Thursday, March 13, 2014

Timothy Dolan is WRONG! Catholic Doctrine CAN and HAS BEEN Changed!

Francisco (20-03-2013).jpg
Cardinal Bergoglio Becomes Pope Francis one year ago.

This is the 1st year anniversary of Pope Francis' election as Pope of the Roman Catholic Church, and facts are already getting skewed and distorted by the "princes" of the Church. This is in regard to Francis' novel takes on RC doctrine, and also how permanent it is. This was brought up this morning on the CBS Early Show when Charlie Rose asked Cardinal Timothy Dolan if Church doctrine could ever be changed and he responded 'No.'   Then I pondered whether I'm living in an alternate universe, because in the one I inhabit it most certainly CAN be changed and HAS been changed!

Let me again remind readers that the Church's birth control proscription, for example,  is not any kind of a central doctrine-  issuing as it does from the Magisterium or teaching office, and not ex Cathedra or from the 'Chair of St. Peter' (which office designates "infallibility"). Hence, and logically, as Hans Kung has pointed out ('Infallible?') it could be wrong there is no absolute compelling reason to follow it and most priests in the day (late 1960s-70s) regarded it as matter of personal conscience.

More to the point, Pope Paul VI actually formed a commission to look into the matter in 1968, with the view to altering this teaching and was roundly informed he needed to do so - or the Church would lose millions in first world nations  (as it has, including me).  Paul rejected the conclusions of his Papal Commission, likely owing to some arm twisting by the relics in the Vatican Curia. 

Fast forward to 1978, and Pope John Paul I had planned to change the birth control doctrine, understanding the ferocious and unseemly burden too many children put on families that could ill afford them, such as his own (David Yallop, 'In God's Name').  Alas, John Paul I was murdered before he could do so, though most deep politics observers believe this was more to do with his intended shake up of the Vatican Bank - run at the time by renegade padre, Paul Marcinkus.   The Bank had been funneling money to unsavory types such as P2 in Italy (op. cit.) and the gangsters involved didn't want any light cast on their deeds. A pity! Had Albino Luciani been elected Pope I'd likely never have left the Church and become an atheist.

It wasn't to be. A new, much more conservative pope (John Paul II) was elected, and the Church could breath easier again. There’d be no Vatican Bank shake ups, and several papal encyclicals

But let's move on!

The majority of Catholics (and probably non-Catholics) are probably totally unaware that the Church DID ALLOW abortions to be performed up until the third trimester, and until 1869. John Connery, S.J. a leading historian of the Church’s teaching on abortion, has been quoted as citing a long standing collection of Canon Law that “it was not until 1869 that abortion for any reason became grounds for excommunication” (See, e.g. Druyan and Sagan, PARADE, April 22, 1990). At the time the lack of dogmatic ruling created such furore that conservatives in the Church pushed for a higher dogma that would transcend the wishy-washy Magisterium ruling. They thereby succeeded in foisting the very late (1870) doctrine of "infallibility" which was more a rear guard action -addition to protect the Church from any possible subsequent alterations of moral teaching.

Thus, if a ruling came "ex cathedra" and applied to faith or morals, the Pope couldn't make a mistake. (Of course, as the “papal infallibility” doctrine was only first proclaimed in 1870, it conveniently didn't apply to rulings made earlier such as the ones on abortions allowed up to the 3rd trimester). But the larger point here is that clearly, the fact the Church already changed its doctrine on abortion shows its moral positions are malleable and not set in stone!

What this means is that the Church itself cannot be free of errors in faith or morals if it has already made one that was since covered up. Obviously, if you can alter a position, it is hardly "absolute". In his marvelous book, Infallible?, Hans Kung observes (p. 143):

" no one, neither Vatican I, nor Vatican II, nor the textbook theologians, has shown that the Church - its leadership or its theology - is able to put forward propositions which inherently
cannot be erroneous

Then there is the subtle doctrinal change embodied in "papal primacy",  first enunciated with force in the Dogmatic Constitution Pastor Aeternus, of July 18, 1870. As some readers may know and which Theologian Hans Kung makes clear ('Infallible?' p. 77):

"the definition of papal infallibility presupposes the definition of papal primacy". 

Before Pastor Aeternus, the Body of the Church held paramountcy, i.e. the body as in the people. The order was reversed from July 18, 1870 with papal primacy trumping the people. How or why did papal primacy and infallibility (not in evidence before 1870 in any Church doctrines) transpire?

This is made clear in the Introduction of Pastor Aeternus:

"With daily increasing hatred on all sides, the Gates of Hell are rising, to overturn the Church, if it were possible, against its divinely established foundation. Therefore we judge it necessary, for the protection, safety and increase of the Catholic flock, with the approval of the Sacred Council, to propose the doctrine of the Institution, perpetuity and nature of the sacred apostolic primacy, in which the strength and solidity of the whole Church consists, to be believed and held by all the faithful, according to the ancient and constant faith of the universal Church and to prescribe and condemn the contrary errors so pernicious to the Lord's flock."

Though wordy and somewhat convoluted, the message is:  The faithful themselves can't be trusted to judge  from whence the threats to their faith issue. Hence, they require a  spiritual "Papa" (pope) to decide and adjudicate all spiritual threats for them.  Whenever his utterances are declared ex cathedra, or from the Chair of St. Peter, they are "infallible" and can't be contradicted.

Hence, the need for papal primacy (and its implicit authority)  over the outlook or message of the faithful, including any upstart nuns.  This is why the likes of Ratzinger, for example, never hesitated to smack down any nuns whose messages appeared to be I conflict with the Curia's.   They'd do this if  nuns like Sister Margaret Farley e.g.

breathed even a word about things like birth control or masturbation being in any way acceptable - never mind that Ratzinger and his predecessor were busy shuttling priest abusers around so they wouldn't be found out, and covering up any documents.

The fact is, contrary to Dolan's bollocks, the Church CAN and HAS changed its doctrines, in subtle and not so subtle ways. The problem is that most Catholics aren't aware of Church history so don't know about it. The casting of changeless doctrines is done for a very strategic reason - to make the flock believe that nothing ever will change in any real way. Hence, all Francis can do is resort to soft rhetoric but never change the doctrines themselves.

If Francis really believes that, then I am sorry for the Church - including its followers, and believers!

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