3 July 2016

Development (5)

A phrase of S Paul, in one of the earliest documents of the Church's Magisterium, was, we have seen taken up by S Vincent of Lerins in his insistence that development in Doctrine must be eodem sensu eademque sententia. In the last couple of centuries it has been transformed, by repetition, into a central plank of the Magisterium. Two Ecumenical Councils and a succession of Roman Pontiffs have done this. You will find it in Ineffabilis Deus, by which in 1854 S Pius IX defined the dogma of the Immaculate Conception. It appears in the Dogmatic Constitution of Vatican I Dei filius (at the end, just before the anathemas). S Pius X's Pascendi Dominici gregis repeats (para 28) these words of Dei filius in its treatment of Modernism, and the phrase was incorporated into the Anti-Modernist Oath taken by all clergy until 1967. After S John XXIII used it in his highly significant and programmatic Address at the start of Vatican II, it was repeated in Gaudium et spes (para 62), and S John Paul II, interestingly, extended its use from Dogmatic to Moral Theology in Veritatis splendor (para 53). And, if the Rule of Believing really is established by the Rule of Praying, then eodem sensu eademque sententia is right at the heart, not only of Vatican II, but also of the 'Spirit of Vatican II' as enunciated by the post-Conciliar liturgical changes: the crucial passage from the Commonitorium of S Vincent of Lerins is ordered to be read each year in the Liturgia Horarum (Week 27 of the Year, Friday). It is not surprising that Pope Benedict cited these words in his programmatic Address to the Roman Curia in 2005.

Fifteen hundred years ago ... and, if the world endures, fifteen hundred year from now, when Pope Francis XVI during some crisis or other is busily writing a Post-Synodal Exhortation ... it was and will be as true as it is today that the Deposit of Faith, the Tradition handed on through the Apostles, can only ever exist, can only ever be expressed, so that it comes to Christ's People with the same sense and with the same meaning.


Anthony Sistrom said...

The faith was changed forever by the unfortunate action of Pius XI when he condemned
Action Francaise on December 29, 1926. Pere Roger Thomas Calmel, O.P, wote at
the end of his life (1974):
"Between the two modernisms, there was the savage condemnation of Action
Francaise. In that lamentable affair a pope very authoritarian unable to understand
that his repressive operations carried out according to his desire, had no other
outcome than disaster; first the crushing of Catholics attached to the Syllabus,
then the rise of an episcopacy not opposed to modern errors; regarding the
famous Catholic Action, it would not find any advantage other than politicizing
itself and bending in the direction of socialism."
Pius XII recognizing the wound to the Church immediately reversed the
condemnation in his first act as pope, but it was too late. The nouvelle theologie
had 13 years to emerge and the French episcopacy had lurched to the left.
France would play the pivotal role at Vatican II when, Achille Lienart
(then 79 years old) fired the first shot demanding a new rule recognizng
national bishops conferences. Achille Lienart was the new model of a
French bishop and no conservative priest could become a bishop.

ansgerus said...

Taking into account the topic raised in this blog yesterday, one more important document of the magisterium of the church quoting the famous phrase of St. Vincent of Lerin should not be ignored, the Responsum ad propositum dubium circa doctrinam in Epist. Ap. Ordinatio Sacerdotalis traditum, dated Oct. 28th, 1995.

Mark said...

According to the Second Council of Lyons “We profess faithfully and devotedly that the Holy Spirit proceeds eternally from the Father and the Son, not as from two principles, but as from one principle; not by two spirations, but by one single spiration. This the holy Roman church, mother and mistress of all the faithful, has till now professed, preached and taught; this she firmly holds, preaches, professes and teaches; this is the unchangeable and true belief of the orthodox fathers and doctors, Latin and Greek alike”.

Well, no it isn’t. Rather, Lyons was projecting onto the Latin and Greek fathers its own understanding of the Filioque. In order to argue that the Latin and Greek fathers believed what Lyons says they believed, one would have to build one’s case on the basis of a questionable reading of carefully selected and decontextualised patristic texts, and even then one would have the ignore the fact that the Latin “procedere” translates two different Greek verbs.

