A dogma of the Catholic Church is defined as "a truth revealed by God, which the magisterium of the Church declared as binding."The Catechism of the Catholic Church states:
The Church's Magisterium asserts that it exercises the authority it holds from Christ to the fullest extent when it defines dogmas, that is, when it proposes, in a form obliging Catholics to an irrevocable adherence of faith, truths contained in divine Revelation or also when it proposes, in a definitive way, truths having a necessary connection with these.
Dogma can also pertain to the collective body of the Church's dogmatic teachings and doctrine. The faithful are required to accept with the divine and Catholic faith everything the Church presents either as solemn decision or as general teaching. Yet not all teachings are dogma. The faithful are only required to accept those teachings as dogma if the Church clearly and specifically identifies them as infallible dogmas.Few theological truths have been promulgated as dogmas. A tenet of the faith is that the Bible contains many sacred truths, which the faithful recognize and agree with, but which the Church has not defined as dogma. Most Church teachings are not dogma. Cardinal Avery Dulles pointed out that in the 800 pages of the Second Vatican Council documents, there is not one new statement for which infallibility is claimed.
The concept of dogma has two elements: 1) the deposit of faith, otherwise known as public revelation or the word of God, which is divine revelation as contained in Sacred Scripture (the written word) and sacred tradition (the evolving understanding of that teaching),and 2) a proposition of the Church, which not only announces the dogma but also declares it binding for the faith. This may occur through an ex cathedra decision by a Pope, or by a definitive statement made by an Ecumenical Council. Truths formally and explicitly revealed by God are dogmas in the strict sense when they are proposed or defined by the Church, such as the articles of the Nicene Creed which are drawn from the early Church councils. Catholicism holds that the understanding of Scripture continues to deepen and mature over time through the action of the Holy Spirit in the history of the Church and in the understanding of that faith by Christians, all the while staying identical in essence and substance. "Therefore both sacred tradition and Sacred Scripture are to be accepted and venerated with the same sense of loyalty and reverence."
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A dogma implies a twofold relation: to Divine revelation and to the authoritative teaching of the Church.At the turn of the 20th century, a group of theologians called modernists stated that dogmas did not come from God but are historical manifestations at a given time. In the encyclical Pascendi dominici gregis , Pope Pius X condemned this teaching as heresy in 1907. The Catholic position is that the content of a dogma has a divine origin. It is considered to be an expression of an objective truth that does not change. The truth of God, revealed by God, does not change, as God himself does not change; "Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away".
However, truths of the faith have been declared dogmatically throughout the ages. The instance of a Pope doing this outside an Ecumenical Council is rare, though there were two instances in recent times: the Immaculate Conception of Mary in 1854 and the Assumption of Mary into heaven in 1950. Both Pope Pius IX and Pope Pius XII consulted the bishops worldwide before proclaiming these dogmas. A movement to declare a third Marian dogma for "Mediatrix" and "Co-Redemptrix" was underway in the 1990s,but had been opposed by the bishops at Vatican II and has faced strong opposition since.
The term Dogma Catholicum was first used by Vincent of Lérins (450), referring to "what all, everywhere and always believed".In the year 565, Emperor Justinian declared the decisions of the first ecumenical councils as law "because they are true dogmata" of God In the Middle Ages, the term doctrina Catholica (Catholic doctrine) was used for the Catholic faith. Individual beliefs were labeled as articulus fidei (part of the faith).
Ecumenical Councils issue dogmas. Many dogmas – especially from the early Church (Ephesus, Chalcedon) to the Council of Trent – were formulated against specific heresies. Later dogmas (Immaculate Conception and Assumption of Mary) express the greatness of God in binding language. At the specific request of Pope John XXIII, the Second Vatican Council did not proclaim any dogmas. Instead it presented the basic elements of the Catholic faith in a more understandable, pastoral language.The last two dogmas were pronounced by Popes, Pope Pius IX in 1854 and Pope Pius XII in 1950 on the Immaculate Conception and the assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary respectively. They are cornerstones of mariology.
