Tuesday 16th July 2024

Home » Our Catholic Faith » Currently Reading:

Bishop Strickland . . . We Need An Authentic Understanding Of The Development Of Doctrine

November 18, 2019 Our Catholic Faith No Comments

By MOST REV. JOSEPH STRICKLAND

In the beginning of the Letter of Jude in the New Testament the Apostle uses a phrase which is of great importance as we consider what it means to guard the deposit of faith. The letter was written to deal with a similar smoke of confusion in the early Church as we are experiencing in the Church today. The fundamental doctrines of the Christian faith were being challenged. Jude writes: “Beloved, being very eager to write to you of our common salvation, I found it necessary to write appealing to you to contend for the faith which was once for all delivered to the saints.”
This “once for all” still stands — and it must be defended against some who seek to change the unchangeable. We must “contend for that faith.” Even some in ordained leadership are telling the faithful, amidst all the smoke of our current theological confusion, that certain errant teachings and practices are a “development of doctrine.” But this concept of development is being improperly used as a cover for attempts to change what is unchangeable.
St. Cyril of Jerusalem, in his instructions to the Catechumens on the Creed, exhorted them, “In learning and professing the faith, you must accept and retain only the Church’s present tradition, confirmed as it is by the Scriptures. Although not everyone is able to read the Scriptures, some because they have never learned to read, others because their daily activities keep them from such study, still so that their souls will not be lost through ignorance, we have gathered together the whole of the faith in a few concise articles.
“Now I order you to retain this creed for your nourishment throughout life and never to accept any alternative, not even if I myself were to change and say something contrary to what I am now teaching, not even if some angel of contradiction, changed into an angel of light, tried to lead you astray. For even if we, or an angel from heaven, should preach to you a gospel contrary to that which you have now received, let him be accursed in your sight.”
In the last sentence of the above quote, this holy Bishop of Jerusalem was quoting from the Apostle Paul’s Letter to the Galatians (Gal. 1:8, 9). He explained the importance of his command to those preparing for the Easter Sacraments in these words:
“This summary of the faith was not composed at man’s whim, the most important sections were chosen from the whole Scripture to constitute and complete a comprehensive statement of the faith. Just as the mustard seed contains in a small grain many branches, so this brief statement of the faith keeps in its heart, as it were, all the religious truth to be found in Old and New Testament alike. That is why, my brothers, you must consider and preserve the traditions you are now receiving. Inscribe them across your heart.”
“Observe them scrupulously, so that no enemy may rob any of you in an idle and heedless moment; let no heretic deprive you of what has been given to you. Faith is rather like depositing in a bank the money entrusted to you, and God will surely demand an account of what you have deposited.”
His use of the biblical image of the mustard seed is helpful in our consideration. The seed contains within it the entire genetic code of the plant. So, as the Church grew, the deposit handed down from Jesus Christ Himself to the Apostles and their successors has developed — but it has not changed. Let me use my own life as another example to drive home this vital point. I recently celebrated my sixty-first birthday. I am still the man who celebrated his thirtieth birthday, but I have developed.
To summarize, we have been given a Deposit of Faith from the Lord Himself, handed down to the Apostles — of which the Bishops of the Church, including me, are successors — to guard and to teach. It is a Deposit which we cannot and must not seek to change. The Deposit of Faith is the Truth, given to us from the One who is the Way, the Truth and the Life (John 14:6). It must be handed on without alteration.
Jesus made it clear in His Charge to the first Apostles to teach the Nations “everything I have commanded you.” He promised “know that I am with you always, until the end of the world” (Matt. 28:18-20). And, He is still with us, by the power of the Holy Spirit, in His Church. He is the Head of His Church. We are members of His Mystical Body. We must teach what the Head has given us to teach.
The concept of the “development of doctrine” is not itself a doctrine. It is a theory by which we explain how our understanding of doctrine deepens and grows. In the wake of the welcomed canonization of St. John Henry Cardinal Newman, there appears to be an effort among some to misuse his teaching on the development of doctrine as a vehicle to push forward what would be a rejection of that theory — and a betrayal of this Saint’s teaching.
St. John Henry Cardinal Newman drew his inspiration for his 1845 Essay on the Development of Christian Doctrine from the fifth-century monk and theologian, St. Vincent of Lerins. That Saint’s writings on the development of doctrine are found in what is called the Commonitorium. In a recent article for First Things entitled “Four Ideas About Development,” Michael Pakaluk, a Professor of Ethics at the Catholic University of America, explained:
