I don't believe in papal infallibility...How can I stay in the Church?

I grew up Catholic, but never really understood the doctrines and teachings of the Church. About two years ago, I started studying relentlessly about God and Christianity and about a year ago, I became a true Christian. But after a great deal of studying, I cannot in good conscience accept papal infallibility, or infallibility at all. I understand what the true teaching of the Church is on this concept and how it works…I know the difference between impeccability and infallibility…and I know it doesn’t apply to everything. But after studying it very closely, I can’t accept it.

I don’t want to debate whether I am right about Church infallibility. I have already had that debate here and elsewhere and I cannot, no matter how hard I have studied the issues, come to that conclusion. Even Scott Hahn’s various works on the Pope have left me certain I am right. So in that respect, I have no desire to debate infallibility here any further. Of course I will continue praying and studying the doctrine, but I am not posting here with the intention of debating it.

I am coming to you all to ask, in all sincerity, whether a person who knows the doctrine and rejects it, could possibly stay in the Church. I believe it is very difficult to do so, and I feel as though I can no longer take the Holy Eucharist in the Catholic Church now as a result of my thoughts, at least not honestly and according to Church doctrine. So assuming I never change my mind, is it possible to stay in the Catholic Church and take the Eucharist or am I required to agree with this doctrine to take the Eucharist and be truly apart of the Church?

Thank you all for your time, I look forward to hearing from each of you.


You need to find a Jesuit and discuss this matter with him. Until you have done so, you aren’t being honest with yourself and are endangering your soul.
All too often, those of us who study religion without guidance, get so full of our intellectual abilities we are blinded by the truth…and all of the discussions/arguments we post on the internet is of no avail, because we are too full of ourselves. You have fallen into the same spiritual trap many of our Protestant bretheren have fallen into, ever since the Reformation.
So, until you have discussed this face-to-face with someone who is trained in Catholic Theology and who is at least your intellectual equal, you are not being honest with yourself, and all the discussion on an internet site is futile.

Often a problem with the charism of infallibility lies in having a problem with the value of mankind. This may not be the case with you. But, often it is. And, it is a particularly pervasive view today.

Other than that, it’s really not rocket science. It’s about trust in the mercy and justice of God. Consider this as an opportunity to work on an area you might want to strengthen. Immediately comes to mind the areas of trust and obedience. Sometimes addressing problem thoughts is not always straight forward. A very good, spiritual director; that is, someone who actual knows his stuff (meaning… philosophy and theology) would help loads. The fact that you want to believe is quite admirable.

God gave us Father Abraham.

God gave us Papa Benedict.

God is perfectly orderly in everything He does.

God gave us every other guy regardless of his sinful nature in between.

If you reject Church infallibility…

… how do you even know you’re in a Church to begin with? I mean, we could be totally fooling ourselves and you, couldn’t we?

Infallibility means inability to teach error. How could one be sure of the truth if it could be continually changed and diluted. Even you own interpretations can be contaminated.

Infallibilty is a necessity.


This is a strange question to ask. If you had done your homework as you say, you would’ve noticed this anathematization attached to Pastor Aeternus, in which Papal infallibility was defined:

So then, should anyone, which God forbid, have the temerity to reject this definition of ours: let him be anathema.

“Anathema” means excommunication. Canon law forbids excommunicates from receiving communion. So, yes, you are required to submit to this and all the rest of the Church’s teachings in order to licitly receive communion.

I do not accept infallibility the way it is often presented here. I do accept it as it was presented to me in RCIA when I converted.

But let me ask you something: of the very few things Popes have said that fall under the umbrella of infallible proclamations, do you disagree with any of them? (Other than infallibility itself?) If you agree with the teachings of the Church, if you accept the Deposit of Faith, I certainly wouldn’t be foregoing the Blessed Sacrament, and, after all, where else would you go?

Love the Lord and follow Him. It’s really up to you.

There’s a huge logical fallacy in there - I just don’t know the proper name for it! Something in Latin, I’m sure :slight_smile:

I am well aware of the teaching yes…But obviously you are quite dispassionate about the situation. If I am to be excommunicated for denying the teaching and removed from the Church based on my own beliefs, then I suppose based on that same doctrine, I am committing a sin worthy of hell…But if I pretend to accept the teaching, I am also committing a terrible sin worthy of hell by defiling the Eucharist…and if I can’t in good conscience accept the teaching, then where am I at? Destined for hell for not believing in a few select teachings of the Church. Based on the catechism you cite, that is precisely the case. Does that sound like God to you?

There are some teachings I disagree with as well, but if I accepted infallibility that wouldn’t matter anymore…so that is really the root of the theological problem. Also, even if I agreed with everything except infallibility, I still think, based on the Catholic position, I couldn’t take the Eucharist.

The Orthodox Church would disagree with you completely, as would the entire Jewish faith prior to the time of Jesus, who also lived without infallibility, relying on tradition and authority.

