Would it be Possible to "Roll Back" or "Develop" V1's Papal Infallibility or is it Part of the Unchanging "Deposit of Faith"?


Apologies if this is posted in the wrong area-

But the question is asked in light of another very recent discussion over the healing of age-old schisms. And as I perceive most divisions involving Catholicism to (at least indirectly) involve the nature of the papal office, it seems to me the question is a relevant one.

Would it be possible within Catholicism to either roll back/nullify a council or further develop the definition of papal infallibility in a way where the bishop of Rome no longer holds the power to unilaterally proclaim doctrine that is supposedly binding upon all Christendom?

It seems that such would be a beginning requisite for any real hope at reunification…

What say you?
[Not done in poll format because I’d like to read the “whys” hopefully offered in addition to any reply]


Why would you want to roll it back?


I could see it becoming a tribunal, where Rome, Moscow, and Constantinople (or any other see) come together to make pronouncements.

However, the filioque would have to be resolved as well, which is a whole 'nother thread


If I follow what you are stating… could there be a way to come to accords as in “compromise?”

How can you compromise on things that are set rules?

We can discuss things until both sides understand the issue from both perspectives but we cannot simply whitewash rules.

Though there are groups that constantly engage in this (yea, no, maybe, ok, let’s agree to disagree, let’s compromise, you have your view and I have mine…) tenet, we find that they basically reinvent the wheel at every “compromised” juncture.

Maran atha!



The Dogmatic Constitution on the Church Lumen Gentium says this: “This teaching concerning the institution, the permanence, the nature and import of the sacred primacy of the Roman Pontiff and his infallible teaching office, the sacred synod proposes anew to be firmly believed by all the faithful” (LG 18).

I’m not aware of a doctrine defined in an ecumenical council then overturned later.


Is not papal infallibility God’s will?


Me neither.

But I’m aware of plenty of “developments”, though. “Filioque” and “Immediate Jurisdiction” in light of Canon 6 of Nicaea come to mind. FWIW.


They still have their customs and jurisdiction.

Canon 6

Let the ancient customs in Egypt, Libya and Pentapolis prevail, that the Bishop of Alexandria have jurisdiction in all these, since the like is customary for the Bishop of Rome also. Likewise in Antioch and the other provinces, let the Churches retain their privileges. And this is to be universally understood, that if any one be made bishop without the consent of the Metropolitan, the great Synod has declared that such a man ought not to be a bishop. If, however, two or three bishops shall from natural love of contradiction, oppose the common suffrage of the rest, it being reasonable and in accordance with the ecclesiastical law, then let the choice of the majority prevail.


Papal infallibility was confirmed by Vatican 1 and 2, but it was exercised long before, and it meets a need. Even if you “rolled back” a council, which you can’t, the need would still be there.


Do you think it’s possible that the “need” is artificial, as evidenced by half of the Christians out there not being Catholic?

It’s a solution that was in search of a problem, so one was made up?


It’s not just Papal infallibility. Now bishops, catechists and liturgists seem to think they are all infallible, including a lot of them on this site.


lol :wink:


I would say the first steps toward rolling it back have been taken:

Following the example of Pope Pius IX, who with his encyclical Ubi Primum canvassed Catholic bishops before proclaiming the dogma of the Immaculate Conception, Pius XII asks all bishops for their opinion. [in his encyclical Deiparae Virginis Mariae]

This is one reason I do not think John Paul II did not define anything infallibly, because he did not formally ask for agreement in this manner. This has become part of the tradition surrounding the exercise of infallibility.

Others disagree with me.


It goes back all the way to the early church it would seem. The Bishop of Rome never just randomly declared himself the Head of all Christianity and everyone automatically believed that. That wouldn’t happen. I think it’s proof enough that Christ established this tradition. I mean Papal supremacy goes way back in the historical record. It certainly wasn’t “invented” in the 1800s like I hear some Protestants say.


I’d argue that the fact that there are hundreds of denominations all proclaiming to teach the Truth of Christ is proof that Papal infallibility is a necessary power of the office.


No. It’s because the Church in Rome was founded by Peter and Paul - both of the apostolic period’s two “rock-stars” and it was also the political and logistical heart of the Roman Empire - the great political body of the day.

I don’t think anyone argues it was randomly done.

Well, they’re right in that it wasn’t dogmatized until the 1800s…

But we see evidence of growing, developing papal power starting in the third century. It just that plenty of attempts at papal power-grabs were readily slapped down by other Churches (like those of the “Pentarchy”) until those Churches were de facto destroyed in the rise of Islam. Indeed, the Islam-induced collapse of Byzantium is what facilitated the pope naming a Holy Roman Emperor which was pretty instrumental in establishing the present Catholic understanding of papal power.
“Can he do that???”
“Well… we’re looking at it, aren’t we?”

The rise of papal influence and the territorial gains of the caliphates share a remarkably strong correlation, if you’ve never noticed :thinking:


Interesting…I won’t argue with you. I think you make excellent points. However I still think there’s an argument for Papal infallibility, to be made (which has been made, here). You’re Orthodox, right? I consider Orthodox our brothers. I don’t think it’s wrong…


The last Council Vatican II had representives from other religions. Infallible Statements are rare and only made after much study. The last Papal infallible ruling was the Dogma of the Assumption of Mary into heaven in, I believe, 1952.


In my Baptist days, I was once rabidly anti-Catholic. I’ve learned enough about it through study and attempting to become one that I’ve completely surrendered my hostility to it. I’ll even defend it when my old Protestant seminarian friends take a swipe at it.

Just an attempt at academic discussion. I’m one of those guys who thinks the Church lies somewhere on the road between Rome and Constantinople. Latins too loving of centralized power, Greeks too allergic to it.

I currently attend an OCA (Orthodox) Church, but I’m not on the “roll”.


As far as I’m aware, the Eastern Orthodox haven’t had any ecumenical councils since the schism. As such, it doesn’t appear that they’re putting themselves in a position where papal infallibility might be useful.

On the flip side, Protestants have shown what happens when everyone is declaring dogmas but no one has the power to unify. At this point, Protestants can’t even agree on what their two core beliefs of sola scriptura and sola fide actually teach.

So I don’t really think the need is that artificial.

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