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Letters

Infallible?

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 Contents - Sep 2007AD2000 September 2007 - Buy a copy now
Editorial: How to ensure AD2000's continuing impact - Michael Gilchrist
Pastoral Letter: NSW and ACT Bishops call for a shake-up in Catholic education - Michael Gilchrist
News: The Church Around the World
A successful quest for vocations in Melbourne - Br Barry Coldrey
Rome reaffirms Vatican II's teaching on 'one true Church' - Frank Mobbs
New Age: Centering Prayer and other spiritualities: are they Catholic? - Wanda Skowronska
'Thought that has been thought out' - John Haldane
Rediscovering the real history of Australian Catholic education - Eamonn Keane
Catholic education must be 'unashamedly Catholic' - Bishop Robert Finn
Laity: How the Legion of Mary can benefit parishes - Fr Hugh Thwaites SJ
Letters: Vatican II - Peter D. Howard
Letters: Infallible? - Francis Vrijmoed
Letters: Dr Mobbs' response - Frank Mobbs
Letters: Extraordinary? - Mark Szymczak
Letters: Lapsed Catholics - Robert Garratt
Letters: Preaching - Kevin McManus
Letters: Religious attire - Tom King
Letters: African prisoners - John Evans
Poem: A poem for Mary's Birthday - Brian Joseph Mulligan
Books: THE BEAUTY OF THY HOUSE, by Mark Alessio - Tim Cannon (reviewer)
Books: FAITH AND CERTITUDE, by Thomas Dubay SM - Tim Cannon (reviewer)
Events: Silent Retreat 9-12 November 2007
Books: Books available from AD2000
Reflection: An informed conscience: what the Catechism of the Catholic Church teaches - Bishop Luc Matthys

Dr Mobb's letter 'Vatican II infallible' (August AD2000) mentions that I criticised his argument contained in his article 'How much do Catholics know about ecumenical councils' (April AD2000) 'for reasons that are unclear' (June AD2000).

I thought I clearly showed - by quoting a passage taken from the Dogmatic Constitution 'On Divine Revelation' itself, that Vatican II did indeed teach infallibly, notwithstanding that it did not give a new definition of faith, but merely intended to give a deeper insight. (This is different from Dr Mobb's statement that I said the Council did not define anything).

I do not accept Dr Mobb's argument that the exercise of infallibility of an ecumenical council depends solely on whether it has declared a (new) dogma or not, or, to quote him literally (as I did in my previous letter), 'Vatican II declared no dogmas at all, so never exercised infallibility'.

What does Dr Mobbs mean in this case regarding 'dogma'? Any individual dogma, as e.g., about papal infallibility or anything related to authentic doctrine concerning faith and morals? It appears he was referring to (any new) individual dogma.

In fact individual dogmas are particular articulations of a saving truth of revelation and as such represent an 'individual portion of revelation' being 'like certain mountain peaks standing out from the whole of Revelation' (Professor Michael Schmaus). Therefore I cannot see why the infallibility of an ecumenical council, when bishops act as teachers of and judges in matters of faith and morals, is not exercised in the absence of the mentioning of an individual (new) dogma.

When 'On Divine Revelation' states that it wishes to set forth (i.e., further explain) authentic doctrine on divine revelation, my understanding is that this constitution would therefore contain infallible teaching in some form or another. If not, its teaching cannot be regarded as authentic doctrine and in that case, this constitution should not present itself to the whole world as 'the message of salvation'.

Finally, comparing the texts about papal infallibility in Vatican II with Vatican I, one can see that Vatican II gives a 'further interpretation' (this is what I meant with 'to foster a deeper insight') on this matter.

Where Vatican I states that such infallable definitions are irreformable in themselves (ex sese) and not from the consent of the Church (non autem ex consensu Ecclesiae), Vatican II (in Lumen Gentium, 25) adds the significant complement that 'The assent of the Church can never be lacking (assensus Ecclesiae numquam deese potest).

My understanding is that here not only Vatican I but also Vatican II is teaching infallably. Q.E.D.

FRANCIS VRIJMOED
Hong Kong, China.

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Reprinted from AD2000 Vol 20 No 8 (September 2007), p. 14

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