Question on the pope

Sorry if this is not the right place for this question…

-For the Pope, are they only “infallible” when they speak from the chair or at all times?

-What is the process that turns a presumably fallible cardinal into an infallible Pope?

Thanks.

Hi Joe: Infallibility is not limited to the Pope speaking ex cathedra. Perhaps this will help, from the Catechism of the Catholic Church:

889:
In order to preserve the Church in the purity of the faith handed on by the apostles, Christ who is the Truth willed to confer on her a share in his own infallibility. By a “supernatural sense of faith” the People of God, under the guidance of the Church’s living Magisterium, "unfailingly adheres to this faith."417
890 The mission of the Magisterium is linked to the definitive nature of the covenant established by God with his people in Christ. It is this Magisterium’s task to preserve God’s people from deviations and defections and to guarantee them the objective possibility of professing the true faith without error. Thus, the pastoral duty of the Magisterium is aimed at seeing to it that the People of God abides in the truth that liberates. To fulfill this service, Christ endowed the Church’s shepherds with the charism of infallibility in matters of faith and morals. The exercise of this charism takes several forms:
891 “The Roman Pontiff, head of the college of bishops, enjoys this infallibility in virtue of his office, when, as supreme pastor and teacher of all the faithful - who confirms his brethren in the faith he proclaims by a definitive act a doctrine pertaining to faith or morals. . . . The infallibility promised to the Church is also present in the body of bishops when, together with Peter’s successor, they exercise the supreme Magisterium,” above all in an Ecumenical Council.418 When the Church through its supreme Magisterium proposes a doctrine "for belief as being divinely revealed,"419 and as the teaching of Christ, the definitions "must be adhered to with the obedience of faith."420 This infallibility extends as far as the deposit of divine Revelation itself.421
892 Divine assistance is also given to the successors of the apostles, teaching in communion with the successor of Peter, and, in a particular way, to the bishop of Rome, pastor of the whole Church, when, without arriving at an infallible definition and without pronouncing in a “definitive manner,” they propose in the exercise of the ordinary Magisterium a teaching that leads to better understanding of Revelation in matters of faith and morals. To this ordinary teaching the faithful "are to adhere to it with religious assent"422 which, though distinct from the assent of faith, is nonetheless an extension of it.

‘Infallibility’ isn’t a property of a person, but of an office (in particular, the exercise of an office).

Simply put, if possible, The Pope is only infallible when teaching directly about the faith or morals.

So if someone is telling him to lets say, teach that Jesus was not God, then he would be prevented by the Holy Spirit from teaching that error.

He is infallible when he uses an ex cathedra statement, or when ratifying an ecumenical council or calling a council.

He is infallible if the Church calls upon him to make a decision regarding faith and morals or to settle a matter involving those things along the lines of Matthew 18.

What is not infallible then?

Things like- Interviews, Sermons, even encyclicals. Such things should be respected by the faithful but are not necessarily infallible…mostly they aren’t.

A Cardinal does not turn infallible really. The infallibility lies in the office. The office of Pope is protected by the Holy Spirit. So when a Cardinal enters the office and becomes pope, the Holy Spirits protection is upon him.

Sorry to leap into this conversation -

While everything that’s been said about about infallibility above seems correct - but what would actually stop a hypothetical (and rather unlikely) Pope from making some kind of doctrinal statement that is so outlandish? What would entail if he actually did wake up one morning and teach that Jesus was only and nothing more than a human being? (Ok that example is hardly likely, but say something that is not already so defined and settled, instead)

The Pope, in teaching directly on this doctrinal matter, should be seen as infallible. But he’s just taught something that could be demonstrably wrong. How does the Church get out of this logic loop? Because as far as I see, there are two results:

  1. The Church accepts a false teaching;
  2. The Pope has to be somehow overruled to correct the false doctrine he taught.

Either way, the doctrine of infallibility would be rendered null and void, surely? Were it to be later discovered that at some point in the past a pope had promulgated a false doctrine, how does the Church as a wider body get out of the impossible situation of being forced to state that he was wrong, and not undermine infallibility?

