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What is “papal positivism”?

Fr. Ripperger, in 2001, had it figured out:

Because neo-conservatives reject the “extrinsic and intrinsic tradition,” in judging orthodoxy, “whatever comes out of the Vatican regardless of its authoritative weight, is to be held, even if it contradicts what was taught with comparable authority in the past.

…psychologically the neo-conservatives have been left in a position in which the extrinsic and intrinsic tradition are no longer included in the norms of judging whether something is orthodox or not. As a result, whatever comes out of the Vatican regardless of its authoritative weight, is to be held, even if it contradicts what was taught with comparable authority in the past.

Since non-infallible ordinary acts of the magisterium can be erroneous, this leaves one in a precarious situation if one only takes as true what the current magisterium says. While we are required to give religious assent even to the non-infallible teachings of the Church, what are we to do when a magisterial document contradicts other current or previous teachings and one does not have any more authoritative weight than the other?

It is too simplistic merely to say that we are to follow the current teaching. What would happen if in a period of crisis, like our own, a non-infallible ordinary magisterial teaching contradicted what was in fact the truth? If one part of the magisterium contradicts another, both being at the same level, which is to believed? Unfortunately, what has happened is that many neo-conservatives have acted as if non-infallible ordinary magisterial teachings (e.g. the role of inculturation in the liturgy as stated in the Catechism of the Catholic Church) are, in fact, infallible when the current magisterium promulgates them. This is a positivist mentality.

What is positivism, and why must we reject it? It is another of the instruments of civilizational destruction that grew out of the post-Protestant, de-Christianized weedpatch of what we now call, apparently without irony, “The Enlightenment.”

As a philosophical system or method, Positivism denies the validity of metaphysical speculations, and maintains that the data of sense experience are the only object and the supreme criterion of human knowledge; as a religious system, it denies the existence of a personal God and takes humanity, “the great being”, as the object of its veneration and cult.

The failings of this form of epistemology is that if you base your apprehension of reality strictly on sense experience, you will quickly find that not everyone has the same data. It then falls to the biggest and the strongest to impose their interpretive criteria on everyone else. Positivism is the philosophy of the school yard bully.

 

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10 thoughts on “What is “papal positivism”?”

  1. Barbara says:

    What a treasure Fr. Ripperger is. I highly recommend his tome: Introduction to the Science of Mental Health. It takes some ploughing through but it explains in detail HOW we think. Another good thing about Father Ripperger is his use of St. Thomas for almost everything. He makes me laugh when he writes like this: well, there are three ways that happens, the first way has three sections etc. etc. etc. Soooooo Thomas!

  2. Pingback: Fr. Harrison on the Malta apostasy: “Papal Positivism with a vengeance” – What's Up With Francis-Church?
  3. Trackback: Fr. Harrison on the Malta apostasy: “Papal Positivism with a vengeance” – What's Up With Francis-Church?
  4. Filumene says:

    Magdalene, will he physically be moving there? Or, will he be allowed to stay at the property that he’s at now?

  5. Deborah says:

    I pray that the news about Fr. Ripperger is true. I have been eating my heart out about this situation.

    Magdalene, do you have any news regarding Mother Miriam’s nuns, who were booted from Tulsa shortly after Fr. Ripperger’s exorcists? One of our parishioners approached our bishop about giving shelter here; although sympathetic, he said it wasn’t possible.

  6. Karen says:

    Also, Fr. Ripperger is brilliant!! I hope he and his fellow priests are doing okay. I haven’t heard where they are and if they are still able to continue their ministry.

  7. Karen says:

    Auguste Comte. What a devil!

  8. Warren Memlib says:

    “Regis voluntas suprema lex”: The will of the king (in this case, the pope) is the supreme law.

  9. Gerard Brady says:

    Ah yes, the founder of the religion of humanity. My old stomping ground in Liverpool now has an SSPX chapel which is a former temple of humanity. Irony of ironies!

  10. Felicia says:

    Thought of this recently in the Office of Readings of the Liturgy of the Hours about exhorting people to be of one mind with their Bishop.

    There seem to be two poles to this, like a north and south on a magnet.

    There is the one that says that we can’t take anybody’s word for anything, that we have to think everything through for ourselves and make all our own decisions. This pole is the anti-authoritarian principle, as so well described by Anne Roche Muggeridge in The Desolate City. The anti-authoritarian pole seems to lead directly to Protestantism.

    And then there is the Positivism pole, where *all* we do is submit to authority, of the the latest revolving-door variety, as Fr. Ripperger says: “…extrinsic and intrinsic tradition are no longer included in the norms of judging whether something is orthodox or not. As a result, whatever comes out of the Vatican regardless of its authoritative weight, is to be held, even if it contradicts what was taught with comparable authority in the past.” the net result of this is, as you say: “It then falls to the biggest and the strongest to impose their interpretive criteria on everyone else. Positivism is the philosophy of the school yard bully.”

    It’s hard to argue the in-between, hard even to know if you are getting too close to one pole or the other. It is happening on a macro-level in the Church now, as we consider how to respond to Amoris Laetitia.

    But it happens on a micro-level as well, such as in considering how a wife is to submit to a husband. It is possible, easy even, to submit too little, and be a nag or a bossy shrew of a wife; the Protestant principle. A wife should submit, even to things which are somewhat imprudent: putting the children in a less-than-optimal school, taking on a slightly too high mortgage; these things are the husband’s call, after all, not the wife’s. But at some point this goes over into submitting too much: to spending too much at the casino, to submit to adding porn to “spice up” the sex life, and so forth—the Positivism pole.

    When one is blessed with a good and saintly Pope (or husband) the point is moot. But when this one is lacking, it is more difficult.

    Basically, the whole theory of submission and how to do it “properly”, in all spheres of life, seems to be one that is not discussed anywhere near as much as it ought to be.

  11. Magdalene says:

    Some good news considering Fr. Ripperger: It looks like he and his Order of exorcists and spiritual directors, the Dolorans of Our Lady of Sorrows, are going to be accepted into the Archdiocese of Denver! Yay! A courageous Archbishop Aquila can stand up to those who do not want a holy institute in their diocese.

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