On the importance of understanding infallibility

In the Apologetics thread Is the lumen fidei an infallible document?, DavidFilmer contended that:

when John Paul the Great declared the infallible nature of the teaching that the Church has no authority to ordain women……the teaching itself did not come from the Pope, but from the Ordinary Magesterium (the Bishops).

Such an error concerning a document of the importance of a papal Apostolic Epistle (Ordinatio Sacerdotalis) explains the poster’s confusion.

Infallibility means nothing to the guy in the pew. There is no reason why most laypeople should care one way or another.

With that attitude, such “laypeople” will never be able to understand, explain or defend Christ’s charisma of infallibility to His Church, protected by the Holy Spirit.

The revered Fr John A Hardon, S.J., in How Infallible Is the Teaching Church, in The Teaching Church in Our Time, Daughters of St Paul, 1978, p 107, points out precisely why many Catholics are confused: “…there has been so much discussion and counter-discussion in Catholic circles about the fundamentals of Catholic doctrine that many are confused.”.

In fact, as Br Santogrossi shows, “acts by Paul VI and John Paul II had not been sufficient to put an end to the questioning of the tradition received from the apostles. John Paul II says in OS 4: ‘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 open to debate.’ With these words which precede the decisive phrase cited above, John Paul II indicates that the doctrine of the reservation of the priesthood to men belongs to the ordinary and universal teaching of the Church already in force." [My emphasis].
Homiletic & Pastoral ReviewIgnatius Press, February 1999
Ordinatio Sacerdotalis: A definition ex cathedra
By Ansgar Santogrossi

“What John Paul II has done by OS is to infallibly signify, with the theological note definitive tenendam, the mediate but necessary opposition between the “ordination” of women and the deposit revealed to the Church.”[My emphasis].
catholicculture.org/culture/library/view.cfm?recnum=835
“Brother Ansgar Santogrossi, O.S.B., is associate professor of philosophy at Mt. Angel Abbey and Seminary in St. Benedict, Oregon. Within the past year his doctoral dissertation was finished and accepted and he was granted a Ph.D. degree.”

Abu,

I feel like Church teaching on infallibility has been taken in a way it was never intended. The point of the dogma is to preserve the authority of the Church and Pope in the face of secularism and rebellion. It was never intended to mean that Catholics should set aside 4 or 5 Church teachings that they think are infallible and ignore everything else. Everything the Church teaches must be believed. When the Pope released an encyclical we should not ask “Okay is this infallible, do we need to listen to it?”. Instead we simply need to receive what is being said and obey it because the Pope is the vicar of Christ.

TRH1292

The need to understand, explain and defend infallibility is precisely because the faithful have been assaulted by those theologians who wished to denigrate truth such as the occurred with Humanae Vitae, and confused with the errors identified.

The disgraceful public dissent against Humanae Vitae by Karl Rahner and numerous dissenting theologians, Richard McBrien’s Catholicism (full of errors), the revolt of the Catholic universities and the bureaucratic/theological tail wagging the episcopal dog so to speak – coupled with lax or dissenting bishops – this resulted in a grave crisis.

Dissenting theologians victimised many priests and laity.

Exactly. This is the problem in a nutshell.

It’s interesting that in his private journal, John Henry Newman noted the very ominous signs that accompanied the final vote during Vatican I on Papal Infallibility. The North American Bishops had already left, and the remaining ones took their final vote during a most horrific Thunderstorm which seemed almost to threaten the structure of St. Peter’s itself.

And sure enough, the storms caused by the definition of Papal Infallibility have been numerous and continuous since the day it was defined.

Even though the Church has ALWAYS taught and believed Papal Infallibility to be a part of the Deposit of Faith. The definition has always been vexing and troublesome. Not just to Catholics as seen in the quote above, but to Protestants and the Orthodox Church.

What’s done is done. And the definition hardly changes the Truth of the matter. But it has caused an ENORMOUS FOCUS of negative energy that just seems to undermine the very teaching itself. In this “post-definition” Church it will ALWAYS be necessary to establish the Infallibility of a teaching, whether or not that was the intended consequence or not.

Abu; your disgraceful theologians are now backed into a corner where Infallibility must always be weighed in the balance on any question with which they dissent. In the past, the erroneous teachings would finally die out under the weight of the Orthodox teachings of the Magisterium. Now EVERYONE (it seems) is focused on PAPAL infallibility to such an extent, that they FORGET that it is merely an extension of Church Infallibility. They have turned it around and made the Pope the SOURCE of infallibility, which is wrong.

