## Friday, May 28, 2010

### Material Logic: Quia Demonstrations vs. Propter Quid Demonstrations

From St. Thomas' Summa theologiae I.2.2c:

I answer that it must be said that demonstration is twofold: One which is through the cause, and is called demonstration "propter quid" [lit., 'on account of which'] and this is [to argue] from what is prior simply speaking (simpliciter). The other is through the effect, and is called a demonstration "quia" [lit., 'that']; this is [to argue] from what is prior relatively only to us (quoad nos). When an effect is better known to us than its cause, from the effect we proceed to the knowledge of the cause. And from every effect the existence of its proper cause can be demonstrated, so long as its effects are better known to us (quoad nos); because since every effect depends upon its cause, if the effect exists, the cause must pre-exist.

From Aristotle's Posterior Analytics I.13:

"Knowledge of the fact (quia demonstration) differs from knowledge of the reasoned fact (propter quid demonstrations). [...] You might prove as follows that the planets are near because they do not twinkle: let C be the planets, B not twinkling, A proximity. Then B is predicable of C; for the planets do not twinkle. But A is also predicable of B, since that which does not twinkle is near--we must take this truth as having been reached by induction or sense-perception. Therefore A is a necessary predicate of C; so that we have demonstrated that the planets are near. This syllogism, then, proves not the reasoned fact (propter quid) but only the fact (quia); since they are not near because they do not twinkle, but, because they are near, do not twinkle...."

A (major term) = close heavenly body
B (middle term) = non-twinkling heavenly body
C (minor term) = planet

Major Premise: B is A
Minor Premise: C is B
Conclusion: C is A

=

Major Premise: Non-Twinkling heavenly bodies are close heavenly bodies.
Minor Premise: Planets are non-twinkling heavenly bodies (effect).
Conclusion: Planets are close heavenly bodies (cause).

From Aristotle's Posterior Analytics I.13 (cont'd):

"The major and middle of the proof, however, may be reversed, and then the demonstration will be of the reasoned fact (propter quid). Thus: let C be the planets, B proximity, A not twinkling. Then B is an attribute of C, and A-not twinkling-of B. Consequently A is predicable of C, and the syllogism proves the reasoned fact (propter quid), since its middle term is the proximate cause...."

A (major term) = non-twinkling heavenly body
B (middle term) = close heavenly body
C (minor term) = planet

Major Premise: B is A
Minor Premise: C is B
Conclusion: C is A

=

Major Premise: Close heavenly bodies are non-twinkling heavenly bodies.
Minor Premise: Planets are close heavenly bodies (cause).
Conclusion: Planets are non-twinkling heavenly bodies (effect).

## Tuesday, May 25, 2010

### Quaeritur: Does Aquinas Fall into the Heresy of Modalism?

QuaeriturI've run into someone who keeps accusing St Thomas of teaching Modalism via Summa theologiae I.39.1c, by conflating Person and Nature in God (making them synonymous). I'd really appreciate any help/commentary you can point me to.  I've read the section multiple times and don't see modalism, but I'd really like some input from folks educated in that department.

Respondeo: This is an issue which not only surpasses all created intellects, but in a particular way surpasses mine, which is that of a mere beginner in theology. The De Deo Trino is truly the most difficult treatise in all of theology.

The simple answer is that this text does not teach modalism for the following reason: Modalism (in the sense of Sabellianism) claims that the distinction of Persons in God is not a real distinction in God (in se), but a distinction of reason in the believer (quoad nos). It is obvious that this is not Aquinas' teaching, since he explicitly teaches passim, including in this text, that the Divine persons are really (i.e., in se) distinct.

Buy there is something much more interesting in this text than its not teaching Modalism. It is interesting that you bring this up because, not three weeks ago I looked at this text myself for the first time, and was surprised by it. I wasn't surprised because I thought it fell into heresy, but rather, because, while I have faith that the text is not heretical (St. Thomas cannot be a heretic), nonetheless I had always conceived of the Persons in God as being distinct from the Divine Nature. So, what struck me was that the relations in God are actually identical to the Divine Essence! Now that I have pondered it for a while, I have realized that it makes sense. It stands to reason that each of the Persons of the Blessed Trinity must each be identical to the Divine Essence: how else can the Second Person of the Trinity be God, if He is not identical to the Divine Essence? If the Second Person were something really different from the Divine Essence, then the Second Person would not be God!

