Obedience and submission are much too little valued in our day, at least in Western culture. We are suckled on independence and freedom from our infancy, particularly in the United States. Our national mythos is rife with self-reliance and the self-made-man (or woman). The majority religion for most of our country's history has been Protestantism, which is nothing if not the religion of the self-made person: you, God, and the Bible. That is all you need. I do not think it is accidental that both draw heavily on forms of individualism.
I say this while maintaining the utmost love and respect for our separated brethren. Most of my family members and not a few friends, growing up and still today, are Protestant. Because of this love and respect, I do not make this criticism lightly. Nothing could be further from the spirit of the Apostolic age than to believe that each one of us can, on our own, with the texts of Holy Scripture, determine the truth about God, and our relationship to him and our fellow human beings.
This is borne out in the evident disunity that is the earmark of Protestantism, while Christ and the Apostles were ever urging us to unity. I have heard estimates in the tens of thousands of denominations, each of which is formed when an individual or small group of like-minded individuals determine it is they, and not the broader church they are in, who really have the corner on the Truth. And so they split.
Catholicism is hardly free from the presence of such a spirit. We see evidence of it even in the fledgling Church in the New Testament, and that trend is recurring in history thereafter. There are individuals and sometimes groups in every age who, though nursed by the Church in their youth and formation, come to trust more in their own judgment than that of the mind of the Church. In time (and not always quickly, for the Church ever prefers to try every means of reconciliation and correction first), the erroneous opinions must be condemned, sometimes definitively as an act of an ecumenical council, and those who continue to hold to them thereafter must be excluded from the visible community of believers.
This condemnation and (as needed) excommunication is both Scriptural and Traditional. The Church cannot indefinitely tolerate the insistence on the same error. She has the responsibility, through her bishops in union with Peter, to guard and defend the faith so that we may more clearly know the truth. Sometimes we find that clarity in contrast to errors condemned. But the Church is never hasty and always wishes persons to reconcile and once again adhere to the truth.
The Detrimental Effect of Lacking a Living, Objective Authority
When I was on my way to Catholicism, these considerations of unity and truth were pivotal for me. Ultimately, the question of authority, particularly the authority to definitively determine what is or is not true with regards to faith and morals, determines pretty much everything else.
There are many common objections to the Catholic Faith coming from Protestantism, and sure, having grown up a Protestant, I shared many if not most of them. A lot of them are based in ignorance of what the Church actually teaches. Many of them come down to differing interpretations of Scripture.
So when I was faced with the question of "should I become Catholic" or even "is Catholicism truer than Protestantism," I did explore all the various arguments and responses to them. Most of the Catholic responses to the criticisms are, to someone with an open mind, at least defensible if not always strongly compelling in themselves. But there is one claim that stands above them all and that really does, so far as I can see, make the rest of them somewhat moot--that question of authority.
And it isn't just authority, I came to realize, but trustworthiness. After all, what is an authority that you cannot trust? It is worthless. It is less than worthless. It is positively harmful, because it will lead you to believe wrong things and to act accordingly. It seemed and seems clear to me that authority was the pivotal question at play in determining which had a greater claim to the fullness of truth.
Given that the authority in Protestantism is, in effect and in practice, myself, how could I trust that? I mean, yes, to some degree, we all have to make decisions and choose based on our own understanding of the true and the good. That is inescapable, but that is only a subjective act of attempting to align with objective truth. But with something as monumental as the Christian faith which makes objective claims about God, our relationship to him, to others, and how we should, then, act, why in the world would I choose to trust my incredibly fallible self to rightly discern all that??
The common response is "the Holy Spirit will guide you." That is a praiseworthy response, and I do believe that despite all our personal fallibility, the Holy Spirit does help us a lot. He helps the Church as a whole, and he helps us individually in many ways. It really is the Holy Spirit's action in us that even makes it possible for us to desire the real True and the Good.
And yet, as I looked out over my own personal experiences in Protestantism, filled with all sorts of conflicting interpretations and claims, and when I surveyed, as I got a bit older, the multiplicity of confessions, many of which claim to have the one true interpretation and to be the one sure guide of our faith either explicitly or implicitly (by their standing apart as separate), I could not help but conclude that the combination of me, Scripture, and the Holy Spirit are not enough to actually lead me into all truth. Because the reality is that the me, the terribly fallible me, would always get in the way.
