DAILY CATHOLIC     THURSDAY     October 21, 1999     vol. 10, no. 201


To print out entire text of Today's issue, go to SECTION ONE and SECTION TWO

      Pat Ludwa, a committed lay Catholic from Cleveland, has been asked to contribute, on a regular basis, a lay person's point of view on the Church today. We have been impressed with his insight and the clear logic he brings to the table from his "view from the pew." In all humility, by his own admission, he feels he has very little to offer, but we're sure you'll agree with us that his viewpoint is exactly what millions of the silent majority of Catholics believe and have been trying to say as well. Pat puts it in words that help all of us better understand and convey to others what the Church teaches and we must believe.

    Today Pat exposes the false magisterium that has cropped up in which they challenge indirectly the True Magisterium of the Church by doing an end run to quote all those dissenters without ever acknowledging the truths of Scripture and the Sovereign Pontiff. They say misery loves company and in this the liberals wallow as they try to pull others down to their heretical way of thinking. Pat shows through the Word that what Jesus decreed to the Apostles still holds today and that the Holy Spirit may be present in all, but not equally and is first and foremost in His fulness in the Vicar of Christ and the successors of the Apostles who have composed the True Magisterium of the Church for close to the past 2000 years. That is the gist of Pat's column today, A new magisterium?

    If you want to send him ideas or feedback, you can reach him at KnightsCross@aol.com

A new magisterium?

        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 Protestant fundamentalism.

        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 them.

        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 God's people"?

        " 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 wills. 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" (Ibid 20-22).

        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 God.

        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 with another?

        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 Church.

        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

October 21, 1999       volume 10, no. 201


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