Galileo and the Infallibility of the Church

I have a follow up question as it pertains to my original thread.

First, an electronically transposed document I implicitly reference.

Second, a fragment from speech by a Pope I implicitly reference.

Third, my question(s).

Below is a document issued by the Holy Office against heliocentrism.

Assessment made at the Holy Office, Rome, Wednesday, 24 February 1616, in the presence of the Father Theologians signed below.
Proposition to be assessed:
(1) The sun is the center of the world and completely devoid of local motion.
Assessment: All said that this proposition is foolish and absurd in philosophy, and formally heretical since it explicitly contradicts many places the sense of Holy Scripture, according to the literal meaning of the words and according to the common interpretation and understanding of the Holy Fathers and the doctors of theology.
(2) The earth is not the center of the world, nor motionless, but it moves as a whole and also with diurnal motion.
Assessment: All said that this proposition receives the same judgement in philosophy and that in regard to theological truth it is at least erroneous in faith.
Petrus Lombardus, Archbishop of Armagh.
Fra Hyacintus Petronius, Master of the Sacred Apostolic Palace.
Fra Raphael Riphoz, Master of Theology and Vicar-General of the Dominican Order.
Fra Michelangelo Segizzi, Master of Sacred Theology and Commissary of the Holy Office.
Fra Hieronimus de Casalimaiori, Consultant to the Holy Office.
Fra Thomas de Lemos.
Fra Gregorius Nunnius Coronel.
Benedictus Justinianus, Society of Jesus.
Father Raphael Rastellius, Clerk Regular, Doctor of Theology.
Father Michael of Naples, of the Cassinese Congregation.
Fra Iacobus Tintus, assistant of the Most Reverend Father Commissary of the Holy Office.

Cardinal Bellarmine issued Galileo a letter two days later stating that he was not to teach heliocentrism under penalty of jail. He was eventually convicted of Heresy by the Inquisition in 1633 and placed under house arrest for the remaining years of his life.

As an additional point of consideration for my impending inquiry, Pope John Paul II issued an apology in October of 1992 saying the theologians who condemned Galileo did not recognize the formal distinction between the Bible and its interpretation. “This led them unduly to transpose into the realm of the doctrine of the faith, a question which in fact pertained to scientific investigation”.

My Inquiry: Concerning Galileo’s conviction of Heresy, who was wrong, what were they wrong about? and (most importantly) how is their wrongness separate from the dogmatic “Infallibility of the Church”?

As a plea to forum moderators: This question is not a disrespectful “gotcha!”. It is genuinely asked in good faith within a forum with the assigned purpose of apologetics in a Catholic context. It might be prudent to place an official response to this question (or one framed in a similar way) as a “sticky” as I’m reasonably certain I’m not the first nor will be the last to ask about Galileo.

Yes… House arrest in the Lateran Palace… poor Galileo!

youtu.be/kvZ_W5ruyQM?t=4370

It is a very complicated story. But from what I have understood, Galileo’s personality did not help the matter.

You might try looking around the articles on CAF for a summary. But in short, the Holy Office was wrong, and this is not a problem for infallibility since it was not the extraordinary magisterium and arguably is not even part of their competency in truth.

The Holy Office isn’t, in and of itself, infallible. And while this was perceived to be an issue of faith, it was actually a matter of science; the Church isn’t infallible in matters of science.

Here is a tract from Catholic Answers that I hope answers your questions.

catholic.com/tract/the-galileo-controversy

Ed

This was a matter of science, not faith and morals…:shrug:

You may learn from this article from UCLA:

newsroom.ucla.edu/releases/the-truth-about-galileo-and-his-conflict-with-the-catholic-church

When first summoned by the Roman Inquisition in 1616, Galileo was not questioned but merely warned not to espouse heliocentrism. Also in 1616, the church banned Nicholas Copernicus’ book “On the Revolutions of the Celestial Spheres,” published in 1543, which contained the theory that the Earth revolved around the sun. After a few minor edits, making sure that the sun theory was presented as purely hypothetical, it was allowed again in 1620 with the blessing of the church.

