Thursday, January 08, 2015

Canonist Edward Peters on antinomianism in high places

My esteemed colleague Edward Peters, JD, JCD, Ref. Sig. Ap., "Addressing antinomianism requires recognizing it" (In the Light of the Law, January 6, 2015), here addresses an issue that has concerned him for some time. He writes:
Let’s use a little point to illustrate a large point.

Little point: Francis has appointed five more papal electors than Church law authorizes.

Large point: Antinomianism (ignorance of, disregard for, and sometimes contempt toward, law) is so pervasive in the Church (and in the State, for that matter) that almost no one notices it anymore.

Let’s back up:

Church law limits the number of cardinals eligible at any given time to vote for a Roman Pontiff to 120. See Universi Dominici gregis (1996) n. 33. Now, UDG (issued by John Paul II, following the example of Paul VI) is an “apostolic constitution”, the highest form of legislative document used in the Church, and its cap on electors is set out by a negative subjunctive (Maximus autem Cardinalium electorum numerous centum viginti ne excedat) which construction, as the Canon Law Society of America notes in the introduction to its 1999 English language translation of the Code, is regularly used by the Church to express straightforward commands and prohibitions. There is nothing unclear* about the law in this area or ambiguous about Francis’ action in regard to it, so, yet again, the Vatican Press Office finds itself explaining away the discrepancy between law and action, this time, basically saying that the number of electors appointed by Francis is not ‘very much’ in excess of what is allowed—which it’s not, of course, though, if I were advising the VPO, I’d suggest they simply point the finger to John Paul II’s frequent practice of exceeding his own elector limits (if memory serves, at one time JP2 had authorized some 130 eligible electors!); it plays better, I think, to suggest that anomalous papal conduct is actually in line with past anomalous papal conduct than it does to try to say that papal conduct isn’t exactly what it is.

Anyway, my concern is for law, and here it is: most of the world and many in the Church do not realize that, although the Petrine office is of divine constitution, the papal election process is almost entirely a human construct, that popes write nearly all of the rules of that process, and that popes can change almost any of those rules (including, beyond any doubt, the elector limit of 120) virtually at will. Instead, most of the world and many in the Church only see law here—pontifical, promulgated, translated-into-the-vernacular-so-anyone-can-look-it-up law—yet again being used not as a vehicle to express binding norms of conduct, but rather, as a way to express what are at best papal predictors about what future papal behavior might be, these, to be observed or not as suits the man who wrote, or who could easily change, the law. No wonder so many now wonder so much about what other canon laws we might chuck when we feel like it.

That’s antinomianism, folks: laws mis-written in the first place, misunderstood and/or misapplied by administrators, and eventually ignored alike by leadership and those subject to it. But antinomianism (which, I grant, is as likely today to spring from ignorance about law as to come from contempt for it) does special damage in the Church. Why? Because the Church lacks most of the legal enforcement options available to States and so is even more affected by the example of respect for law being given, or not, by those in leadership positions.

Let me be clear: it does not make a fig’s worth of difference whether 120 or 125 cardinals vote in the next papal conclave, but it does make a fig’s worth of difference, I suggest, if yet another ecclesiastical rule, set out in a major legislative document using terminology indistinguishable from that which conveys many other considerably more important rules, is ignored because this leader or that doesn’t feel like abiding by it. We have processes to reform law in the Church; looking the other way isn’t one of them—at the very least, it’s a very dangerous way to change laws.

Antinomianism has been a long time spreading, and we are going to be a long, long time repairing the damage it has done to the Church (and the State).
Where to start, then, except with the first step: recognizing that antinomianism is the default setting today. + + + [emphasis mine - PP]

* Supposing, for a moment, that John Paul’s use of the subjunctive in this passage was merely hortatory (there are grammatical arguments for, and against, that interpretation), we would still have a problem: namely, popes deliberately using legislative documents to express wishes about how they might act in an important matter of ecclesiastical governance. Bad approach, that.


41 comments:








Paul C.

said...

A careful reading of canon law would show that the limitation of the number of cardinal-electors to 120 couldn't possibly be a law. Not following that number therefore cannot -- as a matter of logic -- be an example of antinomianism. Examples of antinomianism should thus be looked for elsewhere (not a difficult task).

In fact, Universi Dominici Gregis carefully explains that the number was chosen based on "present historical circumstances". And history does have a tendency to move on.





Charles

said...

I beg to differ sir. There are numerous sorts of law, some arbitrary (like stop on red, go on green), some less so (like Thou shalt not kill), some temporary (like Do not eat meat of strangled animals), some immutable (like God's eternal law).

In fact, Peters concedes that it doesn't make "a fig’s worth of difference whether 120 or 125 cardinals" elect the next pope. What does make a great deal of difference is how we treat whatever rules or laws or official recommendations that we promulgate.

For example, there are liturgical laws proscribing the washing of women's feet during Maundy Thursday services. Francis had the authority to change that liturgical law: instead, he ignored it. This has a demoralizing effect on the faithful's respect for liturgical law.

St. Thomas Aquinas says as much in his Treatise on Law (S.T., Q97, a2), when he says that the simple fact of CHANGING a law, even when it yields improvement, must be weighed against the detrimental effect yielded by the simple fact of changing the law itself. People lose respect for the law. How much more so when the law is disregarded altogether. That's Peters' point.





