Whatever the Pope says?

Papal infallibility is a hotly contested theological doctrine of the Roman Catholic Church. Especially now that Pope Francis is “in charge” as the Bishop of Rome and half the words he says that come out of his mouth are borderline if not outright heresy to traditional Catholic teaching. There are Catholics who end up on all sorts of spectrums of the theological debate concerning this which is not good for the Church either as division is never good. There are Catholics who are so concerned that what the Pope is saying is heretical, that they have declared him invalid all together. There are some who have a very strange concept of the infallible line of Popes that they have put together a pseudo-dogma that all of what the Pope says is orthodox and either attempt to reconcile it with the faith of the Catholic Church or insist that the infallible Church is actually undergoing a series of permutations. Then there are some that say that the Catholic Church is just a liberal party, ordain women, you can still be in union with Rome even if the Church says otherwise, etc.

It would be important for all Catholics to read up on the definition of Papal infallibility in the first place. Here it is–

we teach and define as a divinely revealed dogma that
when the Roman pontiff speaks EX CATHEDRA,
that is, when,
1. in the exercise of his office as shepherd and teacher of all Christians,
2. in virtue of his supreme apostolic authority,
3. he defines a doctrine concerning faith or morals to be held by the whole church,
he possesses,
by the divine assistance promised to him in blessed Peter,
that infallibility which the divine Redeemer willed his church to enjoy in defining doctrine concerning faith or morals.
Therefore, such definitions of the Roman pontiff are of themselves, and not by the consent of the church, irreformable.

The Roman Pontiff’s infallibility is NOT HIS OWN. It is derived from the divine assistance of St. Peter of whom he is the successor. We all know that St. Peter received his infallibility from Christ and hence, was not at all infallible in everything he said. Believing in the Catholic Church and the infallibility of Pope Francis is NOT the same as believing everything Pope Francis (or any other Pope for that matter) expresses the purity of faith or is free from heresy. Nor does it mean that the Pope is unable to be scolded when necessary (Gal. 2:11-21). What Papal infallibility means is that the Pope, WHEN he is speaking in agreement with the Church and is aiding the Church in defining a doctrine of faith or morals, his dogmatic decision is true and free from error.

It would further do well for Catholics of today to read the story of Pope Joan which according to Eamonn Duffy may have been a legal fiction created by canonists to address the situation of heretical and invalid Popes (Saints and Sinners, 3rd. ed., 156-158). Pope Joan was a woman who masqueraded as a man but was so sexually lewd that her lewdness eventually became her downfall. She pretended man in order to be ordained priest and then later bishop and cardinal and then elected Pope deceiving everyone. Unfortunately, one day, riding upon her Papal horse, she gave birth and was exposed as a woman. She was immediately stoned for whoredom, deception, and sacrilege of the holy orders.

That said, it is not advisable to attack Pope Francis. He holds the office of the Pope and as such is the Bishop of Rome. His office is infallible. He is a very flawed man who says many flawed things that are borderline heresy. But he has manifested no open material heresy as of yet nor has he introduced false dogma into the world. This does not mean that everything he says be enforced upon others’ throats otherwise, they be anti-Catholic or separating themselves from the Church. For instance, his insistence that Traditionalist Catholics ought to let go of their rigidity is not to be presumed to be infallible. His insistence on facing the congregation at Mass is not to be presumed infallible. Etc. This Pope has not in fact said anything that can be adequately interpreted as infallible that has contradicted the Church. His office is from the Holy Spirit and if he blesses you, receive it with humility and acknowledge the Holy Spirit from whence that blessing comes.


About newenglandsun

A student. Male. Passionate. Easily offended. Child-like wonderer. Growing in faith, messing up daily.
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1 Response to Whatever the Pope says?

  1. Pingback: Pope Francis’s warning about libertarianism… | Theological Rejuvenation

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