On Papalotry

Belief and Obedience

My great teacher, Dietrich von Hildebrande wrote four outstanding books on the present crisis in the Church. Recently, his latest book, The Charitable Anathema was published. I wish we could mail a copy to Rome. A chapter in this book contains one of the most important lectures he ever gave to the Roman Forum. It concerns the difference between belief and obedience. He called it the critical difference. It was masterful.
The point is this: if there is a problem on a question of truth, and there’s a big dispute, and finally Rome speaks (invoking its infallible authority) and says, “This statement must be believed de fide”. Then this is the end of the dispute. Roma locuta causa finita. Rome has spoken, the case is finished. That is the end of it. Therefore, we owe assent of belief to statements of truth.

However, practical decisions of Churchmen, even the highest authorities; the Pope, bishops, priests are something quite different. We do not say, for example, that a command of a Pope or decision of a Pope to call a council is true or not. We can say that it is wise or not … it is opportune or not. Such a decision in no way asks us to assent to its truth. It asks us to obey the command or commands that pertain to us. This is what von Hildebrande meant by difference between belief and obedience. And we Catholics are never obliged to believe that a given command, or given decision of anyone, including the Pope, is necessarily that of the Holy Ghost.

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Submitted by Mark H.


  1. This was written in 1995. How utterly timely and pertinent it still is! Unfortunately…

  2. Obedience Vs Belief
    In history, this would be an issue….we had to submit to the Pope!
    Today, we take a Pragmatic choice!
    We live in a world of Dupes…so God Bless us!
    I practice Catholicism, by believing and obeying Christ Jesus as my Lord!
    Most Luke-warm Roman Catholics don’t have any knowledge of Canon Laws, they just practice ritual like their Parents before them!
    Look, you are either a lay person or a religious person and a exoteric or esoteric person! The esoteric religious control everything! That is not a bad thing necessarily, considering the PC population, we live in today! We must pray, for our Spiritual Leaders and their Spiritual Authority!
    Rambling but authentic:)

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