The MOST Theological Collection: Catholic Apologetics Today: Answers to Modern Critics
"Appendix 1: Errors in Church Teaching?"
1) The lay of the land
There are many claims today that the Church really has reversed past teaching. If that were true, one or both of the teachings would be in error. But we know from what we saw in the body of this book that this cannot happen. We know that Christ, the Divine Messenger, promised divine protection for the teaching of His Church. So we are assured that these claims simply must be untrue.
Further, we need to notice an important point: A thousand difficulties, even if not yet solved, do not add up to one doubt. Yes, if we were depending only on human reasoning, we might doubt a previously reached conclusion because of new objections. For we know that mere human reason, when it gets into complex issues, can err. But here things are different because we are not relying only on the power of any human mind, however sharp. No, we are relying on a divine promise, which cannot fail. Hence we must keep clearly in mind the principle that in this study a thousand difficulties do not make one doubt.
Of course, it is not wrong to want to know the answer to an objection; that is only human. So we will find those answers in this appendix: we will take up all the strongest objections we can find, and answer each, one at a time.
Strangely, some scholars today have developed a faith in reverse; instead of believing that the promises of Christ do protect the teaching of the Church, they are inclined to believe-without even taking a good look-that there are many errors in Scripture and in the teachings of the Church. What is utterly astounding is that they are claiming that problems in Scripture cannot be solved at precisely the time when there are new techniques and means of solving problems that past ages did not have.192
Early in this century, Scripture scholars, both Catholic and Protestant, lacked these new means. They saw quite a few problems in Scripture that appeared to be errors or contradictions. Some of these problems were solvable. But many others seemed impossible. Yet they were men of great faith, whose attitude was that there must be an answer, even if they could not find it, because Scripture is the Word of God. Their attitude was precisely right. Yet, as we said, now is the time scholars pick to claim that the problems cannot be solved. They have a faith in reverse: a blind faith that Scripture must be wrong! They even claim that problems cannot be solved whose answers have been known for many years!
As we saw in Chapter 15, many today accuse even Jesus Himself of ignorance and error.
These claims demand study in two areas. In this first appendix, we will examine all the most impressive charges that say the Church has erred or reversed teaching. In a second appendix, we will solve the most impressive claims that Scripture is in error, that even Jesus was in error.
2) Sorting out claims of Church error
Most of the charges that the Church has erred can be handled very simply if one makes distinctions, and knows a few basic, simple principles.
First of all, we must carefully distinguish and keep separate three areas: (1) The teachings of the Church (doctrine); (2) the rules or commands of the Church (legislation); (3) the question of how prudently the Church has acted in a given case.
As to the first, namely teaching, we saw that Christ, the Divine Messenger, promised to protect that teaching; so we believe. As to the second, that is legislation or commands, Christ gave authority to rule to the Church; so we obey. But the third is different: There are no promises by Christ that the Church would always act prudently, and would do things in the best way. It is one thing to teach truth or give binding laws and another to act in the best, most prudent way. On this third point, prudence, there are no promises of Christ nor any commission from Christ. So the Church does not now claim, and never has claimed, assurance of prudence.
This distinction is of capital importance because many good people today find themselves unable to think that some new ways of doing things, for example, the ceremonies of the Mass, are very good ways compared to older ways. Often such people, not knowing the distinction we have just made, mistakenly think that they are obliged to think the new rites are better, or are more conducive to devotion. Yet, they cannot force themselves really to think that way, so they fear they have broken with the Church. Worse, since they do not know about the three areas we mentioned, they think that since they have broken once, they might as well break some more; and they wind up breaking with the Church even in matters guaranteed by Christ, in matters of doctrine or legislation.
There is immense confusion, too, about the first area, doctrine. Many, even priests who should know better, take this attitude: If a matter is not covered by a solemn definition, we can take it or leave it. But such is not and has never been the case. What of the centuries before 325 A.D., the first General Council, at Nicea? Was everything optional matter up to then? And, since after that, only one point was defined, the divinity of Christ, could people doubt all else?
Vatican II, in the Constitution on the Church, clearly restated the traditional teaching of the Church on this matter. It said that there are three levels of teaching. The first two of them are infallible; the third, not. We will look at each.
At the first level, the solemn definition is sufficiently familiar, yet there are some misunderstandings. Vatican II taught that the relation between Pope and Bishops is parallel to that between Peter and the Apostles, so that the Pope and Bishops form a college of which the Pope is the head. This is called collegiality. This teaching is not really new. Most major decisions in all past centuries have actually been made following this pattern.
However, the Pope does retain the right to act alone, even in defining. Vatican II taught: "His [the Pope's] definitions, of themselves, and not from the consent of the Church, are justly called irreformable, for they are pronounced with the assistance of the Holy Spirit, which was promised to him in blessed Peter. Therefore they need no approval of others, nor is there room for an appeal to any other judgment."193 If the Pope can even define alone, clearly he also can make lesser statements alone.
The second level seems to be overlooked by many Catholics, even theologians. On it, Vatican II said, "Although the individual Bishops do not have the prerogative of infallibility, yet they can proclaim Christ's doctrine infallibly. This is so even when they are scattered around the world, provided that, while keeping the bond of unity among themselves and with Peter's successor, and while teaching authoritatively on a matter of faith or morals, they agree that a particular teaching is to be held definitively."194 That is: The day-to-day teaching of the whole Church, in which the Church tells us certain things, are part of Catholic belief-such teaching is infallible.
Therefore, many doctrines are guaranteed in this way which are not defined, yet many people act as though they can be ignored. It is the decision of the Church which teachings meet these conditions. Yet, it would not seem rash to suppose that the existence of angels, for example, is such a doctrine.
Thirdly, we meet with lesser, undefined teachings. Pius XII commented on such things in Humani generis in 1950: "Nor must it be thought that what is contained in Encyclical letters does not in itself require assent, on the pretext that in them the Popes are not using the supreme power of their teaching authority [are not defining]. Rather, these teachings pertain to the ordinary teaching authority, about which it is also true to say: 'He who hears you, hears me.' ... If the Popes in their official acts deliberately pass judgment on a matter that has been debated up to then, it is clear to all that the matter. .. cannot be considered any longer a question open for discussion among theologians."195 Vatican II makes a similar statement: "Religious submission of will and of mind must be shown in a special way to the authentic Magisterium of the Roman Pontiff even when he is not defining. That is, it must be shown in such a way that his supreme Magisterium is acknowledged with reverence, the judgments made by him are sincerely adhered to, according to his manifest mind and will."196
There follows a loud objection from those who say, "How can we be told to believe something which is admittedly not infallible?" At first, the objection seems valid. Yet when we stop to think, the answer is easy. There are many things in life for which there is no infallible guarantee, and yet we believe them, and even stake our very lives on them. For example, suppose at dinner someone points to a dish of food and says, "Did that come from a can?" The answer is yes. "But was it sent to a lab to be checked for botulism?" (Botulism is a deadly food poisoning that would not be detected in routine opening of cans). We answer, "No." The person then exclaims, "Do you expect me to stake my life on the noninfallible assurance that this food is safe?" We look at him and think him very odd. Of course there is a chance of botulism, but that chance is very, very remote. The normal person not only may, but probably should ignore it.
Another example is a criminal court in which the judge instructs the jury on a capital case. He tells the jurors that they must find the defendant proved guilty "beyond reasonable doubt" if they are to condemn him. But notice that the judge does not ask, nor does the jury guarantee, that all possible doubt will be eliminated, only reasonable doubt.
Thus, in many areas of life we believe things when there is no infallible guarantee. In believing, we might or might not stop to realize that there is a remote possibility of a mistake. But whether we think of it or not, we ignore the possibility.
So it is with the noninfallible teachings of the Church, except that with them the possibility of error is much more remote than is the chance with the canned food or the criminal court. Further, if there were any mistake, the Divine Judge would never charge it against us if we had believed His Church. But He would penalize us if we did not believe.
Still further, there is not one case in nearly two thousand years in which the Pope himself has erred in this noninfallible type of teaching. Only one case even came close, that of Galileo. There are, however, many charges that such errors have been committed in the past. In the following sections, we will look at all of the most important of them.
On February 19, 1616, two statements by Galileo were submitted to the Holy Office: (1) The sun is the center of the galaxy; (2) the earth is not the center.197 On February 24, the Qualifiers (theological experts) of the Holy Office reported that this contradicted Scripture. Pope Paul V told Cardinal Bellarmine to warn Galileo to stop teaching his views as fact. He could consider them as a hypothesis.
Galileo submitted; but in 1632, he was reported as going back on his agreement. So, on June 16, 1633, Pope Urban VIII ordered an interrogation in the Holy Office. The Holy Office decided that Galileo had made himself "vehemently suspected of heresy." We note he was only called suspected, not flatly heretical.
So, did a Pope, on the noninfallible level, teach error here? Definitely not. Already in 1624, Pope Urban VIII stated about the theory that the earth went around the sun, that "the Holy Church had never, and would never, condemn it as heretical, but only as rash, though there was no danger that anyone would ever demonstrate it to be necessarily true."198 Accordingly, Pope Paul V did not personally teach what the experts of the Holy Office said.
