Tag Archives: Bishops

​Sphere of Infallibility

 

Since the time of Christ, from the first council of the Apostles in Jerusalem in the year 50, to the last Vatican Council in 1870, there have been held in all twenty-one general or ecumenical councils. The Vatican Council, shown above, declared the dogma of the infallibility of the Pope.

 

    When does the Church teach infallibly? –The Church teaches infallibly when it defines, through the Pope alone, as the teacher of all Christians, or through the Pope and the bishops, a doctrine of faith or morals to be held by all the faithful.The Church, as the representative or substitute of Jesus Christ on earth, is infallible, and speaks with His own words: “This is why I was born, and why I have come into the world, to bear witness to the truth” (John 18:37). 

  1. When the Church makes an infallible pronouncement, we are not to suppose that a new doctrine is being introduced. For instance, when the Holy Father in 1854 defined the Blessed Virgin’s Immaculate Conception as an article of faith, the infallible definition was not a proclamation of a new doctrine, but was merely an announcement of an article of faith true from the very beginning, and publicly defined only in order to make the dogma clear to all and to be believed as part of the deposit of faith left to the Church.Another example is the definition of the Holy Father’s infallibility, made in 1870 by the Vatican Council. The dogma was true from the very beginning, and had been universally held. But as in recent times many objections were being made against it, the Bishops in the Vatican Council thought it best, in order to make clear the stand of the Church, to make an infallible definition. 
  2. The Church makes infallible pronouncements on doctrines of faith and morals, on their interpretation, on the Bible and Tradition, and the interpretation of any part or parts of these. The dogma of the Inmaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin was an interpretation of a long-standing Tradition in the Church.The Church also pronounces on the truth or falsity of opinions, teachings, customs, etc., with relation to fundamental doctrines. Another subject on which the Church makes infallible declarations is in the canonization of Saints. All whom the Church has raised to the glory of the altar by a solemn canonization are undoubtedly now in heaven, enjoying eternal bliss in the presence of God.
    When does the Church teach infallibly through the Pope alone? –The Church teaches infallibly through the Pope alone, when he speaks officially (ex cathedra) as the Supreme Head, for the entire universal Church.As the Pope has authority over the Church, he could not err in his official teaching without leading the Church into error. As Our Lord said to Peter, the first Pope: “I have prayed for thee, that thy faith may not fail; and do thou, when once thou hast turned again, strengthen thy brethren” (Luke 22:31-32).In order to speak infallibly, the Pope must speak ex-cathedra, or officially, under the following conditions: 

  1. He must pronounce himself on a subject of faith or morals. Infallibility is restricted to questions regarding faith and morals. The Church pronounces on natural sciences and on legislation only when the perversity of men makes of them instruments for opposing revealed truths.If the Pope should make judgments on mathematics or civil governments, he is as liable to error as any other man with the same experience. Letters to kings and other rulers are not infallible pronouncements. However, we should hold the Pope’s opinions on any subject with great respect, on account of his position and experience. 
  2. He must speak as the Vicar of Christ, in his office as Pope, and to the whole Church, to all the faithful throughout the world. In his capacity as private teacher, for example, in his encyclical letters, he is as any other teacher of the Church.Should the Pope, like Benedict XIV, write a treatise on Canon Law, his book would be written in a private capacity, and liable to error, just as the books of other theologians. We accept, not on faith, but in obedience to his authority, out of respect for his experience and wisdom. 
  3. He must make clear by certain words his intention to speak ex-cathedra. These words are most often used: “We proclaim,” “we define,” etc.The Pope’s infallible decrees are termed “doctrinal,” since they involve doctrine. From the earliest days of the Church, the infallibility of the Pope has been acknowledged. In the year 417 the Holy See condemned the Pelagian errors; St. Augustine cried out the famous words, “Rome has spoken; the cause is ended!” The Council of Florence in 1439 called the Pope “the Father and Teacher of Christians.”
    When does the Church teach infallibly through the Pope and the bishops? –The Church teaches infallibly through the Pope and the bishops when convened in a general (or ecumenical) council. [when they INTEND to teach infallibly(RMO)] 

