Who can we trust?

I wrote these series of articles (see menu sidebar to the left) as a Catholic for Catholics, but I no longer accept Catholic teaching as the authoritative source of truth.I have not attempted to align these articles with my current views.

The word "magisterium" simply means teaching authority.The Catholic Church identifies two kinds (Vatican I):

  1. solemn magisterium
  2. ordinary / universal magisterium

Infallible Teaching

By "authority" we should mean infallibility;what good is it to teach or believe error? However, the Catholic Church also claims for itself the ordinary magisterium,meaning they can teach fallible teachings which Catholics are to believe and obey as if they were infallible.

The entire Christian faith should be infallibly taught by the Catholic Church,yet it neglects to do this. However, it does infallibly teach the Immaculate Conception and the Assumption of Mary. This indicates to me that the Church's teaching about the Magisterium is confused and untrustworthy.

We should believe the Nicene creed with a greater assent of faith than for the Marian doctrines. Yet the teaching regarding the Magisterium of the Church reverses this emphasis. Instead, it claims that we are to believe the Nicene creed via the ordinary magisterium (which might have errors)but to believe the Marian doctrines with the sacred magisterium (meaning these are infallible).


Solemn Magisterium

Infallible teachings of the Church. But it is defined so narrowly that there is little in this category. Yet the whole of the Christian faith should be considered infallible.

The Catholic Church seems unwilling to command us to accept the entire Christian faith as infallible but allows for the possibility for error. The problem is we don't know which parts are in error and which are true.

I think the difficulty lies with the way doctrines are defined. The assumption seems to be that the words and phrases used are what is infallible. Instead, we should look to the realitiesbehind the words and phrases as that which is true; we should look to the word of God.


Ordinary Magisterium

What good are teachings which are not known to be true? Yet the Catholic Church has the notion of teachings which the faithful must follow and believe even though these are not known to be true or infallible.

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. (Catechism of the Catholic Church, 892)

This is absurd! How can a teaching which is not true (or not known to be true) lead to a better understanding of the true faith?

This is no different than Protestants who invent novel interpretations of the Bible having no historical justification whatsoever. Just because a bishop or pope does this doesn't make it valid.

And why should anyone feel the slightest obligation to believe something which is not known to be true?