Sunday, 1 October 2017

Pope Benedict XVI: Catholics are free to disagree with the Pope

Non-Catholics usually think that Catholics have to agree with the Pope. This is not so. Catholics are required only to subscribe to dogmas (contained in the Creeds with some additions) and popes are only infallible when enunciating dogmas. On matters of faith and morals the Church claims to be infallible but this does not mean that the Pope is. On matters of politics, including immigration policy, and of the physical sciences, such as climatology, the popes are certainly not infallible or even necessarily competent to make judgments. In such matters, laymen should and will decide for themselves.

Anyone who thinks Pope Francis' obiter dicta are binding on Catholics might read these words of Cardinal Ratzinger (the future Benedict XVI) in 1969.

"One should especially avoid the impression that the pope (or the office in general) can only gather and express from time to time the statistical average of the living faith, for which a decision is not possible contrary to these average statistical values (which, besides, are problematic in their verifiability)."The faith is based on the objective data of Scripture and of dogma, which in dark times can also frighteningly disappear from the consciousness of the greater part of Christianity (statistically), without losing in any way, however, their obligatory and binding character.
"In this case, the word of the pope can and should certainly go against statistics and against the power of an opinion, which strongly pretends to be the only valid one; and this will have to be done as decisively as the testimony of tradition is clear (like in the given case).
"On the contrary, criticism of papal pronouncements will be possible and even necessary, to the extent that they lack support in Scripture and the Creed, that is, in the faith of the whole Church.
"When neither the consensus of the whole Church is had, nor clear evidence from the sources is available, an ultimate binding decision is not possible. Were one formally to take place, the conditions for such an act would be lacking, and hence the question would have to be raised concerning its legitimacy."

1 comment:

  1. But of course. Basic Catechism. Too bad most Catholics are never taught their faith.