Monday, December 21, 2009

Lay Roman Catholic and Eastern Orthodox Apologists - Care to Explain?

If you are a lay Roman Catholic or Eastern Orthodox apologist, perhaps you'd care to explain why the following are not relevant to you:

Pope Alexander IV (1254-1261) in “Sextus Decretalium”, Lib. V, c. ii:
We furthermore forbid any lay person to engage in dispute, either private or public, concerning the Catholic Faith. Whosoever shall act contrary to this decree, let him be bound in the fetters of excommunication.
(Source)(courtesy of blogger Coram Deo)

Quinisext Ecumenical Council, Canon 64:
That a layman must not publicly make a speech or teach, thus investing himself with the dignity of a teacher, but, instead, must submit to the ordinance handed down by the Lord, and to open his ear wide to them who have received the grace of teaching ability, and to be taught by them the divine facts thoroughly. For in the one Church God created different members, according to the utterance of the Apostle, in interpreting which St. Gregory the Theologian clearly presents the right procedure in these matters by saying:[198] “Let us have respect for this procedure, brethren, and let us observe it. First, let one man be a listener, as the hearing recipient; another, the tongue; another, a hand; another, something else; let one man teach, and let another man learn; and after short periods, as touching one who learns in a state of obedience, and one who leads the chorus in hilarity, and one who renders service in cheerfulness and willingness, let us not all be a tongue, heeding the most apt saying: “Let us not all be Apostles; let us not all be Prophets; let us not all be Interpreters” (1 Cor. 12:29), and after somewhat: “Why are you making out that you are a shepherd, when you are a sheep? Why are you becoming a head, when you happen to be a foot? Why are you attempting to be a general, when you are placed in the ranks of (ordinary) soldiers? And from another quarter Wisdom bids: “Be not hasty in words; vie not with a rich man when thou art indigent” (Prov. 23:4); nor seek to be wiser than the wise. If anyone be caught disobeying the present Canon, let him be excommunicated for forty days.
(source)

Any responses from the lay Roman Catholic apologists/debaters who read this blog?

-TurretinFan

56 comments:

Matthew Bellisario said...

It appears to me that this falls under the area of canon law. Liber Sextus Decretalium, is a canonical collection according the source, and appears to fall into rules of law (regulce juris). Canon law has changed a few times since that was promulgated. I would imagine the law is not a part of the current canon law. That is my brief analysis of the subject. I could also be wrong. Maybe Paul Hoffer would have more to offer. Perhaps he might stop by.

Turretinfan said...

That tends to be one of the prevailing answers, namely that the current code of canon law supersedes all previous canon law, and that consequently its simply a matter of there being laxer canon laws now.

I'm not familiar with anyone who has traced a path to show how this particular decree was joined into a body of canon law that was subsequently superceded.

-TurretinFan

steve said...

Matthew Bellisario said...

"It appears to me that this falls under the area of canon law. Liber Sextus Decretalium, is a canonical collection according the source, and appears to fall into rules of law (regulce juris). Canon law has changed a few times since that was promulgated. I would imagine the law is not a part of the current canon law."

How disappointing! I was hoping that Mother Church spoke with one voice. But apparently she's given us a blueprint for anarchy. I'm very disillusioned!

Alex said...

Steve,

How in the world could you come to that conclusion?

The Church placed a restriction on certain interactions based upon a prudential decision which bound the faithful to adhere to that decision with Canonical sanctions. Now this restriction has been lifted (or no longer enforced) based upon the Church's prudential judgment. So what's the problem with that? Laws can be circumstantially conditioned. Have you done a thorough educated analysis of the law? Not likely. The only conclusion I can come up with regarding your commentary is that you saw an avenue to take a pop-shot through and decided that now was better than never. I’m actually embarrassed for you.

Alex said...

Turretinfan,

It might be a matter of laxer Canon laws, or it could be an issue of relevance. In my opinion, some laws have become lax, such as the non-enforcement of women head coverings, but I don't see that connection in this case.

Coram Deo said...