“If you actually read the treatise Commonitorium by St. Vincent of Lerins — often cited as the origin of the theory of development — you’ll see that his main preoccupation is to show that the faith never changes. Pope John Paul II’s motto for the turn of the millennium was ‘Jesus Christ is the same, yesterday, today, and tomorrow’.”
Of course. Pope St. John Paul II was quoting the Letter to the Hebrews (Hebrews 13:8) The misuse of the theory of the development of doctrine to attempt to change what is unchangeable is more of the bad fruit arising from a doctrinal relativism within the Catholic Church which, at times, seems to deny the very existence of objective truth.
On April 18, 2005, on the eve of the convocation wherein he would be chosen to serve as the Successor of Peter and take the name Benedict XVI, Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger gave a homily wherein he warned of the spreading dangers of this kind of relativism in the teaching of the Church which he loved and served, indeed still serves, with such fidelity. Here are his words, which eerily seem even more important in this current hour:
“. . . How many winds of doctrine we have known in recent decades, how many ideological currents, how many ways of thinking. . . . The small boat of thought of many Christians has often been tossed about by these waves — thrown from one extreme to the other: from Marxism to liberalism, even to libertinism; from collectivism to radical individualism; from atheism to a vague religious mysticism; from agnosticism to syncretism, and so forth.
“Every day new sects are created and what Saint Paul says about human trickery comes true, with cunning which tries to draw those into error (cf. Eph. 4, 14). Having a clear faith, based on the Creed of the Church, is often labeled today as a fundamentalism. Whereas relativism — which is letting oneself be tossed and ‘swept along by every wind of teaching’ — looks like the only attitude which is acceptable in today’s standards. We are moving towards a dictatorship of relativism which does not recognize anything as for certain and which has as its highest goal one’s own ego and one’s own desires.”
Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger, soon to become Pope Benedict XVI, continued in this homily, by calling the Church to an “adult faith”:
“However, we have a different goal: the Son of God, true man. He is the measure of true humanism. Being an ‘Adult’ means having a faith which does not follow the waves of today’s fashions or the latest novelties. A faith which is deeply rooted in friendship with Christ is adult and mature. It is this friendship which opens us up to all that is good and gives us the knowledge to judge true from false, and deceit from truth.”
“We must become mature in this adult faith; we must guide the flock of Christ to this faith. And it is this faith — only faith — which creates unity and takes form in love. On this theme, Saint Paul offers us some beautiful words — in contrast to the continual ups and downs of those who were are like infants, tossed about by the waves: (he says) make truth in love, as the basic formula of Christian existence. In Christ, truth and love coincide. To the extent that we draw near to Christ, in our own life, truth and love merge. Love without truth would be blind; truth without love would be like ‘a resounding gong or a clashing cymbal’ (1 Cor. 13,1).”
Bishops, indeed all clergy, religious, consecrated and lay faithful of the Church, should prayerfully reflect on this beautiful deposit continually. We should strive to know it, understand it, love it and live it. It is the true measuring stick of that mature faith to which now Pope Emeritus Benedict called all of us to in the homily quoted above.
Under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, we can, and we should, seek ever fresh ways of presenting and applying the deposit of faith. That is the PROPER understanding of the development of doctrine. But we have NO RIGHT to change the doctrine and no authority to alter it.
We must follow the solemn promise, the one we made at the time of our Episcopal ordination, to “maintain the deposit of faith, entire and incorrupt, as handed down by the apostles and professed by the Church everywhere and at all times.” This is a sacred duty. If we fail in our duty, not only will we cause the faithful to suffer, but we will offend God — and face serious consequences for failing to live out the charge we were given at our episcopal ordination.
To conclude. Although the Church’s understanding of this body of teaching, this sacred deposit, can and does PROPERLY develop in how it is expressed, and deepen in how it is understood, it can never be changed in substance.
The Catechism of the Catholic Church notes: “The apostles entrusted the sacred deposit of the faith [the depositum fidei; see 1 Tim. 6:20; 2 Tim. 1:12-14] contained in Sacred Scripture and Tradition, to the whole of the Church. ‘By adhering to (this heritage) the entire holy people, united to its pastors, remains always faithful to the teaching of the apostles, to the brotherhood, to the breaking of bread [the Eucharist] and the prayers. So, in maintaining, practicing and professing the faith that has been handed on, there should be a remarkable harmony between the bishops and the faithful’” (CCC, n. 84).
We need an authentic understanding of the development of doctrine.

