Below, I’ve typed out a few excerpts from the relatio of Bishop Gasser at the Vatican Council (1870). I am running through the thought experiment of whether Pope Francis’s magisterial teachings pass the canon of the relatio, particularly the portions which I’ve reproduced. At the forefront we have (1) Amoris Laetitia and (2) the Death Penalty revision (CCC 2267). I know there have been many who have made it clear that the Pope was not speaking with the supreme authority of St. Peter, and thus not ex-cathedra infallible. However, something which Gasser pointed out is often missing in today’s thinking. Notice how Gasser says that the “dogmatic judgments” of the Roman Pontiff are infallible, and then follows it with saying that there have been “thousands and thousands” of these “dogmatic judgments”. That would certainly be contrasted with many Catholic theologians today who insist on there only being 2 instances of Papal Infallibility, one on the Immaculate Conception in Ineffabilis Deus (1854), and the other on her assumption into heaven in Munificentissimus Deus (1950). Notice that Gasser gave his relatio in 1870, so that means that those theologians who say that there have only been two instances of Papal infallibility would have to conclude that Gasser’s saying that there have been “thousands and thousands” infallible dogmatic judgments should have really just said one-time. This is truly interesting, since this relatio was central to the discussions on the meaning of papal infallibility at the Council. The relatio was made to the general congregation of Bishops. In fact, Dom Cuthbert Butler, whose two-volume work on the Council is the most complete history written in English, said that Bishop Gasser was “the most prominent theologian of the Council”. This relatio has been a source of authoritative reference in theological treatments and manuals down unto the present day. In particular, the 2nd Vatican Council’s document Lumen Gentium, which includes a treatment on the hierarchical organization and authority of the Church, cites Gasser’s rlation four times in the chapter on the Magiterium. This chapter only had 24 lines of text and the references to the relatio make up half of all of them. Needless to say, this relatio is the best guide to properly interpret the treatment on the infallibility of the Pope in Pastor Aeternus. And yet, we hardly get the idea that there had only been 1 single exercise of Papal infallibility. Quite to the contrary, the relatio asserts there had been thousands. The consequence of this is that the more and more narrow modern theologians have become in explaining the conditions of Papal infallibility, the more and more they steer away from the historical understanding as it was had by the Bishops at Vatican I. You hear this when people say that the Pope is only infallible when he speaks in such highly decorative manners with all the right words and actions and warnings, etc,etc. While this is appreciable, I think it is absurd to think that the infallibility of the Pope, ordained to be the help and sustainer of unity in the Church catholic, had only been exercised once in nearly 1800 years after the birth of the Church. In fact, it is absurd. Continue reading →
Dr. Douglas Farrow, Professor of Theology and Christian Thought at McGill University, threw down the gauntlet in a recent article for Catholic World Report with a sharp critique of the current regime run by Pope Francis. Though it is clear he put much thought into the content, I have to say that the article is ultimately a bust. The beginning portion decries the growing rise of “Papalotry” that begin to show itself, according to Farrow, with even the famous Dictatus Papae which came out during the Pontificate of Pope St. Gregory VII (1073-1085). I could find you similar claims being made by at least Pope St. Nicholas I (858-867) in his interaction with King Lothair II and his overturning of Episcopal synods in Constantinople in favor of St. Ignatious as rightful occupant of the Patriarchal chair. But I digress. In any case, the current situation in Rome is that the Papacy is beginning to be exalted above its rightful place and appropriate function (see Cardinal Ouellet’s letter to Archbishop Vigano, for one example). Thereafter, in the second half of the article, Farrow decries the beefing up of Episcopal Synods as carrying the ability to exercise magisterial authority, since this will allow the ability of fragmented Synods and particular churches going their own way. With Francis’s desire to decentralize the Papacy, this reduces him to a quasi-neutral referee, and may, in the end, this plan for decentralization is just another form of returning to Gallicanism.
An award winning and Cambridge-reared scholar in Patristics and Early Christianity, Dr. Allen Brent M.A., D.D., who is former Professor in Early Christian History and Iconography at the University of London, King’s College, and who is currently Professor at the Patristics Institute of the Lateran University (Augustinianum) , has made his way into the Catholic Church. He was simultaneously ordained to the Catholic priesthood at Norwhich Cathedral as part of the Anglican Ordinariate. Continue reading →
Pope St. Boniface had often stated in his letters that the Roman Church holds jurisdiction over the universal communion of churches. He had no doubts about it. However, these statements were in no sense new, since they were just echos of his predecessors going back to Pope Siricius (A.D. 384), Pope St. Damasus (A.D. 366-384), Pope Liberius (A.D. 352-366), and even Pope St. Julius (A.D. 337-352), and even further back. A very famous letter wherein St. Boniface reveals his understanding of the relationship between the Eastern churches and the Roman See is quite astonishing out of all of them, however. Here below, we get the Roman gloss on the extent of jurisdiction which was understood to have been at play in the 4th century beginning with St. Athanasius and on through to the beginning of the 5th century under the Pontificate of Pope St. Innocent I (A.D. 401-417). It is rather odd that St. John Chrysostom’s story is not mentioned since Innocent definitely played a fundamental role in getting his holy name back into the sacred ditpcyha of the Eastern divine services. I think, however, most of all, what is here being stated is over 5 centuries before the Greeks began to suspect the West for a Papalist heresy. Continue reading →
These are some responses to a questioner who had made the claim that the Roman church invented the idea of a universal jurisdiction , and which caused the schism between the Latins and the Greeks in 1054 AD and following. Continue reading →