Can you help me answer these "accusations"?

Hope this is in the right section: A friend of mine and I are getting into a friendly debate. She gave me a list she got from a friend of “contradictions” popes have made with themselves and others. I’m young and never heard of any of these, but I know like the apparent contradictions found by atheists in the Bible, they are easily answerable and refutable. Can you help me do that? Here’s the list:

  1. Pope Victor in 192 first approved of Montanism and then condemned it.
  2. Marcellinus was an idolator; he entered the Temple of Vesta and offered incense to the goddess.
  3. Paschal II and Eugenius III authorized dueling. Julius II and Pius IV forbid it.
  4. Eugenius VI approved the Council of Basel and the reinstitution of the chalice of the Church of Bohemia. Pius II revoked the concession.
  5. Hadrian II declared civil marriages to be valid, Pius VII condemned them
  6. The dogma of the Assumption of Mary, officially declared on November 1, 1950, was rejected as heresy by Pope Gelasius in 495 , Not even one hundred years after that, Pope Hormisdas condemned as heretics any authors that taught the doctrine of the Assumption of Mary. Hormisdas was condemned as a heretic himself around a hundred years after that at the Sixth Ecumenical Council (680-681)

Can any of you help me refute these?

The burden is on your friend to prove these things with the official documents.

It’d be nice to have an explanation though, in case she finds something, and to be able to disprove them for her.
bible.ca/cath-peter=pope.htm She’s also shown me this, can you help me refute it? I am still new at this so my answers are probably not the best that there are.

As I understand it, (though this may be from a DIFFERENT case where a pope is claimed to have supported heresy,) this pope was pressured into signing a document which he hadn’t fully understood, and that document affirmed one of the principles of this particular heresy. However, he was not at all attempting to speak infallibly, and because he was signing under duress an anti-catholic can’t even say that this document expressed the pope’s actual opinion.

  1. Marcellinus was an idolator; he entered the Temple of Vesta and offered incense to the goddess.

I have never heard of this but on its face it looks like a “pope fiction,” it’s ridiculous on its face. But even if it is true: that would mean that the pope committed a mortal sin. We don’t CLAIM that they can’t sin; only that, if they are speaking to the Church in the name of the Church about a teaching of the Church, then he cannot speak ERRONIOUSLY. That’s all.

  1. Paschal II and Eugenius III authorized dueling. Julius II and Pius IV forbid it.

So what? That’s more political than anything else. If one pope forbade billiards, and another did not, I’ll bet these people would say the same thing! Two popes can reform the rules on any type of recreation they want, if they have the political sway to do so; it has nothing to do with defining doctrines. Whoever came up with this list clearly does not understand what we even MEAN when we say the pope is infallible; so why would we trust that he has proven a contradiction?

  1. Eugenius VI approved the Council of Basel and the reinstitution of the chalice of the Church of Bohemia. Pius II revoked the concession.

That is allowed. That’s the same thing as reforming canon law; different customs apply to different times, so the pope is perfectly within his rights in approving or declining particular ways of doing things according to his understanding of what is beneficial to the people. Again, the very fact that the maker of this list is seriously claiming that the pope declared a false doctrine – merely because he approved of a custom that another pope decided not to approve of – is ridiculous on its face. This list has absolutely NO credibility because it makes glaring mistakes like this.

  1. Hadrian II declared civil marriages to be valid, Pius VII condemned them

I have not heard of this; I will look it up.

  1. The dogma of the Assumption of Mary, officially declared on November 1, 1950, was rejected as heresy by Pope Gelasius in 495 , Not even one hundred years after that, Pope Hormisdas condemned as heretics any authors that taught the doctrine of the Assumption of Mary. Hormisdas was condemned as a heretic himself around a hundred years after that at the Sixth Ecumenical Council (680-681)

Pope Gelasius did NOT condemn the Assumption (it was already accepted by all Christians by this time, and it is most certain that no one would claim that this dogma contradicts anything in Scripture or Tradition, so the idea that a pope in 495 did is ridiculous. The truth is, he condemned certain heretical books that were written by certain heretics, and some of those books mentioned the Assumption; but the pope was not condemning the Assumption but the heresies in the books. These books also mentioned Jesus; but no Protestant would claim that the pope was condemning Jesus, just because he condemned a heretical book that happens to mention him. So why would they claim that he condemned the Assumption, just because the heretical book he condemned happened to mention it? It’s obviously because these Protestants are prejudiced against the dogma of infallibility, and they are just looking desperately for some shred of evidence that the popes are not infallible – even if they have to break the historical record into pieces and re-arrange it so that it fits their ideas to do that.

