Friday, September 24, 2010

Another "Expert"on Catholicism Misrepresents Church Teaching

There is a "Reformed" Protestant who has titled himself Turretin Fan, who often misrepresents Catholic teaching on his blog. His latest rant is on the infallibility of the Magisterium concerning women in the priesthood. His argument is based on pure fallacy, that is if you can even call his article an argument.  Lets take a quick look at how this pretended "Reformer" misrepresents the Catholic Church here regarding infallibility. 

From Turretin Fan's website,

After quoting two recent documents from Cardinal Ratzinger when he was with the CDF  he writes, 

"It's pretty clear. Ratzinger (then prefect/puppeteer of John Paul II) was alleging that the Roman Catholic Church's position on the ordination of women is an infallible, irreformable teaching, despite the fact that there is presently (or at least certainly was) dissent within the heirarchy as to whether the failure to ordain women is proper."
Response: Yes its pretty clear, and dissent has no bearing on whether it is infallible or not. In fact, the reason why they were restating the Ordinary infallible teaching is because idiots in the Church were not following it.

But here's the rub.

The document itself is not an exercise of papal infallibility. The document merely alleges that the teaching is something "set forth infallibly by the ordinary and universal Magisterium." But this document itself is not the ordinary and universal Magisterium. This document is fallible.

The document itself is not an exercise of papal infallibility. The document merely alleges that the teaching is something "set forth infallibly by the ordinary and universal Magisterium." But this document itself is not the ordinary and universal Magisterium. This document is fallible.

Response" The document itself does not have to be "infallible" since the Church has long taught the doctrine as being infallible. In order for a doctrine to be considered infallible it does not have to be proclaimed formally by the Pope in any one given document. So a Catholic who understands how the Church defines doctrine does not care if the document itself is infallible, it merely becomes part of the same Ordinary and Universal Magisterial teaching that has always taught it as being infallible.

So it is possible (whether or not it is likely), that some future pope's prefect may decide that Ratzinger erred. The practice of non-ordination of women is just something culturally conditioned and a long-standing discipline ... and hey-presto, this document ceases to have any authoritative weight against the new document.

Worse yet (for the traditionalists), some future pope may infallibly define that both women and men may be properly ordained. If he does, what will be the use of this document!

As many folks know, the women priests movement continues to be active despite the opposition of the current papacy (
link to recent example article).


Response: No it is not even possible that a future Pope could change the doctrine, and only someone like Turretin Fan with limited knowledge about the Catholic Church would ever make such a statement like this. It is impossible for a Pope to come along and change Ordinary Infallible doctrines of the Church. It is not like Protestantism where teachings on contraception can change virtually overnight. The fact that there are dissidents in the Church who are active despite the Church's infallible teaching, again has no bearing on the argument at hand. There have always been dissenters in the Church despite the fact that the doctrine they oppose has been defined infallibly. We see this fact clearly with the heretical theologians who call themselves Catholic, who still do not accept the infallible teaching on Transubstantiation. No one cares, and it has no bearing on the infallibility of the teaching. Ordinarily I would not waste my time with such things, but pointing out this post gives us an example of how little the opposition truly understands about Catholicism. Let the buyer beware before they believe anything they read on Turretin Fan's website that pertains to Catholicism.


Anonymous said...

Turrentinfan has always impressed me as someone who is totally unable to understand Catholic doctrine because of his extreme bias and hatred of things Catholic. He refuses to look honestly at what the historical records say; his Calvinism filters out anything that would contradict what he already believes.

Matthew Bellisario said...

Agreed. We can this in his feeble response to this post where he reinforces his willful ignorance to understanding the Ordinary and Universal teaching of the Magisterium. It is also amusing how he slithers away when he realizes that his own "Reformed" church has changed its interpetation and dotrinal taeching regarding Scripture like contracpetion.

Matthew Bellisario said...

Notice what TF writes, "...understand what the critic of your church is saying, before you accuse the critic of not understanding your church's teaching, particularly when the critic quotes at length from your church's official documents."

I do understand what the idiotic critic is saying about the Catholic Church, and it is plain he does not understand what he is talking about. We can see from the Ordinary and Universal Magisterium that the teaching on women's ordination is infallible, and it does not take an infallible formal declaration to proclaim such a teaching. Making reference to heretics in the Church again has no bearing on them matter.

Matthew Bellisario said...

TF also ignorantly says, " If we look at the Western church from Augustine to Aquinas, excluding the heretics, one will find that almost everyone acknowledged the universality of original sin,.."

