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Opinion, Obedience, and Church Teaching

While I may not be a scholar of the documents of Vatican II, I am familiar enough with them to know the things covered in them are many. The other day I came across a tweet from Fr. James Martin, encouraging people to sign a statement from New Ways Ministry, affirming that they would bless same-gender unions. In that particular tweet, Fr. Martin quoted a line from Lumen Gentium concerning the opinion of the laity.

The line from the document (§37) reads, “They are, by reason of the knowledge, competence or outstanding ability which they may enjoy, permitted and sometimes even obliged to express their opinion on those things which concern the good of the Church.” Note that this is in response to the response from the CDF that God cannot bless these types of unions for they are not part of His plan for marriage. To sign something that says they will bless same-gender couples is in opposition to what the CDF just said is for the good of the Church and the sacredness of marriage.

Without going through their reasponse again I do go through some parts of it here.

From the same section of the document, just a couple more lines in, Lumen Gentium speaks of Christian obedience to one’s spiritual shepherds, for they are representatives of Christ. What comes from our spiritual leaders is not mere opinion; it is instruction and teaching. Putting the two together as the document was meant to communicate, one can express their opinion over those things concerning the Church’s good, and then when the Church teaches, one is to accept it out of Christian obedience. Christian obedience? This obedience comes from believing that the Bishops teach us as Christ’s representatives and that we will be of one mind through unity.

The laity should, as all Christians, promptly accept in Christian obedience decisions of their spiritual shepherds, since they are representatives of Christ as well as teachers and rulers in the Church.

Lumen Gentium §37

Since, like Paul the Apostle, he is debtor to all men, let him be ready to preach the Gospel to all, and to urge his faithful to apostolic and missionary activity. But the faithful must cling to their bishop, as the Church does to Christ, and Jesus Christ to the Father, so that all may be of one mind through unity, and abound to the glory of God.

Lumen Gentium §27 (referring to Bishops)

There is more than just looking at the different sentences in Lumen Gentium. Having an opinion and actively defying something are two different things. A person can have whatever opinion they want, but once it turns into an action, it becomes something more than a point of view. For example, take living out Church teaching, an action shaped from opinion becomes one of two things; an act of obedience or disobedience. If one’s opinion is shaped by Church teaching, their action will likely be and vice versa.

A person who lives only by what they consider to be true based on their opinion is living by Relativism, not Catholicism. Share your opinion for the good you see, as the document states, and show obedience when your shepherd teaches what is good for the Church and us, especially our Holy Father.

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