Debate Help


How do I defend the idea of “women never going into the priesthood” to Non-Christians?

And how do I explain the pope being infalliable, while some being heretics?

I need some debate help…


I think at least part of the doctrine of Papal Infallibility means that it is impossible, in principle, for the pope to be heretical, at least in dogmatic statements. This is not because whatever the pope says (dogmatically) becomes dogma, but because the pope cannot (by divine grace) declare anything that contradicts what has already been stated dogmatically (which is what heresy is). I find the fact that, as bad as popes have been morally, none have gone so far as to redefine doctrine in ways that contradicted the received tradition – especially in big ways (when it might have been especially self-serving of the pope to do so), but even down to technical details. You would think that if the Church did not have the guidance of the Holy Spirit, over 2000 years popes (especially bad popes) would have declared as great a variety of theological positions as are seen even within single protestant denominations. But you don’t. I take that as confirmation of Papal Infallibility. The supposed examples of changes in doctrine are relatively minor (religious toleration, capital punishment), and all fall down under close scrutiny. Thank God for the office of the papacy.

So, if someone says popes have been heretical by supposedly declaring a doctrine inconsistent with (current) Church teaching, challenge them to produce an example.


One must also remember that the Pope and the College of Bishops have guarded the faith through centuries as it was given by Jesus to His apostles. John Paul II clearly spoke (paraphrasing) that he had no authority to change the rule of not allowing women to become priests. It is a very strong statment to me, when he said that that he had no authority


[size=3][font=Times New Roman]How do I defend the idea of “women never going into the priesthood” to Non-Christians?

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First you have to explain who God is. Then you have to explain Who the Church is. Then you have to define who mankind is in accordance with a worldview based on truth, not under the influence of false modern philosophies. Then you give an overview of Apostolic Succession, and the Primacy of Peter, and the gift of Infallibility. If, and only if, your non-Christian friends are disposed to the truth, and if you present yourself with gentleness and power, will they accept any explanations of an all-male priesthood. If not, get out of that debate, you are wasting your time.

Gender Roles, Male Priests, Equality, and Feminism

And how do I explain the pope being infalliable, while some being heretics?

The Pope himself is not infallible. The Pope, by virtue of his office, is infallible under very limited conditions:

*]When he speaks from the Chair of Peter
*]When he addresses the whole Church throughout the world
*]When he speaks on matters of faith and morals
*]He is, in his teaching, bound by Sacred Tradition (as defined by the Church, not fringe radicals), Sacred Scripture, and other encyclicals.
[/list]The opinions and statements of the Pope are NOT infallible.

No Pope has ever taught a heresy. NONE. There have been bad Popes. A whopping 3 of them. Out of 12 Apostles, 1 was corrupt. Out of 265 Popes, 3 were corrupt. A ratio of 12 to 1 compared to 88.3 to 1 is a vast improvement. Opponents of infallibility (teaching without error) often confuse it with impeccability (living without sinning). But even those corrupt Popes did not teach any heresy. They were corrupt, not heretical.


Isa. 35:8, 54:13-17 - this prophecy refers to the Church as the Holy Way where sons will be taught by God and they will not err. The Church has been given the gift of infallibility when teaching about faith and morals, where her sons are taught directly by God and will not err. This gift of infallibility means that the Church is prevented from teaching error by the power of the Holy Spirit (it does not mean that Church leaders do not sin!)

Matt. 16:19 - for Jesus to give Peter and the apostles, mere human beings, the authority to bind in heaven what they bound on earth requires infallibility. This is a gift of the Holy Spirit and has nothing to do with the holiness of the person receiving the gift.

Mark 8:33 - non-Catholics sometimes use this verse to down play Peter’s authority. This does not make sense. In this verse, Jesus rebukes Peter to show the import of His Messianic role as the Savior of humanity. Moreover, at this point, Peter was not yet the Pope with the keys, and Jesus did not rebuke Peter for his teaching. Jesus rebuked Peter for his lack of understanding.

Luke 22:32 - Jesus prays for Peter, that his faith may not fail. Jesus’ prayer for Peter’s faith is perfectly efficacious, and this allows Peter to teach the faith without error (which means infallibly).

