Teaching on Mary's sinlessness

When did the Church infallibly teach that Mary never sinned? Is it dogma? Trent said that “this is what the Church has taught” but doesn’t cite where this comes from. Does it come from the Liturgy like Mary’s virginity? (I haven’t found a dogmatic statement on that either, but the Liturgy is infallible teaching in practice I believe).

The Immaculate Conception was dogmatically defined in Ineffabilis Deus, 1854.

God would not allow His Son to be born of a woman who carried the stain of original sin.

When the angel came to Mary at the Annunciation he called her “full of grace”. This one simple phrase supports Mary being born without original or personal sin.


A couple of resources from CA: catholic.com/tract/immaculate-conception-and-assumption and catholic.com/magazine/print-edition/hail-mary-conceived-without-sin. Also, see this article: calledtocommunion.com/2010/12/marys-immaculate-conception/. :tiphat:

It comes from Tradition, although some scriptures imply it. It has not been infallibly defined by the pope or a council. I would guess it is defined as a dogma through its early and constant teaching from antiquity.

[CCC493 The Fathers of the Eastern tradition call the Mother of God “the All-Holy” (Panagia), and celebrate her as “free from any stain of sin, as though fashioned by the Holy Spirit and formed as a new creature”.138 By the grace of God Mary remained free of every personal sin her whole life long.]

[CCC508 From among the descendants of Eve, God chose the Virgin Mary to be the mother of his Son. “Full of grace”, Mary is “the most excellent fruit of redemption” (SC 103): from the first instant of her conception, she was totally preserved from the stain of original sin and she remained pure from all personal sin throughout her life.]

[CCC411 The Christian tradition sees in this passage an announcement of the “New Adam” who, because he “became obedient unto death, even death on a cross”, makes amends superabundantly for the disobedience, of Adam.305 Furthermore many Fathers and Doctors of the Church have seen the woman announced in the Protoevangelium as Mary, the mother of Christ, the “new Eve”. Mary benefited first of all and uniquely from Christ’s victory over sin: she was preserved from all stain of original sin and by a special grace of God committed no sin of any kind during her whole earthly life.306]


Ok so it hasn’t been defined. That’s what I thought. She could have been born without original sin but still sinned personally; that is, they are not mutually exclusive. Since she has free choice we can’t say “God would not let her sin”. However, I THINK, not sure, that her sinlessness has been expressed in the liturgy, which is a source of infallible teaching IN ACTION by the church. But I don’t believe that the phrase “full of grace” means she never sinned before, and especially not that she would never sin. Protestants say it just means she was in grace at that moment. Either interpretation applies

It HAS been defined that Mary was born free from original sin and remained free from personal sin.

Did you not read the official Church teaching posted by jlhargus.

CCC508 From among the descendants of Eve, God chose the Virgin Mary to be the mother of his Son. “Full of grace”, Mary is “the most excellent fruit of redemption” (SC 103): from the first instant of her conception, she was totally preserved from the stain of original sin and she remained pure from all personal sin throughout her life.

The Catechism didn’t define anything. Pius IX defined that Mary wasn’t born in original sin, but left the question whether she was conceived in sanctifying grace or whether she sinned open to discussion as far as his definition went.

This thread from last year is relevant:


Alexander VII has an Apostolic Constitution *Sollicitudo omnium ecclesiarum *(8 December 1661), and spoke in passing about the Immaculate Conception, and Pope Pius IX cited Alexander VII’s bull in footnote 11 of Pius’s infallible definition. So it only became infallible once Pius IX said “I define, proscribe, and declare”. A mere passing title or a statement in a Catechism don’t count as infallible teaching. In fact, the new Catechism says that not all Church teachings are infallible. Some require merely “religious observance”. I think it is VERY strange that the Church started this practice of teaching non-infallibly. Her liturgy and laws, however, can never be imperfect. So the liturgy is a source of infallible teaching in my opinion.

Where does the Catechism say that not all Church teachings are infallible?

This is the OFFICIAL CHURCH TEACHING which binds all Catholics. Catholics may not disbelieve it.

