Papal Infallibility


#1

I have been reading Karl Keating’s ‘Catholicism and Fundamentalism’. One quick question: If the Pope made a teaching ex cathedra and it is obviously incorrect. (For example and this is only an example, assume he stated that the Bible is not the word of God), could the Catholic Bishops overrule his ex cathedra statement. It appears to me that Karl Keating seems to imply that the Bishops have ‘Veto’ power. As a catholic, I wish to be certain on how to defend my faith, expecially in this area of papal infallibility. My future sister in law asked if we believed that the Pope was God!! (I assume because only God is infallible and she does not believe in the power of the Holy Spirit.). I thank God for your web site and for the time you will take to answer my question.


#2

The bishops of the world do not have a “veto” power over things that the pope has infallibly defined.

The situation you pose regarding an obviously incorrect infallible definition cannot happen. The Holy Spirit protects the pope when exercising the Church’s gift of infallibility so that what he defines is guaranteed to be correct. That is why these definitions are termed “infallible”–because they are guaranteed to be correct. There can no more be an obviously wrong infallible definition than there can be an obviously square circle.

Your sister may not share this view because she does not have faith that the Holy Spirit will protect the pope in this way, though she presumably would acknowledge that this protection (and more) applied to the apostles when writing Scripture.

Also, no, we do not believe that the pope is God.


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