Hello everyone,

I’m a new member here inquiring into the Catholic faith and have some questions regarding the proper authoritative sources according to the tradition:

What exactly is the extent of papal infallibility? Does this apply to everything he says/writes or just in specific defined moments or documents?

Do Catholics recognize the Catechism as being infallible? What about statements from the Vatican?

I know Catholics consider scripture and tradition to be necessary for understanding the word of God. Where do you read about the tradition? Are there any documents or books that I could access?

Do saints have any authority with regards to doctrine or are they simply revered as saintly?

What are the other significant sources of authority I should look into?

As you can surely tell, I have lots of questions because I just recently started my inquiry. Thank you in advance for your help!


Isaiah 1169

Each one can be a thread on their own. Papal infallibility does not mean that the Pope is perfect and that everything they may say or write is without fault. Papal infallibility mean that the Pope is protected when ruling “ex Cathedra” from error and that when there is an ex cathedra statement that it is binding for Catholics to believe. Ex Cathedra means from the throne which mean from the chair (or authority) of St. Peter. Infallible statements have only been used twice since Papel infallibility was defined by Vatican I. This is only done concerning faith and doctrines. The pope can’t wake up one morning and decide to make an infallible statement about anything he wants such as the earth is flat. The petrine office has some unique and special graces not found anywhere else and one of these special graces is protection of the pope in teaching and leading the Church in error and heresy.

Saints do not have any authority to teach from heaven. They are fully alive in heaven and they are available to take our prayer requests and help in intercession. I think a real good book for you to read is Jimmy Aikens “Fathers know best” which covers the first 800 years of teaching in the Catholic church and can explain how a number of teachings developed in the early Church.

HI! and welcome! :wave:

I would highly recommend you purchase a copy of the Catechism of the Catholic Church.
If you can’t buy one, you can also read it online.
That’s good place to get the basics explained, and then, if you want to research deeper you can always do a search here on CAF. I’ll bet most of your questions have been discussed at length in various threads.
Don’t let that keep you for posting questions though…there are lots of wonderful scholars here.
God bless you in your inquiries and always!

Another real good book for you is “Pope Fiction” by Patrick Madrid. It is an easy read and covers a wider variety of misinformation about the Papacy and Popes. Since alot of what you are asking seem to be concerning the Papcy and some of your questions reflect misunderstandings and misinformation, this might be a good book for you to start with.
I wish you the best on your quest!

As you can surely tell, I have lots of questions because I just recently started my inquiry. Thank you in advance for your help!


Isaiah 1169

Best regards to you also…if you have questions, post them one at a time…so you do not get overwhelmed with questions and responses.:thumbsup:

Thank you all again for your responses. The links and articles were very helpful. I will have to read through the pdf on church authority. I imagine it will answer most of my questions.

I realize that I should have just researched the answers to some of my questions before asking so my apologies for being lazy.

I had read about the pope being infallible when ruling ex Cathedra but I wasn’t sure exactly how to tell when that is the case. I suppose it has to be made explicit that it is an infallible statement?

I’ve read parts of the Catechism online and may pick it up. From what I understand, it is partly comprised of infallible doctrine derived from various sources but the document itself is not entirely infallible. There are a lot of footnotes in the Catechism so I assume that some of those sources are infallible while others are not but I’m not entirely sure which ones are and which ones are not.

It just seems difficult to me to discern when a statement is infallible according to Catholic doctrine.

The Catechism was written by Pope John Paul II. It’s pretty clear and correct. :thumbsup:

The Catechism of the Catholic Church itself is not infallible. It contains a summary of Church teachings, both infallible and non-infallible, and also disciplines.

It does NOT apply to everything he says or writes. It’s very specific. Here’s the definition

(all emphasis mine)

"We teach and define that it is a dogma Divinely revealed that the Roman pontiff when he speaks ex cathedra, that is when in discharge of the office of pastor and doctor of all Christians, by virtue of his supreme Apostolic authority, he defines a doctrine regarding faith or morals to be held by the universal Church, by the Divine assistance promised to him in Blessed Peter, is possessed of that infallibility with which the Divine Redeemer willed that his Church should be endowed in defining doctrine regarding faith or morals, and that therefore such definitions of the Roman pontiff are of themselves and not from the consent of the Church irreformable."

*]He needs to define a doctrine
*]It must be on faith and morals not anything else
*]to be held by the entire Church
[/LIST]Here’s an example of an infallible statement by a pope.

Re: subject of Women priests by JPII

“Wherefore, in order that all doubt may be removed regarding a matter of great importance, a matter which pertains to the Church’s divine constitution itself, in virtue of my ministry of confirming the brethren (cf. Lk 22:32) I declare that the Church has no authority whatsoever to confer priestly ordination on women and that this judgment is to be definitively held by all the Church’s faithful.”


Although in the CCC are infallible teachings.

In general …No

But we need to be more specific.

I’ll give you an example of an OT tradition that was valid in Jesus day that Jesus recognizes as valid, but isn’t mentioned anywhere in the OT. Matthew 23:2

In the NT “traditions” the ones coming from the apostles, can be oral and written. [**2 **Thessalonians 2:15](“ Thessalonians+2:15&version=RSVCE”) both are authoritative

btw, scripture is an example of tradition that is written

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