But then, what about the seeming contradiction in Aquinas' teaching, namely, that (a) the Divine Relations are distinct from each other, but (b) they are not distinct from the Divine Nature? It's a seeming contradiction because, according to Aristotelian Logic, if two (or three) things are identical to a third (or fourth), they are identical to each other. But what I have found, based on Cajetan's and Garrigou-Lagrange's commentaries on this issue, is that this seems like a contradiction only to those who conceive of God as falling into our categories of being, into our logic, who conceive of the absolute and the relative as being categories that are prior to God and into which God must be categorized. But in reality God is beyond being, and is prior to our categories of 'absolute' and 'relative'. Here are Cajetan's famous, sublime words regarding our inability to understand this mystery (in ST I.39.1):

We fall into error when we proceed from the absolute and the relative to God, because the distinction between absolute and relative is conceived by us as prior to God and therefore we try to place God in one or the other of these two members of the distinction. Whereas the complete opposite is the case. The divine nature is prior to being and all its differences, it transcends all being and is above unity, etc. Thus, in God there is but one formal nature or reason, and this is neither purely absolute nor purely relative... but it contains most eminently and formally both that which is of absolute perfection and whatever the relative Trinity requires.

So I have no personal solution to this problem except to say that Aquinas' text seems reasonable, although wrapped in mystery, and to say that perhaps if you look at the different Thomistic commentators, they might shed light onto the issue. I would recommend you look, in particular, at Garrigou-Lagrange (God the Trinity and the Creator).

Let me know what you else you find!

## Saturday, May 15, 2010

### Ite ad Thomam Tours: Santa Sabina, Aventine Hill, Rome

Take a look at the surroundings of the Santa Sabina complex (Basilica and Dominican Convent), where St. Thomas Aquinas began to write his Summa theologiae, including the adjacent orange grove originally planted by St. Catherine of Siena.

View Larger Map

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## Friday, May 14, 2010

### Modernists Present Their Doctrines Without Order; The Antidote is Order

From Pope St. Pius X, Pascendi Dominici gregis (On Modernism):

4. But since the Modernists (as they are commonly and rightly called) employ a very clever artifice, namely, to present their doctrines without order and systematic arrangement into one whole, scattered and disjointed one from another, so as to appear to be in doubt and uncertainty, while they are in reality firm and steadfast, it will be of advantage, Venerable Brethren, to bring their teachings together here into one group, and to point out the connexion between them, and thus to pass to an examination of the sources of the errors, and to prescribe remedies for averting the evil.

5. To proceed in an orderly manner in this recondite subject, it must first of all be noted that every Modernist sustains and comprises within himself many personalities; he is a philosopher, a believer, a theologian, an historian, a critic, an apologist, a reformer. These roles must be clearly distinguished from one another by all who would accurately know their system and thoroughly comprehend the principles and the consequences of their doctrines.

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## Thursday, May 13, 2010

### Ottaviani's Warning Against Heterodox Interpretations of Vatican II

Doctrine of Vatican II: Current Strange Interpretations
(Sacra Congregatio pro Doctrina Fidei, 24 Jul., 1966) Acta Apostolicae Sedis, 58-659.
Online Source: www.olfatima.com

A Letter of the Sacred Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith
Signed by Cardinal Ottaviani, with the approval of Paul VI (both shown in picture)
To all the Episcopal Conferences on 24 July, 1966.

To the Venerable Prelates of the Episcopal Conferences:

Since the Second Ecumenical Council of the Vatican, recently brought to a happy termination, has promulgated some very wise documents concerning both doctrine and discipline, in order more effectively to promote the life of the Church, all the people of God have a serious duty to strive with all earnestness to put into practice everything that was solemnly proposed or decreed by that vast gathering of Bishops under the guidance of the Holy Spirit and the presidency of the Supreme Pontiff.