*In other words, if non-Catholics argue that Peter ( and his successors) had no infallibility, they have to argue that the Father did not answer Jesus’ prayer. *Italics mine.

John 11:51-52 - some non-Catholics argue that sinners cannot have the power to teach infallibly. But in this verse, God allows Caiaphas to prophesy infallibly, even though he was evil and plotted Jesus’ death. God allows sinners to teach infallibly, just as He allows sinners to become saints. As a loving Father, He exalts His children, and is bound by His own justice to give His children a mechanism to know truth from error.

Gen. to Deut.; Psalms; Paul - Moses and maybe Paul were murderers and David was an adulterer and murderer, but they also wrote infallibly. God uses us sinful human beings because when they respond to His grace and change their lives, we give God greater glory and His presence is made more manifest in our sinful world.

Gal. 2:11-14 - non-Catholics sometimes use this verse to diminish Peter’s evident authority over the Church. This is misguided. In this verse, Paul does not oppose Peter’s teaching, but his failure to live by it. Infallibility (teaching without error) does not mean impeccability (living without sinning). Peter was the one who taught infallibly on the Gentile’s salvation in Acts 10,11. With this rebuke, Paul is really saying “Peter, you are our leader, you teach infallibly, and yet your conduct is inconsistent with these facts. You of all people!” The verse really underscores, and not diminishes, the importance of Peter’s leadership in the Church.

more at



Blood and Fire, regarding the infallibility issue, I learned lots from convert Tim Staples’ tape set (2 volumes) about the Papacy, although I can’t now recall the titles.
Anyway, when people start “splitting hairs” over the popes, Tim finds only 4 popes which, if they stumbled, gave a “chance” to disprove infallibility: Popes Liberius, Honorius, Vigilius, and John XXII (I think).

Tim takes each of these in depth in his tape, and builds an impressive defense for each pope, at least against teaching heresy. I particularly found the story of Vigilius to be almost “movie worthy”, so to speak.

So, if your friends come with a “papal heresy” example involving one of the above 4 popes, just find Staples’ tape set!

God Bless Us All!


It’s the “Sin of Adam.” Woman had no ultimate authority to betray. She wasn’t in charge. So men have to atone for the “Sin of Adam” as ALTER CHRISTUS, another Christ, the “Second Adam.” By one man sin came into the world, not by one man and one woman. This is a forensic, legal issue. Woman was not in charge. It would be as if a fan jumped on the field, grabbed the football and made a touchdown. It wouldn’t count just because the fan went through the motions.

God gave the Woman, her Genesis title, the one Christ used exclusively of His mother, her own, separate ultimate authority: crushing Lucifer’s head, that Father of Lies and Murder. As the Father of Lies and Murder, for the Gates of Hell, Lucifer’s kingdom, to never be able to vanquish Christ’s Church founded on Peter the Rock, Petrine Authority has to include the anti-lies and anti-murder, infallibility from divine inspiration and guidance.


Maybe it’s best to begin the conversation with some common ground.
For example - take the Psalms.
Would a protestant consider the Psalms “infallible”? - most would probably say "yes"
Was David -as a man - infallible? No.
But clearly - under certain circumstances - David was divinely inspired by the Holy Spirit to write infallible words.
Same with Moses - same with all the Old and New Testament authors.

We consider the Book of John to be infallible scripture (and protestants do too - don’t they?)
But we don’t consider John - as a man - to be infallible.

Once they see this comparison it may be easier for them to understand the infallibility of the papacy.
We don’t consider our popes -as men- to be personally infallible, but under special (and rare) circumstances- we consider them to inspired by the Holy Spirit, and at the very least PROTECTED by the Holy Spirit from introducing doctrinal error.

Another good point I recently read in Upon This Rock (Stephen K. Ray)
Jesus promised to Peter…“whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven…whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven…”

Now wouldn’t it have been more than a little silly for Jesus to make this promise without bestowing the gift of infalliblity upon Peter and his successors?
If Peter and his successor were not protected from error, then Jesus actually agreed to allowing heaven to be “bound” and “loosed” by imperfect, erroneous decisions made by imperfect erroneous men.

It doesn’t make sense that Jesus would allow such error to be introduced into heaven does it?


In regard to Women and the Priesthood, this thread had some great posts in it…



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