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Thread: Questions About Papal Infallibility

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    tWebber Teallaura's Avatar
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    Questions About Papal Infallibility

    Not interested in a debate - just looking for information.

    Play nice!


    Okay, my understanding is that the formal doctrine of papal infallibility is a relative late comer and that it concerns matters of doctrine only (the pope's doctrine is infallible but his church history can be way off). I have the following questions about it:
    1) Is it retroactive?
    2) If so, what about times when there were more than one claimant to the papacy?
    3) If not, why not? Why are only modern popes infallible?
    4) Where does it come from officially (what document or documents)?

    Thank you!

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    Professor Cerebrum123's Avatar
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    tWebber Leonhard's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Teallaura View Post
    1) Is it retroactive?
    Yes.

    2) If so, what about times when there were more than one claimant to the papacy?
    One was real the other were fakes.

    4) Where does it come from officially (what document or documents)?
    1st Vatican Council.

    Source: Decrees of the First Vatican Council

    we teach and define as a divinely revealed dogma that
    when the Roman pontiff speaks EX CATHEDRA,
    that is, when,
    in the exercise of his office as shepherd and teacher of all Christians,
    in virtue of his supreme apostolic authority,
    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.

    © Copyright Original Source



    As stated, its only when a pope speaks ex cathedra that his utterances are considered infallible (read - irreformable), and binding on all believers as a matter of faith. This has happened only two times in history though.

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    tWebber Teallaura's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Leonhard View Post
    Yes.



    One was real the other were fakes.



    1st Vatican Council.

    Source: Decrees of the First Vatican Council

    we teach and define as a divinely revealed dogma that
    when the Roman pontiff speaks EX CATHEDRA,
    that is, when,
    in the exercise of his office as shepherd and teacher of all Christians,
    in virtue of his supreme apostolic authority,
    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.

    © Copyright Original Source

    Thanks!

    As stated, its only when a pope speaks ex cathedra that his utterances are considered infallible (read - irreformable), and binding on all believers as a matter of faith. This has happened only two times in history though.
    Um, wait, what? The pope has only spoken in the exercise of his office twice in history? Or does ex catherdra have another meaning?

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    tWebber thewriteranon's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Teallaura View Post
    Thanks!


    Um, wait, what? The pope has only spoken in the exercise of his office twice in history? Or does ex catherdra have another meaning?
    It's not whenever the pope speaks. He first has to speak about faith/morals (e.g. the pope can't be infallible concerning science). Second, he cannot be outright contradicting already defined infallible Catholic doctrine (e.g. he cannot suddenly decide to switch the official Catholic doctrine on the Incarnation to Arianism). He has to be speaking from the chair, invoking his place as Peter's successor. It's actually an absurdly narrow doctrine and Catholics are divided on how many time it has actually been used. There are various lists that run around of which statements were infallibly given. The most common I have seen are six or seven though I think I've seen at least one person who believed it was in the double digits (fifteen, maybe? but I could be remembering wrong). Some, like Leon above, will cite fewer.

    Papal encyclicals are generally not considered speaking in the pope's infallible capacity. Tbh, I think modern popes avoid trying to invoke papal infallibility for most things they say, unless they're citing one of the widely accepted infallible doctrines.

    Grain of salt: I go to an Orthodox church; I am not Catholic.

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    Must...have...caffeine One Bad Pig's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Leonhard View Post
    One was real the other were fakes.
    What bugs me about this is the general post facto nature of these sorts of declarations, by the winning side. I'm also uncomfortable with the idea of "anti-popes" which is essentially a whitewash of the papal list.
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    tWebber Leonhard's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by One Bad Pig View Post
    What bugs me about this is the general post facto nature of these sorts of declarations, by the winning side. I'm also uncomfortable with the idea of "anti-popes" which is essentially a whitewash of the papal list.
    I have a great sympathy for what you're saying, but its quite beyond me to argue either way. In the end a similar situation is had with regards to what we now consider to be heresies of Christianity, with what believe to be true to the be true faith. The history of the church is long and messy.

    I'm just living in it and hoping and praying for salvation.

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    tWebber Teallaura's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by thewriteranon View Post
    It's not whenever the pope speaks. He first has to speak about faith/morals (e.g. the pope can't be infallible concerning science). Second, he cannot be outright contradicting already defined infallible Catholic doctrine (e.g. he cannot suddenly decide to switch the official Catholic doctrine on the Incarnation to Arianism). He has to be speaking from the chair, invoking his place as Peter's successor. It's actually an absurdly narrow doctrine and Catholics are divided on how many time it has actually been used. There are various lists that run around of which statements were infallibly given. The most common I have seen are six or seven though I think I've seen at least one person who believed it was in the double digits (fifteen, maybe? but I could be remembering wrong). Some, like Leon above, will cite fewer.

    Papal encyclicals are generally not considered speaking in the pope's infallible capacity. Tbh, I think modern popes avoid trying to invoke papal infallibility for most things they say, unless they're citing one of the widely accepted infallible doctrines.

    Grain of salt: I go to an Orthodox church; I am not Catholic.
    Okay, I think I get it.

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    Quote Originally Posted by thewriteranon View Post
    It's not whenever the pope speaks. He first has to speak about faith/morals (e.g. the pope can't be infallible concerning science). Second, he cannot be outright contradicting already defined infallible Catholic doctrine (e.g. he cannot suddenly decide to switch the official Catholic doctrine on the Incarnation to Arianism). He has to be speaking from the chair, invoking his place as Peter's successor. It's actually an absurdly narrow doctrine and Catholics are divided on how many time it has actually been used. There are various lists that run around of which statements were infallibly given. The most common I have seen are six or seven though I think I've seen at least one person who believed it was in the double digits (fifteen, maybe? but I could be remembering wrong). Some, like Leon above, will cite fewer.
    My understanding is that there are two cases where it was definitely ex cathedra (and were cited as such by the Catholic church itself), but then there were some other statements given before those two that people have argued also fall under ex cathedra, but the Catholic church itself hasn't officially confirmed as being as such.

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    tWebber Obsidian's Avatar
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    I find hilarious the people who claim that the Catholic Church is infallible, yet also claim that all the popes since Vatican II were fake popes and that the papacy is empty. The whole premise of Roman Catholicism is supposed to be that the Roman church is infallible.
    Last edited by Obsidian; 01-02-2018 at 06:53 PM.

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