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Vicki Kennedy denied honorary degree from Catholic college.

Looks like it's RNS day at dotCommonweal.David Gibson reports: "A small Catholic college in Massachusetts has been pressured by the local bishop into cancelling an invitation to Sen. Ted Kennedy's widow to deliver the school's commencement address because of her support of abortion rights and gay marriage." Bishop Robert McManus also told officials at Anna Maria College not to give Vicki Kennedy an honorary degree.In a statement, Kennedy said that she was "disheartened" by the decision:

I am a lifelongCatholic and my faith is very important to me. I am not a public official. I hold no publicoffice nor am I a candidate for public office. I have not met Bishop McManus nor has hebeen willing to meet with me to discuss his objections. He has not consulted with mypastor to learn more about me or my faith. Yet by objecting to my appearance at AnnaMaria College he has made a judgment about my worthiness as a Catholic.

(You can read the full statement here [.pdf].)Perhaps the bishop believed this was a teaching moment. What do you suppose the lesson was?Update: Bishop McManus explains his decision:

My concern basically was that to give this type of honor to Mrs. Kennedy would in fact undercut the Catholic identity and mission of the school. And that in so far as that that happens, the communio or the unity that exists between the local church and the local Catholic college is strained and hurt, he said.

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An unintended consequence may follow from Bp. McManus's attention to the USCCB "Catholics in Political Life" in his public defense of the Church institution. As news briefs spread nationwide and abroad, clips like the Irish Herald's prolfierate: "Catholics snub Kennedy wife --"A small Massachusetts Catholic college rescinded its invitation to Vicki Kennedy to speak at its graduation ceremony, saying the local bishop objected to honouring the widow of the liberal lion Senator Edward Kennedy. "A spokesman for Worcester Bishop Robert McManus declined to say why exactly he objected to the choice of Mrs Kennedy, a member of the most prominent Catholic family in US politics. Mrs Kennedy said she was "disheartened" by the public rebuke."http://www.herald.ie/news/19m-property-sold-for-2500-3067408.html

"Isnt this rather grandiose of her? Because she feels she has been mistreated, it is a sad day for the Church?"David N. --Grandiose? Why is it grandiose for someone to want common courtesy? Or do you think that bishops do not need to be polite? Indeed, Ms. K. was extraordinarily gracious in extremely trying circumstances. And what happened? Nothing. In spite of her request, he refused to talk to her. She is a highly intelligent and socially committed person who has done a lot of good in her life, and given her articulateness, he might have learned a good bit about what a certain segment of his flock is thinking. But that, apparently, is one of his interests.(It's bishops like him that inspire me to use the sort of language my Mama taught me never to use. Sigh. But I think it :-) (Actually, I suspect that he might have realized that he is no match for her, and so demurred. But that doesn't make his misbehavior right.)

Catholics snub Kennedy wife A small Massachusetts Catholic college rescinded its invitation to Vicki Kennedy to speak at its graduation ceremony, saying the local bishop objected to honouring the widow of the liberal lion Senator Edward Kennedy.A spokesman for Worcester Bishop Robert McManus declined to say why exactly he objected to the choice of Mrs Kennedy, a member of the most prominent Catholic family in US politics. Mrs Kennedy said she was disheartened by the public rebuke.

"The notion that she was invited or that she achieved prominence only because she married Ted Kennedy is a sexist fiction." Grant Gallicho

David S. -- Grant doesn't edit the Irish Herald, alas, yet.

Sorry. David Nickol, not David S.

Grandiose? Why is it grandiose for someone to want common courtesy?Ann,It is not grandiose to want common courtesy. It is grandiose, when you feel you have been snubbed by a bishop, to say, "This is a sad day for me and an even sadder one for the Church I love."What a sad day for the 2000-year-old, 1.2-billion-member Roman Catholic Church when one of it's 5125 bishops gets Vicki Kennedy disinvited from Anna Maria College! It's a sad day for her, yes, but she can take it. But it's an even sadder day for the Church!

