Friday, July 20, 2007

Archbishop Bertone, Magisterial Documents and Public Dissent

Archbishop Tarcisio Bertone, S.D.B.
Archbishop emeritus of Vercelli
Secretary of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith

In considering some recently promulgated documents of the Magisterium such as the Encyclicals Veritatis splendor and Evangelium vitae, the Apostolic Letter Ordinatio sacerdotalis and the Responsum ad dubium of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith regarding the doctrine of Ordinatio sacerdotalis, as well the same Congregation’s Letter to the Bishops of the Catholic Church regarding the reception of Holy Communion by divorced and remarried members of the faithful, one first notes that these documents have received a great deal of comment. In certain respects, the comments made in many quarters of the Church and civil society have been rather forceful.
In ecclesial and ecclesiastical circles total assent and deep appreciation has been expressed for the publication of these documents by Cardinals and Bishops as well as well as by Episcopal Conferences and many individual priests and lay faithful, who have written to the Holy Father or the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith stating their adherence and assent to the doctrine taught by the Magisterium in these documents. It should also be pointed out that the practice of first presenting papal documents (the two Encyclicals and the Apostolic Letter Ordinatio sacerdotalis) to the presidents of the Episcopal Conferences most concerned with these issues at a meeting in the Holy See has been appreciated and has borne good fruit inasmuch as it has deepened the bond of communion between the Apostolic See and the individual Bishops and these Episcopal Conferences, and has produced even greater results for the dissemination and reception of magisterial documents.

On the other hand, discordant and dissenting voices have been raised by theologians, associations and ecclesiastical groups, which have questioned both the content and the theological basis of the teaching found in these documents, as well as their value and binding doctrinal force, disputing whether these doctrines can be considered definitive or even infallibly taught by the Magisterium. Thus it seems appropriate to reflect on the main difficulties connected with the value and degree of authority of these magisterial interventions.


Doctrinally, and in view of the description of the reactions and principal criticisms of these magisterial documents, special attention should be paid to several key aspects which in today's theological and ecclesial climate are a source of confusion and ambiguity, and entail negative consequences for the teaching of theology and for the behavior of some ecclesiastical circles:

1) first, we must point out the tendency to measure everything on the basis of the distinction between the "infallible Magisterium" and the "fallible Magisterium".

In this way infallibility becomes the criterion for all authority problems, to the point of actually replacing the concept of authority with that of infallibility. Furthermore, the question of the infallibility of the Magisterium is often confused with the question of the truth of a doctrine, by assuming that infallibility is the pre-qualification for the truth and irreformability of the doctrine, and by making the truth and definitive nature of the doctrine depend on whether or not it has been infallibly defined by the Magisterium. In fact, the truth and irreformability of a doctrine depends on the depositum fide), transmitted by Scripture and Tradition, while infallibility refers only to the degree of certitude of an act of magisterial teaching. In the various critical stances towards the recent documents of the Magisterium it is often forgotten that the infallible character of a teaching and the definitive and irrevocable character of the assent owed it is not a prerogative belonging solely to what has been solemnly "defined" by the Roman Pontiff or an Ecumenical Council. Whenever the Bishops dispersed in their individual Dioceses in communion with the Successor of Peter teach a truth to be held in a definitive way (cf. Lumen gentium, n. 25, 2), they enjoy the same infallibility as the Pope's ex cathedra Magisterium or that of a Council.

It must be stressed then that in the Encyclicals Veritatis splendor and Evangelium vitae and in the Apostolic Letter Ordinatio sacerdotalis, the Roman Pontiff intended, though not in a solemn way, to confirm and reaffirm doctrines which belong to the ordinary, universal teaching of the Magisterium, and which therefore are to be held in a definitive and irrevocable way.

Moreover, it must also be kept in mind that if the authority of the Magisterium's teachings admits of varying degrees, this does not mean that the authority of a lesser degree can be considered on the same level as theological opinions or, when it is not a question of infallibility, that only the arguments count and it is impossible for the Church to have a common certitude in a given doctrinal matter.

2) Second, these considerations are highly significant regarding adherence to the teaching of Veritatis splendor and Evangelium vitae, of Ordinatio sacerdotalis and also of the and the Letter of the Congregation on the reception of Holy Communion by divorced and remarried members of the faithful: since these documents deal with teachings not proposed or confirmed by the Magisterium in the form of a definition (solemn judgement), there is a widespread idea that these teachings can be revised or reformed at a later date or perhaps in another pontificate. This idea is totally groundless and betrays a mistaken understanding of the Catholic Church's doctrine on the Magisterium.

Actually, if we consider the act of teaching, the Magisterium can teach a doctrine as definitive either by a defining act or by a non-defining act. First of all, the Magisterium can proclaim a doctrine as definitive, and thus to be believed with divine faith or to be held in a definitive way, through a solemn ex cathedra pronouncement of the Pope or an Ecumenical Council. However, the ordinary papal Magisterium can teach a doctrine as definitive because it has been constantly maintained and held by Tradition and transmitted by the ordinary, universal Magisterium. This latter exercise of the charism of infallibility does not take the form of a papal act of definition, but pertains to the ordinary, universal Magisterium which the Pope again sets forth with his formal pronouncement of confirmation and reaffirmation (generally in an Encyclical or Apostolic Letter). If we were to hold that the Pope must necessarily make an ex cathedra definition whenever he intends to declare a doctrine as definitive because it belongs to the deposit of faith, it would imply an underestimation of the ordinary, universal Magisterium, and infallibility would be limited to the solemn definitions of the Pope or a Council, in a way that differs from the teaching of Vatican I and Vatican II, which attribute an infallible character to the teachings of the ordinary, universal Magisterium.

The particular nature of a teaching of the papal Magisterium that is meant merely to confirm or repropose a certitude of faith already lived consciously by the Church or affirmed by the universal teaching of the entire Episcopate can be seen not in the teaching of the doctrine per se, but in the fact that the Roman Pontiff formally declares that this doctrine already belongs to the faith of the Church and is infallibly taught by the ordinary, universal Magisterium as divinely revealed or to be held in a definitive way.

In the light of these considerations, it seems a pseudo-problem to wonder whether this papal act of confirming a teaching of the ordinary, universal Magisterium is infallible or not. In fact, although it is not per se a dogmatic definition (like the Trinitarian dogma of Nicaea, the Christological dogma of Chalcedon or the Marian dogmas), a papal pronouncement of confirmation enjoys the same infallibility as the teaching of the ordinary, universal Magisterium, which includes the Pope not as a mere Bishop but as the Head of the Episcopal College. In this regard, it is important to make clear that when the of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith on the doctrine taught in the Apostolic Letter Ordinatio sacerdotalis mentions the infallible character of this doctrine which is already possessed by the Church, it simply meant to recall that the doctrine is not infallibly proposed only on the basis of this pontifical document, but that it confirms what has been held everywhere, always and by everyone as belonging to the deposit of faith. So it is essential to maintain the principle that a teaching can also be infallibly proposed by the ordinary, universal Magisterium by an act that does not take the solemn form of a definition.

3) In some quarters the question has been raised regarding the recognition of a doctrine taught by the ordinary, universal Magisterium as revealed or to be held definitively. It has been said, for example, that for this recognition it is necessary that the unanimous consent of the entire Episcopate be explicitly evident not only in proposing a determinate judgement, but also in declaring its absolute and definitively binding character. Hence there is a doubt as to whether these requirements have been met regarding the doctrine about the non-admission of women to priestly ordination and about certain universal norms of the natural moral law.

However, these questions and the doubts that have been raised do not seem to take into account several factors which must be briefly mentioned.

a) The ordinary, universal Magisterium consists in the unanimous proclamation of the Bishops in union with the Pope. It is expressed in the fact that all the Bishops (including the Bishop of Rome, who is the Head of the College) give a common witness. It is not a question of extraordinary statements, but of the Church's normal life, of what is preached in ordinary circumstances as universal teaching in the everyday life of the Church. "This ordinary Magisterium is thus the normal form of the Church's infallibility".' As a consequence, it is not at all necessary that everything pertaining to the faith become explicit dogma; on the contrary, it is normal for the truth to be proposed simply by its proclamation in common -which includes non only words but also facts; the particular and explicit emphasis of a dogmatic definition is, properly speaking, an extraordinary case, usually required for very precise and particular reasons.

b) Moreover, when speaking of the need to verify the actual consent of all the Bishops dispersed throughout the world or even of the whole Christian people in matters of faith and morals, it should not be forgotten that this consent cannot be understood only synchronically, but also diachronically. This means that a morally unanimous consent embraces every era of the Church, and only if this totality is heard does one remain faithful to the Apostles. "If in some quarter", the wise Cardinal Ratzinger observes, "a majority were to be formed in opposition to the faith of the Church in other times, it would not be a majority at all".2

It is also worth noting that the agreement of the universal Episcopate in communion with the Successor of Peter about the doctrinal and binding character of an assertion or an ecclesial practice in ages past is not annulled or diminished by dissent that may occur in a later era.

c) Lastly, with particular reference to the teaching about reserving priestly ordination to men alone, it must be remembered that the Apostolic Letter Ordinatio sacerdotalis confirmed that this doctrine has been maintained by the Church's constant, universal tradition and has been firmly taught by the Magisterium in its most recent documents (n. 4). Now, everyone knows that Tradition is the hermeneutic locus where, in various ways—including that of calm conviction—the Church's self-verifying consciousness operates and is expressed. In this specific case, the Church has unanimously and consistently maintained that women cannot validly receive priestly ordination, and this same unanimity and consistency reveals not the Church's own decision, but her obedience and dependence on the will of Christ and the Apostles. Consequently, universal Tradition in this matter, marked by consistency and unanimity, contains an objective magisterial teaching that is definitive and unconditionally binding.3 The same criterion must also be applied to other doctrines regarding universal moral norms: the killing of an innocent human being is always gravely immoral; abortion is always gravely immoral; adultery or slander is always evil, etc. These doctrines, although not yet declared by a solemn judgement, nevertheless belong to the Church's faith and are infallibly proposed by the ordinary, universal Magisterium.