Lee Gilbert

said...

But isn't virtually the entire legal system of the Church premised on the Pope being the supreme lawgiver? How, then, can one take exception to his altering a law or making an exception to it without being antinomian oneself?





JM

said...

Francis obviously gives not a fig about church law. Any wonder so many at the parish level don't either? Jesus. Rebel of Love, etc. Che Guevara cross with Ignatius Loyola at the Vatican. Good times...





Paul C.

said...

The Pope isn't bound by any ecclesiastical law (unless that law somehow encodes a divine law). So, if (e.g.) the Pope wishes to wash women's feet on Maundy Thursday, he can do so without breaking any purely ecclesiastical law whatsoever. Hence, strictly speaking, Aquinas (at ST II-I Q97 A2) answer doesn't apply, since there has been no change in law.

Of course, as a broader matter, one might wonder if such choices were a prudent thing to do. On that, opinions might differ. But any raising of an issue of antinomianism is wide of the mark.





Josh

said...

I'm far more concerned with the quality of the new electors than with the quantity. A quick trip over to Pewsitter will reveal that a goodly number are, shall we say, less than robustly orthodox.





Jacobi

said...

The point is that introducing a change which can be challenged opens a whole "Pandoras Box" of doubt about the validity of any future papacy.

Surely a situation to be rigorously avoided!





Paul C.

said...

Certainly there is no change in law, and in that sense this is different from the example of CHANGE in law being discussed by Thomas.

Yet Thomas's concern is how respect for the law can be undermined in the eyes of those subject to it. And this concern is at the heart of Peters' discussion.

Certainly, too, the Pope is not entirely bound by ecclesiastical law and can grand indults and exceptions. However, as bad as changing laws can be (as Thomas suggests), isn't it far worse to IGNORE them and brush them aside as inconsequential? THAT is the problem.





Charles

said...

Paul C.

I meant to ADDRESS you as "Paul C.", not to identify myself as "Paul C." My bad. I'm Charles, of course.





BenYachov

said...

I have a question.

Obviously the Pope is bound to Divine, Moral and Natural Law since if he violates any of these he sins and is subject to the Divine Justice of God.

But how can the Pope be bound to purely ecclesiastical law(i.e any law that contains no component of The Big Three I mentioned above.)?

A conservative Bishop catches a liberal Priest washing women's feet during the Easter liturgy he has the authority to discipline the Priest.

But who is Francis' equal here? If he on the spot grants himself an exception to the law on one particular occasion who can discipline him for not following this law?

Is he even subject to it given his nature as the supreme ecclesiastical law giver?

That is like saying God violated "Thou Shall not kill(i.e. murder)" when he sent the flood to wipe out the population.

God can't murder because it is never unlawful for Him to take life.

The only thing that might justify the charge of "antinomianism" in this case is if it could be shown Francis had some sort of moral obligation to follow this law. But washing women's feet during the Eastern liturgy is not like oh trying to ordain them which would violate the divine law.

You can argue the prudence of setting aside this law but that is not relevant to the charge of antinomianism IMHO.

Something can be imprudent but still lawful.

Such as it might have been imprudent for Paul VI to abolish the St Pius V Mass but he had the power to do it.





Pertinacious Papist

said...

"A careful reading of canon law would show that the limitation of the number of cardinal-electors to 120 couldn't possibly be a law" ...

You may wish to take up your case with our resident canon lawyer, Ed Peters, who has, among other things, been a consultor to Rome, appointed a Referendary of the Apostolic Signitura by Benedict XVI.

I queried him on this point, and his answer was terse: "It's law. Positive, human, canon, law."





Jordanes551

said...

"A careful reading of canon law would show that the limitation of the number of cardinal-electors to 120 couldn't possibly be a law."

A careful reading of canon law shows that the law limiting the number of cardinal-electors to 120 is a law.

When a comment stumbles on something so obvious right out of the starting gate, you just can't take the rest of it seriously.





BenYachov

said...


Last question then I am going to turn in.

>I queried him on this point, and his answer was terse: "It's law. Positive, human, canon, law."

But is the Pope bound to it? I know I and the rest of us non-Popes are bound to it. Even the Emeritus Pope is bound to it because he is subject to the reigning Pope.

Also what is the point of an Absolute Sovereign passing a law he himself is not bound to obey and cannot be punished if transgressed & can lawfully set aside at will?

Is it symbolic? Like civil laws against committing suicide?

Cheers.





Reyanna Rice

said...

Have any of you given consideration that he named more than the "legal" 120 because he knows that between now and the next consistory there are a number of cardinals who are retiring or who will advance past the voting age of 80.





Dad29

said...

It would not be helpful to raise the matter of 'liturgical law,' would it?

For practical purposes, it no longer exists, anyway. So no, let's not bring it up.





Paul C.

said...

Ed Peters merely asserting (whether tersely or not) that something is a law does not allow one to conclude that it must of course be a law.

Canon 331 states that the pope has complete freedom in applying purely ecclesiastical law. (Though this freedom does not derive from canon law, but from the nature of the office bestowed by Christ.) How can something be called a law if there is no one to enforce it, no possibility of appeal against a breach of it, precisely because the law-maker is completely free to change his mind at any time without giving any notice to anyone whatsoever?

