25 December 2008

Four Defining Moments

Pope Benedict XII, Benedictus Deus (1336): "By this Constitution which is to remain in force for ever, we, with apostolic authority, define the following. . ." (On the Beatific Vision)

Pope Pius IX, Ineffabilis Deus (1854): "We declare, pronounce, and define that the doctrine which holds that [. . .] is a doctrine revealed by God and therefore to be believed firmly and constantly by all the faithful." (On the Immaculate Conception)

Pope Pius XII, Munificentissimus Deus (1950): ". . .by the authority of our Lord Jesus Christ, of the Blessed Apostles Peter and Paul, and by our own authority, we pronounce, declare, and define it to be a divinely revealed dogma. . ." (On the Assumption of the Blessed Mother)

Pope John Paul II, Ordinatio Sacerdolatis (1994): ". . .I declare that the Church has no authority whatsoever to confer priestly ordination on women and that this judgment is to be definitively held by all the Church's faithful." (On the Reserving Priestly Ordination to Men Alone)

NB. Two of these declarations were made before (1336 and 1854) the First Vatican Council defined papal infallibility in 1870. It is plausible to argue that the 1870 definition was a true definition, that is, a limitation of papal power to teach infallibly on doctrine. Before 1870, the Holy Father's authority to settle theological questions in this way was unclear.


  1. I don't think Ordinatio Sacerdolatis fits as being an infallible statement in itself by the extraordinary magisterium.

    Then-Cardinal Ratzinger in in dubium stated that the teaching requires "definitive assent", but in the context of the ordinary magisterium as always being taught.

    Pope John Paul II went right up to the edge of making it an infallible statement by the extraordinary magisterium, but the wording does not go that far. Though even if he said "we pronounce, declare, and define" it is not as if dissenters would have become obedient. I wish though that he had so they would not be able to use this argument.

    We have lots of other defining moments such as canonizations which are acts of the extraordinary magisterium and are infallible.

  2. Anonymous8:35 PM

    I understand that the ordinary magisterium is infallible (CCC 891)

    I also understand that OS was issued as part of the ordinary magisterium, and the CDF's answer to the dubium said as much.

    It makes sense to me that JPII should repeat the infallibility of the ordinary magisterium in OS, rather than resort to an ex cathedra statement of extraordinary magisterium so as not to empty the ordinary of its, well, ordinary (i.e., normal and normative) force. If every definition of the ordinary magisterium requires re-definition by the extraordinary magisterium so as to ensure infallibility, then there is no real ordinary magisterium.

  3. Merry Christmas and God Bless Father Philip.

    If you get a chance, you might enjoy the video I put up today of my eldest SNK telling the Christmas Story.


  4. Anon.,

    Many believe that Ratzinger pushed JPII into issuing OS as an infallible teaching of the ordinary magisterium as a way of giving this particular means of teaching a boost. Regardless, the content of the teaching itself, despite the disputed canonical/magisterial status of the document, is irreformable.

  5. Anonymous2:05 AM

    there's no appropriate place to ask this, but where do you get your art work?

    it's usually very appealing!

    i have a little project and i could use some images.

    are you willing to disclose your source?

    Thank you!

  6. Anon.,

    Basically, I use google to search for images. I type in something like "crucifix" and see what pops up. If the pic is someone's painting, I give credit if possible.