In conclusion, in order to speak of the infallible ordinary and universal Magisterium, it is necessary that the consent between the Bishops have for its object a teaching proposed as formally revealed or as certainly true and undoubted, such that it calls for the full and undeniable assent of the faithful. One can share theology's insistence on conducting careful analyses in researching the reasons for this consent or agreement. Nevertheless, there is no basis for the interpretation that the verification of an infallible teaching of the ordinary, universal Magisterium would also require a particular formality in the act of declaring the doctrine in question. Otherwise we would be dealing with a solemn definition of the Pope or of an Ecumenical Council.4

These clarifications seem necessary today, not for answering subtle and sophisticated academic questions, but for rejecting a simplistic, reductionist interpretation of the infallibility of the Magisterium, while offering at the same time correct theological principles for interpreting the value of magisterial teachings and the quality of the doctrines.


In addition to these considerations and clarifications of a doctrinal and theological nature, it is also appropriate to reflect on and indicate solutions to the problem of public dissent. It is impossible here to examine the breadth of the pastoral and practical repercussions involved in this question, but it is useful to define clearly some fundamental aspects which seem to lie at the base and root of this phenomenon. This is the only way to avoid proposing remedies that are merely empirical and incidental.

1) We cannot neglect the basic fact, which seems essential: the true, deep root of dissent is the crisis of faith. Efforts must thus be made to reinvigorate the life of faith as a priority dimension of the Church's pastoral work. This strengthening of the faith demands and presupposes the call to an ever greater and deeper interior conversion.

2) One of the first expressions of the spiritual crisis of faith is the crisis of the Magisterium's authority, which is a crisis in the authority of the Church founded on the divine will. An artificial opposition is created between authority and freedom, detaching them from the question of truth.

3) It seems then that the primary remedy should be sought in the commitment to serious spiritual, doctrinal and intellectual formation in conformity with the Church's teaching.

In this regard, we call attention to several important points:

a) first of all, the need for an integrated, systematic theological formation. The increasing specialization of theology tends to fragment it, to the point of making theology a collection of theologies. Theology is in danger of losing its organic unity, and although information becomes more and more detailed a basic unifying vision is missing. in the same way, we must insist on the responsibility of Bishops in catechesis and catechist formation, which must strengthen the sense of faith and of belonging to the Church.

b) the need for sound philosophical formation, which must include the study of metaphysics; one notes the disturbing lack of this study in various academic centres today.

c) the need to redress the balance between the demand for safeguarding the individual's right and the requirement of preserving and defending the right of the community and the People of God to the true faith and to the common good. I would like to draw attention to the fact that the real tension is not between defending the individual's right and that of the community, but between those who defend the right of the culturally stronger and more powerful, and the right of those who are weaker and more defenceless in the face of corrosive, anti-ecclesial tendencies.

d) the urgent need to form public opinion in the Church so that it conforms to Catholic identity and is free from subservience to secular public opinion as reflected in the mass media. Openness to the world's problems, however, must be properly understood: it is based on the missionary impulse to make Christ's revelation known to all and to lead everyone to the mystery of Christ.

4) From the disciplinary standpoint, it seems quite appropriate to recall that the Bishops are obliged to enforce the Church's normative discipline, especially when it is a question of defending the integrity of the teaching of divine truth. This is to be done in the context of a new and forceful re-presentation of the Christian message and the spiritual life for the sake of a renewed evangelization.

Moreover, it is useful to emphasize and make clear, especially at this moment in the Church's life when there seems to be a reluctance to consider canon law in the proper light, that the observance and application of ecclesiastical discipline is not an obstacle or in opposition to true freedom and obedience to the Spirit, but is an indispensable tool for effective and ordered communion in truth and charity.

The application of canon law thus provides concrete protection for believers against misrepresentations of revealed doctrine and against a watering down of the faith caused by that "spirit of the world" which seeks to present itself as the voice of the Holy Spirit.

In this context, it also seems very important to recall the Oath of Fidelity, published in 1989 when the Formula of the Profession of Faith came into force. It expresses the public commitment to exercise one's office properly in relation to the Church and to the institutions and people for whom it has been assumed.

The Oath of Fidelity, as the observance of canonical discipline in general properly expresses the organic unity of action and governance through fidelity to the profession of faith and to Christian truth. In this way, the sense of identity and of belonging to the Church are also guaranteed by law, which prevents one from thinking that he belongs to an imaginary Church of his own invention, instead of to the Church of the apostolic succession, of the Word written and handed down authoritatively, of the visible sacraments and of Catholic communion.

In conclusion, John Paul II’s address to the members of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, at the end of their 1995 plenary meeting, remain enlightening (L'Osservatore Romano English edition, 29 November 1995, p. 3). Regarding the relationship between the Magisterium and theologians, the Pope stated:

"The continual dialogue with Pastors and theologians throughout the world enables you to be attentive to the demands of understanding and reflecting more deeply on the doctrine of the faith which theology interprets, and at the same time, it informs you of the useful efforts being made to foster and strengthen the unity of the faith and the Magisterium's guiding role in understanding the truth and in building up ecclesial communion in charity.

"The unity of the faith, for the sake of which the Magisterium has authority and ultimate deliberative power in interpreting the Word of God written and handed down, is a primary value, which, if respected, does not involve the stifling of theological research, but provides it with a stable foundation. Theology, in its task of making explicit the intelligible content of the faith, expresses the intrinsic orientation of human intelligence to the truth and the believer's irrepressible need rationally to explore the revealed mystery.

"To achieve this end, theology can never be reduced to the 'private' reflection of a theologian or group of theologians. The Church is the theologian's vital environment, and in order to remain faithful to its identity, theology cannot fail to participate deeply in the fabric of the Church's life, doctrine, holiness and prayer.

"This is the context in which the conviction that theology needs the living and clarifying word of the Magisterium becomes fully understandable and perfectly consistent with the logic of the Christian faith. The meaning of the Church's Magisterium must be considered in relation to the truth of Christian doctrine. This is what your Congregation has carefully explained and spelled out in the Instruction Donum veritatis on the ecclesial vocation of the theologian".

With regard to the connection between authority and truth, between the exercise of authority and the proclamation of the saving truth, the Holy Father noted:

"The Magisterium, whose authority is exercised in the name of Jesus Christ (cf. Dei Verbum, n. 10), is an organ of service to the truth and is responsible for seeing that the truth does not cease to be faithfully handed on throughout human history".


1 J. Ratzinger, II nuovo popolo di Dio, Brescia 1971, p. 180.

2 J. Ratzinger, La Chiesa, Milan, p. 71.

3 In the past and until recent decades, theologians and canonists who dealt with the problem unanimously considered the exclusion of women from receiving the ministerial priesthood to be something absolute, based on divine apostolic Tradition. See, for example what P. Gasparri stated in his Tractatus canonicus de sacra ordinatione (vol. I, Paris 1893, p. 75): "Et quidem prohibetur sub poena nullitatis: ita enim traditio et communis doctorum catholicorum doctrine interpretata est legem Apostoli: et ideo Patres inter haereses recensent doctrinam qua sacerdotalis dignitas et officium mulieribus tribuitur".

4 In his commentary on the second schema on the Church proposed at the First Vatican Council, J. Kleutgen defines as doctrines of the ordinary infallible Magisterium those that "have been held or transmitted as undoubted" (tamquam indubitata tenentur vel traduntur). Cf. Mansi, LIII, 313.

Fr. Most, 4 Levels of the Church's Teaching


Fr. William Most

First level:

a) Solemn definition. LG 25: No special formula of words is required in
order to define. Wording should be something solemn, and should make clear
that the teaching is definitive. Councils in the past often used the form:
"Si quis dixerit. . . anathema sit." That is: "If someone shall say. . . .
let him be anathema." But sometimes they used the formula for disciplinary
matters, so that form alone does not prove. Further, they also could define
in the capitula, the chapters. Thus Pius XII, in Divino afflante Spiritu
(EB 538) spoke of such a passage of Vatican I (DS 3006 -- saying God is the
author of Scripture) as a solemn definition.

The Pope can define even without the Bishops. Of his definitions LG 25
said: "His definitions of themselves, and not from consent of the Church,
are rightly called unchangeable, for they are pronounced with the
assistance of the Holy Spirit, an assistance promised him in blessed Peter.
So they need no approval from others, nor is there room for an appeal to
any other judgment." So collegiality even in defining is not mandatory. Yet
most definitions of the Popes have been taken in collegiality, that is,
with consultation of the Bishops. Even the definitions of the Immaculate
Conception and the Assumption were such, for the Popes did poll the Bishops
by mail.

b) Second level: LG 25: "Although the individual bishops do not have the
prerogative of infallibility, they can yet teach Christ's doctrine
infallibly. This is true even when they are scattered around the world,
provided that, while maintaining the bond of unity among themselves, and
with the successor of Peter, they concur in one teaching as the one which
must be definitively held." This means: (1) The day to day teaching of the
Church throughout the world, when it gives things as definitively part of
the faith, (2) If this can be done when scattered, all the more can it be
done when assembled in Council. Thus Trent (DS 1520) after "strictly
prohibiting anyone from hereafter believing or preaching or teaching
differently than what is established and explained in the present decree,"
went on to give infallible teaching even in the capitula, outside the

To know whether the Church intends to teach infallibly on this second
level, we notice both the language -- no set form required - and the
intention, which may be seen at times from the nature of the case, at times
from the repetition of the doctrine on this second level.

c) Third Level: Pius XII, in Humani generis: "Nor must it be thought that
the things contained in Encyclical Letters do not of themselves require
assent on the plea that in them the Pontiffs do not exercise the supreme
power of their Magisterium. For these things are taught with the ordinary
Magisterium, about which it is also true to say, 'He who hears you, hears
me.' [Lk 10. 16]. . . If the Supreme Pontiffs, in their acta expressly pass
judgment on a matter debated until then, it is obvious to all that the
matter, according to the mind and will of the same Pontiffs, cannot be
considered any longer a question open for discussion among theologians."

