Church Councils typically define, confirm and further illuminate pre-existing Catholic doctrine.

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There are 5 types of councils, Diocesan, National, Ecumenical, Plenary, and Provincial. No council has ever changed Church dogma, nor can it, since dogma was proclaimed by Jesus Christ Himself, Acts 6:12,15,15:6,*Gal 2:2.

An Ecumenical Council is where all the Bishops in the world that are entitled to vote, gather under the presidency of the Pope or his representative. There have been 21 Ecumenical councils in the history of the Church, other important councils called ‘synods’ are marked ‘*‘.

The very first council or meeting of the Apostles and presbyters is recorded in Acts 15, and is called the Council of Jerusalem. Tradition speaks of St. James as being the Bishop of Jerusalem at that time of about 50 AD.

A Church council is usually a reaction as opposed to an action. They are held to define a truth after someone has denied it.

Jesus Christ gave His authority in several verses of Holy Scripture. One example is in Luke 10:16, “He who hears you hears me“. Armed with this authority, Church teaching has been accepted over the centuries. Then along comes someone who denies a certain teaching and therefore there becomes a need for a Church council to react to the denial.

The Council of Ephesus of 431, one such reaction, defined the Blessed Virgin Mary as the “Theotokos”, meaning GOD bearer or Mother of GOD. This formal teaching was only done after someone had denied it.

Another example is the reaction of the Council of Trent in 1546 which defined again, the canon of Holy Scripture after seven books were denied by the Protestants in their revolt.

Non-Catholics look at these reactive Church councils as teaching something new, when in fact, all they are doing is defining a truth that has been taught for centuries without denials.

Read more at The Catholic Treasure Chest

A Collection of Authentic Catholic Magisterial Documents on Scripture and Related Topics

Understanding the written decrees of various Church Councils and Synods, which date all the way back to the original Council of Jerusalem, in the 1st century, along with the many succeeding generations of papal documents and decrees, is the key to knowing and practicing the authentic Catholic faith.

Without this key understanding, Catholics are easily led astray by liberal modernists (including many of today’s priests, theologians, catechists, college professors … and even … some bishops.)

Fact is … ONCE the Catholic Church officially declares something to be true … particularly when that truth has been declared through authentic conciliar documents and/or decrees, or by Ex Cathedra dogmatic papal statements … such truth cannot EVER be denied … even by latter-day popes or councils.

These days, there’s precious little truth being proclaimed … and even that is often deliberately obscured/twisted, or intentionally misappropriated by those spouting lies and evil nonsense.

Barack Obama, gay rights promoters, pro-aborts, women-priesters, Oprah, and many Catholic politicians immediately come to mind!

So, in order to avoid being led astray … it remains essential for every Catholic to know and to be able to identify the authentic Catholic truth … and then, act accordingly.

Why not spend some time studying, and then reflecting, upon some of the documents in this comprehensive list?

Pius IX. Quanta Cura (Condemning Current Errors) — December 8, 1864.

_____. Syllabus Errorum (The Syllabus of Errors) — December 8, 1864.

_____. Dei Filius (Vatican I’s Dogmatic Constitution On the Catholic Faith) — April 24, 1870.

_____. Pastor Aeternus (Vatican I’s First Dogmatic Constitution On the Church of Christ) — July 18, 1870.

Leo XIII. Aeterni Patris (On the Restoration of Christian Philosophy) — August 4, 1879.

_____. Arcanum Divinae Sapientiae (On Christian Marriage) — February 10, 1880.

_____. Providentissimus Deus (On the Study of Holy Scripture) — November 18, 1893.

_____. Apostolicae Curae (On the Nullity of Anglican Orders) — September 13, 1896.

More …

Key points about the Bible and the Church that are today, often overlooked.


Consider the following points often overlooked by many today.

  • The first book of the New Testament was not written until the late 40’s A.D. at the earliest.
  • St. John’s Gospel was not written until the 90’s A.D. or later.
  • There was not a definitive list (or canon) of books accepted as Sacred Scripture until the late 300’s A.D. and later. (Local Council of Hippo in 393; Local Council of Carthage in 397; Letter of Pope Innocent I in 405) Protestant reformers removed portions of the Old Testament that had been held by the Church to be a part of the canon for centuries. Where did they receive that authority? Martin Luther even wanted to remove James and the Apocalypse.
  • It is estimated that fewer than 10% of those who lived in the Roman Empire could read.
  • There was no printing press, and therefore, no easy or affordable access to the written word prior to the invention of the printing press in the 15th Century.