On the other hand, the Hierarchy has the right and duty to supervise, direct, and promote the renewal which the Council set in motion, so that the Documents and Decrees of the Council may be rightly interpreted and be put into effect with precise fidelity to their proper sense and intention. For this doctrine must be defended by the Bishops, invested as they are with the office of teaching authoritatively under the leadership of Peter. And, to their credit, many of these Shepherds have already begun to explain properly the doctrine of the Council.

Unfortunately, however, from many sources dismaying reports have come, of growing abuses in the interpretation of the Council's doctrine, and of strange and bold opinions springing up here and there, which have seriously disturbed a number of the faithful. Researches and efforts to investigate the truth more deeply are praiseworthy, provided the distinction is clearly kept between what must be believed and what is a matter of opinion. But documents which this Sacred Congregation has examined show that there are many current declarations which go far beyond the limits of simple opinions or hypotheses and seem to affect in some degree the very dogma and foundations of the faith.

It will be useful to mention by way of example some of these statements and errors as they appear from reports furnished by learned men and from published writings.

1) In the first, place there is Sacred Revelation. Some, purposely disregarding Tradition, have recourse to Sacred Scripture, but restrict the scope and force of biblical inspiration and inerrancy, and hold false views on the historical value of the texts.

2) As regards the doctrine of the Faith, dogmatic formulas are declared to be so subject to historical evolution that their objective meaning is subject to change.

3) The ordinary magisterium of the Church, especially of the Roman Pontiff, is sometimes so neglected and so little esteemed that it is almost reduced to the category of mere opinion.

4) Some scarcely acknowledge any absolute objective truth, firm and immutable; they regard everything as subject to a kind of relativism, on the mistaken ground that all truth must necessarily follow the rhythm of the evolution of conscience and history.

5) Even the adorable Person of our Lord Jesus Christ is attacked, for in the rethinking of christology the concepts of nature and person which are employed are such as can hardly be reconciled with defined dogmas. A sort of christological humanism creeps in, reducing Christ to the status of a mere man who arrived gradually at the consciousness of his divine Sonship. His virginal conception, His miracles, even His Resurrection, are verbally acknowledged but really reduced to the merely natural order.

6) So too, in the theological treatise on the Sacraments, certain elements are either ignored or receive insufficient attention, especially in regard to the Most Holy Eucharist. There are those who dispute about the real presence of Christ under the appearances of bread and wine, proposing an exaggerated symbolism as though the bread and wine were not changed into the Body and Blood of our Lord Jesus Christ, but were merely transferred to a certain symbolic significance. There are also some who unduly urge the concept of agape in the Mass, as taking precedence over the idea of Sacrifice.

7) Some choose to explain the Sacrament of Penance as a means of reconciliation with the Church, not expressing sufficiently the reconciliation with God who has been offended. They even claim that for the celebration of this sacrament the personal confession of one's sins is not necessary, and so they seek to express only the social function of reconciliation with the Church. .

8) As for the teaching of the Council of Trent on original sin, some either make little of it or present it in such a way that the original sin of Adam and the transmission of sin itself are at least clouded.

9) In the field of moral theology, errors are no less current. Several go so far as to reject the objective nature of morality; others refuse to accept the natural law and assert the legitimacy of so-called ethics of the situation. Pernicious opinions are advanced regarding morality and responsibility in the matter of sexuality and marriage.

10) Besides all this, something must be said about Ecumenism. Certainly the Apostolic See has praise for those who, in the spirit of the Conciliar Decree on Ecumenism, promote projects designed to foster charity for our separated brethren and to draw them toward the unity of the Church. But it deplores the fact that some are interpreting the Decrees of the Council in their own way and are urging a type of ecumenical activity which is contrary to the truth of the Faith and the unity of the Church, favoring a dangerous irenicism and indifferentism, a thing which is utterly foreign to the mind of the Council.

It is true that these errors and dangers, taken singly, are scattered here and there; but taken all together in a summary group, they are presented to the local Ordinaries in this letter, so that each one according to his function and office may take proper measures to restrain or forestall them.

This Sacred Congregation earnestly prays the local Ordinaries, when united in their respective Episcopal Conferences, to take action in this matter and to report to the Holy See offering their advice on it, before the feast of the Nativity of our Lord Jesus Christ of this current year.

