Whatever happened to the “sensus fidelium” mania?

A reader sent this:

We were in formation in the 80′s and 90′s and were constantly barraged with the "sensus fidelium"?  At every turn in pastoral theology, in liturgy, in moral theology, in Scripture in preaching in…. well…. just about everything we were admonished to be where the people are and address their real concerns.  Give them what they yearn for, Jesus speaks in the Body of Christ…in the assembly!!!
 
Then it all dried up.
 
We hear it no more.
 
The sensus fidelium suddenly turned against the liberal agendas in theology, Scripture (the search for the historical Jesus), and especially liturgy.  The crowd got conservative, and now we are no longer concerned about the "sensus fidelium" and it has now been replaced with "keeping alive the spirit of Vatican II"

Interesting observation!

 

 

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65 Responses to Whatever happened to the “sensus fidelium” mania?

  1. Nathan says:

    Interesting. From my recollection, back in the 80s and 90s, when I asked why they used honey cakes or altar girls or ad libbed Eucharistic prayers, I can think of very few pastors or liturgy folks who ever wanted any sensus from this particular member of the fidelium.

    In Christ,

  2. In 1985 at Theological College in Washington, DC, a Sulpician priest gave us a conference one day on the importance of using “inclusive” (meaning feminist) language in the sacred liturgy, and he justified changing liturgical texts on our own authority because of the urgent need not to offend “the people.” When he was challenged on this point by several of the seminarians present, he insisted that the changing sensibilities of our people demanded that we adapt the way we use language, lest we alienate them and prevent them from hearing the Gospel. When some of the seminarians insisted that none of “the people” in their experience were agitating for the use of neutered and politically correct language, the Sulp giving the lecture altered course and insisted that it was our duty to raise the consciousness of “the people” about the evils of sexist, misogynist and patriarchal language.

    In other words, revisionists appeal to the crowd when it suits them, and they disdain the crowd when it suits them. The agenda is simple and clear: they know better so they should have power, and those who resist their power have (as they are the first to say) a problem with authority … even when the revisionists’ power is used to advance their agenda against legitimate authority in the Church. The entire enterprise is morally and intellectually bankrupt. Give me an honest heretic or pagan any day!

  3. Father S. says:

    It seems to me that the issue with the sensus fidelium is that is was wrongfully used by those who wished to oppose the Church. With the publication of the Catechism, this term seemed to fall out of fashion, as it was directly addressed therein at paragrpah 67:

    Throughout the ages, there have been so-called “private” revelations, some of which have been recognized by the authority of the Church. They do not belong, however, to the deposit of faith. It is not their role to improve or complete Christ’s definitive Revelation, but to help live more fully by it in a certain period of history. Guided by the Magisterium of the Church, the sensus fidelium knows how to discern and welcome in these revelations whatever constitutes an authentic call of Christ or his saints to the Church.

    Effectively, the Catechism pulled the carpet out from underneath those who woefully misunderstood this term of art. The phrase “Guided by the Magisterium of the Church…” served to provide, without any doubt, the proper context of the sensus fidelium.

  4. TJerome says:

    Father Newman, I would imagine this priest advocated the spirit of Vatican II until someone pointed out to him that Sacrosanctum Concilium forbids priest or bishop from changing the texts of the Mass on their own initiative. Unless of course, the priest said in his highflown opinion the Conciliar Fathers just got it wrong that day! Best, Tom

    ps: when a priest friend told my wife that she needed “inclusive” language, she told him emphatically NO! She was an educated Catholic and understood the inclusive nature of the word “man” or “mankind” in the English language. He was not pleased.

  5. Thomas S says:

    Doesn’t SENSUS FIDELIUM presuppose… fidelity?

    Therefore, people who appeal to the SENSUS FIDELIUM to justify a departure from and contradiction of Tradition, are not faithful and thus not a part of the sensus fidelium.

    PS – I always thought MAN was the far more inclusive choice. It does INCLUDE both man and woman after all.

  6. I would say it got replaced by a “sensus theologium [infidelium]“. Too bad those theologians never read what Vatican II really said (WDTCRS?) regarding the role of theologians in the Church.

    1. Theologians are to avoid exaggerating or narrowing Mary’s dignity as Mother of God, and must not lead anyone (especially Catholics or other Christians) away from the true doctrine of the Church concerning Mary. (cf. Lumen Gentium 67)

    2. Theologians are to adhere to the teaching of the Church when engaging in ecumenical doctrinal dialogue with other Christians. (cf. Unitatis Redintegratio 11)

    3. Theologians, as members of the People of God, should judge the “voices of our age” in light of divine revelation, ensuring that the truth is always presented in a way that it may be understood and lived. (cf. Gaudium et Spes 44)

    4. Theologians are to communicate the doctrine of the Catholic Church, with its meaning intact, in ways suitable to the understanding of men of their times. (cf. Gaudium et Spes 62)

    Nothing about dissent. Nothing about competing (with or against) the Magisterium. Would somebody let the theologians know?!

