Handling disagreement like a Christian

Bishop Vigneron of Oakland wrote an excellent little piece last month, entitled “10 rules for handling disagreement like a Christian.” It’s well worth a read, and worth keeping firmly in mind as we debate various things around the blogosphere.

Two of his ten rules (they’re all good, but I didn’t want to quote the whole thing…):

2. The Rule of Publicity: “Think with the mind of the Church.”
This rule is simply a translation of the Latin axiom “Sentire cum Ecclesia.” This means that, when we disagree, the final measure for judging what’s on target and what’s off the mark is what the Church thinks, not, ultimately, what you think or what I think – not private opinion, but what the Church has said to all to know.

This is the reason I call this the “The Rule of Publicity.” The criterion for our deciding our disagreements is not one’s own private opinions, but the mind of the People of God, what the Church thinks.
In order to apply this rule effectively, we need to use a corollary: “Measure everything against the authoritative documents of the Magisterium.”

The logical question to follow any call for us to “think with the mind of the Church” is: How do I know what that is?

The answer is: “Look in the places where the Church has expressed her mind with authority.” Look in the writings of the Councils and the popes, in the Church’s laws, and in the teachings of her Fathers and Doctors. Any survey or poll, no matter how extensive or accurate, if it contradicts the Magisterium, is not the Church’s mind.

9. The Petrine Rule: “Nobody ever built up the Church by tearing down the pope.”
This rule follows quite logically from the one immediately above. The Holy Father’s leadership is part of the Church’s constitution from Christ. Because the pope is not the sort of democratic leader we are accustomed to in civil society, there is a tendency by some observers to characterize his office as a “throwback” to times that we have surpassed, a “burden” for the Catholic people that we would well be freed from. Not so.

The pastoral care we receive from the Holy Father is a great grace, St. Peter’s own service of his fellow disciples continuing to this very day. A great pope makes us a better Church.

(HT: Darwin)


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