According to the source the decree was still in effect as late as 1902:

That this legislation is still in force appears from the letter addressed to the bishops of Italy by Cardinal Rampolla in the name of the Cong. for Ecclesiastical Affairs (January 27, 1902) in which it is declared that discussions with Socialists are subject to the decrees of the Holy See regarding public disputes with heretics; and, in accordance with the decree of Propaganda, February 7, 1645, such public disputations are not to be permitted unless there is hope of producing greater good and unless the conditions prescribed by theologians are fulfilled. The Holy See, it is added, considering that these discussions often produce no result at all or even result in harm, has frequently forbidden them and ordered ecclesiastical superiors to prevent them; where this cannot be done, care must be taken that the discussions are not held without the authorization of the Apostolic See; and that only those who are well qualified to secure the triumph of Christian truth shall take part therin. It is evident, then, that no Catholic priest is ever permitted to become the aggressor or to issue a challenge to such a debate. If he receives from the other party to the controversy a public challenge under circumstances which make a non-acceptance appear morally impossible, he must refer the case to his canonical superiors and be guided by their counsel. We thus reconcil two apparently contradictory utterances of the Apostles: for according to St. Peter (I Pet., iii, 15) you should be "ready always to satisfy every one that asketh you a reason of that hope which is in you", while St. Paul admonishes Timothy (II Tim., ii, 14), "Contend not in words, for it is to no profit, but to the subverting of the hearers".

I join TF in requesting evidence to show how and when this decree was superceded.

Otherwise it is manifest that lay Romanist apologists must immediately cease their unapproved activities, or else be summarily excommunicated in accordance with this decree.

In Christ,
CD

John said...

The Quinisext council is speaking about in the context of the church, not in the world. As it says in the Rudder:

"The present Canon prohibits any layman from teaching openly and in church as a teacher; instead he should rather himself be taught by those who have received the gracious gift of teaching."

Turretinfan said...

Alex:

If prohibition on laymen teaching is merely prudential and disciplinary, and the same goes for women's head coverings during prayer, why could not the same be said of women teaching and/or serving as bishops (or at least as priests)?

John:

The Rudder may say that, but the council doesn't, does it?

-TurretinFan

Turretinfan said...

On the idea of previous laws being superseded, see this post: link, as well as these further two posts (one)(two) and the comments in the comment boxes there.

Notice that the first link above provides the key language that someone following MB's line of reasoning would likely point to: "When this Code goes into effect, the following are abrogated: 1º the Code of Canon Law promulgated in 1917 . . . 3º any universal or particular penal laws whatsoever issued by the Apostolic See, unless they are contained in this Code" (CJC [1983] 6 §1) The argument would have to be that the prohibition on lay RC debaters/apologists was either a universal or particular penal law.

-TurretinFan

Alex said...

Turretinfan,

Short answer is that women cannot receive orders as infallibly taught by the Church. There are a variety of arguments which indicate why this is so. However, because this is infallibly taught by the ordinary and universal magisterium of the Church, it would not fall under the same level of teaching.

Turretinfan said...

Women do receive orders, actually. (Shall I introduce to you the concept of nuns?)

Why is the prohibition on women teachers an infallible rule, where as the prohibition on lay teachers is a fallible/errant rule, arbitrary rule, or temporally-limited rule?

-TurretinFan

Turretinfan said...

To clarify the above, women can be in religious orders, which is (of course) not the same as them being ordained to the office of bishop, priest, or deacon. They can't (at present) be ordained to any of those.

-TurretinFan

natamllc said...

Just a digression with a bit of levity to boot.

When attending Catechism class at St. Bernards, the nun's ruled and gave orders and walked around with rods to wrap knuckles of the disobedient!

I suppose the force of the Pope was working in the halls of St. Bernards and in the classroom? :)

Anonymous said...

If you read the documents posted you will find the perfectly reasonable basis for these rules. In fact they are based on attempts to balance 1 Peter 3:15 and 2 Tim. 2:14. Lay Catholics are still prohibited from teaching in an official capacity i.e. in a church. We are also forbidden to engage in public discussion with heretics under circumstances that would cause the faithful to doubt.

Turretinfan said...

Elsewhere (See the comments elsewhere section) Mark Shea has responded. My response to Shea may be found here (link to my response).

Sherry W said...