  7. kate_rub says:

    Unfortunately the erroneous use of the term to justify all kinds of silly things is still alive and well and beng actively promoted in Australia’s ‘Cath News’ (originally established by our bishops’ conference).

    Just last week the news services’ founder wrote all about how the teaching of the Magisterium is something he hears ‘remotely’, whereas the real ‘Voice of the Church’ is “the voice of Catholics after Mass on Sundays and around parishes. These voices are one small part of that other great voice in the Church – the “sensus fidelium” or or the feeling and sense that the body of the Church has about the issues that concern the body of believers….”:http://www.cathnews.com/article.aspx?aeid=21519

  8. “Sensum fidelium” was the rationalization that whatever popular sins/aberrations/craziness/”zeit-geist” were in the “top ten” meant that the Church should change Her teachings.
    It’s still very much alive; the “perversion” of “sensum fidelium”, that is.
    Hopefully, with time, prayer, the continued efforts of our Holy Father and those Bishops in union with him (and that is another discussion, altogether!), some of this nonsense can be dealt with.
    “Sensum fidelium” does NOT mean contraception, abortion on demand, homosexual unions/sex, Holy Communion for those who are divorced/remarried in a civil union (for most cases, unless agreeing to live as brother/sister), etc…it usually revolves around the violation of the Sixth Commandment and the divine ordination that only men can be ordained priests.
    St. Augustine and St. Ambrose, to name just two, would be “having a cow” right now with the present understanding of this term in some circles!

  9. Sedgwick says:

    Sensus fidelium was, during the halcyon days of post-Conciliar desacralization, merely a smokescreen for “being relevant” – i.e. a replacement of Catholic theology with Marxist/liberation theology/social justice. So we should be rejoicing that this fraud has disappeared.

  10. Thomas G. says:

    The “sensus fidelium” remains a valid theological expression of how the Holy Spirit works to guarantee the indefectability of the Church, particularly in light of the teaching that it is the Church as a whole that is infallible in belief, an infallibility that is particularly expressed in the Papal Extraordinary Magisterium. The trouble is that it was (mis)used as a sort of pseudonym for a (perceived) statistical majority.

    The “sensus fidelium” is not discerned by poll-taking, and in fact the true “sensus” may be held by a minority of Catholics at any point in history (e.g., the Arian heresy), depending on the vicissitutdes to which the Church is subject.

    One musn’t throw the baby out with the bath water, i.e., abandon the “sensus fidelium” because it has been misused.

  11. Nordic Breed says:

    Father J.S. Newman wrote:

    “When he was challenged on this point by several of the seminarians present, he insisted that the changing sensibilities of our people demanded that we adapt the way we use language, lest we alienate them and prevent them from hearing the Gospel.”

    Father, I am thinking that altering the language alters the Gospel. So it is not the Gospel that they are preaching at all but their own “stuff” which cannot ever be as appealing as the Word of God to the pure of heart. The fidelium have built in BS detectors. The rest are not the fidelium at all.

  12. Thomas G: Excellent post. I hope I did not seem to be negative on the “authentic” sense of ‘sensus fidelium’…no, not all; it’s the “hijacking” of the term that I was commenting upon.
    You are most correct.

  13. New Sister says:

    How interesting!
    I agree w/ “Nordic Breed” – by God’s Grace, fidelium have an in-built “sensus” of what is good, true, and beautiful. (such as the reader who wrote about the “burlap banners” months back)

    What I find dreadful about liberal clergy (especially deacons!! does anyone know a good one??) is that as “fidelium,” by God’s grace, increasingly reject liberalism and yearn for tradition and orthodoxy, these liberal priests and deacons actively seek to undermine – even ridicule –such “sensus”. (I ran into it just today at the National Shrine) There is sad irony in their effort: by resisting our glorious Pope, they will miss being led to “the spirit of Vat II” for the first time since the council.

  14. Esther says:

    I’d like to point out that the perverters of “sensus fidelium” tend to ignore any fideles living outside the “first world” (apart from the occassional Latino/a, as long as said Latin-American agrees with the “First World” zeitgeist.) They seem to think that your opinion only counts if you’re rich and white. The Filipinos who protest against the United Nations forcing contraception down their throats aren’t allowed to have an opinion. The Kenyans who voted to define, in the Kenyan constitution, that everyone has a right to life and life begins at conception, aren’t allowed to have an opinion. I am sure if heretics realised how racist their attitude is they would think about listening to non-white Catholics more.
    Also, fideles don’t stop being fideles when they die.
    “Tradition means giving votes to the most obscure of all classes, our ancestors. It is the democracy of the dead. Tradition refuses to submit to that arrogant oligarchy who merely happen to be walking around.” – G.K. Chesterton

  15. CeeLee says:

    Fr. Jay, I loved your second paragraph — couldn’t have said it better myself!

