Saint Thomas Aquinas, Doctor of the Church, affirms that: “the Supreme Pontiff is especially guided by the inspiration of the Holy Spirit when canonizing saints.” The Church believes in that, although this fact has not been formally proclaimed as dogma.
The Church teaches truths of faith through Her Magisterium, which is classified in two dimensions:
- ORDINARY MAGISTERIUM. These are the truths and articles of faith and morals uniformly taught by all Bishops all around the world in perfect communion with the Pope.
- EXTRAORDINARY MAGISTERIUM. This only happens in special cases and has two expressions: definitions issued by Ecumenical (Universal) Councils and definitions issued ex-cathedra by the Supreme Pontiff. The latter happens exclusively in case there are doubts and objections concerning articles of faith.
It is worth noticing that not all dogmas of faith need formal definition by the Pope. The whole of the Creed is dogmatic. Vatican Council II clearly declared that:
“And this infallibility with which the Divine Redeemer willed His Church to be endowed in defining doctrine of faith and morals, extends as far as the deposit of Revelation extends, which must be religiously guarded and faithfully expounded” (Lumen Gentium # 25).
This excerpt from the Constitution Lumen Gentium clearly defines that the teachings of the Magisterium of the Church are as valid and important as the Apostolic Tradition and the Bible, when properly and correctly interpreted by the Magisterium.
The Church knows that Her mission is to continue Christ’s Mission and to teach Christ’s Truth. Vatican Council II affirms that:
“Inspired by no earthly ambition, the Church seeks but a solitary goal: to carry forward the work of Christ under the lead of the befriending Spirit. And Christ entered this world to give witness to the truth (John 18, 37), to rescue and not to sit in judgment, to serve and not to be served (Matthew 20, 28)” (Gaudium et Spes # 3).
Saint Ambrose (died 397 A.D.), the great Bishop who baptized Saint Augustine, clearly expressed the great importance of the truth of faith taught by the Church:
“In the beginning signs were given to those who did not believe. Nevertheless, in the plenitude of the Church, we ought to understand the truth. Not through signs anymore, but through faith.”
More than ever, the Church needs to give testimony of the truth, for everything points at the fact that we have finally arrived to those times announced by Saint Paul:
“For the time will come when people will not tolerate sound doctrine but, following their own desires and insatiable curiosity, will accumulate teachers and will stop listening to the truth and will be diverted to myths” (The Second Letter to Timothy 1, 3-4).
Saint Paul affirms that these false teachings are “false doctrines” (The First Letter to Timothy 1, 3) and “demonic instructions” (The First Letter to Timothy 4,1).
Saint Peter has alerted the first communities of the Church since the beginning of his ministry against the hazardous “sects” and false doctors that more than ever abound at present.
“There were also false prophets among the people, just as there will be false teachers among you, who will introduce destructive heresies and even deny the Master who ransomed them, bringing swift destruction on themselves” (The Second letter of Peter 2, 1).
These hazardous sects, according to the Pope, “are spreading all through South America like a big oil spill on the sea”. In order to combat them, it is necessary to evangelize all baptized Catholics so that they can know the truth Christ entrusted to His Church.
Catholics are often ignorant concerning the foundations of their own faith and are easily misled like “infants, tossed by waves and swept along by every wind of teaching arising from human trickery, from their cunning in the interests of deceitful scheming” (The Letter to the Ephesians 4, 14).
It is urgent to give “solid food” (The Letter to the Hebrews 5, 12) to God’s people, that true teaching that supports an adult faith prepared to “compete well”, “finish the race” and “keep the faith” (The Second Letter to Timothy 4, 7).
Saint John of the Cross, Saint Theresa’s companion of fight during the Protestant Reformation, left us a very strong and serious advice on the importance of having the Church as the paragon of truth revealed by God:
“Besides the truths revealed by the Church concerning the substance of our faith, there is nothing else to be revealed. Therefore, not only it is necessary to rebuke any new doctrines but also important to be cautious against news that are subtly mingled with the substance of the dogmas.”
Prof Felipe Aquino
Professor Felipe Aquino is a widower, father of five children. On TV Canção Nova he presents the program “Escola da Fé” [School of faith] and “Pergunte e Responderemos” [Ask and respond], on Radio he presents the program “in the heart of the Church”. On weekends he preaches deepening meetings throughout Brazil and abroad. He wrote 73 books of Catholic background by publishers, Loyola and Cleopas and Canção Nova. His teacher’s page:www.cleofas.com.br Twitter: @pfelipeaquino