What is the worst thing the church has done?

what would you say was the worst thing?

also, i’m still having a little trouble understanding papal infability, the pope cannot err on faith and morals?

but let’s say for example the transatlantic slave trade, which was not condemned at first, but appears to be sanctioned

"We grant you [Kings of Spain and Portugal] by these present documents, with our Apostolic Authority, full and free permission to invade, search out, capture, and subjugate the Saracens and pagans and any other unbelievers and enemies of Christ wherever they may be, as well as their kingdoms, duchies, counties, principalities, and other property …] and to reduce their persons into perpetual slavery.

dum diversas

there is also another document, romanus pontificus, which confirms this.

also certain crusades, like conquering the nordic countries and the albigensian, directly issued and sanctioned by the pope. not talking about the defenseive ones

they used the papal authority in these cases, therefor proving they were moral, now the church has apologized and said they were immoral. how does this get explained exactly?

What is the worst thing you have ever done ? and if so have you acknowledged it.

yes, but i don’t claim to be infallible on faith and morals

The Pope is only infallible when speaking ex cathedra. Encyclicals are not infallible, but they are authoritative and binding.

the Church is made up of people, good and bad.

The Church is not a Hotel for Saints
but a Hospital for Sinners.

Its not a building or structure, its us, we are the Church.

So we have to ask ourselves have we let the Church down by our actions, by giving scandal to non Catholics.

Have we been always faithful to Christ, by going to Mass, adoring the Eucharist etc.

Look at ourselves, not to the Teaching Body first, what have I done, have I done it with Christ in mind,

oh, ok, thanks, that helped.

are their certain criteria for speaking ex cathedra?

what about councils? do those count as infallible if they are definig doctrine?

and is it correct to say that the encyclicals are more like giving advice? and they can make errors in advising? or more like personal decisions perhaps? i just don’t like the wording, by the authority of the apostles. i don’t think the apostles would have been ok with that… sorry, just trying to understand

Infallibility doesn’t have anything to do with “doing.” It has to do with “teaching” the deposit of Faith.

I could be personally infallible in every statement I made (not likely, though) and still be the worst sinner in the world. Infallibility does not protect against sin, or error in decision making, or error in actions; it protects against error in passing on the deposit of faith.

No pun intended but just its a great help, try and get the Book on “Catholicism for Dummies” there is also one on the Mass, its great for Converts like myself and Catholics who are weak on knowledge of there faith. Can be got on Amazon/Catholic Bookshop.

God Bless walk with the Lord

i suppose but i feel like there is a link between what we do and what we teach isn’t there? at least there should be anyways

but i think i understand what you are saying to some extent. but isn’t the proper way to view slavery, or heretics, or nonchristians part of the deposit of faith too? doesn’t it just confuse people if there are bad decisions being made about moral issues?

like for example, we can say that the church has never changed it’s teaching on abortion or homosexuality or contraception

but i don’t think we can say that it hasn’t changed its teachings on certain other things such as treatment of slaves, or killing of heretics, or enslaving nonchristians or antisemitism.

what if a pope today suddenly started telling women it was ok to use contraception? or advised certain people to have abortions? it would equate to those examples in the past wouldn’t it?

…and we care about this why?

I’d be more concerned with my own sins than those of someone else in the past.

Not gonna happen, so why even ask something like that?

The rest of the world may decide to go to hell, but as Joshua says in the Bible,*** “[15] And if you be unwilling to serve the LORD, choose this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your fathers served in the region beyond the River, or the gods of the Amorites in whose land you dwell; but as for me and my house, we will serve the LORD.” (Joshua 24)***

Yes, there are 4:

  1. He must be the current Pope.
  2. He must be teaching on faith or morals.
  3. He must be addressing the Church as a whole.
  4. He must invoke his full authority as the Successor of St Peter and the Vicar of Christ, using the ex cathedra formula.

what about councils? do those count as infallible if they are definig doctrine?

Yes, ecumenical councils are infallible.

and is it correct to say that the encyclicals are more like giving advice? and they can make errors in advising? or more like personal decisions perhaps? i just don’t like the wording, by the authority of the apostles. i don’t think the apostles would have been ok with that… sorry, just trying to understand

Encyclicals are not infallible, but they are still binding on all the faithful. Though a Pope can err in the doctrine he teaches in his encyclicals, said doctrine is still required belief for Catholics.

