The Catholic Doctrine on the Development of Doctrine

A constant topic of discussion within the Church, is the development of doctrine, and how it may or may not apply to the various matters of controversy ongoing at any given time.

But what is less discussed, despite being more foundational and perhaps important, is what actually is the Catholic doctrine on the development of doctrine. Which teachings can change, which can’t, and why?


As with all Christian doctrine, the first thing which might be said, is this doctrine we are looking for must be consistent with the rule of faith. As Scripture truly teaches (Matthew 22:35-40)[1]:

“And one of them, a lawyer, asked him a question to test him. “Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law?” And he said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets.”” [Emphasis added]

However, for the rule of faith to be applied, it first needs to be unpacked. What, in the context of the development of doctrine, is love of God and neighbour?

Confirmation of the breath of what is encompassed by the love of God, can be found from perhaps a surprising source, progressive English theologian Professor Nicholas Lash[2]:

“It is fashionable nowadays sharply to contrast faith conceived as an intellectual assent to propositions with a view of faith as ‘personal adhesion’, patterned on the analogy of personal relationships between human beings. But however inadequate the former conception may be, it cannot simply be replaced by the latter. ‘Le coeur a ses raisons que la raison ne connait pas.’ [The heart has its reasons, which reason does not know]. But he would be a foolish man who allowed his life to be so dictated by his heart that his head was quite unable to assent to any propositions concerning whom he loved and why.” [Emphasis added]

It is not therefore enough, as St Augustine is sometimes taken out of context to suggest, to simply “Ama Deum et fac quod vis” (Love, and do what you will)[3].

How then is the rule of faith, the most summarised form of the Catholic faith, to be fully unpacked in the context of the development of doctrine?


The living magisterium provides a guide to the only orthodox way in which this can be done. Gerhard Cardinal Müller (Cardinal Müller), when prefect of the then Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faith, reportedly stated in a speech during the presentation of a volume of Pope Benedict XVI’s Opera Omnia at the Teutonic College of Santa Maria dell’Anima in Rome on 28 November 2012[4]:

“During his presentation, the head of the doctrinal dicastery, clearly stated that the only orthodox interpretation of the Second Vatican Council is that which sees it as an opportunity for reform and renewal, in continuity with the one subject-Church which the Lord has given us. Müller sees this as the only hermeneutics that respects “the indissoluble unity between the Holy Scriptures, the complete and integral Tradition and the Magisterium, which finds its highest expression in the Council, presided over by St. Peter’s Successor, as visible head of the Church.”

Archbishop Müller contrasted this “singular orthodox interpretation” with a “heretical interpretation” which he identified with “the hermeneutics of a split, both on the progressivist front and the traditionalist front.” According to Müller, what they both share in common is a rejection of the Council: “progressivists want to leave it behind them, as if it were just a phase that should be abandoned in order to move towards a different Church; traditionalists do not want to move towards such a Church, as if it represented the winter of the Catholica.”” [Emphasis added]   

Cardinal Müller has been supported in his regard by no less than the present Holy Father, Pope Francis, who in November 2013 wrote a public letter to Archbishop Agostino Marchetto (Archbishop Marchetto). Archbishop Marchetto[5]:

“[I]s best-known as the author of The Second Vatican Ecumenical Council: A Counterpoint for the History of the Council, which criticizes the “Bologna School’ and champions the “hermeneutic of reform, of renewal in continuity” as proposed by Benedict XVI, most notably in his speech of December 22, 2005.” [Emphasis added]  

In his letter to Archbishop Marchetto, Pope Francis wrote[6]:

“Dear Abp. Marchetto, 

With these lines I wish to be close to you and join myself to the act of presentation of the book “Primato pontificio ed episcopato. Dal primo millennio al Concilio ecumenico Vaticano II” [Pontifical primacy and episcopate: from the first millennium to the Second Vatican Ecumenical Council”]

The topic of the book is an homage to the love that you have for the Church, a loyal and at the same time poetic love. Loyalty and poetry … simply are virtues that are rooted in the heart of a son who feels the Church to be a Mother; or, in order to be more precise, and saying it with an Ignatian familiar “tone”, as “the Holy Mother the hierarchical Church”. 

You have made this love manifest in many ways, including correcting a mistake or imprecision on my part – and for that I thank you from the heart -, but above all it is manifest in all your purity in the studies made on the Second Vatican Council. I once told you, dear Abp. Marchetto, and I wish to repeat it today, that I consider you to be the best interpreter [ermeneuta] of the Second Vatican Council

Vatican, October 7, 2013 


Francis” [Emphasis added]  


What then is this hermeneutic of reform in continuity? Pope Benedict XVI outlined what is meant by it in his 2005 Christmas Address to the Roman Curia (2005 Christmas Address), in the context of the interpretation of Vatican II and particularly its teaching on religious freedom[7]:

“Well, it all depends on the correct interpretation of the Council or – as we would say today – on its proper hermeneutics, the correct key to its interpretation and application

On the one hand, there is an interpretation that I would call “a hermeneutic of discontinuity and rupture” … On the other, there is the “hermeneutic of reform”, of renewal in the continuity of the one subject-Church which the Lord has given to us. She is a subject which increases in time and develops, yet always remaining the same, the one subject of the journeying People of God.

The hermeneutic of discontinuity risks ending in a split between the pre-conciliar Church and the post-conciliar Church …

In this way, it is considered as a sort of constituent that eliminates an old constitution and creates a new one … The Fathers had no such mandate and no one had ever given them one; nor could anyone have given them one because the essential constitution of the Church comes from the Lord and was given to us so that we might attain eternal life and, starting from this perspective, be able to illuminate life in time and time itself …

The hermeneutic of discontinuity is countered by the hermeneutic of reform, as it was presented first by Pope John XXIII in his Speech inaugurating the Council on 11 October 1962 and later by Pope Paul VI in his Discourse for the Council’s conclusion on 7 December 1965

It is clear that this commitment to expressing a specific truth in a new way demands new thinking on this truth and a new and vital relationship with it; it is also clear that new words can only develop if they come from an informed understanding of the truth expressed, and on the other hand, that a reflection on faith also requires that this faith be lived …

In his Discourse closing the Council, Paul VI pointed out a further specific reason why a hermeneutic of discontinuity can seem convincing …

These are all subjects of great importance – they were the great themes of the second part of the Council – on which it is impossible to reflect more broadly in this context. It is clear that in all these sectors, which all together form a single problem, some kind of discontinuity might emerge. Indeed, a discontinuity had been revealed but in which, after the various distinctions between concrete historical situations and their requirements had been made, the continuity of principles proved not to have been abandoned. It is easy to miss this fact at a first glance.

It is precisely in this combination of continuity and discontinuity at different levels that the very nature of true reform consists. In this process of innovation in continuity we must learn to understand more practically than before that the Church’s decisions on contingent matters – for example, certain practical forms of liberalism or a free interpretation of the Bible – should necessarily be contingent themselves, precisely because they refer to a specific reality that is changeable in itself. It was necessary to learn to recognize that in these decisions it is only the principles that express the permanent aspect, since they remain as an undercurrent, motivating decisions from within.