"I suggested nothing of the sort. Your conclusion was offensive and false and off-topic."Funny, coming from someone who has done nothing but hurl ad hominems at the Bishops. See the quotes above - most of which are lifted from your posts."The bishop has a right to do whatever he wants to do in his diocese. Having the right to do something and doing what is right are two different things."Then why attack him for using his privilege, unless you in fact don't think he should be doing it? I'm very confused what's gotten your dander up so much. Again, see the quotes above.

Ann: I understand the school invited Vicki Kennedy precisely because of her work as a gun-control advocate. Apparently criminal justice is one of the most popular majors at the school. The notion that she was invited or that she achieved prominence only because she married Ted Kennedy is a sexist fiction. Why is it that David Gibson, along with every other journalist to write about this incident, identifies her first and foremost as "Sen. Ted Kennedy's widow" rather than as "noted gun control advocate"? Perhaps it's because no one would know who she is with the latter identification. Her non-profit is apparently defunct -- its 2007 income (last available) was all of $932, and it hasn't even issued a press release in the past decade. http://www.kidsandguns.org/familyroom/activities.asp

David N. --Bishop McManus didn't even reply to the remarkably polite message from Ms. K. Yes, David, that was an extremely sad day for the Church because it shows publicly that Bishop McManus doesn't think that bishops need be polite to lay people. That was the pit of rudeness.

Studebaker --Thanks for noticing that Ms. K. is more than Ted Kennedy's wife. But it should perhaps be added that one of her accomplishments was rescuing him from the miserable ways of living he fell into after all the tragedies in the Kennedy family. After their marriage he was very productive politically, and friends give much of the credit to her. An all-round remarkable person, apparently.

Funny, coming from someone who has done nothing but hurl ad hominems at the Bishops. See the quotes above most of which are lifted from your posts.No. Only one of the quotations in your offensive post was from one of my comments.You're deflecting your anger at the bishop onto your fellow posters. You're mad at him for being so blatant about his reasons for insulting Vicki. He should have been less honest.She has publicly associated with political and social organizations that promote activities and points of view that are contrary to fundamental church teachings.

David, that was an extremely sad day for the Church because it shows publicly that Bishop McManus doesnt think that bishops need be polite to lay people.Ann,The Church is very big, and Vicki Kennedy and Bishop McManus are very small. (And as Father Komonchak occasionally asks, "What do you mean by 'the Church'?")

The size of the Church is as big as the next person you meet. Vicki's husband was famous with elevator boys in the Senate because they knew him to be the friendliest, kindest man in the whole building. The little school kids he often used to go and read with knew him to be the same. As Ann pointed out above, Vicki helped him rise to that from extraordinary earlier difficulties and deserves a share of the credit. .

It appears that Bishop McManus has elaborated at some length about his decision to encourage the college to disinvite Vicki Kennedy, citing Ex Corde Ecclesia and Catholics in Political Life as the underpinnings for his thought process:http://www.catholicfreepress.org/featured-article-1/2012/04/04/bishops-f...

Oops. I wasn't aware that Grant had already added the Catholic Free Press link as an update.

What bewilders me (sort of) is that this kind of thing doesn't happen more often. If I ran the Catholic Church, I would certainly have a policy more in line with tolerance and freedom of thought that didn't bar speakers who disagreed with Church teachings, but I don't run the Church. Bishop McManus really just seems to have followed Church policy. The fact that so many other bishops apparently don't choose to follow such policies is a testament to their wisdom (in my humble opinion), but it seems to me the problem is the official policy, not Bishop McManus. I am not quite sure what the point is of hanging on to a policy that the vast majority doesn't act on. I can imagine Vicki Kennedy's feelings were hurt, but far from being martyred, she is no doubt more of a hero to left-leaning Catholics than she would otherwise have been. I identify with left-leaning Catholics, but the American Catholic Church (that is, the hierarchy) isn't left-leaning. Normally I would be instantly sympathetic to someone in Vicki Kennedy's position, but this time I find myself irritated (and have officially been pronounced irritating) that people seem so wounded by what, according to Church policy, amazingly doesn't happen all the time. The Catholic Church is, in a number of ways, very oppressive, and I wish that Mrs. Kennedy's "sad day for the Church" was among the worst, rather than among the most trivial.Does anyone think if Bishop McManus had met with Vicki Kennedy or talked to her pastor, the bishop would have changed his mind? If she was willing to disavow her past support for abortion rights and same-sex marriage in her commencement address, I have no doubt Bishop McManus would have been thrilled to give her a forum. But does anyone suppose she would have done that?