I’m not sure why you find my position “confused.”

I am not aware of any teaching of the Church which has been identified as infallible where this identification is made known in the Catechism of the Catholic Church. The Catechism is intended for the Faithful, yet it fails (as far as I know) to identify the infallible nature of ANY teaching which it presents (and very little of the Catechism falls into that category). The Church apparently does not feel it necessary to make this distinction to laypeople, and I don’t see why the Church is “confused” by not making this clear.

Theologians (such as Ludwig Ott, in Fundamentals of Catholic Dogma) have attempted to construct a “hierarchy of truth” and categorize various Church teachings. Such hierarchies and categorizations are the opinion of the theologian, and have not been taught or embraced by the Church (I happen to agree with Ott’s opinions, but that’s just MY opinion, and ME + Ott = zero).

For MOST of Church history, NOTHING was defined BY THE CHURCH as being infallible in nature. The Church did not even have a DEFINITION of what an infallible teaching looked like. That’s because IT DOES NOT MATTER.

The First Vatican Council (1869-70) finally defined what Papal infallibility looked like. Some people like to get out their Vatican-1 five-point checklists and see if prior Papal pronouncements met the criteria. They might decide it did, or it did not, but that’s their OPINION.

The Second Vatican Council defined what the infallible nature of the Ordinary Magesterium (the Bishops dispersed) or the Extraordinary Magestarium (an Ecumenical Council) looked like (both MAY teach infallibly, but (like Papal teachings) neither is automatically assumed to be infallible in nature).

For 95% of Church history, NOTHING was identified as infallible. It wasn’t important to laypeople OR theologians for 95% of Church history. And it didn’t suddenly become important today. Just because we can define it doesn’t mean we should care.

Your opinion, or my opinion, or Ludwig Ott’s opinion have no Magesterial authority. We cannot decide what the Church infallibly teaches - the Church tells us what She teaches. We can’t apply 1870 teaching to an encyclical written centuries before and decide for ourselves if it meets the criteria of infallibility.

No, no, no. The Church reserves this privildge to Herself:

No doctrine is understood as defined infallibly unless this is manifestly evident. [Code of Canon Law, #749 §3]

The term “manifestly evident” is not specifically defined, but I guarantee that it has nothing to do with your opinion, or my opinion, or Ott’s opinion. When the Church flat-out TELLS us the doctrine is infallible (such as John Paul the Great did in Ordinatio Sacerdotalis) then it’s pretty safe to say this is “manifestly evident.” I challenge anyone to propose another way that the Church’s teaching could be considered “manifestly evident” short of such a statement. And, since such statements are rare, most Church doctrine could not be considered “manifestly evidently infallible.”

A few laypeople might be interested in the distinction. The Church has exactly two “hierarchy of truths” - infallible doctrine and all other doctrine. Canon lawyers (often laypeople) might be interested in the distinction, because in the face of an apparent conflict, infallible doctrine will prevail.

Apologists need to be able to explain the nature of the Church’s charisma of infallibility, but do not need to know which teachings are identified as infallible.

(BTW, my OPINION is that ALL Church doctrine is infallible, but (lacking affirmation from the Church Herself) I cannot state and defend my OPINION as fact).

Infallibility is probably the least-understood doctrine of the Church. Many Catholics are under the (very much mistaken) impression that they are bound only by infallible doctrine, and are free to reject doctrine which has not been declared infallible (such as Humane Vite - which fulfills the criteria for Papal infallibility, but we cannot SAY it is infallible because the Church has not TOLD us it is infallible, even though it is (almost) certainly infallibly proclaimed).

AmbroseSJ #4
EVERYONE (it seems) is focused on PAPAL infallibility to such an extent, that they FORGET that it is merely an extension of Church Infallibility.

That error merely confuses, as papal infallibility has never been “merely an extension of Church infallibility”.

The Church exercises infallibility when She defines dogma or doctrine in an Ecumenical Council which teaching has to be approved by the Pope. Jesus gave four promises to Peter and to no one else did He give all four promises, and two unique examples of authority.

“You are Peter and on this rock I will build My Church.” (Mt 16:18)
“The gates of hell will not prevail against it.” (Mt 16:18)
“I will give you the keys of the Kingdom of heaven.” (Mt 16:19)
“Whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven.” (Mt 16:19) [Later to the Twelve].