And if not trusting my own judgment to guide me, why would I entrust that guidance to one among many thousands of churches, especially when all of them have as the somewhat paradoxically shared tenet that we do not really need their guidance--sola scriptura? Why should I trust that claim when it self evidently does not work out in practice?
The evidence is that sola scriptura simply does not work out in practice. We now have over five hundred years of evidence that this is true. Given that evidence that is so plainly available to us, the scripture that is relied on as evidence of the reliability of this dynamic (John 16:13) must not mean that the Spirit will guide each individual on his or her own into all truth. It must mean something else. It must mean that we need to interpret that Scripture differently. It must mean that something more is needed to guide us into all truth than me, Scripture, and the Holy Spirit.
No particular church or community that adheres to this basic tenet (even if complementing Scripture with the light of Christian Tradition) can escape this basic conundrum. It becomes obvious that an authority outside of Scripture and outside of ourselves is needed to reliably discover and understand Truth in its fullness.
Now, an incisive reader might suggest that, in a sense, the Catholic Church is just one more denomination, just one more competing claim to know the real truth about God and Christ. They might therefore be tempted to toss the Catholic Church in with the other thousands of denominations, and just treat them as one flavor among many. (Baskin Robbins ain't got nothing on flavors compared to Christianity!)
How is Catholicism Unique Among Christian Confessions?
So, is there something special and unique about the Catholic Church? And heck, let's throw our Eastern brethren in the mix, too. They at least have a similarly ancient history and, I dare say, a better claim to be reliable representers of Christian truth than those who claim sola scriptura. Is there anything truly different in the Catholic Church from all these other alternatives?
I found the answer to be yes, in two senses, though the two are bound up with each other. The more obvious sense is the pre-eminent one, the one that is openly controversial for all of our non-Catholic brethren, namely, the ministry of the Apostolic See, the Chair of Peter--the Pope. It is not simply our claim to have a single leader of an ecclesial community. No, that aspect is common among many Protestant communities, and our Eastern brethren often have relatively senior authorities based on regional/metropolitan groupings. It is rather that this leader of the Catholic Church has claim to inherit the spiritual mantle of St. Peter himself, the Rock upon whom Christ declared he would build his Church.
No one who is honest can deny that all the way back to the earliest recorded Christian history, the see of Rome has been associated with the see of Peter. No one who is honest can deny that--amazingly and remarkably--we have records of every person to succeed St. Peter in that office, despite the many ravages of history, the multiple sackings of Rome, the exile in Avignon, and so on. Truly, it is remarkable as an historic lineage in its own right, and in this, historically speaking, the Catholic Church is unique amongst all churches who claim the name of Christ. None other has the heritage of St. Peter in this way.
So what? What does it matter that the leader of the Catholic Church (the so-called Roman Catholic Church) is none other than the direct spiritual descendent of St. Peter himself?
For that, we can search history. And I have, though I would never claim exhaustively. From earliest times, the successor of Peter, the bishop of Rome, is recognized as unique and primary in terms of his spiritual authority within the Church. Surely we can debate the exact quality and extent of that, but I do not think anyone who honestly studies Church history can deny that deference to the successor of Peter in matters of faith and morals has been a perennial and remarkable motif respected and practiced within the many local Christian churches, at least up until the concerted attempt to devalue that authority in the Great Schism, and later followed by various sects, culminating in the Protest de Force of that authority that many know as the Protestant Reformation.
It is not for nothing that these splits had as their special object of ire and attack the primacy of the successor of Peter. Due to the long Christian Tradition of deferring to him, a concerted effort had to be made to justify breaking with him and establishing a separate authority, independent of and often in opposition to him (and his successors).
So, I discovered, the Catholic Church does have this unique thing, not just that there is an historical, unbroken record of St. Peter's successors but also that there is a primordial and ongoing submission to the person holding that office in any given time period in the Church in matters of faith and morals. That seems pretty special, remarkable, and unique to me. Not just one among many.
The Living Magisterium, United to and Under the Headship of Peter
But now we get to the other part, the part that I find even more remarkable and that, ultimately, won me over, which is not just these historical facts but the theology behind the living Magisterium (whose claim is bolstered by the historical data to be sure). Remember that the fundamental question is, how can we discern the truth about faith and morals when there are so many competing claims? How can we trust and have confidence that we are not wrong?