I think the case of the 120 cardinal-electors changing to some other number is not a real example of antinomianism, but a case where people are not familiar enough with how authority is structured through the church. Why bother looking at a mirage of antinomianism when examples of the real thing can usefully be pointed out elsewhere.





Pertinacious Papist

said...

I'm surprised that so many seem to be missing the primary point Dr. Peters is making here, except maybe Dad29, who asks, rhetorically, whether it would be very helpful to raise the matter of "litugical law," since, as he suggests, "for practical purposes it no longer exists."

He gets it. It's not about Pope Francis, primarily, or whether he's above or bound or not bound by law. Rather, it's about a culture of antinomianism that pervades the West, not only in the State, as Peters points out, but even increasingly in the Church.

Let's leave aside the case of Pope Francis here and take an example from liturgical law. The use of lay eucharistic ministers is forbidden by liturgical law (Redemptionis Sacramentum, April 23, 2004, 157, 158) except where priest and or deacon is absent or under extraordinary circumstances where exceptional crowds might unduly prolong distribution.

What is the ORDINARY practice in a typical AmChurch parish today? You got it: a priest (and maybe also a deacon) surrounded by a bevy of 8-20 "Extraordinary Ministers of Holy Communion," such that he looks like an out-of-place father in a kitchen full of women at a potluck.

The point is simple. There is near complete disregard for liturgical law as well as any other law these days. The problem isn't that we don't have laws, but that they aren't enforced; and it doesn't help when the those authorized to promulgate law disregard existing laws themselves.

It's like the new principal of a school where the formal principal proscribed chewing gum on school premises comes in one day without announcing any changes in the rules, chewing gum. Of course he's not bound by his predecessor's rules. He's free to change the rules. But then why doesn't he, instead of simply ignoring the existing rule? What kind of example does that set? You tell me.





Pertinacious Papist

said...

Reyanna, you raise an insightful question. My hunch is that the answer would be that the pope could very easily raise the number of elector cardinals required so that the problem of attrition could be easily addressed. It's his disregarding of the existing rules that Dr. Peters is saying is the problem.





Paul C.

said...

If Dr. Peters primary point is to complain about widespread antinomianism, then his claim isn't helped by choosing to provide a single example where the usual understanding of "law" simply doesn't apply.

And I do not think that the example of lay eucharistic ministers is quite as clear-cut you suppose. If one has some such precise law as "Do not drive faster than 30mph", then we can agree on what it means. But if the law says "Do not drive at excessive speeds", then interpretation is unavoidable. The document Redemptionis Sacramentum has, in its relevant portions, words such as "sufficient" and "brief". The bishops (who have responsibility for liturgy in their dioceses) may choose to interpret those words as they decide. So, once again, where is the antinomianism in that?





JM

said...

"...the Pope being the supreme lawgiver? " Where on earth does it say that. The Pope is now Moses?





Charles

said...

Paul,

I have no clue why you continue to have a problem understanding the meaning of the word "law." I'm going to drop discussing that further, since it seems futile.

Let me take up PP's example of lay Eucharistic ministers, however. You think that doesn't rise to the level of clear-cut black-and-white "law," perhaps, and you are right. It's of a tapestry with the sorts of ubiquitous loopholes that riddle Vatican II documents. Sacrosanctum Concilium says that pride of place belongs to Gregorian chant in the New mass and that Latin should be retained. But with the usual "interpretive" loopholes, both have virtually dropped from view.

If anything, this very fact underscores Peters' and PP's point that we inhabit an ascendant culture of antinomianism. Our laws amount to "suggestions," which nobody pays any attention to. When has anybody's "interpretation" of Redemptionis Sacramentum EVER led to a prohibition of lay Eucharistic ministers? Can you think of a single instance?

Why, then, does the Vatican bother issuing such "directives"? It seems to have no intention of enforcing them. Everybody seems intent on proceeding just as if such declarations never existed -- just like Pope Francis and the rules (law) of his predecessor about the limit to the number of elector cardinals.

In the 16th century, Luther was the antinomian. Today the Pope is. Along with everybody.





Paul C.

said...

Charles:

The issue is not the understanding of "law", but the understanding of the ways in which the pope is (and has always been) considerably free to do as he wishes, regardless of prior statements, exactly as canon law carefully specifies.

Much of the parts of Vatican II documents that you refer to (e.g. the use of the Latin language and Gregorian chant) are not specified as precise laws, since there are plenty of surrounding statements that clearly leave much up to the judgements of bishops.

I am not worried about the Church. Reading the history of the medieval and renaissance Church makes nothing current seem comparatively worth worrying about. I know who runs the Church.





Charles

said...

"The issue is not the understanding of "law", but the understanding of the ways in which the pope is (and has always been) considerably free to do as he wishes, regardless of prior statements, exactly as canon law carefully specifies."

Good, then that should be a non-issue, because that's not the issue.

"Much of the parts of Vatican II documents that you refer to (e.g. the use of the Latin language and Gregorian chant) are not specified as precise laws, since there are plenty of surrounding statements that clearly leave much up to the judgements of bishops."

