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Four Levels of Magisterial Teaching


The Magisterium is the living teaching office of the Catholic Church, whose task is to give as authentic interpretation of the word of God, whether it is in written form (Sacred Scripture), or in the form of Sacred Tradition. The Magisterium ensures the Church’s fidelity to the teaching of the Apostles in matters of faith and morals (See Catechism of the Catholic Church §890, 2033).

There are four levels of magisterial teaching.

1. The top level is the solemn definition, of course, which is infallible.

2. As the top level is the extraordinary infallible magisterium or solemn definition, the second level is the ordinary infallible magisterium.

3. The third level of the magisterium is based on the pope's teaching authority in a way that excludes further discussion, much less dissent. We commonly note this level in the encyclicals.

4. The fourth level of the magisterium provides moral certitude, that is, it provides safe opinions. (Moral certitude is that kind which generates actions on our part that are based on the typical judgments of prudent persons with common sense, balance and experience. They provide the safety factor in uncertain  areas of life.

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