Infallibility: Will someone evaluate this article for me?


#1

catholicconcerns.com/Infallibility.html

Anyone know if these claims are true? If so, what’s our feedback? Thanks so much!


#2

Ok I’ll take a swipe :slight_smile:

In 495 A.D., Pope Gelasius issued a decree which rejected this teaching as heresy and its proponents as heretics. In the sixth century, Pope Hormisdas also condemned as heretics those authors who taught the doctrine of the Assumption of Mary. Here we have “infallible” popes declaring a doctrine to be a heresy. Then on November 1, 1950, we have Pope Pius XII (another “infallible” pope) declaring the same doctrine to be official Roman Catholic doctrine, which all Catholics are required to believe. [Note 3]

Please provide a source. And for source I do not mean a quote from William Webster’s book. I mean an original source such as Church document, papal bull etc. If a statement can not be verified, then it has to be ignored. The burden of proof is on your side, you are making these claims.

After you do this, then we will go to the others.

In His love…


#3

This is quite a long article with many curiosities, but I will try to offer some sort of response to at least parts of it…

The writer claims that Pope Zozimus made a doctrinal pronouncement and later reversed it. I don’t know if this statement is true, but the reader must either take their word or reject it because they give no further information on these contradicting pronouncements. Why not reinforce their case by actually citing a source (preferably 5th century or thereabouts) - I imagine the number of people who will go to great lengths to source information on a little-known pope who reigned for less than two years is slim to none.

However, there is a charge often made by deniers of Papal Infallibility regarding Pope Zozimus. They refer to Zozimus pronouncing Pelagius an orthodox teacher and then at a later stage reversing his pronouncement. In fact, Zozimus had been deceived by the heretics on a number of occasions, even when they came to Rome. In time, however, Zozimus realised that Pelagius’ accusors were correct and that he was a deceptive man and a heretic - and this became his final position on the matter. Even if this is the charge which the article refers to, it does not prove or disprove papal infallibility since he was not making a pronouncement regarding faith or morals but declaring a particular to be orthodox or unorthodox.

Moving on to Pope Honorius (which, firstly, is spelled incorrectly by the author of the article) - he was indeed condemned as a heretic. The writer claims that “this means that Honorius made doctrinal statements which are contrary to the Roman Catholic Faith”. Yes, in the case of infallibility- but one can only be infallible in what they actually teach. The pope was not condemned for teaching, but for not teaching. Honorius judged that he ought not to make an official pronouncement on the Monothelite Controversy for the sake of peace in the Church. However, we all know that silence does not always imply approval, and perhaps at the time it seemed the right decision. Honorius successors, with 20-20 vision as we all get with hindsight saw fault in Honorius inaction. As the Catholic Encyclopaedia puts it: “The fault of Honorius lay precisely in the fact that he had not authoritatively published that unchanging faith of his Church… that he had not issued a definition ex cathedra”. So, while he was condemned as a heretic, infallibility should not at all be brought into question as the Pope opted to teach nothing - to do so is to claim that a Pope is infallible in not defining a doctrine!

Regarding Pope Gelasius and the Assumption of Mary - it was not the teaching of the Assumption that the Pope declared to be a heresy. Rather it was the book which contained the teachings - an apocryphal account: “Transitus Sanctae Mariae”. There is not very much info on this or Gelasius’ decree available on the internet, but at very least it is a disgrace that the author, Mary Ann Collins, had not the decency to show readers that the problem was not necessarily to do with the Assumption, but to do with a book containing a particular account of it. So her next paragraph (“So before November 1, 1950, any Catholic who believed in the Assumption of Mary was a heretic…”) should read “So before November 1, 1950 [actually to the present time too], any Catholic who believed in the account of the assumption in ‘Transitus Sanctae Mariae’ was a heretic…”.