We notice: (1) These things are protected by the promise of Christ in Lk
10. 16, and so are infallible, for His promise cannot fail. Though that
promise was first given to the 72, it is certain that the Apostles were in
the group, and as the trajectory advanced, it became clear that the full
teaching authority was only for them - the mission given to the 72 was
preliminary, and the full meaning was made clear later when the Apostles
were given the authority to bind and to loose. This was part of the broader
picture: Jesus wanted only a gradual self-revelation. Had He started by
saying: "Before Abraham was, I am", He would have been stoned on the spot.
(2) Not everything in Encyclicals, and similar documents, is on this level
- this is true only when the Popes expressly pass judgment on a previously
debated matter, (3) since the Church scattered throughout the world can
make a teaching infallible without defining - as we saw on level 2 -then of
course the Pope alone, who can speak for and reflect the faith of the whole
Church, can do the same even in an Encyclical, under the conditions
enumerated by Pius XII. Really, on any level, all that is required to make
a thing infallible is that it be given definitively. When a Pope takes a
stand on something debated in theology and publishes it in his Acta, that
suffices. The fact that as Pius XII said it is removed from debate alone
shows it is meant as definitive.

In this connection, we note that LG 12 says: "The entire body of the
faithful, anointed as they are by the Holy One, cannot err in matters of
belief." This means: If the whole Church, both people and authorities, have
ever believed (accepted as revealed) an item, then that cannot be in error,
is infallible. Of course this applies to the more basic items, not to very
technical matters of theological debate. But we note this too: If this
condition has once been fulfilled in the past, then if people in a later
age come to doubt or deny it -- that does not make noninfallible what was
once established as infallible. Many things come under this , e. g. , the
existence of angels.

This does not mean, however, that the Pope is to be only the echo of the

d) Level 4: LG 25: "Religious submission of mind and of will must be
shown in a special way to the authentic magisterium of the Roman Pontiff
even when he is not defining, in such a way, namely, that the judgments
made by him are sincerely adhered to according to his manifested mind and
will, which is clear either from the nature of the documents, or from the
repeated presentation of the same doctrine, or from the manner of

We note all the qualifications in the underlined part The key is the
intention of the Pope. He may be repeating existing definitive teaching
from Ordinary Magisterium level - then it is infallible, as on level 2. He
may be giving a decision on a previously debated point - as on level 3,
then it falls under the promise of Christ in Lk 10. 16, and so is also
infallible. Or it may be a still lesser intention - then we have a case
like that envisioned in Canon 752 of the New Code of Canon Law: "Not indeed
an assent of faith, but yet a religious submission of mind and will must be
given to the teaching which either the Supreme Pontiff, or the College of
Bishops [of course, with the Pope] pronounce on faith or on morals when
they exercise the authentic Magisterium even if they do not intend to
proclaim it by a definitive act." If they do not mean to make it
definitive, then it does not come under the virtue of faith, or the promise
of Christ,"He who hears you hears me". Rather, it is a matter of what the
Canon and LG 25 call "religious submission of mind and of will." What does
this require? Definitely, it forbids public contradiction of the teaching.
But it also requires something in the mind, as the wording indicates. This
cannot be the absolute assent which faith calls for - for since this
teaching is, by definition, not definitive, we gather that it is not
absolutely finally certain.

How can anyone give any mental assent when there is not absolute
certitude? In normal human affairs, we do it all the time. Suppose we are
at table, and someone asks if a dish of food came from a can, and if so,
was it sent to a lab to check for Botulism. It is true, routine opening of
a can would not detect that deadly poison. Yet it is too much to check
every can, and the chances are very remote, so much so that normal people
do not bother about it - yet their belief takes into account a real but
tiny possibility of a mistake. Similarly with a doctrine on this fourth
level. And further, the chances of error on this level are much smaller
than they are with a can of food. Similarly, in a criminal trial, the judge
will tell the jury they must find the evidence proves guilt beyond
reasonable doubt. He does not demand that every tiny doubt be ruled out,
even though it may mean life in prison or death.

If one should make a mistake by following the fourth level of Church
teaching, when he comes before the Divine Judge, the Judge will not blame
him, rather He will praise him. But if a person errs by breaking with the
Church on the plea that he knew better - that will not be easily accepted.

Si Si No No: On the Pope's Infallible Magisterium

On the Pope's Infallible Magisterium

Clear Ideas on the Pope's Infallible Magisterium

This article quotes heavily from two essays, which have recently been jointly republished under the title, Pope or Church?, by Angelus Press.

The first essay, The Ordinary Magisterium of the Catholic Church was originally entitled, An Essay on the Authority of the Teachings of the Sovereign Pontiff, and published in July, 1956. It was written by Dom Paul Nau, OSB of the monastery of Solemes.

The second essay, The Infallibility of the Church's Ordinary Magisterium was written in 1980 by Canon Rene Berthod of the Congregation of the Great Saint Bernard. An eminent and profound theologian, after a long and brilliant career as professor, he was the Rector for many years of the Seminary of Saint Pius X in Econe, Switzerland.

CDF clarification on the status of Ordinatio Sacerdotalis

Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger Concerning Women as Priests

Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger
November 8, 1995

The publication in May 1994 of the apostolic letter Ordinatio Sacerdotalis was followed by a number of problematic and negative statements by certain theologians, organizations of priests and religious, as well as some associations of lay people. These reactions attempted to cast doubt on the definitive character of the letter's teaching on the inadmissibility of women to the ministerial priesthood and also questioned whether this teaching belonged to the deposit of the faith.

This congregation therefore has judged it necessary to dispel the doubts and reservations that have arisen by issuing a responsum ad dubium, which the Holy Father has approved and ordered to be published (cf. enclosure).

In asking you to bring this responsum to the attention of the bishops of your episcopal conference before its official publication, this dicastery is confident that the conference itself, as well as the individual bishops, will do everything possible to ensure its distribution and favorable reception, taking particular care that, above all on the part of theologians, pastors of souls and religious, ambiguous and contrary positions will not again be proposed.

The text of the responsum is to remain confidential until the date of its publication in L'Osservatore Romano, which is expected to be the 18th of November.

With gratitude for your assistance and with prayerful best wishes I remain,
Sincerely Yours in Christ,
Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger

Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith
October 28, 1995

Dubium: Whether the teaching that the Church has no authority whatsoever to confer priestly ordination on women, which is presented in the Apostolic Letter Ordinatio Sacerdotalis to be held definitively, is to be understood as belonging to the deposit of faith.

Responsum: In the affirmative.

This teaching requires definitive assent, since, founded on the written Word of God, and from the beginning constantly preserved and applied in the Tradition of the Church, it has been set forth infallibly by the ordinary and universal Magisterium (cf. Second Vatican Council, Dogmatic Constitution on the Church Lumen Gentium 25, 2). Thus, in the present circumstances, the Roman Pontiff, exercising his proper office of confirming the brethren (cf. Lk 22:32), has handed on this same teaching by a formal declaration, explicitly stating what is to be held always, everywhere, and by all, as belonging to the deposit of the faith.

The Sovereign Pontiff John Paul II, at the Audience granted to the undersigned Cardinal Prefect, approved this Reply, adopted in the ordinary session of this Congregation, and ordered it to be published.

Rome, from the offices of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, on the Feast of the Apostles SS. Simon and Jude, October 28, 1995.

Joseph Card. RatzingerPrefect
Tarcisio BertoneArchbishop Emeritus of Vercelli

Ordinatio Sacerdotalis; Pope John Paul II 22 May 1994 Priestly Ordination of Men Alone; CATHOLIC LIBRARY: Ordinatio Sacerdotalis (1994); Ordinatio Sacerdotalis

Heythrop Journal articles

Check at BC:

The Heythrop Journal
Volume 20 Issue 4 Page 380-398, October 1979
To cite this article: JOHN P. BOYLE (1979) THE ORDINARY MAGISTERIUM: TOWARDS A HISTORY OF THE CONCEPT(1) The Heythrop Journal 20 (4), 380–398. doi:10.1111/j.1468-2265.1979.tb00218.x

Volume 39 Issue 1 Page 18-36, January 1998
To cite this article: Lawrence J Welch (1998) The Infallibility of the Ordinary Universal Magisterium: A Critique of Some Recent Observations The Heythrop Journal 39 (1), 18–36. doi:10.1111/1468-2265.00063

John XXIII on rights

From Pacem in Terris:


11. But first We must speak of man's rights. Man has the right to live. He has the right to bodily integrity and to the means necessary for the proper development of life, particularly food, clothing, shelter, medical care, rest, and, finally, the necessary social services. In consequence, he has the right to be looked after in the event of illhealth; disability stemming from his work; widowhood; old age; enforced unemployment; or whenever through no fault of his own he is deprived of the means of livelihood. (8)

And of course cited in the Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church. So what does Pope John XXIII mean by rights? And who owes these things to the right-bearers?

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Orthodox do distinguish between mortal and venial sins

Concerning Mortal Sins, Pardonable Sins, and Sins of Omission
Part I, Chapter 3 from the Exomologetarion (A Manual of Confession)
by St. Nikodemos the Hagiorite

"Mortal sins are those voluntary sins which either corrupt the love for God alone, or the love for neighbor and for God, and which render again the one committing them an enemy of God and liable to the eternal death of hell. "

"Pardonable sins are those voluntary sins which do not corrupt the love for God or the love for neighbor, nor do they render the person an enemy of God and liable to eternal death, to which transgressions even the Saints are susceptible, according to the words of the Brother of God."

Manuel Ureña Pastor, Eucharistic Theology in the Reformation and the Council of Trent

Eucharistic Theology in the Reformation and the Council of Trent
Manuel Ureña Pastor
Bishop of Cartagena, Spain

Reflection: 'Year of the Eucharist'
The Eucharist is the central mystery of the faith. The whole of the Christian mystery is born from the Eucharist consists of the Eucharist.

