Nevertheless, that doesn't mean I don't have some more to say, and it doesn't mean that I'm convinced that I'm mistaken about what I've said. Sometimes the Big Boys are wrong. :-) On those occasions, it may not be appropriate for us little guys to try and tell them so. It's better to know your place. But even Sam Gamgee can see things more clearly than others sometimes, and while it may be too much to hope that I'd be in Sam's shoes (so to speak...!) I can still go back to the pub and have my say :-)
It would probably be a good idea - in terms of what I'm going to say here - to review his post more carefully. The first paragraph can probably be summarized thus:
It is very easy to simply let the Magisterium tell you what to believe. ... The Magisterium is not a substitute for critical thinking. It is not a substitute for the heart.I guess the only things I'd say here is "of course." But that is because that is not its function, and speaking as a convert who came to the Church because he found what she teaches to be the Truth, I'd say that this is hardly controversial. I also don't think that it's solely converts who wonder about why the Church doesn't address things like ensoulment or frozen embryos. I'd also say it's a bit ridiculous to respond to such a concern with a "who cares?" The one asking the question - you know, the fellow Catholic who really wants to believe the truth, not just formally, but materially - obviously does care.
Maybe more to the point, the Church consists of all sorts of people. Some are Augustines. Some are Aquinases. But some are Joe Sixpacks - guys who are the salt of the earth, working hard to provide for their families, faithful Catholics who nevertheless just aren't gifted for theology. They need help to know how they ought to think about such things. So who cares? Joe Sixpack, for one. He doesn't read the best theological and philosophical journals, and he doesn't read Philosophia Perennis, and all he wants to do is to be faithful to the Church's teaching.
So is it brainless for such a man to ask these questions? Is he childish or foolish for doing so? Absolutely Not. He cares about the answers, and for a very good reason, and he deserves better than to be told that the Magisterium isn't a substitute for critical thinking. He deserves to get the help he needs so that he can believe what the Church teaches. And if Apolonio doesn't think that such folks exist...I can introduce him to them. LOTS of them.
Now I'm going to jump ahead, because later Apolonio will suggest that Joe is asking the wrong question. That, it seems to me, is at least part of the point of his conclusion:
If you are to become Catholic because of a theology, get yourself a book and do not waste your time in the Church.Well, no, it's not a waste of time for the convert, and it's not a waste of time for Joe Sixpack. The heart has to be guided by the brain.
The heart is perverse above all things, and unsearchable, who can know it? (Jer. 17:9)That's why we've got to use our heads. And that's why Joe is 100% right when he wants to know the truth about ensoulment or frozen embryos. That's why the convert is completely correct to want (like any devout Catholic) to be faithful to the teaching of the Magisterium. Please note: I'm not saying that Joe is necessarily right to expect the Church to answer his questions in the form of a dogmatic pronouncement, but he's certainly within his rights to want help in answering an important moral question of our day. And it's not going to do to dump on him for that. So Apolonio is simply mistaken to the extent that he downplays the importance of such things. He may have his ducks in a row, but others don't, and sometimes they need to have them in a row. And just so you don't get the idea that I'm making this up :-)
It is this Magisterium's task to preserve God's people from deviations and defections and to guarantee them the objective possibility of professing the true faith without error. Thus, the pastoral duty of the Magisterium is aimed at seeing to it that the People of God abides in the truth that liberates. To fulfill this service, Christ endowed the Church's shepherds with the charism of infallibility in matters of faith and morals (CCC §890).Now if that is the Magisterium's task - its pastoral duty - it's just crazy to suggest that it's foolish or immature to expect it to fulfill that duty.
Yes, there is more to the Faith than this...but not at the expense of this.