This is a reflection of the growing influx of antinomianism into Catholic thinking, setting forth a "Constitution" on Divine Liturgy with liturgical force of law that specifies one thing and then leaves loopholes large enough to drive a truck through them, under the rubric of "as determined by the local ordinary" (see >http://salbert.tripod.com/SClel.htm).

"I am not worried about the Church. Reading the history of the medieval and renaissance Church makes nothing current seem comparatively worth worrying about. I know who runs the Church."

This is exactly the old worn-out song constantly sung by BenYachov: "Don't worry. Be happy. The Holy Spirit runs the Church."

That, however, is a half-truth. While we have Christ's promises that the Church will prevail, this hardly means that everything the Church does is desired by the Holy Spirit. Yes, the Church survived horrible debacles in its history, but woe to those leaders by whom those evils came, which were never God's will.

I am appalled at those pope-can-do-no-wrong Ultramontanists who turn a blind eye to the evil being done by the Church throughout her history. Pope Benedict explicitly denied that the Holy Spirit guides the Church in this way: http://ideas.time.com/2013/03/11/does-the-holy-spirit-choose-the-pope/. The fact that Pope Francis is not bound by a body of current ecclesiastical law does not mean that his disregard for that law in this and many other similar ways isn't doing immeasurable harm to the faithful.





Mighty Joe Young

said...

Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger; After the Second Vatican Council, the impression arose that the pope really could do anything ... especially if he were acting on the mandate of an ecumenical council ... In fact, the First Vatican Council had in no way defined the pope as an absolute monarch. On the contrary, it presented him as the guarantor of obedience to the revealed Word. The pope's authority is bound to the Tradition of faith ... The authority of the pope is not unlimited; it is at the service of Sacred Tradition

Well, what we have now is not an absolute Monarch but a petty tyrant who brakes existing law with a cool celerity while uncountable numbers of ultramontane papolatrists defend his indefensibe actions

When some of the kids complain about that behavior - Hey, he doesn't follow the rules but I have to - the vast majority of he other kids say -Hey, he's our Father so he doesn't have to follow the rules.

And that reality is described as the hermeneutic of contnuity in the springtime of the New Pentecost of the Civilisation of love.

The New Evangelisation; Come and join us and then you too can have a Dad who can both make the rules and then break the rules





BenYachov

said...

@MJY

>Well, what we have now is not an absolute Monarch but a petty tyrant who brakes existing law with a cool celerity while uncountable numbers of ultramontane papolatrists defend his indefensibe actions

Dude he is not subject to these laws. Your citation from Ratzinger merely proves the Pope can't change doctrine or the moral law or natural law.

But he can change Church Law & it is arguable he is not subject too it.

>When some of the kids complain about that behavior - Hey, he doesn't follow the rules but I have to - the vast majority of he other kids say -Hey, he's our Father so he doesn't have to follow the rules.

Dude realistically there are rules that apply to parents than don't apply to children. For example my Parents could have sex. I couldn't till I moved out and married.

If I was alone in my room with my then girlfriend and future wife my Dad yelled at me and told me I had to keep the door open.

But he could be in a closed and locked room with my Mother. Knowing what I know then and now I can't say there was a double standard.

>The New Evangelisation; Come and join us and then you too can have a Dad who can both make the rules and then break the rules.

Realistically my Dad could make rules that he is not subject too but even as a child I knew that did not include rules involving right or wrong.

So I really don't see how Francis can be antinomianistic here.

Peace.





Charles

said...

"So I really don't see how Francis can be antinomianistic here."

If Pope Francis said, "My dear friend, Ben Yachov, please know this, that I am an antinomian," would you believe it, or rather suspect that he must be demented or suffering the effects of some nefarious demon that insinuated itself into his febrile mind? I suspect the latter.





BenYachov

said...

@Charles

>If Pope Francis said, "My dear friend, Ben Yachov, please know this, that I am an antinomian," would you believe it, or rather suspect that he must be demented or suffering the effects of some nefarious demon that insinuated itself into his febrile mind? I suspect the latter.

Actually Charles I tend to take people at their word. I would have to observe his behavior over time to conclude he was mentally impaired or possessed.

If he is spitting out pea sour and letting loose a string of vulgarities Dr. B would not allow me to reproduce here I might opt for Possession.

Still what you propose hypothetically here is a very high level of evidence for the Pope being an antinomian or acting in an antinomian fashion.

This does not solve my query but I appreciate the jap.

Cheers.





Mighty Joe Young

said...

MJY: "Well, what we have now is not an absolute Monarch but a petty tyrant who brakes existing law with a cool celerity while uncountable numbers of ultramontane papolatrists defend his indefensible actions"

Ben: "Dude he is not subject to these laws. Your citation from Ratzinger merely proves the Pope can't change doctrine or the moral law or natural law."

As is usually the case, you are ignorant about the meaning of a particular quote or the context in which the quote was used but one can not be expected to waste his time constantly correcting you.

It is crystal clear you have no use for Traditionalists and you have not one positive thing to add to the conversations in here and so you must have a very perverse motivation for being here.

Look, we all know the blogs you love and so there is no need for you to provide their links to us; if we want to read what your dude buds say, we can just go there ourselves - but we don't.

And you know why we don't?

