Development of Doctrine

The Papacy, Doctrine, and Development

The pope is not a free agent. His authority, humanly considered, flows from his submission to and dependence upon Peter, that fisherman, that first pilot of the bark of the Church.

Development of Doctrine and Its Discontents

Development of Doctrine—a legitimate way to understand how the Church’s teaching appears different in different ages—has become a way to introduce innovations contrary to the Church’s perennial teachings.

Newman’s Message for Those Leaving the Church

In 2018, we saw many Catholics, including some prominent ones, head for the exits in the wake of the latest sex abuse scandal. No doubt we’ll see more of this in 2019, especially if the New York Times and The Washington Post are to be believed. Some prominent Protestant scholars, smelling blood in the water, … Read more

Mona Lisa’s Mustache

The other day on an obscure channel on TV I saw a fundamentalist preacher interviewing two young Catholics at the Minnesota State Fair. The two Catholics were utterly unable to match wits with the Protestant old-time-religion preacher. It was painful to watch, almost as painful as reading Vatican press releases over the last several years … Read more

Getting Scripture Wrong: A Response to Harriet Murphy

Dr. Harriet Murphy has taken a leap off a cliff of her own making in her broadside against my essay in Crisis on the female deaconate. She concludes that anyone (namely, me) who accepts the “literal” interpretation of 1 Tim 2:12-14—“I do not allow a woman to teach or exercise authority over a man”—is somehow … Read more

Can Dissenters Alter the Course of Doctrinal Development?

With the New Year and the Year of Mercy begun, last year’s Synod of the Family seems like old news. In a way, it’s business as usual for the Church. No new teaching was proclaimed (as if a Synod even had the authority to do that!), no radical changes to Church discipline were announced concerning … Read more

San Francisco Protesters Redefine Catholicism

The dispute between Catholic high school teachers and Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone continues. After protests, rallies, and full-page ads printed in metropolitan newspapers, opponents of the seemingly common-sense proposal that Catholic school teachers teach Catholic teaching in Catholic schools have now moved to the time-honored tradition of the “open letter.” Jim McGarry, an organizer of the … Read more

Did the Church Change Its Doctrine on Usury?

Orthodox Catholics say that discipline can change and doctrine can develop—in the sense that elements present in the early form of a doctrine can emerge more fully over time—but doctrine in its essence cannot change. In the 1950s and 1960s, Catholic advocates of contraception cited the Church’s teaching on usury as a counterexample to this … Read more

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