On the other hand, not so permanent are the practical forms that depend on the historical situation and are therefore subject to change.

Basic decisions, therefore, continue to be well-grounded, whereas the way they are applied to new contexts can change …

The Second Vatican Council, with its new definition of the relationship between the faith of the Church and certain essential elements of modern thought, has reviewed or even corrected certain historical decisions, but in this apparent discontinuity it has actually preserved and deepened her inmost nature and true identity … 

On the contrary, it was certainly the Council’s intention to overcome erroneous or superfluous contradictions in order to present to our world the requirement of the Gospel in its full greatness and purity.” [Emphasis added]

While Pope Benedict XVI’s 2005 Christmas Address was limited to using the hermeneutic of reform in continuity as a key to interpret Vatican II, Pope Benedict XVI confirmed subsequently this “hermeneutic of continuity” has a broader application. For example, in his 2007 Apostolic Exhortation Sacramentum caritatis, Pope Benedict XVI applied it to liturgical development[8]:

“I am referring here to the need for a hermeneutic of continuity also with regard to the correct interpretation of the liturgical development which followed the Second Vatican Council …” [Emphasis added]

And in a 2010 address to a conference organised by the Congregation for the Clergy, Pope Benedict XVI applied the “hermeneutic of continuity” to priests[9]:

“Just as the hermeneutics of continuity are proving ever more urgent for a satisfactory understanding of the Second Vatican Council’s texts, likewise a hermeneutic we might describe as “of priestly continuity” appears necessary.” [Emphasis added]


It is sometimes suggested however, that whatever the Catholic doctrine on the development of doctrine on matters of faith, its limits do not extent to matters of morals.

For example Judge John T. Noonan (Judge Noonan), a prominent critic of Humanae vitae, noted that the Saint John Henry Cardinal Newman (Cardinal Newman) in his seminal 1878 book An Essay on the Development of Christian Doctrine (Essay) does not focus on the development of moral doctrine[10]:

“What Newman noticed and defended were changes in the ways that piety was expressed, in the rules guiding the governance of the Church, in the understanding of the nature of Christ. What he spent no time in either enumerating or explaining were changes in the rules of moral conduct.” [Emphasis added]

However if we turn to Pope Saint John Paul II the Great (Pope John Paul II), and his 1993 encyclical Veritatis splendour, we find there is guidance from the papal magisterium on the development of moral doctrine. In this encyclical we find that, following Cardinal Newman’s theory of development of doctrine and by analogy with developments in the truths of faith discussed by him, Pope John Paul II teaches moral doctrine develops with the same combination of reform and continuity as outlined in Pope Benedict XVI’s hermeneutic of reform in continuity[11]:

“At all times, but particularly in the last two centuries, the Popes, whether individually or together with the College of Bishops, have developed and proposed a moral teaching regarding the many different spheres of human life With the guarantee of assistance from the Spirit of truth they have contributed to a better understanding of moral demands in the areas of human sexuality, the family, and social, economic and political life. In the tradition of the Church and in the history of humanity, their teaching represents a constant deepening of knowledge with regard to morality.

Today, however, it seems necessary to reflect on the whole of the Church’s moral teaching, with the precise goal of recalling certain fundamental truths of Catholic doctrine which, in the present circumstances, risk being distorted or denied … It is no longer a matter of limited and occasional dissent, but of an overall and systematic calling into question of traditional moral doctrine, on the basis of certain anthropological and ethical presuppositions. At the root of these presuppositions is the more or less obvious influence of currents of thought which end by detaching human freedom from its essential and constitutive relationship to truth. Thus the traditional doctrine regarding the natural law, and the universality and the permanent validity of its precepts, is rejected; certain of the Church’s moral teachings are found simply unacceptable …

Within the unity of the Church, promoting and preserving the faith and the moral life is the task entrusted by Jesus to the Apostles (cf. Mt 28:19-20), a task which continues in the ministry of their successors. This is apparent from the living Tradition, whereby — as the Second Vatican Council teaches — “the Church, in her teaching, life and worship, perpetuates and hands on to every generation all that she is and all that she believes. This Tradition which comes from the Apostles, progresses in the Church under the assistance of the Holy Spirit” … By this same Tradition Christians receive “the living voice of the Gospel”, as the faithful expression of God’s wisdom and will.

Within Tradition, the authentic interpretation of the Lord’s law develops, with the help of the Holy Spirit. The same Spirit who is at the origin of the Revelation of Jesus’ commandments and teachings guarantees that they will be reverently preserved, faithfully expounded and correctly applied in different times and places. This constant “putting into practice” of the commandments is the sign and fruit of a deeper insight into Revelation and of an understanding in the light of faith of new historical and cultural situations. Nevertheless, it can only confirm the permanent validity of Revelation and follow in the line of the interpretation given to it by the great Tradition of the Church’s teaching and life, as witnessed by the teaching of the Fathers, the lives of the Saints, the Church’s Liturgy and the teaching of the Magisterium.

In particular, as the Council affirms, “the task of authentically interpreting the word of God, whether in its written form or in that of Tradition, has been entrusted only to those charged with the Church’s living Magisterium, whose authority is exercised in the name of Jesus Christ”. The Church, in her life and teaching, is thus revealed as “the pillar and bulwark of the truth” (1 Tim 3:15), including the truth regarding moral action …

Precisely on the questions frequently debated in moral theology today and with regard to which new tendencies and theories have developed, the Magisterium, in fidelity to Jesus Christ and in continuity with the Church’s tradition, senses more urgently the duty to offer its own discernment and teaching, in order to help man in his journey towards truth and freedom …

Sacred Scripture remains the living and fruitful source of the Church’s moral doctrine; as the Second Vatican Council recalled, the Gospel is “the source of all saving truth and moral teaching”. The Church has faithfully preserved what the word of God teaches, not only about truths which must be believed but also about moral action, action pleasing to God (cf. 1 Th 4:1); she has achieved a doctrinal development analogous to that which has taken place in the realm of the truths of faith. Assisted by the Holy Spirit who leads her into all the truth (cf. Jn 16:13), the Church has not ceased, nor can she ever cease, to contemplate the “mystery of the Word Incarnate”, in whom “light is shed on the mystery of man”.” [Emphasis added]


It is sometimes thought, in relation to the development of doctrine, that in the words of Professor Jaroslav Pelikan (Professor Pelikan), Cardinal Newman’s[12]:

Essay on the Development of Christian Doctrine is “the almost inevitable starting point for an investigation of development of doctrine”.” [Emphasis added]

However, as Professor Pelikan rightly notes, Cardinal Newman is not the first significant voice in the Church’s Tradition in respect of the development of doctrine[13]:

“Anselm Atkins has said of it: “Not counting pale anticipations in Tertullian’s late Montanist works, the first contribution to the theory of development of doctrine was Cardinal Newman’s Essay of 1845.” This judgement is, however, something of an exaggeration, for the Commonitorium of Vincent of Lerins was more than a “pale anticipation” …” [Emphasis added]

This is reinforced by Pope Francis, who during his 2022 apostolic journey to Canada, noted that[14]:

“The moral life is progressing along the same line. It is the teaching of Saint Vincent of Lérins: ita étiam christiánae religiónis dogma sequátur has decet proféctuum leges, ut annis scílicet consolidétur, dilatétur témpore, sublimétur aetáte (“The dogma of the Christian religion must follow these laws. It progresses, consolidating over the years, developing with time, deepening with age”). Saint Vincent of Lérins compares the biological development of humans with the transmission from one age to another of the depositum fidei, which grows and consolidates with the passage of time. Human understanding changes with time, and human consciousness deepens.

