Can Catholics Dissent from Church Teaching?

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Louis_IX

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Well, I posed that question to my parish Faith Formation Director - she said that she could not answer that question, it would be a matter of each individuals interpretation.

I then asked if the 12 apostles could dissent from Jesus’s teaching and she said yes.

Can this be a litmus test kind of question that one can pose to any person in a church position to quickly size them up ?

Do I have a right as a Catholic to ask such a question of someone in authority ?
 
Individual interpretation of Church teaching gets you into trouble every time.Yes, you do have the right to ask that question.
Are there grey areas? Some, but we have all heard about those “cafeteria Catholics” and the trouble they get into. Questioning teaching is good. Interpretation is questionable.
 
"Professio Fidei, Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith

Some excerpts, in order of weight:
“[All those doctrines of divine and catholic faith which the Church proposes as divinely and formally revealed and, as such, as irreformable] require the assent of theological faith by all members of the faithful. Thus,** whoever obstinately places them in doubt or denies them falls under the censure of heresy**, as indicated by the respective canons of the Codes of Canon Law.”
Every believer. . .is required to give firm and definitive assent to [all those teachings belonging to the dogmatic or moral area, which are necessary for faithfully keeping and expounding the deposit of faith, even if they have not been proposed by the Magisterium of the Church as formally revealed]. . .Whoever denies these truths would be in a position of rejecting a truth of Catholic doctrine and would therefore no longer be in full communion with the Catholic Church.
[All those teachings on faith and morals - presented as true or at least as sure, even if they have not been defined with a solemn judgment or proposed as definitive by the ordinary and universal Magisterium]. . . require religious submission of will and intellect. A proposition contrary to these doctrines can be qualified as erroneous or, in the case of teachings of the prudential order, as rash or dangerous
So dissenting against doctrines (depending of the level of teaching) can place one in heresy in the first level, cut oneself off from full communion in the second level, or be erroneous or rash/dangerous in the third level. The Commentary describes these levels of teaching in further detail.

When the Catholic Church receives baptized Christians into full communion, we ask that the Catholic-to-be publically declare, “I believe and profess all that the Holy Catholic Church believes, teaches, and proclaims to be revealed by God.” As Msgr. William. B. Smith writes, this excludes dissent from “all that the Church believes and all that the Church teaches.”
 
Louis IX:
Well, I posed that question to my parish Faith Formation Director - she said that she could not answer that question, it would be a matter of each individuals interpretation.

I then asked if the 12 apostles could dissent from Jesus’s teaching and she said yes.

Can this be a litmus test kind of question that one can pose to any person in a church position to quickly size them up ?

Do I have a right as a Catholic to ask such a question of someone in authority ?
To answer the first question, and to paraphrase a previous posting, the answer is NO. It’s one thing to question the teachings of the church, because this should lead to an increase in understanding of those teachings, but dissent indicates a turning away from those teachings and, by implication, from God.

I would also disagree that the apostles could dissent from Jesus’s teaching. Look what trouble Peter got into when he disagreed with Jesus about his “suffering messiah” teachings (Matt. 16:21-23; Mark 8:31-33).

What I have to question is whether you really need to apply a test to your fellow Catholics? I would rather suggest that you put your efforts into arguing against any dissent or error in your fellow Catholic that presents itself. And here I would say that this would apply to anyone who is dissenting or in error, whether they are in authority or not.

To be your brother’s keeper, to love your neighbour as yourself, would really require us to also make the effort to correct them when they are in error. But it is also good to remember that we are doing this because of our love for them.
 
There is a difference between Doubt or lack of understanding and rejection. This difference is amplified depending on the position of the person. For a person who has doubt about the Doctrine of Original Sin, it affects their faith. A DRE or Catechist who “express” their doubt about a Doctrine has much more serious effects.
 
Idividual interpretation is a way of saying it’s all relative and that one can for example interpret abortion is always wrong to mean that abortion is not always wrong.
 
Keith Barrett:
What I have to question is whether you really need to apply a test to your fellow Catholics? I would rather suggest that you put your efforts into arguing against any dissent or error in your fellow Catholic that presents itself. And here I would say that this would apply to anyone who is dissenting or in error, whether they are in authority or not.

