More Catholic Questions


Hi everybody. I hope you’re all well. As usual my research has only left me with more questions so I’m hoping to get some good answers here, especially as I am in the process of discerning a possible vocation to the priesthood. By the way, are Encyclopedia Online and Britannica Online reliable sources? I know that the Chadwick brothers and Paul Johnson are good historians and I have a few of their books, I’m just trying to find websites that are relatively objective and free from bias that present information in a clear and concise manner, but if I’m going to have to rely on more rigorous stuff then so be it. Anyway, you may find these to be a little all-over-the-map, but here goes:

  1. Since the Arians forced Pope Liberius to sign a heretical document (sorry I can’t remember which one but I think it had to do with denying the filioque clause from the council of nicaea), is this a violation of the doctrine of papal infallibility?

  2. About the Marian dogmas (Immaculate Conception, Assumption, Queen of Heaven, and so on): are these things that the early Christians believed in, or issues they were even thinking about? Where did they come from?

  3. Britannica Online, in an article on Roman Catholicism, stated that during Vatican 2, the Church officially dropped its " ‘one true church’ position", and “made doctrinal concessions” to protestants. Any truth to this? I found it troubling.

  4. About Vatican 2, is there a clear way to sum up what happened/changed? I realize we went from the Latin Mass to the Novus Ordo, and people were praying the rosary less, but were there any doctrinal changes, for instance on issues that hadn’t already been infallibly defined? It is my understanding, correct me if need be, that beliefs that have not been infallibly defined can be changed. Also, I thought that with Vatican 2, the only changes were stylistic ones, such as with the Mass and how we view Protestants.

  5. Can the Pope infallibly define something without the consent of all (and I mean every last one) the Catholic bishops in the world? Or does he have to be speaking IN UNION with the ENTIRE college of bishops?

  6. Did any Pope, at some point before Vatican 2, make an infallible statement that NO ONE outside the church can ever be saved for any reason? What I mean is, is the doctrine of invincible ignorance a new phenomenon?

Thanks in advance. Peace be with you.


Hey CollegeKid

Yay I get to answer questions…

  1. No, there are certain conditions which must exist before a Papal statement may be considered infallible. The incident with Liberius is commonly brought up by anti-Catholics to try and disprove infallibility. The conditions which must exist, according to the 1870 definitions of Vatican I, are that **the Pope must be teaching in his public and official capacity as spiritual head of the Church, and not merely as a private scholar; ** **He must be teaching some doctrine of faith or morals in a manner that explicitly and solemnly defines an issue; ** **His teaching cannot contradict anything the Church has taught officially and previously; ** **It must be evident that he intends to teach with his supreme Apostolic authority; and ** It must be clear that the Pope intends to bind the whole Church.

The private actions of the Popes are not protected by the charism of infallibility. It is a negative protection–the best example of this is as follows: Let’s say the Pope is infallible in matters of trigonometry. If he is presented a test of 100 trig questions, what is the least number of correct answers he will put down? The answer: 0. If the Pope doesn’t know his trigonometry, he wouldn’t be able to make an infallible statement on it; similarly, if the Pope hadn’t “done his homework” so to speak on theological or moral matters, he wouldn’t be able to speak infallibly about it.

For more, check out

  1. The Marian dogmas are things that were believed for many years–since the very earliest years of the Church–but weren’t defined formally by the Church until much later. A good example of this (and of an infallible Papal pronouncement, incidentally) is when Pope Pius XII proclaimed the dogma of the Assumption, in 1950. The Church had long held that Mary was assumed into Heaven, body and soul, but no formal pronouncement on the matter was made until 1950.

For more, check out
as well as Pope Pius XII’s *Munificentissimus Deus, *in which he proclaimed the dogma of the Assumption. (This may be found at the Vatican webpage).

  1. The statement made in the Britannica article is indeed troubling, and not entirely accurate. The Church did not deny that she is the one true Church, but did state that other Churches contain elements of truth–but not the fullness of it. “Doctrinal concessions” are the false ecumenism that we see today–watering down Catholic beliefs to make them more palatable. The Church merely acknowledged that other Churches get some things right, but not necessarily all. (I don’t remember which Vatican II document says this…help me out guys!)

More to come as I read into these things a bit more.

All in all, consult

I hope I’ve given you a bit of a start.



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