Anonymous:

You wrote:
Lay Catholics are still prohibited from teaching in an official capacity i.e. in a church.

No, we are not.

I've spent the past 12 years teaching in official capacities in hundreds of churches all over the world including pontifical seminaries in Rome. I've taught clergy, seminarians, bishops, theologians, religious, and lay Catholics in the tens of thousands in 100 dioceses on 5 continents. I've taught in the most conservative dioceses in both the US (Lincoln) and Canada. And most of the time, I'm teaching in church buildings. Sometime I'm teaching in the sanctuary itself - although not during Mass.

And I'm hardly alone. Millions of lay Catholics are also teaching in official capacities in churches. Being a CCD teacher in a parish, a DRE, and adult ed teacher, a RCIA coordinator is official if it happens under the auspices of a Catholic parish and pastor.

In Latin America and parts of Africa, lay catechists literally hold entire Catholic communities together as a local parish may have 85,000 people scattered over hundreds of miles in very difficult terrain and may see a priest only a couple times a year. They teach and catechize, lead prayer services, distribute communion, etc. all in perfect obedience to their pastor and bishop.

That's why the Vatican counts and publicly announces the number of "catechists" under the heading of "pastoral workers" when it issues statistics about the life of the Church. Which is important since "catechists" make up 70% of the Church's pastoral workforce.

And of course, the number of non ordained saints who taught in churches is staggering.

You need to respect the distinctions that the Church makes.

Lay Catholics aren't priests. A lay person can't preach a homily at Mass. But there is only one pastoral office in the Church.

Some of us participate in it by right (bishops, priests) and some participate in it by delegation from a bishop or pastor (lay ecclesial staff and recognized leaders in the diocese or parish.)

Turretinfan said...

Yes, I didn't point out the folks who teach the Catechism, many of which are not only lay but female.

- TurretinFan

Anonymous said...

Sherry - the distinction is that you and Saint Catherine and Saint Francis and myriads of other lay people are not teaching in an official capacity This is what Alexander's rule means and it is not a big stretch to say that it is still in effect as long as we realize what he meant. Furthermore you are not, I expect, expounding new doctrines (i.e teachings) or presenting anything that the Church does not teach.

My point above is that one can investigate obscure papal edicts from the 13th century with the goal of learning what they mean or you can cherry pick these statements to mock the Church.

Turretinfan said...

Is pointing out that your church has departed from tradition a sincere effort to show you that you're being lied to, or just mockery? Think carefully before responding.

Robert said...

I am not a student of canon law, but I do know that the canons and decretals (legal letters) were not collected together in a universal set until 1298 by Raymond of Penyafort for Pope Gregory IX. That collection formed the basis for canonical disputes until the sixteenth century, when in 1582 the burgeoning collection of legal texts was again collected, edited, and reconciled.

In 1917, the first "Code of Canon Law" properly speaking, i.e., the first publication of an original work of legislation for the Church, was promulgated. It explicitly superceded the previous Corpus Iuris Canonici.

In 1984, a new Code of Canon Law was composed and promulgated, which again explicitly superceded all previous canons, including the 1917 Code.

Therefore, the poster who notes that these canons remained in effect in 1902 is (as far as I know) correct. But they were abrogated a mere fifteen years later.

Robert said...

I should clarify: by "original legislation" I mean "original composition of a complete set of legislation governing the entire life of the Church".

Anonymous said...

I see this:

"I join TF in requesting evidence to show how and when this decree was superceded.

Otherwise it is manifest that lay Romanist apologists must immediately cease their unapproved activities, or else be summarily excommunicated in accordance with this decree."

...and think how smart-aleck-y it comes off. Not being Catholic you don't really care when the rule was superseded. Nor would it matter to you, a non-Catholic who does not believe in nor follow Catholic canon law nor the Catholic Catechism, one whit that a Catholic would be excommunicated from their own church for not obeying decrees you care nothing about. It has no bearing on you at all. Your statement comes off as patronizing.

Turretinfan said...

Anonymous:

What is remarkable is how many Roman Catholics just assume that we are not actually interested in getting the answer. The reason, I guess, for that assumption is a recognition that part of our overall effort here is to show you that Rome has departed from the gospel of Christ and now proclaims a false gospel. Many Roman Catholics seem to let that color their perception of the question, and consequently don't even bother to engage the question.

