Magisterium - Infallibility -?

Magisterium - Infallibility - ???

I am sure I do not know perfectly the terms associated with Catholic teaching authority.
I once was way off (thinking the imprimatur of a single bishop was infallible), but I am still sure I do not understand perfectly.

I know that there are 21 Ecumenical Councils, and these meetings of worldwide Bishops (Cardinals) produce infallible teachings.
I know the Pope as documented at Vatican I can speak infallibly. I am a minimalist here in that I would say only 2 Papal decrees are agreed upon by all Catholics as being exercises of the Pope’s infallibility.

I get confused with terms like:

  1. Ordinary/Extraordinary Magisterium.
  2. Ordinary/Extraordinary Universal Magisterium.
  3. Ecclesiastical Magisterium.
  4. Magisterium

Is it simple to define 1 (a & b), 2 (a & b), 3, 4?

Which term applies to infallible/irreformable conciliar definitions from the 21 ECs?
Which term applies to conciliar definition from local councils that were never declared ECs?
Which term applies to Papal statements that are sealed by Papal Infallibility?
Which term applies to Papal statements that are not sealed by Papal Infallibility?

Should the term “Magisterium” unmodified by assumed to be one of the first 3, or is it about context to determine how the unmodified term is used?

I would be happy to read a link. I would hope not to have to read a book so that I might know this, but if that is the only way I would be willing to put that on my LIST.

Thanks for any help.

Charity, TOm

Hi Tom, welcome. I am a little confused, what do you mean by a and b in 1 (a & b), 2 (a & b)? What are a & b?

Infallibility refers to the fact that the Church established by Christ cannot teach error on matters of faith and morals. It concerns those matters which the entire Christian faithful are bound to. In other words, it doesn’t count opinions of Bishops, teachings that are not universal (for everyone), etc…

Infallibility is a logical conclusion based on the fact that God is Truth, and Christ is God. Here are a few Scriptural passages related to infalliblilty by virtue of the fact that God does not err, and the Church He established is led by Him (His Spirit) and speaks with His very Voice and is the “pillar and bullwark of truth”:

“…if I am delayed, you may know how one ought to behave in the household of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and bulwark of the truth.” (1Tim 3:15)

“When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth; for he will not speak on his own, but will speak whatever he hears, and he will declare to you the things that are to come.” (Jn 16:13)

“But the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you everything, and remind you of all that I have said to you.” (Jn 14:26)

“Whoever listens to you listens to me, and whoever rejects you rejects me, and whoever rejects me rejects the one who sent me.” (Lk 10:16)

“As for you, the anointing that you received from him abides in you, and so you do not need anyone to teach you. But as his anointing teaches you about all things, and is true and is not a lie, and just as it has taught you, abide in him.” (1Jn 2:27)

“For it has seemed good to the Holy Spirit and to us to impose on you no further burden than these essentials:” (Acts 15:28)

“And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything that I have commanded you. And remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” (Mt 28:18-20)

I think the a & b refers to “Ordinary” and “Extraordinary” in those items.

Here is what the Church says about infallibility:

890 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

892 Divine assistance is also given to the successors of the apostles, teaching in communion with the successor of Peter, and, in a particular way, to the bishop of Rome, pastor of the whole Church, when, without arriving at an infallible definition and without pronouncing in a “definitive manner,” they propose in the exercise of the ordinary Magisterium a teaching that leads to better understanding of Revelation in matters of faith and morals. To this ordinary teaching the faithful "are to adhere to it with religious assent"422 which, though distinct from the assent of faith, is nonetheless an extension of it.

scborromeo.org/ccc/p123a9p4.htm#889

2035 The supreme degree of participation in the authority of Christ is ensured by the charism of infallibility. This infallibility extends as far as does the deposit of divine Revelation; it also extends to all those elements of doctrine, including morals, without which the saving truths of the faith cannot be preserved, explained, or observed.77

2051 The infallibility of the Magisterium of the Pastors extends to all the elements of doctrine, including moral doctrine, without which the saving truths of the faith cannot be preserved, expounded, or observed.

scborromeo.org/ccc/p3s1c3a3.htm#2035

The two links take you to a more in-depth look with far more detail and context.

