I posted again in the Being Frank blog (it’s quite good) under the entry entitled "Wrestling with dissent". The discussion in the thread has turned to the dogmatic status of some teachings in the Catholic Church, including priestly ordination being reserved for men alone, and the disorderedness of contraception and homosexual acts (all very controvercial and distinctly Catholic teachings); so this is what I posted in seeking some clarification on the matter:
|Thanks for the edifying posts. Speaking as one who hasn’t entirely figured out these matters, I think it would be helpful to get to the underlying principles in a couple of ways:
I guess the issue comes down to the means and the sphere of infallibility: for the former, the question would be "what are the means through which these are infallibly defined, and the required conditions for each of these means?", which naturally leads to the latter "which teachings fulfill these conditions and therefore are infallible?" (it seems to me this is the contentious part). May I be so bold as to suggest this as a new blog topic(s) for another day?
As I understand it, the Catholic Church has three infallible authorities which compliment each other: Sacred Scriptures, Sacred Tradition, and the Sacred Magisterium, so explanations of these and the requirements of each would cover the first question. For the second question, it might be good to examine those issues we have talked about earlier – women’s ordination, homosexuality and contraception – in the light of the first part (so, for example, whether or not the Pope’s proclamation in Ordinatio Sacerdotalis fulfills the conditions for Papal Infallibility and therefore Sacred Magisterium).
Related to this are the questions, "what are the philosophical and scriptural basis for this doctrine?" and, "what are the fallible teachings of the Church?", which may help to understand the issue more.
An interesting question is, "are there any instances in which the faithful is allowed to disobey their superiors or the magisterium or dissent from the official teachings of the Church (be it infallible or non-infallible)?". I think an explanation of the theology of obedience would help clarify a lot of things (I know it would for me, at least).
It’s a fascinating topic which generates a lot of questions. Watch this space!