Theology Q and A – Now thru Sunday

Ask your questions in the comments below.

Does the Pope have authority to change doctrine or centuries-old liturgical discipline?

The Pope decides what is and is not correct doctrine. If a widely-accepted teaching is said to be a dogma, the Pope can decide that it is not a dogma, is not correct, and can teach the correct dogma in its place. So no one can oppose the Pope on the grounds that they have determined that an idea is dogma; the Pope can disagree, teach the contrary, and reject that alleged dogma. This is not the Pope changing doctrine or dogma, but teaching what is and is not truth. He has the authority over doctrine.

The Pope also has authority over discipline, and he absolutely can change disciplines that have been practiced for centuries. He it is who rules whether a discipline is changeable or not. If he rules it is changeable, then he may change it. No one can contradict him by claiming that a discipline is so old that it cannot be changed.

Recent claims to the contrary by Cardinal Burke are schismatic.

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17 Responses to Theology Q and A – Now thru Sunday

  1. Dawn says:

    Oh my gosh! These comments by Cardinal Burke make me feel so sad. How can he elevate a tradition over the dogmatic teaching on the Pope’s charism to have authority over discipline. I am going to pray very much with total trust in God that a greater good will come from this current schism and for all in the church. Clearly, this points to the great discord that caused Pope Francis to act in order to maintain unity in the church.

  2. John Platts says:

    Will the Las Vegas, Nashville, Phoenix, or Raleigh dioceses be elevated to archdioceses? All four of these dioceses are located in states that have more than one diocese (but no archdiocese).

  3. Matt Z. says:

    Im confused about your first paragraph. So a teaching like contraception being intrinsically evil the Pope can declare this teaching not dogma but doctrine and reverse it, and then teach it is permissible although it has been always taught throughout the history of the Church as intrinsically evil?

    • Ron Conte says:

      No. When did I say that? The teaching on contraception is dogma. Popes do not change dogma. But they do decide what is and is not dogma. So if a subculture or some popular priest or media outlet is claiming that their ideas are dogma, the Pope can reject that claim and define what is the true dogma on that subject.

  4. Matt Z. says:

    Ok I must have missed the part “is said to be a dogma.” Thanks for clarifying.

  5. Matt says:

    In the Our Father prayer “…and lead us not into temptation,…” has always been challenging for me to understand. Do you have a post on this topic?

    • Ron Conte says:

      I don’t recall writing on that topic. God’s providence sometimes puts us to the test, as when the Apostles had to respond to the Passion and Crucifixion, and most of them fled. God does not wish us to sin, so He does not lead us into sin. But He has every right to require us to carry our crosses and to stand up in faith against various challenges. Sometimes God permits temptations to occur, other times He intervenes to spare us.

    • justin1745 says:

      Based on Ron’s comments on TC, this exact sort of test is being applied to traditional Catholic communities right now. The Pope’s restrictions on the TLM are, from a traditionalist perspective, about as severe as you can get without banning the 1962 Missal altogether. Traditional Catholics are very attached to this form of the Mass. The traditionalists are being tempted to reject Papal authority rather than deny themselves their attachment to a particular form of liturgy. As I gather from Ron’s writings, he believes the severity of TC was positively willed by God as a test, and each man and woman must decide are they Catholic Christian first or a Traditionalist first.

    • Ron Conte says:

      Yes, exactly. The Church is run by God. People need to stop treating the Pope like a politician from the opposing party.

  6. Thomas Mazanec says:

    If a rational Extraterrestrial Intelligent being from another planet were to wish to convert to Catholicism, with baptism, Communion, etc. would that be possible? Remember, the being would not be a descendant of Adam.

    • Ron Conte says:

      I would think the Church would have to decide that question. But it seems to me that God wills all created persons to go to Heaven, unless they sin gravely and do not repent.

  7. Matt Z. says:

    Would the Commandment of Jesus to love one another also apply to love the angels?

    • Ron Conte says:

      The holy angels are part of the Church, they pray for us in Heaven, and we should love them and the just souls in Heaven as well.

  8. Matt says:

    A young relative recently passed away after a short battle with cancer. During the illness there must have been thousands of Catholics praying, fasting, Masses being offers, for a miracle that the relative be healed. I once led a prayer group in prayer for a healing of the cancer but was afterwards rebuked by someone that I did not add “in accordance to God’s Will” in my prayers. I was told my prayers would discourage teenagers and others, as death will occur, because there will no miracle. She said then in future they will be discouraged to pray for healings. Basically I was told that I need to add in my prayers in front of groups with the ending “in accordance to God’s Will.” In addition, the person told me that miraculous healings are extremely rare and that the death will occur. She said it is good to pray for a healing but in reality it will not happen. She said rather focus my prayers for comfort and peace for the relative and her family. She said she knows several doctors and either none or one have ever seen a miraculous healing in their long careers.

    I felt absolutely discouraged with the attitude of this person. We are praying that God heals this relative who had stage iv cancer. However, the relative did pass away. My spiritual life became dry afterwards as I barely had the feeling to pray anymore. So many were praying for her. Fasting, rosaries being said, Masses, first order relics, several Anointing of the Sick, It made me think that the person may be correct that miraculous healings are rare these days for a person diagnosed with an aggressive stage iv cancer. Their life may be extended but eventually death will occur..

    Am I praying it incorrectly when leading prayer groups and not adding per God’s Will? Should I even bother repeatedly praying for a healing? I am so confused.

    • Ron Conte says:

      That person is wrong. Ignore what she said. Who is she to determine how everyone else should pray? And who is she to put limits on miracles from God? Any spiritual advice or spiritual instruction that leads to discouragement and loss of hope is not from God.

      We should always seek the will of God. But in truth, due to His mercy, His will is often to give the faithful what they ordinately desire. You do not need to add “in accordance with God’s will” to each prayer for healing. Simply ask for what you wish, and express your love for God and others, and your faith and hope in Christ. Any wording is fine. There is no required wording. Only love, faith, and hope are required. Now miracles are, in one sense, rare; but in another sense, they are not rare. This woman has a ministry praying for miracles, and she and her prayer group have obtained over 100 miraculous healings.

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