Thursday, February 16, 2012

Jeannine Gramick and associate adhere to an erroneous interpretation of the sensus fidelium

In an article for The Washington Post entitled "A Catholic case for same-sex marriage," Jeannine Gramick and Francis DeBernardo write, "As Catholics who are involved in lesbian and gay ministry and outreach, we are aware that many people, some of them Catholics, believe that Catholics cannot faithfully disobey the public policies of the church’s hierarchy. But this is not the case. The Catholic Church is not a democracy, but neither is it a dictatorship. Ideally, our bishops should strive to proclaim the sensus fidelium , the faith as it is understood by the whole church. At the moment, however, the bishops and the majority of the church are at odds. A survey published in September by the Public Religion Research Institute found that 52 percent of Catholics support marriage equality and 69 percent support civil unions..." (See full article here).

As Wikipedia relates, "After a review of her [Jeannine Gramick's] public activities on behalf of the Church that concluded in a finding of grave doctrinal error, the Vatican’s Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF) declared in 1999 that she should no longer be engaged in pastoral work with lesbian and gay persons. In 2000, her congregation, in an attempt to thwart further conflict with the Vatican, commanded her not to speak publicly about homosexuality. She responded by saying, "I choose not to collaborate in my own oppression by restricting a basic human right [to speak]. To me this is a matter of conscience."

So intelligent Catholics will take anything Gramick has to say cum grano salis.  What is most interesting is that Gramick, who could never be accused of being a scholar, first acknowledges that, "The Catholic Church is not a democracy" and then proceeds to assure us that, "a survey the Public Religion Research Institute found that 52 percent of Catholics support marriage equality and 69 percent support civil unions."

What difference do these statistics make if the Catholic Church is not a democracy [and it is not]?  Gramick wants us to believe that the "sensus fidelium," "the faith as it is understood by the whole church," is calling for acceptance of homosexual unions.  But Gramick's understanding of the sensus fidelium is about as cogent as her understanding of Catholic moral teaching.

What does the Church mean by the sensus fidelium? We [those of us who are still sane] find an excellent explanation from the pen of Fr. John A. Hardon, S.J. In The Catholic Catechism - A Contemporary Catechism of the Teachings of the Catholic Church. Fr. Hardon explains that: "Those who believe, and insofar as they believe, are one community not only or mainly because they subjectively believe but because what they believe is objectively true, indeed is the Truth that became man and dwelled among us. Against this background, it is easier to see what universal agreement among the faithful must mean. They are faithful insofar as they are agreed on the truth, where the source of their agreement is not a semantic use of the name 'Christian' or 'Catholic,' but the deeply interior adherence to what God has revealed.

Consequently, whether they realize it or not, all who agree on the revealed truth, under the guidance of the sacred magisterium, belong to the faithful. Their agreement on the truth and allegiance to the magisterium gives them universality, i.e., spiritual unity. The truth interiorly possessed gives them consensus, and not the other way around, as though their consensus on some doctrine made it true." (pp. 226-227).

There are those within the Church, like the imbecilic Gramick, who would appeal to the sensus fidelium in an attempt to justify dissent. Their argument is that if a significant portion of those who identify themselves as Catholics hold or adhere to a dissenting opinion, the Holy Father and Bishops should submit their minds and wills to that group's opinion. In other words, such people would have us believe that the sensus fidelium is something independent of the Magisterium.  This is simply a back-door approach toward making the Church a democracy.

Such an attitude is in direct opposition to the teaching of Vatican II:

"The entire body of the faithful, anointed as they are by the Holy One (cf. Jn 2:20, 27), cannot err in matters of belief. They manifest this special property by means of the whole people's supernatural discernment in matters of faith when 'from the bishops down to the last of the lay faithful' they show universal agreement in matters of faith and morals. That discernment in matters of faith is aroused and sustained by the Spirit of truth. It is exercised under the guidance of the sacred teaching authority, in faithful and respectful obedience to which the People of God accepts that which is not just the word of men but truly the Word of God (cf. 1 Thes. 2:13). Through it, the People of God adheres unwaveringly to the faith given once and for all to the saints (cf. Jude 3), penetrates it more deeply with right thinking, and applies it more fully in its life." (Lumen Gentium, No. 12; citing St. Augustine, De Praed. Sanct. 14, 27:PL 44, 980).

The Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, in its Instruction on the Ecclesial Vocation of the Theologian, had this to say: "Although theological faith as such then cannot err, the believer can still have erroneous opinions since all his thoughts do not spring from faith. Not all the ideas which circulate among the People of God are compatible with the faith. This is all the more so given that people can be swayed by a public opinion influenced by modern communications media" (No. 35).

Athanasius, Bishop of Alexandria for 45 years, opposed emperors and a world in love with heresy by patiently presenting and defending the truth of Christ's divinity.  Such was his fortitude in opposing the multitudes who preached heresy that he was exiled five times and suffered intense persecution.  But because he remained faithful to Revelation, against what Jeannine Gramick would incorrectly term the "sensus fidelium," history has crowned him Athanasius Victor contra mundum: Athanasius Conqueror of the world of heretics.

No, Jeannine Gramick and associate fail to make a Catholic case for same-sex "marriage."  But they do make a strong case for the idea that some Catholics should be fitted for a straight-jacket.

1 comment:

Jennifer Goguen said...

This post is AWESOME!!! LOL....Beautiful refutation of Jeannine Gramick's distorted notion of the sensus fidelium....thank you!

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