Sixteen years after his first encounter with the church Galileo published his “Dialogue on the Two World Systems” in 1632, and the pope, Urban VIII, ordered another investigation against him. This time he was prosecuted, following the usual methods of the Roman Inquisition.

First, on April 12, 1633, before any charges were laid against him, Galileo was forced to testify about himself under oath, in the hopes of obtaining a confession. This had long been a standard practice in heresy proceedings, even though it was a violation of the canonical law of inquisitorial due process, Kelly said. However, the interrogation was not successful. Galileo failed to admit any wrongdoing.

The cardinal inquisitors realized that the case against Galileo would be very weak without an admission of guilt, so a plea bargain was arranged. He was told that if he admitted to having gone too far in his treatment of heliocentrism, he would be let off with a light punishment. Galileo agreed and confessed that he had given stronger arguments to the heliocentric proponent in his dialogue than to the geocentric champion. But he insisted that he did not do so because he himself believed in heliocentrism, Kelly said. Rather, he claimed he was simply showing off his debating skills.

After his formal trial, which took place on May 10 of that year, Galileo was convicted of a “strong suspicion of heresy,” a lesser charge than actual heresy.

“In sum, the 1616 event was not the beginning of a 17-year-long trial, as is often said, but a non-trial,” Kelly said. “Galileo’s actual trial lasted for only a fraction of a single day, with no fanfare at all.”

Kelly also noted that by the practice of the time, Galileo’s guilty plea, which denied actual belief in the heresy, triggered an automatic examination of his private beliefs under torture, a new procedure adopted by the church around the turn of the 17th century. Galileo was never tortured, however. The pope decreed that the interrogation should stop short with the mere threat of torture. This was a routine kind of limitation for people of advanced age and ill health like Galileo, and it should not be attributed to the influence of the scientist’s supporters.

Ultimately, Galieo’s book was banned, and he was sentenced to a light regimen of penance and imprisonment at the discretion of church inquisitors. After one day in prison, his punishment was commuted to “villa arrest” for the rest of his life. He died in 1642.

In his later years Galileo insisted on the truth of the geocentric solar system, Kelly said. The story that after he formally renounced the motion of the earth at his sentencing he muttered, “And yet it moves,” is a romantic invention of a later generation.

“If he had ever come out and said he believed in heliocentrism after swearing it off, he would have been liable to receive an automatic death sentence,” Kelly said.

The church, however, made efforts to ensure their version of Galileo’s scientific beliefs were prevalent.

“The most unusual aspect of the proceedings was that the sentence was ordered to be widely publicized in scientific circles,” Kelly said. “The cardinals asserted that Galileo had always been orthodox in his belief concerning the cosmos and had never believed in or affirmed the heliocentric heresy.”

My impression, after reading a mile of posted documents when I landed on Google, is that “heresy” is a four-letter word.

Here is the first technicality. How can there be a “conviction of Heresy” when there is no Catholic doctrine on Geocentrism? Could “heresy” refer to something else?

Because there is no Catholic doctrine on Geocentrism, the infallibility of Catholic doctrines, properly defined and duly declared at a major Ecumenical Church Council, remains intact.

I have spotted the word “heresy” used above. Please, do you have the actual final documents regarding the Galileo trial? I am looking for how the word heresy is used in the official documents.

Hi!

…I think that part of the problem is that you have not included all of the factors that lead to Galileo’s conviction.

