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Archbishop Lefebvre and Cardinal Burke
Pope Paul VI to Archbishop Lefebvre, concerning his refusal to accept Vatican II:
Tradition is not a rigid and dead notion, a fact of a certain static sort which at a given moment of history blocks the life of this active organism which is the Church, that is, the mystical body of Christ.
It is up to the pope and to councils to exercise judgment in order to discern in the traditions of the Church that which cannot be renounced without infidelity to the Lord and to the Holy Spirit—the deposit of faith—and that which, on the contrary, can and must be adapted to facilitate the prayer and the mission of the Church throughout a variety of times and places, in order better to translate the divine message into the language of today and better to communicate it, without an unwarranted surrender of principles.
Hence tradition is inseparable from the living magisterium of the Church, just as it is inseparable from sacred scripture. “Sacred tradition, sacred scripture and the magisterium of the church. . . . are so linked and joined together that one of these realities cannot exist without the others, and that all of them together, each in its own way, effectively contribute under the action of the Holy Spirit to the salvation of souls” (Dei Verbum, 10).
Pope Francis to Cardinal Burke, responding to his dubia about the Synod on Sydonality:
Therefore, while it is true that the Divine Revelation is immutable and always binding, the Church must be humble and recognize that she never exhausts its unfathomable richness and needs to grow in her understanding. Consequently, she also matures in her understanding of what she has herself affirmed in her Magisterium.
Cultural changes and new challenges in history do not modify Revelation but can stimulate us to express certain aspects of its overflowing richness better, which always offers more. It is inevitable that this can lead to a better expression of some past statements of the Magisterium, and indeed, this has been the case throughout history.
On the one hand, it is true that the Magisterium is not superior to the Word of God, but it is also true that both the texts of the Scripture and the testimonies of Tradition require interpretation in order to distinguish their perennial substance from cultural conditioning. This is evident, for example, in biblical texts and in some magisterial interventions that tolerated slavery...
It is important to emphasize that what cannot change is what has been revealed "for the salvation of all" (Dei Verbum, 7). Therefore, the Church must constantly discern between what is essential for salvation and what is secondary or less directly connected with this goal.