Skip to comments.Infallibility
Posted on 05/16/2012 11:39:02 AM PDT by Salvation
Christ gave to Simon Peter and his successors, the Keys to the Kingdom and the power of binding and loosing. To the Popes was given the authority to teach. To them, in this regard, was given the charism of infallibility. "Infallibility" is not "impeccability" -- the inability to sin. Catholics do not believe that Popes are sinless and never err. Infallibility is simply a gift that is expressed in very specific ways, limited by Sacred Deposit of Faith -- Tradition, Scripture, and the unanimous writings of the early Fathers. As put by Vatican I:
For the Holy Spirit was promised to the successors of Peter not so that they might, by His revelation, make known some new doctrine, but that, by His assistance, they might religiously guard and faithfully expound the revelation or Deposit of Faith transmitted by the Apostles.
Or, as put even more bluntly by Pope Pius XII in Mystici Coporis Christi:
[Nor] may anyone argue that the primacy of jurisdiction established in the Church gives such a Mystical Body two heads. For Peter in virtue of his Primacy is only Christ's Vicar; so that there is only one chief Head of this Body, namely Christ, who never ceases Himself to guide the Church invisible, though at the same time He rules it visibly, through Church rested not on Him alone, but on Peter too, its visible foundation stone.
The Pope may explain doctrines more fully, he may go more deeply into them, he can extrapolate from moral principles to shed light on new situations that arise, but he cannot contradict what has been handed down by Christ and the Apostles and still claim infallibility for that teaching.
Protestants believe the first Pope possessed the charism of infallibility.
Now, they might not believe that Peter was the first Pope (which he was), but they believe that his Epistles are infallible. They also believe that Luke, Matthew, Mark, Paul, Jude and John wrote infallibly. They believe that Moses "was infallible," too. And Hosea, Micah, Nehemiah, Isaiah, David, Solomon, Zechariah -- any Patriarch, Prophet, Apostle, or Evangelist who wrote a Bibilical Book is deemed by Protestants to be infallible.
But somehow they see things as having changed, and the idea of the gift of infallibility being given to man is laughed off as "Popish superstition" at best, and as "Romish sacrilege" at worst.
Why they believe this, when since Israel's origins God has always provided authoritative leaders, I don't know. From Abraham to Jacob to Moses to David to Solomon, et. al., throughout the thousands and thousands of years of Israel's existence, God gave Israel earthly authority. But Protestants see this authority as having abruptly ended when the Old Testament Covenant was fulfilled and Israel's King of Kings took on flesh.
For the priest's lips should keep knowledge, and they should seek the law at his mouth: for he is the messenger of the Lord of hosts.
The scribes and Pharisees sit on Moses' seat; so practice and observe whatever they tell you, but not what they do; for they preach, but do not practice.
Did that earthly authorty pass away? If not, where did that authority pass on to?
And I will clothe him with thy robe, and strengthen him with thy girdle, and I will commit thy government into his hand: and he shall be a father to the inhabitants of Jerusalem, and to the house of Judah. And the key of the house of David will I lay upon his shoulder; so he shall open, and none shall shut; and he shall shut, and none shall open. And I will fasten him as a nail in a sure place; and he shall be for a glorious throne to his father's house.
And I say also unto thee, That thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. And I will give unto thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt bind on earth shall be bound in heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.
The authority passed to Peter and to the priests of the New Covenant.
"But we don't believe that Moses and Jacob and David were perfect! Look at David -- he committed adultery! Just because they wrote infallible books doesn't mean they were perfect!"
Precisely. And Catholics don't believe that Popes are perfect and can't sin or that every word a Pope mutters is infallible. When David whored around, he sinned. When Solomon prayed to pagan gods, he sinned. When Peter denied Christ three times, he sinned. When Pope John Paul II kissed the Koran or failed to deal with heretic, Modernist Bishops and homosexualist priests, he sinned. Impeccability is not a part of the deal -- but all of these sinners had/have the charism of infallibility.