Prior to Galileo there existed a guy name Copernicus who published on heliocentrism:

Publication of de Revolutionibus (1543)[edit]
Nicolaus Copernicus published the definitive statement of his system in De Revolutionibus in 1543. Copernicus began to write it in 1506 and finished it in 1530, but did not publish it until the year of his death. Although he was in good standing with the Church and had dedicated the book to Pope Paul III, the published form contained an unsigned preface by Osiander defending the system and arguing that it was useful for computation even if its hypotheses were not necessarily true. Possibly because of that preface, the work of Copernicus inspired very little debate on whether it might be heretical during the next 60 years. There was an early suggestion among Dominicans that the teaching of Heliocentrism should be banned, but nothing came of it at the time. (en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Heliocentrism

)
Galileo’s model was based upon the works of Copernicus, who proposed a model for heliocentrism but did not pontified about reinterpretation of Scriptures; further Galileo’s own contemporaries did not accept his model because of the various factors for which he could not account (as the motion of the earth:

Galileo went on to propose a theory of tides in 1616, and of comets in 1619; he argued that the tides were evidence for the motion of the Earth.–en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Galileo_affair

)…and he could not prove (argue) other things such as the parallax shift:

Many people wrongly believe Galileo proved heliocentricity. He could not answer the strongest argument against it, which had been made nearly two thousand years earlier by Aristotle: If heliocentrism were true, then there would be observable parallax shifts in the stars’ positions as the earth moved in its orbit around the sun. However, given the technology of Galileo’s time, no such shifts in their positions could be observed. It would require more sensitive measuring equipment than was available in Galileo’s day to document the existence of these shifts, given the stars’ great distance. Until then, the available evidence suggested that the stars were fixed in their positions relative to the earth, and, thus, that the earth and the stars were not moving in space—only the sun, moon, and planets were.

Thus Galileo did not prove the theory by the Aristotelian standards of science in his day. In his Letter to the Grand Duchess Christina and other documents, Galileo claimed that the Copernican theory had the “sensible demonstrations” needed according to Aristotelian science, but most knew that such demonstrations were not yet forthcoming. Most astronomers in that day were not convinced of the great distance of the stars that the Copernican theory required to account for the absence of observable parallax shifts. This is one of the main reasons why the respected astronomer Tycho Brahe refused to adopt Copernicus fully. (strangenotions.com/galileo-controversy/

)

…the final blow comes not from science fallacy but from ego as Galileo mocks the Pope who had extended a hand of friendship:

Pope Urban’s demand for his own arguments to be included in the book resulted in Galileo putting them in the mouth of Simplicio. Some months after the book’s publication, Pope Urban VIII banned its sale and had its text submitted for examination by a special commission.[4 (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Galileo_affair

)
Maran atha!

Angel

Hi!

…what the modern hindsight fails to take into consideration is that, at the time of the event, Galileo could not prove his theories, and that some of his assertions were wrong (as the motion of the waves proving that the earth moves around the sun), and the fact that the social structure was different; people saw the Church as the deposit of knowledge, so when the accepted norm was challenged the Church could not remain silent.

Further, the Church offered Galileo the opportunity to present his findings as theory and to get his nose out of theology (which it seems he was seeking to define)… he would not concede that his findings could not be proven beyond the established understanding of the day, but he insisted that “his word” had to be accepted as the new norm.

Finally, the Church had just been put through the spin with the Protestant revolts and these (Protestants) were hounding the Church for allowing such theories and publications to be made (anything that contradicted the theological understanding of the times was suspect).

Maran atha!

Angel

Hi, Granny!

…it goes to the proposition that the sun, not the earth, is the center of the universe–the theological understanding of the day (interpretation of Scriptures) was that God made the earth the center of Creation/Universe; hence, the heliocentric model which predicates upon the sun being the center of the universe contradicted the understanding of the times.

Galileo was found guilty of being “suspect of heresy”:

Galileo was found guilty, and the sentence of the Inquisition, issued on 22 June 1633,[51] was in three essential parts:
Galileo was found “vehemently suspect of heresy,” namely of having held the opinions that the Sun lies motionless at the center of the universe, that the Earth is not at its centre and moves, and that one may hold and defend an opinion as probable after it has been declared contrary to Holy Scripture. He was required to “abjure, curse, and detest” those opinions.[52]
He was sentenced to formal imprisonment at the pleasure of the Inquisition.[53] On the following day this was commuted to house arrest, which he remained under for the rest of his life.
His offending Dialogue was banned; and in an action not announced at the trial, publication of any of his works was forbidden, including any he might write in the future.[54] (en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Galileo_affair

)
Maran atha!

