Page 8, 25th August 1950

25th August 1950
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Page 8, 25th August 1950 — New encyclical warns against errors
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New encyclical warns against errors

(Continued from page 1)

philosophical and theological truths, " If our teachers merely seek after cautious examination to derive due profit from these doctrines. there should be no reason for the Church to intervene.

" But though we know that Catholic teachers generally avoid these errors, it is clear that there are some today, as there were at the time of the Apostles, who, with an inconvenient liking for novelty and fearing to be thought ignorant of scientific discoveries in this age of progress, strive to withdraw from the sacred teaching authority and thus run the risk of gradually departing from revealed truth and of drawing others along with them into error."

Today, the Pope said, some seriously ask whether theology as approved by the ecclesiastical authorities, can not only be improved but completely reformed so that Christ's reign can be more effectively spread throughout the world among men of all cultures and religious opinions.

Dangerous opinions. he continued, are published not only among the clergy, but also among the laity. and especially among those who are engaged in teaching youth.

In theology some want to reduce to a minimum the meaning of dogmas, and to free dogma itself from terminology long established in the Church and from philosophical concepts held by Catholic teachers.

Existentialism

They assert that when Catholic doctrine has been reduced to this condition, a way will be found to satisfy modern needs. that will permit of dogma being expressed also by the concepts of modern philosophy. whether of immanentism or idealism or existentialism or any other system.

" Unfortunately." said the Holy Father, " these advocates of novelty easily pass from despising scholastic theology to the neglect of and even contempt for the teaching authority on the Church itself. which gives such authoritative approval to

scholastic theology. This teaching authority is represented by them as a hindrance to progress and an obstacle in the way of science."

Explaining the Papal teaching authority. the Pope says " It must not be thought that what is expounded in eoceclical letters does not of itself demand coneent. since in writing such letters the Popes do not exercise the supreme power of their teaching authority.

" For these matters are taught with the ordinary teaching authority, of which it is true to say : ' He who heareth you. heareth me,' and generally what is expounded and inculcated in encyclical letters already for others reasons appertains to Catholic doctrine.

" But if the Supreme Pontiffs in their offioial documents purposely pass judgments on a matter up to that time under dispute, it is obvious that that matter, according to the mind and will of the same Pontiffs, cannot be any longer considered a question open to discussion among thee 1 cgians.

" It is also true that theologians must always return to the sources of divine revelation : for it belongs to them to point out how the doctrine of the living teaching authority is to he found either explicitly or implicitly in the scriptures and in tradition."

Returning to the new opinions mentioned at the beginning of the letter, Pius XII says : " A number of things arc proposed or suggested by some even against the divine authorship of sacred scripture,

The Scriptures

"For some go so far as to pervert the sense of the Vatican Council's definition that God is the author of Holy Scripture, and they pet forward again the opinion, already often condemned, which asserts that immunity from error extends only to those parts of the Bible that treat of God or of moral and religious matters.

"They even wrangle speak of the human sense of the scriptures, beneath which the divine sense, which they say is the only infallible meaning, lies hidden.

" In interpreting scripture, they will take no account of the analogy of faith and the tradition of the Church.

"Thus they judge the doctrine of the fathers and of the teaching church by the norm of holy scripture, interpreted by the purely human reason of exegetes, instead of explaining holy scripture according to the mind of the Church which Christ our Lord has appointed guardian and interpreter of the whole deposit of divinely revealed truth.

" Further, according to their fictitious opinions, the literal sense of holy scripture and its explanation carefully worked out under the Church's vigilance by so many great exegetes, should yield now to a new exegesis, which they are pleased to call symbolic or spiritual. By means of this new exegesis the Old Testament, which today in the Churolt is a sealed book, would finally be thrown open to all the faithful.

" By this method, they say, all difficulties vanish, difficulties which

hinder only those who adhere to the literal meaning of the scriptures."

Some pervert the very concept of original sin, the Holy Father went on, along with the concept of sin in general as an offence against God, as oell as the idea of satisfaction performed for us by Christ.

Some say they are not bound by the doctrine, explained in our encyclical letter of a few years ago, and based on the sources of revelation. which teaches that the Mystical Body of Christ and the Roman Catholic Church are one and the same thing. "Some reduce to a meaningless formula the necessity of belonging to the true Church in order to gain salvation. Others finally belittle the reasonable character of the credibility of Christian faith. "Let no Christian therefore," the Pope warns. " whether philosopher Or theologian, embrace eagerly and lightly whatever novelty happens to be thought up from day to day, but rather let him weigh it with painstaking care and a balanced judgment, lest he lose or corrupt the truth he already has, with grave danger and damage to his faith." Referring to the philosophy of St. Thomas, Pius XII exclaims : How deplorable it is then that this philosophy, received and honoured by the Church, is scorned by some, who shamelessly call it outmoded in form and rationalistic, as they say in its method of thought.

" Such people, while scorning our philosophy, extol other philosophies or theories. ancient and modern, oriental and occidental, by which they seem simply to mean that any kind of philosophy or theory. with a few additions and corrections if need be. can be reconciled with Catholic dogma.

Materialism

" NoCatholic can doubt how false this is. especially where there is a question of those fictitious theories they call immanentism, or idealism, or materialism, whether historic or dialectic. or even existentialism, whether atheistic or simply the type that denies the validity of the reason in the field of metaphysics,"

Describing the fields of free discussion among Catholics, the Pope says : "The teaching authority of the Church does not forbid that, in conformity with the present state of human sciences and sacred theology, research and discussions on the part of men experienced in both fields, take place with regard to the doctrine of evolution, in as far as it inquiries into the origin of the human body as coming from preexistent and living matter—for the Catholic faith obliges us to hold that souls are immediately created by God.

" However this must be done in such a way that the reasons for both opinions, that is, those favourable and those unfavourable to evolution, be weighed and judged with the necessary seriousness, moderation and measure, and provided that all are prepared to submit to the judgment of the Church." The Holy Father continues : But the faithful cannot embrace that opinion which maintains either that after Adam there existed on this earth true men who did not take their origin through natural generation from him as from the first parent of all, or that Adam represents a certain number of first parents."

Genesis

Referring to a letter sent not long ago to the Archbishop of Paris by the Pontifical Commission on Biblical studies, the Pope underlines that the first eleven chapters of Genesis, although properly speaking not conforming to the historical method used by the hest Greek and Latin writers or by competent authors of our time, do nevertheless pertain to history in a true sense, which however must be further studied and determined by exegetes. The same chapters. the letter points out, are in simple metaphorical language adapted to the mentality of a people hut little cultured, but state the principal truths which are fundamental for our salvation, and also give a popular description of the origin of the human race and the chosen people.

If, however. the ancient sacred writers have taken anything from popular narrations (and this may be conceded), it must never be forgotten that they did so with the help of divine inspiration, through which they were rendered immune from any error in selecting and evaluating those documents.

The encyclical ends with this warning : " Let the teachers in ecclesiastical institutions be aware that they cannot with tranquil conscience exercise the office of teaching entrusted to them, unless in the instruction of their students they religiously accept and exactly observe the norms which we have ordained.

" Let them strive with every force and effort to further the progress of the sciences which they teach : hut let them also be careful not to transgress the limits which vse have established for the protection of the truth of Catholic faith and doctrine, "Finally, let them not think. . that the dissident and erring can happily be brought back to the bosom of the Church."




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