We don't want to read the S.O.S. by the same old ultramontane papolatrists

Here is the link illustrating how it is you just make-up stuff on the fly to oppose opinions you do not approve of - as though your personal opinions are normative.

MJ wishes we could vote you off this island of traditional sanity and send you back to drown in the ocean of ultramontanism and papolatry because it is crystal clear you can not only take a hint but you can not take direct quotes from longtime readers/participants who tell you to piss off.

Most men would understand when they are and are not wanted and they would act accordingly.

http://www.latinmassmagazine.com/articles/articles_ratzinger_special.html





BenYachov

said...

@MJY

>As is usually the case, you are ignorant about the meaning of a particular quote or the context in which the quote was used but one can not be expected to waste his time constantly correcting you.etc..

Translation:I am not at all interested in having a civilized Christian discussion with you.


>It is crystal clear you have no use for Traditionalists and you have not one positive thing to add to the conversations in here and so you must have a very perverse motivation for being here.

I reply: I meant what I said about not wanting to attack other Posters personally.

If you want to keep that chip on your shoulder that is your choice.

But you are only hurting yourself.





BenYachov

said...

@Charles

>The fact that Pope Francis is not bound by a body of current ecclesiastical law does not mean that his disregard for that law in this and many other similar ways isn't doing immeasurable harm to the faithful.

If he is not bound by them then he can't be lawless for not following them so he can't be an antinomian.

That he is imprudent for not enforcing them or causing harm or not by not leading by example is another argument another criticism which may or may not be valid but it is clear it is not antinomian.

The only lesson the Faithful can take from it is the Pope is not bound by this law.

if they begin to violate it and he does not correct it then he has defacto changed it.





Charles

said...

Ben insists that a pope isn't bound by ecclesiastical law, for if he disregards a law he hasn't violated it but just changed it.

Yet he concedes the hypothetical possibility that a pope who disregards law might be imprudent or causing harm to the faithful.

He seems to think that "antinomianism" means "to be above the law," a definition he could not find in anywhere if he searched for it his entire life. Such a definition has more in common with William of Occam's description of God as an arbitrary dictator than anything in philosophy or canon law or moral theology (the primary definition, which is marginal here).

The term is a composite of two Greek terms, "anti" and "nomos", meaning to be "against the law," not "above the law." To cavalierly ignore the law instead of using due authority to judiciously change it and prepare the faithful for the change with duely-instructed promulgation is to behave lawlessly, in defiance of and disrespect for existing law.

Is Ben suggesting that a preeminent canon lawyer consulted by the Vatican doesn't understand the proper use of the term?





BenYachov

said...

@Charles

>Ben insists that a pope isn't bound by ecclesiastical law, for if he disregards a law he hasn't violated it but just changed it.

More like if he is not bound by it then in principle he cannot violate it. Like God has absolute power and rights over life and death
so even if God takes the life of an “innocent" in principle God cannot ever commit murder. Murder being the unlawful taking of
human life which belongs to God and thus God the supreme lawgiver and life giver cannot ever be guilty of murder even in principle.

>Yet he concedes the hypothetical possibility that a pope who disregards law might be imprudent or causing harm to the faithful.

That is simply a different charge.

>He seems to think that "antinomianism" means "to be above the law," a definition he could not find in anywhere if he searched for it his entire life.

No why would I believe that? Then I would have to say the Pope would have to be antinomian toward church law by nature of this office.

> Such a definition has more in common with William of Occam's description of God as an arbitrary dictator than anything in philosophy or canon law or moral theology (the primary definition, which is marginal here).

Except it isn’t my definition otherwise I would have to agree with the charge of antinomianism.


>The term is a composite of two Greek terms, "anti" and "nomos", meaning to be "against the law," not "above the law.”

I agree 100%.

>To cavalierly ignore the law instead of using due authority to judiciously change it and prepare the faithful for the change with duely-instructed promulgation is to behave lawlessly, in defiance of and disrespect for existing law.

But that assumes one is subject to that law in the first place. How can an absolute monarch (which is what the Pope is politically and in church governance) be subject to a law he can change at will and not be penalized for violating?


>Is Ben suggesting that a preeminent canon lawyer consulted by the Vatican doesn't understand the proper use of the term?

Argument by authority. I am disagreeing and I am sure if we look we can find this particular canon lawyer is not the last word.





Charles

said...

"More like if he is not bound by it then in principle he cannot violate it."

That's a red herring, Ben. What you SAID is that this means the pope is NOT AN ANTINOMIAN.

"That is simply a different charge."

Another red herring: this allegedly "different charge" is what the canon lawyer uses as evidence that the pope is an antinomian. You show no grounds for considering it "a different charge." You don't want the pope to be an antinomian. I get it. Neither do I want him to be, but I can't help it if he is and neither can you, no matter how you try to twist and reinterpret the facts.

"No why would I believe that [that being "antinomianism" means being unbound by or "above" the law]?"

Because you wrote in your previous comment: "If he is not bound by them [laws] then he can't be lawless for not following them so he can't be an antinomian." Q.E.D.

"Except it isn’t my definition ..."