Angel

I’m appreciative for all the responses! However, many seem to be an assessment of the personal conduct of Galileo. Galileo was a sinful person. Just like you and me. What I’m trying to ask about is the infallibility of the church.

But I’ll admit this - Galileo was found guilty of being “suspect of heresy” rather than, I’m guessing, “heresy”. I do apologize for conveying falsehood as fact. However, any notion forwarded that would suggest Galileo’s trial and sentencing was about something other than Galileo’s advocacy of “the earth goes around the sun” is blatantly false. We can easily find a translation of his actual charges.

Realize, though, that showing people that Galileo’s conviction was of “the suspicion of heresy” rather than “heresy” does little to defend the Church. Maybe the opposite. Imprisonment for the rest of your life for being “suspect of heresy” rather than actually being proved a heretic is a horrifying concept, as I imagine the burden-of-proof for proving that someone was “suspect of heresy” would be pretty low (read: nonexistent). And once convicted, house arrests are historically reserved as punishment for people of Note. Galileo was probably lucky to have his celebrity.


Can it be fair to say that the “Infallibility of the Church” is a concept that requires faith, just like belief in God, and can’t actually be shown?

When the Holy Office - an institution of the Church with the explicit purpose of preserving true dogma across Christendom - can “get it wrong” with such magnitude as to invite a papal apology, who** can’t **get it wrong? The Pope speaking Ex-Cathedra, I suppose, but he’s too busy to answer every single question. And he’d end up with chair sores were he to try.:slight_smile:

Ergo, the “Infallible Church” may be a real thing. But it is clear that both the men who represent It and their interpretations of It’s truths can both be quite fallible on rare occasion. Thus, the “Infallibility of the Church” is not real in the same way your keyboard is real. It’s real in the same way the concept of “goodness” is real. And equally difficult to existentially prove.

A big question - Can a Catholic believe the immediately previous statement and not be guilty of a heresy?

The Church doesn’t do science. So heresy must be in reference to something other than the scientific details.
This is hard for people to accept but the Church does not take positions on scientific endeavor unless science oversteps into theology or Church governance (which then ceases to become science anyway ).

Fair enough. Yet, “the Church”, per se, isn’t infallible. Certain persons – holding certain roles in the Church – in particular and distinct situations speak infallibly. That’s a pretty significant distinction.

Imprisonment for the rest of your life for being “suspect of heresy” rather than actually being proved a heretic is a horrifying concept

It’s pretty important not to be anachronistic. If we look at the context of society of Galileo’s day through the lens of 21st century jurisprudence or legal theory, we’ll fail to understand that period of history on its own terms and invariably misinterpret them.

Today, we would identify the most horrifying crimes differently than the society of Galileo’s day. Today, a person who is suspected of being a terrorist is subject to the provisions of the Patriot Act, and is locked up without the benefit of the type of due process we hold in all other cases. The reason? We see the crimes as justifying that kind of ‘justice’. In Galileo’s day, the effects of heresy – that is, endangering the eternal reward of the souls who came into contact with the heretic and/or his ideas – was equivalent in horror to the contemporary notion of terrorism. And, although we consider ourselves so much more enlightened than Galileo’s society, we see that really, when push comes to shove… we still do the same things now that they did then. Different details… but same dynamic.

, as I imagine the burden-of-proof for proving that someone was “suspect of heresy” would be pretty low (read: nonexistent).

What’s the burden of proof for falling on the wrong side of the provisions of the Patriot Act? :sad_yes:

When the Holy Office - an institution of the Church with the explicit purpose of preserving true dogma across Christendom - can “get it wrong” with such magnitude as to invite a papal apology, who** can’t **get it wrong? The Pope speaking Ex-Cathedra, I suppose, but he’s too busy to answer every single question. And he’d end up with chair sores were he to try.:slight_smile:

LOL. Cathedra-sores… :rotfl:

But, remember: jurisprudence isn’t part of the notion of “infallibility.” Nor is every word out of the mouth of the pope. Infallibility only asserts that, in the realm of statements of faith and morals, and only in distinct and particular circumstances, can we consider the assertion of certain organs of the Church to speak infallibly. Anybody else, and/or in any other situation? Just as fallible as any other legislator or juror on earth.