Let me be clear I’m not remotely suggesting this has or is ever remotely likely to happen, I’m just interested in the hypothetical situation… It seems to me that while in a theological sense infallibility is perfectly reasonable and of course I can accept it; in a church-political sense, it’s rather asking for trouble to have infallibility itself dogmatically defined, because as soon as a substantial group within the church doesn’t like some dogmatic statement a Pope has made, you have a recipe for a schism (“He can’t be a proper Pope, because he taught something we think is wrong”).

I don’t think it’s reasonable to suppose that when our hypothetical heretical pope opens his mouth or lifts his pen, the Holy Spirit will swoop down and snatch away the pen or stop his mouth. (I mean, nothing is impossible with God, and maybe I have just answered my own question because this is exactly what could happen, and suggests that this has never been necessary…the alternative is to go down a rather conspiracy-theorist path which I refuse to do!)…

Well, it’s not *demonstrably *wrong. No-one can actually demonstrate that Jesus is the son of God. That’s completely a matter of faith.

I think the point is that, if the Pope deviated significantly from Catholic dogma, there would be immediate attempts to remove him. His successor would presumably correct the error. There’s no longer enough invested in the Church, on a worldwide basis, to cause a schism.

Further, I believe the ex-Cathedra statements, since the announcement of infallibility, have simply confirmed long-held, well-established beliefs, or have ratified the findings of previous councils. I don’t think there has been anything of a highly contentious nature.

Is the ‘conspiracy-theory’ path the one that suggests “this cannot happen, because Christ promised His Church that the gates of Hell would not prevail against it”?

Ok that was a bad example… :stuck_out_tongue:

Further, I believe the ex-Cathedra statements, since the announcement of infallibility, have simply confirmed long-held, well-established beliefs, or have ratified the findings of previous councils. I don’t think there has been anything of a highly contentious nature.

I absolutely agree, and I can’t really imagine this happening in at least the near future either (happily), I was just running a thought-experiment :wink: Thanks, hansard

Murmurs #5
it’s rather asking for trouble to have infallibility itself dogmatically defined, because as soon as a substantial group within the church doesn’t like some dogmatic statement a Pope has made, you have a recipe for a schism (“He can’t be a proper Pope, because he taught something we think is wrong”).

As papal infallibility has been defined as a dogma at Ecumenical Council Vatican I, it is an error not to understand and recognise that reality, and a further error to imagine that “it is asking for trouble.”

The three levels of teaching are:
1) Dogma – infallible (Canon #750.1) to be believed with the assent of divine and Catholic faith.
2) Doctrine – infallible (Canon #750.2) requires the assent of ecclesial faith, to be “firmly embraced and held”.
3) Doctrine – non-definitive (non-infallible) and requires intellectual assent (“loyal submission of the will and intellect”, Vatican II, *Lumen Gentium 25), not an assent of faith. [See the Explanatory Note on ATF by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith]

hansard #6
Further, I believe the ex-Cathedra statements, since the announcement of infallibility, have simply confirmed long-held, well-established beliefs, or have ratified the findings of previous councils. I don’t think there has been anything of a highly contentious nature.

Erroneous – here are the facts.

**Answer by David Gregson of EWTN to me on Nov-22-2002: **
“You are correct in stating that the Pope exercises his charism of infallibility not only in dogmatic definitions issued, ex cathedra, as divinely revealed (of which there have been only two), but also in doctrines definitively proposed by him, also ex cathedra, which would include canonizations (that they are in fact Saints, enjoying the Beatific Vision in heaven), moral teachings (such as contained in Humanae vitae), and other doctrines he has taught as necessarily connected with truths divinely revealed, such as that priestly ordination is reserved to men. Further details on levels of certainty with which the teachings of the Magisterium (either the Pope alone, or in company with his Bishops) may be found in Summary of Categories of Belief.”

Thanks for responses

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