INFALLIBLE ORDINARY MAGISTERIUM
(Il Magisterio Ordinario Infallibile)
Joseph Cardinal Siri
published in RENOVATIO III (1968), fasc. 2, pp. 151-152
print added for emphasis.
Several national episcopates
have made the magisterium of the Church in all of its various aspects,
the subject of their collective letters. These venerable documents place
their finger on the most necessary and important point of modern theology,
a point that is also the most insidious (full of hidden danger).
fact, with the magisterium fully respected, the Church in her mission
has solidity and is efficacious; placed in doubt (reference being to
placing the magisterium in doubt) or if in some way the magisterium
is diminished or silenced, all turns towards relativism, thus towards
disorder and the dissolution of the unity of the Faith as well as in
all the rest.
is the great alternative of our time. We know that the Church will never
become less, for many, the affirmation of that alternative does not
signify the possibility of her (that
is the Churchs) failure,
but only the possibility of her torment. The
wisdom of men must seek to avoid it (relativism). Let us take to heart
and focus on this line of reasoning. The most important point, not in
and of itself, but in the ordinary life of the Church is that of the
ordinary infallible magisterium. And here is why.
truth comes by and by in confrontation with opposed and inconsistent
affirmations, with deviant attitude, with alternative interpretations.
It (the ordinary infallible magisterium) must be defended and taught
every day (always) and in a manner adapted to the facts
and the contradictions, that by and by come to happen. If this teaching
were not continuous, opportune and faithful, the religious life obscured
by bad (wrong, inaccurate) interpretations would not be able to hold.
The Church has the responsibility for this continuous teaching. She
(the Church) cannot do it with only the definitions of the extra-ordinary
magisterium. These we have only infrequently in a century, and for short-lived
(transitory) men, a hundred years is too long a period of time.
The most immediate and necessary responsibility must be completed
by the Church with the ordinary magisterium (CJC, 1323; D.S. 1792).
Let us try to think of a Church that finds herself confronted by explosive
interpretations of her sacred deposit and who must wait half a century,
or, a century to resolve a question by an ex cathedra action or by that
of a council. In the meantime all would languish and unity
(of the Church) would be impossible. This hypothesis will not verify
itself because the ordinary magisterium exists. This is the necessary
diet of all the days. To live it is not enough for us to have the medicine
of the extraordinary occasion but we require instead our daily bread
(the ordinary infallible magisterium).
This ordinary magisterium
when it is universal- which implies that it is with and
under the Roman Pontiff- it is definitive and irreformable, that is
it is infallible (CJC 1323). In fact it is of no importance as to whether
the Bishops are, or are not united under one roof: The moral union,
rendered incredibly easily with modern (technology) means, renders at
a distance, the prerogative of the Episcopal College, united to the
This is the point.
One does not understand the
obligingness with which this essential theme of the life of the Church
can easily be made mute. The universal moral union of the Bishops with
the Pope can take place in many ways, and these ways are destined to
grow with modern technology, not to diminish.
The charisma of infallibility
is the charisma of true peace of all the believers (Catholics). Let
us for a moment, think that these (Catholics) had reason to doubt that
an affirmation made today by the ordinary universal magisterium could
be denied tomorrow. Who could they believe? What would become of the
of their faith? Faith has need of infallibility
and she has need of it every day! The object of the ordinary infallible
magisterium is all the deposit of revealed truth.
we cannot stop here. There are truths and facts that are so connected
to revealed truth that this could not honestly be intended (reference
being that only revealed truth forms the magisterium) if these (other
truths and facts) were not also from divine charisma guaranteed. The
Church has used this power regarding connected truths in
a solemn (grave) manner. The infallibility enjoyed by the solemn magisterium
is the same as that enjoyed by the ordinary magisterium.
If we were to change several
truths not revealed, but of necessity connected, we would change the
content of Revelation, we would lose in this perennial variation the
sense itself of the truth, the Church instead of being indefectible
would be changeable and would deny herself many times in a century.
Does the non-infallible authentic
magisterium exist, that in which in stupendous manner occupied number
25 of Lumen Gentium. But that is obvious that the character of authenticity
of the magisterium, that requires sincere respect and real obedience,
of itself does not exclude the reformability of the assertions. Therefore
it is that much more real (possible) that the eventual teaching of two
bishops, the one that says white the other black,
even though the office of both is authentic, it is not enough to give
the assurance of irreformability. Exactly that which is required (irreformability)
in the true life of the faith.
Cardinal Siri Page
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