As the sacramental actualization Christ's Pasch through the ordained priesthood and under the species bread and wine, the Eucharist is a fruit of the Church.

At the same time, however, the Church draws her life from the Eucharist by which she also lives, since this great gift is the perpetual and inexhaustible source of all of her spiritual good. Shining out across the world, the Eucharist purifies, renews and reunites the world with God.

This is what the Supreme Pontiff John Paul II explained in his Encyclical Letter Ecclesia de Eucharistia. The Instruction Redemptionis Sacramentum, published by the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments, completes it by treating matters connected with the discipline of this Sacrament.

Even in her calm and peaceful possession of the Eucharist, the Church constitutively assisted by the Holy Spirit, has also experienced periods in history in which this Sacrament, the source a summit of all Christian life, became the object of fierce theological controversy.

Let us remember the Reformation. It was through the Magisterium of the Council of Trent that the Church dealt with the difficult circumstances that threatened the true way of understanding the Eucharist and endangered its very existence.

Eucharistic theology of the Reformation

In the early Middle Ages, nominalism and other theological currents that developed from it prepared the ground for the reformers' approach to Eucharistic faith, which focused on points of particular interest: the understanding of the Real Presence of Christ in this Sacrament; the two forms of Eucharistic Communion; and the sacrificial character of Mass. Let us consider these points.

Understanding of Real Presence

Reacting to the abuses of a determined exteriorization and to every form of vulgar physical realism and also to the doctrine of the Fourth Lateran Council, which asserted that the identity of the consecrated gifts and the Body and Blood of Christ were the same by virtue of "transubstantiation" (DH 802),1 Zwingli, Luther and Calvin, despite their considerable theological differences, shared the belief that the Catholic faith in the Real Presence was erroneous.

Zwingli said that after the Ascension, the body of Jesus was to be found in Heaven and thus could not be really present in earthly bread. He claimed that the so-called "consecrated" bread was not the Body of Jesus but only a symbol of it.

Accordingly, the "est" that we read in the words of the "Institution" of the Eucharist was to be understood only in a figurative sense; and eating the Eucharistic Body meant merely believing in the sacrificed Body of Christ on the Cross.

Distancing himself from Zwingli, Martin Luther accepted the Real Presence but only as a sort of extension of the Incarnation, a precise presence pro nobis, a presence bringing grace for the forgiveness of sins. In this way, as compared with what Zwingli hypothesized, the prince of the reformers interpreted the "est" of the Eucharistic Institution as a real identification.

For Luther, in fact, the glorified body of Christ is inseparably united to the divinity in whose omnipresence it shares by virtue of the communication of the properties that exist in the two natures, divine and human, of the incarnate and glorified Word.

Consequently, in the Eucharistic Sacrament, Christ unites his Body with the bread and wine (doctrine of "consubstantiation"), thereby making his omnipresence perceptible to us and salvific for us (doctrine of ubiquitarianism).

Therefore, considering the Real Presence of Christ in the Eucharist from the perspective of his two natures, Luther maintained that after the consecration, the bread and wine retain their own properties, but united with the Body and Blood of the Lord they constitute a true sacramental unity.

Thus, Luther categorically denied the ontological mutation of the species of the bread and wine through "transubstantiation".

Furthermore, in line with his own definition of sacrament, which he understood only as "actio" and "usus", he affirmed that the duration of the Real Presence of Christ pro nobis in the Eucharist lasts from the "take and eat" to the "sumptio" of the tiny particles of it that have been left over.

For this reason, he considered as imperative the obligation to avoid the reservation of the Blessed Sacrament, and he in no way accepted its adoration.

Calvin, lastly, not only denied the transubstantiation of the Eucharistic gifts but also any form of real "physical" presence, in the sense of eating Christ in, with and under the tangible forms of bread and wine. He differs in this from Luther who, while he made no reference to it, nonetheless accepted the doctrine of consubstantiation.

Moreover, Calvin, as opposed to Zwingli, upheld real participation in the Body and Blood of Christ in Heaven through the Sacrament of the Eucharist. For Calvin, however, the Sacrament was not an empty symbol nor a means or path of grace, but merely a "notification" of God's activity in the sacramental sign through the Holy Spirit.

Calvin claimed, therefore, that the Holy Spirit is the only "vinculum communicationis" between the communicant and Christ. Calvin maintained that the Spirit did not bring about the present of Christ in the Eucharist but that the Eucharist was only the visible reality through which the Spirit reached the faithful in order to unite them with the heavenly Christ. This made Christ's presence in the Sacrament an abstraction.

In fact, Calvin was seeking to build bridge between the Eucharistic theologies of Zwingli and Luther. In each case, it is certain that the reformers were unable to reach any agreement on the positive content of the Eucharistic gifts. This was the stumbling block to the unity of the Reformation.

Administering Eucharistic species

The two forms of Eucharistic Communion (Communion under two species or Communion under one species only) do not in themselves constitute a dogmatic problem. Even if Communion under two species (with the Body and the Blood) is an indispensable part of the integrity of the sacramental sign and corresponds to Christ's mandate in the Institution (cf. Mt 26:26-29; Mk 14:22-25; Lk 22:19 ff.; I Cor 11:24 ff.), there are other New Testament texts in which Communion under a single species is also defined as true (cf. Jn 6:51; 6:57-58).

Hence, the Church accepted from the start the validity of Eucharistic Communion under the one form or the other.

Although this never in itself posed a dogmatic problem but was merely a disciplinary issue, it became a problem of faith in 1414 when Jacobo da Mies began to preach in Prague that Communion under both species was indispensable to salvation. Da Mies based his argument on Jn 6:53-56; he maintained that this form of Communion derived from a divine mandate (cf. Mt 26:27; Lk 22:17 ff.) and violently attacked the Church for withdrawing this inalienable right from the faithful.

So it was that the Council of Constance, in its 13th Session on 15 Jun 1415, totally rejected the need to reintroduce the practice of giving the chalice as well as the bread to the laity (Communion under both species), and prohibited it, not so much because was invalid in itself, but rather, because of the erroneous assumptions with which Jacobo da Mies was seeking to justify it (cf. DH 1198-1200).

The theologians of the Reformation adopted the error of Jacobo da Mies, going beyond the intentions of the preacher of Prague, whose sole aspiration at the outset had been to rekindle Eucharistic devotion. With their assertion that the practice of the "chalice for the laity" was obligatory, not only did they manifest their desire to remain faithful to the Institution of the Eucharist and to claim the royal priesthood of all the baptized, but also, as Johannes Betz correctly notes, their intention to find theological justification for the suppression of the hierarchical structure the Church.2

Sacrificial character of Holy Mass

Nonetheless, the differences between the reformers in establishing the positive content of the Eucharistic gifts did not occur in the evaluation of Mass.

Reformation theologians, constituting as it were a single opposition front, not only denounced the trivialization and irregularity of the celebration of the Eucharist, but also contested the Catholic way of understanding Mass and its sacrificial nature in particular. In their opinion, the Eucharist was a gift of God to men, a testament. In no way was the Eucharist to be considered a gift of men to God nor, consequently, a sacrifice.

Making the Mass a sacrifice would have meant making it a "work", an idolatrous act.

Faith and thanksgiving in relation to the Eucharist do, of course, come into it but are understood only as a spiritual sacrifice and separate from the Sacrament.

The assumption that underlies this concept is no more than the fundamental principle of Reformation theology: the principle of the "solus Deus" and the "sola gratia", an axiom that was be rigorously maintained in everything that had to do with salvation. This principle was not only applied to Eucharistic theology but also to Christology.

Not even the unique and unrepeatable sacrifice of the Cross, therefore, received its value from Jesus as a man; it was seen solely as the work and testimony of the mercy that God showed to us poor, condemned sinners.

The Catholic "offerimus" consequently wreaks diabolical havoc not on only the inaccessible majesty of God's very being, but also on the fundamental structure of the Crucifixion, whose essence must not be interpreted as Jesus' sacrifice of himself, but rather as the gift that the Father makes of Jesus.

Hence, the "offerimus", especially if it is understood as an expiatory sacrifice, represents a new attempt at expiation or a presumed complement to the superabundant sacrifice of the Cross: in other words, a work.

By making these assumptions, Luther, Calvin and Zwingli totally rejected the sacrificial character of Mass, the Roman Canon, the so-called "Private Mass" and the application of Masses for the living and the dead.

The Magisterium on the Eucharist of the Council of Trent fits into this theological context.

Trent's doctrine of the Eucharist

The Council of Trent, which was deeply concerned with the discourse of the Reformation on Eucharistic theology, immediately made this Sacrament one of the most important items on its agenda. It focused first of all on the sacrificial character of Mass and reflected on the Real Presence and the two forms in which Communion can be received. I do not intend, however, to treat these three aspects together, but one by one.

For various reasons that Hubert Jedin3 studied attentively, the Council, at the 13th Session on 11 October 1551 (cf. DH 1635-1661), began by ratifying the Real Presence with the Decree on the Sacrament of the Eucharist.

The topics of the "two species under which Eucharistic Communion can be administered" and "the administration of Communion to children" were resolved at the 21st Session on 16 July 1562 (cf. DH 1725-1734).

However, since the question of the concession of the chalice to lay people had not been resolved on that day, the problem was subjected to further study.

The Synod Fathers finally declined to provide an explanation and, at the 22nd Session on 17 September that same year, approved the Decree on the administration of the chalice. The ultimate decision was entrusted to the Pontiff (cf. DH 1760).

Finally, the doctrine on the Sacrifice of Mass, the thorniest Eucharistic topic in those historical circumstances, also saw the light at the 22nd Session of the Council (cf. DH 1738-1759).

The Real Presence

The "Decree on the Most Holy Sacrament of the Eucharist", in which the Council of Trent dealt with the Real Presence, contains eight chapters and 11 canons.

