Ex Cathedra


#1

Under what conditions does the pope invoke “ex cathedra” (from the chair) ?

We know that when the pope speaks and writes about matters of faith and morals that he does so infallibly, so what is the point of ex cathedra?

It would seem that we have left ourselves vulnerable to dissenters who may claim that teachings for which ex cathedra has not been invoked may be changeable.

Relatedly, would it be prudent for the next pope to invoke ex cathedra on all of the hot button issues (abortion, contraception, ordination of women, homosexual unions, human cloning, embryonic research, human cloning and euthanasia) in order to put them to rest once and for all?

Thanks for your opinions !


#2

You may be interested in this recent thread: forums.catholic.com/showthread.php?t=49385


#3

It’s spurious on their part to claim that any of the things you list here might not be binding on Catholics because they haven’t been defined ex cathedra. The ordination of women has been infallibly declared and all the other stuff falls under the moral and natural law that is supposed to be written in our hearts, the perenial condemnations of the Church on those acts notwithstanding. If I’m not mistaken, the Holy Father once said something to the effect that the 10 Commandments didn’t have to be defined infallibly by any pope.


#4

[quote=JKirkLVNV]…The ordination of women has been infallibly declared
[/quote]

This is true, of course (per ORDINATIO SACERDOTALIS RESPONSUM AD DUBIUM). This teaching affirmed that the Papal teaching of Ordinatio Sacerdotalis belongs to the Deposit of Faith, but it was not the Pope that declared that - it was the Ordinary Magesterium of the Church.

Which goes to illustrate that Popes very rarely teach ex-Cathedra, but wisely leave the teaching office up to the ordinary (and sometimes extrodinary) Magesterium. In fact, popes have spoken ex-Cathedria only twice in all of Church history.

JP2 could have issued Ordinatio Sacerdotalis with ex-Cathedra authority, but he didn’t - he let Ratzinger handle that for him (as this is Ratzinger’s job).

Only a tiny fraction of Doctrine has been defined in the ex-Cathedra manner. I see no reason for our next Pope to approach this matter any differently.


#5

Ex-Cathedra is really the most far away, last-of-the-line approaches to Church infallibility. It’s a sledge-hammer, not to be used for straightening crooked nails. It’s the Church that’s infallible on matters of faith and morals, and the Pope simply enjoys that Church infallibility when speaking as the head of the Church. The things you listed don’t need to be dealt with by the Pope because they’ve already been handled by other forms of Church infallibility. In fact, I think it would be disasterous for the Pope to make ex-Cathedra declarations on those matters, because it would be saying that the Pope enjoys a kind of infallibility that is higher than the rest of the Church, which is absolutely not the case. This is why JPII wisely appealed to the Ordinary Magisterium when discussing the ordaination of women; if he had invoked his ex-Cathedra infallibility it would have implied a defect in the Ordinary Magisterium which has always taught infallibly on this matter.

Basically, by proclaiming something ex-Cathedra that is already infallibly defined, the Pope is opening up to attack every doctrine and dogma that has not been defined ex-Cathedra, which is almost everything.


#6

[quote=PaulKorb]Under what conditions does the pope invoke “ex cathedra” (from the chair) ?

We know that when the pope speaks and writes about matters of faith and morals that he does so infallibly, so what is the point of ex cathedra?

It would seem that we have left ourselves vulnerable to dissenters who may claim that teachings for which ex cathedra has not been invoked may be changeable.

Relatedly, would it be prudent for the next pope to invoke ex cathedra on all of the hot button issues (abortion, contraception, ordination of women, homosexual unions, human cloning, embryonic research, human cloning and euthanasia) in order to put them to rest once and for all?

Thanks for your opinions !
[/quote]

[font=Times New Roman]Ex Cathedra is but only one form of infallible teaching. The “hot button” issues have already been clearly and definitively stated by other forms of infallible and unchangable teaching.
[/font]


#7

[quote=DavidFilmer]This is true, of course (per ORDINATIO SACERDOTALIS RESPONSUM AD DUBIUM). This teaching affirmed that the Papal teaching of Ordinatio Sacerdotalis belongs to the Deposit of Faith, but it was not the Pope that declared that - it was the Ordinary Magesterium of the Church.

Which goes to illustrate that Popes very rarely teach ex-Cathedra, but wisely leave the teaching office up to the ordinary (and sometimes extrodinary) Magesterium. In fact, popes have spoken ex-Cathedria only twice in all of Church history.

JP2 could have issued Ordinatio Sacerdotalis with ex-Cathedra authority, but he didn’t - he let Ratzinger handle that for him (as this is Ratzinger’s job).

Only a tiny fraction of Doctrine has been defined in the ex-Cathedra manner. I see no reason for our next Pope to approach this matter any differently.
[/quote]

Thanks for the clarification!


#8

DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in these forums do not necessarily reflect those of Catholic Answers. For official apologetics resources please visit www.catholic.com.