Friday, June 03, 2005

Who interprets the Word of God?

For the Catholic, this question has been answered already. Vatican II teaches us clearly that, "..the task of authentically interpreting the Word of God, whether written or handed on (Tradition), has been entrusted exclusively to the living teaching office of the Church, whose authority is exercised in the name of Jesus Christ. This teaching office is not above the Word of God but serves it, teaching only what has been handed on, listening to it devoutly, guarding it scrupulously and explaining it faithfully in accord with a divine commission and with the help of the Holy Spirit; it draws from this one deposit of faith everything which it presents for belief as divinely revealed" (Dei Verbum, No. 10).

There is no way around this. And when we consider that this same "living teaching office of the Church" has said definitively that "The Church has no authority whatsoever to confer priestly ordination on women" and that "this judgment is to be held definitively by all the faithful," there can be no further question regarding this matter if one is authentically Catholic.

You see, in order to be a Catholic, one must satisfy himself or herself that the answers to all questions pertaining to faith or morals are contained in a Depositum Fidei (Deposit of Faith) which has been revealed by God and entrusted to a Custodian (the Magisterium) and endowed with infallible protection against any change or error.

The only reason for believing any of it is God's solemn promise that it is all infallibly true. Therefore, it is all or none. When a Catholic doubts to the point of real disbelief, or dissents outright from just one item that God has placed in this Deposit of Faith, he or she is saying that the basis - or reason - for his/her faith is his or her own private judgment rather than that of the infallible teaching authority established by God and which alone (as Vatican II states clearly) has the "task of authentically interpreting the Word of God, whether written or handed on."

Do we accept the teaching of Vatican II or do we reject this clear and unambiguous teaching? Are we Catholic or no?

Paul Anthony Melanson

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