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This great fifth century fighter of heresy offered a formula for determining what Catholics must believe in the event of a rampant heresy. We must think that which has everywhere been thought in the Church, constantly been believed, and by all universally (Quod Ubique, Semper, et Ab Omnibus). Here are his words form his book Commonitorium:
“I have actually continually given the best pains and also diligence to inquiring, from the biggest feasible number of guys exceptional in holiness and in doctrine, exactly how I can secure a form of resolved and, as it were, basic, guiding principle for differentiating the true Catholic Faith from the degraded falsehoods of heresy.
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“And the answer that I receive is always to this effect: That if I wish, or indeed if anyone wishes, to detect the deceits of heretics that aclimb and to avoid their snares and also to save healthy and balanced and also sound in a durable faith, we ought, with the Lord’s help, to fortify our confidence in a twofold manner, first, that is, by the authority of God’s Law, then, by the legacy of the Catholic Church.
“Here, it might be, someone will certainly ask: ‘Since the canon of Scripture is finish, and also is in itself abundantly sufficient, what require is there to sign up with to it the interpretation of the Church?’ The answer is that bereason of the profundity itself of Scripture, all guys do not place the exact same interpretation upon it. The statements of the very same writer are defined by various guys in different methods, so much so that it appears practically feasible to extract from it as many kind of opinions as tright here are guys. Novatian expounds in one means, Sabellius in an additional, Donatus in one more, Arius, Eunomius and also Macedonius in another, Photinus, Apollinaris and Priscillian in another, Jovinian, Pelagius and Caelestius in one more, and latterly Nestorius in one more. Therefore, bereason of the intricacies of error, which is so multicreate, tright here is great require for the laying down of a preeminence for the explace of Prophets and also Apostles in accordance with the standard of the interpretation of the Catholic Church.
“Now in the Catholic Church itself we take the greatest care to hold that which has actually been thought everywhere, constantly and by all. That is truly and effectively ‘Catholic,’ as is presented by the exceptionally pressure and meaning of the word, which comprehends every little thing nearly universally. We shall host to this rule if we follow universality, antiquity, and also consent out. We shall follow universality if we acexpertise that one Faith to be true which the whole Church throughout the human being confesses; antiquity if we in no wise decomponent from those interpretations which it is clear that our ancestors and fathers proclaimed; consent, if in antiquity itself, we keep following the definitions and also opinions of all, or certainly nearly all, Bishops and Doctors alike.
“What then will certainly the Catholic Christian perform, if a tiny part of the Church has cut itself off from the communion of the universal Faith? The answer is certain. He will favor the healthiness of the totality body to the morbid and also corrupt limb.
“But what if some novel contagions try to infect the entirety Church, and also not merely a tiny component of it? Then he will certainly take treatment to cleave to antiquity, which cannot now be led astray by any deceit of novelty.
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“What if in antiquity itself 2 or 3 men, or it might be a city, or also a entirety province be detected in error? Then he will certainly take the best care to choose the decrees of the ancient General Councils, if tright here are such, to the irresponsible ignorance of a couple of guys.
“But what if some error arises concerning which nothing of this type is to be found? Then he should perform his finest to compare the opinions of the Fathers and inquire their meaning, provided constantly that, though they belonged to diverse times and also areas, they yet continued in the faith and also communion of the one Catholic Church; and let them be teachers apshowed and exceptional. And whatever before he shall uncover to have been held, apverified and taught, not by one or two just but by all equally and through one consent, openly, frequently, and persistently, let him take this as to be held by him without the slightest hesitation.”
(The Vincentian Canon, in Commonitorium, chap IV, 434, ed. Moxon, Cambridge Patristic Texts