Question on Matthew 18:18 and Papal Infallbility


#1

“Amen I say to you, whatever you bind on Earth will be bound in Heaven, and whatever you loose on Earth will be loosed in Heaven.”

I don’t think I fully understand this verse. Does this mean that The Pope can make anything, I mean ANYTHING a Church law. Such as saying pre-marital sex is OK or even a must?

I’m not saying I want that to happen, to be clear.


#2

Here is what the Pope can and can't do:

Can't:

  1. Contradict Scripture. He can only interpret it, not contradict it.

  2. Contradict dogma. One a dogma is defined as infallible, that's it. The Pope can't change it.

Can:

  1. Create new dogmas.

  2. Create an official, infallible ruling on a previously unofficially ruled upon matter of faith and morals. The same as making new dogma really.

Furthermore, the Pope simply can't say something contrary to what God wants him to say. It's impossible because he's divinely inspired. If he weren't divinely inspired then there's no reason to believe anything he says is infallible.

I hope this helps!


#3

Hi Cool Catholic Guy,

You can find the answer in your "Catechism of the Catholic Church, Second Edition" first printed in March 2000.

Look under "Pope" page 893.
Then pages 233 and 234, paragraphs 880 through 883
to see everything in complete context.

"For the Roman Pontiff, by reason of his office as Vicar of Christ, and as pastor of the entire Church has full, supreme, and universal power over the whole Church, a power which he can always exercise unhindered."403Footnote 403 referes to: LG 22; cf. CD 2, 9.


#4

sometimes a pope speaks with infallibility, sometimes with his own opinions which (though wise or right) may not be infallible – how do we know when he is speaking infallibly?


#5

[quote="RachelKH, post:4, topic:199727"]
sometimes a pope speaks with infallibility, sometimes with his own opinions which (though wise or right) may not be infallible -- how do we know when he is speaking infallibly?

[/quote]

I believe there is a formulae for it. I think it involves invoking his position as the successor of St. Peter.


#6

[quote="Marc_Anthony, post:2, topic:199727"]
Here is what the Pope can and can't do:

Can:

  1. Create new dogmas.

  2. Create an official, infallible ruling on a previously unofficially ruled upon matter of faith and morals. The same as making new dogma really.

[/quote]

That isn't strictly true - 'dogma' is an infallible truth that is held to have been divinely revealed, whereas many infallible teachings are categorised as 'only' Catholic doctrine rather than divine revelation. Infallible declarations can thus be either dogmatic or non-dogmatic. Only a minority are dogmatic, and in the area of morals it is not typical for teaching to be dogma.

Just to make things even more complicated, although infallible teachings are always definitive, they can be declared through an act that is either defining or non-defining. A defining act is solemn teaching expressed by an ecumenical council or in an ex cathedra declaration by a pope (both of which would be expressions of the extraordinary magisterium).

A non-defining act would be where a pope wished to reaffirm a teaching without resort to a such a solemn (extraordinary) or defining act and indicates that the teaching belongs to the ordinary magisterium. It is still infallible, however. Thus it is possible to have a definitive teaching established through a non-defining act. (I said it was complicated!).

Precisely because it is necessary to be able to determine the level of a teaching, forms and formulas should be explicitly indicated within any document to clearly demonstrate which level is being invoked. But the rules for this are very recent - some are established in Pastor Aeternus (1870) and others in Lumen Gentium (1964), but because it would be difficult to apply these standards retrospectively, debate sometimes rages as to which teachings dating before these documents hold what kind of status. :confused:

An example would be ex cathedra teachings: the only two indisputable examples of this type of declaration are Ineffabilis Deus (1854) defining the immaculate conception, and Munificentissimus Deus (1950) defining the assumption. Some theologians have made claims for other documents, but there is no definite consensus that supports this. However, people will often claim ex cathedra status for other documents, often because they are either mistakenly of the opinion that any teaching document by a pope is an ex cathedra teaching, or unaware that infallible teachings can be produced in other ways and, having been told that a document is infallible teaching, assume that it must therefore be an ex cathedra teaching.

This subject is considered in detail in a 1998 commentary by then-Cardinal Ratzinger, which identified the different types of teaching the church can produce. It is a very dense piece of writing, but it does answer most of the questions one might have on this subject.

See:ewtn.com/library/CURIA/CDFADTU.HTM

More mundanely, its safe to say that in the contemporary world, if a pope produces an infallible teaching, we will be told very explicitly and very loudly that this has happened, because it is a pretty rare occurrence.

Hope this helps. And just in case anyone is wondering, I'm definitely no expert on this subject. Its an exceptionally complex area of theology and church practice. :shrug:


#7

Sorry for resurrecting this dead thread… I just wanted to know, is this really what we believe? All those things about divine revelation vs merely infallible doctrine, and defining and non-defining definitive dogma… It’s so puzzling to me, and I find it quite ironic that we’re discussing a passage that comes almost directly after Jesus’ admonishment for us to be like little children. I just wonder if we’ve strayed a bit in our understanding of the simplicity of the Gospel…

If you can’t tell, I’m confused by a number of things in our Catholic faith right now; just trying to figure out if they do in fact line up with the Gospel, because they seem so remote from it in practice.


#8

[quote="pdaoust, post:7, topic:199727"]
Sorry for resurrecting this dead thread... I just wanted to know, is this really what we believe? All those things about divine revelation vs merely infallible doctrine, and defining and non-defining definitive dogma... It's so puzzling to me, and I find it quite ironic that we're discussing a passage that comes almost directly after Jesus' admonishment for us to be like little children. I just wonder if we've strayed a bit in our understanding of the simplicity of the Gospel...

If you can't tell, I'm confused by a number of things in our Catholic faith right now; just trying to figure out if they do in fact line up with the Gospel, because they seem so remote from it in practice.

[/quote]

Hi, The reason we have a Bible is because the Bishops with the approval of the Bishop of Rome declared the Cannon of Scripture, otherwise we would not know for sure that Mathew, Mark, Luke, or John are inspired works of God, so its good to establish that first. In Mathew 18:17 Jesus says to go to the Church with disputes, then starts talking about authority, an authority that is absolute so the Church can sort things out.

For much more stuff here is a good site with scripture and early Church Father quotes. scripturecatholic.com/primacy_of_peter.html hope this helps!


closed #9

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