In other words, Lyons didn’t understand the procession of the Spirit “with the same sense and with the same meaning” as the fathers, but, rather, tells us that what the fathers say about the procession of the Spirit needs to be read “with the same sense and with the same meaning” as that laid down by Lyons. The fathers are held to mean what Lyons tells us they mean, in spite of the overwhelming evidence to the contrary; and “with the same sense and with the same meaning” refers to reading the fathers in the sense and meaning assigned by popes and councils, and not to popes and councils teaching what the fathers taught “with the same sense and with the same meaning”.

Much the same can be said of the expansion of the papal claims in the 11th century, the development of the mediaeval doctrine of purgatory and indulgences (as opposed to the first millennium teaching on ongoing purification after death), the Immaculcate Conception (as opposed to patristic teaching on the sinlessness and all-holiness of the Mother of God), and the Vatican 1 teaching on the papacy. In each of these cases we see popes and councils developing new teaching and projecting that teaching onto the fathers by means of a selective and decontextualised reading of what the fathers actually taught.

It’s very easy for popes and councils to change the faith – provided they can find sufficient patristic proof-texts onto which they can project a new teaching which is then proclaimed as expressing “the same sense and the same meaning” as the teaching of the fathers, whom we are in turn instructed to interpret “with the same sense and with the same meaning” as the new papal/conciliar teaching.

The fact that a pope or council speaks of exercising “remora” and of teaching what the Church has always taught counts for little if the same pope or council is in a position to declare “the fathers taught xyz” and then say that the new papal/conciliar XYZ is to be understood with the same sense and with the same meaning as the xyz which, we are now told, the fathers taught (and which would have come as a great surprise to the fathers...).

At the heart of the papal and conciliar understanding of “the same sense and with the same meaning” is the idea that the “consensus patrum” and the “phronema” of the fathers are what popes and councils say they are. Isn’t this, ultimately, just another firm of hyper-papalism – a form of hyper-papalism which, recognising that popes and councils are not above tradition, defines the content of tradition in such a way that tradition always appears to be fully in line (“with the same sense and with the same meaning”) with the latest papal or conciliar teaching?

Amateur Brain Surgeon said...

In America, we are in the midst of a wild political season when almost every sentient being is making predictions so ABS will make this prediction about Franciscus and The SSPX:

In October when he travels to Lund, Sweden and celebrates the 16th century protestant revolution and prolly blames the revolution of the bad old mean judgmental legalistic Catholic Church, what will he do with the SSPX?

We can look forward to seeing him bow down before a Lesbian Bishop (married to a lesbian) and ask for her blessing and then afterwards, he will state that we are a loving welcoming compassionate church that embraces all people of good will from the lesbian Bishop Eva Brunne to Bishop Fellay.

(Yes, Bishop Eva Brunne, does sound like she was purloined from a Python script, but she exists )

mark wauck said...

While I may have reservations on some of the deatails of Mark's statements, I think he's very much on point. The way forward for the Church must and can only be by way of a serious embrace of Apostolic Tradition--which has too often been honored in the breach. We have a long way to go. The Nouvelle Theologie's purported return to the Fathers involved as well a return to Platonic philosophy in modern garb: Kant, Hegel, Heidegger--to name one unholy Trinity. This is a point on which I vehemently disagree with Ratzinger/Benedict: Greek philosophy is not best understood as a preparation for the Gospel, and that narrative is best laid to rest. Rather, traditionalists should be exploring Claude Tresmontant's view that Christian philosophical principles (natural law, natural theology) are to be found in the Apostolic Tradition before Platonic thought was mistaken for Christian.

"in as far as he is a Faithful Son of the Church" Well, yes, of course.

To me, these words of Bp Galaretta are key:

“For me, an agreement with today’s Rome is out of the question.” He added that this is a prudential refusal, dictated by the circumstances—in the absence of the necessary warrantees for the life of the Society—

That sounds to me as if SSPX will also hold out for consecrating their own bishops, to assure "the life of the Society."