Rorate Caeli has given a translation of an excerpt of yesterday’s address of the Holy Father to the Italian episcopal conference:
That last sentence underscores the importance of the “supreme, effective, and authoritative pastoral office of Peter” as the only adequate principle of unity for the Church. Pope Benedict speaks of “authoritative indications” pointing the way toward discernment in matters pertaining to the “great social and cultural transformations of our time.” The pope is not simply arguing for the doctrinal continuity of the Council with Tradition, but also that the pastoral discernment of the Council and its correct interpretation by the papal magisterium is the work, not of man but of God.
Applying the principles of the faith to the problems of the modern world has been a complicated process. Progressives used the liberty granted by the Council as a pretext for a modernist revolution. It was a risk all the postconciliar popes have been to say was necessary to take, and while we can continue to argue to the end of the world about what hypothetically would have happened had there been no Council, Peter, to whom Christ entrusted his Church, has settled the matter. This is abundantly clear, but, of course, not clear enough to those who really “know” what is good for the Church. Take a look at the comments on Rorate Caeli. This one, fairly moderate as they go, is a succinct summary:
It is a bit disconcerting that Cardinal Brandmüller refers to Dignitatis humanae and Nostra aetate as “non-binding,” because of a lack of “binding doctrinal content.” Is he suggesting that “pastoral authority” is no authority? It seems that Pope Benedict’s argument regarding the “hermeneutic of reform,” which includes both a measure of discontinuity of application within the continuity of doctrine, is not an attempt at all to declare that the Council must be followed because it is infallible, or always doctrinally binding. Rather, it is the affirmation of the magisterium’s pastoral authority to interpret doctrine and apply it according to circumstances. Furthermore, such applications are not always merely pastoral, as is the case in regard to religious liberty. They constitute a development of doctrine.
I find it remarkable that Pope Benedict patiently reaffirms this at every turn in spite of the unvarying responses of traditionalists.
Filed under: Chivalry, Church, Culture, Religion Tagged: Benedict XVI, Cardinal Brandmüller, Dignitatis Humanae, Hermeneutic of Continuity, Nostra aetate, Rorate Caeli, Second Vatican Council