Has Pope Francis spoken infallibly?

In RCIA today Father said that it was rare for a pope to speak infallibly. I was under the impression that every pope speaks infallibly at some point. He said that Pope Francis hasn’t spoke infallibly nor had Pope Benedict and that there is some speculation in the church that Pope John Paul II did, but it’s not definite.

I’m lost… So when can a pope speak infallibly and what was the last infallible teaching?

Father spoke correctly - it is rare for a Pope to teach infallibly.

Neither Pope Benedict-16 nor Pope Francis has taught anything that has been recognized by the Catholic Church as infallible (though all Catholics are *bound *by whatever they teach). Whether a particular teaching is “infallible” is really of interest only to a limited number of academic theologians. It does not matter, in any way, to the vast majority of Catholics.

Our Holy Father, John Paul-2, taught that (according to the ORDINARY Magasterium) the Church lacks the authority to confer priestly Orders upon women. This teaching has been recognized as infallible by the Magesterium (and is the only teaching that has been promulgated with the specific adjective, infallible).

Pope Francis has repeated many infallible doctrines of the Church which have been previously taught.

From Vatican I (Pastor Aeternus), for infallibility to be exercised the Pope must teach
(a) ex cathedra (from the Chair of Peter), that is as Shepherd and Teacher of all Christians,
(b) speaking with Peter’s apostolic authority to the whole Church,
© defining a doctrine of faith and morals.

So the Pope’s ‘ex cathedra’ definitions may be either of revealed dogma, to be believed with divine faith, or of other truths necessary for guarding and expounding revealed truth. Vatican Council II and the post-conciliar Magisterium have explicitly affirmed that both ecclesial and papal infallibility extend to the secondary doctrinal truths necessary for guarding and expounding revelation. Thus *Humanae Vitae *(Encyclical) and *Ordinatio Sacerdotalis *(Apostolic Epistle) contain infallible doctrinal definitions, to remove all doubt.

Vatican II (Lumen Gentium, 25) reaffirms this teaching: “The Roman Pontiff, head of the college of bishops, enjoys this infallibility in virtue of his office, when, as supreme pastor and teacher of all the faithful – who confirms his brethren in the faith (cf. Lk 22:32) – he proclaims in an absolute decision a doctrine pertaining to faith or morals.

Christ’s Catholic Church has explained what *ex cathedra *means re papal authority:
Pope John Paul II’s Apostolic Letter Ad Tuendam Fidem, 1998, Vatican I and Vatican II and the CCC.

The three levels of teaching are:
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 require intellectual assent (“loyal submission of the will and intellect”, Vatican II, Lumen Gentium 25), not an assent of faith. [See the Explanatory Note on ATF by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith
]
ewtn.com/library/CURIA/CDFADTU.HTM

**Answer by David Gregson of EWTN on Nov-22-2002: **
“You are correct in stating that the Pope exercises his charism of infallibility not only in dogmatic definitions issued, ex cathedra, as divinely revealed (of which there have been only two), but also in doctrines definitively proposed by him, also ex cathedra, which would include canonizations (that they are in fact Saints, enjoying the Beatific Vision in heaven), moral teachings (such as contained in Humanae vitae), and other doctrines he has taught as necessarily connected with truths divinely revealed, such as that priestly ordination is reserved to men. Further details on levels of certainty with which the teachings of the Magisterium (either the Pope alone, or in company with his Bishops) may be found in Summary of Categories of Belief.”

Thus, no dogma has to be affirmed, nor anyone anathematized, nor the word “define” or “definition” be used for an infallible papal teaching – only that the Pope is handing down a certain, decisive judgment that a point of doctrine on faith or morals is true and its contrary false.

Abu thank you for such a clear explanation. Maybe it should be made into a sticky, as questions about papal infallibility appear regularly. I will certainly be referring people to this post.

Whenever the Pope teaches the whole Church on matters of Faith, (what we believe) and Morals, ( How we live that belief) it is Infallible. Documents signed by the Pope at Councils. Whe he canonizes a saint, that’s Infallible, If I’m not mistaken, when Pope John Paul II spoke on 'no women priests;, that was Infallible. God Bless, Memaw.