This letter, which obvious reasons of prudence prevent from being made public, is to be kept strictly secret by the Ordinaries and by any other persons to whom they may for sufficient reason decide to communicate it.

A. Card. OTTAVIANI

Rome, 24 July, 1966.
AAS 58-659; S. C. Doct. Fid., 24 July, 1966.

## Wednesday, May 12, 2010

### In Festo Ascensionis Domini, Evangelium & Homilia

The Feast of the Ascension of the Lord

Sequéntia sancti Evangélii secúndum Marcum (16:14-20).

In illo tempore: Recumbéntibus úndecim discípulis, appáruit illis Jesus: et exprobrávit incredulitátem eórum, et durítiam cordis: quia iis qui víderant eum resurrexísse, non credidérunt. Et dixit eis: Eúntes in mundum univérsum, prædicáte Evangélium omni creatúræ. Qui credíderit et baptizátus fúerit, salvus erit: qui vero non credíderit, condemnábitur. Signa autem eos, qui credíderint, hæc sequéntur: In nómine meo dæmónia  ejícient: linguis loquéntur novis: serpéntes tollent: et si mortíferum quid bíberint, non eis nocébit: super ægros manus impónent, et bene habébunt. Et Dóminus quidem Jesus, postquam loctútus est eis, assúmptus est in cælum, et sedet a dextris Dei. Illi autem profécti, prædicavérunt ubíque, Dómino cooperánte, et sermónem confirmánte, sequéntibus signis.

14 ῞Υστερον ἀνακειμένοις αὐτοῖς τοῖς ἕνδεκα ἐφανερώθη, καὶ ὠνείδισε τὴν ἀπιστίαν αὐτῶν καὶ σκληροκαρδίαν, ὅτι τοῖς θεασαμένοις αὐτὸν ἐγηγερμένον οὐκ ἐπίστευσαν. 15 καὶ εἶπεν αὐτοῖς· πορευθέντες εἰς τὸν κόσμον ἅπαντα κηρύξατε τὸ εὐαγγέλιον πάσῃ τῇ κτίσει. 16 ὁ πιστεύσας καὶ βαπτισθεὶς σωθήσεται, ὁ δὲ ἀπιστήσας κατακριθήσεται. 17 σημεῖα δὲ τοῖς πιστεύσασι ταῦτα παρακολουθήσει· ἐν τῷ ὀνόματί μου δαιμόνια ἐκβαλοῦσι· γλώσσαις λαλήσουσι καιναῖς· 18 ὄφεις ἀροῦσι· κἂν θανάσιμόν τι πίωσιν, οὐ μὴ αὐτοὺς βλάψει· ἐπὶ ἀρρώστους χεῖρας ἐπιθήσουσι, καὶ καλῶς ἕξουσιν.  19 ῾Ο μὲν οὖν Κύριος μετὰ τὸ λαλῆσαι αὐτοῖς ἀνελήφθη εἰς τὸν οὐρανὸν καὶ ἐκάθισεν ἐκ δεξιῶν τοῦ Θεοῦ. 20 ἐκεῖνοι δὲ ἐξελθόντες ἐκήρυξαν πανταχοῦ, τοῦ Κυρίου συνεργοῦντος καὶ τὸν λόγον βεβαιοῦντος διὰ τῶν ἐπακολουθούντων σημείων. ἀμήν.

From Matins of the Feast of the Ascension (3rd Nocturn)
Online Source: www.breviary.net

