Archbishop John C. Nienstedt writes a column in The Catholic Spirit entitled “In God’s Good Time.” As the editorial team of The Progressive Catholic Voice, we take his public statements as an opportunity to discuss his views with him.
Dear Archbishop Nienstedt:
Thanks for your column in the August 2, 2012, issue of The Catholic Spirit, entitled “What it Means to be Church.” We are happy that you had a relaxing, insightful vacation.
Your reflection – Church is the encounter with the living Christ in the faith assembly – is inspiring.
You go on to focus on the bishops’ role in the official magisterium, the teaching authority of the faith assembly:
And this is where the teaching vocation of the Church, that organ of the Body of Christ which we call the Magisterium, comes in to play. This is the “living voice” of the faith assembly that preserves the fundamental message of Scripture and Tradition, that is to say, love, properly understood and properly lived.
The Catechism of the Catholic Church reaffirms the importance of this teaching office of the Church when it states in paragraph 85:
“The task of giving an authentic interpretation of the Word of God, whether in its written form or in the form of Tradition, has been entrusted to the living teaching office of the Church alone. Its authority in this matter is exercised in the name of Jesus Christ.’ This means that the task of interpretation has been entrusted to the bishops in communion with the successor of Peter, the Bishop of Rome.”
Will you please follow up with a column about the role of theologians, clergy in orders other than bishop, and laity in the teaching authority of the Church? Do you believe that as part of the “faith assembly” theologians, lesser clergy, and laity have any contribution to make to the teaching authority entrusted to the bishops, particularly with regard to love, “properly understood and properly lived”?
You are right that there is much controversy and questioning of authority. Could that be indicative of a need for communication about the substance and reasonableness of what is being taught? We remember reading that Cardinal Newman quoted St. Augustine as saying "Securus judicat orbis terrarum." in relation to doctrine – "A tranquil world is the final judge." In other words, controversy is a sign that the faith assembly has not settled the question and the bishops have more work to do before they can voice the faith of the community.
It is our greatest desire to come together reasonably with respect for one another so that the teaching authority of the Church in this Archdiocese will be recognized in its wisdom and balance.
– The Editorial Team of The Progressive Catholic Voice