Ergo, the “Infallible Church” may be a real thing. But it is clear that both the men who represent It and their interpretations of It’s truths can both be quite fallible on rare occasion.

Agreed: ‘infallibility’ may only be invoked “on rare occasion.” You’re correct.

(However, there’s another dynamic in play. Although your Congressperson is not infallible, and Congress is not infallible, it is authoritative: as a member of the society whom they govern, you are obligated to follow their direction as a consequence of their authority. There are processes in place to address error in (infallible) declarations they might make, but while their decrees are in force, we must follow them.

It’s no different with the Church: not everything it says is “infallible”; but it is authoritative, and demands our obedience in the same way that secular governance and law does.)

Thus, the “Infallibility of the Church” is not real in the same way your keyboard is real. It’s real in the same way the concept of “goodness” is real. And equally difficult to existentially prove.

No. “infallibility” is real in the same way that a “C chord” is real. Not everyone can play it properly, and it’s not the case that everyone who sits down will play it correctly (or even attempt to play it), but when the appropriate musician sits down, intending to play a C chord, he does… and it’s really a C-chord.

A big question - Can a Catholic believe the immediately previous statement and not be guilty of a heresy?

I think that this Catholic would have to re-examine what he thinks “infallibility” means, and correct his misunderstanding, before he asks the question of whether he disbelieves the teaching of the Church. :wink:

I understand your attempt at dismissal, but the Church put Galileo on trial for precisely the advocacy heliocentrism; whether it was factually proved notwithstanding. And where “science stops” and “theology begins” is anyone’s guess as they are not categorically compatible.
So you’re right. The Church “doesn’t do science”… anymore. This debacle played a very central role in moving the Church to that paradigm.

I was hoping you’d opine. :thumbsup:

I really don’t see the anachronism. Like those who love the Patriot Act, you had a group of people more than happy to submit to Catholic temporal authority. You also had oceans of people in the 17th/21st century that found Catholic temporal power/the Patriot Act untenable.

Byzantine then German then All Christian princes and their ardent-loyal were chaffed by Catholic suzerainty. Thus, they did away with it, for good or bad (like I hope we do with the Patriot Act).

What’s the burden of proof for falling on the wrong side of the provisions of the Patriot Act? :sad_yes:

“This bad-thing is ‘ok’ because that bad-thing either exists or is assumed ‘ok’” is an argument that all people have a moral obligation to reject out of hand. :eek:

And I’m glad you liked the “Cathedra-sore” bit. You gave it a better name.

But, remember: jurisprudence isn’t part of the notion of “infallibility.” Nor is every word out of the mouth of the pope. Infallibility only asserts that, in the realm of statements of faith and morals, and only in distinct and particular circumstances, can we consider the assertion of certain organs of the Church to speak infallibly. Anybody else, and/or in any other situation? Just as fallible as any other legislator or juror on earth.

If Catholic jurisprudence can be fallible at it’s practical apex level (which is what the Holy Office is), how can one recognize any one person’s interpretation of the infallible “deposit of the faith” to a specific matter (like “capital punishment” or “birth control”) to be unassailably true, short of a Cathedra statement? And we both agree, one man simply can’t do that for every little matter, even if he IS Christ’s Vicar.

I think even more haze is generated by the fact that a list of infallible teachings have never been generated. It can’t be for lack of want… There’s even much debate within the Church as to which papal declarations prior to Vatican I are Ex-Cathedra and which aren’t. :shrug:

However, there’s another dynamic in play. Although your Congressperson is not infallible, and Congress is not infallible, it is authoritative: as a member of the society whom they govern, you are obligated to follow their direction as a consequence of their authority. There are processes in place to address error in (infallible) declarations they might make, but while their decrees are in force, we must follow them.