Further, Galileo's idea was not really original nor new. The ancient Greek astronomer, Aristarchus of Samos, in about 280 B.C. had taught the theory but received scant support from other astronomers of his day or later, either. Copernicus (1473-1543) also taught it. Cardinal Bellarmine, who conducted the first investigation, did not consider Galileo's idea heretical. In a letter written in 1615 he said, "I say that if a real proof be found that the sun is fixed, and does not revolve round the earth ... then it will be necessary to proceed to the explanation of the passages of Scripture which appear to be contrary ..."199
A considerable part of the trouble with Galileo was his unscientific presumption. His "proofs" did not impress even the astronomers of that day-nor would they impress astronomers today. Even though today we know that the earth goes around the sun, we do not know it because of Galileo's reasons. First, he said he would prove the earth moved by the tides. But, we know tides are caused by the moon, not by the earth's movement. Second, he thought that the planets travel in circles. They really travel in ellipses. Another astronomer, Kepler, had shown that Galileo's circles were implausible, but Galileo refused to consider Kepler's evidence. Third, not even with his telescope did he find the stellar parallax, which his arguments presupposed.
We conclude that the incident was regrettable and a case of imprudence, but yet, no Pope taught error in it. We note that even the Holy Office just said Galileo was "vehemently suspected" of heresy-not that he was strictly heretical.
In more recent times, in the middle of the 19th century, some scientists suffered more severely at the hands of other scientists. Pasteur and Lister met much opposition from their own ranks for their discoveries about germs. Still worse, Semmelweis, a Hungarian doctor who discovered the cause of puerperal fever and proved it by results with his patients, was railroaded by other doctors into an insane asylum, where he remained for the rest of his life.
4) No salvation outside the Church
Some charge that we understand the teaching of "no salvation outside the Church" differently from the way it was understood in early centuries; hence, the Church has erred at least once.
The basic answer to this difficulty is found in the reply from the Holy Office in the Father Feeney case, which we quoted in Chapter 23. It pointed out that Pius XII explained that persons who have not put their names on a parish register can "pertain to" or "be ordered to" the Church in a way sufficient to fulfill the requirements for salvation. In Chapter 23 we went still further-without contradicting Pius XII. We presented a summary of a long survey of how the axiom, "no salvation outside the Church," really was understood in the first centuries, and found no contradiction with present teaching.
A special objection in this matter is raised from the Bull, Unam Sanctam, of Pope Boniface VIII, on November 18, 1302. In it the Pope made two points: "We are forced to believe that there is one holy Catholic Church ... outside which there is neither salvation nor the remission of sins ... in this his power [the Pope's] there are two swords, that is, the spiritual and the temporal ... Further, we declare, say, and define that it is altogether necessary for salvation to be subject to the Roman Pontiff."200
The best explanation of the point about the two swords comes from Boniface VIII himself. In a consistory of June 24, 1302, before legates from France, he complained that he had been falsely accused, as if "we had ordered the king to acknowledge his royal power was from us. For forty years we have been a legal specialist, and we know that there are two powers ordained by God. Can or should anyone believe, then, that there is such folly in our head? We say that in no way have we desired to usurp the jurisdiction of the king, and thus our brother Portuensis said [he seems to be the one who composed the text of the Bull]. The king cannot deny, nor can any other one of the faithful, that he is subject to us in regard to sin."201 In other words, "We can give moral teachings, telling what morality requires. No one, not even the king, can ignore them."
This proves that the Pope did not claim that he gave kings their power. Hence Pius XII, in his Address to the International Congress of Historical Sciences, September 7, 1955, explained, "Even for them [men of that age] it was normally only a question of the transmission of authority as such, and not a question of the designation of its holder."202 For Popes did then crown kings, and could, by the power of the keys, release subjects from their oath of allegiance to kings. So much then, for the teaching of the two swords.
The other statements quoted (before and after the words about the two swords) regarding the need to be subject to the Pope for salvation, refer to the obligation to believe the teaching of the Pope on morals-which Boniface VIII himself pointed out. The statements also express that there is "no salvation outside the Church." Actually, the very wording of the last sentence that says men must be subject to the Pope comes word for word from St. Thomas Aquinas.203 Considering the context of St. Thomas' statement it is just a statement of no salvation outside the Church.
Did the Church once prohibit usury, although it now permits it? The key to this conflict is in the meaning of the word usury. At one time, the Latin word usura was a word of broad meaning covering excessive interest or, in some cases, any interest at all.
Looking at general moral principles, it is obvious that how much interest can be justified will vary with the type of economy. In some economies, money is virtually sterile; in others, it is highly productive. Further, if there is risk in a loan, more interest is justified.
The Church has always understood this. Even back in the period envisioned by the objection, we find this distinction. Thus the Fifth Lateran Council in 1515 taught, "This is the proper interpretation of usury [namely] when gain and increase is sought from the use of a thing that is nonproductive, and with no labor, no expense, and no risk."204
6) Reversal on Scripture studies by Pius XII
It is common today for scholars to say that the Church did an about face in Scripture studies with the Divino afflante Spiritu of Pius XII in 1943. For example, Wilfrid Harrington writes, "the effect of that document had changed Roman Catholic biblical studies beyond recognition."205
More specifically, the usual claims are these: One need not hold the belief any longer that Moses was the substantial author of the Pentateuch [first five books of The Old Testament] or that the early chapters of Genesis were historical, or that there was only one author for Isaiah, or that Matthew was the first Gospel, and was written by an eyewitness, or that Luke and Acts were written in the 60s, or that Paul wrote Hebrews. There is a further assertion that this dramatic change of positions was acknowledged in 1955 by a secretary or secretaries of the Pontifical Biblical Commission who said that now Catholic scholars had "complete freedom" in regard to the old decrees of 1905-15, except where they touched on faith and morals-and few of the decrees did that.
Those who make this remark about a secretary of the Biblical Commission authorizing an about-face are not well informed. Msgr. John Steinmueller, a member of the Commission at that time, tells us in his book, The Sword of the Spirit, that there were really two articles of that sort, by A. Miller and A. Kleinhans; but that the articles were "unauthorized" and "condemned by the voting Cardinal members of the Commission."206 The authors were to have been charged before the Holy Office, but were saved by the personal intervention of Cardinal Tisserant with the Pope.
But, let us examine these claims individually. There are chiefly three: (a) Pius XII, in Divino afflante Spiritu, called for translations from the original languages; (b) he also encouraged the approach of literary genres which had been "hitherto forbidden"; (c) the Biblical Commission's decrees are obsolete.
(a) Original languages
Pius XII did encourage translations from the original languages. But it had never been forbidden, though it was not done in general. The reason it was not done was a misunderstanding of a decree of the Council of Trent which said that the Vulgate (St. Jerome's Latin version) was "authentic." Pius XII explained that the decree meant only that the Vulgate was approved as a basis for religious argumentation.207 It did not mean that scholars should not use the original languages.
(b) Literary genres
This second point, on literary genres, is more important. First, let us recall what we saw about genres in Chapter 8. lust as today we use many genres or patterns in writing, each with its own special rules for how to understand them, so too did the writers of Scripture. Today we use, among others, the genre of the historical novel, which is a mixture of history and fictional fill-ins. No one expects the fill-ins to be historical, nor does anyone charge the author with error or deception for making these fill-ins. The key is this: What did the author mean to assert? Did he really mean to assert that he heard, for example, word-for-word conversations between Lincoln and Grant? Not at all. So we must not make the mistake of thinking he asserted what he did not assert.
We saw how this applied to the first chapters of Genesis. They are historical in that they report things that really happened. Chiefly, that God made the world by a word; that He in some special way made man, and gave him grace and privileges, and that He gave a command to the first pair which they disobeyed, and which caused their fall from favor. But what the scene was like, whether a garden, or something else, and other similar details, are not asserted. Nor did the sacred author assert that God made everything in six spans of 24 hours each. Such was the nature of Genesis. It is historical in that it reported things that actually happened; but not in precisely our genre of history writing.
Similarly, it is not clear that the author of Jonah asserted that the events really happened. He might have been writing a sort of expanded parable.208 Again, the author of Daniel, in the narrative parts, might not have meant to assert that all the things that were narrated really happened. He might have meant to write something more like a religious novel.
This approach, through genres, makes it possible to solve numerous problems in Scripture which we could not otherwise explain.
Now that we have established what is meant by interpretation via genres, we ask: Is it true that this approach was once "forbidden" as some claim? On June 23, 1905, the Biblical Commission gave a reply: "Can it be accepted as a principle of sound interpretation that holds that some books of Scripture that are considered as historical-partly or totally-do not, at times, give history strictly and objectively so called, but instead, have just the appearance of history, so as to convey something other than a strict literal or historical sense of the words?"209
The answer was, "No, except in the case in which the sense of the Church does not oppose it, and subject to the judgment of the Church, it is proved by solid arguments and the sacred writer did not intend to hand down true history. But, under the appearance and form of history the author gave a parable, an allegory, or a sense differing from the properly literal or historical sense of the words."
Does this forbid the use of literary genres? Not at all. We must notice the wording carefully, for it is heavily and carefully qualified. First, the question deals only with writings that present the appearance of history, the chief area of concern. There was no mention of other types of writing. Can works that seem to be history ever be considered as not strictly history, but of some other genre? The reply is a qualified no. Namely, we can take such writings as of a category other than history-as a parable, an allegory, or of some other method-if we have solid arguments to show that the sacred writer intended something other than strict history. Again, the critical point is what the author intended to assert. And it adds what is obvious, that we must not act contrary to the "sense of the Church" and must be subject, finally, to the judgment of the Church.
