Assent, Dissent, and Sensus Fidelium: A Theological Reflection on the Relationship Between the Role of the Magisterium and the Vocation of the Laity on Moral Discernment

Abstract / Excerpt:

A complementary relationship exists between the Magisterium of the Catholic Church, and its members, the laity. In fact, some ecclesiological writings referred the Magisterium as "the teaching Church" while the laity is called as "the learning Church", particularly in matters pertaining to faith and morals.

1. Background of the Study

Recently, the Philippines Church confronted an ordeal of moral discernment, and decision-making. Since 2010, the Philippines has been divided, and restless about the polarizing issue on the proposed RH Bill. In so many occasions, features in newspapers,television programs, and campaigns revealed that both Pro-RH, and Anti-RH Bill advocates had launched, held, and sustained their own stand to the issue at hand. Worse,debates even resulted to condemnations, and attempts for dialogue, in some instances,even crafted more division between opposing camps.

At the height of this issue, the Catholic's Bishops Conference of the Philippines has stood its ground of denouncing the provisions of the RH Bill proposal. In its pastoral letter, it even called the proposed bill to be "anti-life"; and branded it as promoting "a culture of death," and "a contraceptive mentality".

Knowing that the hierarchy of the Catholic Church strongly opposed the proposed RH Bill, the lay faithful, however, has become divided. The "Catholics for RH Bill"movement emerged, and came strong in its own agenda, and advocacy.

Instead of pushing for unity. Catholics now ended in two separate walls - the Pro-RH, and the Anti-RH, revealing a diverse path of moral discernment, and decision-making.

Should we conclusively say, for instance, that the Magisterium was disobeyed/dissented by the lay faithful, particularly those Catholic couples who decided to be 'pro-RH'? If such divergence of opinion and decision takes place, what must be the attitude of the Magisterium, and the prudent response of the laity? To those who expressed dissent,what pastoral care must the Church extend in order to exemplify its mission of being a Church for all, and an instrument of compassion, and unity? Or is there a possibility that the lay faithful, by virtue of their vocation, and the shared gifts from the same Holy Spirit received at the moment of Baptism and Confirmation, could reach the point of sensus fidelium wherein the Church hierarchy must exercise humility, and sensitivity in order to listen to the voice of the faithful, or simply, not at all.

Source InstitutionAteneo de Davao University
UnitUniversity Research Council (URC)
AuthorsRoawie L. Quimba, Lunar T. Fayloga, Ma. Rosario U. Gaid
Page Count73
Place of PublicationDavao City
Original Publication DateJanuary 1, 2013