This is the function of the living Magisterium. This is the gift given by God to the Church that protects us from error, and it is outside of ourselves, an objective guard and reliable interpreter of Scripture and Tradition. This gift has been with the Church since its founding by Christ on the Rock, St. Peter. It is the Apostolic authority to authoritatively teach and govern the Church in the name of Christ, and the successors of the Apostles (the bishops) all share in some degree in that charism, and chiefly the successor of the Rock himself.
That reliable gift is relevant to each succeeding generation because it is alive in each succeeding generation. I will say that again because it seems like many people, including many Catholics, do not fully appreciate this. The ministry of the Magisterium is alive in every generation, in every year, at every hour throughout the entire history of Christ's Church on earth. It is alive and active as I am writing this. It is alive and active as you are reading this. It is not manifested primarily through written documents. It is manifested in and through the successors of the Apostles alive at any given moment in history. It is anchored in what came before but ever new and active in the living persons of the bishops in union with the Apostolic See.
Where some, even Catholics, go awry with regards to the Magisterium is to think of it as a dead thing, consisting in what the action of the Magisterium in years past has handed down in writing. But this is not the true nature of the Church and such a view, in actuality, leads to the same potential for error as when we say "sola scriptura," which is that we functionally place ourselves, that is, our individual judgment and interpretation at the crux of discerning truth. This way of thinking effectively only expands the scope of what is considered scriptura (that is, authoritative writings on the Faith), while maintaining the inevitable and inescapable need for the individual with those scriptures to properly understand and interpret them. Such a view of the Magisterium is in actuality sola scriptura, plain and simple.
The written artifacts (scriptures) that are the gift of the Magisterium are only authoritative because they are the work of the then living Magisterium. In what we commonly regard as Sacred Scripture (that is the Old and New Testaments, the canon that was formally defined at the ecumenical Council of Trent), those texts are considered authoritative because the living Magisterium defined them to be so. It was the work of the Holy Spirit, leading us into all truth (John 16:13) that led the council fathers of Trent to infallibly define that canon.
This Sacred Scripture stands apart from all other written artifacts because the authors were Divinely inspired. They have a special character apart from all other written artifacts, and that authority rests in its Divine authorship that coordinated with the various human authors. But the authority by which we know this or that writing ought to be considered so Divinely inspired rests on the living Magisterium.
And indeed, well prior to Trent, the living Magisterium at various times previously taught us what those Divinely-inspired scriptures are. This was still done authoritatively, under the ordinary authority of the Magisterium, though it was not done infallibly (that is irreformably) until Trent. We could trust the canon of Scripture long before it was infallibly defined--thanks to the ordinary authority of the living Magisterium.
Apart from Scripture, we have many other scriptures (writings) that hold varying degrees of reliability, the chief among which are the definitions of ecumenical councils and ex cathedra declarations of the Holy Father. And yet, despite the trustworthy nature of all of these scriptures (keeping in mind their varying degrees of authority), they are nonetheless written artifacts. By that nature, that by the nature that they are linguistic symbols recorded onto some media, they require a living person to give voice to them (even mentally while reading), and they require a living person to hear and understand them. With these actions of human persons comes the inevitability of interpretation, that is, the intellect taking hold of the symbols and creating meaning in the individual mind of the believer. It is this fallible human action of intellection from symbols that allows for error to creep in, even when engaging with the most reliable of scriptures, Sacred Scripture itself, and even with the most learned individual doing the intellection.
And so to properly understand them--all of them including the acts of councils, decrees of popes, even Sacred Scripture itself--we need a reliable, living authority in every age. God knew this; he knows our human nature. He created us, and he anticipated this need. That is why he gave us the gift of the living Magisterium. That is why he gave us the special ministry and charism of St. Peter and his successors, as well as the ministry and charism of all the successors of the apostles. He gives not only special gifts to authentically interpret but then also, more importantly, to teach, to guide, and to lead. This is a key gift and mandate of our bishops.
What makes Catholicism unique, then, is not its broader set of authoritative (to varying degrees) documents, although those absolutely are good and helpful to individual persons come to a less erroneous understanding of the Faith. No, what makes Catholicism unique is precisely the living Magisterium. It is the Apostles-with-us, that is, the continued ministry of the Apostles in the persons of their successors. It is they, always in union with their head--Peter--who in every generation authentically guard, expound, and teach the Catholic faith.
