Communion with Rome and infallibility

Just an inquiry: not for debating. The Catholic Church teaches that the pope can speak infallibly for the church ex cathedra and also that it is impossible for Rome to fall into heresy. How Ian it determined that pope had fallen into heresy? Is it purely by what they proclaim or is it enough to have , say, an Athiest or Buddhist or Arian pope?

Not exactly. Bishop Gasser (Vatican I) noted that Papal authority:

  1. is not personal: not as the person, but as the role of Supreme Pontiff, not because of the authority of the Supreme Pontiff, but due to the assistance of the Holy Spirit when acting in that role as supreme judge in matters of faith and morals.

  2. is not separate: not apart from, or opposed to, or set over against the entire Church, even though the promise of Christ of the aid of the Holy Spirit to the role of sucessor of Peter in matters of faith and morals is, in a sense, different than that of the indefectability and infallibility in truth promised to the entire Church.

  3. is not absolute since absolute authority belongs to God alone and it is restricted by the subject: what must be accepted or rejected of faith or morals.

See The Gift of Infallibility, Gasser, O’Connor, pages 44-50. This is the book on the relatio of Vatican I.

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  1. It hasn’t happened, so how would we know?
  2. A pope who declared himself an atheist or Buddhist? Do you really think that that might actually happen after two thousand years?
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Yeah sorry i guess i should ask more generally. How do you determine if a particular church (patriarch or bormal bishop) is ‘in heresy’ and would it matter if, for example, the bishop of a particular province was a pagan or heretic? Of course it would matter but would that mean that that particular province is in heresy or just that bishop holds unorthodox opinions- what would a bishop have to do to put a certain province into heresybif that term applies like that. Thanks for the response!

GOD bless

I think it may be good to go back in history and study the Arian heresy. From what I can tell, an idea is proposed…then picks up proponents and those against…then a council is called for…just like in Acts 15.

I think this video testimony may be a good place to start…the speaker speaks of the Arian heresy that befell the church…but only one see was not infected…this would be at around the 50th minute…

Heresy pertains to an individual, not a province. The bishop in charge of a diocese - the ordinary - can be removed by the pope for just cause, and teaching heresy would fall into that category.

Infallibility applies to bishops not as individuals but as members of the college of bishops, in union with the pope. Individual priests and laity, whose bishop-ordinary has been removed from office, would still be held to the same standard of belief. They would still be under the pope, and whatever successor he names as ordinary.

In ancient times there may have been periods when all communications to people came from their bishop, but today Catholics in diocese X are aware of what the Church universal teaches, regardless of whether the bishop becomes a pagan or whatever.

A better way to express Infallibility:
If the pope directly, specifically teaches something as true, on a matter of faith and morals, it will not be incorrect.

Keep in mind the pope might not know the answer to something; he might remain silent on that topic. Or he might be afraid of consequences if he proclaims it at this time (maybe it would start a war?) - or he is silent for other reasons.

Better not to say he “can” speak infallibly; if he does speak, it won’t be in error. Don’t think of it as a steering wheel, that can bring you where you want; think of it as a brake.

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