Dr Mobbs' response

Dr Mobbs' response

Frank Mobbs

There are still a few who are convinced that the Second Vatican Council taught infallibly.

What conditions have to be met in order for a Council to teach infallibly? Lumen Gentium, 25, answers this question.

In order for the members of a Council to teach infallibly, they must (1) be gathered together in an Ecumenical Council; (2) act as teachers and judges of faith and morals for the universal Church (as distinct for, say, a diocese or region or particular Church e.g., Maronite); and (3) define a doctrine as one to be held with the submission of faith.

Peter Howard claims the conditions are met when the Council teaches that: the faithful must assent to non-infallible papal teaching; the Church founded by Christ is identical with the Catholic Church; bishops in an Ecumenical Council can teach infallibly; and that non-Catholics have a right to religious freedom.

I invite readers to consult the documents on these points. Never will they find the Council defining anything. The words 'definitive' and 'define' are missing in the Council's assertions about its own teachings. It never says 'we define' or 'the Council defines' or any equivalent to those expressions.

The Fathers were well aware of their obligation to signal to the faithful and the world that they were defining a doctrine, had they intended to do so, because they knew that article 1323 (3) of the 1917 Code of Canon Law reads, 'Nothing is to be understood as declared or dogmatically defined, unless that fact is manifestly established.' That canon appears in a footnote of Lumen Gentium, 25.

This rule is repeated in the present 1983 Code. Let it be the Church's guide in our efforts to determine the status of the Council's teachings.

Albany, NSW

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