The vision of the doctrine of the Church as monolithic, to be defended without nuance is wrong. That is why it is important to have respect for tradition, the authentic one.” [Emphasis added]

Further, not only is the 5th Century St. Vincent of Lerins (St. Vincent) the first and most significant Church Father to address the development of doctrine, it is despite views to the contrary the better scholarly view that his thought in this regard is representative of the broader patristic period[15]:

Vincent does not deviate in any demonstrable way that I can discern from common thinking about continuity and development in Christian dogma in the early centuries of the Church. He is, rather, the first of very few pre-modern authors to actually address the issue directly … “Because the development of doctrine was not an actual problem, the fathers were not concerned about an accurate expression of it.” … Vincent, the only direct and thorough account of authentic development we have from the first five centuries—the same Vincent who is himself so concerned not to deviate from the tradition that has gone before him.” [Emphasis added]

Accordingly it is not surprising that it was with St. Vincent, or at least the misuse of the same by certain Anglican clergy, with which the noted patristic scholar Cardinal Newman[16] himself started[17]:

“A … more plausible hypothesis is that of the Anglican divines, who reconcile … by cutting off … as corruptions all usages, opinions and tenets, which have not the sanction of primitive times … Such a principle of demarcation … they consider they have found in the dictum of Vincent of Lerins … “quod semper, quod ubique, quod ab omnibus” …” [Emphasis added]

Cardinal Newman, in his Essay, focused on St. Vincent’s more famous first canon or rule (quod semper, quod ubique, quod ab omnibus), which in context is as follows[18]:

“In the Catholic Church itself, every care should be taken to hold fast to what has been believed everywhere, always and by all … This general rule will be truly applied if we follow the principles of universality, antiquity, and consent. We do so in regard to universality if we confess that faith alone to be true which the entire Church confesses all over the world; in regard to antiquity if we in no way deviate from those interpretations which our ancestors and fathers have manifestly proclaimed as inviolable; in regard to consent if, in this very antiquity, we adopt the definitions and propositions of all, or almost all, the priests and doctors.” [Emphasis added]

However as noted by Pope Francis above, St. Vincent also provided what is in some ways a less well-known second canon or law, which again in context is as follows[19]:

“At this point, the question may be asked: If this is right, then is no progress of religion possible within the Church of Christ? To be sure, there has to be progress, even exceedingly great progress… but it must be progress in the proper sense of the word, and not a change in faith. Progress means that each thing grows within itself, whereas change implies that one thing is transformed into another. Hence, it must be that understanding, knowledge, and wisdom grow and advance mightily and strongly in individuals as well as in the community, in a single person as well as in the Church as a whole… The dogma of the Christian religion ought to follow these laws of progress, so that it may be consolidated in the course of years, developed in the sequence of time, and sublimated by age—yet remain incorrupt and unimpaired, complete and perfect… [The Church of Christ] devotes all its diligence to one aim: to treat tradition faithfully and wisely; to nurse and polish what from old times may have remained unshaped and unfinished; to consolidate and to strengthen what already was clear and plain; and to guard what already was confirmed and defined.” [Emphasis added]

Further St. Vincent’s second rule, unlike his first rule which has never been cited by an Ecumenical Council of the Church[20], was affirmed by the First Vatican Council (1869-1870) in the Dogmatic Constitution Dei filius[21]:

“For, the doctrine of faith which God revealed has not been handed down as a philosophic invention to the human mind to be perfected, but has been entrusted as a divine deposit to the Spouse of Christ, to be faithfully guarded and infallibly interpreted. Hence, also, that understanding of its sacred dogmas must be perpetually retained, which Holy Mother Church has once declared; and there must never be recession from that meaning under the specious name of a deeper understanding “Therefore […] let the understanding, the knowledge, and wisdom of individuals as of all, of one man as of the whole Church, grow and progress strongly with the passage of the ages and the centuries; but let it be solely in its own genus, namely in the same dogma, with the same sense and the same understanding.” [Vincent of Lerins, Commonitorium, 23, 3].” [Emphasis added]

Again, in these two rules, St. Vincent teaches doctrine develops with the same combination of reform and continuity as outlined in Pope Benedict XVI’s hermeneutic of reform in continuity. In the words of Professor Thomas G. Guarino (Professor Guarino)[22]:

“Vincent’s two rules–the semper, ubique, et ab omnibus and development in eodem sensu–present us with a dynamic and productive tension between the immutability of Christian doctrine [i.e. continuity] and its proper, architectonic growth [i.e. reform]. Christian faith must always be firmly rooted in the Bible. But the Church comes to understand the full implications of the Scriptures only gradually–and in opposition to erroneous interpretations.” [Emphasis added]

Moreover, despite Cardinal Newman’s criticism of the misuse of St. Vincent’s first rule, when St. Vincent’s two rules are considered together a strong continuity with St. Vincent is evident in Cardinal Newman’s own criteria for legitimate development. Again in the words of Professor Guarino[23]:

The Commonitorium also had a decided influence on Newman’s well-known “notes” or “tests” for proper development. When discussing the first characteristic, for example, “preservation of type,” Newman invoked Vincent’s argument that the growth of religion resembles the growth of the body, which, as years go by, develops and enlarges, while remaining substantially identical …

In Newman’s sixth note, “conservative action upon its past,” one again detects Vincent’s hand. In an important passage, Newman said that “a true development . . . is conservative of the course of antecedent developments, being really those antecedents and something besides them: it is an addition which illustrates, not obscures, corroborates, not corrects, the body of thought from which it proceeds; and this is characteristic as contrasted with a corruption.” This language, entirely reminiscent of Vincent’s argument for both preservation and renewal, for both continuity and commensurable novelty, is explicitly acknowledged as such when Newman says, “Vincentius of Lerins, in like manner, speaks of the development of Christian doctrine, as profectus fidei non permutatio.”” [Emphasis added]


While St. Vincent shows it cannot be said that “The inventor of the idea that Christian doctrine develops is John Henry Newman[24], that does not mean he did not make his own further contributions to the idea of doctrinal development. As stated by Professor Guarino[25]:

“Perhaps it would be more precise to say that Newman fully established and creatively expanded an idea already proposed by Vincent of Lérins in his Commonitorium.” [Emphasis added]

What then were Cardinal Newman’s contributions to the idea first expressed by St. Vincent? How did he develop the Catholic doctrine on the development of doctrine?