Share Button

2019 The Wanderer Printing Co.

Vatican and USCCB leave transgender policy texts unpublished

While U.S. bishops have made headlines for releasing policies addressing gender identity and pastoral ministry, guidelines on the subject have been drafted but not published by both the U.S. bishops’ conference and the Vatican’s doctrinal office, leaving diocesan bishops to…Continue Reading

Biden says Pope Francis told him to continue receiving communion, amid scrutiny over pro-abortion policies

President Biden said that Pope Francis, during their meeting Friday in Vatican City, told him that he should continue to receive communion, amid heightened scrutiny of the Catholic president’s pro-abortion policies.  The president, following the approximately 90-minute-long meeting, a key…Continue Reading

Federal judge rules in favor of Gov. DeSantis’ mask mandate ban

MIAMI (LifeSiteNews) – A federal judge this week handed Florida Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis another legal victory on his mask mandate ban for schools. On Wednesday, Judge K. Michael Moore of the Southern District of Florida denied a petition from…Continue Reading

The Eucharist should not be received unworthily, says Nigerian cardinal

Priests have a duty to remind Catholics not to receive the Eucharist in a state of serious sin and to make confession easily available, a Nigerian cardinal said at the International Eucharistic Congress on Thursday. “It is still the doctrine…Continue Reading

Donald Trump takes a swipe at Catholics and Jews who did not vote for him

Donald Trump complained about Catholics and Jews who did not vote for him in 2020. The former president made the comments in a conference call featuring religious leaders. The move could be seen to shore up his religious conservative base…Continue Reading

Y Gov. Kathy Hochul Admits Andrew Cuomo Covered Up COVID Deaths, 12,000 More Died Than Reported

When it comes to protecting people from COVID, Andrew Cuomo is already the worst governor in America. New York has the second highest death rate per capita, in part because he signed an executive order putting COVID patients in nursing…Continue Reading

Prayers For Cardinal Burke . . . U.S. Cardinal Burke says he has tested positive for COVID-19

VATICAN CITY (CNS) — U.S. Cardinal Raymond L. Burke said he has tested positive for the virus that causes COVID-19. In an Aug. 10 tweet, he wrote: “Praised be Jesus Christ! I wish to inform you that I have recently…Continue Reading

Democrats Block Amendment Banning Late-Term Abortions, Stopping Abortions Up to Birth

Senate Democrats have blocked an amendment that would ban abortions on babies older than 20 weeks. During consideration of the multi-trillion spending package, pro-life Louisiana Senator John Kennedy filed an amendment to ban late-term abortions, but Democrats steadfastly support killing…Continue Reading

Transgender student wins as U.S. Supreme Court rebuffs bathroom appeal

WASHINGTON (Reuters) -The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday handed a victory to a transgender former public high school student who waged a six-year legal battle against a Virginia county school board that had barred him from using the bathroom corresponding…Continue Reading

New York priest accused by security guard of assault confirms charges have now been dropped

NEW YORK, June 17, 2021 (LifeSiteNews) — A New York priest has made his first public statement regarding the dismissal of charges against him.  Today Father George W. Rutler reached out to LifeSiteNews and other media today with the following…Continue Reading

21,000 sign petition protesting US Catholic bishops vote on Biden, abortion

More than 21,000 people have signed a letter calling for U.S. Catholic bishops to cancel a planned vote on whether President Biden should receive communion.  Biden, a Catholic, supports abortion rights and has long come under attack from some Catholics over that…Continue Reading

Bishop Gorman seeks candidates to fill two full time AP level teaching positions for the 2021-2022 school year in the subject areas of Calculus/Statistics and Physics

Bishop Thomas K. Gorman Regional Catholic School is a college preparatory school located in Tyler, Texas. It is an educational ministry of the Catholic Diocese of Tyler led by Bishop Joseph Strickland. The sixth through twelfth grade school provides a…Continue Reading

Untitled 5 Untitled 2

Attention Readers:

  Welcome to our website. Readers who are familiar with The Wanderer know we have been providing Catholic news and orthodox commentary for 150 years in our weekly print edition.