By the way, thanks to Jeff Landry for his message of 04/04/2012 - 5:53 pm.

There's ample reason to expect that Vicki would have been considerate, wise, and skilled enough to share some fruits of her ample experience in ways that might plant a few useful thoughts in the graduates without seizing the opportunity to campaign. It's probably harder to include abortion and same-sex marriage in a commencement-type speech than to leave it out. Then, the bishop could take his 15 minutes to hammer home unforgettably the lifetime consequences for the students of having spent all that time and energy in a _Catholic_ college. A great day for those involved and few others in the world would ever know about it.

I must say David you appear to be conflicted or confused about this. Nothing you or Jeff Landry says disproves the fact that Grant and others recognize the right of the bishops to take a position while Catholics have the right to dissent the way Paul did with Peter and Augustine did with Jerome. In fact the official church has differed with Augustine on major issues despite its admiration for his rhetoric.

Maybe the bishop's concern was in a different area: (Note who are in the picture) "Statement from Victoria Reggie Kennedy on the 2nd Anniversary of Health Care Reform" http://emkinstitute.org/updates/entry/anniversary-of-healthcare-signing

David N. --Nobody has said the bishop had not right to have her barred from speaking. But I do not think he had a right to treat her as he did. That is my concern. Given that the incident has become widely known, even appearing in some of the secular press, I don't think you can say this is a little matter. What Bishop McManus has done is at best embarrased the Church at large by ignoring an apparently sincere woman who wasn't going to Immaculata to talk about abortion and gar rights. Had that been her topic, it would have been quite different.Whata\ the bishop shows, and many other bishops showed in the matter of Obama's honorary degree from Notre Dame, is that the official American Church cannot bear to honor people for their virtues when they disagree with the Church about some important matters. This is no way to live in a pluralistic society. If you have a neighbor who is otherwise a just and generous man but he believes in abortion, will you not try to be civil to him in an effort to maintain communication with him? Do you think that without respectful communication you will ever change anyone's mind about anythin? I say that if we cannot honor the virtues of sincere but in some ways misguided people, then this country is doomed to this miserably divided culture we are suffering from now.

P. S. Benedict's new initiative, the Courts of the Gentiles, is apparently an effort to engage non-Catholic thinkers who disagree with the Church about many things but who seem to be seekers after truth. Benedict is showing real leadership and a Christian attitude towards those who think we are wrong. That is the way to engage them in real dialogue. Would that the American bishops had as much sense. You don't have to agree with someone to respect them.

Nobody has said the bishop had not right to have her barred from speaking. But I do not think he had a right to treat her as he did.Ann,So much attention has been focussed (particularly by Grant) on my statement that "a bishop has a right to discourage a Catholic school from" having as a commencement speaker someone who publicly endorsed political positions that contradict the teachings of the Church. Your statement illuminates the meaning of the word right in cases like this. If I understand Grant correctly, he interpreted my statement as implying that he and others were denying that a bishop had the authority to do what Bishop McManus did. Of course, I didn't mean that at all, just as when you say you do not think the bishop had the "right" to treat Vicki Kennedy as he did, you aren't using the word right in the sense of a human right or a civil right or a right of a bishop under canon law. It seems clear to me that many people (including Grant) feel the bishop had no right to do what he did in the same sense you are saying he had no right to treat Vicki Kennedy rudely. It's not really a matter of "rights." It's a matter of what people here feel bishops ought and ought not to do. It may be a bit hyperbolic to put it this way, but bishops have something like absolute authority in their dioceses, because they are answerable only to the pope. Also, as American citizens, they have freedom of speech, and so speaking of rights in the legal and civil sense, they have a right to be rude if they want to be. We're not really talking about rights here. We're talking about our own approval and disapproval.Whata\ the bishop shows, and many other bishops showed in the matter of Obamas honorary degree from Notre Dame, is that the official American Church cannot bear to honor people for their virtues when they disagree with the Church about some important matters.But this is not a matter of pig-headedness on the part of some bishops. It is policy as laid out in USCCB documents. And to play devil's advocate for a moment, why should a Catholic school that is trying to inculcate Catholic values honor people who disagree with the Church on important matters? Is there really a shortage of Catholics capable of giving commencement speeches who don't agree with the Church on important matters? It is an essential feature of Catholicism, embraced by "conservative" Catholics but apparently not by "liberal" Catholics, that Catholicism beyond doubt knows the Truth. When you know you can't possibly be wrong, why should you "agree to disagree" on important matters with people who dissent? It is not that they have another opinion. It's that they are flat-out wrong.