The Authentic (i.e. "authoritative") Magisterium of the Church -- i.e., the teaching office of the Church exercised by proper authority -- has different levels of infallibility:
Extraordinary Infallible Magisterium ("Solemn Magisterium"): this is exercised when the Pope, as supreme pastor of the entire Church, speaks ex cathedra (from the Chair of Peter) and solemnly defines a dogma concerning faith and morals to be held by the entire Church, or when a Dogmatic Council convened and endorsed by a Pope formally defines a matter of faith and morals to be held by the entire Church. This is a very rarely excercised assertion of authority (only a few times in the past few hundred years). When the Pope teaches using his extraordinary infallible Magisterium, or when a Council dogmatically defines something and the Pope endorses that defintion, Catholics must believe what is taught de fide, as an article of faith.
Ordinary Infallible Magisterium ("Constant Magisterium" or "Universal Magisterium"): this is exercised when the Pope, Council, Bishop, priest or any authorized teacher teaches in accordance with Tradition, the Sacred Deposit of Faith, and what has been always accepted and taught by the Church in the past
Merely Authentic Ordinary Magisterium: any teaching by Pope, Bishop, priest, or any authorized teacher, that does not fall into the above two levels of infallibility is, quite simply, fallible, even though it may be part of the Authentic Magisterium (that is, it is "authorized" teaching). Teaching at this level is owed obedience -- as long as obeying does not harm the Faith, lead to sin or the loss of souls, does not contradict the Faith, etc. If what is being taught contradicts the Faith, it not only can be resisted, it must be resisted.
In addition to Magisterium, the Pope can, of course, simply act as a private person and offer his personal opinions on anything from current events to sports to food to movies. These may be of interest to us Catholics, who tend to sensibly love -- or at least respect the office of -- the Holy Father, but they are not "Church teaching" in any way. In the same way, a Council may be called that is pastoral and not dogmatic in nature (such as Vatican II).
Now, some Catholics forget the second level of the Magisterium, the "Ordinary Infallible Magisterium." They forget the Sacred Deposit of Faith, the unanimous agreement of the early Christian Fathers, and Sacred Tradition. These "Catholics" are the "liberal Catholics" or "modernist Catholics" you hear so much from in the media. They are the ones who root for the ordination of women, the eradication of the Christian view of homosexuality, etc. These are the well-organized, well-funded loudmouth "Catholics" who eat away at the Church's teachings and have become well-entrenched in various dioceses.
Another type of Catholic forgets about that third level of teaching that is not infallible at all. Any time the Pope teaches, he must be heard, his authority given respect, and the teaching given the benefit of the doubt because it comes from the Vicar of Christ. But if it contradicts prior infallible Magisterium, it is not infallible -- and it must not be obeyed if it proves harmful to the faith. Catholics who forget this level of Magisterium try very hard to be "orthodox" by being obedient, but they often have a false sense of obedience -- an obedience that sometimes borders on a pre-conscious papolatry ("pope worship"), though, of course, they know better and know that "worshipping the Pope" would be a terrible sin. They usually have a very healthy sensus catholicus, a desire for traditional Catholicism, and a virtuous patience, but they simply attribute to the Pope authority he does not have and they truly need to come to a better understanding of what the Magisterium is. These Catholics are often called "neo-conservatives," "conservatives," or "neo-Catholics" (they often think of and refer to themselves as "traditional Catholics" though they are not). You will see these otherwise wonderful Catholics tying themselves into knots trying to defend some of the novelties that followed Vatican II, or sweating bullets making excuses for some of the Holy Father's more scandalous actions (e.g., "ecumenical" services that include praying with Animists, Buddhists, Muslims, Jews, Protestants; allowing altar girls and "Extraordinary Eucharistic Ministers", etc.), failures to act (e.g., lack of discipline given to Bishops), and opinions (e.g., support for the anti-subsidiarity, anti-life, anti-Christ United Nations).
Their desire to protect the Holy Father is understandable -- and laudable! -- especially since the papacy has been attacked so unfairly since the Protestant Rebellion and the ensuing secular revolution, most often with outrageous lies. But these Catholics have to wake up, study a bit, and defend true Catholic teaching as it has been known for 2,000 years.
If it has always been taught by the Church as a matter of faith or morals, it is infallible. If it is a solemn definition, it is infallible.