It is Catholic teaching that, with Christ and the Apostles, revelation was complete. Dogmas issued after the death of his apostles are not new, but explications of existing faith. Implicit truths are specified as explicit, as was done in the teachings on the Trinity by the ecumenical councils. Karl Rahner tries to explain this with the allegorical sentence of a husband to his wife, "I love you"; this surely implies, I am faithful to you.In the 5th century Vincent of Lérins wrote, in Commonitory , that there should be progress within the Church,
on condition that it be real progress, not alteration of the faith. For progress requires that the subject be enlarged in itself, alteration, that it be transformed into something else. The intelligence, then, the knowledge, the wisdom, ... of individuals ... as well of ... the whole Church, ought, in the course of ages and centuries, to increase and make much and vigorous progress; but yet only in its own kind; that is to say, in the same doctrine, in the same sense, and in the same meaning.
Vincent commented on the First Epistle to Timothy ( 6:20 ) that Timothy, for Vincent, represented "either generally the Universal Church, or in particular, the whole body of The Prelacy", whose obligation is "to possess or to communicate to others a complete knowledge of religion" called the deposit of faith. According to Vincent, the deposit of faith was entrusted and not "devised: a matter not of wit, but of learning; not of private adoption, but of public tradition." Vincent expounded that you "received gold, give gold in turn," and not a substitute or a counterfeit. Vincent explained that those who are qualified by a "divine gift" should "by wit, by skill, by learning" expound and clarify "that which formerly was believed, though imperfectly apprehended" – to understand "what antiquity venerated without understanding" and teach "the same truths" in a new way. The Church uses this text in its interpretation of dogmatic development. In 1870, the First Vatican Council quoted from Commonitory and stated, in the dogmatic constitution Dei Filius , that "meaning of the sacred dogmas is perpetually to be retained" once they have been declared by the Catholic Church and "there must never be a deviation from that meaning on the specious ground and title of a more profound understanding." In 1964, the Second Vatican Council further developed this in Lumen Gentium.
The Magisterium of the Church is directed to guard, preserve and teach divine truths which God has revealed with infallibility (de fide). A rejection of Church Magisterial teachings is a de facto rejection of the divine revelation. It is considered the mortal sin of heresy if the heretical opinion is held with full knowledge of the Church's opposing dogmas. The infallibility of the Magisterium extends also to teachings which are deduced from such truths (fides ecclesiastica). These Church teachings or "Catholic truths" (veritates catholicae) are not a part of the divine revelation, yet are intimately related to it. The rejection of these "secondary" teachings is not heretical, but involves the impairment of full communion with the Catholic Church.
There are three categories of these veritates catholicae:
The theological certainties of all teachings, from the divine revelation to the least certain veritas catholica, are ranked as follows:
Pope Pius XII stated in Humani generis that papal encyclicals, even when they are not ex cathedra, can nonetheless be sufficiently authoritative to end theological debate on a particular question:
Nor must it be thought that what is expounded in Encyclical Letters does not of itself demand consent, 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" ( Luke 10:16 ); and generally what is expounded and inculcated in Encyclical Letters already for other reasons appertains to Catholic doctrine. But if the Supreme Pontiffs in their official documents purposely pass judgment on a matter up to that time under dispute, it is obvious that that matter, according to the mind and will of the Pontiffs, cannot be any longer considered a question open to discussion among theologians.
The end of the theological debate is not identical, however, with dogmatization. Throughout the history of the Church, its representatives have discussed whether a given Papal teaching is the final word or not.
In 1773, Father Lorenzo Ricci, hearing rumours that Pope Clement XIV might dissolve the Jesuit Order, wrote "it is most incredible that the Deputy of Christ would state the opposite, what his predecessor Pope Clement XIII stated in the papal bull Apostolicum, in which he defended and protected us." When, a few days later, he was asked if he would accept the papal brief reverting Clement XIII and dissolving the Jesuit Order, Ricci replied that whatever the Pope decides must be sacred to everybody.
In 1995, questions arose as to whether the apostolic letter Ordinatio sacerdotalis , which upheld the Catholic teaching that only men may receive ordination, is to be understood as belonging to the deposit of faith. Pope John Paul II wrote, "Wherefore, in order that all doubt may be removed regarding a matter of great importance, a matter which pertains to the Church's divine constitution itself, in virtue of Our ministry of confirming the brethren (cf. Lk 22:32) We declare that the Church has no authority whatsoever to confer priestly ordination on women and that this judgment is to be definitively held by all the Church's faithful." Dulles, in a lecture to U.S. bishops, stated that Ordinatio sacerdotalis is infallible, not because of the apostolic letter or the clarification by Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger alone but because it is based on a wide range of sources, scriptures, the constant tradition of the Church, and the ordinary and universal magisterium of the Church: Pope John Paul II identified a truth infallibly taught over two thousand years by the Church.