The Decree intends to affirm the Real Presence from the start: "In the august Sacrament of the Eucharist, after the consecration of the bread and wine, our Lord Jesus Christ, true God and true man, is truly, really and substantially contained under the species of those sensible things..." (Chap. I).

From this follows the denial of the Reformation thesis which claimed that Christ is present in the Eucharist only as in a sign or symbol of his power (cf. can. 1).

The conciliar text then explains the reasons for the institution of this Sacrament, the real and visible expression of the unfathomable riches that God granted to man in Christ as the spiritual food and nourishment of souls; and as an antidote to sin, the first fruits of eternal life and an effective sign of fraternal communion (cf. Chap. II).

Then, the Decree establishes the difference between the Real Presence of Christ in the Eucharist and the presence of Christ in other sacraments.

The Sacrament of the Altar, like the other sacraments, is "a visible form of an invisible grace". However, whereas in other sacramental signs the invisible grace is brought about for the first time precisely at the moment when one uses them, in the Eucharist the Author of grace himself is present even before the administration of the Sacrament. The whole of Christ is present, with his Body and Blood, his soul and divinity, under the species of the bread and the wine; just as the whole Christ is also contained under each of the species (by virtue of their natural connection and concomitancy) and under each and every part of the species, after their separation (cf. Chap. III and can. 3).

Moreover, once the unique characteristic of the Real Presence has been established, its causes explained and its difference in comparison with the Lord's presence in the other effective signs of grace noted, the Decree states the necessary logical and ontological presupposition of the Real Presence. This presupposition is the conversion of the whole substance of bread into the Body of Christ and of the whole substance of wine into the Blood of Christ.

From this presupposition derives, as an obvious consequence, the Council's affirmation of the permanence of the species of the bread and wine and the non-permanence of their substance.

Moreover, to explain the presupposition of the conversion of the bread and wine, the Council used the term "transubstantiation", henceforth, a traditional and particularly apt classification for identifying this presupposition (cf. Chap. IV and can.2).

In such a way, the Council denied with the concept of "transubstantiation" the doctrine of "consubstantiation", in other words, that the substance of the bread and wine remains in the species (can. 2), which Luther accepted; the Council defined solely the event of the conversion and avoided going into the question of how this conversion was brought about from a natural and philosophical viewpoint.

The Council's priority was to fix the boundaries between faith and error.

Consequently, the Council's use of the term "transubstantiation" to designate the phenomenon of conversion does not mean, as Melchior Cano pointed out in the Council Hall, that this concept is part of the content of faith; nor does it mean, as Karl Rahner says, that the truth of faith expressed by the term "transubstantiation" is jeopardized by the Aristotelian acceptation with which the Council Fathers very probably used the term.4

In any case, one thing is certain: despite the fact that the concept of "transubstantiation" derives from a concrete philosophical universe, the Aristotelian universe so debated by modern thought, this concept is a truer expression of faith than the concepts of either "transfinalization" or "transignification", which some people about 10 years ago desired acritically to use instead.

As Paul VI vigorously emphasized in his Encyclical Letter Mysterium Fidei, the concept of "transubstantiation" — which means neither: "transignification" nor, even less, "transfinalization" — is at the root of the new meaning and purpose that the Eucharistic species acquire once "transubstantiation" has occurred.5 In turn, the raison d'être and ultimate foundation of "transubstantiation" are found in relation to the new goal and new meaning of the species of the bread and wine (O. Semmelroth).

Yet these concepts ("transignification" and "transfinalization") cannot claim to replace the concept of "transubstantiation", since they do not fully express the reality of this word's meaning.

Indeed, although they designate the new goal and the new meaning of the species of bread and wine, already consecrated, they in no way indicate the new constituent and constitutive being of these species one they have been consecrated. This new being of the species — the Body and Blood of Christ — is necessarily inalienable because without it there can be no true Eucharist.

Lastly, in the remaining chapters and canons, the Council draws consequences from the Real Presence: the eating of Christ in Holy Communion not only spiritually but also sacramentally and really (cf. can. 8); the permanence of the Real Presence of Christ in the Eucharist also "extra usum" (cf. can. 4); the legitimacy of adoration of Blessed Sacrament with cultus latriae (cf. Chap. V and can. 6); the legitimacy of preserving and reserving the consecrated Eucharistic species, and the possibility of administering it to the sick (cf. Chap. VI and can. 7); the need to prepare oneself to receive the Eucharist fittingly by recourse to the Sacrament of Penance, if one is aware of being mortal sin (cf. Chap. VII and can.11); the legitimacy, for the priest celebrant, of receiving Communion himself (cf. can. 10); the obligation to receive Communion at least once a year on reaching the age of discretion (cf. can.9); and the non-reduction of the principal fruit of the Most Holy Eucharist to remission of sins (cf. can. 5).

Administering the Sacrament

The conciliar Document of the 21st Session expounded this doctrine in four, chapters and as many canons.

Coming to grips with the sensitive topic of Communion under two Eucharistic species or of the "lay chalice", the two forms of Communion that Reformation theologians considered obligatory for all believers, the Council asserted that there is no divine precept concerning the obligation of said form of Communion and that consequently, it is not necessary for salvation (cf. Chap. I and can. 1). Communion under one species suffices.

However, if Communion under one species suffices, it is not only because there is no binding divine mandate on the concrete form of Communion, but also because Jesus Christ, whole and entire, is truly present in each one of the species, in the bread and in the wine. For this reason it should be said that the whole Christ may be received even under only one Eucharistic species (cf. Chap. III and can. 3).

Moreover, since the issue of the two forms in which Communion may be received (under the one or under two species) is not a matter of divine law, it is the duty of the Church, to which Christ gave the power to regulate the discipline of the sacraments but always with respect for what is essential in them, to determine the best way to administer Communion in the form most convenient to those who receive it, and for the veneration that is due to this Sacrament itself (cf. Chap. II and can. 2).

The Council also taught that Eucharistic Communion is not necessary for newborn infants (cf. Chap. IV and can. 4).

The Mass as Sacrifice

The Document in which the doctrine and canons on the Sacrifice of Mass are expounded resulted from the 22nd Session of the Council. It is divided into nine chapters and as many canons.

The Council teaches that given the constitutive inadequacy of the Levitical priesthood in offering God a sacrifice that could redeem men and women and bring them to perfection, in the fullness of time and out of love the Father ordained that another priest should rise, Our Lord Jesus Christ, who, in offering himself once and for all on the altar the Cross, would bring about the redemption of the human race with his bloody death.

However, in order that his priesthood might not end with his death, and mindful of the requirements of human nature, during the Last Supper, "on the night when he was betrayed" (I Cor 11:23), Christ bequeathed to his beloved Bride, the Church, a visible sacrifice through which might be represented his bloody sacrifice which he was to make the following day, once and for all, on the Cross of Calvary; this was also and in order that the memorial of his passion and of his bloody death might endure for eternity and that the salvific efficacy of the passion and death of Christ Our Lord might be applied to the forgiveness of those sins committed every day.

To institute this visible sacrifice, a sacramental anticipation of his bloody sacrifice, Jesus offered on the same night as the Last Supper his Body and his Blood to God the Father under species of bread and wine, and under the symbols of these things themselves he offered them to the Apostles so they might receive them; hence, in that very act, he ordained them priests.

He ordered the Apostles and successors in the priesthood to these things with these words: "Do this in memory of me" (Lk 22:19; I Cor 11:24; cf. Chap. I and cann. 1, 2).

Therefore, the Holy Sacrifice of Mass contains an actualization of Last Supper until the Lord's coming, and Christ, who offered himself once and for all on the altar of the Cross in a bloody way, is here sacrificed in an unbloody way.

The Council thus established that in itself the sacrifice of the Cross, anticipated during the Last Supper, is one and the same as the Sacrifice of the Mass, since the victim is, of course, one and the same.

The One who offers himself in the Mass by the priestly ministry is the same as the One who once offered himself on the altar of the Cross. The only difference is in the manner of the offering: then, the bloody oblation without any mediation; now, the bloodless and sacramental oblation, that is, through the mediation of priests and of the same species as at the Last Supper.

Consequently, taking into account this intrinsic unity that exists between the two sacrifices, the fruits of the bloody sacrifice of Christ are obtained in abundance through the unbloody sacrifice that is fulfilled during the Mass, but this in no way diminishes the value of the bloody sacrifice.

The Church, therefore, rightly offers the Holy Sacrifice of Mass not only for sins, pains, satisfactions and various other necessities of the living faithful, but also for the deceased members of the faithful who have not yet fully atoned for their sins (cf. Chap. II and cann. 3, 4).

In the ensuing chapters and canons that we are unable to analyze here, the Council illustrates the significance of Masses celebrated in honor of saints (cf. Chap. III and can. 5); the existence and significance of the Canon of the Mass (cf. Chap. IV and can. 6); the significance of the ceremonies in the celebration of the Sacrifice of the Mass (cf. Chap. V and cann. 7 and 9); and the triple significance of the water that is to be mixed with the wine during the Eucharistic celebration (cf. Chap. VII and can. 9).

With regard to the last two chapters, Chapter VIII comes down heavily on the request to celebrate Mass normally in the vernacular and urges pastors of souls to explain the meaning of the Eucharistic mystery during the celebration (cf. also can. 9). Certain preliminary observations on the significance of the canons concerning the Sacrifice of Mass are the object of Chapter IX that concludes the doctrinal content of the Document.

Although it is obvious that the Tridentine teaching on the Eucharist was prompted by the anxiety to confront the Eucharistic theology of the Reformation, it definitively established the essential content of the truth of this Sacrament.

The Second Vatican Council, which confronted other signs of the times four centuries later, was to have the task, consistent with Tridentine faith, of making the most of those aspects of the Eucharist which had not been explicitly and systematically addressed during that Council. These included for example, the specific participation of lay people and non-ordained Religious in the Sacrifice of Mass by virtue of their real, baptismal priesthood; this does not mean that the Tridentine Fathers were unaware of the existence, meaning and need for this participation.

