Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Sense of the Faithful

Just a quick note for the evening. I find that a lot of people talk about the Sense of the Faithful and how that is sufficient for a Catholic Doctrine to hold. I used to be one who fell into using such a term in my day to day speech about the Church.

However, reading a book on Dogmas of the Church by Dr. Ludwig Ott, I am noticing that "Sense of the Faithful" is not the correct terminology, but it is rather a "Sense of the Communis". In the realm of the community in this sense, in order to be one who contributes their opinion to the sense of the Communis they must be in communion with the Church and all she teaches. Thus, only those who are fully orthodox and love Christ are able to properly contribute to the sense of the communis.

This is interesting because the sense of the faithful does not carry the same weight in terminology. When we say sense of the faithful, it ends up being all those who think they believe and thus have the right to contribute their opinion to the Church and Her teachings. If this is the case, then we fall into the danger of the Church becoming Democratic, that the majority of the faithful (according to their own definition of what it means to be a "faithful") have the weight of opinion on the life and teachings of the Church.

This is, of course, a false understanding of the reality of the Church. The Church is a communion of love between those who hold and proclaim all She teaches. This is a great mystery. So, it is the sense of the communis that has all the weight when it comes to the definition of the truths of faith, and not the sense of the faithful.


1 comment:

Neil McKenty said...

Well, your interpretation is indeed novel.

The correct phrase is "sensus fidelium." And a clear example is the teaching on artificial birth control.
The faithful have not accepted or in the technical phrase, "received" that teaching. Ergo it is for all practical purposes null and void.
Incidentally when did you last hear a priest or bishop warn the faithful about the moral dangers of artificial birth control?