  16. New Sister: The recently ordained deacons in the past few years in our Diocese of LaCrosse, WI would shock you…they love the holy Church and are NOT liberal dissenters. Really. Honest. I taught some of them. I know many of them. The IPT from Ave Maria University and the excellent program of diaconate formation, director, Rev. William Felix (my superior) and the head of the formation, Christopher Ruff (one of my teachers int he MTS program I was in). Faithful to the Church in all respects.
    Praised be Jesus Christ!

  17. avecrux says:

    Yes Esther. The “sensus fidelium” is not limited to those in the Church Militant (very few). It also includes those in the Church Suffering and the Church Triumphant.

  18. I’ve never met a liberal permanent deacon, and I’m from an archdiocese which, until recently, had a very liberal seminary. (This isn’t to say there’s no such animal, but rather, that none of them have ever been assigned to any parish I’m in.) A devout older guy with a family usually doesn’t have much tolerance for crazy crud.

  19. TJerome says:

    nazareth priest, I concur with you. Liberalism is a spent force in Catholicism, generally found only in those above the age of 50. Young Catholics are very orthodox and interested in the true Faith, not the one made up by liberal loons as they go along.

  20. Maltese says:

    “It is simply an undeniable fact that this spirit of possibilism, of acceptance of everyone, of reciprocal trust, of mutual enrichment, and of a loving sense towards all was widely diffused. And this became the principle which largely inspired the hermeneutic of Vatican II.”

    –Msgr. Brunero Gherardini, “The Ecumenical Vatican Council II, A Much Needed Discussion.

    The liberals like Kung are turning prune-like, while aging conservatives (INSIDE the Vatican) like Gherardini are ever self-producing. It reminds me of a poem by by favorite poet, a Jesuit:

    The world is charged with the grandeur of God.
    It will flame out, like shining from shook foil;
    It gathers to a greatness, like the ooze of oil
    Crushed. Why do men then now not reck his rod?
    Generations have trod, have trod, have trod;
    And all is seared with trade; bleared, smeared with toil;
    And wears man’s smudge and shares man’s smell: the soil
    Is bare now, nor can foot feel, being shod.

    And for all this, nature is never spent;
    There lives the dearest freshness deep down things;
    And though the last lights off the black West went
    Oh, morning, at the brown brink eastward, springs —
    Because the Holy Ghost over the bent
    World broods with warm breast and with ah! bright wings.

    (God’s Grandeur, Gerard Manley Hopkins)

    So, too, with these weirdo priests and bishops, they are like “shook foil,” and it’s time to shake them off, like water of a duck’s back, and get into the real work ahead, into the mud and dirty-waters of the Church; because without this Church, really, what do we have?

  21. The Cobbler says:

    It’s always about the people — but sometimes the people are “mis-led” by “evil backwater patriarchs” and the elite must teach them better “for their own good”.

    Tyrants always play at being populists, the way liars always insist on the great virtue of honesty.

    This is just the same principle trying to leech one of the Church’s terms (and one for something entirely different when you actually understand it).

  22. Hans says:

    The recently ordained deacons in the past few years in our Diocese of LaCrosse, WI would shock you…they love the holy Church and are NOT liberal dissenters. Really. Honest. I taught some of them. I know many of them.

    I can say much the same for this year’s aspirants in Chicago, except the part about having taught them of course.

  23. Hans says:

    Oops. The above quote was from nazareth priest.

  24. Supertradmum says:

    I hate to burst the trad optimist bubble about the demise of the left,but I know three seminarians who are strong supporters of liberation theology and two who do not see anything wrong with socialist governments. I also know several pro-choice seminarians,one who will be ordained a deacon next year. These positions are not only tolerated in certain seminaries, but encouraged.

    The liberals self-select seminarians who are like themselves-1970 radicals who want to change the Church from the inside.
    And, even more devasting, homosexual self-selection continues and those seminarians who challenge these stances are either asked to leave, or discouraged.

    As to liberal permanent deacons, in our excellent diocese, two deacons gave pro-choice positions in talks to college students in the area during the presidential election. Some people did complain to the Bishop about these talks, but the deacons are still active deacons.

  25. Esther says:

    *”Young Catholics are very orthodox and interested in the true Faith, not the one made up by liberal loons as they go along.”*

    Sadly, that’s an over-simplification (at least where I live). I went to a Catholic high school – orthodox Catholic teens were a minority there. (It didn’t help that we had Religious Studies lessons on the importance of recycling, but none on the Mass.) It’s much better at the Chaplaincy at University, although not everyone is orthodox.

  26. Supertradmum says:

    I am sorry to say, if I may add something, that those who still, albeit, quietly subject the term sensus fidelium to a liberal interpretation also purposefully misuse John Henry Cardinal Newman’s term on the primacy of conscience. I have heard both terms used to uphold a liberal idea that contraception is ok–by a priest. The ideas of sensus fidelium and the primacy of conscience need to be rescued from liberals who are many times the same people who want the idea of “church” to mean just you and me and the priest and not the Roman hierarchy. These worn-out, yet in some circles, popular ideas must be redeemed….by us.