It’s no different with the Church: not everything it says is “infallible”; but it is authoritative, and demands our obedience in the same way that secular governance and law does.)

I agree that the Church requires the submission of intellect and will. Obviously, civil government lacks this requirement (otherwise there’d be only one political party), so they do have a significant difference. And I provide that submission.

It would just be nice to be able to defend the Church’s current stance on something like “the pill” as infallible teaching and if/when the a stance changes (like recognizing Eastern Orthodox Sacraments) I’d still like a rational basis with which to explain that change in the context of a Church with infallible (and thus non-changing) beliefs without a limp discussion on the Catholic difference between “discipline” and “doctrine”.

No. “infallibility” is real in the same way that a “C chord” is real. Not everyone can play it properly, and it’s not the case that everyone who sits down will play it correctly (or even attempt to play it), but when the appropriate musician sits down, intending to play a C chord, he does… and it’s really a C-chord.

In the case of Galileo, the musicians played an “A chord”, told him it was a “C chord” and that if he continued to tell everyone it was really an “A chord”, he’d be jailed. The musicians’ conductor later apologized for the error. However, questions about the accuracy of chord selection on the part of musicians might not be tolerated.:stuck_out_tongue:

I think that this Catholic would have to re-examine what he thinks “infallibility” means, and correct his misunderstanding, before he asks the question of whether he disbelieves the teaching of the Church. :wink:

Thusly Waves:wave:

I appreciate your time, Gorgias. You’re pretty sharp.

Hi!

…I think that you still don’t get it.

What you want to find defined is something that you cannot find defined by the Galileo incident.

The term “Infallibility” applies to matters of Faith.

Say Galileo states that Jesus is not God… then when the Church uses her veto power, “infallibility”, comes into play because the Church would be asserting that her Teachings on the Divinity of Jesus Christ is infallible and that Jesus Christ is in deed the Second Person of the Holy Trinity.

…now, in matters of history, science, politics, etc. the Church does not claim infallibility.

If what you are attempting to discover is: ‘was Galileo treated fairly by the Church or was the Church overly zealous?’

If this is your earnest query then the answer is: yes, no, and rightly so:

  • Yes, Galileo was treated fairly since the heliocentric model had been introduced by Copernicus without him being tried for heresy–Galileo would have encounter the same staunch opposition since even his contemporary scientist understood that heliocentrism was not a proven theory (too many questioned unanswered by what was then known); Galileo was given the opportunity to offer the heliocentric model as a plausible theoretical model; his arrogance (which you seem to want to ignored) caused him to pit a yet viable model as the “model” 'let the “x” be “dmnd.”

  • No, Galileo was not treated fairly since too many things were a play:
    a) The heliocentric model had been presented previously and set aside as a probable model that needed to comply with both the known factors and the model that seem to fit Scriptural interpretation–the missing elements provided enough doubt that Galileo’s contemporaries would not stick their necks out to defend it.

b) Galileo’s insistence in refusing to take into account the unknowns which he could not account for (parallax shift, etc.), his observation of the tidal waves caused him to conclude that the tidal waves was proof positive that the earth was in motion was wrong but somewhat as reasonable an explanation as any–given the lack of understanding and tech advancement, and his personal projections of what his discovery meant in spite of the missing elements caused people to not take him seriously enough to support his model. Then he had the temerity to insult the Pope with the book he published–political clout could not support Galileo’s transgression/s.

  • The Church had to oppose Galileo
    The Church made efforts to curve Galileo’s force of nature stance… the Church attempted to mitigate how his findings could be applied, within the reason of the believed and understood model… but Galileo, as the people in the US often do, wanted it now, right now!–in spite of the things he could not explain, Galileo wanted the Church to go on record and accept his half-baked model as the correct model. The Church, as one of the major power in the culture, then as now, had to stand firm on her grounds–until it is proven otherwise, no can do!

Now, do you know when was the heliocentric model finally adopted and what transpired between Galileo’s incident and the adoption of the heliocentric model?

Maran atha!

