Theologians and the faithful have a duty in conscience to voice their disagreement

Theologians and the faithful have a
duty in conscience
to voice their disagreement when the Teaching Authority fails

There is a tendency for those in authority to imagine that they need not listen to the advice of others. This has been a frequent cause of serious mistakes in the past.

The Church has made it clear that all the faithful, and in particular theologians, have a duty to voice their objections in matters in which they have knowledge or experience.


“Let it be recognized that all the faithful, whether clerics or laity, possess
a lawful freedom of inquiry,
freedom of thought
and freedom of expressing their mind with humility and fortitude
in those matters on which they enjoy competence.”

Second Vatican Council,
Gaudium et Spes § 62

“In accord with the knowledge, competence and preeminence which they possess, the Christian faithful have the right and even at times a duty to manifest to the sacred pastors their opinion on matters which pertain to the good of the Church.

They also have a right to make their opinion known to the other Christian faithful, with due regard for the integrity of faith and morals and reverence towards their pastors.”

Catholic Church Law,
canon 212, § 3 .


“Freedom of speech is a normal factor in the growth of public opinion which expresses the ideas and reactions of the more influential circles in a society” (§ 25).
“If public opinion is to emerge in the proper manner, it is absolutely essential that there be freedom to express ideas and attitudes.”
Communio et Progressio,
29 January 1971

“The magisterium draws great benefit from critical and industrious theological study and from the cordial collaboration of the theologians . . . Without the help of theology the magisterium could undoubtedly preserve and teach the faith, but it would arrive only with difficulty at the lofty and full knowledge it needs to perform its task, since it is aware that it is not endowed with revelation or the charism of inspiration but only with the assistance of the Holy Spirit.”
Pope Paul VI
1 October 1966


““Those who are engaged in the sacred disciplines enjoy a lawful freedom of inquiry and of prudently expressing their opinions on matters in which they have expertise, while observing a due respect for the magisterium of the Church.”

Catholic Church Law,
canon 218.

“Then what about blind obedience?!”

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Wijngaards Institute for Catholic Research

The Institute is known for issuing academic reports and statements on relevant issues in the Church. These have included scholars’ declarations on the need of collegiality in the exercise of church authority, on the ethics of using contraceptives in marriage and the urgency of re-instating the sacramental diaconate of women.

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