I must admit that I am not completely familiar with the works the author refers to regarding Popes Pius XI and Leo XIII. However, having read speedily through the text of “Quanta Cura” I cannot see where the Pope declares that the idea that people have a right to freedom of conscience and freedom of worship is “insanity,” “evil,” “depraved,” and “reprobate”. From my reading of it he was referring to the dangers of a completely secular society where God is excluded. Mary Ann Collins also refers specifically to paragraph 42 of Pope Leo XIII’s encyclical, “Libertas”. She claims that in this paragraph he says that freedom of thought and freedom of worship are wrong. In my reading of it, he says nothing of the sort – he only says that where there are to be such freedoms they should only be employed if the purpose is for doing good. (Text of Libertas here). Unfortunately, the author is not very forthcoming with links to her references. She says “note 4 gives references for them [the encyclicals]”. However, when one looks at note four they are not provided with a link to a website. They are told to search for it themselves by entering certain terms. I expect her hope is that the average reader will not go to the bother of searching for the texts and just take her words at face value.

I will not devote much space to her final claims that “two Roman Catholic organizations have found contradictions between “infallible” doctrinal declarations of the Second Vatican Council and ‘infallible’ doctrinal pronouncements of Pope Pius IX.” Her first error is referring to True Catholic and Women Priests as Catholic organisations. They are heretical. Like she has done, they can bend Church history to suit their skewed arguments and no Catholic should trust their claims. How could we trust an organisation which does not accept John Paul II as a lawful Pope to give an unbiased account of his teachings? Interestingly, it is only to these heretical organisations that the author does indeed give direct links to. How could anyone take such an author seriously? Hope this helps a bit!


#4

The article is heretical, rejecting the dogma of papal infallibility.

The basic flaw in the article’s reasoning is to assume that all teachings of every Pope fall under papal infallibility. The truth is that Vatican One taught that papal infallibility only occurs when certain conditions are met; it does not apply to every papal teaching.


#5

Above post has it right.

Pope Zosimus and “Pelagianism” long answer

short answer: “…the mistake of Pope Zosimus, and it was serious enough, was to believe Celestius [and Pelagius] to be sincere in [their] submission.” (Dom John Chapman). The “mistake” or “error” of Pope Zosimus during the Pelagian controversy was not a “doctrinal issue” – it was in accepting the submission and confessions of Celestius and Pelagius as sincere; this has nothing to do with papal infallibility since it is not an exercise of papal infallibility.

Pope Gelasius and Assumption long answer

short answer: The objection confuses the Transitus “literature” with the Assumption teaching. The mistake is suggesting the Assumption itself was ever condemned, even if some of the Transitus literature was (e. g. the “Pope Gelasian Decree” or Decretum Gelasianum de Libris Recipiendis et non Recipiendis). The Assumption of Mary itself is nowhere condemned, rejected, or declared heretical in the writing. It is simply a delineation of the OT and NT canonical books from the apocryphal books.

Gelasian Decree online HERE or HERE

A true belief (i.e. the Assumption) can be contained in non-canonical or apocryphal material (e.g. the NT book of Jude quotes the apocryphal Book of Enoch). The doctrine of the Assumption was believed quite explicitly from the 6th and 7th century forward by noted saints and doctors of the Catholic Church, east and west: St. Gregory of Tours, St. John Damascene, St. Germanus of Constantinople, St. Andrew of Crete, Amadeus [bishop of Lausarme], St. Anthony of Padua, St. Albert the Great, St. Thomas Aquinas, St. Bonaventure, St. Bernardine of Siena, St. Robert Bellarmine, St. Francis of Sales, St. Alphonsus, St. Peter Canisius, etc. According to Fr. Burghardt, the first Christians to dispute the Assumption were some “Asturians” from Spain in the eighth century, “the first to do so, as far as the evidence goes.” (Juniper Carol Mariology, volume 1, page 153).