Thus, we may suppose there is a different genre being employed than what the first appearance would indicate, provided that we have solid reasons. Nothing is forbidden except an interpretation that is sadly so common today, in which the presumption is against historical character. Pius XII too, the supposed author of a "reversal," insisted on care and solid arguments in Divino afflante Spiritu: "What these [genres] were, the scholars cannot decide in advance, but only after a careful investigation of the literature of the ancient Near East."210 Pius XII wrote this in 1943. Just a few years later, in 1950, seeing that many scholars were getting too loose in their interpretations, he issued a warning in his Humani generis: "We must specially deplore a certain excessively free way of interpreting the historical books of the Old Testament . . . the first eleven chapters of Genesis, even though they do not fully match the pattern of historical composition used by the great Greek and Latin writers of history, or by modern historians, yet in a certain true sense-which needs further investigation by scholars-do pertain to the genre of history."211
A concrete way to do this was presented earlier by explaining that Genesis taught things "that really happened: that God made the world by a word, that He in some special way made man, that He gave a command to the first men, that they disobeyed and fell ..." even though the setting was not meant to be strictly historical.212
The Biblical Commission in 1905 warned that we must heed the "sense of the Church," and be ready to accept the judgment of the Church. Pius XII said the same: "Let Scripture scholars, mindful of the fact that there is here question of a divinely inspired word, whose care and interpretation is entrusted by God Himself to the Church-let them not less carefully take into account the explanations and declarations of the Magisterium of the Church, and likewise of the explanations given by the Holy Fathers, and also of the 'analogy of faith,' as Leo XIII ... wisely noted."213
The "analogy of faith" means the entire structure of the teachings of the Church. It must be definite, in other words, that an interpretation does not clash with anything in that structure even by implication. Vatican II taught, "Since Sacred Scripture must be read and interpreted according to the same Spirit by whom it was written, no less attention must be devoted to the content and unity of the whole of Scripture, taking into account the Tradition of the entire Church and the analogy of faith."214
This is far from the "about-face" some claim it implies. Instead, there is only a shift in emphasis, not in doctrine or principle. The 1905 statement approved the use of genres with care and with heed to the analogy of faith. Pius XII was more encouraging, yet insisted on care, and when he saw scholars getting too loose in their interpretations, he warned them.
An interesting question comes to mind here about the use of genres. This approach became fully known only in our own century. So the Church for about 19 centuries interpreted Scripture without knowing about it. Does not this leave room for errors by the Church?
We must say no. Now that we do have this approach, and have checked past statements of the Church with this resource as a help, we cannot find any place where the Church has erred in doctrine.
The reasons are obvious: (1) The Church enjoys the promised protection of the Holy Spirit, the Chief Author of Scripture. Even if Churchmen did not know about genres, the Chief Author did not need them to understand His own work. (2) The Church has always had something more basic than Scripture, namely, its own ongoing teaching. As we said, Jesus did not tell the Apostles or others, "Write some books, get copies made, pass them out and tell people to figure them out for themselves." That would have been foolish. Instead, He told the Church to teach, and promised protection for that teaching.
Form Criticism, which we will examine in Section Seven, underscores this last remark because it definitely insists that the Church has something more basic than Scripture.
(c) Old decrees obsolete?
We saw that some like to quote an article by men from the Biblical commission saying scholars had "complete freedom" with regard to those decrees of 1905-1915 except where they touched on faith or morals (and very few of them did).215
We saw earlier that they are ill-informed. The men cited were rebuked, and narrowly escaped being called before the Holy Office.
But it is true that most of the decrees of 1905-15 did not bear on faith or morals. They dealt largely with authorship of Scriptural books. That question is not a problem of faith. It is proven that ancient Near Eastern writers not only used the equivalent of pen names, but might even have chosen as pen names those of famous men. We know too that rights of authorship were not thought so strict then. A later man might revise, without admitting it, the work of an earlier man. This could have happened in parts of Scripture, but if so, divine inspiration protects at least the final product.
But it is good to examine some of the matters of authorship. These include Moses as substantial author of the Pentateuch, historicity of the first chapters of Genesis, unity of author for the book of Isaiah, Matthew as writer of the first Gospel, the date of composition of Luke and Acts, and Pauline authorship of Hebrews. Some think scholars now abandon all these positions.
We spoke earlier about the historicity of the first chapters of Genesis. Do all scholars really think Moses was not the author of the first five books of the Old Testament, the Pentateuch? Not at all. Eugene Maly, writing in Jerome Biblical Commentary said, "Moses is at the heart of the Pentateuch, and can, in accord with the common acceptance of the ancient period, correctly be called its author."216 The Biblical Commission on June 27, 1906, said the same.217 The Commission stated that we can admit that there were modifications in the original work of Moses, that he used sources written or oral, that Moses may even have given his ideas to secretaries, and let them do the actual composition.
Was there more than one author for the Book of Isaiah? Even though this is not a point of faith, it must be noted that the arguments used to prove two or three authors are not conclusive. The chief argument is that Chapters 1-39 of Isaiah are addressed to inhabitants of Jerusalem, in a tone of condemnation, with a threat of divine punishment. But Chapters 40-66 seem to speak to a community that has suffered a great disaster. It seems not to think of Assyria now, but of Babylon, and even of Cyrus of Persia. So the second part is to a people in exile, and offers hope of restoration. Although these arguments are not worthless, yet neither are they at all conclusive. Isaiah, being a prophet, could have been given a vision of the later times. Of course, many today reject the notion of such prophetic sight, even though in Chapter 22 we saw that the ancient Jews did see the Messiah in many prophecies.
Did Matthew or Mark write first? For a long time most scholars said that Mark was the first to write. The tide is now turning, and many think Matthew was first (at least Hebrew Matthew). In agreement are W. R. Farmer, The Synoptic Problem (Dillsboro, N.C., 1976); Bernard Orchard, Matthew, Luke and Mark (Manchester, 1977); E. P. Sanders, The Tendencies of the Synoptic Tradition (Cambridge, 1969); John M. Rist, On the Independence of Matthew and Mark (Cambridge, 1978); and Hans Herbert Stoldt, History and Criticism of the Marcan Hypothesis (Edinburgh, 1980). As we saw in Chapter 10, the ancient witnesses do put Matthew first.
Regarding the date of the composition of Luke-Acts: the chief arguments for a late date, after the fall of Jerusalem in 70 A.D., are that the prophecy Luke gives is quite clear, and the belief that Luke depended on Mark (whom many think wrote only a bit before 70 A.D.). The claim that the prophecy is too clear rests on a faith in reverse which holds that there are few true prophecies. Yet John A. T. Robinson, a respected, but, far from conservative Anglican scholar, in his Redating the New Testament218 tried to prove all books of the New Testament were written by 70 A.D. And a Protestant scholar, Johannes Munck, in the Anchor Bible edition of Acts, argues at length to show Acts was written in the 60s A.D.219
Only in the case of Pauline authorship of Hebrews can we concede that most scholars disagree with the old decree. And even there, the argument rests largely on style and thought framework which are never conclusive.
7) Biblical Commission instruction of 1964 on form criticism
Many scholars today cite this instruction as an example of a reversal by the Church. Of course, it would not be a doctrinal reversal, just a change in the use of a technique in Scripture study, namely Form Criticism. Yet, form critics often do fall into doctrinal errors, and many seem to claim that the Church has approved.220 So let us see.
Form Criticism assumes that the Gospels arose in three stages. This is clearly true. First were the words and deeds of Jesus; we take it for granted that He, like any good speaker, adapted His presentation to the audience at hand. Second, the Apostles and others of the first generation preached what He did and said. Again, they would adapt their presentation. Third, some individuals in the Church, moved by the Holy Spirit, decided to write down some part of this basic preaching, thus producing the Gospels. So the Gospels are just part of the basic teaching of the Church, written down under inspiration. Hence the teaching of the Church is more basic than even the Gospels.
Further, each of the Evangelists had his own special purpose, and would present things to help prove a particular concept. For instance, Matthew was intent on revealing the fulfillment of prophecies in Jesus. The early form critics thought the Evangelists should not be called authors at all. They thought they did nothing but stitch together the individual sayings or acts of Jesus. But today the pendulum has swung the other way and critics claim to see the most intricate design and artistry in the Gospels.
Thus far we find no basic fault with Form Criticism. But the next step the critics take brings problems. They would like to find out at which of the three stages any of the "forms" or units took its present wording and pattern, to see what light this information could shed on interpretation. The trouble is how to determine where one part begins and another ends.
They propose to do this chiefly by noting the several different forms or patterns of writing that are used within a passage. We might even call these minigenres. Thus, for example, Rudolf Bultmann, the greatest pioneer in New Testament Form Criticism, first distinguishes sayings from narratives. He subdivides sayings into apothegms and dominical sayings. Apothegms are sayings of greater importance. They are further subdivided into controversy dialogues, scholastic dialogues (talking with sincere inquirers) and biographical apothegms. Dominical sayings include proverbs, prophetic and apocalyptic sayings, laws and community regulations. The second major group, narratives, includes miracle stories, historical stories, and legends.
Further help is supposed to come from noting the Sitz-im-Leben, the community-life situation which called for the choice of a particular form.
Of course, other Form Critics have modified this outline and there is far from unanimity of opinion about it. But this will provide a good frame from which to build our study.
After identifying the units out of which a passage is composed, the critics say the history of the tradition can be determined, noting what happened at which of the three stages. This is very good. But our essential question is "What does this show us of the reliability of various things in the Gospels?"
At this point we meet with quite a difference of opinion among critics. Some are almost totally skeptical, saying we cannot be sure of much of anything; others are more open-minded.
Among the more severe positions is the use of the so-called principle of dual irreducibility. This means briefly that a saving of Jesus can be considered authentic only if it meets two tests: (1) it does not fit with the Jewish thinking of the time; (2) it does not fit with the viewpoints of the later Church. This view is founded on extreme skepticism about the honesty of the Evangelists and others in the early Church. So they call the community "creative."