“Strengthen your brethren.” (Lk 22:32)
“Feed My sheep.” (Jn 21:17)

Pastor Aeternus conforms to the mandate of Christ, for from the infallible dogma in Pastor Aeternus of Vatican I, the teaching:
Chapter 3.
“On the power and character of the primacy of the Roman Pontiff
9. Therefore, faithfully adhering to the tradition received from the beginning of the Christian faith, to the glory of God our savior, for the exaltation of the Catholic religion and for the salvation of the Christian people, with the approval of the Sacred Council, we teach and define as a divinely revealed dogma that when the Roman Pontiff speaks EX CATHEDRA, that is, when, 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, he possesses, by the divine assistance promised to him in blessed Peter, 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.”

TRH1292 #2
The point of the dogma is to preserve the authority of the Church and Pope in the face of secularism and rebellion.

That is precisely why Popes take the time and trouble to exercise their infallibility, as the Pastor Aeternus dogma has identified, by defining what is being rebelled against by the dissenters within the Church who lead members astray by their opposition and dissent to dogma or doctrine, so that truth can be made manifest.

DavidFilmer #5
The Church did not even have a DEFINITION of what an infallible teaching looked like. That’s because IT DOES NOT MATTER.

Such a perverted and superior attitude to the Church belies the fact that THE CHURCH did in fact realise the importance of clearly defining this charism against those who foolishly conjecture that “it does not matter.”

Such sneering can be compared with the realism of the revered Fr John A Hardon, S.J., who wrote concerning the great relevance of infallibility from Christ possessed by the Catholic Church through Her Popes and Ecumenical Councils approved by them, that it consists in the fact that “In the years to come the Church’s prerogative of teaching the truth and teaching it infallibly will be seen as one of God’s greatest gifts to modern man. How Infallible Is the Teaching Church? In The Teaching Church in Our Time, Daughters of St Paul, 1978, p 119].

Those who ignore history are bound to repeat it.

But Fr John A Hardon, S.J., enlightens the confused:
What Vatican I did in its dogma on papal infallibility was to meet and defeat the error of Gallicanism in the nineteenth century which “asserted the more or less complete freedom of the Catholic Church from the ecclesiastical authority of the bishop of Rome.” The result of this error “was widespread confusion among the faithful, especially in the realm of doctrine, where the Pope had for centuries exercised supreme teaching authority in full accord, it was assumed, with the premises of revelation.

**“When the First Vatican Council met in 1869, Gallicanism was answered in a way that left no doubt about the main issues under controversy, namely, who possesses the gift of infallibility, when is it exercised, and what is the scope of infallible teaching.”**The Catholic Catechism, Doubleday, 1975, p228-9].

So much for those who don’t know history and don’t take the time and trouble to get the facts.

I think the matter is a little more nuanced. Whether or not “extension” is the proper phrase, the infallibility of the pope and the Church both proceed from the Spirit, from Christ’s promise. In the official relatio preceding Vatican I’s definition, Bishop Gasser states:"[T]here belongs to the Roman Pontiff a separate infallibility. But in saying this we do not separate the Pontiff from his ordained union with the Church. For the Pope is only infallible when, exercising his function as teacher of all Christians and therefore representing the whole Church, he judges and defines what must be believed or rejected by all. He is no more able to be separated from the universal Church than the foundation from the building it is destined to support."

I think the criticisms you make herein could apply to Christ himself, and certainly to Church opponents throughout history, such as the Protestant Reformation/Revolt, which long predates the definition of Papal Infallibility. Also, erroneous teachings have not died out under the weight of the Magisterium for hundreds of years preceding Vatican I. If you believe there is a problem with the Church having defined papal infallibility at Vatican I, I think the critique demands something more compelling than that the definition has been “troublesome,” because you can use the same term to describe how people felt about Christ’s teaching. Did the Spirit err at Vatican I? Was the definition poorly worded? I am not quite clear on the target of the critique above.

MarcoPolo #9
“He is no more able to be separated from the universal Church than the foundation from the building it is destined to support." (Bishop Gasser).

Absolutely – which is very different from Ambrose’s “that it is merely an extension of Church Infallibility,” because the Pope holds the undisputed primacy over the Church as well as the reality that the “definitions of the Roman Pontiff are of themselves, and not by the consent of the Church, irreformable.”

I agree with David. What difference does it make if people know what teachings are infallible and which ones are non-infallible. Catholics are bound by ALL teachings.