The Dynamic Action of the Living Magisterium
The Catholic Encyclopedia expresses this distinction well, I think:
The Church is also (as regards religious and moral doctrines) the best interpreter of truly traditional documents; she recognizes as by instinct what belongs to the current of her living thought and distinguishes it from the foreign elements which may have become mixed with it in the course of centuries. The living magisterium, therefore, makes extensive use of documents of the past, but it does so while judging and interpreting, gladly finding in them its present thought, but likewise, when needful, distinguishing its present thought from what is traditional only in appearance. It is revealed truth always living in the mind of the Church, or, if it is preferred, the present thought of the Church in continuity with her traditional thought, which is for it the final criterion, according to which the living magisterium adopts as true or rejects as false the often obscure and confused formulas which occur in the monuments of the past. Thus are explained both her respect for the writings of the Fathers of the Church and her supreme independence towards those writings--she judges them more than she is judged by them.
We see here (and more if you read the article) that it is not the static letter but the living Church that is the pillar and ground of truth, as St. Paul taught in his letter to St. Timothy. Holy Scripture and the infallible definitions of the Church do hold special authority and sway as particular formulations of the faith, but it is always the living Magisterium that authentically interprets them and authoritatively teaches them in each succeeding generation. And for all the rest contained in our written tradition, the Church in the living Magisterium reserves the right to judge them and find in them, as quoted above, what is the actual traditional and perennial truth versus that which pertains only to the particular time and authors involved.
This is a very important distinction to keep in mind. Many Catholics (including myself in earlier times) seem to understand the work of the Magisterium as primarily consisting in the collection of written artifacts that comprise the collective written work of the Magisterium in earlier times. That instinct is understandable, because the whole point of writing things down is to make them accessible in a more enduring way.
Writing is an important help to augment the work of passing on the truth of Christ, but that work of evangelization and sanctification does not subsist in the writings but in the lives of believers. As children, we learn of God long before we can write. And all throughout our lives, much of what we receive is at the hands of other persons. This is why Christ gave the mandate to preach. This is why St. Paul reflects, "how can they believe if they have not heard?" (Rom 10:14)
Despite the immense value of the written scriptures and all of Tradition that has been handed down to us in that form, it is still the living Church, the witness of living persons, and the action of the Holy Spirit in all of that which is responsible for the transmission of the faith. And it is the work of the living Magisterium to be an indispensable and primary source of the propagation of the Faith and the ever deepening of our understanding of the Truth in God.
Thus, we may never rightly oppose Sacred Scripture or any other legacy of Tradition against the living Magisterium of the Church. No matter how much we may, as individuals, struggle to understand and reconcile what the living Magisterium is teaching us, in light of our own study of Scripture and Tradition, we may never rightly judge that our interpretation is superior nor that it is our understanding, rather than that of the living Magisterium, that is truth.
The only individual who is given a special charism to instruct the faithful without error is the Holy Father. No theologian. No other bishop. No cardinal has this gift. They and we are all called to trust this gift of God to Peter and his successors. It follows then if we are to choose between the judgment of the Holy Father, a theologian, other bishop, and the cardinal (or indeed our own selves) in matters of faith and morals, we ought to choose the judgment of the Holy Father. And, as we shall see, when it is his intent to instruct us, we not only should prefer his judgment, but we owe him a duty of submission.
To further help understand apparent variances between the recorded legacy of the Faith, we need to keep in mind that not every development and way of thinking in the past necessarily applies to our present. Too many times we conflate the changeable with the unchangeable. It is not even sufficient to say the typical formulation of "deepened but not changed" because the quality of those terms is not well defined. There is a fundamental truth, which is the Truth of God and his Revelation to us, which is immutable. But there are many changeable things in as much as that singular, immutable truth is recognized and talked about throughout human history. The way the people of God relate to and understand God has changed throughout history. This is undeniable.
And so we speak of the "development of doctrine." Many more knowledgeable and skilled than I have attempted to explain this and provide guidelines for understanding what is valid development of doctrine. I will not attempt to dive into this subject here, because while it can be helpful, it can also be harmful. It can be harmful because, as with understanding Scripture itself, it necessarily involves interpretation. And with that comes all the human fallibility inherent in it.
