Is the Pope Infallible?

Is the Pope Infallible?

There are only two things a Pope has spoken with infallible certainty recognized by the Vatican. One was with the Assumption and the other is the Virgin Birth of Christ. Although many think there are many more, they are not seen as official by the Church.

Many are mistaken when they think every Pope is infallible when He speak about Church teaching.

The Pope is infallible on faith and morals.

The Pope uses the **charism of infallibility in certain ways.

He is not limited only to speaking ex cathedra.

However, it is not true that the Pope is ‘infallible on faith and morals’ if by that one means that every time the Pope speaks to an individual or a group or writes a personal letter, and speaks of faith or morals, that he is necessarily speaking infallibly.

And above all, infallibility is NOT the same as ‘impeccability’.

Infallibility means that under certain specific conditions (not however limited to speaking ex cathedra, which means there are more than TWO evidences of infallible teaching), the Pope, the Pope in union with all bishops, AND the Ordinary Magisterium can all ‘proclaim’ infallible teachings.

Impeccability means ‘without sin’. And no Pope (any more than any of the rest of us ordinary Christians and nonChristians living) is impeccable.

but don’t just take my word for it. Here is the relevant section from the Catechism of the Catholic Church.

**
The mission of the Magisterium is linked to the definitive nature of the covenant established by God with his people in Christ. It is this Magisterium’s task to preserve God’s people from deviations and defections and to guarantee them the objective possibility of professing the true faith without error. Thus, the pastoral duty of the Magisterium is aimed at seeing to it that the People of God abides in the truth that liberates. To fulfill this service, Christ endowed the Church’s shepherds with the charism of infallibility in matters of faith and morals. The exercise of this charism takes several forms:
891 “The Roman Pontiff, head of the college of bishops, enjoys this infallibility in virtue of his office, when, as supreme pastor and teacher of all the faithful - who confirms his brethren in the faith he proclaims by a definitive act a doctrine pertaining to faith or morals. . . . The infallibility promised to the Church is also present in the body of bishops when, together with Peter’s successor, they exercise the supreme Magisterium,” above all in an Ecumenical Council.418 When the Church through its supreme Magisterium proposes a doctrine "for belief as being divinely revealed,"419 and as the teaching of Christ, the definitions "must be adhered to with the obedience of faith."420 This infallibility extends as far as the deposit of divine Revelation itself.421
The mission of the Magisterium is linked to the definitive nature of the covenant established by God with his people in Christ. It is this Magisterium’s task to preserve God’s people from deviations and defections and to guarantee them the objective possibility of professing the true faith without error. Thus, the pastoral duty of the Magisterium is aimed at seeing to it that the People of God abides in the truth that liberates. To fulfill this service, Christ endowed the Church’s shepherds with the charism of infallibility in matters of faith and morals. The exercise of this charism takes several forms:
891 “The Roman Pontiff, head of the college of bishops, enjoys this infallibility in virtue of his office, when, as supreme pastor and teacher of all the faithful - who confirms his brethren in the faith he proclaims by a definitive act a doctrine pertaining to faith or morals. . . . The infallibility promised to the Church is also present in the body of bishops when, together with Peter’s successor, they exercise the supreme Magisterium,” above all in an Ecumenical Council.418 When the Church through its supreme Magisterium proposes a doctrine "for belief as being divinely revealed,"419 and as the teaching of Christ, the definitions "must be adhered to with the obedience of faith."420 This infallibility extends as far as the deposit of divine Revelation itself.421

No, the Pope has infallibly declared dogma 2 times. He has spoken infallibly many times.

The Pope exercises the Magisterium when he is teaching about faith and morals.

Thank you. Let me elaborate. I thought I read that in the 19th or 20th century that the church decided that the Pope was infallible. Perhaps his infallibility is in the catechism? I"d like to know. The way I understood this is that the Pope could not be wrong with matters of the Church. That is not to say that the Pope could not disagree with his predecessor. He could definitely disagree but the predecessor was right for his conviction and the new Pope is right to disagree or even change Church teaching.

I’ll copy/paste it for convenience:

Let me just repeat my position: There is no such thing as a non-infallible Magisterium. It may be said that the Magisterium is not exercised infallibly, but that is only by virtue of the Church’s subjective recognition of infallibility (i.e., the Church has no certitude on the matter yet and so cannot assert that infallibility has been exercised). However, the Magisterium of the Church is OBJECTIVELY always infallible and always universal because it is the Magisterium of God, regardless of the Church’s subjective recognition.

I’ll prove my position through the following two dialectical scenarios:

Scenario #1:
Imagine a bishop teaching something that has not yet been defined.

Is this bishop proposing infallible teaching? No.
Is this bishop exercising the Magisterium? Yes.
Is this bishop exercising the Magisterium infallibly? No.