You’re missing one - Pope St. John Paul the Great defined that the Church lacked authority to ordain women to priestly orders in Ordinatio Sacerdotalis. This teaching was upheld as infallibly taught by the CCD (with the Pope’s expressed consent and approval).

I am also a minimalist, but I must admit this third teaching to the Bar.

I categorically deny the popular misconception that everything that any Ecumenical Council teaches is automatically regarded as infallible, and I challenge anyone who holds this opinion to cite any supporting Catholic Doctrine. A Council MAY teach infallibly (just as a Pope MAY teach infallibly), but often does not (just as Popes often do not, at least, as far as we can claim in Catholic teaching).

I absolutely refuse to accept anybody taking out his Vatican-1 infallibility checklist (which applies only to Popes, not to Councils) and deciding for himself what prior teachings are infallible. The Magesterium of the Catholic Church ALONE can define what is infallible doctrine. All others - put your Kaptain Katholic dekoder rings away. They amount to nothing.

And I challenge any Catholic to say WHY IT MATTERS to the guy in the pew, who is expected to believe and follow ALL Catholic teaching, without regard to infallibility. I would prefer that the Church had never taught this distinction, which is of practical importance to only a small number of theologians and Canon Lawyers.

890 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

892 Divine assistance is also given to the successors of the apostles, teaching in communion with the successor of Peter, and, in a particular way, to the bishop of Rome, pastor of the whole Church, when, without arriving at an infallible definition and without pronouncing in a “definitive manner,” they propose in the exercise of the ordinary Magisterium a teaching that leads to better understanding of Revelation in matters of faith and morals. To this ordinary teaching the faithful "are to adhere to it with religious assent"422 which, though distinct from the assent of faith, is nonetheless an extension of it.

scborromeo.org/ccc/p123a9p4.htm#889

2035 The supreme degree of participation in the authority of Christ is ensured by the charism of infallibility. This infallibility extends as far as does the deposit of divine Revelation; it also extends to all those elements of doctrine, including morals, without which the saving truths of the faith cannot be preserved, explained, or observed.77

2051 The infallibility of the Magisterium of the Pastors extends to all the elements of doctrine, including moral doctrine, without which the saving truths of the faith cannot be preserved, expounded, or observed.

scborromeo.org/ccc/p3s1c3a3.htm#2035

The two links take you to a more in-depth look with far more detail and context.

Ahs and other,
Thanks for the response.
Would it be correct to say that 891 is describing the “extraordinary magisterium” which is infallible and irreformable?
And 892 is describing the “ordinary magisterium” which is protected from teaching error so as to bring congregants into the “true faith,” but lacks the absolute chrism of infallibility?

Then, the term “magisterium” would be an ambiguous term. Context may point to either extraordinary or ordinary.

What about the term “Ecclesiastical Magisterium?”

Also, I will make a few claims in my response to David because he brought up one of the places in which my view of infallibility (the one I would embrace were I a Catholic), differs from most Catholic’s view.
Charity, TOm

I am hoping David will respond more fully to this. For my part, no, I don’t think there is a distinguishing from “ordinary” or “extraordinry”. It’s just the Magesterium, and it either makes a declaration or it doesn’t, and that declaration is either infallible or was not intended to be so. But it should be noted that I’m not educated on the topic…I can only grab what the Church has said/written, and post it like I did above.

What about the term “Ecclesiastical Magisterium?”

I don’t know. Looks like another way of saying “Magesterium” to me, with “of the Church” or “teaching body” in front of it.

. This teaching was upheld as infallibly taught by the CCD (with the Pope’s expressed consent and approval).

I am also a minimalist, but I must admit this third teaching to the Bar.

I categorically deny the popular misconception that everything that any Ecumenical Council teaches is automatically regarded as infallible, and I challenge anyone who holds this opinion to cite any supporting Catholic Doctrine. A Council MAY teach infallibly (just as a Pope MAY teach infallibly), but often does not (just as Popes often do not, at least, as far as we can claim in Catholic teaching).

