Infallibility during Luther's time?


I do not know my history as well as I should, so forgive me for my ignorance. But everyone knows that during the time of Luther, the Catholic Church, or the clergymen associated with it at least, were practicing non-Biblical acts and teaching them to the people, such as the selling of indulgences. That is why Luther broke from the Church.

Now then, did the Pope actually declare that indulgences could be sold, and if so, his infallibility should be discredited, shouldn’t it? Even if the Pope had nothing to do with it, I’m curious to know what would happen if any pope declared such a thing. Would he be considered an anti-pope??


Offcourse the pope was on board! It STILL is a defended dogma of the church and must be believed upon as a requirement for salvation.

Popes were supposedly still infallible back then, the doctrine was only formalized in the late 19th century.


I don’t quite get you. You mean the Pope did declare the selling of indulgences as part of the Church doctrine? That people could pay to get their loved ones out of purgatory??


I think Kaycee meant that the Pope continued to have infallibility.
The selling of indulgences is not Dogma.

may God bless and protect us,


Yes, it seems to have arrived during the middle ages more or less. Trent codified it.

Council of Trent (Sess, XXV, 3-4, Dec., 1563) declared: "Since the power of granting indulgences has been given to the Church by Christ, and since the Church from the earliest times has made use of this Divinely given power, the holy synod teaches and ordains that the use of indulgences, as most salutary to Christians and as approved by the authority of the councils, shall be retained in the Church; and it further pronounces anathema against those who either declare that indulgences are useless or deny that the Church has the power to grant them (Enchridion, 989). It is therefore of faith (de fide)


When was this doctrine done away with?


Well, not exactly. Indulgences are not why Luther "broke from the Church. Here are a couple of links you can read regarding Indulgences:

During the middle ages there were perceived abuses (and in some cases, likely outright abuses) surrounding indulgences. Let’s not forget that Christ himself discusses the threefold acts of prayer, fasting, and almsgiving in the Bible. All three of these used to be acts for which one could gain indulgence-- charity through fasting, praying, or almsgiving. The almsgiving portion caused problems due to the perceived scandal of ‘buying’ an indulgence. The church was trying to encourage these acts of charity-- but to some it appeared the church was demanding payment for salvation (and in some cases individual priests might have gained financially… which was a sin on the part of that priest).

So, Trent declared that almsgiving could no longer be one of the charitable works done in conjunction with an indulgence. Now, it is prayer, fasting, Holy Communion, and Confession only.

No he didn’t declare Indulgences could be sold.

If he had, it would in no way affect his infallibility as the way in which indulgences are obtained is not a matter of dogma but of discipline.

No, he would not be an anti-pope. A properly elected Pope is the Pope, period.



Indulgences are a part of the Deposit of Faith. There is a section in the Catechism you can read explaining the concept, and the two links I provided above are also a good primer.

There used to be three forms of charity connected to indulgences: prayer, fasting, and almsgiving. The Church, at the Council of Trent, removed almsgiving as one of the forms of charity so that there would be no confusion among the faithful and no opportunity for dishonesty/sin among the clergy.


Actually I meant Infallibly was read back into history as the doctrine did not exist until the end of the 19th century.

Popes have erred and continue to err.


But not in matters of faith and morals.


My understanding is that indulgences were never authorized to be “sold.”

An indulgence might have been granted for prayer, fasting and almsgiving…it is the almsgiving which may have given the appearance of being sold. At any rate, Luther and the other propagandists seized upon this, so successfully that it is still in the minds of Protestants to this day.


Indulgences have not gone away and you will notice that the statement from Trent does not talk about selling indulgences. As I recall a local Churchman and a local Prince decided to raise some money, not only for the Vatican, but also for themselves by “selling” indulgences. I think since those times money offerings are not tied to indulgences, but certain pius practices and prayer “earn” relief from the temporal punishment due to sin. Indulgences do not forgive sin. For some services rendered by the Church today there is sometimes a freewill offering but in the cases I have heard of it is not required. These guys were making it required. Luther rightfully objected and did not “go off the rails” till later.


I’m sorry if I confused some of you. I was referring specifically to the “selling” of indulgences as opposed to “granting” them. My question was whether or not the Pope had authorized the “selling” of indulgences. I see now that it wasn’t so. :thumbsup:


To say that “the doctrine did not exist until the end of the 19th century” with regard to the dogma of Papal Infallibility is just plain false. The infallibility and primacy of the bishop of Rome is a doctrine that has developed from the earliest centuries of the Church’s existence. To name only a few examples, the teaching primacy of the Pope was proclaimed at the Union of Constantinople (869-79), the Union of Lyons (1274), and the Union of Florence (1438-45).

You stated in an earlier post that it was not “formalized” until the end of the 19th century, when it was officially defined at the first Vatican Council. That is a much clearer way of putting it.


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