Robert:

I understand that you are not a canon lawyer. Nevertheless, can you point us to the part of the 1917 code that you think indicates that it is designed to supersede Alex IV's decretal?

-TurretinFan

Anonymous said...

Why does the restriction apply only to Roman Catholic and Orthodox lay apologists? Is it because the Protestant church - conscious of its rootedlessness - does not recognize the authority of any ecclesiastical decision prior to the 16th c.? I thought the point of the Reformation was to throw off the yoke of the Renaissance Papacy, not the entire pre-Reformation Church.

Turretinfan said...

You misunderstood the Reformation. It was a return to the apostolic faith by a restored recognition of the supremacy of Scripture.

Most of our churches have adopted very specific equivalents of canon law, and none (that I know of) have adopted any papal decretals or ancient conciliar canons.

Furthermore, in these instances, we are free to admit that our spiritual forebearers were wrong to impose such restrictions. They could and did make errors both in matters of discipline as well as in matters of faith and moral which so frequently underlie matters of discipline.

-TurretinFan

Robert said...

My Latin is rusty enough that I'll need some time to study the 1917 code to find such a reference.

However, that the 1983-4 Code supercedes previous legislation is found in Canon 6. Here's a translation:

Can. 6 §1. When this Code takes force, the following are abrogated:

1/ the Code of Canon Law promulgated in 1917;

2/ other universal or particular laws contrary to the prescripts of this Code unless other provision is expressly made for particular laws;

3/ any universal or particular penal laws whatsoever issued by the Apostolic See unless they are contained in this Code;

4/ other universal disciplinary laws regarding matter which this Code completely reorders.

§2. Insofar as they repeat former law, the canons of this Code must be assessed also in accord with canonical tradition.

Robert said...

In other words, I'm not aware of any particular legislation that addresses Alexander IV's particular decretal; but insofar as a new law is promulgated, it supersedes any contrary previous legislation.

Nor does a change in law (in this sense) indicate a change in belief. The canons of the Church are explicitly disciplinary in scope; they depend on doctrine, and sometimes express doctrine, but they are not themselves doctrinal. All that a change in law indicates (in and of itself) is a change in practice.

Therefore, there is no doctrinal inconsistency between the decrees of various pre-1983 Popes and the decrees of the 1983-4 Code. There is a practical inconsistency, which is directly addressed insofar as the later Code supersedes the earlier.

The doctrinal question of whether laymen or women should ever speak under any circumstances in a church is another question altogether, about which the Catholic and Calvinist traditions may continue to argue. But the Catholic law, including the distinctions about different kinds of speech and "teaching" authority, is clear.

Alphonsus said...

Robert, if you continue posting, it might be good to move over to the combox here:
http://turretinfan.blogspot.com/2009/12/because-morality-changes-over-800-years.html

Anonymous said...

I haven't misunderstood the Reformation, just characterized it differently than you and in a non-partisan and not oversimplified way.

Your description of how the Reformed churches have not "adopted any papal decretals or ancient conciliar canons" (except the 5th c. biblical canon) illustrates my point regarding the ecclesial rootedlessness of Protestantism.

Granted they did "make errors both in matters of discipline as well as in matters of faith and moral[s]", but the sweeping negation of all pre-Reformation ecclesiastical decisions (as opposed to dogmatic definitions) illustrates, again, a massive historical discontinuity that ought to bother the Christian consciousness.

Turretinfan said...

Anonymous:

Rooted in Scripture, not human tradition. I think the Reformers would be happy to admit to such criticism.

Anonymous said...

That's too bad, and suprising, since the Church is not simply a product of "sound doctrine" (i.e., the right theory), but a real historical institution.

Given your concession, one has to challenge the appropriateness of using the word "reformed" to describe a movement so radically alienated from the concrete existence of the faith community that preceded it.

John said...

"The Rudder may say that, but the council doesn't, does it?"

The context of the words of the Council speak of the Church.

And the Church gets to interpret its own canons. If you have any evidence the orthodox church changed its interpretation at any point, or ever disagreed with what the Rudder says, lets hear it.

