Can Church Tradition ever err?

I hope this does not offend any of you. I am very interested in the Catholic faith, and my husband and I are seriously considering converting (we are cradle Protestants). We plan on attending RCIA very soon.

I come from a Calvinist tradition and was vigorously taught - and believed - sola scriptura**. I have read your articles about it, and I can agree with the Catholic position about the authority of the Church to teach and the application of Church Tradition. The logic is undeniable, and I find myself very much in line with the Thomists.

However, I have one nagging doubt: can the Church ever err in its Traditions? If not, how does one explain events like the Crusades? Or am I confusing Tradition with something else?

Thank you, and may God bless you.


Sacred Tradition or oral Tradition was all that the Church had to teach from before the New Testament was compiled. It cannot err because the Holy Spirit guards the Church’s authority from error in matters of faith and morals. To decide to engage in the crusades involved the pope’s practical judgment, but it did not involve of the Church’s teaching authority.

Fr. Vincent Serpa, O.P.

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