Saturday, May 20, 2017

Official Church teaching has changed throughout history

The current issue of 'The Tablet' carries an interesting piece by Sara Maitland, who is a regular contributor. She is a novelist and writer.

She is 'baffled' that the teaching of the Catholic Church cannot change.

Maitland writes: Official teaching - not just on ethics, but on fundamental doctrine - has changed (or 'developed' to the point that it might more honestly be called changed) throughout the whole history of the Church.

"The Church has changed its teaching on the geocentric universe. In 1615 the Inquisition declared that heliocentrism was 'foolish and absurd in philosophy, and formally heretical since it explicitly contradicts in many places the sense of Holy Scripture'.

"In 1992, after 'only' nearly 400 years, John Paul ll officially announced that Galileo had been wrongly  condemned.

"The Church has changed its teaching on witchcraft more than once."

Maitland also gives examples about changes on the doctrine of the Trinity and on marriage.

"But, for me, it is not just that manifestly the Church's teaching does change (though usually very slowly); I find it delightful, proper and enriching that it changes. This is because both as individuals and particularly as a Church we are in a love-relationship with God; the relationship is - to push language to the deepest level of metaphor and almost to the point of collapse - spousal. And if you talk to two people who have been married, or who have been in love with each other for a long time, they will often speak of 'always learning something new about him', 'she can still really surprise me' or 'it's an ongoing conversation - it deepens and deepens'.

"Such blessed people are talking about a relationship that is dynamic not static, increasing not diminishing, exciting not repressive.

"It is not that the beloved has 'changed' into someone else, it is that our capacity to see, to know, to understand has expanded, refreshed itself."

A lovely piece of writing that makes such good sense.

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