Ex Cathedra Proclamations


I was in a discussion with a Protestant friend regarding infallibility, more specifically, papal infallibility in ex cathedra proclamations. He asked me if I could give the latest example of such a proclamation. I know of John Paul’s *Ordinatio Sacerdotalis *(1994), but was this an infallible declaration? He also asked if there was an official list of infallible ex cathedra proclamations by the popes (all the way back to Peter). I know that most infallible doctrine comes by way of the Magisterium or ecumenical councils, however is there some definitive list of such papal proclamations?



An example would be when the Pope declares someone a Saint.


See these threads:

List of ex cathedra statements

Infallible Statements

Infallible Papal Statements

Criteria for Papal Infallibility


I would say *Ordinatio Sacerdotalis appeals to the Ordinary Magesterium and is not infallible per sey. Ludwig Ott’s Dogma of Catholicism is probably the best compendium of infallible declarations, though it is not official. It cites both papal and councilar ones. In general it has about 20 papal ones of which the Assumption in 1954? I is the latest. The immaculate conception is the other one in the 1800’s. Papal infallibility in the positive sense (acutal declaratoins is a rather minor doctrine). In the negative sense (not making declarations that are against Church teaching) is perhaps the more important part. Papal Primacy is actually from my standpoint a more important dogma. A pope is to be obeyed regardless of whether he is making infallible declarations because of his papal supremacy. Jesus told Peter “WHATEVER you hold bound …”. Not just faith and morals.

This official list road he is leading you down is a bit of a red herring from my experience with it.


The First Vatican Council (1870-71) defined Papal Infallibility as we know it today, including the concept of “ex cathedra” statements:

[quote=Vatican Council, Sess. IV, Const. de Ecclesiâ Christi, c. iv]We teach and define that it is a dogma Divinely revealed that the Roman pontiff when he speaks ex cathedra, that is when in discharge of the office of pastor and doctor of all Christians, by virtue of his supreme Apostolic authority, he defines a doctrine regarding faith or morals to be held by the universal Church, by the Divine assistance promised to him in Blessed Peter, is possessed of that infallibility with which the Divine Redeemer willed that his Church should be endowed in defining doctrine regarding faith or morals, and that therefore such definitions of the Roman pontiff are of themselves and not from the consent of the Church irreformable

Since then, there have been only** two** ex cathedra statements by popes:

The Declaration of the Immaculate Conception of Mary
Defined by
Pope Pius IX as dogma in the papal bull "Ineffabilis Deus"
December 8, 1854.

[quote=Pius IX, “Ineffabilis Deus”]We declare, pronounce, and define that the doctrine which holds that the most Blessed Virgin Mary, in the first instance of her conception, by a singular grace and privilege granted by Almighty God, in view of the merits of Jesus Christ, the Savior of the human race, was preserved free from all stain of original sin, is a doctrine revealed by God and therefore to be believed firmly and constantly by all the faithful.

Hence, if anyone shall dare – which God forbid! – to think otherwise than as has been defined by us, let him know and understand that he is condemned by his own judgment; that he has suffered shipwreck in the faith; that he has separated from the unity of the Church; and that, furthermore, by his own action he incurs the penalties established by law if he should are to express in words or writing or by any other outward means the errors he think in his heart.

[font=Arial]The Declaration of the Assumption of Mary
Defined by
Pope Pius XI as dogma in the papal bull "Munificentissimus Deus"
November 1, 1950


[quote=Pius XI, “Munificentissimus Deus”]…by the authority of our Lord Jesus Christ, of the Blessed Apostles Peter and Paul, and by our own authority, we pronounce, declare, and define it to be a divinely revealed dogma: that the Immaculate Mother of God, the ever Virgin Mary, having completed the course of her earthly life, was assumed body and soul into heavenly glory.

Hence if anyone, which God forbid, should dare willfully to deny or to call into doubt that which we have defined, let him know that he has fallen away completely from the divine and Catholic Faith.

[font=Arial]Hope this helps


[quote=Dobbs]…I know of John Paul’s *Ordinatio Sacerdotalis *(1994), but was this an infallible declaration?

Yes, it was, but it was NOT proclamed ex Cathedra (JP2 never issued an ex Cathedra statement). It WAS *later *declared infallible - NOT by JP2, but by (then) Cardnal Ratzinger. See this thread for the particulars.


Your friend might be legitimately inquistitve, but he also might be playing a game with you. If you give a list of infallible statements, he might ask is the list itself infallible. It’sjustdave1988 gave a great response to the where-is-your-infallible-list-of-infallible statements:

The problem is they view our Church as if it was like theirs. It isn’t.

Protestant scholars have referred to Scripture as a “fallible list of infallible books.” It’s quite absurd, but that’s how some Protestants see it. They often charge that we are not much different, asserting the view that Catholicism rests upon a “fallible list of infallible dogmas.” What they do not understand is, unlike their situation where they don’t have anyone to ask that can answer authoritatively to remove all doubt, we do. We have a living magisterium. We have the benefit of two-way communication. If theologians wonder whether a teaching is infallible, they just send a dubium to the Roman Pontiff. The Pope then sends a Resondsum ad dubium removing any doubt. Here’s an example regarding the ordination of women: cin.org/users/james/files/w-ordination.htm

We do not define what the Bible says, or what the Church teaches based upon the opinions of the Taught Church. We have a living Teaching Church. We don’t need to rely solely upon our clever exegesis of ancient Scriptural and magisterial texts to determine what the Teaching Church is teaching. We can simply ask.

So, whether a dogma is infallibly defined, or merely a certain doctrine (yet less-than-absolute certain), we owe our religious assent. Whether a dogma is understood as infallible or not is irrelevent, except for dogmatic theologians (and Protestants, appearantly). Faithful Catholics are to submit to their superiors whether they speak infallibly or not. Nonetheless, if we want to know if a doctrine is infallible, just ask the Pope.



It’s a rather hypocritical questoin actually. Ask them what are the “main things and the plain things” as Hank Hanagraph calles them and you get 100 different answers. One website lists three things and another 100. They say the Bible contains all that is neccessary for salvatoin but then in the next breath they say that most of it is not neccessary for salvation. John 3:16, just believe and be “born again” then your in.


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