AD2000 - a journal of religious opinionAD Books
Ask a Question
View Cart
Search AD2000: author: full text:  
AD2000 - a journal of religious opinion
Find a Book:

AD2000 Home
Article Index
About AD2000
Contact Us
Email Updates


Add Me
Remove Me

Subscriber Access:

Enter the Internet Access Key from your mailing label here for full access!



Bookmark and Share

 Contents - Jun 2008AD2000 June 2008 - Buy a copy now
Editorial: Man-made climate change: a moral issue - Michael Gilchrist
Education: Pope: Catholic education must uphold Church teachings - Pope Benedict XVI
News: The Church Around the World
Human Rights: China: Olympic rings - or shackles? - Babette Francis
Jury still out on global warming - Cardinal George Pell
Christianity 'lite' with all the hard parts unmentioned: a spiritual dead-end - Alan Roebuck
FOUNDATIONS OF FAITH: Reasons for believing in God - Frank Mobbs
Climate Debate: Man-made climate change is a reality - Dr Alex Gardner
Climate Debate: Man-made climate change: politics not science - Peter Finlayson
Letters: Climate change - J. Holder
Letters: Sceptical - Bernard Hoey
Letters: Scandal - Don Gaffney
Letters: Contraception - Tim Coyle
Letters: Baptism formula - Franklin J. Wood
Letters: Adoptions - Tom King
Letters: Abortion and Martin Luther King - Brian Harris
Letters: Ordinary Magisterium - Peter D. Howard
Letters: Infallible? - Frank Mobbs
Letters: Priests needed in Ballarat - Jenny Bruty
Books: RATZINGER'S FAITH: The Theology of Pope Benedict XVI, by Tracey Rowland - Michael E. Daniel (reviewer)
Books: FR WERENFRIED: A Life, by Joanna Bogle - Michael E. Daniel (reviewer)
Letters: FEMINISM V. MANKIND: Selected Essays - Catherine Sheehan (reviewer)
Books: Books available from AD2000 Books
Reflection: Benedict XVI on the mystery of the Body and Blood of Christ - Pope Benedict XVI

John Young has advanced the curious argument that whilst most Ecumenical (General) Councils lacked sufficient bishops to represent the teaching of the body of bishops, thus throwing doubt on the authority of those Councils to teach infallibly, this does not matter because the bishops taught infallibility the same doctrines in exercising their ordinary universal Magisterium ('When is it infallible?' AD2000, May, 2008).

He quotes Vatican II's Lumen Gentium, n. 25, which distinguishes between the extraordinary Magisterium (either the bishops in a Council or the Pope alone) and the ordinary universal Magisterium. Regarding the latter the Council says that though bishops can not teach infallibly as individuals, they can 'whenever, dispersed throughout the world, .... they are in agreement on one position as definitively to be held' (my emphasis).

At once we see that the exercise of this sort of infallibility can not possibly take place in an Ecumenical Council. Here they are congregated, not 'dispersed throughout the world'. That being so, Mr Young is incoherent when he goes on to write, 'Vatican II issued no solemn definitions; that is, it did not exercise the extraordinary Magisterium [of the bishops in a Council]. But it did exercise the ordinary universal Magisterium.'

He goes on to argue that whilst there may have been too few bishops at a Council for its definitions to constitute teachings of the episcopate, endorsement by a majority of the bishops of the definitions after a Council remedies any deficiencies in their infallible quality.

But, on this view, Councils, such as Nicea and Vatican I, were not infallible at all and their decisions had to await endorsement by the majority of bishops before anyone could know the teachings were infallible. This is a view well supported by a number of theologians for whom the consensus fidelium (consensus of the faithful) is a necessary condition for knowing a teaching is infallible.

But this raises a problem because it contradicts the teachings of Vatican II which says the bishops are infallible 'when, assembled in an ecumenical council, they are for the universal Church teachers and judges in matters of faith and morals' (LG, n. 25).

History is unkind to the ordinary universal Magisterium. Most bishops have never taught andnever will teach definitively. Besides, who knows what the bishops of Iceland, Romania, Persia, Egypt, Ethiopia and India were teaching?

Gosford, NSW

Bookmark and Share

Reprinted from AD2000 Vol 21 No 5 (June 2008), p. 15

Page design and automation by
Umbria Associates Pty Ltd © 2001-2004