Theological Labels


Theological Label


Assent deserved

Opposite censure

Of Divine and Catholic Faith

A truth revealed by God and proposed by the Church as revealed.

Act of divine and Catholic faith.


Of Divine Faith

A truth revealed by God, but not yet proposed or not clearly proposed by the Church.

Act of divine faith

Error in divine faith

Proximate to Faith

Intimately bound up with revealed doctrine, if not revealed.

Assent of certitude.

Proximate to heresy

Of Ecclesiastical Faith

Infallibly proposed by the Church as true.

Assent of certitude.

Error in Ecclesiastical faith

Theologically Certain

A conclusion strictly educed from one revealed premise and one rational premise.

Assent of certitude.


Catholic Teaching

Taught everywhere throughout the Catholic world, but not necessarily infallibly.

At minimum assent of religious obedience.


Safe Teaching

Does not contradict any known truth.

Opinionative assent.


The above is taken from Van Noort’s Dogmatic Theology, volume 3, page 290. It differs somewhat from Ott.

4. Concept and Classification of Dogma

From Dr. Ludwig Ott’s Fundamentals of Catholic Dogmas, pages 4-5:

1. Concept

By dogma in the strict sense is understood a truth immediately (formally) revealed by God which has been proposed by the Teaching Authority of the Church to be believed as such. The Vatican Council explains : Fide divina et catholica ea omnia credenta sunt, quae in verbo Dei scripto vel tradito continentur et ab Ecclesia sive solemn iudicio sive ordinario et universali magisterio tanquam divinitus revelata credenda proponuntur. D 1792. All those things are to be believed by divine and Catholic faith which are contained in the Word of God written or handed down and which are proposed for our belief by the Church either in a solemn definition or in its ordinary and universal authoritative teaching.

Two factors or elements may be distinguished in the concept of dogma :

a) An immediate Divine Revelation of the particular Dogma (revelatio immediate divina or revelatio formals), i.e., the Dogma must be immediately revealed by God either explicitly (explicite) or inclusively (implicite), and therefore be contained in the sources of Revelation (Holy Writ or Tradition).

b) The Promulgation of the Dogma by the Teaching Authority of the Church (propositio Ecclesiae). This implies, not merely the promulgation of the Truth, but also the obligation on the part of the Faithful of believing the Truth. This Promulgation by the Church may be made either in an extraordinary manner through a solemn decision of faith made by the Pope or a General Council (Iudicium solemn) or through the ordinary and general teaching power of the Church (Magisterium ordinarium et universale). The latter may be found easily in the catechisms issued by the Bishops. In this view, which is the usual one, and which is principally expounded by the Thomists, the Truth proposed in the dogma must be immediately and formally contained in the sources of Revelation either explicitly or implicitly. According to another opinion, however, which is held by the Scotists, and also by several Dominican theologians (M. M. Tuyaerts, A. Garda F. Marin-Sola), a Truth can be proposed as a dogma, if it be only mediately or virtually contained in the sources of Revelation, that is, in such a manner that it may be derived from a Truth or Revelation by the aid of a truth known by Natural Reason. The Scotist view permits greater room for play in the formal action of the Teaching

Authority and makes it easier to prove that the Dogma is contained in the sources of Revelation but its validity is challenged on the ground that the Truth of the Dogma is supported not solely by the authority of the Revealing God, but also by the natural knowledge of reason, while the Church demands for the dogma a Divine Faith (fides divina).

Dogma in its strict signification cation is the object of both Divine Faith (Fides Divina) and Catholic Faith (Fides Catholica) ; it is the object of the Divine Faith (Fides Divina) by reason of its Divine Revelation ; it is the object of Catholic Faith (Fides Catholica) on account of its infallible doctrinal definition by the Church. If a baptised person deliberately denies or doubts a dogma properly so-called, he is guilty of the sin of heresy (CIC 1325, Par. 2), and automatically becomes subject to the punishment of excommunication (CIC 2314, Par. I).

If, despite the fact that a Truth is not proposed for belief by the Church, one becomes convinced that it is immediately revealed by God, then, according to the opinion of many theologians (Suarez, De Lugo), one is bound to believe it with Divine Faith (fide divina). However, most theologians teach that such a Truth prior to its official proposition of the Church is to be accepted with theological assent (assensus theologicus) only, as the individual may be mistaken.