Now imagine that 2 months later the teaching becomes defined as de fide in an Ecumenical Council and this bishop is still proposing the same teaching.

Is this bishop proposing infallible teaching? Yes.
Is this bishop exercising the Magisterium? Yes.
Is this bishop exercising the Magisterium infallibly? Yes.
How can you say that the bishop is now proposing infallible teaching, while this same teaching was not considered infallible before? Because the Church had not yet recognized it.
How can you say that the bishop is now exercising the Magisterium infallibly, while he was not doing so before? Because the Church had not yet recognized it.
Is God’s infallible Truth eternally infallible? YES. (This is the whole point of the matter)
So the bishop was actually proposing infallible teaching 2 months ago even though the Church did not recognize it back then? Yes.
So the bishop was actually exercising the Magisterium infallibly 2 months ago even though the Church did not recognize it back then? Yes.
And it was “not infallible” only because the Church had not recognized it yet? Yes.

Scenario #2:
Imagine a bishop teaching something that has not yet been defined.

Is this bishop proposing infallible teaching? No.
Is this bishop exercising the Magisterium? Yes.
Is this bishop exercising the Magisterium infallibly? No.

Now imagine that 2 months later the teaching becomes defined as a heresy in an Ecumenical Council, and this bishop is still proposing the same teaching.

Is this bishop proposing infallible teaching? No.
Is this bishop exercising the Magisterium? No.
How can you say that the bishop was exercising the Magisterium back then, but not exercising the Magisterium today? Because the Church had not yet recognized it as a heresy.
Was the bishop actually and objectively exercising the Magisterium when he was teaching heresy even before it was recognized as a heresy? NO.
Was the bishop then a heretic when he was teaching the heresy even before the Church recognized the heresy? He was teaching material heresy, but he was not a formal heretic (or just “heretic,” for short).

The whole point of this exercise is to demonstrate that, epistemologically speaking, there is an objective level of infallibility in the Magisterium (i.e., the Magisterium is objectively ALWAYS infallible) and there is also a subjective level of infallibility (i.e., that depends on the Church’s formal recognition as an agency of the Magisterium). Another way to put it is that there is truth, and then there is infallible truth. The latter is that Truth that the Church (as an agency of the Magisterium) has formally recognized is infallible. To this infallible Truth, the Church is exhorted to give the “assent of Faith.” The former is Truth that the Church has not yet formally recognized as infallible. To this type of Truth, the Church is exhorted to give “religious assent or obedience.”

Brother Cassini expressed it well – that to actually believe that the Magisterium is itself non-infallible outside it’s formal pronouncements would give credence to the idea that the Church as a whole is actually teaching error. But we know that the Church as a whole is both infallible and indefectible.

The dogma of papal infallibility was defined at the First Vatican Council.

He can’t change Church teaching. No one can change truth, since the truth is always before us. The Church is the “channel” through which it comes to us.

Thank you Tantum Ergo.

I thought the Pope couldn’t change teachings of Jesus but he could change something that is solely Church teaching. Like not eating meat on Friday for example. Another example is allowing divorced and remarried couples to have communion. Some Cardinals want that changed.

At the Catholic grade school I attended, we were taught the Pope was infallible in religious matters only.

“Teachings” and “rules” are not the same. The Pope cannot change Church doctrine (which covers more than only the words of Jesus). The Pope can change rules all day long.

I doubt the Church will change the rule about remarried couples receiving (and this is a rule, not a Doctrine). Nobody is supposed to receive if he may be guilty of mortal sin (any mortal sin). It is presumed that the remarried couple are practicing adultery against their former spouses, and adultery can be mortally sinful (and probably is, in most cases). The Church cannot change the nature of sin, so the Church can’t say it’s not sinful for remarried couples to have sexual relations. What was sinful yesterday is always sinful tomorrow.

I’ve heard of remarried couples being allowed to receive if they promise to live together “as brother and sister.”

Here is a good answer direct from Catholic Answers:

catholic.com/tracts/papal-infallibility

Peace,
Ed

Correct. The Pope cannot change anything taught by Jesus. However, he can define or clarify misunderstandings or developments.

For example: IVF didn’t exist in Christ’s time. The Pope is protected by the Holy Spirit to teach the Truth regarding new developments in the world regarding Faith and Morals.

Also, the Pope can make changes regarding Discipline. But he cannot change Doctrine, but can more clearly define Doctrine, which is called Dogma. Dogma is clearly defined Doctrine.

Eating meat on Friday is a discipline, but not a Doctrine or Dogma. Discipline helps us live Christian lives, but they are not part of the Deposit of Faith. Therefore, it’s changeable if the Discipline isn’t achieving the results it’s supposed to do.

