Monday, March 15, 2010

By Their Dissention Shall Ye Know Them

Fr. Thomas Euteneuer has a good article up at Catholic Exchange about “dissenters” within the Church, and reserves special criticism, rightly, for clerical dissent. Why on earth anyone would want to become a priest, only to complain about various Church teachings, is beyond me. Nobody’s forcing them even to remain Catholic, let alone go to seminary (and spend all that time on discernment) and become priests.

Choice excerpt:

Perhaps better known is the story of his fellow martyr, St. Thomas More, who died essentially because the pope wouldn’t issue an annulment to the murderous Henry VIII. The issue of who exactly would control the Church in England was based on Henry’s adamant rejection of the Church’s – that is, Christ’s – teaching on marriage. Less than five hundred years later, Henry’s Anglican church is in utter disarray on all the issues of marriage and human sexuality precisely because of the original dishonesty upon which it was founded. Such chaos is the inevitable result of any church’s betrayal of Christ’s teaching.

Bravo! And well told!

There are ostensibly some 40,000 distinct Protestant “churches” today, each founded because someone dissented with someone else, and all can be traced to Martin Luther, who was a good and faithful Catholic priest until he took leave of his senses and became downright arrogant with the Holy See. (For what it’s worth, it’s been said that in his later years he deeply regretted the chaos he’d inspired.)

By the way, because I’m not a registered member of Catholic Exchange I wasn’t able to comment to Fr. Euteneuer’s piece, but someone named “slashorn” remarked that Father ought to be careful with his use of the terms “doctrine” and “dogma”. But it’s “slashorn” who needs to be careful (someone remind me to add this to my Apolgetics section):

  • Doctrine is an umbrella term for teaching;
  • All dogmas are doctrine;
  • Not all doctrine is dogma.

Dogmas are infallible teachings of the Church; examples include Transubstantiation and the dual (fully human, fully divine) nature of  Jesus. Doctrines come in varying degrees of certainty, from opinion (with which no one is obliged to agree) right on up to infallible. Opinions include things like the the notion that Christ possessed infused knowledge right from the beginning; that Mary died prior to her Assumption; and the idea that the actual sacrificial action in the Mass is Transubstantiation itself, as opposed to everything from the Offertory to the Consecration. (St. Gregory Nazianzus believed this one.)

Doctrines which are infallible but not defined as dogmas include things like abortion and contraception, and are binding upon all Catholics. The teaching against contraception is borne out by Scripture (Genesis 38:7-10, Leviticus 18:22-23, 20:13, Romans 1:26-27, 1 Corinthians 7:5, and on and on) and condemned via the papal encyclical Humanae Vitae. Abortion is demonstrably and self-evidently murder, and was specifically condemned in the Didache (2:2).

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