Before a Pope speaks Ex Cathedra, does he state that he is about to do so?

The words ex cathedra are never used in any papal infallible teaching, as they describe the importance of his teaching on faith or morals as the Shepherd and Teacher of all Christians with Peter’s apostolic authority to the whole Church.

So the Pope never signifies when he’s about to make an infallible statement, am I understanding that correctly?

If that’s the case, another issue comes to mind. Should the pope teach an error at any point (say, for some of the bad popes we’ve had in the past that sold indulgences for profit and what not), it can easily be refuted by saying, “Sorry, but the Pope was not in ‘Pope Mode’ before making that particular statement, and therefore he did not really teach in error” whereas if he teaches correctly we can just assume that it was infallible. It sounds like a cushion or small margin to account for possible error.

There is no specific required signifier, but should a modern Pope choose to exercise his personal charism to define a dogma of the Faith infallibly, we would know. Look at the dogmatization of the Assumption in 1950 and the Immaculate Conception in 1854 (though the latter was before the actual definition of papal infallibility at Vatican I)

If that’s the case, another issue comes to mind. Should the pope teach an error at any point (say, for some of the bad popes we’ve had in the past that sold indulgences for profit and what not), it can easily be refuted by saying, “Sorry, but the Pope was not in ‘Pope Mode’ before making that particular statement, and therefore he did not really teach in error” whereas if he teaches correctly we can just assume that it was infallible. It sounds like a cushion or small margin to account for possible error.

Even the bad popes, though they may have committed terrible sins and fostered bad practices, never bound the entire Church to error. Seriously, you won’t find one.

Usagi

Thorns #8
Should the pope teach an error at any point (say, for some of the bad popes we’ve had in the past that sold indulgences for profit and what not)

The actions of a pope outside of teaching doctrine or dogma to the whole Church on faith or morals as The Shepherd and Teacher of all Christians must NOT be confused with personal failings. Such infallibility should NOT be confused with impeccability (which means he cannot sin) and we have had a few bad popes.

I understand this. My question is, where does the line begin and end? We can say that the bad popes never bound anyone to error because they weren’t in “infallible mode” but since they never actually specify, how do we know for sure? Wouldn’t the selling of indulgences for profit be an error in teaching aside from it just being a sin on the pope’s side?

Did any POPE ever sell indulgences?

I thought that was only an infraction on certain clerics (mainly Johann Tetzel). And, even Terzel’s profits were dedicated to building St. Peter’s Basilica, which stands today. Has anyone ever claimed that Tetzel diverted funds to himself?

Did any POPE do ANY of this?

Ex Cathedra is used when defining a dogma. Infalliblity comes in other forms.

Each and everything set forth by the Teaching Magisterium of the Church regarding teaching on Faith and Morals must be firmly accepted and held; namely, those things required for the holy keeping and faithful exposition of the deposit of Faith; therefore, anyone who rejects propositions which are to be held definitively sets himself against the teaching of the Catholic Church. CANON 750
That covers a lot of territory!. God Bless, Memaw

You should read the book, “Pope Fiction” by Patrick Madrid. You can get it thru CAF. Then come back and tell us what you think. OK. That will answer a lot of your questions. God Bless, Memaw

The point is that the bad popes never did the thing that causes papal infallibility to engage. They never put forward a theological or moral teaching and declared that all Catholics everywhere were bound by it. We are not saying “These popes tried to bind people’s consciences to error, but we declared later that they weren’t doing it right.” They never even tried to make their wrong actions and opinions the rule for everyone else.

Some popes have fornicated, but none has ever declared fornication A-OK.

Leo X seems to have been on board with Tetzel’s methods of pushing indulgences, but at no point did he proclaim that all Catholics must accept such behavior. The Church’s teaching that simony (the selling of spiritual goods) is a sin remained and still remains intact.

