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Friday, July 22, 2005

Is an encyclical an infallible teaching?

Some people have wondered whether the teachings in a papal encyclical such as Veritatis Splendor are believed by faithful Catholics to be infallible. Apparently, only the doctrines of the Immaculate Conception (1854) and the Assumption (1950), the latter promulgated in this century, are believed as infallible by the Catholic Church. However,
... , when the pope issues a teaching on a moral issue, the Church respects it as a true teaching guided by the Holy Spirit even though it is not technically declared "infallible" and may later undergo further clarification. For instance, our Church has moral teachings on euthanasia and bioethics which provide true guidance to the faithful, but probably will be further clarified— not changed—as the parameters of these issues evolve.
So, again, anyone who is looking for the Catholic Church to change a fundamental teaching in order to accommodate Darwinism is likely wasting their time. To read Veritatis Splendor and then turn and read Michael Shermer is to experience a sense of different moral universes. Reading Ken Miller, a Catholic Darwin advocate, I get the sense of someone who tries uneasily to inhabit a small and narrowing vacuum seal between them. More later.

Blog service note: Did you come here looking for any of the following stories?

- The op-ed by Catholic Cardinal Schonborn in the New York Times? Note also the Times's story on the subject, some interesting quotes from major Darwinists to compare with the Catholic Church's view, as expressed by the Cardinal, and an example of the kind of problem with Darwinian philosophy that the Cardinal is talking about.

- the Privileged Planet film shown at the Smithsonian, go here for an extended review. Please do not raise cain about an "anti-evolution" film without seeing it. If your doctor forbids you to see the film, in case you get too excited, at least read my detailed log of the actual subjects of the film. If you were one of the people who raised cain, ask yourself why you should continue to believe the people who so misled you about the film's actual content ...

- the showing of Privileged Planet at the Smithsonian, go here and here to start, and then this one and this one will bring you up to date.
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