From one of my ex-professors

16 09 2009

altar seminario

El Espíritu Santo nos asegura que los obispos no pueden errar cuando imponen su autoridad, pero nada nos asegura cuando la deponen. Quedan siempre en pie las promesas de la indefectibilidad de la Iglesia –las puertas del infierno no prevalecerán–, pero muy empequeñecido quedará el rebaño de Cristo si los pastores siguen adorando al sentir de su grey, cada vez más inspirado por el espíritu nada santo del actual aparato publicitario.

El magisterio conciliar no ha recurrido nunca al ejercicio de la infalibilidad por modo extraordinario, ni puede alcanzar nunca la infalibilidad del magisterio ordinario universal mientras se crea obligado a ejercer su oficio de modo subordinado a una inexistente infalibilidad del sentido de la fe del común de los creyentes.

La Lámpara Bajo el Celemín, de Alvaro Calderón, págs. 50-1.

The Holy Ghost assures us that the bishops cannot err when they exercise their authority, but nothing assures us of this when they have put it aside. The promises of the indefectibility of the Church always remain – the gates of hell will not prevail- but the flock of Christ will become very small if the shepherds keep adoring the opinions of their flock, everyday more inspired by a non-so-holy spirit of the current publicity apparatus.

The Conciliar magisterium has never had recourse to the exercise of infallibility in its extraordinary mode, nor can it ever achieve the infallibility of the ordinary universal magisterium while it feels itself obligated to exercise its office in a way subordinate to a non-existent infallibility of the sense of common faith of believers.

-Fr. Alvaro Calderon (La Reja, Argentina), in his book, The Light Under a Bushel Basket: Disputed Question Regarding the Magisterium of the Church after Vatican II

(I am trying to get this book, but since it is published by a small publisher in Argentina, it is hard to get, apparently. Any ideas for me?)

While obviously this is only one of the few excerpts I can find from this book, I will speculate to develop what he is trying to say. I think that what he is saying is that “authority” is not an automatic, charismatic mechanism that is simply given in the Church because one holds a particular office: one is obligated to assent to a number of limitations in order to exercise it. In other words, the only bishops who govern well are the bishops who govern wisely, and that means taking into consideration the perrenial doctrines and practices of the Church, and knowing when to discern that certain trends will only lead to destruction.

Thus, bishops (and popes) who follow the zeitgeist, ever reading the signs of the times and ever anxious to adapt the Catholic Faith to the latest fads of the faithful, are the ones who have really put their authority aside. That is my understanding at least. I am very anxious to get my hands on the rest of this book.


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4 responses

24 09 2009
H

Write me an email with your address and I’ll buy it on Buenos Aires and send it to you.

17 09 2009
Lucian

a non-existent infallibility of the sense of common faith of believers.

What happened then to universality? (as in the Vincentian canon).

16 09 2009
john grinnell

Go to this site: Libreria Fatima.

16 09 2009
crouchback

“The Holy Ghost assures us that the bishops cannot err when they exercise their authority, but nothing assures us of this when they have put it aside. . . . The Conciliar magisterium . . . can [never] achieve the infallibility of the ordinary universal magisterium while it feels itself obligated to exercise its office in a way subordinate to a non-existent infallibility of the sense of common faith of believers.”

This seems to be a rather results-oriented understanding of the magisterial office. In fact, it’s hard not to see how such thinking wouldn’t degenerate into: “The bishops speak authoritatively when they speak authoritatively. And they speak authoritatively when they make pronouncements that conform with my understanding of Holy Scriptures and Sacred Tradition.”

I am by no means an expert on the matter, but my amateurish knowledge of Church history suggests that Tradition has always grounded the authority of the bishop (and the Pope) in the office per se. I’ve certainly never heard a Catholic argue that the teaching authority of the Church was contingent upon not “subordinat[ing] [itself] to a non-existent infallibility of the sense of the common faith of believers” or any other set of squishy criteria.

Note, however, that this is different from saying that there are limits or boundaries to the teaching authority of the magisterium. One could assert that the bishops and the Pope continue to exercise their teaching authority, but that there are certain areas where they would/do act ultra vires. Attempting to change dogma is an obvious example. Significantly altering (or simply re-creating) the liturgy and teachings on religious freedom are more controversial ones.

Maybe it’s a distinction without a difference, but I think the FSSPX is wiser to argue that the post-conciliar magisterium has exceeded its authority in certain matters rather than abandoned it. The latter approach renders the Holy Ghost’s guarantee somewhat hollow and would seem to result in a never-ending series of schisms.

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