A man who has been far too kind to a fool like me, sent me an article quoting the great theologian and priest Luigi Giussani, who advocates that the way we encounter Christ nowadays, is through the Catholic Church of today, it is the way we truly, really, and objectively encounter the witness to Christ.
My problem with the argument, is that the Scriptures, Fathers, and history also attest to Christ, and in general, anytime I want to know about someone lived on earth long ago, I go to the most contemporary sources. Luckily for me, there exist the witness to Christ and God's actions in history, preserved by the Catholic and Orthodox Churches throughout time and space in Scripture and the patristic tradition.
The Council of Trent argues that no interpretation of Scripture should be made without the consensus of the fathers or the appeal to Tradition. Indeed it said that the deposit of faith was given in written scripture and unwritten traditions and passed onto us. ...And yet after that controversial meeting, as Ultramontanism strengthened and the first Vatican council was about to be called, there was a shift in the Catholic Tradition.
The former Cardinal Archbishop of Westminster, and convert alongside Cardinal Newman, Henry Manning:
"But the appeal to antiquity is both a treason and a heresy. It is a treason because it rejects the Divine voice of the Church at this hour, and a heresy because it denies that voice to be Divine. How can we know what antiquity was except through the Church?...I may say in strict truth that the Church has no antiquity. It rests upon its own supernatural and perpetual consciousness. . . . The only Divine evidence to us of what was primitive is the witness and voice of the Church at this hour" - Henry Cardinal Manning "The temporal mission of the Holy Ghost"
Manning also writes: "the annunciation of the faith by the living Church of this hour is the maximum evidence, both natural and supernatural, as to the fact and contents of the original revelation. I know what are revealed there not by retrospect, but by listening" - 214
read for yourself :http://books.google.ca/books?id=298CAAAAQAAJ&printsec=frontcover&dq=The+Temporal+Mission+of+the+Holy+Ghost:+Or+Reason+and+Revelation&source=bl&ots=T7ZiNBiqZ7&sig=5nVVZ6AfQQB2WsCQ9RddMrwrZuk&hl=en&ei=NMr9S5PfBsT7lwfUwdXkCQ&sa=X&oi=book_result&ct=result&resnum=1&ved=0CBcQ6AEwAA#v=onepage&q=at%20this%20hour&f=false
It's very disturbing.
He says that before facts and history existed the faith existed and was taught. Thus because the Catholic Church now teaches Papal Infallibility, history, antiquity, the fathers, do not matter, because they are of necessity not true if they contradict the first truth, which is Papal Infallibility.
So there is no point in historically verifying it with Scripture or Tradition, it just is. In fact, to investigate is to negate faith.
... Such Traditionalism is not common after Vatican II which advocated EXACTLY what Manning is saying, but the fact is, even in the post-conciliar 'lights' you find the same problem:
"In every age the consensus of the faithful, still more the agreement of those who are commissioned to teach them, has been regarded as a guarantee of truth: not because of some mystique of universal suffrage, but because of the Gospel principle that unanimity and fellowship in Christian matters requires, and also indicates, the intervention of the Holy Spirit. From the time when the patristic argument first began to be used in dogmatic controversies — it first appeared in the second century and gained general currency in the fourth — theologians have tried to establish agreement among qualified witnesses of the faith, and have tried to prove from this agreement that such was in fact the Church’s belief...Unanimous patristic consent as a reliable locus theologicus is classical in Catholic theology; it has often been declared such by the magisterium and its value in scriptural interpretation has been especially stressed. Application of the principle is difficult, at least at a certain level. In regard to individual texts of Scripture total patristic consensus is rare. In fact, a complete consensus is unnecessary: quite often, that which is appealed to as sufficient for dogmatic points does not go beyond what is encountered in the interpretation of many texts. But it does sometimes happen that some Fathers understood a passage in a way which does not agree with later Church teaching. One example: the interpretation of Peter’s confession in Matthew 16:16-18. Except at Rome, this passage was not applied by the Fathers to the papal primacy; they worked out an exegesis at the level of their own ecclesiological thought, more anthropological and spiritual than juridical. This instance, selected from a number of similar ones, shows first that the Fathers cannot be isolated from the Church and its life. They are great, but the Church surpasses them in age, as also by the breadth and richness of its experience. It is the Church, not the Fathers, the consensus of the Church in submission to its Saviour which is the sufficient rule of our Christianity." - Yves Congar O.P. "Tradition and Traditions"
This is the issue. Not that Rome claims Scripture and Tradition as authoritative, but that rather, there is a 'secret tradition' that only the Magesterium knows, by which they interpret Scripture. So even though the majority of fathers deny Mt 16:18 being about Peter personally, or some successor of his, and even though no doctrine exists of Papal Primacy in Church Tradition, the fact that the Magesterium decided in 1870 that it is infallibly true, means that Tradition, the Fathers, and History must adjust accordingly.
This to me is a contradiction within the Catholic Tradition, which claims to be dogmatically immaculate. The entire argument of St. Irenaeus and the patristic proponents of Apostolic Succession was the exact opposite. That unlike the Gnostics, the churches claiming to be Catholic actually had a public Tradition which was clear as day for all to see. The idea that dogma 'develops' is a theory of Cardinal Newman's which has NEVER been accepted as Catholic Dogma. If dogma does develop then this implies progressive revelation, which is in contradiction to both the Catholic Catechism, and the orthodox Christian understanding of the Incarnation of Christ.
This is my problem, Rome has an un-catholic understanding of Catholicism, and has contradicted itself. It reminds me of the argument Stephen Colbert had where he said: The U.S does not torture. But it does waterboard. But waterboarding has been considered torture. But because the U.S waterboards, waterboarding isn't torture. It's the same with Papal Primacy.
Hans Urs Von Balthasar does a great job proving Papal Primacy from Scripture and Reason, but this is in contradiction to the Catholic method. Interestingly enough, only by using the principle of Sola Scriptura, is the doctrine of Papal Primacy and Infallibility plausible... but once one accepts this principle, one has ceased to be Catholic.