Phil P


#6

#7

This article and many others like it make sense to me. They confirm suspicions I already had about papal infallibility. If all popes are and have been infallible throughout church history why are they not in agreement with each other? For example: eating meat on Friday was a mortal sin for many generations of Catholics. Today it is not.
John Paul II declared the Inquisition “the greatest error in church history.”
In Galatians 2 Peter the first pope was teaching circumcision and had to be corrected by Paul 14 When I saw, though, that their behavior was not true to the gospel, I said to Cephas in front of all of them, 'Since you, though you are a Jew, live like the gentiles and not like the Jews, how can you compel the gentiles to live like the Jews?'
It seems to me that papal infallibility was not always a church doctrine. It began with Vatican I around 1870 or so to establish authority. It’s like when you were a child and your parents said, “Because I say so. That’s why.” When someone tries to explain or defend it they just talk in circles.


#8

#9

#10

Why is it so important to declare the Pope infallible? If he wasn’t the church would still go on and God would still be God and the eternal plan of salvation would continue in spite of man’s imperfections just as it did in the Old Testament with imperfect kings.
Step back and look at both sides of the argument. If you were not a religious person what would you think about this whole discussion? I would say give it up and move on to believing that Jesus is infallible. We don’t need a human king to lead us. We have the King of Kings. Read the first book of Samuel where Israel demanded a king. People want to be ruled over by another human. This is not God’s way. He wants to lead us by himself in order to lead us into the truth and give us freedom from sin. It is the duty of the Church and its leaders to lead us to God alone……not to step in and be a stumbling block with a truck load of useless rules that they can’t even follow.


#11

Ron, the examples you give merely illustrate that you do not understand infallibility or the distinction between disciplines (such as not eating meat on Fridays) within the Church and doctrines that are part of the Deposit of Faith given by Christ to the Apostles which cannot be changed - though they can be more deeply understood over the centuries. The Inquisition was not an issue of doctrinal teaching, and I think you would do well to learn more about it. These articles are a good place to start:

catholic.com/thisrock/2007/0709tbt.asp

catholic.com/thisrock/2007/0711tbt.asp

catholic.com/library/inquisition.asp

In Galatians 2 Peter the first pope was teaching circumcision and had to be corrected by Paul 14 When I saw, though, that their behavior was not true to the gospel, I said to Cephas in front of all of them, ‘Since you, though you are a Jew, live like the gentiles and not like the Jews, how can you compel the gentiles to live like the Jews?’ It seems to me that papal infallibility was not always a church doctrine. It began with Vatican I around 1870 or so to establish authority.

Not so; infallibility belongs in a special way to the pope as head of the bishops (Matt. 16:17–19; John 21:15–17). As Vatican II remarked, it is a charism the pope “enjoys in virtue of his office, when, as the supreme shepherd and teacher of all the faithful, who confirms his brethren in their faith (Luke 22:32), he proclaims by a definitive act some doctrine of faith or morals. Therefore his definitions, of themselves, and not from the consent of the Church, are justly held irreformable, for they are pronounced with the assistance of the Holy Spirit, an assistance promised to him in blessed Peter.”

The infallibility of the pope is not a doctrine that suddenly appeared in Church teaching; rather, it is a doctrine which was implicit in the early Church. It is only our understanding of infallibility which has developed and been more clearly understood over time. In fact, the doctrine of infallibility is implicit in these Petrine texts: John 21:15–17 ("Feed my sheep . . . "), Luke 22:32 (“I have prayed for you that your faith may not fail”), and Matthew 16:18 ("You are Peter . . . ").

Your example of from Galatians actually demonstrates the authority of Peter. The difficulty you have re Peter and Paul arises because you do not understand the nature of Infallibility. Papal Infallibility has to do with the Pope’s teaching authority when he is speaking solemnly to the entire Church. The Pope is not infallible in his day-to-day actions. These qualities apply to Peter as well; Peter teaches nothing which is not the true and complete Gospel message. The situation in Antioch had to do with Peter trying to appease the Jewish Christians - much as Paul himself did on several occasions - yet this episode went too far, since it seriously threatened the “oneness” of the Church. That’s why Paul was correct, and Peter had to be set straight - even as numerous Popes had to be corrected in their behavior by Saints throughout the ages. Yet Paul is not questioning St. Peter’s authority here.

What did St. Peter teach that was wrong? The answer is: Nothing. So, you are not addressing his teaching authority, but rather a failure on his part to see the full picture as it applied to his ministry of leadership.

