Who, besides some theologians and apologists, gives a fig whether a Church teaching is infallible?

In another thread regarding Papal infallibility, I made the assertion (which I have made here at least a dozen times):

The MOST IMPORTANT THING to understand about Papal infallbility is that there is no reason for the average layperson to even know that it exists, much less which teachings fall into this category.

The distinction is of importance only to theologians and the occasional apologist.

As I said, I have asserted this here many times over the years, and nobody has ever challenged me on it (at least, not that I have noticed).

But, I am wondering if I am correct. Are these really the ONLY people who are interested in this distinction? I feel like I’m leaving somebody out (besides the idly curious).

Theologians obviously want to understand this. They advise the Pope, and help shape Church teaching. It would be very embarrassing if a Pope made an ex Cathedra teaching that a predecessor (of happy memory) had already made. And theologians teach in Catholic seminaries and such. They should not be ignorant of such matters.

Apologists occasionally use the definition of “infallibility” to explain why EVERYTHING that a Pope says is not automatically considered infallible doctrine. Furthermore, anti-Catholics often will focus their efforts on “infallible” doctrine because it’s a high-value target - if they can decisively take one out, they destroy the entire Catholic Church. So it’s good for apologists to know the value of the asset they’re defending.

Who am I leaving out? Who else has any reason to bother with the idea at all?

I bet Pope Francis would be the first to say that he is not infallible.

I also bet that, as a “man of the Church”, he would stand behind the doctrine of magisterial infallibility. :wink:

Papal Infallibility is not meant to explain everything, much less have every discussion revolve around it as if Papal Infallibility is not an extension of the Infallibility of the Church.

In discussions on doctrine I never bring up Papal Infallibility, I simply state the authoritative teachings of the Church. We are obligated to believe all that the Church professes.

You mention Anti-Catholics who would use this as a point to attack us.
You’re leaving out the very important group of anti-Catholics that would twist its meaning to lure poorly formed Catholics away from the Church and to foment the idea that we are a mindless army following lockstep every word that falls from the Pope’s mouth.

It matters to those who are going ‘all-the -way’ in their faith. There are probably some clergy who feel that lay Catholics don’t need to know these things because they’re not able to comprehend them correctly, but that’s not always the case 100% of the time.

But we do need to know that there is a point where doctrine, prayer and spirituality need to be rebalanced because we shouldnt focus too heavily in one area over another. That’s my opinion.

It has been my experience that those most acutely interested in the topic are Catholics who don’t like certain teachings of the church, i.e., “that’s not infallible, so I don’t have to believe it.”.

Yes all should and hopefully do. For it it is part of the Catholic Faith. Tis important - a wonderful gift from God.

Maybe it’s just me and the kind of person that I am but I consider it to be an important question of which lay Catholics should have at least a rudimentary understanding. True, they don’t need a dissertation-level understanding of it. This is my reasoning. If the Church is not protected by some level of infallibility, then its teachings are no different than any other religion. We’re all just offering our opinions on things and the Catholic Church’s opinion is no better or worse than any Protestant teaching. I want to belong to the true Church established by God, not a church that makes me feel good. I realize the doctrine of infallibility is relatively new, but I don’t see any reason to hide it from the average layperson.

The other reason is more practical in that if you don’t defend this doctrine somebody is inevitably going to challenge the average Catholic claiming it to be utterly absurd and the argument will carry a lot of weight because at first glance it does seem arrogant and unreasonable to claim that the Pope or the Magisterium is protected from error. Couple that with accusations of legitimate abuse of power and its even more compelling. I used to think that before I started to actually learn about my faith.

It should matter to us since we rely on the church to guide us in the way of the truth through the power of the Holy Spirit in the catholic church. What the church teaches needs to be considered when forming our conscience. If that is not infallible then we are all in trouble. Many confuse infallible with perfect but they are not at all the same.



I know it’s not the case, but I think Catholics, average Catholics should care and make the effort to learn what the Church teaches, and more importantly, WHY???

I heard a very good and wise Priest say that “It has to be your faith!! You will be accountable for the decisions you make. You are responsible for building and informing your conscious.” I would hate for an otherwise good Catholic to be standing at the gates of Heaven and try to make the argument that I just followed all of the rules layed out for me, can I come in?

This is so true. I have no interest in being a cafeteria Catholic. The reason is to discern the will of God and follow it. He said He would be with us always and the gates of hell will not prevail. Where else can we go?

I certainly do, did, and will continue to care a heck of a lot more than a fig. Truth has always been very important to me.
(And I’m not a theologian or an apologist - unless you call participating on CAF as being an apologist.)

I started multi-quoting, so I could say “THIS ^” but stopped because there were too many that I wanted to quote. Anyway, I think imfallibility is extremely important to understand and I believe that it should be this imprtant to ALL Christians because without it, we could never know with certainty that we are getting TRUTH. All we could ever know is that we are getting what we HOPE is the Truth, and have SOME certainty that it’s really “true”, but we could never been certain.

I recently read a bit from John Martignoni that I think fits this perfectly. I’ll paraphrase because I don’t remember exactly where it is, but it’s somethign like this: The best that a Protestant pastor can do when reading Scriptures to his congregation is tell them, 'here is a reading from the book of Jude, which I THINK, I HOPE, is the Word of God…but I can’t actually be absolutely certain that it is….

Without infallibility, we truly can’t “know”.

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