Newman’s Note on the Hermeneutic of Continuity

On Friday morning Father Edward Ondrako, Ofm. Conv. delivered a paper at the symposium entitled:  “Mary and the Church in Newman with and Eye to Coredemption.”  He was very insightful in bring to the fore the way in which John Henry Newman’s seven notes on the development of doctrine help us to understand the position the doctrine of Coredemption enjoys in the tradition of the Church.

I particularly latched onto the sixth note:  “The Conservative Action Upon It’s Past,” because of what I had said in the previous post about Vatican II triumphalism.  Here is Newman quoted by Father Ondrako:

A true development, then, may be described as one which 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 its characteristic as contrasted with corruption.

This is consistent with what Pope Benedict says about the hermeneutic of continuity, and what St. Thomas Aquinas said about using the Fathers in such a way as to interpret them favorably and to find ways to reconcile newer insights with the authority of the past.  Our age has much to learn from this.

It seems to be that this is all the more reason to continue defending the doctrine of Our Lady’s Coredemption and to be concerned about any interpetation of the Theology of the Body that holds the Church’s previous approach concerning chastity to be misguided.

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