 Lesson vii Léctio sancti Evangélii secúndum Marcum The Lesson is taken from the Holy Gospel according to Mark Chap. 16, 14-20 In illo témpore : Recumbéntibus úndecim discípulis, appáruit illis Jesus : et exprobrávit incredulitátem eórum et durítiam cordis, quia iis, qui víderant eum resurrexísse, non credidérunt.  Et réliqua. At that time : Jesus appeared unto the eleven disciples as they sat at meat, and upbraided them with their unbelief and hardness of heart : because they believed not them which had seen him after he was risen.  And so on, and that which followeth. Homilía sancti Gregórii Papæ A Homily by St. Gregory the Pope Homilia 29 in Evangelia Quod resurrectiónem Domínicam discípuli tarde credidérunt, non tam illórum infírmitas, quam nostra, ut ita dicam, futúra fírmitas fuit.  Ipsa namque resurréctio illis dubitántibus per multa arguménta monstráta est : quæ dum nos legéntes agnóscimus, quid áliud quam de illórum dubitatióne solidámur?  Minus enim mihi María Magdaléne præstitit, quæ cítius crédidit, quam Thomas, qui diu dubitávit.  Ille étenim dubitándo, vúlnerum cicatríces tétigit, et de nostro péctore dubitatiónis vulnus amputávit. I may be allowed to say that the disciples' slowness to believe that the Lord had indeed risen from the dead, was not so much their weakness as our strength.  In consequence of their doubts, the fact of the Resurrection was demonstrated by many infallible proofs.  These proofs we read and acknowledge.  What then assureth our faith, if not their doubt?  For my part, I put my trust in Thomas, who doubted long, much more than in Mary Magdalene, who believed at once.  Through his doubting, he came actually to handle the holes of the Wounds, and thereby closed up any wound of doubt in our hearts. V.  Tu autem, Dómine, miserére nobis. R.  Deo grátias. V.  But thou, O Lord, have mercy upon us. R.  Thanks be to God. R.  Ego rogábo Patrem, et álium Paráclitum dabit vobis, * Ut máneat vobíscum in ætérnum, Spíritum veritátis, allelúja.V.  Si enim non abíero, Paráclitus non véniet ad vos : si autem abíero, mittam eum ad vos. R.  Ut máneat vobíscum in ætérnum, Spíritum veritátis, allelúja. R.  I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter, *  That he may abide with you for ever, even the Spirit of Truth, alleluia.V.  For if I go not away, the Comforter will not come unto you : but if I depart, I will send him unto you. R.  That he may abide with you for ever, even the Spirit of Truth, alleluia. V.  Jube domne, (Dómine) benedícere. V.  Vouchsafe, Reverend Father (O Lord), thy blessing. Benedíctio 8: Divínum auxílium máneat semper nobíscum. R.  Amen. Benediction 8: May help divine be with us all, for ever abiding. R.  Amen. Lesson viii Ad insinuándam quoque veritátem Domínicæ resurrectiónis, notándum nobis est quid Lucas réferat, dicens : Convéscens, præcépit eis ab Jerosólymis ne discéderent.  Et post pauca : Vidéntibus illis, elevátus est, et nubes suscépit eum ab óculis eórum.  Notáte verba, signáte mystéria.  Convéscens elevátus est.  Comédit, et ascéndit : ut vidélicet per efféctum comestiónis, véritas patésceret carnis.  Marcus vero, priúsquam cælum Dóminus ascéndat, eum de cordis atque infidelitátis durítia increpásse discípulos mémorat.  Qua in re quid considerándum est, nisi quod idcírco Dóminus tunc discípulos increpávit, cum eos corporáliter relíquit, ut verba, quæ recédens díceret, in corde audiéntium árctius impréssa remanérent? To confirm to our minds the trustworthiness of the fact that our Lord did indeed rise again from the dead, it is well for us to remark one of the statements of Luke : Eating together with them, he commanded them that they should not depart from Jerusalem : and a little afterward : While they beheld, he was taken up, and a cloud received him out of their sight.  Consider these words, note well these mysteries.  After eating together with them, he was taken up.  He ate and ascended : that the fact of his eating might shew the reality of the Body in which he went up.  But Mark telleth us that before the Lord ascended into heaven he upbraided his disciples with their unbelief and hardness of heart.  From this I know not what we should gather, but that the Lord then upbraided his disciples, from whom he was about to be parted in the body, to the end that the words which he spake unto them as he left them might be the deeper imprinted on their hearts. V.  Tu autem, Dómine, miserére nobis. R.  Deo grátias. V.  But thou, O Lord, have mercy upon us. R.  Thanks be to God. R.  Ponis nubem ascénsum tuum, Dómine : * Qui ámbulas super pennas ventórum, allelúja.V.  Confessiónem et decórem induísti, amíctus lumen sicut vestiméntum. R.  Qui ámbulas super pennas ventórum, allelúja.V.  Glória Patri, et Fílio, et Spirítui Sancto. R.  Qui ámbulas super pennas ventórum, allelúja. R.  Thou makest the clouds thy chariot, O Lord, *Thou walkest upon the wings of the wind, alleluia.V.  Thou art clothed with honour and majesty, covering thyself with light as with a garment. R.  Thou walkest upon the wings of the wind, alleluia.V.  Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Ghost. R.  Thou walkest upon the wings of the wind, alleluia. V.  Jube domne, (Dómine) benedícere. V.  Vouchsafe, Reverend Father (O Lord), thy blessing. Benedíctio 9: Ad societátem cívium supernórum perdúcat nos Rex Angelórum. R.  Amen. Benediction 9: May the King of Angels give us fellowship with all the citizens of heaven. R.  Amen. Lesson ix Increpáta ígitur eórum durítia, quid admonéndo dicat, audiámus : Eúntes in mundum univérsum, prædicáte Evangélium omni creatúræ.  Numquid, fratres mei, sanctum Evangélium vel insensátis rebus, vel brutis animálibus fúerat prædicándum, ut de eo discípulis dicátur : Prædicáte omni creatúræ?  Sed omnis creatúræ nómine signátur homo.  Omnis autem creatúræ áliquid habet homo.  Habet namque commúne esse cum lapídibus, vívere cum arbóribus, sentíre cum animálibus, intellígere cum Angelis.  Si ergo commúne habet áliquid cum omni creatúra homo, juxta áliquid omnis creatúra est homo.  Omni ergo creatúræ prædicátur Evangélium, cum soli hómini prædicátur. When, then, he had rebuked the hardness of their hearts, what command did he give them?  Let us hear.  Go ye into all the world, and preach the Gospel to every creature.  Was the Holy Gospel, then, my brethren, to be preached to things insensate, or to brute beasts, that the Lord said to his disciples : Preach the Gospel to every creature?  Nay ; but by the words Every creature, we must understand man, in whom are combined qualities of all creatures.  Being he hath in common with stones, life in common with trees, feeling in common with beasts, understanding in common with angels.  If, then, man hath something in common with every creature, man is to a certain extent every creature.  The Gospel, then, if it be preached to man only, is preached to every creature. V.  Tu autem, Dómine, miserére nobis. R.  Deo grátias. V.  But thou, O Lord, have mercy upon us. R.  Thanks be to God. TE DEUM LAUDAMUS TE DEUM

