Eek…This has turned into a rather tangled mess here at the end, so I’ll be bowing out shortly. Just wanted to address this first:
It seems to me that determining infallibility and making an infallible statement are two different things. Determining whether or not a statement by a previous pope is infallible or not is not a matter of “can do” or “can’t do” for theologians, as if they either have the special charism or don’t. It’s a matter of correctly or incorrectly assessing the qualfications for infallible statements and then making a pronouncement accordingly.
Now. Precisely because this “power” (that all human beings have) is not protected under the charism of infallibility, it is possible for a given theologian to err in his assessment? Yes! It is. However…That’s why we have things like the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. If the matter is critical enough, we look to the congregation to settle the matter once and for all. The congregation is not an ecumenical council and it is not the pope. However, it is a group of the Church’s finest theologians who, from what I understand, taking pains-taking steps to ensure accuracy in all their pronouncements. (For obvious reasons.)
Regarding priestly ordination:
Prepared by the Sacred Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith
Approved for Publication by His Holiness Pope John Paul II
John Paul II
October 28, 1995
Responsum ad Dubium Concerning the Teaching Contained in Ordinatio Sacerdotalis
Dubium: Whether the teaching that the Church has no authority whatsoever to confer priestly ordination on women, which is presented in the Apostolic Letter Ordinatio Sacerdotalis to be held definitively, is to be understood as belonging to the deposit of faith.
Responsum: In the affirmative.
This teaching requires definitive assent, since, founded on the written Word of God, and from the beginning constantly preserved and applied in the Tradition of the Church, it has been set forth infallibly by the ordinary and universal Magisterium (cf. Second Vatican Council, Dogmatic Constitution on the Church Lumen Gentium 25, 2). Thus, in the present circumstances, the Roman Pontiff, exercising his proper office of confirming the brethren (cf. Lk 22:32), has handed on this same teaching by a formal declaration, explicitly stating what is to be held always, everywhere, and by all, as belonging to the deposit of the faith.
The Sovereign Pontiff John Paul II, at the Audience granted to the undersigned Cardinal Prefect, approved this Reply, adopted in the ordinary session of this Congregation, and ordered it to be published.
Rome, from the offices of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, on the Feast of the Apostles SS. Simon and Jude, October 28, 1995.
Joseph Card. Ratzinger
Archbishop Emeritus of Vercelli
The Congregation hereby informs us that the teaching that the priesthood is to be reserved to men alone has been infallibly put forth by the ordinary magisterium of the Church (…with a quick refence to Vatican II. I love that…LOL)
Then, Pope John Paul came along afterwards and essentially said, “Hey, in case you didn’t notice, or somehow weren’t aware…” His statement was not an ex cathedra pronouncement simply because one cannot infallibly define what has already been infallibly defined. Know what I mean, Gene?
“In this case, an act of the ordinary Papal Magisterium,** in itself not infallible**, witnesses to the infallibility of the teaching of a doctrine already possessed by the Church.” (Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger as head of the CDF, Oct. 1995)
The Congregation has spoken. The matter is settled.
Unless a papal teaching is missing one of the four
requirements I mentioned earlier, then it is infallible.
The thing is that there are only two statements in the history of the Church by popes that are *not *missing one of those four (the Council groups them into three) qualifications apparently. Those on the Assumption and the Immculate Conception of Mary.
All other statements by the pope may be “in the exercise of his office as shepherd and and teacher as all Christians” (Vatican I), but they are not a matter of the pope “defin[ing] a doctrine…” (Vatican I). “Defining” is the key word there. Translate the word “Infallibly declare once and for all.”
When the pope teaches Christians in his ordinary Magisterium, he does not do so wafflingly. It’s not as if he stands around, going, “Uh…Well…My opinion on this matter would be that,uhhh…” However, there is a reason why we distinguish ex cathedra statements from all others. Because they alone are protected by the charism. All other statements are not.
The First Vatican Council had no authority until the Pope approved it. It therefore falls under the authority of the Pope
If there was an error in one of the doctrines of the Council that the Pope approved, then obviously the Pope was not infallible when he approved it.
…Hmm…Kind of a chicken or the egg scenario here. I understand what you’re getting at with what you’re saying above. But, again, we have to make the proper distinctions: a papal ratification of an ecumenical council is a matter of papal “prerogative” or administrative authority, to be precise. It’s not an ex cathedra exercise in that the pope himself is not defining dogma. The council is.
Therefore even the ordinary teachings of the Pope are infallible.
They’re not. Do you understand the reason why? It all comes down to that third clause of the Pope intending to “define” (or “infallibly declare”).
Peace be with you,