Ex Cathedra

Did Pope Pius speak ex cathedra in Humani Generis?

I have never seen it stated that he did.


No. But that does not mean that Humani Generis is not binding on all the faithful.

We don’t know. The Church has not told us. The only way we can know such things with certainty is if the Church tells us. This has happened only twice[sup]*[/sup], so it is an extremely rare event.

But it doesn’t matter. Whether the teaching is ex Cathedra is irrelevant to nearly all laypeople (the only people who might care would be a few canon lawyers and apologists). This teaching, like all Church teaching, is to be fully accepted by all Catholics, regardless of whether it has been defined as infallible or not.

[sup][/sup]Ordinatio Sacerdotalis was not an ex Cathedra teaching. It was merely John Paul the Great proclaiming the infallible nature of a teaching of the ordinary Magesterium (ie, the dispersed Bishops). It was not an exercise of Papal ex Cathedra teaching, as he was quite careful to point out. This is the third (of three) teachings that the Church has defined as infallible, as far as I know, but it is a different kind of infallibility. There are three types of infallibility. An Ecumenical Council may teach infallibly, but the Church has not defined that any portion of any Council is infallible in nature, as far as I know, so we may not claim (with certainty) that any Council has ever taught infallibly.*

I thought only comments made ex cathedra were binding to Catholics.

This is a HUGE misconception. Regardless of whether a teaching of the Church is infallible or not, we are expected to accept it.

Faith1960 #1
Did Pope Pius speak ex cathedra in Humani Generis?

On what fact precisely are you interested in?

Polygenism/monogenism. Science tells us there was never a human bottleneck of fewer than 10,000 people.

Faith1960 #5
I thought only comments made ex cathedra were binding to Catholics.

The Church does not teach through merely “comments”. She teaches through dogma and doctrine which may and are repeated in various ways by popes, Ecumenical Councils, bishops and priests.

Her teaching is binding as follows in three levels of teaching:
1) Dogma – infallible (Canon #750.1) to be believed with the assent of divine and Catholic faith.
2) Doctrine – infallible (Canon #750.2) requires the assent of ecclesial faith, to be “firmly embraced and held”.
3) Doctrine – non-definitive (non-infallible) and requires intellectual assent (“loyal submission of the will and intellect”, Vatican II, *Lumen Gentium *25), not an assent of faith. [See the Explanatory Note on Ad Tuendam Fidem by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith]


*The Catechism *twice [28, 360] quotes Acts 17:26-28:
“From one ancestor [God] made all nations to inhabit the whole earth…” That the Catechism refers to a single person is confirmed in footnote number 226 [360] which cites Tobit 8:6, “Thou madest Adam and gave him Eve his wife as a helper and support. From them the race of mankind has sprung…” Thus, the “one ancestor” could only be Adam. This is confirmed in [359] which quotes St Peter Chrysologus, “St Paul tells us that the human race takes its origin from two men: Adam and Christ…The first man, Adam,…was made by the last Adam.” The Catechism clearly teaches that polygenism is irreconcilable with Catholic Tradition.
So what is the Catholic doctrine?

The first teaching comes from Leo XIII – Adam & Eve were our first parents, by direct divine intervention and Eve was created from a portion of Adam’s body (*Arcanum Divinæ Sapientiæ *of Pope Leo XIII, 1880). Polygenism is thus impossible – that mankind arose from many first parents – the fairy-tale which is perpetrated today by most evolutionists.

Then from the Pontifical Biblical Commission in its response of 30 June, 1909, On the Historical Character of the First Three Chapters of Genesis, the declaration:
a) that those pseudoscientific exegetical systems elaborated for the purpose of “excluding the literal historical sense of the first three chapters of Genesis” are not based upon solid arguments (EB 324; DS 3512).

So as Fr Harrison rightly points out in Did The Human Body Evolve Naturally? A Forgotten Papal Declaration:
“We are not dealing here with a mere Allocution, a Motu Proprio, a Brief, an Apostolic Exhortation, or a Nuntius, but a fully-fledged piece of pontificating endowed with no less inherent or formal authority than *Humani Generis *or Providentissimus Deus: the Encyclical Letter *Arcanum Divinæ Sapientiæ *of Pope Leo XIII on Christian Marriage, dated 10 February 1880.

Well, we’re not allowed to discuss this on CAF so… All I can say is it’s pretty much a fact that Homo sapiens were never down to two people. But we can’t discuss this anyway so I guess it’s a moot point.

Monogenism is a binding doctrine of the Church. I understand your scientific concern about this.

For help, there’s a really good classical Thomist you might want to check out named Edward Feser. This is a good article by him about Adam and original sin in the face of modern biology:



Hope that helps.

I have read him as well as Kemp but I thought some people here thought their (VERY good) explanations were shot down by some posters here on CAF and that just upset me more.

I’m not aware of Feser or Kemp ever having been refuted. If they had, I’m pretty sure they wouldn’t be the lynch pin of monogenists. :thumbsup:

Everything the Church teaches is binding.

Faith1960 #11
All I can say is it’s pretty much a fact that Homo sapiens were never down to two people.

False – nothing and no one can genuinely contradict Catholic doctrine – make the effort to read Fr Harrison’s many facts

See what I mean? :frowning: It’s things that I’ve been reading here on CAF that has gotten me thinking a lot about leaving the Church. Of course some of this is my fault, I have OCD and have obsessions about religious issues and my former spiritual director, as well as a num told me to stop reading and posting on CAF since I get so worked up about some of what I read here.

I agree with your spiritual director. You will get a lot of opinions here from anonymous internet warriors, some of whom have no idea what they are talking about. Don’t let it be a burden to you. :slight_smile:

Faith1960 #17
I get so worked up about some of what I read here.

Unless and until anyone is prepared to find out and assent to the doctrine taught by the Church, how can they know truth from error? Neither scientists nor anyone else are gods, and real science cannot contradict truth which is one.

Real Catholics know the limitations of science and scientists.

The rise of science was not an extension of classical learning. It was the natural outgrowth of Christian doctrine: nature exists because it was created by God. In order to love and honor God, it is necessary to fully appreciate his handiwork. Because God is perfect, his handiwork functions in accord with immutable principles. By the full use of our God-given powers of reason and observation, it ought to be possible to discover these principles.

“These were the crucial ideas that explain why science arose in Christian Europe and nowhere else.” The Victory of Reason, Rodney Stark, Random House, 2005, p 22-23. My emphasis].

Alfred North Whitehead, F.R.S. rejected the notion of a perfect and omnipotent God [alfrednorthwhitehead.wwwhubs.com/]](http://alfrednorthwhitehead.wwwhubs.com/]), but he knew that Catholic theology was essential for the rise of science in the West, while stifled elsewhere. He explained: “The greatest contribution of medievalism to the scientific movement [was] the inexpugnable belief that …there is a secret, a secret which can be unveiled. How has this conviction been so vividly implanted in the European mind?..It must come from the medieval insistence on the rationality of God, conceived with the personal energy of Jehovah and with the rationality of a Greek philosopher. Every detail was supervised and ordered: the search into nature could only result in the vindication of the faith in rationality.” (My emphasis). [E.L. Jones, 1987; in Stark, op.cit., p 15].
See *Catholicism and Science *by Rodney Stark (from Catalyst 9/2004) at:

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