New Vatican theological document explores sensus fidei
July 04, 2014
The International Theological Commission (ITC) has released a study on the Sensus Fidei in the Life of the Church, exploring the relationship between the sense of the faithful and the guidance of the teaching magisterium.
The sensus fidei—the sense of the faithful—refers to “the personal capacity of the believer, within the communion of the Church, to discern the truth of faith,” the ITC document explains. That sense, the commission says, “is a vital resource for the new evangelization.”
Tracing the development of the Church’s understanding of the sensus fidei from the Scriptures and Church fathers through the 20th century, the ITC emphasizes that this “spiritual instinct” is a gift of faith, and as such it is strengthened by prayer and active participation in the life of the Church.
While faithful Catholics have a natural instinct for the truths of the faith, the ITC says, the magisterium exists to test and guide those instincts. Acknowledging that at times the faithful may find it difficult to accept certain Church teachings, the document argues that the gift of faith, which gives rise to the sensus fidei, will impel loyal Catholics to seek a better understanding:
The faithful must reflect on the teaching that has been given, making every effort to understand and accept it. Resistance, as a matter of principle, to the teaching of the magisterium is incompatible with the authentic sensus fidei.
- The Sense of Faith (L’Osservatore Romano)
- Sensus Fidei in the Life of the Church (International Theological Commission)