The incident in Galatians is brought up ad nauseum supposedly to “prove” that St. Peter had no special authority. But, then, why does St. Paul boast about it? If St. Peter had no special authority, then there would be no reason for St. Paul to boast, seeing that, in Galatians 2, St. Paul is defending his right to be called an Apostle. Furthermore, you are missing the Jewish pun St. Paul is employing here. Read all of chapters one and two of Galatians. What do you notice here? For starters, St. Paul does something rather strange, he switches between the names “Peter” and “Kephas”. Why? Why use both versions of Peter’s name? For those who understand Koine Greek, the answer is quite obvious. The name “Kephas” is clearly the Greek transliteration of the Aramaic name “Kepha” ("Rock) - the name which Jesus actually used for St. Peter. However, in Greek “Kephas” means something all on its own. In Greek, “Kephas” means “Head”. And so, when St. Paul boasts of rebuking “Kephas” he is saying how he even stood up to “the Head” (of the Church) for the sake of the Gospel. This meaning would not be lost on Paul’s Greek-speaking audience. Look at the alternation between “Peter” and “Kephas”; whenever St. Paul refers to St. Peter’s position of leadership, it’s “Kephas” (Gal. 1:18, 2:9, 2:11, 2:14), yet when he refers to St. Peter’s position as a fellow Apostle, he uses the name “Peter” (Gal. 2:7-8). St. Paul’s meaning is strikingly clear

It’s like when you were a child and your parents said, “Because I say so. That’s why.” When someone tries to explain or defend it they just talk in circles.

It may be that you haven’t received adequate explanations. Or could it be that you do not want to believe what you are taught, no matter how good the argument? :shrug:


#12

But we are not in the Old Testament times, are we?! It seems that to you Christ’s coming into our world makes no real difference between that of the time pre-Christ and after Him. But to the contrary, now we live according to His Perfection, the perfection of Who He is and the way He has taught us to draw close to Him and through Him to the Father by the power of the Holy Spirit. In Christ we have - to put it mildly - a vast improvement in God’s relations with man. And Christ has ensured by the authority He gave to Peter and his successors and the bishops in union with them, that the whole treasury of the Deposit of Faith is safeguarded. This article might help you:

bringyou.to/apologetics/a46.htm

A brief quote from it:

The Church as the prolongation of that Man’s knowledge and experience is preserved from error by the One Who so prolongs it in objective ways so that even though individually each member of the Magisterium is fallible a united teaching and sacramental life is kept infallible (no problem for God to do!), so that the victory of that Man over sin and death and error is not defeated in practice in the Church as a whole (otherwise we either have a pretty weak God or we have God operating exactly as in the Old Testament with no improvement in the New and Eternal Covenant in Christ’s Incarnate Redemption). The Incarnation changes everything; it changes the nature of the Covenant. While the entire priesthood could go awry in the Old Covenant, since the Incarnation of God among His People He won’t allow it; there’s an improvement in the union of God with and among His People over and above the prior covenant.

Step back and look at both sides of the argument. If you were not a religious person what would you think about this whole discussion? I would say give it up and move on to believing that Jesus is infallible. We don’t need a human king to lead us. We have the King of Kings. Read the first book of Samuel where Israel demanded a king. People want to be ruled over by another human. This is not God’s way. He wants to lead us by himself in order to lead us into the truth and give us freedom from sin. It is the duty of the Church and its leaders to lead us to God alone……not to step in and be a stumbling block with a truck load of useless rules that they can’t even follow.

Again you emply an OT example which is good, but the Better has arrived. Yes, Jesus is infallible. And how is His infallibity to be understood by man? What is our guide? Scripture alone? if so, whose interpretation and why should anyone believe anyone’s interpretation and what their authority is to interpret it for us. The Church must share in Christ’s infallibility in order to do precisely what you want her to do.


#13

Peter was teaching people that they had to be circumcised. He was straying from the original gospel teaching and putting his own spin on it. He was adding his own message to the original message. Is that a doctrinal error?