  27. The Cobbler says:

    Btw, I should add that I was trying to compare a false populism, laying aside whether there’s such a thing as a true populism for other debates, with the false honesty of the young man who swears to God and Mary he saw a toad this big in the other yard. In case I wasn’t clear there.

  28. Supertradmum: The seminaries, sad to say, still, may be in need for further reform…they’ve come a LOOONG way from the ’70s and ’80s, but the fact is, there are still professors/priests/formators who are in the “sixties” mode; they need to retire, soon.
    The formation program for permanent deacons, from my limited experience, is in much better form in this country; maybe not everywhere. But as you say, an old devout married guy has “little tolerance for the crazy crud.” Yeah. You betcha (as they say here in Northern WI!).
    These guys have tried to raise Catholic children during the “crazy dayz” and they know an idiot when they see one!
    Praise God!

  29. robtbrown says:

    I hate to burst the trad optimist bubble about the demise of the left,but I know three seminarians who are strong supporters of liberation theology and two who do not see anything wrong with socialist governments. I also know several pro-choice seminarians,one who will be ordained a deacon next year. These positions are not only tolerated in certain seminaries, but encouraged.
    Comment by Supertradmum

    What is wrong with them supporting socialist govts?

  30. Supertradmum says:

    Dear robtbrown,

    Socialism as a governmental organization has been condemned by at least two popes in encyclicals, which are infallible documents. I suggest you look at Rerum Novarum and Centesimus Annus. The Church has consistently been against any redistribution of wealth and any government take-over of private sector businesses. One short quotation from Rerum Novarum follows: … it is perceived that the fundamental principle of Socialism which would make all possessions public property is to be utterly rejected because it injures the very ones whom it seeks to help, contravenes the natural rights of individual persons, and throws the functions of the State and public peace into confusion. Let it be regarded, therefore, as established that in seeking help for the masses this principle before all is to be considered as basic, namely, that private ownership must be preserved inviolate. With this understood, we shall explain whence the desired remedy is to be sought.

  31. edwardo3 says:

    robtbrown:

    The problem with supporting socialist governments is that pesky “Thou shall not steal” thingy.

  32. Supertradmum says:

    nazareth priest,
    Some of the professors/priests/formators who hold anti-Catholic views are not even close to retirement age. Three I can think of are 39, 47ish, and 32! I am afraid that the Church in some dioceses will not be reformed as readily as in others. As to the quotation about deacons from Suburbanbanshee above, I can only say that I have worked with two deacons who were not only advocating womenpriests, but one, homosexual rights. They are married with grown-up children and are “older guys”.

  33. dans0622 says:

    I guess I am coming late to this discussion but could someone tell me where the exact phrase “sensus fidelium” comes from in Catholic tradition? In what I have seen from Vatican II, in Lumen gentium, there is the phrase “sensus fidei” which is not the same, obviously. Is there a pre-spirit-of-Vatican-II history to the notion of the “sensus fidelium”?

    Thanks.
    Dan

  34. TJerome says:

    supertradmum, I would say, from my experience and observation, the types you point out are an insular minority. The overwhelming number of young seminarians, priests, and bishops are thorougly orthodox. The types you point out are in for a very rough time because the laity will no longer show them the deference that was accorded to lefties in the 60s and 70s by a supine faithful.

  35. Supertradmum says:

    Dan,

    You can look up this idea in the Catechism of the Catholic Church. The two terms I believe are interchangable. The idea that the faithful can detect and hold forth the truth infallibly dates back to the Early Church Fathers. For example, Catholics have believed that Mary was assumed into Heaven at least 1,000 years before the dogmatic statement in 1950. By the 6th century at least, Catholiccs believed in Mary’s body being taken into heaven.

    One cannot see the sensus fidelium in terms of polls or majority numbers,as in the case of the Arian heresy, where the vast majority of people believed a position against Rome and her warrior, Athanasius.

    I think that Mary as Co-Redemptorix and Mediatrix of All Grace falls into the catefory of sensus fidelium, and that concept has not been defined doctrinely as of yet.

  36. AnAmericanMother says:

    There are still pockets of resistance, certainly . . . but they are just that, isolated pockets.

    We still have kooky parishes in our diocese, but they are fewer every year, and smaller, while the more traditional, orthodox parishes are booming.

    One interesting phenomenon I’ve noticed is that our parishes way out in the countryside are often among the most orthodox — I guess as long as you’re a little island of Catholics in the middle of a sea of Georgia Baptists, Methodists, Church of Christ, etc., you might as well be Catholic.

  37. Supertradmum says:

    TJerome,

    I am very familiar with two large seminaries from where I have received my knowledge at first hand. These two seminaries are not insular, nor are the liberal teachers and formators in the minority. Quite the opposite. As to the laity, I do not know where you live, but I can say that in many dioceses in the Mid-West, that forty years of bad catechesis in inadequate Catholic schools, and without leadership from the pulpit, many, many lay people are confused and have been “liberalized”. Recently, a friend of mine, who is a mom, and I were discussing the priests in her near-by diocese who do not believe that Satan is a person and say so from the pulpit. Also, we were noting in our conversation that many priests do not believe in purgatory and teach that from the pulpit. In addition, we know at least one priest who is advocating homosexual rights. He is quite open in his parish on this point.

