By Felipe Salvosa II | CBCP News
October 24, 2023

Delegates arrive at the Paul VI Hall for the Synod on Synodality in the Vatican on October 21, 2023. ROY LAGARDE

VATICAN– The faith is immutable, but doctrine can develop and has in fact developed over time.  

This was stressed by Cardinal Christoph Schönborn, the archbishop of Vienna and one of the Church’s top intellectuals.  

The Bohemian-born Dominican, who taught dogmatic theology and headed the team that produced the Catechism of the Catholic Church in 1992 under Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, the future Pope Benedict XVI, on Monday parried questions from journalists covering the 2023 Synod of Bishops at the Vatican.  

Schönborn recalled that St. John XXIII “spoke of the immutability of the doctrine” at the opening of Vatican 2, the ecumenical council convened from 1962 to 1965 that introduced major reforms in the Church.  

He pointed to the Holy Trinity, the Incarnation of the Word, and the Institution of the Eucharist by Jesus as examples.  

“What the creed says is valid everywhere in the world,” Schönborn said.

“The apostles did not die for another faith than the 21 martyrs of Libya, the Coptic martyrs. They died exactly for the same faith as the apostles died,” he said, referring to Coptic Orthodox Christians beheaded by the Islamic State in 2015 and recognized by Pope Francis as martyrs in May.  

“The faith … transmitted by their parents and by their Church has of course enormously developed since the apostles. But it has not been changed. That is classical Catholic teaching,” the Austrian prelate said.