Different degrees of authority

by Kathleen van Schaijik

A friend sent me the following remarks on last issue’s editorial. I asked for and received his permission to publish them anonymously. KvS.

You wrote a nice piece in support of Ziegler’s very interesting article, but I was a little puzzled by the way you led with infallibility. The document certainly doesn’t come close to an exercise of infallibility. I would think in fact that a Catholic who complied with the guidelines on giving communion and who affirmed the dignity of the ordained minister and the tasks proper to the layman, would be within his rights to think the guidelines unfortunate and to work through the appropriate channels to have them reversed. I personally am glad of the directives of this document, but I can think of plenty of post-Conciliar curial legislation on the liturgy—for example, the Vatican suppression of the Mass of Pius V, or the approval of the barbarous ICEL translations—that I can’t help regarding as unfortunate and where I console myself with the thought that the causa is not finita. In other words, much as we want to welcome this new document, we don’t, I would think, want to welcome in such a way that our hands and consciences are tied when a less satisfactory document comes around.

the editor replies:

My thanks for the chance to correct a misleading editorial. I had not meant to imply that this new document is on a level with an ex-cathedra exercise of papal infallibility. My intention was to reflect not so much on infallibility proper as on the world—confounding happiness and freedom that flow from the authority of the Church exercised in all its dimensions. From this point of view, even a document that we may legitimately consider unfortunate and work to see reversed can be accepted with joy—perhaps as a discipline or a mortification; an opportunity to express our humble, filial obedience to an imperfect Mother, and to show our absolute confidence in God’s ultimate protection of the Church, in spite of her fallen aspect. But, I expressed myself badly.

Now that the point has been clarified, however, I am wondering just what kind of authority this document does have. My impression from reading Mr. Ziegler’s article was that it was something more than a routine curial instruction. It seemed to me to have an air of finality to it—as if the Church has been observing the efforts of the faithful and deliberating over the question for some time, and is now ready to pronounce definitively that certain practices (including some that have been normal at FUS) are not fully consistent with the mysteries at hand.

But I am certainly no expert on these things. Is there a theologian in the house who might be willing to help us out ?

issue cover

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Same issue

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I,1 NFP, by itself, does not compromise the marriage vocation I,2 What is a ‘real’ Catholic education? I,3 Orthodox not paradox I,4 How does a university evangelize? I,4 NFP and connaturality I,5 Thomism and intellectual freedom I,7 Keeping our worship in step with ‘what the Spirit is saying’ to FUS II,1 Can charismatics and traditionalists peacefully coexist? II,1 The horror of polygamy and the persistence of chauvinistic theories in Catholic academia II,2 The challenge of the Concourse: discussion without (much) contention II,3 When old ideas are breaking up II,4 Why the polygamy problem is not as passe as it appears: Kathleen van Schaijik responds to critics II,9 Why ‘charismatic spirituality’ belongs at the heart of our communal life III,1 What is the University Concourse? III,1 How not to help households III,3 Silence betokens ... What? III,4 The freedom of stricture III,5 What were households meant to be? III,5 Different degrees of authority IV,1 Love Never Leaves IV,2 Faith and Reason IV,5 A different perspective on the modesty question IV,6 Strangers to the world V,1 New face, same spirit V,3 The ‘Stratford man’ and the Shakespearean canon: no match at all V,4 Bringing the masses from starvation to full strength V,6 Branching out through Christus Magister V,6 Kathleen van Schaijik replies to John Doman on Shakespeare V,7 A Catholic critique of a current notion of courtship VI,1 The evil of exorcising judgement VII,1 Jump Start VII,1 Abusing NFP VII,1 It’s not the Vatican, it’s the laity III,6 Last words (for now) III,6 A suggestion regarding Extraordinary Ministers III,6 Catholic teaching on capital punishment III,6 A final thought on the household issue III,6 What is our mission, really? III,6 What if Shakspere wasn’t Shakespeare? III,6 Clinton’s sorry legacy III,6 Evolution III,6 Intimidated? Please don’t be. III,6 A gift for the graduates of ‘98 III,6 A point of policy III,6 A point of principle III,6 A word of thanks IV,7 Happy & sad IV,7 Oxford gaining on Shakspere IV,7 Of private and collegiate morality IV,7 Newman, education and context IV,7 Witnesses to Faith in the face of death IV,7 Viva the class of ‘99! IV,7 A prize winning physicist out of his depth IV,7 A positive psychology IV,7 How to become a leader IV,7 Campus politics IV,7 Thanksgiving V,8 Fr. Michael’s achievement V,8 Charity may be severe V,8 On the other side of the same coin V,8 The Weimar Republicans V,8 Drawing out an analogy V,8 Beware of economic Puritanism V,8 How to support the Concourse by buying books V,8 Shakespeare debate update V,8 What the education debate is and isn’t about V,8 Dear Class of 2000 V,8 Thanksgiving