Friday, September 15, 2006

The Immutibility of Doctrine

Fr. Jim has a post up citing an essay by Hans Urs von Balthasar on why one stays in the Church along with his personal reflections. There's one thing that raised an eyebrow from this end:

"The most difficult part, of course, is discerning between what is God-given and divine within the Church, and what is of our own making and, therefore, imperfect and transitory.


That difficulty in discernment is also responsible for what sometimes angers us in "compromised Catholics," those who don't accept some part of the Church's teaching....those who have made a sincere attempt to understand and accept the totality of Church teaching and have not been able to do so, who have in fact been convinced (or convinced themselves) that this or that teaching is either not an authoritative teaching, or is imperfectly framed, or is not universally valid."

This seems inaccurate to me. It seems to undermine the very reason for the establishment of the See of Peter.

The role of Peter is as a lighthouse. It is founded on a foundation that will not move. The passings winds of fancy do not move it, nor do the storms of the era. It is there to guide people away from the path of destruction to safety and hapiness. No one is forced to follow, but if they do not, they cast themselves from reach and can no longer claim to be within the confines of unity and cooperation.

It is very true that there are things that are of human making. The law of celibacy, for example. But one of the essential aspects of the Pope's role is to distinguish between what is human law and therefore open to disagreement, and what is a dogma of the Church that binds us together in unity of faith, therefore not being open to "revision".

Putting the case of a man looking at a teaching and working hard to, as Fr. Jim lists as a possibility, convince himself that such a line is of human law and therefore capable of questioning is a more respectful way of packaging dissent and heresy.