Sunday 12 October 2008

How we judge excathedra statements and Ecumenical Councils

(Journey in a broken world)

Article by Marc Aupiais

When the Fathers met at Nice- perhaps a third or even nearly half of the bishops of the council were condemned as heretical, the same happens in many councils of mother church- right up to and including Trent. Vatican Two is different- Vatican II, has what we call a pastoral effect. Now Vatican II was Ecumenical (Pope Paul VI, April 6th 1964, Ecclesiam Suam VI), but it was not at a time of crisis. When we talk of it- we see some bishops possibly in small schism, but no open apostasy- as with previous councils, as with the schism EWTN claims that over 100 bishops currently are in.

Now- when we look at the meaning of a council- we cannot look at either side's intent- the heretics would always front their views, the Orthodox theirs on any subject- and the council would vote. We only have the exact words. Now there is a pope declared a heretic by his replacement because he did not condemn Pelagius, so we know that when the church is silent- it does not mean this is God's intention, and should a council not mention something- or a pope not make a required Excathedra statement- this does not mean that God does not believe it needed. What comes from Excathedra statements is free from doctrinal or moral error, that does not mean it is exhaustive.

Now the pope is only infallible when he speaks as pope on issues of morals and doctrine- he can speak of doctrines and morals without being infallible- when he speaks infallibly the right procedures are adhered to.

When we speak of Vatican II, it does not replace, nor contradict any previous council or doctrine before it. It is simply another in the long line, another small piece in the jigsaw- replacing the ghost place where its unborn self rested before.

Excathedra statements therefore do not depend on the intentions of those who make them, even as these are of use when they seem unclear. They simply are free from doctrinal and moral error, with God's imprimatur, and often are utterly inspired.

Therefore there is only one spirit of Vatican II, and of any council- not the ideas of the bishops in attendance- but the very letter of what is written down- the exact words ratified by God himself. Of course, there is also the Holy Spirit, but he is not wishy washy- he is God and God is exacting.

There are councils which are not ecumenical- these often are called conferences or synods- these can include people from everywhere- but ecumenical councils are councils where all true bishops are invited to a council in union with the pope, and as one decide on issues needed- whereby their statements are confirmed by papal infallibility, and where they speak of doctrines and morals.

When the church is silent, or provides an exception that is exactly what it is, no more or less- there is no additional meaning- except what our conscience tells us, out of what was known in the very beginning- or out of what correlates with it.

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