I was wondering if anyone could help me with this. I know that some like to throw accusations on the papacy, of how they are corrupt and lustfull and greedy (like in the crusades it was a pope wanting noble land, that has been a trend that has gone down the line of popes and the heirarchy scince constantine though the subtilty how diffred at time) and I was wondering if any new of any good serious works on the papcy (I know that we had some bad popes but, I doubt all)? 'cause I know that when others think that all the fruit on the tree is bad they proboly won’t listen to whatever it has to say. Thanks and God bless.


What you are really asking about is the charism of infallibility, which has nothing whatsoever to do with the personal fallibility of the popes, good or bad. Many people, including some Catholics, seem to have the idea that infallibility means impeccability (the inability to sin). Infallibility doesn’t mean impeccability. It means that no pope will promulgate teaching that contradicts the teachings of Christ and his Church. Some have come close to doing that, but none have ever done this, even the worst of the popes. The promise of infallibility goes with the office of the papacy and has nothing to do with the personal faults of any pope no matter how greedy or corrupt.


I think that you might enjoy “Pope Fiction” by Patrick Madrid. It tackles all the common attacks on the papacy and on particular popes.

I haven’t read it yet, but I probably should.

The link has a great review and a place to buy a copy if you choose.


[quote=Della]What you are really asking about is the charism of infallibility, which has nothing whatsoever to do with the personal fallibility of the popes, good or bad.

I don’t know that that really is the question Della. I think the question asked might actually be the question he is looking for an answer to.

We often see and hear people say something to the effect that “the Pope said it, so we are bound by it” or it’s many variants which imply that any personal statement by the Pope is beyond reproach. My experience is that it is not only non-Catholics who believe this as I have seen that kind of statement made on these boards by people I would presume to be very Catholic. One very obvious example is the letter from then Cardinal Ratzinger regarding the Harry Potter books which many have taken as some kind of infallible condemnation. (Note that I am not trying to debate that issue here, only using that as an example of the way papal statements are often viewed.)

The problem is that in the eyes of many, given the many corrupt Popes and some of the terrible things perpetrated by them, the belief in personal statements made by Popes has become suspect. Since, as you note, many get confused in the area of actual infallibility, this leads to questions not only as to how one should respond to statements by a Pope, but also leads to confusion and doubt–because of the identification of the Pope with “the Church” in most people’s minds–as to whether statements by the Pope or the Church are trustworthy. Since the Church doesn’t do a particularly good job, IMHO, of defining the level of authority behind statements She or the Pope make, this results in great confusion about what people are really bound to believe.

I have even seen this with priests and educated Catholics. The fact that it takes so many Apologists to make Catholic teaching clear is pretty obvious evidence to me that a large percentage of even our Catholic population isn’t clear about what is definitive teaching, what is infallible, etc. When these different things get mixed together in a conversation with someone, trying to explain or defend can become complex and frustrating to both sides.

I wish I knew what the answer was to eliminate the confusion, but I fear that the system has gotten so complicated that in many minds, it will never be clear. Worse yet, the more complicated it is, the easier it is for anti-Catholics to sow confusion that is hard for the average Catholic to refute.

I sympathize with you Montie; I’ve been where you’re at and it’s a difficult task. There are resources out there, but often the person making the statements isn’t going to be able and/or willing to make the sometimes fine distinctions necessary to understand the issues. Be strong though my friend; read what you can and pray for the right words when the occasion arises.


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