Papal infallibility and free-will

I have the ability to teach false doctrine. Does the Pope have the ability to teach false doctrine or does the Holy Spirit override his ability to do so? If the latter then he has no free-will. If the first option then I assume he does not want to teach false doctrine based on his own will but tgen i question how he can always keep his will in check.

The Pope strictly has an ability to teach false doctrine. The claim of infallibility is that, when he speaks ex cathedra, he does not.

This need not pose any issues for his free will. For Catholics good action is tied up in virtue, and virtue is a form of habit (acquired dispositions to act in a certain way). Moreover there are theological virtues of faith, hope, and charity that are instilled in us by the Holy Spirit.

The point of developing virtuous habits is that we exercise them habitually, yet freely. The person who saves a child drowning in a lake without thinking about it is not acting unfreely; he has developed good habits to help those in need, and the fact that he does not deliberate much in that circumstance is a good thing.

So the claim of infallibility is that the Pope, when he speaks ex cathedra, is moved to speak truly by the Holy Spirit, but this need not require that he could not do otherwise.

Free will doesn’t mean being able to do EVERYTHING you want anyway, for example it doesn’t mean you can fly, or that you can both remain in something and do something that it prevents you from doing. It is not unlimited.

The pope has the free will to resign



There are several theories of what free-will is, for example:

The ability to do otherwise, full stop.

The ability to choose between what is morally obligatory and what is naturally good.

The ability to choose otherwise and be indifferent to what is good.

Heck, some people take the above a step further and say that we can choose evil for evil’s sake.

First, you need to clear up what you mean by free-will and how you would support that claim that infallibility “overrides” the pope’s free-will.

Nevertheless, I see no problem in your example. Free-will means freedom and if a person is free from mistakes, and lower passions (think of a heroin user in the grip of addiction, a sex or porn addict, etc) then that qualifies as part of what free-will means.

Keep in mind that the Pope generally has very little motivation to teach a heresy ex cathedra, even supposing that a completely dissolute person is elected to the See of Peter. Even just politically, it is too much trouble. Teaching anything (heresy or otherwise) is hard work. Most of the “bad” Popes we have had (Alexander VI, etc.) simply lived it up and did not do much teaching.

(That does not mean that the Holy Spirit is not at work, but it does, I think, help us to see how the infallibility of the Pope can be at least plausible.)

While the Pope has free-will God has the ability to stop him from implementing it. As I noted in another thread Solomon evaded his promise to his mother without violating it.

[FONT=Georgia]19 So Bathsheba went to King Solomon, to speak to him on behalf of Adonijah. And the king rose to meet her, and bowed down to her; then he sat on his throne, and had a seat brought for the king’s mother; and she sat on his right. 20 Then she said, “I have one small request to make of you; do not refuse me.” And the king said to her, “Make your request, my mother; for I will not refuse you.” 21 She said, “Let Abishag the Shunammite be given to Adonijah your brother as his wife.” 22 King Solomon answered his mother, “And why do you ask Abishag the Shunammite for Adonijah? Ask for him the kingdom also; for he is my elder brother, and on his side are Abiathar* the priest and Joab the son of Zeruiah.” 23 Then King Solomon swore by the LORD, saying, “God do so to me and more also if this word does not cost Adonijah his life! 24 Now therefore as the LORD lives, who has established me, and placed me on the throne of David my father, and who has made me a house, as he promised, Adonijah shall be put to death this day.” 25 So King Solomon sent Benaiah the son of Jehoiada; and he struck him down, and he died.

1 Kings 2:19-25

God can easily do the same without removing freewill from the Pope.

Your analogy using the Holy Spirit was helpful. I’m sure the Pope knows in advance that while teaching ex cathedra he is not capable of error and he freely accepts. That’s not a bad reason to compromise free-will if we say it is a compromise at some point : )

I was referring to free-will more along the lines of your first definition. For your last sentence, I would say it would depend on why or how the person is free from mistakes. If it is not by his own will then he’s not in control of his actions. But as long as he knows that in advance and accepts that and it avoids error, then I don’t suspending free-will or allowing God’s will influence you is a bad thing.

A mistake is an error in judgement or reason.

Willing is the ability to do otherwise (I am assuming your definition of free-will, for the sake of the argument.)

Willing and judgement are two different things.

Frankly, I fail to see how 2+2= 7 is a free-choice. It seems more like radomness or irrationality. Reason is needed for free-will, that is why we don’t adjudicate moral guilt to animals or lifeless things.

The opinion, “that dog is a moral degenerate, strutting about without clothes on,” would only ignite mockery or bewilderment in most people.

We’re* willing rational* beings. Saying, that infanticide is good, life is absurd,there’s no truth and so forth strike me as signs of irrationality and not free-will.

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