Friday, December 7, 2012

Pope Benedict Today- The Prophetic Sensus Fidelium ( Sense of the Faithful ) Is Not A Public Opinion Poll

A busy news week for Pope Benedict it seems !! I think that will continue today with some extensive remarks that Pope Benedict made to the International Theological Commission today. See the full English text here via Vatican radio .

The Pope in his remarks  referencing a document they produced called Theology today. Perspectives, principles and criteria". The English text of that can be read here.


Two things are liable to get the most attention. One being his remarks on monotheism and the charges that it is too often linked to violence and the related subject of their being an objective truth.

The other is his remarks on the sensus fidelium ( ‘the supernatural appreciation of the faith [sensusfidei] of the whole people and ‘the intimate sense of spiritual realities’that the faithful have, that is, the sensus fidelium.)   which got some attention as to that document and what perhaps Pope Benedict might think about that. See for example this article Commission Text Holds Surprises On the Role of the Faithful .

Pope Benedict had this to say today :

Among the criteria of Catholic theology, the document mentions the attention that theologians must pay to sensus fidelium. It is very useful that your Commission has also focused on this issue which is of particular importance for the reflection on the faith and life of the Church. The Second Vatican Council, while confirming the specific and irreplaceable role of Magisterium, stressed, however, that the whole People of God participates in Christ's prophetic office, thus fulfilling the inspired desire expressed by Moses, " If only all the people of the LORD were prophets! If only the LORD would bestow his spirit on them! "(Num 11:29). The Dogmatic Constitution Lumen Gentium thus teaches us on the subject: “The entire body of the faithful, anointed as they are by the Holy One,(111) cannot err in matters of belief. They manifest this special property by means of the whole peoples' supernatural discernment in matters of faith when "from the Bishops down to the last of the lay faithful" they show universal agreement in matters of faith and morals. "(n. 12). This gift, the sensus fidei, constitutes in the believer a kind of supernatural instinct that has a connatural life with the same object of faith. It is a criterion for discerning whether or not a truth belongs to the deposit of the living apostolic tradition. It also has a propositional value because the Holy Spirit does not cease to speak to the Churches and lead them to the whole truth. Today, however, it is particularly important to clarify the criteria used to distinguish the authentic sensus fidelium from its counterfeits. In fact, it is not some kind of public opinion of the Church, and it is unthinkable to mention it in order to challenge the teachings of the Magisterium, this because the sensus fidei can not grow authentically in the believer except to the extent in which he or she fully participates in the life of the Church, and this requires a responsible adherence to her Magisterium.

Needless to say I think this is correct and I am glad to see my intincts confirmed by the Succesor of St Peter ( takes a bow :)  ). The Pope did not say it here but I think he would say this sense of discernment of the Faithful cannot be done without the discernment of the faithful from past ages. Pope Benedict seemed to be getting at this point when he was in New York in 2008  when he said :


...Too often those who are not Christians, as they observe the splintering of Christian communities, are understandably confused about the Gospel message itself. Fundamental Christian beliefs and practices are sometimes changed within communities by so-called “prophetic actions” that are based on a hermeneutic not always consonant with the datum of Scripture and Tradition. Communities consequently give up the attempt to act as a unified body, choosing instead to function according to the idea of “local options”. Somewhere in this process the need for diachronic koinonia – communion with the Church in every age – is lost, just at the time when the world is losing its bearings and needs a persuasive common witness to the saving power of the Gospel (cf. Rom 1:18-23).


Faced with these difficulties, we must first recall that the unity of the Church flows from the perfect oneness of the triune God. In John’s Gospel, we are told that Jesus prayed to his Father that his disciples might be one, “just as you are in me and I am in you” (Jn 17:21). This passage reflects the unwavering conviction of the early Christian community that its unity was both caused by, and is reflective of, the unity of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. This, in turn, suggests that the internal cohesion of believers was based on the sound integrity of their doctrinal confession (cf. 1 Tim 1:3-11). Throughout the New Testament, we find that the Apostles were repeatedly called to give an account for their faith to both Gentiles (cf. Acts 17:16-34) and Jews (cf. Acts 4:5-22; 5:27-42). The core of their argument was always the historical fact of Jesus’ bodily resurrection from the tomb (Acts 2:24, 32; 3:15; 4:10; 5:30; 10:40; 13:30). The ultimate effectiveness of their preaching did not depend on “lofty words” or “human wisdom” (1 Cor 2:13), but rather on the work of the Spirit (Eph 3:5) who confirmed the authoritative witness of the Apostles (cf. 1 Cor 15:1-11). The nucleus of Paul’s preaching and that of the early Church was none other than Jesus Christ, and “him crucified” (1 Cor 2:2). But this proclamation had to be guaranteed by the purity of normative doctrine expressed in creedal formulae – symbola – which articulated the essence of the Christian faith and constituted the foundation for the unity of the baptized (cf. 1 Cor 15:3-5; Gal 1:6-9; Unitatis Redintegratio, 2).




My dear friends, the power of the kerygma has lost none of its internal dynamism. Yet we must ask ourselves whether its full force has not been attenuated by a relativistic approach to Christian doctrine similar to that found in secular ideologies, which, in alleging that science alone is “objective”, relegate religion entirely to the subjective sphere of individual feeling. Scientific discoveries, and their application through human ingenuity, undoubtedly offer new possibilities for the betterment of humankind. This does not mean, however, that the “knowable” is limited to the empirically verifiable, nor religion restricted to the shifting realm of “personal experience”. ....

Further I think Pope Benedict when he says today  "sensus fidei can not grow authentically in the believer except to the extent in which he or she fully participates in the life of the Church" that implies at least some basic competence in the Faith as to basics . As repeated signs shows us at least as to the American Church we are having to recover from a period where that is sad shape.









4 comments:

The Underground Pewster said...

I get the sensus that the Pope is right about those "prophetic actions".

James H said...

WHenever I hear "prophetic actions" nowadays I get in my foxhole and dig in

Anonymous said...

constantly i used to read smaller articles or reviews which as well clear their motive,
and that is also happening with this piece of writing
which I am reading at this place.

Here is my page ... latria

Anonymous said...

Hello there, I found your web site by way of Google at
the same time as looking for a comparable
matter, your site got here up, it appears good. I've bookmarked it in my google bookmarks.
Hello there, simply become alert to your weblog through Google, and found that it is truly informative. I am going to be careful for brussels. I'll
appreciate if you proceed this in future.
Many other folks will be benefited from your writing.
Cheers!

Here is my blog post duluthmn