Also, how would you propose getting this “important” information to people? Most of the world’s Catholics are in the developing countries where many have enough to do figuring out how to feed their family on a day to day basis.

The following excerpt is taken from John Henry Cardinal Newman’s Essay on the Development of Christian Doctrine written prior to his conversion to the Catholic Church from Anglicanism. In this passage, Newman considers the development of the modern papacy and explains why an explicit understanding of Papal Supremacy by the early Church Fathers is not necessary and the lack thereof not fatal to the Catholic claims defined at the First Vatican Council in 1870.

Let us see how, on the principles which I have been laying down and defending, the evidence lies for the Pope’s supremacy.

As to this doctrine the question is this, whether there was not from the first a certain element at work, or in existence, divinely sanctioned, which, for certain reasons, did not at once show itself upon the surface of ecclesiastical affairs, and of which events in the fourth century are the development; and whether the evidence of its existence and operation, which does occur in the earlier centuries, be it much or little, is not just such as ought to occur upon such an hypothesis.

. . . While Apostles were on earth, there was the display neither of Bishop nor Pope; their power had no prominence, as being exercised by Apostles. In course of time, first the power of the Bishop displayed itself, and then the power of the Pope . . .

. . . St. Peter’s prerogative would remain a mere letter, till the complication of ecclesiastical matters became the cause of ascertaining it. While Christians were “of one heart and soul,” it would be suspended; love dispenses with laws . . .

When the Church, then, was thrown upon her own resources, first local disturbances gave exercise to Bishops,and next ecumenical disturbances gave exercise to Popes; and whether communion with the Pope was necessary for Catholicity would not and could not be debated till a suspension of that communion had actually occurred. It is not a greater difficulty that St. Ignatius does not write to the Asian Greeks about Popes, than that St. Paul does not write to the Corinthians about Bishops. And it is a less difficulty that the Papal supremacy was not formally acknowledged in the second century, than that there was no formal acknowledgment on the part of the Church of the doctrine of the Holy Trinity till the fourth. No doctrine is defined till it is violated . . .

Moreover, an international bond and a common authority could not be consolidated, were it ever so certainly provided, while persecutions lasted. If the Imperial Power checked the development of Councils, it availed also for keeping back the power of the Papacy. The Creed, the Canon, in like manner, both remained undefined. The Creed, the Canon, the Papacy, Ecumenical Councils, all began to form, as soon as the Empire relaxed its tyrannous oppression of the Church. And as it was natural that her monarchical power should display itself when the Empire became Christian, so was it natural also that further developments of that power should take place when that Empire fell. Moreover, when the power of the Holy See began to exert itself, disturbance and collision would be the necessary consequence . . . as St. Paul had to plead, nay, to strive for his apostolic authority, and enjoined St. Timothy, as Bishop of Ephesus, to let no man despise him:so Popes too have not therefore been ambitious because they did not establish their authority without a struggle. It was natural that Polycrates should oppose St. Victor; and natural too that St. Cyprian should both extol the See of St. Peter, yet resist it when he thought it went beyond its province . . .

On the whole, supposing the power to be divinely bestowed, yet in the first instance more or less dormant, a history could not be traced out more probable, more suitable to that hypothesis, than the actual course of the controversy which took place age after age upon the Papal supremacy.

It will be said that all this is a theory. Certainly it is: it is a theory to account for facts as they lie in the history, to account for so much being told us about the Papal authority in early times, and not more; a theory to reconcile what is and what is not recorded about it; and, which is the principal point, a theory to connect the words and acts of the Ante-Nicene Church with that antecedent probability of a monarchical principle in the Divine Scheme, and that actual exemplification of it in the fourth century, which forms their presumptive interpretation. All depends on the strength of that presumption. Supposing there be otherwise good reason for saying that the Papal Supremacy is part of Christianity, there is nothing in the early history of the Church to contradict it . . .

Moreover, all this must be viewed in the light of the general probability, so much insisted on above, that doctrine cannot but develop as time proceeds and need arises, and that its developments are parts of the Divine system, and that therefore it is lawful, or rather necessary, to interpret the words and deeds of the earlier Church by the determinate teaching of the later.

(Ven. John Henry Cardinal Newman, Essay on the Development of Christian Doctrine, 1878 ed., Univ. of Notre Dame Press, 1989, pp. 148-155; Part 1, Chapter 4, Section 3.)

