Interesting bit of synchronicity given yesterdays post on Pope Benedict's belief in protecting the simple laity from the power of intellectuals. Now he's using the Holy Spirit to protect the teaching authority from the opinions of the laity and other intellectuals. The following excerpt is from a Catholic News Service report on Pope Benedict's talk to the International Theological Commission. In it he states that Catholic beliefs are not up to popular vote, and that the 'sensus fidelium' only exists in the sense that it is the voice of practicing Catholics who adhere to all the teachings of the magisterium, and finally the Holy Spirit 'supernaturally' confirms all of this thus the Magisterium can never be wrong.
Catholic beliefs are not open to popular vote, pope saysCindy Wooden - Catholic News Service - 12/7/2012
VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- When the Catholic Church affirms the importance of how all the faithful understand matters of faith and morals, it is not saying Catholic beliefs are open to a popular vote, Pope Benedict XVI said.
An authentic "sensus fidei," which literally means "sense of faith," can come only when Catholics actively participate in the life of the church and follow the teaching of the pope and bishops, he said Dec. 7 during a meeting with members of the International Theological Commission.
The Catechism of the Catholic Church quotes the Second Vatican Council's teaching that "the whole body of the faithful ... cannot err in matters of belief. This characteristic is shown in the supernatural appreciation of faith ('sensus fidei') on the part of the whole people, when, 'from the bishops to the last of the faithful,' they manifest a universal consent in matters of faith and morals." (If Pope Benedict really believed this he would have to drop his opposition to birth control and gay marriage, but of course, he's already qualified 'the faithful' by defining the faithful as only those practicing Catholics who are in conformity with the teaching magisterium.
Pope Benedict praised the theological commission members for including a discussion of the "sensus fidei" in "Theology Today: Perspectives, Principles and Criteria," a document they released in March and which affirms the primacy of bishops over theologians as interpreters of church teaching.
"Today it is particularly important to clarify the criteria which make it possible to distinguish the authentic 'sensus fidelium' from its counterfeits," the pope said. "In reality, it is not some kind of ecclesial public opinion, and it is unthinkable to use it to contest the teaching of the magisterium because the 'sensus fidei' cannot develop authentically in a believer except to the extent in which he or she fully participates in the life of the church, and this requires a responsible adherence to the magisterium." (If this is true, there is utterly no reason to even have the concept 'sensus fidelium.)
The "sensus fidei" is a kind of "supernatural instinct" that helps Catholics recognize what does and does not belong to the faith of the church, he said, and it is a sign that "the Holy Spirit does not cease to speak to the churches and lead them to the whole truth." (Is Pope Benedict actually saying the Holy Spirit exists to confirm the teachings of the bishops?)
I am really getting tired of self reflective circular reasoning that purports to make the teaching magisterium infallible by reason of it's very existence and the fact it tells us so. Only the truly simple would buy this kind of reasoning, especially given the long history of the magisterium and it's many mistakes. So much for the notion of sensus fidelium. It no longer has any useful meaning what so ever at all. I am seriously beginning to wonder if Benedict isn't beginning to show the signs of his age.