A special example of this creativity is supposed to appear in the Controversy Dialogues. Bultmann wrote about this in his History of the Synoptic Tradition (p. 40, n. 2): "The Controversy Dialogues as we have them ... are creations of the Church." In other words, imagine two groups within the Church disputing. Group A has no saying of Jesus to support what they believe, so they just invent one; Group B has none either, so they too invent a saying. No respect for the truth whatsoever! This, of course, is ridiculous. Can we really imagine people, who know that their eternity depended on getting the facts about Jesus, just making up things? We know that they could use different major genres of the sort we saw in Chapter 8. But we can, with the principles we saw in that chapter, determine what they meant to assert was factual. Bultmann himself admits his ideas on Controversy Dialogues are subjective. So he adds, "Naturally enough, our judgment will not be made in terms of objective criteria, but will depend on taste and discrimination." (p. 47).
Subjectivity shows again in the fact that Bultmann thinks the Controversy Dialogues arose "in the apologetic and polemic of the Palestinian Church ... It is quite inappropriate to call those passages paradigms, i.e., examples of preaching as Dibelius does." (pp. 40-41). For Dibelius said the community life situation (Sitz-im-Leben) had been preaching for missionary purposes. Two great pioneers cannot agree on so simple and basic a point.
As we said, the critics like to claim that the early community was "creative" and that it ran with no check at all by the Apostles, or by the Truth. The 1964 Instruction warned against this error. "Finally, there are others who make light of the authority of the Apostles as witnesses of Christ and their function and influence on the primitive community, but magnify the creativity of the community. All these things are not only opposed to Catholic doctrine, but lack a scientific foundation and are foreign to the true principles of the historical method."221
Acts 5:12-13 tells us about the real position and control exercised by the Apostles: "And by the hands of the apostles were many signs and wonders done among the people. And they were all with one accord in Solomon's porch. But of the rest no one of the rest dared to join himself to them; but the people magnified them." Acts 2:42 says, "And they were persevering in the doctrine of the apostles, and in the communication of the breaking of bread, and in prayers."
The critics see much creativity in miracle stories. They commonly try to compare them to pagan or rabbinic miracles saying they have the same pattern, and then give little value to the accounts. A large part of the reason is that, in varying degrees, critics reject in advance the possibility of anything supernatural. But we showed in Chapter 3 of this book that miracles checked thoroughly by modern science, still occur today. As for the alleged similarities to pagan or rabbinic miracles, even if they did exist, they would not disprove anything. Actually, there is scant similarity, as detailed studies have shown (summary of these studies and references to the original studies can be found in W. Most, The Consciousness of Christ, pp. 218-19). Besides, as we have said often, the fact that their eternity depended on getting at least the basic facts right about Jesus would assure that the community, led by the Apostles who had seen for themselves, would get the basic facts right.
(a) Did the evangelists change the sense?
At first, the critics thought the Evangelists should not be called authors at all. They were compared to stringers of beads because they supposedly just put together, in hardly any set order, what bits about Jesus they had gathered. Now the pendulum, predictably, has swung in the other direction and the Evangelists are called high artists, showing magnificent skill.
We do not deny some skill and artistry in the Evangelists; we admit that each had his own purpose or theological framework to stress. But this would not lead them to falsify anything at all. Nor could one Evangelist contradict another, for all were instruments of the Holy Spirit, the Chief Author of Scripture.
However now we must deal with the claim that by putting things in different orders or settings, the Evangelists could change the sense of things.222 To get at the truth, we need to distinguish two kinds of material, namely, simple, straightforward things, in contrast to things that are by nature enigmatic or of flexible meaning (such as proverbs and similar sayings).
About the simple things: the six basic points we have concluded surely cannot be affected by what setting they are put in: There was a man Jesus, who claimed to be a messenger from God, and proved it by miracles worked in special connections. He had an inner circle within His followers, told them to continue His teaching, and promised that God would protect it. Clearly, a change of setting for these items will not affect their meaning, and hence what we need to prove the teaching authority of the Church is intact. Really, most sayings of Jesus would mean precisely the same no matter what setting they were put in.
But there are some Biblical sayings that could shift in setting. Form criticism does a good service in pointing out that Mark 13:30 probably was first written with a setting referring to the fall of Jerusalem (most of Mark 13 seems that way): "This generation shall not pass until all these things be done." But in its present setting, after Mark 13:27, which seems to refer to the return of Jesus at the end, Mark 13:30 could be puzzling. Though we could still take generation to refer to the Christian era, which is to last to the end and would make all of Mark 13 a multiple fulfillment pattern.
Examine how the meaning of these two verses changes when we know the setting. Matthew 10:27 says, "That which I tell you in the dark, speak in the light: and that which you hear in the ear, preach upon the housetops." Luke 12:2-3 says, "For there is nothing covered, that shall not be revealed: nor hidden, that shall not be known. For whatsoever things you have spoken in darkness, shall be published in the light: and that which you have spoken in the ear in the chambers, shall be preached on the housetops."
Now, if we check the contexts, Matthew refers to public preaching by the Apostles later, of what Jesus told them in private. But in Luke the saying seems to refer to the hypocrisy of the Pharisees eventually being brought to light. So it does seem that this change of setting changed the sense of the passage.
What shall we say about this? First of all, Jesus was a travelling speaker. Anyone familiar with public speaking knows that speakers will often repeat things in different places, using slightly different language, or even with some shifts of idea. Jesus easily could have said the same thing in two different settings. Further, we happen to know from the Targum on Qoheleth 12: 13 that this saying really was a proverb. The meaning of proverbs is flexible.223 Even beyond that, it would not be unfaithful for an Evangelist to make different applications of some nonessential sayings-particularly proverbs and enigmatic things, which are flexible by nature. We know too that St. Paul could change the setting of quotations he made from the Old Testament. Yet he always did it in such a way that the thought was really faithful to the teaching of Christ.
We conclude that there can be such variations in applications, and on proverbs, and perhaps a few other sayings too; but they are not an instance of infidelity to the teachings of Jesus. And for certain they simply cannot touch the basic truths that we enumerated above, which are part of the foundation of faith. We say this for two reasons: first, the intense concern for facts stemming from concern for their own eternity on the part of the writers; second, the basic truths are, as we said, such that their meaning is simply by nature incapable of shifting when placed in a different setting.
In Chapter 16, we spoke briefly about retrojection-taking a scene that really happened after the Resurrection, and placing it before that. We saw in Chapter 16 that some types of retrojection would involve falsification, such as retrojecting a prophecy. A prophecy has no meaning if it does not refer to the future. But other kinds of retrojection would not be falsification, as long as the things really happened and the words were really said, in substance at least. However, we also said that it does not seem likely that the Synoptic Gospels would do this because it does not seem to fit with their unfanciful and factual genre or pattern.224
Form critics are quite inclined to claim retrojection, i.e., to say that certain things presented by the Gospels as though happening before Easter really took place after Easter. Various reasons are given for such claims, especially: the belief that the Gospels are not factual reports, the belief that Matthew and Mark clash in their picture of how much the disciples understood, and the belief that Jesus was ignorant.
Let us examine each of these points separately.
Fitzmyer forcefully expresses the first of these notions (italics all his): "The Biblical Commission calmly and frankly admitted that what is contained in the Gospels ... is not the record of the words and deeds of Jesus in the first stage of the tradition."225 We recall from above that there were three stages: first, the words and actions of Jesus (who adapted His presentation to the audience), second, the way the Apostles and others preached these, adapting also the presentation to the audiences, and third, the recording of part of this ongoing preaching by the Evangelists under inspiration.
Of course, the Biblical Commission did admit that there are these three stages, and did admit what is obvious, that the Apostles, like any good teachers or speakers, would adapt their presentation. However, we need to stress a statement of the 1964 instruction of the Biblical Commission that the critics are apt to leave out: "The fact that the Evangelists report the words and deeds of the Lord in different sequences, and that they express His statements in varied ways, not word for word, but yet keeping the sense-these things do not at all affect the truth of the narrative."226
So we can admit a difference in presentation, and even in wording of the sayings of Jesus. However, the 1964 Instruction insists that the revised wording and presentation still faithfully report what was really said and done. The concern of the Evangelists and Apostles and of the Christians in general for their eternity would ensure that they wanted facts.
The 1964 Instruction added something to which the critics like to point: "After Jesus rose from the dead and His divinity was clearly seen, the faith of the disciples not only did not wipe out the memory of the things that happened, but rather strengthened that [memory].... There is no reason to deny, however, that the Apostles handed down to their hearers what the Lord had really said and done in the light of the fuller understanding which they gained by being instructed by the glorious events of Christ, and being taught by the light of the Spirit of truth."227
We notice first that the Instruction insists on the fact that the disciples by then saw His divinity clearly and not only did not want to distort their memory of what the Lord had really said and done." So again, there is an insistence on the truth of the Gospels. Yet, to say that they wrote in the light of better understanding, could leave room for some retrojection. We must explore precisely in what areas that claim could consist.
A special case is clearly the second reason for supposing the retrojection which we mentioned above. Namely, the fact that Mark consistently pictures the disciples as slow to understand, while Matthew, chiefly in Matt. 14:33 and 16:16 has Peter and even the others calling Jesus "Son of [the living] God." How can we explain this seeming difference? One way is surely to say Matthew is retrojecting. Yet it is far from certain that he did so. First, that phrase, "Son of God" could be applied to any devout Jew. However, in context it surely means something more in Matt. 14:33 and 16:16. How much more? Commentators are much divided. So, even though we grant that the Evangelists did write in the light of fuller understanding, we would not have to say 14:33 and 16:16 involve clear and full knowledge of the divinity of Jesus.
