Church Teaching - What is infallible and what is not


I admit, my own education here is lacking tremendously.
Is there any resource available that lists Church teachings and the weight of authority each holds? I know some things outrank others (Ex: The Trinity vs. Priestly celibacy), but I don’t quite know how the scale here works.
I would love to have open, honest discussions, guided by the Holy Spirit about issues facing our Church today, but some things seem taboo.
I feel that in some instances, questions, answers, and their implications have been exhausted and put to rest (ex: The divinity of Christ), but some can still be open to study, interpretation and pastoral care (ex: divorced and same sex couples). Where is this line drawn?

(I hope I have made my points relatively clear.)


Also, I posted this in moral theology because most of the questions I have in mind are of a moral nature: divorce, same sex relations, sexual revolution, social inequality, etc.


The Catechism of the Catholic Church is a good resource. Probably the best. If something’s in there, that means it’s official Church teaching.

You could also check out Ludwig Ott’s Fundamentals of Catholic Dogma. It does exactly what you are looking for by listing all teachings and their level of authority.

Hope that helps.


I hope I understand you clearly. there are dogmas, doctrines, exhortations and recommendations (most moral issues fall under doctrines anyway). so yes some teachings outrank others. but why worry about which one ranks higher in the first place when you can obey all?


As to “same sex couples”

That line was drawn from the beginning…

But as to the question of what is infallible - yes there are different kinds of teachings -which call for differing kinds of assent etc -but I would note for some readers - does not mean that one can then “pick and choose” what to believe.


I don’t think the OP wants to distinguish between infallible teachings and fallible teachings so much as he wants to distinguish between doctrine and discipline. Doctrine will not change or be repudiated, the things that can change are classed as discipline. Priestly celibacy is discipline. Abstaining from meat on Fridays is discipline. These are things that can be changed.

Another class of things would be areas where the Church has no formal teaching at all, and about which there can be legitimate debate and variance in practice. For example, the immigration reform debate which grips the United States in the present day. The bishops of the USCCB are pushing a certain agenda, whereas the Church does not have any specific infallible teachings about what the US Government must do with the immigrants. There are guiding principles, such as the intrinsic dignity of the human person, and the needs of a family to stay intact, that can shape the debate, but in the end, there is no single Church position on that issue.


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