You just said that the pope can't be an "antinomian" if he is "not bound by the law", and that's the definition you used in order to argue that the pope CANNOT be antinomian, so (1) how can this NOT be your definition, and (2) why would you turn around and concede now that you can't accept this definition because it would mean that you would have to admit the pope is antinomian????

...





Charles

said...

...

"But that [cavalierly ignoring the law instead of using due authority to judiciously change it] assumes one is subject to that law in the first place."

Not necessarily, because there are two parts to the canon lawyer's argument: (1) the pope broke existing law without changing it, and (2) apart from his breaking any law, his attitude towards existing law exhibits an antinomian spirit.

Your view of the pope strikes me as akin to Jean Bodin's view of the "sovereignty" at play in the idea of the "divine right of kings," or the idea that the kings were "above the law." I do not think this kind of sovereignty applies to any mortal, even the pope. The pope is bound by laws just as all of us are. He has the authority to grant dispensations, to make changes in keeping with the precepts of natural law and the good of the church, but not to simply override and ignore the laws in place.

It's true that an appeal to authority as such is the weakest of arguments, but not an appeal to due authority, and the haste with which you wish to dismiss the judgment of Dr. Peters like a hot potato, because he is critical of the pope, and your suggestion that we should readily find another canon lawyer who disagrees with Peters (like Henry VIII who appointed an Archbishop who would grant him an annulment, since the pope wouldn't), is heavy with the vibe of relativism.

I'm afraid the sort of ultramontanist ("pope can do no wrong") attitude you exhibit here, with its easy dismissal of existing ecclesiastical law, is itself a product of the antinomian view that infects our society and now manifests itself in a pope who thinks he is above the law.





BenYachov

said...



Additional:

To further my thought because I was rushing out to Mass the problem I have with this charge is that
can a Captain of a Ship be insubordinate to his own orders? Naturally a Captain in a chain of command
with a Commodore or Admiral must obey his superiors. Analogously the Pope must obey the Laws of God
and Nature so he can’t just do anything. He can’t make women priests. He can not dissolve a valid sacramental
marriage. He can not authorize homosexuality etc… He can’t change the rites of the Church that effect doctrine
thus he couldn’t substitute root beer for communion wine.

But in terms of the mere human laws of the Church is the Pope bound by them or is he
princeps legibus solutus & in principle above them and not bound by them?

It seems they dealt with this Last year over at Fr. Z blog.

http://wdtprs.com/blog/2013/04/whats-this-you-say-popes-are-not-above-the-law-analysis-at-commonweal/

Ironically while some people here over react to my questions and accuse me of ultramontanism Fr. is
worried "the ultimate dream of liberals to restrict papal authority, just as they hope to see restrictions on bishops
and the reduction of priests and priesthood to “ministry”.

Here Fr. Z complains "Just because the Pope did something in some ceremony which, apparently because it was small and in a jail, mattered a lot to the inmates but I guess didn’t really change anything for the rest us – except for the fact that the Pope did it and it was ballyhooed by the powers that be all over the world, that doesn’t mean that any bishop or priest can take upon himself to change the clear and important rubrics of Mass…. any rubrics.”

Well I would agree with that.

http://wdtprs.com/blog/2013/04/absolutely-licit-my-foot/

That last bit reminds me of the disputes the Rabbis would have in the Talmud. The phrase “Exception that proves the rule” is a phrase that would
come about when some famous rabbi was doing something not in accord with the seeming traditional ruling on the application of the law.
Like Rabbi Ben Yohanna putting a hundred women on trial for witch craft and ordering their hangings when Jewish law says 23 judges have to
preside over one person per day and the penalty is stoning. That Rabbis said”This is the exception that proves the rule. Just because Rabbi Ben Yohanna did this does not me we may do so”.

Anyway I will leave it to that.

But I will respond to charles.





BenYachov

said...

@Charles

>>More like if he is not bound by it then in principle he cannot violate it."

>That's a red herring, Ben. What you SAID is that this means the pope is NOT AN ANTINOMIAN.

In that he is not showing contempt to a law he is not bound too follow. Charles I am the sole interpreter
of the meaning of my own words so I have no idea what you are on about?


>Another red herring: this allegedly "different charge" is what the canon lawyer uses as evidence that the pope is an antinomian. You show no grounds for considering it "a different charge." You don't want the pope to be an antinomian. I get it. Neither do I want him to be, but I can't help it if he is and neither can you, no matter how you try to twist and reinterpret the facts.

Charles I am trying to look at this rationally. If the Pope is now sitting in the Vatican chanting this in his head I could care less for purposes of argument.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=L397TWLwrUU&spfreload=10

I see your problem here Charles. You are imagining morally the Pope is a sort of Lawless person perhaps?. I am not looking at it that way nor do I give a crap. I am looking at these specific actions of the Pope as examples of lawlessness. I find them in principle wanting.

>Because you wrote in your previous comment: "If he is not bound by them [laws] then he can't be lawless for not following them so he can't be an antinomian." Q.E.D.

That was a response to MJY's statement " Dad who can both make the rules and then break the rules.” I argued Dad can make rules which in principle & by nature he is not bound too follow. My own Father’s rule I couldn’t be alone with my then girlfriend in my room with the door shut. Heck I was 22 at this point and I respected my Father’s rule. But I understood Dad could be alone in a locked room with Mom & I would not think him lawless for that.