In fact, in her constant exodus towards the Promised Land of Heaven, the Church never, at any specific moment on her pilgrimage, makes exhaustive pronouncements on the content or multiple implications of an article of faith, but, open to the promptings of the Holy Spirit who tells her at every moment what to say, finds in the "Depositum fidei" that she has diligently preserved in accordance with God's will the necessary truth to forge ahead without ever losing her way, which her Lord and Master points out to her.



1 Cf. H. Denzinger - P. Hünermann, Enchiridion symbolorum, definitionum et declarationum de rebus fidei et morum. Bilingual version of the 37th edition, EDB, Bologna (2004). I cite this work to justify the DH abbreviation.
2 Cf. J. Betz, La Eucharistía, Misterio Central, in Mysterium Salutis, Ed. Cristiandad, Madrid (1975), v. IV/2, p. 247.
3 Cf. H. Jedin, Historia del Concilio de Trento, Ediciones Universidad de Navarra, Pamplona (1975), v. III, pp. 59-86; 403-436.
4 Cf. K. Rahner, La presencia de Cristo en el sacramento de la cena del Segnor, in Escritos de Teologia, Taurus Ediciones, Madrid (1964), t. IV, pp. 367-396.
5 Cf, Paul Vi, Encyclical Letter Mysterium Fidei, nn. 11, 46.


Taken from:
L'Osservatore Romano
Weekly Edition in English
28 September 2005, page 6


José A. Sayes, The Eucharist in the Council of Trent

The Eucharist in the Council of Trent
José A. Sayes

Reflection: Year of the Eucharist

Luther said that he recognized the Real Presence of Christ in the Eucharist as explicit in Christ's words at the Institution; but he did not accept the term "transubstantiation", which he perceived as an interference by philosophy and human reason. Luther's "allergy" to reason is well known.

Consequently, he also rejected the sacrificial character of the Eucharist, recalling that the sacrifice that Christ offered on the Cross is unique and cannot be repeated.

Theology today

There is no doubt that contemporary theology has recovered the biblical concept of memorial. It had been neglected after the Council of Trent, for in the anxiety to respond to Protestantism, Post-Tridentine theology developed a definition of sacrifice as applied to the Eucharist, which it interpreted as being a sacrifice independent of the sacrifice of the Cross.
As stated, the notion of "memorial" made it possible to recover in the Letter to the Hebrews the assertion that Christ's sacrifice was one and definitive, and to explain that this same sacrifice becomes present on the altar.

The term "transubstantiation", however, presents greater difficulties and has given rise to much perplexity at the level of faith. Does not the concept of substance correspond to a philosophy, by now superseded? So why not use more personal and relational concepts?
The truth, on the contrary, is that the new theories, developed with this end in view, were not only unconvincing but were rejected, especially by Paul VI.

It does not suffice to state that there has been a change of meaning or of relations, saying that all that remains is still only natural food. And according to this new theory, the non-believer who understands only the natural meaning of food would be eating and drinking no more than bread and wine.

But the Church has always maintained that non-believers also eat the Body and Blood of Christ since there is no other objective reality in it than that of the Body and Blood of Christ, in such a way that only the species of the bread and wine endure.

The elegance of Trent

Contrary to current tendencies in the interpretation of Trent, an objective study of the Acts immediately shows that Trent maintained sobriety and fine elegance in the exposition of its doctrine. Yet very few have studied these proceedings.

The Council's abstention, for example, from the use of the term accidentes when speaking of transubstantiation deserves attention because it did not consider its doctrine to be scholastic. It preferred, instead, to use the term species.

And if the Council used the term substantia, it did so for two reasons: a) because it is present in the tradition of St Ambrose and Faustus of Riez, passing through Councils such as the Fourth Lateran; b) because it was therefore used, well before the advent of hylomorphism in the scholastics.

Throughout the discussion of the Eucharistic sacrifice, the majority of the Fathers accepted the sacrificial character of the Eucharist. The fact remains that the Council did not espouse the theories that explained this by following hypotheses such as that of representation or of virtual immolation.

Although Tapper, Chancellor of the University of Louvain, did not formulate his proposition at Trent, it was he who initiated a post-conciliar current that explained the sacrificial nature of the Eucharist, not to make the sacrifice of the Cross present but to affirm a new definition of sacrifice: in the Eucharist Christ attains a new way of being, such that he remains caught at the very moment in which he offers himself.

Thus, the Eucharist is a sacrifice independent of the sacrifice on the Cross.

Trent did not take this route. Theologians of the intellectual level of Cajetan had already maintained the continuity of the sacrifice of the Cross with the Eucharist, and people of the stature of Laínez and Carranza defended this same principle at Trent.

Furthermore, when the time came for the decision, the Fathers were not unanimous in their opinions. But the Council did have at its disposal a tradition concerning the theme that unified the opinion of all and obviously, it opted for this.

The Church's tradition was the following: the Eucharist is the memorial of the sacrifice of the Cross, which it makes present among us; the Eucharist makes present Christ's sacrifice on the Cross and the memory of him lives on among us (Denz., 1739-41).

The concept of repraesentatio should therefore be combined with that of memorial. The Catechism of Trent (1566) says "instauratur", "makes himself present once again".

The role of theology

The role of theology should consist only of clarifying faith. But the contemporary theologian, through ignorance of the importance of Scripture and Tradition, often prefers to satisfy the modern mindset. There are other cultural and social pressures, moreover, which induce the theologian to do so.

I have often met theologians who ask me: what is this substance?

Today, it is understood as meaning solely material reality, its physical dimensions and the sense that human beings attribute to it.

Substance, however, is not the ultimate physical basis of things but rather the ontological subsistence that God has infused in them through creation. By virtue of this they are distinct from God and are not set against anything.

This substance can be perceived in all the things that surround me. From the pencil I am holding I perceive, through my mind, that it is something (aliquid, a being, a substance) and, since it possesses specific physical traits, I call it a pencil. Otherwise, if I were not aware that things existed I would neither be able to talk about them nor to give them a name.
The first fact about them that I can understand is that they are something, a being or substance: this is the key to realistic knowledge. Animals, through their senses, perceive the physical dimension alone, but they do not properly know that things exist.

Besides, if there is a concept in our philosophy that we cannot overlook, it is that of substance, not only since we believe in creation that enables things to subsist, but because we have a common awareness of it.

Transubstantiation is due to the fact that God intervenes in the Eucharist with his creative power. We do not consider this a miracle, because a miracle requires the working of a tangible sign.

However, Christ intervenes here with the same creative force that he used in working his miracles. St John, who places the multiplication of the loaves in chapter six of his Gospel, says of Eucharistic doctrine: the One who works the miracle of the multiplication of the loaves is the One who says he gives his body to be eaten.

With reference to the Eucharistic sacrifice, the concept of memorial is crucial. But not even this is a magic or irrational concept. The key to everything is to be found in the Letter to the Hebrews, which presents Christ's sacrifice as unique, definitive and eternal.

Christ offers himself to the Father on the Cross and the Father accepts him and raises him. Thus, Christ enters the heavenly shrine with his Body and his Blood, where he continues his offering for us before the Father as victim and eternal priest.

What occurs in the Eucharist is that Christ, the heavenly and glorious victim, becomes present on the altar under the appearances [of bread and wine]. And Christ, the eternal priest, makes the celebrant partake in his offering.

Consequently, we have on the altar the same victim and the same priest who offered themselves [sic] on the Cross, and who are eternally perpetuated in heaven. The Eucharist is possible thanks to the Resurrection.

The true Temple of Christ

Before concluding, I would like to mention another aspect of the Eucharist that seems to me to be fundamental.

Yahweh's temple in Jerusalem is no longer standing: it was destroyed by the Romans. On its site, the Arabs have built two mosques. If the Jews wanted to rebuild it, there would be a world war.

We Christians, however, know that the temple is no longer there but in the Eucharist. Indeed, when Christ said that he would destroy the temple and rebuild it in three days, he was referring, as St John says (cf. Jn 2:21), to the shrine of his risen Body present in the Eucharist.

This presence is not the same as Christ's presence in the other sacraments in which he makes himself present through his grace or, in other words, his love. Here in the Eucharist he is present with his body, soul and divinity, as the Council of Trent recalls (cf. Denz., 1654).

Yet there is something more: the Christ present in the Eucharist is the risen Christ who gives us his Spirit. Let us not forget that in Palestine Christ had not yet bestowed his Spirit, for he had not yet risen (cf. Jn 7:39). Nevertheless, his presence is far more effective in the Eucharist than it was in Palestine.

On the day when, starting with the theologians and priests, we all begin to pray by ourselves before the tabernacle, the Church and the world will change.


Taken from:
L'Osservatore Romano
Weekly Edition in English
23 February 2005, page 5


Tuesday, July 17, 2007

G.C. DILSAVER, Karol Wojtyla and the Patriarchal Hierarchy of the Family

Karol Wojtyla and the Patriarchal Hierarchy of the Family

His Exegetical Comment on Ephesians 5:21-33 and Genesis 3:16

Wojtyla's "mutual submission" in orthodox context
To construe the interpretative concept of "mutual submission" as a development of doctrine (that is, as an integral growth from, and harmonious with, previous Church teachings and exegesis) requires an expanded understanding of the word "submission." It is true that a husband, in a certain sense, submits himself to his wife by giving his life for her; though this broadening of the term has never been employed by the Church in her exegesis of the Ephesians 5 or her teaching on marriage. By broadening the term "submission," the term acquires an analogous meaning. It cannot be applied exactly the same to both husband and wife, but only in a somewhat similar manner. This analogous broadening of the term is necessary to keep intact the previously understood meaning, i.e., that of a hierarchical order. If, on the other hand, Wojtyla's statement that a husband submits to his wife "just as" she submits to him, is construed to mean that this submission is identical, then the understanding of the term "submission" would not be analogous but rather univocal. But such an univocal understanding would necessarily contradict a hierarchical order as enunciated in previous magisterial pronouncements, and thus bar it from being incorporated into the corpus of authentic Church teachings. An orthodox construal, then, requires that Wojtyla’s "mutual submission of the spouses" be seen as an analogous submission, where the man paradoxically submits himself to a life of authority that entails both headship and sacrificial service.

