Over the past several decades a new magisterium has crept into Church circles,
promulgated by liberal theologians who will quote everyone but the True Magisterium of the Church.
"These things I have spoken to you, while I am still with you. But the
Counselor, the Holy Spirit, Whom the Father will send in My name, He will
teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to
you" (John 14:25-26).
And with these words, all sorts of interpretations have come.
Taken as is, it implies that God will send the Holy Spirit to everyone.
(Or at least, that is what many think it implies.) So we have the
'infallible' evangelical fundamentalist who knows what the Bible says because
the Holy Spirit guides him (even though another evangelical fundamentalist
says just the opposite.) In fact, from various groups, it appears that
God has given the Holy Spirit to teach and guide to everyone BUT the Pope and
the Magisterium. But this interpretation is no longer found just within
Today, we hear how 'WE' are the Church, that the laity is the teaching
authority of the Church.
"The Holy Spirit is present first of all in the community of God's people,
and those who fail to reflect the consensus of this community damage the
effectiveness of the Church's mission." (Curran; "World-Wide Reaction
Reflects Urgent Concern"; The Pilot, Aug. 3, 1968; pg. 8)
So the Holy Spirit, first and foremost, resides in the consensus of
opinion within the Church?
"Now when Jesus came into the district of Caesarea Philippi, He asked His
disciples, 'Who do men say that the Son of man is?' And they said, 'Some say
John the Baptist, others say Elijah, and others Jeremiah or one of the
prophets'" (Matthew 16: 13-14).
Well, if we were to believe Curran, the people of God goofed here. Or did Christ? Since the Holy
Spirit is first and of all in the community of God's people, maybe He was
John the Baptist or Elijah, or Jeremiah?
If we were to accept Curran's statement, then St. Paul is wrong in 1
Corinthians for chastising them for eating food offered to idols. Evidently
the 'will' of the people felt it was okay before he wrote his letter correcting
Even in history, we can see the fallacy of this 'consensus of the
people'. If we were to accept this notion of Curran's (and others) then the
Germans were okay to kill the infirmed, the handicapped, the Jews, since this
was evidently the 'consensus' of the people. In fact, the persecution of
Jews throughout history by 'good Christians' would have to be seen as okay then.
But can this be so? Is the Holy Spirit found in the " community of
" Now there are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit; and there are
varieties of service, but the same Lord; and there are varieties of working,
but it is the same God Who inspires them all in every one. To each is given
the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good... All these are inspired
by One and the same Spirit, Who apportions to each one individually as He
For just as the body is one and has many members, and all the members of
the body, though many, are one body, so it is with Christ. For by one Spirit
we were all baptized into one body--Jews or Greeks, slaves or free--and all
were made to drink of one Spirit... Now you are the body of Christ and
individually members of it. And God has appointed in the Church first
apostles, second prophets, third teachers, then workers of miracles, then
healers, helpers, administrators, speakers in various kinds of tongues. Are
all apostles? Are all prophets? Are all teachers? Do all work miracles? Do
all possess gifts of healing? Do all speak with tongues? Do all interpret?
But earnestly desire the higher gifts"
(1 Corinthians 12: 4-7; 12-13; 27-31).
The Holy Spirit is present within the people of God, but not as a teaching
authority. Each member of the Church is given a gift for the good of the
Church. Not all are priests, Pope, bishops, nuns, teachers, etc.
If we look closely at the opening Scripture of John 14:25-26), we see that
Christ is talking to His twelve Apostles, not to all His disciples and followers.
Again, in John 16: 12-15 to His Apostles He says, "I have yet many things to say to you, but
you cannot bear them now. When the Spirit of truth comes, He will guide you
into all the truth; for He will not speak on His own authority, but whatever
He hears He will speak, and He will declare to you the things that are to
come. He will glorify Me, for He will take what is Mine and declare it to
you. All that the Father has is Mine; therefore I said that He will take
what is Mine and declare it to you."
Then Christ prays for them: "I have manifested Thy name to the men whom
Thou gavest Me out of the world; Thine they were, and Thou gavest them to Me,
and they have kept Thy word Now they know that everything that Thou hast
given Me is from thee; for I have given them the words which Thou gavest Me,
and they have received them and know in truth that I came from Thee; and they
have believed that Thou didst send Me... While I was with them, I kept them
in Thy name, which Thou hast given Me; I have guarded them, and none of them
is lost but the son of perdition, that the scripture might be fulfilled. But
now I am coming to Thee; and these things I speak in the world, that they may
have My joy fulfilled in themselves. I have given them Thy word; and the
world has hated them because they are not of the world, even as I am not of
the world" (John 17: 6-8; 12-14).
Then He prays for us, "I do not pray for these only, but also for those
who believe in Me through their word, that they may all be one; even as Thou,
Father, art in Me, and I in Thee, that they also may be in Us, so that
the world may believe that Thou hast sent Me. The glory which Thou hast
given Me I have given to them, that they may be one even as We are one"
That they teach with Christ's authority is evident for Jesus aid to them the remaining
eleven Apostles, "All authority in heaven and on earth has been
given to Me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them
in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching
them to observe all that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always,
to the close of the age" (Matthew 28: 18-20).