  1. A General Council is an assembly convened by the Holy See, of all the bishops of the world, and others entitled to vote. It represents the teaching body of the Church, and must be infallible.In the year 50 the Apostles held the first General Council in Jerusalem. Its decisions were proclaimed as coming from God, the final decree beginning with these words: “For the Holy Spirit and we have decided to lay no further burden upon you” (Acts 15:28) 
  2. Over a General Council, the Pope or his legate presides; a representative number of bishops and others entitled to vote, such as cardinals, abbots, and generals of certain religious orders, must be present. Upon confirmation by the Pope, a General Council’s decrees are binding on all Christians.It must be understood that the decrees of a General Council have no binding authority until confirmed by the Pope. There is no appeal from the Pope to a General Council. 
  3. A unanimous vote is not necessary for an infallible decision of a general council; a great majority is sufficient.The most notable of the General Councils so far held following the Council of Jerusalem have been: (1) the Council of Nicea, in the year 325, which pronounced against the heresy of Arius; (2) the Council of Ephesus, in the year 425, which declared Mary the Mother of God; (3) the Council of Nicea. in 787, which declared the veneration of images as lawful and profitable; (4) the Council of Trent, 1545-1563, which declared against the heresies of Luther; (5) the Council of the Vatican, 1870, which defined as an article of faith the doctrine of the infallibility of the Pope. 
  4. Even when the bishops are not gathercd together in one place, they form the teaching body of the Church, united with the Pope. Therefore their voice must be infallible, otherwise the universal Church would be led into error. For the same reason as above, the daily ordinary uniform teaching of the Church in every place in the whole World is infallibly true.“Go into the whole world and preach the gospel to every creature” (Mark 16:15).

This article has been taken from “My Catholic Faith” I am not the author merely the distributor.God Bless BJS!!

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​The Roman Curia

    What is the Roman Curia? –It is the organization of various bodies to which the Pope has delegated the exercise of his jurisdiction.

    Almost all the heads of the bodies in the Roman Curia are cardinals.

    The Roman Curia is the papal court; it is the core of the government of the Church. The Holy Father possesses complete and absolute power over the government of the Church; but it is not possible for him to exercise his authority personally and directly over every detail in the worldwide Church. A great deal of the jurisdiction has therefore been delegated to the Roman Curia, which should  consist of:

     

  1. Twelve Congregations, namely: Of the Holy Office, of the Consistory, for the Oriental Church, of the Sacraments, of the Council, of Religious, for the Propagation of the Faith, of Sacred Rites, of Ceremonies, of Extraordinary Ecclesiastical Affairs, of Seminaries and Universities, and of the Basilica of St. Peter.

     

  2. Three Tribunals, namely: Sacred Penitentiary, Sacred Roman Rota, and Apostolic Signature.

     

  3. Five Offices, namely: Apostolic Chancery, Apostolic Datary, Apostolic Camera, Secretarfate of State, and Secretariate of Briefs to Princes and Latin Letters.

    What in general are the duties of the twelve Congregations of the Roman Curia? –Their duties are summarized below:

     

  1. The Congregation of the Holy Office guards Catholic doctrine in faith and morals, protects sacramental dogma, acts on heresy and heretics, decides matters related to the condemnation of books, the doctrine of indulgences, new prayers and devotions.

    Unlike all other Congregations, it has judicial, as well as administrative powers. The importance of this sacred congregation is shown by the fact that the Holy Father Himself is its Prefect, acting with a Cardinal-Secretary. This, the Consistorial Congregation, and that for the Oriental Church are the only administrative Departments thus personally headed by the Pope himself. All other congregations have cardinal-prefects, and the tribunals and offices have cardinal or other prelates at their head.

     

  2. The Consistorial Congregation prepares subjects of discussion at the papal consistories, where the College of Cardinals with the Pope deliberate on important matters. It judges the competency of all the Congregations with the exception of that of the Holy Office.

    It is this Congregation through which the Pope nominates bishops and other high officials, after inquiring into their qualifications; it forms new dioceses, provinces, etc. that are not under the Propagation of the Faith or of the Congregation for the Oriental Church, and looks after their preservation.

     

  3. The Congregation for the Oriental Church takes care of all matters related to the Eastern Church.

     

  4. The Congregation of the Sacraments looks after the external regulations of the seven sacraments, ordains decrees and grants dispensations; it has charge of matters related to the validity of Orders or Matrimony.

     

  5. The Congregation of the Council has supervision over secular clergy and laymen, including parish priests, religious associations (even those under religious) , taxes, etc.; it has charge of episcopal conferences. It deals with matters related to the observence of the laws of the Church.