What I want to draw out here is just that--our judgment of whether something is or is not a valid development of doctrine is itself a matter of judgment, just as much as interpreting and understanding the legacy of Tradition. It is all tied up together. And so, the rules above equally apply, which is that determining what is or is not valid development of doctrine must ultimately be referred to the living Magisterium, and it is only that authority which can be relied upon to unerringly lead us into deeper truth. And consequently, as in all other matters of faith and morals, we do well to submit our judgment about the validity of particular developments to the living Magisterium. And similarly, we can trust with faith that the living Magisterium will not lead us into error.
And so we see that the unique thing in Catholicism is precisely this dynamic, living action of the Magisterium in every generation. It is dynamic because it is always active in the life of the Church. It is living because it is not the texts but the living persons who are acting that form the authentic Magisterium, properly understood.
Submission Owed to the Living Magisterium
Given that the pillar and ground of Truth is found in the Church, the Apostolic living Magisterium of the bishops in union with the pope, the practice of the Catholic faith necessarily involves submission to external authority, to living persons outside ourselves, and not just any persons, not just the persons who happen to hold views similar to our own. We are not free to pick and choose those whom we listen to, even if our preferred persons are cardinals and bishops. No, that would just be extending the error of private judgment--because in doing so we are using our private judgment to select prelates who agree with our own opinions. That is no better--or different--than our insistence that our interpretation of texts is correct.
No, these persons to whom we are to submit are, primarily, our own bishop and the head of the universal (Catholic) Church, the bishop of Rome, St. Peter's successor, the pope. These persons are given us by Divine Providence. That is how we can know they are not merely reflections of our own opinions. We do not choose our bishop. We (individually) do not choose our pope. These are the working of the Holy Spirit through those whom he has set over us, even when those individuals are manifestly not morally perfect, even when it superficially seems the cause of their selection is the result of politics and human choice. It is not purely those things. It is always God working in and through those whom he has set in place to govern. This is part and parcel of Divine Providence. God is still in control, even when we don't see how or why, even when we might say it is only his permissive will that certain things occur.
The Church has consistently taught the imperative of our religious submission of intellect and will to our pastors. St. Paul exhorts various communities to hold fast to what he taught them (2 Thes 2:15 is but one of many such exhortations). He told them to follow him and his example in the faith. St. Ignatius of Antioch, disciple of St. John the Apostle, regularly counseled adherence to and obedience to one's bishop. And all the way down to the present day Catechism, which exhorts us to have docility towards our pastors, and also canon law (750ff) and, for example, Lumen Gentium #25. The more you research this Gospel imperative, the more you find it consistently repeated. It is also confirmed by Christ in Luke 10:16: "he who hears you, hears me."
It is further confirmed by a simple examination of reason with regard to history. The Church predates the written gospels and all the other writings of the New Testament. Before any Apostle set ink to parchment, they were preaching and spreading the Good News in person. They did this on the authority from Christ, and they passed it on to their successors through the imposition of hands. The witness of this is in Scripture itself, in the Acts and in letters, such as St. Paul's first letter to St. Timothy. These early Christians were not listlessly waiting about for writings.
No, they were living the faith as communities under their bishops, presbyters (priests), and deacons long before they had a single writing, and for quite some time in Christian history, at best local churches had access to only a select few writings. God knew this would be so, and in his Providence, he provided the living Magisterium to guide us through his bishops, as the primary means for transmitting the truth of the Faith revealed in Scripture and the person of Christ. (And we have no evidence to suggest he intended for this gift and mandate to disappear once we did have writings.)
I do not want to devalue or suggest that our recorded legacy of the Faith is unimportant or not useful. By no means! Giving written Scripture and Tradition respect and reverence is not something that we as a people seem to struggle with. On the contrary, my contention is that today we too often fail to recognize and appreciate the meaning, nature, and value of the living Magisterium and the implications of that for the life of we individual believers.
Now that we are, on average, more educated and literate, now that we, on average, have ready access to so much of the written legacy of the Faith, we are too often tempted into trusting and preferring our own judgment and interpretations and too little interested in receiving and trusting what our living pastors are teaching us and where they (under the aegis of the Holy Spirit) are leading us. This self-reliance is a grave danger in our age, and the cause of very much error, confusion, and dissension in the Church, to the detriment of so very many souls. It is not that what the living Magisterium is teaching is confusing. It is, rather, that we are too set on our own understanding and our own judgment to receive that teaching with the docility we are called to.