John XXII taught that souls are not judged until the Last Day, a theological error – but he taught it in his sermons and later accepted correction on the issue. At no point did he insist that all Catholics accept his opinion on the topic.

Pope Benedict was very careful, in the introductions to his books about Jesus’ life, to state that he was giving his private opinions as a theologian and not making any firm statements as Pope.l

Even John Paul II’s declaration that the Church cannot ordain women was quickly clarified as not being an exercise of ex cathedra infallibility, but merely a restatement of what the Church has always believed and taught (and therefore irreformable not by the Pope’s personal charism of infallibility, but by the infallibility of the ordinary magisterium).

I’ll grant that it’s not easy to go back and pick out past instances of papal infallibility from long before the definition was made, but I assure you, if any future pope exerts the charism (aside from canonizations), we will know, probably long before it ever happens. Heck, we know about planned canonizations months before they happen these days, so those count too.

Usagi

Usagi #15
Even John Paul II’s declaration that the Church cannot ordain women was quickly clarified as not being an exercise of ex cathedra infallibility, but merely a restatement of what the Church has always believed and taught (and therefore irreformable not by the Pope’s personal charism of infallibility, but by the infallibility of the ordinary magisterium).

Doctrinal *ex cathedra *definitions are not that “rare”, although this has been a common fallacy. Papal dogmas (such as on the Assumption) are “rare”.

Pastor Aeternus has the dogma of Vatican I on papal infallibility: ewtn.com/library/COUNCILS/V1.HTM#6
Chapter 4.
“On the infallible teaching authority of the Roman pontiff

….when the Roman Pontiff speaks EX CATHEDRA, that is, when, 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, by the divine assistance promised to him in blessed Peter, 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.” [My emphasis].

So the Pope’s ‘ex cathedra’ definitions may be either of revealed dogma, to be believed with divine faith, or of other truths necessary for guarding and expounding revealed truth. Vatican Council II and the post-conciliar Magisterium have explicitly affirmed that both ecclesial and papal infallibility extend to the secondary doctrinal truths necessary for guarding and expounding revelation. Thus Humanae Vitae (Encyclical) and Ordinatio Sacerdotalis (Apostolic Epistle) contain infallible doctrinal definitions, to remove all doubt.

In fact, the 1983 revision of Canon Law had replaced in #749.3 “dogmatically declared or defined” with “infallibly defined”, thus NOT expressing a limitation of infallibility to dogmas. ATF better enables Canon Law to apply to the understanding of infallibility with the Profession of Faith covering the two categories of infallible doctrine.

The meaning of the word ‘define’ was explained to the Fathers of Vatican I, before they promulgated the dogma of papal infallibility, as follows: “the pope is said to ‘define’ a doctrine when he passes judgment directly and finally, ‘in such a way that each and every Catholic can be certain as to the mind of the Apostolic See and of the Roman Pontiff.’ ”

The Pope’s own words in Ordinatio Sacerdotalis: definitive tenendum, mean precisely “requiring to be held definitively.”

Closely following Bishop Gasser’s explanation, Vatican II shows that it considers the words “define” and “proclaim” to be equivalent by using the word “definition” when it states: “Therefore his definitions are rightly called irreformable, etc.” [Lumen Gentium, 25].

“In the final analysis, therefore, the reason the Church has always rejected female service in the sanctuary is that such service is very closely related, both symbolically and often causally, to the ministerial priesthood itself. And this can never possibly be conferred upon women, as John Paul II declared on the Feast of Pentecost last year in what is clearly an infallible, ex cathedra definition. 10
Note:
“10. It stops short, however, of being a solemn dogmatic definition on a par with those of the Immaculate Conception and Assumption, which are defined as truths of faith, binding on pain of heresy. Cf. the present writer’s article, “Cardinal Ratzinger on Ordinatio Sacerdotalis,” *The Priest *(Journal of the Australian Confraternity of Catholic Clergy), Spring 1994 / Summer 1995, pp. 5-6.”
rtforum.org/lt/lt58.html

Thank you Abu and God bless, Memaw

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