>You just said that the pope can't be an "antinomian" if he is "not bound by the law”, and that's the definition you used in order to argue that the pope CANNOT be antinomian, so (1) how can this NOT be your definition, and (2) why would you turn around and concede now that you can't accept this definition because it would mean that you would have to admit the pope is antinomian????

Charles are you really interested in a serious discussion or are you just busting chops?

Be honest please. I will take you at your word if you say you want an honest discussion but your twisting of my words here suggests busting chops?

Anyway I just explained myself so I won’t repeat it

>Not necessarily, because there are two parts to the canon lawyer's argument: (1) the pope broke existing law without changing it, and (2) apart from his breaking any law, his attitude towards existing law exhibits an antinomian spirit.


I am only interested in (1) which I dispute. If the Pope is not bound by a law then he cannot break it or be lawless in the “breaking” of it.
i could care less about " his attitude towards existing law [which]exhibits an antinomian spirit”. I believe arguing such a thing is futile.

Some other things you said are interesting.





BenYachov

said...

@Charles

>Your view of the pope strikes me as akin to Jean Bodin's view of the "sovereignty" at play in the idea of the "divine right of kings," or the idea that the kings were "above the law." I do not think this kind of sovereignty applies to any mortal, even the pope. The pope is bound by laws just as all of us are. He has the authority to grant dispensations, to make changes in keeping with the precepts of natural law and the good of the church, but not to simply override and ignore the laws in place.

Well Charles if you read what I said to MJY before he bit my head off I don’t dispute the Pope is in fact bound by doctrine, divine and natural law.
He may not violate such. He can’t for example allow a woman to be ordained a Priest or some such fiction. Or add the Muslim Shahada to the creed (unless he dropped the second half IMHO). He should as a matter of moral principle act according to his best ability and not slack off.

But in matters he has sovereignty over he is not bound by the Law. Thus his can’t be lawless for breaking them. That is not to say he might not be lawless on other grounds.

>It's true that an appeal to authority as such is the weakest of arguments, but not an appeal to due authority, and the haste with which you wish to dismiss the judgment of Dr. Peters like a hot potato, because he is critical of the pope, and your suggestion that we should readily find another canon lawyer who disagrees with Peters (like Henry VIII who appointed an Archbishop who would grant him an annulment, since the pope wouldn't), is heavy with the vibe of relativism.

I don’t care about his criticism of the Pope here per say as a criticism. I find it respectful & respectable. I like it’s tone way better then another papal critic, a woman, who I believe got a well deserved rebuke over at First Things. But i disagree with a specific narrow point on logical grounds.

How does this make me someone who believes Black is White if the Pope says so?

>I'm afraid the sort of ultramontanist ("pope can do no wrong") attitude you exhibit here, with its easy dismissal of existing ecclesiastical law, is itself a product of the antinomian view that infects our society and now manifests itself in a pope who thinks he is above the law.

Except I don’t hold it. I have denied holding it and you are preceding from a series of assumptions about my view that are not correct.

That is the problem.





Charles

said...

I will not tarry with you forever, Ben. Others have advised me against communicating with you at all, quoting Aristotle who said that it's easier to argue with a vegetable that with certain academicians.

You say: "But in matters [the pope] has sovereignty over he is not bound by the Law. Thus his can’t be lawless for breaking them. That is not to say he might not be lawless on other grounds."

But what do you mean by "not bound by"? Do you mean simply that he's free to change it? Or do you mean that he's free to completely ignore it, disrespect it, and treat it as it it didn't exit?

From what has been said previously, it should be obvious that the former isn't the issue here. As Dr. Peters says, of course he's free to change it (for the reasons you suggest, I would add).

No, the problem is that the pope simply runs rough-shod over the law as if it weren't there, and that is an action and a disposition that is overtly against the law ("antinomian").

PP gave an example of a school principal that I thought made the matter baby simple, but then ... I hold my tongue. You do say that you "disagree with a specific narrow point on logical grounds," but your logic begs the question by assuming in your premise what properly should lie in your conclusion.

"Except I don’t hold it. I have denied holding it [an ultramontanist and antinomian view] ..."

But you've just illustrated that you do, by insisting that the pope "above the law" ("not bound by the law") in those areas where he has the jurisdiction to go through the proper channels of changing the law.





Charles

said...

Ben,

You said you have no idea what I was talking about. Here's the exact quote from an earlier comment, first my comment, then your response:

Charles: "Ben insists that a pope isn't bound by ecclesiastical law, for if he disregards a law he hasn't violated it but just changed it."

Ben: "More like if he is not bound by it then in principle he cannot violate it."

My point precisely. Your statement is essentially redundant, and nicely summarizes your view, which basically entails the conclusion that the pope, since he is "not bound by" ecclesiastical law, is INCAPABLE of being "antinomian" by disregarding existing ecclesiastical law and running rough shod over it.

Your own attempt at Jewish-rabbi wannabee hairsplitting in attempting to distinguish between a) violating an existing law (=antinomianism) and b) violating an existing law that the pope has the power to change (not=antinomianism) is a distinction without a difference. Congress has the power to change laws, but until it does, it's bound by them: it can't just ignore them. Neither can the other two branches of government.