To be your brother’s keeper, to love your neighbour as yourself, would really require us to also make the effort to correct them when they are in error. But it is also good to remember that we are doing this because of our love for them.
Keith - I would only question someone, if there was good reason, I am not on a witch hunt (though PIUS X was close to that when he wanted to root out Modernism). In this case, the context was a discussion group on Vatican II (Gaudiem et specs) which my Faith Formation Director was facilitating. In the heat of the discussion I asked her if one could dissent, and she actually said yes (in public) and I let that slide I realized my discussion put her on the spot. I thn asked her again in private and she was more careful and said “I cannot answer that question”. For someone who is in a position that affects the Salvation of souls, I sure am going to ask those kind of questions. I would ask that to a Catholic school principle right off that bat.
 
Louis IX:
Can Catholics Dissent from Church Teaching?
First and foremost the Catholic must learn what the official teaching of the Church is!!! I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard a “good” Catholic give their opinion of Church teaching only to find out they have absolutely no idea what the “official” teaching is. You can not simply rely on what you’ve been taught. You need to research it. There are far too many variations and opinions out there. After you learn the real stories, chances are really good you’ll agree with them. If you find you disagree, you need to do some serious soul searching.
 
Well, let’s rephrase that question to reflect reality.
  1. Can husbands cheat on their wives?
  2. Are we allowed to become hypocrites?
Comments
  1. When one makes a promise to do something, and then they’re doing something else, that’s called breaking a promise. We are supposed to be faithful, and what dissent is saying is “I am my own authority, instead of God” and that’s a rejection of God’s authority. If they claim they’re just rebelling against the Church and not God, they should read about Korah (Numbers 16) and Diotrephes (3 John 9-), and also ask if they’re giving themselves a claim of personal infallibility.
  2. What is it called when one says they are one thing but they do something else? Christ railed against hypocrisy all the time. If you are a Catholic, you believe what the Catholic Church teaches. If you dissent, then stop the hypocrisy and stop calling yourself catholic and find a church that agrees with your beliefs.
 
Louis IX:
Well, I posed that question to my parish Faith Formation Director - she said that she could not answer that question, it would be a matter of each individuals interpretation.

I then asked if the 12 apostles could dissent from Jesus’s teaching and she said yes.

Can this be a litmus test kind of question that one can pose to any person in a church position to quickly size them up ?

Do I have a right as a Catholic to ask such a question of someone in authority ?
Could they have dissented? Of course they *could * - that’s free will. The issue is whether they could have dissented and remained within the Church Jesus created, and the answer is no.

There is a world of difference between asking questions in order to further one’s journey in faith, and open questioning of Church doctrine. That’s the difference between seeking the truth and dissenting from it.

It is not our job to “quickly size up” any member of the Church’s heirarchy based upon some “litmus test.” Rash judgments are likely to be wrong. Although I have railed against pro-abortion Catholic politicians receiving Communion while in open dissent against Church teaching, I also recognize that enforcement of the canonical proscription is up to the bishop.

One must have a well-formed conscience and a good understanding of the catechism before one is in a position of “questioning” any particular person, be he a priest, bishop, or what have you.

Speaking of conscience, as St. Thomas More teaches us, a truly Catholic conscience is formed by the *discovery * of universal truth, the result of a long process in which one discovers a preexisting created moral order. It is not what one decides it is upon personal reflection - that’s Protestantism.
 
Louis IX:
Keith - I would only question someone, if there was good reason, I am not on a witch hunt.
This was my understanding from the first post, and they undoubtedly would bring up a reason why further questioning is necessary to clarify.
For someone who is in a position that affects the Salvation of souls, I sure am going to ask those kind of questions. I would ask that to a Catholic school principle right off that bat.
Yes, considering the amount of dissent we hear from supposedly true teachers. Too many people on boards, such as this one, tell some hard to believe stories being promoted by church leaders/pastors/teachers/etc. 😦

Pray for them
Kotton :gopray:
 
We are all sinners and all stray. Non of us is perfect. God gave us a free will to make choices. God never gave us a commandment we could not keep. God founded and gave us the Catholic Church, his body to guide us in Faith and Morals. Our Tradition is from God.:yup:

Never give up thinking on your own, it is a special gift our Church believes in. But use your free will to make the right choices. Our Church will help guide us to Christ, but only you can find Him.

