Ex-Cathedra?

You can send me to the links that I am sure already exist.

I am asking for more of a personal opinion though. There seems to be some discussion over how many ex-cathedra statements there are. How many are there? Which ones are they? Also as I understand it not everything in an ex-cathedral statement is infallible. This seems to be problematic.

I do not wish to start an argument. I just want a deeper understanding of how to tell if what I am reading has error in it or not or possibly could have error. Should I take the general theme or the main point of all encyclicals? Can I pock and choose what I like and don’t like if it is fallible? How do councils fit into this? I know that not everything in the council is ratified by the Pope. You think that the church would make this easier for outsiders. Maybe the church has declared this and I just dont know.

God guides the Church, therefore we trust the Church to teach us. It’s that simple.

Granted, there are infallible and non-infallible teachings, and corresponding levels of submission and commitment; but on a practical level this is of little importance to the rank-and-file faithful. It is not our place to scrutinize the Church’s teachings or decide which ones are worthy of acceptance, but rather to trust God to guide us through the teaching Church which he set up.

Okay, suppose you sincerely believed something the Church taught at some level below infallible, which turned out to be wrong. You would be the better off because of your humility, trust, loyalty, and submission, which are ultimately directed to God.

Another thing to keep in mind is that individual priests, theologians, or even Saints may say things that are incorrect. For this reason it is important to consult the Magisterium (Councils, papal bulls, encyclicals, Catechisms, etc.) which sifts and synthesizes the teachings of the Fathers and theologians of the Church.

I just figured since I in the past have made such a big deal out of infallibility. I wondered how big of a deal it really was?

The distinction not being of practical use to the rank-and-file faithful is NOT the same thing as it being no big deal. Just because it doesn’t go through you, doesn’t mean it’s not important…

Since I am no rank and file catholic the distinctions are important to me. I would like to know the difference in the level of commitment and to be able to tell if something is fallible or not.

If you’re not a Catholic what does it matter to you?

heh, maybe someone who is would like to know that is following the post, like me.

And maybe the original poster is honestly trying to learn about the Catholic faith.

My understanding is that there isn’t a rank and file list of all the Church’s ex-cathedra statements. Protestors have challenged the Catholic Church to produce an infallible list of all of her infallible dogmas, but the fact is… we just don’t have one. We have no way of knowing at least practically, which papal statements in the past count as ex-cathedra and infallible and which do not, besides of course the obvious ones on the Immaculate Conception and Assuption. Catholic theologians are still arguing about it. Personally I am of the persuasion that the vast majority of church statements and papal statements (this includes papal encyclicals) are fallible, infallibility is something that apply only to a tiny, tiny minority of statements. As for what this mean, in my view God purposefully maintains a certain degree of ambiguousness (srry can’t spell) and messiness because he wants us to a faith. If God told us how everything worked out, and made things so logical and rational that we could fit it together on our own, then we would have no reason to trust God.

And certainty, like I said, God wants us to lean on him not on our own mind. People seem to have a want for absolute certainty in everything we do, we want to be completely sure of everything. God says that that isn’t possible, we have to be able to take a leap of faith and have faith that he is guiding us and his church with the Holy Spirit, even if things don’t always fit together with a rational certainty in our brains.

newadvent.org/cathen/07790a.htm

There is a lot to read here, perhaps it can help you understand.

And, this site is for definition of ex cathedra:

newadvent.org/cathen/05677a.htm

This may not be suprising but I have already read them both. Thank you though

Here is a link for you at the Vatican regarding Papal Encyclicals, hope that helps.

Link

Good luck! :thumbsup:

No. Also the fact that something is definitely not infallible doesn’t mean that it “might not be true” - it just means that it is in a different category of teaching than Dogma.

How do councils fit into this? I know that not everything in the council is ratified by the Pope. You think that the church would make this easier for outsiders. Maybe the church has declared this and I just dont know.

The Universal Catechism contains everything that we are supposed to believe. For the purposes of the average person, all of it is true.

It is of great interest to theologians to discern whether a particular teaching is infallible, but to the average person in the pew, it doesn’t make any material difference.

As a basis for the discussion…I would suggest part III and IV of this article would help as a start:

calledtocommunion.com/2009/07/ecclesial-deism/

Should I take the general theme or the main point of all encyclicals? Can I pock and choose what I like and don’t like if it is fallible? How do councils fit into this? I know that not everything in the council is ratified by the Pope.

The decisions of the various councils, the papal encyclicals, bulls…etc…are all contained in the common teaching, common life, and common liturgy of the Church…throughout the 2000 yrs of the Church’s existence.

You think that the church would make this easier for outsiders. Maybe the church has declared this and I just dont know

I would suggest to post this in the Apologetics section. I think first, you need to distinguish the different documents that the councils and popes have written and produced. This would require a lot of discussion and history reading on your part.