    I am glad you have other experiences, but from where I stand, heresy and disobedience to Rome are the norm among seminary teachers and formators. Sorry….and the best seminarians leave or keep their heads beneath the edge of the trench. I pray they can withstand the pressure.

  38. Supertradmum says:

    AnAmericanMom,

    I live in a rural parish and the issues I have defined stand…

  39. irishgirl says:

    TJerome at 9:04-I’m in my mid-50s, and I don’t consider myself a liberal.

    I grew up in the days after the Council, and I didn’t like a lot of the nonsense that was going around in the Church. When I got to the age where I could drive on my own, I went to different parishes for Mass and did things such as being a lector and singing (both in a choir and as a cantor).

    But now I don’t do those things anymore. I got tired of seeing women ‘running the show’ and bossing around the pastor. So just before I hit my 50s, I went ‘back to my roots’ and attended the TLM exclusively.

    So don’t ‘tar’ all Catholics over 50 with the same liberal brush!

    Fr. Jay Scott Newman-bravo to you and your fellow seminarians for telling off that Sulpician! Good for you!

  40. Hans says:

    Supertradmum,
    There is no doubt that problems remain; there would be no need for this blog (in this form, at least) if that were not so. Just as assuredly the situation has improved and things are moving in the proper direction (toward orthodoxy and fidelity) on the whole.

    Yes, there are people who advocate error and evil, even (sadly) ordained clergy, but truth to tell, ’twas ever thus. For instance, Nestorius (to choose a Marian example) was Archbishop of Constantinople in the 400s who fought against the definition of Mary as Theotokos. However, I can remember the dark times of the ’70s and early ’80s when it seemed there was little hope. Now there is great hope, if not everywhere great progress.

    Consider that it has been over 25 years since a priest tried to deny me communion because I wouldn’t receive on the hands. Now I no longer (or very rarely) get scowled at for that, and I see more and more of my fellow parishioners receiving on the tongue. People have been given the right to receive in the hand, so I mustn’t fuss if they do, but I have had fellow parishioners tell me (and who am I??) that partly because of my example they had decided to begin receiving on the tongue. We must be quiet, patient, and pleasant examples of reverence, and others will notice and follow.

    We have been through a winter (and in many ways not the worst of them) and now it is spring; the flowers are just beginning to appear, even if there is still snow on the ground in places. It may even snow again, and we may have to shovel some more, but summer will come.

  41. robtbrown says:

    Socialism as a governmental organization has been condemned by at least two popes in encyclicals, which are infallible documents. I suggest you look at Rerum Novarum and Centesimus Annus.

    So are you saying that those documents are opposed to any socialist enterprise by any govt, e.g., Medicare or Social Security?

    I know of no Church document that opposes any of the state owned transportation systems (airlines and trains) or for that matter, any of the Euro national health care systems.


    The Church has consistently been against any redistribution of wealth and any government take-over of private sector businesses.

    Actually, that is incorrect. Centissimus Annus was the first papal document that did not say that lack of distribution of wealth was the cause of poverty–but rather a lack of productivity.

    The Church endorses the right to private property, but it does recognize that right as absolute.

    One short quotation from Rerum Novarum follows: … it is perceived that the fundamental principle of Socialism which would make all possessions public property is to be utterly rejected because it injures the very ones whom it seeks to help, contravenes the natural rights of individual persons, and throws the functions of the State and public peace into confusion. Let it be regarded, therefore, as established that in seeking help for the masses this principle before all is to be considered as basic, namely, that private ownership must be preserved inviolate. With this understood, we shall explain whence the desired remedy is to be sought.
    Comment by Supertradmum

    You’re talking about completely Socialist govts. I think most consider Sweden to have a Socialist govt, but there is still private ownership

  42. robtbrown says:

    The problem with supporting socialist governments is that pesky “Thou shall not steal” thingy.
    Comment by edwardo3

    See my comments above.

  43. robtbrown says:

    I might also add that the concept of a Federal Reserve, which controls the marketplace via interest rates and the printing of money, can be considered a Socialist enterprise.

  44. Supertradmum says:

    robtbrown,

    I am convinced that the manner in which the Church sees “charity” is not in the hands of the government, but in private hands. One reason why some people want a national health system,for example, is that they would be too proud to accept private charity, but if everyone is getting government help, they think there is no stigmatization. On the other hand, the Church has taught that it is the duty and priviledge of the rich to help the poor, but not as a government plan, but as Christian charity. For example, a hospital in my area is truly a non-profit health facility with an endowment for the poor. Entire bills can be forgiven for low-income people. Needless to say, the hospital is Catholic. Again, I suggest a close reading of Rerum Novarum and also a review of the Magisterium’s teaching against Materialism, which is the basis both of socialism and communism. “In working for a wage he works also for a full and perfect right to use his earnings as seems good to him. If, therefore, a man spends less on consumption and uses what he saves to buy a farm, that farm is his wage in another form, as much at his disposal as was the wage itself. It is precisely in this power of disposal that ownership consists, whether the property be in real estate or in movable goods. It follows that when socialists endeavour to transfer privately owned goods into common ownership they worsen the condition of all wage earners. By taking away from them freedom to dispose of their wages they rob them of all hope and opportunity of increasing their possessions and bettering their condition.”