The answer is within you.

A prisoner of Christ
 
The Barrister:
Could they have dissented? Of course they *could * - that’s free will. The issue is whether they could have dissented and remained within the Church Jesus created, and the answer is no.
To neatly sum it up:
As a result of this, many (of) his disciples returned to their former way of life and no longer accompanied him.
Jesus then said to the Twelve, “Do you also want to leave?”
Simon Peter answered him, “Master, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life.”]
John 6:66-68​
 
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Vincent:
"Doctrinal Commentary on the Concluding Formula of the Professio Fidei", Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith
**
Some excerpts, in order of weight:
“[All those doctrines of divine and catholic faith which the Church proposes as divinely and formally revealed and, as such, as irreformable] require the assent of theological faith by all members of the faithful. Thus, whoever obstinately places them in doubt or denies them falls under the censure of heresy, as indicated by the respective canons of the Codes of Canon Law.”

Every believer. . .is required to give firm and definitive assent to [all those teachings belonging to the dogmatic or moral area, which are necessary for faithfully keeping and expounding the deposit of faith, even if they have not been proposed by the Magisterium of the Church as formally revealed]. . .Whoever denies these truths would be in a position of rejecting a truth of Catholic doctrine and would therefore no longer be in full communion with the Catholic Church.

[All those teachings on faith and morals - presented as true or at least as sure, even if they have not been defined with a solemn judgment or proposed as definitive by the ordinary and universal Magisterium]. . . require religious submission of will and intellect. A proposition contrary to these doctrines can be qualified as erroneous or, in the case of teachings of the prudential order, as rash or dangerous **

So dissenting against doctrines (depending of the level of teaching) can place one in heresy in the first level, cut oneself off from full communion in the second level, or be erroneous or rash/dangerous in the third level. The Commentary describes these levels of teaching in further detail.

When the Catholic Church receives baptized Christians into full communion, we ask that the Catholic-to-be publically declare, “I believe and profess all that the Holy Catholic Church believes, teaches, and proclaims to be revealed by God.” As Msgr. William. B. Smith writes, this excludes dissent from “all that the Church believes and all that the Church teaches.”
Absolutely correct. To dissent means to differ in opinion. Catholic teaching on faith and morals is not open to interpretation. It is the truth as revealed by God. It is not possible for God to be wrong, so by default, the dissenter (heretic) is always wrong.
 
Isn’t it nice when complex, difficult questions can be so neatly wrapped up so quickly and neatly, with no rough edges, or ill-fitting parts?

The church adamantly defends the right of conscience. But conscience must always be seeking truth. The difficulty with dissenters is that they portray conscience as opposed to the Magesterium, rather than in conjunction with it.

There may be issues that you question; don’t stop. God gave you a brain, and curiosity for a reason. It is to seek truth. And some of it is hard truth…

If, upon confronting a question, your conscience dictates you go one way, and you are being told that you must go another, at the very bottom of it all, you must follow your conscience. But it doesn’t stop there; if you are at odds with Church teaching, you msut continue to search out the answer. And always, pray, and pray hard. The decisions you make will have far reaching consequences.

The problem wtih the dissenters is that they stop; they have their minds made up “Thank you very much, and don’t confuse me with the facts”. Somewhere, one needs to ask the question, “How did I achieve so much more wisdom in the _____ years I have been alive, so much more wisdom than the Church, led by the Holy Spirit, has achieved in 2000 years?”

Moral theology is more nuanced than many would have you to believe (and much less that most dissenters would admit to); and the hard part is that moral theology is where “the rubber meets the road”. It is difficult, not simplistic, and it is all too easy to sit back and spout quotations and act as if it was oh so easy. But keep in mind the fact that once you have mad a choice, you are not in isolation; others will be affected by that choice far beyond your imagination.
 
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