[quote=MarcoPolo]If you believe there is a problem with the Church having defined papal infallibility at Vatican I, I think the critique demands something more compelling than that the definition has been “troublesome,” because you can use the same term to describe how people felt about Christ’s teaching. Did the Spirit err at Vatican I? Was the definition poorly worded? I am not quite clear on the target of the critique above.
[/quote]

Like I said, what’s done is done. But there is no denying the enormous amount of energy poured into defending and detracting, proving and disproving this doctrine. It is perhaps the MOST misunderstood doctrine to date. It really takes a very knowledgeable theologian to explain the ins and outs of Papal Infallibility. Yet everyone wishes to reduce it to something simple.

In simpler times, the Church was infallible, and the Pope by his office shared in that infallibility. There were not all of these doctrinal quibbles, because as Thistle said, all Church doctrines, whether delivered by the Pope or a Council were infallible. That has not really changed. Yet it seems that with the definition of infallibility, we now have a dichotomy drawn between what IS and what ISN’T infallible. And if it ISN’T infallible it can be wrong, and therefore can be ignored. (I don’t say that it is right, just how it is being perceived.)

I am just stating facts, not making judgements.

A handout would be nice, wouldn’t it? :stuck_out_tongue:

I don’t know where you’re getting your adjectives from. It is not necessary to identify any particular doctrine as infallible in order to defend the charism itself. We could defend the charism in 1850 (before ANYTHING had EVER been declared infallible) just as easily as we can today. Having a handful (two? three? four?) of concrete examples of doctrines recognized as infallible is perhaps useful (examples are always nice to have), but is hardly necessary. Or important.

If you feel that it is necessary or important that particular doctrines are defined as infallible, perhaps you would do us the service of furnishing a complete list of such doctrines. If you do, you would be the very first person in the history of this Forum to do so. Such a list is often requested, including by myself, back when I was as ignorant as you, but no such list has ever been delivered. Although I think my own list in post #23 is probably as good as it’s gonna get.

The Church got by quite well for more than eighteen centuries without defining that a single doctrine is taught infallibly. I have personally known MANY people who were born before a single doctrine was ever defined as infallible. Why is this distinction suddenly so important today?

thistle #12
What difference does it make if people know what teachings are infallible and which ones are non-infallible. Catholics are bound by ALL teachings.

Also, how would you propose getting this “important” information to people? Most of the world’s Catholics are in the developing countries where many have enough to do figuring out how to feed their family on a day to day basis.

Such naïveté. Is it from among the starving and the impecunious that subversion and contradiction arise against the Magisterium, and doctrine, or is it from the Karl Rahners, the Richard McBriens, the Hans Kungs and the many dissenters who have written and subverted the faith and morals of Catholics in developed countries?

The need for thinking Catholics to understand is emphasised by none other than Bl John Paul II when he specifically issued Ad Tuendam Fidem to make a difference for thinking Catholics.

The CCC #88 clearly combines exactly with Pope John Paul’s *Motu Proprio *(= on his own authority) Apostolic Letter Ad Tuendam Fidem, 1998 (ATF) which requires the assent of divine and Catholic faith to believe (credenda sunt) dogmas (a category one truth) (Canon #750.1).

A category two truth requires the assent of ecclesial faith, as a secondary truth, “proposed definitively” (definitive proponuntur) to be “firmly embraced and held” (now Canon 750.2). So both the dogmas and the infallible (definitive) doctrines that are secondary truths, require an assent of faith, though there is a distinction between theological faith and ecclesial faith.

The category 3 truths are non-definitive (non-infallible) and require intellectual assent (“loyal submission of the will and intellect”, *Lumen Gentium *25), not an assent of faith. [See the *Explanatory Note on ATF by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith].

That is precisely why the 1983 revision of Canon Law replaced in Canon 749:3 “dogmatically (‘dogmatice’) declared or defined” with “infallibly defined”. This removes any occasion for equating “infallible” with “dogmatic”, an equation which unduly limits papal infallibility. Such a limitation is clearly not contained in the Vatican I dogma on papal infallibility.