Ex., you are reading two Encyclicals. The first Encyclical reads:
Venerable Brethren, the red dogs runs at night. The cow jumped over the Moon. Jesus Christ is God. Little Jack Horner sat in a corner. Women may not be ordained to the priesthood.
In this document, the only parts which would be infallible would be the lines "Jesus Christ is God" and "women may not be ordained to the priesthood" because these have always been taught. This is teaching at the level of the Universal Magisterium, which is infallible.
The second Encyclical reads:
By the authority of our Lord Jesus Christ, of the Blessed Apostles Peter and Paul, and by our own authority, we pronounce, declare, and define it to be a divinely revealed dogma: that X, Y, Z. Hence if anyone, which God forbid, should dare willfully to deny or to call into doubt that which we have defined, let him know that he has fallen away completely from the divine and Catholic Faith. And, by the way, the red dog runs at night.
Notice the explicit "we define" here? Notice that it is addressed to "anyone," not just to members of the Latin Church or of the Eastern Churches, etc.? Notice the penalty in place for non-acceptance of what is being said (if you don't believe this, you have fallen away from the Catholic Faith)? By these marks, you can know that infallible teaching is being expressed.
In this document, X, Y, and Z are infallible, but not "the red dog runs at night." This is teaching at the level of the Extraordinary (or Solemn) Magisterium, which is also infallible and is to be accepted "de fide." (Note: Protestants and uneducated Catholics who ask blankly, "Is Enclyclical X infallible?" need to recognize that a 100-page Encyclical may be written that is not infallible in any way, or has 10 paragraphs that are infallible, or 1 sentence that is infallible, etc.). This sort of exercise of the Solemn Magisterium is very rare, but very necessary when clarity is needed over a teaching that has always been taught, but whose details haven't been strictly defined.
All other teachings are owed obedience as long as they do not lead to a loss of Faith, harm the Church, impede the salvation of souls, lead to an evil, etc.
Always been taught and believed: infallible
Solemnly defined by Pope or Council: infallible
Other teachings: fallible, but owed religious assent unless they prove harmful, lead to sin, etc.
In addition to the above authoritative excercises of the Magisterium is "ecclesiastical tradition." Ecclesiastical tradition is the body of disciplines and practices which Christ's Church has ordained to be the manner in which our Faith is lived out and expressed. To quote Brother Alexis Bugnolo, writing in Seattle Catholic:
Ecclesiastical Tradition is the term used by the Second Ecumenical Council of Nicaea, in 787 A.D., to speak of those pious customs of the Churches founded by the Apostles, which in some manner correctly apply the Catholic Religion to concrete practice over many generations. It does this most importantly in its 4th Anathema:"If anyone despises or rejects any written or unwritten ecclesiastical tradition, anathema sit."
Some examples cited by this council of ecclesiastical tradition are the veneration of the symbol of the Cross, icons, and statues. As an unwritten practice, kneeling for Communion is an ecclesiastical tradition.
The details of ecclesiastical tradition (small "T") are not a matter of dogma per se, but they are the inerrant manner in which dogma and doctrine are taught, learned, expressed, and lived. The details of ecclesiastical tradition may develop; they are not written in stone. But they may develop only slowly, "organically," in terms of quantity or quality (not substance), and in such a manner that is consistent with Natural Law and which better expresses the Faith (or at least doesn't harm the Faith, such as the novel practices since Vatican II do). Many of the problems in the Church since the Second Vatican Council stem from the almost complete eradication or revolutionizing of ecclesiastical tradition, in spite of the Second Council of Nicaea's anathema against such things and in spite of the fact that they have proven dangerous to the Faith.
Each time, The Church has survived and mostly inspite of itself, because God protects and God inaugurated the Church, his bride Eph 5: 23 For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church, his body, of which he is the Savior
As Christ said in MAtt 5:14 You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. and as +Paul reminds us Rom 12:5 5 so in Christ we, though many, form one body, and each member belongs to all the others. handed down one from the other 2 tim 2:2 And the things you have heard me say in the presence of many witnesses entrust to reliable people who will also be qualified to teach others.
