Saturday 16 November 2013

Sunday Challenge: Papal SurveyMonkey - Tempora, Mores ...

Q&A?       pic - V&A
Charles:  What about Papal infallibility?
Father Ted:  Yes… er …is it for everything? The infallibility, do you know?
Charles:  I don’t know
Father Ted:  Right ... anyhow, nothing to do with me ...
It is not unknown for religions to have sudden and miraculous changes in doctrine to align themselves conveniently with 'the times' - Mormon rulings on the eligibility of black people come to mind.

But they don't usually run focus groups beforehand, still less roll out the old SurveyMonkey.  If you'd been ask to nominate the last religion who'd countenance such a step, I'm guessing the Roman Catholics would come a close second to Islam in most people's judgement.

But no - it's the Catholics.  And the questions are a pretty mixed and earnest bunch.  How many answers will they get to this one ?
What anthropological ideas underlie the discussion on the natural basis of the family?
And here's an ... interesting one:
How can an increase in births be promoted?
(I didn't make that up: take a look for yourself.)  But they are also testing the water for, errr, policy changes - how else to describe it? - in distinctly focus-groupie ways:
Could a simplification of canonical practice in recognizing a declaration of nullity of the marriage bond provide a positive contribution to solving the problems of the persons involved?
Seriously: infallibility at the top is a very logical approach to religious doctrine claiming universal authority.  Not just because it's kinda consistent with the whole business of telling people what to do; but because the obvious problem with an inflexible Doctrine From Above, is that for any number of reasons it may, how shall we put this, fail to meet the needs of the hour.  Well, 2,000 years is a very long time.  And a very good way to fix that, when fix it you must, is to have someone properly authorised to do the business by fiat.  Much better than trying to figure out who might have had a really genuine encounter with a burning bush, angelic voices, etc.  Look where that got Joan of Arc.

If the new Pope is a bit uneasy with the authority vested in him, well ... invoke the spirit of Father Ted.  Or even Father Jack.  They had their ears pretty close to the ground, on all sorts of matters.


1 comment:

Ryan said...

Pope Alexander VI infallable???

I'm not really convinced any catholics believe in the infallibility of the Popes. I think it is more in line with an expectation that Catholics consider the command of the Pope as being infalliable, i.e. to follow Papal command without further question.

You can imagine that this is actually rather useful for some Christians, because if the Pope has screwed up in his moral guidance but you have followed his teaching to the letter, then the Pope can be blamed should you find yourself riding to low on the scales on judgement day.