  Our daily version offers only some of what we publish weekly in print. To take advantage of everything The Wanderer publishes, we encourage you to su
bscribe to our flagship weekly print edition, which is mailed every Friday or, if you want to view it in its entirety online, you can subscribe to the E-edition, which is a replica of the print edition.
 
  Our daily edition includes: a selection of material from recent issues of our print edition, news stories updated daily from renowned news sources, access to archives from The Wanderer from the past 10 years, available at a minimum charge (this will be expanded as time goes on). Also: regularly updated features where we go back in time and highlight various columns and news items covered in The Wanderer over the past 150 years. And: a comments section in which your remarks are encouraged, both good and bad, including suggestions.
 
  We encourage you to become a daily visitor to our site. If you appreciate our site, tell your friends. As Catholics we must band together to rediscover our faith and share it with the world if we are to effectively counter a society whose moral culture seems to have no boundaries and a government whose rapidly extending reach threatens to extinguish the rights of people of faith to practice their religion (witness the HHS mandate). Now more than ever, vehicles like The Wanderer are needed for clarification and guidance on the issues of the day.

Catholic, conservative, orthodox, and loyal to the Magisterium have been this journal’s hallmarks for five generations. God willing, our message will continue well into this century and beyond.

Joseph Matt
President, The Wanderer Printing Co.

Untitled 1

Catechism

Today . . .

Senators Slam Army After Presentation Calls Pro-Life Americans Terrorists

Senators James Lankford (R-OK) and Ted Budd (R-NC), along with Representative Richard Hudson (R-NC) and their colleagues, sent a letter to Secretary of the Army Christine Wormuth demanding answers after an anti-terrorism training conducted at Fort Liberty, North Carolina depicted Pro-Life Americans as terrorists. “We write regarding social media reports that anti-terrorism training conducted at Ft. Liberty, North Carolina depicts Pro-Life Americans as terrorists. Specifically, the slides identify National Right to Life, ‘Choose Life’ license plate holders, and…Continue Reading

Vatican excommunicates Viganò for schism

The Vatican has officially excommunicated Archbishop Carlo Maria Viganò, the Dicastery for the Doctrine of the Faith announced Friday. Viganò was found guilty of the canonical crime, or delict, of schism, or the refusal to submit to the pope or the communion of the Church, at the conclusion of the Vatican’s extrajudicial penal process on July 4. The Vatican’s doctrine office announced the “latae sententiae” excommunication (automatic excommunication) on July 5, citing Viganò’s “public statements manifesting his refusal…Continue Reading

Doctors urge U.S. medical groups to ‘immediately stop’ transgender treatments on children

Top medical groups and physicians have signed a “Doctors Protecting Children” declaration that expresses “serious concerns” about the treatment of minors who are uncomfortable with their biological sex, one advocate told EWTN News this week.  Jill Simons, the executive director of the American College of Pediatricians, told “EWTN News Nightly” anchor Tracy Sabol on Thursday that the medical group has been “sounding the alarm” after the recently leaked files from the World Professional Association of Transgender Health in which…Continue Reading

Pedophile advocacy group praises Germany’s new law softening punishment for child pornography

(LifeSiteNews) — In 2010, Jan Flesichhauer and Wiebke Hollersen penned a chilling essay for Der Spiegel titled “How the Left Took Things Too Far.” “One of the goals of the German 1968 movement was the sexual liberation of children,” they wrote. “For some, this meant overcoming all sexual inhibitions, creating a climate in which even pedophilia was considered progressive.”   That climate involved discussions about whether sex with children might be healthy for the children and musings that this could…Continue Reading

Here’s Harrison Butker’s Full Speech Celebrating Pro-Life Christian Values

Some sports stars make headlines for drug abuse or acts of violence, but one football player is taking heat for publicly promoting Christian values. On Saturday, Kansas City Chiefs kicker Harrison Butker delivered the commencement at the Catholic Benedictine College, encouraging young graduates to stand firm in their faith and live out authentic Christian virtues. Now, the National Football League (NFL) is playing defense and condemning Butker’s speech as offensive. The NFL’s senior vice president and top diversity, equity,…Continue Reading

The King of Kings

Cindy Paslawski We are at the end of the Church year. We began with Advent a year ago, commemorating the time awaiting the coming of the Christ and we are ending these weeks later with a vision of the future, a vision of Christ the King of the Universe on His throne before us all.…Continue Reading