Critics of Ordinatio Sacerdotalis point out, though, that it was not promulgated under the extraordinary papal magisterium as an ex cathedra statement, and therefore is not considered infallible in itself.
Private revelations have taken place within the Church since the very beginning. For example, the Our Lady of the Pillar appeared to James the Greater, Apparitions are not a part of Sacred Tradition, since that would imply divine revelation is incomplete, which in turn would imply God can perfect himself.
The Catholic church distinguishes between the apparitions within divine revelation – such as the risen Jesus' apparitions to the Apostles and the sign of the woman in the Book of Revelation – and apparitions without divine revelation – such as Our Lady of Lourdes and Our Lady of Fatima – because the age of divine revelation was closed with the completion of the New Testament when the last of the Apostles died.
While Our Lady of the Pillar appeared during the Apostolic Age, the apparition is not a dogma since it is not part of the Catholic Faith, in the Bible or in Sacred Tradition. It is a local tradition, which is distinct from Sacred Tradition.
Protestant theology since the reformation was largely negative on the term dogma. This changed in the 20th century, when Karl Barth in Kirchliche Dogmatik stated the need for systematic and binding articles of faith.The Creed is the most comprehensive – but not complete – summary of important Catholic dogmas. (It was originally used during baptism ceremonies). The Creed is a part of Sunday liturgy. Because many Protestant Churches have retained the older versions of the Creed, ecumenical working groups are meeting to discuss the Creed as the basis for better understandings of dogma.
An ecumenical council is a meeting of bishops and other leaders to consider and rule on questions of Christian doctrine, administration, discipline, and other matters in which those entitled to vote are convoked from the whole world (oikoumene) and which secures the approbation of the whole Church.
The First Vatican Council was convoked by Pope Pius IX on 29 June 1868, after a period of planning and preparation that began on 6 December 1864. This, the twentieth ecumenical council of the Catholic Church, held three centuries after the Council of Trent, opened on 8 December 1869 and adjourned on 20 October 1870. Unlike the five earlier general councils held in Rome, which met in the Lateran Basilica and are known as Lateran councils, it met in the Vatican Basilica, hence its name. Its best-known decision is its definition of papal infallibility.
Dei verbum, the Second Vatican Council's Dogmatic Constitution on Divine Revelation, was promulgated by Pope Paul VI on 18 November 1965, following approval by the assembled bishops by a vote of 2,344 to 6. It is one of the principal documents of the Second Vatican Council, indeed their very foundation in the view of one of the leading Council Fathers, Bishop Christopher Butler. The phrase "Dei verbum" is Latin for "Word of God" and is taken from the first line of the document, as is customary for titles of major Catholic documents.
The magisterium of the Catholic Church is the church's authority or office to give authentic interpretation of the Word of God, "whether in its written form or in the form of Tradition." According to the 1992 Catechism of the Catholic Church, the task of interpretation is vested uniquely in the Pope and the bishops, though the concept has a complex history of development. Scripture and Tradition "make up a single sacred deposit of the Word of God, which is entrusted to the Church", and the magisterium is not independent of this, since "all that it proposes for belief as being divinely revealed is derived from this single deposit of faith."
The infallibility of the Church is the belief that the Holy Spirit preserves the Christian Church from errors that would contradict its essential doctrines. It is related to, but not the same as, indefectibility, that is, "she remains and will remain the Institution of Salvation, founded by Christ, until the end of the world." The doctrine of infallibility is premised on the authority Jesus granted to the apostles to "bind and loose" and in particular the promises to Peter in regard to papal infallibility.
Sacred tradition is a theological term used in major Christian traditions, primarily those claiming apostolic succession, such as the Catholic, Eastern Orthodox, Oriental Orthodox, Assyrian, and Anglican traditions, to refer to the foundation of the doctrinal and spiritual authority of Christianity and of the Bible.
Catholic Mariology refers to Mariology – the systematic study of the person of Mary, mother of Jesus, and of her place in the Economy of Salvation – within Catholic theology. Mary is seen as having a singular dignity above the saints. The Catholic Church teaches that she was conceived without original sin, therefore receiving a higher level of veneration than all other saints. Catholic Mariology thus studies not only her life but also the veneration of her in daily life, prayer, hymns, art, music, and architecture in modern and ancient Christianity throughout the ages.
