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[Image: St. John Henry Newman]

Development of Doctrine—a legitimate way to understand how the Church’s teaching appear different in different ages—has become a way to introduce innovations contrary to the Church’s perennial teachings.

By Darrick Taylor, Crisis Magazine, March 2, 2023

Darrick Taylor earned his PhD in History from the University of Kansas. He lives in Central Florida and teaches at Santa Fe College in Gainesville, FL. He also produces a podcast, Controversies in Church History, dealing with controversial episodes in the history of the Catholic Church.


Darrick TaylorThere is perhaps no other idea in the modern Catholic lexicon more popular but also more abused than “development of doctrine.” Modern awareness of social change has made it necessary to explain why and how the Church’s official teachings have appeared so different in different historical eras. But this very fact means that it is tempting to use the idea in ways that it shouldn’t be used.

Catholics of a traditional bent are likely more than well aware by now of how theological progressives use the phrase to suggest that “development of doctrine” can encompass things like the blessing of same sex unions or the use of artificial contraceptives. This article published by the Vatican News website in 2019, during the Synod on the Amazon, is a good example of this kind of thing. And we currently have Vatican apologists attempting to argue that the Holy Spirit is at work in the Synod on Synodality, that its “processes” are the channel through which doctrine develops in the Church. …

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