On a forum, a person made the following statements. I am at a loss at how to answer these statements:
*An infallible statement is necessary if the “monolithic voice” (granted, that was my term) is to command the assent of Catholics. Otherwise, all you have is a group of people who happen to be in agreement at a given time, which is not the same thing.
The issue of when human life begins, the legitimacy of cloning, the morality of stem-cell research, the permissibility of abortion - none of these has ever been INFALLIBLY defined by Church teaching. No moral issue ever has been decided infallibly. (Doctrinal issues, yes, many times. Moral issues, no.)
Consequently, the Church does not speak with an INFALLIBLE voice on these issues. A serious voice, yes, absolutely. But not infallibly.
Canon Law explicitly states that no teaching is infallible unless it is EXPLICITLY called such. If you have to INFER that a teaching is infallible, if you have to INTERPRET the infallibility into it, then according to Canon Law, it cannot be held to be infallible, and therefore cannot command even the “material assent” of Catholics. That’s not me talking, that’s the Code of Canon Law - which is issued over the Pope’s signature.
Consequently, if the Pope had intended to make an infallible statement about abortion, cloning, stem-cell research, etc., he would have issued an infallible pronouncement and not a (serious, but not infallible) papal encyclical, which is what “Evangelium Vitae” is.
o With all due respect to Archbishop Levada, he exceeds his authority as an archbishop in calling a papal pronouncement infallible, when the Pope himself has declined to do so. He makes the same mistake in this regard that (then) Cardinal Ratzinger did when he said that “Ordinatio Sacerdotalis” was infallible.
This is precisely the kind of back-and-forth guessing game that renders the document NON-infallible! The Pope makes a pronouncement that, while serious, is NOT infallible. Other Church leaders - Levada, Ratzinger - say it IS infallible. The very fact that this confusion exists means that - again according to the Code of Canon Law - the teaching, while certainly gravely serious, does not rise to the level of an infallible pronouncement.*
Are these statements correct? If so, are moral teachings of the Catholic Church not doctrinal? Are they subject to change, or not? Why doesn’t the Catholic Church declare these teachings mentioned infallibly?