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On Old Oligarch and the Infallibility of the Teaching in Ordinatio Sacerdotalis

Thanks to Minute Particulars for a link to a lengthy essay on The Ordination of Women by the Old Oligarch (5/30/2002 05:19:48 AM). On the whole, it is a fine treatment of the subject. I must quibble, however, with certain remarks concerning the Apostolic Constitution Ordinatio Sacerdotalis. Here are some paragraphs from the section Recent Church Teaching:

One reason why John Paul II's Ordinatio Sacerdotalis is so short is because he believes the question has already been definitively settled by the constant practice of the church, which is what he means by the "ordinary universal magisterium." ....
While short on content, John Paul II does make an important contribution to the debate by virtue of his authority — for those that have ears to hear. The conclusion of the apostolic letter is the most important part:
"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 my ministry of confirming the brethren (cf. Lk 22:32) I 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."
For those who are familiar with ecclesiastical style, it is clear from the wording of the conclusion that the pope wishes to make a permanent and irreversible declaration. The concluding paragraph establishes that the matter at hand meets the criterion for definitive teaching: (1) It concerns a matter essential to faith and morals, (2) It is given by virtue of his ministry of confirming the brethren, a text cited with regard to the pope's status as head of the college of bishops and his ultimate authority over the whole church, and (3) He intends to make a definitive judgment which closes the matter for any Catholic of good conscience.
It is clear that the pope believes his declaration regards an infallible teaching. The only reason he did not invoke his own infallible magisterial authority in the declaration is because he believes the issue is already well enough attested by the ordinary universal magisterium of the Church.

The Old Oligarch identifies himself as a systematic theologian, so I hesitate to venture to correct him in this regard. I believe, however, that he is mistaken in asserting that the pope "did not invoke his own infallible magisterial authority in the declaration". Why? Because a pope "invokes" his infallible magisterial authority by doing all that is required for a doctrinal declaration to be ex-cathedra — that is, by doing all that is required by Pastor aeternus (Vatican I) and Lumen gentium (Vatican II). Heck, the Old Oligarch himself enumerated precisely how the pope did all that the ecumenical councils require for a papal teaching to be infallible — thus showing that the pope "invoked" his infallible teaching authority.

I have written about this at length: Ordinatio Sacerdotalis: Infallible Teaching?

Lane Core Jr. CIW P — Wed. 06/05/02 08:24:44 AM
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