The Magisterium (the Teaching Authority of the Church) has three levels. The highest is the Extraordinary Infallible Magisterium, which is comprised of ex cathedra statements and the doctrines defined by ecumenical councils. The second is the Ordinary Infallible Magisterium, which is comprised of other Vatican documents. Most of the latter is the Church’s social teaching (abortion and same-sex marriage are unacceptable, etc.). The final level is the Ordinary Fallible Magisterium, which is comprised of papal encyclicals and other non-infallible Church documents. A Catholic is required to accept the teachings of all these levels, unless a fallible doctrine is undone by a higher level (for example, several infallible declarations against slavery).

He would be protected by the Holy Spirit from teaching such things infallibly. God protects the Infallible Magisterium from teaching error (cf. John 16:13).

When someone in the Church does something against Church teaching, you can’t attribute that thing to the Church. Sometimes, even bishops and priests do something that is against Church teaching, but the Church is still opposed to it even if some of its bishops do evil. Because of this, I don’t think it’s fair to say that the Church has done evil, because our doctrines never change, and our doctrines are opposed to every evil action.

also, i’m still having a little trouble understanding papal infability, the pope cannot err on faith and morals?

Not quite. Papal infallibility means the pope cannot teach errors about matters of faith and morals if he is speaking to the whole Church as head of the Church. If he is speaking about his own private opinions, or if he is only speaking to Spain and Portugal, that does not qualify for the protection of papal infallibility.

but let’s say for example the transatlantic slave trade, which was not condemned at first, but appears to be sanctioned

It depends on what pope you are talking about. The Renaissance saw some popes who condemned slavery as something opposed to natural law, and there were some popes who accepted slavery because of corrupt political interests.

The African slave trade began when Spain and Portugal began colonizing West Africa in the 1400s and enslaved the inhabitants of the Canary Islands. In 1435 this enslavement was condemned by Pope Eugene IV. In the bull Sicut Dudum, he commanded: “All and each of the faithful of each sex, within the space of fifteen days of the publication of these letters in the place where they live, [must] restore to their earlier liberty all and each person of either sex who were once residents of the Canary Islands…who have been made subject to slavery. These people are to be totally and perpetually free and are to be let go without the exaction or reception of any money…"

As Rodney Stark argues in his book “The Victory of Reason”: “…Pope Pius II (1458 to 1464) and Pope Sixtus IV (1471 to 1484) followed with additional bulls condemning enslavement of the Canary Islanders, which, obviously, had continued. What this episode displays is the weakness of papal authority at this time, not the indifference of the Church to the sin of slavery…”

Spain and Portugal continued to enslave the West Africans, but the Church showed that she believed in their equality by ordaining them and establishing a Church in West Africa. In 1491, King Afonso the Good of the Kongo was converted to the Catholic faith and started the process of establishing the black Church. In 1518, Pope Leo X consecrated the king’s son, Henrique, Titular Bishop of Utica. Bishop Henrique was the first native bishop of West Africa. But as Spain and Portugal continued to enslave these populations, the Church there crumbled, and it has been hard to restore it since.

"We grant you [Kings of Spain and Portugal] by these present documents, with our Apostolic Authority, full and free permission to invade, search out, capture, and subjugate the Saracens and pagans and any other unbelievers and enemies of Christ wherever they may be, as well as their kingdoms, duchies, counties, principalities, and other property …] and to reduce their persons into perpetual slavery.

dum diversas

there is also another document, romanus pontificus, which confirms this.

Although these documents are sometimes interpreted as authorizing Spain and Portugal to start the racial slave trade, there are several lines of evidence against this, and which lead me to believe that the form of “slavery” mentioned in these bulls was a form of forced labor for prisoners of war, not the same thing as racial slavery.

First of all, racial slavery had already been condemned. Second of all, notice the emphasis of this document on “Saracens” (Muslims) and “enemies of Christ.” Spain was at war with the Muslim empire at this time, and it was standard practice at the time to enslave prisoners of war instead of kill them.

Because of this, in my judgment, the most you could glean from this document is that unfree prison labor can be justified and can be called slavery. That is far different from racial slavery – racial slavery assumes the inequality of blacks, and because of that, it was condemned by the popes of the time.

also certain crusades, like conquering the nordic countries and the albigensian, directly issued and sanctioned by the pope. not talking about the defenseive ones

Non-defensive crusades are not justifiable because a just war requires that violent actions be taken only when necessary for the defense of your nation. This was part of the doctrine of the Church at the time. It was encoded into Canon Law as part of Gratian’s Decrees, it appears in St. Thomas Aquinas’ Summa, it appears in the directives of popes and Doctors of the Church from the early medieval period (before 1000 A.D.), and it is part of the heritage of the Church from the Patristic era – not to mention the fact that the New Testament permits only defensive warfare.

