Wednesday, March 14, 2018

On Being Catholic

From The Catholic Thing:

Modern critics of religion have long chastised religion, especially Catholicism, because it claimed a source of authority independent of and transcendent to the state. This abiding authority meant that the Socratic principle that morally limited the state only to use what is good was operative in every state no matter what its configuration or era. The state was limited, not absolute. No world parliament of religions under the sole authority of the state or the U.N. was possible. Freedom for all citizens of any actual state was rooted in the Socratic principle.

What today concerns many observers, both Catholic and non-Catholic, is whether the Church has, in effect, rejected the Socratic principle and the revelational divine law related to it. Many, no doubt, are confused and say so. It is rare that anyone does not, when the subject comes up, wonder about “What is going on in Rome?” The concern comes back to the loyalty of the Church to itself, to what it was assigned to uphold from the beginning.

Several kinds of response are heard. One group thinks the Church is outmoded and should change to a paradigm of modernity. For them, things are going quite well. Another group does not want to say anything, just ignore it. It will go away. Some are deeply upset but maintain that, until something ex officio is so clear that no doubt about its deviation can be sustained, they will continue to think things are all right. Others pore over discussions of heretical popes in Bellarmine and Suarez. The general conclusion of these earlier sources is that, if a pope is heretical, he is ipso facto no longer pope. It is just a question of who officially points it out.

Frank Sheed, in his discussion of papal infallibility in A Map of Life back in the 1930s, held that the Holy Spirit would prevent a heretical pope from saying anything. Others await a change in the papacy itself, either through death or resignation. Agitation comes from a few bishops about their responsibility to reaffirm the Socratic/divine law tradition. (Read more.)

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