What is "Faith and Morals"? Papal Authority and Infallibility

We all know that the Pope only has authority and infallibility regarding issues related to “faith and morals,” but I can’t find a definition of what “faith and morals” are in the Catechism of the Catholic Church.

Does anyone know of an OFFICIAL or reliable source that explains what “faith and morals” are?

Justin

Faith
Catechism of the Catholic Church, Second Edition, Glossary, “Faith”, page 878

Morals
Catechism of the Catholic Church, Second Edition, Glossary, “Morality”, page 888

Links to Catechism

usccb.org/beliefs-and-teachings/what-we-believe/catechism/catechism-of-the-catholic-church/

scborromeo.org/ccc.htm

Thanks for pointing this out…For some reason, when I searched for these terms in the online version previously, it omitted the glossary.

However, neither of these definitions is very specific, especially “Morality.” Based on that understanding of morality, the Church could definitively rule on virtually ANYTHING, which we all know isn’t true. The Church can’t, for instance, declare that “Monarchies are the best form of government and this is infallibly true.” Why? Because this kind of teaching is not within the authority of the Church, so even if they did make that pronouncement, it wouldn’t be authoritative. But under the very broad definition of “morality” that appears in the CCC, they could because it could be argued easily that the form of government is certainly an issue related to “good or evil.” Almost everything is related to “good and evil.” Is there a more specific definition than this?

First sentence, Morality, CCC, Glossary, page 888

“Referring to the goodness or evil of human acts.” Operative words are human acts.

Please, what exactly are the human acts you want to discuss?

The revered Fr John A Hardon S.J., has a great primer on How Infallible is the Teaching Church?
See: therealpresence.org/archives/Church_Dogma/Church_Dogma_040.htm

By that definition, the Church has authority over virtually everything…and that doesn’t appear to me to be the teaching of the Church historically. The broad definition here doesn’t really settle the issue.

I am not really concerned with any particular acts so to speak…I am more concerned with the nature of the Church’s authority and the extent to which it is claimed.

Hi Abu,
Based on your source…the Church has no limits. It can infallibly teach anything. Do you really believe that is the case? This would cause great confusion considering the Church has changed its positions on numerous issues throughout history (the Church has always claimed these issues were not “infallibly” taught but were instead only authoritative).

jinc1019 #7
Based on your source…the Church has no limits. It can infallibly teach anything.

Fr Hardon explains:

  1. “It includes, first of all, everything which God has supernaturally revealed, beginning with the Church’s decision of what belongs to Sacred Scripture and going on through all the mysteries of faith which are part of revealed tradition.
  2. It includes such premises of revelation as in the Church’s judgment need to be infallibly held in order to safeguard the deposit of divine faith.
  3. It includes whatever conclusions the Church may draw from revealed premises-which covers a large part of conciliar teaching, notable in the Council of Trent.
  4. It includes whatever, in the Church’s judgment, needs to be held and put into practice as part of the natural law. For it should be obvious that Christians are bound not only by formally revealed commandments of the Old and the New Testament but also by the law which the Author of man’s nature has imprinted on the human heart.
    Is there any limit to what the Church may teach infallibly? None by human standards.”

From the above, revelation is the nexus of the first three items. The fourth item re the natural law covers the morals.

The Pope is infallible only when he teaches in virtue of his supreme office as head of the Church on matters of faith and morals. If they are outside the sphere of faith and moral principles, they are beyond the scope of infallibility. It does not mean that he can teach what he likes, or that he cannot go wrong on matters of science, or history, or economics or politics. It means only that God will not permit him to define officially for the whole Church any religious doctrine opposed to the teaching of Christ.

Since the Church is the arms, legs and voice of Jesus, and God wills that all would be saved, and the Church was instructed to share the good news to the ends of the earth, the Church must have authority over vitually everything. This wide reaching authority is completely consistent with her mission.

This would create quite a few problems then since the Church has done quite a few very horrible acts and has defended them later on by saying, “The Church’s protection of infallibility is only in the area of faith and morals.” How can you reconcile infallibility with your belief that the Church has the authority to teach infallibly about virtually anything?

Hi Abu,
Do you have a more official source than a single priest? Was Father Hardon a more important figure than I realize? Even if he was, I am not sure his opinion on the matter is truly authoritative (which doesn’t mean that it’s false. I accept that it could be correct). However, how would you respond to David’s assertions below your’s?

Hi jinc1019

Davidv wrote:
the Church must have authority over vitually everything. This wide reaching authority is completely consistent with her mission.
And you asked:
However, how would you respond to David’s assertions below your’s?

As I wrote: “It does not mean that he can teach what he likes, or that he cannot go wrong on matters of science, or history, or economics or politics. It means only that God will not permit him to define officially for the whole Church any religious doctrine opposed to the teaching of Christ.”

Now that part of my statement is actually from the answers by Fathers Rumble and Carty to very many questions – have a look:
radioreplies.info/site-search.php?q=infallibility&db=4
Topic: “The Pope infallible” in Vol 4.
289. Will you tell us exactly in what sense you claim infallibility for -the Pope?

“We claim that the Pope is infallible only in his official capacity when declaring a truth essentially connected with divinely revealed religion, and intending his decision to be binding upon all members of the Church throughout the world. He is not infallible in his private capacity. So infallibility does not mean that he cannot be mistaken when not acting officially as supreme teacher in the Church. It does not mean that the Pope could not commit sin in his personal life, as though he were impeccable. It does not mean that he can teach what he likes, or that he cannot go wrong on matters of science, or history, or economics or politics. It means only that God will not permit him to define officially for the whole Church any religious doctrine opposed to the teaching of Christ. For the Christian religion must be preserved intact in this world.”

There is much on papal infallibility at that site, including:
Topic: “Papal Supremacy” in Vol 3.

“But the gift of infallibility does not extend to matters of practical administration. And Popes have undoubtedly been guilty of imprudence in such matters. The Church, however, being indefectible in virtue of Christ’s promise to be with her all days till the end of the world, has survived all such mistakes in management and policy on the part of the Popes.”
radioreplies.info/site-search.php?q=infallibility&db=3

So you may find much of value there.

Very good sources Abu, I appreciate it. It doesn’t specifically define what “faith and morals” are, but it does try to limit the Pope’s authority to the relevant issues. It does fly in the face of what David said previously though.

I think you mistook David’s statement.

Originally Posted by davidv
Since the Church is the arms, legs and voice of Jesus, and God wills that all would be saved, and the Church was instructed to share the good news to the ends of the earth, the Church must have authority over vitually everything. This wide reaching authority is completely consistent with her mission

.

This authority is not infallible in all cases. Yet it exists. Even though it may be wrong, it should be followed. However, infallible authority is limited to faith and morals. In this specific case it cannot be wrong.

If David did not mean this however, then I believe he is mistaken.

steve

Not true. Individuals who were Catholic did horrible things in disobedience to the Church’s teachings.

and has defended them later on by saying, “The Church’s protection of infallibility is only in the area of faith and morals.”

None of the horrible things are justifiable by the Church’s infallible teachings.

How can you reconcile infallibility with your belief that the Church has the authority to teach infallibly about virtually anything?

There is nothing to reconcile. Knowledge of the truth does not prevent sin.

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