Question about dogma / infallible teachings

Is there a specific passage in the catechism that conclusively demonstrates that the teachings on sexuality and abortion are dogmatic and therefore not open to re-interpretation or “development?”

Back story: I argue with a Catholic that claims that these teachings aren’t necessarily infallibly defined or dogma in the Church - and therefore could “develop” into levels of acceptance for homosexual sex acts (for example.)

I am surprised anyone could imagine that the church could pursue the tectonic shift in long-held positions (teaching) as would be required to conclude that two men engaging in sexual acts is a good thing.

I would agree - but the claim being made is that this is in the realm of possibility because the teachings on sexuality and abortion aren’t dogmatic or infallibly defined.

I’m not a theologian though, so I can’t make an authoritative counter argument to this claim.

4. The Church has always taught the intrinsic evil of contraception, that is, of every marital act intentionally rendered unfruitful. This teaching is to be held as definitive and irreformable. Contraception is gravely opposed to marital chastity; it is contrary to the good of the transmission of life (the procreative aspect of matrimony), and to the reciprocal self-giving of the spouses (the unitive aspect of matrimony); it harms true love and denies the sovereign role of God in the transmission of human life. 33

33 Paul VI, Enc. Humanae Vitae , July 25, 1968, n. 14; John Paul II, Apost. Exhort. Familiaris Consortio , November 22, 1981, n. 32)

(52) “Since the first century the Church has affirmed the moral evil of every procured abortion. This teaching has not changed and remains unchangeable. Direct abortion, that is to say, abortion willed either as an end or a means, is gravely contrary to the moral law” ( Catechism of the Catholic Church , n. 2271; see Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, Declaration on Procured Abortion, November 18, 1974).

“The moral gravity of procured abortion is apparent in all its truth if we recognize that we are dealing with murder and, in particular when we consider the specific elements involved. The one eliminated is a human being at the very beginning of life. No one more absolutely innocent could be imagined” (John Paul II, Enc. Evangelium Vitae , March 25, 1995, n. 58).

Is “Humanae Vitae” dogma or infallible? I know that Popes can speculate on certain matters in a way that doesn’t ultimately result in a dogmatic teaching…

Humanae Vitae is a document. Documents are not considered infallible. A certain teaching on faith or morals contained within a document may or may not be considered infallible.

If I were a lawyer making a claim to that infallible truth exists on these matters - what document would I cite as a source? I mean specifically, abortion and sexual morality…

Legitimate forms of argument in Law are based upon text, intent, precedent, tradition, and policy.

Was the lawyer analogy not a good one?

It’s either true or false that the Catholic Church doctrines regarding abortion and homosexual sex acts can change from disapproval to approval…if you’re contradicting this claim that doctrines like these can change - can you cite a dogmatic, irrefutably infallible source - and what would that be?

Does this person also go on to claim one can break these laws as the Church could someday consider his actions moral?

That hasn’t come up during any conversation - I think it’s a more theological (almost lawyerly) claim that the doctrines currently espoused by the Church CAN change due to the fact that they weren’t infallibly defined to begin with.

I’m not sure what sources would be acceptable to this person that would indicate “infallibly defined”

Doctrines that are dogma of faith are of two kinds:

  • contained in the sources of revelation and therefore believed to have been revealed by God and taught by the Church (de fide divina et ecclesiastica)
  • solemnly defined by a pope or an ecumenical council as a dogma, (de fide definita).

As stated in Humanae Vitae “The Church has always taught the intrinsic evil of contraception” therefore it is dogma of faith.

Contraception - or the deliberate interrupting of an act oriented towards the procreation of human life - can be applied as well to the concept of abortion or non-procreative sex as in homosexual sex acts?

From the Catechism teaching on the fifth commandment:

2297 … Except when performed for strictly therapeutic medical reasons, directly intended amputations , mutilations , and sterilizations performed on innocent persons are against the moral law.

2322 From its conception, the child has the right to life. Direct abortion, that is, abortion willed as an end or as a means, is a “criminal” practice ( GS 27 § 3), gravely contrary to the moral law. The Church imposes the canonical penalty of excommunication for this crime against human life.

From the Catechism teaching on the sixth commandment:

2396 Among the sins gravely contrary to chastity are masturbation, fornication, pornography, and homosexual practices.

2399 The regulation of births represents one of the aspects of responsible fatherhood and motherhood. Legitimate intentions on the part of the spouses do not justify recourse to morally unacceptable means (for example, direct sterilization or contraception).

From the Catechism teaching on the ninth commandment:

2517 The heart is the seat of moral personality: "Out of the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, fornication. . . . "305 The struggle against carnal covetousness entails purifying the heart and practicing temperance: …

I suppose if this self-identified Catholic can’t accept the Catechism as an infallible, dogmatic source on these matters - there may be no hope of resolving this.

Has it always been understood that the Catechism is infallible as a whole or simply contain a mix of infallible truths mixed with doctrines that could change? I suppose the death penalty issue is a recent example of something that wasn’t dogmatically defined, yes?

As has already been stated, documents are not “infallible”. NO document is “infallible”, because that is a misuse of the word “infallible”.

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Because what changed is the Church’s guidance in the prudential realm on the application of the death penalty in modern society, not the underlying teaching on the morality of the death penalty.

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The sources in the Catechism are provided. Some matters are not dogma of faith (irreformable).

Profession of faith (excerpt):

With firm faith, I also believe everything contained in the word of God, whether written or handed down in Tradition, which the Church either by a solemn judgment or by the ordinary and universal Magisterium sets forth to be believed as divinely revealed.

I also firmly accept and hold each and everything definitively proposed by the Church regarding teaching on faith and morals,

Moreover I adhere with submission of will and intellect to the teachings which either the Roman Pontiff or the College of Bishops enunciate when they exercise their authentic Magisterium, even if they do not intend to proclaim these teachings by a definitive act.

The death penalty is not dogmatically defined as never permissible.

The CCC per se is NOT an infallible document. It contains Church teachings, infallible and non-infallible plus disciplines.
It also contains footnotes with references to Sacred Scripture and other Church documents which underpin the teachings.

By the way no Church teachings in 2000 years have changed. Clarified yes but changed no.
The truth does not change.

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These church teachings have been long held. They are not only against the ten commandments but also against the natural law and therefore not lending themselves to change.

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