NORMAN ST. JOHN-STEVAS, in his authoritative state ment of March 6, says that Pius XII "went so far as to state" (which was very naughty of him) that once the Pope had exercised his ordinary magisterium cm a disputed matter it could no longer be regarded "as a question open to discussion among theologians."
He also states that "there were others" (unspecified) who claimed that encyclicals had no higher status than "the private theological opinions of the Bishop of Rome" (sic): and that the Second Vatican Council "adopted a mean between these two poles."
And of course the Vatican Council did nothing of the kind. It practically paraphrased Pius XII, saying that when the Pope proclaims by a definitive act some doctrine of faith and morals "his opinions, of themselves, and not from the consent of the Church, are justly styled irreformable, for they are pronounced with the assistance of The Holy Spirit. Therefore they need no approval of others, nor do they allow an appeal to any other judgement."
Then it goes on: "For the Roman Pontiff is not pronouncing judgment as a private person. (This makes short work of the "private theological opinions of the Bishop of Rome" nonsense. Rather, • as the supreme teacher of the Universal Church, as in one in whom the infallibility of the Church herself is individually present, he is expounding or defending a doctrine of the Catholic Faith."
And if this clear ruling is a
mean between the two poles of Mr. St. John-Stevas, then I might say, in view of certain TOcent events, that I'm a Dutchman.
Your contributor, just before his majestic "I conclude," quotes Hans Kung (and he might get better guides — Cardinal Danielou, for instance) on the need for "a genuine candour in thought, word, and deed." Then he adds: "Without this, you cannot be a charismatic leader in the modern world; with it, anything is possible, as President Kennedy and Pope John have shown."
What this has to do with the ordinary magisteriurn I can't sec for the life of me. Other qualities, loyalty and obedience, for instance, are even more necessary in a charismatic leader, and they are as important in the twentieth century as they were in the sixteenth. With them (and the graze of God) anything is possible, as Fisher and More have shown.
John D. Sheridan Terenure, Dublin.