Recently I had the pleasure of interviewing Dr. Steve Weidenkopf, a very prominent historian of ecclesiastical history on the Reason and Theology channel, to which I recommend all my readers. However, the purpose of this article is to continue my response to Craig Truglia, Eastern Orthodox apologist, friend, and fellow co-host of Reason and Theology, who had written a nice summary of our live debate, which came out to be titled Is Roman Catholicism Schismatic: The Case for Orthodoxy. Some of my readers have already caught attention to my first response. Well, here I am, Lord permitting, giving a second part as following. Continue reading
While I took the opportunity to read some comments on Facebook which were a discussion on the historical veracity of the Catholic Church’s belief on the assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary, I thought I would write something about the Marian apologia that Catholics have to offer. But first, let me state some preliminary remarks. Continue reading
I’ve had the chance to look at some of the articles going up on the web, and I have to say that we are seeing far more critical publications by Catholics of the Church than before, which led me to ponder the below.
If we are going around telling people “the gates of hell shall not prevail against the Church”, we should have an idea of what it looks like for the gates of hell “to prevail” in order for the former to have any semblance of reliable definition.
Secondly, if, while we insist that “the gates of hell shall not prevail against the Church”, we are at the same time practically allowing maximum capacity in the Church for error and false teaching with this our that explanation, then what does that entail other than a complete reduction to meaninglessness of our first insistence?
One time, in speaking with an ex Eastern Orthodox, now Protestant, he said, “What it means for the gates of hell to prevail is for the Church, whatever that is, to go out of existence completely” (words to that effect). Well, with that conditional, we have more than a wax nose to suit failing or successful circumstances. In fact, pretty much any failing circumstances short of complete obliteration maintains the promise! Any con man would love that criteria! Would work wonders! And if our apologetics has stooped to that level of cheat, then it is worth absolutely nothing.
Just some structure to keep in mind folks.
From time to time, I often hear people refer to the 2nd Vatican Council of the 1960s to point to the first time where the Catholic Church made its break from the tradition extra ecclesiam nulla salus, having no prior precedent whatsoever in the history or magisterium of the Church. However, this would be false. Below, I’ve listed some historical precedent which goes as far back as nearly 100 years before the 2nd Vatican Council. Before that, I have some preliminary remarks.
Also, there are those who will cite Pope Boniface VII’s Unam Sanctam or Pope Eugene IV’s Cantate Domino (yes, still on the Vatican’s website) as proof that the Catholic Church, at least at Vatican II (see, however, below), has contradicted her teaching. To confront such a claim, it would take a whole entire article.
“This approach does serious harm to the stated rationale behind the liturgical reforms of Thomas Cranmer, and the very basis of the “Anglican patrimony” and Prayer Book tradition that the Ordinariates were formed to preserve and foster in union with the Catholic Church. It also represents a serious obstacle to widespread adoption of the office among those not already inclined to it.”
The three ordinariates established under the apostolic constitution Anglicanorum coetibus still await their approved divine offices to supplement the Divine Worship Mass and have a complete liturgical life.
I used to think Rome just needs to get over its bureaucratic inertia, hurry up and approve the drafts currently in front of them.
Having now had a lot of time to review and reflect upon those drafts as they currently stand, especially via the Australasian ordinariate’s interim office approved for public celebration on an experimental basis (and itself based on the North American draft as the primary source text), I have changed my opinion.