I absolutely refuse to accept anybody taking out his Vatican-1 infallibility checklist (which applies only to Popes, not to Councils) and deciding for himself what prior teachings are infallible. The Magesterium of the Catholic Church ALONE can define what is infallible doctrine. All others - put your Kaptain Katholic dekoder rings away. They amount to nothing.

And I challenge any Catholic to say WHY IT MATTERS to the guy in the pew, who is expected to believe and follow ALL Catholic teaching, without regard to infallibility. I would prefer that the Church had never taught this distinction, which is of practical importance to only a small number of theologians and Canon Lawyers.

David,
I read your first sentence and I was about to disagree with you (and still will). Then I read the rest and I am puzzled a little, but it is interesting.

To my disagreement and some comments on it:
Ordinatio Sacerdotalis is not an exercise of Papal Infallibility and is thus not a 3rd instance of a doctrine being declared via the Chrism of Papal Infallibility.
That women cannot hold the ministerial priesthood is infallibly true per the Dubium you references, but this is not due to the Chrism of Papal infallibility.

Many people have said what you say above, and it is one of the reasons I think Papal Infallibility is a tough nut to crack (especially for a non-Catholic). It seems problematic that the Pope would speak as he did if his intention was to utilize ordinary magisterium teaching rather than extraordinary magisterium teaching (this is what the Dubium actually says he was doing).

Now, concerning the idea that the EC are not infallible in some comprehensive way, but like the Pope can be speaking using ordinary magisterial teaching authority; wow! This is the first I have heard that. You suggested I could not find somewhere to document the infallibility of ECs, but doesn’t CCC891 say that they are? I suppose that CCC891 speaks of Papal Infallibility, but we know from Vatican I there are conditions placed upon it so perhaps there should be conditions upon Conciliar Infallibility. Where would I read more on your idea that councils are not always infallible.

I am thinking that these are tough questions.
Charity, TOm

Actually, I think I’m mistaken about that. Ordinatio Sacerdotalis was not

ex Cathedra

. John Paul the Great merely “passed along” the universal and ordinary teaching of the Church.

It’s infallible, but it’s not

ex Cathedra

.

My bad - sorry.

It’s infallible, but it’s not .

My bad - sorry.
I agree with you. True, but not an exercise of Papal Infallibility.
Any more info on what you said about ECs not being infallible always.
Charity, TOm

The Catholic Church has never defined the terms of Conciliar infallibility. It might seem reasonable to apply the conditions of Papal infallibility to Councils, but it is not found in Catholic Doctrine.

Where would I read more on your idea that councils are not always infallible

You cannot read this in any authoritative source (the Church is not in the habit of defining what She does NOT teach). Nor can you read in any authoritative source that all Papal teachings are always infallible. You CAN read (from Vatican-1) that not all Papal teachings are infallible, and by what conditions a Papal teaching MIGHT be defined as infallible (by the Church - not by private theologians with their Kaptian Katholic VatiKan1 DeKoder rings).

Since the Catholic Church has not defined the terms by which an Ecumenical Council MAY teach infallibly, no such correlation can be stipulated (only implied). The application of Papal infallibility to an Ecumenical Council is purely speculative.

But, even if we accept the idea, it means that the teachings of an Ecumenical Council MAY be regarded as infallible, but are often not (which is what the Church says about Papal teachings, and is what I said in the first place).

You cannot read this in any authoritative source (the Church is not in the habit of defining what She does NOT teach). Nor can you read in any authoritative source that all Papal teachings are always infallible. You CAN read (from Vatican-1) that not all Papal teachings are infallible, and by what conditions a Papal teaching MIGHT be defined as infallible (by the Church - not by private theologians with their Kaptian Katholic VatiKan1 DeKoder rings).

Since the Catholic Church has not defined the terms by which an Ecumenical Council MAY teach infallibly, no such correlation can be stipulated (only implied). The application of Papal infallibility to an Ecumenical Council is purely speculative.

But, even if we accept the idea, it means that the teachings of an Ecumenical Council MAY be regarded as infallible, but are often not (which is what the Church says about Papal teachings, and is what I said in the first place).
David, thanks again for the reply.

