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Vatican II (letter)
John Young (August AD2000) goes on insisting that the Second Vatican Council taught infallibly. I wonder why he bothers. Is the Catholic faith imperilled, if the Council taught non-infallibly?
First, it should be noted that Vatican II did not define any doctrine. A definition is intended to put an end (Latin finis, as in 'definition') to all argument and determine once and for all what the Church teaches. Search the texts of the Council and you will find no such thing as a definition of doctrine.
In a commentary on Ad Tuendam Fidem in 1998, Cardinal Ratzinger wrote: 'The Magisterium of the Church, however, teaches a doctrine to be believed as divinely revealed ... or to be held definitively .... with an act which is either defining or nondefining.
'In the case of a defining act, a truth is solemnly defined by an ex cathedra pronouncement by the Roman pontiff or by the action of an ecumenical council. In the case of a nondefining act, a doctrine is taught infallibly by the ordinary and universal Magisterium of the bishops dispersed throughout the world.'
That ends the case for Vatican II's teaching infallibly.
Undeterred, Mr Young argues that whilst the Council may not have taught infallibly, the congregated bishops exercised the ordinary universal Magisterium to teach infallibly.
Suppose he is right, that a non-Council meeting of bishops taught doctrines definitively. Were that true, then it was not the Second Vatican Council which taught. Yet he is supposed to be arguing that the Council, not some other group, did teach infallibly. I quote him: 'Frank Mobbs also rejects my statement that Vatican II taught some things infallibly'.
Mr Young ends his case with: 'It would be remarkable if the bishops lost their ordinary universal infallibility when congregated together!' There is nothing remarkable in their incapacity to teach infallibly when they themselves taught in Lumen Gentium 25 that, unless they were dispersed, they were unable to exercise the ordinary universal Magisterium's infallibility. Moreover, bishops in a Council are not the ordinary but the extraordinary Magisterium.
Reprinted from AD2000 Vol 21 No 8 (September 2008), p. 15
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