Infallible Teaching


#1

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?

Thank you.


#2

[quote=ej1111]*
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.)
*

Completely wrong. The church holds all statements made under the following conditions are infallible:

  1. The statement made is with respect to faith or morals. (NOTE: THIS INCLUDES MORALS).
  2. The statement is made as an official declaration or teaching of the church (as all the above statements such as abortion, stem cell research, etc, have been made.)
  3. The church holds its statement to be binding on all the faithful (as it has for all of the above.)

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.

Heh heh… canon law could care less about the conditions of infallibility. Infallibility is a matter of church doctrine, not church practice.

[/quote]


#3

These statements are riddled with errors.

Invite your friend here, post haste, and let us talk with him. There is no reason you should have to do this on your own.

God Bless,
RyanL


#4

[quote=threej_lc]Heh heh… canon law could care less about the conditions of infallibility.
[/quote]

Canon law contains a canon about infallibility, and hence could be construed as caring:

Can. 749 §1. By virtue of his office, the Supreme Pontiff possesses infallibility in teaching when as the supreme pastor and teacher of all the Christian faithful, who strengthens his brothers and sisters in the faith, he proclaims by definitive act that a doctrine of faith or morals is to be held.

§2. The college of bishops also possesses infallibility in teaching when the bishops gathered together in an ecumenical council exercise the magisterium as teachers and judges of faith and morals who declare for the universal Church that a doctrine of faith or morals is to be held definitively; or when dispersed throughout the world but preserving the bond of communion among themselves and with the successor of Peter and teaching authentically together with the Roman Pontiff matters of faith or morals, they agree that a particular proposition is to be held definitively.

§3. No doctrine is understood as defined infallibly unless this is manifestly evident.


#5

[quote=Pug]Canon law contains a canon about infallibility, and hence could be construed as caring:
[/quote]

I stand corrected.

Also of interest:

We teach and define that it is a dogma Divinely revealed that the Roman pontiff when he speaks ex cathedra, that is when in discharge of the office of pastor and doctor of all Christians, by virtue of his supreme Apostolic authority, he defines a doctrine regarding faith or morals to be held by the universal Church, by the Divine assistance promised to him in Blessed Peter, is possessed of that infallibility with which the Divine Redeemer willed that his Church should be endowed in defining doctrine regarding faith or morals, and that therefore such definitions of the Roman pontiff are of themselves and not from the consent of the Church irreformable (see Denziger §1839).-- Vatican Council, Sess. IV, Const. de Ecclesiâ Christi, chapter iv


#6

I think LG 25 is also interesting, given that the post mentions a type of lesser assent. Here is a quote:

Bishops, teaching in communion with the Roman Pontiff, are to be respected by all as witnesses to divine and Catholic truth. In matters of faith and morals, the bishops speak in the name of Christ and the faithful are to accept their teaching and adhere to it with a religious assent. This religious submission of mind and will must be shown in a special way to the authentic magisterium of the Roman Pontiff, even when he is not speaking ex cathedra; that is, it must be shown in such a way that his supreme magisterium is acknowledged with reverence, the judgments made by him are sincerely adhered to, according to his manifest mind and will.


#7

As far as I know papal infallibility has only ever been declared on the Assumption (Pius XII) and the Immaculate Conception of Mary (Pius IX).

Does anyone know differently?


#8

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