Infallible morality?

I was recently listening to a talk on moral theology. The speaker is a professor at a Catholic university. He made the claim that the Catholic Church has NEVER taught infallibly in the realms of Morality. Is this true?

Perhaps you misunderstood the speaker.

The Church has never taught error in any infallible teaching of Faith or Morals.

He repeated himself twice to make sure we heard him. That’s what he said and meant. He even brought up the Church’s teaching on lending money. In the 1500s lending money at interest was a sin. Now its ok. But that’s changeable doctrine isn’t it?

Ahhh, that sounds like yet another anti-Catholic wolf teaching in a “Catholic” institution. Pray for him.

I’ve heard this opinion before. It is based on a narrowing of infallibility to a great extent, even to an heretical extent. The opinion narrows greatly, or denies, the infallibility of the ordinary and universal Magisterium, under which faculty the Church has taught on morality infallibly many times.

Examples of infallible teachings on morality by the Church:

Heresy is gravely immoral, and many Ecumenical Councils have infallibly taught against heresy.

Evangelium Vitae has three pronouncements on morality that many theologians hold to be infallible:

“Therefore, by the authority which Christ conferred upon Peter and his Successors, and in communion with the Bishops of the Catholic Church, I confirm that the direct and voluntary killing of an innocent human being is always gravely immoral. This doctrine, based upon that unwritten law which man, in the light of reason, finds in his own heart (cf. Rom 2:14-15), is reaffirmed by Sacred Scripture, transmitted by the Tradition of the Church and taught by the ordinary and universal Magisterium.” (EV, n. 57).

“The more recent Papal Magisterium has vigorously reaffirmed this common doctrine. Pius XI in particular, in his Encyclical Casti Connubii, rejected the specious justifications of abortion. Pius XII excluded all direct abortion, i.e., every act tending directly to destroy human life in the womb “whether such destruction is intended as an end or only as a means to an end”.” (EV, n. 62).

“Taking into account these distinctions, in harmony with the Magisterium of my Predecessors and in communion with the Bishops of the Catholic Church, I confirm that euthanasia is a grave violation of the law of God, since it is the deliberate and morally unacceptable killing of a human person. This doctrine is based upon the natural law and upon the written word of God, is transmitted by the Church’s Tradition and taught by the ordinary and universal Magisterium.” (EV, n. 65).

From the Wikipedia article on Cardinal Levada (see here):

In his doctoral dissertation of 1970 in which Levada treated the question of the infallibility of specific moral norms of the natural law, he wrote:

“The human process of formulating moral norms is marked by an essential dependence upon the data of human experience… The variabilities which marked the human process of its discovery and formulation made such particular applications inherently unsuited to be considered for infallible definition… For such formulations must remain essentially open to modification and reformulation based upon moral values as they are perceived in relation to the data and the experience which mark man’s understanding of himself… Even though there is nothing to prevent a council or a pope from extending [infallibility] to questions of the natural moral law from the point of view of their authority to do so, nevertheless the “prudential” certitude which characterizes the non-scriptural norms of the natural law argues against such an extension…The Church has never in fact made an infallible declaration about a particular norm of the natural moral law.”[11]

Perhaps Cardinal Levada meant an explicit declaration of infallibility on morality? :shrug:

Levada’s statement was prior to Evangelium Vitae, in which there are three such definitive infallible definitions.

Also, Levada’s statement is worded to include only papal infallibility and Ecumenical Councils, not the universal magisterium. And his use of the phrase ‘natural moral law’ perhaps indicates that he meant the Church has not given a solemn definition from natural law alone, as opposed to teaching from Divine Revelation what is also in natural law.

So that statement does not support the patently false claim mentioned by the original poster that there has been no infallible teaching on morality.

Cardinals can make mistakes.

I call this the Usury Gambit. It’s usually tossed out in an attempt to make any and all doctrinal issues seem negotiable and legitimize dissent. From this very site, read this response: THE RED HERRING OF USURY

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