OF BAPTISM, nor to delay the conferral of the sacrament. Rather, there are reasons to hope that God will save these infants precisely because it was not possible to do for them that what would have been most desirable— to baptize them in the faith of the Church and incorporate them visibly into the Body of Christ." [CAPS added for emphasis only]

    Thanks for posting the document link--it supports everything I said.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks cathmom5, I concur precisely with what you've said and it would appear that John did not fully read that text before referring to it.

      AMDG,
      Scott<<<

      Delete

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