So that, "He who hears you hears Me, and he who rejects you rejects Me,
and he who rejects Me rejects Him Who sent Me" (Luke 10:16). And the one who
holds a primacy within this teaching authority is St. Peter, and his
successor, the Pope, the Bishop of Rome. (ref. Matthew 16:13-19; Lk. 22:
31-32; Jn. 21: 15-17).
So, it's clear that Scripture shows that Christ established a Church and
set the Apostles, and their successors (the Bishops) to teach and guide His
Church in His name with His authority. Not the consensus of the people of
In fact, this notion that the Holy Spirit is manifested through the
consensus of the people is nothing more than a revision of a second century
heresy, Montanism. Montanists felt that they were given the Holy Spirit to
make a 'new' Church of the Spirit. That they, and not the bishops or the
Pope, were the prophets of God's will. This is, of course, a very appealing
notion. But what is really at work here? Are the people of God really
'following their conscience'? Or are they merely replacing one Magisterium
Curran said it himself: "As Roman Catholic theologians, we respectfully
acknowledge a distinct role of hierarchical Magisterium [teaching role] in
the Church of Christ. At the same time, Christian Tradition assigns
theologians the special responsibility of evaluating and interpreting
pronouncements of the Magisterium in the light of the total theological data
operative in each question or statement." (Text of the Statement by
Theologians" New York Times, Aug. 31, 1968, pg. 16. [This was the infamous
statement, with the signatures of over 200 theologians which condemned the
Pope Paul VI's encyclical "Humanae Vitae"])
Curran, and others, set themselves up as the watchdog of the Magisterium,
an ecclesiastical 'Supreme Court' through whom all Church teaching must pass
and be accepted.
So, Humanae Vitae is not an infallible, nor authoritative teaching of the
Church because a handful of theologians say it isn't. Just as "Ordinatio
Sacerdotalis" (that the Church has no authority to ordain women as priests)
isn't an infallible teaching because they say so. In short, instead of the
teaching authority being the 'consensus' of the " community of God's people"
it's rather " the special responsibility of (theologians) evaluating and
interpreting pronouncements of the Magisterium". They have set themsleves,
and only a select few, as a counter magisterium, the final authority of the
The people of God' may 'think' they have come to their consensus through
the Holy Spirit (though we know from Scripture that the Holy Spirit is given
for the building of the Church, not the tearing it apart), but in fact, they
are merely following what 'their' magisterium is teaching them.
"A new consensus could only come about if this traditional power [the
Magisterium] could be deposed, and the Church restructured on conciliar,
democratic lines accountable to the people. . . . This is what Kung is really
calling for: that the academy replace the hierarchy as the teaching
magisterium of the church. . . . It entails the equivalent of the French
Revolution in the Church" (Rosemary Reuther; "Consensus in Theology" edited
by L. Swidler (Westminster, 1980; p. 65).
They'll quote Curran, Kung, Sheehan, Schnackenburg, Raymond Brown, Roland
Murphy, Pierre Benoit, John Meier, J.A. Fitzmeyer, David Stanley, Rudolf
Pesch, Walter Kasper, David Tracy, Edward Schillebeeckx, Rosemary Ruether,
and others. But not one Pope, Cardinal, Doctor of the Church, Early Church
Father, or any other 'faithful' theologian.
They'll rattle off quotes from Gnostic writings but not one verse from
Scripture unless they can distort it's meaning. (i.e. Lydia is commended for
her charity, NOT that she was priestess. Phoebe assisted in the ministry of
the Church, not that she was ever ordained a priest.)
Where is the Holy Spirit really found to guide, and protect the Church
founded by Christ?
" Now the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain to which
Jesus had directed them. And when they saw Him they worshipped Him; but some
doubted. And Jesus came and said to them, 'All authority in Heaven and on
earth has been given to Me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations,
baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy
Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you; and lo, I am
with you always, to the close of the age'" (Matthew 28: 16-20).
"He who hears you hears Me, and he who rejects you rejects Me, and he who
rejects Me rejects Him Who sent Me" (Luke 10:16).
As Cardinal Bernardin wrote: "It is true that people must form their
conscience, but it is equally true that they have a responsibility to form a
correct conscience." ("U.S. Bishops Ask Acceptance"; National Catholic
Reporter; Aug. 7, 1968, pg. 4)
To form that correct conscience one can either follow the authentic
teaching of the Church's Magisterium, or they can form an incorrect (or dead)
conscience by following those teachers and theologians who tell them what
they want to hear. (ref. 2 Tim. 4:3-4).
In a debate on CompuServe's Catholic On Line, Dr. Joyce Little, a theologian at
St. Thomas University in Houston asked,
"Where were the priests, the theologians, the catechist?...I think the sowing
of that confusion was in very many instances unconscionable and the
responsibility for that confusion and the ensuing grief is one for
which many will be held accountable, if not in this life, then in the next."
Truly, it is proven Christ has established His Magisterium and no other quasi magisterium can usurp it, no matter what drabble they concoct.
Pax Christi, Pat