"When you know you can't possibly be wrong," I know to stay the hell away from you.

Hi, David: Yesterday you asked, What do you mean by the Church? (I think the person you quoted as asking the question was looking for something about how we are ALL the Church.)Today you say, It is an essential feature of Catholicism, embraced by conservative Catholics but apparently not by liberal Catholics, that Catholicism beyond doubt knows the Truth. (If we all are the Church, then the Truth comes from all of us, not just from the ordained, the male, the Republican.)But the bishop made it very clear what he means by "the Church". See the update to the opening post. My concern basically was that to give this type of honor to Mrs. Kennedy would in fact undercut the Catholic identity and mission of the school. And that in so far as that that happens, the communio or the unity that exists between the local church and the local Catholic college is strained and hurt, he said. (He sees himself as "the local church", separate from "the local Catholic college".)You are particularly annoyed at Vicki for saying the insult to her was a sad day for the Church. Is she part of the Church? Is an insult to one non-ordained person, a woman, and a Democrat, not an insult to all? Those of us who went through decades of Catholic education without ever once hearing the word "abortion" and without ever once being told our "political" associations made us unworthy to speak at Catholic colleges or to receive honorary degrees now are degraded along with Vicki. Is it time to rethink donations to alumnae funds?

When you know you cant possibly be wrong, I know to stay the hell away from you.Abe,I agree with the sentiment, but the possession of the Truth is a bedrock principle of Catholicism. The Church teaches infallibly. Of course, it is not an infallible teaching that a public figure who has spoken in favor of abortion rights and gay marriage may not be given an honorary degree from a Catholic college. But still, Bishop McManus could certainly claim that Church teaching about abortion and gay marriage is true beyond question, and he could make a good case that people who advocate public policies that ignore or contradict certain truth should not be honored by Catholic colleges.

David Nickol: You wrote, "Why should she expect a Catholic bishop to welcome her with open arms?" Who suggested anything of the sort? I realize that you've found a subject that dovetails nicely with your critique of the Catholic Church, but it's not the only religion (or voluntary association of people) that believes it holds the truth. And it seems you're confused about the infallibility doctrine.

If we all are the Church, then the Truth comes from all of us, not just from the ordained, the male, the Republican.Gerelyn,I am not an expert on ecclesiology (or whatever the are is in which the answer to this question is to be found), but it seems to me that if "we are all the Church" is a true statement, it applies to Catholics collectively and not individually. Truth, in the Catholic Church, comes from (or is validated by) the Extraordinary Magisterium (the pope) and the ordinary Magisterium: "'By divine institution it is the exclusive task of these pastors alone, the Successors of Peter and the other Apostles, to teach the faithful authentically, that is with the authority of Christ shared in different ways; so that the faithful, who may not simply listen to them as experts in Catholic doctrine, must accept their teaching given in Christ's name, with an assent that is proportionate to the authority that they possess and that they mean to exercise." Vicki Kennedy is not part of the Magisterium, and when she speaks in contradiction to the Magisterium, she does not cease to be a Catholic, but she does not speak as a Catholic and she does not speak for the Catholic Church. She speaks against her own Church.

David Nickol -- I appreciate your efforts defending the Church against its many detractors.

It seems to me that there is an awful lot of rhetorical parsing and posturing here. The Bishop had every right to pressure the College to not invite, Vicki Kennedy. But in doing so, and the College succumbing to the pressure, he/they are certainly subject to criticism for their judgement. In this case, the Bishop had the right, but there are plenty of reasons why he exercised bad judgement in exercising it.

