(i) Church teachingThat might seem pretty clear, but it's worthy of close inspection. Firstly, it doesn't say that the ACP accepts the teachings of the Church. Rather, it speaks about not seeking to overturn the teachings of the Church. Furthermore, it doesn't simply speak about the teachings of the Church, but rather the "defined teaching of the Catholic Church." Are we to presume that that portion of the deposit of the faith which hasn't been codified into a Conciliar or Papal definition is - theoretically at least - open to ACP attack? Because not everything we believe as Catholics and not everything that is taught to us through scripture and tradition falls under the heading "defined teaching."
The ACP does not seek to overturn the defined teaching of the Catholic Church. Confusion between what the teaching of the Church is and what some present as the teaching of the Church has led to unwarranted assumptions. Confusion between the teaching of the Church and Church governance has resulted in some people suggesting that we do not accept fundamental Church teaching. Like all true Catholics, we know and fully accept the Creed.
By way of contrast, we might have a look at the Profession of Faith which is sworn by those who are about to be ordained deacons, those who receive the care of a parish as a pastor (parish priest) and those who teach in seminaries.
I, N., with firm faith believe and profess everything that is contained in the Symbol of faith: namely:I believe in one God, the Father, the Almighty, maker of heaven and earth, of all that is seen and unseen. I believe in one Lord, Jesus Christ, the only Son of God, eternally begotten of the Father, God from God, Light from Light, true God from true God, begotten not made, one in Being with the Father. Through him all things were made. For us men and for our salvation, he came down from heaven: by the power of the Holy Spirit he became incarnate of the Virgin Mary, and became man. For our sake he was crucified under Pontius Pilate; he suffered death and was buried. On the third day he rose again in accordance with the Scriptures; he ascended into heaven and is seated at the right hand of the Father. He will come again in glory to judge the living and the dead, and his kingdom will have no end. I believe in the Holy Spirit, the Lord, the giver of life, who proceeds from the Father and the Son. With the Father and the Son he is worshiped and glorified. He has spoken through the Prophets. I believe in one holy catholic and apostolic Church. I acknowledge one baptism for the forgiveness of sins. I look for the resurrection of the dead, and the life of the world to come. Amen.With firm faith, I also believe everything contained in the Word of God, whether written or handed down in Tradition, which the Church, either by a solemn judgement or by the ordinary and universal Magisterium, sets forth to be believed as divinely revealed.I also firmly accept and hold each and everything definitively proposed by the Church regarding teaching on faith and morals.Moreover, I adhere with religious submission of will and intellect to the teachings which either the Roman pontiff or the College of Bishops enunciate when they exercise their authentic Magisterium, even if they do not intend to proclaim these teachings by a definitive act.
It begins with a Profession of the Creed, followed by a statement of faith in "everything contained in the Word of God, whether written or handed down in Tradition, which the Church, either by a solemn judgement or by the ordinary and universal Magisterium, sets forth to be believed as divinely revealed." That's not simply "defined teachings", but also the truths of the Christian faith as passed on by the ordinary and everyday teaching of the Catholic Church.
The next section of the Profession of Faith recognises that the Church occasionally formally makes definitive statements in order to protect the deposit of faith. These must be accepted and held to. One wonders if these are the "defined teachings" that the ACP proposes not to overturn.
Finally, the Profession of faith speaks about the teachings of the Pope and the College of Bishop which are explicitly and legitimately taught, but not as infallible or definitive teachings. These should be adhered to "with religious submission of will and intellect." In layman's terms, they might be subject to modification and development in the long run, but they are worthy of the greatest of respect and support. In other words, when the Pope writes an encyclical, if you've sworn this oath, you need to respect it as proper teaching, even if you think it might be improved on.
Switching back to the ACP statement, Fr Hoban talks about confusion between the teaching of the Church and Church governance. He does have a point. There is a huge difference between the discipline of the Latin Church regarding clerical celibacy and the teaching of the Church that only males may be ordained to the priesthood. However, despite the clarity of Church teaching on this point, one often hears that the restriction of ordination to men is a matter of Church discipline and that the question is therefore open to discussion. That's a form of argumentation that seems palatable to many within the ACP.
Likewise, I've seen it argued that the Church can't really teach definitively on moral matters - that she can only teach dogma (the Creed and the like) and moral teachings are a matter of discipline and therefore subject to repeated revision and erosion.
When Fr Hoban writes, "Like all true Catholics, we know and fully accept the Creed." it sounds as though one can argue what one likes, as long as you don't contradict the creed. I'm pretty sure that anyone who's debated women's ordination, Humanae vitae and the like on-line with people claiming to be Catholic has been met with the question, "Where does it say that in the Creed?"
It's disappointing, but not unexpected, that the ACP has such an impoverished understanding of Church teaching and the work of the Holy Spirit within the Church.
Incidentally, if one were to confine oneself to Fr Hoban's paragraph about Church teaching, one wouldn't be left with much of a reason to value the Second Vatican Council. It's singularly light on what Fr Hoban refers to as "defined teaching".