Infallibility of the pope?


My apologies in advance if I don’t word this 100% correctly but hopefully you will understand what I am trying to ask. In the history of the church, has any pope ever reversed what a previous pope had stated was dogma? Has Church law ALWAYS been Church law or has it ever changed over the course of history?


I can think of many matters concerning which a pope had reversed some earlier popes’ decisions, or even his own earlier decisions as pope, but these were all in disciplinary or administrative matters, not Dogma.


Two different questions.

No, no pope has ever changed a doctrine taught by a previous pope as a required matter of faith.

Yes, church laws have been changed. One good example is that the Roman Rite requires priestly celibacy, which wasn’t always the case. Another example is that all anathemas have now been lifted. Church laws are not doctrines, but mere man-made procedural rules, and therefore do not involve papal (or church) infallibility. Infallibility means only that the Holy Spirit stops the Church from teaching erroneous doctrine, not from enacting bad rules, or from changing old rules when they become outmoded.

  1. Dogma has never been changed by any Pope.
  2. Church law can be changed as it is not dogma, but disciplinary. This is borne out scripturally with the passage, "Whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven. Whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.:
    Deacon Ed B


In other words, even Roman Catholics must admit that all practices, traditions, or teachings of the RCC which are not dogmatic are subject to error.


No, this is not admitted, because we have the promise that the Holy Spirit will be with us until the end of time and the gates of hell cannot prevail. Matters disciplinary, have nothing to do with correctness or incorrectness. They are binding discipline. An example would be not eating meat on Friday. This was binding discipline until abrogated after Vatican II. This was discipline, not dogma. You either accept what the Church teaches, believes and practices. If you do not, you are not truly Catholic. Those like this are cafeteria Catholics and are not truly Catholic, no matter what they say, believe or feel.
Deacon Ed B


So then disobeying something like that would only be sinful because the RCC says it’s wrong to disobey what it teaches…rather than there being anything implicitly right or wrong about the teaching itself?


No, they need not admit that.

It is explicitly wrong, not just implicitly if the Church is given the power to bind and loose by Christ.


PC Master:
Since obviously you did not take Catechism studies, here it is:
CCC 893:
Acceptance by the Catholic Faithful of non-infallible teachings proposed by the ordinary Magisterium:
“To this ordinary teaching, the faithful’ are to adhere to it with religious assent’ which though distinct from the assent of faith, is nonetheless an extension of it”.
But then this problem pales in comparison to non-catholic ‘fallible canon theory’.


If your parents make rules for you to follow and you chose to brack the rules you committ a sin because you are to obey your parents! We are to obey the Church, if you dont want to obey you sin. Plus no-one is forcing you to be a Catholic if you dont want to obey, then leave, its your choice.
If you want to be a Boy Scout but refuse to wear the iniform are you a Boy Scout?


Actually, yes.

Wearing the uniform is one of the privileges of being a Scout, but is not a requirement. Many Scouts in the Pack in which I serve as Chartered Organization Representative do not own uniforms, but still actively participate in Scouting.

While the Boy Scouts of America strongly encourages all Scouts to wear their uniforms with honor and pride, we do recognize that some may not do so due to reasons of expense (as any parent of a rapidly growing boy can attest) or for other personal reasons. For more information about the Boy scout uniform, see here.



On something moral like contraception, it is because the action is wrong. With something like fasting regulations, Holy Days of Obligation etc. then it is wrong to break them, but not because it’s intrinsically wrong out of context, but because in doing so you are deliberately disobeying the Catholic Church which has the power to set disciplinary measures on members


I don’t think the real issue is about rules, but authority. The Church has 2000 years of accumulated wisdom in protecting us from harm, so spiritual submission is liberation, not masochism.

The Church is not a dominating dictator.

Spiritual submission is nothing to fear.


The non-infallible teachings of the Pope are non-irreformable, that is, they are subject to a limited possibility of error and subsequent correction.

The Pope only teaches infallibly when his teaching meets the criteria taught by the First Vatican Council. Short of those conditions, he teaches non-infallibly and non-irreformably.


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