Church History Forum: petrine Primacy
Petrine Primacy QUESTION from Antonio Basto June 30, 2001 I would like to know whether the Dogmatic Constitution on the Church Lumen Gentium has revoked Leo XIII Encyclical Letter Satis Cognitum. Today, both documents are published in the Vatican Web site. Should one document be read in conjunction with the other or should the older text (Satis Cognitum) be considered repealled? I am confused mostly because these are Magisterial Documents, so I don't know whether canons 20 and 21 of the 1983 Code would apply. Also, I don't know if there is any hierachy between the Dogmatic Constitution and the Encyclical in light of can. 749 of today's Code of Canon Law. I would like to better understand the Church's teaching with regard to the Primacy of Peter and the Pope's infallible magisterium. While the present Code of Canon law speaks of the Supreme Authority of the Church as having two subjects, the Pope and the College of Bishops, the Encyclical Satis Cognitum, while recognising that Bishops are sucessors to the Apostles, focuses on the supremacy of the Roman Pontiff. In lion regarding what are the beliefs of the Church on this issue, so that I can submit myself to the True and and exact teaching of the Magisterium regarding the Petrine Primacy. For example; in the context of a supreme authority with two subjects, is it correct to say that the Pope holds an ordinary magisterium and that the magisterium of the College of Bishops is extraordinary?
ANSWER by Q & A Staff on July 5, 2001 Dear Antonio,
Vatical Council I (1869-70) was interrupted by political and military factors before it could be completed. Possibly as a result of this, only the infallible magisterium of the Pope when speaking ex cathedra was dealt with (in the document Pastor Aeternus). This had the somewhat unfortunate effect of creating an imbalance of sorts in the understanding of papal authority which continues in some circles even to this day. It was left to Vatican Council II (1962-65) to deal with further aspects of teaching authority and infallibility.
In summary, what Vatican II taught in this regard was: the episcopal college is infallible in its teaching on faith and morals, when in union with the Pope (aside or apart from the Pope its teaching can have no binding authority). (It also taught that the universal Church is infallible in believing when it believes something taught by the Church.)
As I understand the issue, you are incorrect to say that the Pope holds an ordinary magisterium and that the magisterium of the College of Bishops is extraordinary; the episcopal college, with the Pope, holds the ordinary magisterium, while the Pope's infallible teaching authority is extraordinary. The Pope's role may profitably be viewed as one of confirming his brethren in the Faith.
Pope Leo XIII's encyclical, Satis Cogitum , was composed in 1896. It deals primarily with the unity of the Church. I mentioned earlier that Vatican I only dealt with Petrine primacy. Had it not been postponed, it may or may not have dealt with the comcept of the teaching authority of the episcopal college. One could argue that the appearance of Satis Cogitum in 1896 might indicate that the Church had not yet given full reflection to this aspect of the Church and perhaps it wold not have been defined then, and this I believe is a legitimate view. However, since Vatican II we now do have the Church's teaching on the magisterial authority of the episcopal college, as well as that of the Pope. It would not be correct to say Pope Leo's encyclical is in any way repealed, rather the doctrine has been more fully developed by Vatican II.
I hope this answers your question.
God bless, .
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