    I forgot to mention these quotations from Catholic Answers Online: “…Socialism…cannot be reconciled with the teachings of the Catholic Church because its concept of society itself is utterly foreign to Christian truth.”
    QUADRAGESIMO ANNO, 117, Encyclical of Pope Pius XI
    Reconstruction of the Social Order, May 15, 1931

    “…no Catholic [can] subscribe even to moderate Socialism.”
    MATER ET MAGISTRA, 34, Pope John XXIII
    On Christianity and Social Progress, May 15, 1961

    “Socialists…debase the natural union of man and woman…the [family] bond they…deliver up to lust. Lured…by the greed of present goods…they assail the right of property. While they seem desirous of caring for the needs and satisfying the desires of all men, they strive to seize and hold in common whatever has been acquired either by title, by labor, or by thrift.”
    QUOD APOSTOLICI MUNERIS, 1, Encyclical of Pope Leo XIII
    On Socialism, December 28, 1878

  45. Supertradmum says:

    May I add that the private sector should be doing what the government is often too willing to take on–caring for our neighbors. And, just in case you think I am speaking from some priviledged position, no one in our little family has health insurance as we are self-employed and cannot afford it. The goal of any low-income family should be to be as self-reliant as possible and when not possible, to hope and trust in God that the faith community will come forward. This awareness of the need for charity happens less and less and people look towards big government instead of giving of themselves. It would be nice if the sensus fidelium tended toward Christian Democracy.

  46. mpm says:

    robtbrown,

    I disagree with your characterization of the Federal Reserve. Rather than socialist, it is a regulatory institution of the federal government.

    It does not own the money supply, it regulates it. It does not own federal debt, it issues it (as fiscal agent for the Treasury), and buys and sells it in the secondary markets, with a view to regulating the money supply.

    Much later, the Federal Reserve was also charged by Congress with fostering “full employment”; a goal which may not be feasible for any body, much less be compatible with its original goal of regulating the money supply.

    U.S. Social Security, as originally conceived, was an insurance program. It mandated the SSN payroll tax; but then was supposed to provide some income for the relatively few people remaining at age 65. The main difference between SS and insurance was that with whole-life insurance, the insured was vested, and could cash the policy in to obtain the “cash value” of the policy; SS has no “cash value” for an insured to claim. And even dependents have only a limited claim on it after the death of the insured.

    IMO, the “bankruptcy” of SS, in present-value terms, is an excellent example of why the principle of private property (though not “absolute”) must be retained: without it there is no “check” on the government’s ability to promise “pie in the sky”, i.e., make promises it cannot keep.

  47. Supertradmum says:

    Hans, Thanks for the metaphors of hope. Our family is the only one which takes Communion on the tongue at our Sunday Mass. But, we are not refused.

  48. chcrix says:

    Supertradmum, Robtbrown

    You have stirred one of pet peeves: infallibility

    From the Catholic encyclopedia entry on infalliblity:

    * … it is only when, in this capacity, he teaches some doctrine of faith or morals that he is infallible (see below, IV).

    Papal pronouncements on economics or state structures are not infallible. Whether Leo XIII endorsed or condemned socialism can’t be infallible teaching. Whether Benedict XVI endorsed the idea of a world government can’t be infallible teaching. I admire BXVI and consider him to be the best pope of my lifetime. In this case I think that BXVI was terribly wrong – but I am not troubled by it because that is not in his competence as infallible teacher.

    The reason this is a peeve is that it is the basis of the (false) charges of protestantism that caricature the doctrine of infallibility. One does not have to defer to the Pope when he calls for an increase in the minimum wage or any other political topic.

  49. robtbrown says:

    “Socialists…debase the natural union of man and woman…the [family] bond they…deliver up to lust. Lured…by the greed of present goods…they assail the right of property. While they seem desirous of caring for the needs and satisfying the desires of all men, they strive to seize and hold in common whatever has been acquired either by title, by labor, or by thrift.”
    QUOD APOSTOLICI MUNERIS, 1, Encyclical of Pope Leo XIII
    On Socialism, December 28, 1878
    Comment by Supertradmum

    You still haven’t addressed my objection. There are several programs now in place that were advanced by Socialists and considered Socialist enterprises. I don’t see the Church objecting to any of them.

  50. robtbrown says:

    mpm,

    The Federal Reserve does not exist without a national currency, which usurped the right of individual banks to issue their own currencies. And although the Fed does not itself print money, the Treasury Dept prints it because the Fed wants to buy it.

    That FICA mandates a payroll tax, which prevents an individual from personally investing it, qualifies it as a Socialist enterprise.

