Public revelation is binding on all Christians, but private revelation is binding only on those who receive it. The Catholic Church teaches that public revelation was completed with the death of the last apostle
(Including the Pope) "Throughout the ages, there have been so-called ‘private’ revelations, some of which have been recognized by the authority of the Church. They do not belong, however, to the deposit of faith. It is not their role to improve or complete Christ’s definitive revelation, but to help live more fully by it in a certain period of history.
- “the Roman Pontiff”
- “speaks ex cathedra” (“that is, when in the discharge of his office as shepherd and teacher of all Christians, and by virtue of his supreme apostolic authority….”)
- “he defines”
- “that a doctrine concerning faith or morals”
- "must be held by the whole Church"
if he is morally bound to take advice and to follow the dictates of prudence, he is not legally obliged to obtain the consent of any other person or persons, or to observe any particular form; his power is limited only by Divine law, natural and positive, dogmatic and moral. Furthermore, he is, so to say, the living law, for he is considered as having all law in the treasury of his heart (“in scrinio pectoris”; Boniface VIII. c. i, “De Constit.” in VI). From the earliest ages the letters of the Roman pontiffs constitute, with the canons of the councils, the principal element of canon law, not only of the Roman Church and its immediate dependencies. but of all Christendom; they are everywhere relied upon and collected, and the ancient canonical compilations contain a large number of these precious “decretals” (decreta, statuta, epistolae decretales, and epistolae synodicae). Later, the pontifical laws are promulgated more usually as constitutions, Apostolic Letters, the latter being classified as Bulls or Briefs, according to their external form, or even as spontaneous acts, “Motu proprio”. Moreover, the legislative and disciplinary power of the pope not being an in communicable privilege, the laws and regulations made in his name and with his approbation possess his authority: in fact, though most of the regulations made by the Congregations of the cardinals and other organs of the Curia are incorporated in the Apostolic Letters, yet the custom exists and is becoming more general for legislation to be made by mere decrees of the Congregations, with the papal approval. These are the “Acts of the Holy See” (Acta Sancte Sedis), and their object or purpose permitting, are real laws (see ROMAN CURIA).