When I know better than the pope
During the papacy of Saint Paul VI, both traditionalists and progressives made the same mistake: they thought they understood things better than the Church. The former said that Pope Paul VI shouldn?t have changed the liturgy because they couldn?t square his teaching with they believed to be true. The latter said that Paul VI should have changed the ban on contraception because they couldn?t square his teaching with they believed to be true.
As Catholics, we believe that what the Church teaches is reasonable and rational. When the Pope teaches something, people should be able to understand that teaching in light of Scripture, Tradition, and their own experience. I?ve heard many educated and faithful people, invoke this idea in their disagreement with the Church?s teaching regarding contraception, ?If contraception is so gravely and objectively evil, then reasonable people should be able to reach that conclusion without having to resort to blind obedience to the pope.?
Does our lack of understanding or confusion necessarily mean that there?s a deficiency in the Church?s teaching or in the explanation of that teaching? I don?t think so. Perhaps the Church has insufficiently explained a particular teaching. I mean, part of the Church mission is to present Her teachings to every generation, it?s part of why we have a living Magisterium. But quite often, the obstacle to our understanding comes from us.
Just because the Church?s authoritative teachings are reasonable and rational doesn?t mean that we are always open to them or immediately capable of understanding them. At times, our own biases and sins harden our hearts to the truth. At times we simply don?t have as much information as we think we do.
I have been in this boat many times.
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Paul Fahey?is a husband, father of four, and?professional lay person.?He writes for Where Peter Is and Diocesan.