The first contribution comes from Cardinal Newman’s own life experience, as one received into the Catholic faith from Anglicanism, one of the “ecclesial communities” “born out of the Reformation of the sixteenth century[26]. This contribution was to emphasis the possibility the corruptions being accepted by the Church, and the implications for the truth of the claims of the Church of accepting such corruptions[27]

“Of course I do not deny the abstract possibility of extreme changes. The substitution is certainly, in idea, supposable of a counterfeit Christianity, superseding the original, by means of the adroit innovations of seasons, places, and persons, till, according to the familiar illustration, the “blade” and the “handle” are alternately renewed, and identity is lost without the loss of continuity. It is possible; but it must not be assumed. The onus probandi is with those who assert what it is unnatural to expect; to be just able to doubt is no warrant for disbelieving …

I shall admit that there are in fact certain apparent variations in its teaching, which have to be explained; thus I shall begin, but then I shall attempt to explain them to the exculpation of that teaching in point of unity, directness, and consistency

[I]f they have raised a real difficulty, it may claim a real answer, and we must determine whether on the one hand Christianity is still to represent to us a definite teaching from above, or whether on the other its utterances have been from time to time so strangely at variance, that we are necessarily thrown back on our own judgment individually to determine, what the revelation of God is, or rather if in fact there is, or has been, any revelation at all … ” [Emphasis added]

In Cardinal Newman’s acknowledgement of this truth, we may find an echo of St. Paul where he said (1 Corinthians 15:12-19):

“Now if Christ is proclaimed as raised from the dead, how can some of you say that there is no resurrection of the dead? But if there is no resurrection of the dead, then not even Christ has been raised. And if Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is in vain and your faith is in vain. We are even found to be misrepresenting God, because we testified about God that he raised Christ, whom he did not raise if it is true that the dead are not raised. For if the dead are not raised, not even Christ has been raised. And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile and you are still in your sins. Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ have perished. If in Christ we have hope in this life only, we are of all people most to be pitied.” [Emphasis added]

The importance of this question to Cardinal Newman’s own assessment of the claims of the Church, and his own entry into full communion with it, is clear[28]:

“How central this matter was to Newman’s own spiritual seeking is plain from the fact that his critical – and in many ways – painful decision to forsake the Church of England for the Church of Romewas actually made through the very process of writing An Essay on the Development of Christian Doctrine

During Christianity’s first centuries the problem here implied found its solution in ecclesiastical authority, trusted by the great body of the faithful to determine which enunciations of doctrine were authentic expressions of the divine revelation, and which were distortions of it. But with the Protestant Reformation that trust in the ecclesiastical authority had broken down in much of the Christian world, ushering in a multitude of contending claims to orthodoxy, and an assortment of opinions as to how those contending claims could be assessed.” [Emphasis added]

Cardinal Newman’s second contribution was to emphasize that the development of doctrine is not only possible, but expected and required[29]:

“The following Essay is directed towards a solution of the difficulty which has been stated … that the increase and expansion of the Christian Creed and Ritual, and the variations which have attended the process in the case of individual writers and Churches, are the necessary attendants on any philosophy or polity which takes possession of the intellect and heart and has had any wide or extended dominion; that, from the nature of the human mind, time is necessary for the full comprehension and perfection of great ideas; and that the highest and most wonderful truths, though but, as being received and transmitted by minds not inspired and through media which were human, have required only the longer time and deeper thought for their full elucidation. This may be called the Theory of Development of Doctrine …” [Emphasis added]

The third significant contribution comes from Cardinal Newman’s study of the history of the Church. This contribution is to unpack the elements of reform and continuity which make up legitimate developments, in order to develop a criteriology, which provides guidance as to which changes it is open to the Church to accept as legitimate developments.

However in doing so, Cardinal Newman is aware no logical proof can be offered for any specific development of doctrine, particularly for those who apply what Pope Benedict XVI called in the context of scriptural interpretation a “hermeneutic of suspicion[30]. Rather, when one adopts what Pope Benedict XVI called a “hermeneutic of faith[31], they merely demonstrate how a legitimate development can be defended as reasonable (particularly retrospectively)[32]:

Tests, it is true, for ascertaining the correctness of developments in general may be drawn out … but they are insufficient for the guidance of individuals in the case of so large and complicated a problem as Christianity, though they may aid our inquiries and support our conclusions in particular points. They are of a scientific and controversial, not of a practical character, and are instruments rather than warrants of right decisions. Moreover, they rather serve as answers to objections brought against the actual decisions of authority, than are proofs of the correctness of those decisions.” [Emphasis added]

Cardinal Newman’s criteria cannot, as some critics such as Judge Noonan would have us do, be dismissed as a mere mechanic’s checklist[33]:

A checklist is a mechanic’s tool, useful for a quick overview; it is not to be slavishly followed.” [Emphasis added]

Nor does Cardinal Newman seek to limit Christianity and the development of its doctrine to mere ideas or logic inference, acknowledging that these are necessary but not sufficient[34]:

“But one aspect of Revelation must not be allowed to exclude or to obscure another; and Christianity is dogmatical, devotional, practical all at once; it is esoteric and exoteric; it is indulgent and strict; it is light and dark; it is love, and it is fear.” [Emphasis added]

In terms of the criteria themselves, Cardinal Newman introduces them as follows[35]:

“The only question that can be raised is whether the said Catholic faith, as now held, is logically, as well as historically, the representative of the ancient faith. This then is the subject, to which I have as yet addressed myself, and I have maintained that modern Catholicism is nothing else but simply the legitimate growth and complement, that is the natural and necessary development, of the doctrine of the early church, and that its divine authority is included in the divinity of Christianity.

So far I have gone, but an important objection presents itself for distinct consideration … that what I have called developments in the Roman Church are nothing more or less than what used to be called her corruptions; and that new names do not destroy old grievances.

This is what may be said, and I acknowledge its force: it becomes necessary in consequence to assign certain characteristics of faithful developments, which none but faithful developments have, and the presence of which serves as a test to discriminate between them and corruptions. This I at once proceed to do, and I shall begin by determining what a corruption is, and why it cannot rightly be called, and how it differs from, a development …

I venture to set down seven Notes of varying cogency, independence and applicability, to discriminate healthy developments of an idea from its state of corruption and decay, as follows: There is no corruption if it retains one and the same type, the same principles, the same organization; if its beginnings anticipate its subsequent phases, and its later phenomena protect and subserve its earlier; if it has a power of assimilation and revival, and a vigorous action from first to last.” [Emphasis added]

In these criteria, a strong continuity is again evident with Pope Benedict XVI’s hermeneutic of reform in continuity, particularly Pope Benedict’s emphasis on the continuity of principles, nature and identity[36]:

“Newman’s argument for the development of doctrine as an economy requiring what he called “preservation of type” and “chronic vigor” is the antecedent cousin of Pope Benedict’s “Hermeneutic of Continuity”.” [Emphasis added]

The enduring relevance of these criteria, as well as a brief unpacking of each, is also provided by the International Theological Commission’s (ITC)’s 1989 document The Interpretation of Dogma:

“The document places the permanent validity of the dogmatic formulas in the foreground and at the same time presents suggestions for a renewed way of interpretation. The criteria for judging doctrinal development proposed by J. H. Newman can be helpful

The Seven Criteria of J. H. Newman

Newman worked out a criteriology for the development of dogma, which serves both as preparation and finishing touch to what is being argued. It can be applied in proper proportions to that further interpretation of dogmas aimed at giving them contemporary relevance. Newman lists seven principles, namely the following criteria:

1. The conservation of the type, which is to say the basic form, and of the proportions and relationships existing between the whole and the parts. When the structure as a totality remains, its type holds fast, even if some particular concepts change. But this total structure may become corrupt, even in the case where the concepts remain unchanged, if the latter are made part of a context or a system of coordinates which is altogether different.