Angel

Right. But, in their respective contexts, these examples of jurisprudence were considered reasonable by sufficient enough numbers of people in positions of leadership, that they became part of the legal landscape.

“This bad-thing is ‘ok’ because that bad-thing either exists or is assumed ‘ok’” is an argument that all people have a moral obligation to reject out of hand. :eek:

No, no… I’m not saying “accept it” – just “recognize that it was the ‘Patriot Act’ of the day.” From my perspective, contemporary commentators too often measure historical actions by contemporary standards, and in doing so, misconstrue (and often unfairly condemn) historical figures. So, in this case, I see three things going on: the particular crime was seen as heinous enough to warrant extra-ordinary methods; this process was considered a reasonable way to adjudicate claims; and (although we consider ourselves so much more advanced these days) we’re doing the same thing, in cases which we hold to fit these criteria!

So, it’s not “we gotta accept it”, but just “we should understand it, in its own context.”

And I’m glad you liked the “Cathedra-sore” bit.

:thumbsup: (Ya gotta realize I’m gonna steal that line, IRL… :wink: )

If Catholic jurisprudence can be fallible at it’s practical apex level (which is what the Holy Office is)

A couple of thoughts:

First, jurisprudence is never part of the deposit of faith. Like any other juridical process, it relies on the judgment of fallible persons.

Second: as it turns out, the supreme lawmaker in this context is… the pope. So, this points to another implication of the notion of ‘infallibility’: not everything the pope says is considered infallible. So, if the pope should make a ruling on a juridical matter, it too is not covered by infallibility! In other words, even the pope cannot make an ex cathedra statement on a juridical matter!

Let’s take a practical example: recently, Pope Francis has made changes to juridical processes (that is, to the canon law which lays out these processes). First, he modified the way in which a nullity process operates (in order, he says, to streamline the process and make it less burdensome on people seeking ‘annulments’). Second, he formalized a universal process by which an excommunication for abortion can be lifted.

In both cases, there are doctrinal and/or dogmatic aspects in play. In the case of nullity, we’re talking about the assertion that, when one is married validly, it’s “till death do us part”, and that there’s no such thing as a ‘divorce’ from a valid and sacramental marriage. In the case of the excommunications, the doctrinal stance is that abortion is an intrinsic evil – it’s always sinful, regardless of situation or circumstance.

It’s important to notice that, in making the changes, Francis hasn’t touched the doctrinal stances that give rise to the legal processes. Rather, he’s just tweaked the process that deals with the doctrinal stance. Infallibility doesn’t come into play.

, how can one recognize any one person’s interpretation of the infallible “deposit of the faith” to a specific matter (like “capital punishment” or “birth control”) to be unassailably true

If the ‘interpretation’ you’re talking about is the creation of a legal process, then you cannot. Infallibility doesn’t apply. What applies is the obedience of a person to legitimate authority – and we have that in both civil and ecclesiastical contexts.

I think even more haze is generated by the fact that a list of infallible teachings have never been generated. It can’t be for lack of want… There’s even much debate within the Church as to which papal declarations prior to Vatican I are Ex-Cathedra and which aren’t. :shrug:

Hmm… really?

In any case, IMHO, the debate is overwrought: the issue with Church teachings isn’t infallibility, it’s authority. We are called to follow Church teaching. Period; full stop. We follow it because it’s authoritative, not because it’s infallible. :shrug:

I agree that the Church requires the submission of intellect and will. Obviously, civil government lacks this requirement

But still, civil government requires your obedience to law. When you transgress a law that’s been set, there are penalties. Not that much difference from the Church…

It would just be nice to be able to defend the Church’s current stance on something like “the pill” as infallible teaching

Aah… now, I think, you’ve hit on it. It would be easier if we were able to say, in response to all challenges, “the Pope said it, so it’s infallible.” It’s more difficult to have to give good reasons… or to accept them.

I’d still like a rational basis with which to explain that change in the context of a Church with infallible (and thus non-changing) beliefs without a limp discussion on the Catholic difference between “discipline” and “doctrine”.

Hmm… why is that distinction ‘limp’, in your opinion?