Allowing divorced and remarried couples to have communion is more complex. This is a discipline of the Church because it protects the those souls of those people from the mortal sin of Sacrilege. Furthermore, it could lead to the mortal sin of Scandal. However, the Doctrine regarding this is four fold:

  1. That in order for a sin to be mortal, the person must know they are committing a mortal sin
  2. there is fact that only those without mortal sin may receive the Lord worthily, as St. Paul says in the New Testament. Otherwise it is sacrilege.
  3. there is Christ’s teaching on Marriage and that divorce is not allowed and that he who divorces his wife and takes another is committing adultery.
  4. the Catholic understanding of Sacramental Marriage and the fact that some people who are married legally may not have been Sacramentally Married (determined via the annulment process)

The Cardinals who want to allow for the divorced and remarried to receive communion are basing it off the ideas that:

  1. that many people who are divorced and remarried without annulment and want to receive communion in their hearts do not believe they are sinning, therefore they MIGHT not be committing a mortal sin
  2. that leaving the Church might be a worse sin than Sacrilege
  3. that the act of adultery was a onetime sin and not reoccurring sin after the divorce (similar to the Eastern Orthodox position)
  4. that there are many people who do not have annulments who were not Sacramentally Married, and that those people should be able to discern this for themselves.

However, the problem with all of this isn’t really doctrinal or dogmatic. The doctrine or dogma wouldn’t change. The discipline regarding protecting the people from these issues. However, the problem is that it is scandalous (aka will lead people to sin) and a disciplinary nightmare. Kind of a kin to allowing citizens to take the law into their own hands whenever they felt they had the right to.

YES. The Pope is the Vicar of Christ. He is infallible.

“Is” the pope infallible? No. Can he teach infallibly? Yes. “The devil is in the details” of this question.

Clearly St. Peter was given this charism of infallibility in Matthew 16:18-19. When is that charism applicable? When he is defining a matter of faith or morals which is binding upon the whole Church - and he speaks so invoking the Seat of Peter. Popes can and do express their personal opinions on matters of faith and morals all the time - but that factor alone does not equate to an infallible “teaching.”

The College of Apostles (bishops) is given the same charism in Matthew 18:18. Today we would call such a “college” an ecumenical council. Does that mean EVERYTHING at an ecumenical council is infallible? No! Only when they are defining a matter of faith or morals which is to be binding upon the whole Church.

AMDG,
Scott<<<

infallibility, applies only to solemn, official teachings on faith and morals, not to disciplinary decisions or even to unofficial comments on faith and morals. A pope’s private theological opinions are not infallible, only what he solemnly defines is considered to be infallible teaching.

The language of an infallible decision has a bit of a formula to it.

Example: From Vat I

[LIST=1]
*]
[LIST]
*]we teach and define as a divinely revealed dogma that
[LIST]
*]when the Roman pontiff speaks EX CATHEDRA,
[LIST]
*]that is, when, [LIST=1]
*]**in the exercise of his office as shepherd and teacher of all Christians, **
*]**in virtue of his supreme apostolic authority, **
*]**he defines a doctrine concerning faith or morals to be held by the whole church, **
[/LIST]
[/LIST]
*]he possesses,
[LIST]
*]by the divine assistance promised to him in blessed Peter,
[/LIST]
*]that infallibility which the divine Redeemer willed his church to enjoy in defining doctrine concerning faith or morals.
*]Therefore, such definitions of the Roman pontiff are of themselves, and not by the consent of the church, irreformable.
[/LIST]
[/LIST]
[/LIST]papalencyclicals.net/Councils/ecum20.htm

iow, when a pope [LIST=1]
*]defines a teaching of the Church that is on a matter of faith or morals alone
*]and it’s clear he does so in virtue of his office as successor to Peter
*]that the teaching must be held by the entire Church
[/LIST]then that teaching is infallible.

Example: of an infallible teaching using that formula

Re: women priests

from*** OrdinatioSacerdotalis JPII***

  1. Although the teaching that priestly ordination is to be reserved to men alone has been preserved by the constant and universal Tradition of the Church and firmly taught by the Magisterium in its more recent documents, at the present time in some places it is nonetheless considered still open to debate, or the Church’s judgment that women are not to be admitted to ordination is considered to have a merely disciplinary force.
    Wherefore,* in order that all doubt may be removed regarding a matter of great importance, a matter which pertains to the Church’s divine constitution itself, in virtue of my ministry of confirming the brethren (cf. Lk 22:32) I declare that the Church has no authority whatsoever to confer priestly ordination on women and that this judgment is to be definitively held by all the Church’s faithful.*
    [/FONT]http://www.vatican.va/holy_father/jo…otalis_en.html

Ergo, the case is closed. There is no more discussion. The language makes it an infallible declaration. No matter a future pope, or council, that decree cannot be reversed.

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