Some228 commentators do say that Peter fully understood His divinity; others229 say Peter did not. They say Peter had only a slight grasp of the fact that Jesus was Son in some special, perhaps even unique sense. J. D. Kingsbury puts it this way: "The title Son of God in Matthew's Gospel refers to the deepest mystery of the person of Jesus, viz. that in Him God draws near with His eschatological rule to dwell with humankind."230 This of course is not the same as saying clearly that Jesus was the natural Son of God.
If one says Peter did not know the divinity of Jesus, he must still explain the fact that Jesus praises Peter in 16:16 ff. as having a revelation from the Father, and with the fact that Peter later on can still deny Jesus. In (c) below we will take up these problems.
Critics also like to claim ignorance in Jesus.231 Almost all scholars today insist on this, in spite of the clear teachings of the Church.232 My book, The Consciousness of Christ, quotes all of these documents, and answers every argument for ignorance advanced by any scholar of note. Of course, if they claim the ignorance of Jesus, they then can say that Jesus did not understand enough to directly found the Church-and so they have an added reason for saying the promise of primacy was really given after Easter.
(c) Retrojection of Peter's confession
Quite understandably, Protestants like to try to do away with a grant of real primacy to Peter. Thus J. D. Kingsbury, in the article cited above, argues at some length to try to show that Peter was merely presented as the typical disciple and spokesman for the others, but yet is not given any more power than the others. In Chapter 16 we saw that regardless of all debates about Matt. 16:16, we know from the teaching of the Church-protected by the promises of the Messenger sent from God, Jesus, that there is a real papal primacy.
These critics will, of course, favor retrojection. Many Catholic scholars also contend retrojection of Matt. 16:16 ff. e.g., Joseph Fitzmyer.233
So let us evaluate separately the two possibilities about Peter's understanding.
a) The first possibility is that Peter did not know the divinity of Jesus before Easter. If so, we might have retrojection of two points, the confession of divinity (if Peter's words mean that) and the promise of primacy. Even then, these two points would remain true in themselves. And we have seen, in Chapter 16, that John 21 does report the actual grant after Easter. One reason against retrojection would be the strongly factual character of the Synoptics, plus the fact that Mark and Luke paint the Apostles as dull-how Matthew represents them is unclear, since, as we said, the sense of the words, "Son of [the living] God" is difficult to fix. Still further, would a special revelation to Peter have been needed after Easter? It is not so likely.
b) The second possibility is that Peter did know. This seems the more likely option. But there is a problem: if Peter did know, how could he have been so slow later in accepting the Resurrection, and even, before that, deny Jesus? Mystical theology provides the answer. When one gets an interior revelation, a locution, it will seem fully certain at the time it is given, but later, saints have often become uncertain about the revelation. God permits this, to try them. St. Teresa of Avila, a Doctor of the Church, who knew about these things from personal experience, reports in her Interior Castle 6.3.7, "When time has passed since it was heard, and the workings and the certainty it [the soul] had that it was God have passed; doubts can come, thinking if it was the devil, if it was imagination. None of these things was there when it was present; it [the soul] would have died for the truth [of the locution]."235
So Peter could have had a revelation, and have believed it firmly and so have confessed the divinity of Jesus. Yet, as St. Teresa says, the certainty could fade. This is especially likely in Peter, who had a strong belief that the Messiah would be a great conqueror. When Peter saw Jesus failing and being condemned to death, we see how Peter could have given up his previous belief and even denied Jesus.
As we said in Chapter 16, the lack of these added words in Mark and Luke could be explained by noting that neither Mark nor Luke were present. Especially, Mark depended, as we saw in Chapter 10, on Peter; Peter's modesty could have led him not to preach the additions.
(d) An ignorant Jesus?
Many attempts at interpretation by form critics have resulted in ideas that are gravely erroneous. A major example is the way Reginald H. Fuller, one of the most prominent form critics, treats Mark 8:29-33.236 Jesus and the Apostles are in Caesarea Philippi, pagan territory. Jesus asks what people are saying about Him and they tell Him various things. Then, according to Fuller, there are four units:
1) Jesus asks the Apostles who they say He is? Peter answers, "You are the Messiah."
2) Jesus tells them not to tell that He is Messiah.
3) Jesus then predicts His Passion. Peter objects.
4) Jesus turns on Peter, saying, "Get behind Me Satan!"
The critics see no problem with units 1 and 4; but they think that the Church faked units 2 and 3.
They say that the second unit resulted from the fact that Jesus did not know He was Messiah. Later, the Church was embarrassed that He never said He was Messiah. So, to cover up, the Church faked conversations in which He would admit it, but command silence. The critics call this the "messianic secret."
First, the fidelity of the Evangelists and Apostles, and their concern for their own eternity, would not permit such faking.
Further, the support the critics offer for their claims of fakery is no good. They appeal to cases where Jesus works miracles and commands silence. Their strongest case is Mark 5:43, in which Jesus raises the daughter of Jairus.237 W. Wrede, a major critic, comments that there is no sense in a command to silence in this instance because anyone could see that the girl was alive. But the critics have missed an important element: How long did the fact need to be hidden? In this case, just long enough for Jesus to slip out (for the miracle was done in the house, with only a few present) and get on His way. He did not want the crowds to know because they might have seized Him and proclaimed Him King Messiah, in their false notion of a messiah as a mighty conqueror.
So if those in the house would have been quiet for a short while, Jesus could be on His way.
Would not the crowds remember? People are surprisingly fickle; proof is Palm Sunday with its Hosannas followed less than a week later with "Crucify Him!" Or remember Paul and Barnabas in Lystra (Acts 14:8-19). They had cured a cripple, and the crowds went wild wanting to offer sacrifice to them as gods. Yet, a few minutes later, some Jews arrived from the last place Paul had preached and inflamed the crowds so that they stoned Paul and left him for dead.
Still further, the critics think Mark was an excellent artist. A fine artist knows that if he produces fiction, and that is what the critics think this is, that fiction must be plausible. If he cannot make it plausible, he will just omit an episode. So, if Mark had thought of faking an implausible incident in the story of the daughter of Jairus, he would have had the sense to drop the idea if it had not really happened. The case is similar to many other incidents which the critics cite as proof for the "messianic secret."
We turn to the third unit, in which Jesus predicts His Passion, and Peter objects. Here the critics say that the Passion prophecies were also faked by the Church. They say, if He had really foretold His death and resurrection, the Apostles would not have been so surprised when it happened.
Here again, the fact that the Evangelists and the Church were so concerned with their own eternity would exclude the possibility of fakery. But in addition, there is no need to be surprised at the behavior of the Apostles. Far more educated men, even today, show a quite similar lack of perception, as we explained at length in Chapter 15.
So we return to Fuller's form-critical analysis of Mark 8:29-33. He had said that two of the four units had been faked by the Church. We have examined his reasons, and found them without merit. But he, and countless others with him have not understood and have concluded that units 2 and 3 are fakes and the truth is found in units 1 and 4. They believe that Jesus did not know He was Messiah and resented the very idea. Thus, when Peter says, "You are Messiah," Jesus angrily turns on him and retorts, "Get behind Me Satan!"
Very interestingly, the same R. H. Fuller now has second thoughts about Form Criticism and the whole "historical-critical method" in general. Fuller now thinks that the historical-critical method is bankrupt. He says that bankruptcy should be overcome by feedback received from the believing community.238 So should we just ask what people feel or think, instead of finding what Scripture says?
Many other scholars too are giving up on the historical-critical method today.239 That is regrettable, for the method itself is not basically bad and has good potential if used properly. It is another case of the pendulum reaction in which scholars went too far and abused Form Criticism, not realizing that seldom does it really prove anything, since the evidence it works with is almost totally internal or subjective. So, they reached conclusions on unsolid premises, ignoring more solid proofs and thinking the conclusions solid, presumed to build still more on top of them with equally unsolid footing. No wonder they now give up. If only they would see it as it really is, and make proper use of the method!
(e) Warnings in the 1964 instruction
Many today quote the Instruction telling us we may use Form Criticism. But oddly they quote only parts of it, and do not add the stern warnings the Instruction contains: "He [the scholar] should act circumspectly because philosophical and theological principles that cannot at all be approved are often found mixed with this method, [principles] which not rarely vitiate both the method and the conclusions on literary matters. For certain practitioners of this method, led astray by prejudiced opinions of rationalism often refuse to admit the existence of the supernatural order, and the intervention of a personal God in the world by revelation properly so called, and the possibility and actual existence of miracles and prophecies."240 Even some Catholics have failed in these respects, saying the Old Testament prophecies of Christ were hindsight and denying many miracles. They have forgotten that Vatican I insisted, "Moses and the prophets and especially Christ the Lord put forth many most manifest miracles and prophecies."241 They have also forgotten the Targums, which we studied earlier.
Had the critics heeded the sound advice of that Instruction, they would not now be in despair over the historical-critical method. Nor would they have reason to say this method proves the Church is wrong on things. (Recall the sad error of Norman Perrin on form criticism of Mark 9:1, which we saw earlier).
(f) Did Vatican II undermine teaching authority?
Fr. Avery Dulles, S.J., in his presidential address to the Catholic Theological Society of America in 1976 said, "Indirectly ... the Council worked powerfully to undermine the authoritarian theory and to legitimate dissent in the Church ... Vatican II quietly reversed earlier positions ... on a number of important issues."242 He gives several examples.