I appreciate your time, Gorgias.

You’re welcome! :thumbsup:

I’m not trying to dismiss. It’s about seeing things in the context in which they actually happened. Gorgias expressed this much better.

Re: the topic of the thread
Galileo and the Infallibility of the Church

The Galileo issue doesn’t fit into that paradigm of infallibility of the Church

Here is why

Infallible teaching requires these points to be in place

[LIST]
*]A pope intends to teach and define a doctrine
*]on a matter of faith and morals ALONE
*]and the entire Church must believe it
[/LIST]
Galileo’s case didn’t involve that.

Vatican I, ecumenical council, defined “papal infallibility”"we teach and define as a divinely revealed dogma that

[LIST]
*]when the Roman pontiff speaks EX CATHEDRA,
*]that is, when,
[LIST=1]
*]**in the exercise of his office as shepherd and teacher of all Christians, **
*]**in virtue of his supreme apostolic authority, **
*]he defines a doctrine concerning faith or morals to be held by the whole church,
*]he possesses,
[LIST]
*]by the divine assistance promised to him in blessed Peter,
[/LIST]

*]that infallibility which the divine Redeemer willed his church to enjoy in defining doctrine concerning faith or morals.
*]Therefore, such definitions of the Roman pontiff are of themselves, and not by the consent of the church, irreformable."
[/LIST]

[/LIST]
From,papalencyclicals.net/Councils/ecum20.htm

That said, Ecumenical Church Councils can also teach infallibly when results are confirmed by the pope.to be followed by the entire Church. If a pope doesn’t confirm a council as binding on the entire Church it then is a Synod or local council and not binding on the entire Church

Galileo’s case, while mistakes were made, doesn’t qualify in the area of infallibility

It is certainly no gotcha! :smiley:

If the pope today stated with all sincerity we must stop burning carbon based fuels or we will warm the planet dangerously, what would you make of that? Infallible? Of course not. No pope, no body of the church hierarchy, not “the Church herself”, has authority to teach on matters of science and the natural world.

There is nothing in the motion of heavenly bodies that pertains to our journey toward our eternal life.

Hi!

…well, actually, if the pope or the member of the hierarchy or mere Catholic Priest were a scientist… they would have the authority to teach on science and the natural world:

This is a list of Roman Catholic clerics[1] throughout history who have made contributions to science. These cleric-scientists include Nicolaus Copernicus, Gregor Mendel, Georges Lemaître, Albertus Magnus, Roger Bacon, Pierre Gassendi, Roger Joseph Boscovich, Marin Mersenne, Bernard Bolzano, Francesco Maria Grimaldi, Nicole Oresme, Jean Buridan, Robert Grosseteste, Christopher Clavius, Nicolas Steno, Athanasius Kircher, Giovanni Battista Riccioli, William of Ockham, and others listed below. The Catholic Church has also produced many lay scientists and mathematicians.

The Jesuits in particular have made numerous significant contributions to the development of science. For example, the Jesuits have dedicated significant study to earthquakes, and seismology has been described as “the Jesuit science.”[2][3] The Jesuits have been described as “the single most important contributor to experimental physics in the seventeenth century.”[4] According to Jonathan Wright in his book God’s Soldiers, by the eighteenth century the Jesuits had “contributed to the development of pendulum clocks, pantographs, barometers, reflecting telescopes and microscopes, to scientific fields as various as magnetism, optics and electricity. They observed, in some cases before anyone else, the colored bands on Jupiter’s surface, the Andromeda nebula and Saturn’s rings. They theorized about the circulation of the blood (independently of Harvey), the theoretical possibility of flight, the way the moon effected the tides, and the wave-like nature of light.”[5 ([URL=“https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_Catholic_cleric-scientists”]https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_Catholic_cleric-scientists

)
…I concur with you that on theological grounds the Church has no authority on making certain pronouncements; however, I cannot but strongly disagree with the dictates that being a member of the Church would automatically bar a person for having any authority in matters of science and the natural world.

Maran atha!

Angel

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