So, the earliest Christians lived before there was a New Testament. And it was 300+ years after the writing of the New Testament before Christians were told what books were a part of the Bible. Who decided which of the hundreds of writings by the apostles and their successors would form that canon of Scripture? It was the Catholic Church, in the decisions of its councils and the teaching of its Popes that gave witness to what books should be considered a part of the Bible. And it was not until the 15th Century that the printing press made it possible to own a copy of the Bible, even if the owner could not read. How could the Bible be the sole rule of faith during all that time? It has already been mentioned that the private interpretation of the Bible that came from the Reformation in the 1500’s A.D. has resulted not in unity of faith and belief, but just the opposite with more than 30,000 denominations by Protestant’s own counts.

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Introduction to Catholic social teaching, Rev. Raymond de Souza

by Chris Armstrong

…After the war, there was a human rights revolution in the thinking of the church. Facing the horrors of totalitarianism, there was a shift in emphasis: defense of human person, dignity, rights was essential. Universal declaration of human rights made after war. State no longer as in Aquinas’s time, a sacral actor: a thing thought of as exercising benign influence, but the source of evil, malign forces. Emphasized in documents of the 1960s: Pope John XXIII, Mater et Magistra, Vat II emphasized religious liberty—a contested concept! Right to worship God freely! 1965 Dignitatis Humanae Personae.

Then toward end of 60s, shift to another problem that emerged: world that seemed to have prosperous, advancing societies, and those left behind with nothing. 1967, Paul VI, looked at question of income and equality. Not everyone sharing in fruits and goods of earth: focus on development, redistribution of wealth.

Then key figure, JP II, in social teaching of Catholicism: 27 year papacy. And lived in totalitarian world—came out of that. Three encyclicals: first: defense of right of workers, similar to that of Leo XIII. More deeply into anthropology of work: man’s work shapes him. Attacked communism not so much on loss of liberties, but mistakes about work: work is to be controlled by state to liberate man. NO man liberates through work, broadly speaking. Fundamental part of man’s liberty is exercised in his work, understood in broadest sense. Work is an expression of liberty. We use our intelligence in our work, gift of God. Our creativity is being applied, which is in the image of God.

Then a few  years later, the “Concern for the things of the social order” encyclical: Right to economic initiative. Sollicitudo rei socialis, 1987. Liberty not just in political, cultural, religious spheres. Also right to economic initiative—a liberty proper to man in his economic work, which should not be stifled by state. That expression is new. The idea goes back a long time. And the idea of entrepreneurship (Acton involved in this) affirmed for the first time here too.

Then Centesimus Annus, 1991, defense of free economy, as he calls it. Economic liberty exercised with others: if you mean this by capitalism, then that is good. But if you separate economic liberty from all other liberties—freedom to exploit—then that is not a Christian vision.

Wrapping up: that’s where things stood. Enter Benedict XVI, 2005. Not a lawyer like Pius XI, Leo XIII, not a historian like ____, not a diplomat like _____, not a philosopher like JPII, but a gifted theologian. That’s the exception. That’s unusual. Maybe never in history of church is the successor of Peter also the most accomplished theologian alive. He starts with a theological point on social teaching: the basic reality that ought to characterize our social relations is charity. Usually Catholic social teaching had started with justice. Ubi caritas, not ubi justitio. Where there is charity, there is God. Not where there is justice.

This is a challenge, therefore. For Christians, he says, we must start with charity. We wouldn’t disagree, but it’s a challenge to the way things has been done….

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On the indefectibility and infallibility of the Catholic Church

In order to preserve the Church in the purity of the faith handed on by the apostles, Christ who is the Truth willed to confer on her a share in his own infallibility…It is this Magisterium’s task to preserve God’s people from deviations and defections and to guarantee them the objective possibility of professing the true faith without error.

Thus, the pastoral duty of the Magisterium is aimed at seeing to it that the People of God abides in the truth that liberates.

To fulfill this service, Christ endowed the Church’s shepherds with the charism of infallibility in matters of faith and morals. The exercise of this charism takes several forms:

The Roman Pontiff, head of the college of bishops, enjoys this infallibility in virtue of his office, when, as supreme pastor and teacher of all the faithful – who confirms his brethren in the faith he proclaims by a definitive act a doctrine pertaining to faith or morals.

