WHAT specific teachings are infallible?

Infallibility on faith and morals includes what specific teachings?

The teachings of Christ and His Apostles on Christian faith and morals should, of course, be accepted by Christians.

Are there some teachings that you suspect are fallible?

Certainly the De Fide dogmas, but there are others also that are certain (Sent. Certa) and common given there in this list, which may not be irreformable.


Frankly, it does not matter because Catholics are bound by all Church teachings, both infallible and non-infallible.

That’s not quite true. Some teachings are greater than others. Otherwise, what is the point of infallibility? The other issue is defining exactly what Church teaching is.

To seek clarity is not a sin nor unimportant. Especially these days when you’ve got bishops contradicting bishops and priests contradicting priests.

May1980, I don’t know how ti fully answer your question- I am also interested in finding clarity on this point. However, I can give you a partial answer. Those things explicitly declared by Popes to be doctrine are infallible. These are very few though. As for other teachings, those deeply rooted in history, tradition and scripture have far more weight than others, and are practically infallible, such as the teachings on: contraception, abortion, homosexuality, the Eucharist, the other Sacraments, etc…

And then of course there’s the distinction between ordinary doctrine and dogma. Hope this has set you on the right course!

I have always been on the right course. I know the difference in the types of teachings. I am saying it does not matter. In these forums several people over the years have asked if the Church has a list of infallible teachings. The Church has not and will not issue such a list because there is no need.
Catholics are BOUND BY BOTH infallible and non-infallible doctrine. That’s all we need to know.

The Church teachings (both infallible and non-infallible) are all summarised in the Catechism of the Catholic Church with footnotes referencing Scripture and other Church documents underpinning the teachings.

OK, so there is no list. I am curious because I did not know what they all were.

But surely there has to be a difference between infallible teachings and those that are not.

The difference is that the ones that have not been infallibly defined may be at some point in the future, or they may be modified. Whereas those that are infallibly defined can never change. Regardless, as Thistle said, we are bound by them all now as they stand at this point in our lives.

The OP did not ask which teaching he needs to or does not need to follow. He only asked for a list of specific infallible doctrines.

Unfortunately, the current Catechism, as great as it is (and it is a wonderful source) does not distinguish between actual Church teaching and other things like tradition and theological opinions.

But you’d need to figure out what is actually teaching first. A lot of longtime practicing Catholics don’t know the difference between mere tradition and theology and actual Church teaching.

To clarify my earlier post, when I wrote “Some teachings are greater than others” I meant actual teachings vs other traditions and opinions. For example, Limbo was a very prevalent theological idea and often presented as “teaching”. These days it seems to have fallen out of favor and is merely an optional belief.

So no, not all things “taught” by the Church are equal.

There are different levels of Church teachings. It is always wise to be very careful about the use of the word infallible.

“How to Weigh Church Teachings”

We’ve seen that several different kinds of statements can be found in magisterial documents:

Other infallible statements
Doctrines that have not been taught infallibly
Theological opinions
Other non-doctrinal statements.

here’s one


I agree but I repeat it does not matter as we are bound by both infallible and non-infallible teachings.

As to the OP’s question I again say the Church does not have a list of infallible teachings. That answers his question.

Besides the other source I posted to Fundamentals of Catholic Dogma by Ludwig Ott, there is another good source of doctrines and dogmas, Denzinger: Sources of dogma (Enchiridion symbolorum, definitionum et declarationum de rebus fidei et morum).


Also see this from the Catholic Church:

I found the following document about infallibility a very difficult read, but in the end it was WORTH IT!


Archbishop Tarcisio Bertone, S.D.B.
Archbishop emeritus of Vercelli
Secretary of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith

In considering some recently promulgated documents of the Magisterium such as the Encyclicals Veritatis splendor and Evangelium vitae, the Apostolic Letter Ordinatio sacerdotalis and the *Responsum ad dubium *of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith regarding the doctrine of Ordinatio sacerdotalis, as well the same Congregation’s Letter to the Bishops of the Catholic Church regarding the reception of Holy Communion by divorced and remarried members of the faithful, one first notes that these documents have received a great deal of comment. In certain respects, the comments made in many quarters of the Church and civil society have been rather forceful.

In ecclesial and ecclesiastical circles total assent and deep appreciation has been expressed for the publication of these documents by Cardinals and Bishops as well as well as by Episcopal Conferences and many individual priests and lay faithful, who have written to the Holy Father or the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith stating their adherence and assent to the doctrine taught by the Magisterium in these documents. It should also be pointed out that the practice of first presenting papal documents (the two Encyclicals and the Apostolic Letter Ordinatio sacerdotalis) to the presidents of the Episcopal Conferences most concerned with these issues at a meeting in the Holy See has been appreciated and has borne good fruit inasmuch as it has deepened the bond of communion between the Apostolic See and the individual Bishops and these Episcopal Conferences, and has produced even greater results for the dissemination and reception of magisterial documents.

