Fidelity to Christ’s Magisterium

News: Commentary
by Bradley Eli, M.Div., Ma.Th.  •  •  December 14, 2017   

Canon 212: "Catholics have the right and duty to manifest their concerns to the bishops"

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The faithful continue to seek clarity from Rome on Catholic teaching and Church practice — something that the Church says they have a right to do.

The latest instance of the faithful asking Rome for truth and guidance came last week with 37 prominent pro-life Catholics signing the widely reported Pledge of Fidelity. This was preceded by the Filial Correction earlier this year, by the now famous dubia in 2016 and by the Filial Appeal in 2015.

These requests for spiritual assistance have gone unattended by the hierarchy. This silence is contrary to canon 213 in the Code of Canon Law, which reads, "The Christian faithful have the right to receive assistance from the sacred pastors out of the spiritual goods of the Church, especially the word of God and the sacraments."

Learned Catholics in asking Church leaders to clarify Catholic teaching and practice aren't doing so because they are in doubt. They're asking for the sake of others who are in doubt, owing to the lack of unity among Church leaders on various moral teachings and Church disciplines. The faithful need a strong and clear voice coming from Rome so that they can echo that word to those whom they evangelize. Canon 208 says of the faithful, "There exists among all the Christian faithful a true equality regarding dignity and action by which they all cooperate in the building up of the Body of Christ, according to each one's own condition and function."

Canon 212 says the faithful are not only "free to make known" their spiritual needs to their pastors but more emphatically, "[T]hey have the right and even at times the duty to manifest to the sacred pastors their opinion on matters which pertain to the good of the Church."

These Catholics are simply asking Rome to oppose errors on abortion, contraception, divorce and remarriage and homosexuality. As Pope St. Felix III warned, "Not to oppose error is to approve it; and not to defend truth is to suppress it, and indeed to neglect to confound evil men, when we can do it, is no less a sin than to encourage them."

Watch the panel discuss the faithful seeking clear guidance from Rome in The Download—Fidelity to the Church.


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