For us God's Word, i.e. Jesus Christ is the One High Priest who we follow that is why we believe in what He taught -- and He taught that we must repent, believe, eat of His body and endure to the end.
God's Word i.e. Jesus Christ is infallible, the written word that is scripture is inerrant. the Pope as a person is Fallible, but only on occasion (twice in the past 200 years) has God's spirit directed or even controlled the person sitting in Peter's chair to state something that the Spirit deems infallible.
“Jesus Christ is infallible, the written word that is scripture is inerrant.”
‘the Pope as a person is Fallible,’
Indeed, we are all sinnners. (Rom. 3:23)
“, but only on occasion (twice in the past 200 years) has God’s spirit directed or even controlled the person sitting in Peter’s chair to state something that the Spirit deems infallible.”
Hebrews 1:1 (”God, who at various times and in various ways spoke in time past to the fathers by the prophets, 2 has in these last days spoken to us by His Son, whom He has appointed heir of all things, through whom also He made the worlds;”)
1 Cor. 13:8-13 (”Love never fails. But whether there are prophecies, they will fail; whether there are tongues, they will cease; whether there is knowledge, it will vanish away. 9 For we know in part and we prophesy in part. 10 But when that which is perfect has come, then that which is in part will be done away.
11 When I was a child, I spoke as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child; but when I became a man, I put away childish things. 12 For now we see in a mirror, dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part, but then I shall know just as I also am known.
13 And now abide faith, hope, love, these three; but the greatest of these is love.”)
As you see from these verses, I don’t agree with your premise.
Swamp: Same difference.
Wrong. Jesus is not a colleciton of books. We Christians worship Jesus, the true Word of God, we Christians don't worship a collection of books.
Scripture is inerrant as in it does not contain error, it is not "infallible" no more than it (or any other inanimate object) is fallible. Fallibility is of an animate object, in the ability to arrive at decisions.
The Bible is inerrant.
Jesus gave us a community, the Church to prevent this, that is why the Church remains true, 2000 years later, due to the work of Christ and the grace of the Holy Spirit and all the various errors have died out (the latest being the bunch of gay-led implosions we see)
Jesus gave us a community, the Church to prevent this, that is why the Church remains true, 2000 years later, due to the work of Christ and the grace of the Holy Spirit and all the various errors have died out (the latest being the bunch of gay-led implosions we see)
Now those armchair errors also lead to people quoting scripture out of context and out of place -- as Obama did and as your post does
Christ gave us the Church, the community, through which the collection of books called the Bible, under the grace of God was collected.
the Love of God is what has guided the Church through the centuries. The Love of God, and His grace is what provides the infallibility on occasion (twice in the past 200 years) has Gods spirit directed or even controlled the person sitting in Peters chair to state something that the Spirit deems infallible.
If you read the Bible, you should also believe in the True Presence of Christ in the Eucharist, just as Lutherans, Catholics, Orthodox, Orientals and Assyrians believe, indeed the overwhelming majority of Christians for 2000 years and today. do you trust Christ? do you believe His words? Then do you believe in the True presence in the Eucharist? If one does not, then one does not believe in Christ's words...
“Your post is utterly false in this part You folks adore and treat the pope, a sinful man, as if he is God himself. You laugh at, mock and despise Gods word but the the words of the pope you treat as infallible. — “
I was somewhat harsh. What I should have said is that the Catholic Church is somewhat lackadaisical is its treatment of the scriptures. Here are a few examples:
“The very nature of the Bible ought to prove to any thinking man the impossibility of its being the one safe method to find out what the Saviour taught.
[Question Box, 1913 edition, page 67]”
“the text of the Bible is not clear and conclusive on many points of doctrine on which it does treat, is efficiently proved by the very discordances of those who attempt to deduce doctrine from it without any other aid.
[George M. Searle, Plain Facts, Paulist Press, New York, page 23] “
“Again, it has ever been practically impossible for men, generally to find out Christ from the Bible only.
[Question Box, 1913 edition, page 70]”
“Second, ... a competent religious guide must be clear and intelligible to all, so that everyone may fully understand the true meaning of the instructions it contains. Is the Bible a book intelligible to all? Far from it; it is full of obscurities and difficulties not only for the illiterate, but even for the learned”.