### In Festo S. Roberti Bellarmini (Mai. 13), Acta

From Matins of the Feast of St. Robert Bellarmine, Bishop, Confessor, Doctor.
Online Source: www.breviary.net

## Tuesday, May 11, 2010

### Interview with Msgr. Gherardini, last living theologian of the pre-Conciliar "Roman School"

Click link to view the Rorate-Caeli blog post.

## Monday, May 10, 2010

### 498th Anniversary of the Opening of the Fifth Lateran Council

Condemnation of the Averroist Heresy

[From the Bull "Apostolic) Regiminis" (Session VIII),Dec. 19, 1513]

DS 738 Since in our days (and we painfully bring this up) the sower of cockle, ancient enemy of the human race, has dared to disseminate and advance in the field of the Lord a number of pernicious errors, always rejected by the faithful, especially concerning the nature of the rational soul, namely, that it is mortal, or one in all men, and some rashly philosophizing affirmed that this is true at least according to philosophy, in our desire to offer suitable remedies against a plague of this kind, with the approval of this holy Council, we condemn and reject all who assert that the intellectual soul is mortal, or is one in all men, and those who cast doubt on these truths, since it [the soul] is not only truly in itself and essentially the form of the human body, as was defined in the canon of Pope Clement V our predecessor of happy memory published in the (general) Council of Vienne [n. 481] but it is also multiple according to the multitude of bodies into which it is infused, multiplied, and to be multiplied. . . . And since truth never contradicts truth, we declare [see n. 1797] every assertion contrary to the truth of illumined faith to be altogether false; and, that it may not be permitted to dogmatize otherwise, we strictly forbid it, and we decree that all who adhere to errors of this kind are to be shunned and to be punished as detestable and abominable infidels who disseminate most damnable heresies and who weaken the Catholic faith.

