6

CCC Article 2, 100 (Page 35): "The task of interpreting the Word of God authentically has been entrusted solely to the Magisterium of the Church, that is, to the Pope and to the bishops in communion with him." What exactly does this mean? What does interpreting the Word of God imply?

6

This means that the Magisterium of the Church is used to specify to the People of God and to the world how, exactly, the Word is to be applied to our daily lives:

The Roman Pontiff and the bishops are "authentic teachers, that is, teachers endowed with the authority of Christ, who preach the faith to the people entrusted to them, the faith to be believed and put into practice." The ordinary and universal Magisterium of the Pope and the bishops in communion with him teach the faithful the truth to believe, the charity to practice, the beatitude to hope for.

(Catechism of the Catholic Church paragraph 2034; the quote is from Lumen Gentium, section 25.)

This echoes and explicates paragraph 890 of the Catechism:

The mission of the Magisterium is linked to the definitive nature of the covenant established by God with his people in Christ. It is this Magisterium's task to preserve God's people from deviations and defections and to guarantee them the objective possibility of professing the true faith without error. Thus, the pastoral duty of the Magisterium is aimed at seeing to it that the People of God abides in the truth that liberates.

In other words, it is the task—the pastoral duty—of the Pope and the other bishops in communion with him to watch over their flocks, to ensure that what the People of God believe and practice is in accord with the Word of God as it appears in the depositum fidei, the "deposit of faith" given us by God through Jesus and the Holy Spirit. To do so, they must pray and think over what the Word means, and what it implies for Catholic life, so that they can pass on appropriate beliefs, practices, and teachings to the Church. This is the "interpretation" mentioned in the Catechism.

  • 1
    Importantly, it expressly forbids a lay person from offering direct explication and interpretation of scripture, limiting that ability (gifting) only to bishops. Technically, not even a priest can offer direct interpretation and can only teach what the bishops teach as opposed to the Protestant concept that ordinary people can understand, explicate and debate what the authors (and Author) of scripture teach. – user32 Feb 18 '15 at 21:45
  • @LawrenceDol Good point - even theologians don't have that ability, though the Catechism says that the Magisterium is exercised "with the help of the works of theologians and spiritual authors" (para 2033). Let me see how I can add that in. – Matt Gutting Feb 18 '15 at 22:02
  • 1
    As something of an aside, it's interesting to observe that the infamous "Galileo Affair" was not a science/church conflict but, primarily, Galileo conflicted with the Catholic church because he offered alternate interpretations of scriptures that were at the time taken to mean the Earth was stationary at the center of the universe (that and he ridiculed the Pope with one of his "fictional" characters in a thinly veiled manner, which was just bad politics). – user32 Feb 19 '15 at 1:49
  • @LawrenceDol, and now slowly we can see that Galileo was wrong and the church was right. youtube.com/watch?v=p8cBvMCucTg – Grasper Feb 19 '15 at 16:04
  • @Grasper: Well, I think I'll not wait with bated breath on The Principle; and I am an unabashed (old Earth) creationist. I think the entire philosophical premise, that being there is some requirement that we be at the physical center of creation, is deeply flawed. – user32 Feb 20 '15 at 2:32

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.