[The Faith of Our Fathers, James Cardinal Gibbons, 1917, page 70]
“In other spiritual books the truths of the Bible are presented more fully, and in a more modern and familiar style, so that we can hardly wonder that they are, as a rule preferred; and that though Catholic families generally have a Bible, it is more venerated than read.
[George M. Searle, Plain Facts, Paulist Press, New York, page 154]”
“Akin to these divine laws is the purely ecclesiastical law or law of the Church. Christ sent forth His Church clothed with His own and His Father’s authority ... To enable her to carry out this divine plan she makes laws, laws purely ecclesiastical, but laws that have the same binding force as the divine laws themselves ... For Catholics, therefore, as far as obligations are concerned there is no practical difference between God’s law and the law of the Church.”
[John H. Stapleton, Explanation of Catholic Morals, Benziger Brothers, New York, Cincinnati, Chicago, 1904, page 26]
Question box -- that's not a source of the Church's position. No more than me posting an opinion from someone in the 1910s who was not a Catholic and asking you why you believe in that..
and "George M. Searle"< and James were posting their opinions, just as you are. That is why sola scriptura and individual interpretation is open to errors
Supposed if one said "What I should have said is that those outside the Catholic Church is somewhat lackadaisical is its treatment of the scriptures" like Obama quotes the golden rule to justify gay marriages
So why do non-Catholics play fast and loose with scripture to justify this, to justify their beliefs that Jesus Christ is Not God (Jehovah's Witnesses or Unitarians) or one of many gods (Mormons) or denying the Trinity (Oneness Pentecostals) or saying "God has no power over life or death, you have it" (Pentecostal preacher Jesse Duplantis) or saying "Abortion is a blessing" (anglican pastoress) etc. etc.
Do read the article before making such bounding errors
if you had read the article you'd see that your statements in that post and subsequent are utterly devoid of facts.
Thank you for your reply. Are you another person coming on to a Catholic thread to insult people & lie? What evil is in your heart that you are >driven to generate more discord?
What church do you go to? I consider it a very appropriate question >just by looking at the >name you have chosen as your Moniker?
I do believe, Cronos, that you be the one using >Catholic language inappropriately. I recommend you read the article.
+My advice is you throw yourself on the Mercy of God & ask Jesus Christ to transform you & give you >Humility (Included in Piety) which is a gift of the Holy Spirit.
Cronos you sound like a person that is consumed with sin & needs redemption through Jesus Christ. Cronos it’s time to get on your knees & acknowledge Jesus Christ is Lord & the real King. It’s time to give up your hateful-life.
Do you think idolatry counts when it is the Bible? Just curious....
I will not concede your point. The Catholic Church does think that God’s word isn’t sufficient for salvation and they DO put just as much creedence and faith in the writigs of mere sinful man.
The Catholic Church is just a guilty as the first century Jews in trying to write their own laws. The Jewish leaders felt themselves to be above the law of God and the Catholic Church does the exact same thing. Hence they try to add to and take away from God’s written Word.
“Let’s show you how silly you posting the opinions of someone and stating that as lackadaisical of Christ’s entire Church is a silly statement”
No, what’s silly is the the pope calling himself the vicar of Christ. You wanna talk silly, look at the Catholic Church and its teachings.
“So why do non-Catholics play fast and loose with scripture to justify this, to justify their beliefs that Jesus Christ is Not God “
Should we discard the word of God because men abuse it?
The world is full of sinful people and they try to use the scriptures to justify many things. Thats why God instructs us to study (2 Tim 2:15) All Christians were warned that many wolves in sheep’s clothig would enter the Church and lead astray.(Matt. 7:15&16) Not only that but Jesus told us that many of them would be part of the folk. (Matt 7:21)
Knowing that man are sinful, why would the Catholic Church put their faith in mere men like the pope? Why would you want to exchange, supplement, add to, or take away from the perfect word of God?
That is a gross mischaracterization that had its origin in the propaganda of the Reformation. The Catholic Church affirms that Scripture contains all that is necessary for Salvation. Going ever further, the Church teaches that Salvation van be found in the Gospels or even a few of the words of Jesus.
