The title of the post is "Another "Expert" on Catholicism Misrepresents Church Teaching." The person he's referring to as "Expert" is me. I'm flattered! No, I jest. I'm not really flattered, because those little quotation marks are being used by Bellisario to indicate sarcasm.
But sarcasm is just the opening. The first sentence claims I'm someone "often misrepresents Catholic teaching" (no evidence provided). The second sentence calls my post my "latest rant."
You might think he'd met his quota of negative assertions with those two sentences and the title, but you'd be wrong. He's just getting started. In the third sentence, Bellisario says both that my argument "is based on pure fallacy" and then questions whether you can call my article an argument.
That third sentence is a set-up for the fourth sentence where Bellisario states: "Lets [sic] take a quick look at how this pretended "Reformer" misrepresents the Catholic Church here regarding infallibility." This sentence combines the sarcasm quotation marks, with the negative adjective "pretended," and a further negative assertion that I misrepresent "the Catholic Church" - a three-for-one special!
That concludes his opening paragraph. One might expect that he's about to unleash some demonstration of how I misrepresent his church.
But his very next sentence acknowledges that I quoted two documents from Cardinal Ratzinger from when he was prefect of the CDF and that I characterized the situation as "pretty clear." Bellisario's next sentence, remarkably, agrees that it is pretty clear!
Yes its [sic] pretty clear, and dissent has no bearing on whether it is infallible or not. In fact, the reason why they were restating the Ordinary infallible teaching is because idiots in the Church were not following it.At least it is nice to know that Bellisario's negative words are not reserved for us pretended reformers! And nothing that Bellisario has said here actually disagrees with what I wrote - in fact the one place it interacts, it explicitly agrees with me!
Bellisario then provides another block quote from and responds:
The document itself does not have to be "infallible" since the Church has long taught the doctrine as being infallible. In order for a doctrine to be considered infallible it does not have to be proclaimed formally by the Pope in any one given document. So a Catholic who understands how the Church defines doctrine does not care if the document itself is infallible, it merely becomes part of the same Ordinary and Universal Magisterial teaching that has always taught it as being infallible.And, of course, nothing of what Bellisario has said disagrees with what I wrote. In theory, as Bellisario has said, something can be "considered infallible," even though no pope or council has defined it as dogma.
But, of course, the only way that these allegedly infallible teachings are known are through fallible means. In other words, someone could try to do personal research to see whether this teaching is really something that has been promulgated by the universal and ordinary magisterium, or one could rely on the CDF, but both of those techniques are fallible. One relies on private judgment, and one relies on a fallible authority. One could even rely on one's own interpretation of Scripture to conclude that male-only ordination is an infallible teaching. But one could be wrong. Neither one's private judgment nor the CDF has the charism of infallibility in Romanism.
Bellisario then provides another block quotation from me and comments:
No it is not even possible that a future Pope [sic] could change the doctrine, and only someone like Turretin Fan with limited knowledge about the Catholic Church would ever make such a statement like this. It is impossible for a Pope [sic] to come along and change Ordinary Infallible doctrines of the Church. It is not like Protestantism where teachings on contraception can change virtually overnight. The fact that there are dissidents in the Church who are active despite the Church's infallible teaching, again has no bearing on the argument at hand. There have always been dissenters in the Church despite the fact that the doctrine they oppose has been defined infallibly. We see this fact clearly with the heretical theologians who call themselves Catholic, who still do not accept the infallible teaching on Transubstantiation. No one cares, and it has no bearing on the infallibility of the teaching.Finally, Bellisario says he disagrees with something! But note how he goes about it. First, he states the fact that he thinks he disagrees. Then, he makes a negative comment about me. Neither of these sentences is actually an argument, so we'll pass over them.
Getting to his argument, Bellisario alleges: "It is impossible for a Pope [sic] to come along and change Ordinary Infallible [sic] doctrines of the Church." But here we see the problem - the reason why Bellisario has disagreed: he has not understood what I wrote! I didn't say that it is possible for a pope to come along and change an infallible doctrine. I said it is possible that the pope could come along and define a doctrine that is contrary to what the CDF has claimed is an infallible doctrine. After all, the CDF is fallible. Consequently, the fact that the CDF claims that something is an infallible doctrine doesn't make it an infallible doctrine, just like Bellisario asserting that something is infallible doctrine doesn't make it so.
Bellisario's next sentence is an irrelevant aside on his disturbingly favorite topic of contraception. I'll leave it aside in the interest of time.
Bellisario's next assertion is that "The fact that there are dissidents in the Church who are active despite the Church's infallible teaching, again has no bearing on the argument at hand." Part of the problem, as noted above, is that Bellisario hasn't grasped the argument at hand. Another part of the problem is that "dissidents" are the way that something avoids being universal.
Let's try to help out Bellisario with an example. If we look at the Western church from Augustine to Aquinas, excluding the heretics, one will find that almost everyone acknowledged the universality of original sin, with Christ being the one exception because of his virginal conception. Yet, nevertheless, at some point folks (you could refer to them as "dissidents" or simply as "a vocal minority" if you like) began to allege that Mary was an additional exception.
This is not something that "change[d] virtually overnight." It is something that was very gradual. It took a long time from when Bridget of Sweden and Catherine of Sienna were having conflicting alleged private revelations to when Pius IX defined the dogma of the Immaculate Conception.
It happens in Romanism - sometimes what was the viewpoint of a tiny minority becomes an allegedly infallible dogma later. That's why appeals to the "ordinary and universal magisterium" are illusory.
Bellisario provides a counter-example regarding theologians who deny transubstantiation. Suffice to say that this counter-example doesn't undermine what I've said. The dogma of Transubstantiation was defined at Trent. It's not something that's defined by the "ordinary and universal magisterium." So, even if Bellisario's characterization of the situation with them is accurate, it's not particularly relevant.
To put it another way: Bellisario has no consistent way to distinguish between a true dissident and a minority voice prior to an exercise of the extraordinary magisterium.
Bellisario concludes his post with the same kind of non-argumentation that characterized his opening:
Ordinarily I would not waste my time with such things, but pointing out this post gives us an example of how little the opposition truly understands about Catholicism. Let the buyer beware before they believe anything they read on Turretin Fan's website that pertains to Catholicism.After seeing how Bellisario failed to rebut or refute anything that was said, spending his time arguing against a position not expressed in my article, perhaps a different moral emerges: understand what the critic of your church is saying, before you accuse the critic of not understanding your church's teaching, particularly when the critic quotes at length from your church's official documents.
Or you can just slap a lot of negative assertions together and call it a response!