James Martin, SJ on the “Sensus Fidei”

In an interview with The Jesuit Post on his book “Building Bridges”, Fr Martin was asked about a reference in the book to how church teaching has not been “received” by the majority of LGBT Catholics.  The interviewer asked him to explain what he meant by “received”.

This idea of the “reception” of Catholic teaching is of immense importance. Here is Fr Martin’s response to the question.

 To take a theological perspective, a teaching must be “received” by the faithful.  It’s a complex topic (and I am no professional theologian) but, in general, for a teaching to be complete it must be appreciated, accepted and understood by the faithful.  The tradition is that the faithful possess their own inner sense of the authority of a teaching.  That’s the sensus fidei or sensus fidelium.  You can find out more about it in the Vatican document Sensus Fidei.  Here’s a quote that’s helpful:

The sensus fidei fidelis is a sort of spiritual instinct that enables the believer to judge spontaneously whether a particular teaching or practice is or is not in conformity with the Gospel and with apostolic faith.

This has always been part of church teaching.  In any event, it seems like the majority of the LGBT Catholic community does not agree with the church’s teaching on same-sex relations: that is, they are impermissible. From what many LGBT people tell me, that particular teaching doesn’t fit with their own experiences as human beings who love and are loved.  So that teaching, it seems, has not been “received” by the LGBT community, which is the community most affected by it.

Source: The Jesuit Post

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