2. The continuity of principle: the different doctrines represent principles existing at a deeper level, even when these are often not recognized until a later stage. The same doctrine, if detached from its founding principle, may be interpreted in more ways than one, and lead to contradictory conclusions. Continuity of principle then is a criterion which can distinguish proper and legitimate development from the erroneous.

3. Capacity for being assimilated: a living idea shows its edge by its ability to get at reality, attract other ideas to itself, stimulate reflection and develop itself further without loss of its internal unity. This capacity for being integrated is a criterion of legitimate development.

4. Logical coherence: the development of dogmas is a vital process which is too complex to be regarded simply a logical explanation and deduction from given premises. Nevertheless, there must be logical coherence between the conclusions and the initial data. Conversely, one can judge what a development is from its consequences or recognize it as legitimate or otherwise by its fruits.

5. Anticipation of the future: trends which come to realization and succeed only later may make themselves noticeable early on, even if as isolated phenomena where the outline is still dim. Such advance trends are signs of the agreement of subsequent development with the original idea.

6. The conservation of past values: development becomes corruption when it contradicts the original doctrine or earlier development. True development conserves and safeguards the development and formulations that went before.

7. Durability: corruption leads to disintegration. Whatever corrupts itself cannot last for long. Whatever is vital and durable on the contrary is a sign of authentic development …

The Importance of the Magisterium for Contemporary Interpretation

The criteria which we have enumerated will be incomplete if we omit to remind ourselves of the function of the Church’s Magisterium, to which the authentic interpretation of God’s word has been committed, both written and passed on by tradition, and as a mandate exercised in the name of Jesus Christ and assisted by the Holy Spirit (DV 10) …

Faced with doctrinal statements that are gravely ambiguous, even perhaps incompatible with the Faith of the Church, the Church has the capacity to discern error and the duty to dispel it, even resorting to the formal rejection of heresy as the final remedy for safeguarding the Faith of the people of God … “A Christianity which can no longer say what it is and what it is not, or where its frontiers lie, will have nothing more to say“” [Emphasis added]

This ITC document also, quite properly, adds the acceptance of a development of the living magisterium as an additional criteria for its legitimacy. However, as shown above, this can only ever be an addition to (and not a replacement of) Cardinal Newman’s criteria.


As noted by Pope Benedict XVI in his 2005 Christmas Address, the hermeneutic of reform in continuity was also endorsed by the two Popes of Vatican II, Pope Saint John XXIII the Good (Pope John XXIII) and Pope Saint Paul VI (Pope Paul VI).

In his speech inaugurating Vatican II, Pope John XXIII outlined his goals for the Council[37]:

“The greatest concern of the Ecumenical Council is this: that the sacred deposit of Christian doctrine should be guarded and taught more efficaciously

In order, however, that this doctrine may influence the numerous fields of human activity, with reference to individuals, to families, and to social life, it is necessary first of all that the Church should never depart from the sacred patrimony of truth received from the Fathers. But at the same time she must ever look to the present, to the new conditions and new forms of life introduced into the modern world which have opened new avenues to the Catholic apostolate …  

The manner in which sacred doctrine is spread, this having been established, it becomes clear how much is expected from the Council in regard to doctrine. That is, the Twenty-first Ecumenical Council, which will draw upon the effective and important wealth of juridical, liturgical, apostolic, and administrative experiences, wishes to transmit the doctrine, pure and integral, without any attenuation or distortion, which throughout twenty centuries, notwithstanding difficulties and contrasts, has become the common patrimony of men

Our duty is not only to guard this precious treasure, as if we were concerned only with antiquity, but to dedicate ourselves with an earnest will and without fear to that work which our era demands of us, pursuing thus the path which the Church has followed for twenty centuries …

For this a Council was not necessary. But from the renewed, serene, and tranquil adherence to all the teaching of the Church in its entirety and preciseness, as it still shines forth in the Acts of the Council of Trent and First Vatican Council, the Christian, Catholic, and apostolic spirit of the whole world expects a step forward toward a doctrinal penetration and a formation of consciousness in faithful and perfect conformity to the authentic doctrine, which, however, should be studied and expounded through the methods of research and through the literary forms of modern thought. The substance of the ancient doctrine of the deposit of faith is one thing, and the way in which it is presented is another. And it is the latter that must be taken into great consideration with patience if necessary, everything being measured in the forms and proportions of a magisterium which is predominantly pastoral in character.” [Emphasis added]

And in his speech closing the Vatican II, Pope Paul VI reiterated Pope John XXIII’s sentiments[38]:

“This council hands over to posterity not only the image of the Church but also the patrimony of her doctrine and of her commandments, the “deposit” received from Christ and meditated upon through centuries, lived and expressed now and clarified in so many of its parts, settled and arranged in its integrity. The deposit, that is, which lives on by the divine power of truth and of grace which constitutes it, and is, therefore, able to vivify anyone who receives it and nourishes with it his own human existence.” [Emphasis added]


Vatican II’s endorsement of the hermeneutic of reform in continuity did not however stop at the papal speeches which framed it.

In the Dogmatic Constitution Dei verbum, Vatican II canonised its own theory of development, which requires precisely the same mix of reform and continuity which Pope Benedict XVI would later term the hermeneutic of reform in continuity[39]

“And so the apostolic preaching, which is expressed in a special way in the inspired books, was to be preserved by an unending succession of preachers until the end of time. Therefore the Apostles, handing on what they themselves had received, warn the faithful to hold fast to the traditions which they have learned either by word of mouth or by letter (see 2 Thess. 2:15), and to fight in defense of the faith handed on once and for all (see Jude 1:3) …

This tradition which comes from the Apostles develop in the Church with the help of the Holy Spirit. For there is a growth in the understanding of the realities and the words which have been handed down. This happens through the contemplation and study made by believers, who treasure these things in their hearts (see Luke, 2:19, 51) through a penetrating understanding of the spiritual realities which they experience, and through the preaching of those who have received through Episcopal succession the sure gift of truth. For as the centuries succeed one another, the Church constantly moves forward toward the fullness of divine truth until the words of God reach their complete fulfillment in her.” [Emphasis added]


Nor did Vatican II merely endorse the hermeneutic of reform in continuity, it also applied it in practice. In Dignitatis humanae, the declaration on religious freedom, the practical application of the Church teaching changed significantly[40]:

“In the nineteenth century, in encyclicals from Gregory XVI’s Mirari Vos in 1832 to Leo XIII’s Libertas in 1888, the Catholic Church taught that the state should not only recognize Catholic Christianity as the true religion, but should use its coercive power to restrict the public practice of, and proselytization by, false religions—including Protestantism. Yet in its declaration on religious freedom, Dignitatis Humanae, the Second Vatican Council declared that the state should not use coercion to restrict religion—not even on behalf of the true faith. Such coercion would be a violation of people’s right to religious liberty.