Our computer was down for a few days but I see the usual divisive arguments continue.jbruns is right -as we see so many times, having the right to do simething doesn't make it right of itself and certainly open to criticism.A couple of other points;If this is a "teaching moment", the problem is (as in multiple cases) how our bishops understand themselves as teachers.it strikes met that they think they are the handers on of the syllabus to little kids and not as exchanging the text of the moment with inquiring , learning and debating adults.-It sems to me that the current case (despite Jeff) will be perceived as more of the GOP tied Bishops in the US.There is a clear problem with the Bishops being seen as too political.We need t odiscuss Ms. Gates on universal access to birth control because many lives wil be saved and how the Cardinal Abp. of New York or the folks in Congress on the right deal with that.I though Ken"s brief remark here was crude and judgemental - which, I guess, exemplifies the divivenes that goes o nand on here.BTW I think "Commonweal Carholics" is way too facile a label.

"But this is not a matter of pig-headedness on the part of some bishops. It is policy as laid out in USCCB documents."David N. =Then the policy is pig=headedness enshrined. The policy is an ass (to mix metaphors, but you get the drift.) What you are implying is that law, simply by being law, has value. Not so.You also say, astonishingly considering that it is coming from you, "It is an essential feature of Catholicism, embraced by conservative Catholics but apparently not by liberal Catholics, that Catholicism beyond doubt knows the Truth. When you know you cant possibly be wrong, why should you agree to disagree on important matters with people who dissent? It is not that they have another opinion. Its that they are flat-out wrong."You have lumped many truths into "the Truth". Catholic beliefs are NOT all known beyond a doubt that is what makes them matters of faith. (How can you dispose of the notion of faith and still call yourself a Catholic????) The notion that I can't possibly be wrong is the height or, rather, the depths of pride and arrogance.Yes, this is the dividing line between super=conservatives and liberals -- super-conservatives have at best an extraordinarlity childish notion of their own wisdom. And that some of these super=conservativres are American bishops is the main problem with the American Church.

David Nickol: You wrote, Why should she expect a Catholic bishop to welcome her with open arms? Who suggested anything of the sort?Grant Gallicho,Yes, I did write that. I wrote it on Tuesday, and this is Friday, and apparently you are still annoyed!It appears to be your premise that if I say a bishop has a right to do something, I must be implying that someone said he didn't. Or if I ask, "Why should she expect a Catholic bishop to welcome her with open arms? it implies that somebody here suggested she did. In Cathy Kaveny's thread, you responded to a message of mine by saying, "Religious freedom is not absolute." Could I not argue that was annoyingly off topic, since neither I nor anyone else in the thread claimed that religious freedom was absolute? I just don't accept your premise that if someone makes a statement in a comment, he or she must be implying someone else in the discussion has claimed the opposite. I realize that youve found a subject that dovetails nicely with your critique of the Catholic Church, but its not the only religion (or voluntary association of people) that believes it holds the truth. And it seems youre confused about the infallibility doctrine.I am not an expert in world religions, but it does seem to me the Catholic Church's claim to have a body of infallible truth, to have an infallible leader (the pope), and to have an infallible Magisterium is very unlike the claims of other religions, even though other groups do claim in their own ways to have the truth. I also think that this aspect of the Catholic Church is something Catholics cherish and feel no need to be defensive about. I think I am pretty knowledgeable about claims of infallibility, the hierarchy of truths, development of doctrine, and related issues, but if you see me misrepresenting anything along these lines, I am more than happy to be corrected. I do not agree with the Catholic Church on many issues, but when I discuss the Church, I always strive to be accurate about what the Church teaches.

