The teaching authority has made many serious mistakes in
similar cases of presumed doctrine
The teaching authority guards the community of faith against
heresies. It deserves our respect. But history shows that the teaching
authority has made, and can make, serious errors of
These mistakes have frequently happened in the context of culture
shift. The teaching authority has often clung to antiquated, traditional
opinions and practices that were unwisely identified with the essence of
It is instructive to study some
When banking started in Europe,
businesses began to demand interest on money loans - as we all do today. Going
by Old Testament laws, the Church forbade it.
The Second Council of the Lateran (1139 A. D.) prescribed that
persons who take interest be not admitted to the sacraments. And:
in case they do not retract their error, they should be refused an
The magisterium revoked the prohibition only in 1830. During the
preceding six centuries many businessmen and their families lived and died
outside the Church.
Until 1888 the popes and their
curial offices defended the legitimacy of slavery!
The Fathers, Church synods, popes and theologians maintained that
slaves could be legitimately owned, bought and sold.
The Congregation for Doctrine in Rome still declared on 20 June
1866: Slavery itself, considered as such in its essential nature, is
not at all contrary to the natural law or Gods law. There can be
several just titles of slavery . . .It is not contrary to the natural and
divine law for a slave to be sold, bought, exchanged or given.
Catholic bishops, theologians and activists
who campaigned for abolition were branded as troublemakers and
Until at least 1854, the official
teaching of the Church was that there was no salvation outside the
Not only did popes and theologians proclaim this as official
doctrine. It seemed to have been defined by Church Councils as a dogma of
The Council of Florence declared in 1442, under Pope
Eugene IV: The Holy Roman Church ... firmly believes, professes and
preaches that no-one remaining outside the Catholic Church, not only pagans,
but also Jews, heretics or schismatics, can become partakers of eternal life;
but they will go to the eternal fire prepared for the Devil and his
angels (Mt. 25:41), unless before the end of their life they are received
into it. For union with the body of the Church is of so great importance that
the sacraments of the Church are helpful only for those remaining in it; and
fasts, almsgiving, and other works of piety, and exercises of a militant
Christian life bear eternal rewards for them alone. And no one can be saved,
even if he sheds his blood for the name of Christ, unless he remains in the
bosom and unity of the Catholic Church.
This so-called doctrine, now revoked by Vatican II, arose from
total ignorance of the pluriformity of religions. It ignored the experience of
Gods grace outside the Church.
The truth of the matter is that the magisterium
has constantly been behind the times: in the question of taking interest on
capital loans; on the earth circling the sun; on evolution; on the authorship
of sacred scripture; on democracy, trade unions, religious freedom and
ecumenism; on at least 64 questions. Whatever
modern reality cropped up, Rome first got it wrong. Does it not pursue the same
path now by banning contraceptives, optional celibacy and the ordination of
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