On the other hand, discordant and dissenting voices have been raised by theologians, associations and ecclesiastical groups, which have questioned both the content and the theological basis of the teaching found in these documents, as well as their value and binding doctrinal force, disputing whether these doctrines can be considered definitive or even infallibly taught by the Magisterium. Thus it seems appropriate to reflect on the main difficulties connected with the value and degree of authority of these magisterial interventions.

**I **

Doctrinally, and in view of the description of the reactions and principal criticisms of these magisterial documents, special attention should be paid to several key aspects which in today’s theological and ecclesial climate are a source of confusion and ambiguity, and entail negative consequences for the teaching of theology and for the behavior of some ecclesiastical circles:

  1. first, we must point out the tendency to measure everything on the basis of the distinction between the “infallible Magisterium” and the “fallible Magisterium”…

Sorta related:

Is JP2’s teaching in Ordinatio Sacerdotalis infallible? I was always taught that it was, but recently on another Catholic forum I was told that it wasn’t.

Many folks I have known who I eventually helped come back to the church, were concerned about infallibility as sort of a logical puzzle.

They reasoned that if they could prove one of the infallible teachings wrong, then that meant that the whole church was wrong, or at least casts doubt on everything else.

The church however does not need to worry about this since the only issues that they are concerned with involve faith and morals, which by definition cannot be explicitly prooven one way or another.

The infallible teachings are therefore our guide in faith. They are the real content that comes from God and cannot be deduced by man. There is much depth there.

For example, that Mary was born without sin is only known because our church has given it to us. If we take that as a starting point, then much can be deduced about our faith. One must use inductive reasoning however, and not use deductive reasoning.

There is however, no way for anyone to try and prove that Mary was born sinless one way or another. It is not a scientific issue. The church is careful not to declare things that can be deduced by science. Meanwhile she guides us for things that science cannot address.

Fr. John Trigilio, PhD, ThD, and Fr. Kenneth Brighenti PhD, in Catholicism for Dummies, (2nd edition, page 80, 82) state that all teachings provided by the “normal Magisterium” of the Church are considered to be infallible teachings and that the faithful should treat them as infallible doctrine. Think catechism here, but that’s not all. On page 82, they state:

“Encyclicals are the routine, day-to-day, consistent teaching of the Ordinary Magisterium, which is equally infallible when it concerns faith and morals and reiterates the constant, consistent and universal teaching of the popes and bishops. Their content requires religious submission of mind and will of faithful Catholics around the world. So-called dissent from papal teaching in encyclicals isn’t a part of Catholic belief. The Catholic faithful willfully conform to it and don’t dispute it.”

Is someone looking for a loophole, or an “out”?

However this thread continues it is clear there is no list of infallible teachings produced by the Church and there will not be.

Here is a guide on infallible and non-infallible I copied some years back from a thread.

Dogmas and Doctrines

Doctrine - any truth taught by the Church as necessary for acceptance by the faithful.

The truth may be either formally revealed (as the Real Presence), or a theological conclusion (as the canonization of a saint), or part of the natural law (as the sinfulness of contraception). In any case, what makes it doctrine is that the Church authority teaches that it is to be believed. This teaching may be done either solemnly in ex cathedra pronouncements or decision of an ecumenical council, or this teaching may be taught ordinarily in the exercise of the Church’s magisterium or teaching authority.

Dogmas are those doctrines which the Church proposes for belief as formally revealed by God.

The difference in Dogmas and Doctrines is the level of certainty with which the magisterium teaches. Dogmas are taught with absolute certainty (beyond all doubt whatsoever), whereas doctrines are taught with moral certainty (similar to beyond reasonable doubt).

Dogmas require the assent of faith, meaning that obstinate doubt or denial of the truth of the dogma is the sin of heresy–a sin against the virtue of faith.

Doctrines require religious submission of intellect and will. Refusal to submit to doctrines of the Church is not a heresy, not a sin against faith, but a sin against charity. We are called to “obey our leaders and submit to them” (Heb 13:17). To dissent with doctrine is incompatible with humility, loyalty, and charity. It is a matter of placing one’s own fallible intellect and will above that of the mind of the Holy Catholic Church.

See also the following Instruction from the Congregation for the Doctrine of Faith, which describes the difference between “dissent” and “difficulty” in assenting to doctrines.


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