As far as abstaining from meat being a discipline; that was not the impression I or my parents or grandparents ever got from the church. We were taught it was a mortal sin and the consequence of eating meat on a Friday was loss of eternal life.


#14

No, because you are mistaking what Paul himself describes as “hypocrisy” for a definitive teaching. IOW, Paul says that Peter is being hypocritical in that formerly Peter would dine with gentiles, but now he wouldn’t. Peter, rightly or wrongly, didn’t want to offend the weaker brethren who would be scandalized (some of the Jewish Christians - “the circumcized” ) so he refrained from doing so. Peter was not teaching that the gentiles had to be circumsized. (Paul himself seems to have forgotten that he had Timothy - who was part Jew and part Greek - circumsized in order to avoid unnecessary scandal or have Timothy become a stumbling block to their message with the Jews.)

As far as abstaining from meat being a discipline; that was not the impression I or my parents or grandparents ever got from the church. We were taught it was a mortal sin and the
consequence of eating meat on a Friday was loss of eternal life.

Yes, it was sinful if someone were acting in violation of the known discipline of the Church; it was a sin against the rightful authority of the Church to invoke such spiritual disciplines. The practice itself, however, is not from the Deposit of Faith received from Christ and so could be changed. This article addresses quite fully your concern:

jimmyakin.typepad.com/defensor_fidei/2005/03/changing_the_la.html


#15

Thanks for your sincere and logical responses. Your patient and kind attitude is appreciated.


#16

Thank you, Ron. I glad I could be of some small help. God bless you always.


#17

The reason it matters is because Protestant denominations don’t claim they’re the one true church and that Jesus gave them (the leaders) the authority to make the decisions. Catholics do make this claim so if it really is the true church, we must obey, if it’s not, or they’re lying about certain doctrines/dogmas they make, then we should stay far away. If their claims on infallibility are wrong, then potentially, many other doctrine’s are wrong. If they just said from the beginning that they do the best they can but may lead the church into error, then we wouldn’t place so much responsibility on them. The responsibility would be to each individual, like it is w/Protestants/Anabaptists/non-Catholic Christians.


#18

How do you explain this? It is from allaboutreligion.org.

“Victor I (189-199) first approved of Montanism in 192, and then later condemned it. Honorius (625-638) taught the heresy of Monotheism, which denied that Christ simultaneously possessed two separate natures-human and divine. He was later condemned as a heretic by the Third Council of Constantinople in 680. Marcellinus (296-304) entered the Temple of Vesta and offered incense to the pagan goddess. Liberius (352-366) consented to the condemnation of Athanasius, the ‘great defender of the Deity of Christ,’ and made a profession of Arianism that he might be recalled from exile and reinstated in his seat. …Gregory I (590) declared that anyone who believed it was not necessary to take both the bread and wine at Mass was to be excommunicated; Innocent III (1215) stated that anyone who believed it was necessary was to be excommunicated. Paschal II (1099-1118) and Eugene III (1145-1153) authorized dueling; Julius II (1503-1513) and Pius VII (1800-1823) forbade it. Hadrian II (867-872) declared civil marriages to be valid; Pius VII condemned them. Sixtus V (1585-1590) published an edition of the Bible and recommended it to be read; Pius VII condemned the reading of it, claiming the edition to be full of errors. Clement XIV (1769-1774) abolished the order of the Jesuits; Paul III (1534-1549) permitted it and Pius VII re-established it. The list of such errors is quite lengthy, but the foregoing examples sufficiently prove our point.”


#19

Ron, what you quote was obviously written with little insight into what it tries to demolish; it is a conflation of personal errors - a pope may be personally in error - (not teaching error) and disciplines that can be changed. Posts #3 and #5 address Zosimus and Honorius. (Note, too, the error in the second sentence: “Honorius (625-638) taught the heresy of Monotheism.” :smiley: )

For a good presentation on Honorius:

catholic-legate.com/articles/honorius.html


#20

Thats easy… The person who wrote this does not know what he doctrine of papal infallibility is all about.

In His love


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