Thus the three levels of teaching are:
1) Dogma – infallible (Canon #750.1) to be believed with the assent of divine and Catholic faith.
2) Doctrine – infallible (Canon #750.2) requires the assent of ecclesial faith, to be “firmly embraced and held”.
3) Doctrine – non-definitive (non-infallible) and requires intellectual assent (“loyal submission of the will and intellect”, Vatican II, *Lumen Gentium *25), not an assent of faith. [See the Explanatory Note on Ad Tuendam Fidem by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith]
[ewtn.com/library/CURIA/CDFADTU.HTM]](http://www.ewtn.com/library/CURIA/CDFADTU.HTM])

Randy Carson #13
In this passage, Newman considers the development of the modern papacy and explains why an explicit understanding of Papal Supremacy by the early Church Fathers is not necessary and the lack thereof not fatal to the Catholic claims defined at the First Vatican Council in 1870.

First, there weren’t “claims” defined at Vatican I, dogma was defined.

After the text of the dogma was published, Bl Newman wrote the next day, July 24, 1870, “I personally have no difficulty in admitting it.”
Questions People Ask, Dr Leslie Rumble, Chevalier Books, 1975, p 160]

“Newman could not accept the validity of his * arguments against the actual definition. Even if the supporting Scripture texts were not convincing (as Newman thought they were), this did not affect the truth of the actual decisions of a Council, which alone were guaranteed…"
Ian Ker: John Henry Newman: A Biography, probably the most comprehensive and scholarly recent biography of Newman (Oxford Univ. Press, 1988, 764 pages)

The Real John Henry Newman (First Things)
Monday, September 20, 2010
William Doino
‘Regarding Newman and the much-misunderstood doctrine of papal infallibility, which he certainly believed in, even if he disagreed with the exact timing of its definition, I think the best treatment is in Ian Ker’s biography (John Henry Newman, Oxford Univ Press, chapter 17); and also in Father Jaki, who wrote: “His (Newman’s) opposition to the advisability of the definition of papal infallibility always contained emphatic statements of his belief that the popes are infallible and therefore deserve an unreserved assent on our part to what they teach and not, to use some recent phrases of subtle evasiveness, ‘critical obedience,’ or ‘a measure of conservatism.’” In other words, Newman was committed to Catholic orthodoxy – and thus papal authority – with both feet, not one.’
firstthings.com/blogs/firstthoughts/2010/09/20/the-real-john-henry-newman/

“The doctrine of Papal infallibility is found in Scripture (Mt 16:17-19; Jn 21: 15-17; Mt 28:19-20; 1 Tim 3:15), and for the final proposed dogma of Vatican I there were 471 bishops for and 130 against; more than two-thirds bishops for. Sixty-six bishops then returned to their dioceses before the Public Session, but all eventually declared full acceptance of the defined doctrine.” [Dr Leslie Rumble, Questions People Ask, Chevalier, 1975, p 159].

DavidFilmer #16
The Church got by quite well for more than eighteen centuries without defining that a single doctrine is taught infallibly. I have personally known MANY people who were born before a single doctrine was ever defined as infallible. Why is this distinction suddenly so important today?

Some never learn.

Post #8 precisely in reply to DavidFilmer:
‘But Fr John A Hardon, S.J., enlightens the confused:
**What Vatican I did in its dogma on papal infallibility was to meet and defeat the error of Gallicanism in the nineteenth century **which “asserted the more or less complete freedom of the Catholic Church from the ecclesiastical authority of the bishop of Rome.” The result of this error “was widespread confusion among the faithful, especially in the realm of doctrine, where the Pope had for centuries exercised supreme teaching authority in full accord, it was assumed, with the premises of revelation.’

Thus a new situation had arisen, precisely the reason for most definitions of doctrine and dogma, but the selfist resists the evidence of fact and reason.

The Faithful have always been confused about something or another. This is, after all, the main point of contention between Latins and Orthodox. Defining Papal infallibility did nothing to heal that rift (if anything, it made it wider). Besides, who says that the definition of Papal infallibility is itself infallible teaching? It was taught by an Ecumenical Council, but we didn’t have “rules” for how Councils teach infallibly until Vatican-2 (V-1 was limited to Papal infallibility only). Has the Church ever actually SAID that Vatican-1 taught infallibly on the subject? (you might notice that I left Vatican-1 off of my list of doctrines that have been defined as infallible, because (ironically) I don’t think it actually qualifies. But does anybody really know for sure?).

But you have yet to rise to my challenge. If it is so important that we have doctrines recognized as infallibly taught, can you give me the list of these doctrines? Can you add anything to my list of just three such doctrines?

DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in these forums do not necessarily reflect those of Catholic Answers. For official apologetics resources please visit www.catholic.com.