Actually, yes, it does. You see, this teaching rests upon the promise that Christ gave us that the gates of hell would not prevail against the Church and that she would be protected by the Holy Spirit. The doctrine of infallibility only states that when speaking about matters of faith and morals, the pope cannot speak in error. The Holy Spirit simply won’t allow it to happen.

If you reject papal infallibility, then you reject Christ’s promise and you have therefore called Christ a liar. This isn’t a cafeteria or a democracy. You take the whole enchilada, or you get nada. You can have doubts - and this is where prayer comes in and you make a decision to act in obedience while seeking answers - but you cannot reject the teaching and remain Catholic. God doesn’t ask us to understand everything He tells us to do. He does, however, expect obedience…just as any good parent does.

This is a gross overstatement. First of all, you are assuming that Christ promised Peter’s successors the same infallibility he promised Peter. I am not calling Jesus a liar, I am saying I believe the interpretation is wrong.

I don’t know if what you’re doing is a mortal sin. That’s not my place to judge. I’m just telling you what canon law says re: worthiness to receive communion.

You needn’t “pretend” to accept it, though. Simply acknowledge in humility that you are probably not as wise as any of the men present at Vatican I, that there is much you don’t know and don’t understand. There’s much I don’t know and don’t understand, too, but I trust in the judgment of wiser men under the guidance of God.

You guys are trying to have the infallibility debate…I thought the OP wanted the other debate, whether he can be Catholic under these circumstances.

Short answer, no.

Long answer: The Church is only the Church if it has the authority to define what the Christian faith is. If it is not competent to speak the faith to the world, then it’s not the Church and no one should want to be in it. Infallibility is only one issue, but it is an issue to which the Church speaks very definitely. The reason someone who rejects it is rendered anathema is that to reject it is to reject the authority of the Church and its identity AS the Church. So, logically impossible to be part of it.

It is of such lesser importance to the question whether you “agree” or not. That is an incorrect understanding of the relationship of the person to the Church. “Agreement” is not required, submission is. Submission requires the assent of faith to all teachings presented by the Church for belief, the intellectual assent to the teaching on infallibility as correct regardless of your understanding of it, and the continued attempt on your part to fully understand infallibility as the Church does.

I want to be in the Church to get my soul saved, everything else is secondary. There are many, many issues I do not understand well enough, but I have accepted the Church as the Spiritual Authority and I will not contradict Her. To contradict Her would make no sense, if I am asking Her to grant me the means of Salvation in Christ.

Your statement makes no sense at all. Who did Jesus expect to guide the Church after Peter died? If you believe that Jesus gave that infallibility to Peter, why don’t you believe it’s passed on along the lines of succession? For the charism to remain only with Peter would be downright silly; otherwise, you’d have to believe that Jesus promised the Church would only prevail as long as Peter remained alive. :confused:

Others will say it better than I, but if you can’t make sense of something that is dogmatically defined, then have the humility and obedience to accept it. That doesn’t mean accept it and just leave things as they are. Pray about it. Pray for discernment. To understand fully and accept the issue at hand. You are right in that it is not a matter that can be debated. It’s Truth. That’s all there is to it. You are not wrong for questioning your faith. An inquisitive mind is good because it means you are seeking the Truth. Speak to a Priest about it and pray pray pray. Leaving the Church for a man made ecclesiastic community will not be the answer. It will lead for an “easier” life for you. But you would be denying the True presence of Jesus Christ to go join a man made religion. That’s not something, in good conscience, that anyone would advise you to do. Pray about it my friend. And seek the answers from those who know more than we do. Have the humility to open yourself more than you already are to learning and understanding and pray that it clicks for you. God Bless.

The thing is, who can you believe if no one is infallible? Maybe you can stay in the church no matter what anyone says. Its up to you now.

Until you are capable of granting intellectual assent to the teachings of the Church, you are far better off remaining outside. To join would be to essentially lie to the Holy Spirit, would it not? That is a grave error, as recorded in Acts 5.

Tell you what: go to adoration of the Blessed Sacrament and spend time in Jesus’ presence. Ask him to reveal the truth to you - then be patient with Him just as He has been patient with you.

If you are truly seeking the Truth, it is worth spending a lifetime in the search. You are truly lost once you stop seeking it.

I applaud your faith in the face of your doubt. Blessed is he who has not seen, but has believed.

the Church itself is infalable and a Heresey to think or say different. Its said that the Church is infalable and will stand to the end of time, not be confused or misunderstood to mean people of a free will are themselves are infalable.

A huge example is when Popes and religious leaders called the People to Crussaders, that is an example of person calling for an act of Freewill that was more an misleading of the people. or today Religous leaders ignore the heretical ways of bigotry, unjustified wars, and socialism that are stripping away peoples freedom and liberty.

the church in an infalable way says it is wrong, but the should be leaders are ignorant of their obligation to speak out against because they are uneducated to the Infalable churchs call.

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