    BTW, I’m not saying that any of these programs are bad, just that they can qualify as Socialist programs.

  51. MichaelJ says:

    Is the Church expected to denounce every government program “advanced by Socialists and considered Socialist enterprises”? Historically, has the Church ever evaluated all proposed or actual government programs?

    I don’t get it. That the Church has denounced socialism seems to be undisputed. Why would anyone think that Her ‘failure” to denounce a specific socialist government program somehow means that what She teaches has changed?

  52. dans0622 says:

    Thanks for the reply, Supertradmum.

    I do not concur, though, that “sensus fidelium” and “sensus fidei” are interchangeable. The Catechism says: “‘The holy People of God shares also in Christ’s prophetic office,’ above all in the supernatural sense of faith that belongs to the whole People, lay and clergy, when it ‘unfailingly adheres to this faith … once for all delivered to the saints’ …” CCC # 785. To me, this means that the faithful are that (faithful) when they are in conformity with the Faith. The Faith is what it is. Correct understanding of that Faith is apparent when all, from the last of the laity to the Pope, agree.

    It seems to me that the use of “sensus fidelium” instead of “sensus fidei” was an attempt to make the Faith conform to the desires/ideas/whims of (some of) the “faithful.”

    Dan

  53. Supertradmum says:

    robtbrown and chcrix,

    Although I recognize that “faith and morals” may strictly include doctrines and dogmas, I would hold that the encyclicals, including the Syllabus of Errors, promulgated in the 19th century, mostly against Modernism and all its Hydra heads,would constitute infallible statements against socialism, materialism and communism, as well as all the “isms” which still plague the Church. Can we not say that communism, for example, is intrisically evil, as well as socialism, as these are based on the condemned Modernist heresy of materialism, which as you know, reduces man to the here and now, ignoring the afterlife, the soul, and freedom of will and conscience and so on? I think Holy Mother Church expects us to be intelligent enough to apply Her clarifications to individual programs. And, how do you reconcile the above quotations from so many encyclicals by so many modern day popes, who have been adamant against governments which take away individual rights and responsibilities, and even the rights and responsibilities of the family? Besides the problem of materialism, governments are to work with the Church, as Holy Mother Church has never espoused complete separation of Church and State, which is an American idea, now standing on shaky ground in our own country. Here is a link to Lametabili Sane, which might help you sort out the role of the Church in modern life, or in life at any time since Her foundation. http://www.papalencyclicals.net/Pius10/p10lamen.htm

  54. mpm says:

    robtbrown,

    I don’t know how you define “socialism”: my definition is a bit more traditional: “Government owenership of the means of production”.

    Minting currency and regulating the fair value thereof has always been a function of kings and their government. As a function of the government, it served the “common good”.

    Owning car companies, airlines, universities, even churches, is mostly a European disease (at least so far). Regulating them or their operations is something different.. Regulation entails setting the ground rules which private owners of such enterprises must abide by, not taking over the ownership of the enterprises themselves.

    One of the benefits of regulation vs. socialism is that the government does not have to be so smart that it can predict the future. If a private enterprise fails, it fails. The government then regulates its dissolution through bankruptcy, and life moves on. When government must be smart for society to flourish, we’ve got big problems.

  55. Supertradmum says:

    Dan
    I may be wrong on the usages of the terms, but I have seen them used interchangeably in the past.

  56. TJerome says:

    irishgirl, I’m over 50 too! I’m just pointing out where most of the problems exist.

  57. edwardo3 says:

    robtbrown:

    My own understanding of the issue of prive property rights is (and I may indeed be wrong)that at the most basic level private property is necessary to have and exercise free will as each individual owns his own person. In socialist systems the person is no longer his own free agent, he becomes an agent of government; in short a subject of the government, necessarily unable to make basic decisions and to act in accord with his own will for himself out of fear of or due to direct intervention of government whose subject he has become. While it may, at the onset, seem that a socialist government is acting on behalf of its subjects in inoccuous ways, this soon (as history teaches via the Fascists, Nazis, Communists, French, etc.) flowers into a full blown totalitarianism which seeks to regulate every aspect of the lives of the subjects in order to continue and expand the power of government, to the point of requiring abortion, euthanaisa, forced sterilizations and so forth. Socialism is a product of Liberalism.

  58. robtbrown says:

    Papal pronouncements on economics or state structures are not infallible. Whether Leo XIII endorsed or condemned socialism can’t be infallible teaching. Whether Benedict XVI endorsed the idea of a world government can’t be infallible teaching. I admire BXVI and consider him to be the best pope of my lifetime. In this case I think that BXVI was terribly wrong – but I am not troubled by it because that is not in his competence as infallible teacher.
    Comment by chcrix —

    It’s not a matter of infallibility but rather of application of very general principles to particular situations.

  59. robtbrown says:

    edoardo3,

    1. I already acknowledged that the Church affirms the right to private property, and I added that it is not an absolute right.

    2. I agree that in Socialist systems the person is likely not to become his own agent, but such consequences are not merely limited to Socialism.