This looks like a clear change in Catholic doctrine. The Church once endorsed state coercion on behalf of religious truth, and now she denounces such coercion as immoral.” [Emphasis added]

Further in Dignitatis humanae itself, the Council Fathers explicitly acknowledged its teaching represented a development of doctrine[41]:

“Over and above all this, the council intends to develop the doctrine of recent popes on the inviolable rights of the human person and the constitutional order of society.” [Emphasis added]

This acknowledgement was reinforced by Fr. John Courtney Murray S.J. (Fr. Murray), the theological architect of Dignitatis humanae, who has stated[42]:

“In any event, the document is a significant event in the history of the Church. It was, of course, the most controversial document of the whole Council, largely because it raised with sharp emphasis the issue that lay continually below the surface of all the conciliar debates—the issue of the development of doctrine. The notion of development, not the notion of religious freedom, was the real sticking-point for many of those who opposed the Declaration even to the end. The course of the development between the Syllabus of Errors (1864) and Dignitatis Humanae Personae (1965) still remains to be explained by theologians. But the Council formally sanctioned the validity of the development itself; and this was a doctrinal event of high importance for theological thought in many other areas.” [Emphasis added]

The reform in the development of the Church’s teaching on religious freedom is clear on its face. In what respect then is this reform in continuity? It is in precisely the continuity of principles required of legitimate developments by St. Vincent, Cardinal Newman and Pope Benedict XVI[43]:

“American Jesuit John Courtney Murray exercised a predominant influence in this matter at Vatican II. Murray had been working on the issue of religious liberty since the 1940s. In his examination of Leo XIII’s many teaching on the subject, Murray distinguished three transtemporal principles that are always true but are applied in different historical and political circumstances. In the conditions Leo XIII addressed in 1891, his answer was correct. In our conditions, the same three transtemporal principles call for a different answer” [Emphasis added]

Fr. Murray identified these transtemporal principles, which provide continuity in respect of the teaching on religious freedom, as follows[44]:  

“The first step was to posit a key transtemporal principle, as Murray called it, namely, “the primacy of the spiritual”, along with three derivatives transtemporal principles: the separation of the church from society, the freedom of the church, and the dignity of the human person” [Emphasis added]

In his own words, Fr. Murray outlined these transtemporal principles, and their import as follows[45]:

“More concretely, the Church asserts three principles as permanently controlling in her relations with the state. These principles are of themselves transtemporal, being rooted in the nature of things; they are therefore necessarily exigent in all temporal situations. The first is rooted in the nature of the Church; the second, in the nature of man as presently situated in a supernatural order; the third, in the nature of civil society as a naturally necessary sphere of human life and development toward the perfection of human personality …

But by their embodiment in institutions the principles, without ceasing to be transtemporal as principles, become temporal as applications of principle. Their institutionalization takes place on earth at a particular time; it invests them with an historical character. And the structure of the institutionalization inevitably reveals the influence of historical circumstances. In the course of their application the principles must undergo a vital adaptation to the realities given at the moment. Only this vital adaptation gives the principles teeth, so to speak, with which to bite into the human stuff of history …

Since the institution of the state-church was an adaptation to a particular historical context, it does not represent a permanent and unalterable exigence of Catholic principles, to be realized in any and all historical situations in which there is verified the general hypothesis of a “Catholic population.” This legal institution need not be defended by Catholics as a sort of transtemporal “ideal,” the single and only institutionalized form of Church-State relationships which can claim the support of principles, the unique “thesis” beside which all other solutions to the Church-State problem must be regarded as “hypothesis,” provisional concessions to force majeure.” [Emphasis added]

And in another place[46]:

“The judgments of the Church on matters of doctrine are transtemporal, independent of circumstances. No quaestio facti enters into their making; and they are unalterable. They may collide with social fact with indifference, skepticism, disbelief, opposition; but they make no concessions to fact. The Church does not indeed ignore the facts of history, since she must live in history. Moreover, there is a legitimate sense in which she is disposed to adapt herself to changing historical contexts. This adaptation is “a valid idea, if it be understood to mean a certain reasonableness of attitude which can be squared with the demands of truth and justice. That is to say, under the provision of some good the Church shows herself accommodating (indulgentem); she allows for circumstances to the extent that the sanctity of her duty permits” (Libertas) …” [Emphasis added]

It should also be noted that, while Cardinal Newman suggested his criteria might best be applied retrospectively, Fr. Murray’s work on the continuity of transtemporal principles underlying his proposed reform of the Church’s doctrine on religious freedom, preceded and assisted the acceptance of his proposed reform by Vatican II.

Accordingly it can be seen that the hermeneutic of reform in continuity is equally as useful in demonstrating prospectively that it is open to the living magisterium to adopt a particular reform, if not that such a reform is to be preferred over either prior doctrine or alternative reform proposals, as it is in defending retrospectively the reasonableness of decisions of the living magisterium in respect of the development of doctrine.


Fr. Murray is considered by some to have, later in life, to have rejected the idea of eternal transtemporal principles in favour of the concept of historical consciousness attributed to Fr. Bernard Lonergan S.J., CC (Fr. Lonergan)[47]:

“In the late 1960s, after Vatican II, Murray began to employ Lonergan’s notion of historical consciousness to explain development. Murray recognised that historical consciousness cannot accept the notion of truth as something that objectively exists “out there”, apart from history and the subject and expressed in unchangeable propositions.” [Emphasis added]

This purported acceptance of historical consciousness by Fr. Murray is however disputed by others[48]:

“Hooper does, I think, establish that Murray was intimately familiar with Lonergan’s work and that at times he resorted to some of Lonergan’s terminology, particularly his notion of “historical consciousness” a theory which, according to Hooper, advanced the notion of the contingency of all human judgments. But he does not establish that Murray was, as McElroy puts it, “dramatically influenced” by Lonergan, at least not sufficiently to outweigh other influences … Actually, Hooper himself seems rather ambiguous about the extent to which Murray was influenced by Lonergan’s notion of “historical consciousness.” … However, Hooper concedes that “it was only about 1966 that Murray began to catch on to Lonergan’s notion of ‘historical consciousness’ as a distinct differentiation on human understanding, a new perspective on the contingent and social nature of all human truth claims.” … Even then, we are told, an article published in 1967, the year of his death, indicated that Murray “did not have complete control” over Lonergan’s notion because he was willing to assert there that “Leo XIII was a man of ‘historical consciousness.’“ This is not a minor ambiguity in Hooper’s thesis. If Murray, as late as 1967, was willing to call Leo XIII, of all people, a man of “historical consciousness,” then it would seem that anybody could fit the bill … Now, instead of opting for the more plausible claim that Murray’s use of the term “historical consciousness” might be in line with a traditional Thomistic notion of prudence ”the virtue of applying immutable first principles to historically variant situations” Hooper chose to ascribe to him a Lonerganian notion of historical consciousness and then declare it “underdeveloped.” However, the more reasonable interpretation is that Murray believed that Leo’s church-state theory could be defended as a prudential judgment that applied trans-temporal principles to a unique historical situation that no longer held. This was the crux of a series of lengthy articles Murray had written on Leo XIII in the mid-1950s … But the significant point here is that Murray could easily enough agree with Leo that some theological and moral affirmations are not historically contingent and still take seriously the notion of historical development and even an idea such as “historical consciousness.” But, of course, he would not necessarily mean by the term what Hooper or Lonergan do. If Murray’s use of Lonergan’s notion of “historical consciousness” is undeveloped as late as 1967, one might fairly wonder whether Murray really came to believe that “one cannot (and should not) aprioristically claim the eternal validity of any political philosophy or rights theory, or, for that matter, of any ethical theory regarding social reality, familial structuring, common moral affirmations, or even the principles of justice themselves.”” [Emphasis added]