I retort, also the if we look at the Western Church from Augustine to Aquinas, excluding heretics, one will find that everyone acknowledged the fact that women could not be ordained. It is the same today, only dissenters and heretics deny this reality. So his argument again falls flat on his hidden face.

Alexander Greco said...

I happen to trust the judgment of the CDF (which is testable) who's role is to recognize such teachings, and do so competently, than the anonymous Turretinfan's fanciful hypothetical (which has zero historical basis).

Alexander Greco said...

Audrey says:

It's not just in my opinion, but God teaches that when you talk, or even debate, don't insult.

Turretinfan says:


I share your position. I recall from recent dialog with Bellisario that he does not.

I'd rather that he not debate you on that in this comment box.


Sure Turretinfan, you don’t insult people. I wonder what God finds more offensive, someone who falls short in charity from time to time in dealing with people who make it their life’s mission to attack the Church, or someone who is an outright habitual liar. Do you have no conscience Turretinfan?

Alexander Greco said...

What is with Turretinfan's obsession with our rejection of contraception? Is there anything you'd like to tell us Turretinfan?

Matthew Bellisario said...

Maybe we should make a post on all of the uncharitable rhetoric Mr. Fan has posted on his blog in the past? But i think it is afternoon break time over at Dr. White's house. Maybe Mr. Fan should get his hand towel and tray so he can serve White his tea and crumpets.

Matthew Bellisario said...

I have no idea what Mr. Fan's problem is on contraception other than he cannot defend his Protestant betrayal of the teachings of Scripture which condemns it.

Alexander Greco said...

When the sin is committed in service of Calvin, Turretin, Luther, and Satan it is no longer considered sin.

Alexander Greco said...

Turretinfan should be more offended at his buddy(the master logician) Steve Hays's arguments promoting masturbation than our condemnation of contraception. I guess he is in favor of one but not the other.

Anonymous said...

Hello everyone.

I would just like to identify that this conversation between TF and MB has motivated me to offer, as a Roman Catholic, as a graduate student, as a Seminarian, my own understanding of the Church's ecclesiology on the matter.

I leave it in your judgment, as to who is accurately representing the Church's ecclesiology. I also invite your feedback.

I should add (although this doesn't make me right), that in a few short years I will very likely make the Profession of Faith which was revised in 1989 by the CDF. As a result, it's in my interest to correctly understand it.

I have a post at my blog, briefly outlining what is commonly thought of as the first gradation of Church teaching.

While it's not directly relevant to the woman's ordination debate (an issue the Ratzinger-Bertone Commentary on John Paul II's Ad teundam fidem believe is relevant to the second gradation), I raise what I feel are a number of important issues.

Matthew Bellisario said...

Hi Kelly, in general I agree with your brief summary concerning how the Ordinary and Universal application of infallibility is applied. But, it seems to me that the virginal conception of Jesus, which you refer to in your post, is clearly divinely revealed in Sacred Scripture (The Gospels of Matthew and Luke clearly reveal this). Since Scripture cannot err, if a teaching is revealed explicitly in Scripture then it is irreformable and infallible. The Church does not really need to exercise a certain level of teaching on it unless a group of heretical individuals comes along and starts to challenge the teaching by twisting its interpretation. There is not much room left for that in this particular case, as is the case for many other things revealed in Scripture. A Catholic can assume for example that Jesus was baptized in the River Jordan by St. John the Forerunner and that the Holy Spirit descended upon Him. All of this of course has theological underpinnings that must be explained and understood further. But the fact that this event happened, like that of the virginal conception, is infallible, although there is probably no official declaration telling us so.

Anonymous said...

So, in general you agree.

And I agree with you that "the Church does not really need to exercise a certain level of teaching on it unless a group of heretical individuals comes along and starts to challenge the teaching by twisting its interpretation."

The Church has not yet had the need for a solemn definition, because the teaching is generally given lip service even by those who probably do not accept its need.

But that rather proves the argument of my post: Teachings proposed as part of the ordinary and universal Magisterium are propoed as infallible, are interpretted as infallible, but that proposal and that interpretation are themselves fallible. In the face of fallible interpretations, there is room for legitimate disagreement, not necessarily about whether the teaching itself is true or not, but certainly about the degree to which the teaching authority of the Church is engaged.

And that takes us back to Alexander`s first comment in this post. Certain entities are more deserving of our respect than others. The interpertation of the CDF, while fallible, should concern us more than the music director at our parish.

Paul Hoffer said...

Hello Matt and all: Here is my take on the subject of IOR:

All we can do is share the truth with those who are mistaken as to what the Church teaches and offer a correction so they do not lead others astray.

God bless!