Because aggressive warfare was against Church doctrine, it is unfair to count it as “the worst thing the Church has done” – the Church, in fact, taught that it must not be done.

they used the papal authority in these cases, therefor proving they were moral, now the church has apologized and said they were immoral. how does this get explained exactly?

As I said, papal infallibility does not protect a pope’s actions, but only his teachings, and only under certain conditions. It has to be a teaching declared to the whole Church, and he has to be speaking as pope. None of the examples you provided fit all those criteria, and some of them are based on a misunderstanding. Therefore, they do not disprove papal infallibility.

The mystical Body that has Jesus Christ Himself as its Head – which is to say the Church – has never done anything bad or wrong at any time.

On the other hand, individual human beings who are members of that body have done many very bad things indeed. Some of those human beings were bishops, and even popes, who should have known better, but it is not accurate to say that the words or deeds of this or that person, or even this or that group of individual persons, should be accounted as the words or deeds of the whole “Church”.

Your understanding of the doctrine of papal infallibility appears to be a little inaccurate. Most statements by most popes do not fall into the area of infallible pronouncements, and in fact the vast majority of popes never issued statements in a form that would make them infallible definitions of doctrine. The definition of the dogma of papal infallibility given by the First Vatican Council places very specific conditions on what papal statements are infallible:

  1. The Pope, while acting in his role as shepherd and teacher of all Christians, and with his full apostolic authority
  2. defines a doctrine
  3. concerning faith and morals
  4. as one that is to be held by the entire Church.

This means that the pope cannot make infallible pronouncements accidentally, or in casual conversation; he is not infallible when talking about topics other than faith and morals, such as science or economics per se; he is not infallible when talking of things that do not apply to every single Christian throughout the world, and in all times and places.

Cardinal Newman, in his elegant and inimitable prose, discussed the true meaning of the definition of papal infallibility in his Letter to the Duke of Norfolk, which you might want to read.

By the way, the specific example you gave of a papal statement to which you apparently object is from the Bull Dum diversas, which – being addressed solely to two kings rather than the whole church, and regarding secular activity rather than faith and morals-- cannot be regarded as an infallible definition of doctrine. While it is common for opponents of the Church to bring up that little snippet of Dum diversas out of context (and particularly out of historical context), you should be aware that the Bull has been discussed here before – and you can find a link to a full translation, which makes its point and its real message much clearer. Look here.

There have been times when the church hasn’t spoken out on evil; or at least, some of the church leaders. Some modern bishops are an example.

[quote=Celtic Maiden]The Church is not a Hotel for Saints
but a Hospital for Sinners.

Its not a building or structure, its us, we are the Church.
[/quote]

I agree with Celtic Maiden in that the Church can indeed Do wrong and has done wrong because it is a gathering of people not just doctrines.

ok, thanks for the explanation

ah ok, i see, thanks

Actually we can. Documents from the time confirm that the Church’s doctrines were against the treatment of slaves as unequals, against violent actions directed at non-Catholics, against antisemitism, and against the act of condemning non-combatants to forced labor. (They called all forced labor “slavery” even when it was the labor of prisoners of war – nowadays we don’t call it slavery when we force prisoners to do work, and the fact that our terms have changed meaning in this regard produces confusion.)

At the same time that I say that, I fully admit that those in power have sometimes said it was okay to act in ways that we now see as unjustifiable in the light of Catholic doctrine. The best example of this is violence toward heretics. Most of the medieval Church leaders who I have read said that heretics could be executed, but that wasn’t because the doctrine of religious liberty wasn’t taught at that time.

The Church had always taught that non-Catholics must be allowed to practice their faith, but many Church leaders thought that an exception could be made for heretical religions, or they argued that heretics could be executed for one of two other reasons: either because their heresy had terrible social consequences, or because the Church has the right to punish its own members, and heretics were all technically still Catholics who had just stopped believing some aspect of Catholic teaching.

In fact, the only time violence can be used against heretics is when they are guilty of violence themselves and cannot be stopped in any other way. Although most of the medieval Church members seem to have misunderstood this principle, we still know that it was part of their tradition because we can deduce it from medieval statements on the subject of just war, the just use of the death penalty, and the right of religious liberty for Jews and pagans, which are all amply testified in documents of the period.

Excellent. I think this response covers it all very well!

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