Then you link to a "music" video of Judas Priest - Breaking The Law, saying you couldn't care less if the pope were chanting that in his head, and then dismissively declare the concern of this (and Peters') post about the possible antinomianism by saying that you "don't give a crap."

And then you have the temerity to tell my that my problem is maybe imagining that the pope is a lawless person? Ya THINK??? Just after Dr. Peters has just come out and publicly declared that his actions are Exhibit A "antinomianism"??? And you declare that you're "trying to be reasonable" and wanting to have "a serious discussion"???

Bye-bye, Ben. I'm not sure it's fruitful trying to engage you in "dialogue." Maybe those who quoted Aristotle to me are right. I think you mean well. You're a practicing Catholic who takes their faith seriously, and you want to be faithful to the magisterium. But I'm not sure what end your in-put on this blog serves, except to confuse yourself by your sloppy and overly prolix writing.





BenYachov

said...

@Charles

>I will not tarry with you forever, Ben. Others have advised me against communicating with you at all, quoting Aristotle who said that it's easier to argue with a vegetable that with certain academicians.

if memory serves Aristotle was referring to sophists who rejected first principles. The sort of progenitors to Hume. That’s not me pal. I am trying to have a friendly discussion here not play a game of bash the Trad so will you chill out already Geez?

Historically Molinists and Banezians had more friendly discussions over much more serious issues then i am getting here over tripe.

>But what do you mean by "not bound by"? Do you mean simply that he's free to change it? Or do you mean that he's free to completely ignore it, disrespect it, and treat it as it it didn't exit?

At last a question! Thank you. Laws He cannot be compiled by nature to follow because of his office. If a Priest washed a woman’s feet during easter or the concave of Cardinals appointed new Cardinal electors beyond the legal limit they can be disciplined by a superior. Who judges the Pope in these matters however? What good is passing a “law” dictating a certain number of Cardinals when there is no way to enforce it?

>From what has been said previously, it should be obvious that the former isn't the issue here. As Dr. Peters says, of course he's free to change it (for the reasons you suggest, I would add).

But how is it binding on him in the first place? On the practical level at best it is mostly guide lines for the Pope. Laws for us but guidelines for the Pope. Those with authority over us on Church law matters may penalize us for transgression but who judges the Pope? I personally doubt God (I am not Him so I could be wrong) will punish the Pope for adding new cardinals without formally changing a law that is not binding on him first.

But that sees to me a tad silly if you forgive me?

>PP gave an example of a school principal that I thought made the matter baby simple, but then ... I hold my tongue. You do say that you "disagree with a specific narrow point on logical grounds," but your logic begs the question by assuming in your premise what properly should lie in your conclusion.

I just now looked at it. it is a powerful argument. You should have lead with that. It would have saved time. OTOH is a principle who chews gum a rule breaker or simply imprudent? If the rule says “students may not chew gum” how is the Principle a student? OTOH I went to a Private School which did not allow eating in class but the teachers and the headmaster ate at will in class.

So maybe I am a victim of my upbringing?





BenYachov

said...

@Charles

If I may defend my honor in the face of your ...claims about me.

>Then you link to a "music" video of Judas Priest - Breaking The Law, saying you couldn't care less if the pope were chanting that in his head, and then dismissively declare the concern of this (and Peters') post about the possible antinomianism by saying that you "don't give a crap."

Charles is you who have been assuming falsely I am somehow incensed over Dr Peters' analysis and critique of the past three popes informally setting aside certain laws. I disagreed and asked questions.

Will you chill please?

>And then you have the temerity to tell my that my problem is maybe imagining that the pope is a lawless person? Ya THINK??? Just after Dr. Peters has just come out and publicly declared that his actions are Exhibit A "antinomianism"??? And you declare that you're "trying to be reasonable" and wanting to have "a serious discussion"???

Well Charles your first post to me was to was to say the following "If Pope Francis said, "My dear friend, Ben Yachov, please know this, that I am an antinomian," would you believe it, or rather suspect that he must be demented or suffering the effects of some nefarious demon that insinuated itself into his febrile mind? I suspect the latter."

Was that a reasonable question and an attempt at serous discussion? Or was it mere mockery?

You tell me. I suspect the later. This only shows you are the one setting the tone of the discussion between us and any frustration here is well it's not my fault.

I leave you to conclude what is left to blame.


>Bye-bye, Ben. I'm not sure it's fruitful trying to engage you in "dialogue."

Is that what you call what you are doing here?

I've seen you do better.

>Maybe those who quoted Aristotle to me are right.

Socrates the teacher of Aristotles' teacher also said you must assume the good will of those you have discussions and philosophical arguments with.
I have been trying to do that here. But I suspect it is one way?

> I think you mean well. You're a practicing Catholic who takes their faith seriously, and you want to be faithful to the magisterium.

Right back at you brother.

> But I'm not sure what end your in-put on this blog serves, except to confuse yourself by your sloppy and overly prolix writing.

If you think me confused then try to educate me.

I suspect what you really have been trying to do is beat me or something like that?

Well it hasn't made this conversation pleasant.

I am rather disappointed in you Charles. i rather liked you because you would try to give me an intelligent argument.

Aristotle is fine but add some Socrates please?

For everyones sake.