Thursday, February 21, 2008

Chair of St. Peter

Revelation, the Person of Jesus Christ: “After God had spoken many times and in various ways through the prophets, ‘in these last days he has spoken t us by a son’ (Heb. 1, 1-2). For he sent his Son, the eternal Word who enlightens all men, to swell among men and to tell them about the inner life of God. Hence, Jesus Christ, sent as ‘a man among men, speaks the words of God’ (Jn. 3, 34), and accomplishes the saving work which the Father gave him to do. As a result, he himself…completed and perfected Revelation and confirmed it with divine guarantees. He did this by the total fact of his presence and self-manifestation… He revealed that God was with us…”[1]

The “Deposit:” “Sacred Tradition and sacred Scripture make up a single sacred deposit of the Word of God, which is entrusted to the Church…

Interpretation: “The task of giving an authentic interpretation of the Word of God, whether in its written form or in the form of Tradition, ahs been entrusted to the living teaching office of the Church alone. Its authority in this matter is exercised in the name of Jesus Christ. Yet this Magisterium is not superior to the Word of God, but is its servant. It teaches only what has been handed on to it…

“It is clear, therefore, that, in the supremely wise arrangement of God, sacred Tradition, sacred Scripture and the Magisterium of the Church are so connected and associated that one of them cannot stand without the others. Working together, each in its own way under the action of the one Holy Spirit, they all contribute effectively to the salvation of souls.”[2]

Ratzinger on Conscience: An immanent ontological tendency in being of man as image of the Trinity:

“This means that the first so-called ontological level of the phenomenon conscience consists in the fact that something like an original memory of the good and true… has been implanted in us, that there is an inner ontological tendency within man, who is created in the likeness of God, toward the divine. From its origin, man’s being resonates with some things and clashes with others. This anamnesis of the origin, which results from the godlike constitution of our being is not a conceptually articulate knowing, a store of retrievable contents. It is so to speak an inner sense, a capacity to recall, so that the one whom it addresses, if he is not turned in on himself, hears its echo from within. He sees: That’s it! That is what my nature points to and seeks.”[3]

The Maieutic Function of the Magisterium: John Henry Newman remarked: “Certainly, if I am obliged to bring religion into afterdinner toasts,… I shall drink – to the Pope, if you please, - still, to conscience first, and to the Pope afterwards.” Ratzinger remarks: “We can now appreciate Newman’s toast first to conscience and then to the pope. The pope cannot impose commandments on faithful Catholics because he wants to or finds it expedient. Such a modern, voluntaristic concept of authority can only distort the true theological meaning of the papacy. The true nature of the Petrine office has become so incomprehensible in the modern age no doubt because we only think of authority in terms which do not allow for bridges between subject and objects. Accordingly, everything which does not come from the subject is thought to be externally imposed. But the situation is really quite different according to the anthropology of conscience which we have tried to come to an appreciation of in these relations. The anamnesis instilled in our being needs, one might say, assistance from without so that it can become aware of itself. But this ‘from without’ is not something set in opposition to anamnesis but ordered to it. It has maieutic function, imposes nothing foreign, but brings to fruition what is proper to anamnesis, namely its interior openness to the truth….

“The true sense of teaching authority of the pope consists in his being the advocated of the Christian memory. The pope does not impose from without. Rather he elucidates the Christian memory and defends it. For this reason the toast to conscience indeed must precede the toast to the Pope because without conscience there would not be papacy. All power that the papacy has is power of conscience. It is service to the double memory upon which the faith is based and which again and again must be purified, expanded and defended against the destruction of memory which is threatened by a subjectivity forgetful of its own foundation as well as by the pressures of social and cultural conformity.”[4]

[1] Vatican II, Dei Verbum, #4.
[2]Ibid #10.
[3] J. Ratzinger, “Conscience and Truth,” Proceedings of the Tenth Bishops’ Workshop, Dallas, Texas (1991) 20.
[4] Ibid 22

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