Dominic and I had a conversation a couple of weeks ago about living out the evangelical counsels (poverty, chastity, and obedience) in marriage that unexpectedly blew up on Catholic Twitter…and not in a good way, haha.

There were many folks who were upset by the idea that Pope Francis clarified and developed the teaching that celibacy is better than marriage. He doesn’t have the authority to do this, does he? Church teaching can’t change, can it?

So I thought it would be good to follow up that episode with a conversation about the development of doctrine and how we as Catholics ought to approach old teachings in light of new teachings.

P.S. Catholic Twitter is wild. Join SmartCatholics! The free online community for Catholic millennials, creators, and learners who want faithful conversations that are unafraid of doubts and questions, plus we’re free of trolls and ads and toxicity. SmartCatholics—the more civilized Catholic community 😛

This episode is now on Youtube and in podcast feeds!

This week, Paul and Dominic discuss the development of doctrine. Has Church teaching changed? If so, how does it change? We draw deeply from Pope Francis, Pope Benedict, Pope Paul VI, and Dei Verbum to answer these questions. We also discuss what Paul calls the Hermeneutic of Traditionalism. This is the false understanding of tradition and authority that proposes that Catholics can use past teachings to critique, or even denounce, current teachings.

“The Church is not only Denzinger, that is, the collection of dogmatic passages, of historical things. This is true, but the Church develops on her journey in fidelity to Revelation. We cannot change Revelation. It’s true the Revelation develops. The word is ‘development’ — it develops with time. And we with time understand the faith better and better. The way to understand the faith today, after Vatican II, is different than the way of understanding the faith before Vatican II. Why? Because there is a development of knowledge. You are right. And this isn’t something new, because the very nature — the very nature — of Revelation is in continual movement to clarify itself” (Pope Francis, Meeting of the International Union of Superiors General, May 10, 2019).


The Hermeneutic of Traditionalism:

“I’m still teaching the same things I always taught…”

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Paul Fahey lives in Michigan with his wife and four kids. For the past eight years, he has worked as a professional catechist. He has an undergraduate degree in Theology and is currently working toward a Masters Degree in Pastoral Counseling. He is a retreat leader, catechist formator, writer, and a co-founder of Where Peter Is. He is also the founder and co-host of the Pope Francis Generation podcast. His long-term goal is to provide pastoral counseling for Catholics who have been spiritually abused, counseling for Catholic ministers, and counseling education so that ministers are more equipped to help others in their ministry.

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