Some guy's objections to papal infallibility


I’m pretty sure these arguments fail to make the grade, but, for my peace of mind, I’d appreciate if you guys would help me here.

Specifically, the supposed fallible problems of Liberius, Vigilius and Honorius.

(I’m not really worried about the Hans Kung problem, I read something on that once before and came out totally convicned it wasn’t a problem.)

I looked at them more closely, and they seem not to make the grade, but I’d appreciate explanations from you guys (i.e., for not condemning something, which doesn’t equal to support).

Oh and, sorry for bringing up the same, old, tired arguments.



It should be carefully noted that the question of the fall of Liberius is one that has been and can be freely debated among Catholics. No one pretends that, if Liberius signed the most Arian formulæ in exile, he did it freely; so that no question of his infallibility is involved. It is admitted on all sides that his noble attitude of resistance before his exile and during his exile was not belied by any act of his after his return, that he was in no way sullied when so many failed at the Council of Rimini, and that he acted vigorously for the healing of orthodoxy throughout the West from the grievous wound. If he really consorted with heretics, condemned Athanasius, or even denied the Son of God, it was a momentary human weakness which no more compromises the papacy than does that of St. Peter.

The matter was further complicated by the fact that the Latins, Vigilius among them, were for the most part ignorant of Greek and therefore unable to judge the incriminated writings for themselves. Pelagius II in his third epistle to Elias, probably drawn up by St. Gregory the Great, ascribes all the trouble to this ignorance. All they had to go upon was the general attitude of the Fathers of Chalcedon. These facts should be remembered in judging the conduct of Vigilius. He came to Constantinople in a very resolute frame of mind, and his first step was to excommunicate Mennas. But he must have felt the ground was being cut from under his feet when he was supplied with translations of some of the worst passages in the writings of Theodore. In 548 he issued his “Judicatum” in which the Three Chapters were condemned, and then temporarily withdrew it when the storm it raised showed how ill-prepared the Latins were for it. Next he and Justinian agreed to a general council in which Vigilius pledged himself to bring about the condemnation of the Three Chapters, it being understood that the emperor should take no further steps till the council should be arranged. The emperor broke his pledge by issuing a fresh edict condemning the Chapters. Vigilius had twice to take sanctuary, first in the Basilica of St. Peter, and then in the Church of St. Euphemia at Chalcedon, from which he issued an Encyclical to the whole Church describing the treatment he had received. Then an agreement was patched up and Vigilius agreed to a general council but soon withdrew his assent. Nevertheless, the council was held, and, after refusing to accept the “Constitutum” of Vigilius (see VIGILIUS, POPE), it then condemned the Three Chapters. Finally Vigilius succumbed, confirmed the council, and was set free. But he died before reaching Italy, leaving his successor Pelagius the task of dealing with the schisms in the West. The most enduring of these were those of Aquileia and Milan. The latter came to an end when Fronto, the schismatical bishop, died about 581.


On the other hand the chief advocates of papal infallibility, for instance, such great men as Melchior Canus in the sixteenth century, Thomassinus in the seventeenth, Pietro Ballerini in the eighteenth, Cardinal Perrone in the nineteenth, have been careful to point out that Honorius did not define anything ex cathedra. But they were not content with this amply sufficient defence. Some followed Baronius, but most, if not all, showed themselves anxious to prove that the letters of Honorius were entirely orthodox. There was indeed no difficulty in showing that Honorius was probably not a Monothelite. It would have been only just to extend the same kindly interpretation to the words of Sergius. The learned Jesuit Garnier saw clearly, however, that it was not as a Monothelite that Honorius was condemned. He was coupled with Sergius, Pyrrhus, Paul, the Ecthesis, and the Type. It is by no means clear that Sergius, Pyrrhus, and the Ecthesis are to be accounted as Monothelite, since they forbade the mention of “one operation”; it is quite certain that Paul and the Type were anti-Monothelite, for they prohibited “one Will” also. Garnier pointed out that the council condemned Honorius for approving Sergius and for “fomenting” the dogmas of Pyrrhus and Paul. This view was followed by many great writers, including Pagi.

…he now taught that Honorius’s letter was a definition ex cathedra, that it was incorrectly worded, but that the thought of the writer was orthodox (true enough; but, in a definition of faith, surely the words are of primary importance); the council judged Honorius by his words, and condemned him simply as a Monothelite; Leo II accepted and confirmed the condemnation by the council, but, in doing so, he carefully defined in what sense the condemnation was to be understood.

I particularly loved his take on “The Suppression of Astronomy”. :rotfl: After reading that you know this guy does not like to tell the whole story and makes sweeping generalizations that bring about wrong conclusions.


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