June 15, 2017 § 37 Comments
Denzinger, for those who don’t know, is a compendium of Catholic doctrines which is used to teach seminarians. What is notable about it is that it isn’t a catechism or commentary: it is a collection of actual authoritative magisterial statements on a wide range of moral and theological subjects, originally commissioned by Pope Pius IX. The content of Denzinger is actual epistemically authoritative pronouncements of the teaching Magisterium collected over the millennia, as opposed to some person’s explanation of “what the Church teaches”.
One of the things that struck me when I bought my first copy of Denzinger was how small it is, as a collection of the explicit authoritative communal beliefs of a millennia old institution with a global footprint: as the collected actual resolutions drawn from two thousand years of disputation and controversy. No one can hold the dimunitive single volume in his hands, and then witness the glory of medieval cathedrals and universities, without concluding that the production of true propositions on paper is not the primary activity of the Church.
Another unmistakable impression was that when you read someone’s commentary represented as “what the Church teaches,” what is most remarkable is how much of that commentary represents the imported and unexamined metaphysical baggage of the author.
But you don’t have to trust my impressions. You can form your own by carrying a copy of Denzinger into St. Mary Major in Rome or one of a thousand other churches and cathedrals.