In any event, historical consciousness is considered by some prominent progressive Catholic commentators to be an advance over the ideas of 19th century thinkers like Cardinal Newman, such as Fr. Thomas Reese S.J. (Fr. Reese)[49]:   

The bishops at the synod on the family will not change any doctrines, according to reports from the Vatican Press Office on the second day of their discussions …

Jesuit Fr. Bernard Lonergan, the great 20th-century expert in theological method, is turning over in his grave. Hearing such language, Lonergan would have said that the bishops are caught in classical mentality and have not moved into a historical consciousness

Oversimplifying, the classical mentality comes from the Greeks (Plato and Aristotle), who believed that the perfect is unchanging. If God is perfect, he is unchanging. Truth must also be unchanging.

A modern, historical consciousness recognizes that everything changes, even church teaching. The church’s teaching on usury (interest) changed, the church’s teaching on capital punishment has changed, and the church’s teaching on religious liberty was changed at the Second Vatican Council …

Perhaps bishops, guided by the Spirit, should just discern better pastoral practices and then leave it to the theologians to explain why they are OK.” [Emphasis added]

Historical consciousness, or similar ideas on the development of doctrine, have also been accepted and promoted by a number of progressive Catholic academic theologians. These include Professor Terrence W. Tilley (Professor Tilley), the author of the 2000 book Inventing Catholic Tradition, of whom it can be said that he envisions[50]:

“Catholic tradition as a continual re-invention of the practice of the Catholic faith, without enduring doctrinal truth.” [Emphasis added]

Another such academic theologian is Professor John E. Thiel, the author of the 2000 book Senses of Tradition: Continuity and Development in Catholic Faith, of whom it can be said[51]:

“Thiel’s account of tradition, while more theologically nuanced than Tilley’s, reduces in the end to Tilley’s. For both, tradition is inevitably the site of contradictory breaks and ruptures, and for both the result is an antidogmatic view of the content of revelation, prior to the eschaton”. [Emphasis added]

And yet another is Professor Lieven Boeve, the author of the 2003 book Interrupting Tradition: An Essay on Christian Faith in a Postmodern Context, of whom it can be said[52]:  

“For Boeve, in the conceptual expressions of Christian faith, there is nothing enduring that transcends the particularity of the present moment and the present context.” [Emphasis added]

This conception of historical consciousness is, as can be seen, not the magisterial Catholic doctrine on the development of doctrine. It is however a competing and opposed theory on the development of doctrine, such that the reason why it is utterly inconsistent with the Catholic faith deserves some attention here, if only briefly.

The first witness which can be brought against historical consciousness is that, despite its proponents’ view that historical consciousness is a modern idea which represents an advance of 19th century thinkers such as Cardinal Newman, it in its essentials pre-dates Cardinal Newman and its flaws were anticipated by him in his Essay[53]:

“One of these is to the effect that Christianity has even changed from the first and ever accommodates itself to the circumstances of times and seasons; but it is difficult to understand how such a view is compatible with the special idea of revealed truth, and in fact its advocates more or less abandon, or tend to abandon the supernatural claims of Christianity; so it need no detain us here.” [Emphasis added]

Since Cardinal Newman and in response to the more theologically sophisticated applications of the concept of historical consciousness as found in the writings of modern academic theologians such as Professor Tilley, further witnesses to its flaws can be found in both Vatican II and the New Testament itself, as outlined by conservative[54] Catholic academic theologian Professor Matthew Levering (Professor Levering)[55]:

“… Dei Verbum’s description of Tradition … “Tradition transmits in its entirety the word of God which has been entrusted to the apostles by Christ the Lord and the Holy Spirit.” … On this view, Tradition involves two aspects: an enduring doctrinal and moral content (“the word of God”) and the mediation of divine revelation (“entrusted to the apostles by Christ the Lord and the Holy Spirit”) rather than merely of human invention. Thus Jesus warns against displacing the “commandment of God” by means of human “tradition” (Matt. 15:3), while Paul urges the Corinthians to “maintain the traditions even as I have delivered them to you” (1 Cor. 11:2) …

Jesus intends for his Church to proclaim the content of the gospel, of divine revelation. This proclamation will not always be well received: “They will lay their hands on you and persecute you … This will be a time for you to bear testimony” (Luke 21:12-13) …

Tilley agrees tradition is necessary, but he eviscerates both it and divine revelation of the power to communicate enduring truth … Tilley advocates the kind of ever changing human “tradition” that Jesus and Paul, in the New Testament, are at pains to reject. Tilley’s inability adequately to identify God as the active and authoritative source of the gospel’s doctrinal and moral teachings is one of the factors that produce his misreading of Catholic Tradition. He reduces Catholic Tradition to humanly constructed, timebound claims about the community and its ever-changing “authenticity,” to the exclusion of divinely revealed truths about the Triune God, Jesus Christ, creation, the moral law, and so on.” [Emphasis added]


[1] Cf Mark 12:28-31 and Luke 10:25-28.

[2] Nicholas Lash, Change in Focus: A Study of Doctrinal Change and Continuity, London, U.K, Sheed and Ward, 1973, Page 17.

[3] St Augustine, ‘Homily 7 on the First Epistle of John’,

[4] Gianni Valente, ‘Vatican prefect fires broadside at traditionalists’, November 2012,

[5] Augustinus, ‘Francis endorses the “hermeneutic of reform in continuity” Papal letter praises critic of “Bologna School” as “best interpreter of the Second Vatican Council”’, November 2013,

[6] Ibid.

[7] Pope Benedict XVI, ‘Christmas Address of His Holiness Benedict XVI to the Roman Curia’, 22 December 2005,

[8] At footnote 6.

[9] Pope Benedict XVI, ‘Address to participants in the Conference organised by the Congregation for the Clergy’, 12 March 2010,

[10] John T. Noonan, Jr, A Church That Can and Cannot Change: The Development of Catholic Moral Teaching, Notre Dame, IN, U.S.A, University of Notre Dame Press, 2005, Chapter 1.

[11] At Paragraphs 4; 27-28.

