The Middle Ages were deceived by this huge forgery, but during the Renaissance men of learning and the canonists generally began to recognize the fraud. Two cardinals, John of Torquemada (1468) and Nicholas of Cusa (1464), declared the earlier documents to be forgeries, especially those purporting to be by Clement and Anacletus. Then suspicion began to grow. Erasmus (died 1536) and canonists who had joined the Reformation, such as Charles du Moulin (died 1568), or Catholic canonists like Antoine le Conte (died 1586), and after them the Centuriators of Magdeburg, in 1559, put the question squarely before the learned world. Nevertheless the official edition of the "Corpus Juris", in 1580, upheld the genuineness of the false decretals, many fragments of which are to be found in the "Decretum" of Gratian. 
[U]ntil the middle of the eleventh century the false decretals did not obtain an official footing in ecclesiastical legislation. They were nothing more than a collection made in Gaul, and it was only under Leo IX (1048-1054) that they took firm hold at Rome. When the Bishop of Toul became pope and began the reform of the Church by reforming the Roman Curia, he carried with him to Rome the apocryphal collection. Anselm of Lucca, the friend and adviser of Gregory VII, composed an extensive collection of canons among which those of Isidore figure largely. The same thing happened in the case of Cardinal Deusdedit's collection made about the same time. And finally, when in 1140 Gratian wrote his "Decree" he borrowed extensively from Isidore's collection. In such manner it gained an important place in schools of law and jurisprudence. It is true that the Gratian collection had never the sanction of being the official text of ecclesiastical law, but it became the textbook of the schools of the twelfth century, and, even with the false decretals added to it, it retained a place of honour with the faculty of canon law. 
Then St. Thomas himself states in reply to the question:
Of course St. Thomas said much more than this on the matter. Here are a few more examples from that section:
Objection 1. It would seem that human law should be changed, whenever something better occurs. Because human laws are devised by human reason, like other arts. But in the other arts, the tenets of former times give place to others, if something better occurs. Therefore the same should apply to human laws.
Reply to Objection 1. Rules of art derive their force from reason alone: and therefore whenever something better occurs, the rule followed hitherto should be changed. But "laws derive very great force from custom," as the Philosopher states (Polit. ii, 5): consequently they should not be quickly changed.
Obviously St. Thomas found the second and third objections to be viable ones for changing laws. As far as the response to objection one goes, anyone who thinks the Church taking four hundred years to revise the major disciplinary and liturgical laws did not take a lot of time obviously has a strange notion of "time." St. Thomas himself expressed the sentiment that "as time goes on it is possible for something better to occur for legislation." He also argued that laws ought to be changed "for the sake of a great benefit or in a case of a great urgency." And of course anyone with an active memory of the time period who is honest about it admits that there was a great sense of urgency -so much so that even Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre supported a reform of the liturgy initially. This factor will be dealt with in brief later on in this essay.Objection 2. Further, by taking note of the past we can provide for the future. Now unless human laws had been changed when it was found possible to improve them, considerable inconvenience would have ensued; because the laws of old were crude in many points. Therefore it seems that laws should be changed, whenever anything better occurs to be enacted.
Objection 3. Further, human laws are enacted about single acts of man. But we cannot acquire perfect knowledge in singular matters, except by experience, which "requires time," as stated in Ethic. ii. Therefore it seems that as time goes on it is possible for something better to occur for legislation.
Reply to Objection 2. This argument proves that laws ought to be changed: not in view of any improvement, but for the sake of a great benefit or in a case of great urgency, as stated above. This answer applies also to the Third Objection. 
This passage was brought to XXXXXXXXX's attention that very evening during which we discussed XXXXXX's book. The traditionalist argument ran that if such a principle applies to human laws in the secular sphere, a fortiori it would apply to ecclesiastical laws.
And of course the parts of St. Thomas which do not support the agenda of the so-called "traditionalists" -such as the ones this writer noted above- are simply glossed over.
Law is always bound up with both authority and precedent.
This is true. However, every change in precedent represents a novelty at some point. If tradition was so opposed to novelty as David Palm and his allies claim, then consider all of the things that never would have happened:
The reason for this is because (i) either novelty is not opposed to
tradition in and of itself or else (ii) the so-called "traditionalists"
in every area where they deviate from what is noted above are engaging
in ancient novelties of their own. The very acceptance of the above list
of changes is a tacit affirmation of the first premise; ergo David's thesis
for this section (and his entire theory which this thesis aims to support)
is confuted by demonstration. After all, everything they accept that differs
from what is noted above was at one time a novelty. And if novelty is ipso
facto opposed to tradition then no amount of time can change the nature
of what they accept unless somehow error can become truth simply with the
addition of enough time. This is the atheist "something can come from nothing
if you provide enough time" argument in substance.
Although it did not make it into the pages of The Wanderer, Mr. XXXXXXXXX did address this passage from St. Thomas in an original draft of his essay which he was kind enough to share with me. He states that St. Thomas draws a clear distinction between civil and ecclesiastical law and that the principle enunciated by the Angelic Doctor simply does not apply to ecclesiastical law. XXXXXXXXX makes the following distinction:
This writer does not disagree with DP here except in how he would apply
This provides the legal precedent within the Church that the changing of laws and customs is inherently prejudicial to the common good and ought not to be done except for the most grave reasons.