I hope that helps. God bless!
-Dmar198

P.S. You might want to pick up a book called “Pope Fiction,” by Patrick Madrid. In that book he deals with 30 claims like this one and he refutes them all. (There’s also a chapter dedicated to refuting accusations like these in Karl Keating’s book “Catholicism and Fundamentalism.”)

They’re fair questions for one discerning the faith. If she is challenging you on them, I would tell her you don’t know anything about it, but that your faith is not dependent upon any answer, good or bad, to those questions so you could care less. You already have experienced a personal faith in Jesus, and if she is going to try to take that away from you then you need to find other friends. Alternatively, if she is not challenging you, but making friendly inquiries there is good reason to look at the contradictions (her term).

1. Pope Victor and Monatanism.. Tertullian, a great Catholic apologist at the time, turned heretic wrote about an unnamed “bishop of Rome” probably Pope Victor who accepted then rejected the Monatanist prophecies. This is thin, and it’s the best my research gives. First, some might doubt the source. Second, the attribution to a bishop of Rome is still somewhat shaky. Next, it was never proclaimed dogmatically to be true - if so, document? source? A pope is allowed his private belief. It is publically condemed.
2. Pope Marcellinus the Idolater. He was forced to go through the motions and offer sacrfice under threat of his life. The church teaches that one can do this licitly for grave reason (saving your life) as long as you are not doing it with your will. The church, however, honors all the more those brave martyrs who chose rather to give up their lives than to do something that might lead others astray. Furthermore, Marcellinus repented and chose martyrdom soon afterwards anyway.
3. Dueling. Even if a pope had spoken on this subject, it is not a matter of faith and morals, so no infallible teaching can be made about it. Therefore, this could never present a problem to the faith so I’m not even going to research it. Popes can bind and loose as they choose. They’ve done the same with other things like games of chance or incineration of the dead.
4. Eugenius VI and the Council of Basel. Yeah, he approved it to meet, but the Council became schismatic and actually deposed the pope (as if it had that authority) and elected an anti-pope. Obviously, these actions could never be construed as the Church. Simply good or bad men doing bad things. Just because your a bishop or even a pope, doesn’t mean you can’t sin. In medieval times, if memory serves, there were popes who likely committed murder and who likely had intimacies during their pontificate. Certainly one pope was succeeded by his son. Recognizing that bad people sometimes led the church does not disprove the authority of the Church, however.
5. Civil Marriage. My research doesn’t find any sources on their takes on civil marriage. By itself, the topic is not one of faith and morals, and as such can be treated as the fencing case above. It’s just an act of the state to regulate certain laws dealing with the citizenry and is useful for archival/census purposes as well. Now, if it’s a matter as to whether a Christian can use civil marriage as a substitute for Christian marriage, that is a matter of faith and morals, but you would have to see both documents first. My faith tells me that if these documents are produced there will be nothing that goes against church teaching in them.
6. Dogma of the Assumption - Origins. Again, ask for proofs of this one. There is a Decretum Gelasianum that is attributed to Pope Saint Gelasius that has been proven to be false and written in the next century. Maybe your friend refers to something in that text. Pope Hormisdas is also a saint so he could hardly be deemed a heretic. Your friend has a lot of explaining to do on this one. Your friend would have to prove that it was the fullness of the doctrine that was condemned (not something like the condemnation of the celebration), and that it was clearly condemned by an official teaching document.

I hope this helps - all glory to Jesus! Amen!

The Church today does the exact same thing (both things).

The Church assumes any marriage to be “valid” until proven otherwise. This includes purely civil marriages, and also weddings performed by non-Catholic (and even non-Christian) ministers upon non-Catholic (and even non-Christian) couples.

Suppose two non-baptized atheists were married (with the full $25 package) in the “24-Hour Church of Elvis” (which actually existed for a number of years in my hometown of Portland, Oregon - Wiki it!), and they later separated and legally divorced.

One of them later converts to Catholicism, and wants to marry in the Church. This person must still seek an annulment (regardless of the silly circumstances of the original marriage) because the Church assumes any marriage to be valid until proven otherwise (and the burden of proof is pretty low in this case, but it must still be proven).

However, while the Church assumes the validity of any marriage, She condemns any (potential) exercise of Catholic Sacraments outside of the Catholic Church. This includes Baptism, BTW. The Sacraments properly belong to the Catholic Church and should be administered in accordance with Catholic norms.

So there is no dichotomy in accepting the (potential) validity of a Sacrament performed outside the Church while at the same time condemning the practice of doing so.

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