I’m not sure. It would be difficult to know unless one studied all papal statements and applied the infallibility criterion from the Vatican I Council to each.

Which ones are they?

I know of at least three off of the top of my head. The Assumption of Mary, the Immaculate Conception and Unam Sanctam.

Also as I understand it not everything in an ex-cathedral statement is infallible.

This isn’t exactly correct. The ex cathedra statement is infallible, but not everything contained in the Papal Bull/Apostolic Constitution that promulgates the dogma is.

This seems to be problematic.

Why do you think that? It’s no more problematic than identifying dogma contained in the decrees of an Ecumenical Council. Much contained in those documents treat disciplinary matters or explain the reasoning behind the dogmatic decrees, but they aren’t themselves infallible statements.

Should I take the general theme or the main point of all encyclicals?

In the modern papacy it is very rare that a Pope would use an encyclical as a vehicle to exercise the authority of the extraordinary Papal Magisterium. That does not mean though that a Catholic is free to disregard those teachings.

Can I pock and choose what I like and don’t like if it is fallible?

Generally the answer is “no.” The non-infallible teachings of the Pope must be given ordinary assent by Catholics.

How do councils fit into this?

Ecumenical Councils are called for the purpose of defining doctrine, usually in response to heresies that threaten the Catholic faithful.

I know that not everything in the council is ratified by the Pope.

Interesting. So far as I know every Ecumenical Council has been accepted or later ratified by the Pope. Local councils are a different matter.

You think that the church would make this easier for outsiders. Maybe the church has declared this and I just dont know.

I find it to be a non-issue with most neophytes who are approaching the Catholic faith. There are sources readily available to learn and understand what the Catholic Church teaches - most notably the Catechism. The ultimate source of authority for those teachings is generally of little concern - that is - whether the dogma was promulgated by an Ecumenical Council or by an ex cathedra statement of the Pope. The reasons behind the teachings are certainly relevant, but not the distinction between ex cathedra and non-ex cathedra pronouncements.

I doubt if you would get even Theologians to agree on that, not even the Pope. The Church lives on Tradition as handed on from the Apostles. We are required to give the assent of Faith to all that the Church teaches, most of which is contained in the Catechism, until something changes. And what you find in the Catechism is pretty much Infallible in the sense that it is universally held as true, not only by the Pope but the Bishops as well. Nothing has changed in my 74 years that I can remember. So what the Catechism teaches is pretty much it.

Linus2nd

vatican.va/archive/ENG0015/__P2A.HTM

890 The mission of the Magisterium is linked to the definitive nature of the covenant established by God with his people in Christ. It is this Magisterium’s task to preserve God’s people from deviations and defections and to guarantee them the objective possibility of professing the true faith without error. Thus, the pastoral duty of the Magisterium is aimed at seeing to it that the People of God abides in the truth that liberates. To fulfill this service, Christ endowed the Church’s shepherds with the charism of infallibility in matters of faith and morals. the exercise of this charism takes several forms:

ignatius.com/Products/DENZ-H/enchiridion-symbolorum.aspx

All ex-Cathedra statements are infallible, none is fallible.

The problem is where does one find an ex-Cathedra statement? There are not many such statements and sometimes they come in one or two sentences affirming the truth in faith and moral. These sometimes contained in papal documents.

But since you want to listen more to personal opinion, I can share with you mine.

In all my experience as a cradle Catholic and I can say that I went around a lot, the issue of infallibility/ex-Cathedra is nearly non-existence among Catholics. It is only the non-Catholics that make a big deal out of this usually with a view to discredit Catholic belief that is opposed to them. I have a niece or a nephew-in-law who married to the family and may want to convert to Catholicism and they often asked about topic like Purgatory and its validity. The Papacy and even Mary are not high on that list.

Thus infallibility/ex-Cathedra is not a big deal at all.

The most important thing in the life of the faithful is humility because it leads to holiness and faith. But humility requires obedience. The teachings of the Church whether they are through the Pope, Bishops or priests are to lead the faithful into faith. And only obedience to them will bring fruits. And to be obedient, it requires humility.

Catholics are to love and to hold the clergies in reverence because they have given their lives to God to serve them. They have forsaken the things of the world in order to be clergies. Ordinary Catholics in turn appreciate them and obedient to their teaching and pastoring.

We have no time on ex-Cathedra or infallibility of the Popes. Questioning a valid body set up by God will only lead to unfaithfulness and will do us no good in our faith. We should be more concerned to live up to our own expectation by virtue of our Baptism. NO Church’s teachings are bad; it is us who simply are hard headed and disobedient and therefore making excuses for our own problems that we cannot follow the Church’s teaching.

I hope that makes sense – obedience and humility are the keys; not disputing abstract theological points which are meaningless to the practical lives of the faithful.

And did not Jesus say that the mystery will only be revealed to the little children and did not he say that the learned will be shamed?

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