private judgment

One of the foremost characteristics of Protestantism, i.e., the claim that every man is competent to settle for himself the meaning of Scripture with regard to matters of faith and morals. Against this the teachings of the Council of Trent declared, and the Vatican Council reaffirmed, that "that is to be regarded as the true sense of the Sacred Scriptures, which Holy Mother Church has held and holds, and no one may interpret that Holy Scripture contrary to that sense." Against the claim of private judgment the Church holds that since she, under the guidance of the Holy Ghost, settled the canon of Scripture, and since the Scriptures are committed to her charge, she is the only lawful interpreter of them. The exercise of private judgment resulted in Protestantism, and it has been responsible for every division among Protestants since that time. It is at the root of every prejudice regarding religion.

New Catholic Dictionary

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