You have lumped many truths into the Truth. Catholic beliefs are NOT all known beyond a doubt that is what makes them matters of faith. (How can you dispose of the notion of faith and still call yourself a Catholic????)Ann,This is getting very deep, but as I understand it, many matters of faith in the Church are nevertheless considered to be matters of certain knowledge. The pope speaks infallibly on matters of "faith and morals." When he makes a pronouncement on a matter of faith, that pronouncement is taken to be infallibly true. Faith, in Catholicism, does not refer to things that are tentatively accepted as true but can't be known for sure. The Catechism says:

157 Faith is certain. It is more certain than all human knowledge because it is founded on the very word of God who cannot lie. To be sure, revealed truths can seem obscure to human reason and experience, but "the certainty that the divine light gives is greater than that which the light of natural reason gives." "Ten thousand difficulties do not make one doubt." [Italics in the original]

David and Ann:David states:"The pope speaks infallibly on matters of faith and morals. When he makes a pronouncement on a matter of faith, that pronouncement is taken to be infallibly true" My understanding it that it is far more complicated that as stated. And the Church would do well to not rest too heavily on that doctrine, the equivalent of saying, "because I say so."We are reasoning people, and the strongest cases will always be made on the base of reason and logic, within the context of faith. Jesus said that we are to apply "our whole mind" to our love, and therefore our limited understanding, of God.

jbruns,Let me add that the conditions under which a pope is believed to make an infallible statement are so narrow that it is often said only two papal teachings (the Immaculate Conception, the Bodily Assumption of Mary) are definitely infallible. Nevertheless, those are taken to be certain, yet of course they are also matters of faith. Since the pope in infallible only in matters of faith and morals, the certainty that infallibility offers has to apply to matters of faith, not matters of fact. I would also note that some would argue that infallible truths like the Immaculate Conception and the Bodily Assumption of Mary, though infallibly true, are open to interpretation. So there is the problem of having infallible truths and yet still having disagreement over exactly what they mean.

David, Yes, well put.

"The pope speaks infallibly on matters of faith and morals. When he makes a pronouncement on a matter of faith, that pronouncement is taken to be infallibly true."David N. --No, this is too simple an account of the official Church's teaching on the infallibility o the popes. The popes speak infallibly only very, very, very rarely. The popes are held to be infallible only in very rare circumstances == he has to view the teachings of the Church through history, conclude that the doctrine in question has been held through history by all the Faithful, then he has to pronounce the doctrine *as being infallible*. That is, he ALSO has to say (or words to this effect) "I am speaking to you officially as pope to tell you that this doctring has been held ocontinuously by all/most Catholics throughout the history of the Church and what I am saying cannot be bistaken."JP II messed this teaching up pretty badly when he started to talk about "definitive doctrines". That's his own new doctrine, and it isn't clear exactly what he meant, except that the Church could not change it.

I might point out that Pius IX was the very first pope to articulate that "doctrine". So how can he claim that it was held continuously by all/most the popes throughout out history? So far as I can see, not even 2 of them said what he said, though maybe there were a few others.

Ann,I think you wrote your last message without seeing my message of 04/06/2012 - 3:54 pm.I would point out, though, that the truths of the Catholic Church that are held to be infallible are far more than those in the papal statements explicitly defined as infallible.

889 In order to preserve the Church in the purity of the faith handed on by the apostles, Christ who is the Truth willed to confer on her a share in his own infallibility. By a "supernatural sense of faith" the People of God, under the guidance of the Church's living Magisterium, "unfailingly adheres to this faith."890 The mission of the Magisterium is linked to the definitive nature of the covenant established by God with his people in Christ. It is this Magisterium's task to preserve God's people from deviations and defections and to guarantee them the objective possibility of professing the true faith without error. Thus, the pastoral duty of the Magisterium is aimed at seeing to it that the People of God abides in the truth that liberates. To fulfill this service, Christ endowed the Church's shepherds with the charism of infallibility in matters of faith and morals. The exercise of this charism takes several forms:891 "The Roman Pontiff, head of the college of bishops, enjoys this infallibility in virtue of his office, when, as supreme pastor and teacher of all the faithful - who confirms his brethren in the faith he proclaims by a definitive act a doctrine pertaining to faith or morals. . . . The infallibility promised to the Church is also present in the body of bishops when, together with Peter's successor, they exercise the supreme Magisterium," above all in an Ecumenical Council. When the Church through its supreme Magisterium proposes a doctrine "for belief as being divinely revealed," and as the teaching of Christ, the definitions "must be adhered to with the obedience of faith." This infallibility extends as far as the deposit of divine Revelation itself.892 Divine assistance is also given to the successors of the apostles, teaching in communion with the successor of Peter, and, in a particular way, to the bishop of Rome, pastor of the whole Church, when, without arriving at an infallible definition and without pronouncing in a "definitive manner," they propose in the exercise of the ordinary Magisterium a teaching that leads to better understanding of Revelation in matters of faith and morals. To this ordinary teaching the faithful "are to adhere to it with religious assent" which, though distinct from the assent of faith, is nonetheless an extension of it.

