Can Church Doctrine Ever Change?

There is this idea in many Catholic circles that “the holy teaching of Mother Church has always taught what it does and it will never change.” It is this idea that angers people when they encounter the Second Vatican Council, Popes John Paul II and Francis’ approach to the death penalty, or any adjustment to the public expression of faith.


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While there is definitely a sense of continuity in the teaching of the Church, that teachings are not dependent on the culture of the world but rather come from God and so are firmly rooted in Scripture and Tradition, the idea that the teaching of the Church never changes is simply not true. It changes in at least three ways.

  1. Teachings that are not explicitly explained in Scripture can develop into dogmas after many centuries of prayer and reflection.
  2. Dogmas can develop and be articulated in different ways over time.
  3. Doctrines and disciplines of the Church can change direction completely.

Before watching this video, it might be helpful to brush up on the different levels of the Church’s teaching authority, found in the video below, as this is critically important to the distinctions I make in today’s video.

Understanding Atonement Theology

We all know that Jesus died for our sins. It is a central teaching of the Bible and everyone who considers themselves Christian accepts this.

But how? Have you ever stopped to wonder what actually causes this? I mean, really. We say it so often, but what does it actually mean?

Over the years, many theologians have come up with answers to this question and the Catholic Church has never officially adopted one. We are left to wade in the deep water of the mystery of Christ, taking what we can from the truth and piecing it together.

Alone For Christmas?

The sad reality of 2020 continues on. After nine months of cancellations, closures, and tragedies, COVID is after Christmas now too. Time will soon tell how dangerous everyone’s Thanksgivings were, what with college students coming home, people still traveling in large number to gather in large groups. I pray that it will not turn out to be a devastating disaster… but I fear it will.

My hope is that we can learn our lesson before Christmas comes: please stay home.

But before you all attack me for being against family and tradition, that telling people to stay home for Christmas is the last thing a priest should do, let me off you this: this might be the most meaningful Christmas of your life. Stripped of all the commercialism and chaos, removed from the traveling and large parties, what we might just find ourselves with a silent night to behold, a simple evening of prayer to touch our hearts. We might just have ourselves a Christmas that captures the true meaning of the season.

In this video, I’d like to suggest that Christmas (and by extension, Advent) is more than just gift-giving and merry-making, it is an opportunity to realize that our world is fundamentally broken and in need of a savior. It is an opportunity to get in touch with our deep longing for new life, and to realize that that new life is already before us, and yet on the horizon.

We behold but a taste of the gift that is to come. Jesus came once 2000 years ago to begin the mission, but we still await the fullness of his glory in the new Jerusalem.

Things that Make you Say WOW

The world is an incredible place. All around us are mysteries of science and nature, dazzling us with their magnificence. Thanks to the internet, we have the opportunity to share them with the world.

In this episode of Upon Friar Review, I share with Fr. Patrick some of the craziest things I could find on the internet, things like the scale of the universe, human hair on an atomic level, crazy powerful shrimp, disillusioning sounds, and super slow motion impacts. It’s a pretty awesome episode.

Reacting to MrBeast

MrBeast is one of the most popular YouTubers today with 46 million subscribers. He’s also the most generous, having given away more than 2 million dollars in just two years. Not all of it is altruistic, but Fr. Patrick and I approve.

What do you think?