Does this refute Papal Infallibility?

  1. Pope John XII, in the “Liber Pontificalis,” the Catholic publication discussing the lives of the popes, states that “He spent his entire life in adultery.”

  2. Popes Innocent III, Gregory XI, Clement IV, Hadrian VI, and Paul IV all disagreed with papal infallibility.

  3. Pope Stephen VI (896) had the dead pope Formosus (891-6) tried, questioned, fingers hacked off, dragged through Rome and thrown into the Tiber river.

  4. Pope Hadrian II (867) declared civil marriage to be valid, but Pope Pius VII (1800-23) declared it to be invalid.

  5. Pope Eugene IV (1431) had Joan of Arc burned alive as a witch, but later Pope Benedict IV in 1919 declared her to be a saint.

  6. Pope Pius XI in 1929 endorsed Fascism and called Mussolini “a man sent by God.” However, before World War II, he warned people against Mussolini.

  7. The Vatican advised the German Catholic Party to vote for Nazi candidates. In 1933, the Vatican and Hitler signed a concordat, where the Catholic church swore allegiance to the Nazi government. Later on Pope Pius XI condemned Hitler.


Some of these things deserve further investigation, but some of these aren’t remotely papal infallibility.

Papal infallibility doesn’t mean the popes are immaculate. Popes can and do make mistakes. Papal infallibility is more specific, has technically has only been exercised twice in all of church history. A pope, for example, can sin (and they do since they are only men). Also, they can make mistakes on things (and they do that too – this is what Bl. John Henry Newman divided up from Papal Infallibility calling it “common infallibility”).

These doesn’t refute anything. Papal infallibility is legitimate.


But when a Pope makes a decision on the chair of Saint Peter (which in some of these cases the Popes did just that) he shouldn’t make mistakes on issues of faith.


Indeed. This has only happened twice in history – and these were in regards to things that had already been recognized by the Church, but regarded more as traditional understanding rather than direct dogma.


Please investigate what infallibility is and is not. It is a very limited usage concept.


And one of these, by Pope Pius IX , on the Dogma of the Immaculate Conception, actually pre-dated the actual official doctrine of ex cathedra infallibility laid out in the First Vatican Council.

But no Pope has issued a teaching ex cathedra since 1950.


Nope. Ordinatio sacerdotalis of St. John Paul II infallibly teaches that the priesthood is reserved only to men. All the criteria for infallibility are met.

As for prior to Vatican I, the extremely irritating bull “Unam sanctam” also infallibly defines that it is necessary for salvation that every human creature be subject to the Roman Pontiff.

Infallibility did not start with Vatican I, and the Assumption was not the last.


The doctrine of Papal infallibility itself is very confusing to me.


The Catholic Church has not always claimed that the Pope is infallible. In the Council of Constance it was decreed that the Council itself had jurisdiction over the Pope.

In the decree Haec sancta from the Council of Constance, dated April 6, 1415, we read the following:

This holy Synod of Constance, which forms an ecumenical council, legitimately assembled for the eradication of the present schism and for the unity and reform of the church of God, head and members, to the praise of almighty God in the Holy Spirit: in order to achieve the unity and reform of the church of God more easily, safely, richly and freely, ordains, defines, decrees, decides and declares the following:

First, this synod, legitimately assembled in the Holy Spirit, forms an ecumenical council and represents the Catholic Church in dispute, has its authority directly from Christ; everyone, of whatever estate or dignity, even if this be papal, is bound to be it in matters relating to the faith, the eradication of the said schism and the universal reformation of this church of God, head and members.

Similarly, anyone, of whatever condition, estate, and dignity, even if this be papal, who stubbornly refuses obedience to the commands, resolutions, ordinances, or precepts of this holy synod and any other general council legitimately assembled in respect of what is said above and all that has happened and is to happen in respect of this, shall, if he does not come to his right mind, be subject to the appropriate punishment and be duly punished, by other legal means should this be necessary. (Hans Küng, Christianity: Essence, History, and Future [trans. John Bowden; New York: Continuum, 1994], 466; emphasis added)

I hope this helps…


What is the point of infallibility then when there are so many contentious and disputed issues?


Wildly inaccurate assertions. OP should be ashamed.




These are historical things that happened, I did not make them up.


What’s confusing about it? All the teaching says is that the Pope is protected from teaching error:

(1) when teaching in his capacity as the supreme Teacher of the universal Church;
(2) defines and pronounces something in a matter of faith or morals
(3) to be definitively held by the faithful.

It is a preventative, negative protection. Infallibility does not mean whatever the Pope says is right, only that if the limited conditions are met, he will be prevented from teaching error. If he doesn’t do his homework, infallibility could simply mean the Pope will say nothing, rather than say something wrong. Worst case, it could mean the Pope can die before he defines error.

Infallibility has nothing to do with whether the Pope is a holy, educated man, or if he is a crook and a scoundrel. He can even be a closet heretic, but none of that will ever make its way into Catholic teaching.


Pope St John Paul II didn’t declare a new infallible dogma, but confirmed the one which had already been made from the 1st century.



And none of them met the limited criteria for infallibility. None of those were instances of the Pope attempting to definitively teach error to the Church.


I think the Catholic Church made a huge mistake in general to use a word which means one is incapable of making mistakes or being wrong.


The mistake is your misunderstanding of what Papa Infallibility is.



So you say. Yes, the male-only priesthood had already been part of the ordinary Magisterium, by which it is already infallible.

The Congregation or you can spin it any way you want, but all the criteria are met, and so the male-only priesthood is now infallible by BOTH the Ordinary and Extraordinary Magisterium. Pope John Paul II was very clear that he was exercising his Petrine teaching authority in a definitive manner for all the faithful. That is a textbook Vatican I example of a teaching protected by infallibility. All one needs to do is read the defining formula at the end of the document.


All this shows is that Popes are men like you, me and the rest of humanity. Some are good people, some are horrible sinners. Infallibility DOES NOT mean being perfect, incapable of sin, incapable of making a wrong judgement, always being on the right side of history, etc.

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