Turretinfan said...

John,

What part of the context? Try to be more specific.

And no, the canon does not have a nose of wax to be interpreted however future generations claiming to be "the Church" see fit.

-TurretinFan

Turretinfan said...

Anonymous:

You wrote: "Given your concession, one has to challenge the appropriateness of using the word "reformed" to describe a movement so radically alienated from the concrete existence of the faith community that preceded it. "

What would be a better word for a return to the apostolic faith than "Reformed"?

Anonymous said...

Perhaps you should use “renaissance” or “new-start Christianity” or anything that clearly differentiates between the institutional church of the 2nd and subsequent centuries with those of the Reformation. “Restoration” is a good one, but was adopted in the 19th c. by groups with whom you probably do not want to be identified.

“Reform” reminds one of the 15th and early 16th c. conciliar reform movements – within the Church – that reached a degree of resolution at Trent. “Catholic Reformation” is thus a more natural and historically intelligible expression.

Turretinfan said...

Anonymous,

So, setting aside for the moment the labels tangent, do you view the 1980's code of canon law as creating a radical break with the past to the point where using labels like "Catholic" to describe a group with such variant practices is really appropriate?

-TurretinFan

Lucian said...

It refers to disputes within the faith: we must seek the answers and advises of those who are our teachers and shephards:

1 Corinthians 12:27-30;
Ephesians 4:11-13.

But our duty as Christians to preach the Gospel to those outside the faith is a different thing.

Anonymous said...

Labels, like all words, ought to be used with utmost concern for true signification, but to answer your question frankly – I really don’t care about the code. I’m neither a canon lawyer nor a cleric. Church law (like dogma) is historically conditioned and so must change over time. The Roman Catholic Church has changed vividly (for good and for bad) over time (dogmatically and even more so institutionally) – especially in the period extending from the Pontificate of Leo IX to the Reformation (and then again at Vatican Council II). However, never with the intention of erasing what came before nor arrogantly asserting itself over the wisdom of the Christian tradition as a whole. A respectful and yet responsible critical reception and culturally sensitive application of the gospel tradition in light of centuries of Christian discipleship within the continuous life of the same community is (for me) much preferable to an idealistic, narrow, repristination of what can only be a projection onto the first century church.

Turretinfan said...

Well, that seems nearly even-handed. Still, I'd respectful insist that it was zeal for godliness, not arrogance, that led the Reformers to reevaluate centuries of human tradition.

Anonymous said...

Certainly that is true, and yet zeal for godliness is not a uniquely Protestant virtue (as evidenced by numerous catholic saints during and after the Reformation), and thus whatever that psychological, emotional, and intellectual state may be, it is not necessarily tied to the peculiar theology or doctrinal synthesis of the Evangelical Reformers.

Turretinfan said...

Yes, if one reads Scripture, one finds that zeal for godliness is not unique to Christians. The appropriate zeal is one that is according to knowledge.

John said...

TF: The previous canon speaks specifically of reading things in the churches, which is why I say that is the context.

I didn't say every generation can interpret it how they want. I said this is how the church interprets it, and if you want to claim the interpretation has changed, it is up to you to justify this claim.

Turretinfan said...

John:

Is it your impression that the canons before and after a given canon are related conceptually to that canon?

-TurretinFan

Anonymous said...

TF: "...according to knowledge."

Again, not a uniquely Protestant virtue, fortunately.

If by "knowledge" you mean Protestant dogma, then I have to say that many Catholics know what your churches teach and some of us even understand it quite well. What we lack is the subjective conviction regarding its complete truthfulness and thus necessity. And an extremely simplistic identification of it with the unmediated Bible is not self-evident.

John said...

It's not uncommon for canons to be grouped. In any case, the canon itself quotes 1Cor 12 which is indisputably about the inner life of the church.

Let's face it, all the pegs are lined up here, and though you desperately want there to be a contradiction, there isn't.

Turretinfan said...

Anonymous:

The knowledge that I am referring to is a knowledge of God.