Humani generis is a papal encyclical that Pope Pius XII promulgated on 12 August 1950 "concerning some false opinions threatening to undermine the foundations of Catholic Doctrine". Theological opinions and doctrines known as Nouvelle Théologie or neo-modernism and their consequences on the Church were its primary subject.
Private revelation is, in Christian theology, a message from God which can come in a variety of types.
Pastor aeternus, was issued by the First Vatican Council, July 18, 1870. The document defines four doctrines of the Catholic faith: the apostolic primacy conferred on Peter, the perpetuity of the Petrine Primacy in the Roman pontiffs, the definition of the papal primacy as a papal supremacy, and Papal infallibility – infallible teaching authority (magisterium) of the Pope.
Sensus fidei, also called sensus fidelium is, according to the Catechism of the Catholic Church, "the supernatural appreciation of faith on the part of the whole people, when, from the bishops to the last of the faithful, they manifest a universal consent in matters of faith and morals." Quoting the document Lumen gentium of the Second Vatican Council, the Catechism adds: "By this appreciation of the faith, aroused and sustained by the Spirit of truth, the People of God, guided by the sacred teaching authority,... receives... the faith, once for all delivered to the saints. ...The People unfailingly adheres to this faith, penetrates it more deeply with right judgment, and applies it more fully in daily life." The foundation of this can be found in Jesus' saying in Mt 16:18 that "the gates of Hell will not prevail against it," where "it" refers to the "Church", that is, the Lord's people that carries forward the living tradition of essential beliefs throughout history, with the Bishops overseeing that this tradition does not pursue the way of error.
Ecumenical meetings and documents on Mary, involving ecumenical commissions and working groups, have reviewed the status of Mariology in the Orthodox, Lutheran, Anglican, and Roman Catholic Churches.
Mediatrix of all graces is a title that the Catholic Church gives to the Blessed Virgin Mary; as the Mother of God, it includes the understanding that she mediates the Divine Grace. In addition to Mediatrix, other titles are given to her in the Church: Advocate, Helper, Benefactress. In a papal encyclical of 8 September 1894, Pope Leo XIII said: "The recourse we have to Mary in prayer follows upon the office she continuously fills by the side of the throne of God as Mediatrix of Divine grace."
The term dogmatic fact is employed in the teaching of the Roman Catholic Church, to mean any fact connected with a dogma, wherein the application of the dogma is itself what constitutes, or more accurately canonizes, the fact.
Fides ecclesiastica is a classification of those Roman Catholic dogmas which are Church teachings, definitively decided on by the Magisterium, but not (yet) as being Divine revelations properly speaking. They are considered infallible and irrevocable because, although they are not "truths of faith", they are nevertheless "closely related to them".
The Catholic Church and the Eastern Orthodox Church have been in a state of official schism from one another since the East–West Schism of 1054. This schism was caused by historical and language differences, and the ensuing theological differences between the Western and Eastern churches.
Papal infallibility is a dogma of the Roman Catholic Church which states that, in virtue of the promise of Jesus to Peter, the pope when appealing to his highest authority is preserved from the possibility of error on doctrine "initially given to the apostolic Church and handed down in Scripture and tradition". This doctrine was defined dogmatically at the First Vatican Council of 1869–1870 in the document Pastor aeternus, but had been defended before that, existing already in medieval theology and being the majority opinion at the time of the Counter-Reformation.
Lamentabili sane exitu is a 1907 syllabus, prepared by the Roman Inquisition and confirmed by Pope Pius X, which condemns errors in the exegesis of Holy Scripture and in the history and interpretation of dogma. The syllabus itself does not use the term 'modernist', but was regarded as part of the Pope's campaign against modernism in general and philosophical evolutionism in particular. The document specifically affirmed that the Sacrament of Reconciliation was instituted by Jesus himself, as in the Gospel of John 20:22–23.
The deposit of faith is the body of revealed truth in the Scriptures and Tradition proposed by the Roman Catholic Church for the belief of the faithful. The phrase has a similar use in the US Episcopal Church.
The theology of Scripture in the Roman Catholic church has evolved much since the Second Vatican Council of Catholic Bishops. This article explains the theology of Scripture that has come to dominate in the Catholic Church today. It focuses on the Church’s response to various areas of study into the original meaning of texts.
This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domain : Herbermann, Charles, ed. (1913). "Dogma". Catholic Encyclopedia . New York: Robert Appleton Company.