CCC508 From among the descendants of Eve, God chose the Virgin Mary to be the mother of his Son. “Full of grace”, Mary is “the most excellent fruit of redemption” (SC 103): from the first instant of her conception, she was totally preserved from the stain of original sin and she remained pure from all personal sin throughout her life.

Its part of canon law, Vatican II, and I think the Catechism as well.

Here is what Cardinal Ratzinger said about the Catechism’s authority:


See my post #12. What is there that you do not understand.
It gives the official Church teaching which you must believe and it states that Mary was not only born free from original sin but never committed any personal sin during her entire life.

Are you saying that the official Church teaching is wrong?

I don’t see anything in that post about the Church teaching some things non-infallibly. That link describes non-infallible comments by the Magisterium as “proposed only tentatively” and “proposed in the most tentative of fashions.” That’s nothing new for the Magisterium.

This description does not sound like the author believes some teachings are infallible and some are not, or anyway I doing think it sounds that way. It sounds more like some statements are tentative, not doctrinal, and some are doctrinal, and infallible. That is quite traditional. Do you have a source for your citations from Vatican II and Canon Law? That’s a lot to look through.

That Mary never sinned during her life is actually the older tradition. The Orthodox don’t care for the Immaculate Conception (believing that Mary is not as good a role model if she was essentially different from the rest of us), but they believe she never personally sinned.(The local Orthodox church in my city is called Panagia Pantovasilissa (“All-Holy Queen of Everything”). Even Luther, when he hammered on that “All have sinned” passage in Romans, thought it best to note that he would prefer to say nothing about how that applied to Our Lady.

Exactly how far back Mary’s sinlessness extended was the unanswered question that was locked down (for Catholics) with the dogma of the Immaculate Conception. Her sinlessness during life is probably covered by the infallibility of the ordinary and universal Magisterium (things that have been taught always and everywhere)

since there is no reference to Mary’s sinlessness being introduced in to the Church at a specific time in history subsequent to the end of the apostolic era. i have no problem believing that it was a teaching given us by the Twelve.

Requiring religious submission does not mean objectively infallible so far as I am aware.

Why is it so important to some people that such trivial matters must not only be traditionally accepted as such but known with absolute certainty as well.

This is a form of intellectual scrupulosity and needs to be recognised as such.

Yes, it seems to be a scruple. We have to listen before we conclude. And know what the conclusion is in which breathes obstinacy. Excessive doubts can do this to everyone, including the traditionalist,

CCC 2088 "The first commandment requires us to nourish and protect our faith with prudence and vigilance, and to reject everything that is opposed to it. There are various ways of sinning against faith:

Voluntary doubt about the faith disregards or refuses to hold as true what God has revealed and the Church proposes for belief. Involuntary doubt refers to hesitation in believing, difficulty in overcoming objections connected with the faith, or also anxiety aroused by its obscurity. If deliberately cultivated doubt can lead to spiritual blindness."

The Catechism is proposed for belief, and “the sure norm for teaching the faith”. I would heed what thistle said, and recommend to beg to continue frequent confession if you see that you *could *be blind.

I could be wrong that it seemed to be a scruple, but rather a mind of a philosopher. Saint Thomas Aquinas wrote, “Notice that he says man believes ‘with the heart’ (Rom 10:10), i.e., the will, because man cannot believe, unless he wills. For the intellect of the believer, unlike that of the philosopher, does not assent to the truth as though compelled by force of reason; rather he is moved to assent by the will; therefore, knowing does not pertain to man’s justice, which is in the will, but believing: Abraham believed God, and it was reckoned to him as justice (Gen 15:6).”

Not only could it be a scruple, but it might be an improper understanding the pastoral role of the Church. You see, to expect everything with utmost infallibility is the expectation of the philosopher. Thomas draws the distinct of the mind and will when Saint Paul teaches us in Rom 10 that we believe with the heart, rather than the mind of a philosopher. In this way, we reason for union with God, live a life of true martyrdom, and perhaps live out heroic virtue. It is by the will that God is served, less so with the mind. In the thread it seems like you expect a philosophical outcome, but rather your heart seeks something deeper and more true.

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