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In Catholic teaching, a truth whose acceptance is necessary for the faithful, whether or not infallibly taught. All the teaching in the Catechism of the Catholic Church, including those parts not formally defined as dogma, must be accepted with a religious submission of intellect and will by all believers.
The truth may be from any of three sources.
» Christ’s public revelation, as for instance the Real Presence of Christ in the Holy Eucharist.
» Theological conclusion, such as the canonization of a particular saint.
» Natural law, such as the sinfulness of contraception.
A Catholic doctrine may be presented to the faithful in either of two ways.
» Solemnly, in an ex cathedra announcement, such as the definition of the Immaculate Conception.
» Ordinarily, in the perennial exercise of the Church’s Magisterium, such as the constant teaching on the malice of taking innocent human life.
A doctrine is a larger subset of Catholic teaching than a dogma. All dogmas are doctrines, but only some doctrines are dogmas.
CCC 90 “In Catholic doctrine there exists an order or hierarchy of truths, since they vary in their relation to the foundation of theChristian faith.”
From the Latin doctrina, teaching.
Any truth taught by the Church as necessary for acceptance by the Faithful is doctrine. The truth that artificial contraception is sinful is doctrine. In July 1998, the Motu Proprio of the Pope stated that all the teaching of the authentic Magisterium of the Church must be accepted even when not presented as dogma, even when they are not defined. These must be accepted by all.
Pope John Paul II’s apostolic letter motu proprio, Ad Tuendam Fidem, updated the Code of Canon Law. Canon 750 now states:
§ 1. Those things are to be believed by divine and catholic faith which are contained in the word of God as it has been written or handed down by tradition, that is, in the single deposit of faith entrusted to the Church, and which are at the same time proposed as divinely revealed either by the solemn Magisterium of the Church, or by its ordinary and universal Magisterium, which in fact is manifested by the common adherence of Christ’s faithful under the guidance of the sacred Magisterium. All are therefore bound to avoid any contrary doctrines.
§ 2. Furthermore, each and everything set forth definitively by the Magisterium of the Church regarding teaching on faith and morals must be firmly accepted and held; namely, those things required for the holy keeping and faithful exposition of the deposit of faith; therefore, anyone who rejects propositions which are to be held definitively sets himself against the teaching of the Catholic Church.
Canon 752, as translated from the Church’s original Latin by the Canon Law Society of Great Britain and Ireland, states: “While the assent of faith is not required, a religious submission of intellect and will is to be given to any doctrine which either the Supreme Pontiff or the College of Bishops, exercising their authentic magisterium, declare upon a matter of faith and morals, even though they do not intend to proclaim that doctrine by definitive act. Christ’s faithful are therefore to ensure that they avoid whatever does not accord with that doctrine.”
The “religious submission of intellect and will” means a real internal assent, not a mere external adherence. The original Latin word in Canon 752 is obsequium, which is properly translated, “submission.”
Lumen Gentium # 25, confirms it: “This religious submission of mind and will must be shown in a special way to the authentic magisterium of the Roman Pontiff, even when he is not speaking ex cathedra; that is, it must be shown in such a way that his supreme magisterium is acknowledged with reverence, the judgments made by him are sincerely adhered to, according to his manifest mind and will.”
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