First, he says that in biblical studies, the Council approved of a critical approach to the New Testament, in line with the Divino afflante Spiritu of Pius XII, and thereby delivered the Church "from the incubus of the earlier decrees of the Biblical Commission." Secondly, he says the Decree on Ecumenism reversed earlier attitudes to the ecumenical movement. Next, the Declaration on Religious Freedom "accepted the religiously neutral State" and so reversed earlier teaching. Further, he claims that the Constitution on the Church in the Modern World "adopted an evolutionary view of history" and that this ended "more than a century of vehement denunciations of modern civilization." Therefore, he said, the Council admitted that "the ordinary magisterium of the Roman pontiff had fallen into error." So, he asserts the Popes had unjustly treated and damaged the careers of loyal theologians.
Fr. Dulles did refer to the statement of Vatican II (On the Church §25) on the teaching authority of even noninfallible statements, but dismissed it lightly. (We examined that text in studying the three levels of teaching, in Section 2 of this Appendix).
First, in a way, Dulles charges a reversal by Pius XII on Scripture study techniques. My book, Free From All Error (Prow, 1985), answers this claim in detail, and shows that the early decrees of the Biblical Commission are not really an "incubus"-mythological male devil who attempts to force intercourse on human women!
The Council favored the ecumenical movement but gave cautions about it. It warned against a tendency, often seen in ecumenists, to strain interpretations of doctrine. It said, "It is altogether necessary that the full doctrine be lucidly explained. Nothing is so foreign to ecumenism as that false peace-making in which the purity of Catholic doctrine suffers detriment, and its genuine and certain sense is obscured."243
Did the Declaration on Religious Freedom "accept the neutral state" and so reverse the previous view "that the State should formally profess the truth of Catholicism,"? Dulles has missed something. In the very first section of that Declaration, the Council said, "It leaves untouched [integram] the traditional Catholic doctrine about the moral duty of men and societies toward the true religion and the one-only Church of Christ."244 The Council did add, in Section 2, that people have a right not to be threatened with prison, death, etc., if they are wrong. But it did not say they have a right to be wrong. The reason is clear: A right is a claim to have or to do something. Basic rights come from God. As the U.S. Declaration of Independence says, "All men are endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable rights." Does God really give someone a claim or right to be wrong? Hardly. It is enough to give the claim or right not to be penalized by the state for being wrong. The Church has never denied that, though some today, especially followers of Archbishop Lefebvre, claim it did deny it. We will see about that claim in detail in Appendix I.10.
If men have a right not to be coerced, does the Church lose the right to teach with authority? Not at all. It is one thing to teach, with the authority of Christ, what is true and another thing to threaten force if one does not believe. As we saw earlier in 2 of this Appendix, the same Council also strongly asserted the rights of the Church to teach, and our obligation in conscience to believe.
Did the Constitution on the Church in the Modern World adopt an evolutionary view of history, and modified optimism regarding secular systems of thought? Fr. Dulles gives no reference to any part of that constitution that would say such things. He just refers us to an article in Theological Studies by L. J. O'Donovan for support.245 O'Donovan makes clear that what Dulles has in mind is a supposed influence of the ideas of De Chardin on the Council. The strongest opinion favoring Chardin at the Council came from Bishop Spulbeck of Meissen, Germany, who thought Chapter 3 of that Constitution showed much of his influence. Does it? First, there is no mention even of evolution of the human body in that chapter, or of evolution of doctrine. It does speak of progress in material civilization, but it also warns: "Sacred Scripture teaches ... that the great advantages of human progress bring with them grave temptation: the hierarchy of values is disturbed, good and evil intermingle ... Dour combat with the powers of darkness pervades all human history ... Hence the Church ... trusting in the design of the Creator, and admitting that progress can contribute to the true happiness of man, cannot help making heard the saying of the Apostle: 'Be not conformed to this world.' [Rom. 12] ... man can and should love the things God has created ... in giving thanks to the Benefactor for them, and using and enjoying them in poverty and freedom of spirit, he is brought into the true possession of the world, as if nothing, and possessing all things."246
We find neither a trace of De Chardin in this, nor any contradiction of past teaching. Nor do we know of "vehement denunciations of modern civilization" coming from the Church-just warnings against abusing creatures, which is the same thing we find in the quote we just read from Vatican II. (On De Chardin, see Chapter 15 above).
So Fr. Dulles failed to prove that the Council had said that the Pope had "fallen into error" and had "unjustly harmed the careers of loyal and able theologians." Yes, there have been restrictive actions by Rome, but with good reason. We will see a fine case of that later in treating of evolution.
(g) Did Vatican II revolutionize all theology?
If such a claim were true, we would suspect that the Church had been wrong before, or is wrong now. How do we check such a claim?
First, we must be careful to notice that this question concerns only doctrine and does not concern legislation, such as changes in the Mass or questions of prudence, which we discussed in Appendix I.1.
Next, it is obvious that the right way to find out about such a claim is to read carefully every one of the 16 documents of Vatican II, comparing each statement with previous teaching on the same point. Clearly, we need to know well what the previous teaching was. Whenever we find a difference, we should make a note of it; at the end, we should add them all up. This is a lot of work, but it is the only way to really know for sure.
I did precisely that, as soon as each document was available. Of course anyone could overlook something; but it is not likely he would overlook something large and striking, especially, a reverse in previous teaching. Further, in giving public lectures in many places in the U.S., I have challenged audiences, "If you think you have found a change I missed, please say so." Also, I have published the list of changes given below several times, making the same request of readers.247
Only the changes listed below are legitimate; other alleged changes do not stand up under examination. In these appendices we examine every other alleged change.
Not one of the changes I found was a reverse of doctrine. All changes were of a different nature in that they consisted of giving answers to previously debated points. There are at most only ten such changes, which we will now list. Some of these are not entirely new, but we will mention them because of important renewed emphasis.
1) The Council probably, though not clearly, taught that baptized Protestants are members of the Church in some lesser way. (On the Church §§ 9, 14, 15, 49; On Ecumenism 3, 22. Also Chapter 23 above.).
2) The Pope and the Bishops form a body or college with the Pope as head. This is parallel to the relation of Peter and the Apostles. This is not really new since most major decisions have always been made in this collegial way, though the Pope can even define alone. (On the Church, Chapter 3, esp. §25.)
3) Not all Jews bear the special guilt for the death of Christ, just those who shouted for His blood before Pilate. (On Non-Christians §4.)
4) All men are to be immune from coercion in religious matters. This does not mean they have a right to be wrong, nor does it take back what we quoted earlier about the obligations of men and societies to the one true Church (On Religious Freedom §§1,2). The Council did recognize, in the area of noncoercion, some aspects not taught before. But it did not contradict previous teaching in that. We will examine this in detail in Appendix 1.10.
5) By Baptism and Confirmation all are called to the lay apostolate-not necessarily to join an organization, but at least to make Christ's principles present and operative in their own places in the world. (On the Church §33.)
6) Every priestly ministry shares in the universality of the mission Christ entrusted to His Apostles. (On Priests § 10.)
7) The Mystical Body, the Church, will still exist as such in Heaven. (On the Church §48.)
8) Public authority should see to it, out of justice, that public funds for education are given in such a way that parents are really free to follow their consciences in picking schools. (On Christian Education §6.)
9) The legitimate use of marriage is noble and worthy. (Church in Modern World §49.) The Church never denied this, though some theologians had spoken too dimly of marriage. Section §50 reaffirms that procreation is the primary purpose of marriage, mutual love being subordinate: "Marriage and conjugal love are ordered by their nature to procreate and educate off spring." (There have been claims that the Council reversed teaching on the ends of marriage.)
10) If the whole Church, people and authorities, have ever believed a doctrine as revealed, this belief cannot be wrong, is infallible. (On the Church §12.)
It is obvious then that Vatican II did not create a revolution in theology. There are no reversals of teaching at all, and some of the above are only a little different or stronger than previous teachings, but all are in the same direction.
(h) Vatican II vs. Pius IX, Gregory XVI, and Leo XIII on religious freedom
The charge is made that Vatican II, in saying that all have a right to freedom from coercion in their beliefs and worship, and even that no one is to be "forced to act contrary to his conscience, or impeded from acting according to his conscience, in private and in public, either alone, or associated with others, within due limits," contradicted earlier teachings.248
We will compare the strongest texts of the earlier popes with Vatican II. But first, we must make an important observation. God has made two commitments, which at times can seem to contradict each other. He has given us human free will; and He has promised to protect the teaching of the Church. Clearly, when these run in opposite directions, He will need to draw a very tight line, to keep both commitments; i.e., He will not allow the Church to teach error, yet He will not do more than what is strictly needed for that purpose. Therefore we must interpret all texts with precision, just as they were all drawn up with precision. Further, even if we know that as a matter of fact certain ideas were popular at the time a text was drafted, only what is explicitly set down on paper will be protected-not also things that we may know were simply within the minds of the drafters, but not expressed.
Still further, just as we must avoid private interpretation of Scripture, so too we must avoid private interpretation of the documents of the Church.249 Otherwise, someone could take two documents, interpret each as he pleases-and lo! they clash. Of course, he made them clash by his own private interpretations. An instance of this is Feeney's error in interpreting the teaching "no salvation outside the Church."
