2 December 2016

Technical assistance, anywhere?

There is a rumour ... what a lot of rumours do float around in our Modern Church! ... that a member of the CBCEW recently endorsed the intemperate and disrespectful language used by a Latin-rite Greek prelate about the Four Cardinals. And that the same English bishop then went on to argue that those justified by grace might yet be incapable of living according to the moral law.

Gracious! I had rather thought that proposition attracted an Anathema at Trent. Perhaps readers who know their dogmatic theology a great deal better than I do could put me right on this.

And then I started to wonder: if a bishop does ... per impossibile, as it were ... walk into the position of being anathematised by an Ecumenical Council, does he fall victim to any Canonical penalty or sanction latae or ferendae sententiae? Excommunication, for example, to name but one. Or Interdict or Irregularity or Suspension or Deposition? Perhaps readers who know their Canon Law a great deal better than I do could put me right on this. We mere Ordinariate presbyters need a lot of help in understanding all this complicated technical stuff. We're just plain simple chaps.

Just think ... if only I were a proper Catholic priest, properly trained, I would know the answers to these tricky questions! And to so many more like them!!

6 comments:

Nicolas Bellord said...

If you were a proper Catholic priest you would know better than to ask awkward questions and certainly never to answer any such.

Deacon Augustine said...

Oh dear, I hope it isn't the bishop who has been running round the country giving presentations on AL - that would be unfortunate.

I suppose the question is similar to the issues dealt with by John of St. Thomas. Is it possible for a bishop to be a material heretic and lose the influx of divine life/grace and yet still be a valid holder of his office pending his correction/repentance or correction/formal deposition?

I don't know the answer to this so to be on the safe side it is probably better to take St Paul's advice and avoid them.

Fr. you are treading on very dangerous territory by actually thinking. Catholic bishops have occasionally been rather suspicious of priests who think or read, and especially those who read the bible. Using the intellect is fraught with all kinds of dangers to "unity". Remember the oft-repeated adage of one English Cardinal: "Unity is more important than truth!" Far be it from me to suggest that such an idea is a false dichotomy.

mark wauck said...

There's no such thing as "anathema" under the 1983 CIC. Book VI covers penalties generally. Are YOU "Anathema"? How about Your Protestant Friend?

Titus said...

From the Sixth Session of the Council of Trent:

CHAPTER XI. On keeping the Commandments, and on the necessity and possibility thereof.

But no one, how much soever justified, ought to think himself exempt from the observance of the commandments; no one ought to make use of that rash saying, one prohibited by the Fathers under an anathema,-that the observance of the commandments of God is impossible for one that is justified. For God commands not impossibilities, but, by commanding, both admonishes thee to do what thou are able, and to pray for what thou art not able (to do), and aids thee that thou mayest be able; whose commandments are not heavy; whose yoke is sweet and whose burthen light. For, whoso are the sons of God, love Christ; but they who love him, keep his commandments, as Himself testifies; which, assuredly, with the divine help, they can do. For, although, during this mortal life, men, how holy and just soever, at times fall into at least light and daily sins, which are also called venial, not therefore do they cease to be just. For that cry of the just, Forgive us our trespasses, is both humble and true. And for this cause, the just themselves ought to feel themselves the more obligated to walk in the way of justice, in that, being already freed from sins, but made servants of God, they are able, living soberly, justly, and godly, to proceed onwards through Jesus Christ, by whom they have had access unto this grace. For God forsakes not those who have been once justified by His grace, unless he be first forsaken by them. Wherefore, no one ought to flatter himself up with faith alone, fancying that by faith alone he is made an heir, and will obtain the inheritance, even though he suffer not with Christ, that so he may be also glorified with him. For even Christ Himself, as the Apostle saith, Whereas he was the son of God, learned obedience by the things which he suffered, and being consummated, he became, to all who obey him, the cause of eternal salvation. For which cause the same Apostle admonishes the justified, saying; Know you not that they that run in the race, all run indeed, but one receiveth the prize? So run that you may obtain. I therefore so run, not as at an uncertainty: I so fight, not as one beating the air, but I chastise my body, and bring it into subjection; lest perhaps, when I have preached to others, I myself should become a cast-away. So also the prince of the apostles, Peter; Labour the more that by good works you may make sure your calling and election. For doing those things, you shall not sin at any time. From which it is plain, that those are opposed to the orthodox doctrine of religion, who assert that the just man sins, venially at least, in every good work; or, which is yet more insupportable, that he merits eternal punishments; as also those who state, that the just sin in all their works, if, in those works, they, together with this aim principally that God may be gloried, have in view also the eternal reward, in order to excite their sloth, and to encourage themselves to run in the course: whereas it is written, I have inclined my heart to do all thy justifications for the reward: and, concerning Moses, the Apostle saith, that he looked unto the reward.

* * *

CANON XVIII.-If any one saith, that the commandments of God are, even for one that is justified and constituted in grace, impossible to keep; let him be anathema.

Titus said...

P.S. - The Council's decrees are all handily online courtesy of Hanover College, an institution of higher education in southern Indiana: https://history.hanover.edu/texts/trent.html

Chris Jones said...

does he fall victim to any Canonical penalty

I don't know the Roman Catholic answer to this question, but I know the Orthodox (and historically correct) answer.

There can be no greater penalty than anathema, which encompasses all other penalties, including deposition (if applicable) from all clerical rank or order, excommunication, and exclusion from the Church both in this world and the next. Those who are thus condemned personally and by name by an ecumenical council are in a truly perilous state.

I presume that such a person may be received back into the Church by repentance and confession, but under extended penance (perhaps being restored to communion only in extremis). I don't know of any specific ecumenical canon that addresses this, nor of any historical instance of an anathematized person returning to the Church. But then, I am not a scholar.