Rome should take its time, and the three ordinaries, the Congregation for Divine Worship, as well as anyone else involved in the official drafting process, should seriously consider ironing out some real problems that make the draft as it currently stands, in my opinion, unfit for prime…
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The subject of divorce and remarriage in the Church Fathers has been an area of exploration in recent years. Below I provide some very important citations from pre-eminent voices representing the Patristic tradition on the question of whether divorce was ever permitted, and also whether a 2nd or more new marriages are capable of being had even when the 1st divorced-spouse is still alive. Of course, this compilation of citations is not exhaustive, but should be somewhat representative. In my readings of the historical data, I have admittedly found that answers to these questions are not monolithic, and can vary. In other words, there are certainly texts available within the pool of 1st millennium source data which show both an interolerance of divorce and remarriage, and then a toleration of one or both on certain conditions. Of course, one would be wrong to suppose that this variance entails that there is no functioning consensus in the Church Fathers, or held by the Church Catholic. Just because a Synod of W, or a Treatise of X or a discipline of Y existed in time, place, and circumstance Z , does not mean that this would represent the functioning consensus, let alone be an official position taken by the magisterium of Christ’s Church. Often times, people on the outside look at the Church Fathers as if they are part of the Church’s magisterium. This is actually not an accurate statement. The Catholic Church’s magisterium is the teaching office of the Church, and that belongs to the Episcopal College under and in union with her head, the successor of Peter in Rome. When this college enacts teaching, whether individiaully dispersed, or corporated assembled in a Synod, or when a Pope issues a decree out of his supreme authority over the universal Church, we believe these enactments are authentic teachings of the Church’s magisterium. With that said, there is certainly a vital role that Church Fathers play in the tradition of the Church, and it would be impossible for the Fathers, as an orchestrated symphony of voices under the influence of the Holy Spirit, to be at odds with the content of magisterial teaching, at least where they are unanimous, or a functioning consensus.
Why this study is important is because we as Christians should give every effort to obey the Lord. When He commanded His apostles to “Go and make disciples of all nations”, he specified “teaching them to obey everything I have commanded”. This also contributes to the dialogue between Catholics and non-Catholic churches and ecclesial communities, since this very question of divorce and remarriage remains a bone of contention. My intention here is to just lay out what is there, and allow the conclusion to force itself from that alone. What did the Fathers say (?) is the controlling purpose of this list.
Readers will probably wish to know how I have interpreted the data in light of the dialogue between the separated Eastern churches and the Catholic Church. In short, neither the Eastern churches nor the Roman Catholic Church today perfectly follows the Patristic disciplines. For starters, it was widely known and accepted, as reflected even within canons of the Church, that if a spouse were to commit adultery, the offended party could “divorce” or “put away” the adulterous spouse (in the majority of cases, this was only accorded to the husband). On the other hand, there is a significant voice, if not the majority, that the offended party in this was required to live celibate until the death of the adulterous party, even if the latter went off and attempted “remarriage” (this was always especially the case with the wife). The best a Roman Catholic or an Eastern Orthodox (or members of the Oriental bodies) can say is to admit that perfect conformity to the Patristic disciplines (yes, plural) is existent in neither of their communions. That may disappoint some of my readers. With that being said, I would argue that the doctrinal foundations which forbade remarriage after divorce (until the bond is broken by death, that is), namely the indissolubility of marriage, even in the case of a party who is victim to adultery, and which appears to me to be the majority view of the Fathers, is firmly upheld only by the Roman Catholic Church today, as opposed to the practices of the Eastern churches. In other words, today’s Catholic Church has the closest doctrine and theoretical discipline to that of the Scripture and the Fathers. But it would be dishonest and irresponsible to say that there were no variation of belief to be found in the Patristic data. There are even Councils in the West which appear, given the authenticity of certain documents, that remarriage after divorce (only on the condition of adultery being committed) was permitted. Whether the decrees of these Councils ever made it to the knowledge of the Roman See for confirmation is another question entirely. Many clerics throughout the first millennium floated ideas which were required to be annulled later for one reason or another. Therefore, the existence of variation does not paralyze Christians today from coming to a solid answer on the whole matter. There are Fathers and Bishops who were wrong, but whose writings have, perhaps unfortunately, been preserved for us all to read about. And so, I would say that both the Eastern Christian (separated from Rome) and the Catholic will have to admit that, without their being a perfect and congruent continuity with Patristic disciplines, both have had to trust the authority of their hierarchical institutions as carrying the divine right of making so-called unessential modifications over the centuries (even though, I would argue, the East did make at least one essential modification). Of course, we don’t see the Patristic era as one of handing out annulments like going out of style, and this would certainly put a dimmer on the Catholic’s imagining that we’ve kept up the same discipline as the past with perfection. But it is also the case that this is not an essential modification, in theory at least.
The window of time for the below citations range from the 2nd to 9th centuries, and I provide some commentary on many of them. Enjoy!