     

  6. The Congregation of Religious has authority over matters related to all religious, including lay members of Third Orders; it takes up their government, discipline, and privileges, and supervises their property and studies.

     

  7. The Congregation for the Propagation of the Faith has charge of all matters related to the missions; missionary societies and seminaries are under its jurisdiction.

     

  8. The Congregation of Sacred Rites acts upon matters pertaining to rites and ceremonies; it considers the beatification and canonization of departed holy souls; it bestows insignia and marks of honor.

     

  9. The Congregation of Ceremonies has control of ceremonies in the papal chapel and court, and of functions performed by cardinals outside of the papal chapel; it judges matters of precedence of cardinals and legates.

     

  10. The Congregation of Extraordinary Ecclesiastical Affairs has charge of matters related to civil laws and governments; its prefect is the Cardinal Secretary of State. Whenever a settlement is necessary in conjunction with civil authority, this Congregation has charge of the formation and division of dioceses, the appointment of bishops and other prelates, etc.

     

  11. The Congregation of Seminaries and Universities supervises seminaries and universities, even those under religious orders, inquiring not only into government, but also into curricula; it establishes standards and confers academic degrees.

     

  12. The Congregation of the Basilica of St. Peter looks after the upkeep of that Basilica.

    What is the jurisdiction of each of the three Tribunals of the Curia? –The Jurisdiction of each of the three Tribunals of the Curia may be summarized thus:

     

  1. The Sacred Penitentiary judges all cases involving conscience, whether sacramental or not, and all cases concerning the granting and use of indulgences, outside of the rights of the Holy Office on the subject of dogmatic doctrine.

     

  2. The Sacred Roman Rota has charge of matters involving judicial procedure, outside of the rights of the Holy Office and the Congregation of Sacred Rites.

     

  3. The Apostolic Signature is the supreme court of the Roman Curia. It has charge of all appeals, and settles all cases regarding jurisdiction of inferior tribunals.

    Summarize briefly the duties of the five Offices of the Roman Curia. –This is a brief summary:

     

  1. The Apostolic Chancery sends out Apostolic Letters and Bulls on matters of major importance.

     

  2. The Apostolic Datary takes care of the appointment of candidates to benefices, and their due taxation.

     

  3. The Apostolic Camera has charge over all temporal goods and rights of the Holy See, especially when the See is vacant. It corresponds to the Treasury of the Church. Its head, the camerlengo assumes the regency upon the death of a Pope, and makes arrangements for the election.

     

  4. The Secretariate of State prepares matters for the consideration of the Congregation of Extraordinary Ecclesiastical Affairs. The Cardinal-Secretary of State may be said to be the Prime Minister of the Pope.

     

  5. The Secretariate of Briefs to Princes and Latin Letters transcribes into Latin all acts of the Pope that he endorses to it.

     


    The Papal Elections


     

    When the Dean of the College of Cardinals publicly announces the death of the Pope, all the cardinals throughout the world are convoked to a solemn conclave, for the election of a new Supreme Pontiff. The conclave is held within fifteen to eighteen days after the death of the Holy Father.If all the cardinals are present on the fifteenth day after the death of the Pope, then the conclave begins. If not all the cardinals are present, the conclave is postponed until the eighteenth day. Then the cardinals, after celebrating Holy Mass, gather in the Sistine Chapel, for the elections. And until they have made a choice, they remain in seclusion within a part of the Vatican, reserved for them.Any male Catholic of whatever country or race, even a layman, may be elected Pope. Should a layman be chosen, he would have to be ordained priest and consecrated bishop, before he may assume the duties of his office. To be validly the Supreme Pontiff, the elected one is required to accept the office. The Pope is elected for life; however, if he wishes, he may resign, and a new Pope would then be elected.

    The voting by the cardinals is done on specially-printed ballots. A two-thirds majority plus one is required to elect. Two ballots are taken every morning and evening until a selection is made. As long as no choice is made, the ballots are burned with damp straw; the heavy black smoke coming out from the chimney is a sign to the public usually assembled in the plaza outside that no decision has been reached. But when a candidate receives a two-thirds majority plus one, then he is elected, and the ballots are burned without the damp straw. Light smoke issuing from the chimney notifies the eager public that they have a new Holy Father.

     

    This article has been taken from “My Catholic Faith” I am not the author merely the distributor.God Bless BJS!!