Gregory XVI said that it is "an evil opinion that souls can attain eternal salvation by just any profession of faith, if their morals follow the right norm," and he called it absurd ``that anyone should defend and vindicate for just anyone freedom of conscience."250 Pius IX wrote, in his Quanta cura, that it is wrong to say "that the best condition of society is one in which there is no recognition of the duty of the government to repress violators of the Catholic religion..." Finally, Leo XIII, in his Immortale Dei, said, "So too that liberty of thinking and of publishing anything whatsoever (quidlibet), with no restraint at all (omni moderatione posthabita) is not a good by its own nature over which human society should rightly rejoice, but is [on the contrary] the font and origin of many evils ... for this reason, a state errs from the rule and prescription of nature if it allows a license of opinion and actions to such an extent that without penalty it is permitted to lead minds away from the truth and souls from virtue."
We added the Latin to the text of Leo XIII, since the version found in The Church Speaks to the Modern World: The Social Teachings of Leo XIII (Doubleday, 1954) is not fully accurate. If one had to depend on that version alone he might readily think that Vatican II clashed with Leo XIII.
The key word in the first statement we quoted from Gregory XVI is by. It is wrong to say one can be saved by just any religious beliefs. Of course he cannot, but he might be saved in spite of them. Pius IX, who speaks as strongly as Gregory XVI against the errors in question, also wrote, in his Quanto conficiamur moerore, "God ... because of His supreme goodness and clemency, by no means allows anyone to be punished with eternal punishment who does not have the guilt of voluntary fault."251 In effect, Pius IX taught that if one follows the moral law as he knows it, somehow the needed faith will be supplied.
In the second part, Gregory XVI objected to "freedom of conscience." There are two possible interpretations: a man has (a) a right to be wrong, or (b) a right not to be jailed etc. for his false beliefs. Clearly, Gregory XVI condemned the first. No one has a right to be wrong, as we saw earlier in this Appendix, in Section 8. But the Pope said nothing that had to mean a man could not have a right to be free from jail for being wrong. Centuries ago, about 212 A.D., Tertullian wrote to Scapula, Roman Governor of Africa, "It is not proper for religion to compel religion."252 Really, the very thought would be foolish. What a man believes in his mind cannot be changed by any threat. His outward behavior might change, but not his inner belief.
We turn next to Leo XIII, since his words will shed some light on how to understand Pius IX. The key to the text we cited above from him is to note the extreme position he is condemning. Every theologian knows that the Church often teaches via condemned propositions, and will mark a text as in error if even one thing is wrong with it. So Leo XIII condemned a libertinism that would permit publishing anything whatsoever-- which could include teaching the grossest immorality, a proposal to overthrow a good government by force, even headhunting-all without any restraint at all (omni moderatione posthabita). He said such a state of affairs is not one over which society should rejoice. Obviously not. Later in the same document, the same Pope adds careful qualification: "Really, if the Church judges that it is not permitted that various kinds of divine worship have equal rights with the true religion, yet it does not for this reason condemn the rulers of states who, to attain some great good or prevent evil, patiently allow each [kind of cult] to have a place in the state."
Again, Leo XII carefully qualifies his words in his Libertas Praestantissimum. Speaking of the "freedom of speaking and publishing whatsoever one pleases" (quodcumque libeat), he comments, "It is scarcely necessary to say that there can be no right for a freedom that is not moderately tempered, but which goes beyond measure and bounds ... For if a boundless license (infinita licentia) of speaking and writing be conceded to just anyone (cuilibet), nothing is going to remain holy and inviolate, not even those greatest, most true judgments of nature, which are to be considered as the common and most noble patrimony of the human race, will be spared."
A bit earlier in the same document, the Pope had said, "For these reasons, while not conceding any right to things that are not true and honorable, it [the Church] does not refuse to let public authority endure these, that is, to avoid some greater evil, or to attain or keep some greater good. The most provident God, though He is infinite in power, and can do all things, yet permits evils in the world, in part, so as not to impede greater good, in part, lest greater evils follow. In ruling states, it is right to imitate the Ruler of the World."
We turn to Pius IX. Besides the text quoted above from him, he also condemned the notion that, "The best condition of civil society ... requires that human society be structured and governed with no consideration of religion, as if it did not exist."253 Of course, that is not the "best." Just as each individual needs God's help, so too does the state. Hence the state as a state really should worship God. Vatican II taught the same, in §1 of its Declaration on Religious Freedom. "It leaves untouched the traditional Catholic doctrine about the moral duty of men and societies toward the true religion and the one-only Church of Christ." That doctrine to which Vatican II referred is precisely what Pius IX taught. Some have wondered if, though the state should worship God, needing His help, yet, does history show the state so incapable of finding the truth that it is excused by inability?
In the same document, Pius IX gave his strongest statement. He tells us it is wrong to say "that the best condition of society is one in which there is no recognition of the duty of the government to repress violatores of the Catholic religion, except to the extent that public order demands." We left the word violatores in Latin, since the nearest English, "violators," is much too weak. A parking meter will show a sign, "violation" if one stays a few minutes too long. But Latin would not express it that way. The authoritative Harper's Latin Dictionary says the corresponding Latin verb, violare means "to treat with violence, injure, invade, profane, outrage." Violatores, then, are those who commit violare.
So here are the boundaries of the critical zone, as it were, in which we need to check for contradictions:
1) Pius IX says it is not the best state of things if there is no recognition of the duty of the state to repress violatores.
2) Pius IX adds that the state must do more than just repress what public order would insist on anyway.
3) Vatican II insists we must not force anyone to act against his conscience, or to fail to do what conscience commands "within due limits."
We need to note carefully that Vatican II focuses on the other's conscience. We must not force a person to do what it forbids, or to omit what it commands, so as not to force a man into sin. But if conscience merely permits, there is no such problem. So let us check all the chief possibilities against this list.
First, to bomb a church, or to publish false charges (slander) against the Catholic Church would surely be violare. But any normal state, for the sake of public order, stops people from bombing and slandering because they are clearly outside the "due limits" of Vatican II.
Second, what if a Protestant, orally or in print, defends his own doctrine? Again, no problem because this is not strong enough to be violare, so Pius IX would not wish for repression. Vatican II would insist that one must not be forced to go against, or be ordered not to do what conscience commands.
Third, what if a Protestant, orally or in print, not merely defends his own doctrine, but positively attacks the doctrine of the Catholic Church? Here we must notice there are many degrees and varieties. At one end of the scale there are attacks so virulent that Pius IX would call them violare, and want, at least ideally, to have the state stop them. What would Vatican II say? That Council only wanted us not to force one to act against what conscience commands, or to omit what conscience commands.
Would a Protestant's conscience really command him to make a rather vicious attack on Catholic doctrine? Not likely. It might permit him to, but Vatican II insists only that we must not force him to omit what it commands. In other words, we must not force him to sin. Even if he would think conscience commands, we could and would say that such an alleged command as this is "beyond due limits," for he would still have all the rights mentioned above, to believe, to worship, to defend his own doctrine. He need not be given the right to make vicious attacks on another church.
If his attacks were mild, the case would be less clear. We would have a hard time to be sure they should be called violare and also a hard time determining if they were "within due limits." Now a teaching that is unclear is not binding to the extent that it is unclear. Hence, no one can say that there is a contradiction of two teachings on points on which they are not clear.
We must add that Pius IX merely said we must not call it the best or ideal condition in which the state does not act at all. This fits well with what Pius XII said in his Ci riesce of Dec. 6, 1953. In it the Pope asked, "Can it be that in determined circumstances, He [God] does not give to man any mandate, or impose a duty, finally that He gives no right to impede and to repress that which is erroneous or false?254 He answers his own question by an appeal to the Gospel. Christ in the parable of the cockle gives the following admonition: "Let the cockle grow along with the good seed, for the sake of the harvest." So "in determined circumstances" God does not even give the state a right to suppress error by force. As the parable says, there would be too much danger of damaging the good crop at the same time.
Some objectors still persist and say that Pius IX had written that the state must suppress even some things which public order would not require suppressed. Vatican II said that the state must not suppress as long as a person is "within due limits." The objectors then say that the two expressions, "public order" and "within due limits" are identical in extent of meaning. If that were true, there would be a clash of two texts.
However, we must notice that the words of Vatican II "within due limits" are vague by nature. And so no one can prove that there is a clash. In a civil court, a person is considered innocent until proved guilty. No one can prove Vatican II had to mean the very same spread or extension as Pius IX. Even if some at the Council had such a sense in mind, as we said in the introduction to this section, only what is explicitly set down on paper counts, only that is providentially protected.
Still further in working out step by step the various possibilities, we showed concretely how it is easily possible to take Vatican II in such a way that it does not clash with Pius IX.
Therefore, if we believe the promises of Christ to protect His Church, we will not say Vatican II is guilty even when not proved such. As we saw above (Section 2 of this Appendix), Pius XII told us in Humani generis that even the non-solemn theological decisions of a Pope in encyclicals are protected by the promise of Christ, "He who hears you, hears Me." Of course the same applies to the teaching of a Pope with a General Council. To say without proof or support, "I think the two expressions mean the same" reveals not a faith that the promise of Christ is valid, but a baseless 'faith" that His promises have failed.
(i) Reversal by the Church on evolution?
A cute story-whether true or not-will help us here. Little Johnnie came running to his mother, saying, "Mommie, I found out there ain't no Santy Claus, and I'm going to look into this little Jesus story too!"
The psychology is interesting. Both beliefs were on the same level in the child's mind, even though both are very different in reality. But when one was shaken, it was natural that the other should be shaken too.