Are you familiar with any places I might read who agree with you? This is very foreign to me.

I found a table at this website. It looks very in line with all I have been able to learn, but it disagrees with you concerning the EC.
worldheritage.org/articles/Magisterium

Charity, TOm

I would be happy to respond, but it is not exactly clear to me which aspect of this is foreign to you.

Are you saying that you have always believed that everything that any Ecumenical Council does is infallible?

The question is complicated by the fact that, prior to about a Century ago, Canon Law was often promulgated by Councils. Canon Law is not doctrine, and thus cannot be regarded as infallible.

For example, the very first Ecumenical Council of the Church, the Council of Nicaea (325 AD), promulgated twenty Canons. ALL of these have been abrogated, including Canon 20, which says you can’t kneel on Sunday.

In fact, ALL Canons of ALL Ecumenical Councils have been abrogated by our modern system of Canon Law (though some have been reinstated). The First Edition of the Code of Canon Law abrogated all prior Canons, and the Second (and current) Edition abrogated the First.

Some Councils don’t do anything doctrinal. The Fifteenth Ecumenical Council, the Council of Vienne, dissolved the Knights Templar (and, at the last minute, endowed a few University Chairs). The Thirteenth Ecumenical Council, the First Council of Lyon, deposed an Emperor and imposed a tax.

The Sixteenth Ecumenical Council, the Council of Constance, deposed three claimants to the Papacy and installed a new Pope to end the Great Western Schism. This is a BIG historical problem for the Church, because most Catholic theologians believe that one of those claimants was legitimate, meaning a Council probably deposed a legitimate Pope, which a Council cannot do, and it would mean that the Pope installed by Constance was actually an anti-Pope. In the opinion of a majority of faithful Catholic theologians, an Ecumenical Council installed an anti-Pope.

So please help me understand your understanding of an Ecumenical Council, so I may accurately answer your question.

Modern Catholic Dictionary:
MAGISTERIUM. The Church’s teaching authority, vested in the bishops, as successors of the Apostles, under the Roman Pontiff, as successor of St. Peter. Also vested in the Pope, as Vicar of Christ and visible head of the Catholic Church. (Etym. Latin magister, master.)
MAGISTERIUM, ORDINARY. The teaching office of the hierarchy under the Pope, exercised normally, that is, through the regular means of instructing the faithful. These means are all the usual channels of communication, whether written, spoken, or practical. When the ordinary magisterium is also universal, that is, collectively intended for all the faithful, it is also infallible.
**MAGISTERIUM, EXTRAORDINARY. **The Church’s teaching office exercised in a solemn way, as in formal declarations of the Pope or of ecumenical councils of bishops approved by the Pope. When the extraordinary magisterium takes the form of papal definitions or conciliar decisions binding on the consciences of all the faithful in matters of faith and morals, it is infallible.

This takes a bit of explanation to get the point accross.

[LIST=1]
*]JPII’s Ordinatio Sacrerdotalis vatican.va/holy_father/john_paul_ii/apost_letters/1994/documents/hf_jp-ii_apl_19940522_ordinatio-sacerdotalis_en.html
*]CDF’s clarification on Ordinatio Sacerdotalis because liberals in the Church had a few cows on what JPII’s statement meant
[/LIST]Highlighting CDF
Re: “the clarification”, then Card Ratzinger wrote (all emphasis mine) “This teaching requires definitive assent, since, [FONT=Comic Sans MS]founded on the written Word of God, and from the beginning constantly preserved and applied in the Tradition of the Church, [/FONT]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.”

Looking at the wording of what JPII wrote in Ordinatio Sacerdotalis

“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.”

itemizing the salient points

[LIST]
*]in virtue of his ministry (chair of Peter, )
*]He declares to be difinitive, and held by the entire Church
*]that effects the Church’s divine constitution
*]that the Church has no authority to ordain women priests
[/LIST]Is that an infallible statement?

Looking at Vat 1 and the definition of papal infallibility and what language determines infallible teaching

[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

JPII spoke infallibly, and the entire Church is to obey this teaching.

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