Reception theology: For a doctrine or moral opinion to be authentic it must be received by the body of the faithful. In disputed matters, what Catholics believe is as important as what the hierarchy proclaim

The Second Vatican Council (1962-65) shifted the Church’s center of gravity from the hierarchy to the people of God. This decentralizing movement led to a new doctrinal development – Reception Theology.

For a doctrine or moral opinion to be authentic it must be received by the body of the faithful. In disputed matters, what Catholics believe is as important as what the hierarchy proclaim.

The 1968 papal encyclical, Humanae Vitae, was the watershed moment. The pope proclaimed that contraception was sinful; the Catholic body did not receive it.

So, where can the voice of the faithful be heard?

Movements for continuing the renewal started by Vatican II have grown in number and strength.

Examples include the Voice of the Faithful in the United States, the Pastor’s Initiative in Austria and Catholics for Renewal in Australia. Originally treated with disdain by bishops, these are now mainstream movements.

Bishops are routinely ignored these days. Maybe some will come to realize that they need to take notice of what their people believe.

The decision of the Australian bishops to hold a Plenary Council in 2020 has brought a surprisingly large number of submissions from Catholics – surprisingly large because most Catholics under 50 have given up on the Church.

Catholics for Renewal have produced a booklet of their submissions, “Getting Back on Mission” (Garratt Publishing).

The situation is fluid. It is a plenary council of the bishops. The laity are signaling where they stand. If the bishops ignore them, they could well see a replay of Paul VI’s 1968 encyclical and its aftermath of more departures from the Church.

All around the globe the lay voice is being formulated and speaking out. It is imperative that the world’s bishops get theologically up to date and realize that the voice of God’s people is part of the game.

Eric Hodgens is a theologian and senior priest of the Archdiocese of Melbourne. from https://international.la-croix.com/news/where-is-the-authentic-voice/10840

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