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### 117th Anniversary of the Death of Cardinal Zigliara

From Tommaso Zigliara, OP - Summa Philosophica, Vol. 1, pp. 1-2 (available through ITOPL):

## Sunday, May 09, 2010

### Correspondence with Fr. Harrison on the New Catechism

Posted with Fr. Brian Harrison's permission.  The correspondent's name was omitted for privacy.

Dear Father Harrison,

Does the Catechism of the Catholic Church represent an authentic work of the ordinary Magisterium that requires at least the religious assent of mind and will?  In other words, can a Catholic simply reject a teaching contained therein, without sinning?  Thank you.

In Jesus and Mary,
[signed]

----------------------

Dear [name],

I would say that when the Catechism presents a teaching that is already backed up by previous papal and/or conciliar statements, we have the duty, obviously, to give our assent to what it says in the measure due to those prior teachings.
On the rare occasions when the Catechism departs from existing doctrine - as it does when it says in #1261 that we are allowed to hope for the salvation of infants dying without baptism (and it clearly means all of them) - I would not say we are bound to give our assent. Even supposing the existing doctrine were a non-infallible one that might theoretically be capable of reversal by a future Pope or Council, a mere Catechism seems a doubtful instrument for officially changng a doctrine. We don't know how much specific attention and prayer for guidance (if any) Pope John Paul II gave to that specific item (#1261) of the Catechism. After all there are about 2,000 items in the Catechism and the Pope cannot have personally studied all of them in depth. Some of them he may not even have been aware of! So the Catechism has a very different status from an encyclical wherein the Pope carefully goes out of his way to pass judgement on some controversial doctrinal issue (e.g., Humanae Vitae or Evangelium Vitae, both dealing with disputed human life issues, or Ordinatio Saceredotalis, ruling out women's ordination).

Blessings,
Fr. Harrison

----------------------

Thank you, Father.

It is unfortunate that the average Catholic must be knowledgeable of papal and/or conciliar documents, i.e., he cannot simply take everything within the CCC as true Church teaching in spite of Pope John Paul II's declaring the CCC to be a "sure norm".  I guess it's not so "sure" after all.

In Jesus and Mary,
[name]

----------------------

Dear [name],

Things aren't really as bad you suggest below, first of all because any doctrinally questionable statements in the Catechism of the Catholic Church would be very rare, and secondly there are thousands of references to Scripture and Magisterium in the CCC footnotes, so the reader can usually see that the statements in the main text are backed up by previous Church and biblical teachings, even if he's not familiar with those sources.
However that English translation of the Pope's words that you cite is actually an exaggeration. In the Latin text of John Paul II's Apostolic Constitution, it doesn't say anything meaning "sure" - a word which in English gives the impression of something completely certain - totally guaranteed.
The words translated "sure norm" are "firmam regulam". "Regula" means rule, norm, criterion, so translating it "norm" is OK. But the adjective"firmus" in Latin means "firm", trusty","solid", "stable" - pretty much like "firm" in English. No classical or ecclesiastical Latin dictionary I can find (not even the long entry in the authoritative 'Lewis & Short') gives "sure" or "certain" as one of the meanings of firmus. Calling the CCC a "sure norm" gives the  impression that the Pope is guaranteeing it will never make a mistake.
So a more accurate translation would call it a "safe", "reliable" "solid" or "trustworthy" norm (for learning and teaching Catholic doctrine). We all use these words to describe something or someone we can depend on at least nearly always - let's say 99% of the time, but not necessarily 100%.
The Catechism contains 2,865 articles. So 28 of them would constitute 1% of the total.  I doubt very much that one could find even that many articles containing any doctrinal statement that might even appear to depart from existing Church teaching, or be difficult to reconcile with it.
The bottom line here seems to me that what the Pope really says in the key declaration of his Apostolic Constitution promulgating the CCC -namely, that it provides a "solid" or "trustworthy" norm of Catholic doctrine - is quite compatible with the possibility that there could be a few, but only avery few, statements in it that might turn out to be doctrinally questionable.

God bless,
Fr. Harrison

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