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Chapter 7: Assent, Dissent and Sensus Fidelium in the Church

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Evanne Marba

on 26 February 2014

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Transcript of Chapter 7: Assent, Dissent and Sensus Fidelium in the Church

*refers to a public acknowledgment of one's inability to accept the teaching of the church.
Types of Dissent
1. Internal Dissent
2. Private Dissent
3. Public Dissent
4. Organized Scholarly Dissent
5. Organized Popular Dissent
The manner in which one dissents must not impugn (or types of dissent) the teaching authority of the Church
Group 5
Chapter 7: Assent, Dissent and Sensus Fidelium in the Church
1. Must be serious and well founded.
2. The manner must not impugn the teaching authority of the church.
3. Must be such as to not give scandal.
Dissent must be an expression of an initiative that contributes better articulation and formulation of the Church’s doctrines and teachings in order to increasingly make it relevant and meaningful in the lives of contemporary men and women.

It must exercise prudence in its exercise of making known its ideas and insights.
*Dissent can only be allowed as long as they encourage a habit of prayer.
A situation that leads to an occasion of sin. Tolerating a dissent contrary to divine revelation negates the nature and mission of the church.
Sensus Fidelium
"Sense of the faithful" ( Pentrice, 2010).
* Originated with the early Church Fathers, and refers to unerring truth sensed or recognized by the entire body of the faithful from the Magisterium to the last of the laity.
Article VIII in the American Catholic council (ACC) "Catholic Bill of Rights and Responsibilities" states: "Every baptized Catholic has a meaningful role to play, through sensus fidelium, in the interpretation of the Gospel, the Church's Tradition, and the Church's structure."
Sensus fidei & Consensus Fidelium
“is a quality inherent in subject, on whom the grace of faith, charity, the gifts of Spirit confer a faculty of perceiving the truth of the faith and of discerning anything opposed to it.”

(Congar, Yves, Towards a Catholic Synthesis, 1981, edited by Mannion et al., 2003:315).

Sensus fidei
A Spirit-inspired intervention
The laity can capitalize on their own experiences, insights and reflections in finding the voice of God for all men and women.
Sensus fidei
A Spirit-inspired intervention
The laity can capitalize on their own experiences, insights and reflections in finding the voice of God for all men and women.
Criteria and qualifications for authentic exercise of sensus fidei
Avery Dulles:
pg. 124 – 125

Gift of intelligence or learning
Docility to the holy spirit
Regular appointment to an office
Consensus fidelium
“Conspiratio; the two, the Church teaching and the Church taught, are put together, as one twofold testimony, illustrating each other, and never to be divided”

(as cited by Geissler, The Witness of the Faithful in Matters of doctrine according to John Henry Newman, by Int. Centre of Newman Friends, 2012: par.2).

Consensus fidelium
Shared recognition and testimony by both the ordained and the faithful

As a testimony to the fact of the apostolic dogma
As a sort of instinct or phronema, deep in the bosom of the mystical body of Christ
As a direction of the holy Ghost
As an answer to its prayer
As a jealousy of error, which it once feels as a scandal

(Scheffczyk, Sensus Fidelium – Witness on the Part of the Community, Communion, Internaional Catholic Review, 1988:190)

Sensus fidelium is not....
(A via negativa approach)
Sensus fidelium is not...
Determined by popular democracy or the ruling of the majority.
Giuseppe angelini : "many equate sensus fidelium with a public opinion meditated by mass media and often expressing a collective of individual assertions of personal autonomy" (the central themes, 186).
Sensus fidelium is not...
The highest vote garnered in a survey or poll, no matter how independent and objective as it is.

The plead of the millions of mass signature campaigns to thwart a traditional catholic doctrine or practice.


In other words,
Sensus Fidelium Described
Sensus Fidelium origanates from the divine gift of the Holy Spirit
-> In the history of the early Church, it was the work of the Holy Spirit that ensured faithful continuity of the teachings of Christ.

-> Pentecost (Acts 2:1-41)
-> Without a doubt, sensus fidelium can only be made possible by the work and inspiration of the Holy Spirit.
Internal Dissent
An individual person’s decision of not accepting certain parts of the teaching of the Catholic church but simply keeps it as a personal matter unto oneself.

Private Dissent
A dissent that progresses from internal dissent to the sharing of one’s disagreement of certain Church’s teaching to a very private audience.

Public Dissent
Brings one’s dissent on the public sphere where a disagreement with the Catholic Church is made known through publications, like books and journals, and mass media.

Organized Scholarly Dissent
It is a dissent requiring highest competence and authority in order to disagree with the teaching authority of the Church.

Organized Popular Dissent
It deliberately sets and campaigns for an idea or teaching contrary to the Church, such that it advocates strongly exert an effort to form a public opinion on their favor and acceptance, thereby projecting as an alternative magisterium.

On the possibility of sensus fedilium in the church, Dulles made a clear point in his writing:
Among the living voices that have authority in the church I would mention, in the first place, the general place, in the general sense of the faithful.
Equally encouraging was the Catholic Church’s affirmation on sensus fedelium in lumen Gentium no 12.
The holy people of God shares also in Christ’s prophetic office: it spreads abroad a living witness to him, especially by a life of faith, and love and by offering to God a sacrifice of praise, the fruit of lips praising his name.
By virtue of one’s baptism, Gailladertz affirms the truth of sensus fidelium on the lay faithful:
Every believer, by virtue of baptism, has a supernatural instinct or sense of the faith that allows each to recognize God’s Word and to respond to it.
Sensus fidelium generates, transmits, preserves and safeguards the truth through the constant changes and circumstances conditioned by time and finitude.
Holy spirit will always be there to guide us. – always keeping fidelity while striving to reformulate for greater relevance and meaning in new and newer realities

The witness of the faithful in matters of doctrine according to john henry newman - it was due to spirits intervention that spared the church from heresy during Asian crisis

The teaching Church. A term applied to the hierarchy, that is, the Pope and the bishops in union with him, speaking in their divinely authorized capacity of teaching the faithful in matters pertaining to salvation and sanctification.
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