As far as what constitutes "grave reasons" for changing laws, that will be addressed later on in this writing.
The Catholic Church has experienced unprecedented change in every aspect of her life. Certainly those who made the changes and those who now defend them seek to argue that they were for the Church’s benefit.
Of course whether they have or have not been beneficial does not detract from the fact that they have been made. And obedience to the laws promulgated by the ecclesial magisterium is a requirement of the faithful Catholic in keeping with the common good of the Church. And inasmuch as DP and his allies by opposing themselves to the authority of the ecclesial magisterium are themselves undermining the common good of the Church, they are doing damage akin to any priest, choir director, or liturgist who free-wheels with the liturgy.
But as we see from the Angelic Doctor, it is not sufficient that changes to fundamental aspects of the Church’s life be merely beneficial. Significant changes should only be enacted either in response to some harm or injustice—and I hope that not even neo-Catholics will argue that the traditional Roman Rite, for example, just had to be completely overhauled because it was unjust or harmful—or if the changes will certainly provide “very great and very evident benefit” to the commonweal. And this is precisely where the post-conciliar statistics documenting the precipitous decline in every aspect of the Church’s life become highly significant.
Mark Twain once noted that there were three kinds of lies: lies, damn lies, and statistics. And anyone who knows even the rudiments of how statistics are gathered knows that they can be easily manipulated. Further still, there have been sociological studies on the Church's decline and in no case does the data fit the claims that David and his allies make. This will be touched on later in the essay you are reading.
For though the author has long sought to avoid addressing this fact, since David and his allies continue to make the argument from statistics, this writer will meet them on their own turf and demonstrate that their understanding of the sociological dynamics involved is as flawed as is their core theory that DP manfully seeks to defend in the article being responded to here.
Neo-Catholic defenders of the post-conciliar changes are unable to cite any obvious benefits at all, let alone “very great and very evident” benefits. It is also true, as I think all will have to admit, that so many customs being changed in so short a period has resulted in the “binding power of the law [being] diminished”.
Again, this presumption will be dealt with later on in this essay.
Isn’t it true that recent reversals in Church policy have convinced “dissenters” that their particular agenda will eventually be enacted, if only they hold out long enough?
It seems that the self-styled "traditionalists" are part of this group as well: hold out long enough and eventually "Rome will return to tradition" or some similarly arrogant presumption. Indeed DP's allies in their "suspension of obedience" by their holding out for a future declaration of a sedevacantist period are doing precisely what DP refers to here. What is disturbing is that an intelligent man such as David cannot see the obvious in this case.
Thus traditionalists are well in their bounds to say that the number and scope of the post-conciliar changes represent an imprudent breach with the perennial wisdom of the Church, which dictates the utmost care and hesitancy in changing even customs and practices, lest the common good be harmed.
Furthermore, St. Thomas Aquinas on his deathbed in making his proclamation of faith in the Real Presence of Christ in the Eucharist declared that if he had ever written "anything erroneous" on the Eucharist or any other subject that he submitted all of his writings "to the judgment and correction of the holy Roman Church" in whose obedience he declared in his final words to be fully in submission to. So DP and his allies in arguing against the magisterium by using St. Thomas' writings essentially find themselves opposed to the intention of the Angelic Doctor who presumed that Rome would correct him (if need be) not the other way around. That is sufficient to deal with David's examples from St. Thomas' writings.
Before moving onto the modern popes, let us touch a bit on a doctrinal teaching from the Council of Trent which the writings of the later popes must be viewed as in harmony with if they are to be properly understood. The teaching being referred to here is from Session 21:
It declares furthermore, that in the dispensation of the sacraments, the Church may, according to circumstances, times and places, determine or change whatever she may judge most expedient for the benefit of those receiving them or for the veneration of the sacraments; and this power has always been hers. The principle behind this teaching is that the Church has the authority to modify the application of the divine laws according to circumstances, times, and places if she judges this to be expedient. Nothing in what David will quote from the modern popes can contradict this principle. Oh and lest you forget, to change something is to innovate it. And to recap the last two parts of this essay, just as the evidences presented by David on "novelty" in the Fathers did not withstand scrutiny, neither have his evidences and arguments in this section on "novelty" in the Medieval period.
 Catholic Encyclopedia: From the article "False Decretals" (c. 1913)
 Catholic Encyclopedia: From the article "False Decretals" (c. 1913)
 St. Thomas Aquinas: "Summa Theologiae" Ia,Iae Q97 (circa 1270-73)
 Council of Trent: Session XXI "Decree on Communion Under Both Kinds
and the Communion of Little
Children" (c. 1547)
The citations from the Catholic Encyclopedia (1913) article "False Decretals"
were obtained at the following link:
The citation from St. Thomas Aquinas' "Summa Theologiae" was obtained
at the following link:
The citation from the Council of Trent Session XXII was obtained at
the following link:
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