[12] John T. Noonan, Jr, A Church That Can and Cannot Change: The Development of Catholic Moral Teaching, Notre Dame, IN, U.S.A, University of Notre Dame Press, 2005, Page 226.

[13] Jaroslav Pelikan, Development of Christian Doctrine: Some Historical Prolegomena, New Haven, Conn., U.S.A, Yale University Press, 1969, Page 2.

[14] Fr Antonio Spadaro SJ, ‘Walking Together: Francis in conversation with Jesuits in Canada’, August 2022,

[15] Jacob N. Van Sickle, ‘Apologia pro Commonitorium Sua: Vincent and the Modern Theorists of Doctrinal Development.’, Presented at the annual meeting of the North American Patristics Society in Chicago, IL, U.S.A, 25 May 2013, Page 13.

[16] Jaroslav Pelikan, Development of Christian Doctrine: Some Historical Prolegomena, New Haven, Conn., U.S.A, Yale University Press, 1969, Page 54.

[17] John Henry Newman, An Essay on the Development of Christian Doctrine, London, U.K, Basil Montagu Pickering, 1878, Page 10.

[18] St. Vincent’s Commonitorium at Chapter 2. 

[19] St. Vincent’s Commonitorium at Chapter 23.

[20] Thomas G. Guarino, ‘Tradition and Doctrinal Development: Can Vincent of Lerins Still Teach the Church?’, Theological Studies, Volume 67, Number 1, February 2006, Page 45,

[21] At chapter 4.

[22] Thomas G. Guarino, Vincent of Lerins and the Development of Christian Doctrine, Grand Rapids, MI, U.S.A, Baker Academic, 2013, Page 16.

[23] Thomas G. Guarino, ‘Tradition and Doctrinal Development: Can Vincent of Lerins Still Teach the Church?’, Theological Studies, Volume 67, Number 1, February 2006, Page 38,

[24] John T. Noonan, Jr, A Church That Can and Cannot Change: The Development of Catholic Moral Teaching, Notre Dame, IN, U.S.A, University of Notre Dame Press, 2005, Chapter 1.

[25] Thomas G. Guarino, ‘Tradition and Doctrinal Development: Can Vincent of Lerins Still Teach the Church?’, Theological Studies, Volume 67, Number 1, February 2006, Page 37,

[26] CDF’s June 2007 document ‘Reponses to Some Questions Regarding Certain Aspects of the Doctrine on the Church’ at Question Five.

[27] John Henry Newman, An Essay on the Development of Christian Doctrine, London, U.K, Basil Montagu Pickering, 1878, Introduction.

[28] James Gaffney, John Henry Newman: Roman Catholic Writings on Doctrinal Development, Kanas City, MO, U.S.A, Sheed & Ward, 1997, Preface.

[29] John Henry Newman, An Essay on the Development of Christian Doctrine, London, U.K, Basil Montagu Pickering, 1878, Introduction.

[30] Scott Hahn (ed), Catholic Bible Dictionary, New York, NY, U.S.A, Doubleday Religion, 2009, Page 119.

[31] Ibid.

[32] John Henry Newman, An Essay on the Development of Christian Doctrine, London, U.K, Basil Montagu Pickering, 1878, Page 78.

[33] John T. Noonan, Jr, A Church That Can and Cannot Change: The Development of Catholic Moral Teaching, Notre Dame, IN, U.S.A, University of Notre Dame Press, 2005, Page 221.

[34] John Henry Newman, An Essay on the Development of Christian Doctrine, London, U.K, Basil Montagu Pickering, 1878, Page 36.

[35] John Henry Newman, An Essay on the Development of Christian Doctrine, London, U.K, Basil Montagu Pickering, 1878, Chapter 5.

[36] Reverend George W. Rutler, ‘The Anglican Newman and Recent Developments’, in Jamie MacGuire (ed.), Newman and the Intellectual Tradition, Plymouth, U.K, Sheed & Ward, 2013, Page 39.

[37] Pope John XXIII, ‘Speech Inaugurating the Second Vatican Council’, 11 October 1962,

[38] Pope Paul VI, ‘Address of Pope Paul VI During the Last General Meeting of the Second Vatican Council’, 7 December 1965,

[39] At paragraph 8.

[40] Thomas Pink, ‘Conscience and Coercion: Vatican II’s Teaching on Religious Freedom Changed Policy, Not Doctrine’, August 2012,

[41] At article 1.

[42] John Courtney Murray, ‘Religious Freedom’, in Walter M. Abbot and Joseph Gallagher (eds.), The Documents of Vatican II, New York, NY, U.S.A, America Press, 1966, Page 672.

[43] Charles E. Curran, Catholic Social Teaching, 1891 – Present: A Historical, Theological and Ethical Analysis, Washington D.C, U.S.A, Georgetown University Press, 2002, Page 58.

[44] Peter Scott and William T. Cavanaugh (eds.), The Blackwell Companion to Political Theology, Malden, MA, U.S.A, Blackwell Publishing, 2004, Page 159.   

[45] John Courtney Murray, ‘The Problem of ‘The Religion of the State’’, The American Ecclesiastical Review, Volume 124, May 1951, Pages 327-352,

[46] John Courtney Murray, ‘Leo XIII and Pius XII: Government and the Order of Religion’, in J. Leon Hooper (ed.), Religious Liberty: Catholic Struggles with Pluralism, Louisville, KY, U.S.A, Westminster/John Knox Press, 1993, Pages 49-125,

[47] Charles E. Curran, Catholic Social Teaching, 1891 – Present: A Historical, Theological and Ethical Analysis, Washington D.C, U.S.A, Georgetown University Press, 2002, Page 58.

[48] Keith L. Pavlischek, ‘The Real John Courtney Murray’, October 1990,

[49] Fr Thomas Reese SJ, ‘No change in doctrine from synod, say bishops’, October 2014,

[50] Matthew Levering, Engaging the Doctrine of Revelation: The Mediation of the Gospel through Church and Scripture, Grand Rapids, MI, U.S.A, Baker Academic, 2014, Pages 144-145.

[51] Matthew Levering, Engaging the Doctrine of Revelation: The Mediation of the Gospel through Church and Scripture, Grand Rapids, MI, U.S.A, Baker Academic, 2014, Page 147.

[52] Matthew Levering, Engaging the Doctrine of Revelation: The Mediation of the Gospel through Church and Scripture, Grand Rapids, MI, U.S.A, Baker Academic, 2014, Page 208.

[53] John Henry Newman, An Essay on the Development of Christian Doctrine, London, U.K, Basil Montagu Pickering, 1878, Page 10.

[54] Gavin D’Costa, ‘Vatican II on Muslims and Jews: The Council’s Teachings on Other Religions’, in Gavin D’Costa and Emma Jane Harris (eds.), The Second Vatican Council: Celebrating Its Achievements and the Future, London, U.K, Bloomsbury T&T Clark, 2013, Page 105.

[55] Matthew Levering, Engaging the Doctrine of Revelation: The Mediation of the Gospel through Church and Scripture, Grand Rapids, MI, U.S.A, Baker Academic, 2014, Pages 172-173.

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