Rerum Novarum via Three Strategies for Evasion.
This was a very good article, showing how people try to dissent from papal teachings. In this case, the author, Thomas Storck, concentrates on papal teaching, and especially Pope Leo XIII’s encyclical Rerum Novarum (go and read it, now, and then finish this post 🙂 ), written in 1891.
He shows how there are three different ways to dissent from Church teachings, and how it is not just the “liberals” who dissent, but how conservatives as well try to explain away teachings they don’t like. One strategy, as he shows, is that conservatives will try to claim that new Church teaching changed old Church teaching. But that doesn’t make sense.
From the article:
In the first place, if we consider the teaching of the Church as coming from Jesus Christ, how is it possible for the Church to change what was admittedly a part of her patrimony of moral teaching? Does this not open up pretty much all of Catholic doctrine to change at the whim of the reigning pope? And secondly, if John Paul really could and did set social doctrine in a fundamentally new direction, could not a future pope either restore it to its former state or set out some other approach to social doctrine? And thus if all we have here are the changeable and hence fallible opinions of the reigning pope, why should any Catholic care about Catholic social teaching anyway? Only if it is the teaching of Jesus Christ ought we to care about Catholic doctrine, and if it can be altered so easily, then it could hardly be the teaching of Jesus Christ.
Now I believe this to be a profoundly important point! Since Church teaching comes from Christ, the Church will not change Her official teaching to something that contradicts previous official Church teaching. Why? Because God does not change His mind! And if Catholic teaching is not from God, why should Catholics bother to obey in the first place?
This is an excellent article, and my commentary cannot do it justice. Please click through and read it.