May 22, 2010

"The salvation of souls is the supreme law in the Church."

Interesting post, Signaturae Apostolicae Referendarius from Canonist Ed Peters.

...This morning it was announced that His Holiness Benedict XVI has appointed me a Referendarius (Referendary) of the Apostolic Signatura. As one of some dozen international consultants to the Church's highest administrative tribunal, it will be my privilege and responsibility to advise*, on an as-needed basis, the officials of that dicastery regarding matters impacting the administration of law and justice within the Church.

A number of persons have graciously conveyed their congratulations to me on this honor, and I am truly grateful for their kind words. But I want to underscore that I see this appointment not so much as an honor, but rather, as an invitation to serve more effectively the mission of the Church as the Speculum Iustitiae.

Even as I prepare, however, to place my training in canon and common law more readily at the service of the Church, I recall what Canon 1752 stresses, namely, that "the salvation of souls [is] the supreme law in the Church." Salvation is not, in the end, a work of law, but one of love. As such, it is a work toward which we all can, and must, contribute.

Ergo, oremus pro invicem! + + +...

"The salvation of souls [is] the supreme law in the Church."

Silly people sometimes opine that dogma and law are hindrances to faith and creativity. They we can accomplish more if we are free of such encumbrances, and just let "the spirit" work. Actually the opposite is the case. Dogma and law are supremely necessary; they can't be dispensed with without risking catastrophe.

Free verse, free love, free religion. Whenever you find them you find people who are slaves. Slaves to the intellectual fads of the moment. People who claim to be free from the chains of dogma and tradition and rules, and then act like a "herd of independent minds."

Now the Church can get carried away by fads too. Happens all the time. But she can never go too far, because her dogma cannot change. Chesterton pointed out how Medieval ascetics tended towards a hatred of the flesh and the material world that might have led them to be like Hindu fakirs and swamis. But they couldn't carry that line to disastrous extremes, because the Church teaches that the material realm is good. (Though tragically alienated from its creator.)

And God saw every thing that he had made, and, behold, it was very good. And the evening and the morning were the sixth day.

And that can't change. The Church, though she makes all sorts of human mistakes, is protected from error on these main points. The Pope and the councils are, in the core doctrines, infallible. People find that word distressing, but they don't understand it. Infallibility is not an arrogant claim, it is a humble one. It basically means that a pope can't teach heresy. A pope can be wicked, a pope can be stupid, he can be bigoted and vengeful and greedy, BUT, he cannot get up and say that the created realm is evil. Or contradict any other dogma. He is protected against that; it has never happened and it will never happen. Likewise for an Ecumenical Council.

Posted by John Weidner at May 22, 2010 9:03 PM
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