    3. Capitalism is also a product of Liberalism.

  60. New Sister says:

    Robtbrown – for your entertainment – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=c02q8U9VddU&feature=related

    *Nazareth priest* – first, *thank you* for being a priest! I have learned from your posts & pray for you and Father Z both. I also thank you for the good news, which I find heartening. I will pray many more come to help clean up the mess caused by those I’ve met so far. (I’ve only been confirmed 6 years and so far, save one exception, all deacons I’ve met have either been liturgical vandals, heterodox, or both. Two weeks ago at a Baptism the deacon *forced* us to hold hands; to say the Our Father à la Protestant version; then gave a discourse on how deacons get to be married, unlike the poor priests…In my home parish in Corvallis, OR there is one running loose who belongs to “call to action”! (I have written to Archbishop Vlazney, of course … especially after I found portraits of homosexual “couples” posted in the parish directory along side families! It may have had some effect, as the parish has not published any new directories since my letter 3.5 years ago!)

    OK – I think I’ve taken the discussion off-course… thank you again, Father, for your response.

  61. Kneelingcatholic blog has written about ‘sensus fidelium’ on several occasions, highlighting ‘the Arian controversy’, the pilgrimage of Grace and the Cristeros,…

    http://kneelingcatholic.blogspot.com/search?q=sensus

  62. Hans says:

    Supertradmum wrote:

    Hans, Thanks for the metaphors of hope. Our family is the only one which takes Communion on the tongue at our Sunday Mass. But, we are not refused.

    I have been there, Supertradmum. There have been times when I have been the only person receiving on the tongue. Even where I am now, there is a person of more influence and importance than I who speaks disparagingly about receiving on the tongue. Nonetheless, as I have said, others have chosen to follow my example.

    That’s not my doing, of course, but it’s part of our duty to be attractive examples for others. That way people will look at us and think that they want to have the peace and happiness we have, so they will begin to follow our example.

  63. robtbrown says:

    mpm,

    1. I agree with your definition.

    2. Minting money is one thing, simply because historically its value was related to its content–gold, silver, etc. Printing money (banknotes) is quite another. Originally, paper money was backed by something of value, but now it has become a traded commodity.

    3. Although the Fed doesn’t own the money supply, it owns the process of supplying money.

    4. Although the US hasn’t owned companies (with a few exceptions, e.g., GM), the larger economic/electoral entities (not only corps but also unions) have been so close the DC that they have been able to get various forms of govt money. So maybe the Euro model is a bit more honest. Anyway, it confirms Milton Friedman’s suspicion that big govt will sooner or later be taken over by commerce.

    5. And of course, there is the little matter of the corn-oriented energy bill of 2005, which increased the demand for corn, the consequence of which not only raised the price of a lot of foods (chicken, beef, ice cream) but also most likely raised the price of cotton because it limited supply (cotton planting converted to more profitable corn planting).

  64. mpm says:

    robtbrown,

    I think we are in a rabbit-hole on this topic (however interesting in itself), so I’ll say couple of things, but then I’m ducking (coneying?) out.

    1. The tricky definition is the one for “capitalism”. Polemicists have offered all kinds of definitions for it, and one can usually tell by their definition where they want to take the discussion. I tend to view it as a “natural” (“human nature”, of course) response to man trying to satisfy real material needs of a “human nature” which does not provide for them instinctually. Birds live in nests; but building nests is an instinctual solution, rather than a solution thought out by the species “bird”. (pace Dawkins and his “rationalization” of all things biological). When the solution of some species of bird no longer works, that species of bird goes extinct.

    2. The Federal Reserve is a wholly owned corporation of the USA, a government entity. So its management/control of the currency is not inappropriate in itself as a power of the sovereign. Whether they perform their duties well or poorly is another matter.

    3. Whether big government will be taken over by big business, or big business will be taken over by big government, strikes me as a matter of definitions and political power (when it is not a matter of constitutional law). When the individuals at the top are continually swapping jobs, you’ve got to think there is something wrong. IMO, what is wrong is that the government has opted over the years to “direct” the course of business enterprise (something for which elected officials are not really competent), and so they require “outsiders” (who merely “insiders” currently without government employment) to give them advice on a continual basis about how to achieve that “direction”. They ought to restrict their regulation of the economy to passing laws that tell industry what it may not do; it takes less expertise (lawyers do know how to craft laws), and avoids the “risky scheme” of predicting the future (and winners).

  65. Supertradmum says:

    One more comment to robtbrown and others on infallibility. Popes writing encyclicals on governmental or economic systems do fall under the category of faith and morals if those institutions threaten the dignity of the individual (moral issue), the integrity and independence of the family (moral issue), the duty of the state to protect the Church (moral issue), and the heresies which are behind those governmental systems, the ideologies and denials of God as the giver of gifts and authority (faith and morals). I do not see how one can deny the infallibity of the quoted encyclicals I shared.

    Faith and moral is not a narrow provenance of the Church, but a phrase, an idea, a stand, which covers all of human life….