Church Authority and Errors

As Catholic doctrine says that the Church (ultimately the Pope and under his guidance, the Bishops) have the authority to interpret scripture and social and moral issues, and those interpretations can be infallible, how do we address errors that have occurred in doctrinal and/or behavioral areas in Church history?

The two biggest examples I can think of (and struggle with) are the sale of indulgences for a period of time (apparently sanctioned by the Church) and the behavioral issues with Priests (abuse scandels). I know we are all human and so can fail or make errors - but that is the point. And given this, isn’t there concern about conceding interpretative authority over scriptures to the Church?

Blessings,

Brian

Infallible: 1. solemn definitions of the Pope, 2. solemn definitions of Ecumenical Councils, 3. teachings of the universal Magisterium (the Pope and the body of Bishops)

Non-infallible: all other teachings of the Magisterium, including of the Pope, Ecumenical Councils, and Bishops, individually or in local Conferences

Fallible: the person of the Pope, the person of the individual Bishops, decisions of the temporal authority of the Church, personal opinions of the Pope, personal opinions of individual Bishops, writings of theologians, pious opinions of the faithful.

The sale of indulgences was never sanctioned by the Church, nor was the abuse of children ever sanctioned by the Church. Thus, the Church has not erred in either of these areas.

Did individual members of the Church sin and err in these areas? Emphatically yes. But the Church itself did not.

Neither of these issues involves doctrines of faith or morals. They are both examples of sinners behaving sinfully in the Church. Which the Church authoritatively admits may happen…

As you have acknowledged, the Church on Earth is made up of human beings—in other words, sinners. Sinful behavior (sexual abuse by priests, for example) therefore can have no bearing on the authority of the Church to teach infallibly. Why is that? Because Christ founded the Church and through the Apostles and their successors, meant for it to continue in order to bring men to salvation. He knew his Church would be made up of sinners. And yet about his Church He said “…thou art Peter; and upon this rock I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. And I will give to thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven. And whatsoever thou shalt bind upon earth, it shall be bound also in heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt loose on earth, it shall be loosed also in heaven.” (Matthew 16:18-19)
In order for the Church to bind in heaven, it must teach the truth. In order for this to be assured, Christ sent the Holy Spirit, promising the Apostles (that is, the Church):“But when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will teach you all truth.” (John 16:13)
Infallibility in the Church does not mean sinlessness. It is the action of the Holy Spirit preventing the Church from teaching error in faith or morals. You will find this article helpful.

Regarding biblical interpretation, the Catechism teaches:111 But since Sacred Scripture is inspired, there is another and no less important principle of correct interpretation, without which Scripture would remain a dead letter. "Sacred Scripture must be read and interpreted in the light of the same Spirit by whom it was written."
This is the same Holy Spirit who guides the Church into all truth. It therefore makes sense to look to the Church as the proper interpreter of Sacred Scripture.

Finally, a little about indulgences from this helpful article: The definition of indulgences presupposes that forgiveness has already taken place: “An indulgence is a remission before God of the temporal punishment due to sins whose guilt has already been forgiven” (Indulgentarium Doctrina norm 1). Indulgences in no way forgive sins. They deal only with punishments left after sins have been forgiven.
This comes under “binding and loosing.” I take seriously the indulgence printed in the front of my bible granted for reading Sacred Scripture.One never could “buy” indulgences. The financial scandal around indulgences, the scandal that gave Martin Luther an excuse for his heterodoxy, involved alms-indulgences in which the giving of alms to some charitable fund or foundation was used as the occasion to grant the indulgence. There was no outright selling of indulgences. The Catholic Encyclopedia states: "t is easy to see how abuses crept in. Among the good works which might be encouraged by being made the condition of an indulgence, almsgiving would naturally hold a conspicuous place. . . It is well to observe that in these purposes there is nothing essentially evil. To give money to God or to the poor is a praiseworthy act, and, when it is done from right motives, it will surely not go unrewarded."

are the sale of indulgences for a period of time

There was never a sale of indulgences that was the propaganda spread by Protestants.

Myth 7: A person used to be able to buy indulgences.

One never could “buy” indulgences. The financial scandal surrounding indulgences, the scandal that gave Martin Luther an excuse for his heterodoxy, involved alms—indulgences in which the giving of alms to some charitable fund or foundation was used as the occasion to grant the indulgence. There was no outright selling of indulgences. The Catholic Encyclopedia states: “*t is easy to see how abuses crept in. Among the good works which might be encouraged by being made the condition of an indulgence, almsgiving would naturally hold a conspicuous place. . . . It is well to observe that in these purposes there is nothing essentially evil. To give money to God or to the poor is a praiseworthy act, and, when it is done from right motives, it will surely not go unrewarded.” *

Wow, I can’t believe you think that it’s propaganda. Sadly, the practice did take place. The most authoritative Roman Catholic resource.

newadvent.org/library/almanac_thisrock94.htm
*
'This is to be distinguished from the undeniable fact that individual Catholics (perhaps the best known of them being the German Dominican Johann Tetzel [1465-1519]) did sell indulgences–but in doing so they acted contrary to explicit Church regulations. '*

To say the Church is perfect, but filled with fallible men…is an easy cop out. People sold indulgences within the Church, contrary to Church teaching, but the Church didn’t do anything about it.

Like Enron, Enron as a company wasn’t corrupt, rather it’s leader were corrupt. The corrupt leaders brought down the whole company.

If the sale of indulgences was wide spread, I’m sorry, but the Church, including the leadership had a role in it.

The quote you posted is contrary to what you state in your last sentence.

Amazing you quote the same site that I did that are opposites. Your quote was from a question and answer with no author. They do say it was from This Rock Magazine. This magazine is produced by the same source that I quoted as a myth. Ironic isn’t it?

The sale of indulgences is historical fact, just as the reformation is historical fact.

The matter was dealt with by the Church, stopped by the Church, documented and recorded by the Church…all as fact and having taken place.

No it is not an historical fact but an historical distortion.
Tetzel

History presents few characters that have suffered more senseless misrepresentation, even bald caricature, than Tetzel. “Even while he lived stories which contained an element of legend gathered around his name, until at last, in the minds of the uncritical Protestant historians, he became the typical indulgence-monger, upon whom any well-worn anecdote might be fathered” (Beard, “Martin Luther”, London, 1889, 210). For a critical scholarly study which shows him in a proper perspective, he had to wait the researches of our own time, mainly at the hands of Dr. Nicholas Paulus, who is closely followed in this article. In the first place, his teaching regarding the indulgences for the living was correct. The charge that the forgiveness of sins was sold for money regardless of contrition or that absolution for sins to be committed in the future could be purchased is baseless. An indulgence, he writes, can be applied only “to the pains of sin which are confessed and for which there is contrition”. “No one”, he furthermore adds, “secures an indulgence unless he have true contrition”. The confessional letters (confessionalia) could of course be obtained for a mere pecuniary consideration without demanding contrition. But such document did not secure an indulgence. It was simply a permit to select a proper confessor, who only after a contrite confession would absolve from sin and reserved cases, and who possessed at the same time facilities to impart the plenary indulgence (Paulus, “Johann Tetzel”, 103).

Believe what you want. :thumbsup:

You can believe what you want also but what you believe is based on Protestant history.
For the most part history is written by protestants who as the article above says are uncritical in their writings. Since, that is the view presented in most schools it is no wonder that Catholics do not know their own history.

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