The infallibility promised to the Church is also present in the body of bishops when, together with Peter’s successor, they exercise the supreme Magisterium, above all in an Ecumenical Council. (Catechism of the Catholic Church 889-891)

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What Catholics Are Required To Believe and Why

From Catholic Church Canon Law

Can. 747 ��1. The Church, to which Christ the Lord has entrusted the deposit of faith so that with the assistance of the Holy Spirit it might protect the revealed truth reverently, examine it more closely, and proclaim and expound it faithfully, has the duty and innate right, independent of any human power whatsoever, to preach the gospel to all peoples, also using the means of social communication proper to it.

��2. It belongs to the Church always and everywhere to announce moral principles, even about the social order, and to render judgment concerning any human affairs insofar as the fundamental rights of the human person or the salvation of souls requires it.

Can. 748 ��1. All persons are bound to seek the truth in those things which regard God and his Church and by virtue of divine law are bound by the obligation and possess the right of embracing and observing the truth which they have come to know.

��2. No one is ever permitted to coerce persons to embrace the Catholic faith against their conscience.

Can. 749 ��1. By virtue of his office, the Supreme Pontiff possesses infallibility in teaching when as the supreme pastor and teacher of all the Christian faithful, who strengthens his brothers and sisters in the faith, he proclaims by definitive act that a doctrine of faith or morals is to be held.

��2. The college of bishops also possesses infallibility in teaching when the bishops gathered together in an ecumenical council exercise the magisterium as teachers and judges of faith and morals who declare for the universal Church that a doctrine of faith or morals is to be held definitively; or when dispersed throughout the world but preserving the bond of communion among themselves and with the successor of Peter and teaching authentically together with the Roman Pontiff matters of faith or morals, they agree that a particular proposition is to be held definitively.

��3. No doctrine is understood as defined infallibly unless this is manifestly evident.

Can. 750 ��1. A person must believe with divine and Catholic faith all those things contained in the word of God, written or handed on, that is, in the one deposit of faith entrusted to the Church, and at the same time proposed as divinely revealed either by the solemn magisterium of the Church or by its ordinary and universal magisterium which is manifested by the common adherence of the Christian faithful under the leadership of the sacred magisterium; therefore all are bound to avoid any doctrines whatsoever contrary to them.

��2. Each and every thing which is proposed definitively by the magisterium of the Church concerning the doctrine of faith and morals, that is, each and every thing which is required to safeguard reverently and to expound faithfully the same deposit of faith, is also to be firm-ly embraced and retained; therefore, one who rejects those propositions which are to be held definitively is opposed to the doctrine of the Catholic Church.

Can. 751 Heresy is the obstinate denial or obstinate doubt after the reception of baptism of some truth which is to be believed by divine and Catholic faith; apostasy is the total repudiation of the Christian faith; schism is the refusal of submission to the Supreme Pontiff or of communion with the members of the Church subject to him.

Can. 752 Although not an assent of faith, a religious submission of the intellect and will must be given to a doctrine which the Supreme Pontiff or the college of bishops declares concerning faith or morals when they exercise the authentic magisterium, even if they do not intend to proclaim it by definitive act; therefore, the Christian faithful are to take care to avoid those things which do not agree with it.

Can. 753 Although the bishops who are in communion with the head and members of the college, whether individually or joined together in conferences of bishops or in particular councils, do not possess infallibility in teaching, they are authentic teachers and instructors of the faith for the Christian faithful entrusted to their care; the Christian faithful are bound to adhere with religious submission of mind to the authentic magisterium of their bishops.

Can. 754 All the Christian faithful are obliged to observe the constitutions and decrees which the legitimate authority of the Church issues in order to propose doctrine and to proscribe erroneous opinions, particularly those which the Roman Pontiff or the college of bishops puts forth.

Can. 755 ��1. It is above all for the entire college of bishops and the Apostolic See to foster and direct among Catholics the ecumenical movement whose purpose is the restoration among all Christians of the unity which the Church is bound to promote by the will of Christ.

��2. It is likewise for the bishops and, according to the norm of law, the conferences of bishops to promote this same unity and to impart practical norms according to the various needs and opportunities of the circumstances; they are to be attentive to the prescripts issued by the supreme authority of the Church.