And so I must disagree with Scott when he claims, without qualification, that our accepting certain teachings as authoritative has to do only with their truth, not with the office of the person or persons propounding them. In at least some cases, we recognize the truth of a teaching partly on account of the authority propounding it, in this the case the Magisterium. Otherwise the Magisterium would be superfluous, at least for the purpose the Church has in mind. I doubt Scott would disagree.As usual, Mike is right: I don't disagree at all. In fact, I'm quite certain that if one were to work through all of the posts I have put up on this rather complex topic (going back to last November and December, when Mike and I were discussing the development of doctrine), it would be rather simple to confirm that I see the consensus fidelium, here understood as a manifestation of the authentic Ordinary Magisterium, as an essential element in the confirmation of the authoritativeness of doctrine. Indeed, this is a point that I was emphasizing in my PAP posts, that it would be impossible to distinguish between orthodoxy and heresy if one did not rely on the authoritativeness of the Church qua institution. That Mike suspected that we disagreed on this point is arguably my own fault, since I do not have the gift for exposition that he evidently has.
So our difference, if it is one, is only this: I draw a distinction between the metaphysical question and the epistemological question regarding authoritativeness. One question, the metaphysical one, has to do with what it is that is constitutive of authoritativeness in the Church, that is, what is the ontological correlate that gives meaning to the term "authoritativenes". The other question, the epistemological one, has to do with how we can come to know that a teaching is authoritative, given that we are mere men and the people who fill the teaching offices of the Church are also mere men. On this latter question I believe Mike and I are, together, in full agreement with Cardinal Newman.
Although I don't think that we actually have any real disagreement in this matter, I am, as usual, grateful to Mike for his clarity of thought and the care with which he has stated our position.