John:

The preceding canon is this:

With regard to the falsely compiled martyr-lists fabricated by the enemies of the truth, as if with an intention to dishonor the Martyrs of Christ and to lead those paying attention to it into disbelief, we command that it must not be read publicly even in the churches, but that these things must be consigned to fire. As for those who accept them and recognize them as veridical, or those who bestow any attention upon them as true, we anathematize such persons.

The following canon is this:

We command that henceforth the bonfires lit by some persons on the occasion of the New Moon in front of their own workshops or houses, and over which some persons even leap, in accordance with an ancient custom, it is babled, shall be abolished and done away with. Whoever, therefore, who does any such thing, if he be a Clergyman, let him be deposed from office; but if he be a layman, let him be excommunicated. For it is written in the Fourth Book of Kings: “And Manasseh built an altar to the whole host of heaven, in the two courts of the Lord’s house, and passed his children through fire, and consulted augurs, and appointed ventriloquists, and multiplied seers, and he wrought much wickedness in the sight of the Lord, to provoke him to wrath” (II Kings 23:4–6).

Those don't look grouped with the canon we're considering. Do you think they are? If so, why? If not, have you abandoned that line of argument?

And while you and I may agree that I Corinthians 2 relates to things within the church, we also should be able to agree that Prov. 23:4 is general.

John said...

Actually, Proverbs supports what I'm saying, as when it talks about not trying to be "wiser than the wise", it is saying for the laymen not to try and be wiser than the presbyters. I hardly think the canons are going to say that the laymen should shut up because the pagans are wiser.

Anonymous said...

TF: "The knowledge that I am referring to is a knowledge of God"

Then you must be referring to a knowledge common to all Christians who subscribe to the Nicene Creed. But the Reformers neither authored the Creed nor reinstated it. Thus I fail to see a qualitative difference in their zeal or knowledge.

Turretinfan said...

John:

Thanks for stating your position.

Anonymous:

No, not everyone who recites the Nicaean creed knows God.

-TurretinFan

Anonymous said...

So you're saying - if I'm understanding you correctly - that neither zeal for godliness and/or subscription to sound doctrine (even the doctrine of the triune and incarnate god) constitute knowledge of God.

Is that unless you combine these rather secondary things with the cardinal dogmas of the Reformation?

Turretinfan said...

Anonymous,

No, true knowledge of God comes from the enlightening of the mind by the Holy Spirit, speaking through and with the Holy Scriptures.

The point is not that the Nicaean creed must be accompanied by a further list of doctrines (though, if one is to reject Monothelitism, Apollinarianism, etc., additional information may be necessary) but that true knowledge of God is not merely intellectual information about God.

A person who recites the Nicaean creed can demonstrate that he does not know God by executing an innocent man like John Huss. Others who recite the Nicaean creed may never demonstrate that they do not know God in such a dramatic fashion, but hopefully the more dramatic example should demonstrate to you that this is possible.

-TurretinFan

Anonymous said...

Certainly I'm not suggesting that knowledge of God is purely rational and conceptual (otherwise its object would be something ultimately completely subjective).

But what I am failing to understand is how everything you have said so far distinguishes the Reformers.

I see no evidence of a greater sense of personal and social justice (as well as concern for human dignity and freedom) in the Reformed churches (which were just as committed as Catholic authorities at the time to compulsion and the political imposition of church dogma).

The only clear difference (specifying what you call "knowledge of God") I can see is in matters of doctrine (i.e., patristic dogma minus medieval dogma + Reformation dogma).

...that is unless you have some other test for the presence or the absence of the Holy Spirit.

Turretinfan said...

By the gospel they preach, Anonymous.

Coram Deo said...

Turretinfan said...
By the gospel they preach, Anonymous.

Monday, December 28, 2009 10:25:00 PM


Precisely.

Billy Bean said...

Whatsoever thou shalt bind shall be bound, whatsoever thou shalt loose shall be loosed. I presume that there has been no subsequent loosing?

Scott Windsor said...

1) That which Pope Alexander IV bound was a discipline, not a dogma which would be bound in perpetuity. When later popes call us to this "new evangelization" then that which Pope Alexander decreed is thereby abrogated.
2) The Quinisext Council has never been declared authoritative or ecumenical by the West. There again, even if it had been, this subject is a matter of discipline, not dogma.

AMDG,

Scott<<<