IN the third paragraph of his column of March 27. Mr. Norman St. John-Stevas returns once more to what he has repeatedly affirmed in the past and which remains false notwithstanding its repetition. I am referring to his statement in which he conveys the idea that the ordinary magisterium of the Church is only infallible "in so far as it reflects the infallible teaching of the College of Bishops with the Pope at its head or the mind of the Universal Church."
If words mean anything, this sentence means that infallibility of the ordinary magisterium is in some way restricted by and independent upon the vote of the bishops. if not the vote of the Universal Church. It will be noticed that Mr. St. JohnStevas places the bishops before the Pope in stating the point: he clearly believes that the Pope alone is incapable of judging on his own and independently of the bishops, whether a doctrine of faith or morals has been universally held and accepted down the Church's history, as infallible doctrine.
On this point he is entirely false, and his attempt to quote the Constitution on the Church in his support will not do. The paragraph in question (25) is applicable to the ordinary magisterium as it is to the extraordinary.
Basically, Mr. St. John Stevas errs in conveying the idea that the Church is the Church of the particular century in which we live.
The "mind of the Universal Church" to which Mr. Sieves appeals cannot be, in judging the ordinary magisterium doctrinal nature, just the general opinion of this or any other century. It is the teaching of the Church ab initio that must be considered. The Pope is the supreme judge of what has been the accepted and official teaching of the Church from the beginning. This is what he has done in the encyclical Humanae Vitae which is infallible as it forms the doctrinal content of the Church's teaching down the centuries.
(Fr.) John W. Flanagan Secretary, Catholic Priests' Association Polegate, Sussex.
IWONDER if any reader of A your columns could suggest where I might borrow a copy of Edmund Waterton's Pietas Mariana Britannica? I cannot get it from local libraries as it has been out of print so long. Use of a copy for a month would be most helpful, after which time I would return it immediately to its owner.
M. Hurrey Combe Martin, N. Devon.