Before ex-cathedra . .


I’ve heard that in the 19th century, a Catholic Church council declared that if the pope declared what he was saying to be infallible, and the council was present, then what he said was infallible. My RCIA instructor tells me that prior to this, many things were seen to be dogmatic which were later not seen as being so.

I am very curious what those things were. In the Medieval Ages, during the Reformation and during the early part of the Enlightenment before this council, how much of what the Church Magesterium declared was perceived to be dogmatic?


Vatican I made it clear that when the Successor of Peter spoke on matters of Faith and Morals, and intended to teach the entire Church, and specifically declared a matter to be believed by all. Then that matter was taught infallibly. This was a special chrism granted to St. Peter and all of his successors.

You will have to ask your instructor what things were at one time considered Dogma and then later not, because I do not know of any!

Everything taught by the Church as Dogma and Doctrine from the time of the Apostles, is still taught as Dogma and Doctrine today.


I think your RCIA instructor is a little off or maybe just somewhat unclear on this matter. The first Vatican Council in the late 19th century affirmed the infallibility of certain Papal Pronouncements and defined the conditions under which a pronouncement was to be considered infallible. There were some at the Council who would have made the definition less restrictive but their position did not fly. The Popes have the charism of Infallibility in matters of faith and morals since Peter became the first Pope. It was not an invention of the 19th century.

Vatican II affirmed that the Bishops gathered in Council with the Pope were infallible with probably the same restrictions.

That does not mean that certain matters of faith and Morals proclaimed before those two Councils were not infallible. Decisions made by Ecumenical Councils, of which there now have been 21, which were then affirmed by the Pope were infallible. Encyclical letters written by Popes down through the ages may contain infallible material, but are not in themselves considered infallible unless the Pope meets those conditions laid down at Vatican I.


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