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Sensus Fidelium on Steroids

BY Matthew Archbold

| Posted 3/24/14 at 8:39 AM

 

We've been hearing a lot about sensus fidelium recently. It's the only Latin word some Catholics will allow to be uttered. It's definition for many seems to be "what we say goes." Or if enough Catholics believe something stupid, it becomes right.

As if God gives into mob rule.

You often hear it brought up when it comes to the Church's teaching on contraception, abortion, and gay marriage. The argument goes that 98 percent of the Catholic women have used contraception so therefore the Church should change its teaching. It's really religion by poll. But Catholicism is about the gospels, not Gallup. If it were we'd be Unitarians.

There's a certain hubris to it in that there's a belief that people who happen to be alive right now are so much smarter than all the wisdom built up over 2,000 years and the guidance of the Holy Spirit. That's a lot of dead dumb people.

But the logic is, of course, flawed. That argument extended out would be that the more pervasive the sin, the less sinful it is. But the pervasiveness of the sin is evidence that the Church is needed more than ever, not less.

100 percent of the people have lied. Does that mean the Church should scratch that commandment off?
93 percent of people have cheated or stolen? Does that mean that teaching should be added to the scrap heap to make way for Future Church?
About 50 percent of Catholics are pro-abortion. Does that mean the Church should amend "Thou Shall not Kill" to "unless it would be really inconvenient to care for them not to?"

When Moses came down from the mountain and saw that the people had built a golden calf he didn't march back up the mountain to explain to God that the Sensus Fidelium had spoken.

The Church calls us to be better, not validate our worst instincts. Anything else is nonsensus.