Definitions for magisteriumˌmædʒ əˈstɪər i əm
Random House Webster's College Dictionary
mag•is•te•ri•umˌmædʒ əˈstɪər i əm(n.)
the authority and power of the Roman Catholic Church to teach religious truth.
Origin of magisterium:
1585–95; < L: command, control, lit., the office of a magister master
the teaching office or authority of the Roman Catholic Church.
Origin: From magisterium, from magister.
In Catholicism, the Magisterium is the teaching authority of the Church. According to the Catechism of the Catholic Church: "The task of interpreting the Word of God authentically has been entrusted solely to the Magisterium of the Church, that is, to the Pope and to the bishops in communion with him." Catholic theology divides the functions of the teaching office of the Church into two categories: the infallible sacred magisterium and the fallible ordinary magisterium. The infallible sacred magisterium includes the extraordinary declarations of the pope speaking ex cathedra and of ecumenical councils, as well as of the ordinary and universal magisterium. Despite its name, the "ordinary and universal magisterium" falls under the infallible sacred magisterium, and in fact is the usual manifestation of the infallibility of the Church, the decrees of popes and councils being "extraordinary". Examples of infallible extraordinary papal definitions are Pope Pius IX's definition of the Immaculate Conception of Mary, and Pope Pius XII's definition of the Assumption of Mary. Examples of infallible extraordinary Conciliar decrees include the Council of Trent's decree on justification, and Vatican I's definition of papal infallibility. Examples of infallible teachings of the ordinary and universal magisterium are harder to point to, since these are not contained in any one specific document, but are the common teachings found among the Bishops dispersed through the world yet united with the pope. Pope John Paul II specifically clarified that the reservation of ordination to males is infallible under the infallibility of the ordinary and universal magisterium of the Church, without issuing a corresponding extraordinary papal definition. This document, signed by then Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger, Prefect of the Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faith answers this question: "Whether the teaching that the Church has no authority whatsoever to confer priestly ordination on women, which is presented in the Apostolic Letter Ordinatio Sacerdotalis to be held definitively, is to be understood as belonging to the deposit of faith." with "Affirmative." It has been suggested that Pope John Paul II did this to remind everyone that the ordinary and universal magisterium is also infallible, and that an extraordinary definition is not necessary to make a teaching irrevocably binding and demanding of supernatural faith. In fact, the ordinary and universal magisterium is the usual manifestation of infallibility, the decrees of popes and councils being the extraordinary expression.
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