Here is but one of many writings by St. Ignatius of Antioch (from his letter to the Philadelphians) that highlight the importance of unity with and, as a rule and mark of true Christian life, submission to one's bishop:
I greet you in the blood of Jesus Christ. You are my abiding and unshakable joy, especially if your members remain united with the bishop and with his presbyters and deacons, all appointed in accordance with the mind of Christ who by his own will has strengthened them in the firmness which the Spirit gives.
...As sons of the light of truth, flee divisions and evil doctrines; where your shepherd is, follow him as his flock.
For all who belong to God and Jesus Christ are with the bishop; all who repent and return to the unity of the Church will also belong to God, that they may live according to Jesus Christ. Do not be deceived, my brothers. If anyone follows a schismatic, he will not obtain the inheritance of God’s kingdom; if anyone lives by an alien teaching, he does not assent to the passion of the Lord.
Be careful, therefore, to take part only in the one Eucharist; for there is only one flesh of our Lord Jesus Christ and one cup to unite us with his blood, one altar and one bishop with the presbyters and deacons, who are his fellow servants. Then, whatever you do, you will do according to God.
It is true that individual bishops, apart from the Holy Father, do not share in the individual infallible charism of the original Apostles, but they nonetheless participate in that charism when speaking as a whole body or when teaching the infallible deposit of the faith. In any case, we are bound, even despite lacking a guarantee of infallibility, to submit ourselves to them, and to, as a rule, prefer their judgment over our own in matters of faith and morals.
How many of us have flippantly dismissed a teaching of our bishop? How many of us have second-guessed, rejected, or felt free to ignore what he is teaching? How many have thought in our hearts (and perhaps said to others) that we do not really care for our bishop? How many have judged him as too liberal or too conservative and so felt free to, in practice, ignore him? This is not the way of the faithful Christian!
Our submission is not conditioned upon our interpretation coinciding with their own. No, it is rather prior to that and overrules that, under obedience to right God-given authority, and it is a principle founded in our call to humility and meekness and the practice of obedience, the obedience of the faith. (Ro 1:5) This is how the Catechism formulates it:
Mindful of Christ’s words to his apostles: “He who hears you, hears me”, (Luke10:16) the faithful receive with docility the teachings and directives that their pastors give them in different forms. (CCC 87)
The faithful Catholic is bound to such docility and religious submission to our pastors, because they are the inheritors of the Apostolic mantle to faithfully teach Christ to us. The Apostles themselves received both their mandate and the authority to carry it out from Christ himself. These persons today--no matter how much we might personally dislike them--exercise the Apostolic authority of the living Magisterium, and we are rebelling against God when we do not submit ourselves to them.
This does not mean that every utterance, every action must be held to as if it were the voice of Christ himself. Again, nobody has that problem. But we do have an epidemic of lack of religious submission that is manifesting in the Church today. We need to correct our course and our thinking. We need to be ready to be taught, be ready to follow our pastors. We need to re-learn what it means to be docile, what it means to be sheep. If we err too much in one direction, it needs to be in the direction of submission and obedience, not in the direction of self-reliance, rebellion, and pride.
The way of true Catholic faith involves this humility, submission, and obedience of faith, even (or especially) in the face of a teaching that challenges our preconceived notions. Faith that cannot survive such testing is weak indeed. Faith that only goes so far as our own personal judgment is no faith in God. It is, rather, faith in ourselves.
So we faithful have to be ever careful to not fall into the error of private judgment, which is so commonly and outspokenly expressed in our day thanks to the internet and social media. Our duty remains to be submissive to the living Magisterium, not to become our own magisterium.
This is both a duty and a blessing, a blessing because we are freed from the anarchy of multiplications of opinions and the dictatorship of relativism that in actuality exists when every person is the pillar and ground of truth for himself. Rather than kick against the goads, we ought to welcome the gift of the living Magisterium. We ought to be open to and welcome those cases where we are taught something that challenges us--this means we have room to grow in our faith!
We ought to be docile and always ready to hear the promptings of the Spirit through the guidance of the pastors that Christ has placed over us, and most especially the Holy Father. We should always be ready to amend our opinions when we find they are not in accord with the mind of the Church, as expressed through Her living Magisterium.
May we have the humility and meekness to do so.