Elsewhere in this exegesis of Ephesians 5, Wojtyla asserts that by the passage "'wives, be subject to your husbands, as to the Lord'... the author does not intend to say that the husband is the 'lord' of the wife...." For this statement to be construed as harmonious with previous Church teachings on the subject, "lord" must be understood in a strictly pejorative sense; that is, as a "lording over" abuse of authority or, as Wojtyla says in the same passage, an understanding of a husband's lordly position as "a one-sided domination."(4) But the other meaning of 'lord,' the positive meaning, must not thereby by seen as discarded, for the husband as "lord of the wife" is not only intrinsic to the Church’s teachings on familial hierarchy, but also in accord with the most fundamental principle of biblical exegesis. This first exegetical principle is to interpret scriptural passages in light of other similar writings of the day, most especially companion scriptural writings. In the epistle of St. Peter, Christian wives are exhorted to imitate the "holy women of the past..., like Sarah, who was obedient to Abraham, and called him her lord." [1 Peter 3:5-6] (N.B. Emphasis is that of the text.) So too, the rest of the Pauline letters continually stress patriarchal hierarchy.(5)

It is the clause "give way to one another in the Lord" at the beginning of the Ephesians' passage that Wojtyla uses as the cornerstone of his novel exegesis of Ephesians 5. Yet to construe "give way to one another in the Lord" as a universal prescription of mutual, univocal submission would, in effect, do away with all hierarchical order, including that of the parents and children, magisterium and faithful, and government and citizens. Instead, a reading of the entire passage in accord with simple grammatical logic clearly shows that "give way to one another in the Lord" indicates both the source of legitimate authority and the spirit of dutiful submission. The author of Ephesians goes on to delineate some specific domestic relationships of authority and submission that find their source and spirit in the Lord, beginning with that which is the model for the rest, the relation of man and wife. If Wojtyla's use of the term "mutual submission" were to be taken in a univocal sense, and hence isolated from previous Church exegesis of the passage, then it would follow that not only is a man to submit to his wife, but, as Ephesians goes on to delineate domestic relations, parents are to submit to their children as well.

If the term "submission" is construed in an implicit, secondary manner that includes a man's—or a parent's—giving of his life in sacrificial service of those under his authority, then the explicit, primary meaning which entails a hierarchical structure remains intact. Wojtyla's exegesis must be viewed as an implicit, secondary development of the passage in order to position it in the light of previous magisterial teachings and exegesis. The primary, explicit meaning, the meaning previously asserted by the Church, is that which is derived from a simple reading of the passage.

Dicourse of Pope Paul VI on occasion of the 7th centenary

of the passage of Saint Bonaventure to Eternal Glory


Giovedì, 2 agosto 1974

Dilectis filiis
Constantino Koser
Ministro Generali Ordinis Fratrum Minorum
Vitali Bonmarco
Ministro Generali Ordinis Fratrum Minorum Conventualium
Paschali Rywalski
Ministro Generali Ordinis Fratrum Minorum Capuccinorum

Dilecti filii, salutem et Apostolicam Benedictionem.

Scientia et virtute praeclarissimus, hodieque refulget Sanctus Bonaventura, qui Doctor Seraphicus solet cognominari cuiusque ab obitu septimum saeculum expletum hoc anno celebratur.

Qui quidem annus consimili memoria anniversaria Sancti Thomae Aquinatis est insignis, ita ut socia laude praedicentur hi duo viri, ornamenta Ecclesiae, in cuius ministerio eximio exsequendo mortem oppetiverunt: alter enim vita functus est, dum ad Concilium Oecumenicum Lugdunense II, Summi Pontificis iussu, se conferebat, alter, id est Sanctus Bonaventura, dum hoc ad exitum vergebat, die nempe xv mensis Iulii anno MCCLXXIV.

Hic ipse Caeles et aetatem nostram valet illuminare, qua in re verba libet iterare Sancti Pii X, Decessoris Nostri: «Etenim Bonaventuram, utpote non suo dumtaxat saeculo, sed omni posteritati, quemadmodum ceteros summos Ecclesiae Doctores, datum divinitus, egregie prodesse huic etiam aetati posse arbitramur» (Epist. Doctoris Seraphici sapientiam, 11 Apr. 1904: Pii X Pont. Max. Acta, I, p. 235). Nunc vero, ut notum est, id agitur, ut orbis catholicus ad sui renovationem nitatur, quatenus doctrina et normae salutares, a Concilio Vaticano II statutae, fideliter et incunctanter ad effectum deducantur, et sic in Ecclesia et per eam in mundo viva vox; Evangelii possit resonare (Cfr. Dei Verbum, 8). Quae renovatio etiam magis urgetur, universali Iubilaeo iam per Nos indicto, cui propositum est singulorum ad Deum conversionem promovere, quae cunctorum pariat reconciliationem. Omnes ergo Christifideles ad impensam vocantur navitatem, cuius Bonaventura praeco exstitit et magister et effector, ut in omnibus aedificetur fides, honorificetur Deus, componantur mores (Cfr. S. BONAV. De reduct. art. ad theol., 26: Opera omnia, Ad Claras Aquas, V, p. 325).

Seraphicus Doctor suo quidem modo officium implevit, quo ceterum quivis Ecclesiae fìlius astringitur quodque in eo positum est, ut «secundum propria dona et munera per viam fidei vivae, quae spem excitat et per caritatem operatur», incedat (Cfr. Lumen Gentium, 41). Theologicae vero inquisitioni, cui assidue studioseque incumbebat, ipse hunc constituit ordinem, «ut inchoetur a stabilitate fidei, et procedatur per serenitatem rationis, ut perveniatur ad suavitatem contemplationis» (De rebus theologicis, Serm. 4, 15: Opera orma, V, p. 571). Cum autem auctor fidei et consummator sit Iesus (Cfr. Hebr. 12, 2), «in quo summi Dei tota revelatio consummatur» (Dei Verbum, 7), illum potissimum aspexit ut «fundamentum totius fidei christianae . . . . totius doctrinae authenticae» )De rebus theologicis, Serm. 4, 5: Opera omnia, V, p. 568). Supremo enim sub magistro Filio Dei et hominis Filio, multa, quae soli rationi sunt impossibilia, possibilia fiunt rationi divinitus adiutae; quae ideo capax redditur «ad participanda bona divina, quae humanae mentis intelligentiam omnino superant» (Dei Filius, cap. 2: DENZ-SCHÖN. 3005), ac de iisdem etiam omnimodam certitudinem assequi valet. Nam licet intellectus humanus intrinsece, ut aiunt, arctioribus finibus sit circumscriptus, et falli possit, tamen ipsius Dei infallibilitate et immutabilitate quodam modo perfunditur.

Minime vero putandum est nos umquam irrationabiliter credere, «quia gratia et lux desuper infusa potius rationem dirigit, quam pervertat» (S. BQNAV. Quaest. disput. de mysterio Trinitatis, q. 1, a. 2, n. 3: Opera omnia, V, p. 57). Qua ro p pter, nedum in quodam fideismo, ut appellant, acquiescamus, ad ulterius inquirendum impellimur, ipsa etiam exempla atque vocabula usurpantes, quae ad omne genus doctrinae pertinent, cum fides nos doceat in quavis re, quae sentitur vel cognoscitur, interius latere ipsum Deum (Cfr. ID. De reduct. art. ad theol., 26: Opera omnia, V, p. 325).

Neque praepedienda est theologica inquisitio propter deceptiones, quae forte exinde oriantur et a quibus «vix aliquis tractator catholicus immunis fuit» (ID. In II Sent., dist. 15, dub. 3: Opera omnia, II, p. 390), dummodo omnes investigatores desiderio ducantur veritati serviendi eiusque vim, transcendentem qualiacumque sua ipsorum iudicia, agnoscant. Tota enim de Deo veritas vel ab eo proveniens voluntas, nulla humana comparatur industria, sed a Patre luminum descendit, qui «voluntarie genuit nos verbo veritatis, ut simus initium aliquod creaturae eius» (Iac. 1, 18). Hanc igitur veritatem numquam licet aspernari, sive certum proponendo ut dubium, sive dubium ut certum asserendo.

Quaevis igitur circa divina terminalis seu definitiva sententia ad magisterium spectat a Christo institutum, eo quod quandam cum ipso verbo Dei habet connaturalitatem, quam dicunt, scilicet ad Ecclesiae magisterium, cui uni munus authentice interpretandi est concreditum (Cfr. Dei Verbum, 10). Quo fit, ut nemo fidelis discipulus esse possit Salvatoris Iesu, nisi illi magisterio, quod ipsius nomine in Ecclesia exercetur, fidele praestet obsequium. Utraque autem fidelitas singularem tribuit theologicae inquisitioni praestantiam et efficit, ut eadem cum munere salvifico eiusdem Ecclesiae arcte coniungatur, quatenus per ipsam supernaturalis hominum vocatio et profundius cognoscitur et suasive adiuvatur (Cfr. S. BONAV. In I Sent., Prooem., q. 3, concl.: Opera omnia, I, p. 13).
Quemadmodum Christus, principalis magister noster (Cfr. ID. De rebus theologicis, Serm. 4, 20: Opera omnia, V, p. 572), docuit, oportet a nobis in omnibus honorificetur Deus.

Est autem honorandus Deus imprimis in natura sua, quae, utpote humanam prorsus absoluteque transcendens, postulat, ut illi plane simus obnoxii: tunc enim «Deus regnat in nobis, quando nos sumus omnino ei subiecti» (ID. In Evang. Luc., c. 11, 12: Opera omnia, VII, p. 280). Etsi Dei dominium et nostra subiectio in fine tantum temporum perficietur, tamen discipuli Domini ad utrumque debent cotidie sedulo attendere.