Similarly, when Darwin first proposed his theory of evolution, many Catholics and Protestants thought it contradicted Scripture. It really did not, or did not have to, at least. It would contradict only if one thought there could be a development of humans from primates without any intervention of God to create a human soul. This concept is called atheistic evolution. But the important thing is that many people thought this was a challenge to Scripture, and it seemed so scientific, even though the evidence Darwin had was very poor.255 Many thought this way because they held fundamentalistic notions about the first chapters of Genesis. They were wrong. The Church, as we shall see, never had taught such fundamentalism. But people would say that since the teaching on Genesis is wrong, perhaps the whole faith is wrong.
It was for this reason that the Church used disciplinary, not doctrinal restrictions on publications on evolution for some time. The Church never taught that it was false or contrary to the Faith. But it was dangerous, for the psychological reason we explained. So the Church attempted to hold back on such writings. Today we know there is no contradiction, unless as we said one believes an atheistic brand of evolution, and so the Church no longer objects to writings favoring evolution.
So we need to ask if the Church ever really taught fundamentalism on Genesis. First, let us be sure we know what fundamentalism means. A fundamentalist is one who acts as if Genesis were written by a 20th century American, in 20th century forms of expression. He says, "The Bible tells us everything was created in six days. That means 6 times 24 hours. And it says God took clay, made a figure, and breathed on it, and it came to life." The real trouble is that such a person ignores the use of literary genres (which we explained in Chapter 8). Fundamentalists think they are being strictly faithful to Scripture. Sadly, we must say they are being unfaithful. The supreme rule is that we must find out what the inspired writer meant to convey or assert. To really find that we must consider what devices of writing, genres and other features too, he used. Only then do we know what he meant or what he asserted. What he asserted is the true sense of Scripture. So the fundamentalists are not faithful to Scripture. They are imposing their own meaning on Scripture, instead of trying to find what the inspired writer meant to say.
To put it another way, the phrase "literal sense" is used in two ways today: (1) the fundamentalist way, which acts as if the writer were a modern American, and (2) the true literal way, when we do as we just described and find out what the writer intended to assert.
So we return to our question of whether the Church ever taught fundamentalism. The answer is no. We start with the Patristic age in which most of the Fathers were looking for what they called the "spiritual sense," which is really an allegorical sense. It is not the sense basically intended by the writers, but neither is it fundamentalistic. Hence, since we need to find the Fathers virtually unanimous to prove something is revealed, we see at once we cannot prove they taught fundamentalism, for they were not even trying to find the literal sense, no matter in which of the two ways mentioned we take the phrase.
St. Augustine, who himself dealt mostly in the allegorical sense, nevertheless wrote a work, De Genesi Ad Litteram, an attempt at a literal commentary on Genesis. In it he commented, "That God made man with bodily hands from the clay is an excessively childish thought, so that if Scripture had said this, we should rather believe that the writer used a metaphorical term, than to suppose God is bounded by such lines of limbs as we see in our bodies."256
Similarly, St. John Chrysostom, in speaking of the account of the creation of Eve from a rib of Adam in Gen. 2:21-22 said, "See the condescendence [adaptation to human weakness] of divine Scripture, what words it uses because of our weakness. 'And He took,' it says, 'one of his ribs.' Do not take what is said in a human way, but understand that the crassness of the words fits human weakness."257
In much the same way, when in that age and later, speakers in the Church recounted the story of creation in the same words as Genesis, or in very similar, equivalent words, that did not constitute an interpretation, a statement that we must take Genesis fundamentalistically.
Yet, even though the Church never taught fundamentalism, many people had such notions. Hence evolution shook them, and hence, the Church wanted to protect them until the time when people had adjusted as they should.
Today we have an explicit statement by Pius XII in Humani generis (1950). "The teaching office of the Church does not forbid that the theory of evolution ... be investigated and discussed by experts in both science and theology ... [but] the Catholic faith orders us to retain that souls are immediately created by God.... they are rash and go too far who act as if the origin of the human body from preexisting and living matter ... were certain and fully proved."258
Unfortunately, the media today commonly offer only two options: (1) atheistic evolution, and (2) fundamentalism on Genesis. Both are wrong. Matter cannot lift itself from methane soup to life, from fish to bird, and on to ever higher and higher life. There must be a cause, a source for the higher being at each level (we recall some things in Chapter 4). So atheistic evolution is foolish, even when viewed by reason alone without the help of revelation. Fundamentalism is regrettable too.
But there are two other options people do not see: (1) Creation by God without the use of any evolutionary process. This would be similar in effect to what fundamentalism holds, but it would not rest on a fundamentalistic view that ignores genre, and so would not have to suppose 6 days of 24 hours, nor would it have to suppose just the sequence of things created listed in Genesis; (2) Creation by God with the use of an evolutionary process, in which He would make use of laws He Himself had established, and in which He would create the added new being or higher being at each point where a higher form of life would appear.
We might add that Fundamentalist creationists, in spite of their unfortunate ignoring of literary genre, yet have amassed much impressive evidence to show that the purely scientific evidence in favor of human evolution is very scanty. In fact, most evolutionists today have radically changed the theory of Darwin, and they admit that the fossil record simply does not provide the many intermediate forms of life that his theory would suppose.259
(j) False teachings by Popes Liberius, Vigilius, and Honorius
1) Pope Liberius
Did this Pope sign an Arian creed? At the Synod of Arles in 353 A.D. which condemned St. Athanasius, the great defender of the sound doctrine of the Council of Nicea, even the Pope's legates gave in and voted for the condemnation. Of course, such a vote, taken under duress, had no doctrinal force. Further, the Pope repudiated his own legates, and called for another local council. This one met at Milan in 355. Again there were threats, but the Pope refused to condemn St. Athanasius. So Emperor Constantius had the Pope arrested at night, and taken to Milan. When the Pope still held out, he was sent into exile to Thrace.
Subsequent events are not fully clear. We know the Pope went into exile in 357, and returned the next year. It seems he did submit somewhat. But any statement made under duress, while a personal failing, would not be a false teaching given to the whole Church.
But more importantly, there were several creeds worked out by bishops at Sirmium in Pannonia, where the Emperor's court was in residence. Only one of these creeds was strictly heretical; the others were only ambiguous. It seems that the Pope signed one of the ambiguous creeds under duress. So for a double reason, he did not teach doctrinal error to the Church. He acted under duress, which made his actions invalid, and what he actually signed was not heretical anyway, just ambiguous.
2) Pope Vigilius
Emperor Justinian (527-65) was convinced he could bring the heretical Monophysites back to the Church if he could get a papal condemnation of certain writings of Theodore of Mopsuestia, Theodoret of Cyrus, and Ibas of Edessa. The latter two had taught the heresy of Nestorianism (two persons in Jesus). The first, Theodore, at least paved the way for it. Theodoret and Ibas had retracted their errors, and so were cleared by the Council of Chalcedon.
So the issue was largely tactical or political. The Three Chapters, as they were called, could be condemned for they had taught error; but since Theodoret and Ibas retracted their errors, the two could be declared valid.
Vigilius was at first an antipope, backed by the Empress Theodora, to whom he had promised he would approve three heretical Monophysites, Anthimus, Severus, and Theodosius. Vigilius, while antipope, did indeed keep that promise. However, when he finally became the legitimate Pope, he quickly retracted what he had done as antipope.
Severe pressure came a few years later from Justinian. The Pope was arrested in 545, and taken to Constantinople. There he did agree to condemn The Three Chapters, in 548. But then the Pope retracted the condemnation and refused to sign an edict by Justinian in 551 which condemned The Three Chapters. The Pope had to flee. Justinian proposed a Council, which was not to be truly universal but attended by only a few bishops from the west. The Pope did condemn the errors of Theodore of Mopsuestia and Theodoret of Cyrus, but let Ibas alone. Justinian was not content, so the Council condemned Vigilius until such time he should repent. Of course a Council acting without a Pope has no validity at all. Yet, Vigilius broke under pressure, and did condemn The Three Chapters
Vigilius is not an admirable character. But his shifting statements on The Three Chapters did not involve doctrinal error. As we said, Theodore of Mopsuestia was guilty of error and did not retract. The other two could be condemned for their errors, or could be absolved since they had retracted. So no matter what the Pope said about them, it would be doctrinally correct.
3) Pope Honorius
In the seventh century, Sergius, Patriarch of Constantinople, was also trying to reconcile the heretical Monophysites. Sergius spoke of "one energy" or "one mode of operation in Christ." This was ambiguous because it could mean either (a) there was never a conflict between the human and the divine will in Jesus, or (b) there was no human will at all in Jesus. The second meaning would be heretical, but the first would be fully true.
Pope Honorius seemed not to fully grasp the maneuverings of Sergius. Hence, in 634 he wrote two letters to Sergius that were not heretical, but were ambiguous. Not long after, Pope John IV, in 641, wrote a letter to Emperor Constantius III defending Honorius from a charge of heresy. He said Honorius just meant that Jesus "never had two contrary wills."
But the Council of Constantinople in 681 A.D. wanted to go farther. It voted to call Pope Honorius a heretic. However, as in the case of Pope Vigilius, a Council acting without the Pope has no doctrinal force. Pope Agatho was on the verge of giving formal approval to that conciliar false teaching. But God provided. Pope Agatho died before the conclusion of the council. His successor, Pope Leo II, followed the guidance of Divine Providence and stated the matter precisely: "Pope Honorius ... failed to add luster to this Apostolic Church by teaching the Apostolic tradition, but on the contrary, permitted the spotless [faith] to be defiled."
So Pope Honorius was not charged with heresy-he was not guilty of that. He was charged, rightly, with carelessness by letting true doctrine become ambiguous.