How Does the Holy Spirit Assist the Church in Its Teaching?
January 31, 2014
Duquesne Union Ballroom
Dr. Richard R. Gaillardetz
The Joseph Professor of Catholic Systematic Theology at Boston College
Dr. Richard R. Gaillardetz is the Joseph Professor of Catholic Systematic Theology at Boston College and the director of the Theology Graduate Program. He received his Ph.D. in systematic theology from the University of Notre Dame. Dr. Gaillardetz has published numerous articles and has authored eight books and edited two others. Some of his more recent books include: Keys to the Council: Unlocking the Teaching of Vatican II (co-authored with Catherine Clifford, Liturgical Press, 2012), When the Magisterium Intervenes (editor, Liturgical Press, 2012), Ecclesiology for a Global Church: A People Called and Sent (Orbis, 2008) and The Church in the Making (Paulist, 2006).
Dr. Gaillardetz was a delegate on the U.S. Catholic-Methodist Ecumenical Dialogue from 2001 to 2005. He is currently the president of the Catholic Theological Society of America.
Roman Catholicism affords a particular role to the office of the bishop in the teaching ministry of the church. The bishops, by virtue of their apostolic office, are called to safeguard and protect the apostolic faith.
According to St. Irenaeus of Lyons, the bishops are given at their ordination a charisma veritatis certum, “a sure charism of truth.” At Vatican II this was affirmed in the Dogmatic Constitution on Divine Revelation, Dei Verbum 8. In the council’s Dogmatic Constitution on the Church, Lumen gentium 25 the council taught that the bishops teach “in the light of the Holy Spirit.” Yet this teaching raises a number of important questions: how exactly does the Holy Spirit assist the bishops in their teaching? Does this assistance preclude the possibility of error? How does the Spirit’s assistance to the bishops in their teaching correspond to the assistance of the Spirit given to all believers by virtue of their Spirit-given sense of the faith (sensus fidei)?
This lecture will respond to these questions, suggesting that common misunderstandings in Catholicism regarding the Spirit’s assistance given to the bishops is the result of an underdeveloped understanding of the role of the Holy Spirit in the life of the church.