A question concerning "infallability"


I am a recent convert. Sorry if this question has come up before. OK, A Pope can declare a doctrine as infallabile. How many times in history has this actually been done, and on what topics?:confused:


Here’s one:

  1. Immaculate Conception - In the Constitution Ineffabilis Deus of 8 December, 1854, Pius IX pronounced and defined that the Blessed Virgin Mary ‘in the first instance of her conception, by a singular privilege and grace granted by God, in view of the merits of Jesus Christ, the Saviour of the human race, was preserved exempt from all stain of original sin.’


The next after that, and the most recent, was Munificentissimus Deus in 1950, which proclaimed the Assumption of Mary.


Yep! Just those two times.

However, the Pope can and does make infallible interpretations of doctrine and morals too. For example, the restricting the use of artificial contraception is an infallible teaching given to us by Pope Paul VI.

The Pope can also give commands that must be followed, for example, the recent Motu Proprio freeing the Latin Mass issued by Pope Benedict XVI.



I’m confused then. On the one hand, it’s said that a Pontiff has invoked infallibility only in the 2 cases involving Mary. But, then you add the other case involving birth control.

What am I missing here? Thanks.


haha, no, the popes have only invoked infallability twice since the doctrine of infallibility was officially proclaimed. There are many doctrines of the church which are both infallible and predate the doctrine of infallibility (er, not predate, actually, since all infallible doctrines are true for all time rather than just forth from their temporal proclamation point).

That being said, a pope does not ALWAYS have to speak (or write) ex cathedra for his teaching to be infallable… He can codify a previously existing doctrine to update for modern times (ie - updating birth control to include aspects regarding the invention of condoms, etc)


In my post, I was trying to differentiate the pronouncement of doctrine and the interpretation of doctrine (faith) and morals.

One must also keep in mind that the doctrine of infallibility was codified by the First Vatican Council, some 4 decades **after **the pronouncement of the doctrine of the Immaculate Conception of Mary.

closed #8

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