7,000 Pro-Lifers March In London

By STEVEN ERTELT LONDON (LifeNews) — Over the weekend, some seven thousand pro-life people in the UK participated in the March for Life in London to protest abortion.They marched to Parliament Square on Saturday, September 2 under the banner of “Freedom to Live” and had to deal with a handful of radical abortion activists.During the…Continue Reading

An Appeal For Prayer For The Armenian People

By RAYMOND LEO CARDINAL BURKE (Editor’s Note: His Eminence Raymond Cardinal Burke on August 29, 2023, issued this prayer for the Armenian people, noting their unceasing love for Christ, even in the face of persecution.) + + On the Feast of the Beheading of St. John the Baptist, having a few days ago celebrated the…Continue Reading

Robert Hickson, Founding Member Of Christendom College, Dies At 80

By MAIKE HICKSON FRONT ROYAL, Va. (LifeSiteNews) — Robert David Hickson, Jr., of Front Royal, Va., died at his home on September 2, 2023, at 21:29 p.m. after several months of suffering and after having received the Last Rites of the Catholic Church. He was surrounded by friends and family.Robert is survived by me —…Continue Reading

The Real Hero Of “Sound of Freedom”… Says The Film Has Strengthened The Fight Against Child Trafficking

By ANA PAULA MORALES (CNA) —Tim Ballard, a former U.S. Homeland Security agent who risked his life to fight child trafficking, discussed the impact of the movie Sound of Freedom, which is based on his work, in an August 29 interview with ACI Prensa, CNA’s Spanish-language news partner. “I’ve spent more than 20 years helping…Continue Reading

Advertisement

Our Catholic Faith (Section B of print edition)

Catholic Replies

Editor’s Note: This lesson on medical-moral issues is taken from the book Catholicism & Ethics. Please feel free to use the series for high schoolers or adults. We will continue to welcome your questions for the column as well. The email and postal addresses are given at the end of this column. Special Course On Catholicism And Ethics (Pages 53-59)…Continue Reading

Color Politics An Impediment To Faith

By FR. KEVIN M. CUSICK The USCCB is rightly concerned about racism, as they should be about any sin. In the 2018 statement Open Wide Our Hearts, they affirm the dignity of every human person: “But racism still profoundly affects our culture, and it has no place in the Christian heart. This evil causes great harm to its victims, and…Continue Reading

Trademarks Of The True Messiah

By MSGR. CHARLES POPE (Editor’s Note: Msgr. Charles Pope posted this essay on September 2, and it is reprinted here with permission.) + + In Sunday’s Gospel the Lord firmly sets before us the need for the cross, not as an end in itself, but as the way to glory. Let’s consider the Gospel in three stages.First: The Pattern That…Continue Reading

A Beacon Of Light… The Holy Cross And Jesus’ Unconditional Love

By FR. RICHARD D. BRETON Each year on September 14 the Church celebrates the Feast Day of the Exultation of the Holy Cross. The Feast Day of the Triumph of the Holy Cross commemorates the day St. Helen found the True Cross. It is fitting then, that today we should focus on the final moments of Jesus’ life on the…Continue Reading

Our Ways Must Become More Like God’s Ways

By FR. ROBERT ALTIER Twenty-Fifth Sunday In Ordinary Time (YR A) Readings: Isaiah 55:6-9Phil. 1:20c-24, 27aMatt. 20:1-16a In the first reading today, God tells us through the Prophet Isaiah that His thoughts are not our thoughts and His ways are not our ways. This should not come as a surprise to anyone, especially when we look at what the Lord…Continue Reading

The Devil And The Democrats

By FR. DENIS WILDE, OSA States such as Minnesota, California, Maryland, and others, in all cases with Democrat-controlled legislatures, are on a fast track to not only allow unborn babies to be murdered on demand as a woman’s “constitutional right” but also to allow infanticide.Our nation has gotten so used to the moral evil of killing in the womb that…Continue Reading

Crushed But Unbroken . . . The Martyrdom Of St. Margaret Clitherow

By RAY CAVANAUGH The late-1500s were a tough time for Catholics in England, where the Reformation was in full gear. A 1581 law prohibited Catholic religious ceremonies. And a 1584 Act of Parliament mandated that all Catholic priests leave the country or else face execution. Some chose to remain, however, so they could continue serving the faithful.Also taking huge risks…Continue Reading

Advertisement(2)