Praeterea Deo honor est adhibendus operanti per ministros suos (Cfr. ID. Quaest. disp. de perfect. evang., q. 4, a. 1, 9: Opera omnia, V, p. 182), maxime quidem per ministros, i n quibus «adest in medio credentium Dominus Iesu Christus» (Lumen Gentium, 21). Peculiari modo honorandi sunt Ecclesiae «Pastores, quos qui audit, Christum audit, qui vero spernit, Christum spernit et Eum qui Christum misit» (Ibid. 20). Quamvis enim et ipsi idem habeant caput Christum, nihilominus ut medii interpretes inter ceteros fideles ac Deum sunt constituti, «ut eis referant divina responsa», quae verbo Dei exprimuntur quaeque omnia complectuntur ad salutem hominis necessaria: quid credendum, quid exspectandum, quid operandum (Cfr. S. BONAV. Sermones de B. Virgine Maria, De Annunt. Serm. 4, 2: Opera omnia, IX, p. 674 b: In Exaëm., Coll. 11, 13: Opera omnia, V, p. 338).

Quoniam vero inter sacros Pastores in ministerio salutis primum obtinet locum Summus Pontifex, honorem Deo denegat, qui reverentiam et oboedientiam eidem Romano Pontifici debitam recusat. Quare Sanctus Bonaventura, vir pius et miserens, haec gravia verba proferre non dubitavit: «Non potest ergo intra unitatem ecclesiasticam esse qui ab oboedientia recedit illius qui sedet in Cathedra Petri» (ID. Quaest. dìsp. de perfect. evang., q. 4, a. 3, 14: Opera omnia, V, p. 191).
Deus denique honorificetur oportet in imagine sua, nempe in homine, quia, in Verbo aeterno homine facto, divinam quodam mod assecutus est dignitatem. Quoniam Christus, ut ait Sanctus Bonaventura, «simul est proximus et Deus, simul frater et dominus, simul etiam rex et amicus» (ID. Itiner. ment. in Deum, c. 4, 5: Opera omnia, VIII, p. 307), postulatur, ut amor noster in universos feratur homines, neque ullis eorum peculiaribus contineatur condicionibus. Nam, cum caritas nostra a Christo originem trahat atque finem accipiat, eandem universalitatem habeat oportet ac dilectio, qua Christus dilexit nos (Cfr. Io. 15, 9).

Pariter ergo honorandi sunt varii in Ecclesia status, nam «humani generis Recreator diversa largitur charismatum dona, diversa dat graduum et praelationum officia, diversa tandem praebet exempla» (S. BONAV. Apologia pauperum, c. 6, 4: Opera omnia, VIII, p. 267).

Quodsi peccata defectionesque hic illic reperiuntur, tamen germina bonitatis, in quemvis hominem a Deo immissa, nedum penitus exstinguantur, talem efficaciam servant, ut, divina gratia adiuvante, ex malo etiam bonum valeant excitare. Nullus ergo, tot inter difficultates, quibus fit, ut humana vita interdum nec cum fide concordet nec cum honore Deo debito componatur, est desperandi locus: est enim maior misericordia Dei quam miseria nostra possumusque nos ad Deum trahere ipso pondere beneficiorum eius (Cfr. ID. In Ioan., Coll. XXVIII, 5: Opera omnia, VI, p. 567). Cum vero summum beneficium, hominum generi impertitum, sit ipsius Dei Incarnatio, per Christum et in Christo iidem homines consecuti sunt facultatem, qua, per bona temporalia transeuntes, non omittant aeterna. Propter hanc supremam divini amoris effusionem, tota creatura, licet ei inesse pergat periculum ne a Deo avertat, data Incarnatione, excellentiore modo ad Deum conducere valet.

Est autem creatura ipsa quasi liber legendus luce afIulgente sacrarum Scripturarum, quae ad Deum cognoscendum, laudandum, amandum alliciunt. Quoniam autem nemo ad plenum intellectum earundem divinarum Litterarum possit pervenire, nisi per crucem Christi, qui omnem Scripturam implevit fundendo Dei veritatem (Cfr. ID. In Exaem., Coll. XIII, 12: Opera omnia, V, p. 390; In Evang. Luc., c. 4, 45 et c. 16, 33: Opera omnia, VII, pp. 99 e t 4 1 5 ; Sermones de tempore, Fer. VI in Parasc., Serm. 2: Opera omnia, IX, p. 28 b.), Christum crucihxum omnes imitentur oportet, quippe qui venerit, ut hominem ab amore terrenorum revocaret et ad amorem Dei provocaret (Cfr. S. BONAV. Sermones de tempore, Domin. I Advent., Serm. 3: Opera omnia, IX, p. 28 b), atque pro nobis sit passus, nobis relinquens exemplum, ut sequamur vestigia eius (Cfr. 1 Petr. 2, 21).

Haec igitur sequela Christi ad continuam impellit reformationem eamque in rectam convertit animi propensionem, quae in eo est posita, ut per Verbum incarnatum, quatenus est humani generis reformativum, cuncta ad primigeniam reducantur formam, quam a Verbo increato acceperunt (Cfr. S. BONAV. Breviloqu., p. 6, C. 13: Opera omnia, V, p. 279 b.). Christus enim, utpote «simul perfectus viator et comprehensor» (ID. De rebus theologicis, Serm. 4, 19: Opera omnia, V, p. 572), dum omnium terrestre iter comitatur, omnes simul ad se, in caelestibus constitutum, invitat. Unde efficitur, ut vita hominis in terris ipsa natura sua sit peregrinatio eschatologica, videlicet itinerarium seu reditus cum Christo ad Christum «a quo procedimus, per quem vivimus, ad quem tendimus» (Lumen Gentium, 3).

Huiusmodi itinerarii exemplum Sanctum Bonaventura in patre suo Francisco laudibus praedicat, qui, in monte Alvernae Christo truci affixo singularem in modum conformis effectus, cum Domino «pascha» celebravit, transitum ad Deum quasi consummans. Quo exemplo fulgente, ad eundem transitum cuncti homines invitantur (Cfr. S. BONAV. Itinerar. menf. in Deum, c. 7, 2-2: Opera omnia, V, p. 312).

Quod quidem itinerarium mentis in Deum componens, Sanctus Bonaventura, maxime ardua speculationis culmina supergrediens, de mystica theologia ita exponit, ut in ea «habeatur facile princeps» (Cfr. LEONE XIII Alloc. ad professores Collegii S. Antonii de Urbe abita 11 Nov. 1890: Acta Ord. Min. 1890, p. 177).

Ipse sane arbitratur contemplationem Dei cuilibet viro iusto esse quaerendam et ad bonum infinitum esse pertingendum, quo anima, quamvis capacitatem habeat finitam, compleatur (Cfr. S. BONAV. In II Sent., dist. 23, 2, a. q. 3, 6: Opera omnia, II, p. 546 a; In I Sent., dist. 1, a. 3, q. 2, 2: Opera omnia, I, p. 41 b.).

Simul vero persuasum sibi habet eos reprehensibiles esse «qui, dum volunt arcem contemplationis ascendere, volunt quiescere et ad laborem actionis recusant descendere» (Cfr. S. BONAV. In Evang. Luc., c. 1, 62: Opera omnia, VII, p. 236). Cum enim perfectio ad caritatem ducat, homo, quo magis Deo adhaeret, eo magis Regni Dei incremento incumbat oportet.

Utrumque autem vivendi modum, ad beatitudinem promerendam necessarium, Sanctus Bonaventura ipse coluit, contemplationem in actionem quodammodo transfundens. Siquidem ministerium Moderatoris Generalis sui Ordinis ita implevit, ut in commisso sibi grege meritum virtutis accresceret, clauderetur via vitiis et daretur moribus disciplina (Cfr. ID. Epistolae Officiales, II, 1: Opera omnia, III, p. 712). Ad patris cardinalis dignitatem evectus, exspectationi Summi Pontificis ita respondit, ut cum eodem divinis obsequiis et universalis Ecclesiae servitiis vacaret (Cfr. GREGORII I Epist. Fr. Bonaventurae Ord. Min. Gen. Min., in Bullarium Franciscanum, III, p. 206 a.).

Idem prorsus sensit Angelicus Doctor, illud opus vitae activae extollens, «quod ex plenitudine contemplationis derivatur» (S. TH. Summa theol., II-IIæ, q. 188, a. 6); ideoque cum eo sociatur Bonaventura, sicut ad trahendum iugum Domini Dominica est iunctus Franciscus (Cfr. S. BONAV. Sermones de Sanctis, De Sancto Dominico: Opera omnia, IX, p. 565 b.).a Quam ob rem haec duo Ecclesiae lumina ad tempora usque nostra tamquam «sacrae theologiae principes» (PII XII Litt. Enc. Sacra virginitas: AAS 46, 1954, p. 165), quasi geminato fulgore in cuncto splendescunt Populo sancta Dei.

His, quae attigimus, Sancti Bonaventurae cogitatis et hortamentis manifesto comprobatur hunc ipsum doctrinae vitaeque magistrum adhuc loqui, quamvis abhinc septem saecula mortuum. Cui adhuc loquenti Nos vocem addimus Nostram, omnes Ecclesiae filios monentes, ut eum, qui ita ambulavit, observant (Cfr. Phil. 3, 17). Ad Deum autem iuvat orationem dirigere, quae in Seraphici Doctoris memoria recolenda rite adhibetur, ut «ipsius profìciamus eruditione praeclara et caritatis ardorem iugiter aemulemur» (Missale Romanum, Typ. Polygl. Vat. 1970, p. 578).

Quae vota Benedictio Apostolica confirmet, quam vobis, dilecti filii, et universis, quibus praeestis, Familiis Franciscalibus, ex animo impertimus.

Datum Romae, apud Sanctum Petrum, die xv mensis Iulii, anno MCMLXXIV, Pontificatus Nostri duodecimo.
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