The original Protestant premise that Scripture Alone is all that is necessary for Salvation has morphed into a doctrine that claims that Scripture Alone shall be the exclusive source of Salvation. The Traditions of the Church, derived from the oral teachings of Jesus, the Apostles, and the Early Church Fathers were considered counter-scriptural.
"There are also many other things that Jesus did, but if these were to be described individually, I do not think the whole world would contain the books that would be written." - John 21:25
“That is why sola scriptura and individual interpretation is open to errors”
And sola papa can’t make a mistake huh? Yeah..., right.
You keep your sinful pope and I’ll keep may sinless savior and his “Perfect Gospel” and His loving Father.
You can choose to serve your pope if you want but I and my household,just like Joshua, choose to serve God.
14 Now therefore, fear the Lord, serve Him in sincerity and in truth, and put away the gods which your fathers served on the other side of the River and in Egypt. Serve the Lord! 15 And if it seems evil to you to serve the Lord, choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods which your fathers served that were on the other side of the River, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you dwell. But as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.
“That is a gross mischaracterization that had its origin in the propaganda of the Reformation”
The Catholic Church had to be reformed it was corrupt and it is still an apostate church.
‘”The Catholic Church affirms that Scripture contains all that is necessary for Salvation. Going ever further, the Church teaches that Salvation van be found in the Gospels or even a few of the words of Jesus.”
If you believe that, then why add to God’s word? Get rid of all of the nonsense in the Catholic church and return to God’s word.
“The Traditions of the Church, derived from the oral teachings of Jesus, the Apostles, and the Early Church Fathers were considered counter-scriptural.”
The oral traditions of the Church is the GOSPEL thats what the apostles taught. That’s exactly what John is talking about in John 21:25.
You and I are to teach Jesus, the very same Jesus that the apostles taught. We aren’t supposed to teach the ideas, commandments, and theories and traditions of men. Matt. 15:8-108 “These people draw near to Me with their mouth,
And honor Me with their lips,
But their heart is far from Me.
9 And in vain they worship Me,
Teaching as doctrines the commandments of men.”
2 Thess 2:14-16 14 to which He called you by our gospel, for the obtaining of the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ. 15 Therefore, brethren, stand fast and hold the traditions which you were taught, whether by word or our epistle
As you can see from scripture, the oral traditions and the epistles were the same.
‘of course, all men are fallible, that is why sola scripture leads to Jehovah’s witnesses, Unitarians, Mormons, gay justification (like Obama).’
Are you saying God’s word corrupts?
“Now those armchair errors also lead to people quoting scripture out of context and out of place — as Obama did and as your post does”
What makes you more capable than others at quoting scripture or the Cathoic church for that matter? You just have a problem with God’s word. You don’t like what it says and don’t agree with it so therefore you try to discredit scripture. That’s a very dangerous thing my friend.
“If you read the Bible, you should also believe in the True Presence of Christ in the Eucharist, just as Lutherans, Catholics, Orthodox, Orientals and Assyrians believe, indeed the overwhelming majority of Christians for 2000 years and today. do you trust Christ? do you believe His words? Then do you believe in the True presence in the Eucharist? If one does not, then one does not believe in Christ’s words...”
Says who? The pope? Where is eucharist mentioned in God’s word? I believe in the Lord’s supper if that’s what you mean.
I believe the bread represents the body and the wine represents the blood. Matt. 14: 22-23 22 And as they were eating, Jesus took bread, blessed and broke it, and gave it to them and said, Take, eat;[a] this is My body.
23 Then He took the cup, and when He had given thanks He gave it to them, and they all drank from it.
I am saying that God's Word is Jesus Christ. It is man's fallacy in believing in sola scriptura that corrupts the written word so that you have Obama using scripture to justify gay marriage, so that you have unitarians, mormons, jehovah's witnesses etc., so that you have your own interpretation
Oh, I am very fallible as an individual -- as are you. The difference is that I believe God did not leave it up to individuals like you and me to fallibly interpret the written word, but to the community that is the Church
Now, God's community to which I belong, aka the Apostolic Church, we learn and pray God's word as a community