And of course assent is required for even non-infallible teachings. "[T]he faithful are to give the papal encyclicals their interior assent and external respect as statements of the Vicar of Christ."

I might point out that Pius IX was the very first pope to articulate that doctrine.Ann,Do you mean the Immaculate Conception? It is not a doctrine, but a dogma, an infallibly declared truth that all Catholics must accept. Note the second paragraph.

"We declare, pronounce, and define that the doctrine which holds that the most Blessed Virgin Mary, in the first instance of her conception, by a singular grace and privilege granted by Almighty God, in view of the merits of Jesus Christ, the Savior of the human race, was preserved free from all stain of original sin, is a doctrine revealed by God and therefore to be believed firmly and constantly by all the faithful."Hence, if anyone shall dare -- which God forbid! -- to think otherwise than as has been defined by us, let him know and understand that he is condemned by his own judgment; that he has suffered shipwreck in the faith; that he has separated from the unity of the Church; and that, furthermore, by his own action he incurs the penalties established by law if he should are to express in words or writing or by any other outward means the errors he think in his heart.

Thank you, David, but we were just talking about the popes, weren't we? As to those paragraphs from the Catechism, they are quite incoherent in spots. This whole infallibility questions is another teaching that needs reviewing. Not for no reason was the articulation of it by Vatican I and Pius IX highly controversial when it first appeared. If ANYTHING discourages people from becoming Catholic, that is it. Which, of course, is not of itself any reason to change the teaching. But there are reasons other than the difficulty of seeing how it could possibly be true.

David --No, I didn't mean the Immaculate Conception. I meant the dogma of infallibility itself. The official Church claims that it is itself and infallible doctrine, defined as going back universally into Church history. Yet Piux IX and Vat I were the first pope and Council to define the concept. Makes no sense.

Ann,The dogma of infallibility was defined by the First Vatican Council. Pronouncements by Church councils are infallible. Disbelieving in the infallibility of the pope is not an option for Catholics.

David --We've obviously read some different accounts of the Councils and the sort of certitude they claim.

David --It is one thing to say that the Holy Spirit teaches what is infallibly true. It is another to say that the same thing about popes and bishops. They are not God.

David Nickol, what are you doing? Is this an impersonation of a rigid conservative? Are you playing with us?

Claire,Do you honestly think that the infallibility of the pope, the the infallibility of Church councils, and the concept of dogma and certain truth is only for "rigid conservatives"?

"It is one thing to say that the Holy Spirit teaches what is infallibly true."But Ann, how does that statement have any meaning if we don't also believe that the teaching of the successors of Saint Peter isn't, given specific circumstances, inspired by the Holy Spirit?

This whole infallibility questions is another teaching that needs reviewing.I agree. When Paul VI writes Humanae Vitae - infallibly, according to 892 -, and when the people of God reject it - infallibly, according to 889 -, we have a contradiction and it is time to revisit that notion. David, one problem with the texts you cite is that, interpreted broadly, they contradict common sense. "Infallible" means "that cannot be wrong", but bishops, popes, and the people of God, are all human. They have made, are making, and will make plenty of mistakes, including in matters of faith and morals. The best we can hope for is that they try to discern the truth and are to some extent helped by the Holy Spirit. As to that bishop pressuring the College to disinvite Vicki Kennedy, I'm not sure he's doing his "pastoral duty" as described in 890. It doesn't seem to me to be a very effective way to be a shepherd. As to Vicky Kennedy saying that it's "an even sadder day for the Church", I presume that she is talking, not just about the dis-invitation, but about the trends of the past few years, which are intruding into her life via this incident.

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